Putting Up Walls

Kim and I found our apartment. It is a perfect, cozy, newly remodeled one-bedroom on the Upper East Side. Yes I said it, it is a one-bedroom. That means we have to put up a wall to make the living room into a bedroom. This of course didn’t phase us when we were picking places. It’s just typical NYC.

We were lucky enough to have picked an apartment with enough space to convert a full bedroom with room still to spare for an actual living room. We had seen some apartments where the living room – deemed “easily convertible” – was simply not. They were just too small and both the living room and bedroom would turn into closets. Our standards are a little bit higher than the Cupboard Under the Stairs (Harry Potter reference…anyone?).

Room to be converted is off to the right.

Room to be converted is off to the right.

Putting up a wall is commonplace in the city. Literally everyone does it. You’ve probably been in apartments that you didn’t even realize had a wall put up. It is safe to say that you would think it would be a piece of cake, right? Wrong.

First of all, there are about 29483 pressurized wall companies in NYC, all of which have so-so reviews. How do you choose? They are all the same! We requested quotes from at least 16 companies, all of which had the same price range of $1,000 – 1,100. Word of warning: always look at their photo galleries. They tell you a lot about the company. My company shares space with an architecture firm, so I even asked them for cheap alternatives, but to no avail. We asked our friends and bosses and finally picked the one that popped up the most.

Second of all, it’s illegal. Illegal. Apparently a few years ago, wall-building became illegal due to fire hazard reasons. That clearly doesn’t stop anyone, it just creates yet one more hurdle. We had to tell company after company little white lies like “Yes, our Management Company totally knows” and “Our lease says it’s alright.” Our lease does not say we can have a wall, but also technically does not say we can’t have a wall. When our broker asked our Super he said “what I don’t see, I don’t know about”. Translation: “Go for it, I don’t give a shit”. 

Third of all, walls can only be built during business hours on the week days. We all have work, so that’s a whole other issue. And how do we sneak in a man with tools and paint and plaster to build a wall without anyone seeing or hearing?

Through all of the stress, we did end up with a wall we love and are excited about, which officially makes it a habitable two-bedroom.

The wall

The wall

A few words of wisdom:

  • If the company only sends one lonely person, expect to be there for at least 9 hours. If they send two people, it may be about 5.
  • Prepare a plan of payment before they show up. It’s a little stressful when the wall is done and you have to figure out how to connect via ChaseQuickPay or eventually run to the bank.
  • Send them a photo of the space that the wall will go in. Our wall needed to be shaped to fit in an archway, so this helped them see what they were up against.
  • They might be 1.5 hours early. Plan accordingly.
  • Slip the Super some $$$ or cookies ahead of time, just to get on his good side. He doesn’t need to know what this is for.
Dear Raul...

Dear Raul…

Let the Hunt Begin…

It’s that time again – time to resume the dreaded NYC Apartment Hunt. Last year, I was looking from out of town and my apartment luckily fell into my lap. This year, however, much more thought and energy needs to go into the process as we are starting from scratch. We hope to be able to live in this apartment for years to come. My days of moving to a new dorm room/house/apartment every year (if not more frequently) are finally over.

The easiest part was deciding who to live with. Let’s face it – we’ve had that planned since high school.

Next comes the nitty-gritty. There are millions of questions surrounding this endeavor. We have a million questions for the brokers, and they have a million questions for us. But before we even start, there are the questions we have to ask ourselves:

  • Where do we even want to live?  East side or west side? Uptown or downtown? Midtown? Chinatown? Do we venture to Brooklyn or Astoria? (Probably not those last ones).
  • Do we have any hard requirements? For instance, I refuse to live on a 6-floor walk-up again and I never want to live on York Ave. Kim requires windows.
  • Do the bedrooms have to be the same size or does someone want to pay more?
  • Should we look for three-bedrooms to make it cheaper? Who would be our third person?
  • What is the absolute amount of money we can pay in rent and still afford to feed ourselves?
  • What website do we use to look for apartments? There are like, 8590.

After we answered all of the questions above, it was time to start digging. The problem is that there are people in this world who set out to trick you. For instance, the “spacious bedroom” below is actually not. We quickly found out that if it looks too good to be true, it probably is.

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Stay tuned for updates on the search. We started looking on foot this weekend.

My week with Darby

I spent the past weekend in Maine with the entire paternal side of my family.  It was a beautiful weekend, regardless of the somber nature that brought us there. More on that later.

My little sister, Darby came to visit me for the entire week leading up to the trip to Maine (this is last week). That way, she could do her back-to-school shopping, have a nice visit with me, and the two of us could drive to Rockland, ME together.

It was a fantastic visit, and I hope she had as great of a time as I did. The beautiful thing about sisters (especially in your 20s) is that you could spend 6 months apart, but when you’re together again it feels like no time has passed. It’s the best kind of support system and sense of familiarity you could possibly have.

Share-worthy highlights from our week:

Panna II.

  • Panna II is an Indian restaurant in the East Village, complete with chili lights from wall to wall. Although tiny, this place is immensely popular for those who love things like Tikka Masala and Tandoori Chicken (my two favorite dishes here). If you’ve hung out with me in the past year, you know that this is a staple for me.
crazy cozy

Crazy cozy

Smorgasburg.

  • Darby, Collette and I went to Smorgasburg in Williamsburg, Brooklyn on Saturday. I have been dying to go to Smorgasburg since I first heard of it, but never got a chance to go. With Dar in town, it was the perfect excuse. Although it was raining (kind of a bummer, but it made the crowds thin out), we could not be discouraged and ended up having a great time. After we amassed large quantities of fried donuts, mini-cheesecakes, delicious tacos, and the like, we explored the stalls at the Brooklyn Flea Market. It was like, my fifth time in Brooklyn.
Me 'n Dar

Me ‘n Dar

No explanation necessary. Yum.

No explanation necessary. Yum.

Darien.

  • This was to be expected. What’s a trip back to the East Coast without a pitstop in our old stomping grounds? Darby and I rented a car (which was an entire process in and of itself…shudder) and headed into CT for the day. We visited the house we grew up in, the schools we went to, hung out on the beaches we know so well, and even walked around Rowayton. We would have been fools to leave without an ice cream cone on the beach from Brendan’s 101. It was a great day to do all the things we used to, and the nostalgia hit us like a wave. A BLUE WAVE, you might say…anyone? anyone?
101 - A staple of our childhood.

101 – A staple of our childhood.

Standard lunch view. Why did we move, again?

Standard lunch view. Why did we move, again?

Empire State Building.

  • Can you believe I’ve lived outside of or in New York City for 23 years and I have never been to the top of the Empire State Building? That was a must.
Selfie at the top. Not our best, but it's the thought.

Selfie at the top. Not our best, but it’s the thought.

Because you have to take an artsy photo.

Because you have to take an artsy photo.

The great thing about having Darby visit is that she knows the city, considering we spent weekends upon weekends upon weekends as young children coming into the city with our parents. There was no need to worry about what she would do while I was at work. I gave her a Metro pass, a few lunch suggestions, and she was well on her way to all the museums, sights and shopping she wanted.

Riding the Subway 101

Or: A Guide to Avoid Pissing Off New Yorkers on the Subway

  • Do not take off your shirt or shoes. No one wants to see that.
  • Do not take up an excessive amount of seat space. Your shopping bags will be just fine on the ground.
  • Do not feel the need to yell across the car to your friend. You can discuss last night’s antics in a normal voice.
  • If you are going to perform, be good at it. No one wants to be kicked in the face while you’re doing a backflip.
  • Do not participate in vulgar PDA. Or any PDA for that matter.
  • Do not do anything that should only be done in a private bathroom.
  • Do not lean your entire body against the pole during rush hour.
  • Be cognizant of where you hold the pole. For instance, if your hand placement puts your armpit in someone’s face, let’s think again.
  • If the last 15 people who squeezed through the closing doors can hardly fit, chances are neither can you. Another train comes in 2 minutes.
  • Do not try to enter the subway car before others have left. Just chill, you’ll have more room that way.
  • Do not read over my shoulder.
  • If there is an obviously pregnant woman or elderly person standing in front of you, give them your seat unless you like getting death glares.
  • Do not grope or touch others in inappropriate places. I know it’s crowded, but that’s unnecessary.
  • Do not block the door while passengers are entering/exiting. And don’t look so annoyed when they bump into you.
  • Do not try to squeeze your way towards the door before the subway has come to a complete stop. Chances are, you’re not the only one getting off.
  • Also, we don’t need you to announce that you’re getting off while doing so.
  • Please, please wear your headphones if you are going to listen to music.
  • Please do not sing out loud, unless your name is actually Beyonce. But since it’s not, keep it to yourself.

In 2010, artist Jay Shells posted this Subway Etiquette signs throughout the metro system. I think they do a nice job of summarizing my points above.

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