Category Archives: Apartment Life

What We Think We Know

From the 7-16-10 edition of Hoboken’s Progress…

It’s endlessly fascinating to me how we have learned to do the things we do, and how we go through life believing our ways are the only strategies to get something done. For one, my roommate has an affinity for using the freezer.

Every time I open it, I feel like I’m on an old school episode of Let’s Make A Deal: Behind Door Number #1 are three bottles of peach mandarin Vitamin Water, half drunk, and now frozen; Behind Door Number #2 is a box of Frosted Mini Wheats, almost frozen; and Behind Door Number #3 are a dozen, individually wrapped Italian rolls, which are freezing as we speak.

I’m incredibly entertained by this habit, probably inherited from her mother.

I too have learned behavior from my parents, such as the paranoid thought of having to unplug every appliance in the kitchen before I leave for work. Too many memories of my mom shrieking, Did we uplug the toaster?!? shortly followed by my dad turning the station wagon around on the parkway to make sure that the coffee maker and toaster were unplugged are permanently fixed into my brain. I unplug without even thinking.

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The Ways In Which We Know Our Neighbors…

From the May 7th issue of Hoboken’s Progress:

A U-Haul van parked in front of my apartment building was the excitement of last Saturday morning. I wracked my brain to think of who could be moving out, and in between sips of coffee and scrambled eggs with my roommates, we came to the decision that it had to be the one neighbor who has really made himself known to us—the heavy walker.

It’s quite odd that we live in such close quarters with people that we essentially know nothing about. In my building, where there are only three floors, in which each floor has one apartment, there are probably no more than nine people living in this building, and yet, if my neighbors were to stand in a line-up, I would have no idea how to identify them, unless of course, they had to run up and down a flight of stairs. Then I’d most likely be able to identify at least one neighbor—soon enough to be an ex-neighbor.

Perhaps my neighbor aspired to be an extra in STOMP, and carried out his trash this way...

If you’ve ever lived in an apartment, you’ve probably experienced hearing the unfortunate sound of someone who experiences gravity with a bit more pull than push than other human beings. It’s a heavy burden to bear, and it’s even worse for those who live under them.

Ever since I moved into this apartment, back in August 2008, as I’ve mentioned in this column many times, I’ve had to get use to a few certain eccentricities around the apartment: the rattling pipes that sound like Woody the Woodpecker, early morning showers void of hot water, and then some other odds and ends, like its donut shape, where walking back and forth between my closet and my room make me feel like I’m running for high school track.

But, I have also learned what it’s like to live with a heavy walker. I’ve also especially developed an closer relationship with him since one of my bedroom walls is on the other side of the stairwell. Like clockwork, I know when the heavy walker goes to work, gets home, goes to the gym, gets home, goes out, gets home, and well, pretty much every time he leaves and comes home, because I feel the need to “hit the deck!”

Not only is he a heavy walker, but he takes the stairs like he’s being timed during a relay race. There are no words to describe the sound and volume of this repetitive act.

It wasn’t until early evening that we figured it was the heavy-walker moving out, since all day Saturday we heard him, up and down the stairs, though each step was slower, due to the fact that he was carrying his possessions.

Dear heavy-walker, though I won’t miss hearing your daily schedule, I wish you the best.


A New Fact For The Resume

From the April 30th edition of Hoboken’s Progress:

When asked what your strengths and weaknesses are during a job interview, you need to be able to admit a weakness, but then try to make it sound like a strength. For example, if you happen to be a control freak, you’d spin it to sound like you are just painstakingly detail-oriented.

Lately, it has come to my attention that I have a weakness, which cannot be euphemized.

Ladies and gentlemen, I talk to myself. And no, I’m not wearing a Bluetooth.

This realization arrived slowly, but now my eyes are still wide, even 24 hours since I’ve made my discovery.

It started with a bug. (Stay with me.) Not a roach—but it was a water bug. The corners of mouth turn down as I type that, that word, “water bug.” I’m perpetually ill-equipped to kill or catch a bug due to my squeamishness.

Maria, my friend/roommie doesn’t help. In fact, we only egg each other’s screams on when we try to get rid of a bug. To my dismay, placing a bowl over a bug is only a short-term solution.

Long story short, the water bug that I had seen a few days earlier that mysteriously disappeared was found dead under a slipcover in our living room. Time of death, unknown, but the other roommie probably sat on it.

Regardless of it being dead and practically snapped in half, Maria and I screamed as if it were alive. To get rid of it took a team—me to lift the slipcover, Maria to suck it up into the dust buster. Neither one of us will empty it.

After cooling down, I started to reflect on the situation. With my throat still hoarse from screaming and laughing, it occurred to me that if what you’re yelling at is dead, aren’t you essentially just yelling at yourself?

I never thought that I talked to myself, but then I realized this wasn’t the first incident. As it turns out, I’m quite the “Chatty Cathy” in my apartment, and half the time my conversations aren’t directed toward anything with a pulse.

As someone who doesn’t like loud noises, I find that when I clink together a few plates and glasses in the kitchen sink I’ll call out “SHHH!” or “Oh, shut up,” to the inanimate objects. But, since they don’t have the faculties to respond back, who am I really talking to? You are correct. Yet again, I’m just speaking to myself.

I also sing to appliances. “I am unplugging you now!” I’ll sing to my hair straightener, or a “I’m turning you off now!” to the coffeemaker. Not very creative, but I must admit, it’s been quite effective since I apparently blackout any time I unplug something.

I’m not quite sure what to make of this discovery, or even how to make it sound like a strength. But, it’s slowly becoming one of my top eccentric traits.

Who needs to ace a job interview when I have the capacity to become a crazy character in Hoboken?

Someday me...only with dogs...


Moving In The Right Direction

From the January 29, 2010 issue of Hoboken Progress:

There’s nothing quite as humbling as sorting through your own stuff, especially, when you have decided to rearrange your bedroom on a random Wednesday night.

I’m not the tidiest of people. While I like to have a neat appearance, I find that my possessions are quite needy—they have a tendency to cluster together in groups.

In my determination to tackle time management and organization for 2010, (also inspired by the fact that my roommate and I got sick of hearing each other though the door that separates our rooms) I decided to play a little Russian roulette with feng shui.

This wasn’t the first time I’ve made a last minute decision like this. In the year and a half that I’ve lived in my current bedroom, the head of my bed has faced several directions. I’m a big believer in change the space, change the attitude.  This was no exception.

I have also lately taken on a crusade to simplify my life, and weed through all my possessions, which is quite an exhausting task. After flipping my room around for a few hours, I am now sitting next to two huge, black plastic bags: one full of clothes and shoes (some not even worn) to give away, and another full of beauty supplies, and other paper goods I have somehow convinced myself to part with. (I prefer the term “pack rat” to “hoarder.”)

But, besides accepting the fact that I really don’t need to hold onto notebooks from every college English Lit class, I’m also coming to terms with the fact that I’m not the only one maturing in my room—all the cheapy bedrooms things I bought when I first moved out are as well, and I am truly understanding the idiom, “You get what you pay for.”

When I first moved out of my parents house, after a brief stint which I refer to as my “Banana” years, ie, the year and a half I somehow pasted together 40 hours a week working retail at Banana Republic (my name tag is a magnet on the fridge), I was so excited, and so very poor. Almost two and a half years later, I’m finding that all the purchases I made with my new, tiny budget were essentially just short term solutions. Cute and design-conscious necessities for my bedroom (so that my room didn’t look like it housed a squatter) were high on my list, but low on affordability, so instead of sliding tubs for under the bed, I bought $8 flimsy plastic zipper packs to hold my jeans.

By now, surviving a major move downtown and several turns around my current room, these packs, a few other plastic items, and my “hand-me-down” furniture are begging for mercy.

Sorting through my stuff has made me realize how far I’ve come living independently—even if I can only measure time by falling apart, plastic gear from Bed Bath and Beyond. A little wiser, and better at budgeting, I feel that I’m always ready and excited for my next move, even if its only as small as changing which direction I face when I sleep.