Tag Archives: NYC

Actor Out of Work

Posted by: Stella Glass

The week before last was one for the record books. I think I consumed my weight in alcohol and probably got about 19 hours of sleep combined, from Monday through Sunday.  My Saturday hangover hung around until almost Tuesday and Monday evening I mandated that no alcohol be consumed for the rest of the week.  My boyfriend tried to balk at this but when asked to recall his feelings after waking up on Sunday morning he quietly agreed.

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Pull out a Chair for Her, Turn on the Air for Her

break

Posted by: Stella Glass

Last week on a freezing windy afternoon, Coco and I dropped by the vegetarian cafe down the street from our office.  As we were entering somebody brushed passed us on our way out.
“Wasn’t that the girl from The Wackness? Coco asked, watching as the figure retreated down Horatio Street.
I replied, “Oh you mean the girl from Juno? “Olivia Something?”
“Yeah.”

In mentioning The Wackness, Coco had invoked the name of a film that until that point I refused to admit that I had seen to anyone other than Alexi Lawless and my own boyfriend because it was, well, pretty wack.

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Let the River Run

Someone on the Interwebs recently posited that Jezebel’s popularity is likely due to the fact that “young women are underutilized at their jobs.” Well no shit. The entire blogging industry owes its life to the fact that millions of young people who work in offices–present company included– are bored shitless with their jobs. This blog owes it’s life to Coco and my boredom and career apathy. However I take issue with “underutilized” as I think it’s a bit generous. “Underutilized” implies that there isn’t enough for them to do, or the work they are given isn’t challenging or fulfilling enough to suck them in and minimize the desire for distraction. Blogs are the Solitaire of the Millennium (or the Aughts or whatever it is we’re calling the current decade now). I’m not underutilized, I’m just bored. The soul crushing dullness of each and every of my required tasks requires me to retreat into a world of Inter-web-sparked fantasy in which the people around me don’t feel the need to complement my skill with the copy-staple function. When reality is too boring, too dull and harsh to bear, that is when I feast on Jezebel and it’s ilk. Because I don’t want to be utilized. I want to be independently wealthy, or paid to do something, anything that requires thought.

However, if “underutilization” is your problem, I hear you. Sure it sucks to be at a job and want to do more and not be able to. But that frustration is good, it’s motivating and it keeps you striving. If striving is your bag, than you are probably one of those people who are just brimming full of ideas that your boss either refuses to listen to, or doesn’t see the brilliance of, cause she’s a page boy-cutted cunt who thinks you only exist to maker her dinner reservations and write down phone messages.

But what she doesn’t know is that all of those late nights when you’ve been kept late for no other reason than she can’t be bothered to turn the office light off by herself when she leaves, you’ve actually been working on something! Something big! Something great, something that your boss could never conceive of in the forest of mediocrity that are her wildest dreams! So you’ve been working away, despite the fact that your boss keeps you running your legs off with every silly, indulgent request, AND despite the fact that you have none of the actual experience, client background or business acumen required to conceive of something like this (otherwise wouldn’t you have just applied for a better position?), but it’s no matter.

You don’t have any real “launch date”in mind for this project that you’ve been toiling over, but the whole thing wil probably come to light on the day when your boss is supposed to be giving a presentation to the most important clients you guys have. Her own proposal is mediocre, and you can see the fear in her eyes as she looks over at Mr. Finley, her boss, who is angrily/disappointedly shaking his bald head and glaring at her over the rims of his expensive, expensive Italian-amde eyeglasses. Just when the shit is two inches from the fan you step into the room carrying a bunch of rolled up paper and some pie graphs:your secret project!!

Not only is the idea and project you have in mind brilliant, it’s just the thing to save the company’s big account which may make the difference between having a job next year and pouring coffee for a bunch of suits at the diner across the street.

Now here’s the part we women usually fuck up. Here’s the part where you are genetically programmed to make the stupid mistake that countless television and movie woman before you have made: the presentation-as-peace-offering. As you watch your boss begin to crash and burn, feelings of guilt enter your mind: she’s older than you and has worked so hard, and now she’s going to get fired? that doesn’t seem fair. She has a husband. Two kids. A Big House. How is she gonna pay for that if she loses the big account? She looks so nervous and helpless, doesn’t she? Almost childlike in that Ralph Lauren Purple Label suit, like a little girl playing “office” in mommy’s clothes. How can you, who she has trusted and relied on for so long, take advantage? Better to let her pass the presentation off as her own, saving her shame and the company’s best client. Your reward will be a tight lipped smile, no pay raise and a more pleasant work environment for approximately ten to fourteen business days.

Don’t do it.
Now, here’s the part where you stop being underutilized, and start skyrocketing to the top of your company like a business-casual bottle rocket. As your boss bites her lip and nervously shifts her weight from foot to foot looking like a virgin at Usher’s house,you step in front of her and bump her to the side with your hip causing her to spill the bottle of Saratoga Springs water all over herself. While she clumsily attempts to mop it off, grab the laser pointer out of her hand, address the biggest clients in perfect Japanese and begin the presentation that is gonna change your fucking life.

Afterward, when Mr. Finley hugs you and calls you the daughter he never had, and the Japanese clients have smiled and bowed more times than any politically correct media awareness group would be comfortable with, the office manager will take you downstairs where your boss, sobbing and broken is cleaning out her desk. The last thing you see before you run into the arms of the sexy, sexy guy in finance (who revealed only moments ago,that he has always had a thing for you) is the cheerful office handyman, spray-stencilling your name on your boss’s office door. As you catch his eye, he winks and gives you the thumbs up.

Sweet.

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Backdraft: The Musical!

Having lived in an around New York City for most of my life, I am used to the questions about it from people from other states, relatives, or family friends who are interested in what they percieve to be the whirlwind of cultural activities that a young professional woman must engage in on a regular basis.  Readings, plays, performances, eating at exotic restaurants and sipping chamapgne cocktails at record release parties while wearing achingly fashionable clothes and Manolo Blahniks, the ubiquitousness of which, a certain cable TV series may have slightly exaggerated. 

I am loathe to tell them the truth–that my after work hours are often spent at a 7:15 “Chisel!” class at my gym, getting stoned on my friends roof, wandering around Brooklyn with my boyfriend or cooking dinner. 

Yes, there was a year or two after I graduated from college where the novelty of open bars, magazine or product launch parties, and other seemingly glamorous events were still very fresh and, well, glamorous.  However, there are only so many free Skyy Vodka-sponsored cocktails one can imbibe before you realize that most of the people beyond the velvet ropes of the cheesy venues these events are held at, are equally bored, and equally seeking the promised glamour of this “Exclusive” event.  So a combination of getting tired of that scene, a serious relationship and a diminishing tolerance for alcohol have contributed to that increasing lame-ening of the list of activities I participate in.  WIth the exception of gallery openings which I always find at least somewhat worthwhile, and music shows at smaller venues I tend to avoid all of that stuff. 

When I explain this to people they sometimes seem slightly disappointed, as though I should be a more active cultural animal but they seem to understand in most cases when I describe the crowod of hangers on, the cheap, poorly mixed drink and the absurd “party photographers”.  However the one thing that no one can understand,  and about which I am constantly encouraged to feel shame is the fact that I never go to any theater performances of any kind, at all, ever.

 “You mean never?” they gasp incredulously. “But, you live in New York!”

Truly New York is a city known for its theater.  The cultural importance of something being on “Broadway” cannot be overstated, as people from outside New York imagine Broadway to be the height of metropolitan glamour and artistic sophistication.  These people probably have not been subjected to bus ads screaming “CLAY AIKEN IN SPAMALOT!!”  or “Elephant Man: The Musical”,  but even so, theater is absurdly important to New Yorkers and people from outside the city seem to need us to feel that it is important.  Even those who never, ever  go to the theater will cite it as one of the main cultural reasons to live in this city.  I just don’t enjoy it.   With actors in a movie or on TV at least their setting is believable. To me, theater, especially musical theater is just embarrassing.  All these grown men and women standing on a raised platform and pretending stuff, often without a set, without props or without costumes.  The goal being, to make us feel like we are actually watching a drama unfold.  I have seen some plays I liked, but only because the actor or actress was able to overcome the fact that they were standing on a wooden box pretending it was a boat/moor in Scotland/Danish castle/Italian balcony, and convince me that they understood what they were doing.  It didn’t last long though, and within moments I felt the familiar empathic embarrassment I feel when I see that lady painted green and dressed like the Statue Of Liberty in the park. Maybe my mind has been diluted so much by film and TV that I need actual context, editing and locations to truly bring me into the experience.  I especially hate when they talk to the audience as though they were just talking aloud to themselves.  Its  just silly to me and I tend to tune out. 

I saw a Tony Kushner play at BAM a couple years back because my boyfriend bought me tickets for our first Valentine’s Day together. He knew that I had watched Angels in America and figured this would be a good present.  Needless to say we hadn’t been together long.  We had dinner together before the show where he revealed to me his skepticism. 

“Yeah I mean, I don’t really like theater but I figure since you’re into it…” he shrugged.

“Oh well, yeah. I mean, I’m excited. I mean, I’m not really big into theater either but…this will be fun.”

“You’re…you’re not?”

“No”.

“Oh, Thank God. I can’t deal with theater people”

There are some “theater people” who are perfectly lovely.  Then there are the others, loud, per formative, clove cigarette-smoking dramatists who sign off their emails with a quote from Samuel Beckett and are about two socially-awkward steps above Dungeons and Dragons enthusiasts.  They stress me out and I’m not sure why.   Perhaps it was 4 years at the theater-person heavy Sarah Lawrence. Or maybe its just don’t respond well to grown ups pretending something is happening that isn’t, and asking me to pay to indulge them. 

We did have a good time and I must say enjoyed the play but more for Mr. Kushner’s wonderful writing skills than for the “performance” happening on stage.  I think my disdain is tied somewhat to the “stage voices”  the actors use.  All of these people yelling but behaving as though they are speaking in their nromal voice.  Everything is so exaggerated from volume to gesture to each and every personal quality the actors are so desperate to express. 

I know how unpopular my opinion is, and I know too how uncultured I sound but I cannot help it.  A friend of mine is into theater and often does plays in an around New York City which I have attended because I do beleive in supporting her, but I just dont know how Im supposed to react or what to say. Especially experimental theater.  I just don’t understand what Im supposed to be understanding.

 I love the visual arts, I love writing and poetry and music. I just cant really get down with the performing arts as such, unless its like a concert or something like that which happens to have a lot of theatrics to it. 

I would welcome the advice of any readers who can help me to understand and embrace theater instead of rolling my eyes at it, in all its forms. 

Oh, but I do like The Crucible.

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