Musings: settling in by Laura Couttie

I think I’m starting to feel settled into life in New York.  

I joined a local yoga class, which apart from being good for my body and mind (cliché alert), gives structure to my days, which at the moment generally entail getting up for yoga then sitting in a café, often with Jacqui, nursing a coffee, talking and writing. I’ve grown accustomed to the taste of drip coffee, and I’ve discovered that if I order it with steamed milk, it tastes somewhat like a latte (to my untrained taste buds) and for half the price. And I’ve discovered my new favourite breakfast – a fusion of the best of both Melbourne and American brunch foods – a toasted bagel with cream cheese, avocado, tomato, bacon and hot sauce, which I can whip up for myself at home. I just got a job, which is a start, despite not being in my industry and paying less than half what I was earning in Melbourne.

Some of these days (like today) the sun is out and it is actually kind of nice to be outside. On these days I can imagine that spring is just around the corner and everything seems better. 

On the other hand, there are some things that I’m still getting used to. I can’t get my head around the imperial system - inches, feet, miles and pounds are all foreign concepts to me, and let’s not even get started on fahrenheit. I stared blankly at my new doctor when asked how much I weigh in pounds and I’ve noticed looks of horror from Americans when talking to fellow Australians in public about the weather and mentioning that it is forecast for -15 degrees on the weekend (which, come to think of it, is pretty horrifying in Celsius as well). I instinctively move to pass people on the left side, which no doubt confuses them and leads to regular games of sidewalk chicken, and I’ve almost been hit by cars numerous times because I forget to look left first before crossing the road (also, American drivers tend not to give way at pedestrian crossings). But baby steps…

Musings: writing and self-doubt by Laura Couttie

It’s been almost a month since my last (and first) blog post. And nearly 6 weeks now since I landed in New York. Sorry, I meant to write, but I got busy. No, that’s a lie, I'm hardly busy. I tried to write, and then I started doubting myself and my writing. So let's start with what I'm doing here in the USA.

At the start of November last year, Miles and I packed up our lives in Melbourne and flew over to the other side of the world. Landing in Seattle, we hired a car and spent the next 9 weeks travelling down the West Coast and across the expansive South Western states, via big cities and tiny towns, national parks, strange attractions, countless crappy motels, gas stations and amazingly kitsch diners. 5,000 miles later we finally ended up in New Orleans before flying to New York. 

My motivation for moving to New York was twofold:  

Firstly, to move out of my comfort zone and to take on new challenges. Having never really lived outside of Melbourne (aside from a brief stint in London for a semester exchange), I wanted to see if I could make a life for myself in another city. New York, a city that I visited 3 years ago and fell in love with, seemed like the perfect place.  

Second, as an emerging arts practitioner, I wanted to actively focus on my creative pursuits away from the distractions of my regular life at home. New York is, or at least has been for much of the past half century, the centre of the global art world, and seems to practically ooze creativity and ambition.  Where better to pursue my dreams than the concrete jungle where dreams are made of? (to quote Alicia Keys/Jay Z). 

I wanted to write that down because when everything here seems difficult and I wonder why on earth I left my comfortable home and moved to this cold, foreign place, I can remind myself of these two reasons, repeating them in my mind like a mantra, and try to believe that it will be worth it.    

Musings: first post by Laura Couttie

"It’s so fine and yet so terrible to stand in front of a blank canvas." - Paul Cezanne 

So here goes my inevitable first post. 

I have often found that the anxiety of potential and possibility, the metaphoric (or literal) blank canvas, has crippled my attempts at creating. Perhaps that is why I was never any good at painting or drawing, and why I have always enjoyed collage, which allows for the careful, considered process of cutting and arranging, trying countless compositions before allowing the glue to fix each piece in place. Perhaps this is also why I have a large bag full of collected images and cut-outs which have not yet been made into anything. In this un-made state of they are still full of potential and possibility. And so I have to admit that this blog is something I’ve meant to do for a long time, but committing words or images to the page has always been too difficult. My anxiety over the finished product has stifled my ability to make the first mark. So this blog is my attempt to stop over-thinking and just DO. Snippets of words, musings, photographs or creative attempts. I accept that it won’t be perfect (or perhaps even any good), but it will be a start.