Category Archives: Steps

Step 3: Be a Creeper

It’s been awhile since I last posted instructions on how to make yourself an authentic New Yorker. To those of you who have been waiting for months with bated breath in anticipation of my ill-informed guidance… I am amazed at your patience, but more so, your breath capacity. That has to be some kind of David Blaine-esque record. You should get examined by a medical professional. You might be an X-Men. And I’m sorry for the delay.creeper

So, Step 3: Be a Creeper. For me personally, creeping is a craft I’ve cultivated in the bottom barrel of suburbia because there was really nothing else to do. Since I’ve been in New York, I’ve been extra, extra sensitive to creeping. I’ve observed/experienced/partaken in a variety of effective creeping methods that are employed in order to meet the man or woman of one’s dreams– just long enough to establish a superficial connection that justifies wildly elaborate fantasies of marriage, worldwide travel, and progeny without the dangers of confrontation or a restraining order. The vibrant culture of New York City allows for many distinct forms of creeping to thrive, like a petri dish of insecurity. Here are a few of the most popular methods:

  • The Subway Creeper – You know this person. Heck, it might even be you. This creeper is the one whose stare burns into the cover of your book, the back of your head, or even more awkwardly, your chest, willing you to make eye contact. This is one of the most effective creeping methods if you are the creeper. Alternatively, should you be the unfortunate crepee, you are trapped under three or more stories of bedrock and asphalt in a steel Twinkie with creeper filling  for at least six blocks. The express trains are the most effective subway lines for this method because, at optimal creeping, you could hypnotize individuals with your soul-seeking gaze for up to seventy uninterrupted blocks!! There is no escape. Rarely does this ever result in anything more than psychological discomfort for all involved parties, but this style of creeping works especially well in tandem with…
  • Craigslist Missed Connections – For those of you who have never experienced this bite of creeper decadence, Craigslist Missed Connections is an online bulletin service that allows you to post anonymous personal ads for a specific person… except you have no idea who the person is beyond a fleeting, profound meeting you had with him or her, typically on the subway, in Trader Joe’s, at Barnes and Noble, or wherever else desperate people hang out. Sounds silly, right? WRONG. DEAD WRONG. This is a sacred institution of creeping. The brilliance of this creep cesspool is the variety of ways one can go about the creeping. The obvious creepers are, of course, the sorry individuals who post their sad and silent siren calls, beckoning the “sexy papi on da 2 train” or the “cute Asian girl with the sketchbook” to “hit me back” or “be with me forever.” But an extra, secret layer of creepdomi is comprised of the people who, on a lonely Saturday night, or perhaps every night before bed in her adult sized footy pajamas with a trap door bottom, browse the missed connections in the hope of finding herself mentioned. Perhaps this person never posts on Missed Connections, but by being on the site, she too has become a creeper of the passive kind. In this way, Craigslist has revolutionized the world of creeping. The creepee has become the creeper. The student has become the master. The world has become just a little bit more uncomfortable for everybody.
  • Horn-honking Creepers – It’s expensive to keep a car in the city, and I’m pretty sure it’s because those who do must pay some sort of excise tax for the luxury of vehicular creeping. This is a very cowardly form of creepdom considering there is at least a mobile casing of steel and glass protecting you from the glare and projectiles of your creepee. I look down on this kind of creeping, especially in high volume traffic areas like Times Square. It seems as if I hear someone being a creeper every ten seconds whenever I’m there! I secretly flattered to be so popular, but this kind of creeping is really dangerous, especially in trafficky areas– if they are too busy honking trying to get my attention, how can they inform other cars to stay out of their way? Jeepers.
  • Street Creepers – This is the form of creeping I approve of least, dislike the most, and rarely never do. From what I’ve seen, street creepers are typically men, and they assume that walking by a stranger on the street is an appropriate justification for brief face to face creepdom. The two second love songs of these creepers usually come in the form of rhetorical questions that will never be answered, like “Hey baby, where you goin’?” Sometimes, they try to woo you with comments that struggle to be clever. For instance, if a female were to walk by eating a sandwich, a street creeper might say something like, “Damn girl, I want some of that!” followed by a lip-licking motion. Also annoying are the random love songs that make no sense, like “Miss, you dropped your Metrocard” or “Can you please spare some change?” or “Ma’am, you’re not allowed to loiter here.” Silly men, I do not like your comments! While annoying, this kind of creeping is acceptable to me considering I am painfully unaware as to how well-groomed I am on a daily basis. When I used to have to catch the D train every day at 125th and St. Nicholas, I’d know it was a good hair day when I got at least two “Hay baby, hay”s. And when I got none… I was secretly devastated. And probably extremely hideous.
Perhaps... the ultimate creeper?

Perhaps... the ultimate creeper? On looks alone, yes.

So what does it all mean? I could go all philosophical on you and write about the human need for companionship and the level at which our impersonal, technology driven world has reduced the art of courting to an instant, twitter-like exchange. But I won’t, mostly because I don’t know what any of the words mean in that last sentence. What does the prevalence of creeping mean about the unique nature of New Yorkers? Well… nothing. No matter where you go, there you are with a creeper close behind you, I believe the old adage goes. Next time you’re at your job, in your dining hall, on the train, getting your haircut, in the bathroom, at the mall, on a date, I’ll– I mean, a creeper will be there waiting, It’s just that, like most things, New Yorkers do it better. And creepier.

As always, thanks for reading. See you later. Literally. I know where you live.



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Step 2: Remain positive. Cynical, but positive.

It’s been awhile, but in the last few weeks, I gave up on the housing search and settled for what I affectionately (?) call my “fakepartment.” If I were to describe it on Craigslist, my new crib would sound something like, “This brand new, luxurious, junior studio with penthouse views is located on a historic street in a community-oriented, secure building.” Translating that into reality speak, it would be:

1. Brand New = Not actually brand new, though still retaining that sterile, unwelcome feeling of a new building.
2. Luxurious = Way overpriced, but also not a complete shithole.
3. Junior studio = Bedroom, small bathroom, no kitchen, claustrophobia abound.
4. Penthouse views = You are on the 18th floor. Your view is of the Triborough Bridge and Robert Moses’ spartan public housing monstrosities, with both being a constant reminder of how he displaced poor minorities on a massive scale due to his control-freak, power-hungry mentality. You are completely f*cked if the elevator breaks.
5. Historic street = Surrounded by beautiful historic buildings! Yours isn’t one of them.
6. Community-oriented = You share a kitchen. On a different floor. Feel free to make friends with the yuppie grad student you are currently butter-knife fighting with over access to the back left corner of the stove.
7. Secure building = There’s a uniformed man who occasionally checks for vagrants that wander into the lobby during his breaks from what he’s actually paid to do, which is reading dirty magazines under the front desk.

It’s easy for me to be critical of the place, especially when I’m so set on making myself a home in this big city. It’s hard to make a home out of one and a half kitchenless rooms that force you to hard boil eggs in your hot water heater. It’s hard to feel at home when No Diggity by Blackstreet comes rumbling through the walls from another fakepartment, waking you at eight in the morning. Oh, and don’t forget the whole initial loneliness of it all, in addition to your denial of being lonely. That’s not an easy feeling to deal with. It is so, so easy to pick this place, this transition, this entire experience apart. But, it’s not impossible to love it, either.

Even I, Bitter McSourpuss (it’s a family name) recognize some great things about living in my fakepartment, even beyond my respectable cable plan. Side note: Jon and Kate Plus 8 is the Crystal Meth of reality television. Really, my favorite part of my fakepartment is that it’s located in the city. Low standards, I know. But I can’t describe how immensely relieving it is to have a busy, tiring, but fulfilling day in New York and know that you’re only a subway ride away from your bed instead of subway, a train, and a significant drive away from home. The diversity of the people and streets and neighborhoods in my immediate area is astounding. There’s a lot to see. A lot to bitch about, I’m sure, but a lot to see and love, too.

Blackstreet approves this post. PLAY ON, PLAYETTE!

Blackstreet approves this post. PLAY ON, PLAYETTE!

It’s important to remain positive about living arrangements, even if it is in a van down by the river, a hovel in Alphabet City, or a fakepartment in Morningside Heights. Maybe there are bright sides to the crap sides. Maybe my Blackstreet-loving neighbor Ricco is just trying to tell me that he “likes the way I work it” hey yo hey yo hey yo hey yo. Okay fine, it’s important to remain positive, but not idiotic. I’m giving Ricco a piece of my mind first thing tomorrow. No diggity. No doubt.

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Step 1: Finding the Right Shithole

In order to successfully find an apartment in New York City, it is virtually a prerequisite for one to become physically, mentally, and emotionally addicted to Craigslist. I don’t know who this enigmatic “Craig” is or why he decided to take time off from pleasuring himself to craft this amazing database of classified ads. What I do know is that if checking Craigslist were equivalent to drinking a half a shot of Malibu, I would be wasted by 10:30 am every single day.

On Monday, I had my first ever New York City apartment viewings. Both of the ads fit my relatively reasonable requirements for an apartment:

a) Female roommates in their early to mid-20s.
b) Apartment was located in either the Upper West Side, Morningside Heights, or West Harlem below 135th St and priced below $1200 a month.
c) Apartment was not described as “cozy,” “charming,” (read: “glorified closet”) or “kosher.” Don’t get me wrong, I love the Jews, but at the risk of unintentionally making a sexual innuendo, I like my meat and cheese together whenever possible, thank-you-very-much.
d) The ad had good syntax, grammar, and punctuation. I have visceral reactions to “IDK MY BFF JILL” types. Also, on some level I irrationally believe that if one possesses typing aptitude, one has a smaller chance of being serial killer or rapist. “Can I kill u in ur sleep?” “No pls kthxbai.”

The first apartment building, on W 110th and Broadway, was gorgeous. No doorman, but the marble-floored lobby had a vaulted ceiling, which looked fantastic. I took this adorably quirky elevator up to the fourth floor, and an overenthusiastic (perhaps rabid) Columbia med student let me in. I walked in and–

The apartment. Was. A Shithole.

I don’t think I would ever want the young woman who showed me this place to ever be my doctor. If her apartment is any indication of her work hygiene and bedside manner, she would probably lick her hands clean before entering the operating room, and then later after I regained consciousness, slap me across the face with an eight month old copy of the New York Times she’s been saving for a rainy day. The place was straight up disgusting. The kitchen appliances seemed to be gravitating toward a central, vortex-like sunken point in the floor, and there were cracks in the wall. I attempted some robotic med school humor by calling the cracks “flesh wounds.” She was not amused.

I quickly left the decrepit apartment and set out for the next apartment, two blocks downtown on W108th and Broadway. The two blocks were like night and day. W110th was a quiet, beautiful tree-lined street with picaresque stone buildings. W108th was a busy, dumpster-lined street with stone buildings constantly under renovation. Upon entering the building, I was immediately reminded of my visit to the depressing Tenement Museum on the Lower East Side, except it was far less clean than the museum. And people still lived in it.

The authors of the ad, despite having grammatical prowess, failed to mention that the apartment was a fifth floor walk-up. I finally made it to the apartment, thankfully without needing to enlist the aid of a Sherpa. The girl who answered my knock let me in and without any small talk immediately began the tour of what was an unexpectedly amazing hidden gem of a place. Some highlights: high ceilings, an absurd amount of natural light, newly renovated, new appliances, clean, wood floors, well-decorated, spacious bedroom, and seemingly sane potential roommates.

My future studio apartment in Morningside Heights.

My future studio apartment in Morningside Heights.

After sitting down with the two current roommates, I found out they were also interviewing a number of other “applicants” for the apartment, and my meeting with them was strangely intimidating and uncomfortable for that very reason. The whole interview process kind of freaked me out. Lesson learned– apartment hunting is a cutthroat business. I need to learn to better sell myself, but not literally (since it’s illegal and degrading), just metaphorically.

Unsurprisingly, the two girls did not choose me to live in their covertly awesome apartment on W 108th. I think I lacked the latent sorority girl quality that they possessed. Also, it probably didn’t help that I mocked the Zac Efron poster in their apartment, only to find out that they didn’t put it up to be ironic. Awk-ward.

I should have just responded to this Craigslist ad. What a perfect arrangement.


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