Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Can you lend me $5b?

It's all over the news today: our city within a city is about to be sold, and life as we know it in NYC is about to end.

But we've nearly outgrown our little apartment anyway, and we've known that we'll have to leave sometime soon. On the other hand, two of the families on our floor are raising two children in one-bedroom apartments, so it could be worse.

Aside from the New York that you see on TV, with its daily cocktail parties and limo rides and the constant noise and lights of Broadway, I thought it might be fun to tell you what life in New York is really like. Particularly life in our little neighborhood.

Our neighborhood in Manhattan is truly unique. The complex is closed off from traffic and includes lots of grassy lawns and playgrounds. We have sprinkler parks, basketball courts, bocce ball, and even a small astroturf soccerfield. In the summer we attend free concerts on the big lawn. We know many of our neighbors and enjoy bumping into them within the community. Older children can freely ride their bikes on the walkways without the worry of traffic. In many ways it truly is an idyllic place to live. It has its problems, but I will be very sad on the day when we finally leave.

Like many NYC dwellings, our apartment is small - about 750 square feet on a good day. This includes all closet space. And I've mentioned before that the baby sleeps in a closet. If we stay much longer we'll need to divide the bedroom with a a false wall, since Kiddo has almost outgrown her Pack and Play.

Essential elements for living in a one-bedroom with a baby:

*White-noise machine. So baby doesn't wake every time you make even the smallest sound.
*Head lamp. So baby doesn't wake every time you turn on the light. And so you don't bruise your shins banging into furniture. And so you can read in bed.
*Sense of humor. After all, you're walking around the apartment wearing a head lamp.
*Ability to part with items of sentimental value without a second glance. Who has room to store it all?
*Creative use of space. Witness that closet-turned-bedroom.

Anyway, this is Lola. Or at least she's named Lola until the kiddo can decide on a name for the doll by herself. She's based on Danger Baby, the doll I made my niece last year, with a few revisions: her legs are a bit longer, primarily.

Lola is made for play. Otherwise what's the point? It's not like we can store her someplace, after all. She's made from heavy wool felt with quilting thread used for the seams so she'll withstand loads of exuberance. Her dress fastens with snaps (they're underneath the back buttons, which are just for show) and was meant to have matching polkadot shorts underneath, but I got tired of fiddling with doll clothes and shoes for a while. The shoes are supposed to look like a simplified version of these, but they don't really resemble very closely, do they?

During our photo session for this post we were trailed through a park outside of Stuyvesant Town by a very drunk homeless man who wanted to pat Kiddo and Lola on their heads. We gently but quickly made our escape to another part of the park. It seems Lola loves adventure. I'm sure we'll have plenty to go around. Especially when we have to leave Stuyvesant Town and find other places to play.


  1. Liesl, thanks for that post. I love reading about how people live in different places and I have often wondered how ANYONE can afford to live in NYC. It is so, so different to where I live right now! We are in a town of 2000 people in Outback Australia (there are probably as many people in your building as live in this town). My husband is the District Engineer and we pay $70 a week for a Council house!

  2. Liesl, It's not over yet. Not until that lady sings...

    And Kirsty, I just went to your Blog. (I am Australian living near Liesl). You live hundreds of miles inland from Far North Queenland!

    Liesl, Manhattan Yin is Kirsty's Yang!

    Love it...

  3. Liesl, thank you so much for sharing so much about your life and home. I live in London and sometimes think my flat is small (compared to friends' houses) but you kind of put it in perspective - my son at least has his own room (so no having to wear headlamps).

    Love Kiddo's wellies!

  4. I heard about the sale of Stuyvesant Town on NPR. It is so sad but the report said that current residents would not be forced out. There was one man who has grown up there, his parents had an apartment when it was first build and he and his wife inherited it. Wishing you all the luck in finding something else. Stuyvesant Town sounds like a dream place.

  5. I'm sorry to hear about your neighbourhood going up for sale. Where you live sounds lovely. Hopefully it will take a long time to sell.

    Lola is beautiful!

  6. That is very sad. I hope you all find a space that makes you happy. Do you want to stay in Manhattan or will you try Brooklyn?

  7. So much to say, such a great post. Lola is fantastic!!! I love absolutely everything about her. And she looks so happy (with a smirky, quirky, wink and a nod for her adventurous urges) in kiddos arms. What a lucky girl! And I am sorry about your place, but it really is so interesting to hear about where you live. I hope you can stay. Even though it's small, the neighborhood sounds lovely. Best of luck!

  8. I was born in Stuy town (in '73) and have very fond memories of it. Such a great place to be a little kid. I'm sorry you'll need to leave for more space. That said, I highly recommend crossing the river to Brooklyn. You probably already know plenty of people out here, but drop a line if you want to talk Brooklyn real estate.