Monday, July 20, 2015

A Hipster in Do or Die Bedstuy

After my living situation in Chelsea was no more, I decided to try out Brooklyn. I first looked at that hipster haven, Williamsburg. Williamsburg was full of creative, educated people. Unfortunately it was out of my price range. But I soon found out many creative types were moving to Bedstuy and Bushwick. So I went on Craigslist and I found an one bedroom apartment I could afford. Finally, I wouldn’t have to deal with con artists and hookers as roommates. So I signed for the first apartment I looked at, near the subway station Bedford/Nostrand Avenues on the G train. It was just a few stops away from Williamsburg or Downtown Brooklyn. The G train is often called the ghost train as it doesn’t frequently run and has only 4 cars, but it has convenient connections to both the L and A. The L and A trains both go to parts of Manhattan that I do business and socialize in. So it seemed perfectly convenient when I moved in that cold winter day. I didn’t even see any hoodlums there, so rumors that Bedstuy was ghetto seemed greatly exaggerated. Of course, crime always does down in the winter in New York, and up in the summer when it’s warm enough for people to go out.

Virginia was living in Williamsburg itself. She lived with her roommate Billie. We often hung out in the East Village, going to movies and bars and taking the L train back to Brooklyn. But Bedstuy certainly had it’s rough side. Despite gentrification, gunfire was a problem during the summers. Bedstuy, which had seemed gentrified in the winter, was pretty ghetto in the summer. I wished I had listened to all those who warned me about moving to Bedstuy. But as a broke freelance writer, what else could I afford? Virginia and I were both living in less than ideal circumstances, due to our shared career path. Virginia also freelanced as a writer and we both went to Cornell. Virginia, desperate not to live in unsafe circumstances, convinced a women’s group that she was battered when she wasn’t. She was able to move into a women’s only residence run by nuns. The women’s only residence was cheap, and she saved a lot of money by living there. I thought about moving in with priests to get a decent price for a Manhattan location, but never got around to doing it.

As for me, I too needed a way to raise extra money. I had dental problems, and I had to pay off student loans. So I decided to get roommates. I rented out my apartments to two Norwegian girls, who paid a lovely amount of money for my apartment each month in cash. I crashed in the upstate NY home of my friend Yosef, who was my mentor in every thing that had to do with NYC. As the cash came in over a period of 10 months, I paid for my dental work and reduced my student loans by one third. As for what I did for fun when not writing, I did what I always do. I took the G train a few stops to Williamsburg and went swimming at the gym on the corner of Bedford and Metropolitan. I went there on a regular basis. I also went to Metropolitan, the one gay bar in Williamsburg at that time. During the time I lived and hung out in hipster people, it was a revolving door. Many creatives moved in. Many creatives moved out in a few months, totally underestimating what it would take to establish oneself in a career in anything in New York. It’s particularly difficult in the creative fields, where multiple factors such as talent, luck, family connections, education, and things I likely haven’t thought of all way in. The instability of this crowd made it difficult to bond with anyone long enough to have a decent boyfriend. Those that stayed any length of time had to resort to extreme measures like Virginia and I did. Everyone loves a success story, but those A listers are few and far between in a city of 8 million that has been a revolving door for centuries.

My last week in my apartment ended on a crazy note. I went three different birthday parties, one thrown by a group of friends, another with my family,and another with a group of friends. Upon leaving my place to go to one of my parties, I went to the store and came back. Michelle, my crackhead first floor neighborhood sat on the door steps. She was drinking out of a bottle of vodka. She had refused to move and allow me into the apartment. Not wishing to get into a fight and in trouble for punching her out, I called 911. The police always come in force in Bedstuy. Ten officers arrived. They urged me that everything was fine. I went in the house to get my camera, as I was going off to my celebrations. As I left my building and walked down the street, Michelle got up in a cops face. He slammed her to the ground and told her she had one more time. About a week later, her husband notified me he wanted to speak to me. But unknown to him, I had already packed and shipped all of my belongings out. I was just enroute to get my bus ticket. He informed me that we needed to have a serious discussion. I told him to knock on my door at 9pm the following night. I went to Port Authority, got my bus ticket and returned to my apartment. I picked up my suitcase and my laptop briefcase, called a cab, and went back to Port Authority. I boarded the bus and went off to my next adventure.

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