I have been moving, non-stop, for the last five years—from place to place in Brooklyn, once from Brooklyn to Manhattan, again to Brooklyn, then to North Philadelphia, to South Philadelphia, back to Brooklyn, and now, finally, in a home of my own. Anyone who is constantly uprooted and manages to do so cheaply will tell you the secret to a nomadic (and I’m not gonna front, pretty exciting but ultimately stressful) life is to not own anything. Now that I’m finally settling into, ya know, some semblance of stability, I’ve come to the realization that living alone in a one-bedroom with a real-ass 12-month lease means I’m going to need stuff, at least, a bare minimum of stuff, and sometimes stuff and things can actually make you feel pretty good. (Please note that if 15-year-old me knew I was writing something for a series called, ‘Shit I Bought,’ she’d kick my ass all the way back to the Karl Marx house in Trier, Germany, where I spent too much of my adolescence brooding, imagining a world where women would dismantle capitalism. As you do.)
Recently I spent weeks looking for a colorful couch that would act as the focal point of my living room, one that is a.) affordable, b.) cute, c.) comfortable. “Cute” is more important than “cozy” here because I’m a certifiable monster who does not value many creature comforts (hence, being able to move around so goddamn much) and if I’m going to spend real money on something, it better look like I did, a tendency I 100% inherited from my Puerto Rican mother.
After nearly a month of no luck in the form of many, many gorgeous couches I could never spend $3,000 on, my daily habit of extraordinarily futile Craigslist searches did me right. A well-to-do couple in Manhattan’s pricey East Village neighborhood were selling all their shit to relocate to the even pricer Bay Area to work as private chefs for some tech biz overlords, and one of the aforementioned shits was a CB2 avec sofa with brass, gunmetal gray legs in the most beautiful shade of “bella, bayoux” I have ever seen, bigger than a love seat but on the shorter end of the sofa/couch spectrum—perfect for my 5’4” frame and delightfully unreasonable for my partner’s 6’4” frame:
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For $400, I scored the above couch, slightly used (nine months old) which retails for $1,400. They also threw in some outdoor furniture—I am part of the lucky 0.00045 percent of the population that has some outdoor space in NYC—including this iron latticework table and matching-ish bistro chairs (a set of three; they could certainly use some TLC, but I’m buying pre-used, so, not mad). Unfortunately I don’t know their company-of-origin, but whatever, it’s cute! I love cute!
And if I leave them outside in the elements (rain, snow, the rapture) they’ll probably make it out okay.
After purchasing the above pieces, it quickly became clear that I would need, uh, a table to partner my sofa. I opted for a glass side table, this $70 three-shelf beaut from Amazon (scored for $30). Glass seems like a safe default (I have a lot of weird art, throw rugs and blankets in my possession, translucency gives my apartment the feeling of whatever is the opposite of a wall at TGI Friday’s.) Out of all the pieces, I assume this one I consider upgrading in the distant future for more of a statement piece, but for now, it serves the purpose of making me appear like a person who doesn’t break everything they touch.
I’m still in the market for an obnoxiously narrow coffee table, ideally one that looks like I built it myself (so, wood?) and am extremely open to suggestions, dear Jez readers! Until then, I’ve decided sitting on a bright blue couch and drinking Tecates on my roof deck with my delinquent friends are gestures as close as I’ll ever get to anything resembling self-care, and having a place to lay your head—with the promise of 11 more months of the same—is great! I love buying shit!
I keep moving. It’s not my choice. I would desperately like to stop moving. Please!!! Someone!!! Allow me to pay you rent uninterruptedly!!! Since I moved to New York six years ago, I’ve lived in the East Village in a sublet, then the East Village again; I moved to the Upper West Side to go to graduate school and live somewhere cheaper and closer, then to Brooklyn to move in with my boyfriend. That apartment wasn’t great so we moved two years later a block away, intending to stay for five years or until we died, whichever came first, but it was in that apartment that two (2) cockroaches crawled into my hair, something bit me and my whole arm swelled up, my living room started heavily raining from a leak two floors up, and then the ceiling crashed to the floor. Okay, so we moved again, this time to an unbelievably well-priced garden apartment six blocks away and essentially chained ourselves to the bathroom fixtures to prevent any eviction attempts. There were problems—I saw cockroaches and other sorts of bugs crawling out from the fairly large holes where the floors failed to meet the walls, and we suffered a “termite swarm” (please, do not Google this), but each time we were hardy and resolved to make it work, designers, so much so that I became objectively good at caulking. Fast forward to not even one year after our lease began, our landlord announces he’s selling the building. Hahahahahahahahaha!
Okay, so we moved again three weeks ago, and have announced to the ghosts and strange cat that haunt it that we intend to stay for a very long time. It is bigger than our other apartments, which is nice, but also means that we need to buy things to put into it, and that also we are poor from moving. Tough bind!!!
So, thus far, we have only purchased the most boring items possible. Are you ready for a Shit I Bought that is the opposite of aspirational? A Shit I Bought that will make you feel almost devastated for how unremarkable the life I lead is? Great!
The first thing we bought for the move are Gorilla Bins. I guess this is not technically buying—they are big plastic bins that you rent to move your shit in and then they come and pick them up—but it was a good altruistic spending of money for which I feel proud, and now, necessarily, there are no boxes hanging around until we can figure out what to do with the weird cords inside them. I love it!
Since officially moving in, we’ve had to make some decisions regarding what we should buy now—a.k.a. what we need immediately—versus what can wait a few months to be on our wedding registry, (you heard that right: I’m getting married, bitches!!!!!!), like a toaster. A microwave was deemed something that we needed now, since apparently not all apartments come with microwaves. I bought this one, but won’t include a photograph here. You know what a microwave looks like! It is a Panasonic.
We also bought this household folding step stool since the shelves in the kitchen go quite high, and my boyfriend and I are both on the average-to-short side. We have not used it yet, except immediately after opening it, and that was just for a joke, but I think she’ll do her job.
Hmm, what else, what else... are we bored yet? Would it make us more bored if I revealed that I also bought a new cat litter mat for my cat’s litter box since the previous one was just caked in shit and piss? Or if I told you I bought a second PetFusion Ultimate Cat Scratcher Lounge, the number one and only piece of cat furniture a cat owner (and cat) needs, since my cat destroyed the one I bought him four years ago? It’s a valuable little chaise lounger that your terrible son will love more than he loves you, his mother who feeds him and pays $137 every 16 months for a vet to say, “He’s an extremely beautiful, if plump, Siamese.”
Here it is:
It was $50.
To cap off an exhilarating month of domestic spending, my boyfriend and I went to Maine and spent a morning in Portland. All the guides said things like, “spend a few hours perusing the shops on such-and-such street, fingering the delicate oils at Shmucker’s Down Home Maine Oil Carousel, and browsing the shellfish at Smelly Jack’s Sea Condo.” At first I was like gawd, does that sound boring, but after 20 minutes of inhaling nothing but Maine air, we found ourselves brainwashed and, indeed, perusing shops.
I bought a bunch of these dinner plates, because they were attractive and reasonably-priced and we had driven, after all, and I bought the Ursa Major 4-in-1 Essential Face Tonic with Aloe, Bamboo, and Green Tea, because a store was selling it and whomst am I to say no to a refreshing face tonic, especially whilst in Maine and taken by the spirit of whimsical consumption?????
Unrelatedly, does anyone want to offer me a drug or a hard slap on the back or some other method of reminding me that I am not in my mid-to-late 60s? Thenk you!
This has been “Shit I Bought,” comprised of shit we actually bought. No company compelled us to write about it for any reason. We bought it all, for better and often for worse, with our own money and of our own free will.