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I live in Brooklyn, NY and I love it here.  I came here for my career in 2009 and haven't once looked back. 

Friday, February 27, 2009

Keys to apartments and art installations

I picked up the keys to the apartment last night (and yes mom and dad I took pictures).
Apartment Photos

I set up a time to meet the superintendent and pick them up from him. He was a nice guy. Showed me around the building, going over all the details of life at Leonard Court right down to where to put the garbage and recycling, how to turn off the valve for the faucet and how not to lock one's self out of the apartment. The doors are tricky.

I took some measurements to be sure of which furniture could go where and then headed back to Park Slope to meet Karishma for dinner.

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We walked around trying to find a place where I could buy flowers for my short term roommates to thank them for letting me stay and then, we ate an Indian restaurant called Amin which kicked. For many reasons. Yes, the food was good but they also played the same Bollywood instrumental CD that India Palace in Greensboro, NC plays...the one they play all the time because they have no other music. It was nostalgic, to say the least.

After we parted, I took the subway home, grinning most of the way as I felt the new keys in my pocket. I live and work in New York City. It's good. It's such a great city. I'm starting to get the hang of it. Right down to knowing which subway car to get on so that when I arrive at my stop I'll get off across from the station exit. Or finding out that if you want a less crowded car, walk to the end of the platform. Also, I've just about memorized the Times Square/42nd Street subway station with all it's twists and turns, so that I don't wind up walking the wrong direction or taking the long way around because the signs are confusing.

There's a whole slew of subway musicians that are actually fairly decent to really good at what they do. At the very least they're entertaining. Here's a rundown of the best I've seen: the guy in all red clothes and a Philadelphia Phillies hat who wheels his way onto the train on a motorized wheel chair, carrying a guitar amp with a microphone and an iPod plugged in, playing "Love is just like the baseball game" while he heckles all the New Yorkers about losing to the Phillies, god knows how many years ago. The musical saw lady, the classical cellist, the 8 year old kid playing classical piano on a casio keyboard, and even, the blind violin player playing the Godfather Theme.

And then the city surprises you with one of those quirky things you've heard about but never seen. Just before coming above ground on the Manhattan bound N train to cross the Manhattan Bridge, I see it. I've heard people talk about it but I never knew where it was. Out the window of the train there's animated art along the walls that you can only see through slats in the subway walls. It animates the way a flip book does as the train is passing it. It's not just graffiti that some brave soul perpetrated in the dungeon of the subway tunnels. It's lit up on purpose to be seen, a sponsored art installation. All I remember was obscure shapes passing by until eventually, I saw a jelly fish animate and swim off. I had to smile. No one else on the train seemed to notice it.

Then, as the train surfaces and begans to traverse the Manhattan bridge, I turn to see the city lights and the Brooklyn bridge to the south. And I remember that I'm in New York and that it is, in fact, cool.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Exhaustion

This is going to exhaust me. That or I'm going to eventually catch up. I didn't sleep a great deal Sunday night, nor last night. Last night the air mattress decided it wanted to deflate, so I woke up sunk down towards the floor, feeling a bit like I was in a water bed, at 4 am. Luckily, I had no trouble getting back to sleep. But I still feel tired today. I had this thought that what if this job sucks all my energy out? Of course, it's only the second day and I predict I will get into a routine and a rhythm with it and eventually it will be easy to not let it wear me out. But really, I spend about an hour and a half commuting, sometimes standing the whole way, and then briskly walking three blocks on either end, after having stood up for most of the day. What's important to me is that my evenings not be spent entirely on making dinner and vegging out in front of the television while resting my aching feet on the sofa. I don't even know if I'll have a television right away at my new place.

Point being, the next few weeks are going to have to be about finding a rhythm. So that I don't find out several hours after lunch that I didn't bring a big enough lunch and then have to take a detour on my commute home to get a snack or groceries or spend money on dinner out, all while maintaining a healthy space in my evenings for writing music and relaxing/socializing. It'll come with time. This week was bound to be difficult of course because I'm not settled in my own place yet. I still feel like I'm tip-toeing around this apartment, trying not to leave my dishes unwashed for too long, trying not to take up too much space in the living room, trying not to make a mess out of the bathroom, feeling slightly guilty about putting my feet up on their couch.

That having been said, I think I've made the right choice in living by myself. I had a slight pang the other day that I'd miss the company of my cousin and her roommate once I'm in my new place. That I'd miss having companionship and camaraderie. I haven't had that in a living situation in a while and, despite that fact that it's been a little bit of an adjustment for me, I have enjoyed having roommates to talk to every day about what's going on in their lives. I will enjoy leaving the dishes in the sink overnight, though, so I can relax in the evening or spend some extra time on that piece I'm working on or whatever. And I can invite friends over whenever. I have the space to accommodate at least two other people, maybe more. Some of the people I met at Farah's Oscar party live in my neighborhood and said they'd love to show me around. So, I already know I have one friend in my neighborhood. Karishma is two train connections away as well.

On the subject of the job though, I'm learning but I don't feel I'm learning (read: being shown) fast enough how to run the place. So tomorrow, I'm going to be assertive that they show me everything as fast as they can so that I can really learn the routine there and become a useful employee sooner. I keep thinking about how they still haven't made a decision yet so the impression I make on them is crucial at this point. I really want this job.

I think I'm going to go watch Monday night's episode of Heroes right now and contemplate missing DVR. Though, my broker did tell me that they can work out a free month of cable for me. I should look into that. Later for now guys.

Monday, February 23, 2009

First day

First day of work done. Lease signed. Oscar party was a success. Spent Saturday in Jackson Heights (outer Queens) picking up Indian food for the Oscar party (my cousin's roommate is Indian and was extremely excited about Slumdog Millionaire being nominated so many times). Been a nice couple of days. Which is why I haven't been blogging much.

I had a really fun weekend during which I met loads of new friends, went to two parties, networked a bit, participated in an impromptu jam session with two violin players with whom I've never played before and wrapped it all up by finally calling that girl I met on Valentine's day.

And work went well today. It was a fun experience all around, from grabbing the daily newspaper from the guy frantically handing them out at the subway entrance to riding the subway with all the commuters to grabbing an espresso at Rocco's on Bleeker on the way to work. The novelty of the subway ride will probably wear off relatively soon. Grabbing an espresso at Rocco's will probably remain cool, however.

The actual work day was fun too. I met my boss at the reception desk and, after waiting too long for the HR people to get there, I was sent down to meet the guy who would be showing me the ropes. Ernest was a pretty cool guy. An older fellow who said he just bought a house in Charlotte and talked of retiring. I'm assuming, if I get the job, it'll be him I'll be replacing.

I pretty much shadowed him all day and learned the routine, picked his brain when I could and watched when I could. There were a few clients that came in to view movie trailers that they had had done, someone else had a feature to watch and finally, the editor for a certain famous actress' film came in to watch the dailies for that film. I was headed out the door at that point so I didn't get to do more than just meet her.

The day went by incredibly fast. One minute it was 10 am and Ernie was showing me how to thread two of the projectors, do changeovers and change lenses. The next minute, I looked at the clock on my cell phone after having practiced the above routine several times, and it was noon. I took my lunch and then wandered into HR to get all the necessary payroll forms filled out. Then, I wandered back down to shadow Ernie some more. Before I knew it, it was 430 and I was just shootin' the shit with Ernie in the projection booth, hanging out and chattin' about everything from New York City to Charlotte, NC.

Only thing was, my feet were killing me by the time I got to the subway because I had been standing most of the day. Luckily, the 1 train wasn't very crowded and neither was the N (the two trains I have to take to get home).

I think I could get used to this routine of taking the train to work, and then working with cool people, doing a cool job, taking the train back, cooking dinner, doing laundry, just living in this city.

At any rate, I've got another adventure to look forward to (or dread, whichever) this weekend. The Move. I'm renting the Uhaul and driving 9 hours with a cat in cat carrier on the floor board of the cab. We'll have to see how that goes.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Signed a lease

Today, I have news. Finally. News. I signed a lease yesterday for a year after a long week of waiting for approval and long day, yesterday, of waiting to reschedule a time to come in to their office. One of their associates who was suppose to meet with me had a family emergency, which they failed to tell me about until after I had already gotten on the train. I only heard the message as I started to trek up the intense wind tunnel avenue from the subway stop in Brooklyn. At that point, I couldn't head home and didn't know enough about the area to effectively kill time. I was mildly annoyed to say the least but managed to find something to do. I trolled around Sunset Park and walked by my new apartment and past the neighborhood's namesake park, Sunset Park. When I absolutely couldn't stand the bitter cold wind anymore, I took the D train back into Manhattan, to West 4th Street, grumbling the whole way, as my cell phone battery was also about to die and I couldn't afford the time to go back to Queens to plug it in.

Incidentally, this happened before with the cell phone going dead from the extra strain of it trying to find a signal in the subway tunnels and someone mentioned the idea of bringing my charger out with me and plugging it in at a Starbuck's if it ever got low again. Unfortunately, I did not apply said advice. That sort of monumentally frustrating happenstance has characterized the entire week. I've found myself trying desperately to find ways to kill time in this city without spending money, because I haven't planned my days well enough. I'll go to Manhattan with a plan in mind, but then it involves meeting someone at a certain time and I have trouble making my original plans last long enough so that I don't have to go back to Queens or hang out in the cold until I can meet said friend. Imagine me sitting in a Starbucks efforting furtive peeks into one or another of my guide books trying to think up some way of passing the time that's interesting, free and doesn't involve trudging up and down avenues against a driving wind with my scarf wrapped around my face.

Luckily, I've only got a few more days of this before I start the job. It's about time. I've been starting to feel slightly useless. I verified with Technicolor yesterday on the phone that I'm coming in at 9:30 am on Monday morning. Thursday, in my travels, I started off a walk through Greenwich village by timing the walk from the subway stop that I'll get off at coming from Brooklyn (West 4th Street) to the Technicolor building on Leroy St. A good 7-10 minute walk. On Monday though, and all of next week, I'll be coming from Queens because I don't move to Brooklyn until Sunday the 1st of March. So, I'll get off at the Houston St. stop on the 1,2,3, line a similar walk. As for the apartment, I'm cleared to move in on the 27th but I obviously can't make that happen because of the circumstances. I have to work that day, plus I need all of the next day to get to Raleigh and get the truck loaded up.

I've reserved a Uhaul truck and am driving it up myself. I didn't want to have to drive something that big into the city but I think it'll be fine. I was averse to it for a long time, mainly because of New York friends telling me it was crazy to do so, and only recently woke up to the necessity of it. I have enough stuff and a small enough window of time to move it to justify renting the truck. It seems absurd to some New Yorkers to move furniture into the city when I could just buy things here but it also seems absurd to me to get rid of things I have that will do (bed, desk, microwave, etc.) and buy them again. Especially since I have a few irreplaceable items that must come that, themselves alone, warrant a truck (guitars, amplifier, computer, cat, piano). Yes, I said piano. I'm going to move it. I'm on the first floor. I have enough friends that don't hate me that I think I could talk into helping me with it (some of them for the second time). And there's room for it and I'm on the first floor, very close to the front door.

Oh shit. As I just typed that, I wondered how being close to the front door (and the street for that matter) will effect the noise level in my apartment. It did seem quiet when I was there at night seeing the place. But then, it was a Sunday night. Err *shrugs* I guess we'll see.

Anyway, other than a potential disaster avoided regarding the allowance of a pet in the apartment (cats are okay, no fee!), everything went well on Friday. And this week, in general. I've been getting the hang of the city, getting a good feel for neighborhoods I like, even collecting ideas for dates. I may ask a girl out that I've met, tomorrow night at an Oscar party I was invited to. But, I'll try not to make this blog about dating in New York City. Interesting as that might be, I'm quite sure it's already been done (see a popular television show with spin-off movie that is set in New York City).

For now, I'm going to head out but I'll keep uploading pictures to picasa. I find that's easier than trying to select the best ones and put them in a blog and chat about them.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Blurb #1

Short blurb today. Still awaiting approval on that apartment, got a call from NY 1 yesterday, been playing phone tag with them since. It was a recruiter with HR on the phone so they seem like they want to talk with me about an interview for the Tech Op position. This is good news. If it pans out, I'll have a back up in case Technicolor doesn't hire me after the trial period. Other than that, I wait. Here's a slide show of NY pictures so far.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

I got an apartment!

Apartment hunting is over! I finally found a place that is me. Today was long and tiring. My feet hurt and I might be regretting those two slices of pizza and beer that I had with my broker after we signed all the paperwork. But beyond that, I'm elated. At least until I start thinking of the logistics of moving the rest of me up here. Furniture, guitars, kitchen stuff, books, cat, etc. Oh, desk and chairs. I could just be content to have no furniture for a while, but if I can bring it up I might as well.

Anyway, today's hunting began in Williamsburg with another share I went and saw out of politeness because I had already set up the appointment with them before going to the broker. They were nice people and it was less of a hovel than most places I'd seen. They had a great dog but they weren't counting on other pets. The place was pretty small for two animals and with a cat you always have to consider where the litter box goes. At any rate, after that I walked around Williamsburg for a bit and found a park while walking toward something that, from far off, looked like the Taj Mahal. From the park, I could see midtown, the Empire State building and the Chrysler building among other giants.
I considered going back to Queens to charge my phone but it was already almost four and I would have to turn right around, defeating the purpose of my going home. So I went back into Manhattan, broke a 20 and got quarters in case I'd need to use a pay phone. Piddled around Union Square and then went to meet my broker at six.

The subway route that we needed to take to get to the first place was convoluted and require walking above ground to connect between stations. I was already exhausted by it all and so was my broker, I could tell. The first place ended up being near, almost in, Bed Stuy and the Long Island Railroad. Both details lost it some points. We never got to the see the inside either because there was no one there to let us in as she had expected. We gave it 30 minutes of calling the landlord and knocking on the windows of the other tenants but then gave up. Shame, I liked the look of the outside, but in all honesty, I probably wouldn't have taken it on account of the train being so close. And it being in Bed Stuy.

Moving on, we were to see two in Sunset Park just off the D train. The first one had a very dingy feel to it, even beyond the fact that they were still in the process of painting it and probably were going to replace the appliances as they were crawling with bugs.

There was one last place to go and I was feeling rather put off by the evening's events so far. The last one, was a block away on the other side of the street. Immediately, I could see that I liked the outside of the building much better than the last one. There was an archway with columns that said, at the top, "Leonard Court" or something to that effect. The front lobby of the building was painted a strange hue of light blue and there was very detailed molidng on the ceilings and walls. The doors were a maroon color. My apartment is on the first floor. When I stepped in, I could see that this one, unlike the others I had seen the past few days, was finished and ready to be lived in. It was small but tolerably so and felt like home. I knew right away but I looked it over for a good ten minutes and went over my questions several times. Heat and hot water included, broker's fee, pet friendly, (technically, I may have to put down a deposit but I don't care. I love my cat), utilities, extermination services, how are the neighbors, landlord, the neighborhood (seeing places at night was a great idea, I got a great feel for the neighborhoods like that). I checked all the cupboards and appliances out. I even made sure the windows open.

Then, I said, "I think this is it." I'm sure she was just as relieved as I was. We headed back to the Park Slope office to fill out the paperwork and then she, her colleague and I went out for pizza and beer down the block at a place called Brothers. It was a great feeling. I grinned more than once on the train ride home. Thankfully, I was able to take the N train all the way back. But it's getting colder again here and the wind bites a little more when you turn those corners. I glimpsed a bank marquis as I crossed the Brooklyn Bridge that stated the temperature as 1 degree Celsius.

I have a lot of work to do this week with securing this apartment still. Mainly credit and background and "can I pay for this apartment" type stuff for the actual landlord's sake. And it looks like, since it's a March 1st move-in date that I'm going to be staying with my cousin just a little bit longer and I'll be launching off for my first week of work from here. I don't even want to think about the coordination of it all until tomorrow morning. Wish me luck! I'm off to bed for now.

Apartment hunting

Tonight, I find an apartment. I'm meeting some people with a room share at 3:15 (hoping to get into my yahoo mail by then and get the directions, yahoo seems to be having technical issues at the moment). Then tonight, I go with my broker to Sunset Park, Park Slope and Kensington to look at some other places. Last time I spoke on the phone with her she seemed mildly annoyed that one of the places we had looked at on Thursday was gone already, saying we needed to move quickly. This is true, but I still don't want to feel pressure to take something that isn't right for me. I don't know. Maybe I went in to this without every single criterion nailed down. For one thing, I was looking at the wrong price range for my expectations. Once I got my tax return and my last paycheck, it became apparent that I could afford a little more up front. So these next few places are slightly higher in rent then the last couple. Hopefully, that will translate into just a little more space. We'll see.

I finally got in touch with NY 1. I called the HR manager and got one of his assistants who told me to email my resume to them. Hopefully, it'll put me at the top of the list and they'll call me tomorrow. It's all about getting an interview so that I won't be totally screwed if Technicolor doesn't pan out. When I got here, I was hoping that Technicolor was a done deal. They told me it was only three weeks for sure and then it depended on my performance on the job because there was someone else vying for the job. I'm still confident but I have yet to even see what the job is going to be like. So, it's best to keep my options open now.

Who knows what'll happen. Meanwhile, I've had a great week just meeting people and getting the hang of the city. I did some walking around Rockerfeller plaza and Times Square on Friday by myself, then met Karishma around 39th and 7th and we walked back to Times Square. She wanted to see these red steps at the edge of Times Square. From there, above the street level, I shot a ton of pictures and had my dad stitch them together into a panoramic shot.



Click on the picture to get a better look at it.

Done being tourists, we took the E train down to W 4th street, the heart of Greenwich Village. There we had authentic Ethiopian food on the street where part of Across the Universe was set. Then we went to Rocco's on Bleeker street for the best cannoli in NYC. It was pretty good but I have no basis for comparison yet. I spent the remainder of the evening watching Love Actually with my cousin and her roommate back in Astoria. Almost spent Valentine's Day in the same fashion but, my cousin's roommate had invited me to go out dancing with her and some of her friends. My first official night out in NYC. I had a lot of fun. I won't give a blow by blow of the evening's events but I will say that there was very little dancing and a whole lot of watching after people who'd had too much. I almost stayed there in the East Village but decided to head home. One of the people we were out with implored me to take a cab instead of the train and gave me a little money to do so.

Anyway, wish me luck tonight.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Slight disappointment followed by uplifting pep talk

Harrowing as this is, I reminded myself on the train ride home from Brooklyn that I'm built out of stronger stuff and that this is actually the time of my life. That having been said, the broker was a slight disappointment. Mainly because I was going on the assumption that my experience would be identical to Karishma's. We weren't even looking for the same type of apartments. She was after a two bedroom for her and her friend. I put on my list studios and one bedroom apartments between $800 and $1000 a month and narrowed my search to a few nice neighborhoods in Brooklyn. The only neighborhoods with studios that cheap just happened to be Crown Heights and Kensington. Of the two Kensington apartments, one was unavilable tonight and the other was anti-Penelope. Not a good way to be if you want to be my living space. So we blew off Kensington altogether for this evening.

My agent was laboring under the peculiar delusion that I owned a car. I laughed and said I didn't have one. So, we took the subway from Eastern Parkway (which she informed me was the first parkway in America) over to Crown Heights and viewed two separate apartments, one a studio and the other, something she called a junior one bedroom. This translates to small as a closet with a stove. I wish I had taken pictures. The second place was much more open, yet it was a studio with no partitions between the living spaces, truly one room to live in. The kitchen in this apartment was smaller than a walk in closet, so small you couldn't open the cupboard below the sink without hitting the stove. Counter space? Fuggedaboutit!

Most people will hear me talking like this and say, "That's New York." And they're right...but this was really small for a kitchen. Really.

The first place, the landlord was reluctant to allow cats so he was charging a $500 pet fee, the other was down with the feline vibe but wouldn't pay the broker fee. As far as rent goes, the junior one bedroom was $900 and the studio was $1050.

New York apartment hunting maxim #248: "If you want space, get a 2 bedroom and a roommate."

The lesson I feel I've learned this evening is this: Not to box myself in. At first, I was all: "Room share makes more sense for now, then when I know more about the job I can move again into something more me." Then, it occurred to me that moving twice in less than a few months is absurd. So, I'm thinking broker is the way to go and they'll get me sorted out real quick. Now, I'm thinking I need to swing back the other way towards the center, towards compromise. Living alone was lovely, living alone was practically transcendent compared to the host of roommates I've had since college (including my ex). Yet, to completely rule out that possibility at this point is to, what? Box myself in. Boxing myself in leads to the feeling of claustrophobia. Leads to the feeling I had on the train as I left the broker behind at the Franklin Ave. stop. Good thing it was a long train ride. There's nothing like a long train ride to both rest your aching feet and to clear your head and get some perspective.

Breathe Tim.

So, when I get home I have an email from someone on craigslist telling me he'd love to have me come over and see his apartment.

And while talking to Karishma, the idea came up to go ahead and get a two bedroom and then try to find a roommate over craigslist or through friends. That way I can do the weeding out based on whoever calls me. With Rapid Realty, you only have to pay the deposit to get it off the market. Then, I'd have time to secure a roommate who could help me with paying broker's fee and first month's rent. It's not a bad idea. And that also just happens to be the key to not despairing anyway: realizing that no matter what the situation, you have more options than you think.

Anyhow, I leave you with yet another picture of a church up around Columbia University. This is St. John the Divine on Amsterdam and Cathedral Parkway (110th st.). I went there to meet a friend in the afternoon at a place across the street from where this picture was taken called Hungarian Pastry Shop. It was nice. I love this city. It's so vivid and cultural. And boy was it windy today. And my legs are killing me from all of this walking. Those were my final observations. Now I'm going to go sleep.

Broker, Bryant Park, Public Library

Meeting with a broker tonight. I caved. What can I say? I know I've only been at it for a few days looking for a room share but I got to thinking about it and talking about it with wise people, and it doesn't make no sense, but it makes less sense to go through all the trouble of getting a room share set up just because I don't think I can get into a lease with my shaky job situation. Especially if, when it comes down to it, I could get someone to co-sign if I really needed to. In getting a lease right away, I'll only have to move once and I can get it all taken care of before I start with Technicolor. It doesn't all have to be a huge hassle.

I'm, of course, still looking on craigslist because I'm fully prepared for the potentiality that we won't find anything that suits me tonight. Yes, tonight. At 8pm. I'm actually meeting with a broker that late. It was the first time she threw out and I said yes immediately, because it makes sense to go check a place out at night to see both the general feel of the neighborhood at that hour, whether safe or seedy, plus seeing it at night when every one is home will give me an idea of the noise level. I've wanted to do this with every place that I've moved into over the past few years but never either had the time or the inclination to do it. Some places it might have been a good thing, other places, like the house in Greensboro, it wouldn't have mattered how awful the neighborhood's behavior was after hours, I still would have signed the lease.

In Brooklyn, however, I feel it's probably a good idea because, though I'm avoiding Bed Stuy for it's well publicized seediness, I don't have a very good bearing on these other neighborhoods except the opinions of a few people here and there, none of which is consistent. I'm being shown two maybe three places, perhaps more tonight in Crown Heights and in Kensington. Kensington was a little off of my map but, come to find out, it's south of Prospect Park. I'm slightly apprehensive about the distance out from Manhattan but I've yet to actually ride the subway out there...might be time to Hop Stop it. (www.hopstop.com is the best website to hit metroplitan areas ever, period.)

The broker that I'm going with is the one that Karishma used to find her place (which is pretty awesome for the price). They're called Rapid Realty and they're not effing kidding. I put in a request for an appointment on their web site and they called me back in, I'm not kidding, two minutes. Seems promising. They have tons of no fee apartments where the land lord will pay the broker fee but at this point, I have the savings to throw at a broker's fee if I absolutely have to. Not worried.














Anyway, I spent the afternoon yesterday trekking it up to 44th street between 8th and 9th avenues to find a barber shop that I'd heard of that did cheap haircuts (cheap even by NC standards). I located it but I only had a little time to meet Karishma between her two jobs in Bryant Park so I decided I'd come back, once I'd found out if it was still there (this place has no web presence at all, so I wasn't entirely sure). Bryant Park was loaded full of people but Karishma already had a seat at one of the tables on the southwest corner of the park where we sat for a good hour or so just hanging out and people watching.













Karishma had never been to the public library, though she works adjacent to it every day. So we rambled around the building for a bit taking ridiculous photos and perusing the art on the ceilings and walls, even spending a little time in the Rose Main Reading Room being genearlly obnoxious and wondering how to get up to the second level. After having our fill of photos taken in the stairwell, we parted ways, she to her job and me to my haircut.

I headed back over to the Barber Shop on 44th street. When I arrived at the tiny basement shop, there was one man sitting in one of the barber chairs with his feet up on the counter. I asked if he had time to do a haircut and he said "Yeah, sure, sit down right here." in a rapid NY accent. It has to have been the fastest hair cut I've ever gotten. And this guy was old school too, finishing off my sideburns and my neck with an honest-to-god straight razor. Great experience all around. And inexpenisve too. I paid $10 for the whole deal and tipped him $3. Not bad since, I've heard a typical Manhattan haircut is around $25.

One last picture from the day:


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Pictures of Astoria and an Adventure in Williamsburg

I went for a walk today around Astoria, mainly because I had to get out of the house. One can only do so much apartment hunting before actually hearing back from any potential roommates. As a rule, I've pretty much decided to stick with apartment ads that were posted today or yesterday, on any given day. That way, I don't risk wasting my time with something that might be taken already. I've found a good deal of them in Brooklyn, around Crown Heights, Prospect Heights and Williamsburg. Most of them, there will be one to two other roommates. One is a 4 bed, it looks like. I've only gotten one response and it was an email telling me to call to set up an appointment tonight. So, I called left a message and they called back while I was typing this blog. That was an awesome story, going to see that place. Read on.

I walked through Astoria towards the Tri-Borough bridge and into a little park called, fittingly, Astoria Park. There's a walking path that circles the whole path, a running track, a few tennis courts, an outdoor pool with a diving area, a stadium, several park benches and a view of the East River. The Tri-Borough bridge is seen here on the right. It was peaceful, though a somewhat gloomy day. There are some ugly houses facing the park but some are quaint in a way.


After circling the park and getting some shots of the East River and the like, I hiked down 21st street to 30th avenue and on over to the above ground train at 31st street. 30th avenue boasts that it is the heart of Astoria and has all manner of stores as well as the hospital and the huge grocery Trade Fair (like Fair Trade with dyslexia...sorry, no more puns, I swear). I've been down here a few times and have even gotten off one stop early at the 30th avenue stop once or twice. I'm getting the hang of the neighborhood but I feel in a week or two I may be getting the hang of a new neighborhood in Brooklyn. I went to Crown Heights on Sunday night to have dinner with Karishma at her place with her roommate and her neighbors. I like it. It's close to the train and a decent ride into the city (If you switch to the N or the Q at Atlantic Avenue, you cross the Brooklyn Bridge above ground).

Last night I actually went to Williamsburg for dinner near the Bedford avenue stop and then five more stops in on the L train to view an apartment that I might live in. It was quite the bohemian lair. Off of the Morgan avenue stop on the L, there is a huge industrial sector with a lot of old warehouses being turned into lofts. After finding my bearings I walked up to this place thinking, "No, absolutely not," but I had to check it out nonetheless. As I approached the place, I could hear drums and a bass guitar wafting out of a basement room and I could see into tall windows along the sides of each loft on either side of the street. I was buzzed in and the stairwell smelled like fresh paint, a smell I almost confused for urine. My potential roommate was waiting at the top of the stairs and led me in. The hallway opened up in front of me. Bright fluorescent lights, high ceilings, plain walls and a series of identical doors lining the hallway, faint noises of music and talking wafted in from other rooms. The place looked really gloomy at first. Her place was full of stuff, her two roommates sat on the couch watching you tube videos. A local artist's work adorned the walls. She later explained that they were the work of one of the people who owned the coffee shop below (did I mention there was a coffee shop below?) and she just needed a place to store them.

She seemed very nice. I might go so far as to say "cool." The story was, her current roommates, a couple, were moving out and that was freeing up two rooms in a 3 bedroom space. All of these lofts look different according to her, and the landlords let you do whatever you want to your space. Some leave them open, others split them into rooms. This was split into three bedrooms, of course, a living space and a kitchen with the bathroom right off the kitchen. There was a great deal of clutter in the apartment but it was mostly attributed to the two that'll be moving out. There was a cat there who looks astonishingly exactly like my dad's cat, only with one surprising feature that I've only seen once on another cat: double paws! He was very nice. His name was Nan. He chewed on my finger.

I was so torn because I know that I'm going to need much quieter and cleaner lodgings but the place was so cool. And by cool I mean unique and that the tenant that I'd be sharing the place with was a cool person. At another time in my life maybe, a time that has already passed. I wish I'd had my camera with me to show you the neighborhood. There were three big warehouse lofts in my eye sight on that street and there was even a quarry at one end of the street. I felt like I was in a scene from Fight Club, like where the house on Paper St. was and that Tyler Durden was going to come out of the wood work and ask me to hit him as hard as I could at any moment.

I got hit up for change on the way to the subway and decided that I wouldn't call her back. There'll be plenty of other people calling her and I'll have plenty of other places to choose from.

With that said, it's back to the hunt for now. I leave you with this picture of the streets in Astoria where 30th avenue and 30th street cross. There's a lot of funniness with numbered streets and avenues...then you throw in numbered roads and it gets even more confusing. 25th road crosses 25th street but not 25th avenue, which is in an entirely different part of town.



Monday, February 9, 2009

Some real news

I woke up at 8 am this morning. No, that's not the real news. But it is shocking for someone like me who's been working until 4 am consistently for the past 8 months. No, seriously, though, I called Technicolor first thing and left a message with both office and cellular, hoping to talk to them about the job. The job which will determine my next course of action. They called me back eventually and asked me if I could come in on February 23rd. I said yes, of course, and they went on tell me that the details were essentially this: I'm going to be working for a three week period, one week in training and two weeks actually doing the job. There's one other person in the running for the job so I have a 50/50 chance of getting it over the other person, who, I'm assuming, is probably working there now since I wasn't available right away. The pay is decent too. I've already done my budgeting for the next few months based on what I will be making and the good news is I will be able to eat, daily.

Anyhow, this is good news because within hours I've been able to think up a plan for the next few months based on whether things go good or things go not good. What's going to happen now is I'm going to find a room share or a sublet, something short term for the next few months, basically as long as I know I can afford to live up here. If I get hired, I will, at that point, give my notice to the sub lesser and/or roommate and start looking for a studio apartment, once I know I will have steady income. In the meantime, once I get into a sublease or whatever, I will have a good two weeks to get down to Raleigh and get my stuff back up here. Not too bad.

What if I don't get the job with Technicolor, you ask? Tomorrow morning, I'm going to make contact with NY 1 and try to get an interview with them. Hopefully, they will give me more than just the time of day since I am a former Time Warner employee. I'll just have to tell them that I'm not available to work until mid March. This way there's a plan B and I keep my options open.

Excited to have this part figured out. I think tomorrow I'll post pictures of some stuff that I'm seeing everyday just to give you more of an idea what it's like up here. And I think I'll catch a few movies this week so I'll know what the hell I'm talking about when the Oscars roll around. Peace for now.

On Why I moved to NYC and plans for after settling

I wasn't going to post until I had some good news about either job hunting or apartment hunting but I'm wide awake and I just spent about an hour trying to get the damned wireless connection to work on my lap top. I'm actually on my cousin's computer right now, though I should probably try mine out again since what ultimately fixed the problem was resetting the modem and the router (pretty typical). I love computers. I do. I wish everything in life could be fixed by unplugging it and plugging it back in sometimes. Though I do love a challenge. And there's my kick ass segue into the topic of this blog and reason number one in a series of blogs I'm going to call, "Why I moved to New York."

I do indeed love a challenge. I don't think life would be worth living if we didn't challenge ourselves to do things that are out of our comfort zones. Something big, at least once in your life. Never mind that it's exciting too, to go beyond your comfort zone. It's incredibly enriching to challenge yourself and to find out that you can do exactly what someone or other told you that you couldn't do. I moved up here for a couple hundred reasons but the one that sort of tied them all together was the inherent challenge in leaving all familiarity and certainty behind and throwing myself into something that to most seems like a veritable crap-shoot. Living in New York City. It's expensive, there's a lot of people here, there's a lot of people here trying to make it, it's loud, the living accommodations are small, it's cold in the winter. Most people who've said anything about the weather, have told me, jokingly, that I've picked a crazy time to move up here. Meaning, of course, in the dead of winter (ironically, it's actually in the 40s and 50s most of this week). That makes me want to say, "Why would I bother trying to avoid that when it's a fact of life up here?" Never mind the fact that cold weather has never bothered me as much. I'm not going to stand out in the streets in my underwear after all. I grew up knowing how to dress for the weather and, in fact, it's something that I pride myself on. It's something you can't run from up here and if I want to get used to living up here, I might as well take on the worst of it first thing when I arrive in the city.

That having been said, no, it has not been cold here. I'd say it's averaged about 10 degrees cooler than Raleigh. Not too shabby.

Back to what I was talking about, a challenge. If I stayed in NC, where you don't have bitter cold, you don't have a huge crowded city with tiny living accommodations, I'd get bored. That's not to say that I didn't enjoy living there and I won't miss people. I did and I will. But, if I stayed there I'd wonder my entire life what could have been if I had just challenged myself. So that's why I came. A huge "Why not?" was staring me in the face.

On another slightly related topic, it's a strange thing, but, I don't yet feel like I live here (mainly because I don't technically), but I also don't feel like I'm on a visit. I've felt at home on public transit ever since my third or so trip here back in March of last year (this probably comes from a little bit of practice with the Paris metro, too). I have my friends here. I've been talking this up (as most of you know) in my head and to other people as long as I've been dreaming it up. For all intents and purposes, I've been here in my mind since I finished grad school 9 months ago.

I'm assuming once I'm working and I have my own place, then it'll feel real. But right now, I just feel in limbo. It's mildly frustrating but I'm one to take that all in stride these days. I look at it all as a part of the journey and an essential part. If everything were perfect right away, then this really wouldn't feel real. Because, I've spent all this time thinking about it and preparing myself for it, it all just feels like it was supposed to happen exactly like this and I've had no disappointments about it yet. In fact, back on that taking it all in stride thing, I've even been preparing myself for when things don't work out as planned. It's made for a marvelous transition. See my first blog about how I finally came to make the decision about when to move. It was all centered around things not going as planned and me realizing that too much planning could be detrimental to a degree.

At any rate, regardless of how things go or are going, I've caught myself thinking about what steps to take once I am settled, because, transcendent as I can be about the uncertainties that will no doubt characterize these next few weeks, I do see the importance of some plans being laid and those plans working out as planned. So, I've got a couple of things in mind. One, an album of electronic music that I will produce and put up on CD baby and promote through myspace. The idea behind the album will be musique concrete but using rock guitar sounds as source material instead of just any real world sound. But it will be more melodic. I've had a few ideas running through my head. This is why I will eventually need a studio with cool neighbors, because I will eventually need to record said source material. And it might be loud.

Another idea, is to take a few of the musical ideas for concert music that I have floating around and arrange them for a chamber ensemble that will include electric guitar (both distorted and clean guitar). Then I'll submit them to composition festivals and competitions.

All of this requires my own space and 90% of the equipment for it all is still in Raleigh.

Soon, though. Soon. I really should get to bed. And if I end another blog like that, someone please punch me in the face. I do need to get off that overnight shift schedule.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Last night in Raleigh

Here it is. Last night in Raleigh. I should say, "There it went." or something to that effect. I just left the Hibernian Pub and some friends that I thought I had seen for the last time before. It was a nice low key final evening and it was nice to see them all one last time. As I drove home, however, I started to get a little sentimental. Okay, let's face it, I was getting sentimental even last night in Carrboro as I said good bye to another close friend, who no doubt promises to come and visit. And, I'm not going to lie, I've been sentimental for the past month. That's why I threw a going away party last week. I'm going to miss you Raleigh (and Durham and Chapel Hill and Carrboro and Greensboro) folks.

But now, I'm so excited about leaving that I don't think I'll be able to sleep very well tonight. I took some Valerian root so maybe I will but we'll see. I don't fly until 2:50pm which should give me plenty of time to either sleep in, or wake up early and pack and repack a dozen more times. There are two suitcases on the floor of my bedroom packed to the brim and I'm sitting here still wondering what I'm going to miss/forget/need/not need etc. The cat's on the list of what I'll miss.
Here she is sitting on my suitcase asking what the F@#$ is going on. Soon, my dear, soon, you'll be moving up with me. She's not going to like the 9 hour car ride, I can guarantee that.

I'm trying not to think too hard about all that yet, because so much has to be decided first. Where I'm living, how I'm moving, when I'm moving, etc.

But beyond all of this, as I spend my last night in Raleigh, I'm thinking about how incredible it is to finally be doing this. Not just to be finally doing it, but that I stuck to some plan and saw it through. When I left college back in 2003, I had no plan. I didn't even know what the hell I would do for a job until after I changed my mind about studying for a year in France and knew I'd be staying in Raleigh. I was honestly just thinking I'd get married and that was it. Ha! Then I figured, with a media degree, I ought to work in television rather than film, but I had no idea how to get in except a barrage of badly written cover letters. This time, though, well before graduation, I knew where I'd be going even if I didn't know exactly how to get there. It feels so much better this time around.

When I got to thinking about how it's going to feel to leave from the airport tomorrow, I actually was reminded of a time in 2003 when I was at the airport leaving for a whole different destination. I was headed to the west coast to be a teaching assistant for a course through Duke University's TIP program, a two week film-making course for high school juniors and seniors. I was so eager and excited, one, to be getting out of Raleigh, two, to be going to Los Angeles after having finished a degree in film and three, just basically to be setting out on an adventure at a young age all by my onesy. How cool, right? Well, hungry as I was to prove myself to the world, I was still too wet behind the ears and I wound up coming back and getting smacked with the real world, realizing that I had all of these responsibilities waiting for me. I gave up the France study abroad trip to stay in Raleigh and get married, which meant I had to get a steady job. Why in the world I was so eager to get married so young when I was so interested in a career in film is still a mystery that I've decided to stop beating into the ground. Perhaps I didn't want it bad enough. I really didn't even know what I was up against then anyhow. But now, I most certainly do want it and I most certainly do know what I'm up against. I feel alive in a way that I almost did when I was setting off for LA almost 6 years ago. Undoubtedly, this time will be different. I'll have a lot to write about and hopefully, I'll keep it current and update often. But I promise for the sake of those who just want to know what's going down, I will only write interesting stuff up here. None of that, "I took a walk today and bought a hot dog" stuff. Unless there's some interesting story involving those hot dogs. I guess hot dogs are a bad example because I will probably do my best to avoid hot dogs from street vendors.

I should go to sleep. I really should. Wish me luck tomorrow. I'll blog again when things slow down.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The logistics of finding a place to live

Now down to my last couple of shifts at work and counting down until the day I fly up. I've been trying to wrap my brain around some logistics. In a way, it would be easier if I were moving up in one motion but instead, I'm taking a few suitcases (and I also mailed some clothes up ahead of me), and then in a few weeks, depending on the housing scenario I decide on (room share, studio, sublet, etc.), I'll be flying back down when I can manage it and, somehow, borrowing a car or taking a uHaul up with the rest of my stuff. The ideal scenario would be of course to take as little as possible, i.e. clothes, books, creature comforts, kitchen stuff and my computer and musical instruments, and get all the big stuff I need up there, i.e. furniture. Or I could just look for a place that's already furnished, whether it be a sublet or a room share. No one wants to move furniture into a tiny walk-up.

I'm still waiting to hear back about that job offer, the exact details of which will determine what type of housing scenario I go after. If prospects look good that it'll be full time and if we can negotiate a decent salary then I may just shoot for a studio or a one bed. As I type this, I hear that familiar (to me) echo of every friend I have in New York to whom I've spoken about this. "The first place you get into in New York is not going to be ideal but it's important that you take it so you'll have a base of operations from which to look for your ideal living scenario." I'm really considering now just going in on a room share or a sublet, regardless of the situation with my job. It's the path of least resistance. I more than likely won't have to jump through as many hoops, (employment verification, copies of pay stubs, etc.) and it'll be more affordable to boot sharing a place with someone.

And in that case, I can start looking for apartments the moment I hit the ground on Saturday. I started researching apartments this summer and it has not only been incredibly entertaining but, in a way, it has sustained me. At times when living in New York seemed so far off, I could just open up newyork.craigslist.org and maps.google.com and peruse the ads to my heart's content. It would take my mind off the wait.

A while back I even posted an ad on craigslist looking for a roommate, well before I had any business doing so. The result was that I got in touch with a 26 year old nurse from SC who was looking to move to NYC in the same manner as me, straight out of school and after a stint living with the parents. We hit it off and chatted on the phone loads of times and would send each other ad postings for apartments on craigslist that we thought were good and comment on each others' tastes. For a while, it really seemed like it would work out, despite close family members begging me to be careful with potential internet psychos. She seemed pretty normal and, in fact, she was. But, I was not ready to move, then. And neither was she. She was waiting until she graduated in December and then when I called her around that time she said her money wasn't where it needed to be. Whatever that meant. We lost touch with each other, tried to reconnect and then ultimately lost touch again.

Now that I'm going for sure, I'm not too inclined to call this girl. Not that I think she's a flake or I think she's psycho (which I don't). I think it's just a better idea at this point to find a sublet or a room share. For several reasons. I'll come off much cheaper then trying to get a new lease on a place, where I stand to pay anywhere from security and first month to security, first and last month plus broker fee. I'm prepared to be faced with the much higher cost of living in New York but I don't necessarily need to be beaten over the head with it mere days after landing at LaGuardia airport. In a room share, I could learn a lot more about the city from a veteran and even make a friend or friends out of the situation. Plus, I'll more than likely find a furnished apartment waiting for me or at the very least not have to buy as much furniture.

It might sound funny but I'm actually looking forward to the adventure of finding an apartment. The adventure of moving the rest of my stuff into that apartment, however, is something I'm somewhat dreading. Especially if it involves driving a uHaul, or anything for that matter, through the city.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

New York or bust

This is my first blog about my adventures in New York City and I'm not even physically there yet. Whenever I start a journal that's centered around a trip or an event, I like to begin early on to sort of capture the events leading up to the start of whatever it is. For something like this, however, I could have started months ago, years ago even, because this has been something I've been planning since I split with my ex two years ago. That should put into perspective how exciting this is for me, to have it all be finally falling into place.

In the past few months, I went from a very casual and cautious approach to my relocation, to an all-out now or never, do or die sort of approach. First, my cousin needed a roommate, so I was "definitely going up because I had the whole apartment thing figured out and all I needed was to save first and then get a job." Then, that fell through, but I found out that I could transfer with my job potentially so it was "let me wait until a job opens up with NY 1." That just wasn't happening though and I started to despair a little that it would be mid year before I could do it. Then, I got an offer to sublet somewhere, so I jumped on it and was about to quit my job when the sublet fell through. Then, in the space of a few hours, I decided that I shouldn't let that stop me. I shouldn't have been letting anything but lack of funds hold me back, otherwise I saw myself continuing to make excuses for why I wasn't just packing up and moving. I had the savings, I had the drive to do it and most importantly, I had a network of friends and family in place that would be there to help me through just about anything.

So, in short, my cousin is letting me stay with her until I get a job and can get into an apartment or a room share. Luckily, the first place I interviewed with, a rather unexpected job with Technicolor, called me back and wants to have me work for them for a while on a freelance basis to see if they want to hire me full time. Admittedly, it doesn't immediately sound like a job offer, but it doesn't exactly sound like a bad thing either. For once, a cover letter of mine gets noticed and then, for once, the first interview alone gets me called back. That sounds better than nothing at all.

At any rate, I'm gearing up for a whirlwind first weekend in the city. I fly up on Saturday afternoon, and already have dinner plans with my friends. I'm excited to see everyone but it's going to be a semi-uncomfortable few weeks as I lose those few creature comforts I had having my own space in folks' house. I'm bringing up only two suitcases full of clothes and a laptop to get me through the first week while I settle in the job and figure out if I can afford my own place or if I need a roommate, if I want to find my own apartment or if I want to grab a room share situation.

The lap top is key because I can't bring my desktop obviously if I'm just flying but I found this amazing site called Logmein.com. With a free account you can download software onto your home computer that will make it so you can log in to your computer from anywhere with an internet connection. I'm doing a trial of the professional version now though, which allows you to hear the audio, drop and drag files from the home computer to the remote and share your desktop with anyone you want. The audio is key for me, of course, because I'm a musician and I need to hear the audio files on my home computer.

My desktop can stay where it is for now and I can access it from the city and do whatever I need to. Print resumes, for example, or work on my music.

So, that's that and I'll update again as I get closer with impressions and of course, once I touch down in NYC. Wish me luck all.