About Me

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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. 

Sunday, February 28, 2010

I'm in...

There's no way to begin a story like this. I guess I'll start with the snow storm. The one that snuck in after yours truly mistakenly said that he thought that last snow storm would probably be the last one of the season. (Who says things like that after only living in a place for a year?) It didn't stop snowing for two days straight, it just went from wet slushy snow to big fluffy snowflakes to sandy light dry snow to sunshine, to back to big fluffy snowflakes and on and on while I stood there wondering how this whole move would pan out.

The drama really began though with me going to pick up the keys from the superintendent at the new building. He gave me a handful of keys to try, so I did and one worked on the door lock, none in the deadbolt, which I was certain was locked. Let's forget for a moment that the problem probably was that the cylinder was old and needed to be pulled outward and twisted toward the door jamb to unlock. And let's assume that it really was a necessity for the super to send one of his guys down the fire escape from the roof and into the window to unlock it from the inside. All week long I went back and forth between the super and my broker trying to figure out where the key to that deadbolt was because I was certain someone still had it because they obviously let Katrina into the apartment. The super was telling me that no one had the key because the tenant always changes that lock themselves. Then the broker told me that she gave that key to the security guard. Then it came down to the super saying he'd change the cylinder for us if we didn't want to. Then Saturday morning came around and I called him and asked him if he had done so. He said he couldn't do it until Monday. I freaked. This was Saturday morning, the day of the move. So I pestered the realty agency and every person there I had ever been in contact with about it until one of them called the super and it became clear that the super didn't quite realize that I had been unable to get into the apartment at all. (Strange that I had mentioned this to him about five times, once while standing two feet from him and I'm quite sure the exact words out of my mouth were, "I was unable to get into the unit.")

At any rate, the aforementioned rooftop fire escape shenanigans were the ultimate solution that morning. But once in the apartment, I took one look around and realized that the contractors that had been renovating the apartment had not finished the job. There was construction dust and dirt all over the floors, the appliances were still wrapped, the stove not assembled, no water in the toilet, bathroom was covered in paper, no towel rack, no toilet paper holder, and no clothing rod in my closet. I was perturbed to say the least and I got the super back upstairs to help with what he could, while I swept the apartment up. I also noticed that ConEd had not turned on the electricity yet, like they were supposed to on Wednesday last. So, yet another hurdle and this comes into the story later.

At this point, Katrina was loading at her old place with her parents and I was getting a call from my friend who was already waiting at my old place. I hadn't even gotten the cat set up at the new place, which was my plan. So, I grabbed the train back to my old place and my friend and I started shoveling snow where the truck was going to have to park. Meanwhile, Katrina was getting delayed having to shovel out the truck at her house. After my friend and I did all we could with the snow, we loaded up Penny in the cat carrier and carried her, howling the whole way, on the train to the new apartment where Katrina and her folks were meeting us to unload her stuff.

We made quick work of Katrina's stuff but as it got darker outside, it got darker in the apartment obviously and moving things in got even harder. Plus, I was unfortunately short one hand for the load up at my place, a friend who never called, by the way. I knew on the way over there that we wouldn't have the manpower for the bulkier items, especially the piano. Everyone was tiring out and the one hand I had was leaving for work at 7:45. So, as I sat there in panic mode, pondering my options, I decided it was time to call in the moving help. Cheryl and Flip didn't have to have the truck back until 2pm the next day and they said they were willing to stay the night somewhere so we could keep working the next day.

I concoted a plan to call movers and have them help finish the job instead of trying to wrangle friends to help short notice but without internet I was limited in my options. In the end, I wound up calling the 866 number on the side of the Uhaul truck. 1-866-My-E-Move. Do not call them. I mean, don't get me wrong, it's a helpful service; they set you up with a moving company based on your zip that meets your criteria. But they asked me if I was moving a piano and then failed to get me movers who advertised moving pianos. Of course, I didn't know this that night and just placed the order and left the big items at my place to be carried the next day by someone else...someone else who wasn't quite as sore and achy as Katrina and me.

That night we went back to our new apartment, Cheryl and Flip went and got a hotel, and we sat in the dark, drinking wine and eating chocolate and waiting until the super could throw the main breaker in the basement. See, earlier on, Katrina called ConEd and had them come do what they were supposed to do three days prior. But, they didn't manage to notify the super that they were done and that he could throw the main breaker. I called the super upon finding this out earlier in the evening and he said he was in Manhattan and would be back later on. So, around 11pm, we decided to call him again and see if he had forgotten us. He answered saying he was in the building, but sounding like he had forgotten. Within minutes we finally had power and, after dancing around the apartment for a few, we wound up crashing around 1 am.

When I met the movers the next morning, they spotted the piano and promptly informed me that they were unaware that there would be a piano involved. Recalling the phone conversation with 1-866-MY-E-MOVE, I remembered the first question I was asked by the agent on the line was, "Are you moving a piano?" I actually thought it was a strange question for someone to ask who didn't know me and answered, "Actually, I am."

These guys, though? No idea. I have no idea how it happened that they didn't get told that piece of information and I cannot remember the name of the lady I was speaking to at 1-866-MY-E-MOVE to complain. Loads of people dropped the ball this week and this was the last straw. The movers they set me up with, told me that they don't even advertise that they move pianos, but that they would do it. Only they needed another guy and wanted to charge me $250 extra...I started to panic again, realizing that I'd have to donate the piano, i.e. find someone to pick it up, and then, realizing that I'd essentially then, without moving the piano, be paying these guys the intial $173 to do a job that Katrina and I could have handled. I asked them to stop until I could figure something out (On top of all of this madness, the day before, I was supposed to leave the old building super's snow shovels in my apartment but I frantically left and forgot they were still in the hallway. They were stolen. He was pissed. And I was having to deal with him while trying to sort out the added cost of moving the piano).

At that point, when I told the movers to stop, they said they'd be willing to work with me a little. So I asked the main guy what he could do. He dropped the price to $150. I think he sensed that I was getting ready to send them off and he wanted to make some money as opposed to none at all. So, I took the deal and we got underway, thankfully not having to shovel anymore snow or lift a single thing while the movers took all of my stuff, including the boxes we didn't unload from the truck Saturday night. I only had to go rent a dolly from the Uhaul location on 6th Street, so that they could easily roll the piano along the sidewalk through the courtyard.

Watching the piano go up the stairs, as always, was quite the event. At one point it had to be stood up on one end and rotated. Three guys doing this was barely enough and there was as much talking and discussing how to move it as there was actual lifting. The movers made quick work of my stuff though beyond the piano and they were gone at about 1:30, at which point I unceremoniously scarfed half a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store on the corner and then pondered how to approach cleaning my old apartment so I could return the keys.

There's nothing like good old fashioned manual labor, especially cleaning, to put you in a meditative, zen-like state. It's actually quite relaxing to just scrub and sweep and mop until there's not a single thought left in your head.

So, my uncle took me over to my old place in his car and was going to drop me off so I could finish cleaning on my own and they could get underway and Katrina could start unpacking. I left my old place with a few more things than I thought I'd be leaving with and realized halfway to the train that I'd need help carrying all of it or else it was going to take me a very long time to get two subway stops up. I called Katrina and she met me at the subway station at 25th Street. From there, we carried the last of the stuff from my apartment, including a pint of Ben and Jerry's which we have yet to break open.

Moving was over. Unpacking was to begin. And I still had to work that night. Plowed through that shift and woke up this morning to a splitting headache and a to do list as long as my arm. Most of it being to bitch at various different parties for things not being in order. Some things are still dawning on us. Like this evening, while eating our first meal cooked in the apartment, it dawned on me that there are no carbon monoxide and smoke detectors in the apartment, a huge no-no on their part.

So many lessons learned this time around. So, I hope you all got through this entry to this paragraph because this is the important part. Don't bother asking your friends to help you move in NYC. Just get movers. It's worth it. Also, raise hell and get things done. Also, take at least two days off to move, or maybe more. In addition, do not, I repeat, do not move during the winter months if you can help it at all.

More impressions, and potentially even pictures of the new apartment are on their way.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Looming deadlines, and a preview...

The snow is coming down hard outside and I'm getting nervous about my move. There have already been so many hitches to getting into this place. The first being that someone swiped up the unit we wanted and Katrina had to go on her own to check out two others. Then they misspelled my name when doing my credit check and came back saying that I had no credit, which freaked me out. Then, they made us go out to Bushwick nowhere to sign the lease, told us upon arrival (after we had cut the cashier's check that the landlord required) that the landlord also required added rent for the two days we'd be moving in early. Then, finally, the past few days, I've had to chase down the key to the deadbolt on the door, only to find out that the tenants in this building are allowed to put their own locks on after moving in and that the super doesn't necessarily have to have a copy. So this meant that no one actually knew where the key was, despite the fact that someone had to have it since they let Katrina into the apartment. Luckily, my raising a stink about it with the Realtor and the super, gleaned some results. They're going to break the old lock and put a new one on for us. This seems unnecessary but if they're willing to do it I won't complain. Especially since the super mentioned that I'd probably need to go to a locksmith if the Realtor didn't end up having the keys.

All this aside, I can't wait until next week, when I feel human again and am settled. Then, I plan to start writing about things that have been on my mind with regards to music, music careers and fame in particular. A little preview, I always find myself asking myself why it is that when I read an article about some successful musician, I get resentful instead of inspired. The answer is multi-faceted but I've spent the week sort of coming to grips with it. Pretty soon, I'll be able to articulate my thoughts on it but at the moment, my head is too full with stuff regarding the move...like the fact that I have a mountain of boxes, both packed and unpacked in both rooms of my apartment, and the fact that I only have two friends coming to help move and I'm hoping against hope that it'll be enough, and lastly, I have the image in my head of me trying to slide a piano across a slippery slushy sidewalk further contributing to its eventual demise and the inevitable exposure of the notion that keeping that piano any longer might just be effing ridiculous.

I must sleep now because I have to go to a physical therapy appointment in the morning for my knee...8:30 in the morning...why do I do these things to myself?

Saturday, February 20, 2010

A year's worth of...

One more week left in Sunset Park. When I look at it like that, this finally feels like a year later. One lease, twelve unlimited monthly metro cards, and a year's worth of Time Out New York magazines. 8 months of job uncertainty, and 4 more of adjustment to a full time schedule, 11 months of amazing food in NYC and, after one near earth-shattering diagnosis of Celiac Disease, one month of grieving over the loss of Joe's Pizza, Rocco's Pastries, Magnolia's cupcakes, Ruthie's bagels and Amy's Bread. Three trips back to Raleigh, two to Upstate NY, countless train trips and bus rides, even some long harrowing walks in strange neighborhoods trying to find better ways to get home at late hours when the trains weren't running on time...I even estimated that I've probably spent about a week out of the past year waiting for the train in the West 4th Street/Washington Square subway stop and another week waiting for the train at 9th Avenue in Brooklyn.

What a year. How about a year in pictures?

Best of NYC


I feel like I've gotten one hell of a start here, though, I've been thinking about my current path and next steps and that sort of thing lately. It seems like I've gotten a dozen different directions I could go in next and I'm feeling more and more like the answer is not in which direction to go but in how many or how to incorporate them all and still satisfy myself. I've got my electronic music side project baking but also my contemporary music...which more and more I'm wanting to coincide with the electronic project. I know I need to revamp the website and I'm thinking more and more about ways to make a little cash on the side through selling scores or trying to license some of the music I have written and have yet to write.

I've even been thinking about reigniting my interest in starting some kind of voice over work...I've yet to use the word career with this yet because I don't know if I have the energy to simultaneously do that, music and my full time and freelance gigs. But enough people lately have commented on my voice (it's really deep, it's resonant when I want it to be, some even say it's soothing) that I think it's certainly worth considering and I think I would even enjoy doing this kind of work...Plus, the idea occurred to me today that it's something I could incorporate into the business of writing music for people. Why the heck not? Here's the pitch: I can provide voice over and music for your corporate videos and advertisements. Your one-stop shop for creative services.

Sound all right? Anyhow, that's what's on the drawing board at present. But not to distract from the musical stuff. I regret to say that the pressure of finding an apartment and moving have, at least for the moment, have distracted from any kind of progress in that arena. Most importantly, once I get settled I think I'll get to work on the website and also make new business cards. Will probably get new head shots done soon as well. More on that later.

For now, I'm going to bed. There's nothing that'll tire you out like the prospect (not even the act) of packing your things in anticipation of a move, however small.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Website...

I'm getting ready to revamp my professional website, starting with the design and then going on to aspects of functionality, etc. i.e. where should the music be placed, how should I arrange all of my film clips, etc. Take a look when/if you guys get/have a second and let me know, honestly, what it could use, what sucks about it, what's awesome and that I should keep etc. I would greatly appreciate any critiques. Thanks a million guys!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Catching up with all of my photography-ing...

So, here it goes a marathon picture album posting. First, last week in North Carolina, I caught a glimpse of what it used to be like whenever it snowed when I still lived in NC...snow, then three days later a crust of ice. I described it to a friend who lives here as crispy. I almost fell getting out of the car once last week too because I forgot that ice was slippery.

Snow in Raleigh


Moving on, around Wednesday we headed to Boone, stopping once in Greensboro to see old friends at the place where most of my old friends inevitably would still be. Tate Street Coffee House, my old hangout and one time place of employment...which has done quite well for itself in the past year, adding wine and beer to the menu, renovating a little bit, adding the capability of accepting credit cards as well as adding all manner of social events to it's calendar, including more jazz, movie and scrabble nights. Pretty cool. We also swung past the Woolworth on Elm St. which has finally been reopened as a Civil Rights Museum.

Greensboro February Best


It's always cool to revisit places you've moved away from and see them growing and changing but in some ways staying the same. That Civil Rights museum has been about to open for about as long as I can remember and longer.

We arrived in Boone around 1:00pm and met Paul in town at the Earth Fare grocery store where we had lunch and then headed to Peabody's wine and beer to pick up some booze for the evening's dinner plans. Then we headed to Paul's new house that he bought a few months ago. Which is great, minus the steep gravel driveway which proved a bit of a challenge in the snow and ice. There's a stream out back and several acres on which to roam. Here's some pictures of the place, the dog Misha, our jam session and our trip to Boone for breakfast at probably the best restaurant in Boone (that I know of), Melanie's.

Boone, Paul's House February Best


And lastly, these are some photos I snapped this morning of the "blizzard" in Prospect Park. Watch for the 8' snowman and the yellow snow!

Prospect Park Snow February Best

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

New Apartment...

There's a line in American Beauty where Kevin Spacey is narrating after he dies in the end of the movie that I love. Living here for the last few years in a city that I love I feel like I know exactly what his character means. The line is:

"...it's hard to stay mad, when there's so much beauty in the world. Sometimes I feel like I'm seeing it all at once, and it's too much, my heart fills up like a balloon that's about to burst...and then I remember to relax, and stop trying to hold on to it, and then it flows through me like rain and I can't feel anything but gratitude for every single moment of my stupid little life...You have no idea what I'm talking about, I'm sure. But don't worry...You will someday."

(Gotta love it when they post the scripts on the internet...makes it so much easier to quote)

I'm especially talking about the beginning when he talks about feeling like he's seeing it all at once. I get that way about the things I want to do and experience, specifically. As in, I want to do everything, be awake every second of the day (probably the reason why I've stayed up for 24 hours straight the past few Sundays with choir rehearsal and the overnight shift). I think up all this stuff at once and realize I have no time to fit it all in unless I don't sleep and even then, I still couldn't do everything...then I remember to let go. Let the experiences come to me, as it were. There's just too much to do and if I get to experience any of it, it should be enough. I tend to just stop at these moments and try to take in what's around me and how awesome that is, whatever it is. Tonight it was leaving the diner with the snow coming down and saying goodbye to my friend, thinking how a a little less than a year ago, I was wondering when I would find that routine and start to have things like yoga and friends, late night diner food, a consistent paycheck and medical benefits, places I like to hang out and being able to make plans with friends to go hang out there. I remember all those lonely months of trolling around New York by myself with a camera, chronicling it all, a perpetual live-in tourist. Now, I feel like I'm really living here, a resident New Yorker, a Brooklynite.

Right now it's snowing, accuweather.com says for tomorrow's forecast simply, "blizzard," and I'm loving it. Between being home in Raleigh last week (fun trip by the way) and diving back into work right away, apartment hunting and carrying on with choir rehearsal in the morning and then an overnight shift and no sleep between the two...I'm having the time of my life still but I feel like my head is going to explode, or maybe all of me is. Thankfully, most of that stuff is done and I get a day long reprieve from work to keep such head exploding shenanigans at bay a little while longer.

Yes, you heard me. Apartment hunting is all but done. We applied for a place last night. A huge relief that was almost dashed by the fact that someone swiped up that apartment while our paperwork was processing. Luckily, there was another unit available in that same building, one that we had tried to get into with the broker the night before but couldn't. Two in fact were open but one was a 5th floor walk-up and was considerably smaller with a bit of an awkward layout. So Katrina went by today in her off time and checked it out for us, then relaying the information to me. Hopefully, this one will go over without any issues.


View Larger Map

The location is a bit farther south than I'd like but it's a step up from where I am now in terms of proximity to things (not necessarily work...I have to take three trains now instead of two, unless I want to take a local train the whole way...and no matter what, the commute is actually longer). It is, however, and most importantly, cheap enough that it is going to save me over $400 from what I'm paying in my current place. It's still settling in that I've paid my last rent check to my landlord here. What a relief.

Tomorrow is my day off and we should have about 10" of snow on the ground. I'll likely try and return some library books and get out and photograph some of the snow for you. Indulge in my hobbies so to speak and just relax for a day now that I can. In a few weeks though, we'll have to move of course, so that'll be interesting...the fate of my piano, notwithstanding. Still haven't fully decided if I'll keep it, donate it or try to somehow sell it. I'll probably keep it. I was saying to a friend the other day that the longer this thing stays with me the more attached to it I'll become and therefore the more obliged I'll feel to take it with me places.

Anyway, here are some pics as requested by some of you of the place. These are all taken by the agency and some are of similar units, not necessarily the one we're looking at.

First New Apartment pics


So, that's what's been going on. Apartment hunting which, if I chronicled it, I'd be here typing all night, working overnight shifts, visiting Raleigh, attending yoga, and anticipating snow. With any luck, I'll have time to shoot some snow pics tomorrow before it gets trampled and turns into icy gray muck. Good night for now.