As we looked for a place to park our behemoth of a U-Haul truck, we were greeted by an older man in a faded baseball cap. He waved us over, letting us know we could park in the empty spot right near where we needed to be. Though technically, the area he guided us to was a no-parking zone.
A heavily graffitied garage door was bolted shut on one side, the other was open to reveal a well-worn auto shop of sorts. Dan, or “Daddy” as he was referred to, let us know this was his shop, but he was leaving for the day and the open space outside was ours to use. I was grateful for this rare opening, as the street was lined with cars on either side and the movers were due any minute.
It must have been the hottest day of the year, and I was moving into my new apartment in Brooklyn.
As we schlepped box after box up to the humid third floor, I quickly realized the spacious living space I had imagined was more a narrow shot of a room. The couch could only go one way. The armchairs could not flank either side of the couch as I had envisioned. The kitchen cabinets were extra slim- can you sense a theme here? But that was all okay, the apartment was filled with a glowing sort of light I was not used to. I tried to ignore the poorly patched-up hole a former tenant must have punched into the door. I was told it would be replaced, and it greeted me like a dark spot in a room that was otherwise beautiful and bright.
And almost two months later, I can unfortunately say, it’s still there.
Our building is the only one with TWO shopping carts chained outside. In true Brooklyn fashion, this urban landmark will ensure new guests will always be able to find their way back at night. Spot the metal carts twinkling under the dim streetlights, and they shall guide all who are lost like lighthouses in the night.
But I digress.
This apartment was everything and nothing like I remembered. The main door handle was snapped off and a panel cracked, the silvery spider webs just waiting to be pushed in. We have stoop dwellers who will lounge on the steps for hours at a time each day, yet none of them actually live in the apartment.
The main core group is kind, always asking about my day or quickly moving out of the way when I approach the steps. During our housewarming party, they gifted us a 6-pack as one of us stood outside, welcoming us to the neighborhood. Though, when I tried to put flowers on the fencing one day, they were torn off within 24 hours. I was warned by an older woman, an urban soothsayer of sorts, hanging out the window a door down. Still, I persisted.
The naïve part of me will always want to at least try.
Inside, things have not been fixed as promised. At first, I suspected that may have been due to us communicating through the realtor and not the landlord. But after I finally got the contact information myself, none of my calls were answered. The supposed building manager was unsure whether he was allowed to install light bulbs let alone a new door. He’d have to call the landlord first and call me back, he explained. This was three weeks ago and I still have not heard from him.
Was this a huge mistake?
I was closer to my friends and man, but did I sacrifice a great space in order to do so? Was living in Bushwick, Brooklyn all it was cracked up to be?
As I sat one evening, feeling unsure of my decisions, I turned and looked out my new window to a view I hadn’t expected. Since we were on the third and highest floor in our building, I could see past most of the rooftops. Pigeons circled in flocks, carefully swooping and diving in patterns I could not recognize. The sun had sunk below the horizon, and a beautiful array of colors were left in a blazing wake. The warmth from the last rays of the day lit up my face as I realized- this was where I needed to be right now. I watched the colors fade on the wall near my bed when I heard voices in the living room. Slightly nervous, I wasn’t sure what to expect. These were the first few nights we had been all under the same room at the same time.
Walking out into the living room, I was greeted by two warm, friendly faces. Sipping on some stiff drinks, they talked about the present moment, one which I was forgetting to live in. I drifted in and out of conversation, soaking in the new atmosphere as it blossomed in front of me. At some point, we realized all three of us were left-handed.
How only 10% of the population was born with such a “gift” and how we all ended up under the same roof, is beyond me.
There was a sense of calm and all nervousness died away as I realized we were all part of this left-handed team of sorts. I felt as if we could deal with our new stoop-mates together. We could explore our neighborhood together. And if not, there was an air of excitement to let the others know about a new part of our city the rest must check out.
In the mornings, I am always greeted by the sunrise which quickly sets my room ablaze with light. I am finally waking up happy for the first time in a long time. I am eager to begin each day, swiping the strong coffee Jimmy has brewed. At night, Kait invites me to various events around the city I was previously unaware even existed.
This apartment, the cabin-feel in Bushwick, feels primed for all sorts of new memories we will create and gatherings we will host. I no longer hesitate walking out of my bedroom door and into whatever situation will greet me on the other side. There is a feeling of warmth and acceptance that has me charging up my noise-blocking headphones less and leaving my door open, even just a crack, to invite conversation. This is exactly what I had looked for all along.
What had I accomplished on my list?
As promised, I started a list a few posts ago to talk about what exactly I would begin to work on. I’ll admit, it wasn’t the serene two weeks at my parent’s home as I had hoped to finally get all my work and life together. Plus, living in Bushwick, Brooklyn has been a challenge in itself. I make hundreds of to-do lists and typically manage to only carry out half written down each day, if I’m lucky. I’m learning to re-frame my thinking as seeing those crossed off tasks as accomplishments, not a half-full list as a failure.
Regularly backing up my hard drives after each job as well as weekly for minor edits.
YES: I have been consistently doing weekly and manual backups after large jobs. No more surprises.
Creating and maintaining a shoot schedule, income report, and expenses spreadsheet. No more guessing about monthly income or once-a-year overhaul for taxes.
NOPE: I completely neglected this one to be honest. I have a hard time sitting down and dedicating an hour to punching in numbers, but know it needs to be done to keep myself a little more sane. This is on my list for September to implement, moving forward.
Buy the proper tools to maintain my equipment and replace old memory cards, missing lens caps, and broken filters.
YES: I went a little click-happy on B&H’s website one evening and now have a pile of memory cards, caps for each lens, and all new filters. I’m working on replacing my camera bag and flash next.
Set aside 2-3 days to send out monthly pitches to new clients.
Somewhat: I’ve honestly been busy to the point I haven’t really had a moment to do this, but as we come up on winter, I know this will be vital. Something tells me I’ll be holed up in a cafe somewhere for a few days after I return from Chicago this month.
Have a “power hour” a few times a week to crush out a task I’ve been neglecting.
YES: Although I found I like to do tasks in 30 minute spurts with a quick break in between versus 1 hour, but I’ve become a lot better at getting things out before deadlines. Still haven’t touched a backlog of travel photos and personal shoots, but soon. I’m trying to keep up with personal work and get it out in a timely fashion.
Go to the gym 3x a week.
NOPE: Oh boy, I think I’ve been to the gym once in the past month and I am FEELING it. It’s really vital to my mental health when I do decide to go. I plan on switching gyms to get my butt over a block to Blink versus a 15 minute stroll to Planet Fitness for no excuses.
Stock up on fresh fruits, veggies, and nutritious snacks.
YES: Funds have forced me to eat out less and cook more. Though there are always going to be those mac n’ cheese nights, I have stocked my cabinets with healthier options to quickly grab when I get cranky.
Drink more tea and less alcohol.
YES: I’m actually in the middle of another sober month (LINK) and am PLOWING through tea boxes. Something about the warmth of a good mug in my hands is incredibly addicting.
Begin trying out new naturopathic supplements for anxiety & adrenal fatigue.
YES: Admittedly, I am not re-ordering these when I should be since they are somewhat pricey, but I’m finding them really making a difference. Mornings are less groggy, and I find myself not relying on coffee as much. My anxiety is still all over the place, but I keep Passionflower capsules on my person when it gets too out of control.
Get up at a set time each day, no more sleeping in!
YES: Okay, so some may laugh at this, but I’ve made a real effort to get myself up at 10 am on non-shoot days. I absolutely hate mornings. My anxiety is through the roof in the AM and has oftentimes left me feeling paralyzed in my own bed for hours at a time. Does it work all the time? More often than not. Though I’ve been having a few pretty intense dreams lately, so I usually want to quickly shut my alarm off and go back to bed for a little while longer to erase those yucky feelings they leave me with. The goal is to slowly move that alarm clock up to 8:00 am, so stay tuned for that one.
Scan and organize all important documents.
NOPE: Not even close. I’ve left my scanner at my parent’s house and basically forgot about it. I DO want to get back into my passion project and scan the dozens of old photos I’ve found on my travels.
So what’s next?
I want to maintain the good habits I’ve created and push to implement more of the ones I haven’t. I’ve added more journal-writing and quick meditation sessions to hopefully try to balance some of the anxiety I’ve been feeling. I have developed a harsh inner-critic and she is most likely the root of a lot of it.
In the meantime, I have a few methods I’m working on to see if that heaviness in my chest will subside when I cannot physically work on anymore photos, or motivate myself to get to the post office. Heading to the gym will certainly help, and just trying to set more of a schedule for my freelance life are things I know need to happen ASAP. I’m in the middle of an upswing and plan on taking full advantage of it while I can, which includes planning a few trips out on top of everything else.