Tuesday, May 24, 2011


Birds have stopped pooing on me. And I've started finding pennies.

Early bird.

I have exciting news. This morning I got up early! Doesn't sound that exciting? Oh, but it is. When you travel, you expect a bit of body-clock weirdness - feeling hungry at crazy times, finding yourself undeniably awake at 4am etc. But after about four weeks in a place, you'd also expect your sleep/eat cycle to normalise. Mine hasn't - at least not until today. During my time in the states, I've found 11pm-12am is when I start to perk up, and I tend to stay impossibly chirpy until around 3am. Which is fine. I've always had a bit of a night owlish tendency, and you can get a lot done in those uninterrupted little hours. But early morning bedtimes don't make for early morning get-ups. No matter how hard I've tried, dragging my head off the pillow before 10am has been nigh on impossible. But today I did it. Today I got up at 7am and exercised for an hour. I've made myself an awesome breakfast, and done some writing, and it still hasn't hit 10am. Waahoo! Now I know 7am isn't the rising time of a true early bird. I have yet to work up to 5am exercise starts (which will most likely be necessary once I land a job). But it's a beginning, and another step towards getting that worm (the worm, in this case, not actually being a worm, but a job and some Jimmy Choo perfume, and some Isabel Marant sneaker boots, and maybe an apartment with at least one window that doesn't look out on a brick wall. Did I need to explain that? Probably not.).

Do what makes you happy.

Last night I went to a party in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, at the apartment of a cool girl I know called Joy. It was a smallish crowd of cool, smart, hilarious and (as usual over here) very welcoming people. I didn't drink, because I've been doing way too much of that over here. Never having to get up for work in the morning isn't the best thing for your drink-o-meter, and a sky's the limit approach to drinking isn't the best for my general state of mind. Anyway, for part of the evening we played a game involving clapping and throwing lewd words around the room in some kind of only very slightly mind challenging fashion. Sounds stupid? It kind of was - and incredibly fuckin funny. Funny to the point that we were all doubled over with ab-working laughter just about all the time. In a very laid back way, it was a totally awesome night. And this morning I woke up feeling happy. Which was a welcome change from hung over or brain fogged or anxious about the general situation I have placed myself in by packing in my job and moving to the other side of the world. It got me thinking about which things actually make me happy, and which things definitely do not. And I realised, not for the first time, that really simple things are what do the trick. Having fun, relaxed times with friendly, interesting people. Exercising outdoors. Talking to my Dad, sister, brothers, family in general. Cooking nice, healthy food. Being productive. Having a job (who knew?). Loving and being loved. Encountering all the cool stuff going on in the world with a clear, appreciative head. And I also realised, definitely not for the first time, that drinking alcohol doesn't make me happy at all. I know not all people are affected by alcohol the way I am. It puts my brain in a bad place. It robs me of my confidence. It makes me very aware of my aloneness as a human being. Some people can drink a lot and just have a headache and be a bit off point the next day. But even that, right now, is something I don't want to be. Off point is not going to help me get my dream job in the USA. Neither is a lack of confidence. So I've decided to do what makes me happy, which is not drink, eat well, exercise plenty, socialise cleanly, and focus all my energy on getting the job I want at my number one agency of choice. Because if I achieve that, deliriously happy I will most certainly be.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

A note on bird poo.

One of my girlfriends over here, Cambria, has been experiencing an interesting phenomenon lately. Both searching for our dream jobs in the big city, together we have been helping each other stay confident in our missions, keep our eyes on the prize, keep being productive etc. It's kind of a bond or a pact we've formed. And since we've formed it, Cambria has been finding pennies. It started out as one a day, just on the street or whatever, and has since moved up to two a day. It's kind of awesome - like a money trail leading towards the pot of gold. Interestingly enough, I've had a recurring theme too. Only mine is bird poo. It's only happened twice, but twice within a short space of time. Birds keep shitting on me. Wonderful. Now we all know the story about birds pooing on you being lucky. Personally, I've always thought that story was... how can I put this... total crap, just designed to make you feel slightly better about an otherwise completely appalling bummer of an experience. At least I did think that, until cool things started happening. The first time it happened, I was feeling particularly despondent about my job prospects, and the poo made me feel even worse (understandably). But then the day after, I found out I'd got The Passionistas job. The second time it happened (on the same day I found out about the Passionistas gig) I was wondering if I'd done the wrong thing by sending another email to one of the coolest dudes in advertising right now, and  the poo was a real humdinger - right in my hair - yuck! Then the next thing you know I've got a lunch date with the guy. So is the bird poo my lucky penny? I fucking hope not! While I am grateful for any lucky amazingness the bird poo may have bestowed on me, what I'm really hoping is it was just a (disgusting) coincidence. Because as much as I welcome a nice long run of good luck, a run of bird poo I most definitely do not.

No no no no no no no no YES.

Yesterday I was going to write a very depressing blog post, to the tune of "New York I love you, but I kind of hate you too". This was because yesterday I got stood up by a creative director for a meeting (he went to London instead), then walked about 20 blocks in cold and very wet misty rain, making several wrong turns due to disorientation (just when you think you've got your directions sussed, your inner dumb-dumb bares itself again in a disappointing and obvious display of fresh off the boat), then found out I couldn't make the bank transaction I had walked all those blocks to make, then got on a train home that turned out to be an express which, quite within its rights, zoomed straight past my stop (dumb-dumb was having a field day). Also, as happens when you're job hunting, I had reached a small dead-end of despair, having sent out many a message and resume and enthusiastic entreaty to please consider getting me in for at least maybe a small chat, and having received one large reply of fat silence. Lucky I didn't write that though, because today was different. Thanks to a rejuvenating pep talk from my guardian angel cousin Charlotte, I had gone to bed feeling at least ready to attack another day of job slog with energy and optimism in the morning. Thank you Charlotte! And so I woke, cranked open my gmail (my Pandora's box of potential wonder and damnation, and my first check-in point for every day), and there sitting in my inbox was a shining jewel. It was a reply from one of the many positions I had applied for - and not just any position either. While not a paid job, it was for a place on a style council of fashion, make-up, and skincare bloggers known as The Passionistas. In return for a swag of fashion and make-up perks, each Passionista was to review various products, services, brands and labels from her own, unique style perspective. They wanted girls with a strong sense of their own look and style, and demonstrated writing ability. And oh my gosh, it turns out they want me. In fact, they even said they might use my writing style as a guide for the other gals. Hurrah! So, buoyed up by this unexpected turn into success street, I decided to try calling the seriously cool Chief Creative Officer I have been email stalking for some months now. I got his assistant. I left a message. And I waited for a reply. Many hours passed, but in the meantime I decided to do a little research on the latest happenings at the agency he works for. In a curious swing of coincidence, they had just won a major chunk of some serious luxury make-up and fragrance brands. Me a newly appointed fashion and makeup Passionista blogger, and they the recently appointed agency for some of my favourite makeup and skincare brands? Wow! The serendipity of the whole thing whipped me into a weird state of excitement and I did an impulsive thing (we know how I like to be impulsive). I emailed said CCO again, asking him if we could talk makeup - today? Tomorrow? And then I had a tiny quiet freakout that I may have just blown my chances by exhibiting a perhaps alarming level of enthusiasm. And then I went out for tacos. When I returned home, there was another email waiting for me: "Come in and see me for lunch on Wednesday", followed by a meeting request from his assistant. Halle-effing-luljah! One minute you think you're getting nowhere, the next you're teeing up lunch dates with your advertising idols. Maybe alarming enthusiasm, in this crazy town, is the key to entering yes-land.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

And then I find heaven.

In the form of a $3 pork belly taco served in an underground surf bar in Hell's Kitchen (yes, an underground surf bar in Hell's Kitchen), paradise presents itself. In the short space of time it took me to squeeze lime juice over the small fold of deliciousness and sink my nashers into its heavenly depths, I had an epiphany. In a flash, I irrevocably knew two things: 1. That this taco was the best piece of food I had EVER eaten, and 2. That I had never actually had a food epiphany before. It was wild! Don't get me wrong, I've always enjoyed good food - but not like this. This was a moment of actual magic in my mouth, where no other thing in the universe, past, present, or future mattered more. Holy crap. I think I may be one of the converted. Converted definitely anyway, to regular attendance at $3 Taco Tuesdays at Reunion, the unlikely surf bar in Hell's Kitchen. Because this place, for me, really does represent a slice of heaven. And it's not just the tacos. Blaring an immaculate selection of 50s and 60s rock 'n' roll and surf music, and with the bar propped up by an eye-pleasing array of the handsome, interesting and cooly tattooed, this little hidey-hole is the pocket of fun I've been searching for for a good chunk of my adult life. Slap a happy hour and some tongue-tingling tacos on top and you have Claire on cloud nine - even sitting as I was, two flights underground in the bowels of Hell.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Confidence rollercoaster.

My, this trying to make it on the other side of the world is a confronting experience. Most likely, my low state of mind today is in no small part due to last night's excessive activities. I have had little sleep, much alcohol, and have exhibited at least a little of the over the top behaviour I always live to abhor in myself. And all of it put together has robbed me of any strength or confidence in my ability to do anything or be anything attractive or useful to anyone. I find it miraculous that my relatively new friends in this city still see me as deserving of their support (in general I find the considerateness of the Americans I encounter fascinating and peculiar, peculiar only because my experience of so many other humans has rendered the trait so unfamiliar). Anyway, I am grateful for having humans close by that genuinely seem to care and who will accommodate my less attractive qualities with no apparent qualms. It is quite incredible though, how powerful a positive or negative thought can be. A positive one can see you go fearlessly forth and achieve unbelievable things. A negative one can debilitate you, ripping you off course, retarding or even undoing perfectly good progress. So, while I am in a foreign place, more vulnerable to attacks from the confidence robbers, it is more important than ever that I keep myself in a good frame of mind. Step one: lay off the booze. Step two: yoga in the morning.

Hustling is hard work.

Every day I try to make progress with my various missions. I try to contact people, follow up leads, write and do tiny things to advance my cause. But it's tough work. Mainly because I've heard some mildly sickening news - that this year's quota of H1B visas has run out. So behind every valiant gesture towards finding work is the damning thought that I'm dead on arrival. There may be other options - the O1 visa, the L1 intercompany visa, even the student visa if it comes to that. But each one has its mountain of conditions and restrictions and difficulties. Walking the New York streets as an unemployed outsider hoping to get in, is a decidedly different sensation to the delirious elation one feels as a tourist - playing at being a high roller, staying at the coolest hotel, eating at fabulous restaurants and shopping like you have Donald Trump's credit card. Today I saw Reese Witherspoon smiling from a magazine cover (was it VOGUE?), and viewed her as some vagabond might see a family sitting in a cosy living room; she was on the other side, in some smug, happy, secure and employed paradise that I didn't have the key to. This city makes you want to be someone, and when you're no one you feel it profoundly.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

And then HBO wants to cast me as a hipster.

Yes, you read it correctly. HBO, the channel behind TV greats like Entourage and Sex and The City, wants to cast me as a "featured hipster" in their show How To Make It In America. Could there be a more appropriate show for me to be in right now? Is God fucking with me? Well apparently He is, because even though they want to cast me, they can't because I don't have a work permit.  I can't get a work permit until someone offers me a job, but I can't get the job until I have a work permit. Difficult no? Yes. Still, the flutter of emails surrounding this eventual non-event has given my morning a sprinkling of excitement. And it's definitely a pleasing meter-reading for how America is receiving me. My list of "signals" now includes a US customs official who thinks I look like a rock star, one random stretch-limo airport pick-up, and HBO thinking I should be on TV. Not the worst tally for an aspiring rock 'n' roller in her first two weeks in the states. It was also a welcome boost to my confidence, which had been pitifully drained by one evening stroll through the brutally hip and uncompromisingly cool Soho. How did the people lining these streets become so immaculate, so accomplished, so devastatingly sure of their purpose in life? Or maybe they just look that way. And maybe, if HBO wants to cast me as a hipster in their show, I look like I know what I'm doing too. I don't of course, but then in some ways I do. I know underneath it all, exactly where I want to be and what I want to be doing. It's just the getting there that's a bit of a hairy ride. Anyway, this almost brush with fame has inspired me to get moving on the music side of my New York mission. So today and tonight, instead of drinking and schmoozing with advertising folk as I have been doing of late, I'm going to hunker down in my Hell's Kitchen apartment, plug in my gadgets and start honing my art. How romantic. And how very hipster of me.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

My weird new life.

I just went for a jog in Central Park, bought, among other things, a truly terrible coffee from Whole Foods, and then had salad for breakfast. Why I  continue to persevere with New York coffee, I do not know. For some reason - the strong Italian presence here perhaps - I feel like there must be a good coffee somewhere in this town. I feel this, despite consistent, tongue-damaging evidence to the contrary. Onwards fearless coffee warrior! Or maybe I'll ditch coffee altogether. We'll see how I go. Why I had salad for breakfast, has basically one answer: I'm just a smidgen hung over today, and my weird body and mind said that the Whole Foods salad bar was the answer. At least it was healthy. But there's probably another answer too. My entire life is weird right now. Almost nothing about my life over here resembles the life I was living before. I eat weirdly, sleep weirdly, don't have a job, go out every single night, grab exercise where I can, spend inordinate amounts of time on facebook, the internet and tinkering with my new, quite stupid Android phone, and I hang out with an entirely new crew of people. Once upon a time I worked every day, had a slightly psycho routine of yoga and running, ate like clockwork, mostly ignored facebook... actually, you know what? Maybe the weirdest thing about my brand new life, is that it doesn't really feel that weird at all. Yes, I have stepped into a completely new environment, and many things are alien, and my behaviour is jumping to a new beat. But what really struck me this morning, six days in, as I headed out my front door and up to the park, was just how normal I felt. Normal and calm and quietly confident and happy and optimistic. Weird right? Weird, but good.