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Musing #12: A New Yorker’s Home Is Her Shoebox

Ain’t no castle. That’s for damn sure.


In Musing [Lucky?] #9, I shared the story of my disastrous August move. Not long thereafter, I fired off the following Tweet:

Painfully shedding beloved books to save room. #NO! But you can’t have a library like John Quincy Adams on Avenue C. #LoisaidaAintBraintree

Living in NYC requires a lot of what most middle-class Americans would consider sacrifice. Frankly, it requires what most middle-class New Yorkers consider sacrifice. But not I.

I’m so passionately, helplessly in love with Gotham that the only true sacrifice would be not living here. I don’t ever want to be a homeowner. Front lawns, backyards and personal responsibility for structural maintenance are suburban realities anathema to me. I don’t ever want to be a parent, so I don’t worry about the “good school” issue. I have never owned a car, and I don’t ever want to…unless I could have a 1948 Tucker, which I cannot.


Perhaps, one of these Fridays, I’ll tell you why I rarely drive. But not today. Today, admittedly languishing in a First World Problem that isn’t a problem for most of the First World, I confess that I’m markedly distraught at the loss of so many books. Purging my most precious possessions for dearth of space is my official NYC struggle this week.

I took the pic below during yesterday’s afternoon subway commute, giggling as I did so at how much like my book-shedding Tweet the ad is in essence:


Oh, Manhattan Mini Storage. Your copywriters are such shameless hipsters.

(Glare on the ad notwithstanding, I’m quite proud of that pic’s composition!)

This is the era of no paper, and I will never accept it. I will never condescend to so much as use, let alone actually purchase, the abomination that is an e-reader. And don’t dare throw the damn “saving trees” argument at me. That’s the kind of political correctness that turns my stomach.

There are plenty of ways to save and recycle paper. We needn’t demonize books. Books are not unilaterally obliterating the Amazon rainforests, and they are NOT wastes of paper. Turn your nauseating, holier-than-thou “green” wrath on law firms if you want to bitch at true culprits of astounding paper waste. Then, go right ahead and destroy your eyes, squinting at your soulless, cumbersome tablets.

But leave us bookworms be!

You know what’s vastly better than sex? Curling up in a cozy bed with an old book that smells of time. Delicate, yellowed pages and the smell of ancient cigarette smoke? Can’t get enough. The jaundice and odor are scars of the journey that got the old book into bed with you. Beyond the wonderful words within, paper books themselves have life and character.

Curling up with an e-reader is like trying to cuddle C-3PO.


Ever since seeing (and LOVING) Disney’s BEDKNOBS AND BROOMSTICKS [1971] for the first time as a kid, I have wanted a rolling library ladder.


Oh, how you shine!

(Note to History Teachers: Screening the above-referenced film is the coolest, trippiest way to teach otherwise disinterested youths about the Battle of Britain.)

Years after first pining for that ladder, I went to the Adams National Historical Park, which is actually in Qunicy – not Braintree – Massachusetts. (Pardon the hashtag blunder.) And I have coveted John Q’s stunning personal library ever since that glorious day. Check it out:


Permit me a moment to recover from my eye-gasm.


Phew! Thanks. I’m back now.

Obviously, the Avenue C shoebox I call home cannot approximate the space John Quincy had for his breathtaking collection. That work of art is a large, stand-alone edifice on the Adams property. In order to achieve even some approximation of that library without sacrificing life in New York, I’ll need to get mad rich and buy a brownstone.

When pigs fly.

Until they do, I’m donating two boxes full of my sadly rejected books to NYC Books Through Bars. ‘Cause if I must part with them, they must go to someone who will actually read them. And prisoners read.

So, “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead [to the brownstone-with-rolling-library-ladder of my pipe dreams]!”



  1. Never thought I’d say this but, lucky prisoners! I have tried the e-reader app but it feels so wrong, not to mention it is no fun when your battery dies mid-read.

  2. I also want a rolling ladder and library, though I don’t remember what spurred on that fantasy as a child. Maybe Henry Higgins library in My Fair Lady? Though now I think he just has two stories, not a ladder…that’s a pretty delish library as well.


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