…was one of the things that told me I wasn’t in Kansas anymore. I’d made a huge decision to move to a new neighborhood, after 34 yrs in a rented Greenwich Village studio. Two years before, I’d been diagnosed with leukemia, and eventually retired from my job. Being home so much, the studio felt too small and the neighborhood too crowded. I wanted to move to a quieter area and I wanted space and sunlight.

After over a year of looking, I found a place uptown with a little view of the river, a separate room for my piano, a linen closet (luxury!), and a washer & dryer on my floor. Thanks to my mom’s inheritance finally coming through, I managed to buy the apartment without a big mortgage left over.

The first few weeks I was terrified. I didn’t know the staff or anyone in the building, and the building itself wasn’t sturdy like my old one. Every noise sounded it was in my apartment! I slept with a chair against the door.

But the kitchen and bathroom had windows, I loved walking around the new neighborhood, and most of all, I loved seeing the sun move from room to room. My studio had faced north and although it wasn’t a very dark apt, it didn’t get any direct sunlight. As a matter of fact, none of my jobs had either! It had been years since I’d had sun in my daily life.

But it was the end of September, heading fast for winter. At the end of November I got my first electric bill; it was over $350! My studio had never gone over $90. I couldn’t understand it, but one thing I knew — there was something very creepy about the heat. It was so dry, and when I turned it off the room got cold again in less than 30 minutes! Electric heat!!

And static??? OMG! There was static when I touched the sofa, the computer keys, the poor cat! I was miserable as only someone who feels they’ve made a terrible mistake can be.

Over the years, I learned how to tame the dry, electric heat a bit, but it’s a pain in the neck and still very expensive. I have 3 humidifiers I must fill and clean, fill and clean. When I get really desperate, I run the shower and let the hot steam pour out.

This very, very cold year, I faced the problem of lousy insulation in the walls. I wake up to rooms that vary from 11 degrees F to 33, depending on the outside temp. I have to run the heat all the time and neither the kitchen nor the bathroom have heat units, so when I walk in they’re freezing.

Childish feelings of rage about people “in authority” not caring about my needs come easily to me. But the fact is I can manage. What good would it do to use my energies to call a city heat agency and report the building violations when it’s not the heating system that’s at fault. If the building suddenly decided to spend a million dollars to tear walls down and insulate, the cost would just be passed along to us, the residents! So I may as well spend the money now on space heaters and the ridiculously high electric bills.

I am, after all, a grown-up, and in the end as I’m still learning, I must take care of myself. Some people learn that lesson early, but some of us need it pounded into our thick skulls over and over … that the car without its signal on when it turns as I’m crossing doesn’t need to care about my welfare. That’s my job.

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