Category Archives: Apt Living

This isn’t real (Or the day I got to know a stranger’s diet too well)

Everyone who’s ever moved to NYC loves to tell newcomers that the first few months are the hardest. It gets easier, better after that. Just push through those initial few months. I guess a cliche is a cliche for a reason; this was exactly the case for me. The first couple of months were brutal- full of transition, a lack of balance, and absolutely no handle on how to run my own life. I can pinpoint the night when this all started to change..

After a stellar night out with a good friend from college, I boarded the train home  with a smile on my face, knitting in hand (yes, I knit on the subway.) Following me onto the train were two 18-22 year old boys, clearly hopped up on something. They sat across from me on the almost empty train, and we proceeded to do the one thing all New Yorkers are exceptionally good at: we completely ignored each other.

I sat in blissful exuberance, reliving my fabulous evening, and feeling my life fall into place. The sky was bluer (or would have been, if it wasn’t near to midnight), the birds were singing (or would have been, if it hadn’t been November), the conductor was skipping all stops in an effort to get me home in fifteen minutes flat (Ok…that’s a complete lie).

The boys across the aisle sat in blissful waves of semi-consciousness, munching their way through several bag of potato chips. I paid them no heed, and they were far too immersed in their snack to notice me.

About four stops from my own, I leaned down and put my knitting in my backpack. I leaned back in the seat, eyes closed, and thought to myself, “Wow. Things are really starting to look up. I think I’m finally getting the hang of this whole city-living thing. Maybe I really do like living here.”

As these pleasant and comforting thoughts settled into my consciousness, I felt a splash hit me. A continuous splash, spraying my clothing, shoes, and backpack. As I looked up, expecting to see the drugged-out boys messing around with a water bottle, another splash greeted me, hitting my hair and face. Through the flecks on my glasses, I saw one of the boys, calmly patting his friend on the back, as he proceeded to be violently sick. The boy’s hand was clamped over his own mouth, as though he thought this would cause his body to stop retching-if there’s nowhere for it to go, it’ll just not come at all. On the contrary, it came, and flew in every direction around his hand. Hence the spraying.

Now, I’m not one to swear in public. So,I was mildly surprised when I shouted, “Are you *$&^%^(&# kidding me?!” without so much as a moment of hesitation. This stirred something in the comforting friend, who proceeded to splutter, “I’m so sorry.” at me. He half-lifted his friend off the seat and onto the platform we had just arrived at. I sat, stunned, in a pool of vomit, watching as the young man continued to get sick all over the ground, and then get back into the subway car and continue throwing up.

When the train finally and mercifully pulled into my stop, I stood up stiffly, and shuffled off the subway with as much dignity as I could muster (so, not much. or none). I trudged home as quickly as possible, not meeting people’s gazes, and cursing that boy to the depths of hell, where a whole school of vomit-centered tortures would be waiting for him.

As I pulled open my apartment door, my roommate called cheerily to me in greeting, “Hey! How was your day?”

“I just got thrown up on.” I answered back in monotone, as I walked into the bathroom, sneakers, jacket and backpack still on, turned on the shower and proceeded to scrub every inch of me with dish soap and a sponge.

With the water pouring down my back, I thought to myself, “Please don’t take this as a sign, K. The timing of this means nothing. Nothing at all. It’s just a horrible, awful, freaking knee-slapper of a coincidence.”

Even as I sit here: happy, completely confident in my decision to move to NYC, and finally feeling like I have a home here, I gotta say…it’s hard to believe that when you’re pulling chunks of half-digested potato chip from your hair.

 

 

O, Christmas Tree. O, Christmas Tree.

I was raised with the understanding that “Time to trim the Christmas tree!” started with putting said tree together. Our tree was stored in a giant tupperware bin, amidst an array of plush snowmen, Precious Moments nativity scenes, and shiny, red garland. Sure, we didn’t have the joy of picking out a new tree every year, but we did get to control which way the branches curved.

While I have no regrets as to my childhood of straightening out wire branches and attaching them to color coordinated slots on  a big ole pole, I have to admit that I was a little excited ecstatic about the prospect of getting a real tree this year for my apartment. My first real Christmas tree. The smell of pine, the crunch of needles loosed from the branches, the task of watering the tree…I couldn’t wait.

So, on the chosen night, my roommate and I headed out to find our tree. We took the train one stop to a grocery store that had been rumored to have great trees. As we excitedly sifted through the selection, it became clear that not all rumors are true. Trees with strange bald spots and already rotting stumps greeted us at every turn. Just as we were about to give up, we saw it: Standing, half tied up and pushed to the side. It stood a good 5-ft, had strangely bushy and awkwardly-faced branches, and looked like it would last til just past Christmas. Our tree. We nearly jumped in excitement (Okay, I nearly jumped in excitement. My roommate, who is a normal, well-adjusted member of society, just smiled ), paid, and happily began to carry it back to the train.

Which brings us to adventure number 1: Riding the subway with a 5-foot tree in tow.

Surprisingly this was not so much of a milestone as carrying said tree from the subway, up two blocks, down an avenue, and then hauling it up four flights of stairs. As we trudged, we half joked/half prayed-“Wouldn’t it be funny if one the four male friends we live across the street from passed us on the street right now, and then offered, out of the kindness of his heart, to carry our tree for us? Wouldn’t that be just lovely?”

…it would have been. But, after a full ten minutes of hoping, even as we climbed the stairs to our apartment, we victoriously carried the tree into our living room ourselves.

Next came the decorations. After standing up our tree, declaring it every euphemistic name we could think of for slightly awkward (Quirky! Cute! Unique!), we rushed out the door to go raid the various 99-cent stores in our neighborhood. We were met with the discovery that 99-cent stores close at 9 pm. (No, I am not kidding.) After coercing one of the shop owners to let us in, we picked out some lights, bobbles, and a classy light-up star for our tree-topper.

After a couple hours of cutting snowflakes, listening to Christmas music, and drinking hot toddies, our third roommate arrived home, and we haphazardly decorated our little tree. We stood there, practically vibrating from excitement, staring at what had to be the most beautifully-imperfect tree in existence.

The tree

The quirky little tree that marks my first real Christmas tree, and my first Christmas in my new apartment

Overcome with a need to share this with others, we texted our neighbors a brief “Come over”, with the hopes that their close proximity would mean that they would overlook the fact that it was midnight, and come look at our tree. Sure enough, two did. And with a shot of Jameson, several Santa hats, and Christmas carols underscoring the conversation, we laughed, joked, and celebrated around the tree- my first real Christmas tree.

The Battle to End All Battles (or just to wash my underwear)

A few weeks ago, I awoke to find a note on the kitchen table from my roommate. Hastily scrawled on a piece of scrap paper were the words that were to bring war to my cozy little apt. Ugly, unrelenting, all or nothing war: The washing machine tore my blanket to shreds. I think it’s broken.

Let me start with a little background. We moved into our fabulous new apt with the knowledge that we would no longer have to drag our unmentionables out into the cold, cruel streets of New York in order to clean them. We would never again have to drag bags of freshly-pressed clothes up four flights of stairs. No elevator? No problem! We were also blessed with a combo washer dryer (much like New Englanders are blessed with below-zero temperatures in the winter.) This one little box of a machine washes and dries your clothes. In the same compartment. No, really. It does. Or is supposed to.

I found it curious that when we signed the lease, the realtor said no fewer than 17 times, “The hookup is the management company’s responsibility, but the maintenance of the machine is yours.” Hm. Strange that this point was so important to make. But, mere weeks later, standing with a bucket of towels and a user’s manual I found online clutched in my hands, I realized that it wasn’t strange at all. It was genius.  Sauron, Darth Vader, fill-in-your-own-favorite-bad-guy-worthy genius.

About a week after finding that note, I broke into my “time to do laundry” underwear. You know the ones- the stuff you bury deep in the bottom of your sock drawer in the hopes that no one will ever find it. Faced with five of the unsexiest pieces of clothing ever known to man and the decision between going to a laundromat or calling a plumber, I made the most intelligent choice. The obvious one. Fix it myself.

 

I was pretty sure the blanket had clogged the machine. Why not run it once without clothes in it to unclog it? Brilliant idea! So simple! I can do that! I happily put a little detergent in, hit start, and sat down to enjoy a cup of tea. The calm before the storm. I went back into the bathroom and was met with the ominous sight of a water and suds filled window. Lovely. My roommates both at work, I was left to sort it out on my own. I had found a how-to manual on the maker’s website, and realized that no one had ever cleaned out the filter. It’s probably just clogged! I bet if I clean it, all of the water will drain immediately. (There are moments in your life that you look back on your decisions and imagine a world where time travel is possible. Not so you can change it. No. So you can go back to that moment and bitch-slap the hell out of your past self just to get even.) The filter was located at the bottom of the machine. I carefully began to unscrew it, and was stopped by a geyser of water hitting me in the face. Dripping with suds and half-dissolved pieces of blanket, I quickly closed the filter, and spent a good ten minutes staring at the machine, willing the water to evaporate. After this inexplicably did not work, I  began the arduous process I fondly like to call: holding-a-1-billion-lb-machine-at-a-forty-five-degree-angle-with-one-hand-while-scooping-sudsy,-blanket-filled-water-out-with-a-travel-coffee-mug-into-a-tupperware-container-and-getting-the-entire-bathroom-soaked-in-the-process. After thoroughly cleaning out every nook, cranny, and filter, I ran the machine again, confident in my plumbing skills. I was a powerful, resourceful, independent college graduate! I could do anything! I…shouldn’t have started the machine again. It quickly filled without even the slightest hint of draining. And so it went, and has gone, for about two weeks now. But will I call a plumber? No. I will fix this myself.

…that’s actually a lie. I’m most likely going to call a plumber. Especially after my roommates and I thought the tub was clogged, poured a whole bottle of Drano into it, and then realized that the bathtub drain switch was on. It just seems that, after that, a professional is probably a solid choice.