Tag Archives: Brooklyn

Checking In… And Moving Again

Sorry for not checking in for a while, but it’s been an “interesting” few months. For those who don’t know, I landed a job shortly after moving here in February, which turned out to be a disaster from day one. I lost that job in May, and was unemployed for a month before landing my current job, working for a small architecture firm in Midtown that does mostly retail and religious work. So far it’s been going well. Throughout all this, I’ve been dealing with a nasty flare-up of clinical depression, and trying to get out of a horrible housing situation in Brooklyn. Despite all that, though, I love being in NYC and I haven’t regretted my decision to move here. (Although I’ll confess to having developed a deep and profound loathing of car alarms, motorcycles, and Mister Softee trucks.)

As some of you know, I’ve been living with roommate here in Brooklyn since February, and this was never meant to be a permanent arrangement. In reality, my roommate and I have gotten along about as well as matches and gasoline (maybe the fact that her loser of a boyfriend and his huge dog have been living here rent-free since the week after I moved in has something to do with it, among other atrocities), so I’ve finally gotten my own one-bedroom apartment almost as far away from my roommate as I can possibly get while still remaining inside the municipal boundaries of New York City: Inwood.

The apartment itself is nothing to brag about, but it’s clean, newly renovated with a brand-new kitchen and bathroom, and faces the back of the building (hence, far less noise than if I were facing the street — another major bane of my current place). The only real negatives to it are 1) It doesn’t get much natural light due to other apartment buildings between my windows and the sun, and 2) I’ll need to avoid thinking about what sort of apartment I could afford in Chicago or Philly for the same rent.

And for those of you who live here in the NYC area or are able to make it here with a short drive: I’ll need some help moving on Saturday, August 28th. The customary pizza and beer will be provided, and I promise my new apartment is not on the top floor of a 6-story walk-up. If you’re able to help, let me know. Even if you can’t do much heavy lifting, I’ll still need somebody to watch the truck while it’s being loaded and unloaded. The more people I have helping, the less work it will be for everybody, and you’ll be safely back home before the RNC riots begin. 🙂

In other news, I’ve been busy with activities at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, which has been very rewarding. I often transfer at Columbus Circle on my way to church on Sunday mornings, and there’s been a couple times when I’ve seen all the local railfans and foamers lined up for some fan trip or another. (I waved at David Greenberger once, but he didn’t see me. I also saw him at Smith/9th just a few days ago.) Since I now ride the subway every day, it’s no longer quite the novelty it used to be (although I still find it fascinating). And with STC going down the toilet, I’ve had even less reason to go there. But I wanted to let everybody know that I haven’t fallen off the face of the earth.

(Originally posted on the SubTalk forum at nycsubway.org)

Why You Never See a Cat Skeleton in a Tree

The setting: About 1:00 AM on a rainy night in Brooklyn, New York. A series of strong thunderstorms have just moved through the region, and it’s still raining heavily.

I’m working at my computer when I hear the heart-wrenching cry of a kitten somewhere outside, near my apartment. As opposed to the sound of a garden-variety cat meow, the sound of this kitten’s howling indicates that he is in serious trouble somewhere. It’s the type of howl that says, “Help me, I’m dying.” This goes on for several minutes.

I go to the front window, but don’t see anything. However, it’s a neighborhood of densely-spaced brownstone apartment buildings, so the kitten could be anywhere. Also, my view is obstructed by the trees in front of the window.

The cries continue. Being a good Episcopalian and animal lover, and having a bishop and one close friend who are third-order Franciscans, I decide to do something. I log off my chat room, put on my shoes, grab my umbrella, and head out onto the street.

A passing neighbor has also stopped to find out where this kitten is. After some searching around, we discover that the kitten is stuck on a third-floor ledge on the building across the street from mine. Hell if I know how he got there. The windows on that floor are dark, so we assume nobody is home in that apartment.

What to do, what to do….

A guy comes out of the building, but he lives on the ground floor and has no access to the top floor apartment.

We notice a large extension ladder propped up against the building next door. As soon as we plan a rescue operation, we realize the ladder is chained to the adjacent window grate with a large padlock. Damn.

Remembering there were a couple long ladders in the basement of my own building, I run downstairs only to find that they’re gone. Shit.

A lady comes out from the building where the ladder is, but she doesn’t know whose ladder it is, nor who has the key to the lock.

What to do, what to do… It’s now been almost an hour since I first heard the kitten crying. Time for outside help.

I grab my cell phone and call the ASPCA (the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals). Their offices are closed, and the voice mailbox for the emergency line won’t even let me leave a message, because the mailbox is full.

I call 311, which is the city’s non-emergency help line. The guy at the other end says the department in charge of cat rescues (there is such a thing?) won’t open until 8 AM.

Finally, I call 911, hoping somebody will send a fire truck down to the place to rescue this poor kitten. It’s still pouring rain, and he’s obviously scared out of his mind. The ledge he’s on is barely four inches wide, and it’s about thirty feet above the ground. The 911 operator tells me this is not an emergency, and directs me to call 311 before she hangs up on me.

The lady from the building next door suggests walking to the fire station up the street and seeing if they can perhaps perform a rescue. Good idea. I walk up to the nearest firehouse, which is only about a hundred yards away, and ring the doorbell.

A guy runs down the stairs and answers the door, and I explain the situation to him. He goes on the loudspeaker, notifies the dispatcher, and next thing I know, it’s a scene from the movie Backdraft. Within seconds, about a half-dozen of New York’s Bravestâ„¢ come running down the stairs, get suited up, and get on the fire truck. The garage door opens, and the truck takes off with sirens wailing and lights flashing. I’m thinking: This fucking cat better still be there when these guys show up.

I run after them, and get to the scene just a few seconds after them. They’ve got their flashlights out, and have located the kitten. The guy turns to me and says, “A kitten? I thought you said there was a kid stuck on a ledge.”

I feel a sudden desire to change my name and move to a new country.

Well, the cat is still there, so now what? Neighbors tend to get curious when they see a fire truck outside their apartment building with its lights flashing, so a guy on the second floor of this building peeks his head out to see what’s going on. He lets the firefighters inside, and they march up to the third floor to see if they can get inside the apartment to let the cat in.

Meanwhile, I’m outside with a couple other firefighters. With the aid of the flashlights, we see that the window behind the cat is actually open a few inches. And what does the cat do, after sitting on the ledge and howling for an hour?

Naturally, he turns around and goes back inside the apartment.

The firefighter standing next to me turns to me and says with a thick Brooklyn accent, “You know, there’s a reason you never see a cat skeleton in a tree.”

With that, Ladder Company 114 is called down from red alert, and the guys get back into their truck and return to the fire station. I return to my apartment soaking wet and with my tail between my legs.

And now, as I write this, the kitten is back out on the ledge howling.

(Originally posted on the message board at shipoffools.com)