In my monthly round-ups, I am looking back at my travels over the past four weeks, what went well and what didn’t, and what’s next for me.
Where I’ve been
Even though I did not once leave the city limits of NYC this month, I feel like I’ve been traveling a lot! I may have physically arrived here, but the gypsy in me definitely hasn’t mentally arrived.. yet. And I think I know why: Because I haven’t stayed put anywhere for this long since summer 2014! Can you believe it? I was flabbergasted when I noticed it – it just hadn’t seemed to me like I was on the move all the time, but this ‘break’ that I am taking now, just over 3 months (I’m five weeks in now), is the longest I’ve stayed anywhere since August 2014, when I left New York after four months, with only two short getaways in between.
This got me reminiscing – but I’ll get into that in a moment. Back to gypsy-ing around New York: This month, I’ve lived in Astoria (Queens), Brooklyn Heights and Prospect Heights (Brooklyn), Chinatown (Manhattan), and right now, I am settling into my latest place in Bushwick (Brooklyn) – and no, this one is not permanent.
What I’ve been up to
It’s been quite a month, despite not leaving New York City in the past 31 days. I am still getting used to the pace of New York again, and if I’ll be able to get more than six hours sleep at some point next month, I’ll be a happy girl. I am already reminiscing about how much time I had for myself in Ecuador, only a couple of months ago. Time to read books, work out every day, maintain the blog, work on freelance projects and get them done on time, and having time to socialize and explore.
Here in New York, I barely find time to read anything anymore, I always find myself running somewhere because I’m always late. There’s too much going on all the time for my FOMO personality to be just like ‘Thanks but I think I’ll stay home tonight’. This has happened to me in previous years when I spent the summers in New York, and usually ended up feeling completely burned out. At least I know what’s coming 😉
I’ve been upping my workload from working one job at the beginning of the month to working three jobs at the end of it. It’s a relief to know I’m making enough cash to not only get by, but to live comfortably in this expensive city, but as a friend of mine pointed out over drinks the other day ‘In New York City, you’ll always find yourself hustling. You never stop.‘ And oh how right he was! I have yet to say NO to paid work that is offered to me – so far, I’ve been saying YES to everything, because I am always paranoid I may run out of money.
Add to my daily hustle my efforts to stay in shape (more on that below), socializing, dating, looking for a place to stay, moving four times and dealing with immigration matters, I’ve not gotten much sleep (I passed out on my laptop three nights in a row) and I don’t even know where the month went.
Last week, when I walked down Fifth Avenue after picking up my first paycheck (Yes! I got a job! More on that below.), it hit me though: I am living my dream. I nearly burst into tears in the middle of a crowded Manhattan sidewalk when I had this realization. I had to sit down for a moment and take a deep breath. Is this really happening?, I asked myself. Sometimes I still can’t believe that I can legally work and live in New York now.
Every time I came here over the past few years, my stay had an end date, was limited. And every time, I asked myself how I’d be able to extend my stay, how I’d be able to make New York a more permanent base. Even all the way back in the summer of 2014, when I first came to New York by myself, I already posted:
I just love this city and there’s at least one moment every day when I try to figure out how I’ll be able to spend more than just a couple of months here – every year! (I’ve got some ideas though…) – May 2014 – read the full post here –
I am still in New York, something I hadn’t planned at all when I boarded my flight to JFK in May. It only took me about two days to realize I would want to stay longer – even though my time in New York started with a disaster. (July 2014 – read the full Life Lately here – my first Life Lately ever!)
And here I am, a mere three years later, having figured out a way to make this dream come true – or actually, not even having to figure it out, but to simply be granted permanent residency (remember, I won a green card?). I still can’t believe how lucky I am.
The whole thing still feels so surreal to me, even over a year after opening the email that would change the course of my entire life. I do not take any of this for granted – every day I am grateful to whoever was looking out for me last spring when I needed to make the decision of where to settle, having nearly given up on the dream to be able to move to New York.
And in spite of the fact that I am still struggling with a few immigration-related issues (see What Went Right and What Went Wrong below), I just can’t see myself being anywhere else but New York. I am still as much in love with this city as I’ve always been, regardless of all the obstacles that are being placed in my way at the moment.
While I’ve been spending way too much time working, running (see under ‘Other Happenings’ below) and commuting, I did have a number of memorable moments this month. Highlights included a cherry blossom photo shoot with my friend Kristin, a couple of travel meet-ups, street art tours around Bushwick, several bridge runs across the Manhattan Bridge and Brooklyn Bridge (my favorite route, especially at sunset), bar hopping nights, my favorite pizza, boozy brunches and finding new cocktail bars. It has also been great to catch up with all my friends here, some of whom I hadn’t seen since last August.
Let’s take a look at what went right and what went wrong in May:
What Went Right
I Found A Job!
Not only did I find a job, but I found the perfect job for me, and it happened to be the first job I interviewed for (and consequently the last one). I wasn’t sure how easy or difficult it would be to find a job, especially after having been self-employed for over seven years and not having had any job interviews in nearly ten years, but somehow it all worked out.
I am so happy about how easy the job hunt was and love having colleagues again (blogging and writing can be quite solitary, my friends!) and a regular paycheck doesn’t hurt either. I was ecstatic when I went to pick up my first paycheck last week… even though my excitement quickly faded when I saw the amount that was taken out for taxes… but that’s another story. I also got a side gig, and albeit that one was more for fun than for the money, it’s been quite challenging to juggle all three plus the blog and still be able to enjoy New York and/or have a social life – more on that below.
Sidenote: It makes me chuckle that the highlight of my month was finding a job, something that I’d been dreading for years!
What Went Wrong
I’m still homeless
I may have found a job faster than expected, but I am still struggling to find a living situation that I’m happy with. When all the bureaucratic things I had to deal with as a brand new immigrant went super smooth at the beginning of the month, I was ecstatic. But then the reality of finding an apartment or even a room set in. As a foreigner without a bank account (which I have now), regular paycheck (can you see now why I had to get a job?) and credit score (I still don’t even know what that is but one owner told me he required ‘a score of 680’) it is pretty much impossible to find someone to rent you a place, unless you’re able to pay an entire 12-month lease upfront. Well, I can’t.
Add to that the insane competition here in New York, the fact that if you want to do a police check on me I am non-existent thanks to my immigration status, I just started to get paychecks, my guarantors are overseas, and I am pretty much f*cked, if I may be blunt. And so I’ve been bouncing around from sublet to sublet with some pet sitting gigs thrown in, which meant I moved four times in the last month. Subletting is the way to go for now, and luckily I keep getting leads from friends for accommodation, so that I haven’t found myself stranded yet, but of course this is no long-term solution, and lugging my stuff around town constantly is really getting on my nerves.
Serious Blog Neglect
The above mentioned apartment hunt (seriously, for a good portion of the month I wasted hours every day on checking out rooms online or heading out to view a place), the new job, a ton of freelance work (which is good for my savings account) and my side gig, I’ve found myself completely overwhelmed with keeping up with the blog. I hope I’ll find a better balance between work, freelancing and blogging in June because I’ve got so much awesome content lined up that I’m eager to share with you, like highlights from Cuba and the Galapagos Islands.
Another iPhone Fail
I feel like I should just make this a monthly feature. My iPhone acted up again – and I had to visit Apple not once but twice, wasted hours at the genius bar as well as on the phone with them, and even the shop assistant had to admit that a six-month old phone shouldn’t act the way mine did (and I didn’t do anything to it – didn’t drop it or drown it!). That’s all I want to say about it – dealing with Apple to get my phone fixed was another time-consuming matter which I could’ve done without.
May Running Challenge
As part of my one-challenge-per-month-quest of 2017, my challenge for May was to run at least four miles per day. That’s 124 miles in total, and I just added up all the kilometers I ran this month in my running app: 202 kilometers, or 125.5 miles! I’ve reached my goal, but I will admit that I ended up skipping one day because it was pouring outside and by the time it stopped, I had dinner plans. I am feeling bad for skipping one day though and will add one more run to my challenge on 1 June to make it feel more complete, so I’ll add even more miles to my already achieved goal.
Of course I’ll still go on regular runs throughout the next month – I won’t stop after this. I will, however, cut back my miles because one thing I didn’t anticipate was just how time-consuming this challenge would be. In addition to the time these longer runs took, I did my daily exercises and often combined my run with an errand, meaning I’d take the train back (I ran eight kilometers to Trader Joe’s to stock up on my favorite foods from there, for example) and it was definitely more time intense than the quick 5k’s I usually run when I don’t have much time for a proper workout.
But I stuck with it, even when it rained (one time I got completely soaked, one time when it rained I had a treadmill that I was able to use, but that was a good reminder of just how much I dislike running on treadmills). During my first week in my new job I had two 10-hour days and two 13-hour days – and I still went for a run after those long shifts which is miraculous to me.
Now, as for my next challenge, I’ve been thinking about it long and hard, and decided yet again not to do a month of no sugar, which I have yet to do this year, and already put off last month. I’ve got several barbecues and birthday parties coming up this month, I just know that at some point I won’t be able to resist a cupcake. I promised a friend to take her on a pizza tour, and on Friday is National Donut Day.. so, instead… I’m going to face my biggest nemesis: Yoga. Daily yoga for 30 consequent days – I’m curious to see if I won’t hate it anymore by the end of it (or if I hate it even more).
I am running out of ideas for challenges – other than going vegan for a month and no sugar for a month, what can I still challenge myself to? If you have any ideas for me, please share them in the comments!
What’s Next For Me
I’ve got another full month in New York ahead of me! I’ve been talking to friends in other parts of the U.S. about coming to visit them, but honestly – I don’t want to leave! June in particular has so many things I love about summer in NYC coming up: The free Metropolitan Opera recitals in the park, Brooklyn Pride and New York Pride, free outdoor movies, birthday parties and rooftop barbecues. I may escape to Jersey for a weekend to visit a friend over there, but hopping between the five boroughs is enough travel for me at the moment 🙂