The book I’ve been reading lately, Steal Like an Artist, tells me that if I want to unlock my creativity, one of the many things that helps is to share my work with people, online, daily, even if it’s just a snippet, a quick blurb, photo, or quote from a book I’m reading. So here’s my snippet for today:
I want to revamp my blog. A lot of my visual artist friends have their own websites to represent their creative, working self, and I want the same. I want a website where I can showcase my published work and talk about me as an artist, where I can keep a daily inspiration blog including anything from quotes, to previews of my current projects, to annoying Instagram food pictures, and where I can link to my side projects, like Multilingual Mondays and Hipster Klaine. That’s the big creative endeavor I’m working on right now: a new website!
Steal Like an Artist also tells me it helps to invite others to wonder with me, so consider this your official invitation to help me with this project! If you’re a tumblr user, have you found a theme that allows you to do something that looks more like a website, with different tabbed sections that link to different content? Do you have recommendations for another website platform that’s easy to use and could suit my purposes? Are you a freelance web designer who’s interested in helping me make a website? Any other tips/insights?
Thanks, dudes! Looking forward to getting more creative and sharing it with y’alls!
You must not, I repeat must not let me watch the first two consecutive episodes of Game of Thrones Season 2 tonight.
I am not at all ashamed to admit that the majority of my first 24 hours back in New York on staycation were spent ripping through all of season one. I did intend on waiting a full 24 hours before starting season 2, but it’s become apparent that tonight, I got a fever, and the only cure is more Game of Thrones.
However, I cannot, I must not, I will not watch more than the first episode of season 2 without taking a break to work on my freelance project that is due tomorrow. Even though I am technically unemployed this week and enjoying being able to do whaterr I want whenerr I want, all day, err day, I do like my freelancing job and I want to turn it in on time and get paid. If I allow myself — if you allow me — to watch one more episode, c’mon just one more, only one, I promise I’ll stop after that one, we all know that it will lead to just one more, what harm will one more do? I’ll work twice as hard after I promise, and then to At this point, I’m clearly not doing any work tonight so let’s just quit the pretense and watch as much as I friggin want to because it’s my vacation dammit, and then tomorrow will come and I’ll remember that one day is not enough time to write two quality articles, and I’ll have to beg my editor for more time and make some excuse like I do every month, and that’s just not cool. The buck needs to stop somewhere, and internet, I’m deciding it stops here.
So, no matter what I say, what I do, what I threaten, what I promise, under no circumstances — and I mean absolutely positively none whatsoever on this earth, in the starts above, in heaven or hell or any alternate universe or plane of existence — may I follow the first episode of GOT season 2 with a viewing of the second episode of season 2, without first accomplishing a sizable amount of writing/research on my freelance assignment. One (1) shall be the number of episodes I shall watch before working on my freelance assignment, and the number of episodes I shall watch before working on my freelance assignment shall be one (1). The number shall not be two (2). The number shall not be zero (0), unless it be followed by one (1).
Being the people of the interwebs, I know you might want to say, “Screw your assignment, just do it! Just watch all of the episodes. ALL OF THE EPISODES. GoT is such a good show, it’s totally justifiable, and I can’t believe it’s taken this long for you to get into it.” I grant you permission to say this, but ONLY if it is out loud to your computer screen or in your head or in any other manner that prevents your message from actually getting to me. Sending this message by raven is also acceptable, given that you live more than one day’s journey away from me, as the crow flies. The above guidelines also apply if you are inclined to give spoilers. Please see below for the likewise applicable punishment.
You might also say, “If you had just done your assignments on any one of the 23 other days since you received your assignment, you wouldn’t be in this situation and could watch as much TV as you want.” To you I say, thanks for being a loyal reader, Mom. I love you!
I am holding you all accountable. ALL OF YOU, INTERNET. I have washed my hands of this, this burden is now on your shoulders. To explain another way, if you allow me to watch more than the first episode of season two without first doing my work, you will be charged with Treason Against the Realm of My Sanity and Good Work Ethic, and we all know what happens to traitors. At least I do, because I finally watched season one.
Also, dragons. Just had to mention that somewhere.
So in sum, internet, hold me accountable! And I don’t mean that in the whole, I’ll ask you to be my hand and help me but then get mad at you when you actually try to help me and ignore you and do whatever the heck I want. Actually, that’s probably exactly how it will go, but that’s why I’m writing this letter in the first place, so stand firm! Stand up to me, internet! The well-being of the realm is in your hands!
Tonight as I was walking home and pondering how I would spend my Monday night now that my Spanish class is over, I noticed a big ugly chair thrown in the pile of black garbage bags along the curb in front of me, and I remember what I’d been missing for the last 3 months — Monday Night Garbage Night Curbside Furniture Picking. I’m really proud of my free furniture curb picks over the last year. I started small, with a broken end table that I “refurbished” by setting a bronze plate on its top. Then I found a nicer end table. Then a makeshift TV stand. Then a microwave cart (and seriously, a nice wheelie microwave cart can go for over $100…). I even took a painting once. Finally, one day, my crowning jewel found me, a naturally antique-looking desk that I use as my creative and productive space. Yay! Bearing in mind the rule that one of my colleagues passed down to me, I passed by the upholstered chair and kept walking, and stumbled upon some serious bounty in front of my own building: a wood and glass coffee table and matching desk. So what, we already have a coffee table and 3 desks between the two of us, this was a nice set, and I wanted it to be mine, so I disassembled everything right there on the sidewalk, and lugged it inside, with the help of some obliging neighbors who were kind enough to grab the doors for me.
While my compulsion for free furniture may be a tad much, it reminded me of all of the nonverbal languages I’ve become fluent in over the last two years, the languages of New York. I speak curbside furniture: I know which days are garbage days, and which streets have the most apartment buildings and ergo, the most free furniture. I know not to pay hundreds for antiques when one will end up on my sidewalk. I know to avoid anything upholstered, because, bed bugs. I’ve learned how to furnish an apartment for free.
I’ve learned how to speak subway. When I first came to New York on my own for my interview at my job, I could not have been more lost when it came to public transit. I panicked searching for a quarter machine in Laguardia so I could have exact change for the bus (thank god the HR manager had mentioned that), and then had a harrowing ride in on the M60 into Manhattan, frantically flipping through the 4 pages of Google Maps I’d printed out. Even then, I got scared and got off too early, wandering down into the subway and asking the lady behind the glass if this was where I could find Metro North. After finding the real Metro North station, it took a while to figure where to buy my ticket (the booth) and when the train would be coming. When I did ride the subway for the first time, all the lines, letters, and numbers blurred together, and I wished it could just be simpler, like the T in Boston. “I don’t need all these lines,” I thought, “just show me a map with just the 456.” My first shuttle ride between Grand Central and Times Square was a rare thrill, and my initial bus rides were an interesting practice in running to the stop to catch the bus, and then either getting off two stops before or two stops after my intended stop, each time. These days, I bus like a pro. I’m the go to girl for anyone in my office who’s looking for ways to avoid Metro North and save a dollar. I have the W45 weekday schedule memorized, and I’ve successfully figured out how to get from Astoria to Flushing via bus, just for shits & gigs (and bubble tea). The subway is a piece of cake, and makes DC and Boston’s transit look like a child (I read recently that the 456 line gets more foot traffic in a day than all of Boston’s T system). The other weekend, as I headed into the city for my weekend job, I witnessed a man, a father with his wife and two kids, trying to figure out where to get off the subway. It was a crowded car, and the way he leaned back to try to see the schedule, and his uncertainty about whether our train would stop at their station made it evident that they were tourists, that he had very little idea what he was doing, but that his family had deemed him most competent and trusted him to figure it out without really having much faith in him. From 86th, I minded my business, but after 59th, when I heard him say something about “33rd” I had to step in. I asked where he was going, and explained that we were on an express train and he needed the local, so at the next stop they could get out and just walk across the platform and transfer to the 6. The man was so relieved. It’s not a special story, and one I’m sure all New Yorkers have. But, it stood out to me in that moment that I spoke a language someone else didn’t: subway.
I also speak food in a way that I didn’t before. In particular, I’ve become fluent in bagel, which is saying something for a girl who came from a town so white bread that she didn’t even meet a Jew until she was 17. I understand that the freezer bagels are bread masquerading in a bagel shape, and that chain bagels are passable, but vaguely styrofoam. Only a real, true New York bagel will do it for me now. The very Dunkin Donuts bagels that were a precious commodity for me when I lived in upstate New York, only available on the rare days that I went to and from Utica or Clinton, are now the sort of bagels I turn my nose down at, or roll my eyes about. Pizza is another example. I won’t go into as much detail, but I know a New York slice, and I know which $1 slice places are worth it, and which ones are a rip off. I’ve also learned how to spice up a plain slice with a shit ton of seasonings — oregano, red pepper, parmesan, garlic — to make it feel less, well, plain.
That’s not to mention my mastery of the New York Shuffle, in which we’re all always in a hurry because we’re all always late, or my callous disregard of panhandlers in the subway. I’ve discerned which musicians to give money to and which to ignore. I’ve figured out how to exit the subway and orient myself to which street corner I’m on. I’ve can complain about New York as a way of showing my love for it.
And maybe New York is less the language than the dialect and accent, but in any case, I speak it now. Some things I’m still learning (I have a lot of brushing up to do on my Brooklyn), but when I meet tourists I have an experience similar to my epiphany in Spanish class when we met the level 1 students: for all of my struggles, for all of the things I don’t know, here’s a person in front of me who knows way less, against whom I can measure myself and realize…there was a time I didn’t know these things. And now I do. And that’s called progress.
Esta noche fue mi último clase de español tres, y estoy pensando en cambio
Esta noche, tuve un diferente profesor y mi clase fue más pequeño porque era la pascua judía, el pesach
Esta noche hubo césped en Bryant Park en vez de una pista de hielo
Esta noche monté el subway en vez de el metro north porque estoy viviendo en Manhattan esta semana en el apartamento de mi colega mientras cuido a su gato.
Esta noche llegué al apartamento a las 10, mientras que usualmente yo sólo salgo en el tren a las 10.
Esta noche aprendí de un professor diferente
Y esta noche voy a dormir en una cama diferente
Esta noche tengo más tiempo para escribir de mi noche
Y esta noche creo que cambio me haría bien, sí.
Tonight was my last Spanish 3 class, and I’m thinking about change.
Tonight, I had a different professor, and my class was smaller because it was the Passover
Tonight there was grass in Bryant Park instead of an ice skating rink
Tonight I rode the subway instead of Metro North because I am living in Manhattan this week in one of my colleague’s apartments while I watch her cat
Tonight I arrived at the apartment at 10, while usually I only leave in the train at 10.
Tonight I learned from a different professor
And tonight I’m going to sleep in a different bed.
Tonight I had more time to write about my night
And tonight I am thinking that a change would do me good, it would.
Tonight marked our ninth and quasi-final Spanish 3 class. There’s a tenth class next week, but it’s Passover and my professor and a few students will be out, so we treated tonight’s class as our last and threw a classy little fiesta. Our professor brought Yerba Mate, and I and my seat mate cum partner-in-crime Emily both brought some red wines (de Chile y Argentina, claro). We spent the first part of class learning about Yerba Mate, and then wine, and then talking about the new (Argentine) pope, his political views (muy conservador) and the perception of Argentinians throughout the rest of Latin America. It was a small class again – 5 students – but we had a lot of fun and celebrated being completely done with grammar! By that point I had slammed down my vino a bit too quickly, to the point where my brain was a little lax in the comprehension department, but was slugging away in the conversation department. I’d have to check with my classmates/professor, but I’m pretty sure I spoke faster and with a better accent one glass in. We also read an article from a smutty newspaper like the National Enquirer about a man who committed suicide because he was so grief-stricken that Chávez died (our professor made sure to emphasize that the story was blatantly fake), and then listened to a song, coincidentally about remembering people. Aww.
I will miss this class a lot. More so than the other classes I’ve taken, I feel like I grew and sort of went on a journey with these people, not just in the same classroom as them. I was wary of them at first, then unsure, then intimidated, and finally comfortable. I’ve already talked with a couple about taking Spanish 4 together (eventually…when Arabic is done) and doing informal meet-ups/study groups. The last few months have flown by, and it’s definitely a bit bittersweet to be at the end here. Sure, I do have one more class, but with a substitute professor and less some of my favorite classmates, it seems like more of a bonus class, a postscript.
And so tonight, as Metro North slugged along and I brushed red velvet cupcake crumbs off my dress, I reflected on the last 10 weeks, and reviewed all that I’ve done and learned:
Next week, on Multilingual Mondays…
What will class be like with a substitute teacher? Can I bring the leftover wine and have a second party? Just how much weight have I gained since the start of my weekly cupcake tradition? Will it stop snowing so I can sit and enjoy Bryant Park one last time? All this and more, next time, on Multilingual Mondays.