5.03.2014

Our House Is A Very, Very, Very Fine House

So, we bought a house! And that is exciting. And now we live in the house! And that is exciting but also terrifying. Mainly because I have watched too many episodes of Criminal Minds, which has caused me to have a minor heart attack each time I hear an unfamiliar noise.

The first month of home ownership has been weird. Mainly because most of our days are spent going through the house wondering aloud, “HOW COULD ONE FAMILY BE SO DIRTY?” And we’re not talking about us (thankfully), we’re talking about the previous owners, who I am sure were lovely people, but man, they did not clean well. To clean the hood of the stove, we had to use a razor to scrape up all of the collected grease. It was incredibly disgusting but oddly satisfying, like when you finally extract that blackhead you’ve watched grow. Yes, that is a gross analogy, but so is scraping up years of accumulated and solidified grease, dirt, and tobacco.

On the plus side, now we have a super clean kitchen. For the most part, anyway; there always seems something new to scrub. It’s incredible.

It’s also interesting trying to redefine yourself in a space that someone else designed. An apartment is different; you get standard, run of the mill cabinets, closets, and outlets, but in a house, you inherit the aesthetic of the owner’s before you. I have more outlets than I could have ever dreamed possible (which is amazing, believe me, there are no complaints), but they are all in weird areas (the ceiling, the center of a wall, etc.), and most frustratingly, oddly designed cabinets.

Doing the big stuff is easy – patching holes, painting, cleaning – that requires little thought beyond choosing the paint and cleaning supplies. But redefining a customized space to suit your needs is tricky. I’m trying to figure out the best layout of our things, which inevitably raises questions, such as:
  • Where should the utensils go?
  • Do we separate the spices from the baking items?
  • Why aren’t the cabinets tall enough to fit my rice container?
  • Where do I put my cookbooks?

It’s all a mystery, and because I am such a perfectionist, it means that our things have been moved many, many times over.


At least Evrill loves the house. The first day that we brought her here, she hid in a closet the entire time, shaking because all of the fire alarms had dead batteries and were chirping like mad. It was quite an event: we ran around the house looking for every possible alarm and ripped them down as fast as we could. No matter how thorough we thought we were, there was always another alarm that we had somehow missed. Now, she enjoys being queen of her castle – there are just so many new places for her to lie down!

4.21.2014

Revival (Kinda)

I'm pretty sure I posted something exactly like this a year or so ago. So let's skip past the apologies and empty promises and I'll tell you something real instead. I can't say how often I will post, if at all. But I need an outlet, and I need accountability. So I'll revive the blog to keep up my observations and complaints, just to give me some direction and practice. Practice in what, you ask? (Let's be real, no one is asking.) Practice in not being a quitter. There is no noble cause here, no higher sense of purpose. It's all just an exercise in selfishness and self-development.

I've been in Troy for almost a year and a half, and in that time I have grown to tolerate this city. I would never say love, or even like, but at least I no longer disdain my new-ish town. I know how that makes me sound. But I've never gotten the rush of excitement coming here like I do going home to Long Island or New York. I've found things to love: the farmers' market, the cute mom-and-pop shops (that are owned by people my age, so does that make them mid-twenties shops?), the fresh produce, but I'm not in love. Maybe I need a few years. Maybe all I will ever have is a mild appreciation for Troy, that allows me to wax poetic about all that I have learned here (skiing, driving on highways, hydroponic care, and hiking).

One thing that has always struck me about the residents of the Capital Region is how prejudiced they are against Troy. I'm constantly met with, "You live in the ghetto," or "oh, it is so far away, all the way across the river!" The Hudson is about 100 feet wide, if that, and there are countless bridges to cross it. How does 100 feet east differ from 100 north or south? Why does the addition of water matter so much in the location equation? And last I checked, Troy was not the ghetto - it is the same as every other factory town on the banks of the Hudson. Like every other river town, its heyday was over 100 years ago, and it is just now starting to claw its way back into relevancy, while the rest of downstate continues to suffocate itself with overpopulation and overdevelopment.

Even though I am not in love with Troy, I refuse to let people diss my new town. It's kind of like talking shit about your family; it's okay for you to do it, but if anyone outside the inner circle dares to say anything negative, there will be hell to pay.


2.05.2013

Reunited (And It Felt So Good)


This past weekend was my first time back in New York after the big move. On the train, in between naps and crocheting I thought about what my attitude would be when I pulled into Penn Station. I figured that there would be two scenarios that could happen and they would set the tone for the whole trip. The first (unlikely) scenario was that I would emerge from the belly of Penn Station and would be overwhelmed with the sights, sounds, and smells of 32nd Street and be struck with the sudden realization I never even liked New York and that moving was the best thing to happen to me. The other option was upon stepping foot into midtown, I would feel like myself again; picking up where I had left off when I moved in December. Obviously, the second scenario happened. How could it not? I got off of the train and every fiber of my being screamed “YOU ARE HOME.” It felt pretty nice.
 
Throughout the weekend I ate all of my favorite foods, saw most of my friends, walked around my neighborhood, finally ate at Mission Chinese (get the egg egg noodles, they will change your life), and I felt comfortable, for the first time in a long time. The only difference was that I was staying in a hotel rather than my apartment, which tripped me up when I tried to go home to my old apartment and realized halfway through that I didn’t live there anymore. On the plus side, my hotel room was so much bigger and nicer than my old apartment and Joe Jonas was staying there, which would be cooler if it was 2009, but still.
 
On Friday, a friend and I were walking to the Barclays Center (everyone should go it at least once; the foyer is just unbelievable) and passed by a woman who had a small dolly of water bottles. As she was pushing it down the block the front wheels popped off and the entire cart toppled over, ejecting the bottles onto the sidewalk. My friend and I were the first to help the woman pick up her things so she could get going again, and helped her refill her cart. As we were walking away, my friend pointed out that if this same incident had happened when we were still living in the city, we would not have stopped to help her; we would have just kept on walking. She felt that living outside of the city had softened us up and made us kinder than when we lived in Manhattan. I don’t know if I agree with her. Not to say that I am this incredibly generous person who helps everyone all the time, but small things like picking up a woman’s water bottles are common decency, which I felt like I saw all the time in New York. I could not begin to count the number of times I was offered a seat on the subway, or someone asking if I was okay after I had tripped. I feel like most people at their core good people and the only thing I could fault New York for in this realm, is that the city’s large population is taken for granted; when we are busy we assume that one of the other 8 million people living here will help the person we see in need.
 
The one thing I have noticed about myself is that I am so much less stressed out than I used to be. Maybe it’s because I no longer need to be hyper vigilant of the avalanche of cockroaches that could appear out of nowhere at any minute. We don’t have them in Troy (that I have seen, anyway) and for that I am incredibly grateful. But I still jump anytime I see a shadow pass by, because I am incredibly paranoid.
 
On a final note, this weekend I figured out where Mud sources their chai from in their chai lattes and I am so proud of this. The chai they use is David Rio Tiger Spice Chai. I just ordered a 4 pound bag of it. Now I can have a little bit of home with me every morning for less than the Mud priced $3.50.
 

1.31.2013

Granola Yuppie


You guys, I have some incredibly exciting news. I drove from work, to yoga, to home without using my GPS ONCE. I mean, I was second guessing my route the entire time, but I did it. I rule. Is it sad that these are the things that I get excited about?
 
Probably the most noticeable change that has occurred since I moved here is how much of a granola yuppie I am becoming. My dog goes to doggy day care to ease her separation anxiety, I go to two yoga studios three times a week, I recycle and compost, and I buy 75% of my groceries from the Troy Farmers Market or the Honest Weight Food Co-op. To be fair, when I lived in NYC I recycled and went to yoga, but I feel like it is different now because I have to pay for yoga. I miss the donation based classes at YTTP more than I could have ever guessed. I miss the Tibetan singing bowl, I miss the end of class quotes, and most of all, I miss the fact that I could pay $2 for a yoga class. Now I have to think about reservations, subscriptions, and all this other nonsense – is this growing up is? Because it sucks. But in the words of my dear friend Michael from Padua High School, “Yuppie greed is back, my friend.” (4:21)
 
  
Serious Eats recently posted an entry about Nighthawk’s Kitchen’s smashed burgers and it made my day (although I am not that impressed with Nighthawk’s mac and cheese, sorry); partly because Troy needs all the love it can get and mostly because it meant that I had lots of friends asking me about the Troy Farmers’Market. Let me tell you about the gloriousness that is the Troy Farmers’ Market. It is a weekly Saturday extravaganza full of local vendors selling fresh and affordable produce, meats, dairy, and assorted artisanal food. On top of that there are craft stalls and many prepared food kiosks. It is absolutely awesome and is probably the best thing that Troy has going for it. I honestly have never seen a better Farmers’ market in my life. The market runs year round; in the summer the stalls are set up on the street in front of the local stores and in the winter the market shrinks and is moved to the Atrium. It is such a large community event and everyone brings their kids and dogs to stroll up and down the block, to shop, chat, and eat. It is delicious and adorable and everyone should go.

If you ever find yourself at the Troy Farmers’ Market and need some suggestions of where to spend your money, might I suggest these vendors?
  • Buddha Pesto: Use it on bread, in pasta, roasted with vegetables, eat it with a spoon, it is that good.
  • Gatherers Granola: Delicious and surprisingly low fat granola with an adorable woodland creature theme
  • Pika’s Liege Wafels: If you want the REAL deal in Belgian waffles (with pearl sugar), you come here. Bonus! The owner has his children working the booth and they are natural salesmen.
  • Pucker’s Pickles: My favorite are the full sours, but you can sample them all to find your favorite.
  • Thunder Mountain Curry: These guys know how to make a damn good curry.

1.29.2013

Resurrection


After an incredibly long hiatus, I am back. Part of it was laziness but part of it was apprehension about what I would say about my new home, my new job, my new living arrangement. I don’t want to be the girl that has only negative things to say about her experience. Right now, I don’t feel adjusted; I am lost all the time.

Every time I think I have something figured out, the fastest route to work, the best grocery store, a good yoga studio, something happens that fucks it all up. At least the trains in NY are on a timed schedule – I knew that if I left my apartment at exactly 8:40 am, I could catch the uptown N train at 8th St and be at work at exactly 8:59. That’s not how things work here – I think that I am leaving with plenty of time for work and there is a traffic jam for some unknown reason. It does not make sense to me and it frustrates me that I can’t get my morning commute timed as precisely as I used to, which is irritating.

It is incredible how much of a culture shock moving 2.5 hours north has been. I have never owned a car in my life before this month, and even after a month of commuting, I am still a ball of nerves whenever I merge onto 787. Going from the world of New York where almost everything is open 24/7 (including your job) to Albany where Sundays are an enforced day of rest is hard to wrap my mind around – what do you mean I can’t have Ali Baba’s baklava at 3:00 pm on a Sunday! What kind of monster denies me my Sunday treat?!

I am going to the city on Friday for a friend’s birthday and I am so excited that I could run to New York – that is how bad I want to be there. I want to walk around forever, I want to eat all the Asian food that I possibly can, I want to feel comfortable, and most of all I want to feel at home. I always feel slightly out of place here, I am always a shade or two outside of normal; either in my dress, my speech, my mannerisms, my attitude. Maybe I am just projecting that because I don’t feel at home yet, but I do feel like I stick out a bit for one reason or another.

Because I have made a New Year’s resolution to be more positive, I will end this post on a high note. It is convenient to go grocery shopping with a car. The fact that I don’t have to lug 50 lbs of groceries from 14th and 4th to 9th and 2nd and then up 4 flights of stairs is incredibly convenient, albeit dangerous. Because I have a full-size shopping cart, a car with an ample trunk, and no ridiculous line to contend with I am now buying practically everything that Trader Joes sells.  Delicious, but dangerous.

Again, this is only month one, and I know I will feel less lost (literally) as time passes. I am just looking forward to the day that I don’t have to use my GPS to get to the grocery store.