Stories from my 14-month study abroad in Buenos Aires, my 16-month post-college move to Miami, and my get-me-the-hell-out-of-Miami move to Denver

Friday, March 25, 2011

What I Use To Think...

Miami is all about flash, Minneapolis is the complete opposite.

I used to think Lamborghinis and Ferraris were cool cars driven by financially successful individuals. Now, I think they're just an exotic rental from a South Beach dealership being driven by someone wrapped up in a false life of luxury that hasn't come to realize it yet.

I used to think people drove well. Now, I realize that Midwestern drivers possess a level of driving expertise that Miami drivers will never achieve. My hand subconsciously flicks on my blinker when I'm driving. I don't even realize it's on unless I look at the dashboard and see it clicking. I would say about 20% of Miami drivers use their blinker. You'd think the cars here didn't have them.

I used to respect public road construction workers. Now, I've lost all respect for them and their lack of work ethic. It's true that you see it once and a while up north, but usually, road construction is done quickly and efficiently. Road crews only have 5 months (summer) to get the majority of their work done, so they work hard and get results. I swear to you, the road crew working on Biscayne Boulevard's underground pipe installation and blacktopping project does the BARE minimum to get by and not get in trouble with the city. I would estimate that at their current pace, which appears to be roughly 2 feet per day, they'll finish the 15-block project by 2050. Minneapolis crews would have this done by Fall 2011, if not earlier.

Beyond that, I can't tell you how many times I've seen poor work ethic in action. Instead of two guys using two wheelbarrows and two shovels to move a pile of gravel, they choose to have one guy, with one shovel, fill the other guy's wheelbarrow, which he slowly moves to the dumping point. What about the classic three guys watching one guy with a pick-ax. Does it take a brain surgeon to figure out efficient work practices? Why is laziness awarded in our society by never ending public contracts? Financial initiative for rapid completion of public works projects must not exist here. Give this to a private company working on a deadline, and you better believe these guys would get their act in gear or get fired.

I'm sure I'll think of more.

Don't read this like I don't like it down here. There are many positives about Miami. I just needed a little venting time.

Making Friends is Hard...Really Hard

This post will come off like a post from my personal diary, because it pretty much is, but I think anyone who's moved alone to a new city, post-college, will be able to relate.

Making friends is not easy. Plain and simple.

Let's analyze how you make friends during the first 22 years of your life:

0-3 years: You don't have friends, you have a Mom.

4-9 years: Most likely on the playground.

10-18 years: Most likely in the classroom, locker room, or extracurricular activity.

18-22 years: Class, clubs, college in general.

I see myself as a very amicable person. When I was in Argentina during my junior year of college, I'd never made more lasting friendships in such a short period of time. I knew these people for no more than 4 months, yet I still stay in contact with them more than I do with people who I lived with for 9 months in the dorms freshman year.

Coming to Miami, I kind of had the same idea that I'd make a big group of friends right away, because it was kind of like another study abroad. However, I left out one large gaping error, there isn't class when you've graduated from college.

Making friends from ages 4 through 22 revolves around the classroom or the educational system. Post college, making friends is a different ball game. 20-somethings go to the bars with their friends, but seldom do you make friends in a bar. I currently find myself in the situation where I've somewhat become a loner, and I'm breaking myself out of this pattern.

I love my alone time. I could ride for hours alone, but I always wind up talking out loud to myself while riding. Bouncing ideas off myself basically. Fishing is the same. Great way to relax, but after awhile, you want someone to talk to.

So, this kind of goes with my previous post, I'm getting a job. Adults makes friends at work; that's how the world works. I'm not just going to randomly walk up to people in bars and say "Hey guy, you seem cool, want to hang out?" That's not going to happen.

I need to immerse myself into the Miami scene and start working so I can start meeting new people. Once I meet said people, THEN we can go hang out in bars and restaurants, but until that happens, I'm done with nightlife. Not to mention, there are a lot of sleazy people in South Beach. I'm really happy I DIDN'T live there. Everyone's all about the club scene, and everyone, mostly douchey guys, brag about knowing some DJ or having "a connection" at the club. Give me an effing break dude, your connection is the guy mopping up puke in the VIP section. Quit trying to front like you're this South Beach mogul!

Rant Over.

Result: I'm getting a job at a nice restaurant to meet people. Being lonely isn't always that fun.

Free Time Isn't That Cool

When I came down here, I planned on spending the first month on vacation, and after that I'd start traveling or job hunting, whichever came first. The first month went well, I was having fun and going to the beach, fishing, etc. However, now that I've been here for seven weeks, I've gotten sick of having so much free time. A friend recently came down from NYC for 9 days on his Spring break, and we had a great time. However, during this time I realized that I need to get my ass in gear. I've spent too much money, and I feel like I need to put traveling on hold for a while. This is okay, because my main destination of Buenos Aires isn't really in condition to be visited right now. It's cold and damp, and when I go, I want it to be warm and dry.

Anyways, back to my feelings of being a bum.

Having free time is great, when it actually has meaning. However, when every minute of every day is "free" you never really feel like you're enjoying this free time. As my friend Tim described it in economic terms, you need to have a constraint on your free time to actually utilize it. When you're a bum, every minute is considered free time, yet you wind up never actually doing anything. However, when you have a full time job, those three hour chunks between ending work and going to bed are milked for all they're worth. Someone who is extremely busy and has three open hours could accomplish more than myself with a whole day available because I'm able to procrastinate.

Looking back at my entire post-high school life, I've always had a job and worked something like 25 hours per week. I wasn't raised in a family where being lazy was acceptable. I was taught that I needed to "learn the value of a dollar" and now, after 6 years of constant labor, I understand that value. I don't understand how someone could be a beach bum and NOT have a job. Working gives me a sense of value that I don't get from living the life of a vagabond. I could easily live for a few more months on my savings account, but I enjoy labor.

So, plan is, I'm applying at all the best steak houses in town. I knew I said I wasnt getting back into serving, but the money is good, and it will give me the drive to put my real "free time" into Text Marketing Miami, my text message marketing company that I'm starting down here. Looking back, I've always been at my most productive when I was working the most. During the fall, I was putting in 32 hours/week at the internship, another 15 at the Loring, and I still read 10 books, found an apartment in Miami, and focused myself better. Plus, word on the street is that servers make close to $300/$400 per night, and that is damn good money.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Good Tunes in Miami

What started out as a slow Miami night ending up being quite eventful. I originally just planned on staying in and working on a marketing website I'm creating. Needing some groceries to cook my dinner before starting on the website, I decided to bike to the Midtown Target. Leaving the Target, I took a little different route home and passed a corporate, yet pretty cool, restaurant, Hurricane Grill & Wings, that had a live blues band, The Jay Blues Band, setting up. I rushed home, ate dinner, and immediately returned to listen to come good blues. I've been hankering for some soul music and they hit it on the head. During their set break, I was at the bar and decided to ask these two girls if there was more live music in the area.

Well, what do you know, these girls are on the pulse of Miami's live music scene. They invited me to another venue, The Stage, where a great Ben Folds-like band was playing, the Jacob Jeffries Band. Damn can this guy play the piano and sing. Very impressive. Definitely looking forward to seeing them play again.

After quite a few good songs and some overpriced drinks ($9 for a rail jack and ginger, come on!), I headed home for the night. From what I've heard, you need to dig around for something in Miami that isn't house or techno music. Though I have nothing against either of those, it was nice to hear lyrics for a change.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Catering Event: Insane Wedding

Sorry for the slow catering event update, but don't worry, it'll be worth it.

So, the event. A European billionaire wanted to throw a big birthday party for his wife's 40th birthday party. A big party indeed.

Two TV crews and an entire paparazzi team were gathered by the mansion's gate so that when guests arrived, they could walk the red carpet with shutter bulbs exploding and everyone asking, "What designer are you wearing tonight?"

After guests made it up the 50 yard red carpet, they were greeted by a enormous exact replica of the wife's birthday cake, with a 6-person New Orleans jazz band on top, playing ragtime music. Large flatscreens all over the property showed live TV coverage of who was walking the red carpet at any given money.

Once everyone was seat underneath the huge event tent, the MC welcomed everyone and directed us to the sky, where a helicopter with its search light on was flying overhead. It flashed the beam on and followed a jet boat in the bay, and within a minute, the wife jumped off the boat, onto the dock, and ran up to the stage to say hi to her guests.

The normal food and wine for any expensive catering event.

The highlight of the event: after dinner, a surprise guest arrived, world famous DJ David Guetta, who performed a solid three-hour show. Absolutely amazing performance.

All in all, I think I could get used to Miami catering.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Making Some Cash

Saturday March 5, 2011

I'm working on an online business right now, but it's still about a month from going live. So, in the meantime, I thought it would be nice to make a little cash, but with no long-tern commitment, in case I want to head to El Salvador to see my sister, or go paragliding in Guatemala.

So, my fishing partner Emin, from Serbia, got a catering gig and told me to call the guy. I gave him a ring, had a quick interview, and was hired immediately. I start tonight. We're working a private party on Star Island, the island of the rich and famous of Miami. Gloria Estefan lives there, among other people. It's a private island, so I've never been allowed to bike on the island, though I've tried. I'm pumped to see who we're catering for, what we're serving, and what the island looks like.

Details to come tomorrow morning.

Star Island Aerial View