Thank you to everybody who submitted questions in the comments of the post I wrote last week! Y’all did not disappoint with providing many, many things for me to chew over.
I got a lot of questions, so I’ve decided to approach things a little differently this time around. Rather than put together one massive post, I thought it might be better to break up the questions by theme, and then do a post everyday this week surrounding each theme. That way, the posts will be more manageable and easier to swallow. It will also allow me to talk about myself for five whole days instead of one! Narcissism is my favorite game, so let’s get started!
I’ve re-worded and composited certain questions, so if you don’t see your question verbatim, it’s not because I don’t love you. It was just easier.
1. How do you like living in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn?
For those who just jumped on the exciting bandwagon that is this blog, it’s true: I do not live in Manhattan. I am a fraud. I did live in Manhattan from May 2010-June 2011, when I started this blog, and then I took the leap and moved to Brooklyn, which is a whole different borough. The neighborhood I live in is called Boerum Hill, which is close to Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens, and Brooklyn Heights (my neighborhood is small, and many New Yorkers don’t know where it is!).
I love Brooklyn. Things are different here. The shopping is better, the people are nicer, everything’s less expensive, and there are more dogs. The apartments are better, too. And cheaper. With absent-er landlords. Win-win-win, unless you need stuff fixed all the time.
Boerum Hill is a great neighborhood. It’s safe without being boring, and there are great restaurants, bars, and shops either in the neighborhood or close by. And the transportation—excuse me a moment, I get teary-eyed—is fantastic. There are so many trains around, which makes getting all over Brooklyn and all over New York that easier and more enticing. And the people are so friendly. I know so many of my neighbors, and I really feel like I’m part of a community here.
2. In the future, would you consider moving out of NY? And if so, where?
Max and I both came to New York for school, and I don’t think either of us started with aspirations of staying forever once we graduated. I was actually incredibly apprehensive about moving here and worried constantly that I would hate it. But that didn’t happen, and now I don’t ever want to move away. There are other cities I could see living in though, I guess. Chicago, San Francisco, Paris, some future colony on the moon?
But I love New York. Please don’t make me leave.
3. How do you make money/support yourself? How do you find the money to do all of this?
Max and I are both full-time students (I’m an undergrad, Max is in a graduate program at Parsons), we both work part-time jobs, and, yes, we both have parents who help support us. While we live comfortably, I don’t think we live extravagantly.
Money is always tight, which is mostly why I try so hard to find low-cost solutions when dealing with home projects. Thrifting and DIY-ing almost everything you own is a good start. While we definitely do certain things just for pretty’s sake, most of what I’m doing to my apartment is really motivated by functional concerns. I love our apartment, but it’s got its fair share of challenges—almost no storage and a really lousy kitchen, along with a whole laundry list of broken stuff/things in total disrepair when I moved in, a few of which remain. Most of my work here has really been addressing that stuff, so in that sense I’m not sure I do a whole lot more than the average person does. I think the difference might be in the permanence. I love this apartment and intend to live in it for a long time, so part of saving money in the long-term here is doing things right the first time. I am not a fan of stopgap measures, and never have been. It’s part of why I didn’t have a coffee table for about 4 months until I thrifted the right one, or why my mattress was on the floor until I could figure out how to make the bed I wanted, or why my kitchen re-do is dragging out for months. We plan and we budget and we save in order to do the things we want to do, the way we want to do them. A little at a time is the name of the game.
4. How long were you and Max together before moving in? What tips do you have for couples about to shack up?
Max and I met in February of 2011 and he officially moved in (as in, brought all his stuff and started paying rent) in August—less than 6 months after we initially introduced ourselves. And looking at an apartment in May was definitely informed by the notion that we’d both end up living in it. I’m no relationship expert, but I recognize that’s pretty quick. What can I say? He’s obsessed with me.
I think it’s important to just do what feels right. Nobody knows and understands your relationship except you, and every couple is different. For us, it wasn’t a very hard decision. We had a sense that it would make us happy, and it has. Plus, we were spending all of our time together anyway, and after a while it just didn’t make sense for Max to keep his own apartment—it was just added stress for him, and that meant added stress for both of us. But it was nice to have a period where we could try it out and test the waters, and we realized that we were really good roommates, aside from the couple stuff. He’s a good picker-upper, I’m a good cleaner. He stays on top of our bills and isn’t totally terrified of calling our landlord on occasion, and I’m good at fixing things and keeping us fed. For the most part, it’s pretty easy. We both try to communicate as clearly and honestly as we can, and I think that’s hugely important. But we’re not the perfect couple or the perfect pair of roommates—we have our little moments, just like everyone else.
5. What are you studying in school? What do you want to do when you finish school?
I go to the Gallatin School of Individualized Study at NYU, which is a strange little place where we formulate our own “concentrations” rather than fulfill a traditional major. While I’m still working on totally nailing down exactly what I’m doing, I’m essentially studying a mix of creative writing and design. I’m interested in how materiality (scaling from objects to homes to cities and beyond) both reflects and affects who people are, and how that can be reflected through narrative. I’ve tried to look at design through a fairly broad lens, placing various forms of design (city planning, architecture, objects, technologies) within historical socio-economic and political contexts, and tried to incorporate that understanding in my creative written work. I recognize that this alone does not qualify me for many jobs.
As a college undergrad, I’m trying to be okay with the fact that I don’t know exactly what I want to do with my life. And while I love design, I think I’m a better writer than I am a designer. Part of the fun of this blog is that I get to combine two things that I love in a super casual, fun, and interpersonal way. The blog stays pretty narrowly focused on my apartment, and I like the challenge of trying to write about mundane home-improvement tasks in an engaging way. And it seems like some of you think I do an okay job, and that’s been pretty amazing. Having such a kind, generous audience for this creative outlet o’ mine has been incredible—knowing that anybody wants to read what I write (even if, in this case, I’m usually talking about stuff like furniture and white paint) still both confounds and tickles me, and has been great encouragement to keep writing and trying to make a real go of it. I’ve worked up a little portfolio over the last couple of years, and I’d really like to start trying to get some pieces published. Ideally, then I want to write until my fingers fall off. Then I will die. That’s basically the extent of my life plan.
6. Are you planning on making this design stuff a career? Do you do interior design consultations? I am completely overwhelmed and could use you!
I don’t know how design will end up figuring into my life in the super-long-term (isn’t my generation supposed to have like 12 different careers, anyway?), but I’m sure it will in some way!
I don’t currently do any consulting, but I want to start soon! I think it sounds like a great time helping people out with their spaces in a more direct way than I do through this blog alone, so I’m working on getting my ducks in a row to start taking on a some clients soon! Maybe you want some of my finicky taste and craziness rolling into your life and fancying up your house? Shoot me an email. Maybe you know someone who wants that? Shoot them an email, then tell them to shoot me an email. I’d like to start in late May.
**OKAY, keep those gorgeous eyes peeled for another round of questions tomorrow! The fun never stops.**