5 questions with the NYC Nomad

I hosted Ed Casabian, aka the NYC Nomad, on my couch for the entire week of March 13. We had more fun than I thought we would eating some delicious food, playing some catch, going to Tomas’s special gym class, and having some good chats; it was really a pleasure to host him. Ed asked me some questions about my thoughts on and surrounding the experience (here), and I did the same. I now entertain you with a few questions that the NY Times and WNYC didn’t ask.

JB: What has been the most surprising neighborhood for you?

Nomad: I think the most surprising neighborhood for me has been the ones that I haven’t been to before. For those neighborhoods especially, I Google a lot about them and read their Wikis before I go, and until I’m there, it’s impossible to have a sense of place. Crown Heights was definitely one, because I had never been there. Eastern Parkway is one of the most beautiful boulevards in NYC. There are so many old, beautiful homes; it used to be really a very grand place to live. I just had no sense of it before! Now I just think the juxtaposition between Blacks and Hassidic Jews is interesting; there’s an ongoing clash even though it’s better than it was. Also, the history. I did a house tour while I was there of 12 old homes in various levels of restoration; they’re amazing. This one place was 3 floors next to a really old church that this guy is renovating, which was incredible. I did it through the Crown Heights Historic Association, who I think offers the tour every year. Hoboken was also surprising; it has a sort of reputation, but it had a real community feel and beautiful views of Manhattan.

JB: Is there a problem that you’ve noticed a lot of tenants have?

Nomad: I don’t know if there’s a most common problem. I did find and help apprehend a mouse that was scurrying about in a kitchen. It was in a nice neighborhood, but I think that’s just a reality, that sometimes there are mice in New York apartments. There was also a flood; that was in Red Hook, and I think that’s pretty common there. Thank goodness there was a second floor, because we moved all of the furniture up there. Radiators can also be loud, but thankfully, I’m a pretty sound sleeper. That’s actually one of those things that allows me to do this project! So, I don’t think there’s a common denominator of apartment problems, but points for a unique question!

JB: Well, here’s another! How is your monthly budget going to change when your project is over? Will it?

Nomad: I’ll have way less to spend, and won’t be taking people I just met to dinner as much! The idea is definitely right now to take my rent money and spend it on experience. Some of it’s on me, but most of it is on the hosts and their plans. I stayed with three girls in Tribeca, and we went out a lot, so that was an expensive week. It’s been a year where I’ve just decided to have the experience and wasn’t going to worry. I still think I’ll spend more money depending on where I end up living just because rent in New York is so high, but I’ll definitely save in other ways. For instance, I used to bring lunch all the time, and I haven’t in who knows how long. I’m going to go back to that.

JB: What’s the most luxurious or unnecessary item that you carry around with you in your Nomad pack? What would you get rid of if you had to?

Nomad: A whole laundry list. The tennis racquet has been used very little, though I do hope to use it more as it gets warmer. I have a pair of swim goggles that I’ve actually used twice, because I’ve stayed in two apartments that have had pools. Those are the two things I just plain don’t use. Things I really value and need: my iphone and my kindle. Those are essentials. Also my laptop and my camera. If I had to get rid of something though, I would probably drop a week’s worth of clothes and just do laundry every week instead of every other week.

JB: Finally, did you pick up any new hobbies or new interests in your travels?

Nomad: Lots of new interests, but not really new hobbies. For instance, with you, I’m now really excited to learn more about board games. From a neighborhood perspective, I often lament leaving the place and want to learn more about it still or participate more in the community. I started to ask people What do you read? What do you listen to? because they have a great collection of something, and now I’m feeling like I need to take six months just to process everything and explore all of the great recommendations I get. After spending a week with people, it’s hard not to want to explore their recommendations. The girl I stayed with in Crown Heights had this musical instrument native to Bali and Indonesia called the gamelan. She played it in this big, traveling band, and now I’d love to go see that performance. All of the people I’ve stayed with have their own unique interests, and that’s what’s most interesting to me.

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