Showing posts with label apartments. Show all posts
Showing posts with label apartments. Show all posts


Photograph: Looking Out the Window at Night

Windows. Side windows. Curtains. Basketball bounces define the streets of the city. Conversations. Night walking. Visions. Of Joanna.


Nazdrave: A Tale of One Guy's Moving to New York City

Ersatz Warhol prints adorn the wall.
     The house is cluttered with cookbooks and vinyl records. The sparest space is my room. The boxes I had mailed on Wednesday from the Uptown Station sit atop the bureau. “Yer gonna have to give Tony a bottle of Vodka for him hauling your stuff up here. Joking. Joking.” I am given the grand tour, given my keys, sign my rental contract, and within minutes we’re eating olives, goat cheese and downing shots of Johnnie Walker. Tony pours me a whiskey with one cube of ice. He stares into my eyes for a few seconds revealing a boyish character that I know I will come to love. “Nazdrave,” he says, and I repeat, “Nazdrave,” quickly learning the Bulgarian toast. I had said the German prost, but he politely informs me that in Bulgarian prost is derogatory. He clinks my glass a little bit too roughly. “You’re going to break the damn glass, Tony,” Becca says. “It’s good. Becca. It’s good.” Lonnie stands against the refrigerator. We’re changing places. I’m the new roomie. He looks me up and down, sizing me up, to make sure I am a decent enough replacement for the 8 X 11 I’ll be inhabiting.
     “So, you’re a teacher, huh?” I nod and mention something about English. Absorption mode is what I call my mental state at this point. Chrissy and her sister had just left. We ate a Reuben on the steps of the branch of the Queens library. They saw my room. “Good luck, Greig.” “Thanks,” I said. “I’ll need it.” I am comforted my name is printed in stencil beneath the doorbell. "Roselli." Words gather like dust. I memorize what I think I’ll need later. “Brave. He’s brave.” “Buy a month Metro card and don’t lose it.” “This is his first day. July first. 2010.” “Don’t let ‘em knock you down.” “You’re family.” “If you lose your keys, you’re locked out.” “Whatcha gonna do?” “Find out for yourself.” “Maybe you can water the plants when we’re gone.” “You live in Queens but you’re a New Yorker.” “Nazdrave.” We sit around the kitchen table and talk about why the W line has been discontinued. Lonnie says goodbye. I stand up to shake his hand. “I gotta go see my sister in Brooklyn,” he says, his accent a deep Long Island tone. Tony offers another toast. The two men hug. Becca hugs Lonnie. We shake hands again. He gulps the last of his Johnnie Walker, grabs a mouthful of cashews. “Lonnie, we’ll keep your stuff here. No problem. Keep in touch.” Becca straightens her hair. Tony pours me another drink. “If you don’t want any, Greig, just tell him. He’s like a little kid.” I feel like I am living in my head even though I am surrounded by people. I am not used to this at all. I ask to be excused. In the bathroom, I look at my section of the medicine cabinet. A subway map bathroom curtain attracts my attention. I find our stop. I look in the mirror. “Is this real?” I ask my reflection. My reflection laughs. I smile. I am a New Yorker now. 
     I tuck in my shirt and join the fray. Donovan walks in, the other roommate, donning what appears to be a seersucker suit. After introductions, Tony pours him a drink too. “Nazdrave.” Glasses clink. “Goddammit, Tony, don’t break the fucking glass.”


Feeling Strangely Rental: A Memoir of a Last Month Lease

Dorothea Lange, "Migrant Mother"
In the 1930 Census, there is a ton of data about how Americans lived during the Great Depression.
     Few people had radios in their homes and most middle-class citizens rented. My maternal grandmother grew up in a house on Ursulines in New Orleans and her family paid sixteen dollars a month for the rent.
       Today, renting is not so run-of-the-mill, at least, from my perspective. Two of my friends bought in the last several months, one a thirty-something with a professional job and the other, a couple, who bought a house after renting for thirty-five years. Wow.
       I used to joke that I would never own. Who wants to cut grass? I am not really keen on mortgage notes. If I can't pay the bill I rather be evicted than post foreclosure.

Renting is the only vestige link I have to my ancestors.
Is that the real reason I rent?
I decided to rent long before I knew Grandma lived in a rental and didn't have a radio.
     Renting is the only Bohemian side to my pretty complacent, post-MA existence. Renting says, "Hey! I am free, sort of. I may have tons of student loans to pay off but at least you're not going to take my house (because I don't have one!).
     There are obvious downsides to renting. The landlord is number one. Most complaints by renters can be traced back to the landlord. She doesn't fix the leak. He never installed that new water heater. Ya da ya da ya da.

There's more.
     Like, have you ever had your landlord walk in on you naked (yep, that's me)? What about when you are leaving an apartment, have you ever had embarrassing moments with what I like to call the prospective-tenant-old-tenant-landlord triangle?

It goes like this.
     Your lease is up. You got a raise. So you decide to take a bite out of the icing and do a "moving on up" gig. You get a better crib.
     Your last paying month is rather raunchy. You know you have thirty days. So you pack up slowly. You think you have all the time in the world.
     The landlord leaves a message that he's showing the apartment. Cool. You haven't stepped outside all day, so you take a walk to the local coffee shop. That day goes by fine. You are a little creeped out that the prospective tenant may be sizing up YOU rather than the PLACE, but you never met them, so who cares.
     It's a little worse, though, when the prospective tenant, you, and the landlord meet up despite your best attempts at preventative medicine.
     The door knocks. It's your landlord with a twenty-something wanting to look at the place. "Hey, can I show her around?"

"Sure," you say. 
     All of a sudden you feel naked and you wonder if everything is put away. Neat. In order, as if this is a blind date or something.

     "So, how do you like living here?" she nonchalantly asks?
     "Oh. Yeah. It's great." The landlord eyes you to shut-up but you keep going. "I love it. Here. It's great." And just when you think you're home free, you say something like, "Except for the showers. It's like running a marathon in there." Dammit. SNAFU.
     "Well, I'm just going to show her the laundry room."
     "Bye." The landlord gives you an even worse evil eye than before. You put your head down in shame and go back to whatever renters do in their rented apartments.

Have you experienced any odd triangulations with your landlord? Feel free to post and share! (See that comment button down there? Use it. Don't be a lurker).