Thursday, May 31, 2007

You have no idea, people

No idea.

That place I had? I was thinking something along the lines of that scene in Coming to America where Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall move into that shithole in Queens, with the guys out front warming their hands around a fire in an oil barrell, and the apartment has missing plaster exposing raw wood, and cockroaches and a brown stained sink and a door that doesn't lock. I was thinking that, and then I was thinking of the scene in Coming to America where Eddie Murphy comes home and Arsenio Hall has tricked out that apartment with a Jacuzzi and neon lighting and a mini bar.

Yeah, well. Ain't happening. I have come crawling back to Craigslist. And I can tell you, just when you think you've swallowed every last compromise, in terms of nearby transportation and full kitchen and on-site laundry and closet space and windows and not a fifth-floor walkup, NY real estate laughs in your face, doubles the rent, and asks for a 15% broker's fee.

I shit you not, I saw a place today about 300 sq ft with NO KITCHEN SINK and it wanted a $7000 broker's fee.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

And around

My life, yep, she has changed. I used to sit and cig and drink coffee with M in the Financial District. Now I walk and drink iced coffee (which is truly genius - just cold, strong coffee over ice (think Americans' approach to iced tea), unsweetened, but preferably with a generous splash of whole milk), on my way to my next errand. Or my job, the primary challenge of which - since there is no training - is to kill as many hours a day as I can. Or my apartment, which is very overwhelmingly, intimidatingly unliveable right now. Yeah, I have an industrious friend on my side and a temporary place to crash, but fgs.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Thank heavens sweet christ for little girls boys

Who will vacuum the cockroaches out of the kitchen cabinets of your new apartment and pull up the disgusting lino in the bedroom and carry trash bag after trash bag of crap to the curb.

I started a new job today. My job is to file files in a filing system without a system.

I moved today. The Russian movers tried to shake me down for more tips. I refused.

I broke my full-length mirror when lugging my boxes out of my upper-tier storage compartment. Pray for me.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Yesterday I went here

It's a factory in the neighbourhood that makes all the lox you see in the grocery stores. Acme. On Friday mornings (that seems right in the Polish neighbourhood, huh?), they sell direct off the line to walk-in customers. The woman who helped us kept generously slicing off and handing us samples with her wet, fishy rubber gloves. You actually can tell the difference between the wild and the farmed. When it came time to buy, she cut us off a half-pound sized chunk like we asked, then threw the other half in for us as well.

Look, the NYTimes made a video about the place.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

NY things you thought only existed as story devices in movies, vol. 1

Fleet Week!

Also: thought those uniforms only existed in gay 1940s Broadway musicals.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The conversation going on outside my window right now

[All shouted, between a guy on a cherry picker, and his buddy working at the base of the street light]

"You don’t even know how to read the fucking meter, bra!"

"I know how to read the fucking meter, moron! It’s the leads that are the problem!"

"The meter’s not the problem! You don’t know what you’re fucking doing down there!"

"I said the leads are the fucking problem!"

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Yeah, don't

Don't go for beers with your ex-roommate in the East Village, even if it is sunny out and you can sit on a patio, before going to pallots, because all you'll want to do is lay back on that mat and exhale, and not do the part where you inhale and do the hundred.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Ever more subway stories

So the other day, I'm waiting on the platform for the L train, and it isn't even that late at night (10ish), and there aren't a lot of people around cuz a train just went by, and this woman my age is drinking a big bottle of Yoohoo. On my other side, this other young woman my age suddenly takes two steps towards the platform and projectile vomits some brown liquid that looks exactly like Yoohoo. Straight outta the Exorcist, my friends. A solid stream five foot arc onto the tracks. I turn away and look back at the first woman, who kind of smirks and then takes another huge sip of her drink.

The other other day, I'm sitting on the G train, and this woman turns on her 8-year-old daughter and SMACKS SMACKS SMACKS SMACKS her square in the face. Then buries her own face in her hands and cries. Her daughter is totally cowed, looks around embarrassed, shifts over a seat. The mom glares at her as though her daughter has hurt her feelings, and poutily moves over a seat towards her.

Thursday, May 17, 2007


Living out of a suitcase is its own kind of pleasure, but even funner (read: more fun) is when all of your other belongings are neither ready-to-hand nor present-to-hand, because they are in a storage locker in Lower Manhattan. So yesterday when I secured a job interview 4:30pm, for a 10:30am time slot the following morning, and the apocalypse was going down outside (blackened skies, ripping wind, pouring rain), all I had to do was buy a new umbrella, take the subway to City Hall, walk eight blocks, swipe my card at Manhattan Mini Storage, take the elevator to the fourth floor, find the movable staircase, manoeuvre it over to my aisle, climb up there, unlock my locker, drag the ironing board and clothes rack and other odds and ends off my big tupperware bin with all the clothes in it, unseal the bin, root through it for my suit jacket and nice pants, close it up again, re-shift everything again and unseal my shoes & coats box, dig through it for some black dress shoes, close it back up again, repack my storage locker, then carry my dress clothes around in a duffel bag on the subway for the rest of the evening as I went to meet a friend.

By the way, those guys that sell knock-off stuff on Fulton from off a queen-sized bedsheet? They keep their stuff at Manhattan Mini Storage.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007


See, I meant to blog this story, but I ended up telling it to a couple of people already, and now I feel redundant blogging it. Even though I only told it to two people, and a good 7 read this blog. I keep this blog so I don't have to talk to anyone. Individually, like. But then it kind of undermines me when I get home and people say "SO TELL ME A NEW YORK STORY" and I don't know whether they are one of the 7 people who read my blog, where anything remotely interesting that happens to me is reposited, and I would feel like an ass telling the same mediocre (non)story twice, and so I just stare at them.

Yesterday I moved out of the dorm. Yep, I am no longer a Financial Districtite, which is really weird, since I lost my bed and roommates and living space and grocery store and neighbours and street and subway stop and zip code all at once. I moved my stuff into the storage space a ten-minute walk away. I had a hell of a time getting a cab to take it all there. After being turned down a few times, one guy spelled it out for me:

[thick NY accent] "Look lady, it's a $2 fare, and I have to do all the heavy lifting. Forget it."

I wasn't letting this guy go - he had a minivan. So I bribed him with a $20 tip. Isn't that cool and spontaneous of me to make a side deal with the cabbie like that? I am proud of myself.

So that was a long effing day. I had to lug my giant suitase and a couple of bags across the East River on the subway. People kept offering to help, but I turned them all down. And now I am squatting someplace temporarily, before going someplace temporarily-permanently. By some confluence of parental aid and being in the right place at the right time, I actually am getting MY VERY OWN APARTMENT, four subway stops from school. This is a New York miracle. Oh man. Sometimes it all works out.

Monday, May 14, 2007

In a few days, I will have an entirely different life

I miss my blog too, when I don't post. It's my very own internet diary.

Thursday or Friday: Drunken end-of-semester farewells in the dorm include an impromptu turn naming as many African countries as you can in three minutes (on pen and paper, each to his own). Oddly enough, all three of us came up with 24. I thought I had 25, but I named the same country twice, once under the colonial name.

Saturday: Brunch at a South African place in Fort Greene. I read James Michener's The Covenant in grade 9 in Belgium. I finally know how to pronounce bobotie.

Sunday: The nearly yearly ritual of sorting through everything I own - that is, my life - determining what is significant, what is worth remembering, what I will look at again, what heuristic ornaments I do and do not need. Programs from the Rockettes: out. Ticket stub from the ESB: in.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Linguistic irony strikes again

Busboy: ¿Es terminado?
Me: Yeah, you can take that.
Busboy: Gracias.
Me: Thank you.
Busboy: ¿Fue bueno?
Me: Yes, it was.
Busboy: [taking glass] Una mas?
Me: No, I'm done thanks.
Busboy: ¿Habla usted espaƱol?
Me: Me? No...

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Get out your, um, calculators...

And sort this puzzle out for me, before I get kicked out of residence in five days.

I need an apartment, but I have to avoid:
a) brokerage fees (which are somewhere in the order of 10% of your rent for a year, that is, thousands of dollars)
b) the kind of place that wants first and last months' rent and a damage deposit up front (that is, thousands of dollars)
c) a scary neighbourhood
d) living with a pervert or an actor
e) paying more than, say, $1000 for a room [note: incompatible with mandate (c)]
f) living in Coney Island, or Queens, or Jersey City, or anywhere else that none of my friends will ever want to take four trains to come and see me (also: where I will have to take four trains home from the LES when I am drunk) [note: incompatible with mandate (e)]
g) paying to subscribe to a listing service (and so instead having to use craigslist to find the place) [note: incompatible with mandate (d)]
h) nah, fuck it - I'm not even going to list cockroaches.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Forecast: descriptive language

Yesterday I kept picturing that wonderful sensory overload of being on a tropical beach at night, pitch black, ears filled with the crashing waves, contact humidity on every inch of your skin, breathing in that soup. It's like you expect the ocean to be switched off and put away at night and someone left it on, in the dark - isn't that dangerous? - and you expect the air to have a chill but every molecule of it is still densely warm. And by "you" I obviously at this point mean a girl raised on the prairies/mountains.

So today New York was that kind of hot and humid. Well, close. It was nice.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007


Um, hi. Blog's gone dark, I know. Times are not good; everyone's stressed, everyone's sick, everyone's swimming in the whorls of mental instability that we academics like to masochistically impose upon ourselves every four months. It radiates out from work to time to people to life to health to self. I keep busy staring at the various aporias that every aspect of my life has resolved into: I need to be both here and there. I need to be both with and without him/her/them/that. I need to keep my schedule clear for academic work, which I won't be able to sustain without instead filling it with paid work.

And so, I present to you this commemorative shot I grabbed of the Empire State Building decapitated...

And a decapitated shot of my own, since I look good on Taz coffee and American Spirits.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

A trio of star-crossed tourists take their seats

Went to the ballet with some friends from elementary school (I know, right!). With a few glitches: I barely made it uptown by our agreed-upon time, then waited 30 mins with no sign of them, until the ushers stopped letting people through the doors. By the time I got off the subway back at home, there was a frustrated message on my cell: they were lost, about 90 blocks off target in fact, having been misdirected by the concierge of their hotel. 65th and Broadway, not 65 Broadway. WhoTF doesn't know where the ballet is, anyway? (I'm looking at the concierge.) Same place where the Met opera and the Philharmonic and Juliard are. Lincoln Center.

Anyway, they were actually only about 4 blocks from my house, oddly enough. I quickly got us on the train and to the theatre just in time for the start of the second act of Romeo and Juliet. We were way up high, but I loved the 6-storey interior drop to the orchestra pit. I also really enjoyed the show even though the Times had panned it; I don't go to the ballet often enough to not just enjoy it when I'm there. There seemed to be a lot of sympathetic sniffling in the audience, too - but that could have been because of the outrageous pollen levels in the air right now. Even I feel like I have allergies.

(By the way, apparently it's a good thing we went on Wednesday 'cuz on Tuesday Bill Clinton was there along with the rest of the NY leet, and I would have felt even more out of place with my nap breath and wrinkled cords. LA DE DAH.)

Then I took the gals 50 more blocks uptown to Le Monde because god help me if I was gonna set foot in Times Square, where their hotel was, for that post-performance drink. We gossiped and ate, it was good. Turns out everyone we went to school with can now be exhaustively summed up as some concatenation of: doctor/lawyer/married/gay.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007