Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy 2010!

Start spreading the news, I’m leaving today.
I want to be a part of it--New york, New York!
These vagabond shoes, are longing to stray.
Right through the very heart of it--New york, New york!

I wanna wake up in that city that doesn’t sleep
And find I’m king of the hill--top of the heap

These little town blues, are melting away.
I’ll make a brand new start of it in old New York
If I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere
It’s up to you, New york, New york
Definitely how I felt back in the fall of 2001.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Westside Rentals

You can't look into finding an apartment in SoCal without hearing about Unlike NYC (where subscription-based rental services are all ripoffs), Westside Rentals ($60/two months of access) is a legit and pervasive entity. If you drive around LA you'll see tons of apartment buildings with Westside Rental signs on them. I have been checking craigslist LA on a daily (if not more) basis for rentals over the past month and have become probably too familiar with the rentals it has to offer. I can pretty much predict 95% of the posts that will show up there each day. Now that we can possibly rent an apartment any second now, we finally spent the $60 for the Westside Rental subscription.

My first experience with it was pretty disappointing. A good amount of posts don't have any photos, and the photos that are there are really small and low quality. Plus, there's a good amount of overlap between their apartments and the ones posted on Craigslist. And the search functions are as nearly as sophisticated as they should be.

But once I became familiar with how the site really works, I warmed up to it. I found a good number of promising posts that weren't on Craigslist. And since landlords have to pay to post on Westside Rentals, I'm much more inclined to believe their descriptions. And WR does not suffer the terrible craigslist problem of the same apartment being posted everyday, multiple times a day. Plus it doesn't have a bunch of scams/foreclosures all over it.

Each post follows the same general skeleton, so once you become familiar with it it's very easy to scan each post to find what you are looking for. For instance, each description starts with whether its furnished or not, then the number of bedrooms, then bathrooms, then whether its pet friendly, etc. That's a lot easier to deal with than the ramblings of idiots who post on Craigslist.

Tons of LA apartments offer 1-month's free rent, and there are already some posted that require no rent until February, which would be just great for us! Landing an apartment could happen very soon...

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

banking here, banking there

As you've probably heard, Citibank will begin charging fees on its EZ Checking accounts in February. I've been a Citibank user since 2001 (since they had some kind of choke hold on all of Columbia), but I'm definitely parting ways with this bank now. Which is a bit of a shame, because my favorite part about Citibank is its pretty strong nationwide presence, so I definitely did not think switching banks would become part of my to-do list for moving to LA. But, now it is!

I've been all over the checking account signup bonuses for various banks lately. I opened a Chase checking account a few months ago and got $125. Then I got an offer from Capital One to open a checking account and got $200! I never really explored Capital One at all (just saw lots of their commercials), and I was very drawn to their 100% free checking accounts (Chase requires direct deposit or some number of debit card payments per month to make it free). Sadly, Capital One only exists in the very Northeast. So I guess I am switching over to Chase for my secondary account. My primary bank has been ING Direct for the past few years, and I love them. And I certainly don't have to worry about geography with them!

I was just thinking...when I need to withdraw or deposit money in LA...I'm going to have to drive to an ATM somewhere to do it! That is weird, weird, weird.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

my NYC food notables


*Gramercy Tavern around Union Square
WD-50 on the Lower East Side
Spice Market in the Meatpacking District
The Modern (bar room and restaurant) in Midtown

Not quite as fancy:

Norma's in Midtown for brunch (in Le Parker Meridien hotel)
Grimaldi's pizza in DUMBO
*tapas at Tia Pol in Chelsea

Grandma's Original Pizzeria in Bay Ridge
Wondee Siam in Midtown

Dirt cheap:

#184 at Pho Viet Huong in Chinatown
lunch specials at 86 Noodle in Bay Ridge
street meat from the chicken and rice cart at 53rd and 7th in Midtown
Mahmoun's falafel at St Marks
Grey's Papaya everywhere
Hong Kong Station in Chinatown
Nicky's Vietnamese Sandwiches (in Brooklyn and the Lower East Side)
*Pho at Pho Hoai in Bay Ridge

interesting/unique and good:
202 in Chelsea Market
*Kyotofu in Hell's Kitchen
Chinatown ice cream parlor
Burger Joint (also in Le Parker Meridien) in Midtown
ChikaLicious in the East Village
F&B on 23rd st

Sentimental value:

huge pizza slices at Koronet by Columbia on the Upper West Side
late night slices at Pizza Wagon in Bay Ridge
*ktown (in general)
chinatown (in general)
St Marks japanese (in general)
Craft around Union Square
Mozart Cafe on the Upper West Side
Junior's in Brooklyn


Momofuku Noodle Bar (actually, I hate you, David Chang)
Aureole (sent the food back it was so bad)
Serendipity III (is it even worth going for the frozen hot chocolate? nope.)
Famiglia (epitome of gross nyc italian deli/fast food and pizza)
Tavern on the Green (yay, it's bankrupt)
*generic NYC delis on each street corner with old-looking food behind glass, a boring salad bar, stale donuts, and rude and angry workers serving it all to you in plastic containers and paper bags

Wish list:

*Per Se
Le Bernardin

Lucky Cheng's (ok...not really for the food, though...)

*top of each list. I'm sure I'm forgetting many...there definitely are tons of mediocre/middle of the street restaurants I've been to that aren't even worth mentioning...

MQ#2 revisited (again)

I already posted our plane tickets, so as you can probably tell, we've decided to fly to LA. Sadly, we're going to miss out on the cross-country road trip.

There's a few important reasons why we decided to fly. But they all come down to the same overall reason: money. We did not meet our savings goal for the move. And the cost of taking vacation days for a solid (at least) 10 days for the trip--that we could otherwise cash out--combined with hotels/food/other trip expenses made it almost impossible. The other option was to not do a leisure trip, and instead rent a big truck, pile our stuff into it and then drive the most efficient, nonstop way possible to California. That would still take a good 7 days, and the truck rental (without gas) would cost around $1,600. On top of that, I don't think I could handle driving a 16' truck, and I didn't want N to drive the entire way himself (even though he thinks he could).

Another factor is that plane tickets are so freakin' cheap now! We bought our one-way tickets from JFK to LAX for $100 each. That's why we decided to splurge and buy an extra seat for Stewie. I'm already very worried about how he'll handle being in a bag for 6 hours, so I'd rather not risk having someone in the middle seat between us and let him hang out on the seat instead of being stowed under our feet the whole time.

And by the way--Virgin America is awesome! I was a loyal JetBlue flyer before, but Virgin America has totally won me over. Their tickets are (at least for now) the cheapest around, and their planes are all tricked-out JetBlue style, but better. TV screens for each seat with cable tv access, and you can play video games on them with a remote control in the arm rest. The food on the flights (for purchase) is actually good! And service is great. Another bonus: Virgin America allows you to check up to 10 bags per passenger! Seriously. And each checked bag costs $20. So, between the three of our seats, we could *possibly* check 30 bags for this move. Pretty ludicrous, but we will definitely check extra boxes with that space.

T minus 64 days.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Another LA visit

N and I were in the bay area last week, so we drove the ~5 hours down to LA afterward to hang out a bit. We also took the opportunity to drive down my sister's '97 Civic and we stored it in our generous friend's-grandma's-garage so it will be waiting there for us when we arrive on January 21st. Exciting!

It was *hot* in LA. I was sweating--it had to be in the mid 80s at least in the sun. I'm not used to California weather, and especially California buildings. I think of them more like huts. Or perhaps 5 pieces of drywall stacked against each other. They have very little insulation and don't need to withstand any harsh elements, so they're always drafty and feel very hollow. But I still think it's a small sacrifice for having that fantastic outdoor weather year-round!

We looked at a few other cottages/bungalows and downtown loft spaces while we were there. We looked at one luxury loft that used to be an old bank. It was really cool looking--old elegant elevators, original marble floors, very solidly built--not cookie-cutter luxury high rise at all. The building had a fitness center and a kickass swimming pool and jacuzzi on the roof. And each unit had one of those cool combo washer/dryers in it...the kind that somehow dries your laundry in the same machine that it washes in. And the 1-bed there was cheaper than the 1-bed we live in in Brooklyn right now! That was an eye opener.

So far, N and I have looked at about 10 apartments in LA off of craigslist, and we haven't come across anything that was gross or unlivable yet. I guess that's the biggest difference between NYC and LA real estate. The worst LA has to offer doesn't come anywhere near the worst NYC has to offer.

Turkey day is coming up--that means dinner at N's uncle's place an hour or so north of the city. Our relatively frequent trips upstate will soon come to an end, which means each of the holiday visits this year will be more important than the last. Now instead of me flying cross-country to see my family in Cali, we'll soon be flying the other way to see N's family. Back and forth, back and forth...

Thursday, October 29, 2009

January 21st, 2010

Three one-way tickets to LA booked and bought. Yes, the second seat does say "Extra Seat For Dog"...

Saturday, October 24, 2009

ICE eclairs

I finally did something I've been meaning to do for a long time, now--take a culinary class. N's parents gave me a gift certificate to the Institute of Culinary Education (just north of Union Square) awhile ago, and I debated for a long time between using it on a knife skills course or something more frivolous. I originally wanted to take a cake decorating class, but all the courses offered by ICE for that were 3-day intensives that were around $500. So I opted to take a short 4-hour course on eclairs.

I've recently become a fan of eclairs, but every time I eat one from a bakery it's never exactly what I hope it will be. In general, they always taste too "American." In other words, too big, too heavy, too sweet, too exaggerated in general.

This course, however, was truly loyal to the eclair's French roots. I was very suspicious of ICE's recreational courses--my experiences with 'recreational' courses elsewhere (Parsons and Pratt) were always huge letdowns. The instructors were idiots who definitely didn't know what they were doing, and there was never any rigor to the course. This one, though, was GREAT. I definitely recommend everyone to go for ICE's recreational classes. They're organized well, the instructors seem good in general, and there's some rigor to it. They're also relatively affordable. The eclair course I took was $95 for four hours of really great learning/baking, and we had the option to take home tens and tens of eclairs if we wanted to.

We ended up making vanilla (from actual vanilla beans--ICE doesn't even skimp on ingredients for this course!), Grand Mariner, praline (tasted a bit like nutella), and chocolate fillings. There were also chocolate and vanilla icings to top them, fresh fruit, and chocolate ganache. Altogether, a very good NYC find.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The one money-saving thing I'll miss about NYC

I love getting great deals; I totally get a high off of it. But that feeling just doesn't come very often when spending money in NYC. I got around that by doing 80% of my shopping online.

There is one place, though, where great deals abound. And that is...Rite Aid. Although I do use Rite Aid for regular drug store stuff, I also use it for the vast majority of my pantry staples. That is, cereal, chips and other dry salty snacks, and Diet Coke. On my most recent trip, I bought:

(1) box of Honey Nut Cheerios
(1) box of Multigrain Cheerioes
(1) box of FiberOne cereal
(1) box of Golden Grahams
(1) box of FiberOne toaster pastries
(2) boxes of Velveeta mac n cheese
(1) bag of snickers minis
(1) bag of 3 musketeers mint minis
(1) 3-pack of Trident sugar free gum

all for...$16 (with 3 coupons)! I was sooo happy afterward. I wait every Sunday for Rite Aid's new weekly deals and view their circular online, and go there on Sunday early afternoons to buy. Rite Aid also *always* has at least a $5 off $25 coupon somewhere online (more recently, you can get a $5 off $20 coupon) no matter what, everything you get there should be 20% off. They also take all kinds of manufacturer's coupons (unlike most places in NYC) and their weekly deals are fantastic. And their Single Check Rebate program is really great. I've gotten many useful items like toothpaste for free using it.

There are a few Rite Aids in LA, but I doubt I'm going to end up living with two locations within 2 blocks of me as I am now. And since I'm in Bay Ridge, I can take advantage of almost all the deals (the locations in Manhattan get instantly ravaged when sales come up, making it almost impossible to take advantage of them). I'll miss you, Rite Aids in Bay Ridge.

NYC lasts

We've finalized the last day of our lease with our landlord--January 22, 2010, a week after the 1-year lease we signed ends. Our last day at the office will probably be the 15th, which means we'll leave NYC on the 21st or 22nd. Our first major detail has been settled!

Now, suddenly everything I do could be the last time I do it in NYC. Or, possibly, ever! The New York Film Festival just ended, and with N in my life, it's become a regular annual event for me, also. The last screening I watched was "Mother", a Korean film, yesterday afternoon. The new Alice Tully Hall is pretty awesome. I love how it integrates outdoor space with its interior space. And the all-glass facade is great, too.

After the screening, N and I wandered uptown towards the Upper West Side Shake Shack for lunch. It is amazing how much that area has changed since I was at Columbia. I only recognize a few storefronts that are still there. We ended up passing Niko's along the way and decided to eat there, instead. Niko's is nothing special--a Greek restaurant with a huge menu and cheesy decor. The reason why N and I decided to eat there, though, is that the last time we ate dinner there was 7 years ago in 2002. We had recently become friends, and we were both feeling each other out to see if the other was interested in anything more. And we both concluded that we had no chance with the other. And now, several years later, we are approaching the fourth year of our relationship. Crazy.

So, that was definitely the last time I would ever eat at Niko's. Also probably the last time I'll ever attend the New York Film Festival. The time has come to make a list of things in NYC I have to do (or do again) before I leave. That will come in a future post...

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

LA purchase #1

Just made my first just-for-LA purchase. At the suggestion of LA Magazine's blog, I bought this:

While N is excited to move to LA for the year-round grilling opportunities, I'm excited to possibly have the space and weather to grow things I can eat! In my last apartment, I tried to grow one small pot of mixed herbs from seeds. They managed to grow a tiny amount so I could make about 3 pieces of bruschetta with tiny leaves of basil before they died. I've been much more successful in my current apartment (thanks mostly to more window space and good light). This time I didn't start from seed, but bought seedlings at nearby gardening stores and farmers markets. I started with basil, rosemary, oregano, lemon thyme, sage, chives, silver thyme, cilantro, and parsley. Now our apartment is overflowing with herbs, but the parsley died out pretty quick. The cilantro was also short-lived--it bolted pretty quickly and became useless after that. (By the way--lemon thyme? I wasn't very familiar with it, but now I think it's pretty amazing. I use it for a substitute for lemon juice when I don't have any fresh lemons on hand. Of course it doesn't have the acidity of lemon juice, but the smell is overwhelmingly similar).

Having fresh herbs on hand is awesome, but being able to grow something more substantial is really my dream. And not really in pots, but in the ground. The ground! There are actually a good amount of guests houses and cottages in the LA area for rent that come with private yards. If N and I could get one of those...what a dream. For Stewie, too.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

why country city mouse?

My blog title. I guess it doesn't quite make sense since I'm writing about moving from one big city to another, but I think I chose this title while thinking about a future even farther away than this move.

Of course it refers to the old story that different people take away different things from. When I first read the story when I was a kid, I thought the country mouse was an idiot--a naive, risk-averse simpleton that would ultimately miss out on life. But as I get older, I (unsurprisingly) gravitate towards the country mouse's desires. I wrote in an earlier post that living in NYC is living the extreme urban life. And somewhere down the line, I see myself living the rural life. How extreme, I'm not sure, but something pretty isolated and hands-on. Great open spaces, lots of land, animals, and growing things have always been very appealing to me. But so has the city, which has won out so far. For how long, we'll see.

But hopefully, this blog will follow me through a time beyond LA. Who knows about that though--I've probably started something like seven blogs in my life that lived very short lives. This one's lasted the longest so far, though!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

new york=mice

UGH. There's mice in our apartment. We haven't seen one with our own eyes yet, but the signs are there. That makes a total of 4 apartments I've lived in that have had mice in them. 4 out of the 4 total I've ever lived in in NYC. W-T-F.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

bay ridge, brooklyn.

I think most people in New York have never heard of Bay Ridge, the neighborhood off of the veeeeery end of the R line in Brooklyn. N's been living here for a couple years now, and I've been here several months now.

Bay Ridge is known as one of the few conservative neighborhoods in New York. It has a high population of middle eastern immigrants, which contributes to its conservative vibe. There's also lots and lots of Italians. Kids grow up here, and senior citizens settle down here--two key demographics that I don't see working in Manhattan. Interesting and appropriate fact: Peggy on Mad Men is from Bay Ridge (a show which I have just recently become addicted to, thanks to N).

Rental buildings here are old, but extremely well-kept. People here are proud of their neighborhood and like to maintain it. And the Italians make for awesome, awesome Brooklyn pizza. I'm going to miss you terribly, Grandma's. And Elegante. And Pizza Wagon.

Bay Ridge's distance from Manhattan makes for cheap rent, and the neighborhood has those things like cheese shops, cupcake shops, and upscale boutique food stores. But like the rest of New York, Rite Aids, Duane Reades, pizza places, fruit stands, and bodegas take up most of the space. It's no Williamsburg down here.

Anyway, we currently live two blocks away from Owl's Head Park, Shore Road, and the 69th street pier. Owl's Head has a dog run in it (that Stewie simultaneously loves and is terrified by), Shore Road makes for beautiful on-the-water biking and running (with a spectacular view of the Verrazano Bridge, see above), and the pier lets you get out in the middle of the water and watch people fish and the boats go by. You can see the Statue of Liberty, Manhattan, New Jersey, and Staten Island from it. I am certainly going to miss being so close to a park and water, especially for Stewie's sake.

Monday, August 31, 2009

It's that time again

You know...labor day weekend...all the little students are heading back to school. Every fall around this time I'd return to campus, breathe in that fresh 75 degree fall air, and feel my chest swell with dreams, possibility, and yes, even a bit of optimism.

Then the first week of class would end, and my chest would soon begin suffocating under the weight of textbooks, boring lectures, and uninspired professors (in both high school and college). Welcome back to the real world, kid.

a non-nyc thing to miss about nyc

A couple weekends ago, N and I drove 5 hours upstate to attend his cousin's wedding at Lake George. I certainly never heard of Lake George before even meeting N, and probably never would have if I never came to NYC in the first place. The entire idea of "upstate new york" was foreign to me when I arrived. It still confuses me somewhat--what does upstate refer to, exactly? North of the Bronx? Hudson Valley and beyond? Albany and further? It probably means anywhere above Midtown to some native New Yorkers.

Anyway, N's family hails from the Lake George area--a true vacation spot with 100% sparkling clear water and many miles of protected forest. People travel there in the winter for skiing, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, etc., and in the summer the place is crowded with people boating, parasailing, water skiing, camping, hiking, biking, and above all, eating ice cream. The place has a mom and pop ice cream shop (mostly soft serve) every 5 feet. Well, that's what it seems like to me, at least.

I truly love taking these trips upstate with N to visit his family. Not only is it a chance to get away from the city from a bit, but it's nature. Nature! It's not like going home to Chicago suburbia. It's actually nature. His parents have a forreal natural spring-filled pond in front of their house (none of that manicured, white rocks lining the bottom, powered by a installed fountain artificial junk), and we love catching frogs in it and seeing how big the fish inside have grown while the dogs romp around us. I
ncluding Stewie--even though he's a designer lap dog, he certainly loooooves being outdoors in grass. I love letting Stewie off leash to run around, fence and border free. He won't be able to have that experience anywhere else, probably.

Besides the nature, the place swells with old-timey goodness. During our summer visits there, we always make it a point to go to the drive-in. A real drive-in! With the speaker that hooks over the window of the car and everything (that's the pic above). And there's always the truck with an open bed full of raucous children there, too.

I'm going to miss that whole area once we move to LA. I totally see how people live long-term in the city, now--since it seems that most of them have summer/weekend houses upstate, in the Hamptons, or somewhere in Connecticut or Vermont. If I could have that, well, I'd have a much better perspective on the city, too, I bet.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

MQ#4: Moving cross-country with a pet?

I've made quite an exciting discovery. There are a LOT of cheap pet friendly hotels/motels around, including major chains! I was blown away by this. Check out this list:

1. Best Western
2. Motel 6
3. Holiday Inn
4. Comfort/Quality Inns
5. Days Inn
6. and more

I guess I'm mostly blown away since I never, ever, ever see people with pets at hotels. Ever. Apparently the general rule is that hotels don't allow you to leave the pet unattended in your room, so it's got to be with you at all times. Maybe it's because people don't know, just like I did?

Now, I know I said in MQ#2 that we decided to fly to LA for the move, but we are now revisiting that question. Besides, that was back in October 2008, before the economy died (I mean, died even more), before we adopted Stewie, and before many other things.

N is convinced we would actually save more money in the long run if we spent more money/time on driving all of our stuff cross country instead of selling what we can and then re-buying once we got there. I personally really like all of our current stuff and would rather keep it than getting new stuff, but I'm just not sure I could handle driving a 16' truck, and I definitely don't want N to drive the entire way! We are looking into renting a cargo van (I could drive that), but apparently there is no company out there that rents cargo vans for one-way moves. U-Haul, Penske, Ryder, Enterprise, etc...they don't do it for some reason. It's weird.

It would certainly be fun driving cross country, especially with Stewie. We even thought about camping it along the way, except then we'd need space for a ton of gear which would make it kind of pointless. Which brings me back around to the beginning of this post. If we were to drive, and take Stewie with us, we'd need to find pet friendly hotels along the way, and it seems we'd have a good amount of options! Lots more thinking ahead...

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Unexpected change #2

Well, it's not quite fair I call this "unexpected," since we knew it could happen any time and for any reason. We just really hoped it wouldn't happen, so I still call it Unexpected. N and I both had second telecommuting temp jobs (on top of our regular full time jobs) that were both at-will employments; that is, we could be fired/laid off at any time for any reason. His job ended several months ago, which was very disappointing, but we thought we'd fare okay with mine. Then my term ended very recently, which was BAD NEWS. We really needed the savings we were expecting to acquire to make our move to LA as smooth as possible. On top of that, we had a large unexpected expense (you can't stop life), so we're down even more than before. But with our decision for our new January 2010 moving date, we said that nothing would stop us, jobs or no jobs, cushion or no cushion.

But, a very lucky thing that recently happened is that my sister just replaced her extremely old 250k mile Honda Civic with a new car, and she generously offered to give the Civic to me for no cost. I should be jumping for joy at this prospect, except that I've had about two near-death accidents in that same exact vehicle over the past several years (due to its age and condition, not the driving), so can you blame me for being hesitant?

One can't pass up this kind of opportunity, though, especially considering the financial circumstances we are now in. There's one catch, though--the car is currently in San Francisco sitting in a relative's garage. How do we get it to LA? We'd need it there the second we got there if we weren't going to waste money on a rental car (which would truly be a waste, if this car was available for us to drive). I also didn't want to juggle moving us to LA with Stewie and all of our stuff while also trying to figure out a detour to SF. Wouldn't it be so nice if the car could somehow magically be waiting for us in LA in January when we arrived? Wouldn't that be grand?

That's what spurred along a search for long term car storage options in LA. N mentioned that prospect to me, and I thought he was making it up--I've never heard of such a thing. But after some Googling, I came across two basic options:

1) Renting an indoor, air conditioned covered garage, where attendants start the ignition on your car on a daily basis and make sure all is in good and working order for when you return to your baby;

2) Renting an outdoor, at-the-mercy-of-the-elements painted yellow line parking spot, where your car will be as if it's sitting in a mall parking lot...just for a really, really long time.

Obviously, the second option is about half the price of the first. And I don't believe being at the mercy of the elements in Los Angeles is really that dire a situation, so we are considering option 2. My sister will be having a wedding in San Francisco in early November, so we are thinking of driving the car down to LA after the wedding, visiting a bit there, and then flying back to NYC from LAX. That way we'd just be paying for car storage for 2 months before our move.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

New York Livin'

Before leaving Midwest suburbia to go to New York for college, I was sure that moving to NYC by myself would once-and-for-all prove my adulthood and independence. I'd be all by my lonesome in a big mean city with no relatives or friends nearby, and if I survived, then nothing else in in the world could stop me. I'd have triumphed over everything!

Now, several years later, I've come to the opposite conclusion. All I've succeeded in doing here is hang out in adolescent-limbo and go nowhere. Now, don't get me wrong, living in NYC (caveat: without a big salary) is tough. The most mundane tasks become a huge chore. Want to get a bottle of soda during your trip to the grocery store? Oh no, you can''ve already bought veggies, fruit, and a couple cans of soup, and not to mention that glass bottle of marinara sauce, and your arms can't carry a 2 liter on top of your 4 grocery bags for the six blocks back to the apartment. Need to do laundry? You'll have to postpone that trip to the laundromat since it's raining...piling all of your clothes into a granny cart and maneuvering it down the sidewalk between throngs of people will have to wait for another day.

[Of course, with $$, there's always alternatives to this. Pay to have your groceries delivered to your apartment (which I now do--I love you freshdirect), or pay for pick up and drop off laundry service. Buy 20 extra pairs of undies. Or better yet, pay to live in a nicer apartment with laundry machines in it, because cheap places don't (which I also now do). But now I'm getting myself too riled up about it...]

I used to think these daily challenges were helping me "grow up." Now I consider them stalling distractions that actually prevent me from growing up. I'm thinking so much about how I'm going to do something--just complete a seemingly simple everyday task--that I just can't think about doing anything else.

NYC usually symbolizes freedom in most people's minds (even with Ellis island aside)--a place where anything can happen and dreams can come true. Yet, I find it horribly constricting. Yes, there is something free about not owning a car and being burdened with payments/insurance/maintenance/etc., but there is also something extremely constricting about only being able to go where the MTA goes. Our friend out in Long Island is having a birthday this weekend, and N and I can't see him because we just can't get there, and we can't afford to rent a car right now.*

There's also that part of NYC. It's one big MTA-controlled bubble, and whatever neighborhood you end up living in is an even smaller bubble. That's why there's a bodega on every street corner and a Duane Reade never more than 10 blocks away. "Everything's within walking distance!" is what supporters say. I say that having those types of things within arm's reach and no options to choose between makes your world that much smaller.

*PS--N and I have both lost our second jobs, so saving for The Move has careened off course. More on that in a later post.

Monday, July 13, 2009

a little more catch up

One big change to cover before getting back to the move. I'll ruin the surprise with a photo:

One thing that I've always, always wanted, was to get a dog. I heart dogs. All dogs! I grew up with a dog, and a house without the sound of clicking nails on the floor is very empty feeling to me. N wanted a dog, too, though not nearly as much as me, and he always told me that we'd get one once we got to LA. With the huge postponing of our move, though, I couldn't wait any longer.

One thing I was not looking forward to about getting a dog was scouring the NYC animal shelters (I will never buy a dog) to find a right fit for us. I fostered from the shelter system before, and the whole thing is just a huge bureaucratic and stressful mess. But as fate would have it, the stars aligned, and an adoptable dog appeared in our lives through a friend. The one big shocker for us--he was a bichon frise. I know I just said I heart all dogs, but that doesn't mean I don't have ones I especially like over the others. And the ones I especially like are the big ones. I actually have a bit of a soft spot for pit bulls and yellow labs. At the bottom of my list would be designer dogs that overrun New York City: Pomeranians, malteses, mini chihuahuas, yorkies, etc. And yes, bichon frises would definitely make that list. But at the end of the day...I heart all dogs.

So Stewie the bichon frise joined our little family in January. He didn't have a perfect life before he came to us, so he had quite a few kinks to work out. He suffered from terrible separation anxiety (would bark LOUDLY nonstop if he was left alone...for hours, if we let him, which is just not okay in an apartment situation), teethed on our hands, and pulled at the leash. After a solid two months of very regular discipline and training, he's a completely new dog. He trots happily besides us on a loose leash while walking, no longer barks when left alone, and gnaws much less than he used to.

When we first got him, I definitely had a miniature selfish moral crisis. I'm always torn about animal issues, especially with dogs, and I'm 100% pro-adoption. I'm not against breeding, per say, but I am against how most people go about purchasing cute puppies to use as an accessory and neglect later on. Whenever we walk Stewie outside, everyone comments on how he's "such a beautiful animal" and some say they'd like to get a bichon frise, too. I certainly don't want people to go out and spend thousands of dollars on a bichon frise puppy because they saw Stewie. I also don't want strangers to think that I am the type that did that exact thing to get him. I actually want to put a sandwich board on Stewie that says "I AM A RESCUE AND WAS ADOPTED BECAUSE MY OWNERS THOUGHT I WAS CUTE WHEN I WAS A PUPPY AND GOT TIRED OF ME WHEN I GOT OLDER. PLEASE DON'T BUY PUPPIES!" I won't subject him to that, though...yet.

Having Stewie puts an interesting twist on our move. Moving with a dog is harder, of course. We're going to be limited to pet-friendly rentals in LA. We'll have to figure out whether we'll fly with him there, or drive with him cross-country. He's actually very good with long car rides, so he'd enjoy that. Or we could also have him housed a bit longer term with N's parents (who love the heck out of him) and move ourselves, and go back for him later. Lots and lots to think about...

Friday, July 3, 2009


N and I moved in together a few months ago. That helps solve a lot of our problems--our belongings are now already comfortably merged so we won't have to deal with that when the time comes to move to LA. And we also now know...we like living together! We really, really like it! Love it, actually. I guess that's a good thing to know before moving across the country *and* moving in together for the first time. That might have caused a lot of unnecessary stress in that transition. But another great piece of news out of this--now I pay half the amount of rent than I did before! Which means more savings for LA. More soon...

Sunday, June 14, 2009

A new moving date

I know I've been out of touch for awhile. Once our move was postponed last year, it felt like we would never get to LA. I avoided feeling disappointed by not thinking about it until the time got closer...well, it's many months later, and the time has finally gotten closer!

We've settled on a new moving date: January 2010. 2010?! Geez, that sounds really, really, far away.

We first were planning on moving in the fall of 2009, when N's 1-year commitment at his job would end. But then my sister got engaged and scheduled her wedding for just around that time. At first I thought I could totally handle being a bridesmaid and helping my sister out with wedding stuff and dealing with my family while moving at the same time--then it became apparent that it was just not a good idea, especially when I had the luxury of making a choice about it. Other factors played in--our lease ends on January 15th, so we won't have to finagle at all with our landlord if we postponed to that time. We'd have more time to save up money, which can't be discounted. Moving to California possibly without jobs lined up for us when we arrive there seems like a stupid, stupid proposition right about now. "But isn't that state imploding?" is the reaction I get when I tell people of my plans. But, hey--statewide implosion or not, I'm going!