How long have you lived in Brooklyn? What neighborhood do you live in?
I’ve lived in Brooklyn for five and a half years, the longest I’ve lived anywhere in my adult life. I first moved to an apartment in Prospect Heights across from the Brooklyn Museum and lived there for two years before moving into a third-floor brownstone in Bed-Stuy that my friends were moving out of. It felt impossible to find and put the money down for the first apartment, but the second move was the easiest I’ve ever done, which feels very New York to me—everything’s easier once you’re inside, but trying to move in and out of city limits takes its toll (like, an actual, expensive highway toll).
What do you like most about it?
Both of my Brooklyn apartments have had amazing views: the first one was on the top floor of a building at the top of the hill by the Brooklyn Museum, the proverbial heights of Prospect, and I could see north for miles. The view outside my window now is seasonal. I can always see the Freedom Tower: I’ve watched as they’ve completed it—an odd everyday experience in your bedroom, the personal and political in just the way that interests me, and something that’s worked its way into Empire Wasted. In the summertime when the foliage is heavy, I can’t see midtown, but this time of year I can see the Empire State Building and the Chrysler building (my favorite), too. It gives you a weird sense of false omniscience to be high up with NYC views. Michel de Certeau talks about this in his essay “Walking in the City,” where he’s up in the twin towers—so here we are, “Post-Nine/Eleven” again. (But the LA vista is all about balconies.) In my chapbook Merrily, Merrily (Lame House Press, 2013), I call this view “skybox / god’s chair.”
Share with us a defining Brooklyn experience, good, bad or in between.
Within the first three years of moving to Brooklyn, I experienced a tornado, an earthquake and a hurricane. I was living high up in Prospect Heights during the 2010 hurricane that touched down in neighboring Park Slope, and when I saw the greenish sky and felt the pressure in my head, I shut all the windows, put my cat, Contessa, in a backpack, and headed down to the building’s laundry room. There was no one else there. But later it did turn out to be a tornado, so I didn’t feel so crazy. I did feel pretty Midwestern, though.
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