Sunday, March 29, 2009

Shades of Grey?

Call me crazy, but I'm not the type to meet someone at a bar. Something about yelling small talk over bad music after one two many drinks downed does not a romantic scene make. Neither do I go to very many bars.

I would say friends of friends (of friends of friends) is the most ideal avenue, but alas, living in a newish town, it's hard enough to meet a person with whom you'd like to cultivate a lasting friendship let alone a relationship.

Where, then, does one have the opportunity to interact with like-minded people on a regular basis, say 40 hours a week?

Ah, the work crush. He is adorable, funny, and smart. He likes the same music and reads similar books. He wears dapper suits for no reason. He refers to everyone and everything by a nickname. He sits next to me.

We are flirty during work and even flirtier outside of it. It is as if we exist in extremes: workplace propriety and inebriated abandon. An amusing, unbelievably frustrating dynamic. Secret emails during the day and middle of the night text messages aside, how would we act around each other while watching a movie on his couch or eating Sunday brunch? I have not the slightest idea.

Do I want to know?

Maybe yes, maybe no. I'm still figuring this one out.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

A babe in the woods of NYC sublets

I think of myself as a New Yorker. When someone asks where I'm from and I want to avoid the long winded ocean- and state-hopping answer I just flip out a "New York - and you?" I scoff at non-New Yorker concerns like my mother's - take a train at 4am? Why not! Where will you get cough medicine at this time of night? Why at the corner pharmacy! Aren't you going to take a cab? Oh it's only 15 blocks. Dinner? The world is our oyster.

But but but but but. I forgot that I had developed this whole New Yorker-ness over the course of four very particular years. Four years in the bubble that is NYU. I spent those years conveniently situated in Union Square and Washington Square and in "Chinatown" (but who are we kidding, it was really just the border of Tribeca). Enclosed in the safe parameters of NYU housing I blithely spent four years without really ever thinking twice about what to do if the sink got clogged or even if the light bulb needed to be changed. All it took was one service request and magically everything would be fixed. Not once did I stop to consider that I never had to take any measures towards safety other than locking my own apartment door. I never stopped to think of how much I appreciated having a security guard at the door. And I never really understood this creature called the New York City housing market.

After college I sympathized distractedly and detachedly with friends who couldn't find apartments, who were couch-surfing until an affordable find turned up. I spent my time ensconced in a small town, tucked away in my graduate school abode (which, as I now realize, would cost about 4 times as much in the City), unconcerned about sublets and prices and broker fees and water pressure.

And now here it is. My re-entry into New York. For the past two years I have pined - that is the only word - to be back home, to be back in "the City." My city. If ever I thought about housing at all, I dreamt of glorious loft apartments and doormen and metro stops right outside my front door. Unfortunately and quite abruptly, Craigslist brought me sharply back to reality with a stinging smack.

I troll Craigslist addictedly. I salivate over the $4000 per month luxury apartments that are exactly what I want - except that the budget is more than twice as much as I would pay. Security deposits necessary, utilities not included, hidden broker's do you weed through the sludge and arrive at your destination?

My bleary eyes get tired of staring at successive screens that all promise huge sunny affordable studios only to have them turn out to be small, dark, utitlities not included, $2500, need one month's rent + one month's security deposit...I finally post my own looking for housing ad: Law student, clean, quiet, no smoking, no pets, need studio apartment mid-May to Mid-July anywhere on east side of Manhattan either walking distance to Grand Central or close to a 4/5/6 metro stop, $1600"

Excitedly I check my email - a response already!

"I have beautiful apartment, not exactly studio but 2 bedroom share available 1st April to 15 June, 10 minute walk from F, V, in LES, friendly cat, your room is not a true room but don't worry there is a thick curtain and it is very private."

Of course.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


Recently I haven’t felt the strong urge to write about something in my life, something around me, that strange pull that makes you want to spill love or vitriol or just random thought. I think this is because I was visiting a city I had never been to before.

It isn’t because I was enthralled and enraptured. I wasn’t so busy that I couldn’t take a moment away to type a few quick words. It wasn’t because I was so horrified and disgusted that I couldn’t think of anything else. It wasn’t because I was falling in love with it. It wasn’t because I was growing to revile it. It wasn’t because I was bored. In fact, it was simply because I felt nothing at all.

I knew I loved Paris on that first taxi ride from CDG into the city. Bombay is in my blood – there was no question of whether I loved it or not. When we first arrived in the States, as we descended over New York City I felt that strange tidal pull that still draws me to it so many years later. I may question love when it comes to people, I may be hesitant to recognize it – but with a city…well, that stupid smile in my tummy usually clues me in.

In just the same way, I can recognize the cities I don’t get along with so well. Stockholm? There would have to be one hell of a strong reason for me to return there. Along the lines of a Nobel Prize. I found it boring and cold, even without the sheets of ice covering the place.

But Shanghai…well. Really, I couldn’t say. Nothing wrong with it. Perfectly fine city. Bright lights (many bright lights), big city, restaurants, sights…I wasn’t bored, I wasn’t disgusted, I didn’t find it cold. But equally, I wasn’t excited out of my skin, I wasn’t starry eyed and bedazzled, I wasn’t at peace. I’m sure I could find many words to describe it. But I’m not so sure I could find many words to describe what it made me feel. Unless perhaps it is just this one: nothing.

I would be perfectly happy to go to Shanghai again, perhaps even live there. I don’t really think I’d be overjoyed at being guaranteed I would never return. It’s like that acquaintance you always run into at parties – perfectly nice, and sure you’re glad you see them from time to time, but it would never occur to you to seek them out for a cup of coffee on a random weekday afternoon. Equally, you would feel bad for them if they died or had to move away, but it wouldn’t really put a dent in your own life. Perhaps at the next party you would remark on their absence. Or not.

As I recognized this feeling with regards to Shanghai, I started wondering what kind of city I am. Am I the kind that people fall in love with and want to return to time and time again – some to build a life there, some as a favorite destination? Am I someone’s Paris, someone’s Bombay, someone’s New York? Or am I the kind that people stay away from after visiting once – too loud and bustling, too boring, too hot, too cold? Or am I that other kind, that makes people feel nothing at all, that is fine, but just fine, that’s not bad, not bad at all, that is just a “sure why not” instead of a “hell yes” or a “hell no”?

I would like to be a “hell yes” of course, but if I couldn’t be that…well I’m not quite sure which of the other two options I would prefer.

Friday, March 20, 2009


There are times when I am beside myself with loneliness; overcome with the notion that I could veritably be alone forever. I have two great aunts who never married, both considered striking beauties in their younger years. They just never found a man worth settling down for. And occasionally, I see myself among them: Frieda, Jean, and Lauren. Lovely ladies, but they died alone.

And then there are times when I am beside myself with joy; overcome with the notion that I have never settled for someone I didn’t deem worthy. I’ve been in love – just once, but I was there. And the Disney-princess, loving-romantic inside of me believes that the Frieda-Jean curse will not fall upon my house. Just wanted to share the optimism of the day…

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


The Spring approaches quickly. My heart quickens pace at the thought of it. My mind drifts to warm days and cool nights. I think of rushing from work to meet you in the park. There you were perched on one arm reading in the grass. I loved to sneak up quietly and slide right into you wrinkling my crisp business attire. It looked so staunch next to your chucks and jeans, but I didn’t care. I’d simply remove my heels and walk barefoot through the city, next to you, we made sense.

You interlocked my fingers on date two and loved me even then. I knew you did. We were very creative with our words knowing “love” could get us into trouble. Instead you’d say, “You truly are made of beauty. It is a gift to merely brush up against such beauty in ones lifetime. To smell it on my hands after a night of getting to hold it. What grace is ours?!” You’d call me, “Sweetness,” “Love,” “Treasure,” “Precious,” “Adoration, you push me and move me...and always away from fear.”

Yeah, you said that. You spoke those things to me and you meant them. My words gushed forth with such sap and schmooze. I loved you with my phrases and those stares you just didn’t know what to do with. I remember your kindness now and how young our love was, so tender and fragile. But, we laughed and we giggled and we paraded public displays of affection in nearly every park this grand city has to offer. I loved that spring and I loved you in the spring. It will always taste different to me now.

Not quite two years have passed since our spring of affection, though it now seems so far. You’ve since left the city and me in it. But, your sweetness returns; in the blooming flowers, the itchy grass against my skin, the warmth of the sun that enraptures me.. I remember you.