Sunday, January 27, 2013

Apt 45: The reality of Washington Heights

When I heard there was a reality show about Washington Heights, I began to search my papers to make sure I hadn't agreed to be filmed and was secretly recorded the two years I lived there -- because that would explain the level of drama I was forced to live with. I mean really, this living situation was devoid of producers and unpaid talent - MTV's dream production I would think.
So, when we examine the former against the rules of a reality show, this post will serve as a convincing proposal to either my house was bugged and an audition tape for the Washington Heights reality show, or I was lucky craigslist responder number 439 to reply to a cheap room in Manhattan's upper living quarters. Either way, I'm going to publish a series here -- a literary rival of reality show vs. real life. Now, the essential principle to create a successful reality show rests in the ability to create a situation that is bound to bring out the worst in others: Apt 45 on Saint Nicholas is a contender. And now, what will be the first episode:

Part 1: Real Life Hot Mess
It started out with a reply to an ideal craigslist post (if there is one):
Friendly girls looking for young professional female roommate -- own room, cheap rent, clean roommates!

It was summer in the city, I spent the last three months living off raviolis and take home meals in an apartment that was robbing me blind, sucks being naive and from Ohio. So, I'm at the end of my rope living in a summer sublet, I reply to this post and tell the girl I can come by with a check if all is as it turns out to be. As I walk in to visit this shotgun apartment one early summer morning ready and happy to meet my roommates, one is sleeping and one answers the door half naked, exclaiming how comfortable everyone is with each other! I peek into the kitchen to confirm the "clean" part of the posting ... it's borderline rotting with dirty dishes and scum (no really, actual scum). My host and tour guide tells me "and this is the kitchen, oh we were cooking last night no worries it's normally really clean."
The room is small, but what room isn't in NYC. It had a closet and would be my own. I continue to rationalize each red flag thinking: well even if no one seems to be going to work except for me surely they are doing something to pay rent here; and the kitchen can't always be like that I mean no one would want to live like that. In desperation and with hope for change I tell her I'll take it and will move in next week...
When I showed up tired from moving all day and a little nervous about what this next chapter would bring, I finally sit down after I finish unpacking at about 1 in the morning on a Thursday night. As I'm getting ready for bed my roommate comes home (the one that was sleeping when I initially stopped by)...
Without pleasantries she looks at me and says abhorrently, "ummm, you have a cat..??" You would have thought my cat marked his territory across her door, when instead he sat there per usual like a bump on a log. Hatred towards my cat was a strike... her attitude was a strike, her faint scent of hot mess was a strike ... within moments my dreams are crushed of a blossoming friendship with my roommate and instead it's replaced by a nightmare punctured with misplaced piercings a noticeable weave and a muffin top.
And so the drama began ...
We exchanged angry words as I declared she must turn down her music as some people needed to get up and work in the morning. I mean when my walls are shaking ... really ... really ... ?
She wanted me to keep my cat in my room, when I threw back at her that I was paying rent and he was part of the package she stood down ever so slightly (little did I know how poignant my sticking point was).
The mediating roommate and resident owner of the apartment finally comes home and attempts to make a deal between the two of us. I'll just say it was a short-lived truce.
Like any typical reality show, we've established the conflict at the beginning: a clash of two worlds with an infinite possibility of aggression, arguments and situations that could be scripted but in reality, are not. A girl from Ohio learning her way in the city sharing a space with a girl who's future will consist of living off the money she made agreeing to marry an illegal immigrant.

Stay tuned for more posts as you get to relive with me the best of the worst of my two years in Washington Heights.

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