Gotham: Year One

The inaugural anniversary of my New York residency was a Saturday. In typical fashion dates got mixed up and didn’t realize until a few days later.

Slept in, organic grocer, smoothie, ran from my apartment in East Village across the Williamsburg Bridge to a coffee roaster in Brooklyn, afternoon at the studio with longtime friend and NY mentor, ran home at dusk, beers with absurd friend, playoff game at iconic bar, pizza on the subway, guest list entry to fancy Midtown club, met with an amazing woman, drank bottle service, acrobatics, dancing, then spent the night in Upper East Side.

A unique day — but not atypical. The absurdity of New York.

Metropolis (1927)

Metropolis

Hustle

New York is a transient place — a never-ending stream of people throwing their energy and cash on the bonfire before either choosing to leave, being forced to leave (i.e. visa, money), or simply chewed up and spat out. People are here for a good time not a long time and everyone has a limit, whether it’s one month or ten years.

Moths to a flame

Living here is analogous to traveling. You don’t pay outrageous rental to sit at home much like you don’t travel to Paris to stay at the hotel. There’s no shortage of things to do or interesting people to meet and everyone is here for a reason. A proving ground to the world and yourself, it tends to attract the best (wealth, skill, intelligence, creativity, beauty) from around the globe. The gold standard.

Connection lost

Due to long work hours and an seemingly endless parade of distractions, contact hours with people can be hard to come by. People are busy and therefore non-committal as they learn to keep options open. Friends come and go, just have to get on with it. Time needed to form deep bonds is inversely proportional to one’s proximity to Manhattan.

Neverland

A city of prolonged adolescence. Have fun and work on your career indefinitely while everything else (cooking, cleaning, laundry, driving, shopping, etc.) is taken care of cheaply and conveniently. Anything is possible with enough money. Adult playground.

Time Dilation

At the micro level, each day lasts a week. Multitudes of experiences every single day. At the macro level, time passes in the blink of an eye. A year ago becomes indistinguishable from yesterday. People walk fast, grow up fast and relationships move faster. Living many different lives within a short period. Short-term memory fatigue.

Sex and the City

Great for casual sex, casual dating, intense yet brief relationships, dating multiple people at once, having sex with multiple people at once, kinks and fetishes. Perfectly normal to be single well into your thirties and forties. Bonus points for being wealthy (see: models) and male (more women than straight men, take better care of themselves).

Distracted

If single, attractive and interesting are three circles of a Venn diagram, then dating in New York is the middle. The problem with commitment is even if you date a rockstar, you’re constantly surrounded by other competing rockstars making the decision easier to try something new. Spoilt for choice.

No place like home

The city can be hard if want a healthy work/life balance, enjoy sleep, healthcare, nice weather, nature, clean streets, spacious homes, cheap living, peace and quiet, meaningful relationships, children, retirement, have anxiety, drug or alcohol problems (cope with the daily struggle), crave stability, or can’t tolerate bros. When it’s time, leave with as many memories and as few regrets as possible.

Insignificant

New York doesn’t care about you. It will continue without so much as skipping a beat. The upside to flying under the radar is freedom to be whoever you want to be. A culture of encouragement and inspiration. Necessity is the mother of invention.

The epicenter of relevance

Things happen so frequently and so fast that there’s little time to catch breath and reflect. Special becomes commonplace and FOMO a thing of the past. Enough big names and events to go around. Quality and quantity.

Misc. Inc.

The greatest thing about the city is that anything can — and often does — happen. Those quintessential “only in New York” moments. A melting pot where freedom of expression is celebrated or (at worst) ignored rather than judged or (at worst) criticized. NY is an education, learn as much as you can.

Confessional

“If you’re careful enough, nothing good or bad will ever happen to you.”
Comfortably numb

I came here to escape. After returning from a 2014 overseas trip I was single, heartbroken, depressed, emotionally confused, broke and unemployed. Prior to the trip saw the end of a long-term relationship, friends moving on or settling down, unchallenging work, and the usual family issues were stressing me out more than normal. I was lost, numb and in need of direction not more distraction.

The lights of New York were my beacon. The plan was to try and ‘make it’ in New York first, then San Francisco, Vancouver, and finally Berlin. If I couldn’t make it after all that it obviously was never meant to be. Had to put myself before love, before family, before friends.

Lucky

My biggest fear was not being good enough to cut it after years of stagnation. I was lucky to have a good friend to look after me and show me the ropes. Lucky to have an in-demand occupation (even though it’s the only thing I ever wanted to be — long before the internet). Lucky to be an Australian and therefore eligible for a special visa. Lucky to find a great company (IVY) who were happy to sponsor. Lucky enough to earn well and have a disposable income to match my wide array of interests (generalist). Landed on my feet.

Reinvented

My priorities have changed with time. At first it was trying to survive, then settling in. After that came work then discovery and partying. Played tour guide for a bit then it was time for dating, then friendships. Now it’s all about creating and possibly health. Initially naive and intimidated, now feel as though I’m good enough to stay.

The democracy of distance

Time, distance and anonymity have afforded me the space to get on with life. Work on myself (perceptions, confidence, empathy, validation), learn, push myself with work, have new experiences, take opportunities, and mend the heart.

Experiences

Drank every cocktail. Ate every slice.

Consumption

Alchemist, Alienist, Balthazar ($$$$), Bodega Boys, Chelsea Piers, Club Monaco ($$$$), Dark Knight Returns, Keen’s, Momofuku (plural), Peter Luger, Saga, Sandman: Overture, Y3 ($$$$), and vinyl (J-Dilla, Bob Moses).

Culture

American History (IVY), Brooklyn (Rise of Sneaker Culture, Basquiat, Warhol), Fashion (fairytales, IVY), Folk (IVY), Guggenheim (Burri, Cremaster Cycle, Storylines), H{N)YPN(Y}OSIS (Armory), MET, MoMA PS1, Morgan, New (Answer Me), and Whitney (Open Plan, Stella) museums. Armory Show (IVY), Art Book Fair, chashama (Brooklyn Art Terminal, IVY), DODECAHEDRON (Ryden), First Show Last Show, Frieze, Horn Calls (Alice Tully), Hort Family Collection (IVY), Icons (Mr. Brainwash), Lumen, NADA, Olsen Twins Hiding From the Paparazzi, Poetry & the Creative Mind, Signal, Tiny Trifecta (Cotton Candy Machine), and Wes Anderson art exhibitions.

Events

Back to the Future Day, beer (Dogfish takeover, BLS launch), Comic Con, Craft Beer Festival, Hanukah (dinner), Hoffman Cup (IVY), Kill Screen Conf, lent (& Fat Tuesday), modeling (V76, THINX), Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest (99th year), National Beard and Moustache Championships, No Pants Subway Ride, Open House, Pillow Fight, Pride March, Soup Society, streetball tournament, Thanksgiving parade (balloon inflation), TreesCount (volunteering) and Village Halloween parade.

Film

99 Homes, Back to the Future 2 (live, Radio City), Carol (Paris), Dark Horse (IVY), Deadpool, Dean (Tribeca), Goodfellas (IFC), Hateful Eight (70mm), Heavy Metal (Nitehawk), Irrational Man (Angelika), Kicks (Tribeca), Macbeth (Nitehawk), Mad Max: Fury Road (Angelika), Me and Earl (IVY), O Brother Where Art Thou (NYFF), Oscar Animated Shorts, Son of Saul (IFC), The Artist (live, Nitehawk), The Salt of the Earth (Angelika), The Shining (forwards and backwards, Spectacle), The Warriors (live, HoY), Victoria (Nitehawk), and Zoolander 2.

Gigs

Afropunk and Governors Ball festivals. Armine Edge & DANCE, Bedouin, Best of Bootie, Bob Moses, Bonobo, Caribou, Chet Faker (DJ), Hood Internet, James Murphy (DJ), Jamie XX, Kamasi Washington, Neon Indian, Smashing Pumpkins, Tame Impala, Tiga, Wolfmother (hang after).

Parties

All Day I Dream, Babel, BLACK, Blkmarket, Bon Chic, Bossa Nova, Cityfox, Conditioner, Dark Disco, Daybreaker (DUSK), Don’t Let Disco, Elvis Guest House, Good Room, Guggenheim (after hours), House of Yes, IVY Spring Ball, Le Bain (On Top), Members Only, One Step Beyond (Hayden Planetarium), Orange Brunch, Output, PS1 Warm-up, Robot Heart (Halloween), Starvue, Tiki Disco. Lofts (East Village, Halloween), launches (Armani, N+1), warehouses, underground, penthouses (Park Ave), rooftops and semi-exclusive (Rose, SoGrand, Up&Down).

People

Alan, Alexa, Alexis, Andre, Arthur, Athena, Drew, Emily, Jo, Joe, Karl, Kelcey, Lacy, Lynh, Marvin, Meg, Negar, Olivia, Sascha, Scott, and the IVY team. Visits from Amanda, Chris, Dan, Kym, Lisa, Lucas, Mark, Metahni, Sara and Shaun.

Places

Austin, Barbados, Burning Man, DC, Melbourne, Miami and Toronto. Lived in LES and East Village, slept at the Wythe Hotel, and spent most time in Manhattan (80%) and Brooklyn (20%).

Shows

Batsheva Ensemble (IVY), Book of Mormon, Chicago, Comedy Cellar, La bohème (Met Opera, IVY), Moth, Parsons Dance (IVY), Paul Taylor Dance, PIT, Seth Myers (backstage), Sleep No More, Spring Awakening, Tree of Codes (Jamie XX), and Triptych: A World Without End.

Sport

NBA (Nets, Knicks, Rockets, Thunder, Spurs, Bulls, Lakers Kobe fairwell), NHL (Rangers v Islanders, 8 goals), MLS (FC vs Revolution), MLB (Mets v Royals World Series), and the US Open (final).

Talks

Amy Cuddy (IVY), Demitri Martin (Tribeca), George Clooney (NYFF), Jack Welch (IVY), John Oliver (Tribeca), Lazlo Bock (IVY), Paul Simon, Regina Spektor, Spike Lee (Red Bull Music Week) and Tom Hanks (Tribeca).

Wellness

Cherry blossoms (Brooklyn Botanical), Delaware river (rafting), Dream Seed, Five Boro Bike Tour, IVY Summer Camp, Soul Cycle and yoga/meditation (IVY).

Work

Another Dead Hero (stickers), Betaworks (Xmas party), blog, Flatiron School, Google, Instagram (street art), Snapshot (zine), Spotify and WeWork. Rails and Angular experience, Heroku, Salesforce, optimizations, fixes, enhancements, and a new mobile responsive IVY app.

Misc.

Penthouse beer pong, Joe’s first tattoo, making out in a vault, binge watching Seinfeld (or living it?), apps (Snapchat, Seamless, dating), model street shoots, and pizza speakeasies.

Scorecard: A-

“Do not look up to people who have more than you, look below you: there are always people who are less fortunate than you.” — Jules Merckx

New York suits my present lifestyle. Never bored. Last-minute optionality. Interesting people. Casual dating. Cheap vices. Bit crazy. Late night. Great food. Walkable. Solo-friendly. Challenging work. Fun-focused. Art. Music. Fashion. Exploration. The streets are better than TV (entertainment, fashion, models, street art). International. Diversity. Seasons (snow, heatwaves).

And while there have been some very challenging moments, I’ve learnt a lot about myself and the world. Still restless, but calming down. Extremely grateful for the opportunity.

Moving forward I would like to focus on balance. Less partying (be selective) and more creating. Less taking and more giving. Less drinking and more wellness. More consumer conscious (e.g. animal products). Work on my confidence (self, public speaking), relationships and friendships. No need to work on fashion, my style is on point!

Deep end sink or swim — not the paddling pool.

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