>I really love my neighborhood. Husband and I relocated to the Upper West Side from Greenwich Village begrudgingly upon graduating from NYU, but once we were here, we realized that we belonged. Not even our first apartment, an illegally sublet, 200 square foot former maid's quarters with no stove or oven, deterred us. We rented it because I wanted to live near Fordham Law School, which I was set to attend, and it was the best thing we could afford. (Seriously.) Law school lasted less than three days, but we stayed in the apartment for three years.

Once we decided to move on, we knew we wanted to live in the West 70s. Eventually the plan was to buy a place, and our residency on West 72nd above a photo studio (which decorated the basement garbage room with old wedding portraits - how hilarious is that, assuming you are not in the photo?), message parlor/day spa, and car service dispatching center lasted a little over two years. Not long after we moved in, we saw a news report about a cold case in our building. A dominatrix linked to Marv Alberthad been murdered there in 1997. (Her case is still unsolved, as far as I know.) I'm making it sound crappy, but it was a good place to live, although loud due to heavy traffic.

When it came time to buy a place, Husband's parameters were between W. 70th and W 75th Streets and Columbus and West End Avenues. This is a five block radius, which is absolutely ludicrous given our limited budget, but so it goes. When I made an appointment to see an apartment one block outside his guidelines, he spazzed a bit, but it was the best place we saw in our price range by far, and eventually we signed the mortgage papers and moved in. Now, almost seven years later, we still love our home and the neighborhood.

Here's why: There are lots of places to eat. My favorite restaurants include S'mac(a macaroni and cheese joint), Fred's, Harry's Burritos, Kefi, and Earthen Oven. Diners also abound. And three top bakeries: Crumbs, Magnolia, and Levain (greatest peanut butter chip chocolate cookie ever, butit has like a full day's worth of calories in it) are all within a few blocks, too.

There's culture. The JCC Manhattan has tons of free and cheap events for the public. The classic Beacon Theater was recently refurbished, and features everything from Bob Weir (who played last night, so the sidewalk was full of old hippies) to Tyler Perry productions. Right about the Beacon Theater is the Hotel Beacon, which recently underwent its own huge renovation. When my parents and bubbe came for my book party last August, I tried to get them a room there, but it was booked. (My sister and brother-in-law stayed with us, so there was no more room.) Chaos ensued. I think I also tried On the Ave and The Lucerne, but they were too expensive or booked or both. I can't remember, and I'm off the topic now. Sorry... My neighborhood also has two large movie theaters, and, oh - Lincoln Center.

There's shopping. Besides Fairway, the best grocery store ever, there are two Whole Foods stores within a mile of my apartment. A Trader Joe's is coming soon to a corner near me. And I am "treated" to an ever expanding array of retail chains, like Bed, Bath & Beyond and Loehman's, which is both a blessing and a curse.

Great public transportation. Many subway and bus lines. I can pretty much get anywhere I need to be conveniently and for $2.25, no driving required. Yay!

Anyway, I've rambled long enough. If you ever want to visit, I should one day, before hell freezes over, have my stupid new queen size sofa bed with memory foam mattress that we ordered in August. Don't forget - the BlogHer conference will be in NYC in August 2010! It's a great opportunity to hang with me in my neighborhood. I might even have the damn couch by then.

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