2014 Year in Review: Travels, New Opportunities, Building Blocks

Of course it happens every year. I look back over the course of the past twelve months and think, “What, I’m back here already?” 2014 was quite the year for me with new opportunities, unexpected detours and of course a few road blocks on the path of my life. In some areas (especially for me right now professionally) possibilities seem to be opening or evolving, but of course nothing in life is smooth sailing, and while I’ve found some of what I hoped for and sought after I also felt like many things fell short or flat. In summary, it’s been another year of my life and I wanted to share the some of the highlights of the past twelve months with you.

January

Vision board 2014: what am I trying to manifest, Internet?

I kicked off 2014 by making a vision board that summarized what I envisioned for myself in the year ahead: technology, travel (to France), and cultivating a no-nonsense sense of style and self possession. Looking over it now, it’s amazing to see how much of this did materialize.

Saturday code looks good to me

I spent the first two months of the year mired in code and learned the basics of the Ruby on Rails programming language. While now my programming skills are pretty rusty, my taste of code was enough to kick off a career change and orient myself towards technical applications of my interest in creative entrepreneurship.

February

This commuting creature is really sad today is not a snow day

Winter 2014 was terrible in NYC. It was a never ending parade of ice, snow and below freezing temperatures. Note the two scarves in the photo above.

LA Zine Fest fashion: space tights! + docs, shorts & Gal's Rock tshirt!

I escaped the crushing NYC winter for a trip to LA that was focused around the LA Zine Fest. I got to hang out with my friend Meredith, who I met through zines and music over a decade ago in Portland, Oregon.

Zine fest redux!

March

Like the BO$$ of SXSW

My escape from the NYC winter continued with ten days in Austin for SxSW where I managed to speak on three panels at the Film, Interactive, and Music festivals and generally bummed around Austin seeing friends from all over, eating breakfast tacos, drinking free alcohol and riding a borrowed cruiser bike around like a boss.

Looking happy pre-music data happy hour talk #datarocks #sxsw

I had barely touched down from Austin and recovered from my ten day Tex-Mex hangover when I started my job on the Community team at Shapeways, a 3D printing service and marketplace. Thus began my introduction to the wonderful world of 3D printing and design, as well as some of the nicest and hardest working colleagues in the business.

Object of the day: mini-me in 3D! #3dselfie #shapeways

April

California real/surreal

With winter still lingering into spring I snuck away, yet again, to Southern California to present at the Craftcation conference and to talk about the themes of goal setting and budgeting from my book Grow. I also got to meet some of my crafty, entrepreneurial inspirations, like Michelle Ward and Kari Chapin, and spend more time with my friends KC and Sharon, the masterminds behind the Academy of Handmade.

Craftcation Author SoCal DIY

At Craftcation with the amazing Michelle Ward

May/June

Double Gemini Birthday Girls!

For the 13th year in a row I celebrated my birthday with my Gemini twin Lauren and our amazing group of friends in Brooklyn. I also spent time at the NYC Popfest and the Northside Festival, leading me to coin the term “friend rock” or “young lifers” – a group of friends in about their 30s who all go to see each others’ bands. We’re not as cool as the young hotshots from Bushwick, but we’re not disconnected from them either.

Leaders in the friend rock scene: Brian, Aileen and Stephen

Young lifers: Brian (of Shelter Dogs/The Planes), Aileen (of Space Merchants), Jon (of The Black Black), Stephen (The Planes/Big Quiet)

I also go off my duff to compete in the Punk Rope Games and my team, Team Henri for a certain depressed French cat, did not come in last!

Let the Punk Rope Games begin! Let's go Team Cats Meow #cattitude

July
Jump!

I went to France for nearly two weeks! It was awesome! You can see my full photos of what I saw, where I walked and what I ate and bought on Flickr.

Paris nightwatch

I spent several days walking around Paris seeing friends and my favorite places and then jaunted off to Brittany with my family for a week in the picturesque harbor town of Paimpol.

Fishng boats, Port de Paimpol

View through the sea grass

And then back to Paris with my parents to witness the finish of the Tour de France on the Champs Elysees.

Yellow Jersey!

Family Portrait II

August

Nothing motivates me to do yoga and Pilates more than my new tiger tights!

After my French excess of cheese and wine I decided it was time to start a regular yoga practice, which I’m proud to say I’ve kept up at least twice a week since August! These awesome tiger yoga pants help.

Beach Day!

I also spent a weekend in beautiful Cape May New Jersey for the marriage of my niece Heather and her amazing (now wife) Renee!

September

Rules had our debut show at Cake Shop in early September

Rules had our debut show at Cake Shop in early September

My band Rules had our debut show at Cake Shop on the Lower East Side in September and then jumped into recording for the 4 Track Challenge organized by Stephen from The Planes and Hearts Bleed Radio. You can hear the EP we created on Soundcloud.

We are double ready for the #4trackchallenge

The end of September was unseasonably warm, so I got one final bike ride to Rockaway Beach in, as well as got to indulge in a small feast at Rockaway Taco and hold on to the summer for one final gasp.

Summer redux: forever in our hearts

October

Aileen "Rock Locks" Brophy and The Space Merchants mainline the sun #zerofest

The Space Merchants play at Shea Stadium as part of Zero Fest

October kicked off with Zerofest, an awesome weekend-long fest celebrating the DIY music scene of Brooklyn that took place in friendly apartments, DIY spaces and low-key clubs all around Bushwick hosted by the ever energetic Jon Mann and Derek Hawkins, the forces behind the great Square Zeros music blog.

Dutch Evening #1

In mid-October I jetted off to Europe again for week-long trip to Eindhoven, in the Netherlands, where I spent most of my time working at Dutch Design Week, eating at Onder de Leidingstraat (below), and celebrating the opening of the new Shapeways factory!

Onder de Leidingstraat

You can see the complete photos from my Eindhoven work adventure on Flickr and read about my recommendations for where to eat, shop and party earlier on this here blog.

Back in the US I managed to organize a one-day conference on building a small business with 3D printing and you can see the complete proceedings on Shapeways’ YouTube channel.
November

Just Richard Hell, Debbie Harry, Alice Bag and Courtney Love hanging out

Liz Flyntz as Richard Hell, Amanda B. as Debbie Harry, me as Alice Bag and Marisha C. as Courtney Love at Pet Rescue

And then, Halloween! I collaborated with Brian LaRue at Pet Rescue to put on a Halloween Party that included rockers reading from rockstars memoirs in character and Operation Ivy, Smashing Pumpkins, and Guided by Voices cover bands. It was a magical evening and I hope it will be come an annual event.

My replacement dress for my friend Rachel's wedding in Durham, NC

My replacement dress for my friend Rachel’s wedding in Durham, NC

I spent a whirlwind few days bouncing from Detroit to Durham, North Carolina where I managed to forget the dress I brought for a friend’s wedding and had to find a quick (and equally beautiful) replacement. I think I succeeded!

Playing guitar in Rules at Bar Matchless

Playing guitar in Rules at Bar Matchless

Rules squeaked in another show and then I had the luck of seeing all the members of the “Young Lifer/Friend Rock” scene play in a jumble of new bands in the first ever lottery band showcase – so much fun and especially poignant as I just found out that Trash Bar, where the show was held and where I spent many a drunken evening circa 2006, will succumb to Williamsburg’s insanely high rents.

Lottery Band Show: Brooklyn Indie Rock Class of 2014

Lottery Band Show: Brooklyn Indie Rock Class of 2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

December

December, all told, was a pretty quiet month and concluded with a trip home to Maine and a party with friends here in Brooklyn. I don’t have any huge conclusions about 2014 except that I think it was a year of building what’s to come next – it wasn’t a year of breakthroughs, but a slow turn towards figuring out what it means to live my life how I want it to be, in my 30s, here in Brooklyn.

A coveted pair of LL Bean duck boots

A coveted pair of LL Bean duck boots my Mom found for me for Christmas

Maine winter sky

Here’s to you and more adventures, opportunities and changes to learn and grow in 2015!

Beyond the Aesthetics of Progress

Reflecting on the events in and in response to Ferguson, Missouri I wrote this on Facebook, “So if you want to know how I really feel: I was talking tonight about how despite my radicalism I had this naive idea that culture would “progress” and politics would have to follow. But now I feel like we’ve only “progressed” aesthetically, sort of, and really what we are left with is a legacy (and current practice) of slavery, colonialism and extreme racism (as well as sexism and many other ugly things). But because of those aesthetics of progress those who call out injustice are often shut down and made to feel crazy and like they are “subjective.”

benetton_handcuffs1

With so many trolls and often unproductive exchanges I’m reluctant to talk about politics online, but I thought more about this idea of the “aesthetics of progress” and wanted to write a little more about that. In the past ten years I feel lucky to see some kind of “progress” on a political front in the United States – gay marriage is legal in the majority of states, Barak Obama is President,  Sheryl Sanberg and Beyonce feminism is part of the norm, we see big pop culture movies with strong female heroines… and these things are powerful and some of them have a profound impact on peoples’ lives, but at the same time there’s been so many disturbing things happening that it can make all of this supposed “progress” look a bit wan.

A friend who commented on my Facebook page commented, “I agree that we mask our shit much better than we used to, but I also think that we are digging at deeper and deeper psychological levels of hatred. 300 years ago the murder of an unarmed black teen in would have barely caused an eyelash to bat, now it’s world news.” And while I completely agree, I have to ask, at what price this perspective and slow progress?

In our progressive society we see brute racism such in the case of the shooting of Michael Brown, the erosion of a woman’s right to choose whether or not she will have children (or even have access to health care and birth control), violent backlash to feminist critiques of tech and gamer culture (or event the suggestion of the important of diversity) that we’ve seen in gamer gate, the erosion of job security and the middle class at the benefit of the super wealthy… and the those are just the examples I could think about off the top of my head.

I know that addressing injustice is uneven, but this is more about political stagnation and back tracking on political gains, a culture that is hostile to all those who are not white, rich and male under the guise of diversity and empowerment, United Colors of Benetton style. I feel we are living out the specific legacy of George W. Bush’s policies and culture, as well as the influence of groups like the Tea Party – conservatism, restriction on women’s right and belief in trickle down economics – combined with a sense of entitlement and a willingness to ignore connections between issues and events.

There’s nothing new to this, but I’m realizing that what I want is not just aesthetics of progress, but an end to what bell hooks called in her more politically pointed earlier writing the “white, supremacist, capitalist, [heteronormative] patriarchy.” I realize I sound like the late 1990s cultural studies student that I am, but there’s real truth and power in remembering that oppressions act together. It may sound strange to bring up Ferguson, MO and “Gamergate” in one short post, the point is that what we are witnessing is a violent crack down on “difference” and a society that is becoming more and more closed and hostile, while spewing rhetoric of progress and greater equality.

I find myself returning to James Baldwin, one of my favorite writers, not necessarily for answers and hope, because he wrote of the same cultural forces and histories 60 years ago, but for a reminder to keep analyzing, keep going deeper into the histories and prejudices that drive these events, and to keep fighting and taking care of ourselves and nurturing the vision for a society we truly want to see. And so I’ll leave you with a (long) quote from Baldwin:

“The idea of white supremacy rests simply on the fact that white men are the creators of civilization (the present civilization, which is the one that matters; all precious civilizations are simply “contributions” to our own) and are therefore civilizations guardians and defenders. Thus it was impossible for Americans to accept the black man as one of themselves, for to do so was to jeopardize their status as white men. But not so to accept him was to deny his human reality, his human weight and complexity, and the strain of denying the overwhelming undeniable forced Americans into rationalizations so fantastic that the approached the pathological.”

And finally, “I imagine that one of the reasons people cling to their hates so stubbornly is because they sense, once hate is gone, that they will be forced to deal with pain.”

– James Baldwin, from Notes of a Native Son

 

A week in Eindhoven: Dutch Design Week, ADE and Onder de Leidingstraat

Dutch Evening #1

Famous Dutch light

It already seems like a lifetime ago, but just the other week I bolted to Eindhoven, in the Netherlands, to work at Dutch Design Week, celebrate the opening of a new Shapeways factory and start to understand just what’s so cool about Dutch culture. It had been 10 years since I was first in the Netherlands and the last time it was there it was January. I liked the country then, but it seemed small, quiet, damp and cold, though the architecture was beautiful and I liked how bikeable everything was and the cozy bars and cafes everywhere. This time I felt like I actually got a sense of the dynamism of Dutch culture, as well as the opportunity to live a few days in the life of a resident of Eindhoven.

Ruud and sandwiches!

Ruud, #1 Eindhoven host

Why Eindhoven? Well, Shapeways, the 3D printing service and marketplace where I work, was started there. We were incubated by Phillips and then became our own, independent company. The headquarters of the company moved to NYC in 2010, but there’s still an office and factory in Eindhoven and the company’s Dutch side has kept growing – growing so much we outgrew our factory and moved to a bigger one! I went over not only to celebrate the opening of the new Shapeways factory but to help set up and staff our booth at Dutch Design Week, the annual showcase of all that’s new and innovative in Dutch design that takes over Klokgebouw, a huge former Phillips factory in the Strijp-S area of Eindhoven. You can read more about my time at Dutch Design Week and the opening of the new Shapeways factory in my entries on the Shapeways blog, but here I wanted to share a little more about what I managed to discover about Eindhoven in the few moments I could step away from work.

Onder de Leidingstraat

Onder de Leidingstraat interior

I’d barely stepped off the train when Ruud, my colleague and guide extraordinaire, whisked me away from the station and put me to work setting up our booth for DDW. After he showed me a place that would become my home away from home in Eindhoven: Onder de Leidingstraat. It’s an organic cafe and market  that was conveniently located directly under my room in the Strijp-S area. Strijp-S is a former Phillips factory district that’s been remade into a community of loft apartments, design boutiques, start ups, coworking spaces, and cafes. It’s full of history as a location of Phillips’ inventions and innovations and still feels lively and fresh.

Onder de Leidingstraat counter

More Onder de Leidingstraat

Speaking of fresh, so was all the food at Onder de Leidingstraat, as well as the decor. Salads, soups, sandwiches, juices and pastries all are made fresh (as well as heavenly carrot cake) and they were probably the only reason I managed to eat remotely healthy on my trip. The staff were nice and welcoming and by my third day there they were already telling me, “See you tomorrow!” when I would leave the cafe. Right next to Onder de Leidingstraat is another culinary marvel: Intelligentia Ice, an ice cream parlor with flavors like white chocolate and rose water. I got a cone with peanut butter and cinnamon flavored ice cream and sat in ice cream reverie while I ate it.

Don't mind me, I'm just in ice cream heaven...

Itelligentia raises ice cream to an art in Eindhoven

Other Dutch cuisine treats: bar snacks. Specifically, bitterballen. Bitterballen are deep friend balls of gravy that you dip in a mustard mayonnaise sauce. Seriously, what else would you want to eat while drinking beer?

Sissy Boy Checkout

Sissy Boy – fashion, decor and even a cafe!

Eindhoven itself is an interesting town. Besides a few churches and factory buildings it was leveled in World War II and most of the architecture is quite new, though the layout of the town is traditionally Dutch, arrange around a town center of market squares and pedestrian streets with ring roads extending out.  I got a chance to sneak away from the intensity of the Dutch Design Week booth to wander around the town center and check out some of the intriguing shops. Let me just say this: Dutch shoes are amazing. I scored a pair of navy blue, heeled ankle boots. I also found a design and clothing store that offered minimal, dressed up clothes that seemed more mature than its oddly teenybopper name of Sissy Boy, where I procured a perfect grey sack-like dress (my favorite!) and a navy blazer made of out sweatshirt material (structured and comfortable!).

Sissy Boy

Women’s basics at Sissy Boy. Can I buy them all?

Guys, don't worry! I still was able to add to my wardrobe while working Dutch Design Week!

Dutch fashion treats

Ruud was the ultimate host. He’s also a DJ under the name Rudy Lime and manages to know everyone at every venue in town. We even managed to make a quick trip to Amsterdam (apparently too quick, as Ruud reported he got a speeding ticket on the way there) to catch some Deep House DJs performing as part of ADE, the annual electronic music festival in Amsterdam. I had no idea that DJs are one of the Netherlands biggest exports, but it was great to get a tiny taste of that scene. We also spent time chilling in Eindhoven at Cocktailbar Mundial, where Ruud also DJs regularly. As an aspiring cocktail connoisseur I was really happy with everything I had there.
Party time at ADE!

Eindhoven also boasts great museums and other great places to eat and shop, but I was go, go, go the whole time, but I’m glad I got to experience just a little taste of what the Dutch call “gezellig” or a cozy, welcoming feel. I certainly felt welcomed and, in a sense, even at home, during my week there.
Happy happy happy (in Eindhoven)I

I also made a little set on Flickr to capture the non-work photos that I managed to take.

 

Growing DIY

Talk tonight! Thanks Handmade Madison!

Sign for my talk in Madison, WI

A year ago today I set off on two-week loop through the Midwest for a major leg of my book tour for Grow.  It was a chance to revisit places I’d visited several times and loved, like Minneapolis, Detroit, Kansas City and Chicago, and return to other places that I had not been to since I drove across the country three times in two years between 2001 and 2002, such as Madison, Wisconsin and Indianapolis. It was also my first time in places like Tulsa and Omaha.

The trip was an amazing opportunity to see a part of the United States, which honestly, can get a bit of a underrated wrap by people who don’t live there, and to understand better how the landscape and culture unfolds. Driving gave me a much more direct feeling of distance and geography of what is sometimes deridingly called “fly over country.”

I recapped my learnings from my book tour here and shared pictures of my time in the Midwest here.  Now that it’s been exactly a year since I shoved off to hawk Grow in cities I barely knew to a mixture of old friends, new friends and friendly strangers, I started to think about how different my life is since that time. While last year was one of learning and growth that was sometimes painful, today I’ve been thinking about what it has meant for me to have this funny little book full of passion, ideas and bullet points about growing the work and life you want out in the world.

When the book first came out I had this naïve idea that now that I was a “published author” my life would change. While my life has changed a lot, my book did not bring upon those changes. I made changes slowly and gradually, as I implemented the very strategies and lessons I outlined in Grow to strategically define and accomplish a personal, creative vision.

Grow on the scrabble board! #growtour

Grow DIY in Minneapolis at Boneshaker Books

As I traveled the country talking to passionate, creative entrepreneurs I saw clearly that I was no longer passionately engaged in my fulltime job of arts administration and fundraising. While that had been evident to me for awhile, traveling the country and talking to those who were taking the leap to follow their passion made it clear I could not come home and keep doing what I had been doing.

Talking to all kinds of different people and taking in new cities and parts of the United States also reminded me about the importance of following my own curiosity. For several years I had been curious about innovative technologies and how they were intersecting with creative entrepreneurship in New York. As I traveled and got to indulge my curiosity about new places I realized I could do the same at home. This lead me to take a “deep dive” into the New York tech scene (if one can call it that) and explore startup companies where creativity, technology, entrepreneurship and innovation came together.

Lauren from Creative Outlet Studios helps with our sign

(OK, this photos is from California… Creative Outlet Studios)

Long story short: I quit my full time arts administration job, went freelance, took a class learning back end web development, got an internship at a startup, went to what felt like 100s of meetups, went on many, many interviews, wrote many cover letters and finally, ended up at the right place: Shapeways, a 3D printing marketplace and community, as the Community Outreach Coordinator.

But this post is not about how publishing a book led me on a meandering path to my next job and a new career. Ironically, since Grow has come out I’ve written far less, though I did manage to put out a personal zine, and I feel like I have to actively re-engage creativity in my life and start working on the next writing project seriously which is most likely… a novel (gasp!).

This post is about expectations for projects. When Grow came out part of me thought, “That’s it! I’ve arrived, I’m a real author now!” When the impact of the actual book’s publication, and continued existence, felt far removed from my actual life I started to feel like the book had had no impact and, in darker moments that I was a “failure” (and not in the chic way failure is thrown around these days).  I worried that all the writing, editing, revising, designing, crowd funding, touring, and hustle didn’t matter. A year later I can see it did, but in a way that was subtler than I initially envisioned. Grow wasn’t about becoming an author, but building a life that I wanted and one that feels right for me and who I am now. And that’s the essence of the project. I wrote it into existence and hustled to make my life catch up to my words. A year later, I’m happy that it has.

Fifteen Years of Zine Making and Indulgence 12

Indulgence numbers 11 & 12 with Grow at Brooklyn Zine Fest

Indulgence numbers 11 & 12 with Grow at Brooklyn Zine Fest

When I was seventeen and ordering records through the mail from Kill Rock Stars and K Records I stumbled upon something amazing: zines, or small, self-published magazines, that were often distributed by their creators or through bedroom-based businesses called “Zine Distros.” I’ve told this story many times, but discovering these earnest publications where people from all backgrounds, but especially women close to my age, shared their stories, interests, passions, fears and experiences was nothing short of life changing. Growing up in a rural area, reading zines and writing to their creators was a lifeline to a world that was bigger than the one immediately around me.

At 17, like most teenagers, I was struggling to figure out who I would become in this world as a feminist, queer person and a writer. Making zines showed me that I could already be who I wanted to become by sharing my writing and freely expressing my identity. I started my personal zine Indulgence, inspired by an English teacher who declared, “Some would argue we are in an age of the pinnacle of self-indulgent, personal writing” (this was during the mid-1990s memoir craze, blogs were not yet in existence).

Zine fest redux!

Me and Meredith, a zinester friend from Portland, at the LA Zine Fest in February

Zines became central to my life and opened me up to a worldwide network of creative people, many of whom I am still in touch with today. Once I began making zines I felt I found my calling. I threw myself into zine publishing and zine culture, meeting zine makers all over the country and helping to start the Portland Zine Symposium in 2001 when I was taking a “gap year” between high school and college in Portland, Oregon.

My zine production has waxed and waned over the past few years, subject to time pressures placed on me by school, work and general life, but even in this world of blogs, Twitter, Instagram and so many other platforms for sharing, zines are still my preferred format for longer form, personal essays. I’ve always used zines as a venue to help navigate changes in my life and this past year has been no exception. I wrote the pieces for Indulgence #12 over the course of the fall of 2013 and polished them up this winter and got this latest issue ready for the Brooklyn Zine Fest, which took place at the end of April.

Workin' the table at the Brooklyn Zine Fest

Workin’ the table at the Brooklyn Zine Fest

Indulgence #12 explores three major themes in my life: work, love and death. Over the past year I quit my job and shifted my career from nonprofit arts administration to working with creative technology companies, walked away from a long term relationship and experienced the death of my grandmother and the shifts that created in my family dynamic. All in all, it was a year of navigating the choppy waters of adulthood, sometimes gracefully and often times with a fair amount of stress and angst. I’m proud of the essays in Indulgence #12 and think that they are some of my most focused personal writing yet. I’d love for you to pick up a copy. Like all of my zines, the cover is handmade and it is hand bound. It’s $4 with shipping for the US and $5 for the rest of the world. You can order through Shoplocket here.

Crackers the cat loves zines!

Crackers the cat loves zines!

Out of This World

Spacetights1

I know, it’s been a minute since there’s been any fashion posts on this blog! What happened? Well, in NYC it’s winter and so usually I’m wearing 18 layers just to leave the house, so there’s really nothing to see here in terms of fashion and style. However, I took a weekend trip to LA where it was like a little window into summer. LA is so inspiring in terms of fashion because people really use it as a medium to express themselves and I couldn’t help but get into the spirit and do an impromptu, Sunday morning fashion shoot in front of a parking garage in Downtown LA (or “DTLA”).

Spacetights2

Spacetights4

I visited the shop Matrushka in Silver Lake and in addition to a fairly practical dress found these amazing leggings. I’ve been coveting space tights for quite some time, but wasn’t quite up to it because I could not quite figure out how to make them workplace appropriate. However, when they were handmade in LA by the shop owner? I couldn’t resist. And don’t worry, I’ll find a way to wear them to work.

Spacetights3

What am I wearing? Gals Rock Paris T-shirt, American Apparel shorts (purchased specially for my trip because I forgot what shorts are and didn’t pack any), Matrushka Space Tights, vintage Casio watch (my Valentine’s present to myself) and Doc Martens!

Goodbye to All of You (who want to go)

Sunset Park at winter twilight is a surreal and magical place

I composed this post while I was walking home through the silent, Brooklyn, evening during a mid-winter snowstorm. I love the times when NYC is quiet and feels like it’s taking a rare, much needed pause. I just had drinks at my favorite local bar with K., the kind of place that is dim and mellow, with chatty bar tenders and perfect Manhattans every night of the week except Friday and Saturday evenings, when it seems to be taken over by obnoxious hordes. We were talking about the difficulty and constant hustle of establishing ones self and building a satisfying professional life in New York City. Somedays it feels particularly out of reach. The economy is markedly improved in recent years, because of that, more and more people want to come to live here. I always maintained that creative, smart people had a better chance to find work here than elsewhere because there were simply more opportunities available. However, there’s also a lot more competition.

New York will always draw the young, the not-so-young, the creative and ambitious. That’s part of what makes it an exciting place to be. But now with the “brand” of Brooklyn being synonymous with global cool, silicon alley rivaling silicon valley for tech innovation, and shows like Girls broadcasting an unrealistic version of what it means to be a twenty-something in Brooklyn the NYC cool factor is having a real cultural moment. I feel like it’s really putting a lot of pressure, financial and otherwise, on opportunities like jobs, social events and housing for people in my age range.

... Except if they do

Moments like this never fail… by Dzine

Lately I found myself discouraging my peers who casts doubts on living in NYC from moving out. “I spent time in 24 different US cities last year!” I tell them, “I loved them all, they are all interesting places full of creative, smart people doing cool things, but I don’t want to live in any of them! I want to live here!” I say.

“Look at the access you have to culture, public transit, great food, innovative projects, and you don’t have to own a car!” I’ll argue.

“Feel the lack of social pressure!” I’ll implore, “You can be exactly who you want to be here!”

But tonight I had a change of heart. I realized I wasn’t so much trying to convince them to stay as to convince myself that I have made the right decision. It’s as if I’m worried I’ll be left clinging to a relationship that’s run its course out of nostalgia of how things used to be when the object of my affection, and all of my friends, have moved on. What I realized is that I need to feel confident enough about my decision to dig my heels in here and stay and let others go through their own discovery process with what they need in a place to live and what they need in life.

I wrote this past fall about the backlash many artists and writers have felt against the city because they moved here to pursue their artistic dreams and felt that the reality fell short of their romantic notions. I start to wonder why I stayed and stayed devoted to the the idea that one can build a creative life here or anywhere. And then I realized this:

My romantic notions of my New York City life lasted about 3 weeks. I moved here in late August of 2001 to start college. On September 11th, I realized with a sinking feeling how little I knew about world politics, NYC, or what my life would look for feel like after that day. I realized quickly that the city owed me nothing and any attempt I might have to control my experience here would be in vain. It was in that moment I knew I could throw in the towel and go back to the life I had in Portland, Oregon or Portland, Maine or stay and tough it out. I knew if I stayed I was making a long term commitment to the city. I decided to stay.

I’ve stayed in NYC through loneliness, depress, recession, my saturn returns (if you believe in that stuff), and long enough to build up a career and now, begin pursuing a different direction. I’ve earned two degrees, become fluent in a second language, started to learn to code, played in bands, written a book, become a confident NYC cyclist, planned and then abandoned plans to move to Paris or LA, and most of all, eeked out a somewhat stable life for myself working in the arts, culture and education field, while nurturing friendships, hopes, dreams and plans.

Our rock'n'roll lifestyle to do list

NYC rock’n’roll life style to do list at my band practice space

In high school a teacher told me, “You can live however you want in New York City,” when I confessed to her my dream to study and live here. Since then I’ve taken her advice to heart. But living how you want in NYC often means doing so on the city’s terms. And that can be a tough proposition. So, if you find you can’t live how you want here, there’s no harm and no foul. There’s a place out there for you. It’s waiting. Go. there are so many places to be be cultured, innovative and interesting. To launch new businesses and make new art. And no matter what, New York City’s frenetic rhythm continues, whether it’s the current barometer of cultural cool or not, and honestly, whether you or I are here at all.  But I plan to be here. You are always welcome to come back to visit.