Tuesday, April 28, 2009


yep, it's true.  getting into the best decade of life, right?  :)  it's hard to have a birthday now without spending at least a moment in 2 corinthians 4:16.  so much more reality to this verse in terms of outwardly wasting away with each passing year.  all birthdays are momentous, but this one is my first in new york.  it was chill.  enjoyed time with friends who bought me birthday drinks and food.  of course that's the other issue with each passing year...slower metabolism.  so, all the free goodies will take longer to work off.  but...that's okay, too.  

the other part of this verse is more troublesome.  the city makes it hard to know what is happening inwardly sometimes.  the noise, the people, constant activity, survival...these are not conducive to the cultivating of an inner life.  discipline has not been one of my hallmarks, so i have reflective moments but they seem to be while on the run.  

i think there is a renewal occurring but it is not the tranquil, sunny, gooey kind.  it's hard, gritty, revealing, painful, and beautiful all together.  this city is a crucible.  renewal has never been an easy process and something usually dies...but what you're left with is, by definition, new.  

whatever crucible you're in right now, hang in there.  you have good company and there is the promise of a tremendous hope, as well.  :)

Sunday, April 19, 2009


april 1st i moved into harlem.  it's actually across the street from the forgetful landlord.  i've seen him a few times and he seems unaware of who i am.  that's fine.  i'm grateful to have moved into a two bedroom with a cool roommate.  it's a 5th floor walk up which is good for burning a few more of my cheese calories off.  

i've been slowly making it a home for me.  it's coming along.  even found a good floor covering.

still need a tv.  the lesson for this month is that when applying the lessons from march, things work out alright.  

march 2

so now i'm back in my plush pad on central park west and have a couple weeks to conduct a search for the right place to live.  it's always difficult to find the balance you want of space, price, and location in new york city apartments.  basically, pick any two.  you might be able to get the space you want at the price you'd like but the location sucks.  or you could find a great location in midtown for a low price but your room is about size of your bed...and it's a twin on stilts with a hot plate under the headboard and a toilet down the hall.  yeah...pick any two.  

when i placed the "emergency" ad on craigslist the night of the 13th, there were a number of responses that showed the friendly side of new yorkers wanting to help someone in need.  certainly there was the place i stayed, but there were others who had apartments they thought would be good for me.  i went to look at one the following sunday afternoon and found myself pretty excited about the space.  in fact, i loved the space so much that i was willing to overlook the fact that there was no kitchen.  except for that, it seemed to have space, price, and a pretty good location.  triple threat as they say in new york.  

the woman i spoke with was acting as the property manager for the owner of the space.  we had a great conversation and talked about meeting the owner soon.  she said that he was going through a few things and he didn't want to meet too many people.  this was fine with me.  don't need to be pushy.  after a couple curious time delays in responding to my email questions about the place and where we were, she mentioned that he was at the beginning of dealing with alzheimer's which meant she was having trouble getting clarity from him about the space and a new tenant.  he seemed to change his mind a lot.  

it's now getting closer to the end of the month and things are sounding very good with the property manager.  i was thinking about being in my own place and the culinary delights i could cook in a microwave.  there really are a lot of options and they're not all cheese related...even though that's a great use of a microwave.   i was scheduled to visit with the owner on a sunday afternoon but just before heading up to harlem where the apartment was located, she called to say that it wasn't a good time for him.  while disappointing, she seemed to indicate that it was okay.  he trusted her to make the decision and she felt good about me moving in.  we would do it on wednesday morning.

because of all that was happening on wednesday, i rented the van on tuesday night.  not just the move was on my mind for the following day, but i was acting in a one-act with friends at the slipper room in the east village that evening and needed to get everything done and the van back to u-haul in time to get ready and meet my co-actors for a run through.  i drove over to the place tuesday night in the van and saw the property manager and talked through the details of the next morning.  i would bring the cash and she would have a key for me.  everything was set...

...set for another disaster!  wednesday morning i had the van by the building and was able to load it pretty easily, especially with the help of another friend.  we arrived in harlem about 10:00 am, found a place to park, walked up the steps of my new brownstone home and rang the doorbell.  no answer.  on the way over i called the phone number i had for the lady i had been speaking with but didn't reach her.  i kept calling the number and eventually the owner himself answered wondering who i was and what i wanted.  he didn't seem to know anything about it.  since i'd been through this a couple weeks earlier i didn't panic...but i thought about it.  the owner made it sound like someone else had rented the place the day before which made no sense to me since i thought i was the guy!  either way, there was no budging him.  and the property manager never came to the door.  i still don't know what really happened.  

gratefully, my friend with me said that everyone has some crazy new york moving stories.  i just piled two of them up in two weeks.  but i find that when i start telling my story, someone has a more horrendous one to tell and i guess mine isn't that impressive after all.  probably most reading this have already stopped since they can one-up me too.  well...that's fine!  this is cathartic!  the other thing my friend did was invite me to stay on he and his wife's couch until i found a place to move to.  this was extremely gracious of both of them.  

the lesson learned this time is to sign a lease and/or have keys in hand before loading up a moving van for a second time in as many weeks.  and perhaps all the more if you have a potentially forgetful landlord. 


goodness!  march is a blur.  i told my roommate at the end of february that i would be moving out by the end of march.  this began the process of finding something new.  i have been quite fortunate in terms of living situations, really.  i housesat for friends when i first arrived and it was a lovely one bedroom on the 23rd floor of a midtown high-rise right in the middle of everything and easy to get to things.  that couldn't last forever, of course, and i found a place on central park west.  the perfect location for getting out and enjoying the park and i was even able to enjoy some theological sparring with my roommate.  

we all have our vices.  mine is cheese which can really smell a place up.  his is smoking which can do similar things.  the former has seemed to improve my singing while the latter has hindered it, so as it seemed time to change settings, i started pounding the streets to find a new apartment...er...craigslist.    

if you've ever spent any time on craigslist you know that you can find just about anything on there.  some things shouldn't be found while other things can be quite beneficial.  the number of sublets in new york city at any one time is somewhat staggering.  i wrote to a number of them but also posted an ad in which i expressed my availability to be a renter for someone.  there was a response, i visited his place, and we worked out the details for me to move in mid-month.

in this case, mid month was friday the 13th.  i'm not very superstitious about things like this but maybe i will be now.  the day started in the normal way for a moving day.  woke up, went and rented the u-haul, drove back during new york rush hour morning traffic to my apartment building on central park west between 94th and 95th (kind of fun to drive again even if the ambience was the crazy streets of new york), met my friend who was helping me, loaded up all my things which aren't too much at this point and headed for battery park city where the new apartment was.  when we pulled up at the little guard station, the guy asked me what i was doing.  i of course told him.  he then said that i wasn't on the list.  this didn't bother me too much.  i just figured my new roommate hadn't called them to let them know.  i mentioned his name and was told that he wasn't on the lease.  now i'm a little nervous.  it turns out, i had become involved in an inappropriate sublet.  he was paying rent to someone else who was on the lease but didn't live there.  there's nothing wrong with that, but the amount he was paying was $400 more than the actual rent of the place.  this meant that the person on the lease was making a profit that the landlord wanted (and probably rightfully so since it's his place).  at any rate, after going back and forth with people for some time about my potentially moving in, it became apparent about 4:00 pm that it wasn't going to happen.  i had a full van of stuff, had moved out of my apartment, needed to return the van which was already in a penalty by this time, and i was supposed to be an extra on the angelina jolie movie "salt" the next morning which was filming some exploding funeral scene in manhattan.  in fact, i was supposed to be on set at 5:30 am.  even went to a fitting to make sure i looked right for the scene where they made it clear that there would be residue falling on my suit from whatever they were going to explode.  can't wait to see the finished film and all this residue on people.

anyway, this was as close to a melt down that i've come since moving to new york.  i forgot everything.  i forgot there was a god who loves me.  i forgot that i have friends here who would be happy to have me sleep on their couch.  i forgot about the apartment i left and that i had paid for the month of march and could go back there.  i began to panic and thought i could find something quickly on craigslist.  this was a crazy way to go.  to conclude this portion of the story, i'll just say that i spent the night on a random mattress on a random floor of a random apartment belonging to a random woman who responded to a random emergency ad i placed on craigslist.  crazy.

by the time i got to her place it was about midnight.  i still had the van full of things with no place to put them.  i was still supposed to be on the set of "salt" in a mere five hours.  thankfully i was able to tell central casting that i would not be able to make it.  of course, they may never cast me again, but they listened.  i found a place to park the van that was safe and in the morning when my head was clearer, i moved back into my place on central park west.  the doormen laughed at me but that was okay.  

i'd learned an important lesson about apartment hunting in new york...it's good to make sure that the sublet you're about to enter into is legal.  that and don't forget that you have friends who are happy to take care of you.  really.  they want to.  they are looking for opportunities to bless.  so let 'em know you need 'em.