Tag Archives: friends

Sunrise/Sunset at the Rodeo

Despite the peripheral crazies on my job, my immediate co-workers are amazing. Back on one cold December morning, one of them took a picture of the sunrise from our office building rooftop. It was a reminder that we were close to shooting and at the “dawn” of our new project.

Seven months later, during an overnight shoot on a warm summer morning, he went up on our rooftop again to take a picture of the sunrise over Brooklyn. He called it our “light at the end of the tunnel.” Another co-worker remarked that for it to truly come full-circle, we should really take a picture of the setting sun, a full daylight cycle, marking the end of a very wild ride.

Sunset over Greenpoint, Brooklyn

Sunset over Brooklyn

It’s the little things like this that mean the most. We never let a day go by without laughing so hard we were crying, office QOTD’s are written down so we’ll never forget. These are my war buddies and this is what I love about my job, each show is so unique, the dynamics, the energy, the talents, the highs and the lows. Working on a movie is also called a “rodeo.” And, the name is very apropos. Each movie is like an untamed stallion, you start out with a beast, but by sunset, you can anticipate nearly every buck and kick of your trained equine. You’ve mastered it, and now it’s time to let the horse go out into the world, while you saddle up in time for the next sunrise.

–Downtown

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Let the Dominos Fall Where They May

New York is always full of surprises. Sometimes it feels as if the city conspires to create encounters that outwardly look like chance, but are truly fated. I was supposed to do a million other things this Saturday morning: go to my out-of-town dentist to get “crowned;” leave the city early to surprise my mom for Mother’s Day; sleep. All plans were put on hold when I read this piece in the Times. As a seriously devoted (from issue 1) Domino magazine reader, I was game for an early wake up call and a morning of standing in line. My design-savvy Brooklyn friend and her theatrical set designer-friend were also up for a Saturday morning tag sale. As the Downtown resident, I was enlisted to report to the location on w. 9th street at 8:30a the next morning.

I arrived at the sale at 9 (come on, it’s the WEEKEND!), the line wasn’t too bad and, as domino-magazine[1]it edged closer to 10a, I kept checking the growing queue of people behind me looking for my Brooklyn friends. It was then that I recognized a face in the crowd. Someone I’d exchanged emails with in hopes of collaborating on a book project. We’d never met, but a few days prior, I had had a conversation about them with my mom, bemoaning the fact that, no matter how great email is, there’s nothing like meeting someone in person to talk business, especially if they don’t know you. There’s simply a connection you need to have face-to-face that email cannot offer. My mom is of the school of  “persistence = results.” She thought I wasn’t being persistent enough, which, I tend to agree with, but there’s a fine line between persistence and stalkerdom. I ended the conversation by telling my mom I thought I would just somehow run into them. “Ok, so your plan is to just run into them on the island of Manhattan, an island populated by over a million people?” she asked. Yup, that was the general idea. My mom sighed and hung up the phone, but not before repeating her most favorite mantra to me, “Stop standing on ceremony.” 

With my mom’s phrase in mind, and seeing my email buddy a mere 20 feet away, (ha! Told you so, Mom!) I had some ladies hold my place in line while I walked back to my email friend and introduced myself. I was met with a warm embrace and a total “holy shit, what are you doing here/how cool is this?” response. We made our way up to my place in the line and talked for a half an hour before my friends showed up. Then, we all spent the next hour talking, laughing, sharing theater reviews, movie stories and design ideas while we waited.  

Once inside, the items were mostly picked over (though I was able to find a really cool, adjustable curtain rod that will look fabulous with the new curtains I bought for my living room) There were also tons of great textiles, but it was hard to judge just how much fabric was on the bolt. A lot of the good stuff had already been purchased, but it was fun to look through what remained and recognize things from the magazine’s photo spreads.

My Brooklyn friends were in and out of the sale in record time, acquiring some impressive loot before heading back to their borough. My email buddy and I stood outside, still marveling over our chance encounter and commenting on how our meeting and subsequent conversation was even better than the sale. We made a promise to get together and talk about said project in the coming weeks. As I walked back to my apartment, curtain rod in tow, I realized how fate intervenes just when you need it to and sometimes, standing on ceremony isn’t a bad thing, especially if you’re standing in a line with a million other New Yorkers.

–Downtown

Sometimes It Gets a Little Gossip Girl

I was wrapping up on set today when I got a text message from a friend I wrote about in this post. The text read, “I did something really stupid. I went to [city friend’s] show. I feel awkward and like an idiot. Too late to leave, but don’t want to stay here alone.” The gig happened to be right around the corner (literally), so I packed my stuff up, made a pit stop in the make-up trailer (use it if you’ve got it, right?), and headed over to rescue my friend, who I knew would do the same for me.

I got there in time to grab a drink at the bar before the lights dimmed and we made our way to our seats in the darkness. Our former city friend took to the stage. I wasn’t wearing my glasses, but to me she looked exactly the same. Pale, angular features against long, jet black hair. She spoke into the mike introducing herself and her band, her speaking voice in an entirely different and more “affected” register than I’d remembered. The phrase, “you’ve got to be kidding me” ran through my mind. Then, she launched into her singing, guitar playing, etc. It was … awful. By song six, I felt seasick. Everything song sounded exactly the same and she rhymed words like “dead,” and “unfed.” I felt as if I was listening to a music box play over and over again. I wanted to shut the lid.

In that brief (though it felt A LOT longer) set, I realized something. She might have grown taller, but she didn’t grow up. The singing voice was exactly the same as high school, the gestures a little more dramatic, but still reminiscent of ninth grade. Her awkward banter with the audience only exposed the fact that she carried the same baggage for the past 13 years. It was horrific to watch, but yet, it made me feel so good. I felt like an accomplished (young) adult compared to the a woman-child I saw “at play” on a stage. I had a little You’ve come a long way, baby, moment. My eyes were wide open, no longer clouded by the mystery I thought surrounded this friend. Right then, I saw her for what she really was: a wannabe, a chameleon, trying on every persona, but never owning one of them completely. I felt so high school in my bitchiness and yet, so Freud in my analysis (or would it be Jung?)

The friend (whom I rescued) and I locked eyes and we laughed and clinked glasses. We didn’t need to say a word. Sometimes, the sweetest revenge is simply showing up and growing up.
–Downtown

mothermeasuring

You Can See the Sky, Mountain Man

sometimes it takes a bit of searching.

The New York Times, New York Observed

Mountain Man
By CHRISTOPHER SOLOMON

Michael Nagle for The New York Times

Michael Nagle for The New York Times

March 8, 2009

“SIX months ago, I decided to move back to the East Coast from the West. This might not seem like much, but for me the decision was momentous: Thirteen years earlier, I’d struck out for Seattle — just about as far from family and familiarity in the contiguous United States as an Eastern-raised boy could get. Now I was turning around, leaving behind different friends, a different familiarity.

That day in 1995 when I’d pointed my battered Volkswagen toward the Pacific Northwest like some latter-day prairie schooner, I’d told my parents that a job awaited me there. But it was just as accurate to say that I went because of the mountains.

The year before, someone had shown this Virginia kid pictures of Washington’s North Cascades — ragged and uncompromising things of rock and fir that wore their snows deep into summer and held their feet in cold rivers. This was the West I wanted, the life I wanted, far from the quick wife/kid/cul-de-sac life the East had laid out for me.

Once I arrived, I discovered what I already felt to be true: I’m a mountain man. In the way that others need to live near the sea to equalize the saltwater sloshing inside of them, I grow dizzy if I’m too long without an uncluttered horizon.

“I’ll never move back east,” I told anyone who would listen, speaking in the absolutes of one who is in love for the first time.

And now, here I was, in a city I’d thought I’d never be, looking up at a thing I thought I’d never see: a mountain in Manhattan.

It was autumn. I was one month new to town, and indulging in one of the purposeless rambles around the island that newcomers enjoy but that longtime New Yorkers embark on only when disconsolate or drunk or unable to find the subway. And then, there it was: Rounding some corner on the Lower East Side, I came face to face for the first time with the Municipal Building.

The unexpected beauty of that hoary skyscraper, its blocky mass lightened by its Deer Isle granite, the cold November sun gilding the copper statue of Civic Fame against the blue November sky, stopped me. I felt the way I used to feel when I rounded a bend in the trail and confronted a peak I’d never seen before.

I’d returned east for the reason that so many over the past 150 years before me had packed their best suit and come east: I needed things I felt the West couldn’t give me. I needed the adrenal squeeze of this grasping, shouting, maddening city, this place where all lines converge, and at every convergence there’s somebody hustling, creating, working an angle.

I knew I’d miss the mountains of the West more than anything else, more even than friends or the amniotic comfort of routine. In Seattle, the mountains stand at every compass point. To drive over the city’s Aurora Bridge in the morning rush and see 14,000-foot Mount Rainier unveiled after a week of rain, its melted ice cream cone summit afloat on a raft of dawn-pink clouds, is to feel suddenly buoyant about the day’s prospects.

Seeing that first mountain in Manhattan, I flushed with the same delight, followed by something like shame, that this ersatz alp could give such pleasure. But I soon realized that whoever described the city as a concrete canyonland had his topography all wrong. We live in a little Himalaya.

And once you notice a mountain in this city, you begin to see mountains everywhere, much the same way that a new word, freshly learned, suddenly seems the favorite of every editorial writer. Walk outside in the morning and entire ranges have grown up overnight, massive tectonic surges taken place while the city slept.

One bitter cold December afternoon, I tumbled out of my fifth-floor walk-up in the East Village, looked north and found the top of the Empire State Building brushed with a rouge of alpenglow as delicate as any that night on the distant Monashees.

Other days I disappear from my desk for hours, zip on the yellow mountaineering parka that marks me as a newcomer and embark on an expedition. I walk past the Baruch College business school, whose sooty, sloping facade is a late-summer glacier slumping off the corner of East 24th Street and Lexington Avenue.

THEN it’s west to one of the benches in Madison Square Park, with their neck-craning Matterhorn views up to the great golden horn capping the New York Life Building. Can it be only happy coincidence that mountain climbers and architects share the same language to describe the objects of their passion, that both talk of slope and cornice, spur and buttress, fluting, pitch, spire?

Round another corner of the park, and the great limestone thrust of the Empire State Building strides into view. The city’s emblematic building doesn’t appear gradually, but stands apart, some sage zoning official having known that the very best buildings, like the most majestic mountains and most striking women, demand a little space to be appreciated.

My fellow New Yorkers see none of this. They walk with their heads down as if in prayer, worrying their iPhones. And so, among eight million, I am all alone in these mountains.

Of course, “alone” cuts both ways when you are a mountain man strange to a big city and away from your loyal mountains.

One Saturday night not long ago, in the meatpacking district, I passed up a birthday party of somebody scarcely known, too lonesome for the company of strangers.

I began to walk uptown in pursuit of a bright peak on the black horizon. A raw wind swept people into doorways and bars, leaving the sidewalks empty except for the solitary figure who pushed onward in a bright down jacket.

Finally, I stood at a corner staring up at the Chrysler Building, its Art Deco steel crown aglow in a fuzzy halo of its own bright creation. Sleet ghosted past the top as if spindrift carried off the summit of Finsteraarhorn, or Forbidden Peak, or the Gran Zebru, or any of a dozen other summits I had stood below, just like now, cold needling every finger yet still unwilling to move.

I leaned against a standpipe for a little longer. After that I was better, and I turned left on 42nd and went into Grand Central and stood under the main concourse’s pale vault of night: I had a sudden, overpowering desire to see the stars.”

Christopher Solomon’s work has appeared in “The Best American Travel Writing, 2006.”

WOW, I couldn’t have said it any more clearly. Thank you Christopher Solomon. Keep your chin and your eyes upward. I’ll try my best to do the same.

Post-Turkey Wrap-Up (aka Leftovers)

I was reluctant to leave the city the on Wednesday night. My original intention was to head up to the Museum of Natural History after work, grab a drink with friends, watch the balloons inflate and head back downtown to a party in my ‘hood with another friend and her six sisters. Unfortunately, come 9pm, I was still in Brooklyn, at work, plans foiled and just gunning to make it to the last ferry out of town. After finally home-holidaysheading out the office door at 9:30, I took the G train, L train, taxi to 39th and WS Hwy, ferry to Weehawken, NJ, and finally car to suburban NY, where I made it home on time to catch the tail end of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 with my 12-year-old neighbor, who was hanging out at our house with my parents and sister — her mother would show up at our door Thanksgiving morning with coffee and bagels, thanking us for allowing her daughter a break from their household chaos.

As I think I’ve mentioned in past posts, we really don’t have any family to speak of (or that we speak to). All of my “relatives” are basically old family friends who were christened Aunts, Uncles, Godparents and cousins, save for my maternal grandmother. So, our actual Thanksgiving festivities included my Godmother, Uncle and cousins, our neighbors and their daughters and our neighbor’s sister, her husband, and son, 20 people in total (and three dogs!) and a surprise guest, another family friend’s son showed up for dessert and Karaoke after attending his father and Step-mother’s “lame” (his words) Thanksgiving dinner.

We were all mostly thankful for the fact we were having Thanksgiving together, not with crazy relatives, not alone, and definitely not without laughter and 20-plus years worth of stories (from hospital rooms to hotels, summer vacations to Sunday dinners) to prove that these people are not just our friends, they are our family.
–Downtown

Celebrating the Future by Faking it

Editor’s note: This post might start out normal, but it is somewhat of a rant.

Among the Downtown set, getting an evite to someone’s birthday dinner is met with a mix of both happiness and dread. Happy to be celebrating a birthday with a friend (extra happy if they’re turning a year older than you), not so happy because inevitably, the restaurant is expensive, you have to pay for the bday person’s dinner, everyone drinks like a fish, over-orders, someone forgets their wallet/leaves early/forgets to pay and somehow you manage to walk out dropping $80 on a $12 pasta dish and eight glasses of water. I may complain when the evite appears in my in box, but I’m always happy to go, celebrate with friends, meet new people, maybe discover a new restaurant.

BUT

this time is was painful. I reminded myself 8,000,000 times I was doing this for my friend. But that’s hard to remember when you’re seated next to the driest, most boring people in the world, across the table from a Library Science major (not that there’s anything wrong with that, but you can guess the type), a textbook editor, and someone that works in “logistics” for a New Jersey magazine. I drank ten glasses of water to avoid having fits and starts of conversations with these people, which clearly, they couldn’t seem to carry. At first, I felt bad. But then I got a little annoyed. These friends of my friend were all around our age, went to schools that ranges from MIT to Trenton State, some were still in school (Masters, PhD, etc) and some had jobs. But NO ONE was interesting!  I started by asking people what they did, and I don’t just mean how they were employed because most weren’t, but what they liked to do and were interested in. I received blank stares. I kid you not.

After two hours, the “party” started breaking up and I hightailed it out of there and walked through the East Village to my west side home. When I hit Stuyvesant Park, I started wondering what all those people I went to high school with (birthday friend included) were doing. I ticked through as many people as I could remember and came up with almost nothing. In its time, our school graduated philanthropists, entrepreneurs, diplomats, social rebels, policy makers, magazine founders, leading feminists, a few queens (real ones, not drag) and wives of heads of state. It was a pretty competitive environment both academically and socially. Graduates went to top-tier schools (except for some of us) and what are they doing now? Legal assistant, administrative assistant, medical assistant, assistant office manager, assistant to the President of (blah firm/hedge fund/office). And the general female consensus seems to be they’re whiling away the time until they either a) get married or b) have kids.

Where did the leaders go? My fellow classmates that wanted to be litigators, start non-profits, change society, make films, music, fashion, technology (OK, that kid did do something), run countries and corporations. Why work so hard academically throughout middle/high school and spend a ton on college, if you don’t plan on pursuing your career aspirations? I know I was one of the lucky ones that knew what she wanted to do (for the most part), but come on, they could have just tried to make some of the dreams happen … I know I did and still do. What went wrong? These are kids I believed in. I thought one girl would be running our country or at least be Secretary of State, but now she’s in Argentina, where she’s teaching kids English until she figures out what to do next.

I’m depressed and mad. I’m in a bit of a career rut now, but even in my rut, I had three former classmates say they’re so impressed with what I’ve done. Huh? What I’ve done? I’ve held up my end of the “future” bargain. I’ve worked, and when I didn’t like a job, I found another more interesting or more humane one. I stopped hiding behind the textbook and started living in the real world where we also learn things and meet people and make money. I still continue to further my education by taking classes, reading EVERYTHING, consider grad school and go to lectures. In a nutshell, I became an interesting person. I have cocktail talk. I can carry on a conversation and I have interests. But perhaps most importantly, I have interesting friends that reflect the various facets of my personality and background.

I think I’ve just realized something…

It all comes down to confidence.

If you’re not confident in yourself or what you want to do (like my friend) then you surround yourself with like-minded people — no confidence, career direction, etc.

I don’t always have confidence. Most of the time I fake it. I’m sure even my friends do too. I’ve been practicing the art of faking for so long, sometimes I forget I’m faking and actually believe it. And maybe that’s what it boils down to. Not how good a student you are, how much community service you’ve done, how many internships you’ve had, who you know, how much money your parents have or where you came from. Maybe it’s all about how well you can “fake it till you make it.”

And that revelation, my dear uptown, is no lie.

-Downtown

A Good Man is Hard to Find

I was on the phone with my sister the other night/early morning, a weekend ritual we have to check in and make sure the other got home safely. We both had fun with our respective friends, and just enough to drink that we were feeling a little confessional. “I’m on J-Date!” My sister blurted out as I was kicking my heels off by my front door, complaining about the lack of tall men in New York. “I’m 22 and I’m on J-Date,” she said again, for emphasis. “Well, I’m on Match.com again,” I told her, laughing. “This online dating is so weird,” said my slightly more uptown sister, “like you can take people on virtual dates in chat rooms called ‘Sunset Beach’ or ‘Wine Tasting,’ or ‘Lounge Lizard.’ Ewwww!”

“I tried J-Date, for about five minutes,” I confessed, “but no one was taller than 5’6″ on that site.”

Side note: yes, dear Uptown, J-Date is a Jewish dating site. However, the sister and I, having grown up in a predominantly Jewish neighborhood, find it odd that the average Roman Catholic doesn’t celebrate
Passover or Yom Kipper.

“I don’t get it,” said my confused sister, “we live in a city populated with men. I pass hundreds on the street every day. Why do I feel the need to turn to a website for dating?”

“It’s simple, you live in Chelsea, I live in the Union Square/West Village area. 95 percent of the men around us are searching for love … within their own sex.”

Long pauses filled the void in conversation as we both pondered this notion, until it hit me. Carrie Bradshaw killed it for us. Before Darren Starr and Sex & the City, New York was considered the place to meet men, good-looking men, wealthy men, smart men, talented me, straight men, gay men, cosmopolitan men. Now, everyone from here to Kazakhstan knows that 20-something and 30-something straight, non-asshole men in New York are a rarity. And if you do find one, you marry him, no questions asked. Which leaves even more slim pickings for the rest of us. So where did all of the men go? My theory? They never made it to New York. One episode of Sex & the City had their feet planted firmly in the Midwestern crop soil. I think the stereotype of “we” women (via SATC ) scared them off.

And I don’t believe it’s just SATC. I think it was Friends and Will & Grace that didn’t help either. You can be the redheaded neurotic girl with the gay husband, the clean freak, the loopy, hippy-dippy girlfriend, the high maintenance one, or the drunk, gold-digger, but apparently you can’t be all of them, all at once. Pick a character and stick with it. Can you imagine these poor boys from all over the world coming here expecting what they see on TV? Giant apartments, movie stars, an endless supply of cash, clothes, etc. And the reality is usually very far from it. Yes, people have money, big apartments and yes, there are movie stars, but they don’t live near your 400 sq. foot studio walk-up in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

I ran this theory by my sister, who agreed, but added a caveat: “A good man is hard to find,” she said, ” but in this city you hear more men saying that than women.”

-Downtown