Archive for April, 2007|Monthly archive page

Crazy White Male

Do you think that finding an apartment in Toronto should be so hard? so FUCKING hard?

Is it me? Yeah, it’s probably me. I’m too spoiled, too touchy, too finicky. Call it what you want. But I know myself, and I know that I won’t be willing to pay a lot of money for a place I don’t like.

Or is the universe? Is it some sort of¬†conspiracy, that at the exact time that I’m looking for a place there seem to be such lame offerings?

It’s probably both. Either way, I think I’m going crazy. My life has turned into a fucking apartment-hunting never-ending nightmare. I’m hopping the subway, busses and streetcars and goes all over this enormous, maddening city in search of a place, but at the end of each day I feel empty, like I’ve wasted mine and everyone else’s time because I really don’t know what I want.

So what is it that I want? Let’s see.

I like being alone from time to time, but not all the time. After two years by myself in a one room apartment I know what it feels like. It suffocates you. So essentially, I’m looking for roommates, but I found it to be extremely hard. I don’t really have much experience with roommates, I only did it once. Anyway, what I realized is that I don’t want to live with roommates to pay a cheaper rent, I want roommates for the company. But problem is that most of the places I saw are houses where every tenant basically stays in his room. these people probably do it to save money. But if I’ll stay in my room all day and just go down to the kitchen once in a while and MAYBE meet someone there, then what’s the point?

And actually, it seems that everyone likes it that way. A place where everyone has different schedules is considered to be ideal. Some ads boast that “you hardly see your roommates”, as if it’s something very positive.

Well, again, the whole idea of roommates, to me – especially considering that I don’t know anyone around here – is to meet new people and not be alone, but if not seeing your roommates and stay in your room is considered a merit, then maybe I’m looking in the wrong place. Maybe apartment seeking isn’t the best way to find new friends. And maybe I’ve watched too many episodes of FRIENDS.

Then there’s the other option, that of living alone. Frankly, I’m torn. There’s nothing like having your own place. Nobody bothers you, you can use the bathroom whenever you want, listen to music, and most especially, watch movies until the wee hours of the night. You are the Lord of your Manor. after all, I’m 33. Maybe I’m too old for this roommates thing.
But the upside is the also downside. You’re alone. Yeah, I can get out (that’s why it’s important for me to find an apartment in an area with cinemas, bars, restaurants, and not a residential neighborhood for families with cars), I can find stuff to do, but every once in a while, I’m going to feel that loneliness, feel that I want to talk to someone, face to face. Hell, sometimes just hearing somebody else in the house (considering it’s not a burglar, of course) can alleviate feelings of loneliness.
And anyway, it’s nice to come home and have someone to talk to. The same someone who locks himself in the bathroom each morning for half an hour, or goes to sleep at 10 pm.

As always, I see the two sides of the coin and find it hard to decide. Indecisiveness is probably my biggest fault, a curse that makes my life pretty miserable, and what’s worse, I feel that it makes the people around me, if not miserable, then very annoyed.

Case in point could be the girl I called to say I’ll take the room in her apartment only too meet with her and discover that we’re not a good fit at all. She wanted to kill me at that moment. I saw it in her eyes. But I made that decision because I was tired of the apartment-hunting and wanted it to end. It was a mistake. Too bad my indecisiveness wasted her time and mine, and made her annoyed. I felt really horrible after that, and really hated myself for my foolishness. I still do.

There are many other factors, like price, area, proximity to the subway, length of lease. At first, I didn’t really know what I wanted. Now I have a better idea, but I’m not quite sure. I’m really all over the place with that one, and that’s no good, but I can’t help it. The inability to focus is my second great vice. Inability to focus and indecisiveness lead to lack of confidence, and that usually leads to writing long winded posts where you try to collect your thoughts together while wondering who will stay to read the whole thing.

So where was I? Oh, yeah, the apartment thing. I’m probably the worst kind of person you could send to look for apartments, yet this is the fifth time I’ve been doing it in the last seven years(!).

Maybe I should’ve been a real estate agent.

The Empire Strikes Back

On my last day in NYC, before going to Toronto, I decided I just had to go to the Empire State Building. I mean, it’s a landmark, isn’t it? Built in the 1920’s, it stands today as the tallest building in the city (now that the Twin Towers are gone). it’s a symbol of New York City if there ever was one. It’s the building King Kong climbed on. It’s majesty and history all rolled into one.

Isn’t it?

Well… it is, but after 20 minutes inside, the Empire State Building becomes only one thing.

A line.

You see, when you approach the building, you see a line. A small, not too intimidating line forms on the sidewalk outside, and you’re inside in less than ten minutes.

In the entrance there’s a sign which notifies of the approximate time to reach the observatory.

Three to four hours.

At that point, I became worried, but I dismissed it as some optical illusion created by the converging of the sun’s rays and the exhaust fumes from the cars.

It must have said 30-40 minutes. Yeah, it must have.

We went up and came upon a BIG line. We stood there for about 40 minutes. Now, this is not Israel, so everybody didn’t become friends for life, but still, you hear different languages, see all kinds of people, it’s really interesting.

Until you want to pee.

That line was for the security check. Next, a line for the actual purchase of the tickets. This one went fast, only about 15 minutes. So I bought my ticket, went ahead, and came upon…

Well, you guessed it. A line. A big line. A HUGE line. The Mother of All Lines.

I was in a dilemma of sorts. On the one hand, I really had to pee. On the other hand, if I’ll go to the bathroom I won’t enter the line, which means that people that came in after me will now be in ahead of me.

Well, what can you do? I went to the bathroom and then came back. The bathrooms, by the way, are very clean. Probably because everyone pees in their pants.

This line (all lines, actually) went ahead in an orderly and amazingly well maintained fashion. either that people are very patient, or they knew what was coming. That didn’t stop some of them from sitting on the floor now and then. I just tried to imagine that sort of line in Israel and came to the conclusion that if the Empire State Building was in Israel it would’ve been torched long ago by an angry line-hating mob.

That line was for the actual entrance into the elevators and it broke down into a couple of smaller lines. We got stopped every few meters by a very polite but firm ESB employee.
I stood about two hours in that line plus the mini-lines.

And then we entered the elevators. Hurray! Hallelujah! Praise the lord!

The elevators went up and my ears started feeling the pressure. the doors opened… we were there, we were at the glorious observatory! we were-

We were in a line again.

Now, this line was the line before you actually enter the observatory. It snaked across an ugly floor which had sign that read: “sorry for our look, we’re renovating!”
Great, not only do I have to stand in line, I have to see beams and paint everywhere.

While we were on that line, each of us had his or her picture taken in front of a huge photograph of the ESB. I has no idea why. It wasn’t voluntary, they photographed everybody. I thought that in the end we’re going to get a cute little memento of our visit, some compensation for standing three hours in line.
We’ll get back to the picture later.

Then, it was finally over and we got into the observatory. The million dollar question is: Was it worth it?

Well, it’s worth it, I guess. The panorama is truly stunning. I took a lot of pictures (see below), went around and around, and eventually got the point and went back inside. All in all I was there for about 20 minutes. 3.5 hours in line for 20 minutes. Crazy, ha?

So I was out, and I thought that I’m just going to take the elevator down, get out to the street, and go home to rest my aching body.

But no. There were lines on the way out. We stood about 15 minutes in line to get out of the floor. On the way out, we came to a long stand which had everybody’s pictures in it. “That’s nice”, I thought, “now we’ll get our pictures in return for all the trouble we went through”.

And we could get our picture, we only had to pay 25 dollars.

25 dollars. that’s more than 100 NIS. For a fucking picture. I said “no, thanks”. It really annoyed me that they are taking our picture without asking us and then trying to sell it to us for a ridiculously high price.

The ESB is a money machine. On the way up, through the lines, they try to sell you all kinds of things like audio commentaries and movie simulations, and on the observatory deck there is of course a gift shop full of silly, expensive stuff. But hey, if you’re a tourist, you asked for it.

But in the end, there’s nothing like seeing the greatest city in the world from sky high. It is truly awe-inspiring

Go to part 2 for the pictures and judge for yourself if it was worth it ūüôā

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Some photos from New York City

3rd Avenue on the Upper East Side, where I lived for a month.

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34th Street

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6th Avenue (Avenue of the Americas)

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More to come!

Of mice and men

Now, wh0 said you have to be lonely in New York?

I have a new roommate. He is very small, grey, and has a little tail, and he comes out of the wall¬†in the kitchen¬†to keep me company. Alas, the¬†little bugger¬†doesn’t share¬†the rent.

Last night I went to sleep and turned the lights off. I was very tired and was sure I’ll be asleep in no time. Then, I started hearing¬†strange noises that came¬†from the direction of¬† the kitchen counter. It seemed that the thing making the sound was the foil that covered the sliced¬†white bread I bought in the morning. My first thought was that I didn’t close the bread properly and that¬†the foil had somehow started¬†unwrapping all¬†by itself.

But the more I listened the more it seemed that something was physically TOUCHING the foil. So my second, obvious thought was: cockroaches.

But what kind of cockroach makes a noise like that? It seemed to be a much heavier creature than an insect.

So I turned on¬†the lights, and then I saw it. A grey flash that shot behind the microwave and disappeared. I cringed in disgust. I saw something but I wasn’t sure what. Only thing I knew was that I’m not alone. There’s a¬†live¬†animal in the apartment with me, and it’s not a pet.

At first, I thought it was a rat. I saw them outside at night, running in the park. I checked behind the counter and saw that there was probably no way that a rat could pass through what looked like a narrow margin between the counter and the wall.

So the only logical conclusion that was left was: It was a mouse.

I was sure the little critter came out because it was dark and because he noticed the bread. So I kept the light in the kitchen on (after putting all the food inside the fridge and taking the garbage out)¬†and went back to sleep, but I was very jittery. I’m not used to living with rodents in the same apartment. (Now, as a side note, one must understand that apparently, mice are a pretty common occurence¬†here in¬†NY. It doesn’t necessarily have something to do with the cleanliness of your apartment. They just live in the walls of the old buildings). So I tossed and turned and kept imagining hordes of mice climbing on the bed while I’m sleeping, and chewing my legs.

Finally, when there was no sign of the pest, I turned off the lights and tried to sleep again. It was four in the morning. I hated the bastard. Hated it. The most unsettling thing was that I had no idea what it looked like, only that it was grey.

Flash forward to the next day. It was evening. I sat at my computer. Suddenly, I heard a noise from the corner of the room.

Now, mind you, the lights were on,¬†I was up and awake. By all conceivable logic, I should’ve stayed master of my own¬†dwelling.

But then I saw him.¬†He was playing with a piece of chocolate candy I brought with me from Israel. It probably fell from the bag at some point and got stuck in some corner. Well, the little bugger found it. The candy was ball shaped and the mouse was hammering it from side to side as if trying to score a goal. I got up from the chair.¬†It noticed me and bolted to¬†its secret hideout behind the counter. This time I got a much better look at it, albeit¬†just for¬†two seconds. I couldn’t believe it. A little mouse. In the middle of the apartment. Snickering at me and brandishing its tail.

No wonder so many people here have cats. I couldn’t believe it. The fucker got out in BROAD LAMP LIGHT to score himself¬†a chocolate ball.¬†A conniving, mischevious and fearless¬†little bastard. Who knows when he’ll decide to pop out again.

There are¬†some mouse traps in the drugstore down the street, but I don’t think I’ll buy them. I’m leaving the apartment soon anyway, and besides, I don’t really feel like killing him.

After all, he’s company, and beggers can’t be choosers, can they?

I¬†just hope¬†it won’t bring any of¬†its¬†friends.¬†

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