Faces of AWNY: Skye Cleary

Photo credit Caitlin Ochs

We first interviewed AWNY member Skye Cleary back in February 2015 when her book Existentialism and Romantic Love was about to be published. Her most recent book is will be released soon so we caught up with her recently to update her thoughts on NYC.

What do you do for work in NYC?  

I am a philosopher. My third book How to Be Authentic: Simone de Beauvoir and the Quest for Fulfillment is out August 16, 2022. It’s an introduction to the philosophy of the French existentialist Simone de Beauvoir. I explore how her ideas about authenticity are relevant today, and how she can help us become more conscious of living purposefully, thoughtfully, vitally, and in responsible ways that invigorate every person’s right to become poets of their own lives. 

I’ll be doing a few book talks and events in NYC. (Would love you to join me! Check out my events page here.) 

Also I teach at Columbia University and the City College of New York.  My favorite classes to teach are on the philosophy of love and sex, women and leadership, and organizational behavior. 

Skye introducing her new book

What do you like best about NYC?

I love that there are so many quirky events, fascinating people, and possibilities. And NYC is bouncing back enthusiastically after COVID-19.

Cocktails are a true artform in NYC. Bixi in Harlem is my favorite cocktail bar. Also I’m obsessed with Van Leeuwen’s Earl Grey Tea. (One of the founders of Van Leeuwen is Australian.)

New York City is also way more kid-friendly than I ever imagined. There are whole museums just for kids and pretty much any kind of class or activity your kid could ever dream of.

What do you like least about NYC?

The inequality. It’s heartbreaking to see so many homeless and wealthy people, so many minimum wage and excessive wage earners, all in the same place. Of course, this isn’t only a NYC-problem. The US system doesn’t have the same safety nets and medical coverage for vulnerable people as Australia does. 

Why and where are you in NYC?  

I moved to NYC from Sydney for an adventure and work in 2012. My partner, son, and I live in Harlem. We love it. It’s close to Central Park, lots of fun restaurants and bars, and full of music.

What advice do you have for professionals working in NYC?  

Drink up all NYC has to offer. Simone de Beauvoir once wrote, “There’s something in the New York air that makes sleep useless; perhaps it’s because your heart beats more quickly here than elsewhere.” This feels true to me. NYC can be very fun but it’s easy to get burned out on the hamster wheel of busyness. Just because New York doesn’t sleep doesn’t mean you don’t have to.

Skye with an advance copy of her new book – photo credit Can Pigliucci

What are your top tips for visitors?  

Walk as much as possible. And look up a lot. Not at the same time though – that would be dangerous. 

Winter can be very tough.  You’ll need an extremely warm jacket that can handle an arctic vortex.  Patagonia is my go-to shop because they’re a socially and environmentally responsible business and their clothes are fantastic. (If you care about animals, watch out for companies whose materials are sourced in cruel ways.)

Bookstores are a vastly underappreciated community. Attending events at independent bookshops like Black Spring Books and the Strand is a great way of meeting interesting people, supporting local businesses, and learning new things. 

Venture beyond the city, even for a day trip. There are so many cute and relaxing places a short train ride away. In the Catskills and the Poconos Mountains or up the Hudson Valley you can do things like hiking, camping, skiing, and yoga retreating.

Extra tip for visitors with kids: AMNH, CMOM, CMA, MoMA, and Intrepid.

Who are some Aussie women doing awesome things in NYC who are currently on your radar?

It’s so exciting to see Aussie authors Rachel Hills and Georgia Clark thriving.  I’m also incredibly inspired by journalist and entrepreneur Meggie Palmer who is working on closing the gender pay gap

What is your only in NY moment?

Standing in the queue at Otarian (vegetarian carbon-neutral fast-food joint), Paul McCartney and his wife walked in and tried to strike up a friendly conversation with me about my two-year old. I was star-struck and just smiled stupidly.

How can people connect with you?

Twitter:  @skye_cleary

Instagram:  @skye_cleary

LinkedIn:  @skyecleary

Portrait by pop illustrator Sam Smith @popheirloom

Author: Australian Women in New York

Australian Women in New York (AWNY) sources stories and guides that will help make you win the Big Apple. We also love to profile fabulous Aussie and Kiwi women.