First Day

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.

Imagine this, but with beautiful intricate swirls of delicious chocolate, hypnotizing you with their sinuous curves.
Imagine this, but with beautiful intricate swirls of delicious chocolate, hypnotizing you with their sinuous curves.
The hipster foodies are drawn to the light, like moths to a trendy flame.
The hipster foodies are drawn to the light, like moths to a trendy flame.

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.

Pig Neighbors

Picking up where I left off yesterday:

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.

A Magic fan and a Lakers fan walk into a bar...
A Magic fan and a Lakers fan walk into a bar...

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.

Israeli soldiers.
Israeli soldiers.

DSC05076

JEWS ON MOTORCYCLES.
JEWS ON MOTORCYCLES.

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.

Humanism vs. the Church.
Humanism vs. the Church.

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:

Don't worry, I'll get my own papers.
Don't worry, I'll get my own papers.

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!

First Saturday; Exit the King

So I’m in the middle of my first Saturday here.  Santosh and I didn’t emerge from his apartment until eleven.  He had a few errands to run and then we met his friend Riaz  at Cafe Orlin for brunch (I felt very authentic) where I had something called a malawach which involved some fried Yemenese dough, eggs, and tomato sauce.  Delicious and awesome and I was starving so even better.

I parted ways with Santosh and Riaz and took the subway to Times Square for my matinee of Exit the King.  The show, written by the absurdist playwright Eugene Ionesco, had its premiere in 1962 and its Broadway premiere in 1968.  The show consists of two hours of waiting for King Berenger I, the monarch of a crumbling and decaying kingdom, to die.  While the audience waits, the King, played in this production by the astounding prancey and rubber-faced Geoffrey Rush, does everything in his power to avoid dying.  He throws tantrums.  He protests.  He marches and dances and, yes, prances.  In the meantime his first wife, Queen Marguerite (Susan Sarandon), is urging him rather enthusiastically to die already while his second wife, Queen Marie (Lauren Ambrose aka Claire from Six Feet Under I LOVE HER) is weepingly proclaiming her love for the king and beseeching him to maintain his grasp on the mortal coil.  An overworked maid (the only servant in the castle), a guard, and a doctor also throw their opinions of life and death at the king.  Being an absurdist (read: Existentialist, and vaguely reminiscent of this work I read my freshman year of college that involved the death throes of a cockroach–if anyone can tell me the title of this play I will love you forever) play there were a few overly ponderous monologues about life and death and joy and sparks etc., but the director played up the gallows humor and Geoffrey Rush’s manic performance kept things moving.  I especially liked the use of a tapestry portraying scenes of the fall of Berenger’s kingdom as a backdrop, though it got me thinking about the potential of artist/theatre collaborations and how those don’t seem to happen anymore–like Andy Warhol designing for Merce Cunningham and Picasso desgining for the Ballets Russes.  Many artists today could’ve had a curious interpretation of Berenger’s court–especially considering the parallels between Berenger’s kingdom and the previous administration.

Right now I am in Santosh’s apartment.  I am listening to the whirring of the small floor fan I just bought him and his roommate for a house-warming present.  The room in which I am staying has no air conditioning and no windows, and while this makes for a very dark and very quiet space it also makes for a very stuffy space.  Fan to the rescue.  Tonight I am meeting my dear dear dear dear friend Phil Chernyak for dinner and then probably partaking in some festivities with Santosh and his friends, who are currently off in Brooklyn painting someone’s apartment.  I’m foreseeing a watching of the Magic/Cavs game.  I’m not really a watcher of the NBA, but for my father the Cleveland Sports Fan’s sake, I hope the Cavs win.

Time to go back outside–the weather couldn’t be more perfect!

Arrived!

I’m here, happily situated in Santosh’s apartment.

The journey was a little rocky: the flight was delayed around two hours, I got the cart with the broken wheel at JFK, the luggage took a half an hour to arrive, and the cab line was obscene–another twenty minutes of waiting.  But now I am here, tired, but ready to commence.

Apologies in advance for the brief posts as of late and for potential brief posts over the next few days.  I won’t be established in my permanent location until Wednesday, so I might have to be more Social Lindsay, less Blog Lindsay.

Leaving tonight.

Flight’s at 6:50.  Currently tying up lose ends in the apartment, cleaning the fridge, dusting, making sure everything is ready to go.

I’ll post again once I am in the city.  For now, fare thee well Chapel Hill.