I have a few friends who, when I told them I was going to rent an apartment in Brooklyn, gave me a funny look. If you listen to old hip hop, you’d have a pretty clear image of Brooklyn as being one giant place to buy crack, get shot, have beefs and bitches. I’m here to tell you, that is old Brooklyn.

I drove here yesterday with my friend Julie, who I’ve spent about 1 hour with in person, but have emailed a lot. I messed up the GPS somehow and got the scenic route from Ottawa, which was about two hours longer than the google maps version. Still, it was actually quite beautiful. Julie missed almost all of the beauty as she was trying to recover from a two day conference and a late night drive home from Toronto. We pulled into Greenpoint, Brooklyn around 7:30pm after a harrowing last 20 minutes spent navigating traffic on really wet roads in the rain. Oh yeah, right through Manhattan. Luckily, I spent a fair amount of time driving in urban Washington,, so I actually do know how to manage the ebb and flow (hint – drive slow and exercise patience). Still…

The apartment is amazing. It’s actually decorated, people. DECORATED! With antiques. Antique fans in the bedroom, and old school wash tub, and so many details. There’s a full dresser and closet in the bedroom, another mini dresser in the living room for whoever’s staying on the futon, and closet space there as well. The bathroom has storage in it, and there’s even a room to park your suitcase in. Seriously. If you were  a family of five, you could totally rent this place. There’s room for a pack and play crib and it’s got toys and kids books. Oh, and the owners have kids, too. And! Free on street parking. I can actually see my car from the front windows.

As much as I marveled at the apartment last night, I was really really tired. Despite her four hours of napping in the car (at one point, Julie was sleeping so hard, she actually rolled over onto her side. I laughed out loud. Even that didn’t wake her up.), Julie was also tired. We had a quick dinner at a restaurant called Papacitos, packed with skinny women, guys with weird facial hair, and skinny white dudes dressed like they’re in the movie Colors (the Sean Penn/Robert Duvall classic about gang life in East LA). Yummy. Then there was sleeping. Much sleeping.

This morning, there was getting ready and a walk through Greenpoint to Williamsburg, the hipper neighbour of this community. Luckily, most everything was still closed on our first pass through. There was a fair amount of gawking through windows. We went to a pop up plus sized designer store where I tried on a bunch of stuff and bought nothing (I have a weirdly proportioned body for plus sized clothing) but had a GREAT time with Cami, the entrepreneur who runs the Pop Up Plus endeavour. Oh my lord, was she ever friendly. Ladies, she’s thinking about coming to Toronto next year.

There was some excellent moseying around Williamsburg, including a stop at the famous and vaguely ridiculously priced Bird. As Julie said, a scarf you could have bought in Asia for $3 was priced at $185. Uh huh. Yeah. We had some excellent pizza (cheap!) at La Nonna on Bedford Ave. Um. Wow.

A hop skip and jump on two subways later (Julie’s first subway ride in NYC! Had I only known I would have made more of a fuss. Heck, any fuss!), and we were at the Westside Theatre to see Love, Loss and What I Wore. It was really touching – five women reading stories about life as a girl/woman, all told from a first person’s perspective.

I left Julie in Manhattan to meet up with a friend and tried unsuccessfully to get a cab. I hot footed it over to the subway and popped up in Queens, a 10 minute walk from the apartment. In the pouring rain. Hello? It was sunny and 18C two hours ago! WTF? Regardless, I don’t melt, so I soldiered on, only exclaiming once when two buses made the bridge shake so much that I actually got thrown into the air a bit.

Since then, I’ve bought groceries (dudes, I’m gonna have to learn how to make mexican food, cause they do NOT sell asian sauces in this neighbourhood) and had a quick shower, met the owner of the apartment (from Toronto), and am now relaxed and thinking about a bread and peanut butter dinner. Because i’m tired and hungry and don’t really want to stir fry veggies and sausages right now.

Tomorrow, we’re going to wing it a bit. There’s a farmer’s market. Some Lower East Side walking. Maybe the Tenement Museum. Basically, we’re going to mosey. And that makes me totally extremely enthusiastically happy.

Lessons learned from today:

  1. Bossypants (the book by Tina Fey) makes you think well after you finish listening to it. Also, all audiobooks should be read by Tina Fey.
  2. People are not normally as efficient as I am about getting out the door in the morning.
  3. When you have orthotics, you should test them in your shoes BEFORE you leave home, not after. Painful mistake.
  4. Diet coke is a lot cheaper here.

More lessons tomorrow!

PS – Brooklyn is really really pretty. And grungy.