My First Halloween Party Ever in America!

This weekend brought a few premieres with it. Aside from the hurricane rumbling up and basically destroying our precious city (read more here), I had the chance to participate in an event I have been burning to be part of: Halloween in New York!

Yes, of course there was last year’s parade with all the craziness and drunkenness going on. Coming from other people, not me, I would like to add. No dressing up for me, no real partying for me. And then my very first year here, in October 2010, we I ended up spending the night before Hollow’s Even sipping a glass of wine with an anxious friend who was blabbing about how dangerous it can be to be out on the streets during Halloween. “You might be mugged by a lone ghost that jumps you in the dark!” he shrieked and was pleased at the effect his words had.

So this year I finally wanted to make it happen. I wanted to be drunk and made up, all messed up, dancing in the streets of Brooklyn, Manhattan, or heck, even Queens. My friends sent me a few invites to dubious parties happening throughout the entire weekend. Since Halloween is once again in the middle of the week, all the fun started early and people got dressed up beforehand. Preferably when they didn’t have to work so that they could drink and celebrate at the same time. And oh yeah, when the subways were still working, half the city wasn’t out of power, and no one was too shocked to friggin celebrate. But yeah, let’s please do not get into that!

A long-lost “friend” sent me an invite over Facebook (yes, I am back on the devious site). He probably also sent it to the rest of his 300 something friends, but I thought it would be fun to crash the so-called Club 305 Party in the midst of Williamsburg. Oh had we just known better….

The day before the party, on Thursday, I met up with my one friend to go through one of the biggest costume collections at the New York Costumes around Union Square. I feel that these random Halloween shops pop up all throughout New York the month before the event is scheduled to start. I really don’t know how they manage to rent out a space for 4 weeks only, but after Halloween they are abandoned warehouses or buildings.

Now – the New York Costumes is located in NYU territory, meaning many students were seeking out a fantastic and spooky outfit the night before the weekend started. After shoving through the masses, my friend and I had enough of all the junk and decided to call it the quits. I then met up with friend no. 2 in the noticeably less crowded Ricky’s around the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. It was here that I managed to snag some fiery red, devilish-good looking accessories for my costume on Friday. My friend bought a “Hipster” outfit for the proud price of 20 (!) bucks: fake glasses, a bow tie, and suspenders… Feeling slightly ripped off, we were nonetheless still happy to finally have found something.

Blurry picture of us on the train

On Friday, we all started in a happy mood: The Hipster, the devil (me), and Roger Rabbit (a cartoon character from 1988, in case you didn’t know). While wandering around Chinatown to look for the right train going to Marcy Ave, we got some curious looks and a mistaken “Easter Bunny” comment (my friend was furious!). Club 305 turned out to be house number 305. We rang and rang and were wondering if it really was worth all the trouble just to crash a party where we most likely did not know anyone…

Then we heard people on the roof and a guy opened the door. “You are trying to get upstairs? Sure, just come up!” It became apparent what kind of party we had crashed: A gay and transvestite party! But what a party it was. After the initial shocking silence, the people resumed their talks and only eyed us every once in a while as we scurried up the steps to the roof in order to get some fresh air. Here we met a friend of a friend someone who knew the friend who had invited me. The guy, as it turned out, had gotten trashed at an after-work-party and was never to show. We, however, had the time of our lives, and our empty vodka bottle proved it at the end of the night.

Surprisingly amazing house party

Since the theme of the party was “Film and Movies,” Roger Rabbit fit right in. She got so drunk that we almost had to carry her back to the subway station when we called it the quits around 2:30 AM. All of us would have never expected to stay at such an extraordinary party for so long but it really was a great time. We met some fun people (not everyone there was gay, evidently), danced with the transsexual host, and were able to feed on some home-delivered cheese pizza. All in all, quite a success story!

Now, party number 2 got all our hopes up just because of how hyped up it was to begin with: 12 bucks just to enter. 2 bands, a live DJ, and mixers… Bam! What a great party this would be! Or so we thought.

At 10:30 PM, while my friend and I sat together and pre-gamed, she received a text message from one of the guys in the first band: “We are re-locating to the Financial District due to unforeseen circumstances!” was his short message. The party was to go down in Midtown and both of us were quite perplex at how suddenly it had been re-scheduled and in what area it was supposed to take place.

Sometime after 11:30 we showed up around Johns Street, ready to have a great but already thoroughly confused evening. With our printed tickets, we marched to the bouncer, just to be blown off from the start: “What is that? Which party are you here for?” he barked at us. A girl standing next to him pulled us to the side and verified our information. “Oh yes, we had to reschedule” she nervously exclaimed while putting yellow bands on our wrists. “It’s all the way on the roof now! I hope you have fun!” she chirped.

Kraftwerk band

The first band, dressed up as Kraftwerk, was having a hard time getting up the stairs with their heavy instruments. We looked at each other. Then we looked at the crowd that seemed mostly underage. And then we go to see two other parties going on while passing through three floors on our way up. There was a hip hop party, most likely with a few drugs here and there. On the roof, people were already drunk. Or on drugs. Who knows. The band was confused as to what to do. A girl dressed up in a blue cop uniform was hopping around, then she squat right next to us and peed all over the band’s instruments.

Grossed out we jumped to the side. Word had it that the cops were downstairs raiding the place. All of a sudden a detective in a suit opened the door to the roof, shone a flashlight into everyone’s eyes, and yelled: “Party’s over! Everyone go downstairs!”

Cops raiding place
Cops trying to get rid of people

What a shock! And what a hot mess! We were scrambling to go downstairs. As we were making our way down, we stepped through a few puddles that looked like more pee. Since there was no bathroom anywhere, people had decided to just go out into the staircase and…
While passing the second floor, we saw about five boys lined up by two NYPD cops. They had their legs and arms in a typical spread-eagle pose while they were standing against the wall. So I really got to see an arrest before I left the place.

Everyone was confused as to how the evening should continue. We ended up in a loft party in Williamsburg where 100 other people had found their way to. I decided I had enough of Halloween until next year and left around 3 o’clock. Boy, what a night! And the best news: Sometime after I left, this place was also raided by the cops! A spontaneous, noisy party in Wburg – go figure!

Bummed out Roger Rabbit

So that was my Halloween in New York. I got to dress up, was drunk, and hung out with some friends. I also got to pay for a really bad joke of a party but now I know that the best parties are probably the free ones! Or the house parties!

Happy Halloween y’all!

Hurricane Sandy: Day 2 – Over But Not Really – We got Hit!

Boy, what a night and day we had! While I was snuggled up in my Brooklyn apartment, all ready to fight the storm but essentially falling asleep over some old seasons of “Revenge,” the rest of New York was in the midst of a true battle.

Queens extinguished fires all night long and saw houses get washed onto the tracks. Staten Island also had some extensive burning and flooding going on. Lower Manhattan lost power at some point in time during the evening, starting at 7 PM. The first blocks to be affected were the Lower East Side and Financial District, city parts which are close to the water. Now it has jumped over to all households and buildings below 40th Street (or, better to visualize, anything south of Times Square). The Bronx had some destructive winds rage up there in the North. And New Jersey, poor New Jersey is completely screwed over with its extensive flooding and curfew zones. While Hoboken lies right on the water, it was not the only town to be evacuated. Jersey City is also still fighting its rivers of overflowing water in the downtown area. All the smaller places close to the water are basically destroyed. The same is going on with Long Island, which looks similar to New Jersey picture-wise. Power is out in 90 percent of the households. Flooded apartments and houses. Within one night people have lost all of their hard-earned savings, belongings, and memories. It is very sad to see such heartbreaking news on TV.

For once I am truly glad that I live where I live. I am happy that I am not anywhere close to Manhattan and what is going on over there right now. All those celebrities who paid millions of dollars to live in the Meatpacking District and around Gramercy must be really frustrated with the lack of electricity they are experiencing together with the average struggling citizen of New York. Well, as rumor has it, the power is supposed to be out for another 4 days. ConEd is having a hard time catching up. Some parts will even be shut down for another week. How people will manage to survive through the dark – I have no idea.

Today I walked through Park Slope and met up with a friend from Crown Heights. Many more people were out on the roads, picking up their little remnants of the storm (I forgot it was a tradition to collect fallen twigs from the ground after a hurricane). We went past over-crowded bars. Businesses were opening up slowly. Brunch in our favorite but packed Irish pub in Fort Greene. Just another frustrating day after Sandy. Everyone was happy to be around people again. Cabin Fever, is what you call it. Staying inside and being bored for too long. It was refreshing to walk back to Prospect Park and look at the fallen trees throughout the Slope. One giant hit the ground and took a few cars with it … Ouch!

While the MTA had been up and running only one day after Irene hit, this year it will take at least another 3 to 4 days to get started, as Bloomberg announced in the morning news. Because of flooded tunnels and power being out in the entire subway system. I wonder what happened to the rats… As of now, we don’t have any further updates on this matter.

In case you didn’t know or forgot: The MTA is the thriving force that holds this city together. If not subways and trains are functioning, people are stuck. They cannot go anywhere or leave to anywhere. The busses have already started limited service this afternoon and are scheduled to pick up within the next few days. However, a subway ride that would have taken me 16 minutes from here to my work will now take me 1 and a half hours on two different busses which have yet to start service yet. All of this is a huge mess! Or as my friend puts it: “This is crazy!”
She is stuck without electricity in Westchester, a county above New York City. While they managed to get out of Jersey City in time, they have no power and no connection to the outside world (well, except for an occasional update via text message). Unfortunately, even if she manages to swim through the still closed and flooded Holland tunnel, the PATH will not run for another 7 to 10 days! That’s over a week without any public transportation means. This city relies on it so bad!

I have already started to feel some de-motivation when talking to friends and my roommates. No one I know has a car. No one here needs one (except for now, I suppose). So if the only means of transport is not running, what else is left to do? Work has required me to come in tomorrow. They will reimburse us for the cabs we will have to take. Of course the Empire State Building is possibly the only spot below 40th Street that has power. But my friends have also been asked to come in. Some won’t be reimbursed for the cabs they take so they are thinking about bussing it (2 hours back and forth equals 4 hours of wasted time a day). It’s basically a huge disaster but I guess it could be worse. Let’s hope it will be running this weekend again.

Oh, and airports? JFK is scheduled to open up tomorrow again. La Guardia and Newark will be closed but maybe this will change again soon. Things change so quickly the day after the hurricane.

This is possibly the worst New York has been hit. But its spirit is what makes this city out: Dwell on it for a minute and then move on. There is work to do!

Hurricane Sandy – Day 1: Still Before but Somehow in the Middle

Frankenstorm has finally arrived. I decided to walk around Park Slope at around 1 PM in the afternoon…. Luckily I did my laundry yesterday already, because, alas, the only laundromat close to my building was closed, of course! They decided to call it the quits yesterday around 6 PM. By that time, the MTA had made the decision to shut down and the bus system was scheduled to ride at 9 PM for the last time. No trains and busses for almost 24 hours. I suppose this is what New York feels like during just another one of their hurricanes… This time it actually is not as bad as the year before. I have a ton of bar and restaurant options to choose from.

So I walked up to 5th Ave, since the bars on 4th Ave were closed down and no bodega was open. However, 5th Ave rocks! 5 bars in my vicinity and all of them are defying the storm that is safely picking up to its predicted speed of 90 MPH.

Of course I picked Uncle Barry’s, which was a deserted place early in the afternoon. However, the bartender came up with the one and only justifiable drink during that day: The hurricane! Made of 4 types of rum and a pink juice topped with a sweet cherry. Looked girly, tasted sweet, and hours later I am still feeling its effects.

Rightfully earned Hurricane drink!

After this, I walked past the packed Alchemy, which offered Sunday brunch and great Bloody’s. Then the rain started to pour down, so I sprinted back home. Just in time for some breaking headlines on the news at that time (actually, they are still reporting about it): Construction crane collapses in midtown!
Supposedly a crane on top of a 95 million dollar real estate project had not been lowered in time and is still dangling over 57th street, threatening to hit passengers who shouldn’t be out on the street and taking pictures with their iPhones in the first place. So beware of the bad crane, it might hit you people walking underneath it on 57th Street and between 7th and 6th Avenue…

Seeing some wet pictures of Long Island and Long Branch Beach made me slightly uneasy. I felt sorry for the poor reporters who had to waddle through knee-high water just to get the real shots of the day… Long Island always seems to be the main target when it comes to flooding (sorry, Queens, you are always screwed!). This is why I decided to keep my millions to myself and stay safe and sound in North Brooklyn!

Other than this, friends seemed to be more bored than usual on the one and only other option to mingle – Facebook. I have the choice between answering my worried friends in Germany, who, after these dumb headlines from a German newspaper, are freaking out even more than I am. Not to mention the rest of America who is avidly praying for… us? We are okay, people, we are just fine!

My one friend has been baking cookies in the Upper West Side and invited her neighbors over for a party. My other friend is bored up in Dykman and keeping us updated about “rats climbing trees in Staten Island.” Those rats are wonder creatures! My cousin has been roasting a whole chicken and baking pies in Philly. I hope they are going to be okay, they don’t even have bars open to celebrate.

Wet streets in Park Slope

Other friends are just waiting it out in Crown Heights. I heard someone talk about wanting the subways to run again and return to work. Oh by the way, some jobs are even more incredible than mine: A friend was required to come into work because she lives “only” 20 blocks away (Manhattan). Others have been asked to do work from home. Excuse me? Possibly the power shutdown will prevent employers from coming up with more nonsense. ConEd has turned off the juice in Lower Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn already. People received a lame voice message on their phones before they were left to the dark. Which is why I want to bring this post up before the real deal goes down and I cannot roast my own chicken anymore.

So here I am, about to cook up some dinner and watching more breaking news with the roomies. Sirens howling in the background, winds gushing past our window. The tree across the street swaying dangerously towards us and the small car parked beneath it… Hurricane Sandy, bring it on! Luckily the fridge still has some beer…

Again?! Hurricane Sandy Threatening to Destroy the Big Apple!

Once again New York is fighting one of its annual hurricanes bursting through the Tri-State-Area… Hold up! And I thought after living in Florida I would have been in the state the most threats when it came to hurricanes, floods, alligator bites…?! While when I was there, I had not witnessed even the tiniest storm in the sunshine state, New York is offering its second (!) hurricane sweeping past the city within just one year! Yes, one year!

I have no clue as to why all of a sudden I am preparing for a natural catastrophe on an annual basis. But sure enough, after the devastating Irene of last year’s August heat (read more here), we are now on the run to fight hurricane Sandy (whoever comes up with these names, I like Sandy a lot better than Irene). While Irene had been downgraded to a tropical storm by the time it hit the City in 2011, Sandy is predicted to have gained in strength comparable to two storms. And on top of this it is rumored to have a diameter of 1040 miles, meaning it will reach far into the countryside. Once it is close to the Canadian border, experts believe it will mingle with the colder atmosphere to create a vicious mix of snow, ice, and wind…

Now if this does not sound like bad news, I don’t know what will. The fact that the news spread right when the weekend started certainly did not help in terms of New Yorkers believing in taking extra precaution. While a few coworkers had fantasized about an extra day off on Monday, we were all too absorbed in our daily routine to really think about what to do if it really were to happen.

But then it became more and more apparent in the news on Friday and Saturday that indeed New York is not likely to dodge this bullet. “I am buying tape to plaster up my windows,” my phobic friend announced at a pre-Halloween party on Friday. Both my other friend and I looked at each other, rolling our eyes at her expression of anxiety. “This is the closest I have ever lived to the shoreline, I am not taking any chances,” my friend went on, nervously chewing her nails and probably thinking about all the other precautions she could be taking.

The insane line of hurricane-panicked people waiting outside of Trader Joes in Brooklyn…

Then, on Saturday, the roomie got me hooked on bunkering a few necessities, such as water and food. As I made my way to Trader Joes, I could hardly believe my eyes: A line reaching over half of a block was forming in front of the huge store in Brooklyn. “Wow, three days before the actual occurrence, not bad!” I thought while I annoyedly stood in line waiting for my turn. Luckily, it only took 5 minutes. Apparently Trader Joes just wanted to make sure that not too many people were swarming around their store, so they made the customers wait outside until the inner capacity was well-balanced. And even better, there was still plenty of food, liquids, and what-nots for me to shove into my basket before I went off to the bodega. 2 gallons of water should be more than enough, I thought yesterday. Now, after hearing the reports worsening, I am actually not too sure anymore.

We will see how things go. Plenty of rain is predicted. Flooding is one of the big hazards, as in last year. High winds could leave substantial damage. Which is why Bloomberg called it a day when he shut down the MTA at 7 PM (which happens to be right now). The last train has left the station and whenever the danger is over, New Yorkers will be able to commute safely again. Or such is the original idea.

And what cannot be amiss during a once twice in a lifetime hurricane? Absolutely right, a hurricane party, of course! Bars around the corner started drawing their first Sandy-related ads onto the black boards until they decided to put the sign back inside due to the strong winds outside. Nonetheless, I got to shoot this fine picture at Alchemy, advertising for Dark and Stormies and Hot Bloody Mary’s. Perhaps I will have to drop by at some point in time today or tomorrow…

Alchemy’s fabulous sign during the hurricane!

Because, after all, no one in New York will be working for at least one day. Hopefully two. A wishful three, if worse comes to worse. But let’s be happy with a labor-free Monday! Unless you work in the hotel industry… That indeed will mean busy 36-hour shifts, I dare say.

Until then, I will once again keep you updated on how this storm will coin my life in New York! Cheers to Sandy! And Irene! And all the other hurricanes that decide to drop by in the beginning of the week here in the Big Apple!

[To ready more about Hurricane Irene go to:
Stories during the hurricane: Day 1
Stories during the hurricane: Day 2 ]

Restaurant Guide: Zum Schneider in the East Village

The following was written for an online publication focusing on events and bars in the Village. However, since it was never published, I am claiming it and introducing to you one of my favorite German restaurants in Manhattan!

Waitresses serving huge beakers of beer in a dirndl dress. Musicians presenting German songs during another foreign holiday… These are scenes of a typical Saturday night at a rustic Bavarian bar in the Village.

Most New Yorkers are unaware of the fact that the East Village used to be home to one specific group of European immigrants: It was one of the earliest German settlements of New York and offered a solid ground for the upkeep of their cultural values. Unfortunately, a good deal of its German population was wiped out by a tragic steamboat accident in 1904.

However, one little remnant of this little German area has remained until today. Just on the far end of the East Village in an area called Alphabet City. Located on the corner of East 7th St and Avenue C, it can be seen from far away thanks to the blue umbrellas und solid wooden tables outside. I am talking about nothing else than the restaurant and bar Zum Schneider: A traditional German place owned by the Bavarian native Sylvester Schneider, who brought some German flair into the furthermost Eastern part of the Village more than a decade ago.

12 German beers on tap, a menu featuring traditional dishes, and servers with the all-too-common harsh accent – it hardly gets more original than this. Not only does the owner speak German, but he wants his customers to feel transformed to Little Germany for a tiny bit longer than a beer and a dinner. So of course the menus are in German, the music is foreign, and the servers are bilingual.

Wiener Schnitzel and a wheat beer

Among one of the most desired dishes of the house you will find common entrées such as the Wiener Schnitzel, a breaded piece of veal served with potatoes and cucumbers. Another cultural must-have: Schweinebraten, which is roasted pork next to dark gravy, potato dumplings and a traditional Bavarian salad. But even the vegetarian will be delighted to come here, as there are meat-omitting food options, such as the cheese plate and a vegetable casserole. Both of these dishes are quite extensive in size and therefore great to share with a group of friends as an appetizer. Beware of the highlight on the menu no one really tells you about: The two dessert options! Two does not seem like a whole lot, until you have devoured the home-made Apfelstrudl and tasted the delicious Kaiserschmarrn. One of the best things of the Bavarian cuisine must be the sweet tooth they have!

Bartender Sven trying out a freshly drafted German beer

Zum Schneider is one of the biggest participants of the German Oktoberfest, typically celebrating it from mid-September until the beginning of Oktober. Of course, Zum Schneider will always be worth a visit even after this time of year. Especially with the cold season and the holidays showing up. It is a great spot to try one of the best Gluehweine in town: Red wine served hot and mixed with spices such as cinnamon sticks, orange peels, and the ultimate secret ingredient. It is a tradition to drink this kind of hot wine during the winter and Christmas season throughout Germany and Sylvester was smart to introduce it to his innovation-seeking customers. Starting four weeks before Christmas at the end of November, the bar offers “Christmas Carrols” on the weekends, during which German songs are introduced to the bar crowd.

Maifest, Oktoberfest, Advent, and Karneval – these are all occasions to give the German side of New York a try. Where else than in one of the best restaurants of the Village? Prost!

Are You Happy Or Are You Content?

Last week my friend and I went to a spontaneous happy hour in Greenwich Village. While sipping on Jake’n’Ginger and Vodka Sodas, we started philosophing about life in New York and life in general. It appears that there is always a certain type of people that is attracted to this city. I am not talking about the locals – the citizens that have been here since the day they were born or the day their families moved here. I am also not talking about the temporaries – the tourists that come here and stay for two weeks or the interns that leave after 3 months at the UN. I am moreover talking about me and her – the people who have come here to start a new life or begin a changed life.

So while frustration poured over and gave room to contemplation, my meanwhile tipsy friend exclaimed that the only two kinds of people who matter are the following: the happy people and the content people. At first I didn’t know what to make of this. “I used to know this woman in her thirties. She didn’t have a high income but got up each day with her partner to work a minimum wage job and then buy herself some pot. They lived a happy life, the two of them. They were truly content.” I raised an eye brow and wondered if I had failed to miss out on the true purpose of life by rolling my own joint and working a meager-paying job. “I myself have never felt this sense of contentness,” she went on. “I have never been satisfied with what I do and have always strived for more. From an early age on. I know what it feels like to be happy. But being content? I have no idea,“ she contemplated while taking a sip of her vodka soda mix.
“So what is better, being content or being happy?” I stupidly asked, feeling all of a sudden awkward by the fact that I had not felt both in my life time. “Nothing is better. It’s just different,” she responded. “I think I am more of a happy person then,” I spoke my thoughts out loud. “If I had been content, I wouldn’t have come here to start a new life and begin adventures unheard of.” She smiled knowingly and said she thought the same. But the fact that one can never be content and happy at the same time still makes me feel at unease. Who is to say never, especially in a life time defined by so many different factors we cannot control?

So I like to revise the kinds of people from above. She calls them content and happy. I call them the people who strive and the people who do not. The people who strive are seeking a wider purpose in life. They know that the earth is not refined to a small village in Germany, a mediocre town in the States or field work in China. They know that only when they travel and experience life elsewhere, they will be able to still the innate fear of being left out on life and the beauty this world offers. The people who do not strive do not know what to do with the riches the world bears. They live their lives from day to day and are satisfied to have married a good man or woman, to have nursed a child or two, and to call a job their purpose. They might have a passion or a hobby, but they would not give up their comfortable life style in order to pursue it or to make their dream come true. They have a great life to offer from the outside, it might have everything the strivers were raised to believe in. But essentially how they make sense of the world and their life in general is hidden to someone like me and most likely will always remain a distanced truth of make-believe.

To me, it is a mystery of how you can be happy without having ventured out and had your entire life turned upside down. How you can appreciate what you have every day without having lost it for an extended period of time. It makes no sense to me to be on the steady path of studying, career, or marriage if you have not seen what else is out there. I guess I have always had this innate fear of missing out on too much had I stayed in the spot I was ten years ago. Or five years ago. I never pictured myself in a traditional job, such as a veterinary, a nurse, or a teacher, unlike many of my hometown friends.

Being raised bilingual and bicultural has opened up an entirely new universe to me in the sense of citizenship and traveling without the barrier of language so many other Germans and Americans have rubbed upon. It is impossible to redefine the mind to something smaller than it started out with, and that is very true when it comes to how my life has revolved. I sometimes really wonder if the people who have stayed in the same profession, the same town, or the same mindset for way too long do not feel that they are missing out on anything? And if yes, why are they not breaking out? Because ever since I set foot in this world by myself, ever since I boarded a plane on my own, I have had no desire to return to what I have called a safe haven. A shelter from the real life. And definitely a lot less enriching than my world has now turned out to be.

Back to the happy and content people: I believe my friend has it slightly wrong. The content people can be happy in the moment and the happy people can feel satisfied with their achievements once in a while. I guess her overall thought was that over the long run you cannot have both. Maybe a truly wise man or woman can have it both. But for now I am content with not being content. I am happy being a striver and striving for new goals to achieve every single day. Or week. Or month. Sometimes even years. However, I know that life is precious. And that it can become a burden if your freedom is restricted by what others want you to make out of it. So make sure that everything you do, you truly do for you.

When Quitting Feels Good: My First Job in New York

My first job in New York was working as a waitress in an Irish pub somewhere in the Lower East Side. It was owned by three cheap Irish guys in their early 30ies, who didn’t pay their staff an hourly wage but demanded they live off of the tips they accumulated throughout their shifts. The way our main boss behaved towards us was very foul from the start. I remember having worked there for three weeks only and receiving a text message from my boss, who “asked” me if I wanted to come in today. It was two hours before the shift was supposed to start. I declined that day but when he asked me the next day without given me any previous notice I knew it was a win or lose situation (in the sense of being coldly fired). So I came in, for the sake of some money and for lack of having a better job. Our shifts were brutal during the evenings: I was scheduled to come in at 4 PM and usually stayed until 4 AM – a total of 12 hours. Without any hourly pay and only the tips to rake in, I still managed to earn a fair amount (up to 270 bucks) during good nights. But other, slower days were hardly worth mentioning. One night I even walked out with 20 dollars in my pocket, fuming for ever having gone into this industry.

I held out for about 2 months. More than enough time for me to figure out what I wanted or rather, what I didn’t want.

Of course they needed someone to work during July 4. Since a fellow server had already requested her day off well in advance, I was supposed to do the brunch shift and another gal was working in the evening. The 4th of July fell on a Sunday. I made sure to grab all my belongings the evening before, after ending my final shift. With a cheerful “See you all tomorrow!” I exited the bar, never to step a foot into this establishment again. Sometime on Sunday my boss texted me and wanted to know how much later I would care to show up. Then another text: “It really would be fair to tell me whether or not you are showing up so that I can ask another waitress to come in”. Fair? You dare use that word? It would have been fair to give your employees an hourly salary. And not let them work 12 hours straight. Also, how about shifts that don’t start two hours before you ask them? Fair! Pah!

I never responded because I never wanted him to reply back with the all-so-satisfying words: “You are fired!” In this instance, I had won! I had quit. And it felt good. My German friend said it was karma getting back to that cheap bastard. I guess he was partly right. Self-induced karma. When someone is stupid enough to go according to a nation’s reputation and praise how reliable Germans are just to abuse them as cheap working labor, he doesn’t deserve better.

The relief that comes with quitting is extensive. You feel happy and glorious. Independent and free. And before the onset of financial repercussions show up you are living a fair life. Quitting that job had been my best bet in this city. True, I had some tough three months ahead of me. Finding a real job, going through interviews, and then finally working in an office setting on minimum wage. But I wouldn’t have wanted to trade it for anything. The satisfaction I got for dumping a trashy bar on possibly one of their busiest holidays of the year… How could I not be happy about this? I believe if a job is not making you too happy and if the mental state achieved during this kind of work is outweighing the financial means, it might be a good time to just move on.

Yes, it’s not great to live on barely nothing for an extended period of time. But at the same token, it might give you the right push to look for something better. Sometimes we can feel passive and tired when working in the wrong job, to the point where we don’t have the strength and courage to go ahead and apply for something else. Being away from work, hated annoying co-workers, and meaningless tasks can give us some time to regenerate and focus on how we want to spend the majority of our remaining time. Be it moving to a new city or starting a different chapter in life – a job usually plays a crucial role in how we will define our experiences during this period of life.

Were it not for that one long summer in 2010, I would have never known how beautiful the Brooklyn beaches can look on a weekday – completely deserted by the hordes of people. Or how rejuvenated I can feel when walking around students through Washington Square Park during the middle of the day. Not to mention that touristy things are less crowded in the week than on weekends. Or how precious free entertainment is for those who cannot afford much else.

Sometimes we forget that we are here to make the very best of our time. That when we choose a time-out in life, we cannot have a daily routine let it go to ruin. Never giving up on our dreams is and should be the main goal of life. So creating some distance between this thought and the other responsibilities we think we owe society should also play an important role in our lives.

After all, isn’t “life about the moments that take our breath away than the number of breaths we take?” (quote by Hilary Cooper)?

A Day in Jersey City: Weekend Glories

Wide streets framed with high trees. A typical American diner serving silver dollar pancakes to big families. A not too crowded park that leads you through the jungle to the open water.

Last Sunday I spent a day in New Jersey together with my friends who showed me around. They are a couple and moved into their new apartment at the beginning of this year. Because they wanted to be close to the City but couldn’t afford the outrageous one-bedroom rates of Manhattan, they choose Jersey City as their new home destination. I don’t think they’ve ever regretted crossing the Hudson River ever since. They were simply over their shared apartment situation in Bushwick and NJ was exactly what they needed: A peaceful area with affordable rentals and lots of opportunities to travel in and out of New York.

Now, there are several ways to get over to New Jersey. You can rely on a bus or New Jersey transit, a train that will take you from the main stations, such as Penn and Grand Central, to the bigger cities. The easiest means of travel is most likely the PATH: An underground train that you can catch throughout Manhattan and that catapults you to the Garden State within minutes.

Coming from Brooklyn, I took the PATH from the World Trade Center Station. It is a little bizarre to get there via this route because you first have to take the R to Cortland Street and, instead of switching over to the PATH underground, you will have to walk out of the subway station, a few blocks past the new Liberty Tower, then take a left to finally enter the train station. Got it? Exactly! It took me two tries to get there. In case you get lost, there are a few stingy signs on the way but unfortunately it is easier to orient yourself on the hectic crowds scurrying ahead of you then relying on the scarcely written words. Of course the PATH can feel like you are transformed to a different universe at times, especially since so many people from New Jersey are taking it. While they are not completely foreign, the vibes you get on the PATH are just so very different than anywhere else in the city. The funniest costume I’ve seen on it so far was the Bird Man: An eccentric-looking guy who dresses in fluffy, uni-colored outfits every day and either walks the Brooklyn Bridge or travels over to New Jersey. Back in February he had his red outfit on as he was was buying a ride over to NJ. Right when I got this awesome shot of him.

Other than that, a PATH ride can be rather uneventful. Compared to NYC subways, of course. To get to Jersey City, I got off at Grove Street, which catapulted me into the center of this quaint town (or so it seemed). Especially since it was the weekend, I saw people walking around fruit and veggie stands as soon as I was above ground. Perfect timing for a weekly green market in the middle of the town.

While taking a look around and walking towards my friends’ house, I discovered a good indicator of having left the Big Apple for sure: The streets were wider, the avenues longer, and everyone a bit happier. Jersey City can also easily convey the airs of a hipster town or college student center, I have found. When walking through the streets, I have sometimes been struck by a striking resemblance to Park Slope, except for that the roads are further apart. “No wonder you felt that way!” my friend explained to me. “The brownstones you see here are from the exact same era than the brownstones in Brooklyn. Together with the trees lining the streets and the occasional dog and baby stroller, you can surely have the impression that you are still in the Slope.”

Jersey City graffiti

In the beginning I really did not feel like I had left my neighborhood. Until I saw the restaurants and bars. A neighborhood group gathered around huge TVs. Or the Sunday brunch crowd. Just so very different than in Breukelen. On Sunday my friends wanted to show me how huge the portions are you get in New Jersey. Therefore, they picked their favorite diner only minutes from their apt. “We really love that everything is close-by. You don’t need a car – unlike everyone wants to make you believe when you mention you are moving to Jersey. Bars, cafes, restaurants – everything is so close and we don’t even leave the town anymore on the weekends unless we have to”, my friends were eager to point out to me. True, the PATH was a good 15 mins walk away. But everything else was about as close as it could get.

Such as the Brownstone Diner & Pancake Factory diner, for example. A few blocks over and close to the park, we entered it on a busy Saturday afternoon. Early lunch time. Big families with infants and babies who were devouring huge portions of scrambled eggs, and pancakes, and bacon … you name it! My mouth was watering just by looking at the food. “This is our favorite spot” my friend proudly announced as he heard my stomach growl. “And the best thing about it is that it is just so much cheaper than Manhattan!” Well, in Manhattan you would not find diners like these. I am sure they would be boycotted by some green/go-vegan/preserve-the-originality-of-New-York kinda group. Which is absolutely fine, that’s why New Jersey offers a close compromise, where you can devour a family-sized breakfast and not feel guilty. For ten bucks I got a cheese omelet, silver-dollar-pancakes (how original is that!), home fries and some fresh orange juice. What a meal! I was able to finish about 3/4 of it until I finally gave up. Thumbs up to that!

Huge brunch in New Jersey

After our marathon brunch we were a bit stuffed, so my friends decided to go to one of the biggest parks in town. Their little dog Beija accompanied us and stuck her tiny nose in about everything she came across. On our way to it, she discovered a small snake lying around on the road. I never thought of New Jersey even having snakes, so I learned something new that day (one out of many things, actually).

Liberty State Park is an extensive green area, ideal for walking, hiking, yachting, and sightseeing. So pretty much anything you feel like doing on a weekend. They have cute little benches that overlook the skyline of Manhattan. They also have a historic train station which is now out of service but can still be visited for purposes of photo shoots or simply exploring. That day we saw three different wedding parties posing with their bridesmaids, groom helpers and families in front of the red brick walls of the train station. Luckily it was a gorgeous day out, with a high of 75 and no sign of rain on the baby blue sky.

Liberty State Park
My friends at Liberty State Park

Aside from the old wagons, the green trees, and the towers of Manhattan looming in the background, my friends showed me a very special spot of which I and most likely other New Yorkers had no idea it even existed: The 9/11 Memorial, Jersey-bound. Jersey City built the so-called Empty Sky and finished its construction at the same time the Manhattan counterpart opened to the public – on the tenth anniversary of the attacks of September 11. Its most predominant features are two opposing walls with the victims’ names, through which visitors can walk and see themselves in mirror-like fashion. These kinds of memorials always give me a huge gulp and I was touched by how every city close to New York seems to remember that one awful day in 2001.

New Jersey’s version of the 9/11 Memorial

Aside from the memorial, the town is connected to New York via ferry route. A boat goes out to Liberty and Ellis Island on a regular basis, which emphasizes the crucial role New Jersey withholds in the Tri-State relationship to New York. Often people, visitors and citizens, tend to forget this.

I was happy to have the chance of seeing Liberty State Park and spending an entire day with my friends whom I have a hard time meeting in the City nowadays due to different work schedules and other hectic hobbies. It was an honor for me to be their private photographer and take in their routine of a typical Sunday out in New Jersey. I am sure that I will one day come back to this mysteriously charming place, and if it’s just to see the skyline for the small fee of a PATH train ride.

Liberty Harbor is always worth seeing

For more infos on Liberty State Park, go here and here.
For more pictures on Beija, the beloved dog, go here.
For more pictures on Jersey City, go here.

Reflecting in October

It feels like a lifetime ago since the last time I posted on here. But Friday is really only 4 days back. Many things have happened in between now and then and make it seem like an eternity. I’ve been to New Jersey for the first time in ages (since February). Then I have been busy with two photography shoots over the weekend. And lastly, but not least, I am trying to see what future holds for me here in New York.

While reflecting on my past life, a thought has recently crossed my mind: That this is most likely the first time ever since I moved to the Big Apple during which I am not pressured to look for a new apartment. My first year here I was forced to move out for December 1. And only one year back I was seeking out a new apartment once again. So right now, the two months October and November of 2012, mark a premiere in my life in the US in this category. Hopefully the upcoming one and a half months will be a lot more peaceful than I am used to at this time of year. I feel I am able to enjoy the future events a lot more this time around than I was in the years before.

For example, my friend’s birthday. Or Thanksgiving, which also means time away from work. With colder weather there usually comes a different sense of awareness to this city. Instead of dealing with one heat wave after another, outside life is becoming spare. And also more clear. Some people do not want to spend as much time in the outsides. Others want to squeeze in a sunny day before the notoriously bad winter starts. Either way, moods are different now. It is a better time to focus and to get things done. Gone are the lazy beach days. Or the hot hours spent together with a group of friends at BBQ’s and in the park. Less than 3 months are left until this year comes to a close and somehow people are realizing that a few of their crucial goals have not been fulfilled. Many of mine I have accomplished, and even more than this. But others I am still lacking in getting done. Travel-wise, 2012 has been an interesting year. As a last travel, I would have loved to go visit my friend in South-America right now, this month or next. Unfortunately, South America is not on my agenda for this year anymore.

And if you’ve read my Time to Get Out of the Comfort Zone post, you also know that this one main goal of mine has not yet been accomplished. However, I do not feel much resentment. With more experience come more opportunities. Financially speaking I have been able to afford quite a comfortable life style without being dependent too much on a budget and other outer influences. Which is a great accomplishment compared to last year. I guess life really does get a teeny bit harder as we go. More responsibility, more pressure, more mindsets hindering us to achieve what we had wanted in the very beginning. Whether or not this is a bad thing has yet to be determined.

I guess eventually we just have to be thankful for the things we can call or own. “The happiest people do not have the best of everything; they make the best of everything they have.” A wisdom that rings true the more you think about it. There should always be time to think about what you have and what you can be thankful for. It might be taken away from you sooner than you think.

Working Nights in New York – the City That Does Like to Sleep on Occasion

***The following was written in the long sweltering heat of a July summer day, just over 3 months ago. However, I still consider its aspects very true and wanted to share this with you before it gets forgotten in the endless queue of drafts unknown to anyone’s eyes but mine*****

The past two weeks have been a bit gruesome. My work has put me on a different shift, as opportunities to train newcomers have arisen, and an entirely different New York has shown its face. It’s the New York of the night. It’s New York of the doomed! I am exaggerating a bit but this city does have a different appeal to it during night hours. And time really does seem to stand still during the day, especially if you are waiting on a train that never comes.
My late shift starts around 1PM and goes until 10PM. While most people are off around 5 to 6:30 PM here, this is the typical time I now take my lunch.

In the beginning I wasn’t too bothered by the sudden switch of times. “You will become a night owl,” my roommate predicted. “You will be too wound up to fall asleep when you come from work and stay up late”, he went on, enjoying his gloomy perspective on things.

His predictions did not prove true in the first week, as I was simply too tired to go to bed any later than 12 AM on a given weeknight. However, getting up in the mornings became a real issue. After two days I gave up setting my alarm at 7 AM and adjusted it to 7:30 AM. That’s half an hour more sleep than normal but also half an hour less of getting things done. After turning and twisting beneath my covers and trying to squeeze in some additional minutes of “resting”, I often found myself awake at 8 AM or later. Bummer!

A morning trip to the bakery in Greenpoint

Since it took me around 30 minutes to take the train to work, I had exactly four and a half hours of productivity ahead of me. Not counting having to take a shower and eating breakfast, of course. So trying to fetch groceries, squeezing in some chores and doing all the necessary housework in this limited time frame didn’t leave me with much time on my hands after all. Even though I had theoretically prepared my trip to Greenpoint to get some great Polish bread, I was now facing obstacles in forms of the subway running off schedule and not bringing me from A to B and back to A on time. And then of course just swinging by my favorite clothing store – when do I ever have the time for this during the week now?

I hadn’t taken the train in the middle of the day in a long time. I had therefore lost the feeling for its normal schedule. In the morning, as one train runs after another, it takes me not even 20 minutes to hop in and get to my end destination. But during the day, I had it already happen two times when the train decided to jam up at some point before and after the Manhattan bridge, thus extending the average commute for another 20 minutes. So believe it or not, but after giving myself a generous time window of 40 minutes, I would still show up slightly late to work when the D or N decided to act up for now reason. And of course the night train has the same issue. Not with getting stuck, luckily not. But with arriving at the station on time. The Q is notorious for sometimes switching over to the R, which means it can take an extra 20 minutes to get home because your subway just decided to run local and stop at every single station on its way beneath the Bridge (instead of crossing it).

I once walked into a subway car in broad underground light and was captured by a horde of “Young Aspiring Columbia Scientists” screaming their lungs out. 20 little brats children (not much older than 7 or 8) were having fun entertaining themselves while their teenaged supervisors were busy looking as bored and unresponsive as possible. Seems like aside from the saucy school children, you can stumble across the occasional field trip or two when it comes to riding the train at noon. Especially since school is out, right now, giving the kids not much to do but grouping together and thinking about a whole bunch of nonsense.

Brats in the train

Entering the ESB, the guards only knew me because of my former daily routine. “Have a good night” they yelled after me once I exited the revolving doors at 5PM. And were quite impressed seeing me enter it again just an hour later. Some people really do work late here, don’t get me wrong. I’ve seen people wandering around on our floor at the late hour of 8 PM on a FRIDAY! But 10 PM is over the top late, even in terms of a New York office job. So the ESB employees must have already noticed our little group of fours and fives exiting the building at exactly 10:05 PM. I wonder if there have been any rumors involved? Maybe it’s better not to know.

And then 5th Avenue, of course, which is never swept clean entirely. There are always the tourists who want to see the ESB at night. And McDonalds can be surprisingly packed with teenagers and families at 9 PM, believe it or not. But the streets running parallel to us, including the fascinating Koreatown, luckily do empty out after eightish. And the people riding the subway with me don’t look like the average crowd of workers but more like exhausted tourist and party hordes. Friday night is always crazy: Girls dressed up like prostitutes, men in their finest party gear. I almost forgot that a different party scene existed aside from the Meatpacking District and Village. I forgot about the newcomers to this city, who dress as they please and enjoy all the attention they can get from random tourists walking past them. Despite all of this, my efforts to find a decent bar or club close to the ESB have miserably failed. It’s just too darn bad, sometimes I would have loved to go for a right-fully earned unhappy hour drink after work sometimes.

My friend thinks it’s a terrible time of the year to be working late. “During summer you want to hang out with your friends and enjoy the outsides as much as you can” she rightfully complained when I had to tell her I wouldn’t make it to an event that evening. I agree. I already had it happen twice that I couldn’t watch an open-air movie in Dumbo. Or go for drinks with friends on other schedules. A meager social life and a bad habit for eating late – all no changes for the better.

What I take with me from working late is the following:

1) New York is not the never-sleeping city people want it to be.

2) A surprising amount of people still work the traditional 9-5 job, or certainly don’t work my midday – night hours

3) New York’s Midtown does calm down in certain parts after a certain time of day

4) You cannot get much done on a tight schedule as this, because it is eating your entire day away

Luckily, this was my last week on this shift so far. And why I wave my Martini glass at you and pour over these little wisdoms of the day I feel bad for the coworkers that still have to endure these working hours for a much longer time than I had to. Cheers to New York, the city that does snooze off to sleep at some point at night!

A huge bonus: The night views I’ve been getting lately! Gorgeous, huh?

Beware Psychology Students: Why Everyone Wants to Talk to You

For some this is not a big revelation, but others might have not known until now: I majored in psychology when I completed my Bachelor of Science a few years back. Psychology is one of those few matters that have drawn me into its realm and kept me there for the past 6 years already. When I was first in college, I was a rather confused human being, not knowing exactly where my strengths lie and what to flow with. After taking a few courses here and there in boring technical areas, I lost my interest for some professors and, unfortunately, also for some topics completely. Languages have always attracted me, but my school did not offer anything resembling translational studies or other language careers at this point in time.

Then I took my first course in sociology and immediately liked the areas that were covered. Out of pure coincidence I decided to take Intro into Psych only two months after this, although I thought I had decided on what to major in. After an initial course in the study of human beings, a decision came easily to me: Psychology it would be, from now until the next two years. And with every course I took from then on, no matter how difficult the teacher and how dry the themes, I kept remembering that one class I had in the very beginning: Taught by a young professor who was eager to show us how interesting the study of human behavior can be and what areas you could apply your knowledge in.
Fortunately for me, I had more inspiring professor than uninspiring ones, and yes, most of these were psychology professors. So when I graduated with a Bachelor’s in this subject area, I was able to say: I learned a lot in school. I most certainly have to go back to get a graduate degree one day!

A bit of time has passed from now until then. But one sentence that has still remained to be very true and which my first professor told me is the following: “People don’t care if you are a professional therapist or if you have close to zero experience in psychology. As soon as they hear that you majored in it they will want to talk to you.”

Little did I know how right she was…

Every time I tell friends or freshly made acquaintances that I majored in psych, an “oh” look appears in their faces. Usually I get a nice story presented right away, but sometimes I have to wait until the second or third encounter. A good example of this is a friend whom I just met a few weeks ago. We were sporadically talking about our Bachelor degrees outside of a bar. Then she told me about her boyfriend who had been depressed and described a few instances of his dis-ease (in case you haven’t noticed: we call it exactly this because it makes the person feel not at ease. Makes sense, right?!). I patiently listened and secretly thought: How did I get myself into this again?

Then a coworker and I came to speak about our pasts not too long ago. She also was rather pleased by my major and immediately started a lengthy conversation about someone she knew who had developmental problems as a child and teenager. I patiently listened, nodded a few times, and then phrased out a few questions in just the right moments. The truth in both instances was: My perplexity was only overwhelmed by my curiosity and my urge to not interrupt these people for fear of hurting their feelings.

Sometimes I don’t know what triggers people to think that psychology students are almighty and must know every single fact about this disease or another. It’s just a study area! We are no experts. Not even a licensed psychologist is an untouchable entity, just so you know. Psych is one of those lovely gray area matters and that is precisely why I have come to like it so much. My teacher’s favorite phrase has quickly become mine, as well: It depends!

No one can say for sure why your boyfriend became bipolar. Or why you experienced difficulties with your parents when you turned 30. Or how your partner developed into an uncaring lover from one day to another. Sure, we know more than the average college student. We even know more about it than a Colonel in the Army would (an example my professor used so frequently). But there are too many factors involved and frankly, as much as I am interested in hearing stories, I consider these way too personal to be discussed during a first encounter. Save them for later. Save them for your best friend. Heck, save them for Internet forums!

I get it! It feels good to relieve your worries and doubts onto someone who you think knows a bit more about them than the average American. But at the same time, you are still talking to a complete stranger. And this stranger is about as helpless as you are. And perhaps he does not deserve your blind trust yet. Not even psych students are interested in listening to problems 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We’ve had enough case examples throughout that clinical psych and counseling psych course we were required to take at some point in time. Believe me, when we are out drinking a beer, we want to do just that: chitchat, have fun, enjoy ourselves. Not think about all the troubles this world has to offer.

I thought this post to be interesting for current psych students. I also thought it to be interesting for everyone else. Please don’t take my opinioned writing too personal! After all – it does depend!

What If … The Growing Pains of a Photographer

Art-wise the past few months have been quite a lively time for me. I’ve started building up my photography portfolio recently and have been involved in more and more shoots as time has gone by. Photography has developed into a true passion of mine. It is what my heart desires at the current moment. Despite my liking for it and wanting to shoot out in the field every single day, there are a few aspects that have become larger as we speak. They are called the growing pains of an aspiring photographer. I also like to name then the “what ifs”.

Doubt is a natural thing for anyone to have. I have started dealing with doubts the more and more pressure has been put on me. I believe the first time it must have been when I was the only professional shooting my friend’s wedding back in Germany. It all started good, I had my camera ready and was ready to roll. All of a sudden the battery started acting up and the camera shut off. “Don’t you have a back-up or anything?” my friend whispered to me while she witnessed a shocked expression slowly forming on my face. “Uh, I used to but it dropped and shattered into pieces last week” was my shaky answer. I hoped that it was just a temporary thing and that I was still able to get some pictures on that very special day. I knew how much the couple was counting on me. Luckily, for me and everyone else, I got some great 600 shots over the course of the entire event. Canon did not disappoint.
I made a point in buying a backup battery the week I returned from my vacation and have successfully used it ever since.

Something like the aforementioned scenario could be any photographer’s biggest nightmare. Among others, of course. But what are you going to do if your only equipment gives up and you don’t have a Plan B? I have so far bought a few memory cards and other accessories to prevent these things from happening in the future. I have also come into possession of another digital camera, which I warily carry with me now. My photographer friend suggested a great thing: He told me I shouldn’t sell my old camera but keep it as a back-up. So if one fails, I still have another. What a fabulous plan, I find. I guess I have found my Plan B.

Other than equipment problems, there is the pressure of having to give a great performance on the day of the shoot. A good photographer has to be a master in directing. Your subjects are not paying you for nothing, right?! So if they are not in a good mood or insecure, you will have to swallow your annoyance down and try to change their attitude towards the shoot. I sometimes wonder on the day of the performance if I will be able to do it all. If I am able to find a good angle, to satisfy my client, to shoot some great pictures. So far, it has gone well each and every time. I have exceeded my initial expectations and every person has contributed to my outlook of things in a very special way. Still, performance pressure remains. Sometimes this is not a bad thing, I find. Because for every successfully mastered situation you gain a new confidence that stands in opposition to your doubt.

And then of course the big responsibility you carry. “Can you imagine everything going well and then you lose your pictures of the entire shoot?” my friend asked me once. I never really thought about it. And I hate to waste my time on compensation issues and damage payments for a case like this. Still, a reasonable doubt, how I find. I just hope I know how to deal with it the day it shows up.

As much fun as shooting people and events can be, there will always be a form of pressure nagging on you. Be it equipment troubles, performance pressure, weather-related problems or other get-in-the ways – you do not stand alone! Something that really helps me whenever I have any form of fear or self-doubt: Sh*t happens! To anyone. A fellow FIT course-mate told me about her first internship she had when she was in South Africa. She was accompanying a renowned wedding photographer on one of her clients’ special day. Suddenly her boss’ camera stopped working and my acquaintance was quickly made into the main photographer for the remainder of the event. It turned out to be a fabulous occasion for her to show her skill set and she mastered the rest just fine.

Yes, photographers have a great responsibility and carry a good amount of weight on their shoulders. But so do other jobs, don’t you think? The writer who has to come up with two articles a day or a written quota of words for a book. The model who has to get rid of all her zits and body fat within a week because Fashion Show is approaching. Or the CEO of a company who is made responsible for the loss of sales happening over the past month.

Photography is one of those things: As long as it is still fun and it satisfy your inner desires, it is worth pursuing. Responsibility and pressure taken aside: Sometimes you just have to purge ahead and make the best out of each new opportunity!