9 Sep 2008 6:55 am   //   Filed under: Brooklyn, New York is different

Six years in New York

Today is the 6th anniversary of a major event in my life, the day I moved from Pennsylvania to Brooklyn. I’m still here (in the same apartment!) despite my original idea that New York would be a four-year plan.

In honor of becoming a seventh-year senior, I decided to open the backup files of the blog (then called a “journal”) I had on my site in 2002. They are predictably embarrassing! For your enjoyment, some excerpts follow.


Monday, September 9, 2002
Brooklyn’s newest resident

It felt good today to get the keys into a new place. Phone service is hooked up, the power is on and gas will be on Wednesday. I have the keys to the mailbox, I’ve met two of my neighbors (both much nicer than my neighbors in Carlisle) and I’ve discovered a few nifty things about my place that I didn’t notice on the first walkthrough. Of course I’m nuts about having a skylight in the shower. I have a tin ceiling in the kitchen. I have about a billion kitchen cabinets, most relatively free of insect life. My ceilings are high. Someone who lived here in the past must have had a thing for pastel paints, which I can dig. I successfully walked down the block and bought a quart of milk, a bottle of Gatorade and a box of Ritz Bits Sandwiches. Right now, I’m sitting in a folding beach chair and typing with my computer set up on a small coffee table. Maybe tomorrow I’ll take the big leap and open a local checking account. And there is still more moving to be done, of course.


Tuesday, September 10, 2002
Totally free checking

Looking for excitement? Not here. I spent today opening a bank account, talking to my insurance company, getting a whole mess of addresses switched and investigating the subway lines to Manhattan. (I’m going to like the W train, I think.) I’ve also been waiting for a phone call about a job, a call that never came. I’ll just keep my phone close at hand tomorrow. And listen for the doorbell, too… The gas company is supposed to show up sometime “between noon and six.” I’ll be here in an empty apartment without a TV or a radio. That’s probably a fine way to spend September 11. Watch this space tomorrow for my thoughts on the anniversary of the terrorist attacks, in case you care what I have to say on the matter. I feel less a part of this tragedy than the people around me here in Brooklyn. After all, I was living in Carlisle a year ago. That was my third week at work, in a new place, just beginning to realize that I wasn’t going to be happy there.


Wednesday, September 11, 2002
Not forgotten

This morning, it seemed right for me to spend a few minutes at Ground Zero. A year ago, it was dust and smoke and death. Today, there was a good breeze, the sky was bright, and there was a solemn crowd wearing a lot of red, white and blue. I couldn’t get in close, but I mingled with the crowd that jammed in to hear the reading of the names. As I write this now, in Brooklyn, I can hear church bells ringing to mark the time the second tower fell a year ago. I’m told my next-door neighbor was in the trade center last year. He stayed home from work today. Some of my friends in Washington last night sounded a little uneasy, too.

So when did you cry? I think for me it was that Friday, after I had a phone conversation with my brother and we talked about whether we might go to war. That shook me up a little bit. We can see now that most of the war talk was an over-reaction. This strange campaign against terrorism has been fought with information — orange alerts, secure undisclosed locations, bizarre video tapes released to the news networks. Back here at home, we canonized our firefighters, perhaps to the point of ignoring our stock brokers and flight attendants. Here in New York, everyone is still buying and flying American flags. I wish I had my flag to put in the window, but it’s back in Pennsylvania. September 11 now feels like it marks the start of new year. That’s the case for me, especially because I just moved to New York this week. Oh, I’m rambling. There’s too much to say about all this. I hope you respect the day in whatever way seems right for you.


Thursday, September 12, 2002
Got to keep on moving

Moving is a lesson in scale. My sofa looks huge in my living room, and my living room looks small with a sofa in it. Move the sofa out, and the room suddenly looks vast. Set the sofa in the back of a 14-foot U-Haul truck, and — presto — you have a tiny sofa. My dad and I have been watching this happen all day long as we moved an entire apartment full of furniture from Carlisle to Brooklyn. (Thank you Dad!) The NYPD stopped our truck at the Verrazano bridge so cops could check it. As they rolled open the back door and peered inside, I could see all my wordly possession next to a massive toll booth, at the foot of a massive bridge, overlooking a massive, massive city. With that perspective, I could see my stuff doesn’t even fill up a tiny truck in a big world. Not bad. But then, the truck grew in size as the streets got narrower, until finally we opened it up in front of my apartment and realized there was no way all that stuff was going to fit inside. And yet it did. Here I am, in a new place, surrounded by my incredible growing, shrinking collection of found furniture. Man, you can tell I’m tired.

Finally, a thought I had on the drive today: People everywhere like to think the world revolves around their town. New Yorkers are the only ones who can think so and be right.


Saturday, September 14, 2002
The great wide-open

Today I drove around a little bit and oriented myself with Park Slope. Seventh Avenue, my nearest cross street, turns into a really fun strip of international restaurants and shops a few blocks from here. I’m sure I’ll have fun trying out new foods. There are some churches, hardware stores, banks, laundromats, pizza places, and other essentials. This is the nice part of the neighborhood. There are a lot of young people around who look cooler than me. (Note to self: Start wearing more black.) There are also a lot of families in this neighborhood, from a spectrum of ethnicities. At the top of my hill (the “slope” in Park Slope) lies the massive Green-Wood Cemetery. A number of famous New Yorkers are burried there. I can see the rolling hills of tombstones and nice landscaping through the fence, but I haven’t been inside the grounds yet. That will be something to explore in the coming weeks. Oh, and I discovered Thursday that on a clear day, I can see the Statue of Liberty from my block. So much to see and do.


Monday, September 16, 2002
Mission accomplished

So it looks like I have a job. I’ll be working as an editorial assistant in Manhattan, most likely starting in two weeks. As is the custom in New York, I will not be writing about my job in the Internet.

That leaves me some time to explore New York. Maybe I’ll be less clueless about the city by then. I’ve already learned the hard way not to park in front of a sidewalk pedestrian ramp. (Fine: $55.) And I’ve watched my car insurance rates more than triple (still hopeful that the new number is a mistake).