Our new (apartment?) building

After weeks of searching for the perfect (rental) apartment, K and I realized we were being a bit too idealistic in a housing market that was vastly different from the one we just left.  So, we lowered our standards (goodbye, nice-to-have amenities such as a gym and swimming pool and newly built condos), cast our net wider and got very, very lucky.  We replied to a posting on Craigslist (posts on Craigslist are few and far between here, let alone genuine, non-scamming ones), viewed the apartment two days later, and decided to take it two hours later, snatching it up before the next scheduled viewer had a chance to walk through the doors.  We were desperate for a place to live by then, and breathed a great big sigh of relief to be able to finally put the search process behind us.

We’ve spent almost two weeks here, and it’s been great so far.  The convenience of the location cannot be beat.  There are numerous places to eat nearby, several convenience stores, and lots of shops.  One of our favorite places (already) is the nearby riverside park / walkway, which reminds us of the waterfront walkway by the Hudson River where we’d stroll on breezy summer evenings and tear through on soul-chilling winter days.  The building itself takes some getting used to.  The 25-story tower is over 40 years old, and was built in an era when mixed-used developments were all the rage.  As a result, the first 13 levels of the buildings comprise of mostly the following odd, eclectic mix:

– Textile, clothing and accessories shops

– Travel agencies

– Trading companies

– KTV lounges

On the last point, having grown up in the US, I equated KTVs with karaoke.  Apparently, they’re not one and the same here.  Many KTV bars here are frequented by middle-aged men, who are looking for beer and singing and – most of all – the company of young women.  These young women are mostly foreigners from elsewhere in Asia who are working for the money (some are students, I’ve heard).  The whole concept is a bit fuzzy, and the businesses are a bit dodgy.  However, I wouldn’t say the presence of such KTV lounges / bars are a danger, and it is always more amusing than threatening to run into someone employed in such a place.

Today, I got to wander around the lower levels for a bit and was tickled to find two things.

1. There is a spa which has mural stickers all over its lengthy glass storefront.  A piece of the mural is missing, and in that missing space, the spa had taped a printed screenshot of their security camera footage capturing the culprit – an elderly man casually picking at the sticker – in the very act.

2. There is an Internet radio station.  A lady broadcaster sat in a glass-fronted recording studio, wearing big headphones and talking into the mic, waving her hands with great animation.  She was by herself, but looked completely engrossed in her conversation.

It’s small things like this that make me smile.  I’m glad to be here.

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…and we’re back!

K and I have been here in Singapore just shy of 4 weeks.  It feels instead like we’ve been here for 4 months.  Life in New York City is slowly fading away into a dream.  Despite the 12-hour time difference and vastly different culture and way of life facing us every day now, an email or message from friends is a flood of the familiar and comfort.  I am instantly transported back to where this adventure all began.

Needless to say, a lot have happened since our last post in June, all of which I will share in the coming days.  After all, what is life and all of its exciting (and frustrating) experiences if not shared?  Here’s a sneak peek of our lives in the past 2 months.  Here I must take a moment to apologize for the fact that a much greater chunk of time has flown by than I meant for it to – but that’s always how it is, huh?  But back to the happy developments:

– We got married, woohoo!

– Equipped with 72 bottles of water and a rental car (along with other essentials, of course), we toured the hot, dry, chilly, snowy, rocky, other-worldly, mountainous, progressive, foggy, quirky, breathtaking, sunny, and glamorous state of California (in roughly that order)

– We moved to the other side of the world…on the longest and most comfortable (yes, you read that right) flight of our lives

– We moved into a corporate apartment

– We started exploring all the things this country has to offer

– I turned a quarter-of-a-century old (wait, what?)

– We found a place to come home to for the next 2 years, and let it go at the last minute because we didn’t agree with the seemingly arbitrary contract terms (stay tuned to hear about all the funny things going on with the housing/rental market here)

– We found another place (for real this time!)

Whew, that’s a lot of changes in 2 months, after having comfortably settled into the regular, predictable routine of working life we knew for the past 3 years.  We move into our new place this Saturday.  I can’t wait to tell you all about it, and to start transforming the stark white walls, empty shelves and unadorned windows into a warm, inviting and happy home.

Whew

As all two of you who read this little blog may have noticed, the name has been changed from “The Future Perfect” to “Love and a Roof”.  Both “thefutureperfect” and “futureperfect” were already taken as wordpress web addresses, and for the last few months I had resorted to using “zefutureperfect” as the address.  This bothered me continually because it made no sense, considering this blog has nothing to do with the caricatured accent of an old French butler.  It took me several days of serious thinking to come up with an appropriate title for the blog, but I finally found it and I love it.  I think this one will stick.  I was so excited I even started designing the logo like a crazy possessed person (I tend to tackle projects in overzealous bursts), but have been sidetracked by a million other things.

Which leads me onto the other topic.  I’m going to update a bit less frequently for the next month or so, as I’ve found that tending to the blog is not as effortless as it looks (pictures don’t upload and resize themselves, alas) has taken away from what little precious time I have left for wedding/honeymoon/Big Move, which are all happening in the next 3 weeks.  I have so many exciting projects lined up (wedding- and home-related) that I cannot wait to share with you guys.  My camera is already full of works-in-progress snapshots begging to see the light of day.  All these ideas and photos are most going to appear here in the coming months.

I already can’t wait to see what my next apartment will be like.  That’s the one after the corporate apartment, which will be fully furnished hotel-style.  The lazy bum part of me is saying “Yay!” for not having to worry immediately about furnishings, but the budding designer side is saying, “Boo, I need a blank slate to get this started already!”  Either way, here’s to the (near) future.  Woot.

First thrifting attempt: (surprising) success

Who knew NYC also had a thrift store district too (kind of)?  In case you’re curious, there’s a cluster of them located around the Flatiron district, which includes the usual suspects (Goodwill and Salvation Army, as well as local stores).  I ventured out into the world of thrifting yesterday and boy, am I glad!  More on that later, when I share my spoils.

I’m no stranger to thrift stores.  In our first few years in the U.S., my family regularly browsed one near our apartment on weekends.  I thought it was the neatest thing.  We picked up board games, random knick-knacks and even some basic clothes.  We also scooped up furniture, carpets, rugs and even a rickety but useable men’s bicycle (on which I taught myself how to ride) from curb sides.  This was fairly easy to do so living in a huge apartment complex, since people were constantly moving out to (bigger and better) apartments and houses and throwing away their furnishings in hopes of getting nicer new pieces.  So my parents, as resourceful as they are, made out like bandits.  Most of the furniture we picked up was functional.  They didn’t really match, but served their purpose for as long as we needed them.  When we moved out of the apartment complex, we graduated, like many others before us, to shiny new things and didn’t look back.

Now that I think about it (and I honestly was not even aware of this until this moment), it’s funny that I am coming full circle.  But from a completely different perspective.  Now I am visiting thrift stores in hopes of finding furniture or clothes for home decor or fashion (which I definitely as a luxury) rather than functionality.  Funny, isn’t it?

So I put on my hiking boots flip flops and trekked out to the thrift store district.  The gorgeous weather and a dinner date in the vicinity were the final little shoves I needed to (start to) tackle this point on my To Do list.  I honestly did not know what to expect.  Was my rekindled love for thrift stores justified?  Would they indeed have the (super cheap) pretty things and charming pieces of solid wood furniture I dreamed of in my head?  I had no clue, but I had a few free hours to explore.

I am picky, so even when things are cheap, I won’t buy them unless they are of superb quality and I absolutely love them.  As William Morris, a 19th century British craftsman, designer and poet who started the Arts and Crafts movement in England, put it so brilliantly and simply, “Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.”  I just had to keep repeating that to myself as I put back the too-tight dresses and unneeded glassware.  I wasn’t sure if I was going to have anything at the end of the day, but that was okay.  I didn’t want to want to buy things solely for the sake of saying that it was “successful” trip.  But the thrift store gods shined down on me at the last store I visited.

First, please let me declare my love for ceramic things.  Especially white ceramic things.  Especially white ceramic things for the kitchen engraved with cute black lettering.  Well hello, little one:

{Pic to come}

For some weird reason, this whimsical little jar makes me so happy with its cute handle and reminds me to add a sprinkle of love to everything.  Incidentally, the bottom indicates it’s from Pottery Barn, one of my favorite stores!

{Pic to come}

With Little Sprinkle in hand, I continued on my happy way and was ready to head toward the register.  I turned quickly and did a quick sweep of the room and literally did a double-take.  There it was.  Its existence didn’t even make sense.  But there it was.  Nestled on the top of a shelf, invisible to someone standing immediately below but visible from across the room, was a pop of green and yellow that was the stuff of my (decor) dreams.  Marimekko pillow, how on earth did you walk straight out of my Pinterest into a local Goodwill?

{Pic to come}

The (very inexperienced) Inner Decorator in me was jumping up and down, shouting with glee and disbelief: did someone buy this pillow from Crate & Barrel and forget it here by accident?  It had been love at first sight with this little thing when I first spied in on the Crate & Barrel site (another one of my favorite stores).  I want, said my Inner Decorator, but boo, it’s $45.  So I shelved it, like 99% 100% of everything I initially look at, onto the I Want and Love but Will Probably Never Buy shelf (also now known as my Pinterest).  I don’t think I could have ever believe that Marimekko Pillow and I would meet in real life outside of a Crate & Barrel store.  But there it was.

{Pic to come}

I love everything about this pillow.  From the punchy lime-green and yellow poppy pattern that is so cheerful and happy to the heavy cotton fabric to the feather-filled puffiness.  And did I tell you?  It was $4.99.  (It actually didn’t have a tag on it, but other pillows were selling for $4.99 so I was crossing my fingers really hard.  I guess it worked!)

Ring ring (that’s not your phone)

Who says we can’t make a big any purchase without hours of research first?  Let’s just say that K and I unquestionably, most definitely make a Very Bad Shopping Team.  Allow my favorite lovably-geeky webcomic xkcd to explain:

Was our condition hopeless?  To prove ourselves wrong, we tackled wedding bands during K’s lunch break.  We walked into our tried-and-true jewelry store booth in the Diamond District (where, after weeks and weeks of research in shameless and pure Very Bad Shopping Team-style, K purchased a neat little sparkly thing that we adore, maybe because of how much thought went into obtaining it), tried on two different styles each, decided on the ones to get, and forked over the cheddar.  All this happened in just 30 minutes or so (that might not sound very impressive, but it’s seriously like a blink of the eye for us in Shopping Team-time).  I can’t say that we didn’t experience a bout of guilt/doubt post-purchase about not having invested as much painstaking care, time and effort as we normally do for large purchases.  After some online price-checking, however, we feel pretty good about the whole thing and that our (collective) gut didn’t let us down.

K and I can probably never be that Good shopping team or even a Bad one, and we love/pride ourselves on the fact that we are often able to find that optimal point in value.  But sometimes there are just too many options out there, not enough time, or just better ways to spend your time.  And for us, that means soaking up this amazing city – the crowds, the clutter, and the chaos – to the point that we’re utterly sick and tired of it.  Because in few weeks, it’ll be a very long 21-hour flight away.

The point of no return

We picked up our precious $35 piece of paper, a.k.a. our marriage license today, hooray!  It is not to be confused with a marriage certificate (don’t panic, you didn’t miss our wedding).  Apparently you need permission from the state before you can marry your dearly beloved (nothing is ever as simple as they make it in the Disney movies, huh?).  It’s like getting pre-approved for a mortagage your marriage.  In New York state, you have to get your license at least 24 hours before your ceremony, and the license expires after 60 days.  We’re guessing the 24-hour window is to prevent spontaneous/illogical/liquor-infused decisions resulting in Britney-inspired annulments the morning after.

It was a busy Friday at the Marriage Bureau in the Office of the City Clerk despite the dreary skies and incessant drizzle.  (Every time it rains, I wonder why I do not own rainboots, and how I got by living on a planet with regular rainfall without owning any pairs of rainboots for 24 years.)  The atmosphere was festive and the whole experience was surprisingly fun, as soon-to-be-newlyweds and the people they love and those who love them milled about in their best suits and dresses, clutching bouquets, laughing, cheering and posing for pictures.  It’s hard not to break into a smile.  Is this the happiest place outside of Disney World?  Could be.

I am a total sucker for people-watching and stealthy candid photo-taking.  I hereby apologize in advance to anyone who accompanies me in a crowd, as I will probably most definitely ignore you for little periods of time to observe strangers.  It’s not you, it’s me; I’m weird like that.  Needless to say, I had a (visual) feast watching people on their momentous day and my camera was trigger-happy.

I love how the little girl in the white dress and blue sash is lost in her own world of twirly-chair joy.  (I tried about 20 times to crop these images, but WordPress image editing is not behaving so I gave up.  Oh well.)


Oh Marriage Bureau, thank you for the entertainment, and see you in one month and one day.

What’s in a name?

As a pretty great playwright once wrote,

“What’s in a name?  That which we call a rose

By any other name would smell as sweet.” 

Although I have no illusions about smelling as sweet as roses, I must confess that I have now reached the crossroads every bride-to-be is bound to stumble upon: an identity crisis.  I need to decide if I am changing my last name.  There are a few options:

  • Take the mister’s last name
  • Keep my last name
  • Hyphenate
  • Create a new last name

And here are my initial thoughts:

  • I actually like my last name
  • I’m the only child, and my generation of the family tree consists of only girls (that means the family name will not be carried forward after our generation)
  • I’m close to my family (we’re a small but tight-knit bunch)
  • I have grown up far, far away from my extended family, so I feel sentimentally attached to my name because it reminds me of my roots

You’re probably asking, “Why is this even an issue?  Keep your name!”  But I answer, “What about the future?!”  I can imagine feeling disconnected from the other members of my family because of my different last name.  And wouldn’t it be awkward to be constantly called “Mrs. Future Hubby” when that’s not really your name?  I don’t want to feel like I have to fake being Mrs. Future Hubby and to have a dual identity.  Also, I’m still young and not yet deeply entrenched in a career where my changing my name would mean compromising my professional brand.

Growing up, I was the quintessential romantic who hoped my future hubby wouldn’t have an unfortunate last name, because of course I would change mine to his.  I doodled various combinations of my name and my crushes’ last names on the inside cover of my notebooks.  But now, many years later, I realize that giving up the only surname that I have known – one that reminds me of my birth country, my distant relatives, my own little family here, my identity for as long as I have lived – is far from an easy feat.

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