Monthly Archives: September 2008

The Daughter of Reinvention

I’ve been thinking a lot about reinvention lately. As I walk through the city or see her skyline change from afar, Manhattan might be the capitol of reinvention on a urban scale. The architecture melds old and new, the statue of liberty gathers together our “huddled masses,” Ellis Island was the original gateway to reinvention — even mother nature has a hand in it, shedding old leaves from the trees in Central Park, storing chlorophyll for the new. All of this reminds me that not only is reinvention possible, it’s cyclical. It might be an ambitious statement to say that I feel our country can reinvent itself, after all, our forefathers managed to remake themselves and establish this country on their own terms. But sometimes the fall is harder than the resurrection; the ashes more difficult than the rising.

I am trying to be positive amidst all of this, despite the fact I have wavering clients, a monthly rent, late paychecks, and work for myself — if I was a nail-biter, I’d be down to the quick by now. I panic a little when I think a month or two or three down the road, my dwindling savings account, wondering if the work will stay steady. I send out resumes and panic again thinking of a cubicle, monotony, boring daily banter with co-workers, office politics. ugh. But I come from a family of re-inventors. For my mother, it was a way of life growing up in a family where she had to reinvent herself as a adult when she was still a teen. For my father, the black sheep of his family, he went from country boy to city slicker (literally) overnight. When his business failed, he learned a new trade and started another and when that didn’t work, he tried something else — third time’s a charm in my family. Same for my mother, she outgrew her first job, floundered in the second and hit her professional stride in her third. My parents had a lot more to lose (house, car, kids, bills), but they still took the leap.

I learned from the best and looked to what made me happy, until it all came to an abrupt end — not one I wanted, but sometimes you have to cool your passion and let it come to you in another way. While I continue to work at that, I’m on job 6,000, career number three, and all I know is it’s definitely not something I want to continue. I miss what I love, but am not sure I can go back to square one with it again. I ate the dirt the first time, for a few years, until I made it to a reasonable level, but then it came crashing down, falling like pieces around me. I wasn’t able to put the puzzle back together myself and finally struck out for new, corporate territory — though that too proved to be a suit I wasn’t ready to wear. So I sit here, going through the motions of a job, waiting for something to happen. Don’t get me wrong, I am looking and emailing and calling and networking, but in the end it’s still a waiting game. The irony is my quest for reinvention is reflected back at me in the state of our union, our election and our natural disasters. It makes the fight a little more difficult, melancholy. When I feel this way, I repeat a quote that became my mantra when I first read it in the book, Charlotte Gray, several years ago: “… You become an entirely different being every decade or so, sloughing off the old persona, renewing and moving on. You are not who you were, nor who you will become.”

I just have to keep remembering that, breathe deep and reinvent, yet again.

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Wonderful Town

This sweltering Sunday found me in the middle of Times Square with my three favorite musical theater hopefuls checking out our fellow college alumni perform for Broadway on Broadway. If you’re a cheap New Yorker (like me) this is the perfect way to get a taste of the upcoming — and current — Broadway shows for free as they hit a stage set up in Times Square and perform a song. We stood surrounded by our fellow New Yorkers and tourists listening to performances from Billy Elliot and Gypsy to Avenue Q[title of show],In the HeightsXanadu, and saw our friends rock their roles in Mary PoppinsThe Little Mermaid and Legally Blonde.

B’way on B’way was hot, and I mean that in the literal sense. As soon as our last friend-related performance ended, we headed out in search of an air conditioned cafe. I split with my friends and made a pit stop at the bank where I was subsequently locked inside the ATM facility for 15 minutes with another bank patron. As we were banging on the glass to get ANYONE’s attention, I felt a sting on my arm and saw a bee drop to the floor. I’m not allergic to bees to the point where I need to carry an epi-pen, but am allergic enough that my arm immediately began to swell to the size of an egg. Luckily a passing police officer saw our distress, swiped his ATM card, and released the door, setting us free. Hot, tired from the sun and slightly paniking about the ever-growing size of the egg on my arm, I hailed a cab home (not before grabbing an iced coffee from Starbucks first, which they gave me for free!)

Sitting here now freshly showered, minus one bee’s stinger, I realized my day was helped along by various New Yorkers: the B’way on B’way staff that lead us to our special “artists’ guest” area, the performers, the man in blue and his ATM card, the Starbucks barista and even my sympathetic cab driver, who waited in front of the grocery store (with the meter off) while I grabbed some miso paste for my sting — an old trick for decreasing swelling. For all the times this city tears us apart, swallows us whole and spits us out, it truly is our fellow New Yorkers that make Manhattan a wonderful town.

Last-Minute Spectacle

Tonight I saw Elvis. Costello, that is. I was given last-minute free tickets to a taping of Spectacle, Elvis Costello’s musicians showcase/talk show for the Sundance Channel (which you know would never produce a typical “talk show”). I grabbed my Virgin Records friend and we hopped the 3 train up to theApollo Theater to catch Elvis with special guests, Jakob Dylan (the Wallfowers; son of Bob), Jenny Lewis (Rilo Kiley) and She & Him(Zooey Deschanel and Matt Ward). For the Spectacle back up band, the most amazing father/daughter drummers: Pete and Tennessee Thomas.

From our front row seats, we caught close up views of some very awesome guitar playing. Each performer sang a song on which Elvis played guitar and then sat down for a chat with Costello, who not only asked insightful questions, but did all the research on each performer and their background on his own — no show researcher, quite impressive! What also struck me was how sensitive and eloquently Costello spoke of and asked about each artist’s style and relationship to music and shared some of his own stories. No matter how young or “green” the artist, Elvis treated each with equal respect and even told them how listening to their music inspired him. Always cool to see someone that truly loves what they do and even more, loves to share it with others.

By far the best part of the evening was having all of the guests on stage singing“(What’s so Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding?” Best last-minute event I’ve attended in a long time!

And, on the way out, I got to rub the legendary Apollo tree stump, which all performers, from Ella Fitzgerald to today, rub for luck before they perform.