Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Abbrevs R Totes Kool

Saw this ad in the Union Square neighborhood. It's kind of hilarious how the real estate biz keeps reinventing various neighborhoods to make them sound "cool!", "sexy!", "up-and-coming!!" with the  combo nicknames. We've got Dumbo (Down Under Manhattan Bridge Overpass), BoCoCa (the intersection of Boerum Hill, Cobble Hill and Carroll Gardens), and, for any Columbia students out there, NoCo (took me so long to figure this one out.  I'm sorry but there aren't two O's in North Campus!). The other day, one of my Wall Street Bro friends (he hates that description, but it's kinda true so he'll have to deal) invited me to a party in FiDi. I'm like, uhhh what is this FiDi you speak of?? FINANCIAL DISTRICT, DUH! Oh, okay. 
SO embarrassing! How did I not know that??
Anyway, the real estate firm behind the ad pictured above thought that they'd shorten Midtown Manhattan into MiMA. Everybody knows that midtown sucks. Like really, really sucks. I guess the marketers thought "MiMA" would attract more apartment seekers than "unbearably crowded hellhole full of tourists and jerks in business suits". Whatever, same difference.

Apparently the neighborhood rechristenings have gotten so out of control that the gov'ment wants to fine real estate agencies for inventing names sans approval. Lawlz. Gotta love bureaucracy. <3 

Photo credits:

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Let's Get Political

There's been quite a hubbub in NYC the past week in anticipation for the U.N. General Assembly  which kicked off its 67th session today. Last week I saw these three men walking around Hunter College dressed as the Iranian president,  Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. If you can't tell from the photo, there were two normal Ahmadinejad clones, and a scary third clone with a head-to-body size ratio gone awry. As somebody who gets most of her news from Jezebel, I'm not exactly the most up to date person on non-feminist and non-popculture political happenings. I guess this group, known as #UNwelcome was protesting the U.S.'s agreement to let President   Mahmoud Ahmadinejad through its borders and appear at the U.N. According to this article in the Guardian, Ahmadinejad arrived in New York with an entourage of over 100 people. You gotta admit, the man at least knows how to make an entrance!

Photo credits:

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

All that Glitters

It requires a certain amount of wealth to live in Manhattan. It requires an even greater amount of wealth to live in a non-dilapidated Manhattan apartment without several random strangers for roommates. Not kidding, I saw a listing for a studio in Murray Hill that was TWELVE x TWELVE FEET going for $1,500/month. Absolutely unbelievable. Despite the frustrating and outrageous financial requirements of city living (I'm trying to move right now, don't even think about asking me how it's going), you'll generally see people from all sorts of backgrounds in most Manhattan neighborhoods. The exception to this rule is the Upper East Side. No matter how many times I go, I'm always shocked at the homogeneity of Madison avenue in the 60s and 70s. People on the street are clearly very, very wealthy. It's like falling down a rabbit hole and coming out the other side where life is just one big Ralph Lauren photo shoot.
Look Dina, have you ever seen so many colorful polo shirts? Madison Avenue keeps getting curiouser and curiouser!
Imagine this, but only the men are a lot older and less attractive
Economic class does not seem to matter much in regard to my encounters with people during mold inspections. Residents tend to be either friendly, slightly to moderately hysterical, weird/awkward, or indifferent. Sure some groups of people are a bit more demanding than others, although usually people treat me well enough. At least I'm treated as a fellow human being. This was not the case during a recent inspection of an Upper East Side apartment. The resident's behavior was appalling. She could not have been a more perfect stereotype of the über wealthy — an entitled asshat lacking even the smallest ounce of empathy and believing she is better than everyone else (for a formal dictionary definition, look up 'Mitt Romney').
This statement was never more applicable
You know the phrase "money can't buy you class"? We all know some people who seem to have missed that memo. This woman was certainly one of those people. I rarely see an apartment so ostentatiously decorated. It brought new meaning to the word "gaudy". The dining room and living room were cluttered with stuffy, wannabe Louis XVI-inspired furniture.There was a "very expensive" carpet on the floor that my notebook was not allowed to touch (the notebook never did touch the carpet, although she had to move my notepad when I set it down a mere few inches away). Do not get me started on the art. A window sill was home to a hideous colorful glass sculpture that I think (?) was supposed to be some sort of abstract person.
The sculpture rivaled the taste level of this masterpiece
I was hired to inspect her dining room, stairwell, and bedroom. To put things into perspective, to travel to the master bedroom, you must walk up the stairs from the dining room, and boom, you're there. Aka all three rooms are directly connected. The resident was so awkward and cold. She told the maid, who was cleaning the master bathroom upon my arrival, to watch me while I work. This was no big deal in the master bedroom because she could still do her thing while I did mine. The resident then insisted that the cleaning lady accompany me the five feet from the bedroom to the stairwell so that I was not left without direct supervision. You know, because otherwise I wouldn't be keep my grubby poor person fingers off the clown sculpture. 

At one point I asked the cleaning lady for a step ladder so that I could take moisture readings on the ceiling. Out of nowhere the resident burst into the stairwell saying, "What do you need? Don't ask her, she doesn't know anything". Umm, whoa. Poor woman, I can't believe she has to take that shit on the reg. Apparently the maid did know something because guess who fetched me the step ladder?
At one point the resident needed to walk past me. Instead of saying, "excuse me", I received a "Can you move". It was a statement, not a question. My response above.
To top everything off, at the end of my inspection I was unable to moisture test the dining room walls. Why?, you may ask. Excellent question! Metallic substances give moisture meters a false positive reading, making a surface appear saturated. I could tell immediately that there was some sort of metal finish on her walls. They had an unusual appearance and as expected, my moisture meter told me the walls were "saturated". I asked her if the walls were copper plated. Oh no, that's the poor man's metal! Her walls were made with gold. *Pause* ...Of course they were. Let's take a second to let this sink in — the resident was so rich that she could afford to coat her walls with gold

And here's me trying to decide whether to spend my money this week on food or student loans... *Le sigh*
Wonder if she's married to King Midas...
Photo credits: Alice in Wonderland, Ralph Lauren,, Festival of Balloons, Mad Men, Disney: 'The Golden Touch'

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Mold Girl McBeal Part I

Hey guys, guess what! On Tuesday I received a letter alerting me that I had been served. Normally when hearing "yeah bitch, you've just been SERVED!", I think oh shit, somebody's surprise attacking me with divorce papers! Luckily for me, I'm not married. Suckers.

So apparently this mandatory summonings was to testify as an expert witness for a mold inspection I had done back in March. A tenant was suing her landlord and I was required for the defense. Apparently the lawyer thought there was no need to call and ask me to serve as a witness. The lawyer bypassed this considerate step and just served me out of the blue to appear at a court date three days later. Thanks! Here are the first few lines of the letter:
I love how they can't send me "greetings" as in plural. Only one "greeting" can be spared. Um, rude much? And who doesn't respond well when somebody starts a letter with "WE COMMAND YOU"?? Always makes me feel like extending a helping hand!

Personal slights aside, under normal circumstances my wardrobe barely passes for work appropriate. For example, Thursday's outfit involved these babies:
My excuse was that the metallic gold Rainbow Brite theme allows me to mold inspect faster
Just another day's standard work uniform. Multicolor stars included.
For court I thought I'd make an effort to look slightly more profesh to ensure that nobody would dare mess with me. Clearly I'm an expert in all things mold, but I needed to look as though I could be even the President's personal mold inspector [insert whatever dirty comment just popped into your head here]. Obvious choice for wardrobe inspiration? No hesitation — Ally McBeal. 
Dis bitch mean biznazz
Check it:
Unfortunately my own skirt suit with a waist high slit was at the cleaners. Had to make do with this über conservative getup.
Court was not quite as exciting as TV would suggest. I got there at 2 o'clock and sat around until 4:10 when court adjourns for the day. Apparently the judge didn't have time to hear me speak and I must appear again to give testimony on a future date. Très exciting right? I didn't realize witnesses weren't even allowed into the courtroom. Ugh, SUCH a waste of an outfit!  *SMH* 

I won't have another chance to have my day in court until early October. When asking my supervisor about the expert witness experience, he told me to be prepared "to be eaten alive" and "you'll probably cry". Cool, can't wait. At least by then I'll hopefully have my standard court suit with the waist-high slit ready. Stay tuned for part deux... 

Photo credits: Reebok, Rainbow Brite, Ally McBeal

Sunday, September 9, 2012

I'm Thinkin' about my Doorman

This is exactly what happens on a mold inspection.
So far most of my blog posts have referenced unusual apartment residents that I've met during my travels. This is only a portion of the people I meet during inspections. I'd estimate that residents are present for only approximately half of my investigations. More often than not, I am accompanied to apartments by the building superintendent or handyman. Additionally, I always have to take a control air sample outdoors and spend a fair quantity of time with doormen as well. Like any of my meetings, these interactions cover a wide array of experiences and personalities--boring awkward silences, hilarious characters, creeps, idiots, philosophical discussions, you name it. Below is a list of some of my more memorable encounters:

-I visit a chic Chelsea building fairly frequently. The superintendent has a lovely Irish accent and a rather interesting (ie somewhat racist) world view. Despite some of his comments, I usually enjoy hanging out with this guy. Let's call him Seamus O'Reilly. When I email completed mold reports to Seamus, I send them to his email at: That's O'Reilly with three L's. His reasoning behind this email: "Somebody had already taken, so what was I supposed to do?". Duh, guys! Adding numbers to the end of his name is totally nonsensical. Tacking on an extra L is the clear solution. I forever refer to him as Seamus O'Reilly with Three L's. 
Seamus is a closeted genius
-I did an inspection of an apartment on the Upper West Side. The resident and building handyman enthusiastically discussed a rat problem in a different unit while I did my thing. Apparently rats are fighters. They can and will do anything to survive. Did you know they can easily rip through and free themselves from those sticky pad mousetraps? If you attempt to barricade them in a wall instead? Sorry, no dice. They will literally eat through anything. Including CEMENT. If you were not aware of these fun facts, now you are. Yay!
I didn't think anybody needed a visual of a rat chewing through cement, so here's a picture of Ryan Gosling instead. You're welcome.
-I've visited a Romanian super in East Harlem a handful of times. He loves to share with me all the reasons why he can't stand his three year old daughter. Yikes! Okay... Also, I've learned more than I ever dreamed of knowing in regard to the somewhat disturbing psychological tests a person must endure in order to become a trained army sniper.
Ain't no party like sniper training
-A doorman named Carmello (tastiest name ever!) and I discussed at length our favorite kinds of antiques. He likes coins and always keeps money from the 1840s and '50s on his person. We also share a mutual love for Bakelite products. I'm into the jewelry (hello awesome dice earrings I stole from my mom!) and he is more of a cutlery-paperweight man himself. 
They just don't make plastic like they used to!
Why couldn't Carmello always keep Caramello bars on himself at all times too?
-Albanians have really cornered the market in the world of superintendents. There are SO many Albanian supers. One guy learned I was Jewish and gave me a list of documentaries about Albanians saving persecuted Jews in World War II. He sometimes calls to ask if I've watched them yet. Lesson from these convos: DON'T MESS WITH ALBANIA. Another Albanian and I talked forever about all the scary ingredients in our food/health/beauty products. I was quite impressed, I have never met a man so well informed on health and wellness. A third guy and I lamented over the slim pickings of young men in NYC and how hard it is for the ladiezzz. "They're just so lazy and don't know how to treat a woman right!". Amen sir, Amen.
There are probably a bunch more super super (get it?!) stories to share, but this is all I can remember right now.

Photo credits: Wizard of Oz, Carmello Chocolate Bars, Bakelite,,,

Saturday, September 8, 2012

The Sun Better Come Out Tomorrow...

Anybody who lives in New York knows that the city has been miserable lately. The humidity is out of control, and it's that time of year again where the weather is one massive monsoon after another. For those of you who aren't familiar with New York life, traveling via public transportation wearing (semi)work appropriate clothing in 70+ percent humidity and major downpours in which an umbrella provides absolutely no protection, is not what I call a fun time. When work requires constant travel in said conditions, people in my line of vision better WATCH THE FUCK OUT. 
I'd rather relive Groundhog Day over and over again, than be drenched in another monsoon
In addition to the weather literally raining on my parade, work has been extra stressful. Lots of rain = lots of leaks/water damage = lots of mold jobs. Plus we're short staffed so I'm forced to answer the phone and do other random stuff more than usual. Long story short, it's been a baadddd week. 
She knows what I'm talking about
The universe must have felt my frustration and sent some good vibes my way. On Friday I was hired to do water testing at a daycare filled with a herd of 2-3 year olds. There is absolutely no better group of children than the 2-3 year age bracket. They're old enough to have mastered unsupervised trips to the toilet (thank God!) but young enough to have not yet learned the art of sassing. No trying to push your limits, no "my mom let's me eat ice cream for breakfast". Only happy acceptance of whatever you say and a borderline obsessive desire for hand holding. I had started work that morning looking and feeling worse than a Rat King (If you don't know what that is, that's probably a good thing. My coworker recently enlightened me with an explanation of the term. This knowledge has forever changed my life. In a bad way. Even thinking about it makes me severely nauseous. Just know that it's definitely not a desirable thing to look/feel like. Google it, if you dare). 

Anywho, back to the children! They were SO CUTE!!! At first they were shy and simply stared at me. Then I smiled and waved, and they smiled and waved back. Eventually one approached me, and without saying a word, she stretched out her arms and came over for a huge bear hug. That lead to about fifty more hugs from all the kids. With the week I'd been having, this job could not have been more necessary! :)
Insert Mold Girl here and you have the best group hug ever!
Photo Credits:, Barney & Friends

Death of a Mold Girl

Greetings! Pardon my absence from the interweb. I've had some complaints that I haven't updated my blog enough lately. So nice to know that I have such an eager audience! <3 In my defense, the wireless at my house has been on the fritz for the past two+ weeks and shockingly enough, lately I've been spending most workdays actually working! Yeah, I can hardly believe it either. 
You love me, you really love me!
Just an FYI, I bite people that I really like :)
Whenever anyone leaves my office to move onto bigger and better things, they ceremoniously give away their most prized work possessions. Lately I've been on the receiving end of several such gifts. A colleague of mine with whom I've had a rather rough history, surprised me on his last day with the following gift:
To be the remnants of a LMFAO band member after a tragic but epic oops-I-fell-into-a-tiger/poisonous-snake-pit accident, or not to be. That IS the question.
...And then there were two.
Most people might find this gift disturbing, but I was surprised and touched. My colleague most certainly was drunk at the time of the gifting, and possibly under the influence of other substances as well, but nevertheless I appreciated the gesture. Despite our differences, we share similar senses of humor. I was honored by the olive branch of a styrofoam skull wearing pink star-shaped sunglasses. Now my alpaca can be a true mountain goat!
First conquer this skull, then the world!
Photo Credits:,, LMFAO