A Matchmaker, Love and Writers in New York City

 Oh là là.  It’s February—the month of love. 

Well, I’m going on record here:  Starting February 14, 2011 I will no longer attempt to play cupid for my friends and clients. (Yes, I know I’ve said this before, but this time, I truly mean it! I do.) If you know me—really know me because you’re a past client or a friend of mine who’s been, at one time or another, a subject in my pathetic nakedness in the role of cupid—aka, “Matchmaker,” you’re probably cheering at your desk right now, saying, “Thank God, she’s going to stop!” That’s just how terrible I am, as a Matchmaker…

So yes, I have decided to focus on what I’m good at: Matching people to properties.

And if you know me, you also know…

[Drum roll]

 My greatest love (other than my teens) of all time…BOOKS!

Yes, I know this might seem like a rather peculiar topic for a real estate broker to be blogging about, but I’m telling you today, that almost everything I’ve learned about real estate and about this fantastic city was taught to me by a writer.

Have you ever read a book and thought, “Wow, what a coincidence!” or “That’s interesting. I had no idea!”  Well, I have those kinds of thoughts every time I open a book and almost each of those books has a link to NYC for me (No, I’m not talking about Donald Trump’s books). I’ve loved reading all of my life and one would think, pouring through four books a month at my age, nearing forty that I’d be a great writer, but I’m not a Great Writer.  I just love to learn and I cherish writers (who’ve been like teachers to me).

Anyway, as a real estate agent or broker, we’re supposed to know the areas where we sell or rent real estate. For example, as we show apartments we mention the “pluses” of the neighborhood or block, informing our customers of the nearest grocery store, subway stop and so on.  It’s just part of our job and it can get kind of boring—talking about Whole Foods and the “F” train.  So, I usually kick-it up a notch.

For instance, when I’m showing a property in Greenwich Village, I’m a bit of a geek, telling my clients about the history and all of the great people in history who’ve lived in the area.  For the most part, my non-US clients eat this info up and often ask me, “How do you know all of this kind stuff?”  I reply, “I read it in a book…” 

It amazes me that my entire life I’ve heard the phrase, “My candle burns at both ends,” and I had no idea where that phrase came from until I read in 2006 Savage Beauty, about the life of  Edna St. Vincent Millay.  I also had no idea that the poem (titled, “First Fig”) was inspired by Thomas Edison’s invention of the light bulb until I read Republic of Dreams.  Millay lived at 75 1/2 Bedford St, 25 Charleston Street, 139 Waverly Place, 11-15 Fifth Ave—just to name a few.  As far as learning where she lived in the Village, I read all of that info in the Letters of Edna St. Vincent Millay.  Did you know that she was a founder of Cherry Lane Theater (38 Commerce Street)?

If you ever want to know the way Greenwich Village looked like in the 1930’s, I highly recommend reading Anaïs Nin’s  Diaries (Vol.1 and 2.). She beautifully writes about the Village and how it influenced her. At times, when I’m sitting on a bench in Washington Square Park, looking at the townhomes (BTW: Eleanor Roosevelt lived at 29 Washington Square West), I think of her sitting there eighty years ago.  Nin lived at 215 W. 13th St.

A few months ago, I realized that I really do have a crazy addiction to books, and since I’ll probably never be on a game show, testing the contestant’s knowledge of useless information, pertaining to writers & NYC apartments, I decided to find other people like me.  I joined a few book clubs.  My first meeting, with one club, was to discuss Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises.  My fellow book club members thought the author wrote the book while vacationing in Spain.  Let me tell you, I sounded like a real Know-It-All when I advised, “Actually, he wrote the first draft in Paris—in six weeks, re-writing it during the winter of 1925 & 26 in Schruns, Austria.  He said it was the toughest re-write he’s ever done.”  They asked me how I knew this and so I replied, “I read it in A Movable Feast.”  Hemingway (for a few weeks) lived at 103 Waverly Place.  Yes, I’ll admit it, I’m an addict and I could keep on writing about  writers and where they lived in NYC, but I think I’ll stop before this post turns into a book!

Happy Saint Valentine’s Day to Writers!

 PS. I just started reading  Autobiography of Mark Twain, Vol.1.  Did you know that Twain lived in Greenwich Village (21 Fifth Avenue and 14 West 10th Street)?  I learned that info just from the book’s intro!

PSS. If you just happen to be single right now and you’re looking for love (and LOVE books), I highly recommend this site: LOVE   (bad habits are hard to break and it isn’t 2.14 yet, so I can still indirectly play “Matchmaker”–pointing people in the right direction until that date!)