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Navigating Dating and Apartment Hunting in New York City: A Week in the Life of De’Shawn Charles Winslow

Navigating Dating and Apartment Hunting in New York City: A Week in the Life of De’Shawn Charles Winslow

Author: Edit Team

November 13, 2018

“I don’t have a conventional, full-time job. In NYC, that’s like saying to a landlord: ‘I light fires in buildings.’ Makes them just a lil nervous.”

“The Banal and the Profane” is a monthly Lambda Literary column in which we lift the veil on both the writerly life and the publishing industry. In each installment, we ask a different LGBTQ writer, or LGBTQ person of interest in the book industry, to guide us through a week in their lives.

This month’s column comes to us from writer De’Shawn Charles Winslow.

De’Shawn Charles Winslow was born and raised in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, and in 2003 moved to Brooklyn, New York. He is a 2017 graduate of Iowa Writers’ Workshop and holds a BFA in creative writing and an MA in English literature from Brooklyn College. He has received scholarships from the Napa Valley Writers’ Conference and the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. His novel In West Mills is forthcoming from Bloomsbury Publishing in 2019. De’Shawn lives in New York City.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

I woke up with a feeling of victory because there’s about a 90% chance that I will have a long-term place to live soon. I’ll know for sure by the end of the week. Finding a place to live in NYC (after years in Iowa City) is much, much harder than it was when I first moved here in 2003. In those days, all you needed was to get a bank check for the deposit and the first month’s rent. I don’t think my credit was ever pulled in those days. I’ve been wondering if coming back was a bad idea. I feel less of that right now.

This new possibility made me want to work out, so I went to the nearest Planet Fitness and worked the phuck out of my upper body. I will be in good pain tomorrow. Right now, my lower body is sore from yesterday’s workout. In the words of one of the nuns in “Sister Act I,”: “It was hell on earth; I loved it!”

I ate a lot of fiber today. I’d fallen off with it. Late last year I was told that my cholesterol levels weren’t ideal, and that I’d best cut out meat to ensure a change, though cutting out red meat and drastically increasing my fiber in-take and exercise would likely be sufficient. I’ve lost people to poor heart health—a heart attack took my father’s life in late 2008—so I cut out all meat for about six months. I’m back on poultry and seafood—chicken and salmon, mostly. So I try to eat well 85% of the time, and I’m pretty good with the exercise.

Speaking of chicken: a guy with whom I’ve been in heavy contact with since late August, disappeared for a few days. Today made four days, so I reached out to him (Yes, I set my pride aside and texted him because I’m grown, and I don’t like how you’re looking at me right now, Your Honor). The guy replied, and for now, things seem to be back on track. Stay tuned.

I don’t speak about politics publicly because I don’t feel I know how to in a way that makes sense. Maybe that’s cowardice. Maybe I should be more vocal whether it “makes sense” or not. But I think a lot about this country and all the shit that’s going down (i.e. the Supreme Court/Dr. Ford/Kavanaugh happenings, the disgusting border control, shootings, gun control, Trump’s presidency, etc.). I’m afraid of and for our future.

Monday, September 24, 2018

My chest and back are sore AF, and I love it! You will never catch me taking a gym photo, but I’ll write about that sh*t.

This morning’s breakfast: oatmeal with granola and fruits. I need to buy a bottle of almond extract. Add a few drops of that to a bowl of oatmeal and lose your whole mind!

I keep the free soap from hotels because they’re mildly fragrant and lather well. This is not to suggest that I don’t like fragrant soaps; I do. I just don’t always need to smell like I live at Kiehl’s… or Bath & Body Works. I don’t shop at either of those places… anymore.

The hotel soaps only last two showers at the most, so tomorrow I’ll be back to the not-so-mildly fragrant Irish Spring, or Lever 2000, or whichever soap I fish out of my Clean Burst-scented trash bag filled with toiletries. #NomadLife! (Gosh, I hope the potential apartment/roommate sitch works out!)

Mondays are my least favorite day of the week. To make them go by quickly, I take on a lot of work (I teach at a local college). For example: three classes: one lit course for English majors, and two freshmen comp courses. A handful of my students in each class also seem to hate Mondays; they don’t speak until Wednesday. I understand.

One of my freshmen came to class today and told me he’d been thrown out of another class for not being registered for it.  I didn’t know what to say. He’s an eager, respectful, respectable student. I can’t imagine him causing disruption. At the same time, I don’t know that I’d want students sitting in my class if they’re not registered, either. I’m on the fence. Depends on how many chairs are in the room, I guess.

I deleted Grindr, Jack’d and Scruff from my phone tonight. I do, however, still have Tinder and OkCupid…because they are “so much more pure than the others.” #FOH

I probably shouldn’t be thinking about romance just now. I mean, I’m a lil bit homeless. But phuck that, I’m human and I want a man.

In West Mills by De'Shawn WinslowTuesday, September 25, 2018

I need to switch up my oatmeal toppings. I’m going to use up these berries and buy some peaches—probably canned peaches because of the syrup.  #DelMonte.

I went to the gym and did a full-body workout because I won’t get a chance to go tomorrow. Honestly, I don’t like the Planet Fitness location I’ve been going to; it’s cooped up and I don’t like all that damn purple (at any of them). But I only pay $20/month, and I get unlimited massage chair usage. Can’t beat it. If you go to a shopping mall and use a massage chair, you’re going to drop $1 a pop!

I went to Goldman Sachs to meet up with a friend who works there now. It was just a quick reunion during one of his breaks, but it was good to see him. He’s married with a son now. I want a partner, maybe a kid, maybe neither. I’m still thinking about it.  Anyway, being at Goldman reminded me that I’d once been a business administration major. I even continued to take business courses after switching to Creative Writing. I don’t miss that shit one bit. None of those people looked comfortable in what they were wearing. No fun.

Speaking of fun: I bought two books today: Waiting for Eden by Elliot Ackerman, and Heads of Colored People by Nafissa Thompson-Spires. These two have been showing up on my social media accounts a lot lately. #FOMO.

I had dinner with the guy mentioned in Sunday’s entry. We had a good time! We went to a Mexican cuisine restaurant in Park Slope, got full on tacos and platanos and one cocktail each (I drove). There was a lot of laughing! He texted me afterwards and told me that he’d enjoyed the date. I’ll skip my bedtime shift of Tinder and OkCupid tonight.

Duties await me in the morning, and I’m going to see the apartment with my prospective roommate! Good night!

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

I’m still pleased with the nice date I had last night!

Breakfast: Oatmeal with only banana this morning. I forgot to buy some canned peaches. Probably a good thing. You know, all the high-fructose corn syrup.

When I arrived near Brooklyn College this morning, and after having found a parking space on one of the same three streets where I always find free parking, it occurred to me that I haven’t had a great deal of trouble finding parking at all since I’ve returned to NYC. Having a car in NYC isn’t so bad, unless you’re stuck in traffic and need to get to a job interview—in which case driving is a bad idea. “Don’t do it, Miss Celie.” I still might sell mine in a year, though. We’ll see.

At 5:30 p.m. I met up with my potential roommate at the Schomburg, and we walked to see the apartment we’ll potentially share for at least the next 11 months. It is a wonderful apartment. It’s just what I need, and I’m pretty sure she’s in love with it, too. I’ll submit my application and see what happens; she has already been approved. The landlord rents to each tenant separately. Good call, I guess.

I don’t have a conventional, full-time job. In NYC, that’s like saying to a landlord: “I light fires in buildings.” Makes them just a lil nervous.

Tomorrow is a pretty big day for me. I’m going to Bloomsbury Publishing!!

I’ve just read another story from Alexia Arthurs’s How to Love a Jamaican. I’m almost done. One of the things I love about short story collections is that you can take your time with them.

I’ve fulfilled my daily quota for profile browsing on OkCupid and Tinder for the evening. Yes, I know I just had a great date last night, but life has taught me to not put all my eggs in one basket until that basket has proven itself sturdy. I’m no fool.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Breakfast was three boiled eggs (only one yolk). This morning’s oatmeal was basic; I only added brown sugar. For some reason I didn’t want toppings today.

In short, my visit to Bloomsbury was a-maaaaay-zing!! I felt like a gay, black, male Carrie Bradshaw. (Y’all remember that episode?) And while I was having lunch with my editor, I got an email from the potential landlord letting me know that he’d be sending me a lease! (No, Girl, I didn’t check my email in the middle of conversation. We both took a quick phone-check interlude).

My nomad days are over!!

It’s been an amazing day, and I’m worn the phuck out (in a good way)!! No OkCupid or Tinder for me tonight. Psyche! Just for a few minutes, though. Homeboy and I are in communication. It’s not very enthusiast on his end, though. Listen, he’s a cool person. It’s fine if we don’t date. Eggs and sturdy basket. Remember? 

Friday, September 28, 2018 

Breakfast was three boiled eggs (only one yolk), and oatmeal (with granola and a small banana this time). The banana was pretty spotted, so I didn’t use a sweetener. A former roommate once told me I eat white-boy breakfasts. I think she was more so referring to the adding of toppings. So I forgave the trespass, for I have been forgiven many, myself.

At 10:30 a.m. I met my new landlord at a Starbucks in Midtown Manhattan to sign things and get keys to the apartment!!! We are free to move in at any time—no waiting until Oct. 1!! I would have gone straight to the apartment just to walk around in it alone for a few minutes, but I had an appointment to have my implant adjusted (wouldn’t you like to know?).

After the implant adjustment, I emptied out my small storage unit and carried it all to the new spot. The 4th floor apartment is in a Harlem walk-up. (Does that go without saying?) I’ll get used to it, and my thighs and glutes will be on fleek. (I’m still waiting for someone to explain the etymology of “fleek.”)

It felt so good to put my things in my room! Did I mention the full bathroom I have in my bedroom? I have a FULL bathroom that’s all mine!

A couple of hours later, I met up with a girlfriend and a very nice friend of hers who has a Reiki practice. Also, he may or may not have some psychic abilities. I’ll find out within the next year, I suppose.

Now I’m back at the temporary spot for the final night. I’m going to miss it quite a bit. But it’s not mine. “So I’ll go, but I know…And IIIIIIII”

In the morning I’ll go to IKEA to look at beds. Then I’ll move the rest of my things into the new spot. I have an address!!

A few minutes of dating apps and then I’m off to bed.

Question: Do I really want to meet someone from one of the apps?

I’d rather meet someone organically.

Another question: Is that realistic, though?


Saturday, September 29, 2018

No oatmeal this morning. Breakfast was two eggs on a roll from the bodega on the corner of Nostrand and Pacific. I woke up early and decided to do laundry before going to IKEA. And since the Laundromat and bodega are neighbors, it made sense to kill two birds with one Tide pod. (I don’t use Tide pods; I toggle between Gain and the cheap laundry powders that come in thin, clear plastic bags that break open very easily, and then you have to sweep it up and transfer it to a Ziplock.)

I’m now in my new bedroom [happily] on a stack of folded blankets and a sleeping bag I bought back in 2012 for my very first camping trip. It’s (being on the floor) the best thing in the world!

Dinner was Chinese take-out, and I didn’t go with the healthiest choice on the menu.

Today was so much fun. I was at IKEA for nearly five hours. FIVE HOURS!!! WTF was I doing?? You might assume that I came out with a ton of stuff. I did not. I did buy a bed—I’ll have it on Thursday—some storage bins that will slide under the bed that will arrive on Thursday, some bedding that will cloth the bed that will arrive on Thursday, a corkscrew, a cutting board, a good knife—my new roommate is obsessed with the handle—and some other small odds and ends.

I’ve just taken my first shower in my new bathroom. By the way, I found more hotel soap in that scented garbage bag.

I’m a blessed gay man. Having grown up attending a Baptist church, using the words “gay and “blessed” together still feels weird. And I honestly don’t know why I’ve just used the word “blessed” at all; I’m not religious.

In any case, things are going well, and I’m happy!

Good night!

Sunday, September 30, 2018

It was a great week! I don’t have a next date scheduled with the fellow I mentioned above, but we’re in contact. “One day at a time, Sweet Jesus.” (Maybe I am religious.)

I’m loving my new home. It brings me “joy, unspeakable joy.” (Why am I writing gospel song lyrics?)

My roommate and I sat on the hideous, but fairly comfortable couch that was left behind by the previous tenant—we’ll buy a cover and new decorative pillows—and talked about the many things we may or may not do with the living room. Mounting a TV is not on the list of possibilities; we have laptops.

I’ll grade a few papers now because life goes on.


Photo of De’Shawn Charles Winslow by Julie R. Keresztes


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