Honey, I’m Home.

When I first moved into Manhattan over 10 years ago, I lived in a nunnery. A no-boys-allowed, chapel-on-the-first-floor, crucifix-at-every-turn nunnery. And not because I had the calling, but because Saint Mary’s Residence was on 72nd Street, Hunter College was on 68th, and I needed off-campus housing that was affordable with my part-time salary. I was elated when I got the call (from the residence office, not God) saying I was accepted and would have a room all to myself. I had shared a room with my sister since birth, so this first glimpse of independent living felt like hitting the lottery–no offense, Ker. I lived there for just the fall semester of senior year, but I’ll never forget that first phase of NYC living: the girl who lived on my floor and ate whole pomegranates on the common table, splattering juice everywhere; another girl who really loved Bush and showed me photos of her with Gavin Rossdale; the fact that we didn’t have cable, so I watched Dancing with the Stars on my little TV with bunny ears; the one time my friend Danielle came to visit and, while on the E train chatting, we missed the Lex Ave transfer and wound up in Queens. Oops. The place was spartan and strict, but I was living in The City, goddamnit! Spring semester I moved down to the Hunter Dorms on 25th Street and lived there until graduation. It was a fine experience, but kitchen roach pads crawling with bugs and rooms that were once part of Bellevue didn’t leave me feeling nostalgic for the place.

A few years later, after finding a full-time job downtown and saving up enough cash money, my friend Nicole and I moved from Long Island to East 93rd Street. I lived there for 3.3 years (pardon the specificity) and was completely smitten with the place. It was a five floor walk-up with no laundry, but this was 2010 and, with the city still reeling from the financial recession, rents were cheap AF. The apartment was completely renovated and had exceptional cabinet space. Like, there were two rows of kitchen cabinets stacked atop one another. We could have started a self storage side business. Nicole and I had an epic housewarming party and drank coffee together after dinner like an old married couple. Upon receiving a sweet job offer she couldn’t refuse, Nicole moved out on her own and my first CraigsList roomie moved in. Thankfully, she wasn’t a murderer, thief or drug addict. When she moved out to live with her boyfriend, my sister took her place. We had incredibly fun sleepovers with our cousins where we dragged the mattresses onto the living room floor, and Kerry had parties on the roof that turned me into June Cleaver, admonishing them for partying too close to the edge. (Literally.) Those were great years, made even greater by the fact that my best friends and I lived within a 10 block radius. From Christmas parties to Winter Storm Nemo to the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, we were all together in our corner of the Upper East Side.

Rising rents and a need for change ushered in the next chapter of my life, The Brooklyn Years. I’ve lived in Park Slope since 2013 and love it. Strangers and friends alike know I have a thing for brownstones, and this neighborhood is chock full of ‘em. It may not be as cool and hip as Greenpoint or Crown Heights or Bushwick, but it’s cozy and pretty and has an incredible park.

If you read my last post you’ll know I started the hunt for my own apartment a few months ago. After a myriad trials and tribulations, I found a beaut just 14 blocks north of my former apartment. It’s a 1 bedroom, well, probably technically a junior 1 bedroom since my full-size mattress peeks out of the doorframe, but it has great windows, an intact kitchen and a living room I could do cartwheels in if I wasn’t incredibly accident-prone. It’s a beautiful thing coming home to your own place after work or a night out. To sit on your couch in your underwear eating Triscuits and drinking wine just because. To have your girlfriends over for a catch-up session, making sure their glasses are full and the olive bowl is, too. Sure, there are the annoyances typical of old buildings: a sink that gets easily clogged, a bathroom that’s so small my butt hits the heating pipe when I bend over, the vague odor of food smells mixing in the hallway, but it’s home. My home.

I’ve always been an independent person, but living with roommates did come with a bounty of upsides. I’d like to briefly mention a few things I was grateful to have had in roommates: 

  • Someone to kill the roaches. Shout-out to Katie and Julie, sisters who killed roaches with their bare hands without flinching. (I had killed roaches myself before, but not with their brazen abandon.)
  • Someone to be there when the carbon monoxide detector goes off and you call the fire department in the wee hours of the morning just in case. (This happened the first night my roommate Maddie moved in, and it was just a battery on the fritz. Again, oops.)
  • Someone to go into your room because you’re certain you left the iron on. You didn’t. But thanks for checking, Julie.
  • Someone to join you in watching The Bachelorette and a million hours of The Golden Girls, Parks and Rec or The Office. (Sometimes all in one weekend night. But especially during blizzards.) 
  • Someone to help you hang blinds in the kitchen.  Reaching above your head is the worst. 

In just a month of living here, however, I’ve killed a few bugs myself (no roaches, thankfully, but moths love flying into my living room), jerry-rigged closet shelving and assembled many unnecessarily complex pieces of Ikea furniture, even when the instruction manual had an X over the illustration of a single person and a check mark next to the one with two. (How rude?!) Tough stuff aside, I eagerly anticipate hosting shindigs in my new digs. Like the time I threw a Christmas party and did an impromptu tape dance in my kitchen. That was great. 

I’ve come a long way since the days of Saint Mary’s Residence. I might still not have cable, but boys are definitely allowed.

Moonstruck in Brooklyn Heights

Everyone has that movie they’ve seen a hundred times; the movie they can recite every line and stage direction of, thereby annoying anyone watching in the same room. For me (and my mom) that movie is Moonstruck. Yes, the Moonstruck of 1987 with Cher and Nic Cage. I don’t care how many jokes Nic Cage is (rightly) the butt of, you have to love him in this movie! Short synopsis – Loretta Castorini (Cher) is a widow who’s engaged to marry a man named Johnny Cammareri, but falls in love with his more handsome, yet maimed, brother Ronny (Nic Cage). It’s become a ritual that every time I come home to my parents house, my mom and I have to watch. There’s just something comforting about watching that family. And can you say quotable?

The reason I bring this up is because I was walking around Brooklyn Heights recently, turned down a side street and had a Moonstruck moment. The movie is set in Brooklyn Heights on a gorgeous tree-lined street, filled with federal-style brick row houses and a view of lower Manhattan. A street very similar to this…

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I snapped a few more pictures because, aside from the Moonstruck nostalgia, it’s also another one of Brooklyn’s neighborhoods that I just find captivating.

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And, tucked between the brownstone and brick are colonial gems like this…

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…and Art Deco ones like this.

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To sum it all up: add Brooklyn Heights to your list of must-see BK neighborhoods. Once you’re there, it’ll be hard to ‘snap out of it!‘ …I couldn’t resist.

Take Me To 11215, Please.

It has become my humble opinion that Brooklyn is the most beautiful of the New York City boroughs. Don’t get me wrong, a stroll around the West Village, along Park Avenue or through countless other neighborhoods will have you mentally prepping an Instagram filter, but Brooklyn really has it going on. Since its days as a Dutch settlement in the 1600s, it’s become the most populous NYC borough and I’m happy to be a recent transplant. The juxtaposition of old and new is apparent on almost every block you stroll down and that’s something I’ll always love about New York.

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Moving to Brooklyn has landed me in Park Slope, a neighborhood I’ve had a little crush on since college when a friend’s boyfriend lived in nearby Cobble Hill. Every time we took the train from 68th Street to Hoyt-Schermerhorn, I knew I had to live in or around there at some point in my life. Many moons later, here I am. I’m happy to report that it was a seamless transition and already feels like home. My dad and I spent a few days prepping and painting my room to give it a fresh, clean start and it’s become quite the cozy spot. A Moroccan-inspired curtain and an already-full bookshelf were the only additions needed to make my room complete. Total side note – over the past few years I’ve come to realize that I really, really like to clean and I really, really like to hang things on walls – both of which I’ve been doing a lot of post-move. There’s just something about a blank wall in need of decoration…

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^My across the street neighbor

Moving in April has to be the best month to move. For a few beautiful weeks, the trees are in bloom and the weather hints at warmth in the best way. While this spring did have a clinical case of multiple personality disorder, when it was warm, it was lovely. My apartment sits atop a restaurant and directly across from my window is a magnolia tree, which seemingly bloomed the night I moved in 😉

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^My downstairs neighbor

It’s been a pretty hectic two months but in the short while I’ve lived here, I’ve eaten at a handful of noteworthy restaurants, hung out in Prospect Park, roamed around Red Hook’s Ikea, walked up 6th Avenue and down 5th or 7th (again and again), bought books at a local bookstore, had drinks at Union Hall and, just last night, went to a ridiculously entertaining 1920’s-themed New Orleans jazz/burlesque party in Crown Heights. One thing I’ll have to get used to is having a room that faces the street. (My room in my old apartment faced a courtyard and was so quiet, sleeping at my parent’s house on Long Island seemed louder.) While my window lets in great light and the street is generally pretty quiet, every now and then and car idling at the stop light seriously makes me want to scream, “It’s 3am – turn down your $%@&*(#)@^&!*$# radio!!” out the window. Welcome to Brooklyn, fuggedaboutit.

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^Korean Bim Bop at Moim on 7th and Garfield (eat here!!)

IMG_1940^Shanghai Mermaid-hosted New Orleans night

I was a sucker for walking around the Upper East Side admiring buildings (and plotting my future as a brownstone owner) and I’ve found myself doing the same in Park Slope. While my daily commute takes me to 4th Avenue, which is pretty industrial and not much to look at, the avenues leading to the park are just breathtaking. While the “name streets” are known for being gorgeous, down here in South Slope there’s no shortage of impressive brownstones and swoon-worthy row houses.

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^I’ve noticed a lot of rose bushes in my neighborhood

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^Corner of 9th Street and 6th Avenue

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^Quite a few trees grow in Brooklyn

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^Children and adults playing in an open fire hydrant; iconic New York summer

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^Prospect Park, a life saver come summertime

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^Ok, so, this house isn’t even in Park Slope but I wanted to share it anyways: while I was looking for apartments, I discovered so many beautiful historic buildings, like this one in Fort Greene

Long story short, I think Brooklyn and I are going to become very good friends.