In 2009, I took this photo below of the Grace Building plaza. At the time it was an empty, windswept “public space” in name only, that lent itself to nice photographs but was otherwise just a drab, unwelcoming empty space. The very epitome of many of the “privately owned public spaces”* around the city, where the public got little-to-nothing in return for the rights that were ceded to building owners in exchange.

In the intervening six years, the explosion of ‘pop-up’ restaurants and other food truck-adjacent businesses have exploded around the city, and the owners of this plaza took notice. There are a few small shops, and actual seating now. Not just tables and chairs, but they replaces the sad planters along the right wall with trees that have surrounding benches. In addition, it even looks like they’ve replaced the ominous black glass on the building doors with something more open and inviting. A little worse for photographic aesthetics. Much better for humanity.

*Privately Owned Public Spaces, or “POPS”, are spaces that building owners agree to build for the public in exchange for various rights to construct buildings that don’t entirely conform to existing zoning regulations – so a building could be taller than its neighbors, if it has a plaza, or a public atrium, or some sort of park. There’s been some news about these recently because the lobby of Trump Tower is technically a POPS, but Trump had removed the benches and installed a ‘gift’ counter. After some press, the benches were returned.

No Comments

Looking forward…


So, I’m in full “gearing up to go home” mode now, shipped out a bunch of boxes yesterday, and I fly home on Sunday. The office had a little bon voyage (or buon viaggio, to be a little more local) party for me tonight, which was very nice, a little too much prosecco maybe, but who am I to complain about that (I mean I had a little to much to drink, not that there was literally too much wine!). I’m obviously looking forward to going home, and to add to my list of things that I’m excited to see, add the Bethesda Fountain Terrace Arcade. I’ve walked or bicycled on top of the arcade a million times – I don’t think I even knew that there was something actually underneath because it had been in disrepair since 1984 when they removed the tiles for cleaning. Well, now, 23 years later, it’s been completely restored.


Oh. And in other, weirder news, I may be getting some crazy new neighbors!

A tipster informs us that Tom Cruise is in contract for an apartment at the Dakota….

So that’s…interesting. That should make it even easier to get to the subway in the morning, because the combination of John Lennon death junkies and architecture freaks don’t make the sidewalk crowded enough (although, to be fair, most of the architecture freaks stand on the other side of the street to be able to actually see the building). Even more incentive to skip the subway and walk to work!

No Comments



Had the day off today for Yom Kippur. Of course, I’m still in Rome, so I didn’t get to go to temple, but I did fast (and just finished dinner). While I was reading the Times online today, I did my periodic perusal of the real estate listings to see if there had been any new apartments in my building put on the market.

There’s one which has an identical layout to my place, but has the crappiest furniture I’ve ever seen (and yes, I realize that this is just "stuff" from the realtors so that people can gauge what furniture will look like, but you’d think they’d pick something not, so, fugly, or lay it out in a way that didn’t cut off half of the living room).

And then I saw one thatt’s new to the market, and I’m pretty sure the building was still renovating it before I left (it’s a flip to market – the sponsor renovated it themselves to sell it for the first time). And instead of the standard kitchen renovation that the building has done to all vacated apartments to date, which involves standard sized (and ugly) white appliances and weird sink that is only two inches deep and sits on top of the dishwasher, I notice that they’ve got my stove! and the special extra-small dishwasher (of course they didn’t splurge for the one that actually matches the rest of the appliances, but still!)…the fridge has a similar look too, but it’s not the same (it can’t be, since my model was discontinued about 30 seconds after I bought mine). It’s a different layout generally, because it’s a 2-bedroom apartment, but it made me laugh.

I did notice when I was in the stairwell before I left that there was a box for the same stove that I had bought – now I know where it went!

I suppose enough building handymen (not to mention the super) saw what I did in my kitchen in all of their trips in and out to approve things and got inspired to do something a little bit nicer than what had been done to date.

heh. what’s funny is that I spent months obsessing over how to do the kitchen so that it wasn’t as space-wasting, inefficient, and ugly as the ones the building had done themselves. I guess they agreed with me.

No Comments

almost there…


I cooked dinner in my new apartment for the first time this week, thanks to the installation of kitchen plumbing and my stove. I’m still waiting for the electrician to come back and hook up the electrical part of the dishwasher, but other than that, and a few touch ups to the paint job here and there, it’s about done.

Just as a reminder, this entry has all the photos of what the apartment looked like before my dad and stepmom moved out…

Like I said, it’s almost there. It’s certainly "home" now, and I’m getting used to the new neighborhood. I did have to go back to the old ‘hood this morning for a haircut (I’m certainly not changing hairdressers for a 3-mile move), and it was kind of weird. Particularly to walk past my old building and realize that I had no reason to walk in…

No Comments

catching up…


This is the first day in quite some time where I actually refuse to do anything apartment-related (OK, fine, I’m doing laundry at the moment, but that’s something I’d need to do whether I was moving or not).

I got my new mattress yesterday, and then proceeded to go a little nuts at Bed Bath and Beyond…Just because all I needed were some new sheets, didn’t mean that I shouldn’t buy a new comforter, isotonic pillows, regular pillows (for the decorative shams), an anti-allergen mattress cover, and a whole bunch of other stuff that required me to have everything delivered. So, there was that. And I bought knobs for my cabinets, got my intermittently crashing cable box replaced, and received a fresh direct delivery with many cases of water and diet coke.

My countertop is scheduled to arrive on Tuesday, which means that I should have a fully-functioning kitchen by the end of this week. So now, I finally downloaded all of those pictures that I took during the move and the immediate aftermath. Click on the image in order to see a larger version…

Here’s what my old apartment looked like before I moved out (with the lamp that the movers "lost" featured prominently amidst my stuff…

Then, once most of my stuff got moved out…

Oh, and here are some final photos of the construction next door – The additional four floors are nearly complete…

The kitchen, finally getting put into place…

The evolution of the bathroom…

I’d show you photos of the rest of the place, but the only ones I have are just pictures of boxes stacked up against the walls. The next installment will be what the apartment actually looks like now that I’ve unpacked (and put away) almost everything.

No Comments

It’s too damn hot out.


I spent over 12 hours today unpacking and cleaning my new apartment. And I’m not done yet.

It was apparently over 100 degrees today in the city, which would explain why I wanted to cry when I had to walk all of two blocks to the Radio Shack to pick up some adaptors. At one point, I thought I had (in my delirium) accidentally stood on top of one of those steam grates, that blows hot air on you. And then I realized that, no, it was just the air.

Tomorrow I’ll head back over for another round of cleaning – now that I’ve gotten rid of a ton of boxes (other than a few miscellaneous things, I’ve unpacked just about everything but books) I can maneuver. I did save the "best" for last though – tomorrow I get to clean the bathroom…

And the cable got hooked up today, which was great – the service guy was actually awesome – it turned out that the wire running from the hallway into my apartment was completely frayed, and instead of making me wait for a "construction" rep, he just fixed it himself. Which took quite a bit of effort, thanks to the fact that the hole through the wall was bizarrely dug – the hole in the hallway was actually about six inches above the one inside my apartment, meaning that we spent almost two hours trying to snake various objects through what was essentially an "s" curve (for some bizarre reason the "canal" dipped down first before it snaked back up) in order to pull the cable through (i’d need Board permission to do anything else). And when I say "we", I actually mean "we". Both of us on stepladders, on either side of the doorway, with wire coathangers, kitchen knives, screwdrivers and various other miscellaney. The coathanger was the thing that worked.

Anyway, I’m now completely wiped out. I just took the longest shower in history and I can still barely walk. I keep thinking that this was easier when I moved to the city six years ago, and then I remember that…

…I was six years younger then…
…I didn’t renovate anything…
…I was renting a shoebox…
…oh yeah, and the bulk of my worldly possessions consisted of a mattress, a tv, a futon couch and a beanbag chair.

I suppose I deserve this for deciding to buy "real" furniture rather than crap from Ikea when I decided to upgrade…

and I have too many books.

Pictures soon – I swear!!

No Comments

The apartment? still not done. me? losing my mind much more quickly now.


And by "done", I mean "livable". not actually "done" done. The plumber was supposed to come today to hook up the bathroom sink and shower, thereby making it habitable. When i stopped by tonight after work, the bathroom sink was sitting in the middle of the bedroom, and only part of the shower fixture had been installed.

So i call the plumber to find out what happened, and he’s all…"the tile wasn’t glued in, grouted, blah blah blah and I can’t install anything until it is". I ask if he spoke to the painting contractors, and he’s all "the only people there were the "kitchen guys". And i say, "[plumber], the "kitchen guys" are the painting contractors – you’re telling me you were both in the same apartment for hours and you didn’t say one word to them?"

So I call giuliano to find out what happened, and giuliano says that the "plumber is a jackass", that he didn’t actually show up until 3:30 in the afternoon (mind you, all work must stop by 5 p.m. according to condo rules), and giuliano was waiting for the plumber to get his shit together before he regrouted, so that he could regrout around the new fixtures.

So the result of all of this? I have two contractors who are more interested in passing blame at the moment than actually getting the apartment done (I’m right now leaning towards placing more blame on the plumber myself, because…3:30? really? It’s just not physically possible to get the work done in that amount of time in the best of circumstances). And I get to sleep on an air mattress in my parent’s spare room for at least another week, since I also can’t clean all of the dust and debris out of the new place, being that there’s still no freaking water!!! (not to mention that they’re still working, so cleaning a bunch of stuff that’s just going to get covered in new contractor grime on Monday is not exactly at the top of my list). My favorite part was where the plumber’s all "the toilet works!". And I’m all, (a) the toilet is the only piece of equipment that wasn’t replaced, so it damn well should work, and (b) I can’t exactly get ready for work monday morning with just a toilet and no other water fixtures.

But the best part? my brother comes home on monday. Which I’m actually quite excited about, because this is the month he’ll be home before going into the Peace Corps for the next two years, but it’s going to get really old really fast if there’s now a fourth person trying to share the one shower in my parents’ apartment in the morning. I think he’s planning on going up to the country first, so that may ease the overcrowding. 

No Comments

…and it just got better and better…


Rick posted in comments the other day that my moving/renovation saga was better than a soap opera. heh. he spoke too soon. After my PC Richards episode on Tuesday, I continued to pack for my move on Wednesday afternoon. Let’s just say that it didn’t go too well. I sent an e-mail to my stepmother later that night, and I think it captures better what went on than I can recall at this particular point, so I’ll just copy the relevant portions here:

Oy…today was pretty much a mess. The movers showed up late and didn’t have the insurance information that I told the company about at least 5 or 6 times (including calling the other day to check that it was done). And the crew supervisor was a complete asshole (to both his crew and to me), and refused to move my second TV, even though it was on the inventory list. [not only that, he was a jerk in a way that bled time all over the place – thereby aggravating me further – every five minutes he would stop what he was doing to tell all the guys on the crew what they were doing wrong, then he would undo their work and redo it]. So the Company has to send another crew to my [old] apartment in the morning at 8am (because I refuse to allow this supervisor within 100 feet of me) to pick up all of the stuff this guy just decided he was too good to move, then move me in in the morning. Meanwhile, most of my stuff is sitting on a truck somewhere. So I actually haven’t moved in yet – I actually had to go out and buy clothes at the gap, since they packed my overnight bag, which wouldn’t have been a big deal if they, you know, had moved me in today.

This was after, of course, PC Richards totally screwed up their delivery yesterday, showing up two hours late, after Giuliano had to make an executive decision to paint the floors so they would be dry by today for the move (heh). So they’re coming tomorrow again.

So of course, the morning crew didn’t show up until 8:30, even though I dragged myself down there from the upper west side to meet them at 8. Conveniently, PC Richard showed up at the new place about five minutes after I did, so the appliances got moved in before all of my stuff. not so conveniently, my entire apartment is filled to the rafters with furniture and boxes, because the contractors were still tearing up the kitchen floor that morning as well.

Anyway, the PC Richard guys get there, and I look at the invoice, which says "refrigerator–white". so they have to open the box before I’ll let them take it off the truck to show me that it’s actually titanium. So they drop off the appliances, walk out the door, and I notice that the side of my range box says "black". So I go running downstairs to literally run across 72nd street, to chase the now-moving truck, because they’re not going anywhere until they can confirm that it’s actually a stainless steel range sitting inside the box (of course it turns out to be fine). The only problem PCR seems to have is with their labeling system.

At this point, all of my stuff is in the apartment, but I can’t unpack anything because there’s nowhere to put anything. Giuliano stopped by today to help me move the appliances into the kitchen, but then we realized that the boxes took up as much space as the appliances themselves, and they can’t be thrown out until Monday (we need freight elevator access). But one of the maintenance guys in the building managed to snag me a bunch of subway tile from an upstairs apartment that’s being gutted, so my bathroom will be able to get done by mid-next week, which means that I may be able to start actually living there by the end of next week. I’m currently staying at my parent’s new place, which isn’t exactly a hardship, other than the fact that I’m living out of a suitcase.

I took a bunch of pictures, but just realized that the cord I need to download them to my computer is packed somewhere.

No Comments

The best day yet…


On Monday morning, I tried to postpone my move, but the moving company was having none of it, being that it’s the end of the month, in the summertime, when, apparently, everyone in the city is trying to move at the same time. So my contractors have been totally busting their asses trying to get my floors sanded, painted and varnished (and dry!) in time for tomorrow afternoon, because, really, if the floors are done it’ll make moving so much easier.

On top of everything else, my appliances are supposed to be delivered today. and the store is one of those places where you have to call in the morning and get your estimated delivery time. So I call this morning and get a time of 10:45 to 2:45 today. Okay, fine. I call my contractor, who says that’s fine – they’ll hold off on painting the living room floor until 3pm, let that dry, and then varnish it in the morning – the varnish takes about 2 hours to dry, and since my movers aren’t coming until the afternoon, it works out perfectly.

Except for one thing. 2:45 rolls around and the delivery guy is nowhere to be found. I call the store, and am told that "I’m the next stop and he’s on his way". Finally, 4:00 rolls around, my contractor (Giuliano) calls to tell me that they had to go ahead and paint the floors even though no one has shown up, and they were leaving since they couldn’t walk around the apartment anymore (obviously). (You have to also understand the tone of these conversations – Giuliano is Italian, and speaks with an incredibly thick accent – I can’t understand half of what he says, and I’m pretty sure that he can’t understand me half of the time. So most of our conversations involve us shouting at each other, not because we’re arguing, but because we’ve become so consumed with over-enunciating everything that we turn into caricatures – I’ll just speak louder and that’ll make it easier for him to understand me. Oh, and we’re both on cellphones, so the ugly *loud* cellphone talking voice doesn’t help things along either. The flip side? he does such beautiful work that I actually started crying with joy the first time I saw the bedroom painted.)

So I call the store, where they claim that the guy showed up at, like, a minute after 4. Where he was turned away by the doorman because (surprise!) my floors were wet. I, of course, immediately launch into argumentative lawyer mode, blame the whole thing on the store (it was because they showed up so late that my guys had to paint the floor ahead of them, blah blah blah). In the end, not only did they agree to redeliver for free on Thursday morning, including getting me first priority on the 9am truck, they’re refunding my delivery fee for today. Given that Thursday’s probably a better day for everyone anyway, that turned out well.

In the meantime, I actually had to go this morning and buy more boxes. And that’s with throwing out about 10 big black reinforced Hefty bags full of trash in the last two days. I swear, one of these days I’m going to turn into the Collyer Brothers

No Comments

Now is the time when I figure out how to postpone my move.


Ok. So everything is set for me to move on wednesday, except…the apartment.

So I have to call tomorrow morning and see about possibly moving my moving date back a day or two. Just so the guys can get the floors done. I have no expectation that the kitchen will be anywhere near complete by Friday either (luckily, my parents gave me keys to their place). If I have to move on wednesday, either due to moving company or freight elevator issues, we’ll figure it out, but in the meantime…here’s where it stands…

The kitchen has actually been sheetrocked, including the drop ceiling (I’m putting in recessed lighting). The sheetrock, of course, is a lovely shade of fluorescent blue.

The bathroom is waiting for new tile, so that they can install the sink and the new shower fixtures….and yeah, I originally wasn’t going to replace the shower fixtures, but it turned out that I needed some sort of regulator in the wall, which wasn’t compatible with the old fixtures (said regulator, of course, to prevent the water from scalding me intermittently, so, good idea!). It also turns out that separate hot and cold taps in the shower are actually now illegal in NYC. So I had to get a single integrated handle. you can see the beginnings of that installation.

They got the bedroom floor sanded last week, but not the living room (hence my attempt at a delay – they still need to be painted and varnished (I’m pickling them because they’re not in great shape).

The living room has been painted in this light brown shade that I found at Restoration Hardware, which I love. I needed something neutral, because my artwork and furniture is fairly bold colors, but I didn’t want white or beige.

New electrical outlets in the foyer, where there previously had been none (there are also new outlets in the kitchen, and they replaced a bunch more wiring than originally planned because it was in pretty bad shape – but there was conduit, which made it a relatively simple job.

And finally, the kitchen cabinets that I spent this weekend putting together so that they could get hung this week.

Here are pictures of everything…

Other than that, I’ve been packing up a storm, Housing Works came yesterday to pick up the furniture I wasn’t taking with me, and I’m writing this entry as procrastination (I needed something to do after finishing Harry Potter, but that’ll be the next entry).

No Comments