Tag Archives: nyc story

The last few months have seemed like a long flashback as we’ve tried to keep up with what’s been going on. Now, we finally catch up. We pick up at July ’09 …(cue big WHOOOSH sound à la Lost).

July 2009: We put our house on the market in June 2008 when it was clear that God meant to move us. We first tried to sell it ourselves, but our lack of desire to promote, advertise, or clean the house made it unlikely that we would sell it on our own. So, we got a realtor.

We got an offer fairly soon, but it was a little less than we wanted, and we declined. Surely, a better offer would come around soon.

A year passed.

We waited, hoped, stressed, prayed, and knocked the price down a few times. We felt ensnared by the house, like we couldn’t thrive in NYC until we were free from it.

In May, we finally got a decent offer on the house ($5,000 less than that other offer – sigh). The folks couldn’t move in until July, so we waited with trepidation until then. On July 15, we closed on the house and wriggled free from the threat of being forced to move back to Florida.

Aug 2009: Cool Mum and Cool Baby attended the casting call for extras for Sex and the City 2. CB had already scored us front placement for the New York Magazine photoshoot. Alas, after waiting in line with some of the hottest and coolest non-union actors anywhere, CM and CB never got a call. The casting agency didn’t get it right, but at least WABC 7 did.

Sept 2009: After a year of pushing used, ragged strollers around the city, we finally upgraded to a new, primo deluxe jogging stroller. The good news: easier handling and added safety for Cool Baby. The bad news: carrying the stroller down and up 4 flights of stairs every day; we had left our other strollers downstairs without fear of theft.

Oct 2009: A busy month. CM and CB visited family in Florida. While there, CM discovered our dream NYC apartment on Craigslist. Ground floor. Backyard with deck and grill. Dishwasher. 3 bedrooms. A lot higher rent than we could handle. We’d have to get roommates to afford the place, but we had tried in the past to live with roommates to no avail. The dream place was like a pipe dream.

The next week, Cool Grandmum (on my side) and my cousin visited us in NYC. We had a good time showing them around the city, especially the naked jungle that is Times Square.

We decided to give our dream place a shot, and to our surprise, people actually wanted to live with us. Us… The weirdos that call themselves Cool Dad and Cool Mum on their silly blog. By God’s grace and after the requisite twists and turns, we were getting our dream place after all.

Work was a dream, too. I loved the people and the mission of the non-profit that I worked for, but I felt that being an office manager was not my calling. I was good at it, but it didn’t fit my talents.

Over the year, I put my talents to use and worked on the geeky side of the organization between my office manager duties: databases, website, social media. I loved the work, and it became clear that I didn’t want to do anything else.

I preached that the future of our company was online. My bosses agreed, and after a series of presentations, delays, and prayers, a position was created for me: Director of Communications.

And I realized God’s brilliant plan: A year ago, I wanted my career to be doing communications at a non-profit or church. But I had no experience, so I would never get hired. I became an office manager, pretty sure that it wasn’t my calling. A year later, the exact job that I wanted, but never could’ve gotten, was created just for me. Faith and patience (though I was the model of neither) yield sweet results.

Nov 2009: We moved into our dream apartment during the first week of the month. An email went out to our local church group, and 13 people showed up to move us out from our 5th floor apt. It took a New York-record 30 minutes to move! Slowly, we’ve been settling into the new place and readjusting to life with roomies.

We hosted our first Thanksgiving and had friends visiting from Orlando and local friends from Japan. On the menu: crock pot turkey breast, stuffing, sweet potatoes, frozen vegetables, and a couple of pies. When our Japanese friends asked if they could bring anything, Cool Mum responded with a Thanksgiving necessity: toilet paper. We’d like to think that we were the only family in America that asked their guests to bring TP to T-giving.

Dec 2009: My birthday was early December, and I celebrated with a deluxe Tex-Mex lunch with my co-workers (Chipotle) and dinner with our small group at church. My brother gave me a gift certificate to the Gator Sports Shop, so I loaded up on Florida shirts to proudly wear in the city. We spent 10 days in Florida for Christmas, so both sets of Cool Grand ‘Rents enjoyed reacquainting themselves with Cool Baby.

…and we’re finally caught up. I left out some big twists, but they’ll be in the book. 2010 has been good: living through the cold, settling into my new job, bonding further with our church family. We look forward to an even more adventurous year and actually keeping up with it here on the blog!

When I finished my tale of how we finally settled in NYC, I had gotten a job after two months of blasting through our savings like a golf club through glass. Well, here are the highlights since then. This is mostly a 2009 recap, conveniently done at the end of the year when blogs do such things.

Nov 2008: For our first Thanksgiving in NYC, our few friends here were gone. A girl from our church sent an email around, opening their Thanksgiving dinner up to anyone in town without plans. We saw the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade with prime spots in Central Park, and then, being the types that like to eat others’ food, we went (and brought something, too (i think)). We met the girl (Katie) and her boyfriend (Jeremy) and enjoyed Thanksgiving with strangers who were to become friends.

Dec 2008: We celebrated my birthday with our few friends at a local diner called Big Daddy’s. Quite appropriate, since at 5’5, I am definitely a big daddy. Our first NYC snows fell later in the month, and we enjoyed the fresh experience while the locals watched us make snow angels. In 2 inches of snow. In the street. Actually, we kept our cool and enjoyed the snow safely.

After an early Christmas trip to Florida to be with families, we returned here to marvel at the department store Christmas windows and the tree in Rockefeller Center. New Year’s Eve was bitterly cold, so we spent it alone in the Cool Studio.

Jan 2009: Cool Mum’s childhood friends visited NYC and spent a lot of time with us. They saw the Cool Studio. They wept.

Feb 2009: Our church opened a service on the Upper East Side, just a few blocks from our place. This changed us. We had friends at the Upper West Side service, but it was difficult to make it over there during the week to get to know people well. Now, we were meeting people in our neighborhood, just minutes away, that we could live life with.

Oh, and we spent Valentine’s Day at the IKEA cafeteria. I know how to show my lady a good time. Actually, if you knew Cool Mum, then you’d know that cafeteria food is dear to her heart. Points scored for CD.

March 2009: While still cold, the first signs of spring were in the air. The most hardy flowers were blooming through the frost. We saw U2 in person as Mayor Bloomberg renamed part of W 53rd Street “U2 Way” during their weeklong stint on Letterman. The band walked back into the CBS studio, and we left. I said bye to CM while she ducked into a cafe to warm up.

As I was walking to the subway, I saw a crowd in front of a restaurant along with plenty of police. Bono and Larry Mullen, Jr. were sitting inside. I turned around to get CM and a column of police headed toward me. I realized that Adam Clayton and The Edge were walking right by me. I thought, “If I could only touch the hem of The Edge’s coat, I could be a decent guitar player.” I didn’t. I got CM and CB out of the cafe, and we watched U2 scan their menus for a little while.

April 2009: My friend in Indianapolis forwarded me a photoshoot call for a major magazine. They were looking for recent arrivals to New York. We weren’t sure if it was legit, but we figured that New York is a safe, happy place where one is ever taken advantage of. So we pulled out our new $200 Pollo Ralph Laurez umbrella that we bought on the street and headed to the studio. The photoshoot turned out to be very legit.

Because of this photo and our vain desire to share it with you all, we decided it was also time to break our 1.5-year code of anonymity. On April 16, we unveiled a new blog design and our names. We’re still waiting for the New York Times to cover the story.

May 2009: Most people would go crazy being holed up in a 200-sq ft box with a 2-year-old for over 10 minutes. We did it for six months in the Cool Studio. We had good times in that little place, but the novelty had worn off, just like the paint on that spot of the wall where I would bang my head. We searched and found an affordable 1-bedroom apartment in a great area of the Upper East Side. Our current management company, so we were able to just switch apartments without having to find someone to fill the Cool Studio. With the help of a couple of friends (one of which was just visiting for the weekend – we have no shame), we moved to our new place, conveniently located on the 5th floor of a walkup (no elevator) building.

Later that month, we went to Hartford, CT with our friends Katie and Jeremy (of Thanksgiving fame). What was in Hartford that was worth leaving NYC for? Coldplay. K and J watched CB while CM and I saw the other CM (Chris Martin), JB, GB, and WC. Amazing show. For me, only second to the U2 Vertigo tour. We felt kind of bad that we didn’t take CB, but his little ears couldn’t handle it.

That’s enough catching up for one post. Come back next time as we count down the biggest hits of the Cool Fam’s 2009!

cool-studio

It’s time to wrap up how we finally planted roots in New York City, especially now that we’ve been here a little over a year. To review the story, read Part 1Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4.

My unpaid social network internship was going well. I was good at it, and like I said before, I enjoyed having somewhere to go. When I felt especially useful, I allowed myself to buy lunch, whether it was a $2 feast at White Castle or a greasy slice of pizza down the street. There was talk of getting hired on, but it was uncertain, especially with the economic climate.

I needed a real job. The reasons are obvious, but I’ll list them anyway so you can marvel at the hole we were digging ourselves.

  1. We were paying mortgage on our house in Florida and paying around $2000/month to sublet an apartment here. Gut punch. If you’re not familiar, ‘sublet’ means renting someone’s apartment, usually for a short period of time, mainly because they are traveling. We did furnished sublets because we obviously didn’t have any furniture here. So, we just occupied their space and stuff for a month while hoping that Cool Baby would not rip, break, or pee/poop on any of their possessions. Subletting is usually more expensive than leasing an apartment.
  2. Without a job, we couldn’t lease an apartment anyway. Landlords have a silly obsession with their tenants earning income that will pay their rent.
  3. Winter was coming. Rent-free living under large rocks in Central Park would no longer be an option.
  4. We didn’t have health insurance. Our health insurance from my Florida job ended at the end of September. We were in early October now. We could’ve gotten COBRA to extend our insurance, but it was expensive. Praise the Lord that we didn’t get sick during the whole transition.

Our situation wasn’t life-or-death. If I didn’t get a job in the next month, we would just move back to Florida, most likely in with Cool Mum’s parents. I don’t think that a ring, robe, and fattened calf would be waiting for me either.

Honestly, living with the Cool Grand ‘Rents would be a comfortable situation with lots of benefits. However, with all of the time, money, and energy spent to move to NYC, it would’ve felt like utter failure to come back so soon.

I started reaching out to the very few people that we knew in NYC. You probably don’t remember, but we first decided to move here because I got a yearlong volunteer position with a non-profit that ended up going under. I contacted the girl (Alison) who had that position the prior year, since we had talked a little over email before everything fell through. She met us in Central Park one Sunday afternoon.

After exchanging stories, I mentioned that I was job hunting. She said that she had a friend (Carl) whose non-profit was looking for an office manager. A big part of why I moved here was to finally find my long-term career. Web/communications for a non-profit or church would be perfect for me in so many ways. This wasn’t a communications position, but it was for a good non-profit, so I went for the job.

A few days later, Cool Mum and Cool Baby went back to Florida for a week while we were between sublets. I was crashing on various couches in Manhattan and Brooklyn. During a long day at the internship, I wanted to hang out with people, and I saw Alison on Gmail chat. I questioned chatting with her because it might seem odd, and I just wanted to be lazy and introverted.

However, I convinced myself to be proactive, so I asked her if anything was going on that night. She said her church was having a party, and I was more than welcome to attend. I gave a non-committal answer, and I had good reasons not to show up:

  1. It was late.
  2. I had worked all day. For free.
  3. I only knew one person, barely. Everyone else would know each other.

Good reasons, but there I was, going to the Upper East Side church instead of to Brooklyn where I was crashing. I chose to follow my motto: “Me not wanting to do something  is usually the best reason why I should do it.”

The people were cool, the food was free, and Carl showed up. We talked about the job and got to know each other a little. That goes a long way when it comes to job hunting.

Within the next week, I had my first and second interviews at the non-profit. They went well, and I got the job! (though not before some dramatic twists that I’ll save for AWSC: The Book)

I started work at the end of October, two months after we arrived aimless and clueless into the city. Gainfully employed, we finally went apartment hunting for real and signed a lease for a tiny one-room studio that’s affectionately now known as the Cool Studio. Our housing costs went from $2000/mo with no income to $1375/mo with a job. What a bargain!

We had given ourselves a two-, maybe three-month window to start a life in NYC. It was getting tense toward at the end, but as God has consistently done for the past year and a half: He swooped in and saved us. And He dropped us into a cozy little spot by the East River on the UES. We were planted. We were New Yorkers*.

Next time: An epilogue to catch us up to today (and an excuse or two for scarce posting, though Cool Mum dislikes those kinds of excuses)

* though when someone actually becomes a “New Yorker” is hotly debated, after everything we went through, I’m claiming it!