Monday, October 30, 2006

House Hunters

OK. I've calmed down a bit from the last post. I was just sitting there the other morning and it hit me: i've really changed my life!

Not only did we sell our house, which we loved, but we are in the process of purchasing an apartment in Manhattan. After a few weeks of house hunting, we have finally come to terms with moving from 2400 square feet down to 800.

We used the requisite brain washing techniques on each other:
  • We only use a small portion of the house anyway
  • We needed to simplify and streamline
  • I like the 'minimalist' point of view

Indeed we've begun to exclaim with joy when we encounter a closet that will hold more than two weeks of clothes for both of us! We chatter excitedly when the bathroom is large enough for a linen closet. If more than two people can fit in the kitchen, it is truly a reason to celebrate!

Once this new way of looking at the world was complete, we put an offer on a place we think will be the perfect home to transition to. It has:

  • lots of windows so it seems larger
  • a foyer so it seems larger
  • an eat in kitchen so it seems larger

Interesting side notes: In Houston, the other agent doesn't have to be present to view a place for sale. In Manhattan, the other agent must be present, so it makes scheduling a bit tricky. And, the realtors don't seem to work on Saturdays. Most showings are done Monday - Friday. And, a lot of realtors take Friday off too. Inspections aren't a required part of the buying process. In most cases, it's what you see is what you get.

Panic Attack

Holy cow! I sold my house, skipped town and now I live in NYC! What have I done?

Friday, October 27, 2006

Oh! The Mundanity!

After living in New York City for a solid two weeks, I have made one very startling observation that I know my dad will not believe - the people here are normal.

Now, I know what you're thinking. Everything you see on TV flies in the face of this statement. New Yorkers are loud and rowdy, have comical accents and are bad drivers, the conventional Texan thinking goes.

Well, yes, but. . . What I have been struck by the most has been the sheer normality, and yes 'mundanity' of the people and environment of living in New York. People get up, they take care of their kids, they go to work, they have lunch, they leave work, have dinner and cuddle up in their tiny apartments to watch Seinfeld. Sound familiar?

In terms of the personality of the folks I have met so far, there hasn't been a loud or rowdy one in the bunch. The folks I work with are a lot like, well, a lot like the folks I've worked with before - there are just more of them - 7,000 in this building alone!

They've been kind (see Expensive Lessons post), and frankly, kind of boring. Imagine being able to simultaneously 'drive' home' with hundreds of people every day. That's what the subway is like. People sleep, read, put on makeup, talk on the phone, get amorous - essentially the same activities commuters take part in everywhere. You just get to see it all on the subway - and there's less likelihood of car crashes.

Now, I can say that one colorful day I did happen on an older woman trying to take a discreet pee on the steps leading out of the subway. She looked well-scrubbed and embarrassed. (I can attest to the fact that it's hard to find a bathroom when you're out an about in the city.) I think she just had to go. As I bounded up the steps, a guy behind me said, "No problem. You gotta do what you gotta do."

And that, my friends, really sums up New York.

Perpetuating Myths

I have a bone to pick with Carrie Bradshaw and the rest of the fashionistas on Sex and the City. My gripe with them has to do with shoes.

The ladies on the show are constantly seen in beautiful, strappy footware, traipsing the city as if on air. I've tried this, people, and it DOES NOT feel like walking on air. It feels more like sticking your feet into a meat slicer over and over.

Not to mention that it is COLD! At least for this sunbelt chick.

So, based on the realities of walking several miles each day, I've had to do the unthinkable. Yes. I've bought several pairs of "Commuter Shoes."

Now, before you judge me, please note that I have purchased enough pairs so that I can at least match my work outfit. And also note that my warmer weather choice is something more akin to Converse than convent.

But then, of course, the cold weather is rolling in. And lest my feet freeze up and break off like the tips of candy canes, I have purchased some waterproof, polartech boots with faux fur on the inside for added comfort.

Now, these boots may smell a little like the petroleum and chemicals used to make them, but my feet don't have nostrils. And after the first snow, the smell will likely morph anyway into something more urban.

Meanwhile, if anyone asks, tell them i wear Manolo Blahniks every day. And any photos of me should be from the knees up.

Expensive Lessons

So, I'm at the Port Authority. I have no wallet. No one I know in the city will answer their phone. I have a job interview in 2 hours. I could:
  • sit down in the middle of the Port Authority and cry
  • blow off the job interview, go to a bar and find some guy to buy me drinks until my friends get off work
  • make it work

I considered the first option, learned firsthand the day before why the second option wasn't a good idea, so I decided to take a cue from Tim on Project Runway and just make it work.

It was a long shot, but I thought I might be able to persuade a taxi driver to take me back to Jersey with the flash of a smile (maybe, ultimately, some tears), promise of payment and my purse, phone and directions to my job interview as collateral.

The guy with the thick Russian accent managing the taxi stand wouldn't even listen to me once I told him of my predicament.

"You must pay for taxi! You must pay for taxi!" was all I could get out of him.

So, i took my predicament to the street. I went up to a cabbie, smiled, showed him my collateral, and begrudgingly, he agreed.

Whew! Now I had just one more problem - I had the address for my destination, but NO IDEA how to get there, and my cabbie was in the same boat. We would have to wing it.

Fortunately, my friends live on a major street. So, a few wrong turns and 40 minutes later, we made it.

Hurray! I leave my "collateral" in the car, rush inside for my wallet. But wait. It's not there.

I walk outside, sick to my stomach. I open my bag. I stick my hand in and pull out my wallet on the first try. I checked my bag six times! Never did my wallet appear. A $50 cab ride later, and here it is. DRAT!

Now, one hour before my interview, I'm stuck as to what to do. Do I wait for the bus ($3 and a little stress) or pay another $50 for a cab ride back into the city?

I don't want to be late on top of all that has already happened, so I suck it up and get back in the cab. An expensive lesson. Since then, I always know where my wallet is.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Never Leave Home Without It

Inteview Day

The Chef provided me with explicit instructions to get from his house in Jersey City to Manhattan. It's simple really:

  1. You hail the bus that stops in front of his house. It comes by approximately twice an hour.
  2. You pay $3 in exact change
  3. You get off at the Port Authority and take the A, C or E train downtown.


I was dressed in my cool new york clothes, and my cool New York shoes. But I wasn't cool at all. I was nervous. It was raining. I didn't have a proper bag to put my papers in. I was a mess.

I decided I should try to borrow a bag to put the papers in. So I clomp upstairs to find a bag. I find one, but then i'm indecisive. Do I really need this? I go downstairs. I vacillate. I decided no bag. I open the door to watch for the bus when i remember: $3 in exact change. All I have is a $5! And they really don't like it when you don't have exact change. I begin to freak. I'm hoping that The Chef has a change jar.

At the top of the stairs in his closet, success! I quickly fumble through the change until I have enough. Then I dash downstairs. I look out again at the rain and make a split second decision. I'm going to take the bag.

I am halfway through transferring all of my junk from my purse to the bag when I hear the bus approaching. I cram everything in, leap out the door, lock it and run to hail the bus.

Finally. I sit down to relax during the 15 minute ride.

But I can't really relax, so i start going through the bag, making sure I have everything. Phone, check. Directions, check. Wallet. Wallet. Ohmigod. There's no wallet! I scavenge through the bag again. No wallet. I slump in my seat. What. Am. I. Going. To. Do. I am on my way to the Port Authority with no wallet, no ID, no subway pass and no money. Holy cow. The hick in the city has really done it this time.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Don't Talk to Strangers

A couple of weeks ago, I was visiting my friend The Chef in NYC. Before I left, my Mom had just one bit of advice: "Don't talk to strangers." No problem, I thought. Strangers are scary, serial killer types. I will definitely stay away from them.

Since The Chef had to work during the day, (wah) I was on my own. But I navigated the transportation system without incident. I was at the Port Authority trying to buy a subway pass to take me downtown when a stranger approached.

Speaking in a British accent, he asked, "Can you tell me how to purchase a subway pass?"

Clearly, my efforts to "blend in" had paid off. People were asking me for directions! However, since I wasn't intimate with the ways of the subway pass machine, I fessed up right away that I too was just visiting.

"We'll figure it out together," I tell him.

Now, clearly this is my first mistake. I should have given him the stink eye and shooed him away. He was a stranger, for goodness sakes!

But no, we manipulate the machine until it produced a pass for him. Then, the unexpected happened.

"Say, since we are both new to the city, would you like to get some coffee sometime?" he asks.

I say, "Well, I'm married."

He says, "That's ok. I just don't know anyone here."

Obviously I should have cut and run right there. If I had the minutest inkling of street smarts I would have told him that would be inappropriate. Or even a very polite, "No thanks," would do. As a last resort, the tried and true fake number would have been the way to go.

But no, of course. I rejected all of these options because I didn't want to hurt his feelings. (Not thinking, of course, that maybe serial killers don't have feelings.)

So, even though my mom had just told me not to talk to strangers, I not only talked to him, but I gave him my name and real number, just to be nice, berating myself the whole time for being such an idiot.

Who in their right mind does this? Well, me apparently.

But my street smarts are improving. When he called, I didn't answer. And I only felt a little guilty about it, and it passed quickly. That's progress.