Category Archives: Manhattan

Dual Identities: Annie and Jay-Z

No, I’m not an orphaned red head living in the Great Depression. And no, I’m not an impoverished minority born in an urban ghetto. But this week I found myself simultaneously identifying with Annie and Jay-Z, humming “Hard Knock Life” each morning on the F train.

The problems began one fateful Wednesday when I was working late, editing a potential litigious piece in our winter issue. Determining that the second week of November was sufficiently late enough into the holiday season to listen to some Christmas tunes, I turned on Celine Dion’s “Happy X-mas” and got my professional groove on.

After 24 Christmas songs, I had completed my final edits on a 6000 word piece. I was elated, relieved, and ready to revel in the holiday spirit. And then, of course, G-d laughed. As I entered my apartment, I was greeted by a wave of cool air. The heat was not on, and the boiler most definitely had gone to that special place all boilers go when they die (heaven? hell? Staten Island?).

I did what any responsible tenant would do. I called the super– only to discover he had been fired for smoking weed in my basement. The new super, seemingly drug-free, promised to check on the problem and address it in a timely manner. Two days later, he had discovered that the problem was more serious than initially observed. We needed an entirely new boiler, and our management company was not going to provide space heaters or hotel accommodations while it dealt with the burden of ordering a new contraption for the basement.

A weekend without heat, and I was starting to reconsider the whole notion of living in the developed world. Angola- a war torn African country I’d recently become well acquainted with- was looking mighty appealing, and I’d always wanted to learn Portuguese. But, of course, G-d laughed again, and we had a gas leak, which was soon followed by no hot water.

And while the lack of heat and hot water might be enough to make anyone transform into a Scrooge, it was not what sent me into a “Hard Knock Life” tizzy.

Without the basic necessities of bougie Brooklyn life, I ventured onto the island of Manhattan and stayed with my wonderfully generous friend in her glorious one bedroom apartment overlooking Madison Square Park. For one week, I was a Manhattanite again.

As much as I have worked to make Brooklyn my own, to embrace the idea that I can make another borough my home, I really miss Manhattan. I miss feeling like I am at the center of something significant. And while I spend five days a week breathing the midtown madness, I have so little time to embrace the only place I’ve ever really called home.

So when the week came to its end, and I returned to my still heatless Brooklyn apartment, I curled up with Woody Allen’s Manhattan and feel asleep dreaming of my return:

And by bold, I mean Brooklyn

Insomnia has never been my thing. Excessive caffeine indulgence, yes. Black clothing compulsion, definitely. But getting a solid night’s sleep, most definitely not. That is, until now. My mind has been racing amid a flurry of activity– namely, finding a new apartment, directing my first short film, and balancing my job and relationship.

And so I’ve taken to late night Netflix watching. In the absence of an actual television, it’s the closest I can come to 3 am informercials. Only instead of buying a ridiculously expensive hair straightener,  which I don’t need because my hair is naturally straight, I am catching up on political mayhem in House of Cards.

However, the one thing I can’t seem to get past every time I watch the show is that Zoe Barnes, a struggling young reporter, lives in a one bedroom, sans roommates and with a balcony. She basically is living the urbanite’s dream. And while I recognize she lives in Washington DC, a city still significantly cheaper than New York despite its burgeoning hipster class, I am jealous.

I am jealous of a fictional character’s one bedroom on top of a convenience store in a clearly questionable part of town. And all because I live in a city where I can’t even rent a studio without selling my yet to be born first-born.

It’s a frustrating first world problem when you recognize the beauty of your dreams and the practicality of your residency may never align– at least not on the island of Manhattan. And so I’m embarking on a bold new initiative; one I’ve been contemplating since graduation, but one I’ve been too afraid to execute– a move to Brooklyn.

As a self avowed foodie and reader of Adam Platt’s column in New York Magazine, I recognize that Brooklyn’s restaurants have begun their ascension. And if I want to be where the bougie dine, I best reconsider my zip code. It’s time to exchange the 10012 for the 11231.

And so after completing a few episodes of House of Cards, I’ve begun my 3 am quest to find the perfect two bedroom apartment in Carroll Gardens. (Hey, if the neighborhood is good enough for Solange Knowles and Jemima Kirke, it’s good enough for me.) I’ve discovered several reasonable options that offer bedrooms big enough to accommodate full beds– my litmus test for space.

These discoveries settle me, until I realize that I may be leaving the island of Manhattan. Fortunately, the point at which I come to this realization I am exhausted– both at the thought of moving out of my walk up and of moving into what is likely to be another walk up. And I promptly fall asleep (until my 5:35 alarm, that is).