Gabrielle Hase is a Director at Soleberry Advisory (http://www.soleberry.com), a digital commerce consultancy for the private equity, venture capital and private investor communities. Gabrielle is a transplanted New Yorker living in London, where she donates too much money to animal charities, sees too many movies, and writes a personal blog called Bloody Brilliant! (www.bloodybrilliantblog.com). hase

My second New York neighborhood (read all about my first one here) was fantastic. I graduated from business school with a job in publishing, and felt that it was only appropriate that I live in a beautiful building in a trendy neighborhood. That's what you do, isn't it?

A friend of mine lived in a one bedroom apartment in The Devonshire, a beautiful pre-war building on the corner of 10th and University in the heart of NYU. I got really lucky and an apartment came on the market and I moved in. I am not a huge fan of living around students if I'm not one, and thankfully they were only a minor annoyance instead of a major aggravation.

Let's gloss over the fact that I could not really afford said apartment in said neighborhood, but I loved every fiscally-irresponsible minute of it. New York has a doorman culture that I've not found anywhere else, and as a single woman living alone, it's a culture I could appreciate. The doormen at The Devonshire really looked out for me and were a warm welcome home after a long day of work (or bar-hopping more like it). My cats and I settled into a blissful existence, until the fire made us a bit nervous.

It was five in the morning and I woke up to what sounded like a huge explosion somewhere close by. I didn't hear anything else after that, so I laid in bed and wondered if I'd just dreamt the whole thing. Then I heard pounding footsteps just outside my door, getting closer and closer, until they passed right by. The next sounds I heard were thumps coming from somewhere upstairs, thump-thump-thump, then nothing. I looked out my window - which faced a brick wall, no joke - and saw smoke rising. It was at this moment that I started to panic, wondering what was happening and how best to cram my fat cats into their cat carriers while dressing myself in appropriate evacuation attire.

I ran downstairs, which wasn't tough considering I only lived on the second floor, and asked the doorman what on earth happened. Turns out some idiot who lived directly above me three floors up decided to take up smoking while they were hooked up to an oxygen machine. Sounds like a safe hobby, no? The thumping was the sound of the firemen bashing in the front door of the apartment, putting out the fire and gutting the place. Unbelievable.

I trudged back upstairs, informed my kitties there would be no early-morning outing after all, and went back to bed to prepare for another day in New York.