Wednesday, February 20, 2008


I think one of my biggest hinderances in dating, besides my hectic schedule, is the way in which I communicate. Funny thing for a journalist to be saying. But it's true. Just like you can be sexually incapatible you can be incompatible in the way you communicate.

I communicate best through IM, email and text messages. The last relationships as well as guys I have dated I got to know in those ways. It works for me because it allows me to multitask. So if a guy is the type that likes to talk for hours on end on the phone we are immediately incompatible. Time spent talking on the phone we could be on a date.

I'm just too busy and have too many things to do to spend a large amount of time yapping on a phone. But I can talk on IM for HOURS because I'm doing 30 other things while IMing.

When it cames to dating I'm my own worst enemy...from the way I communicate to how much time I have to devote to dating/getting to know someone to the standards/expectations I have. But I haven't given up hope...I'm a Pisces...we love to Mr. Right is out there and we are just waiting to stumble upon each other.

Monday, February 11, 2008

NYC Lease Renewal

I just went through my first rent renewal process and I couldn't have done it without the help of friends. So before I even tell the story I want to thank Poppa K, Skizzle and German Girl.

First the back story. When I moved to NYC in January of 2006 I had challenges many people do not have. Most people move to NYC after college, somewhere in their early twenties, and they don't have any or a lot of furniture. So they can just about pick any nice apt and furnish it once they move. I moved to NYC after owning a home in ATL. And even after selling off some of my furniture I still had a lot of stuff. So SPACE was a HUGE challenge for me. I won't do a full recap you can see the blog I wrote in 2006 on the search and when I actually found my apt.

Fastforward to January 2008 and it's time to renew my lease. Maybe I am naive but given the economy I was expecting my management company to offer me the same rent if I sign a two year lease or a slightly higher rent and of course a big increase if I only wanted a one year lease renewal. I was wrong on all fronts. The landlord wanted $175 more a month if I signed a two year lease and a $205 increase if I wanted a two year lease. First off, what happened to the incentive to stay. You would think the lower increase would be offered on the longer lease term. Second, $175 represents an 11% increase in rent. My first thought was, is that even legal. That's double the rate of inflation.

So I called the management company and they told me I needed to write a letter requesting a rent negotiation and to support my case. I did that but you know me, I always have a Plan B so I started apt searching. One Saturday I looked at 7 apts. They were all nice, newly renovated BUT they were all too small. They were all liveable and I would recommend them to anyone but they were too small for me.

Next I went to see a few brokers and they all told me the same thing. My building/complex is a rare gem given the amenities, size, cost and location. Let's start with size. I have a Junior 4 - 1 bedroom. I had no idea what that really meant. Basically I have a dining room area and a den/office area that most 1 bedrooms don't have. I'm like okay, so what's the big deal about that. According to these brokers the layout/size of a Junior 4 - 1 bedroom is so different from a standard 1 bedroom that I would need to find another Junior 4 or a 2 bedroom. I take for granted the amenities I have like doorman, elevator building, security guards, laundry in the building, parking in the back, dishwasher, microwave, air conditioners. I was considering moving to Brooklyn to Flatbush Gardens but no doorman, laundry was in a another building a block away, no dishwasher, no microwave, no air conditioners. You really can't beat Central Harlem. I live 2 blocks from the 2/3 trains. And to the east, 10 blocks away is Metro North, the 4, 5 and 6 trains. To the west about 5 blocks is the A, C and E trains. I'm in the middle of it all.

Last but not least, cost. One of my friends from college moved in to my apartment complex in November. He is paying $295 a month more than I pay in rent. If you go to the website for my complex they are charging almost market rate for apartments. A studio is $1,350, a 1 bedroom is $1,630, a 1 bedroom with terrace is $1,805, a Junior 4 is $1,920 and a 2 bedroom is $2,670. I can't believe it's that expensive in Harlem.

After doing some market research and looking at several apartments I just hoped and prayed my letter to management would work so I wouldn't have to move. I HATE moving and I LOVE my apartment. My letter was two pages long and included everything from the rate of inflation to reasons why they should continue to have me as a tenant to how renewing my lease at a lower rate was saving them money. The letter was GREAT and if anyone is going through a lease renewal negotiation, email me and I will send you a copy so you can adjust it for your needs. My letter was soooo good that I'm presenting at the next tenant's association meeting about how to negotiate a rent renewal.

I called on Friday and they said the decision letter was being mailed that afternoon and they couldn't tell me over the phone. Saturday when I got home from work the new paperwork was in the mail. They agreed to a $105 increase in rent (about 6% increase) a month if I signed a two year lease vs. the initial $205 increase in rent a month if I signed a two year lease. I signed, sent it back and it's all good. I'm staying in Harlem for another two years AND I can still stick to my new year's goals of downsizing on the side hustles and I'll still be able to afford my apt.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Special K Diet

For the last two weeks I have been on the Special K Diet. If you have never heard of the diet here's the website to design your own plan

Now I know you are thinking, why are you, of all people, trying to lose weight. The diet says you can lose up to 6 lbs in two weeks. But my goal wasn't to lose a certain amount of weight it was about fitting in to a pair of jeans. My girlfriend Brooke helped me to purge my closet Steve Gunn style. (Gotta watch Project Runway to know who he is.) And hidden in the back of my closet I had these size 1 Calvin Klein jeans. Brooke said, you will never fit in to those jeans. They went up my legs fine, the hard part was fastening them. So I said I would go on the Special K diet and I would be able to fit in to those jeans.

Basically the diet is you eat a bowl of Special K for breakfast, a bowl of Special K for lunch, have the Special K snacks or fruit, yogurt, etc. in between and you eat a healthy dinner. I had to slightly vary this up because of course I decided to start this diet in the middle of NYC Restaurant Week. There were days I would eat the cereal for breakfast, have a normal lunch and then eat the cereal for dinner.

BUT my problem was whatever that one normal meal was I would go overboard because I was soooooo hungry. Like one day for lunch I had a sandwich, apple, granola bar, yogurt, bag of potato chips, brownie, small pasta salad, small soup and a soda. Probably NOT what they had in mind when they said normal meal...but for me, and anyone who really knows me, that is a normal meal. Another day I had Wendy's: chicken blt salad with extra honey mustard dressing, baked potato with broccoli, bacon and cheese, chicken nuggets with sweet and sour sauce, a large Sprite and a large frosty. Again, probably not a normal meal but for me, I consider that a healthy meal. I probably shouldn't have gotten the extra dressing or the cheese on the potato.

Once restaurant week was over I got better about the diet. My next problem would be the snacks at work. It seems like there are always cookies, brownies, cupcakes, fudge...something so good but so bad if you are on a diet. Needless to say I cheated on the diet...a lot. But the one thing I didn't do was try on the jeans every day to see how I was doing. I just said to myself wait until the end, it will be worth it. But I had already noticed my other clothes fitting a little different. Other jeans I have weren't as tight as before and some of my dress pants and skirts for work were a little loose too.

But it's day 14, the day of judgment. I got up this morning and I looked at the jeans and I looked at my belly that still hasn't gone down from the fabulous dinner I had at Ruby Tuesday's with my Mom and Sister. I walked over to my mirror and tried the jeans on.

The legs were never an issue but I think they slipped on a little easier than they did two weeks ago. But the true test would be if I could fasten the jeans. And without having to lay on the bed or the floor they fastened. YEAH SPECIAL K!!!!

But the diet isn't over. I've decided that the diet wasn't so bad. I never had mood swings or nightmares about food or any of the things a lot of people experience when they are dieting so I'm going to keep going at least for another week. I guess when I run out of cereal and snacks I'll stop. Plus I'm going to New Orleans the end of this week for NBA All-Star and I plan on EATING...a lot. Gumbo, crawfish, beignets, po'boys...oh I can't wait.

I didn't step on a scale before or after the diet so I have no idea how much weight I lost and I really don't care. I don't think a pound or two up or down can really hurt anyone. I suggest this diet for anyone who doesn't mind eating a lot of cereal or drinking a lot of milk. Special K has lots of varieties to keep you from getting bored with the cereal. I also think this diet is good for someone not looking for huge or dramatic results. If you are just trying to lose a few pounds in two weeks, it works. I actually think if I hadn't overloaded during my one normal meal a day I probably would have lost a little more.

Ultimately I probably just need to join a gym and do some situps. A new gym is opening 1 subway stop away from me and they are only charging $20 a month membership. Given that my company will reiumburse me for half of the gym membership I'm considering joining. The deciding factor will be if they offer classes cause just working out on equipment doesn't keep me motivated. Getting back in shape is one of my goals for 2008 so I'm going to do my research on gyms before I join.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Mother & Daughters

My sister just turned 50. It's a huge accomplishment to live that long. I wanted to do something special for the occasion. So I bought my sister and mom tickets to see the Color Purple on Broadway before it ends it's run. But before the show I took my sister and mom to Ruby Tuesday's for dinner.

It was the first time in a long time that all three of us were together. My sister and I haven't always gotten along especially in the last few years. But since her move to Maryland she is a lot happier and I'm happy for her. She was the sister I remembered the one who was always laughing and making others laugh but at the same time you knew she wouldn't take no crap. Today was one of those days I will cherish. It's about making memories and this will be a good one.