Wednesday, July 07, 2010

When Will My Reflection Show...

Today marked the one-year anniversary of my move to NYC. One year ago, I was struggling with luggage at the airport making perhaps one of the biggest moves of my life. One year ago I was moving from a stable job to what could only be considered a start-up. One year ago I was leaving behind the friends and family and the comfort of everything I know on what seemed to be a whim...

So where do I stand? Though it's been tortuously hot these past few days, I think I stand in a very good spot in my life. The job's petered out pretty well for me and I'm enjoying work quite well. I've made a good set of new friends, while hopefully maintaining enough of a connection to my old friends that I'm still aware of what's going on in their lives. I'm going to be an uncle in the very near future. Things, in general, are looking up...

What have I gone through this past year? Hmm... lots of singing Karaoke... Broadway shows... meeting very different types of people than those I tended to keep company back in Atlanta... I had a rather impromptu exhausting trip back to Japan, which I worked throughout. Tried restaurants all over NYC. I experienced NY's blistering summer and frigid winter. I've had many people come and visit NY, as well as making trips of my own to visit. I went to Apple HQ and worked on a prototype iPad before they were released! I went paintballing for the first time in my life... twice! I've been clubbing, which I'd never done before... I've done the most touristy things possible in NY, while also being labeled as a true New Yorker. I've moved offices 3 times, having started working out of parks and sublets, then to 2 rented desks, then to a row of rented desks, then to a 1500 sq ft space with lots of fun perks.

In short, I'm good with where I'm at, and I'm looking forward to seeing what the next year has to offer.

Friday, August 14, 2009

NYC Brokers suck

I ended up getting the place. The broker Emailed me today:

"Everything looks great. I'm waiting for our boss to come in and review some pending app packets. There are no other applications on your unit and I feel very confident that you'll be just fine. I'll let you know something as soon as I can. Thanks for your patience."

I was feeling pretty optimistic. At 4:30pm I get a voicemail message from the dude saying that he needed to ask me a question; nothing bad, my credit looks great and everything checks out. I gave him a call and he said that basically the brokers aren't even going to go to the management with the $1650 offer since they'd already found two people willing to pay the $1675 full price for two exact same apartments, even with one of them being on the very top floor (so the one I was applying for is technically worth more, since it's only on the 4th floor).

I got kind of mad, because yesterday he'd been talking to his boss on the phone while we were talking and basically made it pretty clear that he thought we could go with the $1650 and they'd approve me based on good credit and everything. The fact remains that they probably still might approve me, but the brokers wouldn't even go to the management with the offer because they felt they could lose their client if they came with an offer for less than the other two apartments. I talked to the boss basically about it and he made it pretty clear I bring it up to $1675, or they give me my deposit back and find someone else.

I took a few minutes to think about it, but in the end, I just don't care anymore. It's a nice enough place in the area I'm looking for and everything, plus I need to find a place by next week (going back down to Atlanta for my beach trip and to grab the rest of my stuff to move up at the beginning of September). In the end, the extra $25 over what I was going to pay anyway amounted to a little more than half an hour of work extra, so at this point it's not really worth my time and energy to keep searching and dealing with these brokers and crap.

I called the guy back up and told him I'd take it, but I was very disappointed with their services and will not be using them again, nor recommending them to use for anyone else I know. He said he understands and he's very sorry (I feel bad for the guy because I know it's not his fault, but his boss' fault who won't budge).

Anyway, I'm signing the lease on Sunday... I'll be fine, the whole process just still leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Apartment Hunt Trials and Tribulations

So last week I was struggling with my apt decision since I found a studio with a built-in sleep loft on 21st between 8th and 9th. It was $1649/mo with a $50 concession if you paid a week early, but there was a 7.5% fee on a year's rent. Pro-rated out, that ended up costing like $1720/mo in my mind, which was just out of my price range. I was really considering it and I actually saw it a second time and I liked it even more this time. I realized this time that it wasn't actually on the ground floor, but on the "Parlor Floor," so it was actually above the ground a good bit, such that you couldn't even see into the room from the street level. Didn't even have bars on the window. In the end, the main issue was cost. I talked to the broker and she wouldn't budge in any way, shape, or form. She could tell that I wasn't 100% on the place, so told me I could have a couple more days to think it over that weekend. She even gave me the current tenant's phone number, which I thought was really cool 'cause I could ask him questions that would only be answered by someone who's lived there. He told me in general it was a nice enough place, but I definitely wasn't really getting a good deal as I'd be paying the exact same thing he was. Also told me on Saturdays at 7am, they do the recycling so there's like 15 minutes of glass bottles jangling to wake you up. Well, the more I thought about it (and kept seeing more postings on Craigslist), the more I felt like I could do better for the cost (again $1720 in my mind), so I txted her that she could keep showing the place and take applications and maybe I'd be calling her back by the end of the week.

Monday came by and I had like 5 or 6 scheduled studio and 1br viewings. The first 1br I saw was in Chelsea and at a great location (W 16th between 7th and 8th), but it was a little small and the kitchen was definitely a little cramped. Plus there were rotting floor boards and such that the broker didn't think would be fixed. Still, it was doable and gave me more space than the other place since it had the separate bedroom. She told me she was showing it to a bunch of people as well, but she could tell I really wasn't excited about the place and that I should keep looking if I didn't "fall in love" with the place.

I had one scheduled viewing that looked decent on the Craigslist ad, but I went to the address the lady had sent and found out it was "Best Apts," one of the big broker firms notorious for bait and switch tactics so the moment I saw that, I walked right out. Then I saw a place in Gramercy that was a studio, but in a really nice elevator building on the lower level (pretty much like basement level) next to the laundry facilities. For a basement studio, it had decent lighting and an excellent kitchen with great counter space. The main thing I didn't like was the location. It was a little further walk to the L train than some other places, but I was really considering it. I talked to the guy and he said that they would probably bring down the price to $1600 from $1690 if I indeed had good credit and such. Also there was no broker fee! He wasn't showing the place again until 6pm, so I told him I'd call him at 5pm and let him know if I wanted it then and we could do the application then, giving me a chance to look at one more place on my list of appointments.

This next one was a perfect location for me. W 18th between 7th and 8th. 2 blocks down to the L train, and a great location overall. The studio itself was pretty big. Not really a separate kitchen, but definitely doable. Bathroom was decent enough. Elevator building that seemed well-maintained. I jumped on it. Price was $1700 and there was no broker fee, I applied for it at $1600 hoping they'd at least negotiate with me a little based on my great credit and the fact that I had enough in my savings that I could easily pay a year's rent so I'd never default. The kitchen definitely wasn't as nice as the place in Gramercy, but I liked the location a lot better so I decided to go for it. The broker said he'd let me know the next day.

The next day came by and the broker said that the guy who made the decisions was out sick, but apparently there were three applications on the place that all came in at the same time that morning... I guess this was the main issue with applying for a place with a non-exclusive broker. I was kind of pissed, but at that point he was like "the management will probably pick the best offer, which your $1600 probably won't be." I told him I'd go for $1650, but that's the highest I'd go. The next day went by and they still hadn't made a decision yet. I was getting antsy, so I ended up starting to look at places again. I saw one place in Chelsea that, again, had a perfect location (W 16th between 7th and 8th), and the studio was great except the kitchen was awful (two burners, no oven, really really cramped).

Today came and I made an appointment to see one posting in the Union Square/East Village area for $1675 at 4pm ish. I still hadn't heard back about the apt I applied for, but by this point I was pretty skeptical that I'd be getting it. I emailed the broker for the place and finally got a response back around 3:30pm that the management had decided on an application that offered to pay the full price of $1700. Oh well. The broker made an appt with me at noon tomorrow to check out some more places. I showed up to my 4pm and the guy showed me a 1br in Gramercy that was way out of my price range. He said he had something closer to what I was looking for in the East Village so we walked down there to a place on E 13th between 1st and 2nd. There were 3 1br apartments available earlier in the week. Now there was one left at the same price: $1675.

All three places had brand new renovations. Or at least 2 of them were still undergoing renovations and one was actually being moved into today as it already had its renovations done. The people moving in were nice enough to let us check out the place so I could see what the apartment would look like when it was done. It was really nice. The floors are new. All the kitchen appliances were new. The bathroom was new with a new sink and shower stall (no tub). It's a true 1br, so there's a bedroom and a living room, both actually decently sized. In lieu of laundry in the basement, there's actually a Laundromat at the bottom of the building, so that's pretty convenient (I can still bring down my clothes for just the wash and fold if I want, or I can do it myself). Basically I "fell in love" with it, especially at the price range. $1675 was close enough to what I was looking to pay. I talked to the broker and he told me that since the owners had just rented two apartments just like it at $1675, they probably wouldn't go much less since they were pretty sure they could find a renter willing to pay it. I talked to him a while about it, and ended up applying for it for $1650 (the same price I was willing to pay for that Chelsea studio).

So that's where I'm at. I should find out tomorrow if I get the place. The place has an exclusive broker, meaning I can be assured that there won't be any other applications on the place since I paid my "Good Faith" deposit to hold the apt until the owners make a decision. The broker says he's pretty sure I'll get the place, so hopefully I'm done with my search. You can see pictures, Google Maps link, Street View, etc. of the place here:

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Not-So-Much-Work Day

Thursday, I took a break from my as-of-late full-time schedule for some entertainment. First I walked up to Bryant Park, grabbing some Gray's Papaya recession special hot dogs along the way, for the Summer Broadway in Bryant Park feature. I waded through the marshy wetlands to grab a chair and watch as the cast from Shrek, Naked Boys Singing, Chicago, and Jersey Boys sang three or four songs each from their respective shows. Neat.

After that I walked/ran down to the SoHo House by 2pm to catch a screening of Passing Strange: The Movie. Long movie directed by Spike Lee that was actually just a filming of the Broadway Musical of the same name (without the "The Movie" subtitle). Long movie... got out around 4:30pm, so I took the subway up to the Upper East Side for another movie screening.

I got to the AMC Loews at 86th st with time to spare so I grabbed some fries from a vendor, then got my AMEX screening ticket to see Funny People. I then waited for my friend, James, to show up and we saw the movie together. Another long movie! Definitely an interesting movie that was a little different than I was expecting. A lot more serious.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


There's something odd about waking up late (10-11), having a leisurely lunch, then starting work at 2pm and still managing to put in 8 hours a day by working until midnight... Anyway, did that yesterday and today. Yay.

Monday, July 27, 2009

What is the deal with "weekend?" Should call it WalkEnd

Another weekend passes and soon to be another Monday. Still doesn't feel like much of a separation between weekend and weekday. I even did a bit of work this weekend! Guess I'll start with Friday. Friday I woke up around my normal time and ate a quick falafel for lunch. Then worked in the park and in my sublet until like 8:15pm! Then I attempted to meet up with a group of people that I was trying to meet in a Malaysian restaurant in Little Italy. I got there about an hour early though (I didn't know when they'd made the reservations) so I waited and waited and realized the fallacy of trying to meet up with a group of Asian Americans right next to Chinatown...

So I texted the group's leader and she never got back to me so I ended up leaving and walking back to Washington Square Park, then to grab a quick dinner at the Papaya Dog, and finally back to my sublet to watch a movie. Oh well. Better luck next time I suppose.

Saturday I walked... and walked... I started out at my sublet (3rd st) after grabbing some Kati Rolls from the official Kati Roll restaurant right around the block from my sublet. I also grabbed a delicious cookie crunch cream puff from Beard Papa's on the recommendation of a friend. I then walked up Eighth Avenue towards Times Square and walked through the sea of humanity up towards Central Park. I knew there was some sort of performance going on at the Summerstage and, heck, I just like Central Park. I got the Summerstage and didn't really dig the music (a very heavy latin band) so I just kept walking. Made my way through the ramble towards The Great Lawn. I took some pictures of it since it was a lot less people saturated than the last time I was there (for the NY Philharmonic concert).

Then I kept walking north to the huge reservoir and walked (the wrong way) towards the upper west end of it. Finally I walked towards the north meadow and relaxed there for a while. Around that time it was starting to get to be dinner time so I looked up some restaurants in the area (Upper West Side) and decided on an authentic Mexican restaurant called Noche Mexicana. It was very good and pretty cheap for the amount of food you got. Anyway, that was at 103rd st (100 blocks north of where I started). I then made the long descent down towards my sublet again. I stopped in the Columbus Circle shops and also in Times Square to think philosophical thoughts of humanity. I also grabbed a pic or two of it because I realized that I'd never actually taken a picture of Times Square. Then made the rest of my way down to 3rd st again (stopping in Union Square for a little breather), covering over 200 blocks and something like 10-11 miles of ground.

Sunday I woke up and grabbed lunch at a local sandwich type shop. It was a pretty good ribeye steak sandwich at a decent price, though must be hard to compete with the Mamoun's right next door. Anyway, I looked up what was going on in NYC today and saw that there was a free folk music concert on Governor's Island today with Judy Collins, a Grammy-award-winning singer. I didn't really know who she was or really cared for folk music, but I figured it'd be fun to check out Governor's Island so I took the N train down to Whitehall station and found the ferry bound for Governor's Island.

The decks were pretty crowded but I managed to stake out a decent spot and tried to take a pic or two of the Manhattan view during the short cruise over to the island. Once there they seemed to be setting up or taking it down or something and I just started walking (again) towards the Great Promenade. The Great Promenade is a path that goes around the island; about 2.2 miles according to the signs and has some great views of the Statue of Liberty and Manhattan/Brooklyn. I took some pictures but it was so bright and sunny that I couldn't see very well to see if I was getting good pictures.

I made my way up to Picnic Point (the point closest to the Statue of Liberty) then back down again in time to get on the 4:00pm ferry back to Manhattan. I was standing on the deck again leaning against the doorway when I heard this loud commotion and lots of applause. Apparently there was Judy Collins, taking the same ferry back to Manhattan. She came up on the deck and had to kind of eke by me to get through the doorway with her entourage, so there was one of my first "brushes" with a celebrity here in NY since I moved up here. Twice actually (she came back out shortly afterward). When we docked there was a bunch of applause in the pier as the people waiting to board the ferry saw her. Took a while, but I finally was able to get through the crowd.

Walked up towards Battery Park to chill out a bit and grab an ice cream. Then walked up towards Brooklyn Bridge, stopping at the South Street Seaport where there were a lot of outdoor restaurants, booths, and street performers. Enjoyed watching some of them for a little while until it started to rain. Then it started to rain hard. I ran towards the closest subway station (Fulton St) and by then it stopped. Typical. So I walked back up trying to make my way further north and it started raining again. So I ducked into the closest subway station (City Hall St) and took an R back up to 8th St station. Then I had to run for it back to my sublet because it was coming down hard at this point.

Once I was in the safety of my sublet I waited out the rain (and hail, I believe). It was coming down really hard. When it finally seemed to ease up again, I ventured out through Washington Square Park (lots of downed branches including one huge one that fell behind me as I walked past). I'd the hankering some more good okonomiyaki and takoyaki, so I went back up to Otafuku on E 9th St to indulge myself. Ordered and spoke to the guy in Japanese and then made my way back to Washington Square Park to eat the yummy goodness. Then back to my sublet and that was my night. Just rained a bunch more here (loud thunder too), so looks like I made it back to my sublet just in time.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Oh I Love a Rainy Night

Just another rainy day today. Woke up. Worked. For lunch I had the leftover half of my sandwich from yesterday. Still good! Worked until 5:15 or so, when I headed up to Korea Town for a try at some Bibimbap. It was good, but still searching for the wonderful Korean dish that as of yet I've only had in Ueno.

After dinner, I walked west a few avenue blocks to the AMC Loews 14 by Penn Station for a screening. The line was already ridiculously long, plus we had to wait out in the rain. They didn't start letting in until about 7:10pm either so I waited around almost an hour in the rain. Not fun. Anyway, I saw a screening of The Ugly Truth. It was pretty good!

By the time the movie ended, the rain had pretty much stopped so I walked the 30 blocks or so down 6th ave back to my apt.