Category Archives: apartment living

Horrors of Hoarding

I once lived in an apartment where the tenant passed away inside the apartment. But the Fire Department couldn’t get INTO the apartment to get her out.

Because she was a hoarder.

When this lady died, or whenever she was discovered, the Fire Department showed up in droves. There must have been two or three trucks, and twenty guys. I remember peeking out the peephole to see one fireman after another, heading up the stairs and turning the corner, holding axes and whatever else they have to use.

When they finally removed her, and her hoarding, the hoarded items were left in the garbage area on the first floor.

When I say I had never seen anything like this in my life, I have to think that most people haven’t either.

There were floor to ceiling stacks, each thing was stacked inside itself, of:

Quart size containers (that you’d get Egg Drop soup in)
Half gallon ice cream containers
Magazines (from who knows how far back)
Newspapers (stacks and stacks and stacks)

It was absolutely unbelievable.

Days later we had knocks at the door asking if we wanted to be exterminated.


The plus of moving so much – me – is that it gives me a chance to go through my stuff and eliminate. I like to say I move lightly! But this woman had lived in this apartment for nearly 50 years. She had plenty of time to collect a lot of stuff…and not throw anything out.

Outdoor Space, a Washing Machine, OH MY!

I recently had a conversation with a friend and we were talking about what people in the burbs must think about city living. Like, having to take specs in order to be sure a couch will fit…not just in the apartment but actually in the building, stairs or elevator…is something people in the burbs probably never have to worry about.

Two other luxuries (luxuries to me anyway!) that people in the burbs may take for granted because I am sure they have both are:
1) Washer and dryer
2) Outdoor space

I spent so much time doing my own laundry in laundromats. Hot, steamy laundromats covered in massive amounts of lint and filled with some strange people. And who knew what had been in the carts used to move laundry from the washer to the dryer. [Good thing this was before I was skeeved out by the mere mention of the word ‘bed bugs.’]

Years into apartment living, I learned about wash and fold and I never went back. [Except to wash things that couldn’t be dried in the dryer.] And then, a couple of moves later I found ones that delivered! Yes, they picked up my dirty laundry and returned it, usually the same day, clean and folded.

Wash and fold is not for the faint of heart. One, you are giving your clothes, your CLOTHES to a perfect stranger. Two, those clothes undoubtedly include underwear so if you have a thing about strangers washing your skivvies, it could be a problem. And three, you may not get everything back.

One and two I had no problem with. I can pay you to do my least favorite chore? Sure! Three, I always wondered what would go missing. I always counted how many pieces I sent out. Problem was, I never itemized, I only counted. So unless I was looking nd wondering where (said item) was, I probably wasn’t going to notice. Sure, I have a lot of mismatched socks, but I always figured that was the cost of entry.

I did have washing machines and dryers in the basement of two buildings I had lived in. At one point I even lived above a laundromat. However, my current apartment is the first apartment since I have been back in the States where I have a washer and a dryer IN my apartment. It is amazing.

I did have a washer/dryer in kitchen of my flat in London. It was a smaller version of an old school front loader. But, you couldn’t open it until it washed and dried. So if you wanted to wash something, and hang it to dry, tough. You would have to wash it by hand because this machine just didn’t work like that. And it was great. To have a machine in my home that would wash my clothes? I didn’t realize that I wouldn’t have that luxury again for nearly ten more years.

Key takeaway #1: Make sure anywhere I live moving forward has a washer and dryer, a seemingly small, but lovely, luxury.

Apartment living can be claustrophobic at times. In fact, I once lived in an apartment that if you sat on the toilet in the bathroom and opened the door (which would hit your knees) you could see the entire apartment. And this, this was a two bedroom.

I’ve lived in a converted two bedroom (into a three) with six other roommates. I’ve lived in an apartment with two roommates where we each had our own room but the only common areas were the galley kitchen, tiny bathroom and the foyer. There was no living room…that was one of the bedrooms!

I lived in an apartment that had bars on the windows. Not sure how we’d get out in a fire. I also lived in an apartment that was wrapped in scaffolding for nearly three years. It was like having black netting draped over the windows. It never really got sunny because there was always a black haze over the place.

So now, having a balcony, even its small size, is an absolute treat.

I always said that NYC was my backyard. But that’s a congested backyard with people pushing and shoving into my personal space. Not quite the idyllic backyard of my childhood.

Now, having personal outdoor space, I cannot believe I went so many years without it. It’s truly wonderful when the weather is great, but even in the depths of winter, I always stuck my head out — because I could. And in the summer, it’s as good as you think it would be.

Key takeaway #2: Make sure anywhere I live moving forward has outdoor space, a seemingly small, but lovely, luxury.

When I watch House Hunters International, it’s all about priorities and figuring out what you can budge on, and what’s an absolute must have. I don’t want a McMansion. Hell, I don’t even need two bathrooms. I’ve lived in such small quarters for so many years that I don’t even know what I would do with the extra space.

But I refuse to budge on the washer/dryer and outdoor space. Pretty simple asks should I ever move to the burbs. City living…it may be asking a lot.

Goings on in the Hudson River

Last night, there was quite a commotion on the Hudson River.

The sweltering temperature had dropped drastically, the Hudson River had whitecaps and it was eerily quiet.

But not for long.

About fifteen boats, some big, some small, some official looking, some not showed up in my view.

The boats were traveling in a circle for a bit. At first it looked like it could have been a search and rescue mission. There were lots of horns honking at various intervals.

Eventually the boats made their way up the river in a procession. They did some more honking.

Then the boats started to go their separate ways.

I guess that was in preparation for this.

As you can see here, a boat with loads of water starting spewing water everywhere.

The boats kept moving farther and farther away from the water spewing boat.


And then it was done.

A Google News search shows nothing. My neighbor, who also watched, thought it might be a funeral procession for someone in the maritime industry.

If it was, I hope he or she rests in peace.

If it wasn’t, I’m very curious. I’ve seen a lot of stuff happen on the river, but that whole show was a first.


I love summer. I love everything about it.

What I don’t love is walking through the streets of NYC…and getting dripped on from above.

I know it’s (hopefully) the condensation from the air conditioning unit that’s in the windows around town but there’s just something so gross about it.

Batten Down the Hatches?

We had a tornado warning in NYC last night. The sky looked like a gorgeous shade of a pink and purple mix.


Um. I live on the top floor of an apartment building. How does one in the NYC area batten down the hatches?

You don’t want to go crazy because this is not tornado alley…but after seeing what happened recently in Missouri and Alabama, you don’t want to mess around.

But…this is not like the Wizard of Oz. We don’t have basements and tornado shelters much less tornado drills. All I’ve got is a bathroom with no windows and a bottle of wine.

Ultimately, the preparation I did was to flatten our foldable chairs and foldable table on the balcony. I brought in the smallest of the flower planters. And the grill is always tied to the balcony (the cover has already flown away once).

We can only hope for the best even though the sky looks crazy.

WHY? Wednesday

Why oh WHY did I live where I did!?

I’d like to think my friends and I had standards. Clearly, looking back on these stories I posted the past few days…we didn’t.

There will be more apartment stories…but be thankful you never lived in a hellhole with me. And if you did, well, we’ve got great stories!

Small Spaces

What you’ll put up with for location, location, location.

My first NYC apartment was in the East Village with two girls I met on Craigslist. The apartment was a converted two bedroom. As in converted into three bedrooms making the only common areas the hallway, the “kitchen” and the bathroom. For three girls on different schedules, it was perfect.

[By “kitchen” I mean two wooden countertops on either side of you and a fridge.]

I’ll never forget my uncle, who hadn’t been to NYC in over twenty years, said, this is where you live? In a room? My bed and my couch all fit in this cozy space. He was flabbergasted. My response was that NYC was my living room!

In another apartment, in the Village, my brother-in-law, who had never seen a NYC apartment, other than the ones that Monica, Rachel, Ross, Phoebe, Chandler and Joey lived in…opened one of my closet doors (which happened to be in the living room) and as he opened it, said, is this your dining room? Obviously once he opened the door, he realized that the apartments featured on Friends were not real NYC apartments.

In that same village apartment, there was no oven. Really, let’s be honest. The kitchen in the East Village looked like a gourmet’s kitchen compared to this one. The ‘kitchen’ here was literally a countertop with some cabinets…in the foyer.

My mom, before seeing the apartment, said maybe it’s an old building (which it was) and maybe the oven is hidden in the wall that you can’t see. Um. Not so much. Under the mini stove, where you would typically find an oven, was a mini fridge. Stainless steel and granite countertops, which was great for um…aesthetics?