Monday, January 11

Why do New Yorkers RUN when they get off the train?

I always heard that New York City ran at a different pace than most.

I fought it in high school and in college, when I didn't live there.

I always heard: "People from the Northeast work faster than most." I hated that thought. "I am just as productive as those f-ing New Yorkers," I thought. And I probably was.*

But I've lived in New York for a few years now. And it's not that New Yorkers are faster, or better - it's that they have to try harder. They have to take the dirty-ass subway in the morning - with people who look like they'd rather be looking at a corpse than you - and show up with a smile on their faces. They have to avert their eyes (to avoid looking like a creepy onlooker); they have to seem occupied. They have to gamble that they'll be on time, based on the whims of the unruly train service.

So, I appreciate New Yorkers. And there may be many reasons for their strange behaviors, but the fact remains: New Yorkers at rush hour sprint when they get off the train.

*I was probably more productive than when I was living in New York.

Wednesday, October 29

When I grow up, I want to do something. Anything.

The doors of the subway car open and I give up the pole's stability, shouldering my heavy messenger bag.

I cut around someone to ensure I am still following the man I sized up during the subway ride. He walks quickly, and I wonder if he is actually supposed to be somewhere or if he always thinks he is in a rush. I wear the latter hat quite a bit.

He takes the staircase I never take, and I slow for a moment before continuing on my usual path, past someone who is either confused or homeless, up the stairs, trying to avoid bumping into the people next to me.

"Follow through
Make your dreams come true
Don't give up the fight
You will be alright"

The drums patter into me me as Muse's Matt Bellamy tells me,

Don't be afraid
What your mind conceives
You should make a stand
Stand up for what you believe"

I glance at the stuffy boutiques as I walk up Lexington and wonder if standing up would change any minds here.

I would write on the cardboard boxes in my apartment, instead of recycling them, and tape them to the store fronts. "McCain is a douche" - too much? Okay... "Vote Obama" wouldn't work either. I peer into a fully lit shop with its grate down.

How about... "Turn off your lights when you close!"

I'd do it every night, like a secret op, at 2am. I'd wear a black burglar beanie. People would rubberneck on their way to work in the morning. "What does that say?" When they saw more every day, they would start to look forward to it. They'd drift off to sleep thinking, "I wonder what the Cardboard Message will be tomorrow." It would end up in the New York Times. Or the Daily News. Whatever. It'd end up somewhere.

Or the neighborhood security people would tear it down, or stop me, or arrest me.

And whose mind would I change? Anyone's?

My close friend, summer roommate, soulmate, etc. invited me to a Teach-In on the economic crisis at my Alma Mater. Top sentence-starters included:
"If the Fed..."
"Policymakers can either..."
"News outlets need to..."

These ivory tower professors were clearly frustrated about the economic situation, the way the bailout is being handled, and the lack of news coverage for workers' rights. They wanted things to change. I wanted things to change.

But when I asked them "What can we do right now?" in the Q & A, they crushed my spirits.

Not knowing I graduated last year, the first answered: "When you graduate, you can pursue something in journalism."
Another professor answered: "Vote"

Thanks for keeping the power in the hands of the elite, but what do I do if I don't want to be a journalist? And what if both political parties have crappy proposals?
Why can't everyone have an impact?

My sophomore year economics professor answered: "Organize."

Thursday, September 18

Another addiction for me

I used to have a reason to stay up until dawn: a deadline, a late wrap on the film set, weekend partying. I would see the tinge of blue diluting the dark blanket of sky and I would stare. Fascinated. The sun was about to come up and I couldn't stop it.

On the train home from a shoot, I took constant pictures of the sky. They all looked the same, but I couldn't help it.

Working against the clock to finish papers in college, that tinge gave me a buzz. It was a challenge, a tangible signal that I was running out of time. It was terrifying and enticing.

Now, I have no reason. I have to go to work (as I call it; "internship" is embarrassing) at the same time, I get home around the same time, and I don't technically have any take-home things to do. No; of my own volition, I stay up until 3:30 or later, even when I was exhausted hours before. Even though I could barely stay awake at work. I stay up, I watch The West Wing or Mad Men or a movie.

Apparently I take joy simply in knowing that I should be, but am not, sleeping.

Wednesday, September 17

Moving to New York

Since quitting the awful job, I have:

- Moved into an apartment in Manhattan
- Gone to Ikea three times
- Started an internship at a film production company where names like Natalie Portman and Sam Rockwell are thrown around like darts
- Lost my debit card
- Lost my cell phone
- Had several arguments with my new roommate

My roommate is a friend from school whose ideas about life, it turns out, are very different from mine. Small differences in lifestyle make it surprisingly difficult to do things together. I like going out, she likes staying in; she likes cutesy-silly decor, I like cutesy-classic; she often misinterprets me, I often dislike what she says.

I guess I'm in for a big learning experience. And I thought losing my phone would be hard.

Thursday, August 14

The impending relief of quitting

Last week, I quit a job for the first time.

It was a wrenching experience - I'm not really the quitting type. I'm the type who sticks with something, even if I hate it, just for the line on the resume and to prove that I'm dependable.

Or perhaps it's because I don't want to be in that conversation. The I'm Quitting conversation. I don't want to bring it up, to offer excuses or explanations, wonder if my boss will hold it against me. I'm a bit of a coward.

This job even had an end date, in only five weeks. In five weeks, I could be free and have a clear conscience. I could avoid the conversation, the bitter ex-boss, and find another job. I could uphold my personal pride, and make the project better.

But I couldn't wait five weeks. I wimped out and quit over email, but I did it. And, amazingly, I don't even get to relax because I have to find an apartment in the next 3 days or so. When I'm done with that I think I will be able to get over whatever has scattered my brain.

Thursday, July 17

No more avoiding

I definitely avoid telling people what's new with the boyfriend. Not just on the blog; people I know. It took me over two weeks to tell my mom that we got back together, and even then I only told her because he's my date at my cousin's wedding. I wondered, why do I hesitate? Am I uncertain about the relationship? Embarrassed?


Or maybe it's because I get such awful responses. People roll their eyes, laugh, or groan. "Again?" They say. It's like they forget I have feelings.

When I told my mother, during a late-night call, the phone went silent. I braced myself.

Finally: "I don't know what to say."


My mother went on and on: I always go back and forth with the relationship, this is difficult for her, blah blah blah.

Instead of reacting to her statements, I calmly replied: "You seem upset, Mom. Why are you so upset?"

"I'm just trying to protect you."

I had to point out that for all her judgments, she never asked me how I felt about it. She didn't even ask me why we got back together or how. She simply disapproved.

I am not a fool. I don't know if this relationship will last, and it still has problems. But it was my decision to get back together. I should not have to apologize to anybody about that.

The last time we broke up (in May), it was for several reasons. He refused to move to New York, and I couldn't commit to living in Los Angeles. Beyond that, there were several communication problems that I was unwilling to fix. Most importantly, we didn't talk about anything substantial. I kept envisioning us, finally living in the same place, having nothing to talk about. We'd go see a movie and have a five minute conversation afterward: "What'd you think?" "I liked it, you?" "It was ok." The clink of silverware would fill the air.

I was satisfied with my choice to split up. A few weeks later, I broke the silence to check in. He told me he wanted to get back together, to which I angrily listed every problem I had with our relationship. Every problem, down to his roommate's "Get me a beer" poster hanging on his living room wall.

He didn't fix everything that's wrong. Again, I'm not a fool. I even bet that poster is still up. But he told me a few things about himself. He told me about coming out of a depression caused by losing his best friends, being lonely, and feeling purposeless. He told me he was willing to move to New York. He responded to my concerns and acknowledged that it would take a lot of work to make things better.

I'm used to hearing promises like this. I was skeptical and angry at myself for getting back together. Sure, he sounded more mature. But that might not make any difference. It would turn out exactly how it had before: we would be close for a little while, but nothing would change. We would have short, vapid conversations and he would continue to close himself off.

To my surprise, we've had several non-vapid conversations. The first was about politics. I've always hated talking to him about politics, because he's pretty conservative. (In our first private conversation, way back in high school, he asked me how I thought the world came into existence. After my bewildered response (Big Bang), he told me he believed Genesis.) I was shocked, then, to hear him say "us" in reference to the Democrats.

Yesterday, I left a meeting with a director in Park Slope. Walking to the subway, I checked my Blackberry and found an email from him. He told me that he was proud of all the work I've been doing and felt lucky to get time to talk to me in spite of my schedule. He then caught me off guard, saying:

"I feel like I haven't always known what I was doing with our relationship, like how to act. I knew how to make you feel good about yourself, I knew how to compliment you, and how to be sweet, etc. But that kind of stuff (though I have always been sincere) seems kind of shallow, and until recently I don't feel like I was fully intuitive toward your feelings."

He ended the email with a bit of a confession. During the wedding, we are going to be separated most of the time because I'm a bridesmaid. In the past we've had arguments about him not coming to family events, and he finally admitted that he felt awkward around my family. In the email, he told me he was intimidated by how well I got along with his family, and said that in the past he would have found an excuse to avoid coming to the wedding. But he wasn't doing that anymore.

I was touched by his honesty. Talking about his feelings? Deciding to do the uncomfortable thing and sit on his own with my family for hours?

Obviously I haven't told him about my mom's reaction. I'm hoping she behaves herself.

Thursday, July 10

Love letter **

Dear Blog,

I miss you. I just realized I miss you. The past few weeks I've been thinking about you a lot. This may sound weird considering how long it's been since I called or wrote, but...

I love you.

Yeah, the big L word.*

I figured out that I love you when I realized how guilty I feel for neglecting you. And I wouldn't feel guilty if I didn't love you and feel a bond with you, right?

I started feeling guilty right away, and don't think I ever stopped. It wasn't always conscious, this guilt; more of a constant, growing weight.

I felt guilty because I was mad at myself for allowing myself to stop doing something I really love to do, which is to write you.

Writing in you is one of the only things I do that I truly enjoy. The only thing I'm not asking myself to do for someone else, like a teacher or a boss. It's pretty much you and TV. And I haven't had much time for either of those things lately.

Of course, TV is still in my professional field so it's not entirely for me. **

But I thought of you, and I even wrote down ideas for you. My train rides into the city are full of scribbling notes for you. The seeds of ideas I want to write in here. So, I am dedicated. And now realize the mistake I made by denying myself of you.

*No, not "Lesbian." I feel like the show The L Word is taking over the meaning of that phrase now. At least for me. Sort of like how "You've got mail" now means AOL... Corporate America is definitely taking over

**My professional field is really weird. Watching any form of moving picture these days (film, television, short films, documentary, and now Internet footage) is like homework. It's important to always be taking notes (mental or written) while watching because this industry is so competitive.

It's competitive because there are a very limited number of jobs, at least ones that pay, and tons of applicants. How do I know this? Because even entry-level jobs don't respond to me. I've had eight internships, in nearly every format of film and television (reality, narrative, large studios, small independent/art), in nearly every discipline (marketing, development, production). I've written, I've directed, I've edited.

There is little opportunity to write or direct whatever you want, if you want to make a living as a writer or director of film/video. By the time you've come up with the money for the paints and brushes needed to create the film, you'll either be a full-time waitress or an entertainment person being told what to write/direct. Or, more likely, an entertainment person who doesn't write/direct. Really, that person doesn't have very much time to do much of anything for fun. Anyway, feature films tend to take longer to make than your yearly two week vacation.

So, the only way I can be a writer or director is to work for Horriblewood or make friends with some rich, rich people.

Sunday, March 30

Finding a cookie-cutter (home)

The past two weeks, I've been visiting my dad on spring break. My dad lives in Chapel Hill, which is a University town. There are a lot of smart people around, a lot of college kids, and a lot of expensive real estate.

Until recently, that last one didn't matter too much. But my dad's consulting business, vulnerable to the whims of the market, has been suffering for the past two years. Worse, most of his business contacts are retiring or getting laid off.

I feel bad for him. He's been applying to jobs for a year now and nothing has worked out. No one wants to hire someone who's going to retire in a couple years. And in this economy, nobody wants to hire anybody period. He's used up all his savings, declared bankruptcy , and is preparing to hear the big ol' F-word: "foreclosure."

Luckily, he's got my stepmom, and she's got a job. It doesn't pay a hell of a lot, but she can buy groceries and gas, and her credit is good.

This Saturday, they thought it would be "fun" to go looking at housing developments they're thinking of moving to. The more affordable ones. Unfortunately, that means moving out of Chapel Hill and into what my stepmom refers to as "hick." We spent four hours driving around the smallest little towns and then turning into housing developments that looked exactly the same. All the homes looked the same, with a tiny backyard and no sidewalks, the earth so freshly scraped that you could still see its reddish coloring under what would soon be well-manicured imported lawns.

I asked them why they wanted me to come, why they want my input. They keep telling me that my opinion is important. But from what I've seen it won't make a difference. They'll just be moving from a more expensive cookie-cutter house to a cheaper cookie-cutter house built next to another cookie-cutter development surrounding a town that will soon get a Wal-Mart. I want to tell them this, but they're so passionate debating the minutiae (Dad doesn't like the criss-cross windows, my stepmom on the lookout for landscaping details); I can see they really care.

And who am I to talk, anyway? After all, I'm about to start looking for somewhere cheap to live in New York City.

Monday, March 24

Don't work for "the man" (even if you like his shows)

With graduation approaching, I've been spending more time than ever searching for a job. I'm pretty savvy at finding jobsites and listings, and have found several summer jobs and internships this way. Looking for a "real" job, though, seems more scary.

I want to find the perfect job. I feel this incredible pressure for this job to be the "right" one, as though it will define me for the rest of my life. It's all right if it's entry level, but it has to be on some kind of path that fits with where I "want to end up" (which, by the way, I don't even know).

I struggle with this all the time. Do I want to be a writer? A director? Producer? Am I drawn to those positions because they represent creative control? It must be the ambitious capitalist in me that wants to reach to the top.

"Do you want to do high art or low art?" My dad asked me tonight, after I had vaguely explained the difference (think art films vs. broadcast TV).

"Well..." I faltered. "I want to have an impact on peoples' lives." A lot of 'high art', I imagine, doesn't get noticed or isn't understandable except to art or film history academics. Impact, in the sense of affecting people outside the elite art world, could be minimal. The trade-off: programs that aren't controversial enough to turn viewers off. Definitely not my style. But still...

"If more people are watching, I can impact more people in the world, right?" (So, sneak something controversial in without people noticing)

"Well, is that really what you want to be spending your time on?"

I pursed my lips. The idea of dedicating my life to something like Project Runway leaves me feeling empty. Sure, people enjoy the show; I was definitely hooked at one point. But I don't know if I want to spend hours upon hours making something about fashion and cat fights.

So, if I follow my dad's advice and work on things because I actually like them and not because I want to brainwash the world*... I feel better about myself, but a little less certain about a steady income.

*Kidding... maybe

Sunday, March 23

Procrastinating on one thing by getting down to work on another

Tonight I was reading a website about time management as a way of procrastinating.

I think that might be the equivalent of what hundreds of addiction memoirs refer to as rock bottom. (I'm being tongue-in-cheek here, but I actually am addicted to procrastinating, so I guess that wasn't too funny.)

Anyway, all pieces of advice on procrastination, no matter how sweet, had an underlying message: "Just freaking do it already!"

"FINE" I said. "But first I will write a blog entry." After all, I've definitely been procrastinating on that.

I recently had several tests done because I've apparently stumped the medical community (two communities, actually, since I'm visiting my dad at the moment). What three doctors had assumed were thyroid problems have been dismissed by a top* endocrinologist as essentially "not my problem, lady." Though my thyroid is 2-3 times normal size and has increased bloodflow, and my blood is full of thyroid antibodies, the doc (who, after waiting for bloodwork to be faxed in, probably wanted me off his back so he could see other patients) told me there's nothing wrong. Seems a little counter-intuitive to me, since earlier in the appointment he had told me that thyroid antibodies are an indication of Graves disease. But hey, he's the one with the degree. When I asked him about my symptoms, specificially the not being able to breathe, he sort of shrugged and said to see a lung specialist.

After admitting I might be going crazy and picking up a book called "Learn to Relax", I began to feel like I was making everything up. On one of the first pages, almost all of my symptoms were listed as results of stress: muscle pain, fatigue, decreased appetite, loss of concentration and memory... Ticking off my symptoms, I smiled as I remembered this last one:

A week before, a friend complained that a mutual acquaintance had called her at 8am (an ungodly hour for a college student).

"She called me too!" I said. "I was already awake for my doctor's appointment, but still... she didn't know that."

"What did she want?" My friend asked.

I couldn't remember what the call had been about. I must have looked like a nutcase sitting there, trying to recall a conversation that had happened only three hours before.

So maybe my symptoms are from stress. That's certainly better than Graves disease, although I've never heard of stress-induced thyroid antibodies. Now I feel a little sheepish about the fact that my "heart palpitations" are bringing me in for an echocardiogram on Wednesday. What if I imagined all of it? I wonder if "Faker" is inscribed on my heart. Sure, it'd be embarrassing, but at least I'd have my answer.

*Source: my stepmom