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Clearly at some point I pissed off the NYC apartment gods.  Why is it that each and every apartment I’ve lived in has tortured me in its own unique and special way.  My first apartment was located on 74th and York. I moved there in September of 1987. It was an old railroad flat that I paid $750 a month for.  I remember seeing several apartments with a rental broker who looked like he had lived in the city since the Civil War. He was nice enough, but given my limited budget, he had little desire to spend a lot of time with me. I met him at his office and he asked me where I wanted to live.  “Anywhere but the Upper East Side” was my reply.  He proceeded to take me to three apartments. While I don’t remember the details, I do know that even the excitement of moving into Manhattan could not overcome the horror of these living spaces! 

We returned to his office with me being slightly deflated not having found the perfect NY apt in a span of 90 minutes.  On the way in I noticed a cardboard sign in the window that read “3 rooms $750”  I asked him why we didn’t see that one?  He replied “It’s on 74th and York and that’s the Upper East side”  Well, three whole rooms for $750, I couldn’t just dismiss that without at least taking a look could I.  So off we went.  The building was your typical tenement house, 6 floors, 4 apartments to a floor.  My new apartment was 2FE (Front East) it sounded very fancy to me back then.  I moved  all my “stuff” in and made it home, some peel and stick tiles on the floor, roller shades, a couch, chairs and coffee table from my dad’s office, a couple of air conditioners and the highriser bed from childhood. That was not my first choice,  a single bed, but that’s all that fit in the bedroom.

There I was living the high life on the Upper East side, until the pigeons moved in.  The bed, window and air conditioner shared a physical proximity of about 2 feet. It was my first experience of what goes on in a NYC apt building airshaft.  Do you know how noisy pigeons are when they’re cooing 18 inches from your head?  Then their relatives moved into the pigeon window ledge condo outside the bathroom which faced the back of the airshaft.  Now we were really having fun, pigeons cooing in stereo. Well this just wouldn’t do for my fancy UES pad.  I headed off to the hardware store in search of a solution, I figured I’d buy a board, some nails and a hammer, with which I would construct something so frightening that the pigeons would flee in terror.  Yeah, not so much, these where hearty Manhattan pigeons.  They positioned themselves in-between the nails and I’m pretty sure they used them to scratch their asses.  My trap turned into a pigeon ass-scratching spa.  They were mocking me.  Another trip to the hardware store and the guy at the register suggested I try bird glue traps. This was obviously an urban warrior who knew about this stuff, I had every confidence my problem was about to be solved. 

I opened the window to the bedroom and removed the board now covered in nails, pigeons feathers and I’m sure hunks of pigeon butt and replaced it with a new board that I had lathered with pigeon glue. Ha, I’m ready for you bitches now–bring it. I hid behind the shade peering out to see what would happen when the first unsuspecting flying rodent landed. He or she moved  his or her feet around clearly not happy with what was going on and flew off. This was repeated several times.  Smugly, I went into the living room to watch TV, convinced I was bird-free.  Well about an hour later I heard what sounded like a pterodactyl stuck in a tar pit outside the window. I could not imagine the horror that was about to reveal itself. As I lifted the shade to see what was going on, a pigeon, laying on its side had managed to get its face, body and one wing stuck to the glue and was beating the other wing frantically trying to free itself, it was horrifying.  What should I do?  If I lifted the window and tried to free the trapped creature it would surely scratch, bite, peck or do who knows what other horrible things to me thus infecting me with bird pestilence (luckily there was no such thing as bird flu back then).  The sound was awful and as much as I didn’t want to cohabitate with these horrid creatures, I certainly didn’t want to see them suffer either.  So I came up with the brilliant idea of covering my bed in plastic and throwing a pot of not-that-hot water at the bird so it would loosen the glue and it would be free.  In hindsight, not the best idea I ever had. I think I realized that just as the water was leaving the pot.  The pigeon was not happy, at all.  The flapping got worse and so did the screeching, clearly I was out of my league and retreated to seek out reinforcements.

I went to find the super, who as anyone that has lived in NY knows, is nowhere to be found when you need them, but always around asking annoying questions when you don’t.  I came back upstairs to survey the current situation, when I lifted the shade, I found my pigeon friend dead. To this day I don’t know whether he drowned or had a heart attack, but it was not a pleasant end for him no matter how you look at it. I thought about burying him, but realized that wasn’t going to work, so I got a broom, opened the window and pushed the entire mess off the ledge to the bottom of the airshaft.  I was not proud of myself, it was a hollow victory.  Poor Mr. pigeon, covered in glue and water, left to decompose at the bottom of an airshaft–it was a true NYC murder scene. 

I lived in that apartment for five years and never quite defeated the pigeons, maybe they were seeking revenge for their fallen brethren.  The window ledge outside the bathroom, became the pigeon nursery and no matter how many times I thought about pushing that nest off the ledge and sending those baby pigeons hurtling to their death, I could never actually do it, maybe I was honoring their fallen comrade, who died a hideous death at my hand.  So the pigeons and I co-habitated together for half a decade, I would bang on the window in the morning and chase them away, they would come back shortly thereafter.  Now when I look back, I remember a time in NYC when the worst thing you had to think about was a garden-variety mugging or annoying pigeons outside your window, my how the world has changed.  Next up Apt #2–entitled “Ass slapping through the bedroom wall and other noises of the night. Till then, may you sleep well and be bird free. 

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Marc’s Outlook

A crisp autumn morning in the Berkshires

On top of a mountain in the Berkshires my place in the forest is commemorated

Today is a dear friend’s ___ birthday.  I know better than to put a woman’s age on-line!  Tonight it will be celebrated with food, wine and good conversation by a small group of successful, funny, caring people. That’s what’s happening in New York City tonight. I’m sure there might be a few other things happening in Gotham as well.  On the other side of the globe, North and South Korea are busy firing missiles at one another .  Who is spending their day more wisely I ask us or them?.  Therefore, I decree one of the founding principles of this blog is that it will only include stories, anecdotes and tales of good and interesting things. If the world wants to waste its time shooting at each other and blowing stuff up–knock yourself out–literally. I however, along with my friends will celebrate life.

So on this November 23rd 2010 I raise my glass to one of my favorite people–may the year ahead bring her all that she wants and then some.  To the two Koreas, cut it out, go get drunk together, play a board game, watch a movie–you’re not using your alloted time wisely. Look each other in the eye and repeat after me “this is my dance space, that’s your dance space ”  the end. Of course I know its not that simple, but wouldn’t it be nice if it could be!

Sunday Morning

So here I am trying to figure out my blog, how I want  it to look, what I want it to say, what the “theme” should be and then all of a sudden it hits me–bam!  I’m really going to do this.  I’m leaving corporate America behind (good riddance) and embracing the unknown.  It was fun telling people at work that I’m leaving and even more fun telling them why.  ” I’m resigning ( I like saying resigning a lot better than quitting, it makes my departure seem so  much more important , like I was Secretary of State or something ) and going off on an adventure”  When you tell people  about a change that they can’t neatly categorize, they look at you like you have something hanging out of your nose and they’re deciding whether or not they should mention it or just continue sporting an uncomfortable look on their face.  Most, not all of the people  I told had a pretty hard time wrapping their heads around the fact that I would just walk away from an awesome job, working with awesome people in the worst economy since the Great Depression for no reason other than because I want to.  You have to admit, it is a little crazy I suppose!  But isn’t that what life should be about?  Taking some risks. 

“Close your eyes and leap”

The other question I was asked right away was “What are you going to do when you get back”?   That seems counterproductive to me. Why would I start off a journey like this by thinking about the end?  A thousand unexpected things are going to happen on this adventure and hallelujah for that!  There’s a quote I really like ” Life is what happens while you’re busy making plans”.  The unknown is cool, the surprise around the next corner makes life fun.  You only get one dance on this planet so you better make it count!  Now I don’t want to come off as Mr. all “oh no biggie, I got this”  Of course I’m a little scared and apprehensive–but so what.  No one on their deathbed ever said ” I wish I spent more time in my office”, well not anyone I want to know anyway.  It’s an amazing, fascinating world out there and I think it’s just plain rude not to go and see it after it went to all the trouble of making itself beautiful for us. 

The physical journey may not start for a few more months but the mental journey is off to the races.  The hardest part so far is figuring out what I want to do, where I want to go, and when to do it. There are so many options and I know once I get started it will be a continuously fluid undertaking, as I talk to people and they share details of their assorted journeys with me. I get so excited thinking about all the incredible people I don’t know yet but will soon enough.  I am so lucky to be able to do this, it’s just mind-blowing.

So the research continues to build, maps are being reviewed, SUV’s vetted, weather patterns scrutinized, National Parks and byways contemplated as I move  ever closer to closing one chapter and beginning the next.  Bring it!

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Tree of Knowledge

Watch this space for tales of travel adventures, whimsical stories and witty repartee.