Monthly Archives: November 2009

Attention Employee: Office Holiday Party

An annual email I send out to my “business associates”:

In the spirit of the holidays and because everyone else we know has office/company christmas parties, I’ve decided to make my own. I know you guys, my fellow freelancers, assistants, writers, “entrepreneurs” and unemployed friends, will appreciate this one.


Begin forwarded message:

Please join me at my office holiday party, celebrating the season’s festivities and a toast to the employee of the year, AVB. The party will take place starting on Monday, December 17th during office hours: 11 pm – 3 am and extending through Christmas and into the New Year. During the party, I will be revealing my secret santa, a refreshment will be served, and don’t be surprised if karaoke makes its way into the festivities! Dress code is business casual (read: flannel pajamas and old camp tee shirts). Please be on your best behavior as a photographer (me with my iPhone) will be documenting the event and photos will be available for purchase.

Please note that due to recent cutbacks and a flagging economy, the annual holiday bonus will not be given this year. Instead a donation has been made in AVB’s name to the Human Fund, funding humans where they need it most.

Please RSVP to AVB in the HR department.

Happy Holidays!


President, Founder, sole proprietor, CEO, COO, CFO, etc. etc.

Rear Window

While replying to a work-related email, I noticed a company name and address in the sender’s signature line. After the business part of my reply, I wrote a P.S., “How’s your view?” I inquired. I knew the recipient received the email because the next morning there was a sign in the window of his firm reading, “Good morning, Ashley” in big black letters. I noticed the sign when I walked into my kitchen and looked out the window while making tea — it turns out one of my windows looks almost directly out over theirs (they are one floor down from me).

Every morning, from nearly every window of my five window apartment, I am greeted by a group of art students (the upstairs neighbors of my email recipient’s firm) who paint, sculpt, draw, and Papier-mâché directly across from my kitchen. The art teacher’s office, decorated in macramed plant holders and wall-hangings, is nearly within arm’s length of one of my bedroom windows. Above the art school lives a family with two small children — who love to look out their windows during thunderstorms. The family’s latest aquisition is a black and white painting of a leaping frog, which, after much debate, they finally decided to hang next to their Viking range, above the computer desk. I watched that whole scene play out from my kitchen window one Saturday afternoon, while I was cooking.

Nighttime is more exciting. My neighbors across from my living room window (we live in an “H-shaped” building, so our living room windows look out on to each other) come home around midnight, their bright lights (sans curtains) flood into my apartment. From their nocturnal activities, I’ve guessed him to be a restaurant manager and her to be a model. She’s always coming in late at night with rolling luggage and a suit bag (and leaving the apartment mid-morning) while he doesn’t leave till late afternoon. They’re definitely not married. They also fight quite a bit. And, his feet smell. The latest fight was about his looking at other woman, and his ridiculous gold sneakers. I have to agree with the girlfriend on that account, the sneakers are ridiculous looking. How do I know? Apart from seeing them first-hand in the elevator, he also airs them out on the ledge of his living room window, cracking the window open when he does this — a sign of odorous feet, perhaps?

I know I’m not alone in watching my neighbors’ lives play out like a television series. The New York Times found other people who freely admit to spying on their neighbors, either for folly, their health, or artistic/journalistic purposes. In New York, we learn to live in tight quarters. We stand closer to people in the subway during rush hour than we ever would allow during a conversation. Personal space is a whole lot less personal in a city. We become somewhat unwitting voyeurs, but curiosity sometimes overrules our manners. Our neighbor’s life may be entirely different than our own, more exciting, sad, colorful, happy, sex-filled, lonely … or perhaps it’s because their lives are exactly like ours. We come home, hang up our coat/throw it down on a chair; check the mail/answering machine/fridge; use the bathroom; relax on the couch/watch TV; have sex; cook dinner; go to sleep and start it all over again.

City living is a mash up of reality television and a really great novel. People are living in front of you, acting on their own accord, but you provide the dialogue of their lives; you imagine their personalities beyond those four walls and what makes their life worth living; then you turn the page to see what happens next.


“People just don’t want to know about this issue – it’s hidden, it’s criminal, it’s perverse and yes, it’s happening on our own doorstep. Journey is a remarkable piece of collaborative, creative and confrontational art that profoundly challenges people’s perspective. Come and see for yourself and tell us if you agree.”
-Emma Thompson


If you are in New York this week, make sure to visit JOURNEY NYC. Produced by the Helen Bamber Foundation, this provocative art installation depicts the “journey” of trafficked women in the sex industry. Drawing from the experiences of a survivor named “Elena,” Journey is told in seven stages (each stage is designed by an artist using the interior of a shipping container as their canvas). The seven stages include:

1. Hope
– Designed by Oscar-winning film designer Michael Howells

2. Journey
– Designed by sound engineer and music producer Mick Martin

3. Uniform
– Oscar-winning costume designer Sandy Powell

4. Bedroom
– Coco de Mer founder Sam Roddick

5. Customer
– playwright Ewan Spencer and photographer Simon Stephens

6. Stigma
– Turner Prize winning sculptor Anish Kapoor

7. Resurrection
– Oscar-winning actor Emma Thompson, Royal Designer Mike Dempsey and V&A prize winning illustrator Laura Carlin

From the Helen Bamber Foundation’s website:

Journey brings together creativity and the art of survival to show what it means to be bought and sold. It demonstrates how one woman’s story can help us understand a subject that is as painful as it is incomprehensible. Trafficking is a crime without borders. Trafficked people become illegal, stigmatized and invisible. The state of New York is a major entry and transit hub, but authorities and agencies are pouring huge resources into supporting victims and prosecuting traffickers.”

84-year-old Helen Bamber, a truly amazing woman who has worked tirelessly with victims for 60 years, will be on site along with Emma Thompson, Sam Roddick, and HBF co-founding Director, Dr. Mike Korzinski. After you make your way through JOURNEY, find a moment to talk with one (or all) of them. They are truly extraordinary people.

JOURNEY NYC can be found on Washington Place @ Washington Square East, NYC, from Tuesday, November 10th-Sunday, November 15th from 12p-8p. A trip through the installation is free and the experience is priceless.

wsp fountain location