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Sunday, June 28, 2015

My first month in NYC

My cell phone camera is like a memory bank.  I don't use it so much to take photos of beautiful things I see... first, because I don't fancy myself a tourist.  Second, because everything is beautiful.  I can get caught up in the most fascinating textures of gritty places, and gleam of glass and steel buildings.  In NY, It's all art to me, but I digress.

<<Here's my most used photo.... a reminder of when the ferry to IKEA runs.

It can be kind of hard to ignore social issues when you are in NY. Right now everything around here is rainbow colors in celebration of the right for gay people to marry.  People are literally celebrating in the streets, since there is an actual parade going on not too far from my apartment, and this week I went to Broadway sings for Pride, which was an AMAZING show and since the main goal was preventing young people from committing suicide, then heck.yes. I was there.

So, how do I reconcile being Christian with going to a Gay Pride fundraiser, and not being offended by the gay marriage legislation?  It comes down to a meme I put on my Facebook page today. >>

It's that simple, my only job is to love people. My neighbors.. all of them.  And already being from the school of "that is none of my business" outside of atrocities toward others, I have no problem not worrying about what people are doing with and to themselves, and loving them whole-heartedly.

Speaking of atrocities, my heart is very heavy due to the murders of the 9 black church members due to racial hate. I am glad I was in NY when it happened because in all honesty, I felt freer to speak about it. In GA, I know that people would prefer you quickly acknowledge, but not address because it is uncomfortable. There is a desire to call each of these horrible actions an enigma that won't happen again, but unless we address the issues, it will continue. It makes me want to force my kids back into the home and have none of us ever leave... but I am actually doing the opposite, because we only get one life and we can't afford to live it in fear.

And then there's the whole rebel flag thing.  I hope some of that furor dies down before I get back home. I want that thing gone forever... from government property.  They can call it heritage and a battle flag if they want to, but it seriously only belongs in a museum. But the fact is that it wasn't flown on government property until the federal government issued racial integration orders.  It was flown as a symbol of hate.  A message to say, we don't want black people here... and whenever I see it, my mind goes.. RETREAT... RETREAT.  They don't want me here... and I'm not going there (if it is private property).  BUT.  I don't have a problem with bumper stickers and ornamental flags in people's yards because it tell me clearly, that the people who are loving these flags are people that I need to avoid, for my own safety and well being.  This girl likes a good warning.

In other news, After failing subway 101 last month by trying to take it to Ikea and ending up in an UBER before finding out there was a free ferry, I can say I am conquering the subway.  So not only did I pass subway 101 the other day, by getting to my destination, but I passed Subway 102 today.  I got to my destination and home which included transferring trains and getting back home.  Phone apps really help!

I just look up where I am going and figure out the closest subway stops.  Then I plug it into the little app, and where I am, and it tells me where to get on, where to get off, and where to transfer.  Note:  Figure it out before you leave though and take a screen shot of the route because the app my not work under ground.  I do the same with my map app when I am walking, because these apps get very confused around tall building, so make your map, screen save and proceed.  Plus that is a huge battery saving. 

Finally, being in a small apartment with a modest amount of belongings is having an effect on me. I love it. It is making my want to go home and throw away half of the items in my closet.  I am going to do it too.  Get rid of half my belongings because I don't need them, and I don't use them. I am starting with my closet, but over time, I plan to go through the entire house and give myself the minimalistic uncluttered environment I deserve.  I am very excited, and I can't wait.  

I completed a video this week that talks about the process of finding an apartment.  I think my next video will be in my Atlanta closet.

Until next time... 

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

My first week in NYC

So I am coming to the end of my first few weeks in NYC, I am heading back to the suburbs of Atlanta in a few days, where I will be furiously working on a costuming project, spending time with the young adult kids, and then coming back here to finish setting up the apartment. I will bringing some stuff from the house like plates, and other stuff I have in triplicate to make the apartment more homey.

I am very lucky to have pen pal of sorts.  Writing to someone daily helped my chronicle my journey.

Here are some of the more "fun" occurrences as they happened:

I am on the bus to NY right now. I should be there In a few hours. I need a Xanax. I thought I was all hardy and such. I could rough it. I'm not above the bus. Ummm. Apparently I'm a delicate flower. First, the lack of communication. How dare I expect customer service and think my questions should be answered. This is the bus lady and it costs $50 round trip. Shut up and get in line. I climb onto the bus and I say "the floor is sticky". An older pretty well put together woman looks at me and says "and..." I. Other words, were you expecting caviar? I silence myself and settle in only to find that my seat was In The back of the bus. The front rows were reserved for the workers they were transporting to work. For real. So I'm the back of the damn bus with a bunch of folks that are neither aware of or give a darn about niceties. They brought aboard the most pungent smelling food and ate it noisily. When they were done they fell into sleep apnea filled slumbers. I wanted to get up And poke people to make sure they were breathing.
 And finally as I settled in and was comfortable with an adorable tattooed young male nestled into my shoulder, I saw a roach. I like to have died. Everyone else was like. Oh yes, a roach , let's call him Ivan. Me, I'm trying to get a photo of it for my online review while simultaneously calculating how far a walk it was from that point. And when I got up for our potty break, I saw thAt everyone had thrown their half eaten dinners in the floor. There were little sewAge streams on the bus. At least that told me I could take my butt back to sleep because the roach/es were not thinking about me. It had a virtual smorgasbord to enjoy. 
While I was on the bus, I got a phone call from my kids.  Son finally passed his road test.  Not because he had failed it before, but because he kept putting it off.  At least now I could relax that both kids could drive and be independent in our absence.

Then I had to get from the bus to the apartment:

 Uber. They are supposed to find the passengers by GPS. The driver "could not find me" yesterday. Then a cab refused to take me. Finally a cab driver picked me up but told me, I really don't want to take you but you looked nice. The problem is that I was getting picked up in Chinatown at the bus stop to go to the financial district. For one, it was a cheap fare. For two, downtown is congested. The streets are very, very narrow, and it's a waste of time for me. The driver that took me said it a $13 fare... I gave him 20. If I didn't have 3 bags I would have walked the mile. Interestingly on the news today they are talking about how some dignitary was refused a ride to the Bronx because it's not so nice there and they can't pick up a safe return fare, so their time is wasted. They're talking about how NYC cabbies and UBERS cherry pick the customers preferring only he rich areas, but I have first hand proof that they won't go to the Wall St area too.

I found that the best shopping requires at least a 15 minute walk:

 I'm going to have to reacquaint myself with the subway. Today we covered a lot of miles.. First we walked a mile to Bed, Bath, and Beyond, then we stopped at Whole Foods for my Toms of Maine toothpaste. Then we decided to go to IKEA even though my knee was giving out. We tried to get there by subway and failed. Wrong train, the. Wrong direction, then... Oh wait, we have to take a bus to get all the way there... We called an Uber and it was about $20 at that point. Then a memory struck me... Something about a ferry and IKEA. Apparently, On the weekends you can take a water taxi to IKEA for free...from Manhattan. And actually IKEA will refund your $5.00 ride of you spend $10 during the week. So the ride home was free across the river, maybe 10 minutes, Then a 10 minute walk. I can't feel my feet right now.

So that was the gist of my first week.  Rediscovering NYC is quite a challenge.

How far will you go to save money?

My current life's journey/adventure includes setting up a second home (an apartment) in NYC, which I will spend as much time as possible at, and which hubby will work from.  Being a very thrifty person, I am struggling with a lot of the costs of NYC.  Which brings me to the question, how far will you go to save money? 

When I first quit my working full time, while pregnant with my son (who is about to turn 21), I did some reading of a very popular series of books called the Cheapskate Gazette.  There were lots of tips and ideas for stretching money so a family could survive on one salary and even prosper.  Some of the ideas were great.  Buying in bulk, freezing meals, couponing, etc.  But some of the ideas were off the wall... for my sensibilities anyway.   I drew the line at the menstruation cup.  Thanks, but no thanks.  I stuck to sanitary napkins and tampons.  

Likewise, being here in NYC, my first impulse is to do things more thriftily to save money. For example, I took the bus from Atlanta to NYC... and may take it back... I've calmed down from seeing the one bug.  But I tell you, the people were so careless about being clean. (My OCD is far worse than I realized).  So, I have shopped in a half dozen grocery stores since arriving in the area, and yesterday,  a friend put me on the subway and took me to trader Joes.  The prices were great, but...  dragging my little canvas cart through the subways and then up 4 flights of stairs back to the street.... That may have been more than I could handle.  I will probably split NYC grocery shopping between the Fulton Street Market (it is actually a KeyFood) and Whole Foods... both of which I can walk to in 15 minutes.

I will save the three markets closest to me for emergencies, as they are just overpriced... I don't care if it is all organic, if I can't afford to buy enough food, it is useless. (OK, I actually can afford it, but I am physically unable to pay twice the price for something I could get in Atlanta for a reasonable price.)

Of course there are still things I will do to save money such as never buy designer clothes and purses, because for a thrifty girl like me, that is pretentious and ridiculous. I will continue to do my own hair. I will fill the freezer with precooked meals with the hope that hubby will eat that before heading to the expensive salad bar down the street.  

What about you?  What are you thrifty about and where would you rather splurge?  Just curious?

Meanwhile, I am almost done furnishing the apartment, then I need to decorate it.  I am having a dilemma about what would typically be the dining area.  That seems redundant to me with a breakfast bar and a coffee table that converts to a dining table.  Here's a video.  I need some ideas. 

Monday, June 08, 2015

Once a homeschooler, always a homeschooler

It's been over two years since we were active homeschoolers, and I still find it creeping into my thoughts, my conversations, and my life.

Take for instance, the young man who showed us our NYC apartment. He mentioned that he needed to get his kid out of public schools, and off the conversation went into the land of homeschooling.  Hubby, actually needed to be held back.  He really feels it is the only way to go.  I could tell however, that this young man and his wife were both working outside the home and neither were in a position to pull back and to deal with all the restrictions, rules, and regulations of a NYC homeschooler... I although I did mention that the laws were much more lax in Jersey, right across the river.

We talked about successes, things I would differently if I had to do over, and so much more.  We ended up taking the appointment, but the conversation was all about homeschooling.  Go figure.

Then there's the fact that people ask me about my kids. I give ages, and most moms do.  Then I give years in college because people always want to know what young adults are up to... and then I have to explain why someone who is still 18 just completed her Sophomore year of college.  Homeschooling, of course.  I'm sure there are numerous other reasons, but in our case, the answer is homeschooling.

I test myself sometimes to see how long I can go without mentioning homeschooling. It amazes me how much education in general comes up in polite conversation! And then there's just the times that homeschooling just invades my mind and heart when I hear a story about some kind of school mistreatment. The parent who was arrested because her child had more sick days than allowed... the child how got handcuffed, for being a child.  The black boys who get suspended way more than the other kids for the same reason...  It breaks my heart. I know that homeschooling really is the answer to many of these atrocities, but poverty, and single parenthood, and other issues can make it near impossible.  My heart bleeds for these families.

There has got to be a way to help enable people who want to homeschool who can't.  My wheels are always turning.