This post is going to be all over the place, because lately my mind is, in fact, all over the place.
Two nights ago, I was on my way home to Orange County from work in LA, a drive I make three days a week, and frankly, I’ve hit a wall. It was fine for a while; it was just the grind. No big deal. But I’m in a different space now, and it’s possible that that space is delirium, because I was listening to Ave Maria as I drove, (this is where I would explain why the classical choice, but I just frickin’ like it) and suddenly to my ears, the song became the symphony that was leading this carefully choreographed ballet I’ve entitled Le Traffique. Cars were weaving into and out of lanes harmoniously, in time to each sustained note of the cello’s climbing scale. It felt like overhead music that every person on the freeway in that moment could hear, and we were syncing our movements in this delicate little dance. I swear the rpm of my tires began to match the rhythm of the beats and oh my God, I waited for the red underline to show up and it didn’t which means I just spelled rhythm right on the first try. The cars attempting to cut others off would swerve to the crescendos dramatically, and my brake-and-gos were simultaneous to the staccatos. Now I’m just saying music words. I don’t think Ave Maria has staccato notes. The rest I really did actively notice though. The point I’m getting to is this: My mind has numbed itself so hard to this commute that it has turned the hellfire of LA traffic into a lyrical dance sequence, and Ave Maria into a coping mechanism for this particular struggle. That’s gorgeous. I am fine.
The monotony of this drive has also led me to think about some of the simple pleasures I enjoy in life, in great detail. Here we go. I used to go swim at the Chapman lap pool on certain week nights during open hours, between 6:30 and 8pm. I’d do this last spring when the warmth of the day hadn’t had time to dissipate yet and was still lingering as the sun went down. The angle of the remaining daylight on the water made it a velvet gold, and the triangular flags that hung above the end of the pool, which signal backstrokers to flip turn, looked like the album artwork to my youth against the pink and orange sunset sky. When I finished my set, I’d remove my cap and dunk my head, because it feels so good when my hair lolls about in slow motion underwater. Then I’d get out and towel off, throw on the long sleeve navy blue Crew shirt that I’d gotten at my final regatta over my suit, and step into my flip flops to bike home. I live half a mile from campus, so it was a quick jaunt, but I’d try to take my time with it. I felt like a Stranger Things kid, if for no other reason than being on a bike, as I pedaled through the quaint neighborhood surrounding Chapman, sequestered from reality for the moment. I loved cruising down these quiet streets with pink flowers covering the trees and the ground beneath them, the air finally succumbing to a chill breeze, my hair wet and endorphins still pumping amidst a gentle evening.
I’ve become fairly restless with my typical library of music, as I’ve performed every song in it for the 6am 405ers nine thousand times now. And although I love them, I sometimes need a break from my godless podcasts between episodes. I’m trying to switch it up and have been acquainting myself with the discographies of The Rolling Stones and The Beatles, and clearly a period of classical. I’m sure I’m the first person to say this because no one has ever listened to The Rolling Stones before I, but young Mick Jagger is ~dreamy~. I often wonder what I would sing about if I were in a band and wrote my own music, but I guess it would be this stuff. Thank goodness I don’t know how to compose. Although, it would be kind of amazing if everyone’s slo-mo, deep-toned war cry on the road was a jam I wrote about that last second moment you realize that Siri routed you to the godforsaken 5, which is garbage every day of the week, and it’s too late now to flip a U and retreat from battle.
Another distraction I thought about recently: I think one of the most riveting movie scenes is the one in The English Patient when Katharine regales the circle of men in the desert with the ancient story of Gyges’ rise to power. She tells this tale to their fascination, the symbolism purposefully blatant in that moment, and when she finishes, she sits back down and says “Shall I spin the bottle now?” What? I want to play that game. What are the rules? The neck of the bottle chooses who gets up to orate a legend of your choosing, as if you yourself were the keeper responsible for passing it down through the generations? Trivia night is frickin’ child’s play compared to this. Where do I find a circle of people who are even remotely interested in this game? My Ethics professor from two semesters ago? Bueller? Anyone? This is a serious inquiry. I just imagined playing this with my family, and now I’m chuckling because my mom and brother are notoriously tangential and often forget where they were going in their storytelling, so this would be a mess. My dad would make one up on the fly but tell it with such fervor that we’d think it was real. You’d have to strap in for mine because I’m gonna start by reciting Hercules from beginning to end, songs and voice acting included. If you’re thinking, why does this sound at all fun to her, I’ve just realized I forgot to mention, because there’s wine, you guys.
So beyond rehearsals for that, I’ll keep singing in the car and thinking about my simple joys of life, which in less than a month when I move to LA, I’ll have eight more hours to devote my time to every week. I will be more composed by then, and combobulate myself again. I know it’s not a word.
Imagine if you will: your high school senior year field trip. Even if you didn’t take one, pretend you did and reacquaint yourself with your class, the shenanigans, the feeling of community in the people with whom you shared four plus years of school. I had one to San Francisco and one to Disneyland, and they both shared the same vibe; wholesome yet untamed. It’s the feeling of being unapologetically yourself because you grew up with these people, yet you still surprise them because there’s no reason to hold back, and vice versa. Take this feeling, and inject it into an experience comprised of people you either just met or have only known for a few months. The feeling of camaraderie doesn’t naturally go hand in hand with a group so new; it’s not that you’re not yourself, you just calculate a little bit more. However, during my study abroad program’s excursion to Česky Krumlov— an idyllic town about three hours out of Prague— the class trip feeling with these people I’d known for such little time fell right into place, just fit together, like a substrate to an enzyme. I will not apologize for that metaphor because it’s one of the only things I remember from IB biology and I’m fairly impressed with myself.
My program, CEA, covered most of the Americans that were studying at AAU, which is a melting pot of students from numerous countries alongside the native Czechs. CEA hosted this overnight trip to Česky Krumlov, and it was so enticing that almost all of us took advantage of it. It was very reminiscent of high school in the best way; we left on a bus with our solidified friend groups, but all were quick to sidle up to those seated near us to get to know each other better. Everyone was sharing memes, music, or stories, and the laughs were undulating from the back to the front and back again like the wave at a baseball stadium.
The juxtapositions of the trip were profound between the bus ride and walking the town; in a generation in which everyone can connect just by being able to quote the same vine simultaneously, we were suddenly transported to an entirely different era. The first thing we did was a walk-through of a castle that could very well have been a location shot for every live-action Disney film ever made. It was the kind of majesty you want to experience with others, because if you tried to explain the scenery later, no one would believe you. Leaning on a palace balustrade and looking at the distances villages on a hill that may as well have been painted onto the horizon, hitting the arm of whomever’s next to you and saying, you see it too, right?
And then we went on a hike. It was November, the air was cold and crisp and the foliage that still clung to the trees was a vibrant orange. The sky was overcast, so everything had a glowing silver outline on it, like backlit objects in a digital photograph, but the splendor of it was that it was real life, real time, as the sun made its way down. Everyone had their hands in their coat pockets to warm them as we kicked about on the trail. We bounced around different groups as we walked and talked, all making our individual presences known in some way. Everyone was flirting with everyone. There was a kid on crutches. I feel like there’s always a kid on crutches in high school. We’d drunk wine by the river at lunch, and the hike had us en route to a fire pit where we roasted marshmallows and laughed about stupid things, verbally appreciating each others’ personalities after a killer joke or perfectly spun tale. We went out when we were back near our modest hotels in the town square, and woke up in the morning to breakfast in the dining quarters. When in the Czech countryside.
Let me paint you a picture: five French men on the same rugby team who are living in Switzerland and visiting Prague for the weekend. Very handsome, all of them, the finder and keeper of my attention in this crew being an engineer. It’s a nice backdrop, right? I’ll answer that for you. It’s right. So we’re dancing at a ’90’s pop underground club called James Dean. It’s week 2 of my semester. The hair is down, the weather outside is balmy, the crowd inside is feeling alive, and the vibe is like… chef’s kiss. Can’t describe with words. Pretty Fly for a White Guy comes on. I nod with a smile as it intros— I have good memory associations with this ditty— swim meets, car rides, basically nothing comparable to what it became forevermore after this. I expect to be the only one singing, but LO! After I finesse my imitation of the girl’s opening “Give it to me baby,” five French voices immediately come back at me screeching the high-pitched “Uh huh, uh huh,” that follows, and I have never forgotten that. Ever. I will never. It sounded so much better when they did it. I’d come to understand that everyone my age, give or take ten years, no matter what country they’re from, can belt The Backstreet Boys when the DJ throws it back, but The Offspring? I tip my hat. The night was accented in so many different ways that it feels like it played out in chapters; meeting, dancing, cobblestone walks, drinking games, mixed languages, a Ferrari at one point, a minor incident with the Czech police for unlawful climbing (it was not me), and clock chimes. When with the French.
Visualize the grandeur here: it’s fall break, end of October, and my roommates and I are on our second of three countries in ten days. We’re in Ireland and we’ve hopped a bus from Galway to County Clare, where the Cliffs of Moher await. They are majestic; the grass is wet from morning rain making it the Irish green we’ve been craving, the ocean waves are dark and loud below us, and the weather is clear enough now that you can see for miles. My roommate Maddie and I both slip and fall at certain points and are muddy for the rest of the hike, but for some reason it’s the cherry on top of the day. I found it quite literally impossible to be upset. On our way back, the bus stopped at a classic Irish pub restaurant for a late afternoon lunch. Something I love about Europe is that no matter how new an establishment may be, you tend to get the feeling from the décor, the menu, and the overall atmosphere, that you’ve traveled back a hundred years. It very well may have been that old. The five of us had beef stew in bread bowls and drank Bailey’s coffee, sitting on wooden barstools at planked tables in an open, naturally lit place that felt cozy from the local charm that surrounded us. When in Ireland.
Take a walk in my clogs: Amsterdam, not only our last stop of the fall break trip, but the tenth and final night. We’re on the prowl for a good Heiney bar to close out our Dutch experience (we love a good Heineken and were nothing if not forced to abbreviate), and we have a flight back to Prague out of Schiphol in the morning, so we declare aloud that we’ll probably head back to the hostel by midnight this time. Ha. Ha ha ha. Fools! We meet a pack of cute Irish men also there for the weekend who ask if we’re heading to a bar, which we are. Amazing, they say—they’ve got the perfect place for us to have some good craic. Except it’s pronounced “crack.” We laugh with them for a second, my roommates and I, all of us looking at each other to clock whether or not we just misheard, but each of us has the same confused expression amidst this long group chortle as they wait for an answer, so we simultaneously clarify— that’s actually not what we said and we’re not super into your crack idea, thanks. Turns out the Irish vernacular for a good fun time is “good craic.” Cool cool cool. That we can get behind, a fun night is in fact exactly what we were going for. So to summarize so far, these guys were immediately hilarious and did not smoke crack. Just want to make sure that’s clear. Together we’re a big group, so we dominate this Heiney joint that we’ve just stepped into to the point where the guys pretend to be bartenders so they can escort some people out of their seats to make room for us. They were so jovially convincing about it that I had to laugh. We drank to what became our most unpredictable night which only got better as it went on, which it did until morning. When looking for good craic in Amsterdam.
Picture this: Budapest, 1st of December 2017, 34 degrees. Szhéchenyi thermal bath house. My roommate Juliann and I change into swimsuits in a locker room and literally do not think or speak to each other about the temperature outside, because there is no need for that kind of negativity. We were hitting the baths no matter what, so why bog down the experience with complaints at that point? It’s our final trip of the semester and we’ve been talking about this place for months, so it’s go time, baby. My body was right on par with my thoughts that day because it numbed itself immediately when we stepped outside. I don’t even remember the cold, and that says a lot for me because there were moments during every trip I took when I was wearing eight layers of clothing and actively thought that I must have been the coldest bitch on the planet. Not that morning in my swimsuit though. We face the elements and run into the outdoor thermal bath, which is the size of a Vegas-style pool. You can’t even see due to the steam rising from the hot water into the frigid air. I was an ethereal being as I floated on my back through the gentle fog, The Flower Duet opera playing regally in my mind to accompany my graceful elementary backstroke. That’s right. I used to be a swimmer, but I still chicken-airplane-soldiered my way across Budapest’s royal pool. Getting out was what I imagine it felt like to emerge from the womb. Wanted to cry. Was cold outside. You understand. Then we entered all 15 of the other smaller baths inside the building, ranging from caldaria like the first, tepidaria, to frigidaria. We didn’t skip any even though the icy baths gave us concern that we might pass away then and there, but the saunas made up for those. When in Budapest.
These are some of my favorites; thanks for indulging in my perspective. I don't want them to lose focus.
How I have survived the cold on this trip is beyond me. As you may recall from my first day's post, I did not bring the proper attire, or at least enough of it, and it shows. My hands feel like chalk and I've stopped enunciating at times because it's too much effort to move my lips the whole way on certain words. I can't complain whatsoever, mind you, because I'm still having a ball; these are mere observations, if you will. On the plus side, my cheeks are super rosy and my voice has a slight husk to it from the cold, and I enjoy those qualities when they come to me. On our last day all together in the city, my roommate Renee and I began by bundling up and facing the elements as we walked to Pick a Bagel one last time, and it was divine. The cream cheese layer is as thick as the bagel. That’s how my grandma does cream cheese frosting on Apple Hill cake, and I’m a huge advocate for that kind of indulgence.
This afternoon was also our final agency visit, the cherry on top being Buzzfeed’s New York office. Being a Buzzfeed reader, it was phenomenal to see up-close the sheer amount of content that is churned out every single day, whether it’s from the kitchen that produces the Tasty videos we all use for meal inspiration, or sometimes just meal replacement when the budget’s extra tight, or the viral blue and black dress on a mannequin which I’m still fuming about to this day because it was white and gold, god dammit. Regarding their advertising, I didn’t realize the extent of their dealings with clients as a publisher rather than a traditional agency, which is a concept that fascinates me to no end. It seems like there is always room to grow and expand ideas there, and I love to see that.
For our farewell dinner, we all walked over to John’s Pizza which is a poppin’ restaurant inside what used to be a Gothic church (rose windows being the indicator, thank you Prague Art and Architecture), and ate our final meal as a group. We did a little reflecting about the trip as a whole, and discussed our favorite subplots of Love Actually, which I think is pretty crucial information for people to know about each other.
We all topped off the night with a trip to the Plaza Hotel bakery for some famous black and white cookies, and a nightcap at the bar just a few blocks down. I love the girls I met on this trip, and I love the ones I already knew even more for it. I always look back at my best experiences by noting the friends who were with me for them, because they’re the best reasons for reminiscing those nights or days. I got to meet new people, and see so many beloved faces; friends from high school, college and abroad, and even my cousins. I'll never have a bland experience with any of them. I got to live a little bit like a New Yorker with them and be part of this city's famed culture. That's all I could have really asked for, and I'm just so grateful to have had my fill and then some.
This morning after a classic diner breakfast to kick off the weekend, I got to see the magnificent campus of Columbia where my grandparents met. That’s a truly beautiful place to fall in love. The names of ancient philosophers and writers like Homer, Plato and Sophocles are etched across the top of the imposing Grecian edifice that is the Butler Library. The grounds have a regal air to them as any Ivy League might, but given that it’s in Manhattan, and also my extreme and undeniable familial bias, I can’t help but think that Columbia is clearly the best one. I’m open to discussion on this topic but please be privy to the fact that I have no further arguments, and have never visited any other Ivies. Thank you in advance.
Later on, I met up with two of my cousins, Allie and Eliza, for drinks at the Ainsworth in midtown. These babies know how to pick a bar. It was like every single person in their early-twenties residing in the city had congregated there, but somehow with our luck, we settled right into one of those L-shaped couch-tables that everyone always covets in lounges, which had apparently cleared out half a second before we happened upon it. This is the first miracle I’ve ever witnessed. It was as grand as they say it is. I only see Allie and Eliza every three years or so for family reunions in Beach Haven, New Jersey, and the next is this summer, so it’s been a minute since we last caught up. I wish it could be more often, but it doesn’t matter how much time has passed between visits, because it always feels like I grew up right next to them despite the 3,000 mile difference.
On Sunday, I got lunch with a friend from high school, Marlon, who now works in stock trading smack in the middle of Times Square. He is absolutely killing it. He took me to the best ramen place in town, and then we pounded a beer and a shot of tequila at the bar next door in homage to the good old high school days, (just kidding Mom and Dad)* and then I walked right across the street for call time on Broadway. It was 2pm and it was time for the show that Carina, Natalie and I had gotten standing room tickets for that morning for $27. We’d gotten two each for the others who met us there, and together we saw Book of Mormon. I know I’m like a decade late to the party here, but if you’re gonna see a show, and especially if you’re gonna do it a couple drinks deep, this is the one you want. Broadway will never lose its luster to me; I’m in awe of the talent that moves through it, and I will never forget how it feels to curtsy on stage even at a community theater, and I will always cry at curtain calls out of pride and joy for those performers up there whom I’ve never met.
*but unfortunately, not really
Our Friday morning began at the New York offices of Warner Brothers where there is a marketing and distribution team for the studio’s films and their theatrical releases. This company had a fantastic year what with the success of A Star is Born, Crazy Rich Asians, and Aquaman to name just a few, so it was surreal to be sitting where the magic happens. And when I say magic, I don’t mean the production (which is in LA anyway)— I mean the marketing. Can’t take the Ad major out of the girl. I love selling films as I’ve found from my experience writing for trailers, and I don’t see myself ever veering from this industry. Jim has regaled us with stories from his own days at Warner Brothers, all of which seem categorical to “once in a lifetime” until you realize that he’s had like 800 of those, and no, they do not get any less shocking the more of them you hear, and that just becomes your lifestyle when you’re a creative advertising executive at one of the Big Six. Aspirations are not in low supply on this trip.
With every company we’ve visited up to this point and every niche of the entertainment industry that is emphasized at each, this was my favorite because it’s the kind of work to which I’m most drawn. What I’ve studied at Chapman and what I do at my job integrate so seamlessly, and I love getting an inside peak at the way the gears turn at other companies too. When our meeting was finished, the twelve of us were shown into the private theater where they screened one of their 2019 films for us, which was a "once in a lifetime experience," and again I say that lightly because it’s seeming to me that Warner Brothers begins serving those up on a silver platter less than an hour into your courtship with them, however temporary. In all respects, bravo.
The entire rest of my day consisted of drinking wine in different places with the best people, which I could really go on about, but instead I’ll just throw my hat off once again to tonight’s choice of cab, and to the percentage of the glass that New York spots fill when pouring. Thank you, Empire State, for leaving nothing to be desired. It’s not often that I’m satisfied with the amount of wine I am served, and never before have I actually been slightly overwhelmed by it. Other states should be more like you.
The day after my birthday, I woke up feeling alert and incredible, so that’s just a win right there that I feel we should acknowledge. It did not last long, as I did not have time to eat my bagel for breakfast before our morning meeting began, so there was some slight famine-induced dizziness, but it was cured after the first pizza slice at lunch. We learned the ropes of all things involved in network branding, rebranding, and marketing content from the inside out. We saw the motion graphics department at work, talked to the PAs about their creative development and freedom, got a glimpse of a killer work/life balance, and learned a few priceless lessons to us young professionals from the man who runs the show.
After the meeting which was already right in Times Square, I walked over to Drama Book Shop, which is owned by Lin-Manuel Miranda and sells written works for actors, playwrights, and super-fans such as myself. I took my time there, sitting down to flip through certain plays that have been off Broadway for years now but I once used as monologue fodder in my theater days.
I took a stroll through Central Park, the southeast corner of which is directly across the street from our hotel, and belted some “Out Tonight” from Rent while no one was in my vicinity. That’s kind of something I’ve always wanted to do. Once I got back to the hotel, I hit the happy hour with the girls and then we mobbed to the nearest wine rack to buy some refreshments for the Chapman alumni gathering a few blocks away. I met people there who spanned one to twenty years since graduating, and it was inspiring to hear what they had accomplished in their time since moving to New York. Some were producing films, or had started their own company, or had just landed their dream job.
There was another travel class of current students there as well for the Creative Producing major, and a few of them and a couple of us merged after the event to hit the Ivy around the corner. The bartenders there have to be some of my favorite New Yorkers so far; if they wanted us to dance, they’d show up on the floor to make us top their act. When Keely announced that it was both our birthdays, they slid tequila fixings down the bar with no questions asked or IDs procured. They played a wildly confusing variety of music, which was hyping us up before immediately chilling us out and then stretching our singing abilities until we were lolling our arms about to the languid timbre of a marimba. It was literally keeping us on and off our toes. I like places where I can have a quiet conversation one minute and get sucked into a heavy dance battle the next. It’s a tall order I guess, but New York served it up, and who were we not to indulge?
I couldn’t have had a better birthday, and that was thanks to every single person on this excursion, and every little thing they did to make sure I was having the best day. I could have walked around New York City in a paper bag and been a happy if not frigid camper, but these girls (plus Jim) are phenomenal.
After bagels and coffee, we toured the vintage fashion showroom of a PR firm, which was unlike any other office space we’d visited in the sense that their brands were on display as you walked through it. I could never manage a brand, and I have the utmost respect for those who know what to do with that. I know that my major is titled PR and Advertising, but I actively shirked the PR classes at all costs and went full ad track, and as a result have only an elementary understanding of this field, so I loved hearing about the industry as an outsider looking in.
Half of us gravitated toward the Chelsea markets for a little birthday lunch, and I smelled so many different sensational foods that I ended up not deciding on one and went straight for the affogato. I’m shocked I don’t do that more often because it’s a great budgeting move, and it fills you right on up and re-caffeinates you, so no regrets there. Amanda and I also capitalized on some sample plates here and there, so there you go. We walked the high line and ended up at the Empire State Building, another must-see where we utilized our free passes. I’m a little claustrophobic and prone to vertigo, but I did request that we see the top because I’m 22 and facing my fears goddammit, so the elevator ride felt kind of like the moment you wake up from a stress dream, but it was over within a minute and the fresh air was revitalizing. The wind was whippin’ and that scared the shit out of me but it was 100% worth it. Thank you to Keely, Constantina, Amanda, Molly, and Natalie for making me feel safe up there. I love you guys.
One of my Prague roommates who lives an hour outside the city, Amanda, made it to dinner in Times Square on crutches, the angel. She and I made reservations for six and then twelve and then six at Dos Caminos because I was not sure how many were free for dinner. Everyone made it which was absolutely fantastic— not ideal for how the reservation finalized, but by the grace of the gods, they happened to have a table for twelve ready for use, so happy birthday to me. After we ate and drank and made merry, the waitress brought me a cocktail that made me realize my tastebuds need to be recalibrated. My first two adjectives for it were spicy and bitter, and after everyone at the table tried it, the consensus was “the sweetest drink I’ve ever had.” So, that’s rather curious to me.
My little crutching child needed to wait for the elevator to get out of the restaurant, so I sent the girls to our next destination as Amanda and I waited for ten minutes before it actually activated. We did eventually make it to Haven, the rooftop bar atop a hotel three blocks away, but it was quite the struggle. A newly broken ankle on an extremely posh New Yorker makes for a dramatic three-block-walk. I’m not talking shit— she’s gonna read this and she’ll agree whole-heartedly. I’m so grateful that I got to celebrate twenty-two with all the best girls in the greatest city in the world. For everyone who asked me today if I had a great birthday, I know I already said it, but here it is in writing: it was my best yet. Thank you again. Cheers with my cabernet.
I met a secret service agent in the elevator this morning on my way to the lobby. It was just the two of us with 21 floors to go, and he stepped into my vision as if he was actively waiting for me to read the “Secret Service” lettering stitched into his vest. I did. I asked him if he was allowed to tell me who he was protecting, and he said with no hesitation that he protects the president and the vice president of the United States. Go figure. “Is he here?” I asked, thinking My God, he’s supposed to be brusquely asserting his mulligan at Mar-a-Lago right about now. He said that he couldn’t tell me whether or not he was here, but then he shook his head. I’m not convinced. When I left the elevator I said “Nice to meet you,” and he said, “See you soon.” That threw me for a loop. Will I be seeing him too, or is he now watching me? A little unsettling.
Once we left the building, we made our way to the Upper East side, where many a Gossip Girl quote was recited as we admired the brownstones before walking right up the steps of one and into our first stop of the day. This was a talent booking company owned and run by an incredible woman who set up shop in her own gorgeous home. She gave us her original schpeel on the ins and outs of publicity, and the politics of booking with Jimmy or Ellen or the other Jimmy first. We love gossip like that. So did she. It was fascinating to see how she worked and extremely reassuring to hear what tricks to succeed in the entertainment industry she keeps up her sleeve.
Our next item on the agenda wasn’t until 3pm, so we made a pit-stop at the Met a few blocks over and explored that for free with our New York passes. I love history, but museums don’t generally tend to be my favorite proponents of the subject, and a lot of that has to do with the way the exhibits are presented, or the way they enclose you until you’ve seen every porcelain teacup and terra cotta mini-sculpture in the entire establishment. The Met was perfect, though.
We hopped on a subway to Brooklyn and a few of us stopped for lunch at a Shake Shack in Dumbo Park, and then we met up for our second tour of the day at the traditional ad house, 72andSunny. I’ve worked at a traditional agency, so I know from my own experience that I’ll always gravitate toward film as my product of choice, but the office space was by far the most magnificent view I could ever hope to have. Right on the bay of the East River with the Brooklyn Bridge out one glass window and the Manhattan Bridge out the one adjacent, it was almost too distracting. I liked what they had to say about the name of their company; it’s not a forecast, it’s a mindset.
We caught a ferry to our next stop, and for a girl who rowed for two years straight, I really was surprised at how much I hated being on that boat. Apparently I have to power the vehicle myself in order to enjoy aquatic endeavors. The destination made up for it though, because don’t ever think that drinks can be passed up at a bar with a name like The Honky Tonk. The majority of our group grabbed a round there before our finale at the Nitehawk Theater, where you order food and drinks and eat a full meal as you watch the film (this year’s showing being Green Book), all the while being able to request more as a discreet waiter sneaks around and replaces your order cards with whatever you’ve chosen from the menu. I ate a life-changing pulled pork sandwich and split a charcuterie board with Renee and Lindsey next to me, and must nod to the theater’s choice of cabernet. Most of my posts will probably end with a nod to the cab.
I’ve come to realize that I’m ferociously underdressed. My coat, as it turns out, is just for looks, and has no down or fur lining in it, because I’ve never actually needed that in LA. I feel a bit slighted by PacSun, but at the same time, the store is literally named after the west coast heat, so I guess that’s on me.
We began our agency tours with Omnicom, the largest ad agency in the world. A scarily apt name for the company, I think. They told us about their media buying process, which many of us have had a small taste of in our Media Planning and Buying class at Chapman, and got to hear from the employees closest to our age about their positions out of college. It’s always interesting to hear the come-ups of the people our age and understand the steps they took to reach their goals. It’s shocking how varied the stories have been, with some having studied polar opposite realms to entertainment and advertising before landing here.
The next company was MoleHouse Post, where a Chapman alum who is incidentally the kindest man in the world, runs a post-production studio which garners Emmys like it’s part of the job description. He showed us a few of his promos which by all accounts were worthy of their accolades. Then we met Eric the music guy, and all 12 of us promptly and simultaneously fell in love for about 6 minutes before we were escorted out and had to bid our adieus.
We were in the SoHo area, so Morgan and I stopped for drinks and immediately entered Sex and the City mode as is only natural while swirling wine and swapping our own gossip in a trendy New York restaurant. After that we caught back up with the rest of the crew at the hotel for the second floor’s free bottomless happy hour, which happens nightly, and is clearly going to be our best bargain-hunting score on this trip. There’s twelve girls in this group, and nothing bonds us like pulling our professional hats off at the end of the day and recapping from every perspective.
General wisdom is that time flies when you’re having fun, and I agree with that sentiment, but for some reason, this day was an anomaly. Mind you, I couldn't have asked for a better first day and wouldn’t manipulate the past 14 hours differently if you paid me, and yet this morning at the coffee line feels like five days ago. I think it’s because New York’s pace, true to its form and legend, is a mile a minute, and the fact that I watched two different 3-hour shows today (one on Broadway and one live broadcast from the Beverly Hilton) and still had time for three meals, a museum run-through, exploring Times Square, happy hour, and and an outfit change at the hotel plus all walking and subway trips involved, is miraculous to me. I couldn’t fit all those things into a Sacramento day; logistically, it doesn’t add up in my head, and I’m sorry but I don’t make the rules. I definitely couldn’t do it in LA, but the traffic speaks for itself. So here I am writing this post before I go to sleep, and although the day allowed for maximum cramming of plans, the night will surely be over the second my head hits the pillow, and I will find myself at the head of the coffee line in the morning yet again.
It’s fucking cold in New York. The wind is 20 degrees colder than the actual air, and you don’t need to fact check me on that because it’s called a gut feeling and I’m sticking to it. I’m not usually a complainer, but I can get a little vocal about the weather if I’ve done my damndest to layer accordingly. I wore my puffiest jacket today, and I was still freezing to the point where emitting a few small shrieks every now and then felt justifiable and even slightly righteous, and this was our best forecast for the entire week. So I worry.
Today was a fantastic beginning to this trip, and there were many highlights. To name just a few:
Honorable mention for my day 1 highlights was getting to know everyone a little better as we all began to take on the city in our own ways, but together. My favorite thing about studying abroad was the way the right group of people helped make every weekend trip into an actual adventure, and today felt beautifully reminiscent of that. I think that's probably the biggest reason that breakfast feels so long ago despite every exciting turn; the fact that this morning there were a few people I'd never met before, the same whom at the end of the day I've now seen cry at the theater and sipped cocktails with by candlelight. There is so much in store.