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New York City Isn’t Clowning Around!

November 2009

Preparing for New York City was exciting: What an adventure and what will we do there?

Getting to New York was simple: Pack two oversized rolling luggage bags and get on the train.

John had left Charleston in the middle of October 2009 to make his way to New York City. He found a cozy spot in Hoboken, NJ on a friends couch to sleep at night and by day he scoured the city for jobs and Brooklyn for a home. I would be out in the yard on The Farm in Virginia when I’d get a call from him: “I’m in Brooklyn on Bergen Street and it looks pretty nice. Google it!” I would dial up the internet, yes….dial up!…..and spend hours trying to upload Google Earth images and look for apartments on that street. After 5 or so days of his tireless searching and my stressful computer navigating, I was ready to give up. But John had found work as a street promoter and I had heard back from a jeweler in Brooklyn that I may be able to intern with. Things were…..coming along….

I had no idea what to pack. Though I had just spent 3 months on a bike with little to my name, packing two suitcases for Fall in New York was tough. What’s the weather like? I need a suit to go to interviews in. How many shoes do I pack? Well, I sure did pack a lot. And with one or two care packages from Mom and Dad we were able to make it to Christmas on just that!

At the train station in Fredericksburg, VA I met an older lady who was heading to New York. She ended up sitting with me the whole way up and she kept me sane. I think it was harder to say goodbye to my parents that day than any other day. Mostly because I had no job. No idea what to do. And mostly-No where to live.

I met John outside of Penn Station. It was my second time to New York. I didn’t recognize him because he had lost so much weight. All of that house hunting and pinching pennies on food will change a man! But boy was I glad to see him. I took a deep breath and we headed to Hoboken. Hoboken is adorable and we looked at a few places there to rent. But we both thought the commute would be costly and time consuming. After one Craigslist scam and a million phone calls, we finally saw a month-to-month sublet in Queens that we really liked. That was quite a relief! Luckily, when you only bring 2 suitcases to live out of, it isn’t hard to move. Sunnyside, Queens: Beautiful, quaint, boring. I began my internship of beading and cutting wire and quietly sitting at a desk in a small room with 4 other women I didn’t know or identify with. We worked for Aesa. A very popular jewelry company run by Randi Mates. Everyone was so nice and she paid for my bus ticket, an occasional  lunch and lots of coffee. I was also working with John doing promotions. He was working 2 shifts a day at 4 hours a piece making $20 an hour!!!! Great gig, right! Maybe if you you’re not dressed in an Elephant suit! But he didn’t mind. He could listen to his Podcasts and his identity was completely hidden. 

My job however, was not so very fortunate. I got the $20 an hour, the 4 hour shifts, the paid travel as well. The downside……

I was not as lucky. With my head sticking out of a “medicine” box, flyers in one hand, and an oversized spoon in the other; I would have to say “Free Your Nose!” Over. And over. And over. It was cold. It was hilarious. But we did it together. We were sent all over the cities. We were paid the same even if we got lost or slipped into a Starbucks to stay warm during snow storms. It paid the bills and it led to another gig: Handing out Clown Noses for Big Apple Circus. That job was a whole lot of fun. Instead of throwing flyers at tourists….we handed out clown noses. And who doesn’t want a clown nose! (lots of people actually)

By January we had found a new place to live: Williamsburg(Brooklyn). We had two new roomies: Camille John had known for 8 years through Theatre 99 and Austin was a friend of hers from Chicago. The 4 of us had a 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, back yard, parking spot, and a basement storage area all for the price of what we paid for the studio apartment in Sunnyside, Queens. Amazing.

As for jobs….they just kept coming. I was working for pay at Aesa. I began working for Bullfrog Creatives as a production jeweler. I was an assistant teacher at The 92nd Street Y for a teen jewelry class on Saturdays. I was handing out clown noses whenever I could. John was promoting and going through UCB(Upright Citizens Brigade). He began working on a boat as a waiter. And he was picking up some catering shifts. At one point I was working 8 jobs! By April I had gotten part-time work at Eastern Mountain Sports. Back to doing the outdoor gear selling! I never thought I would be doing it again but it was consistent work. They had a schedule which I was salivating for at the time.  Every day seemed to be a combination of texts from the two ladies I worked for vying for my time to work for them but both struggling artists dealing with their own ups and downs. I was plugging the jobs into my day like puzzle pieces. Though they didn’t match up, they created a picture.

It’s exhausting being at someone’s beck and call. And to be in their studio all day wishing they were your tools and wishing it was your jewelry line you were slaving over. My hands would ache. My eyes would be tired. But it was such an inspiration to watch those women push through deadlines and obstacles. They made it work because it was their passion. It was in their every move and thought.

It’s tough to stand on a street corner and hand out clown noses to angry hurried New Yorkers. But it’s so much fun to learn how to navigate a city. It’s nice to have a kid with their hands outstretched reaching for that clown nose. The one that they can’t keep on because their nose is too small.

The summer of 2010 coming along solidified the fact that we had made it over the hump. We did it. We were employed, paying rent, and still dating! John was still pursuing his Banana Monologues Show. He was getting up early with me to write for hours before working his various jobs.

Fast forwarding a bit……MS Bike ride in September, Christmas on The Farm, Disney World in January, Launching my jewelry in February, March brought John to Annapolis,MD to begin work on a Comedy Festival for July, April was a trip home to Virginia for some much needed time with the family, and May has brought Full Time Employment and insurance…John made it into a New York Comedy Festival and I have my very own jewelry studio.

We’ve got weddings to attend, bills to pay, and a lawn to mow. We’ve got opportunities coming and choices to make. I know this blog began as a means of documenting my cross country bicycle trip in 2009 but I suppose it is morphing into something new now….The writer in me has been rumbling for months and I’ve suppressed the feeling to share my words with the world because it seems so selfish and indulgent. Well, screw it.

Working at Eastern Mountain Sports gives me a chance to talk about my trip and the commuting I do by bike these days. I hope to also share that information here. Let it be an inspiration for you to ride off in an direction you choose. I was brought to New York. Where are you going?

5 Boro Bike Tour 2010

George Washington Bridge

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About dollybikes

I'm going across the country on my bike. Yay.

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