Monday, April 25, 2005

Good morning to you, too!

I was filing off the train this morning, and a short, kinda shabby-looking guy was standing right in the middle of the moving crowd, handing out pamphlets of some sort. (Ever since I figured out that the "Free Stress Test" in Grand Central was really a cover for the Dianetic extremists, I rarely answer anyone calling out to me or take the papers people try to shove into my hands.)

So this little guy was trying to get folks to take his handout, and most everyone was just brushing past him on their way to Starbucks. I was about five people away from him when I realized he was chanting "Bitch, bitch, bitch" to everyone who didn't take his pamphlet. (Except in his accent, it sounded like he was saying Beech, beech, beech.) So when I walked by him, I put my hands up and said, "Oh, no, I'm a beech, too. Sorry."

That just made my day.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005


Sir Mix A-lot's Baby Got Back is my favorite workout song right now. It's perfect for the last leg-burning, jiggle-fighting hill on the elliptical machine at the gym. I'm pooped by that time, but I get a burst of energy when that song comes on.

I mean, who doesn't love a man who's got a weakness for curves?

"You can do sidebends or sit-ups, but please don't lose that butt!"

No problem.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Houses and homes, pt. 2

Following a weekend of butchering my diet with Grimaldi's pizza under the Brooklyn Bridge... the history of my dwellings continues:

16. After living in Arkansas for my entire conscious life, I sent the matching bedroom suite back to El Dorado, sold everything that wouldn't fit in my Corolla and moved to the New Orleans. Grandmother helped me find a dreamy carriage-house apartment in the Garden District. It was beautiful with lots of natural light, a skinny gallery kitchen and an orange tree in the back yard. I paid $500 a month and lived across the street from Commander's Palace. Big groups of tourists would come by the house and take pictures on their walking tours because my place was part of the Five Sisters. I'm sure lots of those tourists got home with pictures of me sitting on my front stoop, reading a good book and ashing cigarettes into a flower pot behind my gardenias.

17. I moved across town to Mid-City after I discovered an open apartment on Grand Route St. John, between the bayou and the Jazz Fest horse track. It was the ultimate neighborhood with built-in friends next door, a tiny Whole Foods store down the street, and the city's best paella on the next block. For $300 a month, I lived in a two-room apartment on the second floor of a mansion. Mary painted the bathroom to look like a springtime sky, and she lived there with me for one glorious summer. And my cat, Poydras, loved the place, too. His most favorite trick was to run downstairs and set off the ear-splitting burglar alarm. Good times...

18. When I decided to leave New Orleans, I sold everything that couldn't be crammed back into the Corolla. Thanks to, I had already set up a place to live in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, with some roommates. But that deal didn't work out because the roommate who I was supposed to replace suddenly died there at the apartment building. He fell from the roof in the early morning and shocked his two best friends who had been living there with him. It was startling to me because he was the one to sell me on the place, and I had gotten along so well with him on the phone. The two remaining roommates didn't want to live there after that tragedy, so we all went our separate ways.
So I arrived in New York City with no plans about where to live. But thanks again to Craigslist, within about four hours I had found a tiny bedroom to rent in a three-bedroom apartment in Bed-Sty. It was a good place to get started on the scene, since any subway line I line I'll ever use will be better than the one I used there. The G Train just sucks. But for $645 a month, I got a living room big enough to serve as a dance floor and a Kosher kitchen that had two sinks and plenty of room to store all the kitchen goodies I so love.
And finally....
19. My current apartment is a tiny gem. It's the location, mostly. It sits half a block away from the Promende's freakishly beautiful view of Lower Manhattan, and the subway that stops two blocks over puts me in Midtown in about 20 minutes. For $1,300 a month, I got a one-room studio, painted sort of buttercream yellow, with the kitchen along one side and ceilings that are at least 15 feet high. It's only 1/5 the size of my other Brooklyn apartment, but in the week that I've been there, I've already had more visitors than I ever had in my other place. The two big windows face East, and I start smiling as soon as I wake up with the sun shining through the curtains. I'm digging it.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Houses and homes, pt. 1

In honor of my new tiny-but-expensive apartment, let me just recap the history of my dwellings.

1. I came into consciousness living in a single-wide trailer in rural South Arkansas, just down the street from my kindergarten. I shared a room with my baby sister.
2. After a year or so, we moved to another single-wide trailer on a hill by Dixie Food Mart. I had my own room, but I would often wake up lying in front of the box fan that blocked the entrance to my parents’ room. I still have trouble falling asleep if the fan isn’t running at full blast.
3. When I was in the third grade, my folks moved us into town, to a brick house on Herron Drive in El Dorado. I got a huge room with green shag carpeting and a dock on a lake. It was like a playhouse.
4. In the fourth grade, I moved to Little Rock for a brief stay in a two-story townhouse. Mary and I bunked together again.
5. My family moved right back to the same house on Herron Drive sometime after our first blizzard in the city.
6. In the fifth grade, we moved back to the hill next to the convenience store. We settled into a log-cabin-covered double-wide trailer this time.
7. After my sister and I were damn near killed by a rope swing with a wooden seat that hung in the front yard, Mom and Dad broke the house into two pieces and hauled it out to a big grassy lot in the country. I was in the sixth grade, and the house still sits there today.
8. In college, I moved into a dorm room at Pomfret Hall at the University of Arkansas (Go Hogs!). I shared a room with a stranger from Texas. She watched me pierce my own ear and taught me how to shoot tequila poppers.
9. In the summer after my freshman year, I paid my first rent ($100 a month) to live on the living-room floor at a college buddy’s apartment.
10. For the first six weeks of my sophomore year, I lived in Pomfret Hall again, alone this time. Peanut butter toast with honey was a staple of my diet.
11. Then I fell in love and moved in with my new boyfriend practically on the second date. We lived in a huge house on a hill, and I paid something like $200 in rent for hardwood floors and three bedrooms.
12. When that was too much money to pay, we moved into the basement apartment of said beautiful house. I paid a mere $40 a month, but the place gushed water every time it rained.
13. Just after I graduated from college, I lived in my friend Brandi’s guest bedroom for two weeks.
14. After that, I rented my first solo apartment. It’s still the biggest place I’ve ever lived in alone. For $350 a month, I fit an overstuffed couch and loveseat in the living room. The bedroom had space for an entire furniture suite, including a princess bed, a gigantic bureau and two matching end tables. I even had my own washer and dryer. But for all that space, it was kind of a sad setup. Mothers moved their three kids there after their fathers suddenly disappeared on them. Newly immigrated Mexican families slept seven people on the living room floor while they looked for work at the nearby chicken plants. It was just a tough place to be.
15. To lighten things up, I painted my next apartment a pale shade of pink. It came with a bathroom small enough that you could shit, shower and shave all at once, but the place was a favorite. It ran about $300 a month. Mary lived there with me for a while, too. That always makes a house feel more like home.
To be continued…

Saturday, April 02, 2005

sunshiny days....

I'll share pictures when I get back to NYC tomorrow, but just know that New Orleans has been very good to me. (I'm sitting in the sun with a breeze blowing on my back.) I've made new memories with my old friends and realized that I have a permanent home here.