Monday, March 29, 2010

"You know I couldn't last... someone please take me home..."

There's nothing like a good Morrissey lyric when you want to convey internal drama.

Lately I've been constantly reminded of just how far beyond my means I live here. New York bleeding me dry and making me feel like a failure most of the time in this blog profile is no joke. Within the last few weeks that feeling has only increased ten-fold.

As I've written about before, I made a choice to live in New York. And despite any unpleasantness that I've come to associate with the price of living here, it may be the best choice I've ever made for myself. Now, and perhaps for the first time seriously, I'm questioning if I should stay here.

I still love it. I love Brooklyn. I love the shops and restaurants in my neighborhood. I love the walking. I hate that my paycheck can barely cover my bills. I hate that despite my efforts and mad budgeting to get my debt in check, I'm constantly throwing away money on Chase bank fees because I just couldn't quite make the money work again this month. Because, no matter what I do, I find myself in the red.

I know that it probably sounds like a simple solution -- spend less money. And let me tell you that I've done that. I can actually live on an obscenely small amount of money between pay checks, particularly if there's already food in the house. I've eaten boxed macaroni and cheese and locked myself in my apartment on the weekends. I've done almost everything I can think of. But I can't get caught up, let alone ahead. I've borrowed money from my generous father ad nauseum that gets recorded in a little notebook in his desk. He loves that notebook. I want to set it on fire.

I'm older and wiser now, enough to know that this cycle of debt can't go on forever. At some point - possibly in the next few months - I will need to say, okay, New York, you've broken me. I can't do this anymore. If I don't stop myself I don't know what will happen. It may be me in a rubber room. That sounds entirely feasible.

And then, what?, I just suck it up and... go? Just like that? I just move. Away from New York. My home. For as much as I've talked about it, I can't ACTUALLY imagine not living here anymore. This place that I love to hate. Oh, how that phrase resonates in every area of my life.

Friday, March 26, 2010

what today is vs. what today could be

I think long term. I'm not so much a planner, though, as a wonderer. Planning I kinda suck at. I wonder what my life would be like, could be like, if I go one way as opposed to the other. This is normal, yes?

Six years ago, I made a choice to live in New York. I probably could have gone anywhere else, including back home to Pennsylvania, but at the time New York was the only place I could be. It was more than the only place that I wanted to be, it was just it. Not including my very brief stint considering graduate school for teaching theatre, I didn't even consider living anywhere else. Why would I? My boyfriend was here, and we had decided to move in together, and DUH! it was New York! Everything, and everyone, I wanted was here. And I was very happy. I was going to get a job in Manhattan! Where I would dress smartly and I would have books - oodles of them! - and read New York Magazine.

I did a lot of those things for a while, particularly the being happy part. That may have been my favorite.

Now I'm 28, going on 58 as my brother says, and I've settled into a comforting routine of daily life. I get up, go to work, do work, come home, eat dinner, watch TV and go to sleep. Lather, rinse, repeat. My life isn't all that different from anyone else's living anywhere else. Last night I was at dinner with Stone Cold Steve Austin (yes and yes) and he asked me what I do here on the weekends. New York isn't that different from any other city. I go to Target. I go to the movies. I occasionally go out to dinner with friends. And I like it that way. Sometimes I indulge in a Broadway show (I was grateful to attend "Last Fall" last Friday with my good friend and it was phenomenal) or shopping in a non-Target store, but I wander around my neighborhood aimlessly or planet myself on the couch to watch DVDs, too.

I have two stepbrothers who are both younger by a few years who own property or on their way to doing so. I cannot compare myself to them in most ways (I want to save the trees while one cuts them down), but I do have this idea in my head that despite being younger, they are more grown up than I because they own things. Cars, homes, dogs. But I don't own these things because I chose to live here, and they chose to be in Pennsylvania. Choosing to live in New York City usually means choosing to put typical adult things like buying a home on hold - either until you make six figures and maintain that, or until you leave.

I used to say that if I moved back home after college or since that I have a good idea who I would marry. It's based on very little evidence, of course. It's not my high school math teacher, sadly, although I probably would have tried to date him when I became a reasonable age to do so. I have this picture in my head of what my life could be, and it seems relatively pleasant from the outside. Then I try to reconcile that life with my current one - which I happen to really like day-to-day - and I just get confused.

I like to think about these alterna-lives, but I don't want them. Like is even a strong word. I am intrigued by them. Owning a home and having a baby and picking out paint colors intrigues me. But if I had all of those things, I wouldn't have had dinner with Steve Austin last night. And that was super.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Apartment rant #476

Remember that great apartment I introduced you to last June? Well, it's been the bane of my existence pretty much since then (remember the ConEd incident?). We had the wall issue. Then came the hot water issue. And the, "oh, you see that thing that looks like a flaccid penis on my roommate's wall? Yeah, that's water damage that came from the balcony of the apartment upstairs (seriously?) after three plus days of rain" issue. Oh, and our intercom hasn't worked in nine months. How long have we been living there? That's right, NINE MONTHS.

The latest development, a little more than a week ago, was that the building made the decision to cut our 24-hour doorman service effective March 1 (we got the letter on the Friday previous). About 25-30 or so of us tenants met that Sunday morning to discuss what we could do about it. Negotiate an evening-only doorman deal? Slash our rent to compensate for a lost service? All die a bullet-riddled death in our neighborhood and hope our remaining loved ones sue later? Two lawyers in the building spearheaded the efforts and did all of the attorney stuff like look up precedent and other things I completely don't understand. At the end of the meeting (where I talked more than was reasonable considering my complete lack of knowledge on the law), we all signed a letter stating that we feel this is an important safety issue (since we live on the cusp of a less desirable neighborhood where there often police cars and other indications of illegal activity), and part of our rent goes to such amenities as these. Additionally, we all decided to hold off on paying our rent until Friday the 5th to see if our letter held any weight with them.

It did. Sort of. The two attorneys then met with the head of the management company for our building (a man who, despite my many efforts to speak to him on a variety of issues regarding the hell suck that we live in, has never once been "available" to take my calls) who said, essentially, that the recession has really hit them hard. No kidding? That's strange, because we pay more than THREE THOUSAND DOLLARS in rent to you every month, and there are more than 50 units in our building. Eff you. Rae's dad suggested that we write a letter saying that we've also been affected by the recession and are no longer able to pay our rent, and we hope this isn't an inconvenience. I liked that.

However, due to their economic issues aplenty, the manager suggested to lawyer dude that he could offer an early-out option on our leases, should we want to leave. I read this in an email while in a cab and I nearly jumped out of my seat. IT'S A DREAM COME TRUE! The management company believes that all of the tenants received STEEP discounts on our rentals (um, no) and could easily fill the apartments for more than we all pay. So, please, leave. Gladly. And, I might add, you're seriously delusional.

Now, the fam and I discussed this and decided to pursue this option with near-glee. Yesterday I spoke to not-the-manager of the building to ask for this early-out option in writing, as my roommates and I would like to get the eff out of that building. Relatively pleasant, she said that she actually had our lease renewal option in a stack of papers and would remove ours so that she could sign a letter for us stating that we could leave without penalty. Then I skipped away.

This morning, however, we DID receive our lease renewal option paperwork. And they're raising the rent by more than $250, and requesting additional security. Which is HYSTERICAL.

So, to them, I say peace out and I hope you will enjoy my scathing review of your management company and your building when I move out and post it on

Monday, March 1, 2010

pregnancy non-scare

At some point in the last six years, my life went in an unexpected direction. No, it wasn't when I decided I wanted to date women. It wasn't even when I fell in love with Rachel. Although these things were pretty unexpected. The defining moment of my adulthood, to date, has been the moment I decided I wanted to be a mom. Intensely wanted. Wanted soon. And then, wanted immediately.

Less than an hour ago I found out via Facebook (and, honestly, how do I find out anything any other way? I don't because I am dreadful at keeping in touch with people) that one of my best friends from high school is pregnant with a little girl. I was immediately ecstatic for her and her husband. I'm sure she's more than a little scared, but I know she will be a phenomenal mother. And then, as has been the case so many times before, I look at myself and wonder why it couldn't be me, too. Another one of my close friends from high school recently gave birth to her second child. She has a beautiful family. If I could I would send her baby gifts every week.

When I was in high school, I know that I thought I would be one of the first to be married, to have a child. At that time, 25 seemed elderly and my back would be creaking just chasing the little ones around the backyard.

When I turned 23, I had an irrational fear of becoming pregnant. Every woman on my mother's side of the family had had a child by the age of 23, and I thought I was "doomed" to become a young mother as well. At the time, even though I was in a healthy committed relationship with someone whom I wanted to marry and would have liked to go on and have a child with, a pregnancy felt like it would have been the end of the world. Of my world. I was financially unprepared and emotionally irresponsible. I was 23 for goodness sake. I spent a good deal of 2005 abstaining from sex with my boyfriend (much to his dismay) because I was terrified of becoming pregnant. And I like sex.

Five years later, I'm still financially unprepared and emotionally irresponsible (albeit less so), sometimes all I can think about is wanting a baby. My roommate and I will ogle babies on TV and snuggle up against baby blankets and swoon and discuss names. And then remind ourselves that most of our "good eggs" are probably gone and we could very likely just be ogling other people's babies forever. Because like can sort of suck that way when you're 30 (or rapidly approaching it).

And the thing is that I like my life right now. I don't really want to change it in a way that would be conducive to having a baby right this second. I can't seem to strike a balance with what I like about my life right now and what I think my "goals" are. Suffering through an agonizing labor is a goal, right?