Goodbye, My Kweens! Farewell Broad City

I don’t remember when I started watching Broad City – if it was before I came to New York for the first time in 2014, or after – but what I do remember is becoming so obsessed with it, so quickly, that I would ask everyone if they’d seen it and recommend it to anyone who was looking for a new show to watch.

Abbi and Ilana are two special, hilarious, and unapologetically badass women, living their New York lives the best way they can. The main reason I love this show way more than I love so many others set in New York (Sex and the City, Friends, How I Met Your Mother) is because it shows the real, gross side of New York.

All of the characters in the aforementioned shows live in Manhattan – except Robin who lives in Park Slope in the first couple of seasons of HIMYM, and Miranda who moves somewhere in Brooklyn (they only ever say “Brooklyn”, which is stupid since Brooklyn has heaps of neighborhoods and based on that alone, she could have lived in Brighton Beach, Park Slope, or Williamsburg which are all incredibly different places) in the last season of SATC – and we don’t see them use any public transport. Sorry, but Carrie getting on the subway once, ONCE, to get to FiDi from the Upper East Side doesn’t count. 

Image result for carrie bradshaw subway
Also, she gets on a subway wherever she jumps out of the cab that doesn’t have the option to change to the subway she gets out at, so… don’t know how she got there

Abbi and Ilana live in Astoria in Queens and Gowanus in Brooklyn (which is where I live, it was a coincidence I swear), respectively. They aren’t getting handouts from their family to be in the city, unlike Monica from Friends who’s taking advantage of an illegal sublet in the Village after her grandmother moves out. Aside from Abbi’s splurge on that blue dress, the one she wears to literally every big event for the rest of the show, and her spending too much money at Whole Foods when she’s high after getting her wisdom teeth out, they aren’t spending so much money that their credit cards have to be cut up while paying for a pair of shoes in Dolce and Gabbana (Carrie, duh), and they aren’t drowning in secret debt like Lily in HIMYM

In fact, the first episode of Broad City is centered around Ilana learning she isn’t getting her paycheck for another week, which means she can’t buy tickets to see Lil Wayne. Instead of asking her parents to lend her money, or putting them on a credit card to pay off later, she steals office supplies from her job and sells them back to the store. She trades Jaime the gift card from the store for weed, and she and Abbi (unsuccessfully) try drumming in Washington Square Park to make more money.

The episode ends with the girls cleaning an adult baby’s apartment, while dressed in their underwear. The adult baby – played by Fred Armisen – refuses to pay them: “I’m a baby, I have no money!” “I can pay you in bwocks!” so they trash his apartment and steal bottles of expensive alcohol and fur coats. It’s clear from the start that Abbi and Ilana aren’t glossing over their New York experiences – they want to show how frustrating, how difficult, and how disgusting it can be.

Image result for fred armisen broad city

They poke fun at how unreliable the G train from Queens to Brooklyn is: “I’m going to get the N to the R, and then be home in a tight 90 cos the G’S, NOT, RUNNING!” show that New Yorkers are some of the dirtiest people: “Let’s meet at the ATM where that woman threw up on you,” “The time that guy jerked off on your pocket book in Bryant Park,” and demonstrate that NO ONE who lives in New York EVER wants to go to Times Square, the Upper East Side, or Penn Station unless you’re chasing your phone around on “Find my iPhone” or trying to leave the city to go to a wedding.

They don’t make living and working in New York look easy and glamorous, because it’s not. Friends made it look like you’d all have time to sit around drinking coffee from huge mugs all day, and that your best friend will pay your rent and support you while you try to be an actor. Try again. Sex and the City made a freelance writer’s life look easy, when all the freelancers I know spend every waking moment trying to get more work, and don’t wear Manolo Blahnik shoes. How I Met Your Mother made you think you can rack up a huge credit card debt – “the size of Mount Waddington!” – and your husband will pay it off by landing a high-paying legal job right out of college. Nah mate.

When the Broad City girls are broke, they’re fucking broke, and they take care of it themselves. Abbi tries, and fails, to sell her clothes and her art when she breaks a mirror at Soulstice, and Ilana performs on subways to make money when she gets fired from Deals Deals Deals.

They call out the ongoing gentrification of their neighborhoods – Ilana and Bingo Bronson when they see the Whole Foods store in Gowanus: “This neighborhood is changing!” “It’s a whole new Gowanus,” and a woman in Abbi’s building who criticizes the price of sandwiches since millennials started moving to Astoria – and they don’t unrealistically spend all of their time in Manhattan. 

Image result for bingo bronson broad city

Abbi and Ilana may be trying to live their best lives, but they inevitably demonstrate poor judgment and make mistakes. They are 20-somethings, after all. Abbi melts Jeremy’s special dildo in the dishwasher. Ilana gets fired from her job for uploading bestiality porn to the company Twitter account. Abbi leaves Soulstice after her relationship with Trey ends, but tells them she won the lottery instead of saying she found a new job. She then gets fired from her next job when her boss’s cat jumps out the window and dies at an event in her apartment, and then gets fired from Anthropology for making a window display out of rubbish Jaime cleared out of his room, and inadvertently putting a rat in the store.

They capture what it’s like to figure it out, day by day. They get blackout drunk, Abbi so much so that she morphs into someone called Val and performs at The Back Room. They smoke a LOT of weed and mix it with prescription medication – Ilana with her anti-depressants, Abbi with painkillers after she has her wisdom teeth out – and they try mushrooms and do MDMA together. They sleep with men casually, they go back to their exes, they experiment with other women, and they even go home with two DJs who were planning on tricking them into group sex. 

Image result for abbi val

Broad City showed me that you can be loud, own your sexuality, make mistakes, get fired, get drunk, get high, and most of all, simultaneously hate and love living in New York. Abbi and Ilana think about moving to Florida when they go to clear out Ilana’s deceased grandmother’s condo, but realize the cold, expensive, disgusting garbage island that is New York is their real home. 

The most vivid memory I have of watching Broad City is when I was visiting New York in June of 2015. I was toying with the idea of moving here, and it was kind of a practice run for me. I was staying for two weeks, working in my old work’s New York office, and trying to live like a New Yorker instead of a tourist.

The biggest mistake I made on that vacation was not finding and packing comfortable walking shoes to wear in summer weather. I had boots, but they were rubbing against my ankles and giving me a rash. I had sneakers, but they didn’t go with the dresses I had to wear when it was hot and humid. So instead, I wore thongs (flip-flops). Don’t do this. Don’t. Just… don’t.

After the first day of wearing thongs from my Airbnb in the East Village over to Chelsea, and up to Midtown, my feet were completely black. I had to wear them again a few days later after the new flats I’d bought had given me painful blisters all over my feet. It was much hotter than it had been the first day I’d worn them, so my feet were sweating. That, mixed with the dirt I picked up off the street, the subway, and Washington Square Park created a gritty mud between my toes. It was disgusting.

I decided to get the subway home but went the wrong way and ended up somewhere on Canal Street. If you’ve ever been to New York, you’ll know that Canal Street is in Chinatown and features a lot of food markets. Food markets selling raw, fresh fish. It also features a lot of people – tourists and locals – who walk very slowly as they shuffle from market to market, meaning the streets are very crowded, it’s impossible to walk fast, and it SMELLS AWFUL on a hot summer’s day.

After that experience, I’d had enough. I got a taxi to my Airbnb, closed the blinds, turned the AC on and lay alone in the dark for a while. I thought about the possibility of living here, and whether I could handle a city like this all the time. I thought about whether I would end up having to spend a fortune on taxis everywhere, because people on the street were too annoying (yes). I wondered if I’d ever find a pair of shoes I could walk around in during summer (also yes). I thought about how hard it was to do simple things here, how hard it was to find some space. I couldn’t even find somewhere to sit down in the shade in Washington Square Park!

Instead of crying and complaining to myself all afternoon, which I really felt like doing, I realized I had Broad City saved on my computer, and watched some episodes from the first two seasons in the dark, air conditioned apartment.

Watching them talk their way through boring, menial jobs, give sass to strangers “OUTTA THE WAY, CLAVICLE”, and deal with the harsh realities of New York: being broke, hating your job, freeloading roommates, throwing up in public, being thrown up on in public, having your phone stolen, getting bedbugs, finding rats in your apartment, being forced to go watch some guy do Improv on a date, having the water and electricity in your apartment stop working during a hurricane, having an air conditioner you just bought get stolen off the street, and not having an air conditioner on a really hot summer’s day – made me realize life in New York would never be perfect. Instead, it would be dirty, messy, frustrating, heartbreaking and… worth it. 

Image result for abbi and ilana smile gif

A year later, I arrived in New York – to stay – and though I’ve questioned it, cursed it, cried and thrown up in public, and downright hated it sometimes, I also love it and can’t imagine myself leaving any time soon.

Abbi and Ilana have been a constant in my life for years, and they’ve made some of the funniest, most relatable TV I’ve ever seen. I will miss them very much, and after their last episode airs on Thursday, you will find me crying in my room, saying “YAS QUEEN” to myself over and over, like this: 

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How it Feels to Go “Home”

I recently spent six weeks in Australia, so I could have a warm Christmas with my family, surprise my best friend at her 30th birthday party, attend my friends’ wedding party (those sneaky people went and eloped in Greece and only had a party instead of a big wedding), and see lots of friends and family spread between southern Queensland and Sydney.

When I got back, I didn’t expect to feel so disconnected from my former home. I didn’t expect to feel nothing but I did, and it was even more confusing since I thought about how I was meant to feel something. Here I was, back in a city I lived in for more than eight years, where I had great groups of friends and achieved huge milestones, and also back in my childhood home. It was as if I was visiting a distant family member I know I’m meant to like because they’re family, but still having nothing to say to them.

Even though the concept of “home” can be transient, or simultaneously applied to more than one place, the idea that where you’ve spent the most time in your life is to be thought of as your “real” home is generally applied. Except it’s not for me. In just under two years, New York has come to feel more like home to me than Sydney or Grafton ever did.

While I do miss the warmth at that time of year – going out, and celebrating Christmas and the lead up to it is just more fun when it’s warm and sunny – there are some things I don’t miss, or, am just indifferent about.

I say the same thing to anyone who asks me if I miss Australia here in New York. I miss my friends and family. I miss the access to Australian music. I miss the consistently good coffee. I miss going out at Palms on Oxford Street. But I don’t miss living there. This is usually enough for Americans, especially New Yorkers, who understand how privileged anyone is to be able to live in this city.

But Australians are harder to convince. I didn’t ever want to, or make, living in New York over living in Australia a competition for people to take part in, yet some seemed to think I thought it was. I will of course always say that New York is objectively a better city than Sydney (because it is), but at the same time, I know it is not a city for everyone. I know not everyone wants to live here, and that’s OK. But in Australia, I kept being asked the same question over and over again.

“Don’t you miss it?”

Whiting Beach, Yamba

Yamba is a beautiful small town on the coast of Northern New South Wales. I grew up about 45 minutes away, in Grafton, and while Yamba is probably the best part of being forced to live in a place that doesn’t have traffic lights and where people drive around with stickers that say “Fuck Off We’re Full!” on the back of their cars, it’s not something I think about.

“Don’t you miss it?” a friend asked as we looked at the beach. “No, not really… it’s nice and everything but I’m not that keen on it. I never really came here even when I lived in Grafton anyway.”

While I understand many Australians’ general obsession with water and being near it or in it as much as possible, and then having to tell you about being near or in the water after they’ve been in or near it, this is not something I find particularly interesting myself.

People usually do this by posting pictures of their tanned friends wearing white, stripes, hats, or all three in front of Bondi Icebergs, pictures from the coastal walk trails between Bondi and Coogee accompanied by “#blessed”, or pictures of various bodies of water around the country that look pretty much the same as each other. I personally think applying some more sunscreen would be a better thing to concentrate on than adding more pictures of water to instagram, but that’s me.

We’re missing tanned people wearing white, stripes, and hats from this photo

Byron Bay
Byron Bay is another beautiful small town on the coast of Northern New South Wales, but it is bigger and more popular than Yamba, and further away from Grafton. My uncle lived there for a while when I was in high school. I have spent enough time there to know where things are, but not enough to feel personally connected to it outside of having a distant goal of retiring there when I’m a millionaire one day.

“Don’t you miss it?” my friend asked over a jug of beer at The Northern. “No… not really… I mean I miss it when I hear about Splendour in the Grass and how much fun everyone is having, but I don’t really think about Byron that much.”

My answer launched a conversation about how much she loves Sydney for its choice of beaches, outdoor lifestyle, and natural beauty, which I understand, but these were all things that I sometimes enjoyed and they weren’t major selling points for me when I lived there.


Getting to the beach, even if you have a car, is a huge pain because of the traffic and the lack of parking/lack of a million dollars to be able to afford parking when you get there. Being outside is annoying when the weather inevitably turns at the end of a deceptively warm day, and the wind makes you flash your underwear at people driving past. (If that’s never happened to you, you’re really lucky, but try walking up Cleveland Street or near Redfern station in a dress and see how you go.) The comedian Wil Anderson put it best when he said:

“Sydney is like that girl at high school who got hot really early, and never had to develop a personality.”

Another friend asked “Don’t you miss it?” as we looked at the Harbour, but I knew there was more to it, the way there was each time any other people asked me the same question. Conversations about if I missed Sydney were also chances for people to tell me about the “cool things” that have happened since I left that somehow justify still living there, even after many mutual friends and acquaintances have moved elsewhere. Even then that solitary “cool thing” is really just limited to The Lansdowne reopening and having live music now.

You guys are cute to be excited by that and stuff, but one small venue reopening and deciding to pay bands to play doesn’t make up for the rest of the shit we put up with in Sydney on a daily basis, including but not limited to:

  • Traffic
  • Disappointing and expensive public transport
  • A distinct lack of culture
  • A city full of construction as they tear up George Street and insert a light rail system that they already had and shouldn’t have gotten rid of years ago
  • Lock out laws dictating what time you can enter a venue and what time you can drink until
  • All the empty spots on Oxford Street and Bayswater Road that once hosted bars, clubs, and venues until the government decided they only wanted the city to host ugly overpriced apartment buildings that will likely remain empty after they’ve been bought by foreign investors

And I’m not the only one who feels this way. Every few months some publication in Sydney publishes a story about a disillusioned person who now hates it, either because they can’t afford to have a family there, or because Melbourne has more culture.


When are you coming back?
I was also asked, many times, when I was coming back to Australia. It was a confronting question because not only do I not know, (job and visa renewal pending) I don’t want to.  If Trump decides our countries aren’t mates any more and revokes the E3 visa, and if someone in my family (God forbid, touch wood, all the rest) becomes ill and needs me back there long term, then I won’t have a choice.

I can’t imagine wanting to move back to Australia by choice, but I also find it strange that I can’t imagine it. Aren’t you meant to want to go “home”, eventually? Though, maybe, home doesn’t need to be applied to where you lived as a child, where your family live, or where you lived for the most time in your life.

Home as an idea can be applied to wherever you feel like you can be yourself. And for some, that might in Yamba, or Byron Bay, or doing “chin chin” Boomerangs with aperol spritzes at Icebergs. That’s great. We should all be able to find our homes, even if we end up on the other side of the world from where we started.

I’m Tired of Manhattan. There, I Said It.

I’ve lived in New York for 16 months, and I know that sounds weird to say. It’s not quite long enough to say a year and a half but it’s definitely more than one year. I sound like one of those new mothers who measures their child’s life in months, even when you can say “two years old” instead of “24 months.”

I’m unsure if my introversion, and possible social anxiety, has gotten worse since I moved here and I’ve been forced to cohabit small spaces with a lot of people every day, or if I just have a lower threshold for slight discomfort and inconvenience now that I’m 30. But I have recently made the decision that I do not like Manhattan.

It’s Not All Bad
Don’t get me wrong. I love living here. I have my moments walking around the Upper East Side and you can see allll the way down (or up) town in a straight line from 3rd Avenue. I feel a lot of nostalgia for, and an ongoing connection to, the East Village neighborhood between 1st Avenue and Avenue C, since I stayed around there the first two times I visited New York. I also love going to visit Washington Square Park on sunny afternoons, watching people come up with creative ways to make money (writing poems, reciting Shakespeare, blowing bubbles) and then immediately getting lost when I leave the park and end up over near the Meatpacking District.

Sometimes, the city is gorgeous and being here makes me feel connected to something bigger – maybe in the way religious people feel when they go to church, or annoying people feel when they go to CrossFit – and in those moments I think about how grateful I am to be able to experience this whenever I want.

But, Sometimes It Sucks
On other days, usually when I have to take the subway long distances and walk through tourist-crowded areas, I realize how many people are crammed into small places and just how annoying they all are. Walking around St Marks Place on a Friday or Saturday evening is a very, very bad idea. Not only do the people who hang out in that area not know how to walk on the fucking footpath (seriously, WALK ON THE RIGHT), they don’t move when they see me and other pedestrians coming, even though we are doing the right thing. There are also a lot more bikes around than there used to be, and I have almost been hit by rogue cyclists with their City Bike memberships who think they always have right of way (spoiler alert – they don’t) when they ignored me, other pedestrians, and the traffic lights that are put there for their own protection.

I am also really tired of catching the subway with people who don’t know how to behave down there. It doesn’t help that I work right near Rockefeller Center, and my stop is always full of tourists wandering around before or after they’ve been ripped off  by going to the Top of the Rock, who don’t understand that the stairs to the platform are not a good place to check their phones, and that people behind them might have been running to that train that just pulled up and is about to leave.

Move Bitch, Get Out The Way
On Thursday, I decided to do something different instead of having yet another sad desk lunch, and walked to Central Park to eat. It is only eight blocks from my office, which is not a far walk at all, but I felt like I was running an obstacle course. Look out! Here comes a family staring up at the skyline, letting their child stop and start walking as they please, with little regard to the rest of us. Oops, almost bumped into the idiot who stopped to check Google maps instead of crossing the street, the way you’re meant to when everyone else around you does. Watch out, here comes someone trying to sell me a bike tour even though I don’t like bikes and I’m not a fucking tourist. By the time I got to the park I was exhausted, and immediately depressed that I’d have to do it all again on the way back.

I recently went to a class on the other side of Times Square from my office, and for some stupid reason, I thought it would be a good idea to walk there. DO NOT DO THIS. DON’T. I was met with crowds of people looking at out of work actors and musicians (and probably writers) dressed up as cartoon characters, who don’t seem to understand the skill it requires to move out of someone’s way. It got to the point that I was deliberately elbowing people who walked towards me on my side of the sidewalk, so they would have a story to tell back in middle America about those “rude New Yorkers.” I regret nothing.

Image taken from Natalie Walker’s Twitter


Other than people walking on the wrong side of things, trying to hassle money from you, and making you miss the train by being slow and selfish, it also really sucks when you try to do something as out there as try to get a drink or dinner after work.

Again, my experience is limited to midtown Manhattan, as that is where I have worked since I moved here, so this may be different in other neighborhoods. Just daring to get a drink at a bar near my old office on 42nd Street and 2nd Avenue, or near 51st Street and 6th Avenue, where I currently work, is like agreeing to walk into hell.

  • What’s that? You want somewhere to sit? There’s a tiny little table in that corner – no chairs – but you can rest your drink on it.
  • You want food? That’s $20 and a 40 minute wait.
  • You want a drink? Oh, that’ll be $9 for a basic beer and you’ll have to wait 20 minutes at the bar before you can order.
  • You want to be able to speak to your friends without having to yell over 100 other people and our loud music? Good luck.

The gloss has worn off Manhattan. Give me beautiful, relaxing Brooklyn any day.

Miranda, you ended in Chinatown when Steve cheated on you. Let’s not throw stones now, K?

The Last Day of My Twenties + A Decade of Hangovers

Actual footage of me while hungover

On the day before I turned 30, I woke up in the same state I had been in throughout much of my twenties; incredibly, deathly hungover. My best intentions to take it easy, drink water between each drink, eat something before drinking, and only drink red wine didn’t work, exactly the way they hadn’t worked so many times before.
We’d had a work event on a boat, cruising around the Hudson River, and got back onto land around 8pm. I followed groups of friends to a bar somewhere near Soho – I don’t know where – and instead of sticking with red wine I drank beer and vodka as it was handed to me.

After a few of those, I walked with my friend to the Prince Street subway and kept going to meet another friend at a bar on Mulberry Street. I wanted to feel like a grown up on the last night of my twenties, so I ordered three cocktails, and then listened to U2 on the subway ride back to Brooklyn and on my walk home. When I got home, I danced around my room for a bit, took my makeup off, put my on my pajamas and went to bed, really thinking I would be fine in the morning. The fact I remembered to take off my makeup, change out of my clothes, and turn the light off is some kind of miracle. I have woken up many times fully clothed, sometimes with one or both shoes on, with mascara on my face and the light on.

I spent the last day of my twenties feeling like I was going to die. I decided getting on the subway would be a mistake – no one wants to be that sick passenger causing havoc – and got a Lyft Line into work. As we barreled through potholes in Brooklyn Heights before dropping off the other passenger, I knew I wouldn’t be able to hold it in. I discreetly threw up in the plastic bag I’d brought for emergencies, and sat back hoping that would be it for the rest of the journey.

The driver noticed and handed me a box of tissues when the other passenger got out, and opened the door for me when we arrived at my office. I went straight to the bathroom, and spent most of the morning there until I got myself to 7-11 and got a Coke slurpee. This is my go-to hangover cure, something I started back when I was 18 and hangovers weren’t even that bad, and it has served me well ever since. In Australia, I can get frozen Coke from McDonald’s, but since they don’t have that here in America I have to rely on the 7-11s scattered sparsely around the city and Brooklyn to get my fix.

I have had some awful hangovers in my time, and while I’ve often been lucky enough that I can just stay in bed and ride it out until later in the day, there have been a lot of times where I’ve had to get myself to work or to meet friends. I’ve decided to write about the worst hangovers I’ve had in my twenties – the ones when I haven’t been able to stay in bed and hope for the best – as a memoir to some of the great times I’ve had… and maybe as a reason to ease off on the binge-drinking now that I am 30 and meant to be an adult.

The Time I Got Sent Home from Work:
Age: 23
Occasion: Drinks with work friends at Cruise Bar
Drink: Wine before I went out, then a mix of things – cocktails, shots, and black Smirnoffs
Details: I met some work friends at Cruise Bar, a place down near the Sydney Opera House/Harbour Bridge. Friends I hadn’t seen in a while bought me shots and one girl tricked me into buying us black Smirnoffs.
I fell over as I got out of the taxi when I got home and broke my watch – and bruised my leg – and then woke up early the next day with the lights on. I had to go to work in the city, so I walked there very slowly, and bought myself a Boost Juice, hoping the sugar would help. It didn’t. I had to keep going into the backroom to throw up in the sink in between serving customers, and eventually my boss sent me home. I went to bed, then dragged myself out to dinner at a Thai restaurant, where I drank about three glasses of coke and ate fried rice. Hangover cured.

Another Time I Got Sent Home from Work:

Age: 24
Occasion: Party where I didn’t really know many people
Drink: White wine pre-drunk, then whatever I could find at the party (yes, I was that person)
Details: I went to a party with my friend, and drank too much because I didn’t know many people there and felt self-conscious. I ended up going home with someone, we made out while listening to ‘The National Anthem’ by Radiohead (by the way, that song is not sexy at all, and I don’t recommend listening to anything from Kid A if you’re going to make out with someone), and then I got a taxi home the next morning.
I went to sleep for a couple of hours until it was time for me to go to work, and when I got there I threw up in a bucket in the backroom until my boss sent me home. I went home, had a can of Coke, and slept until I had to go watch and review The Whitest Boy Alive at Sydney Festival.

The Time I Wasn’t Allowed to Go Home from Work:
Age: 27
Occasion: Work party
Drink: Beer, cider… and then by some reports whiskey drank out of the bottle. Shots, probably
Details: We had a work party that started in the afternoon. I had lunch, then thought I would be smart and only drink one kind of alcohol that day. This was ruined when the first bar we went to had shit beer and I had to switch to cider. Then, my team won the Trivia competition and we were awarded a free cocktail, and it was downhill from there. We went to a karaoke place, and someone (not me. Really, not me) stole a bottle of whiskey from behind the bar. He brought it into the karaoke room where my friend and I were singing Amy Winehouse, Madonna, Whitney Houston, and Billy Ocean, and by some accounts I was swigging it out of the bottle.
I got to work late the next day, spent most of the morning in the bathroom throwing up, until I managed to walk to Harbourside Shopping Centre and get a frozen Coke from McDonald’s. My boss would not let me go home and told me to “Wait it out until 5pm.”

The Time I Threw Up in My Car:
Age: 27
Occasion: Night on Oxford Street
Drink: Vodka
Details: My friend and I went to The Annandale to watch a singer he likes – who we didn’t realize would be going on stage at 11pm, so we left before she came on – and had drinks at my place before we went to Palms. I had recently come back from the USA and had a lot of duty free vodka to share. We drank that at my place as we waited for another friend of ours to finish work, and then went to Palms, our favorite place on Oxford Street.
The next day, I had brunch plans with a friend I hadn’t seen in a while. I forced myself to get to the café to meet her, and she was feeling just as bad as I was. She was suffering from a migraine and threw up in the bathroom, and then decided to go home to bed. We cancelled our food orders but I stupidly drank my coffee thinking I would be OK. But I wasn’t. I went to get a frozen Coke on my way home, and threw up on myself and in my car as I was driving.

The Time I Had to Drive for Three Hours:
Age: 28
Occasion: Work party (seeing a theme here?)
Drink: Vodka, sparkling wine, red wine, vodka
Details: We had a work conference up at the Hunter Valley, and then we were having our Christmas party afterwards. I had driven two of my friends there because I knew I would be in no mood to spend three hours on a bus with work people the day after. They had given us little bottles of alcohol, and I drank mine in the hotel room before the party. I started drinking sparkling wine, then switched to red wine, and then switched to vodka when they stared serving spirits at the next part of the party.
I woke up in my hotel room, fully clothed, and couldn’t get myself out of bed to leave for hours. I drove one of my friends back to Sydney with me, got two frozen cokes at McDonald’s, but had to stop the car to throw up. Luckily, this was not on the freeway, but on a country road where there were no cars behind me and it was safe to stop.

The Time I Lost My Passport:
Age: 28
Occasion: Work party
Drink: Vodka, maybe one beer
Details: I went to a work party on a boat, and didn’t know many people. I drank too much to over-compensate, and then went with one of my work friends to his apartment before we went to another event. I didn’t think the second event would have free spirits, but it did, so I just carried on drinking vodka.
I got a $50 Uber from Chelsea home to Williamsburg, passed out with the lights on, woke up with a pizza stain on my dress and the crushing realization I had to get to work. I texted my boss to tell him I’d be late, and got an Uber pool to East 42nd Street. I didn’t throw up in that car, but I threw up in the garden outside while I was waiting, and as soon as I found a bathroom in the office. I didn’t realize this at the time but I along with my dignity, I lost my passport that night. Good work, drunk Justine.

I know that reading this will make some of you, if not all, think that I am an alcoholic. I have those thoughts sometimes too, and while I appreciate the concern, I really don’t think this is the case. I have noticed my hangovers are worst when I don’t eat, or don’t eat enough, before I start drinking.

Mixing alcohol is a bad idea, but then, so is drinking too much of anything. I am an optimistic drunk, I often think everything will be fine from a certain point, and I have a lot of friends who are the same way. I do know my limits, I do know what to do to ensure I don’t have a terrible hangover the next day but I’m often having such a good time that I just forget.

Perhaps turning 30 will help me to become more mature and better at making decisions when I have things to do the day after a night out, and these kinds of hangovers will become less frequent. Or maybe I’ll stop making myself feel guilty for having a good time, and just accept it. Self-acceptance is what getting older is about, isn’t it?

Moving Apartments in New York 

The last couple of months have been busy. Partly because summer = more socializing, work stepped up as I moved to a new account, but mainly because I have been getting ready to move house.

My friend and I decided we didn’t want to renew the lease on our apartment in South Slope. The subway stop right outside had been shut for a while, which added an extra 15 minutes and a walk through the summer humidity to our commutes, and the apartment itself is located on a turn off for the BQE.

An otherwise relaxing Sunday morning could be ruined by loud honking and yelling as someone dared to pause before the turn off. We were tired of the commute and tired of the noise, so we started making appointments with real estate agents to find a new two bedroom apartment in Brooklyn.

Looking for an Apartment
The first day we looked, we were shown two tiny “two bedroom” – e.g. one bedroom with a big closet – apartments in a building in Clinton Hill. Neither had a living room, the tiny bedroom had no closet, and there was nowhere to store anything in the apartment. The smaller “bedroom” would have fit a bed and nothing else. One had the redeeming quality of a private roof deck but with New York weather as unpredictable and cold as it is, it would have gone to waste.

We were then shown a larger apartment, with uneven floors, an old kitchen, but two big, equal-sized bedrooms. I felt this place was ugly and boring, but my friend was happy to settle for it. I nicely reminded him we had other apartments to see, and would then subtly change the subject when he brought it up after that. When that didn’t work, I said “That place is old and ugly and the neighborhood sucks. No.” The next one we saw – a huge and gorgeous two bedroom in Gowanus – was perfect but since we’d organized awkward meetings with other real estate people, we had to go do that first.

We went back to Clinton Hill to see a fifth floor walk up, which would have been nice had it not been occupied by a woman yelling at us to leave before we’d even gone inside. Our agent thought he had access to the apartment for the whole day but evidently he didn’t. The second he turned the door handle, a woman screamed “WHO IS IT?!”

When he explained he was from the real estate and he thought we had access that day, she screamed through the closed door “NOT ALL DAY! You CANNOT come in here. This is LITERALLY the worst time you could have chosen to come here.” We stood around looking at each other awkwardly while the agent apologized. As we were walking down the stairs, she yelled out that we could come in but “FOR FIVE MINUTES ONLY.” We did one lap and got the fuck out of there.



The next places were in Williamsburg/East Williamsburg/Bushwick and nothing special. The visions I had of myself moving to South Williamsburg with equal distance between the JMZ, G, and L trains were quickly ruined when I realized just how tiny the apartments in our price range were, and how dodgy parts of some of these neighborhoods were.

One place looked like a ski lodge from the 1970s, not in a good way, while another had a tiny bathroom with no cupboards to store anything. The agent who showed us those places ranted about cyclists, Amazon, and Whole Foods while she showed us around the apartments and referred to herself as the “Ranting Real Estate Agent.” I loved her and I feel bad we didn’t want to live in those places. But it would be kind of weird for me to suggest we hang out for a drink sometime… right?

Applying for the Apartment
Once we’d agreed we weren’t going to live in a tiny Williamsburg apartment, or an old and ugly Clinton Hill apartment, we started the application process for the perfect one. We explained we are Australian and do not have a long credit history here. It didn’t help our case – despite the fact we would both afford the rent on our own if we wanted – and we faced problems which were made worse by the lack of communication from our agent, who I now like to call Fuckface McFuckface.

During this process, my friend said he knew someone who knew someone who owns places in Manhattan. We went to see two disgusting, cramped, ugly apartments in FiDi. Right next to a building shaking from drilling, and right above Fulton Street, where we could watch tourists trying to find Ground Zero and heading to that awful white, sterile mall.

The second bedroom wasn’t even a bedroom, just an empty space where they were planning to attach a door, which meant there was no living room. I don’t know anyone dumb enough to pay between $2900 and $3300 to live in a depressing, rattling shoebox in the middle of tourist central, but I’m sure those idiots exist somewhere.

After a lot of emailing, calling, chasing our agent, and a lot of money changing hands, the application was approved.

Moving into the Apartment
This was a comedy of errors I’m sure even Basil Fawlty himself would appreciate.

We asked, over and over, if we could get the keys the day before we officially moved in. They eventually said yes and I went to Williamsburg to find the super and get the keys. Apparently, they have a “very strict policy” to not give keys to anyone without a key release form, something that could have been brought to my attention yesterday.

I had to go to the agent’s office to get the form, then go back to the building to get the keys. I spent $25 on Lyft rides and was two hours late for work. That night, when we decided to move some stuff in, we realized the keys to the building didn’t work, therefore defeating the purpose of having the keys a day early.

I’d organized for a cleaner to come in at 7:30am, so we could leave as soon as she arrived to pick up the UHaul. This plan was ruined when she turned up at 7am as I was walking home from my boxing class and before my friend had even woken up. She stood around awkwardly, waiting for me to make my coffee and for my roommate to finish in the bathroom, reminding me of the importance of never getting a cleaner to come into the house when you’re still there.

Now, if we had the keys, it would have been easy. I could have gone to pick up the van, brought it back to the house, and started loading. But this wasn’t the case. I had to go and meet the super who took pity on me and brought the right keys to the apartment before I set off to get our van.

Now, let me say, I am a confident and mostly good driver, but I am not a confident parker. People tell jokes and stories about my talent to completely fuck up any park I attempt. I have real trouble with my spatial awareness. I’ve hit things on the passenger side of the car more times than I can count, and I often misjudge distances when I turn corners. While walking.

Actual footage of me. 

I walked to the van through a group of men standing around hassling anyone who walked in by asking “YOU NEED HELP? YOU NEED HELP MOVING?!” and completely contradicted my prissy “NO, go AWAY!” by not knowing how to change gears from Park to Drive. I asked an employee to help me and she laughed as she showed me the gear stick next to the steering wheel. I then almost hit the group of men I’d yelled at as I pulled out, and I’m fairly certain I hit a few traffic cones on the right side of the van… though I’ll never know, since I couldn’t see out of that mirror or work out how to adjust it.

When I got to my street, I could see lights flashing out the front of my apartment and a line of cars waiting. I panicked and kept going straight ahead instead of turning, probably hitting more things on the right as I drove. I got up to the top of the street and messaged my friend to come and help – exact words, “I’m going to have a fucking panic attack trying to park this thing,” – and he came and parked it for me.

A funny thing happens when you have to move. You think you have a lot less than you actually do, and that you’re some kind of superhero who can perform really hard tasks like moving beds and furniture down and up three flights of stairs really fast.
It took twice as long to move than we had planned, even taking into account the long lunch break we took after we’d finished moving the second van-load of stuff.


Post Move
We’d done it. All the furniture – except for our poor broken futon we left for dead, and my bookcase that was stolen from the hallway – was inside, and we’d unpacked everything in the kitchen and living room. Even though I had mentioned it multiple times, and our agent Fuckface McFuckface had said it would be fixed before we moved in, I still have a crack in my window and my closet door still does not open properly.

National Grid called me on Sunday to set up our gas connection and I missed one call. I’d been told they would call back a couple of times, but they didn’t. By the time I spoke to someone after the long weekend, the only time they had available to send someone else out is a week from now.

I’m happy at the new apartment. I’m happy my room is twice as big as my old room, I’m happy it’s not overlooking a road where people lose their shit when they have to pause for two seconds, and I’m happy it’s not directly facing the sun, which made my old room feel like a sauna in hell. I’m also really happy I won’t have to go through the stress and inconvenience of moving again for another whole year.

The Cranky Spinster in Barbados

I went on a vacation to Barbados. I was there for a week, partly to escape New York in February, and partly because I needed to get my visa replaced. When you lose your passport, like I did because I am a drunk idiot, you have to get your visa put into the new one. The easiest way to do so is to go out of the country and go through the whole application process again at a Consulate.

I didn’t want to go all the way back to Australia and the flights to Barbados were cheap. Everyone in the “Australians in New York” Facebook group who had been to Barbados recommended it, and so off I went, excited for some sun and a chance to relax.

I arrived around 1am and the hotel I’d booked for the week was not worth what I’d paid. The “king size bed” was two smaller beds pushed together and there was a big dip in the middle. The bathroom was dirty, and the WiFi didn’t work. I got out of there the next day and found a deal at a much nicer hotel a little bit further south in Dover.

I hadn’t slept well the night before. I was stressed out about my Consulate appointment, and angry about the bed. I’d waited for a long time at the Consulate, and I’d been rushing around the whole morning trying to find a SIM card and a new hotel.

By the time I went to check in, after I’d been at the beach all afternoon, a big group of school kids were checking in too. Half the group were staying next door to me, and the other half were above me. They were doing what school kids do. Running around, yelling to each other instead of talking, and slamming doors every few minutes.

I remembered myself at that age on a school trip in Sydney. Two of my friends decided to dye their hair in our hostel room. Our teacher caught them, and yelled at them to go to bed because she thought it was too late to dye hair. Since they’d already mixed the dye, they put it in the fridge and decided to finish it in the morning. This was a very bad idea.

Early the next morning, they got up and started using the dye again. When they opened the bottle, it exploded and hit one of my friends in the eye. She started screaming that she was going blind, the other friend with the dye started screaming she was sorry, and the rest of us started screaming at them to shut the fuck up. Another girl went to get a teacher, and when they came back our teacher screamed at them: “We came to here to sing, not to dye your FRICKING HAIR!!” In hindsight, we all knew that, and having someone else screaming at 6am probably didn’t help.

I didn’t really think about the other people on our floor in the hostel back then, but when I was faced with a group of young girls in the room next to me at the hotel in Barbados, I realized we really must have pissed some people off.

These girls were from somewhere in northern England. My guess is Leeds but I couldn’t be completely sure. (That’s not really relevant. An unwelcome American accent is just as annoying as an unwelcome English accent.)

I called the reception desk and asked them to tell the teachers to keep them quiet, and the guy who answered politely reminded me: “They’re children on a holiday,”

“I don’t care!” I said. “What about my holiday? I’m trying to relax here.”
“OK,” he said “I’ll tell the teacher to pass on the message but just remember, we’re dealing with children here.”

After they’d slammed the door for the fifth time and they’d yelled at girls in a room on the floor above to come and see what some guy had just put on Snapchat, I yelled “SHUT UP!”

This of course didn’t help. If anything, it made them worse. I know if anyone had told us to shut up back in the hostel, we wouldn’t have listened and purposely been even louder to annoy them. But, I was running on no sleep, and I was over it.

They eventually went to dinner at the front of the hotel, and I saw them as I was walking out to find somewhere to eat. I think they knew I was the one who yelled at them and for a minute, I was scared of a group of 13-year-old girls.
Then I remembered I am an adult.

Not that being an adult changed the way I was feeling or my reaction, or made me realize that I was in fact, being a fucking petty idiot. No. Remembering I’m an adult made me realize I am smarter than them, so I could get them back another way.

I considered leaving empty beer bottles out the front of their room, or getting a packet of cigarettes to smoke and then leaving the butts in the doorway so their teachers would see it in the morning and they’d get in trouble. But I didn’t, and settled instead on pushing their wet towels, swimmers, and uniforms off the railing where they were drying.

The thought of these girls ruining my relaxing vacation made me very angry, and I wasn’t going to let them do that without getting back at them in some way. Some may argue that by being angry at something I couldn’t control, I was making it worse for myself. Yes, thank you Captain Obvious, but this was my vacation and I will, generally, do what makes me feel good. And at that time, knocking girls’ wet clothes off a railing made me feel good.

Would I have reacted in the same way if I was younger? I know I would have been just as annoyed. I probably wouldn’t have been as tired, since a night without sleep was a lot easier at 22 than it is at 29. I don’t think I would have stayed in the hotel that afternoon when they arrived. I would have just gone for a walk, or to the beach, or to the hotel bar. But I’d been out all afternoon, and just wanted time alone in my hotel room.

There was a moment, maybe just after I’d screamed at them to shut up through the wall, when I felt very old. Like a cranky old spinster who has no patience for kids, and who wants to go and speak to the manager all the time. Even if I had done the same – yelled at kids through a wall at a hotel – when I was younger, I wouldn’t have felt as guilty or as conflicted.

I’m not a patient person, and I probably never will be. I’ve accepted this fact about myself and it doesn’t bother me anymore. I am bothered that the man at the reception desk didn’t take my concern seriously – probably should have asked to speak to the manager – and that when I tell this story, I’m fitting the stereotype of the old person yelling and shaking their fist at those innocent kids just having fun.

It’s a hard thing to admit to yourself, that you are getting older and in turn, beginning to act like those old people who put an end to all the fun you were having when you were a child. I didn’t consider the other people staying at the hostel during the hair dye incident, and I also didn’t consider my teacher. How annoyed would she have been having someone wake her up at 6am, to be told that two 16-year-old girls had an accident with some hair dye?

While I am, in fact, a cranky person rapidly approaching 30, it doesn’t mean I want to be judged on it. Is there a way to age, call people out on their shit behavior, and not be labelled a cranky old spinster? I know there will be more situations like this when I reach and move past 30. Maybe I’ll become better at handling them and not resort to throwing people’s clothes on the ground or yelling at them to “Shut up!”

Or maybe I’ll just accept myself as an impatient bitch who’s got no time for kids and their shit, regardless of my age.

Nostalgia Blurs My Memory

At least once a week, I think of leaving my job and starting over. I hear stories of people who decided their office jobs weren’t serving them any more and made that change without having anything new planned a lot. I hear stories about people developing something on the side, and then leaving whatever terrible thing they were doing to pursue that. You can’t look through Facebook, read a travel website, or scroll through Instagram without seeing another person who’s “following their dreams”, “living their best life” or making it as a travel blogger/influencer/social media something or other.

I’m deeply envious of these people and I think about doing this a lot. I also remember back to when I was a student at University, working in retail, and I start to idealize it. I worked for Telstra, through dodgy resellers, for two years. In that time I was yelled at, ripped off by my bosses, threatened with cameras from A Current Affair – not by someone who actually worked for A Current Affair by the way, just some random guy who thought they’d tell his story if he approached them – and called arrogant, a bitch, awful.

That two years of dealing with the public’s problems in Grafton and on the Gold Coast turned into another four years of the same, but at Vodafone in Sydney. The trends continued there too. I was blamed for phones with shattered screens, phones with water damage, phones that didn’t connect to the internet, phones that dropped their calls, phones that were too big, phones that were too small, and was yelled at more times than I care to remember.

A man told me that in 20 years he was sure if he came back into the store I would still be working there – I so badly wanted to tell him that he wouldn’t be able to come into the store then, because he would be dead – and a woman screamed at me for telling her to wait a minute before I could serve her. She later came back, brought me a juice, and apologized. A woman shamed me for having my top shirt buttons undone, even though I was wearing a singlet underneath, and another woman asked me if I had my period when I said I wasn’t feeling well.

I had to balance my shifts there with internships and other low-paying part time jobs I’d taken, and I was perpetually broke. I was tired and stressed out about what was going to happen if my boss decided he hated me and didn’t want to give me any more shifts. I had to balance all of that with University – amateur journalist and retail worker by day, student by night – and try to pass the course I’d signed up to pay a lot of money for.

And even with all that, I look back on that time and miss it. Even though I lived on bread, vegemite, sausages, lentil bolognese (a recipe I still use if I’m trying to save money) and cheap wine. I put it to anyone who hasn’t struggled with money at any time in their lives to try to feed themselves with $30 a week. I did it, and surprisingly wasn’t crazy overweight from just eating bread, sausages, and pasta. I also highly recommend drinking $5 bottles of white wine to get drunk before you go out. Doing so will give you the worst hangover of your life – at least you won’t feel like eating the next day so you can save some money – and it may also turn you off white wine forever.

Even though I was so broke I knew which ATMs – shout out to the NAB ATM down in Haymarket, and the Commbank ATM in Bondi Beach – would let me overdraw my account when I ran out of money. I remember that adrenaline running through my body, my heart pounding as I listened for the whir of the cash wheel to tell me if I was going to be able to eat that week or not.

Even though I stole $50 from a wallet I found on the street because I was so desperate for money. I was congratulated and clapped when I ran into the woman it belonged to at the police station, knowing full well she would know what I’d done and hate me when she counted her cash.

Even though I couldn’t afford to go out for dinner, concerts, events as often as I would have liked. Even though I couldn’t afford to go on holidays, weekends away, or to fill up my car with petrol sometimes. Even though I had to sneak alcohol into clubs, drink bottles of cheap wine before I went out, or rely on the kindness of strangers to get drunk with my friends. Or walk home at 3am because I couldn’t afford a taxi.

Now, I make a lot of money. I can take Ubers or taxis. I can go overseas. I can buy things for my apartment, have food delivered, drink top shelf liquor. Experience New York the way it should be experienced, without limits.
And with all the comfort my job gives me, I find myself nostalgic for that time. I think about how I used to be able to sleep in before my class. How I used to be able to stay up until 3am reading and writing. How I used to be able to walk out of work and not think about it anymore, even when someone had yelled at me for a problem I didn’t cause.

I didn’t have to argue with clients, justify my opinions and ideas, and feel left out in meetings; surrounded by people who are more passionate than I am. I didn’t have to check my email on days off. I didn’t have to pretend to care about something that I was only doing to pay my bills.

I’m nostalgic for that time because I didn’t feel the pressure of getting older or the “should” factor. I was hard on myself back then, of course, but I’m a Virgo and a perfectionist so I suspect that even if I win some kind of Pulitzer Prize I’ll be hating on myself for not doing it sooner, or thinking I should have moved that comma on page two before I published it. It was more acceptable as a 24 year old student to not be sure about what was next, than it is to be almost 30 and considering starting over. I know that even considering this highlights me as a huge fucking millennial cliché.

“Oh, poor little millennial. Isn’t satisfied with life. Isn’t satisfied with a stable job and a pay check. Typical spoilt snowflake.”

To anyone who thinks that, especially if you’re of an older generation, I’d like to tell you right now to fuck off. This is the world I live in. A world where the opportunities seem endless. A world where you can live basically anywhere and make a living. A world where we’re faced with uncertainty every single day, a world where we make more decisions before we even leave the house than you would have made in a whole day 20 years ago.

It isn’t the case for us that the job you get at 20 is the job you keep until you can retire at 65. It isn’t the case for us that the most common path is to find a partner, marry them, buy a house, and have children. We have more choices and, subsequently, more uncertainty. Questioning your job and path is not unique but it’s different now to 30 years ago, when the path you’d chosen at 25 was probably going to be the one you stayed on forever.

Why are my feelings of dissatisfaction, of nostalgia for poverty and University, so deep now? It’s a combination of exhaustion – from pretending I care when I don’t – and the pressure that comes from turning 30. I thought I would be satisfied making money and living in my favorite city, and everything that goes along with it, but I can’t shake the feeling that I’m living a lie. This isn’t impostor syndrome – it’s not that I don’t think I’m good at what I do – it’s that pretending to care about a job and an industry that exists purely to invade people’s privacy to get data about them, and then uses that data to try to sell them a product they don’t particularly want or need is really starting to get to me.

I’ve written before about my search for something more meaningful, more personally satisfying, and my uncertainty about what that is. The uncertainty is still there, but the push towards the idea is getting stronger. The longer I’m forced to sit in meetings and discuss ways to tell a consumer to buy something stupid, the stronger this will get.

I can only hope that as I approach 30, the solution will become clear. I know I’m not the only one who feels this dissatisfaction, the need for something more meaningful, especially as I get closer to 30. I just hope I’m not the only one who wants to talk about it, explore it, and listen to that feeling instead of pushing it away.

Crying on the Phone – A Confession

Have you ever cried while on a work phone call? I have. Multiple times. Partly because the people I was talking to were really mean to me, and partly because I’m so unhappy with myself for making choices that led to me getting paid to listen to people agonize over tiny, pointless details.

I don’t cry out loud of course. If I can manage to hold back the tears until we say goodbye, I do, and then let loose as soon as I hang up. If I can’t, I ask them a question I know they’ll take a long time to answer, put myself on mute and sob. I always have a glass of water next to me – taking a sip slows my breathing down and helps me not sound like I’ve just been crying – so I have some of that as they wind up their answer and it’s my turn to start talking again.

It wasn’t always like this. I would be lying if I said it wasn’t to do with turning 30. I was doing the exact same thing when I lived in Sydney, and when I was 27, but I didn’t cry this much. If I was going to cry, it was because I was tired, frustrated, or I felt that I’d disappointed my boss.

Now I cry because I’m mad at myself. I’m mad at myself for choosing this path and selling out. I’m mad at myself for not working harder to do something more meaningful, more creative, and mad at myself for making this job the thing that brought me to and keeps me in New York. I’m mad at myself for being nearly 30 and still in a job I don’t love, and for not using the degrees I worked so hard to get.

“So, Justine, what we think is, we should be really focusing on this thing that doesn’t even matter and that probably won’t help us make any more money for our business, and that no one will even care about in a week, let alone a month or a year. What do you think?”

“Ha, what do I think? I think this is a waste of time. I think you’re wasting my time. I think you’re making the world a worse place than it already is, and that your company is pointless and ridiculous. I think I’d like to just hang up the phone, tell my boss I’m never coming back, and walk out. But I can’t do that because I’ve chosen to live in New York, and a condition of living here is that I need to make money. I hate you, I hate this, and I want to die.”

But I don’t say that.

*Unmute* “Yeah, I completely agree with you, we should be focusing on this thing that doesn’t matter! I’ll consider it and come back to you.”

“Good, because we really feel that putting all our time and energy into this pointless exercise will achieve a lot.”

“Yes, I’ll come back to you when I have a better idea.”

I deal with this conflict almost every day. On really bad days, I go for long walks in the East Village, Lower East Side, and Soho to remind myself what I like about being here. And every time I walk across Houston Street, and make the split-second decision to either turn right onto Mott Street or keep going and turn left up First Avenue, I remember what I love. The feeling that the streets have something to say. The knowledge that so many amazing artists, musicians, and writers have walked these streets before me. The way that so many crazy, smart, interesting people can exist in one place.

And when it’s time to go home, I walk to the N/Q or B/D train even if it’s further than going to an R or F stop so I can see that view of the city from Manhattan Bridge. The view that cheers me up in the morning, the view that makes me feel like I’m part of something special, the view that makes me put my phone away so I can take it in without distraction.

I know that if I was younger I wouldn’t feel this way. Working for this company when I was 26 was fun. I had time to decide if I really liked it, and I had time to decide what would come next. I didn’t ever expect to use that job to get to New York, but when the opportunity presented itself it felt right. I was 28 when I fought to come here. Now I’m two months from 30 and dealing with the reality that not everything is possible. Things do change when you get to a certain age.

I’m lucky (or, unlucky depending on who you talk to) in the sense that I don’t have a house, a child, or a marriage to influence any decisions I make. But that still doesn’t make it easy. I could give this up and start again. Go back to University and do something completely different. Be a student, be poor, be irresponsible again. Or I can suck it up. Continue hating what I do because I get to live in a city I love to do it.

I find myself feeling nostalgic for my youth, something I never thought I would say. Things have gotten progressively better for me over the years, and I’ve never been the kind to idealize being young. I don’t want to be a certain age again though, I just want that feeling of simplicity back.

I know what I want to do, but I know that I’ll need to work a little while longer to do it. I also know that seeing very successful people succeed at things I want to do is a double-edged sword. On one hand, I’m inspired because it means people can do what they want in life. On the other, it makes me very jealous and want to give up, because I don’t think my abilities are up there with theirs.

A lot of my friends have made big changes in their lives. Moving overseas, quitting jobs without backups and leaving cities they’ve been in for years to start over. And many of them have done so in their 30s. Amongst all of the negativity around ageing and not being in a certain place by a certain time, there are people who are doing what they feel is best for them, at the time they feel it will work. And you know what? It has worked. All of them are doing great things, and didn’t let that initial fear of failure or feeling of inferiority for not being at a certain place yet stop them.

There’s hope for me, and for everyone else, yet.

New York I Love You, But You’re Bringing Me Down

This was a hard one to write. I’ve loved and wanted to live in New York for years. I still love it. I still want to live here. But what makes living here possible is what I don’t like about living here.

This may be a result of my two week vacation ending today. Holiday downers are real – after a particularly bad one when I got back to Sydney from New York, I spent the afternoon eating Reese’s peanut butter cups, and only stopped to nap when the jet lag kicked in, and sob about the fact I wasn’t in New York any more – so it’s possible my mind will change as things go back to normal.

Only, I don’t think it will. For as long as I work in New York I’ll deal with the same ‘live to work’ attitude, limited vacation time, and be surrounded by people who take their jobs incredibly seriously.

Let me be clear here, there is nothing wrong with being passionate. If you love what you do, and you want to express that every day, that’s great. I’m happy for anyone who’s found what they love and gets to do it all the time. If, however, you believe your involvement in any consumer-driven industry that does not really make the world a better place is on par with saving people’s lives, then I feel kind of bad for you. And other people who need to work with you.

After spending some time in London, and then in France, I loved comparing people’s attitudes to their jobs with those of New Yorkers. There doesn’t seem to be a belief that work defines them, or that what they do in the office each day is a true representation of who they are as a person. People try, people care about doing a good job, and they make an effort to work hard. But they are realistic about their jobs and what they can achieve, and don’t seem to reach the point of burnout that many do in New York.

It’s possible the same can be said of other places in America, but given I have only lived in New York and observed New Yorkers, I can only comment on the attitudes of people in this city.
The expectations placed on you are high. You have to be super enthusiastic to be taken seriously. And using the adjective “super” often helps. You have to know everything about your field, even if you don’t want or need to focus on certain things, to be taken seriously. You have to push and hustle for space everywhere in New York already – tickets to see a band, a meal at a new restaurant, or even a drink at a bar – and the office is no different.
At first, I loved how direct it was. I liked the lack of subtlety. But now I see it as an unsustainable way of being. Nothing can be left unsaid. Nothing can wait until tomorrow. The expectation is to work as hard as you can, without complaint, for as long as you can before you leave to repeat the same pattern somewhere else that will no doubt be exactly the same.

Even when I consider all the amazing things I’ve experienced, people I’ve met, and places I’ve seen while I’ve been here, I find myself dreaming about an easier life. I’m ashamed to admit the city I love may not be my home for as long as it could be, and that all of my declarations of love and wonder for it may appear shallow. It’s embarrassing to feel like turning my back on something I tried and worked so hard for.

My love for New York will never die. But I’m scared my spirit will. Maybe I don’t want to work so hard, sell myself every day, and force myself to care about things I can’t find meaning in. It’s easy when everyone around you has a similar attitude, but keeping up with the – at times manic – energy people display in New York may not be possible for me.

I’m tired of being told off for being quiet, instead of interrupting people in meetings just to make them hear my voice. Tired of arguing about things that don’t matter today, and definitely won’t matter in a year from now. So tired of faking passion to be on the same level as people who approach work the same way a doctor might when he’s researching a cure for cancer.
What’s next? I’ll keep the balancing act up for as long as I can, before taking that next leap.
But for now I’ll be in my bed, eating English Cadbury Chocolate (it’s better than that shit they make at the Hershey’s Factory), napping off my jet lag, and crying that I’m back in New York about to go back to work instead of on vacation in France.

New York on Paper – Our First Anniversary 

It’s been exactly one year since I arrived in New York, and I was excited to start work and have new adventures. I’d been thinking of moving here since my first visit in November 2014, but had been actively trying since my second visit in June 2015.

After many emails, follow up emails, more follow up emails, job applications, tantrums, and an anti-climatic visa appointment it was happening.

I sold and gave away a lot of my things, tried to sell my car (which got written off in the end – KA CHING) and had a lot of final nights out, drinks, dinners, and moments. I can’t believe it’s been a year. In some ways it feels like I’ve been here forever, in others it feels like I’ve just arrived.

When I left, a lot of people told me I’d eventually miss living in Australia and want to come back after a while. This is not the case, and I don’t know if that will ever happen. New York is my home now, and I feel more at home here than I ever did in Grafton (the small town I lived in before Sydney.) I felt at home in Sydney for most of the time I lived there… until I visited New York and realized that’s where I was meant to be.

Apart from the obvious things (friends and family), there’s not that much I miss about Sydney. I’ll start with what I don’t miss:

1. Sydney Swamp Weather 

Australia has a reputation for having sunny, warm weather year ’round. It might not get too cold in the major cities (apart from Hobart and Melbourne) but Sydney weather is not something to wish upon anyone. It rains more often in the warm months than it does in the cold (I took a tally of rainy days in spring and summer and compared it to winter, so if anyone wants to fight me on this, bring it) and this means humidity or as I like to call it, swamp weather.

And if it happens to be sunny and warm without rain approaching, it’s windy. I’ve lost count of the number of times I inadvertently flashed my underwear at passers by on Cleveland Street when I was surprised by a gust of wind, and of the number of umbrellas I’ve thrown on the street when the wind turned them inside out on my way to the train station during a downpour. When I worked at Bondi Beach I would bring my towel and swimmers to go to the beach after work but every day, like clockwork, around 3pm clouds would roll in and it would start raining. Watching the mass exodus of people from the beach was funny until you realized you’d be doing the same trek up Gould Street at the end of your shift.

I’m aware New York summer isn’t much better, but at least that hell only lasts a few months and not 3/4 of the year.

2. Sydney’s (Lack of) Nightlife and Culture
Sydney used to have great nightlife. I used to go out on Oxford Street at least one night every weekend and see bands all the time. The lockouts that came in at the start of 2014 stopped that, and the lack of people supporting live music resulted in many venues shutting down.

Security was tougher, there were more rules to adhere to, and you weren’t trusted to do anything. Sometimes I have flashbacks to that here and assume I’m going to be told no while doing something: taking alcohol into a park to watch the 4th of July fireworks, ordering multiple drinks after a certain time of night, smoking in an outdoor area.

And let’s talk about music festivals. I’ve been to one here that was chilled out and fun, they served a range of drinks instead of just weak beer and premixed sugar water. They weren’t militant about where you could go and what you could do while there. You were trusted to do the right thing because you’re an adult.
The number of music festivals that have been canceled in the last few years is embarrassing. I’m sure it’s a larger Australian problem than one Sydney has caused but still, the ongoing attitude against people having fun would have had an effect somewhere along the line.

What you see when you go out around Oxford Street

3. How Fucking Expensive Everything Is
Food, transport, alcohol, and events are insanely expensive in Sydney. I know New York is considered one of the places with the highest cost of living in the world but even with higher rent, I have more money for fun here than I did in Sydney.

The extra tax and tipping for meals out can add up, but at least you get good service, you can split the bill with others using their cards, and you get about 50% more food than you would for the same meal in Sydney.

What I Do Miss About Sydney: 

1. Australian Music.
I fucking miss Australian music. Australian bands have come to play since I’ve lived here – DZ Deathrays, Violent Soho, The Jezabels, Midnight Oil, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard – but when I see events like this advertised I know there’s no chance I’ll get to see something like that here.

But I also really miss going out and hearing those huge Australian anthems, played by a live band or just a DJ or jukebox, and feeling connected to everyone around you.

One night I was on a date and walked into a bar in The Village and ‘The Horses’ was playing. The person I was with had no idea what was going on, but I started singing and while I was waiting for a drink someone saw me and said “YOU’RE AUSTRALIAN!”

Another night – on another date – I started talking to a group of people, one of whom was from Melbourne. I checked the jukebox, played ‘The Horses’ and we had a moment.

Even Dillon Francis knows it’s good!

I took a video of myself singing and the guy I was dating then saw it on instagram the next morning. I played him the real version and then played him ‘You’re the Voice’, and he didn’t understand the brilliance of either. He even mocked the lyrics to ‘You’re the Voice’ by saying not everyone can be someone’s daughter or someone’s son if they’re an orphan. Don’t think those lyrics were meant to be taken literally champ, but thanks for your lame opinion anyway.

What John thinks of your opinion

I miss having people around me who understand the significance of those unofficial Australian anthems. I know I can always listen to them on Spotify or whatever, but there’s something to be said about the way it feels having everyone around you know and sing along to songs you love when when you unexpectedly hear them out somewhere.

2. Coffee
My God I miss consistently good coffee. There are some great cafes around, but they often make my coffee way too hot. I miss not needing one of those cover things to take my coffee with me, and I miss being able to get a large cappuccino (I know a latte is basically the same thing but this is not the point.)

Also, it’s really expensive here! I’m ashamed at the amount of money I’ve spent to have the luxury of a latte.

3. Palms 
I know I had a huge whinge about Sydney’s lack of nightlife above, but that rant excludes Palms. Palms is a gay bar on Oxford Street, that plays old music almost exclusively. You won’t hear Top 40 there (often), the songs that get the biggest reactions are usually from the ’80s and ’90s.

We all made friends with the DJ, my friend made friends with the bouncer and we used to pay him $5 to let us skip the line. We used to walk down those stairs like we were walking onto a yacht and used to run to “our corner” on the right side of the dance floor and make up moves all night.

I do have some great dance moves to Rick Astley’s ‘Never Gonna Give You Up’ and Whitney Houston’s ‘Million Dollar Bill.’ And ‘Cry For You.’ All of these include literal interpretations of the lyrics (we put our arms up when Rick Astley sings “Never gonna give you up!” and crouch to the ground when he sings “Never gonna let you down,” and so on) and we look amazing while we do them.

Palms is the only place I’ll suggest going to on Oxford Street, unless the line is too long when we get there and we go to the top level of Stonewall and look out the window to see if the line starts moving quicker. The number of times my friends and I almost got hit by cars rushing across at the Flinders Street lights is actually ridiculous and we should probably be dead by now.

I like Palms so much, that my straight female friend and I went there even when my gay friends weren’t going. We just wanted to dance to Whitney!

Sydney has its shortcomings, like every other city in the world, but I’ll never stop missing Australian music, coffee or Palms. I’m just not in a hurry to go back anytime soon.