Saturday, November 8, 2008

unexpected change #1

It was bound to happen, and it did. We've come across our first major change in plans. And it's a biggie.

N was offered a 1-year job that could not be turned down for various reasons. It looks like our six month plan has now become a 12 month plan. I can't say I'm not disappointed. Both of us have been so hyped up and excited for a big change, and now it's been stalled for quite some time. Not to say there aren't benefits--the job itself, of course, and now we have double the amount of time to save money for the move. I'm also very much hoping that maybe with this change we'll be able to buy a car in NYC and do the road trip cross-country to get to LA since we have more time to prep and whatnot. But we'll see.

Tacking on that extra six months has changed everything drastically. Now we both need to sign new leases on apartments here in NYC, and that has been all-consuming, of course. LA basically seems like a pipe dream at this point. But they say time flies, so who knows...maybe I'll dive back into planning before I know it.

Monday, October 20, 2008


I've never had my own car. I did grow up in the (chicago) suburbs, but I also went to boarding school for high school. So unlike my New Yorker friends who still don't have driver's licenses now in their mid-20s, I did get one when I was 15, but I also never had my own car since they were banned on my campus. So....oil changes? tire pressure? car insurance? Totally clueless. But I can say...driving by myself in my (parent's) car were definitely the best moments in my young life.

I don't think I can feel freer than when I am by myself, in a car, cruising down a highway. I literally become overwhelmed with possibility. I can go ANYWHERE I WANT! Which, ironically, is what my native New Yorker friends believe about the MTA, which I think is a huge load of bullshit. You can't go anywhere you have to go where the MTA goes! Which is an impressive amount of places for a public transportation system, yes, but you're still subject to the MTA's whims and follies, which are vast and many.

I hear a lot about car culture/traffic/smog and LA, but I don't completely buy it. I think partially because I need my personal space...I have that invisible box around me. If a stranger enters it I immediately freeze up and am ready to retaliate at any second if they decide to accidentally brush against me.
I've been in traffic for 2 hours when it should have taken 30 minutes many times in Chicago, and it never got on my nerves. But then again--I never had to drive in 2 hours of traffic to go to and from work everyday, either.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

MQ#3: How much $$?

Just in case you didn't know....moving costs money. I've moved a few times in my post-college life (including once from Manhattan to CA, then back from CA to Brooklyn), and I can easily say that those few days were the worst of my LIFE. Moving in NYC without the money to hire a moving company makes things about 50x worse. Reserving a U-Haul truck, packing shit into boxes, waiting in line for 2 hours in the early morning to get that truck, trying to find a place to idle the truck in front of my apartment building so I won't get ticketed, guilt tripping friends into helping me move, carrying shit up and down flights of stairs, trying to keep everyone fed and hydrated, maneuvering a large truck in single lane one-way NYC streets, then unloading and doing the whole thing all over again right when you feel like you're gonna collapse...just thinking about it makes me shudder.

Which is why I am DETERMINED to make sure that this move will not be torture. And I will achieve this lofty goal through a combination of endless planning, and, yes, spending money.

We are planning on making the move in April 2009. We chose this month for a couple reasons: first, N's lease on his apartment conveniently ends May 1st (my lease doesn't, but I have more flexibility); second, this will give me enough time at my current job to appropriately phase out and also get the coursework I'd like to get done out of the way; and third, it gives us time to plan and save money. This gives us roughly 6 months to prepare.

We opened a joint savings account (took 5 minutes online with ING) devoted to stockpiling our funds. We've both taken on second jobs, most of which will go straight into the account. By the end of April, we *should* have around $8k saved. But in my mind, $10k is the ideal figure. Time for the nitty gritty breakdown (each of these figures are generously cushioned for my own peace of mind):

Two one-way plane tickets: $600
Rent (1st month + security): $3,000
Furniture, move-in necessities: $2,000
...and the remainder will go towards a car

I am deathly afraid of loans and debt, thus my preference to have this much in cash ready and available for the transition. And, as always, the more the better, right?

This is a very general idea of the breakdown of funds we need without taking into factor important financial unknowns: jobs, crises, other random opportunities. Who knows? These may be numbers we're basically pulling out of our asses, but I always feel more comfortable working with concrete goals and figures, especially with as big of a change as this.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

MQ #2: How are we going to get there?

N and I talked over some options concerning this question. There seemed to be 3 different choices:

1) Rent a car/truck, pile as much of our stuff into it as possible, and make a cross-country road-trip of it

Pluses: We could keep a lot of our current stuff and do a long roadtrip together, which we've always wanted to do

Minuses: Buying GAS, being constantly afraid that someone's going to break into the truck overnight and steal all of our stuff (it's almost happened to me before), combining the stresses/costs of being on vacation smashed into a small space and staying at random motels along the way with moving

2) Buy a car here, pile as much of our stuff into it as possible, and make a cross-country road-trip of it

Pluses: We'd have a car the second we'd arrive in LA, so that would be one large stressor out of the way, we could keep some of our current stuff

Minuses: Buying GAS, putting tons of miles onto a vehicle we just acquired, getting car insurance in NY, the risk of breaking down in the middle of the desert (we've been in NYC too long--we're no longer car people!), ditto to the rest of the minuses mentioned in #1

3) Sell 90% of our current stuff, mail the other 8%, take a plane with the rest of the 2%

Pluses: We'd get there in 5 hours instead of 2 weeks

Minuses: We'd have to sell 90% of our stuff

And the winner is--#3. Yes, a roadtrip would be really fun, but vacations always have their own stress that come with them, and I don't want to combine that stress with moving. And will I really be able to kick back and enjoy myself when I'm really just trying to get to LA to start a new life? I don't think so.

#1 would be the most expensive in the end. The money spent on a rental would just be money thrown on the window. #2 would be more feasible than #1, but we'd still blow hundreds on gas. And at a time when we're trying to budget to pay for a move, will we really have money to pay for several hotel rooms along the way, along with food and stuff, all in the name of vacation? Nah.

Now it's time to think about the cost of plane tickets...

Sunday, October 5, 2008

The Mother of All Lists

Well, I can't write a blog comparing NYC and LA without taking a look at this doozy of a list.

From my explorations of LA, I already knew that I was most attracted to the areas of Los Feliz, Silver Lake, and Echo Park. According to these lists, that should also mean I'm an East/West/Greenwhich Village, SoHo, and Chelsea person. Which I am! If I made a $100k+ salary, that is. I could probably afford to live in a closet with no windows with 3 other people in a 2-bed apt there, but that wouldn't really be living, would it?

The LA/Brooklyn comparison is definitely throwing me off, though. At this point I've spent 4 years of my time in NYC in Manhattan and the other 4 in Brooklyn, and the 4 in Brooklyn have been in various places in the borough, so I feel I know it very well. Carroll Gardens, Boreum Hill, Park Slope, Cobble Hill...yes, I am attracted to these hoods (minus the babies + strollers), but is Echo Park really like Williamsburg? If that is true, I may have to nix that neighborhood from my list...

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Moving Question #1: When?

I'm not going to spend all my time on this blog making snarky comments about NYC and LA (though much of my time will be directed towards that)--I also wanted to use this space to outline our move, including creating our plans, finding out what actually goes according to plan, seeing what compromises/modifications we'll have to make along the way, etc. All these nitty-gritty details will be answered in a series of Moving Questions we'll be posing to ourselves. Here we go...

The first obvious question we had to answer was the question of When. We're both on leases for our apartments that end at different times (N and I live separately in different neighborhoods in Brooklyn), and I have a college-friend roommate who I won't coldly ditch with no warning. N is working a flexible job where he can telecommute while I've been at the same not-for-profit for 2 years, and owe a lot to my organization and my current boss, who have treated me very well since I started working there. And even if we pretend these factors didn't exist, could we just get up and move tomorrow? Not unless we hitchhiked our way across the country, cuz, well, our bank accounts aren't exactly overflowing at this moment.

After a lot of short bursts of discussion over several weeks, we are now planning on making the move in April 2009. We chose this month for a couple reasons: first, N's lease on his apartment conveniently ends May 1st (my lease is a little more flexible, so I think I can make it work); second, this will give me enough time to phase out of my current job and also get the graphic design coursework I'd like to get done out of the way; and third, it gives us time to plan and save money. This also gives everyone in our lives (including my roommate) a nice heads-up about our future plans. This gives us roughly 6 months to prepare. Prepare how? That's still something we need to figure out ;)

Friday, September 26, 2008

I <3 NYC H2O

ohmygod. I haven't started to appreciate this until recently, but NYC has the BEST. WATER. EVER. I really don't know the mechanics of it all, but for as long as I remember the house I grew up in the Chicago suburbs always had hard water/soft water issues. We'd try to control it by adding salt/mineral blocks, but it was never exactly right. To this day, whenever I take a shower at my parent's house the water is always way too hard or way too soft. Oh, and the tap was undrinkable since the water sometimes got mingled in with sewer water due to flooding or something.

But everywhere I have lived in NYC (the upper west side, hell's kitchen, prospect lefferts-gardens, downtown brooklyn and what the hey, i'll throw in N's spots, too--crown heights and bay ridge) has had the absolutely perfect level of hardness/softness. Perfect. At first I took it for granted because I thought that my family's house in Chicago was just a freakish place and was the only one that struggled with this. But when I visited LA, the small hotel we stayed in had terribly hard water that made my skin hurt! Yes, my skin would hurt after showering. And N's parents' place upstate near the Adirondacks also has water on the hard side. And my siblings' places in San Francisco and outer Bay Area is also too hard and too soft.

NYC water...I love you! It's something that you'll only miss once it's gone.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Best and Worst Thing About NYC

The subway. Can't live with it, can't live without it. The worst moods I've ever gotten in while living here are due to the MTA. And yet I ride the MTA everyday because, well, I don't have a choice. I'm not sure how I tolerate it, really. The other day I had to wait 45 minutes on a platform packed with pissed off passengers while waiting for a train to arrive that wouldn't go out of service right after it pulled into the station. And let's not forget the stifling un-airconditioned car during the summer that crops up when you're sweating the most. And that one mysteriously empty car with many empty seats you enter...and then...BAM. The utter intense BO of someone sleeping on a far bench hits you in the face and makes you gag. Or the subway gropers, pissers, loud talkers, and beggers. A few weeks ago a group of men decided that it would be especially impressive and a great moneymaker if they blasted their boombox and did breakdancing moves...yes, head spins and flips and all...on the moving and packed train. Needless to say, my foot got stomped on more than once.

And then you have to deal with signs like this. And you're lucky to even get a sign like this--usually you just find out once you get to the next stop (oh, I guess this train is going local...I'm annoyed, but what can I do? I guess I'll just take it out on the next person who annoys me). I'd say the worst part about the subway is the overall feeling of helplessness. I bet half of the stress New Yorkers experience comes from repressed subway frustration. Let's say your train stalls between stations and comes to a halt for 15 minutes. What can you do? You sigh, look at your watch, shuffle your feet, try to take calm deep breaths, once in awhile let out a low grumble, or, if you're some people, loudly complain to anyone who's willing to listen in the same car as you. Then the train starts moving again and you try to forget that that ever happened, but it festers in the back of your brain as you get off at your stop. Then someone's backpack hits your shoulder and suddenly you find yourself yelling WATCH WHERE YOU'RE GOING SH*THEAD! Yeah, I haven't really yelled at someone on the subway yet, but I've been yelled AT plenty of times. But one seemingly peaceful, beautiful day...I won't be able to take it anymore and all hell will break loose. I hope I'm in LA by the time that happens.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Soderbergh @IFC Film Center

I'm gonna miss having the IFC Film Center around. It's so conveniently located and surrounded by lots of interesting/small places to hop into and eat at (by the way--Famous Joe's Pizza? Disgusting. Okay, maybe it's not disgusting, but the tomato sauce is bland, the cheese managed to taste old and stale even though I got slices off of a pie just pulled out of the oven...I can think of 3 pizza places on the spot in Brooklyn that are a zillion times better). N has brought me to lots of the smaller film spots around NYC, and they all have their own charm to them. There's something about the snooty nerdy film crowd that I enjoy. We watched a screening of Schizopolis there which was followed by a Q&A with Steven Soderbergh himself. I thought N might pass out from being overwhelmed by his presence, even though he didn't show it.

I think most of these director Q&As tend to be the same thing over and over again...most of the questions being something like "How did you become a genius, and can I become one too?" or "I know more than these other idiots who are asking questions, let me rub my film knowledge in your face before I ask my question" or "Was that bird flying in the background in the second scene supposed to symbolize the character's spiritual journey through rehab?" I feel bad for the directors sometimes.

I know LA is the film mecca, but I'm sure the crowd and culture there are different than New York's. I think I'll miss it.

Monday, September 15, 2008

scaffolding, scaffolding everywhere

yet another reason why i dislike nyc:

scaffolding. all of this scaffolding went up around my office in the past week or so. now everyone in midtown (including a lot of lost-looking tourists) are corralled and herded through narrow spaces like cattle, as if it weren't crowded enough already. and the blocks and blocks of skyscrapers already blocked out 90% of any natural light, and now the scaffolding takes care of the rest. oh, and don't forget about the rash of construction accidents during the past year (concrete falling from above, cranes collapsing, and, of course, scaffolding falling). yay.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Why LA? Why not Buffalo?

Fascinating article I came across today. It contains most of the things I was planning on saying in this blog...maybe I should just give up and end it now. Read it here.

Yeah, I'm not too interested in Buffalo, New York. But a lot of the sentiments shared by these people are the same I have about NYC. Whenever I browse through craigslist ads for apartments in LA (or anywhere besides NYC, for that matter), I have this same exact thought: "
And all of a sudden, they found they were staring at a very different what-could-be life: the one they’d be able to have if they were willing to leave New York."

I first came to NYC for the same exact reason--to live my "what-could-be life." And now that I've finished school, have a job, and am on my own, this is it. I am currently living my "what-could-be life." And it's really not as grand as I hoped it would be. And of course much of it is my own fault, not New York's. If I was willing to work for money, things might be better. But then again, things could be much worse. If I was more sociable, maybe I could have become an actual community member of the neighborhoods I've lived in and grown some roots. But I'm not, and I didn't. So in the end, this is it. My NYC-what-could-be life has peaked at the age of 25. Maybe not "peaked," but I can see what the remainder of my life would be like if I stayed. And it wouldn't be horrible. But it wouldn't be that grand, either.

So now, ironically, my what-could-be life is elsewhere, and it's no longer in NYC. And maybe LA is where it's at.

The shortest and sweetest quote from the article is this:

“I don’t miss my old life in New York. I only miss the life in New York I know I never would have had.”


PS: Bonus points if you can recognize the skyline that's featured in the banner on top of my blog.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

i want one right now

No donut in NYC can beat a fresh sugar-raised donut from Bob's at LA's huge Farmers Market (even though it's not really a "farmers market"). And a cup of their coffee, of course. Apparently, LA has the most donut places out of every city in the country. Drool...

Monday, August 18, 2008

new york city nights

When the weather in NYC is great, it feels GREAT. Maybe because those days are so few and far between, but definitely the entire city feels like it comes to life when the temperature and the sky and the breeze are just right.

We had that perfect weather this past weekend. And when one of those days come around, I want to go to water. Any water! The more obvious Manhattan choice is South Street Seaport, but for some reason that area gives me the a bad way. So instead, N* and I planned an evening that went like this:

1) Eat Korean fried chicken at bonbon
2) Head westward and catch a movie at the Battery Park theater (one of the best overlooked theaters in NYC, in my opinion)
3) Take a walk along the southern edge of Manhattan

Well, we got #1 and #3 done. When we got to the theater, none of the films jumped out at us so we headed to the water. And it was BEAUTIFUL. The crappy cell phone photo above makes it seem gross, but it was great. We saw the Jersey skyline, the Brooklyn skyline, and of course the Statue of Liberty along the walk. I know people love to hate this area of Manhattan, but really...if you had money or if you could find an apartment on the water in Battery Park for $500/month would you not live there?? I beg to differ. It was pretty late at night, and we passed a few couples sitting together on benches, a group or two rush by on their roller blades, and some singles walking their dogs. Enough people to not be creepy, but a small enough number to make you feel alone.

I do have a fear that the constant perfect weather in LA would be boring to me. But honestly, if the heat doesn't reach the humidity+heat level of NYC summers...I think it will be totally worth it.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

chronicling an epic tale of adventure...

I've lived in NYC for seven years now. The first two years I absolutely despised it (especially its native inhabitants), the next four years I absolutely loved it (and became one of its native inhabitants), and the past year...well...I've become "meh." Meh is the best way to describe it. I do have those moments where I look around and see fascinating foods in Chinatown or the beautiful water edging DUMBO and think, "Only in New York!", but those times are becoming less and less frequent. But what has been increasing in frequency are the times I look around myself and see piles of garbage on the sidewalks, rats running down subway tracks, shockingly mean people who only care about themselves, and think, "Only in New York." I definitely always had these negative thoughts about NYC, even at the height of my love for it, but living here was sooooo worth it back then that it didn't mean much to me.

So...Los Angeles, then. I could use a big change. I'd specifically like to be somewhere with pleasant, invigorating weather. And yes, please, DRY heat. And I'd love to live in an apartment with more than one exposure! With sunlight coming in all day long! Where I can open two windows and feel an actual flow of air! Where the kitchen isn't an alley and has tons of counter space! What a dreamland. (I could probably get what I just listed almost anywhere except NYC, though.)

When I first started pondering this move, I scoured the internet for perspectives on NYC and LA. What I really looked for was someone's story of relocating from NYC to LA. I couldn't find any such thing, so I decided to start this blog as a way for me to flush out my own thoughts about this coastal move, and as a way of helping anyone else out there who may be considering the same thing.

Here it begins: the bests and the worsts of NYC and LA.

Had lunch today at Five Guys Burgers and Fries. Okay, there's one location between LA and Long Beach, but in NYC there's one a few blocks away from my office and also one a few blocks away from my apartment, so I'm gonna count it as a feature of NYC. And I have to say, it was pretty darn good.

But then again, LA has In-N-Out. And at In-N-Out, you can get great burgers (not as good as Five Guys') but at a much cheaper price. And you can eat lunch at the same In-N-Out with Gene Simmons from Kiss in LA. Not that I'm a Kiss fan, but they're pretty entertaining.

It's a close one, but I'm gonna have to go with LA on this round.

PS: I'm really hoping to hear from some hardcore New Yorkers and LA lovers in the coment section of this blog. Duke it out, people!