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It doesn’t snow much in the lower half of New York state anymore, so every time we do get an actual snowstorm here with a decent amount of accumulation it’s a cause for excitement! We got about a foot over the weekend, and it was beautiful in Brooklyn. Despite my never-ending bronchial unhappiness, I forced myself outside for a bit. To the dogs’ disappointment, I forced them to come along, too. Every year I somehow convince myself that Fritz and Bruno are real dogs and that they want to play in the snow just like all of the other happy dogs I see frolicking around in the stuff and having a blast.

Well, Fritz and Bruno are not real dogs, and they do not want to play in the snow. They don’t even want to walk on a wet sidewalk. After about 2 minutes, they were both wet and dirty and crying and shaking. Sigh. So, back inside…where they were both immediately subjected to baths, another thing they both hate. They spent the next 24 hours sleeping off the trauma, which is a whole hour longer than they usually sleep each day.

Meanwhile, Evan and I are packing up our apartment and getting ready to move to the new place on Friday! Evan found this company called Jugglebox that rents out reusable, stackable moving boxes. They delivered them (disinfected!) to our current apartment, and they’ll come pick them up from the new place in two weeks. Very cool. Quite a step up from our last move, which we (very stupidly) did entirely with IKEA bags and at the expense of Daniel’s youthful energy. Never again.

WE ARE SO EXCITED TO MOVE. Really. It’s going to be so good. I can’t wait to get in there and take pictures—it’s such a cool space with so much potential. In the mean time, I’ll be taking a million photos from the rooftop view we’re giving up!

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Brooklyn work space

I realized last night (upon receiving lease renewal forms) that it’s already been 10 months since we rented “the new apartment” in Brooklyn. Whaaaat?! I don’t really understand how it’s been almost a year already, but geez—I guess I should take some more pictures of it. A little while back I showed you one side of the main room, now here’s another side. This room contains the kitchen, dining room, living room and office, all compressed into a surprisingly spacious-feeling 220 square feet.

When I was planning out this room, one thing I knew I wanted was a nice work surface. I don’t like compact desks. I considered a few possibilities, and eventually arrived at a combination of two VIKA LERBERG trestles ($10 each) and a VIKA FURUSKOG table top (regularly $60, but I found it for 50% off), both from IKEA. That’s a 60×30″ work surface for $50—not bad! The table is actually deep enough that Evan and I can both sit and work opposite each other at the same time if we need to.* Plus, if we slide the iMac to the end of the desk (or put it on the floor), the table is big enough to seat 4 people—really nice if we have friends over for dinner.**

*This has never happened. But it could!
**This has also never happened. I blame the lure of the roof deck.

Brooklyn work space

The IKEA PS cabinet holds everything…and then some. I was sad to have to give up the awesome fauxdenza from our old apartment (it’s since been relocated to a closet at the house—more about that in another post!) because of space, but this guy really does an amazing job of storing way more stuff than it seems like it would be able to. All of our office supplies, tools, dog stuff, papers, and other things are in there, with room to spare. Our PS cabinet has been with us since 2003—almost a decade now. It’s an IKEA classic at this point, and I really think it’s one of their all-time best products.

Funny how much the (not) “new” apartment is starting to look like the old one, isn’t it? I even hung all of the artwork in the exact same arrangement. I still don’t think this place has the same kind of friendliness the old apartment did, but I am warming up to it! We definitely have a lot more visitors in DUMBO than we did in Washington Heights, that’s for sure, and I do love being able to open my home to people from out of town. It’s not big enough for overnight guests, but for hanging out for hours on end petting dogs and drinking coffee, it’s perfect! Every time friends or family come over, it really does start to feel a little more like it’s ours.

Herman Miller Lifework blog

If you’d like to see a few more photos of this side of the apartment (as well as some new pictures of the office at the house!) and read a little interview with me about work spaces, head over to the Herman Miller blog. I’m so honored to have been asked to contribute to their Lifework blog! I think it’s obvious to anyone who’s seen any part of my house or apartment that I have a considerable number of Herman Miller products in my life, so this was a lot of fun to do. (Thanks for inviting me, Amy!)

We arrived in Brooklyn late last night after getting word that electricity had been restored to our apartment building. The elevators were still out which meant we had a long hike up to the 9th floor, but the relief of being back in NYC was worth it. I don’t want to be away right now.

This afternoon we headed out to drop off supplies for Sandy victims. The situation in the outer boroughs, where people—many of them elderly and immobile or financially unable to relocate—are living without heat and with a diminishing food supply, is becoming increasingly dire as temperatures drop. 20,000 of the 40,000 New York City residents expected to be displaced by Sandy are public housing residents. You may have heard that there is a gas shortage in NYC right now as a result of the storm (there are waits at open gas stations of 4–5 hours, and many stations are closed because they don’t have power), but aside from the resulting transportation issues that have been reported on, people are now unable to power generators. The disparity between recovery efforts in downtown Manhattan and in Queens and Long Island is dramatic. There are people in danger who need help NOW.

My friend Jenna has written a compelling post at Sweet Fine Day about the devastation she’s seen first hand, and what she and others have been doing to help. She has also compiled a GREAT list of local organizations that are providing direct assistance to those effected by the hurricane—donations to the Red Cross aren’t bringing relief fast enough. If you would like to help, please consider giving to one of these groups. Even if you can’t contribute, I urge you to read Jenna’s post—it paints a much truer picture of what’s going on here right now than anything you’ll see on CNN.

UPDATE:
Occupy Sandy has set up a registry through Amazon to facilitate the donation of the most-needed supplies in a very simple way. If you are not in NYC and would like to help, this is a great way to do it. Occupy Sandy volunteers are making daily deliveries to priority response areas. THANK YOU!

If you’re in DUMBO, Gleason’s Gym and Superfine—both on Front Street—are accepting donations of blankets (the most-needed item!), coats, water, non-perishable food, batteries, trash bags, diapers and other supplies on-site. Donated items will be delivered directly to those in need in outer-borough areas affected by Sandy.

The community effort I saw today in DUMBO is really heartening. A lot of small, independent businesses took a real beating from the storm, and ground-floor apartments (including the ones in my building) were destroyed. Those who fared well are helping out those who didn’t by making their showers, food, water and electricity available. Clean-up efforts and fundraisers are in full swing. DUMBO has the benefit of being an area that attracts a lot of tourists, so I’m hopeful that people will continue to visit! There are a lot of tech-industry and creative jobs in DUMBO as well, and the sooner those people can get back to work, the better. The DUMBO Improvement District site has info how to donate specifically to the businesses who suffered the greatest losses.

Damage and recovery at my favorite book store, powerHouse Arena. There were piles of water-logged, destroyed books on the sidewalk outside. I took a photo, but I can’t bring myself to post it…

One Girl Cookies is closed indefinitely due to extensive damage. Today they opened a pop-up shop a local children’s clothing store.

Galapagos Art Space was completely flooded, but managed to reopen yesterday after a massive clean-up effort. The before and after photos are amazing!

Jane’s Carousel survived in spite of the water that crept under the bottom of its enclosure. It’ll be a while before it’s operational again as the underground electrics were flooded under 5 feet of water, but the horses are fine.

✚ DUMBO is a really popular destination for wedding photos (barely a day goes by when I don’t see a bride or two posing outside my building), and it was nice to see that tradition continuing today. DUMBO will be just fine.

This is the final set of photos I took before leaving Brooklyn last night. Our building in DUMBO is still off-limits per the FDNY—extensive flooding everything on the lower levels means must be completely rebuilt and inspected by ConEd before the power can be restored and residents can move back in. Our apartment is on the 9th floor and was thankfully unaffected, but the apartments at ground level were destroyed. We were allowed back in to retrieve belongings (and empty the refrigerator!), but we have no idea when the building will be habitable again.

We are, of course, very fortunate to have our house up in Newburgh in addition to the apartment, so that’s where we are now. We brought Jen from Honey Kennedy (currently visiting from Portland—possibly the worst “vacation” ever!) along with us, and everything is really fine up here. There are some downed trees and the waterfront restaurants were flooded, but it seems the Hudson Valley was spared the damage that affected New York City, New Jersey and other points south. We weren’t so lucky up here during Irene! Metro-North trains aren’t running yet (nor are subways between Manhattan and Brooklyn), so I have no way to get to work from Newburgh. It’s strange to feel so immobile.

I took these photos on the apartment roof deck last night at around 8PM—worth climbing 10 flights of stairs in the dark to take them. It’s so strange to see the lower Manhattan skyline so dark—the only lights are those powered by generators. When I walked down to the street level, I noticed that the Empire State Building was perfectly framed—and perfectly illuminated—beneath the Manhattan Bridge. I’m such a cynical person by nature, but I’d be lying if I said the sight didn’t put a lump in my throat.

Now that I’ve caught up on news and have seen the complete devastation that’s occurred in in areas like Breezy Point in the Rockaways and Seaside Heights on the Jersey shore, I feel even more grateful to have escaped without harm. Having to wait for electricity and trains is nothing next to people who have lost everything, including their homes.

PREVIOUSLY:
Waiting for Sandy (Sunday mid-afternoon)
Still waiting (Monday, early afternoon)
Sandy, during (Monday, 6:00–8:30PM)

I’m exhausted, so this update will be brief! So…Sandy came. I took photos on the roof deck of my apartment every couple of hours (I stopped going out there when it got windy—I was never in any danger), so you can see the progression of the water level in DUMBO between 6:00–8:30PM. Pretty much everything from the park to Front Street wound up getting flooded.

We did lose power and wound up having to evacuate at around 9PM. An electrical fire started in building across the street from us, and the fire department was unable to put it out. Because they were concerned the same thing would happen in our building, they asked us to leave right away. The lobby and lower level of the building were totally flooded when we left—no idea what the status is now.

Fortunately my brother lives a couple of miles away in Cobble Hill, which is at a higher elevation. The walk there was pretty harrowing—the wind was insane, there were trees and debris everywhere and we were each carrying a (tiny, scared) dog. By the time we reached Montague Street, we had to stop. My brother came and retrieved us in his car! Luckily no one stopped him—no cars were supposed to be on the street.

So we’re OK. We have no idea when we can get back into our apartment, no idea when the subways will be running…no idea about anything. But we’re OK, and so are our friends and family. There are an awful lot of people who aren’t OK, though—and right now that’s who I’m worried about.

The photo above was taken during the explosion at the ConEd power plant in lower Manhattan. The light in the sky was crazy. I hustled back inside after that!

I Instagrammed the photos below last night, and the first two kind of became a “viral sensation,” which was weird. They were picked up by just about every news website (hey, I got published on the New York Times front page, haha), every TV network, and every everything everywhere, all over the world. I got an interview request from Romanian Public Radio this morning. Crazy. Anyway, if you wound up here because of one of those pictures, I assure you that they are real and that they were taken from the roof deck of my apartment building, which is located directly under the Manhattan Bridge right next to Brooklyn Bridge Park. I was outside of “Zone A,” the area that was under mandatory evacuation prior to the storm.

The very last photo here is the street outside my building as we were evacuating. Lots of water, but it could have been so much worse. Grateful.

If you would like to use any of the photos in this post for any reason, please email me at anna@doorsixteen.com to let me know. Credit line must read © Anna Dorfman and link back to this post. I am happy to provide higher-resolution images, but bear in mind that they are grainy—these were taken with a hand-held point-and-shoot (and an iPhone) in the dark on a windy roof. Thanks!

SEE ALSO:
Waiting for Sandy (Sunday mid-afternoon)
Still Waiting (Monday, early afternoon)

Here are some iPhone photos of the scene in DUMBO, Brooklyn, at around 1PM Monday afternoon. It’s rainy and windy and the water is rising a bit, but nothing significant yet. Our corner market, Peas & Pickles, is still open and doing brisk business. I stopped in to La Bagel just as they were selling out of the rest of their fresh stock and getting ready to close for the day.

Red Hook is already flooding, as are Battery Park and the Gowanus Canal (ugh). I’ve heard that trees are coming down in other parts of Brooklyn. So we’re doing well in DUMBO for now. Of course, Sandy is still far away…

I’m not sure where else to put these photos, but I figured I’d post them in case any Zone A evacuees are wondering what things are looking like around the Manhattan Bridge right now. Unless the wind intensifies to a point where it could be unsafe for me to go up on the roof deck of my apartment building, I’ll take a few more snaps later today and this evening and post them as well.

A little more than a year ago, we were camped out in our old apartment in Washington Heights waiting for hurricane Irene, and tonight we’re hunkered down* in Brooklyn waiting for hurricane Sandy.

We’re admittedly more nervous this time around. Irene did a lot of serious damage upstate and in the northeastern states, but New York City got off relatively easy. I don’t know if we’ll be so lucky this time around—no one seems to really know. We decided to stay here rather than go up to our house for a few reasons (less chance of being stranded for days without power or being squashed by a tree, primarily), and there’s really no time for second guessing.

DUMBO is a waterfront neighborhood, and our apartment is about as close to the East River as you can be without actually being in it. The other side of our street is in the mandatory evacuation zone—a technicality, I guess, but one that’s giving me a sense of security just for being 5 feet to the north of the dividing line.

The subways have been shut down in anticipation of flooding, which feels very strange. I can count on one hand the number of times in my life that the NYC subways have been completely out of commission. They might not be back in service until Wednesday, which is impossible for me to imagine. This is not a city that can function without mass transit. Obviously I won’t be going into work tomorrow! The parks are closed, all construction has been halted, sandbags are in place, the stores have been raided for batteries and bread, and it’s very, very quiet outside.

I’m keeping busy answering emails, cleaning the apartment and baking peanut butter blondies. I feel like I really need to keep everything in order right now.

Before it started to get windy, I took the dogs on a really long walk. The pre-storm light was gray and beautiful, and I took a bunch of photos—I guess because I’m worried DUMBO might not look like this tomorrow. I spent a long time watching Jane’s Carousel go around and around inside its glass box, hoping that storm surges won’t rise above the platform it sits on.

Stay safe, everyone.

*That’s for you, K.

Even though we’ve been renting it for the better part of seven months already (!!!), I’ve been extremely slack about sharing photos of the Brooklyn apartment. I’m not sure why, exactly. I definitely don’t have the same attachment to my apartment as I do my house, obviously, but in truth I don’t even feel half the affection for it as I did the last apartment we rented in Manhattan. I really loved that place.

I do like DUMBO, and of course I’ll always love Brooklyn, and there’s no question that I feel extremely fortunate to have even one place to live, let alone two. I guess the disconnect comes from the fact that this apartment doesn’t NEED me.

Going all the way back to the very first apartment I rented (Yonkers, 1995) and through all the ones I’ve rented since (White Plains, Brooklyn, Brooklyn, Brooklyn, Beacon and Manhattan—I’ve moved a lot!), I’ve consistently been in places that are both old and run-down around the gills. They’ve all needed me to make them better. I’ve done extensive renovation work in some of these apartments, investing myself not so much financially as emotionally—and that’s really how you become connected to a place. That’s how it goes from being just a place to live to being a true home. Every apartment I’ve lived in has been in better condition when I left it than when I arrived, and that makes me feel good.

You know, for all of my perfectionist tendencies, I actually adore imperfection. Imperfection is a sign of hope that things will improve. Imperfection is full of promise. Imperfection makes that which is beautiful look even more so by comparison.

This new apartment, though…it doesn’t really need anything. There are no real imperfections. The walls are white, the floor is pale oak in perfect condition, the kitchen is well-designed—it’s fine. All of it is just fine. There’s nothing for me to do here except arrange my stuff, and where’s the fun in that? This apartment doesn’t need me, and it will inevitably look worse when we eventually leave, not better. Even though it’s in a late-1800s building, the entire thing was gut-renovated less than a year before we moved in. And so: Track lighting, sprinklers, pre-finished MDF moldings, veneered doors, built-in AC, and so on. Our lease is an inch thick, and we can’t change anything. (There’s even dishwasher. I have a dishwasher?! What?)

It’s weird, being in this new, fancy apartment in a bizarrely fancy part of Brooklyn. I’m trying to love it. Part of me feels a lot like when I go into Saks to buy a lipstick, though—like I don’t belong, like I’m a kid trying to pass myself off as a grown-up, and I like I’m just too sloppy and, well, run-down around the gills to pull it off and fit in.

Anyway, I think I like this little spot in the apartment. It’s starting to feel right. I love the neon sofa legs, and I finally bought some decent pillows. It’s getting there. I’m getting there.

I finally took some photos of the new apartment that aren’t iPhone snapshots! We rented this place three months ago, and since then I’ve really been struggling to make it feel right and OK. Even though the building the apartment is more than 120 years old, the interior was completely gutted a year ago. It’s just such a sharp contrast to our fixer-upper Victorian house (not to mention just about every apartment I’ve rented previously), and it feels very hotel-like to me. I’ve tried to compensate by treating it like a dorm room!

I do like how the bedroom is looking, and really, even just having a separate bedroom is a wonderful improvement over our old studio. Evan and I often operate on very different schedules, so there’s no telling how many humans (or dogs) will be in the apartment or the house on a given day or night. Having a distinct area for sleeping makes everything feel a bit more normal for everyone.

Sorry all of these photos look kind of the same! The bedroom is really only about 10’x10′, which is pretty tiny. It’s hard to stand far enough away to really get good shots, but I tried my best.

The “reversed-socks” table is pretty cute, right? It’s from West Elm, but I think it’s discontinued because it was a floor sample clearance item. That awesome lamp is by Brendan Ravenhill, and the cloud pillow came from La Casita. The cross blanket, of course, is by Pia Wallén. Daniel and Valeria at Hindsvik made the big ampersand. Oh! And the bed itself is a discontinued model from IKEA.

I’m in love with that acid green-footed candlestick. I rarely go into Bo Concept, but I spied this guy through the window recently and ran in for a better look. It’s part of a whole collection. Don’t they look great all in a row? And yeah, I did try to spruce up the ugly built-in heating/air-conditioning unit with some neon washi tape. I don’t know if it’s helping, but it was a fun way to spend 30 seconds! That great print was made by my friend Lisa Congdon. I was with Lisa and Victoria when I bought that little bowl at Marimekko (the new flagship store in NYC is wonderful!). I keep my jewelry in it at night.

I keep meaning to blog about that “alarm clock.” It’s actually just a block of wood with no electronic parts! It was designed by Jonas Damon for Areaware (it comes in a bunch of colors now, too—when I bought mine this was the only option), and it’s really just an iPhone stand. You can run a cord through the back so you can charge your phone while using it like a flip clock! They have an app that you can download and everything. Very cool, especially for people like me who use already use their iPhones as alarm clocks.

I’m really, really happy with this shelving. We only keep a handful of books at the apartment at any given time (the big “library” lives at the house), but I was getting tired of having little stacks of books and DVDs gathering dust on the floor. The shelves are comprised of two sets of steel EXBY OXIE brackets from IKEA ($20 for two) and six EKBY TRYGGVE pine shelves ($3 each). Grand total? $58 for a pretty substantial amount of shelving that looks good and doesn’t take up most space. The brackets are so great. I’m sure IKEA will discontinue them soon since they’re one of those “sleeper” items that doesn’t get much notice, so I might have to stock up on a few more sets just in case.

And yes, the Morrissey poster! I bought it exactly 20 years ago at Rhino Records in New Paltz. It’s been hanging on my wall in the vicinity of my bed ever since. Much like the Smiths poster on the dining room mantel at the house, it’s a constant. I loved these things when I was 16 years old, and I love them now at 36. I think teenagers have an inherently good sense of what makes you feel good in your own space, and I’ve tried not to lose that as I’ve gotten older. Too often grown-ups get sucked into the idea that their homes need to look “adult” or sophisticated or whatever. Not me! I say bring on the giant Morrissey heads, the over-sized ampersands, and the stuffed cloud pillows.

The Manhattan Bridge is not the Brooklyn Bridge. Yes, both bridges cross the East River and connect Manhattan and Brooklyn. On the Brooklyn side, you can walk from one to the other in just over 5 minutes. They’re brothers separated by 26 years. (Sisters? I’m never sure about the genders of inanimate objects.) The Brooklyn Bridge is iconic, though. There are 2027 bridges in this town, but the Brooklyn Bridge is the one that immediately comes to mind when someone from the other side of the world hears the words “New York City” and “bridge.” The Manhattan Bridge is bigger, younger…and bluer, painted the color of Dutch Delft tiles.

I love the Manhattan Bridge.


Top (1908): Eugene de Salignac, New York City Municipal Archives
Middle (1974): Danny Lyon, National Archives and Records Administration
Bottom (1984): Still from Once Upon a Time in America, Directed by Sergio Leone

Tucked under the Manhattan Bridge on the Brooklyn side is my new part-time neighborhood, DUMBO. My apartment is really close the the bridge–it’s in a factory built by Robert Gair (inventor of the corrugated cardboard box) in the 1880s. You can see the building in all three of the photos above, and it still looks pretty much the same in 2012 as it did in 1908.

Whether I’m walking home from the subway, talking the dogs out for their evening stroll, or talking a little time to myself on the little beach in the park, I cannot get enough of the Manhattan Bridge. The more time I spend in DUMBO, the more I get to know this big blue friend from all angles. It doesn’t have a bad side. I take a photo of it almost every day.

On Friday I wrote a little bit about the passing of Adam Yauch and about having been a Beastie Boys fan for two and a half decades. The Beasties are New York for me…they are Brooklyn. That’s why they’re on my “Summertime Jams” and “Hustle” mixtapes: They signify energy and sunshine and attitude. Walking down the street feeling like a badass. A badass with a sense of humor.

I can’t separate the Beasties and MCA from Brooklyn, and combined with my new-found love for the Manhattan Bridge, I was pretty excited last night when Neal Brennan uploaded some previously-unseen footage of the Beastie Boys performing “The New Style” on a boat in the East River in 2004. It was supposed to air on the third season of Chappelle’s Show (which of course never happened). The best part is Ad-Rock yelling out “let me clear my throat” just before a subway rumbles overhead on the Manhattan Bridge…a sound that sings me to sleep every night I’m in Brooklyn.

Kick it over here, baby pop…

EDIT: It’s back!

EDIT: Sorry guys, the video is being repeatedly yanked by Viacom. Here’s an article about why. If Neal Brennan can find a way to get it out there legally, I’ll re-edit it back in. Sad…