Thursday, September 27, 2007

The Apartment Saga: De Bug

So I have recently been cured of caring what other people think.


We stay with Apartment B. Our apartment building is being completely renovated, which is nice because everything is new. What's not so nice is that construction on the building continues 7 days a week. They're behind.

I go home and pack and itinerize the move. You see, itiineraries are necessary when living with an A.D.D. man. Especially when our A.D.D. friend offers to help with the move so he can bum a free trip to New York City off of us. Not that I'm complaining or anything. Couldn't have done it without him. He and Seth drove the moving truck to New York City while I flew with my parents. I'm not complaining at all.

The two A.D.D. men arrived with their itinerary earlier than scheduled, and the Super of the building (which up here is the guy that fixes everything when it breaks), who is in charge of the renovations , made all of his workers help us move our boxes up three flights of stairs. It was a good move on his part, because now, when the Hispanic men yell and scream and sing at the top of their lungs at 7 o'clock in the morning, we can't get too mad because they all made our move-in bearable. Or when they bang so hard on the floor above us that debris falls from the ceiling onto our brand new sleeper sofa, we can't get too mad. Or when we find out they're going to add a sixth floor to our building, or when they don't have the laundry facility finished downstairs so I have to haul ass with two tons laundry up a couple of blocks to the laundromat, or when we don't get our UPS mail because they haven't installed the call box by the front door, or when they turn off the water without telling us, or when they randomly decide to tinker around with the cable cords somewhere and we have no internet for a daywe try not to get too mad.

But last week came the straw that broke the camels back.

I found a bed bug in our apartment.

It was Friday morning. The night before, our next door neighbor relayed the news that a girl on the third floor thought she found a bed bug in her apartment. After the news circulating about the bed bugs on the first floor (which had been exterminated), we were beside ourselves. This meant they were crawling up the walls or were already in the walls. That was it. We were getting out of this place. We thoroughly checked our mattress and clothes and saw nothing. No bugs.

The next morning we woke up with no bites. I got out of bed, showered, and began getting ready for the day. I sat down on our bed, and already cautious of creepy crawly critters, I looked down at the sheets on which I was sitting, and lo and behold a little tick-like thing was scurrying toward me. I jumped up, cried, "Seth, Seth, Seth," pointed, and almost cried. We captured the bed bug alive and held him hostage in a plastic baggy.

We looked around for more but found none.

Nevertheless, we marched our bed bug, whom I nicknamed "Fred", around town in his plasitc baggy as we looked at new apartments, and then to our management office. We kindly demanded the immediate extermination of our apartment and a place to stay for the night. Thankfully, they took care of us. An exterminator came to our room, whose name is Michael. Michael is Jamaican. He stepped inside the hobbit hole and asked for us to show him the bug. We gave him the plastic baggy and he set it under the light, examining the specimen inside the bag. After several silent and suspenseful seconds of intense study, Michael, with eyes cast downward looking grimly at our Fred, said softly after a quick nod:

"Dis is de bug."

continuing TO BE CONTINUED

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Apartment Saga: Apartment B

Apartment B.

We signed for it on the dotted line and hadn't known it.

Brokers check? Paid.

Security deposit? Paid.

First and last month's rent? Paid.

They had our money. I had no more time. They said they would let us out of our lease, and I suppose they would have reimbursed us, but who knows! The point was we had to be out of our Houston apartment in two weeks, and I needed to come home and pack. And organize. And throw stuff away. And sell cars. And sell couches and a table and chairs. And say good-bye.

We had to make a choice. Option 1: We pay ALOT more money for happy Apartment A. Option 2: We pay more money for a bigger apartment in the same building, also moving in at a later date and therefore putting all our stuff in storage and staying with my parents in Tulsa. Option 3: I stay longer and start the process all over again, while Seth packed up all our stuff and organized and...yeah, not an option. (Sorry, my dear, but we both know you would have rather lit the whole place on fire than be in charge of packing it all up. Plus you were working. I know I know.) Option 4: We keep what we have and deal. Even if we were wronged, purposefully or accidentally.

This decision was a turning point in my life. Here's what I mean. This decision was damn hard to make, and not a soul on earth could make this decision for us. And some of those souls had some very strong opinions as to what we should do. Very strong. I'm finding that people who aren't you have a tendency to think they know better than you what you should do. And the problem with me was that I always thought they knew better, too. Decision making for me was a fretful ordeal, wondering who I would please and displease with my decision.

But God, faithfully answering prayer, made it clear. Apartment A, the happy apartment but much more expensive, the one we wanted, was rented, deal sealed, that very morning, the morning our decision had to be made. OK, so that option: gone.

Now the real kicker. We could have waited and moved later. We could have stayed with my parents. It would have worked. Here's where the decision was really actually very simple.

What was our desire? What did we want?

We wanted to move to New York City....sooner rather than later.

What did it cost?

Some space, a closet, and bigger windows.

What did it require?

Humility. Faith. Creativity. Fortitude. Hope. Perseverence. Surrender.

Weird, huh? What we wanted required surrender. God's still requiring it of me, because I fight every day to do it. And....there's more.


Saturday, September 22, 2007

The Apartment Saga

Will the apartment saga never end?

I should fill you in first. I can't remember how much Seth has written about it.

When we decided to move to New York City, we weren't sure when that would be. We debated over waiting until the new year or moving in August/September. After deciding to wait until the new year, the gut inside both of us remained uneasy. Sometimes that's the Holy Spirit. Sometimes I don't know. But nevertheless we re-decided it should be sooner rather than later.

We gave notice to our apartment to move out August 30. I flew to New York City to look for apartments. Seth stayed in Houston to work. I have friends who live in Astoria, which is right outside Manhattan and right inside Queens, and because I've stayed with my friends a few times, I became aquainted with the area. And I liked it. It's quaint. Alot of sky. Cute rows of houses and a bit more affordable. So I found a place there I liked, and I showed the pictures to Seth. It was a one-bedroom. Very spacious, clean, cute. I liked it.

But my gut feeling wouldn't agree with my brain. Although I knew it would be more expensive, I couldn't help but think Manhattan. I knew Seth loved Manhattan, but he was completely fine with Astoria. The only way for me to explain it was that I felt something spiritual and healthy about Manhattan that I didn't feel about Astoria. And the only thing holding me back from living there was the expense. I brought it up to Seth, and he felt the same way.

So Seth and I had a talk about trusting God. God can and will provide for us. We have nothing to fear. So that was it. Manhattan it was. I have a friend who lives on the Upper West Side, and we LOVE the Upper West Side. And amazingly I found this great studio apartment, bigger than most, for an amazing price. A miracle price, so my friend told me that lives down the street. I'm happy. Seth's happy. We sign the lease. (a process that takes a week in Manhattan due to the approval process) We're happy. We're going to live around the corner from a church to which we've felt drawn. Turns out, that same church needs a permanent building, and that same church is gutting out the parking garage right across the street from our happy Upper West Side apartment.

And then I receive a phone call. The day before I'm scheduled to fly back to Houston. It was bad news. We signed a lease for what we thought was Apartment, I'll just say, A. Apartment A. See, Apartment A was this great studio with two large windows and a big closet, a studio big enough for a bed, a couch, a T.V., and a work station. The Apartment I visited was Apartment A. The one that I liked, that Seth liked, with which we were both so happy, was Apartment A. But due to a series of mistakes through miscommunication between our broker, the management company, and the non-English speaking Hispanic worker that showed us the apartment, we signed a lease for Apartment B, thinking it was Apartment A. BECAUSE the non-English speaking Hispanic worker who showed us Apartment A told us that it was Apartment B. We sign a lease which states on the top: Apartment B....all the while having happy thoughts about Apartment A. Following me?

Apartment B is half the size, has no closet, and has a small window that looks directly out to a brick wall on every side, with light coming in from above.

And that is what our lease, signed with happy thoughts, stated on the top: Apartment B.


Thursday, September 20, 2007

Ha Ha H-HA Ha!

I got to see an advanced screening of the Jesse James movie last night.

An advanced screening, by invitation only.

Yeah, me!

My friend temps for some big exec over at MTV, and when he got his invite in the mail, he didn't want to go and handed it over to her. And she called me. So we sat in a mini movie theatre with other big time entertainment execs on the 10th floor of the Time Warner Building, and watched a movie before anybody else in the city! I did glance around for famous people, but I beheld none. I guess you gotta be at the big shmoozy premiers for that. All in good time, all in good time. Ha.


That brings me to another point here. Everyone in this city tells these celebrity sighting stories, and so far I've seen zilch. Nada. No one. Famous, that is. Oh well. I did see The Monk (don't know his real name, sadly) in a restaurant when I was here with my mom. But that's it. None since we've lived here.

However, I did witness a crazy scene on the street at Broadway and 83rd. A woman, she looked Middle Eastern, was shouting at the top of her lungs. CALL THE POLICE! CALL THE POLICE!! GET AWAY FROM ME! SOMEBODY, CALL THE POLICE. I couldn't see her at first because of the crowd gathered around her. I saw New Yorkers around me stop walking, look over at the scene, and take out their phones. Then they slowly but surely made their way over to the large crowd. I did the same, except I didn't talk out my phone. Figured enough people had called 911 already. And when I got there, I saw this gigantic black woman practically on top of this Middle Eastern woman, pinning her down, flat on the ground. The woman was screaming and squirming. Her eyes bloodshot and crazy.

So I ask this woman next to me what happened.

And she said that the Middle Eastern woman and a man, perhaps her husband, were coming out of the store, and supposedly had stolen something from the store. The woman had a baby in her arms. Well, the security guard started pulling on the woman and tackeling her...with the baby still in the woman's arms. So she goes crazy, hands the baby over to the man, and tells him to run, while the woman screams for the police because this security guard was about to harm her baby.

Whacked out is what I say.

The New Yorkers were all mad at the security guard for tackeling this woman with the baby, and I'm thinking, well if the woman's gonna rob a store with a baby in her arms....maybe she should think twice and leave the kid at home.

I know. She may not have stolen anything, and if that were the case, well then, the security guard's got some 'splaining to do.

Oh, and yesterday morning, while crossing the intersection at Amsterdam, I stepped on someone's thong.


Friday, September 14, 2007

Bed Bugs

No we don't have them (knock on wood, EVERYONE!!). But Seth finally told me last night that there's a rumor going around our building that someone downstairs reported bed bugs. He didn't tell me for a while because I am deathly scared of bed bugs. I've never had them (knock on wood, EVERYONE, PLEEEEASE!!!!). I'm almost as scared of them as I am of crickets. I hate crickets. Mostly because of a traumatic experience as a child. I woke up (I think I was 3 or something, already in a big girl bed) to the loudest chirping ever. I mean, LOUD. Right by my ear loud.

I screamed bloody murder and scurried out of bed to run to my parents room. I wasn't sure where in my room the cricket was, and at the last minute, right before running out of my room, I thought the cricket might be in the doorway. So...I decided to jump through the doorway, and in doing so, missed the open doorway and jumped into the wooden panneled side of the doorway. It really hurt. But it didn't phase me. I just kept running.

My parents had heard my scream and met me in the living room.

"There's a cricket! A cricket's in my room! Help me! Help!" I pleaded.

My parents walked me into my room and turned the light on. My dad found the cricket, which was nestled into the stuffed animals to the left of my bed. My dad asked me if I had seen the cricket.

"Uh-huh," I weepily nodded, and really thought I had.

"How big was the cricket?" my dad asked, with a slight grin, which at the time, I didn't understand at all. This wasn't funny,

"It was this big!" and I spread my little 3-year-old arms as wide as they would go.

I didn't sleep by myself for weeks. I couldn't. There might be a cricket in my bed. I woke my parents up night after night to sleep with them. Sometimes my mom brought her alarm clock into my room and slept with me. One night, they grew tired of the shenanagin, and tried locking me out of their room, in hopes I'd just give up and go to bed.

Nope. I pounded and wailed and pleaded. And I got my way.

Finally, my parents had the exterminator come out. My mom told me that this man was going to go everywhere in our house and kill all the crickets.

"Really?" I asked. I couldn't believe it. I was so happy.

I followed the exterminator around the entire time and made sure he went through the entire house.

That night I slept like a baby....all by myself. I slept on my side, hugging my knees to my chest, curled into a very tight ball, just in case the man missed a cricket in my bed.

So you see, the idea of bed bugs thoroughly scares the bageebees out of me. Seth checked last night. The coast was clear, and I slept fine. Then this morning, who appeared at our door, but TWO exterminators! Glorious!

Monday, September 10, 2007

After One Week....

This city is like an abusive boyfriend. (Note I didn't say abusive husband lest you fear for my safety in Seth's care. All is well and good in the Ward Hobbit Hole) But really, when it's bad it can be really stinkin' harsh. Take, for instance, sitting on a hot day in a restaurant with no air conditioning. Or blisters the size of Texas on your feet. Or sitting in an audition room for 5 hours just waiting to get seen so you can sing for 1 minute for a man who's already heard 200 good singers in the 5 hours you waited. Or the cazillion steps climbed in a day's excursion. Fitting two lives into 250 square feet.

But when it's good, it's so good that the bad is readily forgiven, maybe too quickly forgiven? It's the walk in Central Park on a gorgeous Sunday afternoon. It's Cafe Lalo down the street with the most amazing chocolate mousse cake. It's not worrying about the chocolate mousse cake because of the cazillion steps. It's sitting in a Sunday night church service and feeling that you belong completely. It's the one minute of singing after the five hours of waiting. It's coming home to the most cozy 250 square feet imaginable. The satisfaction of conquering, of overcoming, all of the bad that one day could muster.

So I take it back. It's not like an abusive boyfriend at all. It's real, soul-searching, soul-testing life, and it's worth living.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Coming Up for Air...

via McDonalds on Broadway and 81st.

We have no internet in our apartment, which we have now dubbed...

The Ward Hobbit Hole on West 83rd Row

A lyric awaits you here.