NYC: Which is more difficult to find - an apartment, or a man?

It all depends on the quality you’re seeking. There’s an expression I learned back when I started making films.  You want your movie to be three things: “Fast, inexpensive, and good.” But the thing is, you can only have two out of three.
It applies to apartments too. If you’re prepared to pay a lot, you can have a good place quickly. But if you’re patient, and take your time, you can find the perfect place, at the right price. Does this apply to dating too? If we don’t pressure ourselves with deadlines – if we leave our options open and keep looking – will the right thing come our way?
I’ve lived in NYC for years (with a six year detour in LA) in many apartments and neighborhoods. When I was living with my ex-husband, the choice of apartment had different criteria. Now that I’m single, and in the five years since I moved back to NY, the specs have changed. At first, I just needed something that was mine, that I could call my own (and that permitted large dogs), and I found it. It was cheap, I found it quickly, and I felt triumphant because it was my first apartment post divorce.  But after two years, when I started to gain my confidence and independence back, I began to see the apartment for what it was – a shithole masquerading as “It’s mine not ours!” glee. My neighbors were note-leaving, wall-pounding assholes, and the kitchen was a shelving unit. And while I don’t cook, I thought (okay, my Mom did) that moving to a place with an actual kitchen might inspire me to (it hasn’t).
I decided to rent a new place. This decision coincided with my break up (the first or second one- can’t recall) with ex-cub #1 (sounds like a Cougar dating show). I stupidly gave notice on the shit hole and had to find a new apartment within 3 weeks. I didn’t think I would find something in time. “Apartment hunting is harder than dating!” I dramatically texted to four friends simultaneously. I was a wreck. I wanted something bigger and nicer, that I could “grow into” (read: stay in even if I had a baby and/or a new husband) but I soon realized I couldn’t afford it. And the two apartments I liked wouldn’t take pets (the bastards). It dawned on me that I was in no position, emotionally or financially, to be making decisions in the present based on where I might hypothetically be in the future.
I found a place in the end, which I live in now. I like it. It’s pretty. It’s more expensive than I wanted, and probably need (I got fast and nice. Not cheap. You catching on?). But I realized in all that searching that it is so easy to see something you kind of like, without having to commit to it. In the hyper scramble that is Man-hattan, with so many options – apartments we missed, men we didn’t get to meet – isn’t there always something better just around the corner?
These perceived options can paralyze us from making a choice, and sometimes paralyze us permanently. Renting, dating, moving from place to place in search of the next thing, when sometimes, the right thing might be right in front of you. Right?  
After one year in my pretty new place, my rent has been significantly increased. Time to move again! (same time as break up with ex-cub #2…hmm…).
Except this time, I have a different attitude. I’m not freaking out.  But it’s not because I’m not in a rush. It’s because I realize that nothing is perfect. Nor permanent. Besides, it’s only an apartment. I know what is important to me – not later, in three years – but today (location, price, and vibe. It doesn’t matter if it’s smaller than a newborn).
So I went to look at some apartments today. Mom and Dad came along, even though all of the apartments were below 24th Street, without a Zabars, Fairway, or yarmulke-wearing dude in sight. Mom did perk up when she spotted a synagogue on W 12th Street. She didn’t know we had those downtown. 
We had a great day, even though I found myself caught in moments of brief despair regarding where I was headed, and who I would meet next. And whether it would finally stick. But I didn’t say anything to my parents. They didn’t ask about my recent breakup, or whether there was a new guy, even when my Blackberry beeped with texts that made me smile (yes, that is all I am divulging…now).  At dinner afterwards (5pm early bird special, of course), amidst the apartment discussion my dad surprised me when he gestured towards my mother across the table and said to me, “Look at your mother. Isn’t she cute? From the second I saw her, I decided I wasn’t going to waste any time. It’s been 45 years.”
So I guess in some very special cases, it’s possible to have all three.

A Cougel's father's day

Today was my first time hosting a meal in my new apartment. And the first time I hosted my family, ever. Between both my sisters, their kids, and my parents, there’s usually an occasion to celebrate every other Sunday. In New Jersey. Since I lived away from my family for so many years, I don’t complain, and make the guilt-trip out by train every time. But this time – for father’s day and my sister’s birthday – I went out on a limb and invited the whole gang into the city. I was worried my mother would say no. She can’t bear the traffic (or my father’s agitation because of it) and whenever I suggest a dinner in the city instead of a brunch in NJ, she says, “Tell me, what can I get in NY that I can’t get in NJ?”
They all agreed to come.  They were happy to. I made a list, I checked it fifteen times, and because I don’t have a lot of space or roommates to eat leftovers, in the end I  asked Mom to bring half the things on my list. Orange juice (too heavy to carry with all the other groceries from whole foods), lox for ten Jews (Costco carries family size), a large platter for said lox, kosher bagels (from the extra freezer in mom’s basement), and all the tiny but necessary things I didn’t realize I was missing, like a grater, a vase for the flowers I bought at the farmers market, a salad bowl, and drinking glasses for 4+.  Although as Mom pointed out, I have plenty – an entire shelf! – of martini glasses, in different colors.  (“It’s because I never use them and they haven’t broken yet!”)  In my defense, I would like to add that I did not serve alcohol. Not even mimosas or sparkling wine. Not because it was early in the day, or because we’re Jews.  Nor was it because Mom was there.  But because believe it (or fine, don’t), I am making a concerted effort to cut waay back on all things that are bad for me.
A blog I posted in late February introduced the ongoing saga of my health, and how I try to maintain it, while simultaneously maintaining the illusion that I don’t need to.  http://thecougelchronicles.com/?p=122
This past week had me back at the same doctor because of reoccurring stomach pain that I thought was food poisoning, but I think what I’ve really contracted is mood poisoning. Maybe they go hand in hand. Bottom line, I felt like shit this week and I was sick of it, literally.  Mom, hearing how I felt, urged me to go to the doctor, who immediately sent me for an ultrasound. He told me not to eat; to wait until after the ultrasound.  When I called Mom to update her – even though there was nothing new to report since I hadn’t even had the ultrasound yet, let alone the results – she yelled at me.
“YOU HAVEN’T EATEN SINCE YESTERDAY? It’s 2 o’clock. You must eat something!”
“But Mom, I’m not supposed to. They’re examining my STOMACH. The doctor told me not to.”
“He doesn’t know what he’s talking about.”
She proceeded to call me when I was in the waiting room to whisper conspiratorially: “Tell the receptionist that they need to take you now, or you’re going to faint from not eating.”  I wanted to remind Mom that Jews fast, a lot, for much longer hours, while standing up in a hot synagogue, and they don’t complain about it (until after break fast anyway), or seem to suffer any long-term effects. While I was in an air-conditioned room with free filtered water, and it was only midday. But I kept my mouth shut. 
Anyway, I didn’t get a scary phone call from my doctor late Friday or over the weekend, so I’m assuming that he didn’t see anything too scary. But the episode was enough to set me straight. Sometimes I wonder if we scare ourselves on purpose. Like maybe I needed to sit in a room with twenty other people whom I suspected were there for far more serious reasons than I was, to decide enough is enough.
Brunch was wonderful. I bought tater tots for the kids, but half of them escaped from the cookie sheet only to fall to their death in the inferno below, smoking up my kitchen. My dad came to the rescue, deftly plucking the burn victims out of the oven crevices with a fork. It was quite dramatic, really.  I locked my dog in my bedroom with a rawhide (my niece is afraid of her – for good reason) and after Mom and I argued over whether everyone should eat buffet style or just pile everything on my dining room table and let everyone sit where they want, we had a blast.  
My three favorite moments:
1) I “made” yogurt parfait. Which basically means throwing vanilla yogurt, granola, and fruit into a bowl, and I had never seen Mom (or my sisters) so amazed and impressed with me in my entire life. It was as if I had cooked chulent, all by myself. Or told them I was marrying a nice Jewish guy from the upper west side and was having three kids with him immediately.
2) I have another shelf that needs hanging (it’s the last one, I promise), so Dad was happy to help. It’s his kind of father’s day.  Like the last time, he didn’t have a leveler. But never fear! My brother in-law has an I-pad.  And apparently, it has a toolbox application or some shit on it, leveler included.
3) My father is impossible to buy a gift for. He insists that he doesn’t need anything, and therefore refuses to give us any pointers. This year, it was my turn to “do” father’s day.  Mom told me he needed a new belt (he had a wake up call too I guess, and started a diet. And you can tell he’s lost weight. He kinda looks like a stuffed bear whose lost some of his stuffing.). I got him a belt from Ralph Lauren, and some after-shave. A cliché father’s day gift, but my dad isn’t one for originality, just practicality. I was nervous he would say what he does every year, which is smile and say “thank you” before placing a kiss on each of our heads. This means, Mom’s got returns to make at Bloomies. But this year, his eyes actually lit up.  He stood up and put the belt on, and said to me, “It’s perfect. How did you know?”
It was the perfect day.