Day 18: differences

Day 18, and I’m noticing the differences between life in Berkeley and life in NYC. Differences other than the snow/weather, of course…

If NYC could get on the recycling bandwagon, wow–what an impact on the world. Our NYC apartment building has recycling bins, but recycling isn’t enforced like it is in San Francisco, both by law and social order. (If you go to a party in SF/Berkeley, EVERYONE will come up to you with their empty bottles and ask, “You recycle, right? Where’s your recycling bin?”) Nevermind the fact that you can get FINED if you put your compostables in your regular trash bin!

I have a compost bin in Berkeley–all compostables (vegetable and fruit peels, egg shells, coffee grinds) go in my compost bin. I cook a lot–and over the course of a week, I’m tossing several big bowls of compost into that bin. It makes me feel virtuous to know I’m relieving burden on the environment, turning organic material back into soil…

But in New York? There’s no compost bin in an apartment in a sea of apartments. And there’s no green compost bin in the refuse room, either. Those compostables? They go in the trash. That makes me sad.

Which leads me to…The Refuse Room:
I hate taking out the trash. Hate.It. The only time I could bear taking the trash out was when I lived in a high rise Berkeley dorm, where there was…a trash chute. All I had to do was walk out in the hallway, and throw away my trash and shuuuuup! it would go shooting down the chute down to whatever depths below.

(Actually, I know the depths–one time, I threw away my rice cooker pot insert, and had to rifle through the building’s trash myself).

In Berkeley, there are trash cans that I have to (ick) touch and then roll out to the curb each week. In NYC? The aforementioned Trash Chute phenomenon. There’s a picture above–trash chute to the left, and recycling bins. I love the trash chute. It’s as close to the Jetsons as my life has gotten.

Hospital designs are all about hiding the corpses. I think NYC apartment buildings are all about hiding the trash.

Service in NYC is…da sheeit. Repairmen not only arrive early, but they CALL you to tell you if they can arrive early. And if you tell them to arrive 15 minutes later, they say sure! And then 15 minutes later call you and say, “Is now okay?” Heaven.

You go to the store–whether a big chain or a local place…and 90% of the time, you can have that stuff delivered to your house, so that you don’t have to carry a zillion bags on the way home. (I have developed some serious shoulder muscles in the few weeks I’ve been here). You can pick the timeframe for delivery. It’s amazing.

Walking walking walking:
Biggest difference: you don’t need a car. Walking suffices. You walk all day. You can walk most anywhere. I can’t be sure (I have to go get a tape measure, because this new weight scale I got is maddeningly inaccurate)…but I think I’ve lost a few pounds since being here.

As a consequence of walking, I notice the details of the City (e.g., all the remnants of dog shit, for starters). I rub shoulders with other people. I don’t just drive around in a “bubble” (aka the car), driving past the sections I want to rush through, only to focus on my destination. It’s an entirely different process.

I love the walking.

Berkeley Bowl (otherwise known as, “Where are the good grocery stores?”):
I miss Berkeley Bowl. I miss it. A. Lot. I knew that when I left Berkeley, I’d miss that store–but never did I think I would miss it this much! Berkeley Bowl is a one stop shop–it has international groceries, mainstream groceries, organic groceries, frou frou gourmet groceries…all top notch PLUS a bakery PLUS a deli PLUS a great butcher + fishmonger PLUS amaaazing and diverse produce.

We’ve driven to Jersey, we’ve tried no fewer than 12 grocery stores in Manhattan…and so far, the only thing that comes close is Whole Foods and Fairway Market. For the record, Whole Foods doesn’t hold a candle up to Berkeley Bowl.

I haven’t yet checked out the greenmarkets, so maybe it’ll get better. But for now–I miss you, Berkeley Bowl.

Smush Face Dogs:
New York loves its smush face dogs: pugs, French bulldogs, and English bulldogs.

Writers Room:
At The Writers Grotto in SF, each writer gets a private, dedicated office in which to write. There’s an enormous wait list, and everyone is eager to get on the “sublet list,” which gives a writer access to the occasional sublet opportunities.

Here, in NYC, there are a number of writing rooms, like Paragraph and The Writers Room. Whichever you choose–you’re unlikely to get an office, let alone a dedicated desk (although the The Writer Gym at the Asian American Writers Workshop offers dedicated desks). I kind of prefer the NYC option–to be in a sea of writers, so that you hear the collective work going on (it’s silent, but not without the occasional gulp of water, rustling of polyester jackets, and the sound of typing). If you don’t have a dedicated desk, you’re all the more motivated to get to the space early.

And lastly…:
And lastly–I love that there is NO RAMPANT HIGH TECH TALK here in NYC. It’s nice to go through a meal at a restaurant without hearing “Java /Javascript /JVM /Python /Ruby /Ruby on Rails /VCS /SAN,” etcetera, either at your own table or at the table one over, or the table on the other side of the restaurant. It’s a nice break. And I love that writers abound.


Filed under Life, New York City

6 responses to “Day 18: differences

  1. 5redpandas

    It’s interesting to see NY from a fresh perspective and I’m glad you’re blogging again. Enjoying it!

  2. Pingback: Day 18: annnnd hello, rental market | Writing Under a Pseudonym

  3. AnonWUPFan

    “If NYC could get on the recycling bandwagon, wow–what an impact on the world.”
    “Biggest difference: you don’t need a car. Walking suffices. ”

    I hear you on the recycling (we have virtually nothing here) but imagine if the rest of the US would get on the walkability bandwagon. Think of all that pointless sprawl. All of that fuel. All of that idling in traffic, air conditioning, asphalt, motor oil, tires, road salt, street lights, wiper fluid, paving and repaving, etc. running for 60 years non-stop, while the bricks rot out of every city center between Berkeley & NYC. Such a shameful, incalculable waste.

    Sorry, I get carried away.

    My hybrid runs on chicken & waffles.

    • @5RedPandas: Yes, I’ll be blogging more here. 🙂

      @AnonWUPFan: I just have a thing against hybrids–the technology hasn’t been perfected so that it’s good for the environment just yet. Those batteries are just going to go into landfills (but biodiesel….that’s an awesome thing, plus everything would smell like french fries!). But yes–all of that walking is good for the environment. If NYC could get on the recycling bandwagon–even better!

      • AnonWUPFan

        Alternative fuels are great, but what are we doing with them? With so much senseless personal vehicle use going on, the collective kidding ourselves with “green” consumption is beyond epic. No technology will ever make it okay to have the predominant lifestyle be one where you must drive everywhere for everything.

        We can reduce our energy use dramatically and permanently and we can start doing it today, not just by walking, but by committing public resources to making US cities walkable (if you build it, they will walk) instead of supporting gas, cars, and sprawl with short-sighted zoning laws and subsidies. It’s just like recycling in Berkeley: enforce it via law and social order and it will be successful.

        Besides, I usually smell like French fries anyway 😉

  4. Jon Klar

    I understand your recycling shock when you arrived here from Berkley. I educate people about recycling here in NYC and I came across your blog while looking for chute room pictures. As you may have already learned, recycling is the law here, it’s just a little more difficult to enforce with such a large population. Mandated composting has been and continues to be looked at as a possibility, but seems unlikely in the near future. If you haven’t already visited a Greenmarket, you can bring food scraps to the following locations:
    If you need it, here are some tips for recycling:
    I know you can’t recycle as much here, but you can always take your #5 plastics to Whole Foods. It may be a little more difficult, but there are plenty of opportunities to recycle in NYC. We just have to work on increasing the social pressure to do it. Hope this was helpful.

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