AttenCHUN!: My New York City neighborhoods

I’m looking over at the old desktop computer I purchased in Mesa, AZ, when I was 16 years old. That thing’s been all over the country and all over the city with me. My mom shipped it to Spanish Harlem, Lane and Bryan moved it to Bushwick, and my ex-girlfriend Amanda moved it to Gowanus and Bensonhurst. It’s time for me to disassemble it and sell the parts. It’s kind of sad letting go of it. I’ve stored so many pieces of information on it along the way, but it’s time to move on.

This March marks my third anniversary in New York. I came with a small suitcase, a week’s worth of clothes, and no return ticket. I thought I’d be here for a few weeks — a month at most. I never anticipated being here this long. My brother’s family was generous to take me in and let me sleep on their couch while I figured things out. I still remember my first night: unable to sleep, I looked out the window and watched the cars drive over the Brooklyn Bridge. The Financial District was a great introduction to the city, but I’d soon find out how different New York neighborhoods can be.

Neighborhood 1: Spanish Harlem
I decided to stay in New York. What nineteen-year-old wouldn’t? I found an apartment, packed my suitcase, and said goodbye to the family. As I was walking out the door, I glanced back at my sister-in-law Stephanie who had a scared look on her face. I think I shared her fear. After all, the only thing I knew about Spanish Harlem is that it sounded good to Elton John.

I took the 6 train to 110th Street. For $500 a month, I shared a room in a modest one-bedroom. I loved getting to work in twenty minutes and the Upper East Side was within walking distance! We had a small back yard with grass and rosebushes. I’d sit back there on warm summer days and read a good book or sip lemonade. I witnessed some wild Puerto Rican Day parties the like of which my small-town eyes had never seen. Bone Crusher, the 2003 rap sensation, blasted from every stereo in the neighborhood.

Me trying to fit in with a Bone Crusher headband

But as time passed, my roommate became pushy with his religion and Yuki, the Japanese college student who was “temporarily” sleeping on the couch, wouldn’t leave. This made for an uncomfortable living situation. I also had a stalker, Luther on 112th Street, which didn’t make matters any better. If I were a neighborhood snob, I’d give Spanish Harlem a 6.9.

Neighborhood 2: Bushwick
Good God, Bushwick scared me. I lived there for a year with my vegan lesbian manager from work. It was a two-bedroom railroad-style apartment, and for $550 I had my own room. This place was pretty big. I took the JMZ from Flushing Ave. and could be in midtown in forty minutes. Upside: a lot of space for a reasonable price. I could see the city from my rooftop, where I hung out almost every night in the summertime. Chickens and roosters roamed in the back yard. Downside: no bars or restaurants, construction almost every weekend on the Williamsburg Bridge, and overall a scary place. If it were a hundred dollars less, this would be a good place to live, but I think prices have gone up since I was there in 2003. Bushwick: 6.5.

Neighborhood 3: Gowanus
Not part of the Slope or Carroll Gardens, Gowanus sits right in between. I was on Carroll Street between Nevins and 3rd Ave., across the street from Monte’s (Brooklyn’s oldest Italian restaurant), and right up the street from the Carroll Street Bridge. This was the best neighborhood I’ve lived in so far. I shared a small studio apartment with my then-girlfriend Amanda. We had a fun two years there. Many summer nights we spent walking to Prospect Park or up and down Fifth Ave. In the other direction are all the great bars and restaurants on Smith Street, and Cobble Hill Cinema is a ten minute walk. I could get to Union Square in 30 minutes, and for any other place in Brooklyn we’d use Amanda’s car. Gowanus: 8.9 (Better than the Band of Horses!)

Neighborhood 4: Bensonhurst
And now I’m in Bensonhurst. I like it out here for its old-time feel. I can see the stars, breathe fresh air, and feel like I’m away from the city. The beach (Coney Island counts, right?) is two subway stops away, and I can’t wait for summer. I have a record store, Rhythm Records, right around the corner on Ave. S, a goldmine for record collectors. But I’m not sure how long I’ll be here. As you can see, I don’t stay in one place for too long. Astoria … that sounds nice.

Does anyone need a Wi-Fi card, a firewire card, or a monitor? What about a CD burner or DVD-ROM? I think I’ll keep the hard drive, in case I ever feel like revisiting my old New York neighborhoods.

2 responses to “AttenCHUN!: My New York City neighborhoods”

  1. celia says:

    Today we were trying to get my husband’s security clearance papers together for his new job and we had to give a report of where he’d lived in the past 10 years. What an ordeal! I think we had 14 residences in the last 10 years (half resulting from his LDS mission). It was hard to figure out exact dates and locations for a few places. So, my recommendation is, if you continue to move at the rate you’re moving, keep a detailed log of where you lived when. It could prove useful one day.

    Oh, and I might be interested in your CD burner and/or DVD-ROM if they’re still on the market. What’s your asking price? =)

    PS I’m glad you like your current location and that you’re not scared for your life there. I also loved the picture.

  2. Robin says:

    Hi! I’m looking for an apartment in the Gowanus section. How did you get yours and do you have any suggestions for me? I’m female,alone,no kids, quiet, no pets – and older – and I work for the City of NY,(10 years), in a lowish paying position, but it’s steady. When they transferred me to Gowanus a few months ago – I fell in love with the neighborhood! I walk across the 9th St Bridge, past 3rd Ave, or into park Slope and yes – I even admire the F train and the expwy! I’m not into bars – but having Pathmark right there and Fairway a pleasent long walk away is great! (And they plan to build Whole Food on 3rd Ave & 3rd Street). A basement, studio or small apartment is fine with me in that area! Thanks for any help. (PS – I lived in Bensonhurst. A walk to the bike path is wonderful, overlooking the water,even in the winter. The up close view of the bridge is awsome! I lived there before it became Russian – it was Italian then. Still, then or now, a walk on 86th Street is worth a trip. I lived in Astoria too. I think now, the rents are too high and it’s a place for too many people who really wanted to live in Manhattan. There’s still a huge Greek influence there and you can spend your summers going from one Greek Church Festival to another! Steinway Street has tons of shopping and TWO thrift stores!) Don’t doctors tell us it’s health to keep moving? -Robin