Much To My Delight

Much To My Delight

And yes. I still live in a basement.


If you’re looking for some uncensored, in-your-face commentary that makes you evaluate your physical appearance, your job, your financial status and/or your general station in life, look no further than an eight-year-old kid. They’re old enough to have extremely keen observational skills, but still young enough to get away with saying things most adults would get punched for.

On my last visit with my brother’s daughter Allison–who, by the way, is one of my favorite and most treasured people on this planet–I got schooled on my choice in real estate.

“Do you still live in a basement?” She scrunched up her cute little nose and pronounced the word “basement” as if I were locked away in a Mexican prison or held captive on that brokedown cruise ship with bags of poop lining the hallways.

Now, in her defense, Allison has never seen where I live. Clearly she heard that I lived in a basement from someone else, and who knows what inflection they gave the word. Also in Allison’s defense, she lives in Texas and in all likelihood has never seen a basement other than the ones in fairy tales where they lock up dragons or TV shows where they hide dead bodies in musty old freezers.


{ My foyer. We’re working on the lighting.}

Also, in her defense…she’s eight. She’s not exactly in a position to know how tough it is to find decent rent in New York City. But because she is eight, I had to tailor my reply to be more cordial than curt. It can be tricky.

“Yes dear. I still live in a basement. It’s actually not that bad. Kinda cozy. You should come stay with me sometime.” Because she is my blood, I will even go the extra mile and banish the dragon for the weekend. He can stay at the abandoned crack den next door.

Now, if Allison were an adult, my response would have been a little different, in that I would have attempted to school him or her back.

“Ahemmmm, actually, it’s not really a basement– I believe the term you’re looking for is garden apartment. And PS:  We pay pretty reasonable rent, are exempt from any street noise, are really close to the subway, have an open kitchen with more than three inches of counterspace and a backyard with a plentiful fig tree in it.” Slam. Dun-duh-duh.

And if I were feeling particularly sentimental, I’d add this:

This was the first New York City apartment I was able to afford all on my own. I had TWENTY-FOUR roommates through my late teens and 20s. This basement was the first place that was all mine.

This is the apartment that has cosmic significance to me. The day I found this apartment was also the day I received my acceptance letter for grad school. I found a new home and a new career path on the same day, and that day felt really freaking special.

This is the apartment that is too small to hold all my friends. It’s where I’ve hosted bridal and baby showers, big festive celebrations and small, quiet dinners. This is where I show other people how much they mean to me, whether it’s with a plate of warm homemade cookies or an invitation to keep me up past my bedtime. It’s where 17 old friends were crammed tightly this weekend for Friendsgiving Dinner, sharing what they love about one another and laughing till their sides hurt.



group 1

Most of all, this is the first and only home I’ve shared with the love of my life.  It’s the apartment where we learned the arts of teamwork, partnership and compromise. It’s where he cut his teeth fixing toilets and tricky doors, and where I learned to hang pictures with nails instead of thumbtacks. It’s the apartment we’ll think of when we get to the age where we begin most conversations with “Remember when…?”.

Years from now, when we’re still paying down the mortgage on our palatial brownstone in the East 70s, we’ll think back on our time in that garden apartment in Astoria, the one with the open kitchen and the sweet fig tree in the yard. We’ll think of our low overhead, and how easy things were. We’ll think of running to the grocery next door for slice-and-bake cookies and walking hand-in-hand to trendy restaurants down the street. We’ll laugh about the kitchen drawers that always jammed and the bathroom door that swelled up in the summertime. We’ll smile remembering our friends posing through chattered teeth in the backyard during our Christmas party, of cuddling on our tiny loveseat watching movies, of friends’ babies rolling on the bed. We’ll think back to our first anniversary, and quietly swaying to our wedding song on the white tile floor.

I’m old enough to understand  how special these years are.  I’m young enough to still wish we could freeze time forever.

But the kid’s eight. I’m not going to bore her with that sentimental crap.

Instead, I’ll throw my niece a bone and give her something else to make fun of.  Kid, if you really wanna mock something, feel free to take a stab at my couch. A dingy, lumpy, misshapen mess with no hope for the future.

lump couch

Looks like two pigs fightin’ under a blanket.

Jenn P.

30-something psychotherapist. Loves cooking, hosting parties, exploring new places. Texan by birth. New Yorker by choice. Likes to tell little stories. Pull up a chair; I'll tell you one.

  • RheelDaze
    This is beautiful! And I suppose a little sad at the same time as I’m looking at the backyard thinking that kid needs to spend six minutes in my apartment and she’ll happily pay double the broker fee for the outdoor space. Your apartment actually looks really nice and in all honesty, I love your “foyer”. It reminds me of the staircases I saw in some castles in England. Kids can be tricky for sure. I’m STILL mad over my seven year old nephew telling me I had a yellow tooth a year and a half ago and find that I have a really hard time not regressing to an adolescent when he starts challenging me. Last time I saw him I told him I was a way better bubble blower than he is and I meant it. His mother had to pull us apart. Also, I went to visit my cousins in Texas last year and you could fit four of my apartments into their McMansions. At one point, after noticing my complete awe over the sheer size of the place, one of their nine year old girls looked at me and said “You’re poor, aren’t you?” Can’t wait to have my own!
    • Jenn from much to my delight
      “You’re poor, aren’t you?”…I burst out laughing at this line. This whole comment is just freaking fabulous. (PS: The “foyer” is the staircase at the Sagrada Familia church in Barcelona, so you’re not that far off!)
      • RheelDaze
        Haha! That makes so much more sense! I was like “where the hell can you find an entryway like this in Queens?!”
  • dawnmarie04
    From the mouth of babes. My nephew has asked in all honesty if I was scared walking to school when younger because of dinosaurs. I guess anything old falls under the prehistoric age. I live in a townhouse and they live in a single family home, in the country mind you. So the traffic and neighbors in my hood has resulted in me being called poor. Not having kids has also posed some concern for them. I have been told I would be a cool Mom and should buy one for them to play with.
    • Jenn from much to my delight
      Yes, kids don’t seem to understand how costs differ in terms of neighborhoods and region. And I think we’re all old compared to them! (My niece warmly refers to me as “old lady”).
  • Nicole Marica
    Love this! also, can I just say how jealous I am of your basement apartment in NYC….my house doesn’t seem to shine the way yours does in this post!
    • Jenn from much to my delight
      Thank you Nicole! Basements have a special charm–they may be dark, but that seems to add a cozy factor.
  • Alaine M.
    I am new to your blog after seeing your guest post on The Life of Bon (and I truthfully don’t read many blogs)! I also live in Astoria but in a studio apt… above a tattoo shop and questionable “massage” place (the quotes being of vital importance here – eww!). I think your garden apt sounds lovely. I have thoroughly convinced myself that my balcony overlooking the N/Q is charming even as I have to halt conversations for 15 seconds at a time as it comes chugging by. *Sigh*… Astoria charm, I suppose!