Quiet on the Set!

First things first, I’ve been sick.  I started coming down with a cough about ten days ago, just before we attended a wedding in St. Louis.  I’m guessing that the illness started with a raid-sodden shopping trip around Columbus Circle, where we ended up walking around for hours looking for food and a Staples, with my shoes holding the equivalent of Lake Champlain.  After getting back from Missouri, the cough settled in and essentially rendered me useless for a week.  While it’s still hanging around, I’m doing much better.  I’ve even left the apartment a couple times!

It was on my emergence from my self-imposed quarantine when I noticed two signs on our street.  The first one was a series of white posters announcing that our street would be closed to traffic over Labor Day weekend.  The reason?  The street will be occupied by a crane, which will be working on, of all buildings, mine.  It’ll be interesting to see how construction works in the city.  I mean, I’ve walked under my fair share of scaffoldings, and seen guys with jackhammers breaking up pavement, but I haven’t really seen the heavy equipment in action.  I’m also curious what kind of work will be happening on our building.  Central air?  Roof garden?  Helipad?  They all seem about as likely.  But still, it should be interesting.

The second sign was an announcement that our street would be closed for parking on Monday in order to facilitate a movie being shot on our street.  The sign only listed the date, times, and production company, but a little quick internet research showed that it was for a film called Growing Up (and Other Lies), a little independent movie being filmed by NY Challenge Productions, starring Adam Brody and Amber Tamblyn, so no one special.  As a new New Yorker, I was unsure what my reaction should be: excited that an actual movie was being shot outside my apartment or that it took three weeks for it to happen.

The actual filming was kind of interesting.  I didn’t make it out until later in the day, but the shoot was still happening.  I’m not exactly sure what the scene was about, but I think it had something to do with crossing Broadway.  Deep stuff.  Both girlfriend and I ended up seeing Adam Brody, who looks way different than his OC and Gilmore Girls days.  It wasn’t until I left the area that I saw the sign saying that by entering the area I was consenting to be in the film–which seems a little sketchy from a legal standpoint but isn’t really an issue for me.  It might be kind of neat to be walking across the street in a low-budget, low-distribution film.  However, it’s probably more likely that my girlfriend will be coming to a theatre near you, as she ended up standing next to Adam Brody and crossing the street with him.  Get your tickets soon!

One side note, my illness did push back one of the reasons for writing this blog–the 50 walks of New York.  I’m still planning on taking these walks, hopefully starting this weekend.  First on the list is Battery Park. 


The Long Arm of Mediacom

It’s been a little over two weeks since we moved to New York, and there’s one little thing that’s bugging the crap out of me.  It’s Mediacom, that wonderful little cable/internet company that services areas not large or important enough to attract competition from real cable/internet companies.  During the past five years, I put up with periodic outages, poor or unusable customer service, odd billing practices, and one mistaken disconnection that was not resolved for five days (nor were we compensated for that loss of service).  While I was annoyed, I also didn’t feel like there was a better alternative, based primarily on my aversion to DSL.  But once I learned we were moving to New York, I was counting down the days until I’d be able to leave Mediacom behind and fall into the warm embrace of Time Warner cable–if that gives you an idea of how much I hate Mediacom.

Yet here I am, sitting in New York, with a brand new bill from Mediacom, complete with our new address we gave them when we closed the account.  The day we left Columbia, I brought our cable box and our modem to the local office to close our account.  After a brief wait, I spoke briefly with a woman who was clearly unhappy to be in the office on a Saturday morning.  However, she was fast and polite, and gave me a receipt stating the amount of the refund we would be receiving.  Considering the matter closed, I thanked her, came back to the house, and rolled out onto I-70 to start our new life in our new city.

It was last week when we received our mysterious bill, just in time for us to head out to St. Louis for a wedding.  An initial call was met with a brusque declaration that we did owe the amount our bill stated, followed by a quick hang-up on the operator’s part.  My call yesterday was even less informative, as they were experiencing “a heavy call volume,” followed by a suggestion that I call back some other time.  It was at that point that I realized we might be dealing with someone who was doding the landlord to avoid paying rent.

I finally got a hold of an operator today, after a relatively short wait (but not before using their annoying speaking interface, which never fails to make me feel like a fool).  She noted that yes, the equipment had been returned, and that we would be receiving the refund the woman in Columbia quoted me.  However, and here’s the kicker, the cable had not yet been disconnected from the house.  I was confused, obviously, since it had been over two weeks since we cancelled our service.  Moreover, somoeone else had moved into our duplex, and as he is a friend of ours, we know he has received internet access.  Are they going to come over to his house and disconnect the service while he’s using it?  Will it take them five days to reconnect him?  What exactly is their plan?

Naturally, I was a bit upset at this information, as well as the fact that they would not be sending us our refund check until 4-6 weeks after the service had been disconnected.  When I tried to find out if there was a scheduled date for disconnection, the operator told me that it should be in the next couple weeks, but that she had no information about when it was scheduled to take place–that was all handled at the local office, to which she naturally had no way of connecting me, including even a local phone number.  I finally tracked one down, but they’re apparently overburdened by a “digital conversion,” which I’m assuming has something to do with turning sinners into zeros and ones.

In short, we have a bill that is due in the next two weeks that we are supposed to ignore, while we wait “about two weeks” for a seemingly illogical disconnection that has not yet been scheduled, according to available information, after which we will receive a check which will be sent 4 to 6 weeks after this supposed disconnection, which I would not be suprised to see written in disappearing ink and accompanied by a note saying “gotcha!”  On some level, I’d be happy to get just that, if only so I can finally leave that terrible, terrible company in the past.

One Week In

As my girlfriend’s dad pointed out to me tonight, Monday will mark one full week since we officially moved to New York.  It’s been pretty good so far, although most of our activities so far have revolved around getting the apartment put together (rather literally) and making sure that girlfriend is ready to start school on Monday.  What that means is that we just haven’t had a whole lot of time to “do” New York, except for the Top of the Rock, courtesy of girlfriend’s parents.  But even within this rather limited sphere, I’ve noticed a couple things that are a bit different about life in NY.  Here they are.

1) It’s hard to throw away trash.

The rules governing trash and recycling collection are pretty clearly spelled out on New York’s website.  The kinds of trash to recycle, the color bags and packaging procedures, and the collection days are all readily available, and seem pretty reasonable.  The trouble comes with the execution.  First, no one told us where to actually deposit trash and recycling in between collections, which was a particular problem for us since we had so much refuse from moving.  We located the trash/incinerator chute, but the size of the opening (tiny) was inversely proportionate to the list of restrictions (huge) covering acceptable waste.  I finally managed to tie up our cardboard, but we still had to bag our paper goods in clear trash bags, which we were unable to locate in three different stores before giving up.  Instead, we used old dry cleaning bags and, I believe, an old yard waste bag that may or may not have been yard waste-free.

In any case, I did manage to get in touch with the super, specifically as I was hauling my last load of recycling down to the back of the building, where he told me I could put those bags with the rest.  Thanks, Manuel.

2) Laundry in building does not mean laundry anytime (or at any cost).

In both the dorms and in my first apartment after college, I had laundry in the building, although not in my room/apartment.  In both cases, the laundry room was open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  It was nice, having these machines at my beck and call whenver I desired a clean shirt or freshened socks, knowing that they would always welcome my quarters, which I gladly gave in exchange for their service.  Here, however, our laundry (in fact, the basement) has hours, and they’re primarily daytime.  During the week, the laundry room closes at seven, moving to 6 on the weekends.  On one level, I’m happy to have laundry in the building at all–I know I’d rather work around hours than have to schlep my stuff to the laundromat just to do a load.  But when you’re expecting that same loving embrace of the 24-hour laundry room, it’s a bit of a shock when you get the cold shoulder of an elevator refusing to go where you want.

Oh, and quarters.  The machines don’t take quarters.  This I learned, of course, after I went to the bank and bought $20 in quarters.  This was obviously my fault for not checking first, and I accept full responsibility for that setback.  What was more unexpected was the Hercules card system, which requires buying a money card for $5, which you then have to load with money afterwards.  Oh, did I mention that you can only buy the card with a five dollar bill?  Sure, you can load it with a five, ten, or twenty, but in order to buy the card, it had to be a five.  Which we did not have.  Eventually, I was able to do a load of laundry, but by the time I was done, I felt like I should have had more to show for it than a basketful of clothes.  A trophy, maybe.

3) You miss a lot on the day you stay in your apartment.

So today was the first day of med school orientation for girlfriend, which of course meant a scavenger hunt throughout Manhattan.  Their group did not win (that prize went to the group that met Tina Fey in Central Park and got a photo with her), but it did take them down to Times Square, where they encountered a parade for “Dominican Day.”  I was in our apartment in Washington Heights, highly populated with Dominicans.  While girlfriend was out, I did hear more police whistles and thumping Latin beats than normal, but I simply attributed these events to it being a weekend.  After all, people live it up in New York, don’t they?  It’s supposed to be crazy!  Meanwhile, girlfriend and her hunting partners were trying to make their way uptown on the 1 train, which was completely full of drummers, mummers, and other celebrants, who proceeded to pound their drums, sing, and generally make noise from 42nd to 168th, all in a tiny metal tube rumbling underground, at which point they emerged from the subway en masse and poured into the street.

What did I notice, you might ask?  Absolutely nothing, until girlfriend opened the door and showed me her photos from the subway, and stories of how crazy the train ride was, and the increased police presence on our street, and the general exuberance of the neighborhood.  By the time we left to meet her parents downtown for dinner, everything had calmed down, and it was like nothing had happened.  It’s like they say in Avenue Q, there is cool shit to do, but it won’t come to you.

There are the first few things I noticed since Monday, and while they may sound kind of whiny, they’re all part of learning a new city, and so far I’m loving it.  From the food to the atmosphere to the apartment itself, I don’t think we could have ended up in a better situation.  Ernie Hudson said it right–I love this city!

New York?

Web Log.

Hello, and welcome to my web log, or “blog.”  If you know me, then you probably know that I recently moved to New York (although if you don’t know me, that should be pretty clear to you as of now).  Less than a week ago, my girlfriend and I moved from Missouri to the city for her to start medical school.  What am I doing?  Well, I’ll be working on my dissertation for the most part, and looking for whatever theatrical opportunities come my way.  I might also be working on other things–music, writing, and perhaps some quality time-wasting on Minecraft.

So what is this whole blog about?  Well, there are a couple of things I’d like to accomplish.  First, since I’ve now left friends and family behind in two states, I thought a blog might be a nice way to help keep them updated on the comings and goings in the Empire State (as far as they affect me, of course.  I have very little stake in what happens in Albany or Buffalo).  I’ll be sharing important events, interesting experiences, and general observations associated with moving from the Midwest to the big city.  As a disclaimer, I don’t consider myself some kind of bumpkin; while Columbus, Ohio is not exactly on the same scale as NYC, it does possess its urban elements–and it has a pro hockey team.  But there’s bound to be a lot of things that require some adjustment, some of which I’ve already discovered (a quick tease for the next entry!).

The second goal for this blog comes thanks to my girlfriend.  After her med school interview at Columbia, she brought me a box of cards listing fifty walks in New York City.  It was about two weeks ago, though, that she suggested I go on those walks and write a blog about them.  While I loved the idea, I realized that a) I’m terrible about regularly updating, which I think would be required of that kind of blog; and b) my interests and moods range much too widely for me to focus on one topic.  So for better or worse, I decided to diversify from this original idea.  However, I do still plan to complete the fifty walks during my time here in New York, whether it’s for four years of medical school or beyond.

I think the main reason for the blog, though, is to exercise my writing muscles.  I’ve been working on this dissertation for a couple years now, although I feel a little disingenuous saying that.  It might be more accurate to say I started writing my dissertation two years ago, and at this point I feel further behind than when I began.  This blog, I hope, will help keep me focused on my dissertation goals while giving me an alternative outlet for writing, one less dry than what I fear my dissertation will become.

So in essence, this is a selfish blog.  I hope you all get something out of it, but it might at times get a little self-centered and esoteric.  But then again, what blog isn’t?

In perhaps the worst segue possible, you should also check out my girlfriend’s blog, Two Afternoons a Week.  She is hoping to write twice a week to update friends and family on the whole New York experience with a med school flair.