« links for 2008-10-15 | Main | On performance reviews »

On Manhattan

Emily Magazine: The kind of crazy you get from too much choice.

The truth [about living in New York City] is that we try to make it hard for ourselves by creating a lot of tasks and rules and very, very specific needs. The arcane evidence fills the shelves at every big Korean deli in Manhattan and every bodega in gentrified Brooklyn: we need almond butter and organic tempeh and unbleached cotton tampons. We might even need specific brands of these things. We need 24-hour access. We need to never be more than two blocks from an ATM. We need taxis and car services that know how to take us anywhere. We need free wifi and bottled unsweetened iced tea and perfectly decent sushi that costs less than $10. We need fresh lemongrass and thai basil and epazote and coconut milk and three different kinds of artisanal ginger beer and cane-juice-sweetened dark chocolate. We need $40 moisturizer from Kiehl's and perfect $10 bras from Target and Japanese bubble tea and two eggs and cheese on a toasted whole wheat bagel prepared in under a minute.
An absolute truism of Manhattan residents is that we define our existence by our cravings. We sacrifice significant comforts of space and money in exchange for convenience and specificity.

I can write a paragraph just like Emily's. My family lives in an utterly charming apartment, filled with light and two minutes from the subway, that also happens to consume an extraordinary percentage of our take-home pay and has no closet in the baby's bedroom. We have several boxes of Mighty Leaf tea (15 packets, $9) alongside the Lipton (48 bags, $4) in our cabinet. We bring our Chinese and Japanese food uptown from the Village because we haven't found restaurants on the Upper West Side that meet our tastes. I have over the years switched drycleaners no fewer than 11 times. My wife craves nice shoes like Sigerson Morrisons, of which she a pair, and also Sigerson Morrisons from Target, of which she also has a pair. Our stroller retails for nine hundred dollars and barely fits in the trunk of our car. That we even have a car is considered a luxury; that we share and street-park the car is considered cheap.

Yet this lifestyle is by choice, and it's one we are pleased to have made. We are in Riverside Park nearly every day with our son and our dog. We do have a 24-hour specialty grocer around the corner, and six places with baked goods within a five-minute walk, and we take full advantage. I ride my bicycle to work twice a week alongside the Hudson River. Our home is full of century-old detail that can only be found in an urban dwelling. We see award-winning theater on a whim, shop in fascinating locally owned stores, eat at world-class restaurants and walk home.

In some ways it is a peculiar living, but it is also a spectacular one. We made a conscious decision to stay in Manhattan, at least in the near term. And I, for one, don't regret it in the least.

RSS Feed (yay!)


The concoction
3 parts observation
2 parts introspection
1 part links
1 part creativity
1 part stinging wit
dash of sarcasm

The history
The Ideapad debuted on November 1, 1998 and has been through numerous incarnations through the years. It is now a weblog and personal journal.
Once upon a time I wrote Usability: The Site Speaks for Itself (Publisher's page / Amazon.com)
Once in a whenever I consult as User Savvy (dormant)
Powered (at long last) by
Movable Type 4.21-en