Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Stomper

101 Thompson St was a revolving door of craigslist residents.  When I first moved in in the end of August 2005, I lived with Jenny and Jake.  Jenny was a couple of years older than I and Jake a couple of years younger.  They were both typical NYC white collar professionals, working in finance and PR, and both pretty easy to live with.  The girl whose room I moved into was a Michigan transplant who hated Manhattan and moved back home just six months after arriving.  The girl she replaced was a Turkish national who, after declaring bankruptcy (which was evident from the vast amount of correspondence we received for her from creditors and collectors), fled back to Turkey.

A month after I moved in, at the end of their year-long lease, Jenny moved out.  In moved Paul, who, like me, found the place off of craigslist.  Paul also worked in finance and seemed nice enough.  We all socialized on the couch while watching TV and occasionally grabbed a beer together.  The thing was, he was the loudest walker I have EVER encountered.  He practically stomped around the apartment.  To be at his job on Wall Street, he got up a lot earlier than Jake or I did and would routinely wake me up just by walking to and from the bathroom.

Initially, I couldn't figure out how a skinny white guy from Long Island could make such a colossal amount of noise.  So, I started studying how he walked through the living room.  After some careful observations I discovered the problem -- he walked like a tyrannosaurus rex.  Even though he was a small guy, he walked slightly tilted forward, putting all of his not-so-significant weight on the balls of his feet, producing a loud, stomping effect on our hardwood floors.

As much as I wanted to say something to Paul about the stomping, I couldn't figure out a way to say "Please walk more softly" without sounding completely crazy.  One night, when only Paul and I were home, someone knocked on the door.  It was our cranky downstairs neighbor, AnneMarie.  See, 101 Thompson was a coop building, even though we were renters, and most of our neighbors were older, cranky, and complete with a sense of entitlement.  I once got berated by the super because someone else left a futon downstairs and of course, only the renters could have done something so untoward as to leave furniture in the entryway.  Anyway, AnneMarie was pretty typical of our neighbors and had no problem complaining to us about our many transgressions.  

On this night, she came upstairs to tell us to buy carpets.  Apparently, Paul's stomping was waking her up too.  She stood in our doorway and, with a straight face, proceeded to tell us that for the past month or so, someone had been walking very loudly around 6:00 am everyday and she kept getting woken up.  We needed to buy carpets because she needed her beauty sleep.  Paul and I both apologized and said that we would take her suggestion under advisement, but couldn't guarantee that we'd buy carpets as we weren't bothered by the noise.  We also offered the very helpful comment that sometimes living in an apartment building was hard.

You might be thinking, "But Margaret, this was the perfect opportunity for you to say something about the stomping!  Cranky AnneMarie opened the door for you!"  The thing was, as soon as the words came out of her mouth, they sounded absolutely absurd.  Any concession that she might be on the right track would instantly make me look as unstable as she did.  The worst thing about it was that Paul suggested he not put his shoes on until right before he left the apartment, thinking (mistakenly) that his dress shoes made the noise.  Unfortunately, having shoes on actually made Paul's posture better and therefore lessened the sound of his lumbering.  My only consolation, while being woken up daily at 6 am by the stomping for the next few months, was that cranky AnneMarie who insisted we buy carpets, was being woken up too.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Perks and Perils of Living in SoHo

Saying I lived in SoHo certainly sounds like I was living lavishly, but I assure you that I wasn't enjoying much of what makes SoHo famous . . . and desirable to live in.  Smashed into my 500 sq ft apartment with my two craigslist roommates, I couldn't afford to take advantage of many of the posh restaurants and bars in our immediate vicinity.  Despite loving shopping, I couldn't really shop at any of the cute little boutiques scattered around the thirty block radius below Houston Street that constitutes one of the most coveted neighborhoods in all of Manhattan, at least until I got a little infusion from my parents.  For Christmas 2005, my parents gave me an American Express gift card with money on it earmarked for a purchase from one of the shops in my 'hood.  I bought this shirt, which was marked down 75% to $95 because one of the little beads was missing . . . 

One of the perks of living in SoHo was that people who can afford to live there quite lavishly, often do.  It is a mecca of celebrity sightings.  I'm often pretty oblivious to who's around me while I'm walking, so I'm sure I missed many that sharper eyes would have caught.  As I was reminded yesterday when I took a little trip back to my old block -- walking in SoHo, celebrities or no celebrities, can be a bit perilous.  The sheer number of people, mostly slow-walking, map-waving, funny-pack-wearing tourists, makes it really difficult to walk at any pace above glacial.  I often end up (as I did yesterday) walking in the street rather than even dealing with the sidewalks.

But I digress . . . back to celebrities.  I've seen Debra Messing, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and a whole slew of Saturday Night Live cast members.  My best celebrity sighting EVER, though, was Bon Jovi.  And not because Bon Jovi ranks higher on some list than the others, but because he filmed a video in the park right outside of my window!  There were screaming fans pressed up against the chain link fence, and yet, there I was, sitting in my open window enjoying the show for free!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

The Saga of the Bed

One of the things I lacked when I moved from my parents' house to NYC was a bed.  It seemed to make the most sense to buy one in NYC, rather than lug one all the way up from the DC suburbs.  The room I moved into, let me remind you, was only 8'x10' and the closet stuck into the room, so space was at a premium.  My dad kept saying that I could take one of the extra twin beds from their house, but beyond the question of where I would have put it in the already stuffed-to-the-gills car, is the fact that I REALLY didn't want a twin bed.  Moving to New York City was the first real grown-up move I'd made, and I wanted to do it in a grown-up bed, dammit.

Now the question remained, how exactly was I going to fit a double bed in a tiny room with all of my stuff?  I thought about a loft bed, or a semi-lofted bed that I could put dressers under, but I really didn't want to spend a ton of money on a bed that would only be useful to me in this one apartment.  After a ridiculous amount of searching on-line, I decided that a platform bed with drawers in it would be the best bet.  I was meticulous about finding the best price, so I went with the one from Big Apple Futons.  Not only did it have the most space, but it was also $200 cheaper to get it from them than any of their competitors.  It didn't come with a mattress, so I ordered one separately from 1-800-MATRESses.

I thought it would be smart to put the orders in for everything before I moved so that they would come in as close as possible to the day I moved.  I ended up sleeping on my airmattress for about a week before my real mattress came in.  Then I had the real mattress on the floor while I waited for the bed.  Big Apple Futons said that the bed would take between five and ten business days to be ready.  They also said that delivery into my apartment was included.

After a week of sleeping on my nice, new mattress on the floor, I called Big Apple Futons to inquire about my bed.  They said it would be another 5-10 business days and could give me a better idea of the exact day later in the week.  Again they assured me that delivery was included.

Another week went by -- no bed.  I called again and spoke with someone different.  This woman said it would probably be another week.  She muttered some excuse about Labor Day, now two weeks in the past, as to why it was taking so long.

Finally, after nearly four weeks, Big Apple Futon called to say that the bed would be delivered the next day between 10 and 2.  I again asked about the delivery, since I knew my roommates would be at work during the day and unable to help me with the bed.  The person on the phone assured me the bed would come right to my apartment.

The next day I made sure to have all of my stuff out of my room by 10, to ease the move-in.  Then I waited, and waited, and waited.  I was supposed to be at work at an afterschool program at 3:00.  At 2:30 the delivery guys called to say they were downstairs and dropping off the bed.  I asked them to bring it upstairs.  They said they couldn't because I hadn't paid for delivery up the stairs.

WHAT??  I immediately called the people at Big Apple Futons, and they claimed ignorance.  No one would have ever told me that carrying the bed up two flights of stairs to my apartment would be covered.  It was an extra charge.  The free delivery was only to the door of the building.

WHAT??  Who ever heard of such a thing?  (yes, New Yorkers, I am now very familiar with this concept, but I'd only been in the city for four weeks at this point and was quite naive) 

After some yelling on the phone, and assuring Big Apple Futons that they were the worst company I'd every worked with, I calmed down enough to realize that I had to think of a way to get the bed up the stairs.  I offered to pay the guys with the bed (which, until then I'd refused to sign for, so they were just standing next to it on a busy SoHo street) to carry it up the stairs.  They charged me $15/flight of stairs, which was cheaper than Big Apple and probably more than they would have gotten if I'd paid through the company as well.

And then, finally, I had my dresser-bed . . . complete with four drawers and a storage compartment, it's extremely comfortable and lived through five apartments with me.  Excellent investment.