Do you ever wonder…

About the decisions you’ve made in life? Whether they were right or wrong? or is there even such a thing as right or wrong? That’s kind of where i’m sitting this morning, on Day 63 of New York on Pause. It’s not a bad feeling, or a depression thought, no, it’s something different. It’s a legitimate question I think, one fueled in honest retrospection. How did I get where I am today, sitting in this apartment, in the city of Manhattan.

After 60 days of reduced Mass Transit, and vehicle traffic, the skies over Manhattan are far clearer than i’ve seen since i’ve moved to New York.

I don’t think there’s a clear cut answer on that, at least not one that I can discern. When I chose to move to New York, I had a decision to make, it wasn’t right or wrong, it was Yes or No. It was “am I going to do this?”, am I going to take that leap. I don’t regret that choice to move here, I do however wonder about the alternatives I had been considering. There were honestly several options I had been considering prior to coming here. Staying where I was however, was never one of them.

Before I wound up here, I had considered a number of options. Boston, Massachusetts for instance, I had connections and friends there already, it was interesting, and it was unique steeped in a history oft forgotten, but also home to a young generation of people my age. At the time, i’d also been considering Austin, Texas. I’ve made a yearly visit over the summer the past two years. Austin is another unique city, full of culture, and home to many transplants of NYC, and Los Angeles. To move to Austin would have been closer to a fresh start, though I still had one or two friends there as well.

There was one last thing I was considering before I got the job in Manhattan, and moved here. I had never mentioned it to anyone but, I was honestly considering getting my passport, and applying for a working vacation visa in Australia. Dropping everything, leaving the job I had and finding work in Australia, spending a year there, maybe more if I could find permanent work. Exploring a country, no a continent all it’s own, meeting new people, learning how to surf, and experiencing the southern sun, and sand underneath my feet.

I sometimes wonder what any of these options would have been like, and what path they’d lead me down had I taken them. I wonder if i’d still be friends with the people i’m friends with now, would they be willing to put up with time difference and distance had I chosen, Austin, or worse Australia. How would my family have taken it all? Would I be dating someone? What would I be doing? I wouldn’t be on pause in NYC after all, but elsewhere. I can only speculate on the possibilities.

It’s fun to think about, and I think i’m forced into thinking about such things because we are on pause. In the past 63 days I’ve been out of my apartment for about 14 hours total now. My social life, has taken a drastic shift, I haven’t seen family, and friends physically for months now. Doctor’s appointments have gone virtual. Work from Home has become a standard of living, one where I roll out of bed, and punch in 5 minutes later. The fact that depression hasn’t taken a deeper root in my life is a small miracle in itself considering what I had planned for this year.

A thirtieth birthday part or two to celebrate with friends and family. A cruise to the Caribbean with friends and family. Time at the beach which I sorely lacked last year. A new role at work, and travel for work. Speed dating, and the expansion of my horizons in NY. All put on hold by something so small and invisible, yet completely invasive in the lives of all. Part of me hopes that the next time i’m writing, in 30 days or so we’ll be looking at a shift of perspective, we’ll be looking at a slowly re-opening state. Looking at the possibilities of Travel again, and a return to office spaces. It’s a positive outlook that I need to continue to hope for, a shift to a something similar to what we had, though I know we will never return to the normal we had. I hope that i’ll be able to hug a friend, or a family member again in the near future. I look forward to that day immensely.

Today’s blog post didn’t really have a moral to the story, or a point, it was merely a physical manifestation of the train of thoughts I had this morning, and the retrospection i’d gone through. If you read to the end great, and if not I totally understand that too. This was more for me, than anyone else.

Until next time…

Dave

Hello 2020, We’ve been waiting for you.

Greetings Programs! It’s definitely been a little while. The holidays will do that to you for sure. I’m back in Sunnyside finally. After several weekends of travelling back to back, its nice to finally get a break. The topic for this posting should be pretty apparent considering the title. Its the first day of the new year, and the first day of a new decade. The first day of 3,652 days, with an endless slew of possibilities.

It makes no sense to look back at this point, the decade is over. Instead i’d like to look to the future. To look to the possibilities for me, and for those who may need to hear it.

First, i’m going to talk to myself I guess. Dave, you don’t always give yourself enough credit when it comes to most things in your life, but this time you need to. You’ve done an immense amount, you’ve made changes that needed to be made, and you’ve grown significantly. You’ve let go of the grudges of the past, and started to live for the now. You’ve begun to put yourself out there, and you’ve begun to live your life. Be proud of the person you’ve become, be proud of the foundation you’ve set for yourself. The future, no matter what others may say, think or do is bright for you. A future filled with infinite possibilities. Make use of your thirties, don’t get to forty and wonder where they’ve all gone. You’ve got a good head on your shoulders, and your compass will always guide you home. Trust in yourself, in your family, and your friends, they will never steer you wrong.

Now, to the others whom i’d like to speak to.

To my family, While I don’t say it often. You guys raised me well, you taught me the ins and outs of what it is to be an adult, and I’ve survived pretty well so far. Thank you to the time you put in molding me over the past twenty nine years. Thank you for supporting me, and thank you for being there. I will continue to move forward, and do my best to keep learning, and growing.

To the friends I have that have gotten married in the last decade. Whether it was this year, or ten years ago. Congratulations to you. You did it, you found that person for you, the one that completes you. While I have no personal experience in the area, I know you will all flourish. Be there for each other, learn, and grow; It will never serve you wrong. Be open, be honest and always, always, always communicate. I look forward to seeing how you all progress over the next decade as it’s likely to be a time of great change for you as well.

To the friends I have that have experienced a loss in the last decade. Again, not going to offer advice. It’s not my place to. Whether you’ve grown and moved on, or you are still in throes of change. Know that you are first and foremost never alone, know that your family and your friends will always be there to support you, and know that there will always be someone to listen when you need it. The only things that I can say is another decade offers 3,651 days of change, and possibility. Look forward, and move forward. If it feels insurmountable look to those who can help prop you up in times of need, but know that you are all strong enough to get through it on your own. Know that you are the only person you need to get through the dark times, but if you want help, there’s nothing wrong with that too.

Lastly, to the friends I haven’t made yet. I don’t know who you are, I don’t know where you live, what you do, or how i’ll meet you. I do know that I’m excited for the possibilities of the future. I’m excited to see what those changes bring, and who may enter, or exit my life as such. The only thing I do know for sure, at least for myself is I’ve got another 3,651 days until I write the next decades look forward. In that time, there’s two more presidential elections, probably at least 3 more moves, and future that’s totally up in the air. For the first time, that doesn’t terrify me, because no matter what comes of it. The future is bright. I look forward to meeting you, whether it be tomorrow, or 3,650 days from now.

That’s it for now. I’ll see you all again periodically over the next few weeks. Expect the next major posting in the middle of January.

Happy New Year Family, Friends, and people reading this whom I may not know.

Until next time…

Dave

Moderating a Manhattan Meetup.

Lunch in the Flatiron District with my Aunt

I know I’m a bit behind this week, it’s been a crazy couple of weeks now that i’m dealing with the move in to Sunnyside. Work has also kept me busy which doesn’t help honestly (not that I’m complaining about the job, I do love it). I haven’t had time to dive into my photography recently for the same reasons. I’ve been diving into trying to furnish my apartment, I need to buy a new bed frame, a new mattress, a new desk, a curio cabinet, curtains, and so much more. It’s proving to be a pricey undertaking thus far.

But I’ve digressed for long enough this week. It’s time to deal with the topic at hand, it’s pretty spot on so far. In the last two weeks I’ve taken on a new undertaking, the task of moderating a NYC Meetup Discord server. One of the things that i’d been worried about when it came to meeting new friends in Manhattan was the how of it? I have some existing friends in the area already but for the most part they’re all as busy as I am. When it comes to free time, they barely have the time to hangout with me, no less introduce me to new people. Here enters our lovely front page of the internet, Reddit. An unlikely tool in the task of making new friendships, it’s been a godsend, especially considering I recently gave up all social media (A post about all of that to come soon). It is actually what lead to me moderating this discord server. For the uninitiated, Reddit is a series of topic driven pages in this particular case we are talking about a subpage or a subreddit called nycmeetups. This Reddit group allows users to post meetup opportunities, or in this case a discord server.

This discord server now houses nearly 400 New Yorkers across the six different boroughs. It’s allowed people whom would otherwise never had the opportunity to chat, not only do that but plan meetups of an impromptu nature and physically meet up and hangout. So far, I’ve met up with some at bars, gone and played pool with others, and hit up the Queens Night Fair with another group. It allowed me to find people to attend the Gareth Emery show with in October, and has helped me find friends who enjoy hanging out with me when I want to hang out with them. It’s been a breath of fresh air, and being moderator adds a level of notoriety to go along with all of this. People know who I am before I even meet up with them because they’ve communicated with me to have channels made within the server, and I’ve had an overwhelming presence in chatting.

So, if you are like me, and you are wondering about the best ways to make friends in your new locale, whether that be New York City, Chicago or Austin my suggestion is make a Reddit account, and start finding the local meetup subreddits. If no one has made one, figure out how to start it! If no one has created a discord server, administrate one, help facilitate friendships, and you’ll end up with a plethora of your own. A mistake is better than indecision, and I can assure you putting yourself out there is not a mistake, the indecision on acting, that is.

A shorter post this week, but hopefully the message is clear, put yourself out there, and start making new friendships. It only hurts you to close yourself off to the world, be happy, and happiness will find you.

Hopefully I can get on a more regular schedule again next week, I’ll be taking a short respite from a strictly NYC topic to actually speak to the topic of hobbies, i’ll even be interviewing a close friend of mine for the post!

Until next time…

Dave

Sunset in Sunnyside

This is the view I get to see every day when I hop on the subway

One of the most arduous tasks I have undertaken to date, has been the task of finding my new home in the City that Never Sleeps. It’s a process that has taken me well over eight weeks to successfully complete that task, and even still I haven’t signed the contract yet to officially state my intentions to move in. If you are looking to move to the area, and are wondering what to expect then keep reading. I’ll be sharing my experiences in the process, from what was successful to what wasn’t.

My first word of advice to the city newcomer, whatever time table you think you have, expect it to take at least twice the amount of time you’ve allocated. Honestly, I think the Red Wedding from Game of Thrones was less cut throat then trying to find an apartment in Manhattan. If you think that you’ve got time to make a decision after you view an apartment, you’re damned wrong. Unless you leave a deposit that day, there’s a real good chance that sucker is going to be gone in twenty-four hours. Be ready to write a check the day of if you really like a place, but be careful, being ready to write a check, and jumping on the first place you look at are two very different things. You’re going to have to live in it for at least 6 months, if not a year in most cases. Make sure you really like the area.

Second, and this comes from a someone I know. Don’t schedule appointments for apartments right away. If you have the opportunity to do so, go visit the locations, visit the areas in and around the boroughs. There’s a lot of different neighborhoods to chose from, each with their own pros and cons. I did not heed this persons advice, and I thoroughly regretted it, as I wasted countless hours looking at apartments I would never ever consider living in based on its location. All of this said, there will come a time when you are ready to look at apartments, and with this piece of advice comes my next piece. Schedule as many viewings as possible in a single day. One of my biggest problems, and failures in this process was the fact that often times I was seeing one apartment, after work each day. This adds unnecessary turn over time to finding a place. Do your best to work with the people whose apartments you are viewing to find a common time that works for multiple. You’ll thank yourself later.

Third, if you have a group of people you are going in on a place with, or you are making well over six figures in your fancy new job; fantastic, you can actually skip over this one as it doesn’t apply to you. For those of you like myself, whom all of their existing friends either live in the city already and are stuck in leases, or have friends that weren’t looking to move and make less than six figures; be ready to live with random roommates. Websites like Spareroom.com and Roomi will be your best friend in this endeavor. I will also say in the case of Spareroom, the paid account is worth it. All of the listings are front ended with a turn over time, before it’s open season. On spareroom they will display Early Bird on the bottom right corner of these listings. You will not be able to message them for Seven days unless you have a paid account. For this alone it’s worth it, as the apartment I placed a deposit on was actually an early bird listing. Now before I move on to my final suggestion, there is the statement I made earlier about the fact that you will be living with random people. I was lucky, when I went to look one of the new tenants was actually just leaving so I had the opportunity to meet him. One of the major benefits to Spareroom is often times it’s the existing roommates trying to find someone to fill the empty space, this means you’ll have the opportunity to “try them out” and see if they’d mesh with you. You don’t have to be best friends, but remember you will be living with them for the next six months to a year.

Now, for the final suggestion, AVOID! AVOID! AVOID! Brokers and real estate companies unless you are truly desperate. Real estate companies are a pain in the a$$ if i’m being honest. One thing if you are using Spareroom that you will have to look for is companies that are listing their spaces. Now if you’re ready for a lot of garbage treatment, and are prepared to deal with that feel free to contact these companies. I will tell you my experiences with them were less than appealing though. First, they only deal in text messaging, not once did any of them ever call me to speak to me about the places I was inquiring on. Further, twice I’d made the trip to the city to see spaces on Metro North Railroad, only to have the companies cancel on me within an hour of the scheduled viewing time. Be ready to waste your time if dealing with these groups. Now in the case of brokers, these people at least show up, but the fees are astronomical, and in my experience they often showed places with absurd requirements in order to move in, one particularly ridiculous one being a required two months ago’s rent, last months rent, this month, and a deposit in order to move in. For reference, I would have cleaned out my savings on that one in its entirety. Unless you are truly desperate I do recommend avoiding both of these situations.

However, all of these things said have fun with it, and try to have patience. Don’t jump on the first place that comes up necessarily. It’s a mistake I nearly made 8 weeks ago, when I jumped on the possibility of living in a place that I honestly don’t think I would have been happy in. Remember that you’re looking for your home for the foreseeable future, you want to not only be comfortable in your home, but in the neighborhood you live in too. You’ll know when the time is right, just don’t let yourself rush it if you don’t have to.

That’s it for this week, Until next time…

Dave

Fotograph Friday # 4

Time marches onward – Grand Central Terminal

This week’s photo comes from Grand Central Terminal. I’ve always loved this clock at the center of the station. Time has held a very large place in my life lately, mainly because I honestly feel I just seriously haven’t had enough of it. Time also heals all wounds, no matter how deep they may be.

Now for the photography nerds out there like me.

  • Camera Model/Series: Sony a7r II
  • Lens: FE 28 – 70mm f3.5 – 5.6 OSS
  • Focal Length: 70mm
  • Iris: f5.6
  • Shutter Speed: 1/13
  • EV: -3.0
  • ISO 100

I love the way the camera handled the lighting in the space. The bright reflections of the gold in contrast to the dramatic dim lighting add a nice feeling to it. Coupled with the softening of the background makes for a lovely photo. My only complaint would be the framing, I dropped the subject smack dab in the center and that’s a photography no-no. If I were to frame it again I’d shift the subject slightly to the right.

Until next week!

Dave

Snippet Sunday # 2

If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears the beat of a different drummer. Let him step to the music he hears, however measured or far away.

Henry David Thoreau

This week’s Snippet Sunday has both a very literal and figurative connotation; Let’s start with the literal. In New York it is easy to see that everyone literally walks at their own pace, and while there are those of us like myself that do a ten minute walk in four. I should not begrudge those around me who do it in twenty, or thirty. While it may be an inconvenience, and a truly unpopular opinion among most city dwellers, it’s not my right to force them to move any quicker.

The same of course can be said of life in general. I have friends at all different stages of life at this point. Some are married and looking to build a home, some are engaged, some are in long term committed relationships, and others like myself may be single. The important thing to note is that just because others are “ahead” of you doesn’t mean that you are behind, we all move at our own pace, just like individuals on the streets of New York.

Fotograph Friday – Hudson Yards

Shift your perspective, a skyward search – Hudson Yards/34th

This week’s post comes as I traverse my way back to Grand Central. One of the more enjoyable aspects of my commute thus far is the opportunity to spend some time in Hudson Yards on my way home from work. I’ve unfortunately yet to get up on the Helix as the line is always been daunting. Regardless it’s a truly clean and enjoyable area to spend a little extra time to think and shift ones perspective. Lately, I’ve needed that space to assess some aspects of my life that have changed or needed improvement. But enough of that for this week, don’t want to make this too long.

Next weeks blog post is a bit of a mystery to me still, i’ve spent a lot of time this week brainstorming ideas all of which I’m excited to write about (therein lies the problem). That said I can assure you there will be a Tuesday post, appearing at its normally scheduled time of Noon.

Oh, and one last thing since a lot of friends have asked how I pulled off this photo. I recently acquired a new lens for my Sony a7r Mark II that has an extreme wide angle. It allows me to capture large areas a normal lens just doesn’t give me the option for. It’s a Rokinon Cine 14mm T3.1 ED AS IF UMC lens, designed for full frame cameras. This particular lens gives me nearly 120″ angle of view, hence the nearly fisheye capacity of the lens. I’ll try to get a comparison shot for next week’s post between this and a standard lens.

Snippet Sunday # 1

Truth is, I’ll never know all there is to know about you just as you will never know all there is to know about me. Humans are by nature too complicated to be understood fully. So, we can choose either to approach our fellow human beings with suspicion or to approach them with an open mind, a dash of optimism and a great deal of candor.

Tom Hanks

This week’s snippet Sunday is a quote from the wonderful Tom Hanks. He speaks to a truth about the nature of our relationships. He warns against closing one self off to the world just because our relationships can be messy. It’s a lesson that I time and time again am taught through the relationships I keep in my life, and in all honesty, i’d rather deal with the mess, then to allow myself to live alone. In a city of 8 million people, i’m excited to see the possibilities of current and future relationships. That’s all for today. Check in again Tuesday for the weekly post.

Fotograph Friday – Union Square

” Union Square Park” – Friday, August 16th

No big update for today, these generally won’t be. Just hanging out in Union Square waiting for a friend. Saw an apartment earlier but I don’t think it’s going to work out. Keep your eye out for Snippet Sunday in a few days, and the regularly scheduled post next Tuesday.

– Dave

Faces in Fogtown

Grand Central Terminal, on a Saturday

8 Million… Seems like a big number doesn’t it? When you realize what i’m referencing it will be even more absurd. The number i’m referencing of course, is the approximate number of people currently living in Manhattan. That is the number of people living within 302 square miles of land. That equates to about 26,490 people per mile. Just for a little reference, my hometown is 33 square miles, with a population of 11,944 people in it. This of course doesn’t include the literal 1.63 million people who flood into the city on either Metro North Railroad or any of the dozen bridges that enter Manhattan each day; it’s main lines drawing from all of southern New York, and Connecticut.

And yet, an unbelievable number of people my age complain that they feel alone living in this behemoth of a city. An outsider might wonder why that is, an outsider being someone who has never experience the fervor that NYC can induce. So why is it in a city of 8 million people, any one of them can complain that they feel alone.

The simple answer? Technology.

We live in a generation glued to technology, Cell Phones, Smartwatches, Bluetooth Headphones, Augmented Reality Glasses, and Social Media. I myself as part of the generation of millennials find myself falling party to this fallacy time and time again. Technology, the pinnacle of what we’ve designed, what was supposed to bring us closer together, inevitably drove us further apart. From Online Dating, to Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Reddit, all designed to help us find, and maintain companionship; whether platonic or otherwise. We’ve stopped looking around, we’ve stopped living outside our own little bubbles. We bury ourselves so deep into our Social Media, Online Dating, our technology that we don’t know how to co-exist outside it anymore. The number of times I’ve seen people out on dates, both staring at their phones is incredible.

So, as I realized this, as I realized I was in a city of 8 million people, each with their own story, and with their own unique life; I started to stop burying myself in my technology. I began to look around, I began to listen, and as soon as I did wouldn’t you know I started running into people I knew. Just this morning, I ran into a former employee from a past job getting off of the train in Grand Central. All because I took my headphones off, and looked up as I walked. I paid attention, and as a result I was rewarded with an interaction I otherwise wouldn’t have had. It’s amazing what a little observation, and a little listening might reward you with.

So, lets wrap this up in a nice little bow. You live, and work in a city of 8 million people. You are about as far from alone as you ever could be. I’m not saying that you need to do this every day because let’s be honest there are still days I bury my face in my phone, headphones blaring, tuned out of the world around me, and that’s okay; sometimes you need that time to yourself. But, I do implore you, once a week, take off the headphones, shove the phone in your pocket or purse or what have you. Look around as you walk, as you ride the train, as you traverse the subway lines. You might be pleasantly surprised as you run into someone from your past, or perhaps you’ll meet someone new, perhaps you’ll meet your next lover? Who knows… but what I do know is if you bury your face in your phone, you blare music in your ears, if you tune out the world around you, the world is going to tune you out too. An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind, so take the time to look around, stop being blind to the beautiful world around you. Open up to it, and it will open up to you.

Until next week…

Dave