In Lay Terms

Random Ramblings From a Church Nerd

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Come On, Irene!

So, I didn't expect that I'd experience an earthquake and a hurricane...IN THE SAME WEEK! I expected muggings or something. But this is blowing my mind.

Anyway, I want to update you on my plans. I am not in an evacuation zone (not close enough to water for that). I'm also at the back of the building, surrounded by other, taller buildings. I have a hunch that I'm not going to have a lot of damage in the apartment, even if the storm is severe. I've also heard several people say that the storms with the biggest media hype (especially in NYC), tend to be duds.

However, I've learned that the subways are closing tomorrow at noon (the first time that has happened since 9/11). So, it looks like I'll be in my apartment this weekend, and possibly into next week. My biggest concern is losing power or water. However, someone reminded me that NYC has underground power lines. It's not like a tree falls across a wire here like in MN (plus, where are the trees here?).

I've filled every container I own with water and put it in the fridge. I've started making ice as well, so that if I lose power, I can keep the fridge cooler a little longer. I had a lot of produce from my last grocery order, so I'll eat that up first. Today, I went out and bought 6 cans of beans and several things of granola (both cereal and bars). I already have several Costco canisters of mixed nuts as well. I think I'm OK on the food front. I also got cash, in case I need to buy something and the credit cards aren't working.

So don't worry about me. I'll be safe. I might be bored and stinky, but I'll be safe. Oh, I also have two books and two magazines.

Here's my communications plan. If I lose electricity I'm going to send Richard a text message to tell him so, and then I'm shutting off my phone. I'll check it every few hours and send Richard a short update. He will keep you all up to date from my messages. I'm sure there will be a lot of calls on the cell lines, and I don't want to tie those up more than I need to (and drain my phone battery when I don't know when I can charge it again). I have the little netbook and my work laptop, and I'm prepared to use the charge from the computers to charge my phone.

In the VERY rare event that I need to evacuate, I'm putting together a bag with my passport, money, toiletries, and some clothes. I really don't anticipate needing to do this (more likely I'll be sitting in my apartment).

My friend, Katie (who helped me get the apartment) is throwing a hurricane party, so I might go and be with her so I don't have to be alone. I'm hoping that if things are bad, that there is a general cooperative spirit, but if not, then I'm hiding in my place.

Again, I WILL BE JUST FINE. No one needs to worry.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Walking Around

It's a Saturday morning, and I've decided I'm going to "walk around". That's my best plan for the day. Oh sure, I'm supposed to stop by and drop off the key where I was staying. I've also been invited to a block party later today. But my primary agenda is to find out what this neighborhood is like. So to do that, I'm going to take a stroll. Probably not my last, but I'm excited it's my first.

Since I've gotten here, I've been pretty busy. I've figured out how to get to work and how to get groceries. Now I get to see the stuff that makes the city beautiful. The stuff you don't see as you are weaving through crowds to get to your job. I'm going to find what makes Harlem great (or, at least some of the stuff).

So...enough writing and more walking!

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Apartment Living

So I’m now in my apartment. I started staying here last night, even though I signed the lease two weeks ago. With the job and the transition and everything, I just wanted a little stability, so I stayed with a friend, in her spare bedroom.

But now I’m on my own…somewhat. The apartment is nice enough. It’s a two bedroom. It’s first floor. It is 720 square feet. It faces the back of the building. That means that I don’t have a very nice view (pile of rubble), I don’t have any street noise. I may have some building noise, but I didn’t notice it last night.

Oh, here’s what else I don’t have…furniture. I’m writing this as I pirate unprotected wireless from an unsuspecting neighbor, while sitting on the floor of the corner of my “living room”. My butt doesn’t have a lot of padding on it, so the floor gets pretty uncomfortable pretty quickly, especially on these nicely re-done hardwood floors.

The apartment still smells like fresh paint. They gutted the bathroom and kitchen, so I have new appliances.

I got this place through a friend of a friend of a friend (who is my friend by now). She put in a word for me with her property management company. I also seemed to get lucky and call at the right time. Honestly, this was the first place I called. I totally expected to be rending a room from someone, not staying in my own place with no furniture.

When Richard gets here, it will get furnished. We also are going to buy some stuff. Apartment stuff. New York stuff. We decided that our furniture was too “Midwestern”. So, we sold it in a garage sale.

Here's my apartment view as I write this:

This is the kitchen/living room. The two are really the same thing. Eventually, we will put some an island or a divider of some sort to break up the room. You will see the cardboard box that is serving as my trash right now.

And this is the view down the hall:

You can see the other half of the kitchen, and then the long hallway that leads to our apartment door. I won't show into the bedrooms, because there are no lights in there, so you'll just see darkness.

Be it ever so humble, there's no place like home!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Worship in New York

It's my first Sunday in New York, and I'm faced with a dilemma: Where to go to church?

When I first told people I was moving, I got this question. People asked me if I was going to worship at a Lutheran church or switch (I'm staying Lutheran). I even got lobbied by a few pastors to worship at their church. It was sort of fun.

I can name four churches where I have good relationships with a number of people in the congregation. All of these would be great places to worship, an they are pretty distinct from one another. Here they are, in alphabetical order (so that I do not show any preference):

Advent: I know one of the pastors (Barbara Lundblad, who also teaches at Union Theological Seminary). I met the senior pastor a few months ago, and she seems lovely. I also know a number of the congregation members, because they have worked with my last job at Lutherans Concerned.

Holy Trinity: I have worshiped here before. The former pastor is now the Bishop of the Metro New York Synod. The new pastor moved to New York from Minneapolis (to take this job). Very high liturgy. They do Bach vespers on many Sunday evenings.

St. Peter: My friend is an intern there (soon to be ordained). He has introduced me to a lot of other cool people in the congregation. This church sold its airspace to CitiBank, so the church is incorporated into the CitiBank building. I like to call it St. Peter's of Citibank. Also high liturgy.

Trinity: Many years ago, I hired the pastor of this congregation to be a keynote speaker at Gather Us In. This church runs a homeless shelter for LGBT youth. I also confess that I got my apartment through a few members of this congregation, so I feel a debt of gratitude.

I'm sure over time, I'll try all of these congregations. On this particular day, there is another consideration. I'm getting on a train to go to DC at 11:00, so I looked at the church web sites to see where I could worship before going to the train. Holy Trinity and Trinity were eliminated because they only have 11 AM worship services.

And...I'm still staying with my friend. And Advent is very close to her house. Advent is also close to the subway that can get me to Penn Station the quickest. So...Advent Lutheran is the winner for this Sunday.

But don't worry, I'll be getting around. It's also possible that I'll find another church that is lovely that is close to where I live (when I start staying in my apartment). The possibilities are endless!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

First Saturday in New York

It's my first Saturday in New York, and I'm going to be busy. I'm moving a lot of my stuff to our new apartment in Harlem. I've been staying with friends since I got here, and I signed a lease on Tuesday, but I haven't been able to move or deal with the apartment much else since I got here (I never recommend starting a job the day after you move to a city).

Now I'll finalize measurements, with the help of Richard. I will turn the utility bills over to me. I'll also do my "walk through" and point out any problems or issues, so I don't get billed for them when Richard and I move out. We are used to doing this for our tenants, so it's interesting to be on the other side.

I have a busy week with a lot of travel. I'm going to DC for the HRC Clergy Call until Wednesday morning. Then on Thursday, I leave for Minnesota for our going away party/garage sale. You are ALL invited!

Hopefully, I'll get to take a walk or something on this pleasant Saturday. My hosts live quite close to Central Park, and I'll like to stroll there. Maybe after my work gets done.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Quick Morning Check In

I feel like I have so many stories, but I'm overwhelmed with stuff to do. I've found that evenings go very quickly in New York. People work later in the day, and even one errand might not get you home until 9:00. I thought I would be talking to Richard every night, but it's often been too late for me or him. We are still in contact, but not doing the Skype thing all the time. Maybe Saturday.

Here's the upside. I signed a lease on an apartment. I'm not living there just yet. I'm staying with friends. However, it's a 2-bedroom in Harlem. I thought for a while it was in a neighborhood called Hamilton Heights, but I was informed last night that we are in Harlem. I got this place through a friend of a friend of a friend. But last night I actually met her in person, so now I can call her a direct friend. The apartment is with her property management company and around the corner from her building.

The pluses of the place: 2-bedrooms, under $1500/month. Huge windows. Back of the building, so no street noise.

Drawbacks: 1st floor (both for light and for safety...which might make those huge windows a liability). I'm told there is some drug dealing on my corner, but I haven't seen it yet. The bedrooms are oddly shaped.

Actually, I haven't been to my apartment in the daylight yet, so I don't know what the natural light situation is. It's always been after dark. Our (new) friend was there in the morning, and she said that it was more light than she expected.

It is just one more step in my process to relocate here.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

St. Louis: The Pit Stop to NYC

I’m working on this blog post at the St. Louis airport (or, I was and finally got it posted today). When I booked my flight that would move me from Minneapolis to New York City, this was the least expensive option, and I’m still cheap, so I went fo rit. I wasn’t pleased about not having a direct flight, but this was about half as much as the other flights. Plus, I used credit card points to get a membership in the Sky Lounge. It’s a place with comfey chairs, food and beverages (adult beverages!) and dedicated people to helping you out. Yes, it’s a little elisist, but I’ve really apprecaited having a place to check email (wifi is also included), and spend less on food when a snack will do. So, I figured that I could handle this flight.

I was starting plan out my first day in NYC. My flight was scheduled to leave Minneapolis at 7:00 AM. I was going to travel with three rolling suitcases and one carry-on. Mostly clothes. I have a friend’s place to stay with, and I have secured an apartment of my own. My plan was to go to my friends place to drop off my luggage, then go so I can actually see this apartment that I’ve supposedly rented. It was cutting it too close to do the lease signing today, so I was going to view it today and sign the lease tomorrow.

When we were about to baord in Minneapolis, I was called up to the podium. The gate agent asked me if I would be willing to be rebooked on a direct flight to New York in exchange for a $300 travel voucher. I asked what would happen to my luggage. She said that since they were instigating it, they would deliver my luggage to me in New York. It sounded like a perfect opportunity, so I said yes. She had me wait, because she might not actually need to bump me. After a few minutes, she said that she didn’t need to rebook me, so I was stuck back on my original itenerary. So I boarded a plane to St. Louis.

In St. Louis, I had a 3 hour layover. Because of my Sky Lounge membership, I thought that I would be able to relax and get free food (and drink?). After landing, I learned that there was no Sky Lounge at the St. Louis airport (at least, not in the terminal that I was in). So, I was relegated to sitting at the gate. About an hour before my flight was to take off, I got an automated phone call that told me that my St. Louis-New York flight was cancelled.

CANCELLED! (I just reprated it for emphasis)

So now, my somewhat long layover in St. Louis has been extended. I have been rebooked on another flight today, but I’m not sure I’m going to be in New York in time to see my apartment. If it works, I will. However, now it might have to be something that happens tomorrow morning. I also made my first day of work tomorrow, so I’m kicking myself for making such a tight turnaround.

Hopefully, I’ll get to my new home in New York soon. And hopefully I won’t resent St. Louis so much the next time I’m there.