Developments Importantes!

Written by: Adam Fernandez

So many things have been simultaneously happening and not happening that I’m just going to make a few short but important points in regards to New York, where we are, and what we’ve been doing.

– Laura and I went up to NY in May to scope out several different areas to live. She wrote an entry about it, so you might’ve known that already. Anyway, we stayed with my friend Marcus, whom I’ve known since high school and has always been very supportive of my musical endeavors. I was also hoping that we could line up some interviews while we were up there, but it ended up being too soon to do that. Anyway, Marcus lives in the “Upper West Side,” several blocks away from the apartment I shared with Angelique and company during the summer when all of this New York business started. Laura liked it, but felt kind of uneasy about living there at first. Throughout the trip, Laura and I made excursions into the rest of the city, including a meeting at a very bare office with a gentlemen that specializes in room rentals. While we decided ultimately not to work through him, he did circle some places on our subway map for us to look at, specifically in Brooklyn. Laura and I also met up with Michelle, an old coworker of mine, over drinks to discuss areas and job opportunities. She recommended Bushwick (also in Brooklyn) and told me how to apply at Apple (yes, that Apple) using her as a referral. Laura and I scoped out Bushwick, and several surrounding areas before returning to Marcus’ apartment. I should also mention that Marcus was a big help in showing us around his area, and giving us a better insight into the grocery and survival aspect of New York living. Around the end of our trip, I reconnected with Willy, who is Angelique’s grandfather. Willy has lived and worked in New York City longer than he cares to admit and his advice was/is crucial to our move. He currently works as a security guard at one of the many apartment buildings that Columbia University owns and rents to students, and he promised to take me to apply for the job and guide me in the process. He’s a real sweet guy, and yet another member of Jell’s wonderful family to whom I am so indebted. I can’t say this enough (and they’ve surely heard it enough): None of this would be possible without their help. I am truly lucky to have someone as great as Angelique in my life. Nobody should have to do this alone.  After that, Laura and I wrapped up our return to New York– we returned to Miami with purpose, clearer mindsets, and sharper goals. Yet, work still had to be done, and we continued to do so.

– On July 20th, I bid farewell to the only house I had ever known, and moved my stuff into my grandparent’s house to wait until the move to New York. I had hoped that one day I could revisit my old house after I had moved, but then life happened and so I move on. That same day, Laura and I headed to another house where we had picked up a housesitting/petsitting job for some friends. They were going out of the country for 3 weeks and had offered to pay us to be at their house and look after their two dogs, Cody and Oliver. Laura and I got a taste of what it’s like to live together, do groceries together, and commute to work together, with the added bonus of taking care of two totally awesome dogs. We got paid about $400 for our labor and so the New York Fund had grown more. We were sad to leave the dogs behind, but ecstatic to return to the house (and Cody and Oliver) for 4 more days (and more money for the NY Fund) in the middle of August.

– Among other ways to boost the New York Fund, we also put up two old school film cameras on Craigslist. We ended up selling one to a guy up in Ft. Lauderdale, and we drove up there to Las Olas Riverfront to meet the man in person and make sure we didn’t get ripped off. He gave us a cool $125 for it, and the New York Fund grew. We’re still looking to sell the other one.

– Laura and I still don’t have jobs yet, though we’ve been applying constantly. I posted up my resume (redone courtesy of Marcus) on Craigslist, and while visiting my parents up in Clearwater, I received a couple calls asking me to come interview. Unfortunately, when I made mention that I didn’t live in NY yet but would by the end of August, I was turned down. Another lesson in relocation: There are an untold number of people already living in New York City looking for work. While it’s not impossible to secure a job there before you move, it is damn difficult, and most companies won’t waste their time waiting for you when they can find someone else willing to go in immediately. Because of that, my parents had suggested that I move up there ahead of Laura to lay the groundwork and secure everything before coming back for her. Even Laura thought it was a good idea. Apparently, I was the only one who didn’t. In the beginning, New York was my dream, and I had thought I was going it alone. After I met Laura, I realized that not only was that practically impossible, it was also undesirable. This isn’t about just me anymore, it’s about us. After discussing it with her, we decided we would go together, as it should be.

Editor’s note: In between writing this entry and posting it, over the span of a few short days actually, I secured a job at a luxury hotel as a hospitality coordinator and will be starting four days after we arrive in the city. More details to come soon! ~Laura

– Originally, we had planned to be up in New York by June. We pushed it to the end of August in order to give us more time to wrap things up here and to reach our NY Fund goal of $7,000 (of which we have $5455 as of this posting). Laura and I discussed where we were and what we needed to do and, along with the discussion about me moving up before her, we decided (much to my chagrin) to push it back to September… now three days from now. I really wanted to be out of here by the end of August, but we also want to do this the right way. Our success depends on our preparation.

– A little while ago, Marcus contacted us with an offer we couldn’t refuse. His roommate, Katie (who we had met on our last trip to New York) was moving out at the end of the year, and they asked us if we’d like to move into her room. This would work wonders for us seeing as we’ve already seen the apartment and we know the area (for the most part), and we wouldn’t have to worry about moving in/living with someone we didn’t know, since Marcus would be our roommate. Laura and I discussed it in great length and detail, and after sending Katie questions about the situation back and forth, we decided that we’re going for it!

– Which leads us to this, the most important development of all. We’ve bought our tickets. Laura and I are moving on September 20th! It’s real, it’s happening, and we couldn’t be more excited, scared, nervous, anxious, and determined all at the same time if we tried! This is it. This is what we’ve been waiting for and what we’ve been working towards.

If you’ve been following up with us all this time, thank you. New York phase two is about to begin. Stay tuned!

Live from New York City!

Written By: Laura Barrera

In all honesty, this entry was *supposed* to be written while Adam and I were in New York City about two weeks ago but it just didn’t happen. In spite of this, we did have a highly productive trip as you’ll read below!

It was Wednesday night (May 16th) at 11:00 PM that Adam and I finally had a chance to pack & prepare for our trip to NYC that weekend– four and a half hours later, we were at the airport waiting to board our 6:00 AM flight. Needless to say, I slept the entire duration of the flight and was ready for a whirlwind five days when we arrived.

By 9:30AMish we were finally at Marcus’ apartment. Oh right, let me introduce Marcus! Marcus and Adam have known each other since high school at Sunset and, after completing his Bachelor’s degree at Miami International University (MIU), Marcus moved to New York City where he long dreamt to live. So, we arrived at Marcus’ apartment to this:

Marcus was very sweet and incredibly hospitable. We are eternally grateful to him (and his roommate, Katie) for letting us crash at his place while we scoped out different areas to live and met up with friends in NY for some much needed advice. Time for a mini, well-deserved plug for him: visit Marcus’ website and contact him for any design/production needs! I’m not just plugging him out of gratitude or for the sake of doing it, Marcus truly is a talented individual with great ideas.

That being said, here’s a breakdown of our trip:

Thursday, May 17th

Consisted mainly of settling in, exploring the area immediately surrounding Marcus’ place and going to the local World Inferno/Friendship Society show at the Best Buy theater that night.

Lessons learned from Day 1

  • A bodega is a wonderful place where many household items can be purchased at a better price than at the grocery store.
  • Grocery store prices in NYC don’t differ much from prices in Miami.
  • It is normal for an apartment to either: a. not have a living room or b. the living room area is used as a bedroom space.
  • I do not want to live in the area surrounding the 125th street 1 train station.
  • WIFS fans in NYC are A LOT crazier than Miami fans.

Friday, May 18th

Adam and I had contacted two people about possible room rentals ahead of our trip, one a real estate agent and the other a room rental agency. On Friday, we had (optimistically) planned to meet with both people and see some rentals to get a good idea of what to expect a few months from now. What we ended up doing was sitting down with the man from the room rental agency and discussing options for a bit while seeing pictures.

He told us about options he had in Washington Heights, Manhattan and Brooklyn. In Washington Heights & Manhattan we had the option of renting a room out from a place owned/inhabited by families while in Brooklyn he had rooms used by students/young professionals. Renting a room from a family isn’t really what we are looking to do so that eliminated Washington Heights & Manhattan from this agency. As far as Brooklyn, there were two issues: 1. they were mostly dormitory style and 2. we would be charged a one month broker’s fee (a surprise to me as I’d expect that to be charged to the landlord rather than the tenant) in addition to the move-in cost. After our meeting with this room rental agency, we left fairly certain that we would not be using their services.

Later in the day, we visited the 9/11 memorial. Even though I did not directly suffer a loss due to 9/11, walking upon the hallowed ground where so many deaths are now commemorated was both moving and eerie to me. I was surprised by the anger I felt when I saw people taking what can only be described as “smiley, touristy” pictures at the site, completely disregarding (or forgetting) the purpose of the memorial.

Lessons learned from Day 2

  • If you are running low on food and energy, www.grubhub.com is a fantastic way to get good, cheap food delivered to you fast.
  • There is no use in trying to look at rentals more than three weeks in advance because: a. whatever is available when you see it may not be available when you want to move and b. no one wants to show you a place/hold a place more than three weeks in advance.
  • We may use www.rdny.com to help us find a place (which is actually what Marcus & Katie ended up doing.)
  • It might be a better idea to find someone who would want to move from Miami to NY with us and look at apartments where we could split the rent rather than a room rental (more about this in an entry coming soon.)

So that was about half of our trip and this entry is getting way too long so… to be continued.

As always, thanks for reading!

Spaces Limited

Written by: Adam Fernandez

I (that is, we) don’t seem to write here as often as we should, but anyone who has ever stumbled upon my Livejournal in recent years knows that it’s a common occurence, given how busy we’ve gotten. For starters, we are close to breaking $4,000 in the NY Fund! Hooray! Laura and I are currently looking over our plans to see if $7,000 is still a feasible goal seeing as how things have started to speed up for us on our path to New York.

Yesterday (April 28th, 2012), we had our third garage sale at Laura’s bosses’ house, and this time, I had quite a bit to sell. Mainly, a chunk of my rather large t-shirt collection. For those not in my circle of friends, I have A LOT of shirts. I have 80 shirts just from various concerts I’ve attended, not to mention close to 50 or so from Threadless.com, and countless others bought during my time as a wayward youth shopping at Hot Topic. Now that the house has been sold, I’ve moved into the efficiency and have confronted this problem with limited space head on by countering it with some extreme organizing!

Ok, so maybe it’s not that extreme, but I have a penchant for putting things to order. Along with my shirts, I also have quite a collection of books and vinyl records, none of which I would really want to part with but I know I must (except for the records, I will MAKE space for those). So, as Laura and I have been trying to figure out ways to consolidate space/break me out of my ocd & sentimental hoarding habit, we’ve come up with several possible solutions to the lack-of-space issue:

1) Throw out everything and start anew! (Not gonna happen)

2) Keep everything and find a way to make it all fit. (Also, not gonna happen if Laura has anything to say about it)

3) Take the essentials, and sell the non-essential, and leave the inbetween amongst family and friends so we can send for them when we have more space (The much more viable prospect)

Option #3 is our way of compromising. I have to take into consideration that as much as I want to take my as much of my stuff as possible, Laura also needs space for her stuff too. So, I figure the best way to go about this is to first make a list of things I absolutely cannot live without, and things I can wait to see another day. Guaranteed safe passage to New York City are:

1) My tour shirts and my Threadless shirts (They total to a little over a 100. That might seem like alot, but I have ways of making things fit).

2) My favorite books (This includes novels like Catch-22, the Harry Potter series, comics like Scott Pilgrim and The Umbrella Academy, and informational books like A People’s History Of The United States and The Zombie Survival Guide).

3) My record player and all of my records (This is essential, as it was my most prized material possession).

Of course, there’s plenty more I’d like to take, but that’ll all be determined by the size of luggage we end up taking when we move. Laura has a bunch of ideas for making the best use of the space in our room, which she’ll touch up on in another entry. The rest, I would leave in boxes with my mom and Jeff up in Clearwater, and when we move to a bigger space (eventually), I’ll send for things little by little. It still isn’t feasible to bring every little thing, so the rest will either be sold or donated (though there is a neat idea I’ve seen floating around involving t-shirts and quilts that I have yet to look into).

Finally, the latest piece of big news is that we shall be returning to New York  on May 17th to scope out apartments among other things. The only thing that matches the speed of how fast things are happening is the level of determination in both of us to make this work.

Oh… How It’s Been So Long…

We’re so sorry we’ve been gone! ♫ (cue Panic at the Disco song…)

Written By: Laura Barrera

Seriously, if you’re still keeping up with us and our shenanigans, I thank you and apologize for not writing in a very long time.  It was with good reason though, I promise.

You see, during February and March, I prepared for two major events for the two projects I have been heavily involved in over the last year. During this time I also traveled to Colombia to visit family and have my wisdom teeth removed… but that’s a whole other story for another time! So, the first of the two events I mentioned above was the Walk2Nicaragua which took place on March 2nd and was part of my work with Imagination Federation, Inc (the organization I work with to help fund & sustain education initiatives in Nicaragua). At this event with about 300 participants, we collectively walked over 1,080 miles (the distance from Miami, FL to Chacraseca, Nicaragua) and raised over $5,500 to help fund our Tengo un Sueno/I Have a Dream and Vespertino/Secondary School programs.

Photo Credit to IF Member, Eli

The second event, which had been nine months in the making, was the 2-day 305 Rise Retreat at MDC’s Wolfson Campus that took place March 31-April 1st.

I am not pictured. Photo credit goes to Nat, our Harvard mentor.

This event was the culmination of the work of six MDC students, myself included, did after going to the Latino Leadership Initiative program at Harvard University last summer and was one of the most rewarding things I had ever done. My focus during our retreat was a workshop on college transfer and another one on S.M.A.R.T. goal setting and they really got me thinking about the NY plans Adam and I have…

By the end of this week, Adam and I will have about $4000 in the NY Fund and, even though we are close to the original $5000 we wanted for an end of June move date, after much deliberation and conversation (and even consultation), we decided that we should increase our budget to about $7000 and would postpone the move until about August.

Now that a lot of my commitments that required a lot of immediate attention have passed, NY is the number one priority once more and we are starting the serious job and home search now. We will also be starting our “fundraising” up again starting with a GARAGE SALE (woohoo…) this Saturday! So please, if you’d like to support us and possibly make it out of our sale like a bandit with plenty of goodies for dirt cheap, drop by (SW 87 AVE & 56 ST)!

Plans! Plans! Plans!

Written by: Adam Fernandez

Happy New Year everyone! A couple weeks late, I know. Still, this new year means more to Laura and I than just a changing of the calender. This is the year that things happen, that IT happens, and while I’ve had to explain time and time again that I know all the hard work that it’s going to take to make NY not just a reality, but a self-sustaining reality, I feel very much like this is the homestretch. Yet there is still so much to do, to prepare for, to accomplish before Laura and I get on the plane and are able to see that tiny green lady in the water from the clouds, and call these collections of buildings home.

There might be a lot that still needs to be done, but this entry is going to focus on what’s been done already since the last update. For starters: we sold a ton of sports plaques (27 to be exact). We still have close to half of the damn things left, but we’ll figure something out, most likely relist them on eBay one more time. The good news is that we made a little over a grand on the ones we did sell, and we made sure we didn’t skimp on the packaging, so if the plaques get damaged, it’s not on us.

Another big thing Laura and I have started doing is really focusing on the planning itself. While, we’ve been planning plots and plotting plans from the get-go, we’ve really started to hunker down as actually writing things down and setting goals go, written in sharpie ink on monster-sized Post-Its.

While Laura’s definitely the more planning type, I also know that she doesn’t want to be the one to do all of it, so I took the initiative of coming up with a list of goals per month, and we are close to completing our goals for January which are as follows:

1. By the end of the month, have between $3,000-$3,200 in NY Fund.
(We had to take some money from the fund to pay for the plaques to ship, but once the money comes in from the sales, we should be close to breaking the $3,000 mark by the end of the month!)
2. Sell most/all of Sports Plaques
(See above)
3. Film and release Youtube commercial for our various services.
(One of many of Laura’s ideas. Basically, we’d be filming a short video to post on Youtube to advertise our expertise in odds & ends, whether it be car washing, babysitting, or commissioned artwork, and everything in between. I’m currently coming up with a script and an overall plan on what to shoot and how to shoot it…but it’s gonna take some time)
4. Begin planning short exploratory NY weekend trip to scope out apartments, neighborhoods, and such to be undertaken by March, at the absolute latest: 1st week of April. (This is extremely important since it’s rapidly approaching. We can’t necessarily go to New  York blind can we? I mean, we could, but it’s going to be hard as Hell as it is, so no)
5. Begin e-mail marketing campaign (to be typed by Laura)
(Laura will have to explain this herself since it’s her idea and I’m sure she’ll explain it better than I can anyway)
Those are our goals for January. Short, sweet, and somewhat precise. We are doing well and are well on our way, so long as we stick to the plan, and while the best laid plans often go wrong, Laura and I have plans to counter those plans with more plans. Muahahaha, evil laugh…ok, back to planning.

Who Said New Yorkers Can’t Have Gardens?

“By: Laura Barrera”

You Win Some, You Lose Some

Written by: Adam Fernandez

So, December 3rd was the big day. Well, not THE big day, but certainly A big day. We have been planning the final garage sale for a while and the house show to raise funds and we now have the cash to prove the fruits of our labor.

We cleared out the dining room and packed up all the stuff into the cars in order to take it Laura’s bosses’ house, and they had stuff of their own they wanted to sell. To say that this garage sale was much more successful than the previous one at my own house would be pretty accurate. We made nearly double the amount in 6 hours now than we did in 2 days then. Aside from it being near a major intersection, I feel as though a big part of the success was attributed to a sense of finality (i.e. having it “up to here” with garage sales.) We didn’t have that many cheapskates (New garage sale policy: the more you try to be a cheapskate, the more I’m going to raise the price. No lady, I’m not selling you a complete plate/cup/utensil set for $0.25. Please get back in your car, and go away) this time around, and by the end of the garage sale, the total amount of money made for The NY Fund was close to $200! A round of awesome, on the house!

Speaking of things being on the house, that very same night was the House Show/Party Laura and I had been planning for about a month. Scrambling to get the members of Heroes And Cons to my house on time in order to prepare, we picked up the twins (Greg and Sam, drum and bass, respectively) and when we got to my house, we immediately set upon clearing out the remains of my dining and living room. We moved the china cabinet (on sale, by the way) into the hallway to block entrance into the bedrooms, and then began moving all of the band equipment into the dining room where the bands would be playing.

Little by little, people began showing up (starting with World’s Strongest Man, the first band to play) and the keg arrived. We rented a keg of Budweiser for $130 plus $120 deposit and our aim was to make that back plus a profit for the NY fund and Heroes And Cons’ band fund.

The first band began at 8:00pm. From what I hear, there were a couple people who specifically came to see WSM, which is great for them especially since they came from Boca Raton. It was really cool, instrumental music with just a single guitar and a bunch of samples and loops. I tried to enjoy the music and atmosphere as much as I can, but I was splitting my time between checking on Laura at the door, maintaining the bar/keg, and making sure everyone was heeding to the signs that Laura plastered everywhere (“No Smoking indoors”, “Bathroom”, “Air Hockey Table for sale”, etc.). Van Gogh Sky came and set up their stuff and were really, really good, even though Greg was freaking out about his drums being hit so hard. A lot of people came for them.

So, then VGS finished and it was our turn to play. We set up our stuff, waited a bit, and then I asked Mateo from Van Gogh Sky to let everyone know outside that we were playing. When everyone came in, we kicked in. Here’s what we played:

  1. Life And Love
  2. Do Not Resuscitate
  3. You Were Right
  4. It Never Gets Better
  5. State Of The Union [Rise Against cover]
  6. Over And Out
  7. Black Heart

All but 1 song and the cover are from our new album, The Artist Aesthetic, which will be released on December 16th. I usually go all out when performing, tripping falling, weird faces, jumping around, grabbing hair, pushing, yelling, wrapping the microphone wire around my neck, and stuff like that. We haven’t played a show since Bryan left to Orlando to go to school, and since he came down for this show we were super psyched to play. So psyched and energetic, that I ended up punching out one of the panes of the chandelier hanging in the dining room! I guess I’ll have some explaining to do, but luckily no blood was to be found.

Over the course of the performance, constantly moving around, I hadn’t noticed how much the crowd had diminished until I saw all the people standing outside. There was probably only about 8 or so people watching us. While we should be used to it by now (we’ve played shows to literally empty rooms before), it really never gets better. I lost most of my voice during the Rise Against cover (in which I took over guitar and Bryan took over lead vocals), so I had to sing the last 2 songs on low key since I couldn’t sing high anymore. By the time we were done, I was exhausted, disheartened, and wanted everyone to leave. To top it all off, Laura informed me that we would barely break even. Despondent, I retreated into my mom’s room for some alone time, before emerging back outside to check on things and manage the keg.

After People played, most people hung around to drink. Little by little, people started to leave, and thank God too. I was very close to “calling the cops” in order to get everyone to leave, but luckily they were all gone by around 1:00am or so. We took Bryan and Spencer home and Sam, Greg, Lis, Neil, Laura and I slept at the house.

In the end, we broke even with the party, but the garage sale advanced the New York cause by $193. I’d say success, but I solemnly swear I will never throw another house party again.