♥ Some (3) trashy crap books... No, I'm totally not already halfway through the second Twilight book, why would you ask that?
♥ All art supplies, ever
♥ Leftover Pizza, canned goods, snacks, chocolate
♥ a charged cellphone & laptop
♥ A crate of liquor
I really don't think this is going to be the storm of the century in Putnam County- I certainly haven't bought four gallons of water. I'm actually a little disappointed to be missing out on all the amusing insanity which is sure to be NYC this weekend, but I'm sure it's all for the best. Somebody else will take better photos of it than I could.
This is not to say that I'm making light of a dangerous situation- please, please follow any safety instructions given to you by your local disaster center, and be safe as you can be. But seriously folks, calm down a little. Use your heads.
A month ago I told you I would be right back, but then the internet never got any better & I started working 16 hour days in the Theater which had no internet whatsoever.
But now I am free! The lovely Boyfriend met me in Chautauqua where we relaxed for a few days while I finished work, before continuing on to Utica. Boyfriend has decided to go to Grad school there & starts on Monday, so we need to find an apartment for him yesterday. We are young & broke, so driving around looking at crack dens & swearing at the GPS is our idea of a vacation.
I discovered a few things while working in the Costume Shop which will hopefully inform my future career choices, but right now I'm looking for a short-term, winter season type of retail or restaurant type of employment. On Monday I will once again wander the 5 Boroughs looking for employment, since going back to that specific catering company might actually cost me my soul. Gotta keep swimming, gotta keep that head above the water, since them bills don't pay themselves, and that theater company barely paid me.
Is this perhaps unwise? Would our great political leaders advise me to look at the bigger picture & take an entry-level job in a company I respect? Probably. But Don Draper ain't running the game anymore, I have to have a Masters to be a cubicle monkey, and company loyalty doesn't count for shit these days. Welcome to the land of opportunity (at least we're not getting shot at). So instead I continue to take short-term employment that is way below my education level to be able to afford the privilege of not being one of my many, many fellow recent graduates who can't afford to move out of the house until they're 26.
And that is ultimately the reason I have any pride & think of myself as successful, by the way- I live in an apartment that I pay for. Myself. With money I earned. Do you know how freakin' thrilling that is?
It seems un-American to fire the standing army of scientists, mathematicians, chemists who make the big thing fly. Weren't we told in school that being good at math was important, that there was no more honorable trade than beating the Soviets?
But budgets must be balanced, and dreams must be slashed, like the LaBrea tar pits rendered as a cement hole in the ground. Now being good at Math is important so you can be another hedge fund manager. Lord knows we need more bankers.
This disintegration of the space program feels like a personal attack, somehow. Once again the American child's dream of space flight is in a book, in a science fiction movie. Space has been returned to the land of the imagination.
Thank goodness it's true that any child can still grow up to be the president.
I have an unofficial competition going with myself to dress cute every day that I am here. I have to be a little practical since I climb ladders to hoist the iron bag every once in a while, but for the most part, I am living it up- no NYC creeps to avoid, no movement classes requiring hideous workout clothes. I AM FREE! And how glorious it is.
I do find it somewhat difficult to sneak away and take pictures at times, since it kind of embarrasses me, but here we go: the Chautauqua Outfits, so far.
Here I am in early June: you'll notice it was still cool enough for jeans and a sweater. I'm feeling practical, but still am overdressed in comparison to most of the carpenters and painters.
Here is an average shop day outfit, complete with headscarf which means I didn't feel like washing my hair that day. No lie.
And here is the most ridiculous outfit available to me: a glittery gold opening night soiree not-too-sweaty tent. I think it was worth not being able to afford groceries for a week, don't you?
Looking at these houses every day makes me want one, but I'm not sure if I could live in this exact community.
It's quaint, it's scenic, and there ain't nobody here to bother you 40 weeks a year. It's the perfect place to hole yourself up in your attic writing-lair and bang out the next great American novel.
Unfortunately, I am a theater nut, and my visual art inspiration comes from other people- art is the point at which two bodies meet in space and define, change, shape one another. Also, the houses are all shoved up against one another, which is fun for a few weeks in the summer, but probably a little tedious after a while. No yard? Where does one throw the ball with the dog? Where do we put the grill and the hammock? It's not all going to fit on the porch.
I'm glad the season has started. I like to watch the crowds as they stroll past me & my evening beer on the porch. There are other excited people around (maybe sometimes too excited). We run and we fetch and we swim at night, and there is a nonstop stream of inspiration coming at me.
I awake, 8 AM, like a dog expecting breakfast. But today is Sunday, and I am on a shop schedule.
Consciousness returns at 11, the house stirring around me. Laughter bubbles up from the porch. I know Kelly is showering, because the hallway smells of Pert. Keri will shower next, and the smell will be lavender. Brandon blows his nose through my thin wall. Ryan will not return until eventide.
It is muggy here on the second floor. It is always, always muggy, and I don't have enough money to pay off the heat.
The kitchen is the cool morning dark, and the coffee pot still drips, although nobody comes to the kitchen until I have whistled the kettle and set up on this couch.
Today is a day for preparation, for crossing things off the to-do list. A day like any other, really.
I know, I know. I have been gone for a month. It's not because I don't love you: it's because there is only one internet in this whole town. As a result, I use my iPhone for the daily email/facebook/news check, and only get on the computer every great once in a while. This has kept me sociable and busy, but also far from my thoughts and you.
A brief update, then, as I sit in the plaza and type to the sounds of children playing, trying desperately to finish before the battery on my six-year-old laptop runs out (seriously, somebody stop me from throwing this thing in the lake).
The costume shop here is relatively small: as a result, we rent, borrow, or buy many of our costumes. We made most of the dresses for Three Sisters, if only because the director and designer had a very specific, gauzy vision for this play. It opened last week, and so we are hard at work on the mock-ups for Love's Labors Lost and the New Play Projects.
I am learning a ton: turns out I didn't do very much costume building in Binghamton, and one forgets an awful lot when one does not work for a year. I enjoy my work, and I enjoy the schedule, but I am looking forward to when they put me backstage for LLL. The hustle and crush and being helpful of wardrobe work is what I find most rewarding. And besides, it took me most of the afternoon today to make a bowtie. I am, indeed, the intern, and not a stitcher.
Life in the theater is dynamic: there are five of us in each of the shops (Costume, Props, Set, Electrics, Admin and Stage Management), as well as the actors. Sometimes we have enforced fun, and some nights all 50 of us winds up drunk on the front porch. This is variably amusing.
Chautauqua itself is of course lovely. I don't really have time to go to the classes or lectures during the day, but we jump in the lake at night (unless you, dear reader, work for the institution, in which case we definitely don't do that), and we saw Steve Martin play his banjo the other night. We took advantage of the day off yesterday to Kayak and Lawn Bowl- the old folks seemed especially pleased that we were joining them at their game.
Mostly I am building connections, drawing pictures, and trying to find some time to asses my life and what I think should come next- I haven't. I promise I shall make more of an effort to write in future, but for now the sun is in my eyes and it is time to eat.
Several people I have met here so far say they love summer theater because of the people. Not only because they're so great, but because there are so many of them and they're all around you, all the time.
I am a people person- I liked how easy it was in college to find people to hang out and chat with, how there were always people around when you felt a little lonely. And I like the people here, too- I like my beer in the scene shop after work, I like the walks we take for food, and I like shoveling cream cheese based dip into my mouth while sitting at the kitchen table.
I also like the free & easy conversation while I'm in the shop, which so far hasn't felt like work once. I like that everybody is good at their job and enthusiastic about doing it, and willing to share ideas. I like the super-intense drunk conversations about Shakespeare at Murder Bar that make me rejoice that this is my life.
I'm a little sad we haven't gotten to hang out with the actors yet. They seem to be on a very whimsical schedule, so we are usually leaving work as they are taking their half-time break, but hopefully a few rounds of beer pong in our basement will change that. Unsurprisingly, I like actors. It turns out tech people are just as peppy and hilarious, at least around here. It takes a little weirdness in your soul to commit to this kind of thing.
While wandering today, I became enamored of the idea of sitting on the porch and watching the world go by, sipping an iced tea and reading a book in bucolic comfort. The Chautauqua porch sitting culture reminds me of what I saw in New Orleans: possibly because in both places, the most prominent architecture is from the 1880s. Robert told me today that if you stop to chat, sometimes people will even invite you up to have a sit.
Obviously there are many different kinds of porches in Chautauqua- some are screened in, some are just patios, and most are rather traditional wrap-arounds. Some have enough space for a dining room table, hammock, and desk, and some are just wide enough to put a chair on & hang your legs off the side.
In Mahopac, I loved to sit on the back deck in the summer & enjoy the weather while reading a book, so the thought of actually interacting with a large number of people going by my house is a wonderment. True, I may not want to chat with everybody on the street (or the porch) who wants to chat with me, but we take what we get.
And besides, I'm at summer camp for ten weeks. There is nothing bad about my life right now.
I went into H&M the other day to look for the orange dress which my friend KTS wore while celebrating Queensday in the Dam. Orange is my favorite color, & I figured it would be cheap. I found & tried on several things that I liked (orange is apparently in this season) but left empty-handed as I didn't want to spend $60 on something that wasn't my groceries for 1.5 weeks.
I did pick up the complementary magazine, and therein found a somewhat appalling quote from their head designer, Ann-Sofie Johansson:
"it’s great to reinvent your wardrobe at the beginning of a new season. Fashion doesn’t change as drastically as it used to so you could easily get last season’s favorites to work with smart updates. Safe buys for spring are cool classics in beige or white, and the longer skirts and dresses feel new and very feminine” (Found here)
Look, I realize that if people don't buy clothing, this lady is out of a job. I also realize that she is saturated in an industry where if something isn't new, it isn't wanted.
But really? I was unaware that real people actually paid attention to what's trendy. Most of my friends have a style which they stick to, adding new additions when their clothing wears out/gets ruined, not when H & M tells them that maxi dresses are in.
The past few years have seen a kind of fashion drought for me: I have too much self respect for leggings as pants, and I'm too tall to wear skirts shorter than the tips of my fingers without it looking like my butt is about to fall out the bottom.
So I've been wearing long skirts for a long time (I'm pants-averse). Unlike in Middle School, when I would be grumpy if something I liked got popular, the fact that they are trendy excites me since I'll be able to cheaply stock my wardrobe with things I enjoy wearing.
Will I perhaps look out-of-date in a few years? Who cares? This leggings/jeggings thing has been refusing to die, so I'll wear whatever I want, thank you very much. That's the difference between fashion and style.
Besides, I live in New York City. I am so far from the strangest thing anybody will see all day I couldn't even hit it with a machine gun.
I am one of these Americans who does not own a TV set.
Allow me to rephrase: I don't have a cable box.
Housemate & I use our TV in the living room as a black panel to look at during conversations when it's not being used for Netflix & Mad Men DVDs.
I was raised in a house where we didn't get past channel 13 until I was in Middle School, so the TV watching habit is not ingrained in me. However, to most of you who are my age I'm sure the lack of cable is not groundbreaking. Our computers & smartphones are our windows on the world: I read multiple newspapers through Twitter, and watch TV shows and amusing videos on Hulu & YouTube.
Why pay $80 for a cable box when I can get all of that information for a far lower price? I live in the most exciting city in the country, I'm not going to sit in my house & watch the world through a box. I have only very occasionally wanted a TV: during the Egyptian Revolution (I watched it on Al Jazeera online) & to watch SToriBook Wedding (I got over it). Other than that, I don't really think about it.
What about the rest of you? Do you have cable? Do you think it's worth it? Anybody want to make any wild predictions about the future of television?
♥ Measuring Tapes: I thought I might shift all of my furniture around my room today, but a quick jaunt with my measuring tape told me that it won't be that easy! Aww, thanks for saving me from all that work & frustration.
♥ Pinterest:This website is like a little digital scrapbook. I can grab images from (almost) any website & enter my notes about them. I can see this being very useful for costume design research, but for now I use it to collect general inspiration. You should join me!
♥ Flowering Trees: No wonder People like spring. Now that I'm not living in a part of the state where Spring doesn't appear until mid May, I see the appeal. I'd probably like it even better if I lived even further south, but then it would be hot in August.
♥ Planning to Pack: I think when it comes down to it, I don't like moving so much as I like the idea of the process of moving. Which shoes will I bring? How will I make everything fit into a tiny bag? How much money can I avoid spending? These are the questions for the ages, my friends.
The Little Things:
♥ Cell Phone Cases ♥ Card Games ♥ Irish Alzheimer's ♥ People who care about my success! ♥ Pens ♥ Drawing ♥ Caribbean Accents ♥
Yesterday I had the day off (ahh, the life of the marginally employed), & M.ton & I decided to take a romantic little jaunt around New York.
First was the Museum of Natural History where we wanted to see only dinosaurs. Unfortunately the same problems of organization I encountered last time I was there persisted, & we had to walk through the hall of Biodiversity & the hall of Asian Peoples to find it. Weird.
While looking at the dinosaurs, I encountered this drawing, & began spinning a post in my head about the continued relevancy of art in the digital age in a partnership with science. Luckily for you I'm too tired to write that right now, so let's settle with saying that this is fuckin' cool and Jay H. Matternes is damn talented.
Having seen the dinosaurs we stopped at Shake Shack and relaxed (unironically) in the park on our way to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where we didn't get to the exhibit we went for until after two hours of "look at that! Look at THAT!"
In all, it was the kind of fun little day that I wouldn't usually think to have. It can be fun to wander through museums with no agenda, & I've been trying to be more calm about that whole schedule thing (it's not working). And even though working and figuring out how to pay the bills and doing dishes and setting mouse traps kind of sucks, being an adult can kind of rule sometimes. I lazed about in the park with my boyfriend, & played cards all night with Schmemma & our boys, drinking beer I bought with my own money. Cool.
Since moving to the city, my style has been experiencing some changes. Turns out that if you wear whatever you want to work (unlike wearing whatever you want to School), you get fired. Boo.
It hasn't been too difficult for me to figure out what is appropriate/isn't, but it does mean that on my days off, I get in my closet and really roll around and go crazy.
Is this what being an adult is all about? Hiding during normal hours until you get to go out & have some fun? Nah. It's just what having a job whose only purpose is to make ends meet is about. Once I've started doing what I want to do, I'll be dressed up with all the cool kids.
Like Ya do.
Oh, I also haven't been posting too many outfit photos because there isn't a location in my apartment that doesn't backlight to me, and I am loathe to set the self-timer outside. Paranoia about stolen cameras and all. BUT! I bought new shoes, and the fire escape made them look like easter eggs:
After a long stint in the waiter grinder (8 shifts in 5 days, y'all!), I actually got to cut loose every day this weekend.
First up, on Friday night was the Pratt Draw-a-Thon. Held once a year, a $10 ticket gets you 12 hours of drawing models in 7 different rooms, as well as pizza, soda, cookies, fruit, and fabulous prizes being handed out all evening as well as a raffle in the tired morning. My $10 also bought me lots of good conversation. Everybody was there to have a good time, and as the late night stretched into early morning the hum of conversation was the only thing keeping some people's eyes open. Well that, & the possibility of winning $100 gift certificates or a french easel.
After sleeping all day on Saturday I met my parents for dinner & the National aCapella Championships at Lincoln Center. The gents in the video are Vocal Point, who came in second, (and are the cutest ass-shaking Mormons you've ever seen!) and my favorite team, St. Louis' Vocal Point was TOTALLY ROBBED.
On Sunday I went to see my friend JKapp perform in the Comedy in Dance festival at Triskelion Arts in (yes) W-Burg. I discovered a few new artists to follow, and an awesome new space where I can see good clown stuff all the time. And who doesn't like to laugh?
I've taken a Costume Internship at the Chataqua Institution that goes from June 10 - August 20. This is a good thing- Chataqua is a well-respected BEAUTIFUL place full of intelligent, successful people who want to tell me about it. It's like Artist/Intelligencia Summer Camp. I'm super excited to swim in the lake and ask 1,000 questions and listen to Morning Lecture when I'm not working my tail off inside the shop and learning every damn thing I can, by hook or by crook.
I will miss being in New York- part of me feels like I just moved here and can't stand to miss a thing. I'll miss having my own apartment and going grocery shopping whenever I want to. I'll miss my friends that are down here, and I'll miss being able to visit my parents. I won't miss the stink of garbage on the street in August or the hell of Weekend Service Changes. I will still worry about EVERYTHING, but I am less than one year out of school. Unless you graduated before the implosion & signed a contract right out of college (you bastard), unemployment is not news, it's normal youth. I almost wish I had done a year of job-hunting and worrying right after High School, but 18-year-old-Beth absolutely lacked the emotional maturity to handle something like that. 18-year-old-Beth could barely figure out how to feed herself, and she lived 500 feet from the Dining Hall.
Besides, Chataqua has a lot of things that drew me to New York. I'll be able to walk or ride my bike everywhere and there's a ton of entertainment cheaply available.
Actually, I've kind of missed the rigor and scheduling of School, and I need to eat my pride about getting paid for my work & realize that I still have a ton of shit to learn. After these few months I'll KNOW whether or not Wardrobe is something I like. Mostly, the part that listened to my trusted advisor squeal "you can't afford to not do this!" knows that it will be good for me, and is excited.
The next part is all finding a sub-letter and working my little tail off at my as-yet imaginary job so they don't evict Rommate while I'm gone and put all my furniture out on the street and I lose all my friends and go bankrupt and have to move back in with my parents. Because in my mind, it is possible to be a complete failure at 22 and not, like, a normal direction-less human being.
In NY State, we have this fantasy that we can never let go of.
Every year, as the black snow melts away from the side of the roads, we think "spring is on its way." When the Groundhog hides, and March 22 goes by, the hippies get excited to twine flowers in their hair and dance around a bonfire to celebrate the re-awakening of the Earth Mother.
And every year, we're disappointed. March comes in like a lion and goes out like a.... lion. April showers bring May showers. It's not freezing any more, but it's grey for six days of the week, and when it rains it means it.
June is usually clement, but this form of "spring" only lasts until the July humidity takes over and makes us all want to hide at the bottom of a lake.
We don't really get to have a spring. The flowers grow, and lambs are born, and we get a vernal equinox, but the sun does not shine. Children do not frolic with bunnies in the grass. They frolic with wet dogs in the mud and want hot chocolate when the come inside.
So enjoy it, New York. Get over your little fantasy of nice weather. Go outside on every nice day before July, because once that comes around I know you're going to be cranking the A/C & guzzling Mojitos.
I visited the fabled Wo-Burg for the first time today, and as a semi Non-Native New Yorker I have but one question :
What the Fuck?
What's with selling the kind of stuff I would see on the street and not think twice about? You have some cute stores: Sprout Home was nice & had friendly staff, and I stopped into a gallery where I didn't like any of the art but appreciated the effort. But mostly you're vintage shops full of stuff I wouldn't buy for $1 at the local goodwill. I could be biased based on my shopping diet, but on a beautiful Saturday afternoon it was the opposite of enticing.
Places to eat were plentiful, although this is New York, so I would be shocked if they weren't. BBQ, Mexican, & Coffee seemed to be the main choices. I get it: you're full of young hipsters. That stuff is drunk comfort food. I enjoy it too.
But seriously hipsters? What the hell are you all wearing? And why are you all white? For women, the generally accepted shape is skinny jeans with some kind of loose-fitting top. I can understand going for comfort & "damn the patriarchy!", but there are lots of much more comfortable things you could wear that are equally unattractive. For men, the generally accepted form seemed to be out-of-the-closet-Country-Club-boys. I'm okay with that: hell, I think it's damn cute. But when I see a normal-ish guy in a motorcycle jacket and jeans standing on the corner & think 'how refreshingly normal,' we have a problem.
Oh, and I know they got there first, but what the hell is up with all the (white) parents? It's nice, I guess, that the world is going to be peopled, but that doesn't make the sidewalks your personal playground. I saw a guy walking down the street, bent over and holding both hands of his toddler as the kid took uncertain steps down the pavement. Are you being ironic, holding up traffic like that?
The whole place just aggravates me. The architecture is just as hideous as my neighborhood, but because there are about fourteen places to buy clothing somebody else has worn before, everybody wants to walk up and down Bedford Street.
For the past few weeks, I've had an idea cooking in my head. I want to do Shakespeare on the Subway cars. It's not an earth shattering idea. It's not even a particularly original idea.
Every time I hear a barbershop quartet sing to a car of people, I think that could be me. Every time the kids come around selling candy that I'm allergic to, I think this could be so much more engaging.
Performing the Bard in a subway car feels, to me, remarkably true to the way the words were written to be performed: we're in a dank hole in the ground full of garbage, piss, and rats. Furthermore, fully half of the audience is actively not listening to what we're saying- they're here to do something else.
It's as the great Eddie Izzard says about starting out as a street performer: "what I learned about street performing hugely informs my stand-up talents. “It gives you this confidence that you develop standing on a piece of street where no one wanted to look at you in the first place, so it stays with me always."
Does that make this partially a selfish endeavor? Maybe. But no more selfish than any of the other interruptors on the subway, and I plan to not ask for money. The worst that can happen to me is a cop tells me to knock it off and move along, or I run into a real Shakespeare nut who tries to correct me. Or I get kicked, like the group who did this before me did.
The best? Well, I get some work. I get experience. I get to play with my friends. I get something to look forward to.
In any case, I shall attack this with all the vigor I usually give to new endeavors. That means list-making, planning, blog-writing and annoying phone calls to friends. Most of my writing on the subject will be on the Blog and Twitter I've registered for the group, and I hope to invite friends & fellow actors to be guest bloggers. It's not a movement, it's play.
-Chose scenes, number of Characters. Make cuts.
-Find out length of time between (specific) stations.
-Rehearse, once. In public.
-Just do it.
You're probably aware that The New York Times has decided to add a paywall feature which somehow manages to imply that access to the website itself is valueless. As you probably could guess based on the number of Grey Lady links I put in my Twitter stream, I find this deeply irritating. My Liberal Guilt dictates that I fork over the lousy $19 & get a weekly Sunday paper to enjoy, perhaps with a steaming cup of smug. My realist/recent graduate sense declares that the paper will probably be stolen off my stoop, and the NYT app I access for train reading isn't worth any amount of money.
Since I'm annoyed at them, let's take a look at another recent faux pas of theirs: Announcing that Edward Gorey has had an effect on recent Pop culture. Perhaps it's my snotty, Coilhouse-induced attitude that Steampunk is Dead, but seriously people? I didn't need any more holes in my faith in you as the Paper of Record. Next thing we know, you'll be informing us that Edgar Allen Poe maybe influenced some writers somewhere.
Photo: Becka & Wendy backstage during 3PO. Hair/Makeup by Jackie Horn, Costumes by me.
Recently, the Ethicist responded to a query about the ethical obligation to reveal to one's freelancers the fact that they weren't going to get paid. Other than immediately calling to mind the website clientsfromhell.net, it began a tussle within me of the moral implications of some of the casting calls I have seen.
I'm a little picky about getting paid: I'm the one who will talk to the management on behalf of the whole cast when a portion of everybody's paycheck is missing. If I am going to be working on a student film, I feel like I am getting paid in experience: everybody is learning how to work on a film together, & everybody walks away equally fed: another credit on their resume, & something to put on the demo reel in exchange for a finished work.
I shouldn't be pretentious about what I work on, & for the most part I'm gung-ho to work for 'the big gay feet show!' or 'vampire zombie killers from space', but remember that thing about first impressions? It's still true. So while I might be willing to stand around in my underwear right now if it means I am in the cast of Mad Men, I am not about to drop trow for something which is an obvious attempt to use boobies to lure people to a crappy movie.
Another thing I dislike is Stock Photography modeling- call me strange, but I feel hugely uncomfortable allowing just anybody to license my image. I know that modeling in general is selling out your image, but at least when you're under a contract you know what the image is going to be used for: shampoo, wristwatches, whatever. Stock photography is a little different: I don't mind being on the company safety manual, but what if I am selling dating sites? Or anti-woman propaganda? How would that reflect on me if anybody saw it & made the connection?
But it's the transparent "commercial competitions" that I resent the most. Why should talented people fork over their time & energy giving free ideas to a multi-billion dollar corporation? If there's $5 million up for grabs, then why can't you pay your actors? Some people find me strange for taking such a strong moral stand on these things, but I guess it's just the way I was raised: I hate people who don't pay their taxes and park in the fire lane.
I understand that in the beginning it will be difficult for me (or anybody) to get work, & that most of the things I am applying for don't have money to give out, but unfortunately "it'll look great on your resume" doesn't pay the bills. Cold hard cash does. So if you want 12 days of rehearsal for a 1 weekend run of a show, I had better be seeing some money for the $1,000 I won't be making at my other job while I work for you. If, on the other hand, you want to get together and play through Shakespeare and we're all walking away poor, why then drinks are on me tonight.
When I find myself feeling cast down, it's usually because I've been away from the hum and crush for more than 12 hours. The energy of this city is addictive and contagious- I feel like my previous level of pushy workaholic freak comes in somewhere on the low end of the spectrum in relation to all the others doing the crosstown stomp.
When I need a quick pick-me-up, I like to head in to GCT and draw the people passing through. Not only do I see many inspiring outfits, I also get quite a lesson in posture/attitude/gait, a boon for both the actor and visual artist portions of my brain.
I love the challenge of communicating a personage in less than five seconds, and one and two minute poses are always my favorite part of any life drawing class. In those sparse seconds there is no time to fuss over getting it right; all that matters is spatial relationships and movement. Well, really that's all that matters in art (to me), but there is greater freedom to fail when time is a limited resource.
Drawing people on the subway is another good game, although one that has to be undertaken with some caution. There are all kinds of crazies on the 4 train, and I am not afraid of being mistaken for one: I am more afraid of attracting their attention. It's good to draw when the carriage is sparsely populated, and all persons are sleepily disinterested.
After several failed restaurant interviews, an acquaintance recommended CTI Convention staffing to me- so you can find me four days a week behind any number of desks at the Javits center, punching tickets and practicing my frozen smile skills.
During the Toy Fair, I worked at a desk in a lounge & got to know some of the exhibitors pretty well. The day that show ended I gussied up, abused my staff pass & went on to the (massive) show floor to see if I couldn't flirt my way into some free samples.
Uglydolls wasn't handing out any items, but they were giving away tote bags by the armload- I kept one & sent one to my sister.
Perplexus were staffed by some super nice people, and after I asked them about ten thousand questions they handed me a free maze toy to take home "for being so nice." You guys? It's totally worth the dollars if you're a puzzle person. I bring it to the laundromat with me, & it's a real conversation starter.
Catan was selling their floor samples for half off, so I got an expansion that I probably would have never bought for full price. I haven't played it yet, but I'm pretty excited to.
Squishables gave me a small stuffed animal for $10. I'm not really sure why I bought it since I just got rid of a ton of plushies, but it's just so much fun to hug! Srsly.
The pens were given to me for free but not because I'm special- I think Sanrio brought enough pens with them to supply a small army (of gays?). The card game was acquired similarly, although once I let on that I was kind of a game nerd they pressed a few extra copies into my hands to distribute amongst my friends.
The following shows I have worked haven't really been quite as much fun, but the front desk keeps me interested and perky all day. Also, 70% of the people who work at CTI are actors/artists of a kind, so I've been getting some good tips.
As written about previously, my New Year's Mantra has been "I can do it with what I already have." This was partially motivated by the realization that I am going to be broke as hell for the next year or so, and partially motivated by the fact that I am sick to death of being surrounded by extraneous crap. Let's see how I did these first two months of the year, shall we?
I succumbed to:
A Sweater from AllSaints: I shop their sale every winter, because it's the only damn time I can afford anything from their store. I will admit to having bought this simply to have something, and I feel badly about it in a way that I wouldn't let anybody else make me feel.
Alcohol: You guys, drinking in cute bars with friends? It's really fun. So is sitting on the floor in the living room and downing G & Ts. I don't mean to make it sound like I have some kind of problem, but seriously. Being in the city has really showed me how much fun social drinking can be.
Stuff from the Toy Fair: I did manage to flirt my way into a few free things, but they were selling Catan expansions at 50% off! I saved $20 (on something I probably wouldn't have bought if it wasn't on sale...)
Stuff from H & M: Ohhhh boy. The store in Times Square is HUGE, and all the stuff is just so darn cute, and - and - and -.... Yeah, there's really no excuse. I think I need to stay out of clothing stores for a little while.
Patton Oswalt's New Book: I'm sure it's hilarious, but I just can't cough up $25 for a book I'll read once. I'll put myself on the NYPL list for it (I'm spot #12), and when I get it for free in a year I'll enjoy it just as much as I'm enjoying reading his blog in the mean time now.
A Desk: I'm one of those people who needs a desk to feel sane, but I didn't want to have to drag one up and down the stairs in my new apartment building. The solution? A board on two (admittedly, Ikea) sawhorses.
Television: When we set up our new apartment, Schmem & I made a unilateral decision not to get cable. It's only saving us a few dollars a month, and I really wished I had it when the shit was going down in Egypt, but overall I don't really feel like I'm missing that much. I've never been a big TV watcher though, so that hardly counts as resisting.
Guys? I didn't do so well. When I first moved in I thought that I was just spending the necessary money to move, but now I've moved out of that grace period. If I find I'm not capable of controlling myself in stores, I'll try to avoid going in at all.
I will say that I find art and food to be the things worth spending money on right now. I finally live in the city I've spent the past four years running back and forth to for entertainment, and I'll be a sonofabitch if I don't take full advantage of it. But a little bit less with the clothing accumulation, especially since I'm about to run out of places to put it.
So I've violated one of my own cardinal rules & stopped updating, like Daddy Likey who put out a book and then... disappeared.
But Here I Am, dammit! Large and in charge, I solved the roach problem, the hot water problem, the spider problem AND the TV problem. I also have a job, and am practicing the art of having fun with no money.
What's that you say? You'd like to hear about my fun? Sure!
Dr.Sketchy's is a cabaret-style life drawing "class" with drinks, loud music, and awesomely be-costumed models. Oh, and themes. Although the concept got its start in NYC, there are now Sketchy meetups on 5 continents and counting.
I've only gone to three so far, but they were all an awesome time! I would recommend it to drunks & serious scratchers alike.
The first I went to featured an artist I admire very much as a model, with her devastatingly handsome husband in tow. It was themed after a book which I tried to force myself to read but for some reason could not get through. Perhaps I'll give it another shot now that I get about an hour of reading time on the subway every day.
The second one I went to was Neil Gaiman's 'Sandman' themed, & the woman playing Desire looked exactly like the book. It was terrifyingly awesome.
The most recent one, yesterday, was themed after a Warren Ellis book I have never read, but featured enough peopleflesh to keep me more than just sated. Plus the friend I was there with won a prize.
It makes me happy to go and draw with other people. I've missed life drawing since school, & if I can do it with a drink in hand, why, so much the better! Additionally, the atmosphere makes the event feel like a celebration of art in the way that theater is.
It's moments like that which make me feel the most keenly like I am maybe not in the right medium with art, but also like I don't have to be in a hurry to figure it out. More on that later, I suppose. If you're extra nice to me.
Surprise! I am now a Brooklynite. But it was not always this way... no, less than three weeks ago, I was still franticly trying to escape Nowheresville, NY.
Day 1 [Monday, Jan 3]: Schmem and I see several apartments with Hipster-Real-Estate-Agent Benny. One of them has a staircase you could break your neck on and a bedroom that smells of cat pee. The instant we walk into the one, we fall in love. We make a deposit and go home, giddy. I forbid myself to do anything that evening.
Day 2 [Jan 4]: I wake up early and fax the paperwork that is needed to Hipster Benny's office. I begin a day of frenetic list-making that culminates in a hypercoma that can only be fixed with excessive aerobic exercise.
Day 3 [Jan 5]: We are approved as renters, and then asked by the landlord if we could move in three days earlier than anticipated. We are unenthusiastic. I begin to amass a list of things I forgot to ask about the apartment when I was seeing it.
Day 4 [Jan 6]: I worry about what to do about furniture, particularly my desk. My lovely sister won't let me take the one that is in my old bedroom because "the bedroom was mine when we bought it, so it's my desk." I'm not allowed to have the bureaux in the basement, either.
Day 5 [Jan 7]: Move-in is pushed ahead by a few days to coincide with lease-signing. I worry about money and try to set up the same Quicken program I failed to set up a few years ago, with a similar result. I investigate applying for food stamps and unemployment.
Day 6 [Jan 8]: I gather most of the things I think I'm going to want and move them in to the basement to make grouping them into boxes easier. All of my books get to stay behind until I have a bookshelf. I decide to make a clever desk out of a 6ft board I find in the basement and some sawhorses. This will be the most gloriously big desk I have ever had.
Day 7 [Jan 9]: I sand and prime my deskboard. After much hemming and hawing I buy paint for it in an eye-gouging shade of orange. All of the other colors looked like old lady linoleum.
Day 8 [Jan 10]: In the morning, I take a second walk-through of the apartment to measure the windows and walls to make sure everything will fit. After picking up some kitchen chairs from my Grandmother's house I sand and prime a cabinet and a shelving unit. In the evening I attempt to organize my paperwork, but give up out of sheer exhaustion.
Day 9 [Jan 11]: I have a long phone conversation with Schmem using google documents to double-check what each of us is bringing. I take the rest of the morning off to go visit boyfriend and relax. In the evening I enlist my sister to help me paint furniture, and my father to help me sort out and pack things. I also go fake shopping online with my gift cards and make my first ever Credit Card payment.
Day 10 [Jan 12]: I stop keeping track of anything, enmeshed in a painting-packing-organizing-culling marathon during which I am tired during the day & worry myself to sleep every night.
Today, a week after moving in, I am just beginning to buy sufficient quantities of groceries & get my mechanical problems fixed (I just got internet yesterday). I may not love this area, but right now I feel like I need to live here for three years to compensate for the amount of effort it took to get here.
But it's a city on the move, I hear, & Manhattan calls...
This article would infuriate me if I didn't think it was kind of a joke.
For the state, the issue is not so much 'The Tempest' as some of the other texts used in the classes, among them, 'The Pedagogy of the Oppressed' and 'Occupied America,' which Mr. Horne said inappropriately teach Latino youths that they are being mistreated."
Now why would Latinos in Arizona think they were being oppressed, Mr. Horne? What could possibly be happening in your state to make them think such a thing? It's clearly the things that they're learning in school from their teachers. It absolutely not what they hear every day from their neighbors like you, or on the radio about new immigration laws.
I'm glad that your solution to the problem is so efficient. I know that in the past, when people have had revolutionary literature forcibly removed from them, they have always simply forgotten those ideas and returned to being chattel, and they definitely never came up with new ideas of their own.
Kevin Pollack's Chat Show: I found this totally by accident while searching to see if there were any recordings of Michael Gladis singing available (answer: no). Pollack is an actor who mostly interviews other actors, so the material goes way beyond "tell us a zany story!" I feel like I've learned more from watching that show than I did from my 6-month subscription to Backstage. The archives are avaliable on iTunes, or on his website. I recommend the interview with Aaron Stanton, & the one with Neil Patrick Harris.
Pizza Bagels: I found a package of these left over from Little Sister's Birthday Party, & they made my world a happier place. Junk food is so comforting sometimes.
HypeMachine's 2010 Zeitgeist: The Hype Machine is the greatest thing to happen to music on the internet EVER, & this is their year-in-review feature which gives you easy access to thousands of hours of streaming music. Variety & shit, y'all.
Aloe: Specifically, the seeds that I planted a few weeks ago which are SPROUTING! Things growing is like magic. I don't understand it, but I love it.
Honorable Mentions: ♥ My dog Asleep on my Bed ♥ Dave Eggers ♥ Birds Eating at the Window Feeder ♥ Plans ♥ Card Games ♥ Coloring Books ♥ Texting my Cousins ♥
If this is a blog, I guess that means you're a little interested in my life, right? I may as well tell you what's been going on recently, since I know I'm an Anthropology project for at least one of you.
I've been actively searching for an apartment in the City so Nice They Named it Twice with my future housemate Schmema since the end of November.
So far, I've only been able to bring it down to neighborhoods & generics. I don't want to live in Bushwick, I don't want a shotgun-style apartment. I like Astoria, I guess I could bring myself to build a wall in the Living Room. I won't pay more than 2K/month, I won't live more than a 10 minute walk from the Subway.
Schmema lives in Syracuse, so we've been thinking it will be easier for us to sublet for a month so we can be together to look at things. Scmem likes Brooklyn, I like Queens. Neither of us has an animal. Yet.
Some people have asked, "Why New York? Why not somewhere cheaper/more livable/warmer?" The answer is... because it's always been the center of the world to me. Because the whole time I lived in London I couldn't stop myself from comparing it unfavorably to NY.
Because there is so much art & culture there that it could very well take your head off. Because so many beautiful & interesting things are free. Because my obsessive, pushy workaholic attitude is grating here, & what's needed there.
And because I HATE CARS. I can't stand them. Right now, financially speaking, my options are buy a car OR move out, not both. And I'm sorry Nowheresville, NY, but you don't offer many opportunities to suceed in the arts. Or make more than $12K/year if you're not a real estate broker/nurse/lawyer (actually, what DO people in my town do? Commute to NY mostly, I think). So I'll move to an outer burb, where my commute may still be an hour long, but at least I can read the whole time & I don't have to live in constant fear of being in a car accident. Just getting hit by one, I suppose.