I live in a large coop that overlooks a brownstone. For the past year and a half they’ve been building a penthouse and deck. It’s driving me insane. I didn’t know that it’s legal to build seven days a week in New York City. I guess that’s considered a sign of economic rejuvenation.
I never know when they’ll be working, what they’ll be doing or how many workers there will be. The owners are beyond perfectionists. They have everything re-done at least twice. I guess they have limitless resources. That wouldn’t piss me off if they were classy about it and sent me a tentative schedule or at all cared that I’m a freelance writer who works out of my apartment.
I know. I can always go to Starbucks or someplace. But I like working at home. I used to be able to concentrate; not anymore. I can’t put on noise cancelling headphones with good music running through them because my building has constant floods and the super doesn’t understand when I tell him that it’s illegal to walk into my apartment without prior notice. I finally had to threaten him with police action, as no notice in a non-emergency situation is blatantly illegal.
Hell if he cares. He can always claim that there was a flood somewhere. He thinks that he’s omnipotent because the Board of Directors bows to him and lets him run the building as his personal fiefdom. He holds his hand out when he walks in here.
When I made my first complaint to the new managing agent who sounds like a Teamster, I asked if I was supposed to keep a supply of $20’s available for instant tipping. He hung up on me. Thing is I’m a good tipper; more than generous and seem to try to make up single handly for the reputation of single women everywhere.
Personally I don’t know one single woman who isn’t generous when circumstances allow her to be. I think that single women as stingy tippers is a myth generated to make us feel guilty and give even more.
I no longer feel at home in the apartment I bought with help from nobody. I don’t know the gender appropriate equivalent of “emasculate,” but whatever that is my super is trying to do it to me.
He sees me sitting at home. That I’m at a computer doesn’t mean anything to him. I could be, maybe should be, playing Solitaire or Hearts. I’m soft spoken and no longer find solace in yelling at people. It just doesn’t make me feel good.
A month after 9/11 my mom died suddenly. I was heartbroken and couldn’t concentrate on anything. My building went into flood overload. I had been smelling mildew since I first moved in four years earlier. Everything in my apartment was checked ten times. One Sunday night I came home, went into my bedroom, saw a perfect circle of sand on the floor and went into the living room to make a call. About 40 minutes later, it dawned on me that the sand wasn’t supposed to be there and hadn’t been there before I had gone out to dinner.
My downstairs neighbors had a flood so fierce that it backed up into my walls and floor. I had been smelling the corroding pipes for four years. (Why my neighbors hadn’t smelled it is a question only they can answer.)
When the super came up the next morning, to direct the massive clean-up and restoration, I told him that my mom had recently died and I was in kind of deep mourning. “That’s nothing. My nephew died in the Trade Center.” (I will write more about the comparing death stories in my next entry.)
For months I felt like the super owned my apartment and I was just renting space from him. It contributed a lot to the bitterness that I felt during that period. Especially since he let me know that I was to tip everybody who worked in my apartment weekly. I was in no condition to argue. Though I supposedly got a new bedroom floor for free, I feel like I paid for it over and over again.
Yes it’s nice to live in a building where problems are taken care of–but that flood was happening for years, and I pay a lot of money to live here. We’re a non-eviction coop. The people who live downstairs are rent controlled; they own a country house that they spend most of their time in and don’t spend their time tracing smells of possible floods. Though when their apartment was flooded a few weeks ago, they told the handyman it emanated from my apartment and he came running in. It wasn’t. it was coming from the apartment above mine and I had complained about smelling mildew several days prior to that flood. Don’t they know already that when I say something smells of mildew they should pay attention?
I’m turning into a person that I hate. I wish that my building had an eviction policy when it turned coop. Rent controlled and stabilized residents have more rights than I do. When something breaks the landlord has to fix it. I could go but I’m beginning to bore even me.
The thing is I’ve been really hating New York for the past years. The Marathon used to excite me, but after seeing the first 20 or so, it sort of lost its magic. Nobody I know runs in it anymore; not because they no longer run but because they too became bored with it. Is being bored by the Marathon a sign it’s time to get out? Is hating construction and not feeling joy for the occupants of the penthouse a sign of impending surliness? Is hating the two young girls who come onto the deck of the penthouse and blast ghetto rap a sign of old age?
Or do I just know that on Marathon Sunday I won’t be able to walk anywhere? And the girls play the music so loud that other people scream at them and it becomes a cacophony of sounds that I just don’t want to deal with.
Next year I think I’m headed to a blue part of California where the weather’s almost always good. I could even work in a coffee house just because it’s not New York. All us New Yorkers are supposed to stick together and feel horrible about the election, and we do. But I know that the good feelings will be over in about a month. I’m getting real experienced at New York in a crisis. The first month is pure shock; everything after that is up for grabs.
If you hear about an elderly Greek couple who own a walk-up brownstone with a penthouse being killed, yes–it will be me. Same with an Irish super in a big-deal Upper West Side coop. I’m already planning my defense.