Monday, March 24, 2008


[This is the format I have in mind for posts: open w/ sublet specs (and picture if included), followed by text. In the case of this particular post (and a couple to come), I was able to pull from previous writings/notes taken on my experiences...]

New York, NY--Gramercy neighborhood
March-July 2005
1-bdrm apt, occupied by my then-boyfriend and I

March 23, 2005
I'M HERE. Here: sitting w/ laptop in the plushest chair my ass has ever, ever known, feet resting on an equally plush ottoman, a one Empire State Building at my back, glowing orange-red against a black NY sky...

So my plane touched down at approx 6:20 p.m. I fetched my gargantuan luggage and joined a forty person-long taxi line. I called the boyfriend (not here for another week), gushed appropriately, then jumped into my designated cab, which dropped me, twenty minutes later, in front of 324, where I arranged my bags in a heap and plopped down to wait for Jim, brother of the woman subletting us the place.

I ended up waiting about twenty minutes, during which time I met next-door neighbor Sharon, who was taking her collie on an evening stroll. I'd put S at around 55, maybe 60. As it was obvious I was moving in, she asked where I was from, why I had chosen New York, etc. I told her about my publishing aims, to which she replied, "Oh really? I was an editor at one point--for Better Homes and Gardens." She was perfectly nice, although right away I knew I wasn't in Seattle anymore. She had a way about her, just real unhesitating in her delivery. Like, at one point I sort of half-mumbled something, and I got a pointed "what?" in return. It was the tone more than the word, of course. Not rude, just like, "come on, let's have a conversation." It forced me to speak louder and to look right at her while speaking--a great practice for me to get into. What else... I also met Ada, met her before I met Sharon, actually. She stands not an inch taller than 4'10, sounds German. Very warm, I can tell already, and to hear Sharon speak of her, she's the resident cat lady/bird feeder. Fantastic.

So Rosalynn, film director and official #5C tenant, has good taste. Lots of deep browns and dark wood, Asian art prints and photography, overall calming aesthetic... Plus, not only do we have our very own bedroom, but a Futon as well, just waiting for you to take advantage of. (Visit us!)

Oh, so as nice as the digs are, I have one complaint: she's got too much. I mean, the place is by no means cluttered--on the contrary, her closets shelve the nicest, neatest sweater stacks. Cut from the same cloth, that Rosalynn and I. BUT, I have my own clothing--and like her, too much of it. It looks as if the boyfriend and I have one closet to share, and well, that ain't gonna cut it. Hmm. I am here first...

Same holds true for bathroom misc. While I'm all for Q-tips and shower poofs, I'd rather supply my own, you know? But as it stands now, hers run rampant. As I don't imagine she intended a 'what's mine is yours' type of arrangement, thus far I've taken the liberty of stowing some select items of hers beneath the sink...

April 3, 2005
Seven o'clock this morning. Doorbell chimes repeatedly. I bolt out of bed. Doorbell chimes repeatedly. I yell "hold on a sec!" Doorbell chimes repeatedly. I scramble to dress. Doorbell chimes repeatedly. I shriek something.

It's 90-year-old Ada who lives directly below us in 4C, and she’s in full-fledged morning garb: silk housecoat, pin curlers (she's this close to losing one), puffy eyes. She's just 'stopping by' to find out whether we've contacted the super in regard to the heavy stream of water--courtesy of the boyfriend's shower--that had doused her yesterday afternoon. I had, and the response: "Tell her to call me in the morning. She needs to call me." The whole exchange had hinted at prior history, that perhaps the super considers our downstairs neighbor one of those complainer types. But as the boyfriend and I will attest, leaky ceilings = no picnic.

So I relay his request, writing down his number for her, and off she shuffles, trailing thank you's and a loose curler.

More about Ada: She's kindof amazing. Ninety years old, still living in the apartment of her childhood, and climbs five flights of stairs at least once a day, insisting on doing this w/o an assisting arm. ("That's okay honey girl, I use this railing here.") It's a sight to behold. This is because Ada moves so slowly that it's almost stressful. You just never quite buy into the idea that she'll take that next step, even though she's proven you wrong a...g...a...i...n and a......g......a......i......n and a......... And even though she would've surely turned down an offer of assistance, you can't help but feel guilty, bounding up the stairs two at a time, throwing glances back, reaching your floor as you imagine Ada's right foot hovering--contemplating, considering, stopping for lunch--on the brink of that third step...

Anyhow, there's no ceiling to Ada's kindness. She brings us strange Italian pastries from her favorite neighborhood bakery, always stops for conversation, and most recently, gave the umbrella-less boyfriend an ancient, bamboo-handled number. ("Oh honey boy, you can't go out like that!") The top/cap part is completely mangled, w/ clumps of animal hair splaying in all directions, but gosh, nice! Of course, there's always a complaint, right? Ours: It's the cat-lady designation. Presumably she mothers several, or maybe one really dirty one, given the pissawful stench that greets the nostrils once the fourth floor comes into view. It really is bad, especially at the end of an endlessly hot day, and I can't imagine how her neighbors cope. I don't know, maybe they've resolved to consider the bags of pastries she twirls around their doorknobs consolation. So sweet. (The gesture, not the pastries, which, if they're the same ones we collect, are mysteriously lacking in sugar.)

Here's to hoping we're able to wash ourselves today.

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