Musings of a Chicago-Born New Yorker

Posts tagged “Brooklyn

So Says My Husband: “Christmas Is Saved!”

We decorated our tree! We have a pitifully small number of ornaments on it (first world problems, amiright?), but it’s up and lit. Not lit, like a great party, but alight, lol.

I put a picture up on Instagram where it was pointed out that our tree was on a lean. I would like to clarify that it’s NOT leaning. Chris did a great job at getting the tree set up. It’s very much upright… It just didn’t grow evenly on all sides.

I’ve yet to be responsible, at any point in my life, for picking out a Christmas tree. But I imagine if I did, I would walk around the entirety of the tree, checking it out from multiple angles, making sure it was as even as could be.

But like I said, I haven’t ever had to go buy a tree. So what the hell do I know about what tree options are available? A whole bunch of nothing, that’s what.

All I know is I love our tree. This is our 7th Christmas together, but it’s the first time we’ve decorated a tree together. Both of us have memories of decorating the tree with our fathers (parents, but mostly our dads), and it’s nice to make these new memories together.

Weird how one tree can make me feel like Christmas is saved, huh?

After an hour at Target yesterday, we are back on track. A failed trip to Home Depot will henceforth be known as “That Time Chris Almost Ruined Christmas, But He Didn’t, So It’s Fine, So Get Over It, It’s Fine.” That’s all I’m saying about that.

Last night I cooked half a dinner at our friend Corey’s house, the other half provided by leftovers from Merry Black Christmas. Shout out to Allyson for delicious food she’s always cooking. We drank–wait for it–watermelon double IPA beer. That 10% and lovely bitterness and low low price made the watermelon worth it. It was a like a summer-themed Blue Moon. I wouldn’t recommend it.

But we were soon drunk adjacent and happily enjoying roasted chicken breast with mushroom gravy, green beans, butter-dipped artichoke, cornbread, and macaroni & cheese. We flipped back and forth between Last Holiday and whatever football game was on. Chris and I decorated the tree when we got back home. To me, it felt like the official start of our holiday celebrations.

Tonight, we’ve got a birthday hang that will span a bar I’ve never been to and a jazz club I go to all the time. It’s our friend Deadria’s farewell to her twenties. Corey has his regular jam session he leads at Smalls Jazz Club, and as usual, if we’re out, that’s where we’re ending the night.

Tomorrow, hopefully I’ll get some packing done for our upcoming trip, then we have a Christmas Eve party to go to being thrown by my friend Michael from college who lives nearby in Brooklyn.

Christmas will be a quiet day with just me and Chris (for now, lol). We’re going to see Fences in theaters. It’s not a movie unless Viola Davis is crying out her nose. I’m cooking us a tasty simple meal.

On Boxing Day, I’ll be at work, and when I get home, I’m going to watch the Sense8 Holiday Special on Netflix with my best friend David. It’s one of the shows we try and watch together even though we don’t live in the same state. Go technology. We both love Christmas, and it’s really cool that the first episode of season two is doubling as a Christmas special. I’m also working on the 27th. But I’m leaving work early on Tuesday, heading home to get my packed bag and my husband, then we’re headed to the airport.

It’s hard to believe that just a week ago I was over everything. But now I’m back on track. I’m excited for the next two weeks, like really excited. Not sure-to-be-disappointed-because-reality-can’t-live-up excited. More like who-knows-what-each-day-will-bring-so-bring-it-on excited.

Now for your visual enjoyment, my Tannenbaum and other Christmas accoutrement (when it’s singular, it’s without the s, right?):

I know it looks like it's leaning, but I swear it's not!

I know it looks like it’s leaning, but I swear it’s not! The more I look at this tree, I’m thinking, “is it really that great?” But then I’m like, “of course it is, that tree is adorable, and anyone who disagrees is blind to the truth.” So dramatic, I know, whatever.

Our cat Jazz simply had to inspect the tree. Chris chose that fabric hangy ball thing for them. Fingers crossed they don't use it to pull down the tree.

Our cat Jazz simply had to inspect the tree. Chris chose that fabric hangy ball thing for them. Fingers crossed they don’t use it to pull down the tree.

Our older cat Belle, being creepy as fuck as usual, also inspecting the tree, and judging the rest of us for our mirth.

Our older cat Belle, being creepy as fuck as usual, also inspecting the tree, and judging the rest of us for our mirth. Also, we clearly need to sweep up the needles that got sacrificed on the altar of artificial lights.

So... this was a random Etsy purchase that I love and am choosing not to justify. The inside writing is the only reason I'd pay money for White Santa. I just really love this mug. #sorrynotsorry

So… this was a random Etsy purchase that I love and am choosing not to justify. The inside writing is the only reason I’d pay money for White Santa. I just really love this mug. #sorrynotsorry

You’re welcome. 😉

 


Yoga Is Kicking My Butt, At My Request

Ever since our niece came to visit NYC at the end of March, I’ve been going to yoga classes regularly. Pretty much every single day off from work, I’ve gone. I work full time, but it’s all squeezed into three days a week.

I think going to yoga 4 days a week is pretty good. It’s way up from the once a month I was exercising before. The motivation really comes from how close the studio is. This morning, my first class started at 11am, and the alarm was set for 9am.

At 10:45, I jumped out of bed. In 15 minutes, teeth got brushed, Emergen-C got drunk, yoga clothes got thrown on, and teeth got brushed. It’s really a blessing to have a studio so close to home.

I did something today I’ve never done before. I took two yoga classes. Back-to-back at that. I was tired as hell afterwards, but I felt so strong and so good and so proud of myself!

The first class was vinyasa, and for the first time since I started yoga, I was able to do tree pose equally on both sides and grow my branches. For those who don’t know what that means, I basically went from this:

to this:

Sometimes it’s like that. You do the same thing day in and day out without seeing much progress. Then suddenly, the progress leaps unexpectedly forward, surprising you.

The second class was aerial yoga, and being a bit tired from the first class added a layer of difficulty. But surprisingly, it became that much easier to push. I left the cirque tricks alone today, but did a lot more when it came to the ab and Pilates-style moves.

When I felt my legs lift off the ground for the first time, purely on the strength of my arm muscles pulling against the silk fabric, I was so elated. I want to feel like that all the time!

Because I basically know my schedule for the month, all yoga classes for this month are booked. There are thee more 2-a-days coming up. Usually vinyasa followed by aerial. I can’t wait to see what new ways my body will respond.

I am finally taking care of my body. I’m treating it better than I have in years. I’ve been saying it’s not about a goal weight or size. I haven’t lost any weight, and I still wear the same size clothes. Being not-in-my-20s means losing weight is a slower process.

If I’m being honest with myself, I don’t want to lose a bunch of weight. The smallest I’ve ever been, the day I met my husband, I thought of myself as too small. I was the size of my bone structure, so my opinion was wrong. But I grew up with a grandma who always said something to the effect of, “don’t lose too much weight, what if you get sick, you’ll need to have weight to lose.” Or something like that.

I know people aren’t really getting undiagnosable diseases like consumption anymore, at least not at the same rate they were in the 30s and 40s. But still… It’s part of my programming I can’t seem to break.

So instead, I focus on how good I feel in my body. How strong I feel. How flexible I’ve become. How much energy I have each day. The better food choices I’m making. And I try not to feel too happy that I haven’t lost weight. I’m only 31, the weight loss is inevitable if I keep this up.

Focusing on being as good to my body. Feeling pride that I can take two classes in one day and not just survive but thrive. Dreaming of the day when all of this is second nature rather than a new lifestyle I’m hoping and praying I can hold onto.


Heading to Times Square, After Some Prayer

I thought I’d have a funny story to tell for my first consistent blog post in months. My girl is in town with her cousin for her birthday. They’d never been to New York before, so she wanted to visit.

I know her  through some degrees of separation. My best friend joined a fraternity in college. Her husband is one of his line brothers. The first time we all hung out is when he brought a very pregnant her to their fraternity’s annual party called The Champagne Sip (don’t worry she didn’t drink).

We did have a laugh-filled night at The Waffle House though after the party. And they cemented themselves as the favorite couple I’d met through my best friend. Over the years, we’ve had some good times though we don’t see each other nearly often enough.

This couple now has three children, all of whom call my best friend godfather. There have been many gift-help-picking-out moments over the years, which always result in something fun & educational… and maybe noisy.

But I didn’t see my girl last night. She arrived to her hotel in Times Square yesterday and we planned to meet for drinks at my favorite bar in Times Square, Havana Central.

But then I started hearing about everything happening in Paris, every terrible detail as it arrived in a push notification to my phone from CNN.

I said a prayer for the people of Paris, and decided I wasn’t going out.

Since Chris and I moved to New York, I’ve been more aware of what it means when a major city gets attacked,

I know Chicago is a major city, so is L.A., and a few others. But when I worry about American cities, my first two thoughts go to D.C. and NYC.

Whenever there is a concern for the safety of major cities, my first thought is to stay in/immediately head to Brooklyn. Manhattan is where I spend a bunch of my time, but I live in Brooklyn.

I don’t know if I was overreacting, I just know that I live in New York now.

The world kept turning, people kept coming together in Paris to deal with a tragedy, and I went home last night.

At the time I’m posting this, ISIS has claimed responsibilities for the attacks in Paris last night, Belgium has already begun to make arrests, and Paris is still treating the over 300 people who got injured.

It’s hard to wrap my head around what’s happened, to just continue with a normal day knowing that so much has changed for so many people.

But I’m going to try because that’s what we do, right? We say a prayer, put something supportive on social media, donate some money to a fund, then… keep it moving.

It never seems like enough, but I don’t know what else to do. There’s power in prayer, I do know that.

I’m going to go see my friend today. In Times Square. They say it’s safe. I hope they’re right. I’m definitely going to pray some more before I go.


When Easter Gets Cancelled, I Bake & I Bike

One of the best things about living in New York City is that everything can be delivered or outsourced.

Laundry? We drop off our clothes and our laundry lady hooks them up.

Cleaning Supplies? Soap.com or Amazon.com are happy to help.

Need a babysitter? Care.com has you

Groceries? For my neighborhood, it’s either a co-op or FreshDirect.

Chris and I dislike grocery shopping so much that even a co-op is asking too much of us. So we use FreshDirect. And since this is New York, eventually the delivery and customer service was going to let me all the way down.

Back around Thanksgiving, I made the mistake of not submitting my order by the time deadline. Chris and I ended up in a grocery store at 10pm the night before Thanksgiving, buying all the stuff that wasn’t delivered. I wasn’t happy about that, but that was my fault.

This past weekend however, is totally on FreshDirect. When I woke up on Saturday, I saw an e-mail from them saying they were trying to reach me by phone.

I called them and they said the driver came by at 9am, but no one was home. My angry black woman almost came out right then y’all. I informed the lady on the phone that my husband and I had been home all morning, and we have the worlds loudest doorbell, so there’s no way they rang our doorbell and missed us.

She said they tried to call, and they “always call”, and why didn’t I answer the phone? I explained to her, that “always” doesn’t apply in my case because in almost 2 years of deliveries, I’ve never received a phone call from any driver ever because we only request the delivery when we’re home, and it’s “never” been an issue until today.

She said she’d reschedule the delivery and they would swing back by our house before ending their route, around 2p.

Of course, 2p came and went, with no delivery. I called back around 4p to find out what happened. This time I got a man who told me this:

-it does say it was scheduled for re-delivery

-they didn’t re-deliver my groceries

-they have gone back to the warehouse and dismantled my assembled groceries

-their shift is over and they’ve gone home

-he doesn’t know why my groceries weren’t delivered

-is there anything else he can do for me

 

So I tell him:

-you haven’t actually done anything for me

-Just confirming, that my Easter dinner is cancelled, and there’s nothing you can do about that?

-Who do I speak with to file an official complaint?

 

He took $25 of my next order. He rescheduled my delivery for Wednesday.

While waiting for the food to arrive, Easter was over, and that meant carbs!

I couldn’t decide what to make, but I knew it was going to include bread or potatoes or rice. I ended up modifying a recipe for apple muffins and made and apple-blueberry-pear loaf in a bundt pan. It was delicious.

For good measure, I also made red onion-garlic-baby bella mini frittatas. Breakfast-on-the-go was what I was going for, and it worked pretty well.

I also considered making butter cookies, but decided against that. I have quite the list of carb-y goodness that I’ve just been waiting to eat, but I don’t want to overdo it. So I’m pacing myself and only eating one thing at a time.

Sunday: that apple loaf thingee

Monday: pasta

Tuesday-Friday: I ate a bag of potato chips. I split the bag into portions so that I stayed under my daily carb limit. I’m seriously impressed that I managed to stay within the limit

And today, I had french toast. And it was so damn good. Definitely over the carb limit, so maybe no carbs tomorrow.

I fell into the trap y’all. I did a little bit of exercising, so I thought it was okay to go overboard.

In my defense, I really did a lot of exercising. I went to yoga yesterday, and it felt really good.

I love my yoga studio in Brooklyn. I go to Sacred Yoga, and the teachers are so great there. This class was a foundations class, and it was so beneficial because I got to press reset on some on my yoga poses. Reinforcing all the things I’m supposed to be focusing on in each pose was great.

Since I bought my new bike on Easter, I was happy to ride it to yoga. I love this new bike. The only thing wrong with it is it doesn’t have that step through thing that makes it easy to wear a skirt with, but just look at it.

I had to add a basket, a kickstand, head & tail lights, a water bottle holder, and tire locks. But totally worth it if I stay safe and my bike stays un-stolen. Image from Fulton Bikes

Riding it makes me feel so exhilarated. It goes pretty fast without much effort on my part and the gear shifts making riding the mild elevation changes in my neighborhood much easier than on my other bike.

I also decided I would ride the bike to the train station going to and from work to get in a little bit more exercise. The first day, I just went to the nearest station, but today I decided to go much further. I got almost all the way to downtown Brooklyn before I got tired.

I hopped off the bike, locked it up with my super high duty lock, and headed down the subway steps. I reached into my purse to grab my Metrocard.

And nothing.

I didn’t have my Metrocard. I didn’t have my backup Metrocard. I didn’t have my debit or credit cards. I didn’t even have my ID or the singles I keep just in case. I only had about $1.38 in change floating in the bottom of my purse.

Everything I needed was in my yoga bag. So I walked my tired butt back up to the bike, called work to tell them I’d be late, and biked back home.

By the time I got to my house, My legs were feeling very jelly-like. Mind you, this was hardly any distance at all, only a few miles. But for me, who has done next to no biking or serious exercising in months, I was done.

I took the bike back inside, grabbed my money and ID, and went to the bus stop.

The good news is that I got in my full exercise on the bike for the day. I’m thinking I should keep it up and do my Tracy Anderson DVD when I get home. I unfortunately can’t do yoga everyday because of working in Manhattan and the studio not being open early or late enough. We’ll see how I feel when I get home.

I’m trying to ramp up the exercise, and go with what feels good. But I’m also feeling like I should set some sort of schedule that I can make myself stick to. It’s a fine line to walk.

I’ve started and stopped this “attempt to get healthy” thing so many times. I just really want it to stick this time.

I’ve got good motivation though.

I just got plane tickets for Chris and I to go to the Dominican Republic this August for that family vacation. If that’s not motivation to get my body right, I don’t know what is.

I also got my ticket to go visit my parents next month. I’m going during the week, right before Mother’s Day. Should be a fun couple of days. It’s going to feel so weird going to their new house and that being their home. But I’m excited for it.

I’m excited for a lot right now: the sandwich I’m going to get from Potbelly one day this week, riding my bike more (NOT today), shopping for a swimsuit this summer). All these damn endorphins have got me going. Cross your fingers that the feeling lasts!


A Chicago-Style Girl Goes Home

As soon as I wrote this post title, I started thinking, “what is home?” I thought that and other existentialist things that I won’t share because those thoughts make me sound even weirder than I normally do.

But seriously, When I think of home now, I think of three things:

1) Our apartment in a brownstone in Brooklyn

2) The soup kitchen I volunteer at in The West Village

3) The dining room table at my parents’ house

The fact that 2 of my 3 “homes” focuses around food may help explain why my weight is hovering around 15lb heavier than a healthy BMI.

But anyway…

Only a tiny bit of Chicago feels like home to me now. I’ve been talking about this trip a lot. A family portait (yuck, but also kind of cool), another wedding (blech, but also kind of cool), and Memorial Day with my family and Easy’s family (completely cool, only positive feelings towards that one–see Christmas 2013 in Gramercy Park) add up to a great weekend getaway. Throw in a thrice rescheduled dinner with one of my best friends and a double birthday dinner with my girls and you’ve got an action packed weekend.

So why am I not super excited for this trip?

Eh, a big part of me would just rather stay home. Which is New York City. I’m will always be a Chicago-style girl. Big city + Midwestern sensibilities – red state restrictions = me. But New York is home.

So this weekend, I’m not going home. I’m going to visit my friends and family. This make my blog’s name all the more appropriate. I’m not a Chicagoan anymore. I’m Chicago-style (Chicago-ish? Chicago-adjacent?).

Easy and I haven’t decided for certain if this NYC thing is permanent. Hell, four years ago, I couldn’t even imagine myself living here. Of course, I blame that on being only exposed to Midtown and Harlem. If I’d gone straight to Chelsea and the Village on my first trip here, I may have never left.

Back to this trip though. I’m packing in an awful lot. First up is a double birthday dinner for my girls. There will be 8 of us dining at Ruth’s Chris in Chicago. One of the birthday girls has never been and really really wants to go. So we’re making it happen. The birthday girls don’t know I’m coming in to town though, so I’m just showing up at dinner as a surprise, which is why this post is publishing almost 24 hours after being written.

Next up is a family portrait. My parents, my brother, Easy, some cousins, and my aunt and uncle are all cramming into one shot. I think it will be one of the few photos we have of members of both my mother’s and father’s sides of the family that’s not at a wedding or funeral. We’ve decided to wear combos of red, navy, and white. Should be fly.

Yup, I just said fly. I’m an 80s baby. Deal with it.

Then I have a dinner with one of my best friends. Seriously, like every time I go to Chicago, we’re unable to hook up. Between my short stays, he work schedule, family obligations, etc. we kept cancelling on each other. But not this time. We have reservations at Cantina Laredo, which is an amazing Latin restaurant in downtown Chicago. Check it out if you’re in the area, totally worth the valet/effort to find parking.

Then Easy and I hop in my mom’s car to drive to St. Louis for a wedding. These are friends from when he lived down there when we started dating. We were considering just staying in St. Louis, and the four of us were going to do this Honeymooners thing. That would’ve made a completely different life for us. The St. Louis version of Easy and myself were interesting people, different from who we are in New York.

Eh, no use wondering what if, right? The NYC versions of us rock, and we have better looking calves from all the walking anyway.

Then back to Chicago for Memorial Day where we will eat BBQ and left over birthday cake from our nieces/cousins. Two words. Atomic cake. Google it if you don’t know. Because you need to know.

I really cannot wait for the BBQ. Can someone explain to me why I have to travel to Williamsburg to get good BBQ? And for that matter, why do I have to travel to Harlem to get good soul food? And to Flatbush to get good jerk chicken? New York is such a melting pot, but they really fuck up food the entire rest of the country has mastered. Excuse my language, but I really feel pretty strongly about it.

And then after lots of good food, we get on a plane back to NYC. That will make 5 days, 4 nights in the Midwest. By Tuesday, I’m going to feel sooo ready to come home. So perhaps I’ll write another post called A Chicago-Style Girl Goes Home. But that one will talk about street food and easy taxi/subway options and volunteer opportunities and lack of allergy sufferers due to the lack of trees and wifi everywhere and people who don’t care if you accidentally step on their foot and a beautiful nighttime where outside of every window looks like Christmas will all the twinkling lights coming from every office window.

That run on sentence (so sorry!) just gave me clarity. NYC is like a new relationship right when you go from limerence to being fully in love. At that moment, their dirty drawers shouldn’t even bother you.

I think NYC’s dirty drawers count at the stinky homeless man who coughs up part of his lung on the subway and you just know he has tuberculosis. I am in love, but I’m not stupid. NYC’s dirty drawers bug the hell out of me. I don’t want TB. You can’t donate your organs and tissues if you’re contracting TB from a random stranger on a train.

That being said, hopefully my love is long-lasting. After all, it’s not blind-to-logic love. It’s just enamored, full-hearted love. A love that says Chicago can suck it. Because you’re #2 now.

Disclaimer: this only applies to the cities, not their sports teams. Bringing Phil Jackson to the Knicks is a step in the right direction, but really it just makes me think of the early 90s and his 3-peat with Jordan & Pippen. Da Bulls Da Bear Da Sox


On Embracing New York City

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.

I can’t imagine living anywhere else but here.

I used to feel like I could never live in NYC, but that was back when I never ventured outside of two neighborhoods: Midtown and Harlem. I know I’m a black woman from Chicago with dreadlocks, but Harlem is just not really my type of neighborhood.

I go there for food and music, then I take my butt home.

And Midtown is a work neighborhood for me, not a play neighborhood.

I used to think we’d live here for like 3-5 years then go live in Europe for a few years, maybe have a baby there. Then when our kids were old enough, we’d try living in Honduras as well. I wanted to be a world traveller, with roots all over.

But I can’t imagine living anywhere else but here.

I feel like a Chicagoan through and through. That city vibe mixed with some Midwestern sensibilities describes me pretty well I think.

But if a tornado sent me to Oz and I clicked my heels three times to bring me home, I would probably wake up in Greenwich Village and have to take the subway back to Bed-Stuy where our brownstone is.

I’m telling you, if I won the lottery tomorrow, I would fill a suitcase with $10 million, go ring the doorbell of my dream home in the Village. When they answered the door, I would hand them the briefcase and say, “here’s a bunch of money, you don’t live here anymore. I do. I’ll be back in a week for the keys. Thanks!”

And because $10 million is a slight upgrade to the current value of that house, they would take my deal and buy another building up the street that is currently for sale.

That’s right. My dream home costs almost $10 million dollars. Stupid Greenwich Village that stole my heart. Why couldn’t I fall in love with a nice neighborhood in Brooklyn?

I feel that it’s important to say that I do love where we live in Bed-Stuy. I like that it has a really eclectic feel. The developers are moving in though, and those folks always end up raising rent. We already have the Zagat rated restaurants that people travel to for dinner, lunch, and brunch.

New Yorkers love their brunch.

Nice restaurants plus developers mean that before you know it, there will be a real organic produce store in the area. I’ll finally be able to get fresh cilantro that doesn’t spoil on me in less than 24 hours.

There is a house up the street from us that sold for $325,000 in January of this year that is now on sale for $1,450,000. If Easy and I stay in this neighborhood and purchase a home, we’re going to have to go the foreclosure route. I can’t believe they were able to get a house on that block for that cheap.

Since we’ll probably never have a million dollars lying around, that’s going to be our only option.

Luckily, that’s a problem that’s years ahead of us.

For now, we’re renters and city explorers.

Which brings me back to the ways I like to experience this city. Over a month ago, I mentioned a couple of different NYC things I wanted to try. Guess what? I haven’t done any of those things yet.

I ought to be ashamed of myself.

I still intend to get over to the Whitney Museum. And I’m internet stalking BBQ Films so I don’t miss their next event.

So I will redeem myself.

In the mean time, I have done other things.

I found the one barbeque joint in NYC that didn’t piss me off. It came recommended by someone who’s from Tennessee. And they were right about how good it is.

The place is called Fette Sau. I had some amazing dry rub ribs there last weekend. It’s definitely going to be a What’s Hot… post.

The food was so good that the 2 hour wait in line to get it was totally worth it. A week later, I still feel like it was totally worth it.

The main reason I’m trying to hard to embrace New York is because it hasn’t disappointed me yet. This city is amazing.

And once you get over the fact that the entire city smells like pee from May-October, nothing can stop you.

For instance, Easy and I had a date day this past Sunday. We went to the Brooklyn Museum, which was an exercise in patience to get to. The traffic was insane. They have several places all lumped together: Prospect Park, Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Brooklyn Zoo, Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn Art Museum, and I want to say there’s a children’s museum over there too.

But we made it through and paid only $12 for parking.

Coming from Chicago’s museum campuses, that’s an amazing price. When we got inside the Brooklyn Museum, there was a suggested donation of $12. I was like, What?!?!

Had we gone to pretty much any major museum in Chicago, parking would’ve been $20+ based on how long we stayed, tickets would’ve been $25+ based on the day of the week. We paid $36 instead of like $75. Score one for NYC actually being cheaper than Chicago.

When we got into the museum, it turned out they had a really amazing exhibit called Witness. Unfortunately, they didn’t allow photography inside.

2014-04-27 16.22.13

There were moments where I wished I knew or cared more about art so I could be more familiar with the people quoted as having opinions that matter on the artwork. But overall, it was very moving.

I could decide if I wanted to look at the art then read what it was about or the opposite, so I tried both. Some of the pieces were really moving no matter what order I took them in. At one point, I had tears in my eyes. Not the oh-isn’t-this-so-beautiful tears, but the we-have-some-fucked-up-history-in-this-country tears.

I feel blessed I didn’t have to live through that time. I’m proud of myself that I care enough to pay attention to the history because I’m not really a history person. There were only one or two specific events in the Civil Rights struggle they mentioned that I wasn’t familiar with. I made notes of the events with plans to look them up later.

It’s not a pretty history, but it’s powerful. I would say that knowing what I do about the 1950s and the 1960s and what it means to people who look like me who lived through that time gives me a strong desire for fairness. It’s probably why I care so much about LGBT rights. I know a lot of people don’t see the two issues as comparable, but I sure as hell do.

The part of the exhibit that really stole the show for Easy and I though was this video they had on loop. To me it’s not really a museum exhibit if you don’t have a video on loop.

This video was of Nina Simone singing this amazing song on a Dutch TV show.

We sat there and watched it then watched it some more. I think because Easy is a jazz musician, seeing that performance there in the context of all the other Civil Rights art felt very profound.

Easy’s favorite piece was actually a self portrait of a man wearing a superman t-shirt and rocking a fantastic afro. It was part of the Black is Beautiful section. It’s hard to believe there was a time when people really had to make straight up ad campaigns to teach my people that they are beautiful, but it’s true.

I guess that’s not so crazy seeing as how I couldn’t be in the Army right now with my locs, but that’s a whole other issue, and I digress.

I’m getting back on topic, and that is embracing New York City. I’m looking forward to doing it more. Summer stage, sporting events, museums, restaurants, and live music. I want it all.


Chicago-Style Girl’s Workout Plan, I Wanna See You Workout

If you scroll down to the very bottom of my blog page, you’ll see a few things.

There is the standard search box you’ll see on all blogs, but I’ve cleverly hidden it in plain sight so you can’t easily find it, bah ha ha. Actually, I just didn’t know where else to put it because I didn’t like the look of it on my right tab column.

There is also a job disclaimer that my people request we put up so that my words are not associated with the company. I totally get that, but I’m such a huge fan of donation, I’m happy to claim my words as my very own. Go sign up for organ donation people!

But the other thing you’ll see at the bottom is the MyFitnessPal Ticker and My Tracy Anderson countdown. Both are at the bottom so as not to depress me on a daily basis.

The Tracy Anderson 90 day countdown ended August 16, 2013. That counts as a super-duper fail. I didn’t get past Day 10. It’s just so hard. Whine whine, fill in whine here.

And I don’t have access to a scale anymore. I intend on getting this cool bluetooth scale that goes with the fitbit.

Image via Amazon

Image via fitbit

These were my intended birthday gifts. They still are my intended gifts, even though my birthday was three months ago. The husband and I are working it out.

Perhaps if I can avoid Queens in general and potholes specifically, I would’ve had my birthday gift by now. Stupid Geico insurance deductible.

Moving on. Because I don’t have access to a scale, I have no idea what I weigh. But I’m almost certain I’m at my highest weight ever. Seeing as how I never really effectively kicked off the weight loss in the first place, that’s less upsetting to say than you’d think.

Working 4p-midnight is detrimental to my life plans. I’m not a morning person, so I struggle to get up before noon. I’d have to get up and start working out by 10 am to have enough time to really workout and get to work on time. And now that I’m helping babysit at the home I volunteer at, there’s even less time. Weekends are out because of the soup kitchen and church.

I know. Excuses, excuses.

Having said all of this (what kind of jerk has 300 words of introduction?), I have a plan to kick-start my new healthy New York life.

This plan includes spending money, but not a lot of money.

Amazon Local has all these great options for things to try. Normally, I would look at it for deals at restaurants and cool live events. But then I thought, why not use it for purposes other than taking in hundreds of calories in food and alcohol?

There are some really great deals available now too.

When I was in search of adventure the other weekend, I considered finding a rock climbing place, but didn’t pursue it because most indoor places do belay, and you need a partner.

Guess what? Amazon Local has a deal on the one indoor rock climbing place in Brooklyn. I checked out the website for Brooklyn Boulders, and it looks pretty cool.

While I was looking around for deals, I also came across a yoga/pilates studio, a kickboxing class, and a ballet/zumba studio. All of these sounded interesting, but I decided to go with the kickboxing because that’s one I’ve never done before, but always found interesting as a concept.

So I have pre-paid (at amazing discounts by the way) for a whole day pass at Brooklyn Boulders and 10 kickboxing classes at Village Kickboxing Fitness. Y’all know I love me some Greenwich Village, so any reason is a good reason to spend more time there.

Image via Amazon Local

I’m hoping that pre-paying will really encourage me to make it happen. I have until the end of July to use the promotional offers, but I intend to get started on them within the next few weeks. It’ll give me something to do while the husband is gone for the month of February.

I used to rock climb at this place that was in a south suburb of Chicago, but that ended when I grew my nails out for the wedding. You simply can’t rock climb effectively with long nails, and I grew them pretty long y’all.

2013-06-21 20.46.29

But now they are shorter, though still nice. If I really like the rock climbing, and if I can find someone to commit to actually going with me, I’ll keep the nails short.

With any luck, rock climbing and kickboxing will add some variety to a workout that I already enjoy (but, ahem, never make time for), and I can finally get back on track with exercising.

I’m doing okay diet-wise. I’m not on a “diet” per se, I use the word diet simply to refer to the food I choose to eat. I’m doing this pseudo vegetarian thing now. I barely eat meat anymore. I certainly haven’t lost the taste for it, I just choose better options, like black beans or chickpeas for protein.

And if I’m successful with my 30th birthday bucket list (which I promise to write a real post about soon), I’ll be able to add tofu to my list of protein options.

I don’t do too much in the way of frying, and I haven’t eaten any fast food aside from the occasional french fry in months. I just feel better when I’m not eating all that processed food, you know?

So I am going to risk the craziness and officially reset the 90 day countdown. Just so you know, this is not a 3 month thing, it’s 90 days of working out. I have to assume that I’m not going to work out more than three days a week.

Let’s be honest here I don’t have the time or the motivation.

But I’m going to set a timer for 90 workouts at three days a week. Maybe some weeks I’ll do more and that will balance out the weeks I’m sure to do less. I will also count those kickboxing classes and the rock climbing, which could turn into a membership as well.

So yup, I’m spending money in an attempt to look and feel better. If I were rich, maybe I’d be getting liposuction and hiring a personal trainer. I guess it’s a good thing I’m not rich because that just sounds like too much, right?

Wish me luck, y’all. Here I go again.

Day 90 is… August 27, 2014.

Damn, that seems far away. But it’s not really because that’s with me exercising only 3 days a week, so that’s 30 weeks. I think that’s a more reasonable goal because it lifts some of the pressure to try an exercise 6 times a week, which I was never able to sustain except when unemployed.

And if I”m doing it over that period of time, it will hopefully become a real lifestyle change. The Tracy Anderson Metamorphosis program continues after the initial 90 days, and she has a pregnancy workout plus a post-natal workout. So none of my life plans should interfere with the success of this.

I’ve written myself into excitement for the possibilities. If I do the home workout 3 times a week, swapping out one day every two weeks for a varied activity, it could work.

I can attempt running again once it’s warm outside. I have this amazing book Born to Run, available on Amazon to thank for even feeling like I could do this cause I kinda hate running. Read this book, and you’ll feel like you could become a supermarathoner. Or at least make it around the block more than once.

I can also try ballroom dancing again. You should try to polka for more than 10 minutes straight and tell me that’s not a workout.

Maybe I can even go back to hot yoga, which I truly loved deep down in my heart.

Any day now, or rather in like 7 months, I’m going to look and feel amazing. You just wait and see. I can’t wait to start complaining that none of my pants fit anymore. Well, that’s actually a current complaint because they’re kind of tight, but I’m hoping for it to turn into a complaint that they’re too loose.

Day one begins today. Anyone want to join me on MyFitnessPal so we can encourage each other?


I Don’t Want To Wash My Clothes, And You Can’t Make Me

The husband and I have always had issues with washing clothes. Neither of us like doing it. I probably like it a bit more than he does, but it’s just so time consuming. The only apartment I ever had that came with a washer and a dryer was lovely. I washed clothes once a week and kept everything hung up and in its drawer.

You know our brownstone in Brooklyn doesn’t have a washer and a dryer. There are a number of Laundromats in the area, but none of them are terribly close. They are all a number of blocks away. Even when I only have one load of clothes, it’s still a large effort to get it done.

I haven’t washed clothes in a few weeks, which isn’t unusual for me. The problem is that I threw away half my clothes when I moved to NYC. I was so proud of myself for downsizing. I didn’t even consider the lifestyle change needed to make it work.

I was at the point that when it was time to pack to go to Chicago and Atlanta last weekend, I didn’t have enough clothes. I actually packed some dirty clothes that I had to wash as soon as I got to my parents’ house.

Awful right?

So I’m still adjusting to being a New Yorker, having less closet space, having less clothes, and washing the clothes I do have more frequently.

I have all the essentials at least: Tide pods, Downy dryer sheets, a laundry bag, and that roll-y cart you see everyone in New York with.

Even with all the ease I’ve provided for myself, it’s still not working for me.

I intended to wash clothes right when I got back from Atlanta, but I didn’t feel like it. Then I intended to do it yesterday, but the location I chose to go to was closed and it was too late to go anywhere else. This working Monday-Friday 9-5 thing is messing up my body’s natural clock.

The tiny part of me that likes doing laundry likes doing laundry at 10 am. That isn’t an option unless I get up on Saturday to do it. This week, that isn’t an option because I’m starting my other volunteer work.

I’m just gonna have to bite the bullet and make it happen. Argh, sometimes I really hate being an adult. Which isn’t even really fair to say because I’ve been washing my own clothes since I was big enough to load the machine. My parents didn’t play that.

I think it’s safe to say my nesting phase is over. At least when it comes to properly organizing my drawers and closets. Maybe I’ll get that feeling back when I finish unpacking our apartment. I’ve made some good progress and I really should take advantage of the fact that the husband is out of town for another three weeks and get it all done.

Until all of that happens, I’ll be showing up to work in quite questionable combinations. Like today. I’m wearing a blue button up blouse, an orange wife beater, and a brown stretchy asymmetrical hem skirt. It’s an odd combination, believe me. The shame of having to look at myself in the mirror ought to motivate me to wash clothes quicker than waiting on the nesting feeling to return I think.


Seriously, I Can Teach Anyone Math

I mentioned before how I was starting to do volunteer work. It’s been a while since I’ve had the time to make that happen, and I’d forgotten how much it means to me to help people for no better reason than they need it.

Reaching out to the organization I did was totally on a whim, inspired by my need to get some “extra-curriculars” for grad school. There was just something about the website they setup that really reached out to me.

They take a lot of different types of volunteers, including tutors. Tutoring is right up my alley. I did a lot of tutoring at my church in Chicago. I also worked in the Chemistry tutoring lab when I was in undergrad. I’ve helped out a few friends over the years with classes they struggled with as well.

As the title of this post says, I feel quite confident I can teach anyone math. I can teach them almost anything. Just not history. It’s hard to teach a subject I don’t know well. I can’t tell you dates and quote all that stuff from history, nor have I ever figured out a way to remember it effectively. But enough about history, I want to focus on math!

If you don’t like math or you swear you’re no good at it, I blame your math teach from the fourth or fifth grade. That seems to be the time in life where people either realize they are great at math and/or enjoy it. If you don’t realize that, resentment builds until it’s finally released the day you don’t have to do math anymore (except for counting money).

The woman I’m tutoring is from the category of people who don’t like math. As expected, her dislike stemmed more from not understanding some of the fundamentals than truly disliking the subject. I blame her fourth grade teacher.

Getting to the location to begin tutoring wasn’t easy. It was a part of Brooklyn I’ve never been to before (there are still so many parts unexplored honestly), but luckily my HopStop app helped me find it. When I got there, the lady who runs the place confirmed I was who I said I was, and let me know the house rules.

They are pretty strict, but they are providing a service to teach women who have no place else to go how to create a stable life for themselves and their unborn child. The work they do and the people they’ve helped is really inspiring.

Some of the people they help come from some pretty bad situations, so I won’t say any more about the actual organization for safety’s sake.

When I mentioned some of my other hobbies and interests, the lady seemed interested in other ways I could help the woman I’m working with as well. She asked if I’d like to come over and show her a few healthy home-cooked recipes for dinner once or twice a month. Also, she asked If I could take her out in Brooklyn or in the city for some cultural excursions.

I thought I’d just be helping someone advance in their pursuit of a degree, but it looks like I’ll be taking on a much more active role with her. It’s pretty exciting to think I could help even more than originally expected.

Once we got through the formalities and introductions, we jumped right into the math. One of the reasons I’m so good at teaching people math is that I teach them not just what they need to know for that lesson, I teach them how to learn the next thing even before it comes.

Math is a language and you have to learn the language if you want to excel in the subject. That’s the fundamental piece most people are missing. Math teachers all over the country are slacking by not teaching their students the language of math.

If you have no idea what I mean, and I haven’t lost you by mentioning the word math 100 times in the last four paragraphs, I’ll explain what I mean.

3 + 2 = 5                3 – 2 = 1

That simple addition is a sentence in math. So is the subtraction. If you want to learn to add, you can learn on a number line.

Image from SparkNotes

If you’re using a number line, then the three represents your starting point. The plus and the minus both represent the direction you’re going to move. The two represents how far you must move. The equal sign represents that the answer is coming. The five and the one represent the answer.

Okay, enough teaching. If anyone is still reading this post, I swear I’m moving on.

We focused on the basics for the first tutoring session. We filled in some gaps in her knowledge and found out how she learns best. She is a visual learner, so the number line method, along with some almond for counting, worked best for her.

We ended up having a pretty good time, laughing and learning. By the time I was heading home, she was asking me to give her some sample problems that were tough for her skill level so she could practice.

When someone requests more work, that’s always I sign that I’ve made the learning fun. I left feeling so energized. It’s been so long since I’ve taught, and I kind of forgot how much I love it. If only they paid teachers more, I might’ve considered that as a career field.

Anyway, I’ll be going back again this week. I gave her a bit of homework to do, so hopefully she got it all done and we can move forward. This woman has an interest in going into the medical field. I’m feeling pretty good about helping someone reach their goals, just because. I’m feeling all warm and fuzzy yet energized like one of those USA Character commercials.

This week I also start my other volunteer projects I’ve reached out to. Wish me luck that it goes well.


Friendly? Yes. Crazy? Maybe.

Don’t think I’m crazy for saying this, but New Yorkers are so freaking nice. Maybe that’s just me. Is it? Well, I stand by it.

Ever since I arrived here, and even before on visits, I’ve just seen friendly, helpful people who have a lot more patience than other places. If Chicago became as crowded as New York City tomorrow, the murder rate would seriously spike.

When you are here, people are just so smushed together. That could go one of two ways. People could constantly fight and bicker because they’re always in each other’s space. Instead, they smile and say, “that’s okay” constantly.

Seriously, where else in America can you hit someone in the head with your umbrella four times in ten minutes and they are endlessly forgiving of it?

If you are careless or rude, however, the claws come out. New Yorkers like to live and let live. If you are encroaching upon them because of selfishness or meanness, they will let you have it in a heartbeat.

But if you are just living and not walking around like Gru at the beginning of Despicable Me, you’re fine.

And my neighborhood is so friendly and neighborly. I really just can’t say enough how great it is. Sometimes it’s crazy and a little hood, other times it’s right out of a novel (or an episode of the Cosby’s).

To fully understand it, I need to describe my walk home on two different days.

Day One:

When I get off the train, there is this park there where there are kids riding their bikes, old men playing chess and checkers, and adorable dogs barking. If it’s sunny, the sun filters through the leaves on the trees and gleams off the bronze statue in the center of the park.

As with most New York City parks I’ve seen, the grassy areas are fenced off, but every so often, there a gap in the gate specifically to let people through.

You could have a picnic over there if you wanted, but today there is a young couple posing for a photographer. She is about 5 or 6 six months pregnant and all belly. He has a fresh haircut and shave. They are both rocking fantastic natural hair and wearing traditional African garb. They look like an art piece on the wall of some African-American History professor’s apartment.

I walk past all the great restaurants on Lewis Avenue until I get to my block. As soon as I turn the corner, I see that the firehouse is open. Yes, there’s a firehouse on my corner, full of muscle-y armed men. There’s this little girl riding her bike in and out of the firehouse. Her pigtails bounce in the wind and she laughs and smiles with the firemen.

Further down the block are the men who always hang on this one stoop. One of them has a girl with a baby with him. The baby is, of course, adorable. They all smile and say hi and I continue on my way.

I get to my fantastic brownstone, check my mail, and walk in the door. Home sweet home.

Almost idyllic, no?

 

Day Two:

When I get off the train, there is a volunteer for some campaign or another passing out fliers. I think this is the fifteenth one I’ve received in the month I’ve been here. I decide to be nice and walk out of eye sight before I toss it.

The benches are lined with homeless people. I kind of want to let them know there’s a wonderful homeless shelter up the street, but I don’t know enough about the shelter yet to open that can of worms. I make a note to myself to learn more about the homeless shelter.

I pass by the restaurants and all the food smells so good, taunting me because it’s not in the budget to eat there at any point in the next two weeks. Oh well, I think, I’ll just make really good meals at home in the mean time.

I get to my block, and as I turn the corner, I see a pile of poop. Some asshole doesn’t know how to clean up after their dog, and unfortunately, it’s no one else’s job either. So this freaking poop has been there for weeks. Weeks!

I’m walking down the street, and it appears that the whole block is out to enjoy the nice weather. I come across these men just hanging out. One of them has a pitbull puppy. This puppy is super brand new and so cute. He’s so tiny that his whole body fits in the man’s hand.

It’s a bit windy, so when the man decides to light his cigarette, he uses the puppy to block the wind so he can get it lit quickly. That’s right, this man used a new puppy to light his cigarette.

Further down the street, there is a family piling into a car to go on some excursion. As they’re piling in, they notice there’s a cat sitting on the hood of the car. This cat eyeballs me on my way past, but seems oblivious to the family.

They begin yelling at the cat to get off the hood so they can be on their way, but for some reason the cat doesn’t move. I wondering why no one bothers to get out of the car to physically move the cat. Or better yet, just start driving. I bet that cat would certainly move under those circumstances.

I shake my head and keep moving.

Further down the street, there are some men playing dominoes. Several of the men have several dollars in their hands. Like I said, it’s windy.

A sudden gust of wind comes up and blows the money out of two of the men’s hands. All of us sudden, I was transported to one of those game shows where they put you in a box with money flying all around. These men would rack up on that show because they seemed to grow extra arms and hands, snatching money out of the wind with ease.

I tell you, they didn’t lose one dollar dollar bill y’all.

After all that hilarity, I was ready to be home away from the constant people. I climbed my steps to my fantastic brownstone, thankful I was finally home.

Even when things are crazy, I still love my neighborhood.  I just hope housing prices are still affordable when it’s time to switch from renting to a mortgage. That’ll be sometime around MBA completion, kid number 2.5, and age 35.

Yup, we’re planning on staying in NYC for at least five years. We’ll see though because that’s a decision based on only living here for one month.

So, could you live in NYC for year? Or at all?


Unable To Find A Good Reason To Take My Robe Off

I wish I could tell you I had great stories from this past weekend to share with you. I wish I could say we went on a very interesting double date with the future divorcé and his girl.

But that didn’t happen.

My weekend was filled with lots of stalls to the unpacking, very little showering, and absolutely no desire to socialize.

So here’s what happened.

Friday morning, I was determined to do better with the unpacking. I knew that my efforts to get the TV setup for the cable guy would payoff. I would watch Property Virgins while unpacking Friday night.

The husband found the TV power cord like he said he would. Score one for the husband.

But then the cable guy didn’t show. Well, he showed, he just didn’t install our cable.

Or even come inside our apartment.

Or even ring our freaking doorbell.

I got a call from the cable company dispatcher people telling me he was running late. Then they called again to tell me he was still running late but that they’d call when he was on his way.

Instead, I got a voicemail from him saying no one was home so he was leaving. I was pissed and called back to inquire what happened. They gave me his perfect description of my building, and told me he left because we weren’t home.

I let them know the husband was being held hostage at the house waiting on this man, so he was definitely home. My proof of this was the delivery from UPS that had arrived that same day. I surmised the cable guy was an idiot who couldn’t figure out which doorbell was ours.

They told me he’d already left the service area, but they would try to find someone to come back to the house.

I spent the next six hours calling them back several times to inquire about an available technician. This was extra awful because each time they said they’d call me back, but they didn’t.

By the time 9:00pm rolled around, I was scheduled for the first appointment in the morning, and I had a credit that amounted to 50% off my first bill. I was furious about the whole situation, so it kind of ruined my mood.

The husband had the perfect plan to cheer me up though. We went to Jazz at the Lincoln Center to see this really nice band play. One of his friends was in the band who I love so much, so it was great to see him as well.

When my best friend was here helping me get moved in, we went to Jazz at the Lincoln Center as well. This time, we were on the list, and we knew the musicians. I have to say, it’s nice being married to a musician. Things are just… easier when it comes to certain events.

I can’t wait until my best friend comes for a visit and I can take her back there musician-style.

After we left The Lincoln Center, we went downtown to Small’s. It’s this great little club where they were having a jam session. I really had a great time there.

Also, I confirmed for myself that I really enjoy this drink that is Rye whiskey with lemon-lime soda. This place I went to in Greenpoint had it on the menu called a Rye Collins (like Tom Collins, get it?). It feels like such a grown up drink, barely girly at all.

I may watch a lot of episodes of Man Men, but I’ve got nothing on those people. I only had two drinks, but I was good after that.

Good enough to not need another drink.

Good enough to need some Tylenol before I went to bed then again when I woke up.

I’m getting old y’all.

Moving on.

So the divorcé’s girl arrived Saturday morning. He went on the train and met her when she got off the bus. Then they came back to the apartment where we were just finishing up getting our cable, internet, and phone installed.

Based on a plan I helped the divorcé develop, he grabbed our really awesome picnic basket and stopped by the grocery store. They grabbed some stuff to make lunch and bought a blanket from another store on the way to the train.

When they got back, which was many hours later, they said they got so many compliments on the picnic basket. That made me happy.

I wasn’t in the best of moods though, and it didn’t hit me until much later that I didn’t even inquire about how the picnic went. Let me put it this way, I was still in my bathroom that I’d put on when I changed out of my clothes the previous night.

All I was thinking about was how the husband and I happily live in a naked house (whoop whoop, no kids yet!). But we couldn’t be our normal naked selves because we had guests. Wonderful guests, one of whom helped the husband move across state lines.

But I just wasn’t feeling it.

So we ordered pizza and watched Up on the PS3 Blu-Ray player.

They both had to leave the next morning, and I only noticed their presence briefly when they said goodbye before leaving.

I was hoping for a fun story of some sort, but instead, it’s just me pissed at the cable guy and refusing to change out of my robe.

At least I got to go to Jazz and the Lincoln Center. I can’t wait to do that again!

I almost forgot. We went to church on Sunday. The husband and I went back to the church I had attended the previous week. He loved it!

It’s been… a journey with the husband in terms of church attendance since we’ve been together.

I’m so happy he likes this church and I’m looking forward to going back again next week. And the week after that. And maybe even the week after that as well.

It’s just such a happy place. I could stand to be around people who are happy, and extra happy for no reason. I wouldn’t mind that rubbing off on me a bit.

Because of a couple of reasons, we’re only about 3/5 of the way unpacked. I really do love our apartment though, so I swear it’s not going to go like it did in Hyde Park.

Even though I’m staying late at work today, I do intend to finish the rest of it by this weekend. The dresser I ordered online arrives tomorrow, so that should help a lot.


Confession: I’m A Bit Of A Nesting Monster

When it comes to moving, I’m a bit of a monster.

Scratch that.

It’s become clear that I’m a full out bitch.

I don’t start off with that intention, but it always ends this way.

After moving my crap around this country eleven times in the last ten years, it’s become clear that I turn into a raving mad awful no good person on moving day.

Hello, my name is CeCe, and I’m a moveaholic.

I forgot this about myself because I hated our apartment in Hyde Park in Chicago, but I get a rush out of settling into a new place. Unpacking boxes and rearranging our items just so gets me going.

All of this sounds positive, right?

Wrong.

When it comes to my feelings about moving into a new place, it’s just not a group activity.

Not even a little bit.

Last night the husband and the future divorcé arrived to our cute little Brooklyn brownstone. They had a UHaul truck mostly full of stuff. We quickly decided that I’d watch the truck and move the items to the edge of the truck. The divorcé would take the items from the back of the truck into the building. The husband’s job was to get the items inside the apartment.

The whole thing took under two hours I think. I honestly wasn’t checking the time. We have a lot of crap, even with the downsize to prepare for New York living. Once we got everything into the apartment, all I wanted to do was setup the bed so I could sleep in my own bed.

I also needed to setup the shelves for the entertainment area and get the TV ready for the cable guy who’s supposed to come today.

When I walked into the apartment and saw how the husband had placed things, I got upset. I was fussing about why the clothes weren’t put into the bedroom and why the coast weren’t put into the closet and why the kitchen stuff wasn’t put into the kitchen and why everything was piled against the wall where I’d already told him the TV would be setup on.

The divorcé offered to help move some things around, but then abruptly changed his mind and rescinded his offer.

That’s when I realized I’d just given him a look of death.

I gave him a how-dare-you-offer-to-help-you’ll-probably-only-just-fuck-it-up-save-yourself-and-get-the-hell-out-of-my-face look.

It was a look the husband knew all too well. All he said was, “we’re going to go park the UHaul somewhere we won’t get a ticket, then we’re going to find food. We’ll see you later.”

I really married the right man y’all. Other guys I’ve dated would’ve reacted in less.. productive ways. But not the husband. He saw the signs of a woman on the rampage and cleared out. Also, he probably didn’t want to have to snap on me after all my fussing. He saved himself and he saved me.

While they were gone, I got to work. There’s just something so great about organizing. I don’t even know how to explain it.

All of the stress I feel when moving to a new place comes lashing out at the nearest person who tries to help. As a personal self-growth note, I really need to fix that shit. I shouldn’t have my loved ones running for the hills just because I’ve moved, especially because I move so damn often.

But all that stress just melts away with each new shelf I setup. And when the bed was fully put together, I really relaxed. By the time the basics were setup, it was after 1:00am and I was overdue to get some sleep so I could get up for work in the morning.

Except one thing.

I couldn’t find the cord to plug in the TV. the way our TV is setup, the power cord can detach. I didn’t remember where I packed it, and I was worried the cable guy wouldn’t be able to get our stuff setup today. But it worked out. The husband found the cord this morning and plugged it in.

Even though I didn’t have the cord when I went to bed last night, I didn’t stress because I knew the husband would handle it. That’s how I knew my release therapy via shelf-building worked.

So now I just have to go home after work and finish unpacking, hopefully while watching the new episode of Property Virgins on HGTV. But that’s not guaranteed. The cable company called while I was writing this post to tell me the guy was running late, and they didn’t know what time he’d get to me.

Lord, let this man arrive today, otherwise I’m going to revert right back to how I was last night. And I don’t think the husband will put up with that shit two days in a row.


Welcome Home Plus The Adventures of a Future Divorcé

By the time I get home from work today, the husband should be here. I’m so excited!

I gathered my things to come to New York almost a whole month ago. The last time I saw him was three weeks and four days ago. It feels like forever.

Even though he’ll only be here for two weeks, I’m still really excited for the two weeks we have.

I wish that we could just spend all weekend cozying up in our new apartment, but that’s not even close to a reality.

A good friend of ours is coming with the husband in the UHaul truck. We’re so grateful that he’s coming to help. He’s helping drive the truck, and he’s helping up get everything up to the apartment. He has worked for UPS on and off for years, so he’s a pro at this type of thing.

I mentioned this friend in a post a while ago. He’s one of the millions of people who were a part of our wedding party. He stood up with me as one of my bridesmen. He’s also one of the people whose relationship status changed since my wedding.

This friend is getting divorced.

Before you feel sad for him, just know that every person in his life who loves him is ecstatic about his pending divorce.

You read that right. We’re ecstatic. Glad for her to go. Not even a little bit sad about it. In any way.

That being said, it kind of sucks in general that he’s getting divorced. His parents have been married for 30+ years, and so he wanted to follow that trend.

Now that we’ve established his relationship status, there is, of course, more to tell.

There’s a girl meeting him here in New York.

She’s coming for a weekend trip. Previously, the timing just happened to work out that she and a friend were taking a trip here. But the friend flaked on her, but she’s still coming.

And now she’s staying with us too. She doesn’t live in Chicago, so this will count as their third date I think.

He took a trip to the East Coast, and she’s been back home to Chicago for a visit. They came out to one of the husband’s gigs in Chicago, so we’ve spent time together, but not much time.

So this weekend, I’m going to have the husband, who I’ve been missing like crazy. But I’m not going to have my two cats because my friend is allergic.

Apparently, he’s deathly allergic, though I never knew that before as he’s spent time before in my home where I’ve had a cat.

My poor mother (who hates cats, and dogs, and birds, and pets of all kinds, and plants) will just have to deal with the cats for a few more weeks until we drive the car to New York. I’m not risking damaging the health of the person who’s helping us move all our crap across the country, you know?

I imagine that I will have some interesting or crazy stories to tell after this weekend is done. The husband and our friend will be here in less than six hours. The girl arrives tomorrow or Saturday, not sure which one.

All we have is our full sized bed and the queen sized air mattress. For many reasons, we’ll give them the air mattress. I just really need to sleep in my bed, first and foremost.

But also, these two haven’t shared a bed yet. I don’t think they’ve even napped on the same couch yet. I’m fine with doing the hospitality thing, but as his friend, I wish for him that their first time sharing a bed (even if it’s just to sleep, wink wink) wasn’t in someone’s living room.

I’ve got all sorts of things I want to do with the husband. There are so many great restaurants in our neighborhood and a nice church we could potentially join I want him to visit.

It’ll be interesting to see whether these plans will be like a weekend long double date or not. I don’t want to invite them along because they’re both so nice they may feel compelled to say yes even though they may want to hang out alone.

On the other hand, I don’t want to not invite them when neither of them are from here and they may feel left out and not know what to do on their own.

I’m not good with decisions. Especially decisions for other people I don’t know that well. Especially when those decisions directly affect my ability to hang out with the husband behind closed doors.

At the very least, by then end of this weekend, I’ll have cable, wifi, and my own bed to sleep in. The husband will have tried some great new restaurants and can finally be done moving. And our friend can spend some more time with his new girl.

If nothing interesting happens, I’ll make something up for you all after this buildup.


I Just Paid Someone $100 To Torture Me

The last time I got my hair done before leaving Chicago was July 2nd. That’s not crazy by standards for those of us with locs, but it was getting rough for me. I try to get my hair done every four weeks.

That meant one of my top tasks after arriving in New York was to find a place to get my hair done. I wanted to stay close to home if possible.

All the places I looked up charged way more than my hair lady in Chicago. But there were several options close by. The first place I sought out was the very closest. It is literally right around the corner from my brownstone.

You can surmise by the title of this post that this trip to the new hair place didn’t exactly go well. So here’s what happened last Saturday.

My appointment was for 10AM. I arrived at 9:56, there was no one there. I rang the bell a few times, but no one answered. Finally, around 9:02, I called the lady I made the appointment with. She answered almost immediately to let me know that she was pulling up.

She looked out her window and me and smiled apologetically as she parked. I let them know it was no problem, and that in the future, it would probably be me that was running late.

We got inside and they offered me juice and fruit and water. I took the juice and settled down while they cleaned up. I’d never been to a shop before that cleaned up first thing in the morning as opposed to last thing the night before, but there’s a first time for everything, right?

After a while, they asked me to sit in the chair. They let me know they got a strawberry red color to dye my hair and also a honey blonde color. I had previously told them that I needed a strawberry blonde color for my hair to turn out the color it currently was.

I don’t know how much you know about dying hair, but it’s probably two more things than I know. I could barely describe what my hair lady in Chicago did, so I went with it. When they were describing to me what the different hair dye components do, I tried to let them know that all of that mean nothing for my hair.

My hair doesn’t take color easily and it never turns out the color expected. Even a trained colorist has to pull out all the tricks when it comes to my hair.

They have me all the “OK”s and “No problem”s, so I thought we’d be fine. That much confidence needs to be backed up with something right? I mean, how many people walk into a shop swearing their hair reacts unexpectedly to color and have verified this with every person who’s ever done their hair?

So anyway, she starts with the strawberry color. She applies it and I looked in the mirror and said, “this looks very very red.” She said, “I know, but when I rinse it out, it will tone down.”

When she rinsed it out, it didn’t tone down.

I sat in the chair, looking at a mirror, assessing my options.

Option #1: Slap her and then slap the other lady who vouched for her.

Option #2: Cry and run screaming from the shop straight to small claims court.

Option #3: Make the best of it because I live right by here and she is just hard-headed as hell.

Of course, I chose option #3. I assessed the color they dyed my hair. I had these red ass roots and the rest of my hair looked super blonde next to it. My hair is not even a little blonde, but that’s how it looked in comparison.

As red as this hair was, it was pretty flattering next to my face. So I said, “take note of this color because the next time I decide to go red, this is the color!”

The girl laughed and looked relieved that I didn’t choose option #1.

Because I doubted whether or not I’d actually be back to this shop, I grabbed one of the empty bottles of color so I could find it again.

So after dyeing my hair and awesome yet mismatching shade of red, she decides she’s going to put the honey blonde on top of it. So she does.

Show of hands, who thinks it worked?

Anyone?

No?

You’re all right. It didn’t work.

After she rinses it off, only the baby hairs at the very edges of my scalp look like they might be the right color. All the rest of my roots just looked—no not orange. My roots still looked the same damn red.

At this point, she looks concerned. Her concern increased after I told her she had two options.

Option #1: Figure out a way to fix my hair because I wasn’t leaving the shop with my hair looking like that.

Option #2: Dye all the rest of my hair this awesome red and I’d just be a redhead from now on.

She considered her options and knew that she’d have to eat a lot of profit to cover the cost of coloring my whole head red. So she decided that she could definitely fix the color.

Her first step was to bleach the hair she’d just processed two times.

I’m telling y’all, I was watching my hair like a hawk, prepared to backhand any and everybody at the first sign of my hair falling out.

I’m lucky I have strong hair, but I won’t be repeating this assault on my hair ever again.

After she bleached it, then it was orange. So off to the beauty supply store, for the third time that day, she went.

She returned with a color that she said had a swatch that was closest to my desired hair color. At this, I was even more frustrated. I had already explained that my hair doesn’t take color well.

That means whatever the swatch of hair is colored in the store, my hair won’t look anything like that when we’re done.

The actual color was this coppery color that was pretty. Just not pretty on me. You try to put a reddish-blonde color on my hair with golden undertones and it turns copper. Good to know.

After she was done with that, she said, “I see what you mean now about how strawberry blonde was probably the best color to use.”

If I were even 1% more violent that I am in my natural state, I definitely would’ve slapped her. It’s just so frustrating that she didn’t listen to me once in this whole process. That coppery color looks crazy next to my scalp line. It’s just too orange for my complexion. I can’t wait until it grows out and I can fix it.

So after I resign myself to having these coppery roots, We get down to the business of rolling my locs so they look fresher.

This part was lovely. I remember being so apprehensive because my scalp was sore by this point. All the color processing had made me quite sensitive and I was concerned I was going to be in a lot of pain.

But there was no pain. She moved quickly and efficiently. I found myself thinking I actually preferred the way she palm rolled my locs over what my Chicago hair lady did.

She put me under the dryer and then oiled my scalp before I left. I like the way my hair looked, if I ignored the roots.

I paid her the cost for rolling the locs and dyeing the roots and left. At this point, it was ten hours after I’d arrived to the shop in the first place. Ten freaking hours.

On a normal day, even with hair color, it shouldn’t take more than four hours from start to finish.

Because I’m crazy (remember my response to the virgin sacrifice apartment?), I actually thought about returning to the shop. It’s just so close to my house and I really liked the way she rolled my hair.

Then two days passed. And I realized the rolled my hair the wrong way. I’m not sure how to fully explain this. When locs are palm rolled, they are rolled between the palms. As the hair grows out, you roll the roots in the same direction while it’s wet. Then you put a hair clip in to hold it until you can dry the hair. Once the hair is dry, it stays rolled in that direction and the hair continues to lock on the same pattern.

This chick rolled my damn hair in the opposite direction!

My hair hangs to my shoulder blades. So I’ve got almost a foot of hair that is quite obviously rolled in one direction.

But she didn’t care.

All she wanted was to stick with what she knew.

She rolled my hair in the direction I assume she rolls everyone’s hair.

So now my hair is starting to look a little funky at the point where the locked hair meets the newly rolled hair.

So that settles it.

I’m not going back to that shop.

And I’ll give them the side eye when I walk past on the way to another shop to get my hair done.

Except…

I left my umbrella there.

So I’ll go back, but just for that.


Is It Weird To Ask For Her Number?

Hey everybody! This is my 275th blog post. That’s pretty cool, right? Sometime this fall, I’ll be on my 300th post. I’ve got to make it something special. Bloggers do that right? Eh, whatever.

Continuing with my trend of hopping back and forth from my time in Chicago and my time in New York, I want to talk about making new friends in New York. Or rather, I want to talk about my failed attempts to make new friends.

My girls and I joke about how we’re too old to make new friends. It usually sounds something like, “you chicks are crazy! Y’all are lucky I’m too old to make new friends or everyone would be replaced.”

I think perhaps we could be nicer to each other…?

Since I’ve been in New York, my girls remind me several times a week that I better not be out making new friends. They took a vote and decided against having auditions for a new me.

They realized it would be too difficult to find someone who makes everyone else look tall, mix up amazing cocktails, and always has a witty joke to cosign another joke.

That’s a tall order, so for now I’m irreplaceable.

Because they’re not replacing me, they don’t want me to replace them. That’s fair enough (bitches), but that means I’ve been spending a lot of time alone while I’m waiting for the husband to arrive.

I’ve met some really nice people who would make great friends acquaintances, but I suck at making new friends. You know there’s a story supporting this assertion.

My first weekend as a Brooklyn resident was going well. My best friend was still here and we were exploring to our hearts’ content.

Sunday saw us heading to the nearest Laundromat to wash clothes. While we were washing, we went to this frozen yogurt/smoothie/crepes place called Brooklyn Swirl. When you say the name, you have to be extra fabulous (think: Swiiiiirrrrll).

I ordered some very delicious cookies ‘n cream frozen yogurt. As we sat there hanging out and people watching, we saw a lot of the congregation of the nearby church walking past. Lots of people of all ages, families of all sizes, and church hats of all colors were everywhere.

It reminded me a lot of what I would see at my own home church in Chicago. I made a note to try the church out the following Sunday (which I totally did by the way; that’s going to be another post). The people looked friendly and welcoming, which only added to how awesome I had decided Brooklyn was.

Then the shop owner came over to introduce himself. When he learned I’d just moved into the neighborhood, he invited me to join the rewards program. Something like one free frozen yogurt for every 6 or 8 purchases or something.

We went back to put our clothes in the dryer. They had these huge industrial size dryers, so we decided to throw our clothes in together rather than pay for separate drums. The catch was that my best friend’s clothes weren’t done washing yet.

We started washing at the same time. The exact same time. In identical washing machines.

When my clothes were done washing, hers were still spinning strong, looking very sudsy.

Ten minutes later, her machine is still going strong, still looking full of soap.

At this point, we’re just confused. The lady who worked the Laundromat told us that machine runs a little slower than the others. We gave her this why-didn’t-you-tell-us-that-in-the-beginning-because-we-would’ve-made-different-choices-with-our-lives look.

She was unimpressed with our look and went back to her business.

Finally, another ten minutes later, my friend’s machine finishes.

So we load up the dryer and put what felt like endless amounts of quarters into the machine and ended up with 87 minutes on the clock. That’s such an odd number, right?

While the clothes were drying, we decided to head over to Peaches for brunch. This restaurant is so amazing that I’m definitely going to give it its own What’s Hot In New York post.

We sit down at the bar to eat because we didn’t have the time or patience to wait for a table, hashtag no reservations.

The bartender was nice and provided just as good of service as we would get from a waiter. While we’re eating and chatting away, we’re still doing the people watching thing.

These two girls came in and sat next to us at the bar. During the course of them ordering, we ended up striking up a conversation.

Both girls were transplants, just like us. They were from Philly. One lived in the Bronx and one lived in Brooklyn. The one who lived in Brooklyn was really nice and sweet. She was funny and we had a lot of the same interests.

When she heard the husband is a jazz musician, she was pretty excited at the possibilities of maybe having some future things to get into in the neighborhood just become of incoming local talent.

We were there first, so we finished first. We paid the bill and said our good-byes.

As soon as we left the restaurant, my best friend asked me why I didn’t get the girl’s information.

I considered my responses.

  1. My other friends constantly threaten me to keep me from making new friends.
  2. I’m not a friendly person and so I have no recent experience on how to make new friends.
  3. I considered it and everything I thought of in my head to say sounded like a weirdly lesbian pickup line. “Can I get your number? I’d love to call you so we can hang out some time because you seem so sweet.”
  4. I only really liked the girl who lived in Brooklyn, and it would be awkward to only try and befriend one of the girls.

All the reasons floated around and finally I settled on, “I’m so not good at making new friends.”

She chuckled and said, “clearly.” Then she gave me tips on what I could say for the next time I meet someone I’d like to hang out with again, or if I ever run into that girl again.

My best friend is pretty well versed in this because she lived in New York for some years and she came alone too.

I can totally see myself acting out this scenario in the future:

I’m at a bar or lounge or restaurant and I’ve met an interesting person to talk to. I excuse myself to go to the bathroom, telling them I’ll be right back. I round the corner and immediately call my best friend. I beg her to listen to the situation and give me tips on how to pick up this new potential friend. She laughs at me, but then helps.

So terrible, I know.

The husband will be here in six days (six days, yay!!!) and I do much better at meeting people when he’s here. Pretty much, I just need a Cancer by my side and I can make new friends.

Plus when the husband gets here, we’ll be hanging out with his musician friends and their wives, so that’ll be nice as well.

Okay, back to my story. After I got schooled on how to pick up new friends, we went back to the Laundromat. Our clothes were nice and dry, so we packed the up and headed back to the apartment.

I was really hoping to try out my new friend-making techniques, but I didn’t get a chance.

We ended up at this nice bar/lounge place over on Stuyvesant Sunday night. There was live music playing and it was amazing. I can’t wait to the take the husband there. The way I described it made the husband think it had potential to be our Local Watering Hole. He feels very strongly about us having one of these.

In this bar though, there were only three types of people there, none of which are great candidates for first-new-friend-in-New-York-City.

  1. Almost-Dirty-Old-Men: They were friendly and definitely more nice than lecherous. But if they were looking to be someone’s sugar daddy/friend, they couldn’t afford me.
  2. Couples: I really really really suck at making friends with couples without the husband around. I mostly just come off like I’m looking for a threesome. It’s awful.
  3. Middle Aged Women: these chicks seemed like they were looking to let their hair down in the small gap available between Sunday morning church and Monday morning work. I try to stay away from that.

Perhaps when the husband arrives, we’ll do good with the couples that hang out there. Even though I didn’t hit the ground running with making new friends, I was at least learning new places. Perhaps it will get easier once potential new friends start to see me more often.

Maybe.

Maybe?


Is Manhattan Better For Me Than Brooklyn?

In my post on Friday, I left off with the phone ringing. My broker was calling me back. It was my attempt at a cliffhanger. Did it work? No? Oh well.

When we left the broker’s office, we were expecting to hear from her at some point in the next day. My father had a plan for this. He wanted us to go start seeing the other apartments, and hopefully find one I could live in.

Then, when the broker called, I was supposed to let it go to voicemail. When she called back to say whether or not I’d gotten the apartment, I would take that information; compare it to the potential new place. And then we’d make a decision on where I was going to live.

All that sounded really complicated to me. I just wanted the nice 1 bedroom apartment in the Brooklyn brownstone. I wanted the place I had put a deposit down for.

But I also wanted to make sure I was getting the right place for me. And I wanted to be sure I would prefer Brooklyn over Manhattan. So we kept the appointment to go look at apartments in Manhattan.

Before we could keep this appointment though, the Brooklyn broker called me. I decided just to answer the phone since it was still the same day. She let me know the landlord had accepted my application. I didn’t know it was even possible for them to assess my financial status that quickly, but I really didn’t care.

No one except me cared for the broker. But everyone got a good vibe from the landlord, so it was nice to know the place was mine if I wanted it. As I was sitting there confused about how to proceed, she let know that the lease signing was going to be Wednesday at 4pm. It was still Monday at this point, so that worked just fine for me.

We would have time to look at the Manhattan apartments and make a firm decision before I’d have to sign the lease. So off we went to Manhattan. Driving from Staten Island to Manhattan is no simple task. Especially when there is constant construction everywhere.

So we took the Verrazano Bridge to Brooklyn, then took the Brooklyn Bridge to Manhattan. I don’t even want to think about how much all of that back and forth cost. The one good thing is the total distance traveled isn’t that much, so we only filled up on gas once that I know of.

The Manhattan broker’s office is in Midtown (think: Times Square), so there was nowhere to park. My dads dropped me and my best friend off and we headed upstairs to find out what apartments we were going to see that day.

When we got upstairs, there was a lot of waiting. I filled out the paperwork so they could get me in the system, then they proceeded to tell me that my broker was running late. This was after leaving me sitting there for ten minutes saying she would be right with me.

When they finally me back, there was this oil slick (but rather good-looking) man who said he was her assistant and would help me because she was running late.

It was just so weird the way everyone described her lateness. It wasn’t like she was out showing apartments to someone else. Their tone, facial expressions, and demeanor had me writing a backstory for this woman who was quite awful.

In my head, she was on her way to work, but then got a “you busy?” text from her drug dealer/f*^k buddy. She immediately hopped off the subway and went to his place downtown. They thought she was on her way to work but she took and 8-ball detour.

I know that’s crazy, but their tone was crazy. They made it seem like she just dipped off before they could come up with a good cover story why she wasn’t there and no one could be bothered to give any of the reasonable excuses: something came up, she’s showing apartments, she got called into and impromptu meeting. Something, you know?

Either way, I’m there and I’m giving the guy my information about what type of apartment I’m looking for. Information that I’d already given to the lady broker I was there to see. I give him my price point, which is painfully low for Manhattan (no more than $1400/month).

He asks if it’s negotiable, and I tell him no. The husband has a firm ceiling on what type of rent we’ll pay. When a woman looking for apartments mentions a husband that’s not there who has a firm ceiling, I would think that would make them stick to the ceiling. He didn’t question it anymore and we moved on.

He calls over this other man and hands him a list he’s just printed off. The list has several apartments available in my price range. They are pretty much all in Washington Heights, which sucked because I at least wanted to see some part of Harlem. But that day, there wasn’t anything in Harlem I could afford.

He lets me know we’re going to hop on the train and go look at the first place. It was all the way by the 191st Street exit. I called my dads to let them know we were getting on the train and gave them the address to meet us there.

We missed the train because these tourists were occupying all the metro card purchasing machines. When we finally get to the platform, the train that’s supposed to come every 10 minutes didn’t come for over 20 minutes. And it was so hot!

Did I mention there was a serious heat wave this whole week? It was pretty much all over the country so you all know how crazy it was with the heat. Imagine a heat index of 100 degrees. Now put that heat underground with trains generating more heat. Now turn off the air conditioning. Yeah, it was like that.

So the train finally comes, and we’re sitting there hot as hell. No AC on this train car. After about two minutes, we move to the next car. No AC there either.

Both my best friend and the broker man are telling me that they’ve both only ever encountered a train with no AC once before in NYC. We got off at the next stop and waited for the next train which came almost immediately. Thankfully, this one was well conditioned, and practically empty since it was so close behind another train.

The ride up to 191st was quite far, but we made it there. Then we had a lot of walking to do. At this point, it basically high noon, and we’re walking back and forth up the street looking for this address that doesn’t properly correspond to the addresses around it.

We found the apartment building entrance and head up to the apartment on the elevator. We walked in and the place was pretty nice. There are a ton of cabinets in the kitchen and the appliances are all brand new. The bedroom is huge and the bathroom is pretty spacious as well.

As I looked around, I realized I was planning for how I would live in this space. It seemed really nice and a place I could really make a home in. I was trying to figure out if I could really pick this place over my already-beloved Brooklyn brownstone.

Then it hit. This apartment was a glorified studio. The reason the bedroom was so large is because there was basically only the bedroom. The living area, actually, the “living area” was basically a foyer. I’d have to go to Ikea to get one of those funky pieced together seating things. But realistically, the only thing that could fit in there is a coat rack and an umbrella rack.

After that, I didn’t have to worry. It was easy to say no to an apartment with no separate spaces. I’m going to be working nights once I’m off training and I’m married to a musician. I need to be in a separate space so I can sleep while he practices during the day.

If they cut the bedroom in half, they could’ve made a reasonable sized living room. But they didn’t. So we moved on.

In my next post, I’ll talk about the rest of the Manhattan apartments. There was the apartment with the clothesline, the one with the crooked cabinets, the one where the lady yelled at us the second we walked in, the one that screamed please-rob-me. Oh, and the one we couldn’t even get into.

My apartment hunt was intense y’all. But we’re almost through it.


So You Think You Wanna Live Here

I know I’m jumping back and forth here, but as I’ve said many times, I do what I want.

Now that I’ve covered the details of how I put myself in a position of having only three weeks to move to NYC, I’d like to talk about actually getting here.

The initial plan was to have my last day of work in Chicago on July 12th or 13th. Then I would head to New York around the 15th and have a week to find an apartment to start work on July 22nd. Quite the ambitious plan, no?

Before you assume I’m a crazy person, let me tell you that I had it on good authority that it’s an awful idea to rent a New York City apartment sight unseen. There are all types of shitholes and scams that will take all your money and leave you with little or nothing in return.

As I mentioned previously, I had my best friend with me. She lived in New York, so she was a great resource. I also wrangled my father and the husband’s father. The three of us got in the car and drove to New York on Sunday July 14th.

A benefit of marrying into a large family is that these people live everywhere. Some cousins of the husband agreed to let us stay in one of their apartments while we looked for a place.

They live in Staten Island, so we had the additional task of getting back and forth across all the bridges. Those tolls are freaking ridiculous. I know my dads spent at least $100 just getting us from Staten Island to Brooklyn to Manhattan and back again the three days there were here.

Side note. What does the phrase “my dads” mean to you? When you see it, do you think a father and a father-in-law? Do you think a biological father and a stepfather? What about a biological father and an adoptive father?

Maybe your two dads are married to each other (unless you live down south, then they’re still “life partners”). I guess it all depends. I have three grandfathers. One is my dad’s dad. The other two are the biological dad and adoptive/step-dad of my mom.

Blended families really do make for some interesting family trees. The family tree for the husband’s family is really something. Or it would be if someone wrote it down.

Okay, we’re back from the side note. So at this point in the story, I’m in Staten Island with my best friend and my two dads. I was hoping (and my mother was really hoping that I could bring the cats with us. But the cousin giving us a place to stay for free is allergic.

Once we settled in on Sunday night, we relaxed and ate ox tails, salmon, and rice and beans before heading to bed. The plan was to get up Monday morning and go look at apartments in Brooklyn.

Originally, I wanted to live in Manhattan. The husband wanted Brooklyn. After the hatred I felt towards our Hyde Park apartment in Chicago, we agreed that my preference would win for New York. But after looking at apartments on line and really assessing what we could afford, I narrowed down our search to Harlem and Washington Heights in Manhattan and to Bed-Stuy and Crown Heights in Brooklyn.

I’d seen all sorts of apartments online in the weeks preceding the move. The good ones were posted and removed the same day. Apparently that’s now NYC works. I was convinced that I could find a great 1 bedroom apartment in the upper edge of Harlem for less than $1400/month.

Then I stumbled across this wonderful apartment. 1 bedroom, 1 bath, exposed brick, north-facing windows, newly renovated apartment. And it was in a brownstone building. A gorgeous brownstone.

My whole thinking changed. All of a sudden, it was all about Brooklyn. Perhaps it’s because I grew up watching the Cosby Show and feeling like I could totally be one of their kids. But either way, I had a plan.

I spoke with a few brokers and picked two, one for Manhattan and one for Brooklyn. After I saw that amazing apartment, I set the Brooklyn broker appointment for Monday and the Manhattan broker appointment for Tuesday.

The apartment the broker showed us first was pretty good. Turned out she only had the one apartment to show, which sucked. My dads were pissed about that. After she showed us the apartment, she gave me the hard sell. Very aggressive, very put-your-money-where-your-mouth-is-or-else-and-else-means-this-apartment-will-be-gone-in-the-morning.

My dads didn’t like that one bit. They wanted me to keep looking. They wanted to look in Manhattan and maybe find a new broker to keep looking in Brooklyn as well. My best friend asked me how I would feel if the apartment was gone and I missed it. I told her I’d be pissed.

After hearing that, she encouraged me to go ahead and do what I needed to do to take this apartment off the market. That meant filling out the complete application for my husband and myself.

That also meant handing over all of the financial paperwork to prove I could afford the apartment. They require all you information to approve you. You need lots of money, proof of more money, a blood sample, a voucher for your firstborn, and a reference from your priest.

Even if you have all that, it still doesn’t guarantee you the apartment. If you turn in an application, but you don’t put down a deposit to take it off the market, someone else can apply too. Then the landlord can pick which tenant (s)he’d prefer, which is what happened to a friend of mine just last week.

I put down a deposit to take the apartment off the market, which really pissed off my father-in-law. I think it was because the money was going toward the broker fee instead of toward rent or deposit. I didn’t care, I just wanted the apartment.

After the application was complete, then it was time to wait. Normally it takes a couple of days to find out if your application is approved. The broker and landlord knew I was what counts as a “motivated renter.” That basically meant I had the money in hand ready to take the first apartment I loved.

The broker promised to get a quick response from the landlord. I think she pushed it even harder once my father announced we were headed to Manhattan the next day to keep looking. We left her office around 4:30 pm or so to head back to Staten Island.

About an hour later, the phone rang. It was the broker calling back. We were expecting a call from her the next day, certainly not so soon. In my next post, I’ll let you know what she said.