I'm sitting in the Starbuck's cafe portion of a random Barnes & Noble in Midtown East. I can't believe how many seats there are. The Barnes & Noble in Union Square is a zoo and you have to fight tooth and nail to share a seat with a bum who is talking to himself. So, I guess the secret is to come uptown. Are you listening, all you freelance-y downtown creative types? It's embarrassment of riches up here! (and by riches I mean empty seats)

Anyways, I'm waiting to go see the jeweler in the Diamond District about getting my engagement ring resized (it's way too big and I'm nervous of losing it). Which reminds me, did I ever tell you the terrible story of the first apartment I rented when I moved here? Probably not because it is long and complicated. But I'm killing time here so I'll give it a go.

So I rented an apartment (via craigslist like an idiot!) from this man who turned out to be quite the shady character, Daniel Cuervo. Of course, the apartment wasn't the one from the pictures. It was one room. The "kitchen" was a mini-fridge and a hotplate. There was no AC (it was August!) and it had horrible bright green carpet. It was only temporary until the fall (when I would find an apartment with my friend Jeff and my sister), so I made it work. I bought a tiny fan from Duane Reade and took lots of cold showers. I started getting my dinner, usually a chicken salad sandwich, from the deli downstairs. I was working all the time so I really only needed a place to sleep. It wasn't the lap of luxury. In fact, it wasn't even close, but it was fine.

One day maybe two weeks after living there, Daniel Cuervo showed up and said he had a "better" apartment for me. He told me to pack my things and he would move them for me during the day while I was at work. So I did. And he did. I slept at a new place that night. Then the next day the same thing happened. He moved me again. It was unsettling, to say the least because he wouldn't even tell me where I was sleeping until that night. On the third day he moved me again and when he called to tell me the address of my newest abode he also said I needed to lie and tell the doorman I was "Veronica's roommate" and that the secret password was "Paco."

Um. What?

Life Magazine photo archive

I worked late that night and so it wasn't until about 1am when I was finally standing outside a random office building in the Diamond District wondering how in the hell I had ended up in this situation. I kept checking the address he had given me because the building did not look like an apartment building. The glass doors were locked and behind them I saw a marble lobby with a reception desk and a sign listing all of the businesses inside. I buzzed and heard a muffled voice through the intercom.

"Uhhh, hi," my shaky voice answered, "I'm Veronica's roommate?"


At that point I did what any normal human being would do in a situation like this. I started crying and called my mom. Of course, she couldn't do anything from Atlanta other than worry and fret but I didn't know what else to do. I tried the buzzer again, took a deep breath and said a single word...


I heard the buzz of the door opening and ultimately I found my way to the efficiency apartment/weird hotel hidden within this building deep in the Diamond District.

I had a place to sleep for the night, so that was good.

My relationship with Daniel Cuervo didn't last much longer. After that night he set me up at the Ramada in Midtown East while the apartment he had for me was allegedly getting renovated. I moved into the Ramada for the weekend and never heard from him again. He still owed me a month or so of rent and he booked the room using a fraudulent credit card in my name.

Daniel Cuervo was a bad man, and the fact that there are bad people everywhere in this town is a lesson we all learn. It just happened to be my very first.

Daniel Cuervo if you're reading this, I still want my money.

And karma's a bitch.