31 March 2006

The Friendless Marching Band

Today I was featured on the "Friends of the Friendless Marching Band" blog. As far as I can tell, it's run by a nice woman named Carol who sends her bandmates out into the world -- okay, out into the internet -- looking for blogs that they like but that don't get enough comments.

This is what they said about me:

Today`s featured site is Excellent Walker. She is a single New Yorker who gathers observations as she walks the streets of her city. Why do I like this blog?

It`s definitely a slice of New York life.
She is a former journalist who also writes fiction.
She cares about the world and is grateful for what she has.

All of which is very sweet, and I am grateful for all the FFMB members who came by today to read and comment on my blog.

But I also feel a little pathetic now. Why am I so friendless? Is it so obvious?

Actually, what it is is this: I haven't been walking much for the last few months, mostly because of the winter weather, partly because of just general feeling down-ness (also related to the winter weather, I'm sure), so I haven't been able to write. There's a connection between writing and walking for me; or maybe it's a connection between feeling good and writing, and walking makes me feel good.

Whatever it is, now that it's warmer, I'll start walking again, and writing more posts, and then you'll all come back every day and love me, you'll really love me!

30 March 2006

Do I really want to do this: Of course I do!

I'M IN!!

The board was, as I'd hoped, exactly the sort of nice, smart, nebbishy people you'd want handling the business of your building. The "boardroom" that the broker told me to ask the doorman to direct me to turned out to be the dingy basement office of the super. One of the security monitors was making a high-pitched beeping sound the entire time I was there; it was broken but no one could figure out how to turn it off.

Two of the board members weren't there; 6:30 was just too early for them to get home from work. The remaining four -- two 50ish men and two 45ish women with curly hair (a good decision, I thought, not to have straightened my hair for the occasion) -- asked me how long I'd lived in New York, what I did for a living, whether I thought I'd stay at my job for a while -- but I got the sense that they were just asking me these questions for the sake of asking me something.

After about 10 minutes of this interrogation, one of them asked the rest if they had any more questions, and they all said, "I'm fine. Are you fine? I'm fine too." One of the women said, "we should probably let the managing agent make this all official, but unofficially, we hope you'll be very happy here." The other woman pulled out her Blackberry and emailed the managing agent's office on the spot.

And those enormous packets of financial and personal information it took me weeks to assemble? They all gave me their copy back so I could shred it.

Now I just have to worry about what color to paint the kitchen (and whether the money I forgot to transfer from my savings to my checking account will be there in time for my closing, but I'm choosing to be optimistic about that).

28 March 2006

Do I really want to do this: The Countdown

I had a date last night -- I decided I needed to go on Match.com if I was ever going to meet men who weren't married and/or gay and who might want to date me, and this was the first of those dates I went on; apart from that fact, though, it wasn't distinguished in any way -- and among a few other topics, we talked about my upcoming co-op board interview.

The Date had purchased his apartment 5 years ago, from his father, who had bought it for him to live in 7 years before that. Despite having lived in the building for 7 years, he still had to go through the financial due diligence process and interview with the co-op board. Seven years, and they can't say "oh yeah, you're a pretty good guy"?

He told me not to worry about my interview, because it was only to make sure I was someone they'd want to live with, which is what everyone else has told me. He went on, "they want to see if you're going to embarass the building; you know, if you have blue hair or something."

I should give the date a pass on his phrasing; it was a first date, who isn't nervous? But the idea that something could embarass people who live in an apartment building, and that something could be blue hair makes me worry, once again, that I am doing the wrong thing. Not by buying a place to live. But by buying a place in a big co-op, in a neighborhood that may be politically liberal, but is very conventional in lifestyle, where looking different may be something people would pay money for if it were in a play or an art-house movie, but wouldn't want living next door...

OK, I'm reading too much into the blue hair comment, I know.

It's 34 hours until my interview.

20 March 2006

Don't call me ma'am

The street I live on is very busy, particularly on the weekend, when the tourists come around. It can be hard to walk down the street, since so often they walk slowly, four abreast, oblivious to our city conventions, but I don't really mind them. Isn't it part of the appeal of living in New York that so many people want to be here?

On Saturday, I nearly walked into a couple of young men who were standing in front of Lenny's where I get my morning coffee (after dropping the plastic bag of cat poop in the trash can on the corner, an illegal practice my friend Anne suggested it as a way of preventing my apartment's atmosphere from being dominated by the litter box).

One of the young men stepped towards me, saying in a Southern accent, "ma'am, could you tell us where the nearest subway to 110th street is? We want to get up to the top of Central Park."

I've been feeling old lately. Or rather, I've been feeling that I look middle aged, and that other people see me that way, too. I'm turning 38 next month; you could argue that I actually am middle aged, but since my family tends to be long-lived, I'm going to tempt fate and say that I have a few more years before I reach the half-way point.

"You know," I said, "women don't like to be called ma'am. It makes us feel old."

Two legitimately middle-aged women -- they looked like they could be the men's mothers -- stepped forward, one saying, "that's right, we don't."

"But what should we call you," the man asked me.

"Oh, I don't know," I replied, having thought about this before myself, but never coming up with a good answer. "Miss" sounds ridiculous too. "This is New York. You could say 'hey you'".

"But we're from the South," he said, "we can't be rude."

"But it's rude to imply that someone looks old enough to be called ma'am," I said, all the while in good humor, but having to make sure I wasn't accidentally swinging the cat-litter-holding arm into his face.

"Anyway, just walk down this block to Central Park West, turn right, walk two more blocks, and the subway station is right there. Either of the uptown trains will take you to 110th."

They seemed inclined to talk more -- the whole interaction was friendly, though if they'd been New Yorkers they would have been suspicious of the directions I gave them -- but between the cat litter, and wanting coffee, and not wanting to contribute to the over-crowding of the street, I scurried away from them.

After I got my coffee, though, they were still out on the street, and I heard one of them say something about "not calling her ma'am", clearly talking about me.

I hope I gave them a little bit of local color to take home with them.

16 March 2006

I Hate These People: The Co-op Board, Part 6

The broker called yesterday to give me tips for my co-op board interview, to wit:

- "Dress verrrrrry conservatively." I guess this means pulling the pants suit out of the back of the closet. I should probably do this soon enough to get it dry cleaned; I'm sure the cats have been nesting in it.
- "They will probably ask you about your cats." What is there to say? They're cats. They sleep 90% of the time.
- "Make sure you tell them you love the apartment as is. You don't want them to think you're going to come in and make renovations."
- "They'll probably ask about your social life. Don't lie, but you should probably say things like 'oh, I never have parties; I only listen to classical music; I like to go out to the movies.'"
- "You never rehearse your singing in the apartment."

I know this is the broker being overly cautious, but don't you just love these people already? I think my birthday -- April 22nd -- would be a good day for my first party, don't you?

13 March 2006

I Hate These People: The Co-op Board, Part 5

Good news: The co-op board wants to see me.

Bad news: They want to see me on March 29th.

I guess there's no chance of a March 31st closing now, which, honestly, would be fine, since there's no pressure on me to leave my apartment by April 1. But, I'd been planning to take a week off to clean/paint/move, and the later in April that happens, the more likely that week will be one of the two my boss is planning to take off. He's already told me -- back in January -- that this will be the first time in ten years that he's taken more than a one-week vacation, and that he needs me to be here to catch any emergencies that come up.

I love when things come into such stark focus -- the job that sustains my life has to come before the living of that life.

09 March 2006

Back to it

I know this winter hasn't been as bad as it could have been. Maybe I'm just getting old; between the dark and the cold, I haven't been able to get out of bed early enough to walk to work, and even if I could, who wants to walk two miles with the wind in their face, I ask you?

It's all changing. At work, the time I have to roll down the window blinds so that the glare from the sun doesn't render my computer screen useless has gone from 10 minutes at 4:30pm, to two hours starting at 3 o'clock. The earth, she turns.

It's not warm yet, but I walked to work today nevertheless, and was rewarded with a gang of breaking construction workers punctuating their mumbled incomprehensibilty with "Johnny Sacks, Johnny Sacks" at 70th Street (The Sopranos starts again this Sunday); a near miss with an enormous pile of shit, possibly not of the dog variety, under the scaffolding at the corner of 57th and 9th (note to self: find out why that building has been boarded up for so many years); a brief wonder about the relationship between the burgundy afro'd young black woman and the elderly white woman she was helping down the sidewalk at 42nd Street(they were talking and laughing like they were old friends, but most likely they were employer and employee, though the younger woman probably spends more time with and knows better the older one than any of the relatives who would turn up to the older one's funeral); and a slightly sneaky avoidance of a co-worker at 34th Street, so that I could put off thinking about my job and walk the final two blocks to work alone.