The Real.Est List
Q&A with relationship expert Andrea Syrtash: It's tough to work at home without a landline.
Relationship expert Andrea Syrtash--author of He's Just Not Your Type (And That's a Good Thing) and the forthcoming Cheat on Your Husband (with Your Husband): How to Date Your Spouse--bought a one-bedroom co-op in Brooklyn with husband Michael Paoli last year. Here, she talks to BrickUnderground about their first purchase.
Last spring, we read about your apartment hunt in the NY Times. You are on a ground floor and were concerned about noise from the foyer and vibration from some kind of basement machinery. Have those issues been problematical?
There's not that much activity in the foyer. Occasionally I hear the buzzer going off or the front door opening. It has not been disruptive. It is so easy to come in and out. Prior to this, we were in a sixth-floor walkup.
Now, there are renovations in the apartment across the hall. Workers have been stomping in and out, and it's been very noisy. When they are not banging, they are smoking out on the stoop. But that is a temporary problem.
The vibration still happens but we are used to it. I think humans are incredibly adaptable. When we have houseguests, they comment on it. I sleep with a fan and it drowns out the noise but everything is relative. Coming from Bleecker Street, where it was so incredibly noisy, I find this place nice and quiet.
How has having a dishwasher changed your life?
The dishwasher is fantastic. I feel like entertaining more because of the dishwasher. I will lay out many different ramekins of nuts and dips, and I will use a lot of dishes because I can.
You moved from a 350-square-foot walkup to a one-bedroom with more than 600 square feet. How has your life improved due to this almost-doubling in size?
In New York, a lot of people still live like they are in college. This place feels more adult.
It is lovely to have space. It is incredibly easy to live with Michael here. He plays video hockey with a friend in Toronto, when they time-travel to junior high. In this place, it is easier to do our separate things. We have a full-size couch and in the last place we couldn't. I don't take for granted the extra space we have. We are really happy with this purchase. And there are three good pizza places within walking distance.
Can you talk about working at home?
I am not the type of writer who goes to the same coffee shop every day to work. I wrote my book entirely in this home. We don't have tons of windows and I like to occasionally look out, but it is a large open space and it gave me a new perspective.
We have exposed brick, which I find really warm. I wrote a lot of the book in the winter. We have a fireplace where I light candles, which is kind of romantic. It is not a working fireplace. We put the candles in the fireplace. [Editor's note: That's called a candlescape.]
You have a relatively new landline phone. Why did you need it?
When I was promoting my last book, He's Just Not Your Type (and That's a Good Thing), I realized how disruptive and unprofessional it was to drop so many calls. I did phone interviews for the radio. I couldn't believe the tech issues. It was really stressful. I can use my cellphone at home only in one specific area. If I sneeze or if I move, I might drop the call. I tell people if they really need to get in touch with me, they should send an e-mail. I say I am on the AT&T dropped-call plan.
The turning point was when I took an hour to go to the Upper West Side to my friend Jill's apartment to use her landline for a radio interview because I was so sick of dropping calls. I thought, this is crazy.
I am envious that your husband Michael, who's a schoolteacher, is not just tall and dark, but handy. What has he done to improve your apartment?
He is very good at maximizing space. His closet is tiny but it is amazing how he has organized it. He built a shoe rack. He built a little end table beside our couch because we drink tea while we watch TV and didn't want to bring out the folding table we used to use.
I think people don't always acknowledge when their partner is helpful around the house. I try to express my gratitude if Michael has improved our home. In my book, I say *do* sweat the small stuff, because life is comprised of ordinary moments and small gestures. It's those little things that make people feel connected.
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