Big Move (Sunnyside to Woodside)


OK, we got the call. It looks like we’ll be moving to Woodside. Before I go into the particulars of the place, which I’ve written in painful (and hopefully amusing) detail below, let me say that I think we’re all in shock and a bit out of sorts. Lots of big fights over little stuff, which leads me to believe that we’re coming to grips with the fact that change is coming.


We went to see the first apartment offered us at Big Six, the Mitchell-Lama Coop on Queens Boulevard in Woodside. WOW. It was huge, and, according to big Gene, in the best building (furthest from the BLVD.). Of course that puts it closest to the L.I.E., but that’s a different story. Which is worse, air pollution or noise pollution? And if noise pollution is better, what about the fact that some days (like yesterday) it is under the flight path to LaGuardia? Every two minutes another silver bird came grinding over us. The wheels are down by the time they come over, so you know that they are pretty low.

Hurm. I loved the apartment, why am I leading off with this? I guess that there is some thinly veiled ambivalence in my initial response.



The apartment is huge. The basic dimensions are 50’ by 20’, though there are some oddities that make it actually larger. When we first moved to University Village our apartment was a 600’ two bedroom, this is very close to twice the size of the place we were all happiest together, so if size matters, we should do well here. Of course, there is more to life than square-footage (or even acreage), so the jury is out on this one. My little piece of bottom land is on the 6th floor.

It faces East North: that is the balcony faces North East, while there are two bedroom windows facing East and two (1 smaller) facing North. With the Balcony’s Eastward sweep, however, the overall feeling is East. The dining room and living room total almost 400 square feet, not including the screened in balcony. It is huge. If it were on the roof I’d open a farm. Of course the thresher will be powerful hard to get on the roof.

Each of the bedrooms is over 140 square feet (140, 142, and 159). OK, now the bedroom, the master bedroom we’re in now is barely 140 square feet, and some of it in hard to use nooks and crannies. There is a lot of jockeying for position vis-à-vis room selection, and I’ll leave the choice to the calmer and cooler heads who actually think logically and strategically. The master bedroom has two windows one small one facing north and one larger one facing East. It is large, and we’re thinking of splitting that room for two of the kids to share (there are battles over this division, but I’m not a snitch). The closets are huge, no joke. There is enough room for two Senators and an evangelical minister (who is health conscious: Falwell wouldn’t fit). I think that any of them would be large enough for Linda and I to fit all of our (hanging) clothes in together, though maybe I embellish here.

The kitchen is big, with so much cupboard space I feel like we could actually safely shop at Costco (when we lived in the village we would split bulk items like diapers and paper towels between families so that we wouldn’t overload our precarious little arcs). SO now I feel fully empowered to overshop in the American fashion. This is the New York version of getting a SUV. I’m fighting the desire to squelch my recycling impulse as I key this in.

We are so used to one person kitchens that I’m going to have to learn how to share the kitchen again (no more crabby “I’ll finish when you’re done and I’m alone in here…” statements). There is so much room in the kitchen that we’ll be able to pass each other carrying pizzas, while I foam cappuccino, as Linda practices her Kung Fu katas (her sticky hands technique is feared on both coasts of North America). Indeed, we will have room for all of the gizmos that I keep in the attic like the Cuisinart and slow cooker that I bring down for particular recipes.

And speaking of conflicts in rooms with plumbing: we will now have two bathrooms, though only 1 has a shower. No more worries about an ill-timed bowel movement when people are trying to brush teeth during the morning rush, we can have the offending element take “potty-B” and work it out as we file through and do our dental ablutions in a neat and orderly file in the master bathroom. The plumbing and construction look like that good early 60s vintage, though the water-saver showerhead is not long for my apartment. The tiles are all good, there is no decay or mold or cockamamie cosmetic paint (read camouflage), it is all so well maintained that I am ashamed of all of the messed-up places I’ve tolerated in my adult apartment-dwelling-life.


(Below and above the flags and next to the morning glory is our balcony)

Hard upon the two bathrooms is a closet that is so large that I immediately thought of putting a washer and dryer in there, though on sober reflection I think an office or computer nook might be better. Linda, however, smartly points out that we want the computer with internet access in a public space for reasons I don’t want to think about. The closet is about 4×3, which is much larger than the closet under the stairs where we had an office when I finished my dissertation.


Running around the flat on first

There is only one real drawback (besides moving during the semester) and that is storage space. We have a lot of (hard to access) storage space here in the attic, but maybe we’ll have to rent a storage space someplace for a couple of years until we get through the waiting list for a place here. There are multiple waiting-lists we’ll qualify for now: there is a whole magical world of wait-lists in the Big Six: there’s the storage room list, the parking lot list (and these are just the ones they let we new initiates know about). It will be a good use of the hundreds of dollars we’ll be saving in rent every month. I mean really, who wants to winter in the DR, or visit Javier, Julia and Lulu in Australia, or buy a minivan that we don’t fill so we can bring friends places out of the city?


There is a bike room, so I can take my bike off the street, and move the kids’ bike inside too. In fact, maybe I’ll buy them better bikes, since they don’t have to live on Skillman Ave anymore.

As I got up early this morning and worked on my lessons and grading, in our cramped cute apartment on a tree-lined block I have to say that I am sad about having to move. Yesterday one of Mason’s friends came to the door and invited him out to play soccer at the park, and he could just go. Tomorrow, around the corner and across the street there will be a farmers’ market where we’ll pay too much for fresh local produce. I love this safe, cute, quaint, human-scale neighborhood. But the size of the apartment and the savings and the security, and the professionalism, and the maintenance of the Big Six are making us an offer we cannot refuse. (I look forward to an apartment that won’t need me to manually unclog the toilet regularly-yuck!)



So though we’ve been feuding like a sack full of wet Democrats all day long, we are still a family. Chandler Mason Lennox, Linda and Stafford are all grateful for the huge new apartment we might live in. If I can find the right photo you’ll see our happy faces looking around the apartment in awe. I mean they all look big without furniture, but do they all have echoes? This change, though painful and terrifying, will be for the best, إن شاء الله.


26 responses to “Big Move (Sunnyside to Woodside)

  1. Wonderful, I’m packing my bags right now to come and visit. Oh Boy! Congratulations. Susan took a job that will keep us in the Twin Cities indefinitely, so don’t worry, we’ll come by only occasionally. It looks just wonderful and really spacious. My love to you all.

  2. YAAAAY!!!!
    get wood floors.
    thanks for the pictures.
    the morning glories next door aren’t covering the space which tells me that they are not ecstatic about being there, but it also says that your next door neighbor (VIP,in living situations) is way cool for trying; and b/c he doesn’t consider them weeds, and wants to have a garden despite precarious light.

  3. Most often it is bad, but sometimes being “supersized” is a good thing — especially when it comes to apartments. Our sincere congrats to the entire family. One piece of advice: do not break the apartment up into separate fiefdoms. Make sure that you still see each other at least once a week, even though it may be burdensome to make the trip all the way across the apartment!

  4. “The New York equivalent to getting an SUV…”
    Man, you can turn a phrase. Congratulations to all of you! And yes, we’re still thinking of coming out in Feb….now you’ll have a place to put us…hehehe. And I’ll expect a meal of course, cooked by the two of you side by side in the new kitchen.
    Miss you all!

  5. Congrats Doc G!!!!!!! I understand your Pro and Con issues and though I love neighbourhoody things like trees and random football matches in the park, for me, space trumps all. I don’t know how close you (may) be to the airport. Here in the heights, I am rather close. So close in fact that the building in my neighborhood have height restrictions and issue with phone reception. But it is only on the rarest of rare occasions that I notice the planes flying over anymore. I hope that is of some consolation regading your noise pollution issue. Good luck with the decision, mate. It’s a hard one. But remember, no more fecally accompanied toothbrushings…..(I suppose this tells you what I think of the issue).

  6. (cue “movin’ on up…”?)

    wow, that’s a HUGE apartment!! is there any question that you’d take it? think of the parties you could have. the varieties of food you could cook at a moment’s notice, without having to get things from storage.

    with a balcony, you can have container gardens. no problem.

    so, um…for we non-NYers, what’s Big Six and how do they come to offer you this amazing pad?

  7. Dad, you and Susan are always welcome to our house in Queens, and now we’ll have room for you, though in less of a showplace neighborhood.

    Odella, We’ll see about the wooden floors you’re advocating. There are many decisions to be made and things to buy (not the least of which is the apartment we wouldn’t have without you. We are required to have carpets on 80% of the floor, so we’ll see.

    Tony, though there were some rumblings of discontent from the Northern reaches (the Kurds of preteendom), we are hoping to keep the constitutional monarchy in tact.

    Julie, you and your peeps are always welcomed here in our place in Woodside. We even have one really nice restaurant, and lots of nice of people.

    Jamie, I think you are right about the noise, and though the building isn’t pre-war, it is pretty Hale and Hearty. The place is huge and we are in a quandary as to how best to redistribute our packed-tight-as-sardines-belongings.

    Cyn (Ryder and Harry), Big Six is a local printer’s union who back in the 60s, flush with post war cash, signed on to build a Mitchell-Lama development. This is a program that dates back to the pre-Reagan era. I’m sure that this sort of cooperative use of government money is, to devotees of Friedman-ish economics, communism (we’ve got to subsidize mortgage lenders who will allow each of us to go in over our heads [but protect the lenders]).

    Thanks for reading this overlong post and putting your two cents in. It makes this blog stuff worth it. I am, however, still torn about this one.

  8. I love all this, and all of you, and congratulations on your “cottage in the woods” on the sixth floor you guys! We will miss your great spirits, tomorrow is the festival, and hopefully no pony chasing, or pig riding, or stepping in poop, just good Chilean food, and lots of music and merriment….love love

  9. It is truly difficult for some of us flatlanders to understand this situation, but looking out across the neighborhood from the sixth floor does help alleviate the tightness between the shoulders. I can, in fact, imagine a so cool party in this new setting. ¡Felicitaciones!

  10. Hello from party cloudy/mostly sunny Oakland! Thanks for sharing photos and thoughts about your moving process. How complex are the forces at play!?

    Big kitchen, lots of closets, and TWO bathrooms? Ding ding ding ding dinnng. You’ve got a winner. Of course, what makes it a winner is not the afore-mentioned qualities, but your and Linda’s proven ability to make a winning situation out of whatever you’ve got to work with.

    Love to everyone, Dhru

  11. You will misss the old neighborhood but it seems like you have to take it – you are going to be needing more room and the savings in rent? Fantastic. And a balcony means a garden in my mind!

  12. And when are you coming to see us? No room for excuses now!

  13. Julie,

    The reason we have the outside shot is to show the morning glories growing on the next balcony. According to Odella, the balcony farmer, they are to gold standard of proof of “light on porch.” I went by one morning very early and the whole flat has sunlight.

    We keep trying to figure out how to get there, though it is so far-far-away. We miss you as much as you miss your lives in California (believe it).

  14. Congrats. I think it’s hard for those of us in outside of NYC to comprehend the significance of living space.

    Reminds me of at least one Seinfeld episode. Two, actually. The huge apartment that Jerry’s cousin ends up getting. And the apartment that George tries to get by out-whining a shipwreck survivor.

  15. Hi there guys! Congrats on the apartment! I never knew how important SPACE was until we had the second kid. Now I’m wondering how we’ll survive without sticking forks in each others’ eyes when they get older. The light looks fantastic, which is so important in apartments. And I like the protection-by-dirty-American-flag juju you got going on the balcony.
    Thanks for the update. Now that I know you got some room, we’ll bring our motley crew over and introduce them to Queens (all they see is Brooklyn).

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  17. Hi you guys, missing you and especially carrying you around in my heart over this tragedy. Dianne and I are going to have a community gathering as an invitation for people to share their thoughts and feelings. I was even thinking of a way to telecast it, and have you and other folks join in, but the medium seemed to impersonal. Wish we could all be together.
    all my love

  18. Thanks Pepper. Let me know if there is a feed we can follow. We miss you guys back in Berkeley. Cephas showed up for Misti big-time. When will the gathering be? Please let us know when. As we prepare to move into a new (subsidized) space, I remember the first glimpse I got of our first apartment in Building 76. I remember being underwhelmed; which is how I feel now.

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  20. Any tips from the insiders for new comers to the Big Six? I appreciate for your response.
    I enjoyed reading your blog.

    • Thanks for reading my post. We like the Big 6. I will respond in a day or two, when I can find more time. If I don’t get back to you by wednesday please remind me, and I’ll give you my tips.

  21. I came upon your blog while doing research on air plane noise over Woodside. I recently bought a co-op that is on the path to La Guardia. Like you say, there is one almost every 20 seconds! What has been your experience dealing with this and does it get “better’? I noticed that people in my co-op are not bothered by it at all…Is there a silver lining or should I move?

  22. How can i apply for an apartment to rent at Big Six?

    • You have to send in an application & wait for them to re-open the lottery for apartments. It is a “Mitchell-Lama” cooperative & anyone can apply.

      Sent from iPhone

      • Hi there. Great blog, I enjoyed reading this. How are you finding your apt now, since it’s been a few years later? Do you have two children, each occupying a bedroom? I also have two kids and applied in 2015 for a three bedroom. I called recently to find out what the status is on a three bedroom and they said at least 5 more years. :/

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