Monday, October 29, 2007

Subway Wildlife

My old roommate should not read this post. Otherwise, she’ll never venture past the Mason Dixon Line again. She hates small animals like select species of birds, squirrels, bats, possums, and Chihuahuas. Ultimately, she mostly despises mice and rats. She virtually self-destructs if anything even remotely resembles a rodent.

I, on the other hand, sometimes like to torture myself with things I hate –scary movies, new hair stylists, exercise, and incredibly high heels. I accept that about myself. With that said, I’ve had one grotesque and disturbing fascination since moving to New York City. I wanted to see a rat; a disgustingly huge subway rat only found in the depths of New York’s subway system. Blame it on movies, blame it on TV, or blame it on my childhood pet hamster “Rocky”. My feelings won’t be hurt. Think of me what you will.

I just thank God she wasn’t in the subway at the Jamaica train station on Sunday night. I stood at the platform edge and peered down the tracks as they disappeared into the dark. Aha… a rat the size of a small cat drinking water from a puddle. I left my husband and maneuvered around waiting passengers (he doesn’t share my fascination). I stood three feet from the rat. I looked to my left. Another gaze met mine. A fellow rat watcher smiled at me. I smiled back acknowledging our shared curiosity.

Wait, ewwww, wait. There wasn’t just one rat, but three more behind it on the other side of the track. Suddenly, my interest waned. One rat was okay, but four? Gross. I walked back to my husband who was obviously questioning the vows we made in August. In sickness and in health? Check. Until death do us part? Check. Indulging in weird fascinations? Not so much. Oh, well. At least now I can cross that off my New York “To Do” list.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Waiting For My Hubby

I frantically run around our 300 square foot apartment every day about this time. I restore order to our home as my husband catches the 5:14pm train from work to Penn Station. I have less than 45 minutes to tidy up the joint, throw a delicious dinner together, and look like a hot babe who never broke a sweat in the process.

It only takes a few things out of place to make the apartment look like K-Mart during a blue light special. Leftover dishes from the night before, week old laundry piles, job applications scattered across the floor, makeup samples strewn on the countertop, DMV forms half completed, a half stirred pitcher of Crystal Light, and random items from the move that never found their niche. Whew. Amazing how everything gets strewn everywhere in eight short hours.

As for dinner, well, I consider myself a cleaner more than a cooker. I always attempt to concoct some sort of edible meal, or at least pretend to, when the lock turns and my husband’s smiling face materializes. I bang a few pans, turn the oven on to 350 degrees, and toss refrigerated items on the counter when I hear the front door of our brownstone slam and his footsteps approach.

Clean, cook, and look ridiculously fabulous – it’s the least I can do as a new and unemployed wife. The ‘new’ part of the sentence is great, but not so much the ‘unemployed’ part. Not how I planned to spend the first two months in NYC or my marriage, but... oh, well. It’s 6:00pm and I hear him as he fishes for his keys outside our door. I have only ten seconds to dwell on that thought because the hamburger patties are still frozen, my hair is still in curlers, and the bed never got made.

Monday, October 22, 2007

When New York Gives You Lemons, Drink Lemonade

Most people equate $$$ with New York City. I do. But, I found an exception. Cheap drinks, specifically in reference to lemonade bought from a lemonade stand. Not what you would except to run across in a metropolis of eight million urbanites. Yet, my husband and I have enjoyed lemonade from two different stands since moving here. Who knew lemonade was such a hot commodity in NYC?

We walked upon two endearing and business savvy girls with a lemonade stand a couple of blocks from our apartment yesterday evening. The youngsters knew how to run a business and bring in the big bucks. In my day, we dragged a miniature plastic table to the end of the driveway and voted one neighborhood kid to dance in the street with a poster board sign. Not these girls.

The budding entrepreneurs set up shop on Broadway, prime real estate property in New York City. They sang songs in cute, tiny voices to lure customers. They admitted their mom had made the lemonade, already learning to capitalize on free labor. We fell hook, line, and sinker. We couldn’t pass up the opportunity to swell their piggy bank. For fifty cents, the girls said, we could get a “tasting, medium, big, or extra big cup of lemonade.” Only in New York do kids under ten offer a “tasting” of lemonade. Somewhere between 76th and 77th the sidewalk doubled as a vineyard.

My husband rummaged for a dollar. We each enjoyed a medium sized cup of lemonade on our walk home. Delighted that the whimsical idea of lemonade stands still exists as a way to make a profit even if locations, times, and prices may change.

Monday, October 15, 2007

A Visit to the Slammer

New York Police Department… four words that instill fear and anxiety in some people under certain circumstances. Not me. A trip to an NYC police department spelled F-U-N. I needed to be fingerprinted for a job and the 20th precinct seemed like an opportune place to go. Why venture all the way to the Board of Education in Brooklyn when I could get fingerprinted with the best of them – in the slammer. Alright, not technically the slammer, but it sounds better.

As I moseyed my way to 120 West 82nd Street I enjoyed the sights and sounds of the city, relished the warm afternoon weather, and inhaled the aromas from a nearby vendor. I reached my destination, opened the door to the station, and immediately realized that this little tart was in Kansas no more. The interior building was straight from a movie set. Where’s HGTV or Ty Pennington? Our public protectors deserve the best we can afford. They risk their life to serve the city. At least we could provide them with a cheery décor.

I timidly approached the front desk. The receptionist raised her eyes and flatly said, “what.” More like a statement than an inquiry. My blonde ponytail stopped bobbing. I responded that I needed to be fingerprinted. A policeman came over, looked me up and down, and gruffly told me to enter behind the desk. My purple Pumas led me into unfamiliar territory.

I sat at a table amid several other officers, two in street clothes and one in uniform. At first, the men seemed gruff. But, they softened and livened up when my license revealed a southern belle in their midst. What an eclectic group of men underneath those tough, tattooed exteriors. They joked. They dropped the “F” bomb every three seconds. They offered me water from a Dixie cup. They taught the ins and outs of being a New Yorker. They were fun, really fun. I would have forgotten I was in a police station if the large screen TV quit flashing New York’s “Most Wanted” or the twenty mug shots of men waiting for incarceration stopped staring at me.

I was a little sad when we completed the paperwork and began the fingerprinting process. It would all be over too soon. Though, not everyone in the joint had fun. One man, arms crossed in his holding cell, stared intently at me and shook his head. He wasn’t entertained. Two officers brought in a small man in large clothing. As they frisked him he proclaimed, “Man, I haven’t been brought in on drug charges since the 80s.” As the officer rolled my index finger across the black ink, I considered this experience my initiation to New York City.

Sadly, my initiation ended 45 minutes later. But, I can guarantee that I left as the happiest civilian ever fingerprinted. Oh, I forgot to mention. The kind officer that helped me gave me a gift as I exited – an application for the New York Police Department.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

A Potential Job... But, Not Exactly What I Had In Mind

I walked past a small dive bar one block from our apartment. I've complained about not finding a job. Well, I finally received a "sign" from above.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Two Degrees and Still No Job

I’m unemployed, but not by choice. I’m searching for a job on craigslist,, search engines, and websites. You name it, I’ve searched it. I've at least “googled” it. The NYC job market isn’t what I had expected. I imagined countless job opportunities awaiting my imminent arrival. The city would sigh with relief as I stepped off the plane with my new, crisp degree in hand. The city, my oyster, would hold the perfect job for me to find, seize, and succeed. How naïve could I have been? Somebody snap me out of that day dream and back into reality. I assumed the difficulty would be which job to choose from the plethora of positions offered. Hurry! Quick! Somebody order this gal a stiff drink of reality and a big dose of W.T.F! Thank you Hollywood for my warped sense of realism and overly inflated idealistic notions.

I never expected the job market to be so tough in the areas of my field in which I want to work. Plus, any job I apply for requires licenses, certificates, money, workshops, fingerprints, completed paperwork, and anything else that sounds official. Shish, could I bellyache any more?

I am very thankful despite the job search woes. My patient, understanding husband supports me in many ways, though I mostly speak now in monetary terms. I have the luxury of an employed spouse. Others don't. Still, the Delta ticket agent should have checked my photo ID and head before she handed me my boarding pass. In reality, marriage is more fun than I had ever dreamed, relocating to a northern city was how I had imagined, and the job search has been an unexpected challenge. With that said, I will now stick a cork in my bottle of “whine”, count my lucky stars for a supplemental income and newly minted degree, and pour myself another glass of idealism because life is so much more fun that way.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Size Does Matter

The old saying rings true - size really does matter (no, I'm not referring to my husband or chocolate). I've dealt with a dramatic decrease in living space and an astronomical increase in the cost per square foot of renting an apartment since relocating to the Big Apple from a mid-sized southern town. The cost of living in the city is unbelievable (that sentence truly deserves an exclamation point)! I have fully come to appreciate the two story townhouse I left behind that boasted two bedrooms, two and a half baths, walk-in closets, and over 1,200 square feet of living space for a mere $375/month.

Yeah, yeah, I can hear the New Yorkers now... but New York has so much offer! There is so much to do and see - museums, shopping, the Brooklyn Bridge, Empire State Building, etc. Yet, I wonder, how does anybody have money left after handing over most of their monthly paycheck to a landlord? Our landlord makes serious cash. I imagine he basks in the Caribbean sun, fingers huge piles of cashed checks as he sips pina coladas from a gold plated cup wondering... who would ever pay such a ridiculous amount of money for so little space?

We've kept the apartment furniture to a minimal. Ikea couch (read earlier story to learn how we acquired that pretty piece of furniture), bar top table with a 14 inch depth, one dresser (held up by a stack of lousy paperbacks), and a full size bed (thank goodness we're both skinny). Most of my family and friends wondered how I would ever fit my expansive shoe and purse collection, 15 pairs of jeans, and ever increasing array of beauty products in a 300 square foot apartment. Actually, that thought also made me nervous.

Luckily, though, I thought of a brillant plan within the first 24 hours of unloading boxes. Throw out my husband's stuff and replace it with mine. Genius. My beloved belongings would remain mine. Otherwise, who knows?! My stuff would have spilled onto the street, been carted off, and resold on eBay for who knows how much! I knew what I had to do. I combed through his closet and the medicine cabinet. I threw away sandblasted jeans, college shirts, some kid's football jersey, old electrical cords, and half used bottles of male products. I had plenty of space once I rid the apartment of "unnecessary" items. I simply have to continually purge and resist the urge to hoard, save, and hold on to everything. Now, all of my things have a nice, neat spot designated for them. As for his stuff, it all now convienently fits in one prefab, pressed wood cabinet.

All in all, the space issue wasn't as difficult to accept as I had anticipated. A smaller place isn't necessarily so bad. But, stuffing half of my paycheck into somebody's pocket that I've never met, now that's a sizeable issue that I'll never accept.

Monday, October 1, 2007

We "Craigslisted" and Carted Home A Couch - NYC Style

I've learned a few things since moving here if you're a person who's on a budget (like us):

  1. everything is more expensive in the Big Apple

  2. you only buy, steal, or borrow what you can carry home

  3. Craigslist is like the super Wal-Mart of the cyberworld (but with the added bonus of getting to anonomously negotiate prices through email)

We needed a little couch for our little apartment. My husband claimed that if we couldn't find a dejected couch stranded on the sidewalk, then we would find a good couch for little money on Craigslist. I had never "craigslisted" before, but I only had to browse through a couple of posts before I was completely obsessed. We scanned Craigslist daily, scoured for bargains. Our hard work paid off when we found a slightly used beige colored Ikea couch for a good price. Only a short (yeah, right) ten blocks away awaited our first newlywed couch (note the enthusiasm in this sentence because it doesn't last for long).

After my husband and the couch seller struggled to carry it down six flights of perilous stairs that had an incline of at least 70 degrees and miniature landings made for those under four feet, they dropped it on the sidewalk outside the man's apartment. With our confidence and muscle strength waivering, we lifted the couch and began a slow, painful walk home.

We managed to walk ten steps between pit stops when we realized that we would never make it home before the first snow at our current pace with the now extremely heavy and awkard couch. Rounding the third block, we dropped the couch and brainstormed - we needed a cart and quick. As I regained my strength and basked in the sun while lounging on the newly acquired couch a far seven blocks from our apartment, my husband tracked down a teenage Fresh Direct delivery boy who, for an un-named amount of cash, offered his services. We loaded the coach horizontally on the cart and pushed it down Broadway at breakneck speed. I failed to mention earlier that the beige couch doned an ever tacky neon pink/orange/red Hawaiian flowered slipcover to keep it clean on its trip home. Apparently, Hawaiian slipcovers aren't really in style in the city, judging from the looks we got.

I melted the rubber soles on my New Balance tennis shoes as I dodged Sunday afternoon shoppers. We were jay-running at major intersections on Broadway. Is this typical? Who knows - I'm new here. We made it to our little apartment with our extremely heavy couch after we re-ran over a smooshed rat and raced taxis on West End's four lanes. Thank you Craigslist for the great couch (when I don't have to carry it), thank you Fresh Direct for hiring great people, and thank you NYC for a great newlywed memory.