New York Apartment Moments

I moved to New York City almost immediately after I graduated college in 2017. The stars aligned and aligned, and continued to align and I’m still here, with the same company, jivin’ on.

One thing I’m frequently asked, by friends, family, and strangers alike is, “How much longer are you staying in New York?

When I first moved to New York, this question always made sense for people to ask me. My internship had an end date, I have no family here, costs are outrageous for housing, I moved here knowing only one person and that person I honestly only knew from a few shared classes in college. There was nothing grounding me here, I knew that and that’s why it was such a valid question for people to ask me.

Then, the internship abruptly ended 2 months in – because I got promoted 😉

So things only then started to become a bit grounding for me – my job became a real adulty job, friendships began rapidly growing, and almost excessively I began meeting more people… the city was morphing into my home. Yet as the years go by, I still get asked, “How much longer, Emily?”

Recently it clicked that the reason I’m asked so much, besides the point of people simply wanting me closer to them, is that maybe I’m not speaking enough about how much this place is my home.

When my mamaw passed away my freshman year of high school, she had cancer and it was incredibly touch and go a lot of the time. It hit a point where my dad ultimately told me, “No news is good news.” Which, in some weird way, I think this phrase held so much reassurance to me that I carried it on through to my adulthood. I treat everything with a “no news is good news” attitude – even in the very way I conduct my conversations with others. If I’m not talking about an aspect of my life, I assume everyone must realize that’s because those parts are good, or maybe even great! But what I’ve failed to understand is that this means when I’m talking in detail about anything… maybe I dwell a bit more on the bad or negative things happening – which then in turn paints a more negative picture of my life to others.

So of course it makes sense that people are asking me, “How much longer are you staying in New York, Emily?” because they’ve really only been hearing a quick quip of “Oh yeah, it’s great but…” and then I dive more in depth about mouse horror stories, or the terrible roommates, not to mention they regularly hear me say, “Send the package to my office because things get stolen from my apartment!

Today, I’ve decided to switch my narrative and share with you all some little magical things about each place I’ve lived in NYC, to spread some positivity around 🙂

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HARLEM: MAY 27, 2017 – AUG 1, 2017

This was the apartment that welcomed me with open arms into the city. Albeit, itty-bitty tiny arms, but welcoming arms nonetheless. I paid $750 per month to live here incl. utlities (3 bedroom but I never saw one one of the roommates)

WHAT I’VE SHARED WITH OTHERS: I lived with a bartender who would come home with her friends at 5AM and proceed to throw crazy parties each morning. There was no AC, and the dead of summer in NYC was so unbearable, every night I would take a cold shower and then take a washcloth to put behind my neck to keep me cool throughout the night. Living here was also the brokest I’d ever been in my life. It was rough, and not only all of that, my bedroom was so terribly small that I could lay on the floor and have my fingers touch one side and my toes touch the other (and I’m somewhere between 5’4″ – 5’5″!)

THINGS I’VE NEVER SHARED: Almost every night, just before falling asleep, I would get to relax to the sound of a neighbor playing jazz music from their window, sometimes opera music, but mainly classic jazz. It was one of those grounding “I’m in NYC, I’m here…” moments, it felt like a scene from a movie – to fall asleep to that music on a twin-size mattress on the floor of a Manhattan apartment. There was also this Halal place at the end of my block and they had the best lamb over rice I’ve ever had… period. And the commute to work from this apartment was one of the most stable commutes I’ve experienced.

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CHINATOWN: AUG 1, 2017 – OCT 27, 2018

This place felt like a step up from my first apartment because the room had a queen size bed OFF THE GROUND, was generally larger, and also it was downtown right around where I loved going out the most. I also only paid $750 a month to live here incl. utilities (5 bedroom).

WHAT I’VE SHARED WITH OTHERS: I lived in a five bedroom apt but a couple of the rooms generally had more than one occupant. Most of the occupants did not speak English. And we also had several furry roommates that did not pay rent – AKA MICE. WE HAD ALL THE MICE. It was a terror, one of the worst things I’ve ever experienced. Link here to my personal blog to read more of those deets. I also lived above a grocery store which was under the Buddhist temple, which was under the Chinese Mafia gambling ring location (if you’ve seen Marvelous Mrs. Maisel it was identical to what Joel stumbled upon when opening his club..) – then after climbing all those stairs you’d find yourself at my apartment. We also had a stove top but not an oven – and I didn’t catch this until after I moved in…

THINGS I’VE NEVER SHARED: Some of the craziest party nights of my life took place while I lived here and my roommates put up with my drunken loudness silently and without complaint. Even though communication was hard at times, it was somehow a friendly almost family like atmosphere you could tangibly feel. One roomie had an adorable Yorkie named Cofi and it was so fun to get greeted by her each day. Living in Chinatown itself made it feel even more real that I was in New York – or more like out of the country even. Just walking around the area, I get that same buzz in my soul that I get when traveling to a new city. Then the smell hits me and I’m ready to bounce, but you get the idea 😉 UGH AND LASTLY THE FOOD WAS PHENOM!!!!!!! So phenom…

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SPANISH HARLEM: OCT 27, 2018 – JULY 31, 2020

If I said Chinatown felt like a step up, man oh man, just hold your horses for this place. It was newly renovated with exposed brick in every room, only one flight of stairs to climb, WASHER AND DRYER IN UNIT!! It was a dream. I paid $1,207 a month plus utilities to live here (2 bedroom)

WHAT I’VE SHARED WITH OTHERS: Roaches, roaches, roaches. The renovations throughout the building rattled the roaches and our apartment was coated in the beasts. My roommate and I had severely different cleanliness standards. There was a loud motorcycle gang that would rumble through the neighborhood at all hours, right by our windows. Lastly, our super and management company were the worst…

THINGS I’VE NEVER SHARED: You could buy the prettiest freshest flowers and herbs from nearly any corner of any block whether its a bodega or a genuine flower shop – Spanish Harlem was stocked. And everything was fairly priced too. Speaking of Bodegas, there was a bodega on the corner of our block with the absolute best burgers and fries ever. Best enjoyed at the end of a night out. And the guys who worked there, along with those who also shopped there from the neighborhood, were the absolute friendliest people who could always bring a smile to my worn out face. I’ve also embarrassingly had a card declined there and they let me just have my order on the house without even a second thought. On another note, people would often park right outside our windows and blare music. To which I had a love/hate relationship with, but reflecting back it was mostly love. On Sundays it was typically soulful gospel music, and every other day the genre was fair game. I also often found myself Shazaming their music and adding it to my own playlists to jam to later. And lastly, every morning on my walk to the train, I always exchanged a nice “good morning” with a traffic cop – it was small thing, but it was still a burst of kindness I could count on each morning.

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Most currently, I’ve found myself out of Manhattan and living in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. This place… I’ve only said good things about this place. I feel blessed to have evolved up to this point – great roommates I actually enjoy hanging out with, a BEAUTIFUL, BEAUTIFUL APARTMENT WITH ALL THE AMENITIES… the cover photo for this article is the view from my building’s rooftop…

It’s a dream.

To reflect back on the whole, “no news is good news” thing – I shouldn’t have carried this past the situation with my mamaw. No news is good news is best for situational uses only. It’s so important to share the good things with those who care about you, because if you only share the bad, they’re going to worry and assume that’s all there is. Bad.

So share your good news, share your great moments, share the small nice moments – don’t assume everyone knows you’re experiencing good things. As my nana always says, “Do you know what happens when you assume? You make an ASS out of U and ME!

Wine 101: Barebone Basics

One thing about me that shocks most people is the amount of part-time jobs I’ve had in my life. I’ve worked various babysitting gigs, retail at place such as Loft, The Children’s Place, Dollar General, Macy’s… I’ve worked at Waffle House… I’ve worked as a package handler for FedEx… but my most favorite part-time job I’ve ever worked is at a cute little wine boutique in the East Village – Taste Wine Company.

I know, I know – you’re thinking, “Wow… shocker… Emily’s fave part-time gig being at a place that gives her a booze discount? Not rocket science.

And if you’re not thinking that, then you’re still stuck on the Waffle House bit… and I’ll tell you now that it’s okay, I’m okay.

But here’s the thing – while the wine & spirits discount was a definite plus, what was actually my favorite part of the job was learning so much about the wine and spirits. Not only the simple things, like what I actually enjoy and being able to point customers to something I’m sure they’ll enjoy, but learning about how everything is made and what makes each beverage unique.

Throughout my time at Taste, I learned so much, and that knowledge paired with the luxury events I began attending through work… my personal taste developed quite radically. Where most of my friends were still into Oliver Soft Red, I began looking for a California cab, and when they’re craving a moscato, I’m looking for a sauv blanc. I also at times find myself turning up my nose at those who are into the sweeter wines, but then I immediately scold myself with the reminder: “Wine is subjective, Emily. Get a grip, it ain’t that deep girl.

But it was a recent dinner where I ordered a glass of sauvignon blanc and my brother said, “Oh, did you find that wine when you were working at the wine shop?” I realized he assumed sauvignon blanc was not just a type of wine, he assumed it was a brand name – granted my brother is one year shy of 21, but still, it got the wheels in my head turning. I have such a basic level knowledge of wine, but I do understand it… so why not share my very basic knowledge with others who are looking to to broaden their own wine knowledge?

So let’s breakdown four common dry wine varietals:

Red

Pinot Noir

Pronunciation = pee-noh | n’wahr

This is typically a lighter to medium bodied red with not a lot of tannin (bitterness), and while pinot noirs definitely can have earthy notes to them, they more commonly get a bit fruitier with prominent berry, or jammy, vibes to them. A major note here is fruity does not mean sweet! When talking jammy, think of this in terms of the tartness and lingering aftertaste in fruits like cranberries or black cherries. In terms of what “earthy” means, well with some wines you can almost taste something similar to dirt, but mixed with hints of spices – it sounds funky, I know, but with wine it just works.

Pairs well with: In general, red wine goes great with a heftier meal, but it’s important to remember that pinot noir is a lighter red wine, so this isn’t meant for a heavy steak dinner. Pinot noirs go great with things like pasta dishes, roasted chicken, & medium cheeses like Gruyere.

Popular regions: Oregon, California, New Zealand, Australia, (Burgundy) France, Germany, & Argentina | I’m a sucker for pinot noir from Burgundy. The most random pinot noir I’ve had is one from Macedonia – this was earthy as all get out and tasted like straight dirt – but what’s fun about wine is that while I’m not into it, some people totally are and that’s OK 😉

Cabernet Sauvignon

Pronunciation = cab-er-nay | soh-vee-ah-(n)

When someone just says, “I’ll take the cab, please” – this is what they’re referring to, cabernet sauvigon. Some also call it the “cab sauv” [pronounced: cab sav, say it all through your nose like Fran from The Nanny] Now you know the lingo, it’s time to understand what this red is going to taste like. Cabs are heavier bodied, bold, high on the tanin (bitterness), and dry af. So if you are a sweet wine drinker who wants to dip your toes into dryer wine, do not start here, friend. It will deter you big time. This is a wine varietal to ease into, for instance if you do a wine tasting night, there’s a higher chance you’ll dig cabernet sauvignon if you taste in the order of: lighter softer red you’re accustomed to, a jammy pinot noir, maybe a medium bodied red like a petite syrah, then go for the heavier cab sauv.

Pairs well with: Big, bold wine goes with a big, bold dinner. Cabernet sauvignon goes great with hearty red meat dishes, massive portabello mushrooms, & it pairs well with most any cheese, but especially hard cheese like Gouda & cheddar.

Popular regions: California, (Bordeaux) France, Australia, & Chile | As mentioned earlier, I’m always game for a California cab.

White

Sauvignon Blanc

Pronunciation = soh-vee-ah-(n) | blah-nk

Sauvignon blanc is typically a safe white wine choice; these are lighter bodied, citrus-y, and really easy on the taste buds. But reminder, this is still a dry wine – while it seems fruity, it’s certainly not sweet. Typical tasting notes with sauv blancs are grapefruit, gooseberry, white peach, or melon – and if these sound like fruits you’d like on a hot summer day, that’s the exact mood of a sauvignon blanc. Think crisp, refreshing, and summer vibes when envisioning a sauvignon blanc situation.

Pairs well with: Mantra: lighter wines = lighter foods. So mix that mantra with the summery sauv blanc, and you’re probably not surprised that it goes well with seafood, green veggies, & a smooth goat cheese = all light, bright and fun 🙂

Popular regions: California, (Loire Valley) France, New Zealand, & South Africa | French sauv blancs are typically smooth & subtle, while New Zealand sauv blancs have a vibrant grapefruit personality.

Chardonnay

Pronunciation = char-duh-nay

Chardonnays were the hardest wines for me to understand, one: if I even liked them, and two: what people even meant when they would call them buttery. Like how can a wine be buttery?! But then, one day I had my ah-ha! moment. I tasted a California chardonnay and a French chardonnay (a white Burgundy) back to back which enabled me to taste the difference immediately. To back it up a bit, chardonnays are generally a medium bodied white wine, they have a summery pallet of a sauvignon blanc but think of a thicker, warmer version. For me, after tasting these two chardonnays from different regions within moments of each other, I was finally able to taste the “butter” that everyone mentions. Due to being aged in oak barrels, that California chardonnay was considered “oaked” and the wine’s thickness tasted more like a buttery vanilla, while that French chardonnay, which was not aged in oak barrels and considered “unoaked”, came across more like a velvety, mineral-y citrus.

Pairs well with: The buttery, oaked chardonnays go great with more intense dishes like smoked seafood & creamy cheeses, while the mineral-y unoaked chardonnays pairs great with light white meat dishes & medium cheeses like Gruyere.

Popular regions: California, (Burgundy) France, Australia, & Italy | If you’re into the citrus-y, mineral wines – look for unoaked chardonnays!

I only mentioned four varietals, but there’s so much more than that!

One of my absolute favorite parts about wine, is that it’s subjective. There’s no wrong answer, no wrong preference, no wrong pairing – it’s all about your personal taste! So while I made pairing suggestions up above, they’re just that – suggestions. If you want to have a red wine with your summery salad – go for it! If you try these wines and you don’t taste any of the things I said you would – it’s not that big of deal. The fun part about doing a wine tasting with others is comparing what you taste versus what they taste, and thinking, “Wow, interesting, I think I taste that now!” or thinking, “Nope, don’t taste that at all… still don’t taste it, nope.

The worst thing you can do is let yourself be intimidated by wine; wine is fun, complex, and honestly it’s like world culture in a glass. More importantly, don’t let anyone tell you your taste is wrong – it’s just different than theirs.

“In racing, there is no question who is best – the first one to cross the finish line wins first prize. But with wine, even if you make the best wine in the world, someone isn’t going to like it, because it isn’t their style. Judging wine is very subjective.”

Mario Andretti