Sunday, August 23, 2015

My first week as a "New Yorker"

So as I shared yesterday, I now live in Brooklyn. 7 weeks ago tomorrow, I came to Brooklyn for the first time to visit the illustrious place called Williamsburg. Naturally, coming from another part of all looked scary. Honestly. I was a wimp. As it turns out, Brooklyn is lovely and were it a stand alone city, it would be the 4th largest in the US. So, yes, that is also cool.  Lots going on in T-H-E Brooklyn. Thankfully I've secured a perfectly lovely apartment for which I may have to live in forever because the apartment rent in this area is going through the roof. Fortunately, per my post yesterday, you can see it is a delightful apartment. At 900 sq. ft. it also has a decent amount of space. I have access to several train lines at an easy pace from my front door and the neighborhood houses/buildings are beautiful.

So. Now. Let's discuss the fact that I now live in Brooklyn.  All I'm going to say is this...It's a long story. A story that's been in process approximately 9 years but more realistically, about 6 years.
And so to give description through singing...I give you Ariana Grande and my summer theme song.

Although, there were several mornings this week I played this song to simulate the beginning of "The Devil Wears Prada"....

So. 7 weeks, 220 hours of summer school, multiple flights via Delta (Memphis, NYC, Cleveland, Memphis, NYC, Destin, Memphis, NYC), a broker and her fees, starting a new job, I now live in Brooklyn.  So yes, it's a very long story. Just listen to Ariana singing. You'll thank me. She pumps up the "jam".

So now let's talk about my apartment. Because again, that's all anyone really wants to talk about.
Here are some funny anecdotes relating to the apartment.  How did I find the apartment you ask?
Well, I searched through Craigslist and then found Street Easy and quite literally, it was easy. So that's where I found the apartment. Once I realized where I'd be working and what time I had to be there in the morning 5 days a week, I knew that living in Manhattan wasn't realistic. Searching in Brooklyn, seemed like an even bigger task.  There is tons of gentrification going on, which is good because it is always nice to pick things up, BUT, that also means that the rent is sort of unrealistic and in many, many places more expensive than it is in Manhattan! What you do get in Brooklyn, at this point, is a bigger apartment. For the money, I was able to get 900 sq. ft. as opposed to 250-400 sq. ft. in Manhattan. I can fix little janky things but I can't fix small. Small is small is small and location doesn't fix it either.  So, once again, I say here I am in Brooklyn. I have a delightful landlord who also happens to be the owner of the brownstone and lives in. So, handy.

After I looked at about 40 apartments on line, I narrowed it down to about 8, then I narrowed it down to 2. I went to see the first apartment (which happened to be the one I chose, basically on the spot). The location was perfect for getting to school and did I mention that one of my dearest friends from high school lives about 200 yards away.  That security felt right. So I promptly messaged the broker after seeing it to rent the apartment. There was a little bit of negotiation that happened because I needed to take possession immediately (less than 7 days from the day I viewed it) as well as negotiation through the broker fee.  This broker's fee was 12% of the annual rent, we renegotiated 10% because, well, I didn't have enough money to pay 12%. That part was hard because she was fantastic and so accommodating, but I just couldn't swing 12%.  At some point, I will make this up to her, somehow, whether it be through renting another apartment with her or something...?

Now, to rent an apartment in NYC basically anywhere, there's a broker's fee. Most apartments I was interested in had a broker's fee. This seemed to range between 10%-15% of the annual rent, in addition to the first and last month's rent and the deposit.  So yes, it is basically like putting a down payment on a house. Kind of scary. So in some ways it feels like I just "closed" on an apartment.

Exactly 1 week after I saw the apartment, I "moved" into it. And in that time, I started my new job with Uncommon Schools, flew back to Memphis, packed suitcases and boxes that will arrive Labor Day week, sold over 50 pairs of shoes, and my Lexus, and then...flew back to NYC. It was a really hectic week and when I went to bed at 2am on the day I moved into the apartment, I was exhausted both emotionally and physically. It was a hard week. The good part, it is past me.

The funny part. There's more.

Okay so August in Brooklyn is ridiculously hot. Much like Memphis, but oddly different. I thought I'll be okay with no air conditioning the first night. NOT! I was going for the "tree house" set up and surely there will be a breeze.  Not so much. Fortunately, this is where the element of having a friend living 200 yards away is very helpful. He saved the day. 2 nights in a row.  What did happen though in that time is that I also learned the magic of going to buy 2 air con units and a box fan, and the super cute part where I hauled them home.  A short comedy film could have been made about me schlepping those darn things home.  The save in this story is that my landlord carried them upstairs and installed them for me. See. Good ending.  And then I had air con in the apartment, my aerobed blown up and I felt like I lived there. Also within that time, my broker's assistant (or maybe he was another broker, I couldn't tell) offered me a new mattress from Ikea because he said when he moved to NYC he had nothing. So he was paying it forward. (I too will have to do this for another someday) So he organized a task rabbit to drop it off and I paid the fella $60 to deliver it.  Worked out lovely. So the mattress went down, then the aerobed on top and bada-bing I have something that is actually like a bed. The story just keeps getting better and better. 

Alright, so now we are on day 3. Day 3 I went to Bed Bath & Beyond and bought some proper bedding, a extra long shower curtain, and 2 real pillows.  All I had was my airplane neck pillow.  Talk about a sad part of the story, I didn't have room in my suitcase to pack a real pillow.  Okay, be resourceful, Hilary, you worked it out. So this is the part of the story where I looked like Julie from Julie and Julia when she is schlepping groceries home from Dean and Deluca and busy that bundle of sticks and takes them home on the subway and she's hot and knocking people out with the sticks...yes that was me but not with sticks but a giant bag of pillows.  I could feel myself laughing through this.  And, yes it builds character and my first week in NYC story. When I was purchasing all that "crap" I kept saying to myself, now remember you have to take this all the way home. I imagine I'll find myself asking myself this often when shopping for various things whether it home products or food or clothes or whatever. But in this instance, every bit of it was VERY needed. So it was okay.

Okay so in the meantime, I've started a new job. I mentioned that right, the whole entire reason for moving to NYC...the new job?!? All this while, the new job is very sparkly and full of delightfulness. So that is a plus. No scabs there, no potholes. Just delight.  I have high desire to keep this status for this portion of my life because this is something I've not had ever. A sparkly job where people are happy I'm there and using me and my skillset in full. So far, this is on track with my hopes and dreams. All this work I've done over 4 degree's starting to pay off.

Okay now back to the apartment and such.

So the first week comes to and end. And now it's Friday night.

Where did I spend my Friday night? Mostly Mozart Festival at Lincoln Center, Haydn Creation. And though I practically fell asleep on the subway headed there because I was SO tired...I didn't because I was so excited to hear the music and be at LC and naturally, the music was SO beautiful. Sort of a prayerful and very grateful moment in the story of my first week in NYC as a resident.

Saturday night, an encore to my weekend of classical music...I got to hear a dear NYC friend sing Susanna along with 2 Jayhawks cast members in a Dell'Arte production of Marriage of Figaro.  Also, I got a pedicure. Can't go wrong with that one.

I'm so thankful to my friends who have helped me and will continue to help me make this move. It wasn't something I could have done without their help on this end.  I stayed with them several times during the transition, and they've continued to support me this week in all the newness. Thankfully, I have spent a good amount of time in NYC over the years, so not everything is new to me. But the fact that I actually do have an address at this point is very unreal. I have a place to come home to everyday that is the same, with my things in it, in a beautiful place I'm learning to call home. Lots of adjustment to come in continuation of this thing I'm calling #northernmigrationsituation but none the less, the migration into a life I'm after. For now, learning to be by myself. That's hard. After being part of a team for nearly 14 years, learning to do a lot of things by myself again...that's a transition.
I'm writing this very disjointed sentence structure story and hitting "publish" because I know this is a story I will want to remember (though am likely to never forget...EVER) how things went my first week in NYC.

More to come. Probably a little light hearted, and probably with more decorative photos.

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