Farewell to New York

Big, big changes here.  For the good I hope.  Eventually.

After 25+ years of working for various investment banks, and 16 years at my current job, the wheel finally landed on my number a couple of weeks ago.  After six or seven rounds of layoffs in the past few years, it was finally my turn.  Most likely, I got picked this time because of all my time off.  Which I was entitled to — but  it made me “nonconforming” in the new management’s eyes.  Anyhow, the “package” is generous.  About a year’s pay (though Uncle Sam will take about half).  And I’ll get regular paychecks through the end of the year.  So, I don’t need to panic financially.  It’s the perfect time to make some big changes.  Lousy economy, lousy job market, all over the country.  Except maybe North Dakota — and I don’t want to move there.  I’ve never been a fan of cold weather.

After a lot of reflection, I’m heading back where I came from 32 years ago:  Southern California.  I have a mother back there that might need my help one of these years soon.  And you can’t beat the weather.  And there are loads of places for the doggies to romp — mountains, lakes, and beaches.  I’ve got no idea where or what I’ll be doing just yet.   The choices make your head hurt:  something that has meaning but pays lousy — or office work which pays better but has no meaning.

This cross-country move is more terrifying than it is exciting at the moment.  It’s very hard saying goodbye to friends and my beloved park and apartment.   But by a year from now, I’ll have a nice little routine going.  The days of the five-week roadtrips are most likely over for now.  But I’ll be able to sneak off on weekends now and then.  And I’d hope there’ll be a week or two of vacation time per year.  Eventually, when I retire, I hope to resume with some mega trips — maybe even longer than five weeks — with no rush to get back to work!  But for now, I have enough photos for the website from this year’s trips to keep me busy for at least a year.  Also, I’ve got lists of all sorts of things at the site that need updating. So, it might be a good time to hit the travel pause button and catch up.

I have a long list of stuff to shoot in NYC that I never got around to or desperately need reshooting for the website.  But with planning & packing & some crappy weather, I only managed to sneak off for a few hours yesterday to get about a dozen stops in.  Let’s start the photos with one from Crown Heights — the neighborhood east of mine.  Considering my big move and all, the business is appropriately named “New Life”…  A neat frieze with a dragon — heads on both ends:

A Park Slope (Brooklyn) icon.  I’ve been eating at Mr. Falafel on and off for more than 20 years.  This guy’s been standing in front of the restaurant since well before that.  And given the neighborhood’s transformation (old mom & pops replaced with chains) in the past few years, it’s a miracle the restaurant and statue are still there:

One of the very few and nicest of the neon signs that remain in the neighborhood:

Some nice mosaics in downtown Brooklyn (both on the front of the same building):

A survivor in Brooklyn Heights — very few neon signs there either:

From the Brooklyn waterfront — the Brooklyn Bridge.  The tallest building in the distance is the new, nearly finished World Trade Center:

From pretty much the same spot — the Manhattan Bridge and the Williamsburg Bridge in the distance:

The big new building near me.  Basketball stadium, concerts, etc.  Most of us locals agree it’s a monstrosity.  A friend likens it to a junk pile.  The finish was designed to look like rust.  The neat thing is the advertising screen in that hole (where it shows “tickets now” in this photo).  It’s constantly changing and animated and BRIGHT and will certainly cause accidents.  I’ve never understood why cities prohibit neon but this sort of thing is fine.

A survivor much further down Flatbush Avenue:

Over to Manhattan for a little bit.  I don’t think where I’m heading will have many buildings like this.  The Cary Building, downtown:

One of my faves downtown –

the floor at the entry:

the relief at the entry:

So, moving day is tomorrow — Monday.  I’ll grab you a couple photos from the road.  No sightseeing though — all interstate.  I’ll be hauling a big rig:  a 14 foot UHaul with Sparkle on a trailer behind.  She’ll just be a passenger for this journey — and she damn well deserves it.  The dogs will be crammed in the cab with me.  I should land in SoCal probably Friday-ish.  And then you might not hear from me for a while while I sort everything out.  Not to worry!  I’m not the suicidal sort and I have a nice cushion to find the right job & place to live.  A big adventure, a new chapter, a blank slate.  It’s a big mountain to climb right now — but I’ll get to the top for the great view soon enough — and share the photos with you.

I posted a few more NYC photos over at Flickr just now if you’re eager for more:

54 thoughts on “Farewell to New York

  1. It’s not a pleasant thing to have happened, but I’m excited for you. Many aren’t getting the $ package anymore… it’s a” grub steak ” for your future . Awhile from now I’m thinking and hoping you’ll say they did you a favor . GOOD LUCK!! 🙂

    • Yeah, I know how lucky I am. I’d be really stuck if not for this “package”. No way I could finance the move any other way. I’m not a saver as you probably figured — all my money goes to the traveling thing & keeping Sparkle operating.

  2. Wow! This was unexpected. I know you’ve been in this area a long time, and once lived in the town next to me, so I consider you a “local”. you’ve also helped me with seeing some sights in my own state that I missed or would never find on my own. I must admit I will miss your marathon road trips and never understand how anyone got that much time off every year! I myself get 5 weeks a year, but I’ve been with the same company for over 30 years, and they won’t let me take more than 1 week at a time anyway. I wish you all the best, safe journey, good luck in your new location. look at it this way, now you’ll be closer to all the western states you been road tripping too. Perhaps now we can see some states you couldn’t reach before such as California, Oregon, Washington. All the best.

    • Thanks!! I did do the Western states (CA, OR & WA) back in 2008. So they are pretty well represented at my website (and blog) — but it’s been awhile. CA was on the agenda for 2013 — so I guess I’m on track, sort of!

      I’m planning on living a long time — and have always been incredibly healthy — so you can count on some marathon trips, eventually. Hopefully, sooner than 10 or 15 years.

    • Thanks! I have mostly enjoyed my 32 years in NYC. So it’s hard to leave. But I’m trying hard to keep my chin up and “embrace change”. I could keep doing what I’ve been doing for another 10 years or more — but who knows what awaits me someplace else.

      • “If you don’t change the way you do things, live your life, or make decisions, you will never grow or mature or feel better about life as a whole. You have to be the change you want to see in your life.”

      • I’m pretty much a self-starter and self-sufficient. But still, this is a bit scary in so many ways. But with my dogs as my philosophy teachers, every day is a great day!

  3. I’m sorry this change was forced on you — but hey, glad to see you’re “going big,” as they say. I hope you find your new normal very soon!

    • Thanks, bud! Although I’m in no rush financially, upheaval is not my thing either. I’ll do my damndest to be patient for the best “normal” I can come up with.

      • The only cross country photos I’m planning on are a couple truck stop shots of the kids and Sparkle up on her luxurious trailer. This rig’s gonna be scary enough to drive on the interstates — I won’t be doing any building or sign photos in downtowns! But I promise some California photos within the next few weeks.

      • The “kids” and I stopped at Cadillac Ranch last year — a post-dusk shot so it’s a bit blurry:
        the kids at Cadillac Ranch

        I’ll be driving all interstate — stopping only for gas & snoozing briefly at truck stop places. I-76, I-70, I-40, I-15, I-10…. Lots and lots of coffee. And a crappy AM/FM radio.

  4. Oh wow DJ, now I’ll never get to see you in your “home” turf. It’s too bad they are doing this to you but at least you have the severance package to help the restart in Southern California. I wish you the best in your move and the founding of your new life there. Keep us posted on Flickr.

  5. Debra, new beginnings for a new chapter. I regret never getting to meet you on your many trips into my area. But I always will be here as a friend and colleague, you have my best wishes!

    • Thanks, Larry! Shame on us for never making it happen (getting together). Definitely, the next time I get my butt out here – you’ll be on my list of destinations!

  6. Wishing you all the best Debra Jane!! The east coast will miss you. Take care & ENJOY! My life has been made better for meeting you! Much happiness to you!!

    • Gosh! Thanks — that’s so sweet of you to say. Wishing you all the best, too. Maybe we can get together sometime, someplace. Stay in touch!

  7. DJ, please add my name to the considerable pile of good wishes!
    Take some personal time. Now’s the chance. Work comes back soon enough.

    • Thanks, Jan! I can never have too many well-wishers. All appreciated. It’ll give me strength through the horrors of the job hunting and apt. hunting process to know I have an army of supporters that want me settled and happy — so I can get back to taking photos!

      I don’t know what personal time is. As it was before this “event”, all I did with my free time was play with the dogs and work on the website. So, it’ll be more of the same at nights and weekends I would imagine. I’ve never been one to sit around. So my days will be consumed with interviews (girlie clothes – ick!) and phone calls and such.

      I’m sure I’ll be back in action at Flickr & the blog soon enough — fear not!

  8. You should do alright with the path you’re taking. I drove from DC to Las Vegas and did the I-40 route (instead of 70 through Colorado). I didn’t have the big truck, but I was towing a trailer with my truck. Some slow going on some hills, but mostly felt quite safe. Good time to make the drive, too. Don’t have to worry about the snow and when you get to the desert, no worry of heat with the dogs.

    • Yeah – no way I’m doing I-70 thru Colorado. I just did that route & it’s hilly enough just driving the van & not towing. Plus you never know when it’s gonna snow there. I hit a snowstorm west of Denver in April once & it was terrifying. I’ll probably be in the right hand lane the whole time doing the recommended 55mph and pissing the hell out of people.

  9. Holy smokes. Boy, I am sorry to hear about this—not the way you would have liked it to happen, I am sure. That said, I’m glad you got a good package, and am glad to hear you are so optimistic. Sometimes difficult changes and events are really opportunities in disguise, and I am sure you’ll make the best of it!

    Great photos, by the way—glad you are getting to them at last despite the circumstances.

    • It was sort of a matter of time. There were so many layoffs these past couple years. Watching co-workers of many years get the boot — and wondering why them and not you. (And I hear more are coming soon!)

      Part of my compulsion to grab as many photos as possible this past couple of years was the likelihood that this perk of travel & time off could end any day. Just glad it did while the company still had money for a package. The survivors might not be so lucky if the economy continues to flounder.

      There will be more adventures on a smaller scale soon enough. So, hang on while the dust settles for a few months. My documenting days are far from over!

  10. I may be late to the party but I could not let this post go without comment! My head is still spinning realizing you’re already on your way west, and I’m – like Larry – lamenting the fact that we didn’t get to meet up while you were still an East Coaster. Isn’t it true that the things that are the closest we tend to take for granted, but as you found out, things can change in a moment.

    So excited for you and your move though! The weather should be great, and it’s fab that you got a package, so there’s the cushion you can count on for a little while.

    We’ll be thinking of you, sending good vibes to you and the pups, and looking forward to hearing from you when you’re semi-settled down. I’m glad you took advantage of the perks of the biz while you still had them!

    • If your head is spinning, imagine mine! Life is short — gotta take risks sometimes if you want something more out of it. There’s always learning and discovery along the way even if the path is rocky. Late here and exhausted — sorry for the corny cliches.

      No excuse for us to not have gotten together — I came very close to doing the SINES get-together — but had to WORK of all things! Who knew a week or two later I’d get canned — should have just taken a sick day. Ah well.

  11. Good luck, Debra and happy trails, both physical and mental. I admire you for getting out there with a fresh start. And remember, if you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.

    • Thanks!! Yeah, it’s a big risk I suppose — driving 3000 miles to a place where you have no job & no housing.. But I think staying put in NYC was a bigger risk: struggling to find a job & staying in a city you don’t really want to live in is pretty cowardly — and not what life is about.

  12. GOOD LUCK, drive carefully, and I hope you enjoy seeing your mother. Good to hear you will be financially able to look for a suitable position and not have to panic. I’ll be waiting patiently to see what you have to show us after you get settled.

    • Thanks so much! Yes, a little cushion of time and money — but still the scary unknown. I’ll be a lot more excited about it all once I get job & housing. Stay tuned….

    • Thanks so much! Yes, a little cushion of time and money — but still the scary unknown. I’ll be a lot more excited about it all once I get job & housing. Stay tuned.

  13. Those are indeed “Big, big changes..” however I’ve little doubt that they will turn out to be for the good. I know that you like the city but for me, moving from NYC to SoCal (or just about anywhere:-) would be a good thing all by itself. I wish you and your little buddies a safe trip and a sunny welcome at your destination. I’m sure you’ll be back on the road someday and, as Tom Bodett would (sorta) say, “We’ll leave the neon lights on for you.”

    • Thanks, bud! NYC was all about the paycheck. I was never one for restaurants, movies, plays, museums, any of that. With that paycheck gone, it was time to think about my “golden years” and getting myself to a place where the dogs and I can be our happiest. It will, eventually, all work out — but I’m prepared for some struggling to get there (lousy job market, finding housing with four dogs, etc.).

  14. Wow, indeed! Best wishes on this new chapter in your life, and safe journeys getting there. I’m going to keep on playing the lotto, because if I ever hit the jackpot one of the first things I’m doing is setting up a grant program to cover your future trips!

  15. Hi, Debra Jane. While I’m sorry that you’re having to make this decision under these circumstances, I’m excited for you as you begin this new adventure. Please let me know if there’s any way I can ever be of help to you. I wish you much happiness in the days ahead.

  16. Good luck in SoCal and safe travels west. Maybe we’ll pass each other somewhere on I70 or I40 as we head east from New Mexico.

    Thanks for turning me on to Roadside Architecture and capturing sights from my childhood in photos before they go away. Looking forward to your future trips.

  17. You just never know what life has in store. Enjoy spending more time with your Mom and good luck with whatever you decide to do. Re-invention is scary and exciting! There is still so much to explore on your blog and Flikr to keep us busy for a long time. I’ll keep checking for your updates in the future. Best of luck!

  18. Aw, Debra! We all really miss you and your “kids” at the park, but I’m so excited for you and more than a tiny bit jealous! Sometimes the universe makes difficult decisions for us and only hindsight can show us. Good luck! And if I’m ever out that way, I’ll look you up and we can meet with the dogs cuz you know I’ll have mine with me! XOXO

    • Thanks so much! I will miss all you guys tremendously — already do. I’m still in the “upheaval” phase (job-hunting) but things will settle down soon enough. Lots of incredible doggie spots out here.

  19. I can’t believe I am only just now seeing this….
    So excited!! I was already thrilled about your southern California trip, but to live so close to LA? I absolutely can’t wait to follow along on your day trips, of which I am sure there will be many. I know several southern Californians either here or on Flickr are giving an audible “whoopee!”.

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