27 January 2013

New York City - No idea how, but I got a job...

For years I envisioned about creating a life for myself in New York City, with this being the very reason for embarking on this 1-year America trip in the first place really, to see if I could actually do it. When arriving in Los Angeles back in March 2012 I thought I'd only stay one week and be in New York City straight after... it took 8 more months before I finally arrived.

When I did arrive I only planned on staying for 10 days max before moving on because truth be told I already had a flight booked to return home to Australia in only 2 weeks time! How completely unaware I was of what was in store for me...

So in an earlier post I mentioned how I was lucky enough to be offered to stay at a friend of a friend's apartment free of charge for 5 days, which was simply amazing really. Now the lady who owns the apartment, Tammy, is also a CEO of a digital research firm here in Manhattan, and while talking with her one day she mentioned that her computer at the office had died and their IT manager was too busy at the moment to have a look at it.

"Hey, I know IT, I could have a look at it if you like" was my casual reply.

"Oh really? That would be great! Yes come in sometime Monday if you could please, if you could fix it that would be brilliant" was her enthusiastic reply.

So that was that. Monday arrives and I casually made my way to the company's office, met up with Tammy, and she informs me that the 'Operations Coordinator' wanted to talk to me.


We introduce ourselves. His name was Jay, an extremely nice guy but a very fast talker, and he only speaks one thing; business.

"Hey Aaron, nice to meet you! So, Tammy says you know computers? Tell me about yourself. She mentioned you've been traveling around America or something?" Jay interrogated relayed to me.

"Umm... yeah, I've... been traveling around America... for about 10 months now. Just for fun really. Going home shortly though. It's been great. Yeah I have a degree in IT, I came here today to help Tammy out briefly, she mentioned there was a computer in need of fixing?"

"Great man, sounds great! Yes yes, we are very busy of late, and our IT manager is completely snowed under with work of late! Let's set you up with him and see what work he needs done okay? So how long you still in America for? Can you stay the whole day today? Can you come in tomorrow? What's your schedule like?"

Woah, slow down there, what's with all the questions? Ha, it was a little intimidating really. I tried my best to answer, informing him that, sure, I guess I could stay for the day, and that if they really needed me then I guess I could come in the following day too, and that I planned to leave home for Australia in 2 weeks time.

The next thing I know he throws this at me:

"Great man, sounds good! Alright well as I said, our IT manager is pretty snowed under, and you have the computer know how. Hey! How would you like a position here? I know you are leaving to go home to Australia soon, but you could probably work until then yeah? What about staying in America a little longer and coming on fulltime?"

He is offering me a job now!? What is going on!?

"Umm, what? Umm, yeah... ok, I could work for the week I guess, but I go home to Australia in 2 weeks though... umm, let's see how today goes, and let's see how much work the IT manager needs to get done first, shall we?"

4 days later and I have officially worked my first week at my new spontaneously acquired fulltime job at a digital research firm as IT support in lower Manhattan... ha!

So... yep, wow... I got a real job! In New York City!

How. Did. This. Happen!?

For years I had dreamed of living in New York City... like, proper living, not just visiting as a tourist for a few weeks, but to actually have an apartment and get a real job in the heart of Manhattan (and not near Manhattan either like Brooklyn, but to be in the city itself). To truly experience the 'How I Met Your Mother' life, like I've always seen on TV or in the movies, and now, out of absolutely no where, it has actually happened; I've got an apartment, and now a full-time, real job, both in the heart of Manhattan.


The problem however is like I said; do I work for a week then continue on like planned and return to Australia in 2 weeks? Or do I take a chance and seize what is quite possibly a true once in a life time opportunity? I do miss home so very much... 10 months later and to still be on the road is... highly unexpected. And it was only a month or so ago that I was questioning and struggling to still be on this trip in the first place.

Despite being one of the toughest decisions I have had to make in quite some time, I think I already know the right answer. Regardless of how much I miss home, friends and family, I can't waste such an amazing opportunity. The answer really is already made for me. Sigh.

So there you have it, this trip, completely unexpectedly, continues!

I've already sent my request to my travel agent to postpone my return flight home for a later date, and I've informed my family and friends of my decision (which was received with both congratulations and disappointment), and Tammy says that she is happy to have me for as long as I like.

So begins a new chapter; living in New York City.

The view from my apartment window

22 January 2013

New York City - Lots of Art

I've been in this city a week thus far... and I am loving every single minute of it! There is so much to see and do, all made the easier and better because remember how I mentioned a few posts back that I am lucky enough to be staying at a friends of a friends apartment in the very heart of Manhattan? Well she returned from her little five day holiday, and I thought that that would be goodbyes, but she surprised me by saying as long as I help out around the apartment she is happy to have me for a while more... win!

So not only do I have continued free accommodation, I now get to live with a true local of the city. An added bonus of this is that Tammy (the lady I live with) is very socially active so I get to accompany her on her many outings. The event of interest in her life at the moment is helping two friends of hers set up a gallery that will be running for a week to display their ridiculously breathtaking mosaic art that will be open to the public.

It was a great night, I even made a new friend, and the art was amazing!

They are world class artists, and it was pretty cool and inspiring to be brought into their world for at least a little while.

As mentioned I actually made a new friend whilst at the gallery, whom invited me to join him and his girlfriend at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) the following day. Awesome! The MoMA had been on my 'must see' list for quite some time so I was extra glad that I would now get to see it with some cool new friends.

And wow, the MoMA certainly did not disappoint! In fact, it blew away all expectations by having on display two pieces of art I have known about for many years now but never thought I'd ever be privileged enough to ever see with my very own eyes in real life...


'Starry Night' by Vincent Van Goph! Wow!
'The Scream' by Edvard Munch!
Now I am far from being an art aficionado at any stretch of the imagination, but even I know about the famous artist Vincent Van Goph and his masterpiece, 'Starry Night', and to be able to see his most famous painting in person I thought was a great surprise and simply pretty damn cool really.

Some of my other favourite pieces from the museum were:

Now the picture about had the most amazing story behind it, as told to me by my new friend that I was hanging out with. Apparently this is a picture in... one of the South American countries (I forget which I am afraid!) where the local government in a bid to improve the economy and general lively hood of the particularly poor locals, opted to build 10 brand new, highly classy, professionally architecturally designed buildings in 10 of the most poorest areas of the country. The picture above shows a brand new library (in the top left) that was built, with all the construction work being assigned to local companies, and all employment positions, profits and benefits going directly to the local community. The result? A marked drop in crime, a rise in tourists, and a slight rise in the local economy! How amazing is that?

Below is another absolutely amazing art display that I was well aware of before I even seen it here at the MoMA thanks to my awesome Taiwanese friend Mardy (whom I met all the way back in July whilst in San Francisco) who was already a big fan of this artists work. His name is Ai Weiwei, he is from China, and his main passion in life (it appears) is to rebel against his own country, and basically every other government whom he believes does not serve its people and is too greedy... awesome!

This amazing piece of art is basically my favourite of his, and shows exactly what he thinks in the most straight-forward way possible. It is raw, real, and powerful; I like it a lot.

Ai Weiwei's artwork. I think it is brilliant really. The above is the White House in America, and the bottom is Tiananmen Square in China.
Sadly we didn't have long to spend at the MoMA, so it definitely requires a return visit in the future very soon. Also on my list is the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Guggenheim Museum... yikes, so much to do in such a short amount of time!

I am loving New York City!

14 January 2013

New York City - Outing with friends

Went to a place called the Cloister Museum today... with friends! The friends part is significant in the sense that when traveling solo, being out with the equivalent of friends is always a highly welcomed opportunity.

Today I was out with a friend and his girlfriend whom I originally met all the way back in April during my time in Los Angeles. We had an awesome day, and it started off with a new first for me... eating from one of the many food trucks that are scattered along the sidewalks on practically every corner of this city. I had always assumed that they must be safe to eat from as I see people eating from them all the time... although I was still hesitant. My friend (his name is Cole) and his girlfriend (Allie) insisted that they are awesome, I gave it a go... and it was awesome! $5 for a huge box of rice, chicken and salad... I am now a fan.

A long subway ride from downtown Manhattan to an area called Hudson Heights later and we had reached a place called Fort Tryon Park. It was spectacular.

The Cloister Museum is housed in an old Fort, which was very cool and the architecture was amazing, although I didn't take many pictures for some reason.

After our day at the park and museum, it was obviously time for a drink! Cole and Allie took me to one of their favourite places... it freakin' rocked! A pub called Mc Sorley's which dates back over 100 years, it was steeped in tradition from the beer stained hardwood floors, the black and white photographs on the wall, to the fact that they even brew and sell their own beer (and nothing else) which simply comes in only two varieties; Dark or Light.

Each beer only cost $2 so you'd order a bunch at a time, and the place was so lively and packed that you were forced to share a table with other random peoples (if you were lucky enough to get a table at all, which we were). It was a loud place but extremely jovial, just sitting there lifted your spirits and raised the loudness of your laughter. Cole, Allie and I got sat with a huge variety of people, from an elderly couple who had been coming to McSorely's for 20 years, to a group of college guys who invited us into their drinking games! We stayed for a couple of hours before we had to go, but a return is definitely required in the future, perhaps as my farewell America venue!

McSorley's pub
McSorely beer; Light or Dark, take your pick!
Me, Cole and Allie having a great time

Another day well spent!