Not too much to say about the day itself: more orientation regarding the library and software the museum uses to manage members/donors and the collection. Teresa and I took our lunches to the park, where we were asked the directions to the Boat House and the Castle by various tourists. Once again today was a short day. I was at the gym by 1:45, and back at Santosh’s by 3:30.
I put myself back together and headed up to Times Square in order to take in some theatre. I tried to rush Next to Normal which was the Impossible Dream. I ended up getting some mezzanine tickets for a performance next Wednesday, when Alice Ripley, who is fierce, will hopefully be the newest holder of the Tony Award for Best Leading Actress in a Musical. I decided to student rush my next choice: The Norman Conquests.
The Norman Conquests is a trilogy of plays written in the 1973 by the British playwright Alan Ayckbourn. They all deal with the same people in the same house on the same weekend in July. Each play is set in a different room in the house: Table Manners is set in the dining room, Living Together is set in the living room, and Round and Round the Garden is set in the garden (obviously). The plays form an interlocking narrative, though each stands alone and you do not need to see the other shows for full comprehension. However, the more shows one sees, the more one learns about what happens at other times and other places in the house and the more one learns about the ridiculous people who inhabit the house. It is my goal to see all of the trilogy this summer, and my Quest to Conquer The Norman Conquests began tonight with Round and Round the Garden.
The plays are, basically, a sex farce revolving around the antics of Norman, who was played by an actor who kind of looked like a shaggy dog, Wayne Coyne and, oddly, Eric Atria, the bassist of Morningbell. Norman likes sex, and drinking, and freedom, and just wants people to like him. He is very tall, and gangly, and wears a beanie constantly. Norman will make out with anything, and anyone, to disastrous and hilarious effect. The current revival is from the Old Vic Theatre in London (Kevin Spacey is the artistic director), and the original cast is pitch-perfect and hysterical. I was screaming at certain points. I really don’t want to give too much away, but there is a lot of physical and verbal comedy and the Norman had incredibly expressive eyebrows. An extremely fun night at the theatre and I am really looking forward to seeing what happens in the living room and the dining room.
I am also looking forward to moving into my apartment tomorrow night! I’ll be sharing space with the owner for one night but on Thursday I will be happily flying solo! While I have enjoyed the hospitality of Santosh and his roommate, I am ready to get settled into my own place. Additionally, first full day of work tomorrow! As always, will report.
Started at the Whitney today. But before I get into that, I need to pause a moment.
Linda Janoff, better known as Mrs. Janoff, died. Today, or late this weekend, I’m not entirely certain. She was battling cancer, a fact of which I was not aware. Linda Janoff would appreciate me not ending a sentence with a preposition. Linda Janoff taught me how to write.
Mrs. Janoff taught Advanced Placement Language Arts at Pine View, a class most Pine Viewers took in the eleventh grade. While we did some reading in the course, such as Beloved and the books for our Authors Dinner Party (a survey of authors similar in style to Judy Chicago’s The Dinner Party in that each author is represented by, among other things, a plate and a banner; I was Margaret Atwood), the most notable aspect of the class were the writing assignments. Through these assignments, and the rules of writing attached to each, Mrs. Janoff taught us how to write. She was forward, and brutally honest, and very funny, and not afraid to hurt a student’s feelings–though she never did so maliciously, and would only do so if she felt it would urge the student to better him or herself. Mrs. Janoff fundamentally shaped how I write and how I think and how I view this world. A lot of the style I developed in her class was, I am sad to say, destroyed in graduate school through the necessity of learning how to write academically. I am hoping that my time away from academia will enable me to regain that style–I am sure that would please Mrs. Janoff. Whenever I tell stories of how my writing style developed I always mention Mrs. Janoff. She was an invaluable presence in my life, and in the lives of many others at Pine View. She will be incredibly missed.
I got to the Whitney this morning at 9:30, after a night of minimal sleep. I never sleep well at the start of things. They’d crowded us into a conference room in the brownstone annex on 74th St. that serves as the museum’s offices. There are 37 interns; approximately ten to twelve of us have our masters already. The rest are undergrads, mostly from Ivy Leagues or local schools like NYU. The interns are mostly girls with long shiny bouncy hair, though there are three men: an undergrad from Duke (yes, Duke), a guy from Poland, and a very Teutonic man with blonde curly hair from Germany who speaks impecable english and just got his masters from Columbia. The intern coordinators and H.R. people spoke to us, and they were followed by Adam Weinberg, the director of the museum. He was fabulous–very friendly, witty, open to questions, wry, laid back. Clearly he loves what he does. He did offer some hard facts: yes, I have to get my Ph.D; yes, if I want to be a director, I should probably take business classes. Adam (as some of the interns who had been there for awhile called him) has neither a Ph.D. nor business experience, but he began his career when it was not necessary to hold advanced degrees. He has worked all over the museum world: the Walker in Minneapolis, Andover, as a director of a cultural school in Paris, etc. He had been at the Whitney in three incarnations throughout the late 80s and early 90s, ultimately returning to be the director in 2003. One thing both the director and the intern coordinators emphasized was seizing opportunity and keeping one’s eyes open to all possibilities, an attitude I am trying to keep in the forefront of my consciousness this summer. While they did not shy away from the fact that the economy is not in a good place and museums and other arts institutions are being hit particularly hard, they still left me with an oddly warm and fuzzy feeling about my rather uncertain (or should I say, liberating?) future.
We were also addressed by the Assistant Conservator, who spent some time at the NCMA (yay!).
After we received our fancy Whitney badges (which will gain me free access to many museums in the city and across the nation) we had lunch (a hummus and veggie sandwich with some carrots from Cosi for me) and received goody bags of mugs and stationary. We then broke to meet our supervisors. I had, strangely enough, sat next to the other intern with whom I will be working. Her name is Teresa (or maybe Theresa, I should probably double check), and she recently received her M.A. from Case Western in Cleveland. We are both enthused to be working with a graduate student. We went to the registration office to say hello to Diana Ladd, our supervisor, who seems extremely awesome and who wants to read my thesis (I need to find a Kinko’s and make her a copy). She promptly told us that we can’t really do any work until we learn how to use The Museum System (TMS), the data software that most museums use to manage their collections. TMS orientation isn’t happening until tomorrow at 10:30, so Diana told us to enjoy the city and to report back to the Whitney at 10:30 on Tuesday. At this point it was only 2:00, so I decided to go to the gym for the first time in weeks and it was awesome. I am looking forward to getting into a work-gym routine and to getting back in shape.
I have to admit, talking with some of the interns–especially those who, like me, have their masters–was a little depressing. The job market is dismal. Several of the interns have been at the Whitney since January, working for free for lack of any other arts employment. I am trying to put their experiences aside and to focus on the opportunity/possibility/liberation aspects of the morning.
After the gym I headed back to Santosh’s, took a shower, and vegged. Phil was in the area to prepare for the reading of his musical The Wasp Woman, so I met up with him for a bit. Afterward I wandered the East Village, picking up some hummus and falafel (some days you just crave chickpeas) for dinner and Momofuku Milk Bar for dessert. Yes, I have been intrigued by the city’s David Chang obsession and yes I do wish to go to one of the Momofukus at some point (preferably Noodle Bar) but for now the trendy desserts of Christina Tosi will suffice. I wasn’t hungry enough to try one of the cakes so I got some soft serve–mint chocolate with some swirly fudge on top, guess I missed the earlier Dregs-of-the-Cereal-Bowl and Donut flavors. I wanted to take a picture of it because it was pretty but I did not have my camera, alas, so I’ll borrow a picture of a similar concoction from a food site. The soft serve was okay, not great–a little too sweet, the mint was sort of cloying–but I do want to go back and try one of the ridiculous baked goods like the crack pie or the compost cookie.
The remainder of the evening was spent attempting to finish book two of the fantasy series that in no way shape or form labels me a nerd (forty pages to go, I can do it), helping Santosh cook a quesadilla (an emergency trip for a can opener was necessary) and watching Anthony Bourdain be awesome in India. I love him.
I went to Madison Square Park with my awesome fantasy novel which does not in any way shape or form label me a giant nerd, and sat on a park bench and read and watched the puppies/children/hipsters in strange clothing. I gawked at the extremely long line for the Shake Shack and decided that one day I should get a milkshake there, because milkshakes are delicious. I also guarded my purse from KILLER SQUIRRELS who were obscenely socialized because people kept putting them in their laps and FEEDING THEM. One squirrel actually came up to me while I was reading and poked his face and paws into my handbag. I promptly got up and moved to a less squirrel-infested area of the park.
My dear dear dear dear dear friend Philip Chernyak called and I went to Hell’s Kitchen to meet him for dinner. We ate Turkish food. I had some kebabs. I also took some kebabs home to eat for lunch today. Then I had Pinkberry–mind you, I’d had Red Mango earlier in the day. No such thing as too much tart frozen yogurt, says I.
I came back to Santosh’s and turned on the basketball game, about whcih we will not speak. Santosh and friends returned from painting an apartment. They were paint-spattered, but Santosh was joyous, for his team won. Massive Cleveland failure, sigh.
Anyhow, festivities occured–I’ll just say that we went to a bar called Drop Off Service and didn’t get home until 4:00. Sometime during this period I consumed a grilled cheese sandwich. Also delicious.
This morning, or should I say this early afternoon because I slept in and it was glorious, I headed uptown to see the Salute to Israel Parade which commemorated Tel Aviv’s 100th anniversary. The event wasn’t a parade so much as many groups of people marching up 5th Avenue waving Israeli flags. Much Israeli pride, many many many New York Jews and adorable children, some Israeli music I recognized from my days at the JCC and Ramah Darom, and surprisingly few protestors. There was a designated protest zone near the fountain in front of the Plaza Hotel, but otherwise the mood was positive. Also, there was a troop of JEWS ON MOTORCYCLES. I’m sorry, that makes me very happy.
I walked along the parade down 5th Avenue, and hopped in and out of a few stores (of course) and also into St. Patrick’s Cathedral. The view across the street from the Cathedral always amuses me–Atlas, facing down the Catholic church. Good times.
I eventually returned to Santosh’s, after a brief stop at Barnes and Noble to get the next book in the fantasy series which I am reading that does not in any way shape or form label me as a nerd, to collect my largest suitcase. The suitcase and I traveled uptown to the apartment that I will be subletting starting Wednesday. It was my first time seeing the apartment and meeting the woman from whom I will be renting. The apartment is spectacular and I will be posting pictures once I am settled. The woman, a middle school math teacher at a nearby prep school, seemed very friendly and was wearing a lot of Tory Burch and Vera Bradley, as well as a pair of pearl earrings. The apartment is newly rennovated and a few repairs are still being completed, but I am looking forward to moving in–again, it is gorgeous, and extremely close to the Whitney. Oh, I also saw this sign in the lobby of the building:
I left the apartment (my suitcase remained) and ran a few more errands before heading back downtown, grabbing some dinner, and returning to Santosh’s apartment. Now Santosh and I are chilling, watch Dexter (so. good.) and generally preparing for The Week to Come. I start my internship at the Whitney tomorrow. Very excited!