I can’t believe I’m here. I can’t believe I’m really doing this. I can’t believe it’s actually happening.
These words have been in my head for the past two weeks now—because all of this is still new to me. Independent living? Doing errands on my own? Actually taking the subway? Thinking about what to get for dinner? Figuring out how to actually chill on weekends? Wow. Never in a million years did I assume I’d wind up here in New York City doing those things. And of course—going to school, which is the main reason I’ve taken time off for a few months.
I don’t think I’ve reached any level of peak independence until recently. Being alone 90% of the time makes me more self-aware about simple things like deciding on the spot, taking care of myself, managing to ask for help, and realizing that I have certain qualities I like and dislike about myself. Of course, the ones I dislike I end up giving myself pep talks and strive to be better. It’s a process I’m still working on.
To be honest, I had initially wanted to do this trial run of living in another city (at this point in my life) in the hopes of getting to work from anywhere when I get older and to eventually settle in a city that I would love to call home (I have a list. New York is one of them, but I have more which I’ve yet to find out soon). Manila is my default home because of the people, but in terms of location, I’m still in the works of figuring out where I fit best. I don’t think New York (in the long run) for me is ideal; but it’s just been three weeks. Let’s see how things will transpire from here on out.
As introverted as this may sound, I barely talk to people. I like spending most of my time in silence, mostly reading or doing mundane things. In the subway I always have a book with me as I take the train to Manhattan or Brooklyn. I’m never human without my earphones and commute playlist. I used to be this person who likes to explore a lot in a day but now, I’m more concerned with managing my energy on a daily basis and opt to spread it out in days instead. It’s nice; I like the silence. Count the fact that the time zone here is -12 hours from Manila—I have alllll the quiet time I need.
So far, I have gone to some of my favorite places in Manhattan: spend time at the New York Public Library, have lunch at Bryant Park, do some drawing on location at Central Park, and go art supplies shopping (now for school!) at Blick, among other things. Lately I’ve been more fixated on creating a routine (I’m such a Capricorn, I realize) for school and my workouts (running, mainly). It just feels relatively amazing and overwhelming to know I can do anything here in a city I barely know.
It’s been a rollercoaster of feelings, tbh—from leaving Manila to arriving at JFK (Welcome To New York by Taylor Swift was on loop, of course) to adjusting my body clock and eventually preparing for school. Here’s a little roundup and photo diary of how things are so far, and a vlog at the end of this post. 🙂
Got a Rachel Chu upgrade on my flight (yes, that was totes a Crazy Rich Asians reference) and omg, white wine and mimosas, please!
Started reading You Are A Badass on my first week. The tough love I never knew I needed (and probably the best self-help book I’ve read thus far)!
Welcome presents: this NYC ABC book from Koko (huuu thanks!) and the pair of Van Gogh sneakers I ordered from Vans. In my favorite yellow color!
Honestly got so overwhelmed with the USA orders of my book; but nonetheless, I’m very grateful! I’ve been sorting orders on weekends and mornings where I don’t have to head to Manhattan early. I’ve also been binge watching The Bold Type, which is now a new favorite (if you know me, I’m super picky with my series choices)!
My good friend from high school Nicole (who lives in Toronto) was in New York! So glad we got to catch up after so long.
The first week here was mainly spent on shopping for “essentials” (lol) and exploring Manhattan at a slower pace. I went here last year rushing everything and it’s nice to actually just walk and not panic about time, you know?
I entered Madewell not expecting I’d get a pair of jeans (they were on sale, okay) as I headed out. No regrets; it’s an investment! Also, fun fact: my trusty brown crossbody tote is from here (yes, the one I wear on all of my photos).
Random snaps: thrifted at L Train Vintage in Brooklyn, went all peak touristy a day before my DC trip, and a nice cup of almond milk latte at SoHo during a rainy Monday.
Another thing I hope to do is to explore Brooklyn more—I recently met Amber (who studies and lives in Brooklyn) and she took me around the area a few days ago. It was fun! I love how laid back Brooklyn is compared to the busy streets of Manhattan. Let’s add to that the fact that there are so many coffee shops in the neighborhood. I should head there more often now. Hello from Central Park!
Was surprised to find all my three books at Strand—the new one, Hand Lettering A to Z Workbook, is set to be out this October, but you can pre-order a copy here.
A dose of color on a Monday: met up with CH who was in town (yay!) and spent our morning inside Color Factory at Spring Street. So much fun!
Me to me: GANDA KA? Omygod. Hahahaha
There were designated photo booths in each room (as in, there was a built-in SLR omg) and it was just so cool. I’m amazed. Moreso when there was a room showcasing different colors and their origins. *Obviously geeked out*
Coincidentally, it was also my first day of school! I headed straight to the New York Academy of Art campus for my 2PM class. It was fun! I made friends! What an achievement. Two days later, we had an on location class at Washington Square Park. I still have a lot of work to do for that (especially since I have my own style already) but it’s interesting. Our teacher is a pro; and I’m looking forward to learn more in the next sessions.
Day off essentials: a good book (this is my second book now!) and a creamy cup of oat milk latte (this dairy-free alternative is my new obsession). I had a little crisis earlier this week so I sprinted to a nearby cafe after doing post office errands and did some free writing. I keep forgetting how journaling is so efficient, therapeutic, and ultimately clears the mind. It’s such a good reminder that so many thoughts can just cloud the mind and letting it out is always, always, ALWAYS the best solution.
As for the book, I’m reading an anthology of stories about writers on loving and leaving New York and it’s so insightful. It’s rare for me to get pulled in a book so it’s that good. I didn’t want to read it continuously so that the momentum won’t feel so fast; each story is so fascinating and I found myself resonating with some of them.
I don’t eat out a lot because I’m stingy. But sometimes my cravings for Asian food and smoked salmon push me to do so. I mean…beef noodle soup? Smoked salmon on an everything bagel? UwU I’ve been eating mostly Asian fare these days (rice included) and it’s so funny. To think I don’t like rice that much! That is my peak Asian lowkey showing itself, tbh. I had corned beef, egg, and brown rice earlier for lunch and I WAS SO HAPPY. I mean, LOL.
Earlier today I finally did something I have been wanting to do since forever—run. I mean, run in an actual neighborhood with pavements and trees and things like that, complete with running shoes (that propel your feet to move forward). Growing up I was not physically fit, but in recent years I have learned to love working out (spinning and yoga are on the top of my list) and I have always, always told myself I will be able to run (10KM? haha) and make it part of my lifestyle somehow. So this is a big feat for me! Of course I just ran 2KM earlier but it’s a start. I’ve started compiling my playlists and picking out which apps I’m using. I always say I am not fit to do these things but what the hell, I don’t care. I know what I’m capable of and I’m finally doing it for myself.
There’s something about New York that feels different—the kind that I know I’m about to uncover parts of myself I have otherwise may have not seen or have ignored while I was working my a** off the past few years. But you know what the weird thing is? I miss working. Like a true Capricorn, lol. But I keep forgetting I am here to learn, and I am here to experiment. There’s no pressure. There’s only freedom; lots of it.
I’m looking forward to more morning runs, the coming of autumn (next week!), my digital classes (which also start next week), meeting up some friends (my family is coming too, I’m excited for that), going to Germany next month (for work AND vacation omg), and many many things. It’s been well. I think. It’s just that sometimes I need a hard slap in my face to remember that I worked hard to get here (fun fact: the income I earned from teaching workshops has been incurred for my tuition—so thank you to my students!). I always neglect this and I need to keep it in mind more.
Here’s a compilation of clips from this month…I recently got a new tripod (lol) so my chatty vlogs will be out soon. 🙂
Always be creating,