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The Upper East Side

Posted on December 12th, 2009

Over the American Thanksgiving weekend, I took a big step in my life: I moved into my own living space.

The move itself was pretty smooth (thanks to some fellow non-Americans who kindly helped!), and I would like to think that I got the space set up relatively quickly; within a week I had my first guests over and there were no boxes or other odds and ends lying around. (There was, and continues to be, a distinct lack of artwork so the bareness of the apartment which leaves much to be desired.)

This transition came with some concerns. Chief among them were the financial constraints that I have placed on myself; since the [higher] rent and utilities now fall squarely on my shoulders, the amount of disposable income has decreased quite substantially. Indeed, this is the most that I have ever paid for rent (albeit not by too much), and I’m feeling it. While I have budgeted around my current income, let’s just say that I am really, really, really [REALLY] keen on getting a raise!

Another concern was the amount of time that I would end up having to myself. Sometimes, this is amazing and just what the doctor orders. In other times, I felt that I’d miss the random sounds of shuffling, a sign that there is life outside of the room I occupy. I have had some pretty excellent roommates in the past, and the many great times will certainly be missed. So far, my life has been jammed full of things to do so I haven’t had much time to consider the solitude, but I know the day will come.

That said, I think that a lot of good has come from these concerns. In my state of heightened fiscal responsibility, I have started to cook a whole lot more. (In fact, the kitchen in the apartment was one of the primary reasons that I wanted to live here!) So the combination of doing something I love, eating health, and saving money is pretty awesome, and I don’t expect that will let up any time soon. If only there was a ridiculously awesome grocery store like Fairway around here…

Secondly, being on the Upper East Side (UES) has brought me much closer to many good friends. In a city where I never expect to see anybody I know on the streets, I have already ran into a couple friends. And a bunch of others are just a stone’s throw away. Needless to say, I’m looking forward to building out relationships here!

Speaking of “here”, I think that I need to clear the air in terms of the UES. There are those out there who think that the UES is full of yuppies, snobs, post-grad frat boys, and other socially scorn-able archetypes. Make no mistake, there are many of each of these types of people around. And there are plenty of their favourite hangout spots around, too. (Yes, I’m looking at you, beer-ponging, boat-racing, flip-cupping filthy college bar.) There is also a lack of many useful things, as well. The most noticeable of these is a second subway line; the 4-5-6 trains are suitable for a social experiment concerning human-sardine likeness, but not appropriate for normal commuting. And hats off to Citibank for being wildly successful at only having branches where I don’t need them. Thus, I have had a general aversion to the UES, in line with many New Yorkers, because of these assumptions.

But there is much more than these disdainful characteristics. It’s right by Central Park which, when the weather starts making a turn for the better, will be a haven for my bike and my running shoes. There are some great places to eat up here (although it is no Hell’s Kitchen). It’s quiet. You can see the sky. It doesn’t feel like you’re traveling to another country to come here. (Sorry, Brooklyn.) There’s even a Costco up here.

Can I stay here forever? Of course not. Few things beat having a home with a nice front lawn and a big backyard with a barbeque. But I can’t really get that anywhere in Manhattan. So as long as I’m here in New York, I have to say that being on the UES is going to be pretty okay to me.

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