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2003-11-14 - 1:41 a.m.

Home Sweet Home!!

Oh yes oh yes oh baby, hot diggety dog, wunderbar, and hallelujah. I HAVE FOUND AN APARTMENT! And believe me you baby, that ain't no small feat in this city.

I have now been in New York for about 11 days. In that time K and I were both struck by culture shock and flu. New York City basically greeted us in its typical fashion - the mental equivalent of being punched in the mouth.

Some of the apartments in this town represent the most unbelievable crap for a supposedly developed nation. I guess the "developed nation" part of it means that they almost have running water, and the windows almost keep out the cold air, and the roof was almost repaired once.. and mostly it means that they are allowed to charge $2000/month for a closet. There are advertisements on the subway about the rampant middle-class poverty in this city - people choose between paying for rent or health care. There is something wrong with this picture.

But before I get on my political health care high story goes that I ALMOST rented a place for $2000 per month with the idea that I would go back to my glorious student days of housemates and shared telephones...but this deal fell through at the last minute thanks to my incompetent real estate agent (who nevertheless planned to charge me $3600 for her inept services).

In the end I am SO GLAD that it fell through, because I found a smaller, lovely spacious and quiet WONDERFUL 2-bedroom place with hardwood floors, a garden in the back, and the most adorable landlords (a lovely retired Chinese couple who are into landscaping). I don't need to own a car! I can commute to the college easily by bus and to the city by subway! Plus, it is a mere, affordable $1450 per month!

(Sorry to harp on the money, folks, but I still have recovered from the fact that the City of New York formally attached a FAUCET to my money supply and it has been streaming out FULL BLAST since I got here).

But indeed, the shock of New York does wear off after a little bit. 7 bucks for two cups of coffee and a donut begins to feel normal. And in fact, the day after I found my little domestic paradise, the entire city changed. All of a sudden, everyone was friendly. The streets seemed quieter, the clouds drifted apart and the sun reappeared! (I may be exaggerating a little, but that's how it felt in my heart...)

But you may be wondering what has struck me the most about this town. Apart from my complaints about the rental market, and the unbelievable noise noISE nOISE NOISE!!!, the shocks have hit me in some strange places.

(1) I have simply lost my instinct for where to find things like newspapers, groceries, drugs, supplies. It's weird. It takes forever for me to figure out which shop has what.

(2) paper cups. everywhere with the paper cups. Just ONCE I would like to sit down and drink my coffee out of a REAL CUP. How can you possibly drink a proper capuccino out of a paper cup???

(3) television everywhere. in every store. Just once I would like to sit down in a QUIET place without advertisements, CNN, FOX, or MTV, where the only thing trying to stimulate me are my thoughts and those of the person I'm with.

(4) the friendliness. I remember that New Yorkers were abrasive, complaining,and rude. Now people hold doors open for me and smile at each other on the subway. In two weeks of course I've witnessed some typical behaviors...but I've also seen so many small and simple acts of kindness. People have told me that it's a different city since September 11, 2001. I would have never believed it until I felt it.

(5) diversity. Hallelujah! diversity. Diversity in Germany basically means the Turkish family running the kebap store on the corner. At the real estate office in Queens, on one afternoon alone, I heard 4 languages apart from English. Sitting on the subway and seeing so many different beautiful shapes and shades of faces and hair - it's a feast for my eyes. (although, of course, you don't stare on the subway. ahem.)

In other words, maybe I've taken a step in the right direction...hallelujah, I have a place to live!

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