Saturday, March 20, 2010

sunny day, chasing the clouds away

I've been posting over on FB about the travesty that is the tax system. I don't have any little rugrats under age, so I'm now single with no extra exemptions. I filled out a W4 last year with one exemption, figuring I'd break even -- wouldn't get anything, but wouldn't pay anything. Apparently, I should have claimed zero fucking exemptions to break even. Which just doesn't make sense. I'm going to owe the feds, the state, and the city this year, and I have no idea how I'll pay.


I saw the super's wife today, and she asked me if I'd lost weight. Whoo hoo! I know it's not enough to be noticeable, especially for people who see me every day. But she hadn't seen me for weeks, so maybe there is a slight visible effect of three weeks of working out.


The landlord came by to collect the rent today. He collects it in person, in cash, each month...I don't mind. He had a welcome surprise -- the preliminary paperwork for the next lease period.

My lease isn't up till May 30, but something may be afoot in NYC. It seems that when the city is short on cash and Mayor Bloomberg can't get it directly from the people, he'll increase taxes to owners of buildings with rent stabilized apartments. Then, he'll allow the owners to charge higher increase percentages for new leases so they can recoup some of that cost.

That means that if he'd waited till May, it's possible that my 6% increase for a two-year lease could have been, say, 8%.

Also, he's maintaining the preferential rent for two years. This means that although my normal rent would be about $1500, the 6% increase will be on my $1175 preferential payment. So, while my rent will go up to $1245 on June 1, I'm assured of keeping the apartment at that rent for two years, regardless of whatever stabilization increases occur.

I also found out that, while I had thought that when an apartment reached a monthly payment of $2000 it ceased to be rent stabilized, I was only partly correct. If the apartment is rented to a new tenant after it hits that mark, then yes, they can charge whatever rent they want -- there is no more stabilization if the owner doesn't want to go that route.

However, if someone is already in the apartment and continues to renew the lease every two years, and if that someone makes less than $250K, the apartment will continue to be rent stabilized. That saves the tenant from freaky, unexpected rent hikes. In general, it goes up 3% for a one-year lease, 6% for a two-year.

Basically, that means I'm safe in my apartment indefinitely. Even if I were to become unemployed, the UE would cover the rent so I wouldn't be homeless.


Winter's OVER, dudes! It was so nice outside today I went out in just a short-sleeve shirt and a not-too-heavy hoodie. I had to take off the hoodie! The sun was shining to beat the band. I'd planned on going in to the office so I could workout/swim and then do a little work, but I decided I wanted to be outside instead. I swear I think I've got SAD from being cooped up in this basement apartment all winter.

So, I decided to run a bunch of errands today, and to walk as much of it as I could -- exercise, sunshine, and getting things done, hey! I started with a quick trip around the corner and a block north to the post office, to mail some more tax forms to the rugrat in Florida. She doesn't have access to a printer where she is.

Then I needed to go up to 181st and Broadway to have my cell checked out by a sprint repair shop, so I walked up there from 191st and Broadway. I say up 'cause there's a definite uphill -- which is good for a walking workout -- but really it's south.

I walked past the funeral home at 189th, right across the street from a big apartment complex. Past PS 46 between 187th and 185th, across the street from the Key Foods and the BP gas/Dunkin' Donuts.

Past the Staples at 185th. Past the 34th police precinct between 184th and 183rd, across from the Social Security Admin building. And to 181st, with the New York and Company store across the street from the McDonald's.

Unfortunately, the response from the repair shop was to go to a main Sprint store, where they could do the work immediately, and where they had a replacement phone in stock if I needed it. The nearest Sprint store was at Marble Hill (225th). It's down the street from the Target and I needed a few necessities, so I decided to go for it.

So I walked back down (north) Broadway, stopping at Key Foods to pick up some produce and a couple of necessities like ketchup. Hey, I don't care how much sugar it has in it, a person can't function without ketchup in the house.

Spinach and romaine, those little peeled baby carrots (they're sweeter than the big carrots), onions, cucumber, and a couple more of those really yummy sweet potatoes. And not a single goodie -- not one!

I carried those the rest of the way home, unpacked and put away what needed to be refrigerated, and headed back out for the Sprint store and Target.

This time I walked a block north and turned northeast on Nagle Ave. It's about four blocks to the 1 subway. We're smack in between two stops on the 1, at 190th and at Dykman. The route to the 190th stop is mostly underground, so we use that when the weather sucks. Otherwise, I walk up Nagle. Well, this time, let's just say I sort of strutted up Nagle. I was in such a good mood with the sun, and with the weight comment from the super's wife. My feet felt very light today.

Nagle is 'the hood' for sure. The streets are lined with locally owned shops -- everything from pizza, chinese, chicken, spanish foods; beauty and barber shops; a grade school; small medical/dental clinics; small bodegas; western unions. And 80% of the signage is in spanish. People (more men than women) bring lawn chairs down from their apartments and hang out on the sidewalk, and guys work on cars parked along the street.

I hopped on the 1, which was above ground at that point, so I was still enjoying the sunshine. I stood for the three stops, got off, and left my cell at the Sprint store for an hour.

I walked by the Lane Bryant on my way to Target, and saw a sweater in the window that I really liked, so I had to stop in and check it out. I tried on a few things, and wound up with two spring-y sweaters that are good for casual professional work attire.

Then on to Target, where I mostly picked up necessities, but also found a handbag on sale. And I did not get soda or candy or munchies. But I did pick up a pint of ben & jerry's froyo. What can I say?

Back to the Sprint store an hour and a half later, only to discover I hadn't given them my pin code to unlock the phone.

-- Insert homer simpson doh! moment here --

So I waited around another fifteen minutes while they did their thing. They fixed it so I can get online, supposedly fixed the problem with freezing and the phone shutting off on its own, and installed a new battery. We'll see if that works.

Then I used said online service to find the nearest Supercuts. Spring was in the air, and a haircut was as well. So back to the 1, and back down Nagle to take home the packages from Target.

I decided to go the other direction back to the 1, and picked it up at 190th, riding it down to 103rd, walking a block to 102nd and Broadway to the Supercuts. Where I took a deep breath and had the stylist cut off most of my hair. Not only can't I pull it back into a ponytail or clip, I can barely tuck the front behind my ears anymore. I'm trying to get used to it. I think once I shower and style it in the AM, I'll like it.

Now, back on the 1, I decided to get off again at 181st, walk the two blocks to Broadway, and walk home one last time back down Broadway. Along the way, yes...I hit up the mickie d's. After all that walking, I figured I'd burn most of it off.

My mp3 battery had gone dead just as I reached Supercuts, but I didn't mind. It was nice to walk down the street and hear the multiple languages being spoken, the occasional car driving by with reggaeton blasting, windows open.

It was, in a word: NYC. My NYC.

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