Friday, 1 October 2010

"Is that guy your boyfriend? Because if you're living here I don't want any couply stuff"

I got home at an acceptable hour this evening to find my bed had tripled in size. My 'bed' being a futon mattress, this upwards expansion signalled that although I might sleep comfortably this evening, it was going to be as means of a swansong in my current steal of a gorgeous, taxidermy-filled Williamsburg flat. Believe it or not (easily unbelieved, due to the poor blogging show), tomorrow will mark four weeks of having lived in New York. Four weeks also being the length of my current dream sublet.

Last weekend was a horrific blur of relentless flat-hunting. Like most things in New York, once you've done it here, it will seem an absolute breeze in most other English-speaking western countries. If I thought most aspects of my young adult life have been fraught with competition: surviving the UCAS lottery, battling it out for work experience and competition places, finding even summer jobs, let alone the graduate malarkey in the laughably competitive world of journalism - renting a nice, inexpensive apartment outside of a ghetto in New York is way up there.

It works like this: the weekend before you become homeless, you search frantically on a website called The Craigslist. Known for being riddled with scammers and people who will spam you forever more (my old email account answers only to people who say I've won a lottery or that I need to help them), The Craigslist is also the most effective means of finding accommodation in this insane city. So, up at 9am to check the darned thing, scouting for listings that are spelt correctly, aren't in BedStuy and are within my price range. Cue string of slightly desperate emails emphasising the fact that 'I'm a British intern at Nylon magazine, freshly graduated from university and a respectful, clean, laid-back and fun roommate'. Cue a handful of phone calls, followed by hurried appointments being made in moleskines. At 85% of the doors I turned up at, both myself and the renter had trusty moleskines in hand. The shame. Arguably, most of these places were in Williamsburg or Clinton Hill, but there's nothing like living up to a cliche.

So, on a totally beautiful freakishly hot weekend, when essentially all the trains that service Brooklyn were out of service, I entered strangers' (of varying weirdness, the title is a real-life quote from one of them) and nosed around making unnecessarily polite musing noises whilst thinking where the nearest exit was. Of course, I ended up taking the place I had first looked at. Because the extra sting in the tail of NY apartment hunting is that it is essentially a personality contest. One reasonably priced room in the heart of 'touristy Williamsburg' as New Yorker friend calls it, (rather than the Hispanic grubby outskirts) gained fifty responses within hours of the craigslist post. I had made the lucky first six to view it. If they like you, they call you. It's not even the case that if you like an apartment you can say 'yes please, here is my money'. It's like apartment speed-dating, except you're about a four on the hot scale and the person you're trying to pull is a ten. I was lucky -  all it took for me to find a match in a swish Bushwick penthouse was a weekend - albeit a hungover, sleep-deprived, sweaty weekend. On the plus side, I know a lot more about Brooklyn's geography now, having walked a cumulative 25 miles.

I also know a fair bit more about the Lower East Side's weekend nightlife, after a nocturnal two-on-a-bike jaunt around it last Saturday. The bike was called The Love Tycoon and belonged to fellow Nylon intern Caitlin Smith. To ease the pain of her fleeing New York on a rainy day to the bohemian lure of her native San Francisco, I've been taking the new-in-town graphic design zine intern Holly Black out to a series of  Williamsburg date places we didn't realise were quite so candlelit upon entering. As a result, we had to head to the grime of Monster Island to watch Kevin Morby play and for me to pretend to be a Nylon TV camerawoman, and renowned dive bar Levees for $10 pitchers - just to set the tone back comfortably. 

This week's discoveries include:
- SoHo's answer to Ben's Cookies in the form of Vesuvio Bakery. I fear now I've discovered their cookies, I won't be able to stop.
- That tbs is on channel 8 at breakfast time, which means SAVED BY THE BELL. The original crowd. ON TV. It's like I'm eight again, except now I can really appreciate the retro fashion and poor script-writing to the best level. From tomorrow I'm not going to live anywhere with a TV, but it was sweet while it lasted.
- That ridiculously posh SoHo deli Dean & Deluca may play classical music and force their staff to wear chef hats, but will serve up a mighty fine bagel a lot cheaper than any bagel cart in town.
- That you can buy blankets with faces of varying North American animals on (wolf, bear, lion - not strictly from America -stag) in K Mart for under $20.    

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