new york apartment no. 8

Last week I was talking to a colleague when I mentioned I was moving over the weekend. Her response: “AGAIN?!?!”

That’s right, ladies and gentlemen! I am now on my eighth New York apartment, my fifth in the last 1.5 years. But I promise this will be the last. Pinky swear. Each place has its own special New York story attached to it, so … how about a highlight reel?

No. 1: Upper West Side
During my first year of grad school at Columbia (and my first time living in New York), I lived with three other girls in an amazing fourth-floor walk-up (oy) that had washer and dryer in-unit. I signed the initial paperwork for the apartment while traveling around China, without having met the roommates and without even having been to the neighborhood, and ended up spending about 50 RMB at the Beijing hostel for internet access and scanning. The four of us got along great, had many shenanigans, and frequented a local bar called the Ding Dong Lounge. I experienced my first earthquake in this apartment. And an overactive heater meant that my room (and only my room) would easily surpass 80 degrees, and I’d be in a tank top and shorts with the window open while snow fell outside.

No. 2: Central Harlem
In my second year at Columbia, I lived with a charming Dutch girl with a lot of food allergies for one semester and a boisterous German girl who drank a lot of red wine for the second semester. This is where I holed up during Sandy and Nemo and where the liquor store guy at the end of the block knew my favorite wine. Oh, and we were illegally subletting because it was an affordable housing building. And the glass of building’s front door got broken in. And we once heard gunshots. And my neighbor’s recently-released-from-prison husband would pee in the stairway because she wouldn’t let him move back in. And I locked myself out once, but then my neighbor oh so helpfully “opened” my door for me.

No. 3: Astoria
This was a summer sublet where I lived with two 20-something professionals. It was my first summer in New York, and I survived it with a ceiling fan, table fan, and open windows. But really, I survived by spending a lot of time outside exploring New York, drinking too many delicious frappes, being off in China, at my internship in Chelsea (often after waiting 30+ minutes for the stupid NQ train—back when the Q went to Queens), or at Columbia (because I just couldn’t stay away).

No. 4: Flushing
After two years in Shanghai, I returned to New York with no job but high hopes, so I stayed in Flushing while job searching. And honestly? It felt like I never left China, since I was still surrounded by Chinese people, I ate a lot of Chinese food, and things were fairly cheap (in comparison to Manhattan). For the first month of working, I dealt with hour-long commutes and a lot of cockroaches.

No. 5: Herald Square
Kitty corner to Macy’s, my room was a few floors above the Gap, and this place was LOUD. There was street noise all day and all night, and tourists were everywhere. The building had a fantastic-looking lobby, but the rental floors looked like an outdated hotel with dingy lighting, long narrow hallways, and the occasional waft of pot smoke. Its saving graces were being right by the BDFMNQR trains, and having Koreatown a few blocks away.

No. 6: Tribeca
This was basically a glorified flophouse, with nine girls living in a totally illegal yet rather spacious apartment. When my Herald Square lease ended, I wasn’t able to find a more permanent situation, so I ended up at this month-to-month place, which I found two days before I was due to move out. My room was one of the only two rooms that had a window, and it was tiny—it fit a twin bed with about a foot of walkway to the side. One girl (an aspiring model/actress from Ukraine) lived in a room accessible only through the bathroom. No one ever locked the front door, the circuit breaker got tripped almost every day, and while it was fun at times (reality tv binge watches), it was also pretty gross. More “hostel” than “sorority house.”

No. 7: Hell’s Kitchen
My two roommates were other 20-something Asian girls who were very entertaining (lots of drama, but not amongst us) and it was actually kind of great. My room was a bit on the small side but got great light, and we were on a higher floor so I would often hang out on the terrace with a glass of wine and watch people working late in the office tower across the avenue. The building was located a few blocks from Central Park, near a whole bunch of great restaurants, and we had the nicest doormen.

No. 8: NoMad
Time will tell, but with a great view (see above) and easy walking distance to work, so far things are looking good for No. 8!

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the joys of nyc apartment living

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I was living in Midtown, but my lease ended at the end of June and apartment hunting in New York is crazy, so I ended up not being able to find a place … even after looking at 20 or so places. Between the places that were completely horrible to the places that were too expensive or too far from the subway to the places that I hesitated too long on to the places that just didn’t pick me, I ended up scrambling to find somewhere to live two days before my lease was up. And voila, I found my current place!

So now I’m in Tribeca. But I have eight roommates. Yes, eight roommates. The location is great, but the apartment itself is a bit rundown and totally beyond illegal (rooms are way too small and only two of the nine rooms have windows), it’s a fire hazard with the wires daisy-chained the way they are, the circuit breaker keeps getting tripped (because it’s not equipped to handle nine people and multiple air conditioners), and the place is security-compromised because most of the girls don’t lock the front door. But ya know what? It’s strangely okay with me, because I know it’s temporary and I have a deadlock on my room door. It’s like a dorm for post-college girls or a long-stay hostel, and it is kind of fun to watch The Bachelorette with others, but I definitely feel far too old to be living in a place like this.

The image above isn’t from my current place, but rather from a place I visited during my ridiculous apartment hunt at the end of June. If you can’t read it, it says: “BEWARE Packages are Being Stolen / PLEASE Report Any Suspicious Activity!!!” and off to the side someone wrote “Me too! Just ordered horse shit (yes, really) and won’t share what apt I sent it to, so, thief … enjoy touching what you are :) shitsenders.com <not a joke.” ROFLOL. And ya know what? That place was far nicer than my current shoebox and far more expensive. And ya know what? They still got some major issues.

sheesh it’s burning up in here

New York, ah how I love thee. It’s great that heating is covered by the landlord and there are guidelines in place so they don’t skimp, but GOODNESS GRACIOUS, PLEASE TURN IT OFF ALREADY. It’s the latter part of May, the outside temp is about 84 degrees Fahrenheit. AND THE HEATER IS STILL ON. At this point it’s just wasteful because I have to have the fan on to combat the heater.

Last year my room had an overactive heater, but it was only really crazy during the winter, so it was just mildly uncomfortable with the windows open. I switched apartments and the heater here worked fine during the winter, but now it’s basically summer so having the heater on is just absurd. My room is not actually 97 degrees, it’s just that I keep my thermometer on top of the radiator. Regardless, it’s REALLY HOT IN HERE.

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happy turkey day!

I hope everyone had a fantastic Thanksgiving yesterday! We held Thanksgiving at our apartment yesterday, so it was a bit of madness with all the cooking and food and wine and people, but all in all a fun night. Since Thanksgiving is such a quintessentially American holiday (I’m ignoring Canadian Thanksgiving … because it’s Canadian), it was fun to experience it with a bunch of people for whom this was their first Thanksgiving. And now roomie E and I will be eating turkey sandwiches ’til kingdom come. Good thing we like turkey!

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sheesh it’s warm in here

When I call my room a sauna, I jest not. Current outside temperature is 40 degrees Fahrenheit. In my room, 84 degrees. Well, now it’s at 82, which I guess is better. Because of New York rental guidelines, the landlord has to provide heat during the winter season and when it’s below 55 degrees outside during the day, the heater must be 68 degrees. The rest of the apartment is probably around that temperature. Why my room is so much warmer than the rest of the apartment is a mystery. Good thing I’m from Texas and I kinda like the heat, eh?

I think the warm sauna-like nature of my room is probably bad for my paper writing. I still have lots of stuff to do and I need to hunker down, but it’s just so darned comfy in here. I’ve also been sleeping a ridiculous amount, around ten hours (or more) a night. Even when I wake up early, I end up going back to sleep, which is quite unusual for me. Usually once I wake up, I might be really drowsy and non-responsive for a while, but I’m up for the rest of the day. I think I’ve been sleeping so much lately because it’s so cozy I just want to hibernate and not wake up. Hm … I guess I could leave. But I really like it in here.

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beginning to look a lot like xmas …

[NOTE: This post originally appeared on a now-deleted blog and is being re-posted here for my own sake.]

As much as I would like to get all Christmas-y and go to town on decorating this apartment, it just ain’t really worth it since most of us are going home for the holidays. Also, it’s finals time so I need to be focusing on school stuff. But … I did manage to hang my stocking on my door. Yay!

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For scale, the stocking’s only about six inches tall. And those weird shadows are due to the weird configuration of lighting fixtures in my room. There’s a little Christmas tree in our living room, so I guess that counts. Oh well, it ain’t much but it’s in the right spirit.

life of a carrot cake

[NOTE: This post originally appeared on a now-deleted blog and is being re-posted here for my own sake.]

One of my roommates (roomie I) had her birthday a few days ago so the rest of us decided to make a carrot cake for her. Fun times in our apartment! We used this recipe that I had used before except without pecans, and currants instead of raisins. After some carpal-tunnel-inducing carrot grating (thanks to roomie J and myself), we got the batter together.

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It baked up pretty nice, but the darned thing wouldn’t come out of the bundt cake pan even after I banged on it for forever.

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However, it eventually did come out thanks to roomie D and a knife, and roomie D then whipped up the icing and sprinkled it all nicely with Halloween sprinkles. Cute, eh?

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It was yummy. It got devoured pretty fast, leaving only a little bit for the fridge.

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After the above picture was taken, roomie J opened the fridge (which isn’t very organized) and the cake came tumbling out. Sad. So yep, the rest of it basically ended up in the trash.

Thus ends the story of this carrot cake’s life. We still have extra carrots left, so carrot cake #2 might be on its way soon. Because it was yummy.

getting back into the swing

[NOTE: This post originally appeared on a now-deleted blog and is being re-posted here for my own sake.]

So … I’m pretty much settled in by now. I moved in about one month ago and my room is pretty much set up, but I might buy a few more things in the upcoming weeks. Graduate school is really quite time consuming, not with busy work assignments like in undergraduate, but there are so many readings to do for each class that it takes a lot of effort to keep on top of them all. Two weeks in and I’m already not doing too well at that.

I’m not too fond of how my room looks decoration-wise, but it’ll slowly get there. I like to keep myself busy with little crafts and tasks to give myself something to do when I need a break from all the reading. I’m currently working on a short story for a challenge swap, and the other day I bought two canvases (really cheaply from Michaels) and I want to do some kind of ink drawing on them. We’ll see. I need to get some photos printed out … which I’ve been saying for the last month.

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Back in Austin I had a shelf that was devoted to clear glass bottles, and I’ve started doing the same to my windowsill here. I hate throwing away bottles, and I like the look of them when they’re all different sizes and the light hits them. When there get to be too many I’ll recycle them, but for now they’re creating a little family on the sill.

Ugh … alrighty then, I guess I should get back to reading now. From now on, if you see a post from me, you can go ahead and assume I’m procrastinating, so feel free to chide me back into being a responsible student.

new york, new york

So good you have to say it twice. I’ve pretty much settled into my new apartment, and part of me is really giddy and cannot believe that I’m actually living in New York. And then the other part of me is like, whatever, you lived in China last year, New York’s no big. But still … it’s New York. I like the neighborhood, and the apartment’s actually not too small. The only really big downside is the fact that everything is ridiculously expensive, even more so because part of me still thinks in RMB (Chinese currency). Oh, and I live in a walk-up which is oh so fun. I’ve already fallen down the stairs twice, and I have a skinned knee to prove it.

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