Sunday, March 2, 2014


Week One in New York:

Day 1: Arrive. Jet lagged. Taxi (expensive). Brooklyn Sheraton. View (Statue of Liberty). Overwhelmed. Jet lagged. Asleep by 9h30.

Day 2: Caroline weekend visit! Brooklyn Bridge! Chinatown / chinese maid outfits! Street performers! Brooklyn Bridge (again)... Snow! Brooklyn Bridge park! Snow! Mmakgantsi! Mmakgantsi's baby! Amazing pizza (Brooklyn Heights)! Piano bar in Greenwich Village (wrong bar but still great)! Extremely crowded, ridiculously rude waitress! Jet lag kicks in... Manage to stay awake til midnight!

Day 3: Central Park, snow, attempted snow angels, attempted sledding, amateur figure skaters, successful snow woman, Belgian waffles, Strawberry fields, John Lennon's apartment. Caroline leaves... jet lag sets in...

Day 4: HOLY CRAP WE NEED A PLACE TO STAY (NY honeymoon is over)!!! Take up permanent residence on Naked Apartments, Hotpads, Zillow and Craig's List. See East Flatbush. Cold response to lack of US Credit Rating. Need US Guarantor. Who? Who? Mareesa cries. Find out NYFA won't allow me to work at all, even though my Visa allows it. Friedl cries (a little, mostly inside). Everjoy Gutu calls, Mareesa feels 76% better. See Crown Heights. Realtor called Mendy shows us two terrible apartments. Drown sorrows at McDonalds. Watch homeless guy take steel pipes out of his jacket outside. Confused. Wait 30 minutes in freezing cold for realtor called Juanita. At least she shows us a decent apartment, but Mareesa is not convinced.

Day 5: More realtors, more subway, more running. Late for every appointment. It gets pretty repetitive from here on out. Apartments in our price range are hit and miss. If they're big enough, they're old and rundown. If they're clean & remodelled, they're tiny. If they're both, they're at the end of a subway line.

Day 6: More apartments... more realtors... my introvert "small talk" quotient is waaaay maxed out... I potentially get a bit grumpy and mopey. See apartment that is perfect in every way - but just too expensive. Consider blowing our savings on it anyway, but realise that may be unwise. Ignore all further calls and head to Prospect Park instead. Magical walk in the snow. So. Much. Snow. Successful snow angels. Soft powdery snow. Snow frolicking. Snowball throwing. Dead cold hands. Walk right through all the way back to the top of Washington Ave to get into Brooklyn Botanical Gardens (for FREE - cause everything is still frozen) Wander through Conservatory, visit snowed-over Japanese Garden, as featured in Woody Allen's Manhattan (or was it? I can't remember now. Perhaps it was the Cherry Orchard. Perhaps it was neither). Feel guilty for shirking house-hunting duties. Go home. Read about gentrification in Crown Heights. Try to research crime rates in Brooklyn cause, you know, you hear a lot, but how safe / dangerous is it really? (UPDATE: compared to where I'm from, really quite safe) - this and this were actually useful, this not so much, this is kind of racist. Bay Ridge appears to be the safest place in the world. Bed Stuy not so much. (UPDATE: Bed Stuy is great & right around the corner from where I live. Brooklyn is very safe & generally much friendlier than Manhattan. Be patient with us white people. We're silly and easily frightened).

Day 7: SO over apartment hunting. See some terrible places catch a manic lift with a realtor who drives like a crazy person, from Queens to Downtown Brooklyn. At least three accidents barely averted. Do appreciate the lift, though, and the guided tour of Brooklyn. Dinner with the Gutus in Times Square. Nicest people on the planet. Go home with more home-cooked meals than we could possibly eat.

Day 8: See, like, six properties in Bay Ridge. But feel more confused than ever. Great area, but really far out. Also, don't see any really good places. Work until 3AM to finish up some of the Summit work I've been putting off since England. Hotel's Wi Fi hits a wobbly and causes the slowest, most fatally drawn out working experience of my life. Nevertheless, get two newsletters out in time and manage to email chat with my former colleagues as they start their Fridays at the office in South Africa.

Day 9: Mareesa's birthday! Skype with family!!! Then see more properties. End up seeing only one. Almost sign up for it before realising the massive Agent's Fee and 4 month security deposit is not a good deal. Also we don't really like the place (not enough to sign up for 12 months). Rethink everything. Question everything. Doubt everything. Renting in New York is like taking out a mortgage. Go to the Little Cupcake Bakeshop and have birthday Lucky Charm Cake and tea. Realise we can probably live with the Gutus in New Jersey if all else fails and decide not to rush into anything. Take a walk past the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge that connects Brooklyn to Staten Island. Get Mareesa's nails did (ok and mine too) at best-rated Viatnamese nail parlour in Williamsburg - thanks, Caroline! Get all dressed up and take the subway out to Brooklyn Heights for an incredible dinner of cheese platters, raw meet platters, beef stew, butternut pastas, spanish wine and dessert containing yoghurt, ice cream, cheddar and Thyme at Colonie - thanks Dean and Andrea (and thanks Elsa for the recommendation). Put our cares behind us. Combination of sleep deprivation and wine brings Friedl's detached emotions unexpectedly to the fore and tears are momentarily strewn in public. Sleep like babies (minus the waking up and crying and the dirty nappies).

Day 10: Oversleep. See two more properties in Bay Ridge. Epically convoluted travel arrangements. Options options. More confused than ever. Consider sharing until we find our feet. About 15 realtors left hanging - will probably have to notify them at some point that we are not interested in their properties, or risk persuasive calls, text and emails until the end of days...

Also Day 10: Pack up our lives into 9 pieces of luggage, again. Check out of Brooklyn Sheraton. Enjoy last breakfast of fruit, bran, creamy scrambled eggs and dripping, crispy bacon (and Bagels). Enjoy last free Starbucks coffee.

Later on Day 10: Collect bags, find taxi big enough to take all our bags, and move into a dude named Rob's spare bedroom in trendy Greenpoint, for four nights (via Air Bnb). Consider venturing out to watch American Hustle. Stay in and watch Miranda July's The Future instead. Tired and mentally drained enough to find it amusing. Then blog til Midnight.

I promise future blogs will be more engaging. This week was pretty overwhelming, what with the jet lag and apartment hunting and far-and-wide subway riding, and late-night working, and missing everybody and everything. It is insanely exciting to be in New York, though, and to be preparing for my course work at New York Film Academy.

Tomorrow, we just enjoy being in New York. (Update: mostly just managed to go to Hillsong NYC, cry like babies and wander aimlessly around Manhattan - I believe Mareesa spent some birthday money in the process. Then tried to watch the Oscars online, gave up and went to bed early).

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