Sunday, May 23, 2010

At the end of the reel...

Before posting my last statements on the semester as an intern in New York City, I want to point out that as this reel comes to it's closing credits...so begins my next one. While this will be the final post about my internship...it will not be my last post on this blog. This just marks the beginning for my next masterpiece.

Bright Lights...Big City


There are millions of lights in New York City, and for each one, there seems to be another opportunity shining. Every door that you walk in, there’s another person worth meeting; every street that you walk down there is another spectacle worth seeing, and every day that you wake up, there’s another path worth exploring. The possibilities in New York City are endless. You can reinvent yourself or find out who you really are. You can try a different style, listen to new genre of music, or visit a traveling art exhibit. You can enjoy the simplest things from hearing young talents in the subway stations playing acoustic guitar, to stepping into self-owned shops in SOHO, to listening the stories of the many trying to make it—there is always something new going on, and most of it isn’t hard to miss.

As I look back, I only question why I didn’t spend a semester in New York City earlier. When I was a junior, I had the privilege to study in Rome and that was a similar scenario—opportunity knocking on every block—but New York City is a different kind of opportunity. It is one with avenues I never thought of exploring. Comedy class on Thursday? Why not? Singing lessons on Monday—okay? New language Tuesday? Sure! Salmon sushi Wednesday? I LIKE IT.

For my final semester at the University of Rhode Island, I am took a break from the books, put away my car keys, and moved away from the dining hall. For my last semester at URI, I am interned in television production—in New York City.

While my school and my supervisor may have controlled my credits and my internship, there was only one owner of the overall experience, and that was me. While the internship was unpaid, as most are, it seems odd that any student would pass up the chance to take advantage of everything that a metropolitan city has to offer. Though the city can be rather pricey, you learn that it’s all about making it work—not letting the city work you. An internship in the city, for a college student, has several perks, making the over-priced omelets completely worth waking up for on a Sunday morning.

The first plus to taking a semester in the city is having the chance to see what it is like to be in the real world. Often times, I am often told that I come off as 23-34, and it’s not that I enjoy growing up fast; it’s that getting to be a part of the working world, and witnessing others struggling in it—or making it, really makes you appreciate the work that each individual does. It suddenly makes sense why someone may be grouchy on the A train—or why someone may not say hello on the streets. Bad days happen. Every day there is a new person you meet who is without a full time job but carries three lower wage jobs – and doesn’t mind it. Other days you meet people who are carrying full time jobs who love sharing their experiences. And some days you just find grace in sitting in a park, on a bus, or in a café and seeing the many expressions of those who walk by.

The second advantage of going to the city for a semester is that aside from your own internship, the opportunities of things to do are endless. On a day off, one can attend a free screening of a late night show, stumble upon the filming of a well-known television show or upcoming film, or find inspiration on a new block. The world is at your hands---and though the cold months may make each avenue and street seem a bit longer, the entire city seems to shrink enough to fit within the palm of your hand.

Third, and finally, the connections and networks that you can become part of are like a massive Charlotte’s Web—every strand or person connects you to another helpful and stable strand or person. Everybody knows somebody, whether it is in independent small industries or huge corporate ones—there is always a name to contact or hands for a resume to go into. Before long, you become part of that network, receive new projects, and become a connection for someone else.

While the city may not be bank account friendly, nothing—anywhere--comes free, so one should take the leap and dive right in, because New York City is one of the only places where every penny spent is one that is completely worth it. An internship in any big city, away from your home university, is like a semester abroad—foreign and rewarding. And not to worry if one of those millions of lights goes out—because another one begins to shine.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

She's Livin' in an Uptown World

So as my internship winds down, so does my time living on an air mattress on the floor of my brother’s apartment. It’s been a fun ride on the Upper West Side, but at last, I have found my new place of residence in the borough of Queens—the neighborhood known as Astoria to be exact. While the choice to move to Astoria was simple, finding the apartment indeed took some time. Overall, I am in good spirit and believe that the backache, frustration, and chore of finding an apartment has all paid off, and that I will be thoroughly happy in the place I have finally settled on. And what drew me to the place? A six-month-old golden retriever with a a big old grin greeting me when I entered. Always a sucker for a puppy dog face.

Okay, so it wasn’t just the dog that sold me on the apartment. The room itself is a good size for a New York apartment, and the people who already live there, well the one that I met, was very kind and welcoming, much like the dog. The location was also a key ingredient to my selection, as the apartment is just down the block from Astoria Park, where I will be sure to bask in the sunlight on the weekends and get a good amount of exercise done on the track and in the pool.

What else drew me to the area? A documentary that I saw a few weeks ago: Last Play At Shea, which featured Billy Joel’s very last concert at Shea—which was also the very last concert or event ever at Shea. The documentary followed Joel’s life, the years of the Mets at Shea, and the construction of the suburb—that Mr. Moses had hoped would become the city (though it never did). It made me really understand the history of Queens and how the city had been built, literally on ash fields. Being that I am from Pennsylvania, I knew not much about the history of New York and it’s boroughs before moving here, but as I get to know more—I begin to love the city more—making the end of my stay here beyond sight.

And with that: This uptown girl bids adieu to the magical museum on the corner of the subway stop, the Italian men who sell me a banana each morning at the corner of 83 and Columbus, and the child screaming below…It’s been fun West Side—but it’s time for me to go.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire

Gucci, dolche, the girl’s got it all….


But she’s begging for a dolla bill here and there.

I have talked a lot about my fantastic experiences in New York City. I have mentioned going to the movie premieres, the shows we have shot, the people I have met, and the ability for the city to just light a spark under your butt to go out and find opportunity. Few times I have written about sadness and downer parts to living in the city. But an experience that I had today left quite a bitter taste in my mouth, and I was truly angered enough that I shed tears under my sunglasses riding the 1 Uptown from a successful shopping day in SoHo.

Poverty is pretty prevalent in New York City, as most people know. People live in the subway tunnels—others search for shelters—and others are forced to find warm safe street corners. People ask for money—and others just let themselves suffer. Some get money—and use it on all the wrong things, and others get money and use it toward bettering themselves. Some people falsely display themselves as homeless and poor and go driving off in a convertible—making more untaxed money than many working class people. And then there are some you just get angry at, because you can tell the moment you look at them that they are not what they say they are.

Before I get in to today’s experience, I might mention that one of my first experiences encountering homeless people was when I was leaving a Baltimore Orioles game with my dad and my brother when I was really young. I remember the men begging us for money, but they were wearing new Air Jordans—perfectly white, and it made us all wonder, why do they need money?

My experience today was very similar. As I entered the 1 train, I saw a girl and her boyfriend walk onto the train. I then watched a girl dressed in Steve Madden Shoes, white spandex, and what appeared to be a J. Crew cardigan. Slung on her wrist was a Coach purse, and her hair looked as though it had just been died bright blonde with brown roots barely noticeable. She got up from her seat and approached a middle-aged man sitting near me, and said “Can I have a dollar sir?”

“Excuse me?”

“Can I have a dollar,” she said stumbling as she dragged her words, almost in slow motion, as if she was also on something.

“For?”

“Can I have a dollar, I need to pay for the shelter…can I have just a dollar?”

The gentleman handed her a dollar. I thought she was going to move down the train, but she went back to her seat.

I noticed the man across from me was staring at her, the same way I was. She then pulled out her designer wallet and began counting all her dollar bills, before pulling out Entenmann’s Cinnamon Rolls.

This is when tears broke from my eyes. I really wanted to push myself to say something. I know that we don’t know every person’s situation, and maybe those dollars really did mean something to her and her EckoUnited wearing boyfriend, but to me it seemed like a selfish act, and it truly angered me. It is hard times out there—for a lot of people—and I just feel like it’s acts like that, that make it even harder.

She’s got dolche—sporting some of that gucc’
Still she finds it’s okay to mooch.