Growing up, I always heard the old chestnut “just when you think you have the answers, God changes the questions.” I spent a whirlwind 40 days in Amsterdam where I got my (mental) ass kicked, money drained, and hopes dashed at almost every turn, but I loved it because I also made friends, my own way, and plans galore. I ended up coming back to NY a week early to try and scrounge up some holiday work (no dice), but I felt good about my choice to venture out there and especially go back. My last week and a half in Amsterdam, I got a nibble for a job in Frankfurt. Did a video conference interview and then took a trip 4 hours for a second in person one. I walked out of the room feeling really confident about how well it went and then back to Amsterdam for a long weekend before heading back to NY.
I went back there (and the US) at the worst time possible. There was a cop shooting that happened uncomfortably near my apartment and the heavy tense atmosphere made me want to immediately high tail it back to the airport. But, it ultimately ended up being a good rebuilding two months where I figured out that as much as I missed friends and family, I didn’t miss the facsimile of NY now one iota. I was also painfully broke for most of my time and it was a stressful situation. And then once I got a freelance job set up and was beginning to feel like things were picking up, I got an offer from the job in Frankfurt. I accepted life’s curve ball and now here I am, a month and a half into my new life in Germany.
Leaving NY was a bitch because I’m the worst at packing and decided I was only taking two suitcases, my computer bag, and a carry on. I ended up chucking most of the stuff in my old apartment and arranged my cat to follow me the next day, which stretched into a week because United is the worst. But I found an apartment pretty easily and work is interesting yet so challenging. I’ve had some touch and go days since arrival, but having a purpose most days has made this easier than the Amsterdam struggle in some ways. I got my visa squared away before I left NY thankfully and should only have to visit the dreaded Foreigners’ Office briefly to get my final version. Things are pretty okay.
I like feeling like I finally succeeded after years of trying to leave NY. And now a new adventure. The best present for this new year.
On November 5th, I hopped on a plane and left Brooklyn for Amsterdam. In order to propel myself out, I had to look extremely on the positive side. That meant brushing off last minute disasters like almost not being able to check in online, a halfhazard packing job, getting to the airport extremely late, having my subletter situation fall through at the last minute, and leaving behind my kitty. I have arrived and now the realness starts.
The first week was almost a wonderland. Skipping around, looking at stuff, and almost pinching myself in excitement. When you spend years just turning an idea around in your brain before it becomes a reality, the satisfaction of just finally making it happen is enormous. But that passes and you’re left with: and now what? For all my latent masterplanning, I didn’t get the job I came here to do the second interview for, the apartment I ended up in is kind of a shithole, and the companions from my last trip have all fallen off the planet. I didn’t anticipate my nest egg of money looking so anemic by the time taxes came out or the loneliness of what it feels like to navigate truly everything on your own for the first time. I’m really coming face to face with fears and my inner core of steel here and it’s only Day 9. I may end up back home at Christmas with my tail between my legs or more determined than ever. Figuring that out is truly the fun.
Back in somewhat of a New York groove. I think I was completely disoriented that first week back. Spending two weeks away traveling started to weigh me down after a while. I missed my own bed and my kitty desperately by the last couple of days. Berlin was a mixed bag on this trip, my 3rd. Had a great time seeing new music at Berlin Music Week — two fests at once, First We Take Berlin and Berlin Festival. Darkside, Neneh Cherry, Sinkane, Editors, Kindness, and Woodkid were some of the amazing acts I caught. Less exciting were some of the weird street encounters I had. One creep followed me walking through Kruezberg in the most unsettling way possible and it kinda negatively colored the rest of my time there. But it was nice to see the city warm instead of in frozen tundra mode like my other visits.
My good vacation mood lasted for about 2 weeks afterwards and the grind picked back up again. I took some time to really think about my life here and I’ve come to a very big decision: I’m moving to Amsterdam! In about 2 weeks which is insanely daunting right now. I decided to do it about 4 weeks away from when I decided to leave. Put in my notice at work, have a subletter for my place, and going out into the unknown. I’ve been waiting to get the nerve to do this for years and when I vocalized what I was doing, it just felt totally right. Sink or swim, I’m in control. I’m crossing everything that can be crossed that this will be a successful adventure, but I decided to do it, so it’s already the best. Excelsior!
I feel like I woke at some point during the spring and decided that I needed to make some serious changes. Maybe it’s this birthday — 33, the Jesus year (go Google that if you want to fall down some weird rabbit hole…). But in actuality, it’s been a long time coming.
The NYC I know and love really doesn’t exist any longer. On the surface level, the atmosphere is sterile and the rents no longer justify the return. The people I have hung with hard for years are moving away and that bums me out. The places that make up my history from my youth are being erased just as fast: J&R, Pearl Paint, Grey’s Papaya, Kim’s, all the storefronts around town I have funny memories associated with. On a deeper level though, I’ve been thinking long and hard about what I want my future to look like and I don’t imagine it being in NY at all at this point. The desire to be away outweighs every remaining feeling to keep waving the flag. I’m tired and bored with my town.
Once I just admitted that to myself, things have been shaping up pretty interestingly. Moogfest was more amazing in the expanded format — until the end when I got stuck in Greenville flying back home. Highlights were Metro Area, Jimmy Edgar, a Nile Rodgers chat, interesting panels in general sponsored by Afropunk and Kill Screen. I was so glad I went and will plan to return for the next one in 2016.
Right now, I’m in Europe at the halfway point of 2 week trip. I spent a few days in (freezing) Amsterdam, my first trip, and it was pretty fascinating. A vibrant very walkable place that was both alien and familiar. I met some cool folks who gave me daily life tips on things I would’ve never imagined. I can see myself there. Now getting the heat back in Lisbon and wrapping up in Berlin before home. I’ve always thought of myself as someone who could be comfortable everywhere and it’s pretty true still. It’s been a fun trip and I’m excited to go home and plan out the next moves from there.
Nothing new to report. Still kinda treading water and figuring out what I’m doing with myself.
I’m fully booked for my Moogfest fest adventure and have 3.5 more weeks until I’m back in Asheville. My childhood summers were spent less than an hour away from there, so visiting there last time was like an spiritual recharge for me. Not to mention the fest itself has expanded to day panels and even more music than before. I’m beyond excited for this.
My head is reeling that a 1/4 of the year is already down! I’ve decided to make some goals to challenge myself to fulfill:
1) Finally get my driver’s license! Not having it is making me feel a little pathetic the older I get. Moving heavy things around is such an ordeal of calling in favors and/or waiting around for help instead of being able to do most of the carting around myself. It’s also knocked out a lot of the places I can visit since public transportation/cab prices are not as favorable as NYC in many other towns. It’s one of the last independence blockers for me. Gotta do it. I give myself a deadline of September 1st.
2) Get serious about being in shape. Last year, I was knocked way out of commission by my knee pains. Finally after months of hobbling around and dealing with new meds, I’m finally feeling close to my old self again. Now I just need to break all the sedentary bad habits I leaned on for coping with the hurting and shed some of these (very!) unwanted extra padding that crept up on me. I miss running around and being active. I need to get a lot more disciplined in that respect.
3) Jump start a creative project. I signed up for an online travel writing course at Matador and my output has been nothing so far. Ditto for the music I was working on with varying energy bursts last year. I need to commit to something and stay with it (this poor neglected blog included). I have so many ideas and finally need to let them live a little. Creative me is always the happiest version.
I think doing those three things will help my spring be interesting. I also need to do more arts stuff for myself (concerts, museums, movies) and unchain myself from desk a lot more. Baby steps though.
This is a year that’s kinda flown by at a breakneck speed. It seems especially crowded with rollercoaster weirdness in retrospect, but I’m beginning to think that it just what life is meant to be. Especially in a relentless place like NYC.
I’m feeling good about 2013 overall. I started it on a great (well maybe a little discombobulated) friends note and plan to end it more or less the same way. I accomplished almost everything I wanted to: security in my work and home lives, strengthening all my friendships, and hearing some new and exciting music. The love life kinda the pits but that’s not the end of the world. I’m still considering if I want to leave town and start somewhere else anew or not in the near future. Montreal has been added to the places I can see myself living list. I had a good trip there in March for Osheaga. My only gripe with this year was not nearly enough travelling. My major time off was a staycation and I only spent about 2 days in Montreal. On deck for 2014 though is my return trip to Moogfest in Asheville, a birthday time beach journey (thinking Belize or Costa Rica), and hopefully making my way back to Europe.
Nowadays, I’m thinking a lot about what the future holds in a more concrete way. It’s easy to just float here in NYC. You can live infinitely with roommates and making the bare minimum to get by and have fun with your friends for years. I’ve always had slightly more ambitions (and now an insane amount of grad school loans that I need to make a dent into), so my version of where I wanted to be the past couple of years involved living alone, more space, and a job I don’t (totally) hate to make that all possible. Working to live is not the most exciting, so I’m really dragging out the white paper and markers and trying to think about where I see myself going. Your girl, the night owl, is really not made to sit in an office from 9am every morning. It’s the 21st century and I will create the better way if it doesn’t exist yet.
It’s nice starting a new year with no regrets. I can get a little fitter, be a little less messy, and keep staying positive for 2014. It feels like a good place to be.
Five years ago, I was living on my own (no roommate) for the first time, working at a job I hated, and trying to think of a way to jump start my life/career. I was on the verge of applying to a grad school program that some of my coworkers recommended as something I would take to like a fish to water. Six months passed and I had gotten laid off from that job, accepted into that program, and was freelancing at the Times of all places before giving it all up to be a full time student in the fall. Right now, I’m working at a job I have a day to day love/hate relationship with, still living on my own in what might be what feels like my first adult place, and still trying to figure out what to do with my life/career. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose indeed…
Things do feel different though nowadays. That’s all a part of getting older I suppose. Gray hairs popping up, bad knee joints knocked me out of commission for most of the summer, stubborn roundness clinging to my middle. Stakes feel a little higher than they felt back then. I’ve worked in the ad industry for about 9 years (7 years full time around school), so it’s a milieu I feel very comfortable in. I do find myself burned out by the thanklessness of my chosen job description and the long hours chained to a desk though. I really have begun to feel that I’m not built for 9-6 (8) office life. I’m not a morning person and can get more done in less time left to my own devices instead of giving face time every day. I’ll never be good at office politicking and unfortunately in some of the places I’ve worked, unless you’re going for Machiavellian ruthlessness, you’ll never advance. That’s not me. I have no desire to the boss in a place I don’t own/feel personally invested in.
I still think of leaving town (often!), but I’m also at a place where I’m back to loving NYC and just want to find my place that makes me the happiest within it. If my ideal job/career doesn’t exist, I might be hitting the stage where it’s time for me to create it.
There’s definitely some irony that one of the few times I was committed to posting this year, I had to go through a two day password reset odyssey and ultimately code hack just to do it. I was determined.
This weekend, I’m back where this whole thing started: Wes for my 10th college reunion. I started my blog while bored during Senior Week and it kept me amused as I spent a chunk of my summer still on campus working on the yearbook. And then followed me to NYC as I fumbled my way through getting settled in, going to work, and having an ungodly amount of fun as a young girl in the midst of the fun period in town. Time flies when you’re just putting one foot in front of the other and living your life. In many ways, it feels like these 10 years passed overnight, but in others, I feel like I’ve lived 20 lifetimes. I’ve gotten a little slower and wider and have a few strands of gray, but I feel the same inside. I’ve still got that commitment for living a great life on my own terms and as always finding new and interesting music to play to death. I think it’s rare to have lived 10 years without many regrets behind me. It’s been an adventure for sure. Here’s to another 10 years! And hopefully less sporadic updates.
I’m still here. Here beingon this site, in New York, same hangouts, same friends, same routines.Newish job, kitty, and determination to make things a lot more awesome in the near future. I find it hard to believe that I’m almost 32 and have been reassessing a lot about where I think my life is heading. But also all about doing what I can do to have the greatest present possible. Work in progress, just like things here. I’m definitely feeling the urge to be back in this space though. Keep watch.