Classing It Up

It’s that wonderful time of year again! When Ben and/or Jerry decide to give out free ice cream cones. When BBC America deems that yes, there is such a thing as a free lunch. And Gotham, ah Gotham, provides two full days of free writing classes to would-be wordsmiths.

I took a fiction class tonight to kickstart my personal writing back up. That whole be-careful-what-you-wish-for thing totally applies to my dream food writing job. Doing it all day long makes it a lil harder to want to do it more afterhours. (Why does that whole sentence sound so dirty?)

Because there were so many fiction classes to choose from, I went the creepy route and googled the heck out of all the instructors. One stood out because she taught writing in a prison. I figured she had to be good or else they’d have shanked her.

Now, I think if I’d kept this quiet, I could have been proud of my proactive approach to finding a good teacher. But no. Of course I had to go and raise my hand during the Q&A and ask about the prison thing. And of course she had to pause and tilt her head and muse, “Oh I mentioned that? (puzzled look)” And then of course, I had to explain my whole Google-based decision making process to an entire room full of people edging their chairs away from me. The coup de grace was when I waved my hand dismissively and giggled “Creeeepiee!” Yeah, one guy screamed and ran out the door.

Ugh. Maybe I should just get therapy. Do they give any free sessions or discounts through Groupon?


Picture This

Oh man, the whole left side of my body is aching. My hand, my arm, and the length of my back. Wanna to know what new sport I’ve been trying? Only intense, full-contact… umm, drawing.

Ctina and I took a 6-hour figure drawing class yesterday at the New York Academy of Art. We stood in front of big easels and were instructed to really use our whole bodies to make our lines. By the end of the day, I could hardly lift my pencil, but I made great progress! Here’s what I drew at the beginning of the day:

And here’s what I made by the end of the day (caution: boobies!) (yeah, art class didn’t really make me classy):

It was really fun. Even better, it was really relaxing because it forced me to focus in on doing just one thing really well for a long chunk of time. Lately, I’ve been stretching myself thin by taking classes, accepting projects, running errands, doing favors for friends, and oh yeah, getting the hang of things at my new job. While I find it all really fulfilling, it’s hard to stop the brain from going a mile a minute when there are so many things due all the time. This class allowed me the space to let go of all that for a little bit and concentrate on the task at hand.

I’m tempted to take a full course in figure drawing, but I wonder if that would make it yet another thing that adds to my plate. Maybe it was good for me because it was a one-off thing to try. I’ll have to think it through, to make sure I’m being responsible. Well, let’s be honest. I’m actually waiting to see if Ctina wants to peer pressure me into taking the class together! In the meantime, I’m just really proud of what I made.

Boobies!! (Sorry, I’m not a grownup.)

These Magic Moments

Somewhere between studying the tiny brush strokes of a Seurat up close and dancing on top of a bar at 3am, it hit me. I’m having the frickin time of my life!

I think I’ve done well as a community manager because I love taking care of people. Even before I worked in startup land, friends would come to talk out problems with me. Amateur therapy sessions followed by hearty home-cooked meals can solve most anything!

The last couple of weeks have been a revelation because I’ve finally turned that attention to myself. If something sounds interesting to me, I try it. And I find so many things interesting.

Skillshare is a major enabler for my binge. So far, I’ve taken classes about branding, content curation, building partnerships, biz dev (what we cool kids call business development), and SEO. I learned a lot and also realized how much I already know. Some of my experience just needed some context. A class about making ice cream without an ice cream maker is coming up soon, too. The plan is to make a special peppermint holiday flavor!

MoMA is another source of inspiration. A very dear friend gave me a membership for my birthday this year, and I have been taking advantage of special members-only hours to view exhibitions without being bumped by enthusiastic tour groups. The picture above is a close-up of a Seurat. I love practically smushing my face into paintings by him and Van Gogh, to the chagrin of the security guards. Even though their techniques are very different, their works still hold tangible traces of their dedication and passion. I look at the thick slabs of paint in a Van Gogh and almost touch the extreme emotional range that led this man to cut his own ear off (don’t worry, I’m not interested in trying that out).

Lest you think I’m only doing classy stuff, please know that I am giving partying some serious attention as well. Last night, I celebrated a friend’s big three-oh at Crown Vic in Billyburg (what the cool kids call business development, I mean, Williamsburg).

The night was pretty epic! In between copious amounts of whiskey (Johnnie Black on the rocks, please), I got to pretend-drive a tractor, listen to an impromptu bluegrass session, and dance on the bar with the bartender. No, I didn’t fall off the bar, and yes, we are BFFs now (what we cool kids call… oh forget it). If you look for the bottle opener in the picture above, you’ll get an idea of their sense of humor there.

By definition, a binge is anything taken to excess, so I know I can’t keep this up. And honestly, it’s only fun to be selfish once in a while. I still want to take care of the people I love and work hard to build things that make me proud. I’ll just indulge a little while longer and invite you guys along for the ride. Beep beep!

Let’s Go Kick Some Boxes!

A few weeks ago, I deviated from my usual workout routine (hop on elliptical, rock out to Gaga-Ke$ha-Hillary Duff medley, do 2 pushups, pat self on back) and tried a free kickboxing class at my gym. WOW. Turns out I didn’t know what working out really was, I couldn’t even make it through the warm ups! I had to step out and walk in place until I could catch my breath and then keep trying. After class, I had to go back to the office to drink water and sit still (as still as my twitchy muscles would let me be) for an hour before commuting home. One co-Quirker asked if it was raining outside because I was so drenched. I said no, it was sweat. He left the office very quickly. I was sore for about 5 days after my first class. Really sore. As in, I would walk like a Barbie doll by keeping my legs and arms as straight as possible and only bending at the joints. People laughed at me. But they’ll be sorry. They’ll all be sorry!! I’m keeping up with the classes, and even bought boxing gloves. The salesguy at the sporting goods store asked if I wanted “pretty pink” gloves which sounded ridiculous. I told him I wanted classic red and that I’d wipe the smirk off his face with them one day. He said that was cute. Goddammit.

My belligerafication (it works if you say it fast) doesn’t stop there though. I also took a free Jiu Jitsu self defense course where the black belt sensei encouraged all the women to kick, stomp, punch and gouge the eyes out of anyone attacking us. It was so kickass that I signed up for a 6-week course. Watch out, world!


I was laid off on a Wednesday.  The next day, I woke up at my usual hour which, quite frankly, would have gotten me to work ten minutes late.  I savored the quiet luxury of laying awake in bed with my thoughts.  Downstairs, the coffee maker began to whisper sweet promises and inspired me to stir myself.

The day stretched in front of me blank and white like an empty field full of freshly fallen snow.  When I looked out the window, everything really was covered with snow.  The as-yet unshoveled sidewalks, the angled rooftops of neighboring houses and each individual bare branch of every tree that I could see, to the very smallest capillary branches which looked more like thin pencil lines drawn in the sky.  Everything was draped in a thick down comforter of snowfall.  It was the perfect day to be unemployed.

Written in my planner for that evening, though, was a free screenplay class.  I was tempted to skip it and spend my day writing.  And by writing, I meant commenting on friends’ Facebook status updates.  But then Serendipity reared its pretty head and shook me gently.  In my email was an announcement for a year-long writing fellowship.  To apply, I had to submit an original script for a 30 minute comedy.  Really?  The coincidence would be unbelievable if this were a movie.  Since I had decided to listen to what the world told me to do, and the world wasn’t being very subtle, I knew I had to attend the class and write the script utilizing what I would learn from that one hour of education.

Outside, giant snow bunnies fell from the sky and collected into Wouldn’t You Rather Stay In? piles.

“Yes,” I told them.  “I would much rather stay in.  But a lifetime of speaking to imaginary weather condition friends stretches before me if I do that.  So I’m sorry, floofy bunnies, but I’m going.”

I nodded decisively and climbed out of the couch which clung to me like a needy lover.  I shook it off and cooed “I’ll be back, baby.”  Thank goodness I was leaving the house.

The screenwriting class was amazing.  (Michael Eldridge, Gotham Writers Workshop)  So amazing that it made writing my first script within 2 days to meet the fellowship deadline seem possible.  I engaged in 14-hour writing sessions all weekend long.  By the end of it, I smelled like ink and bourbon, but I met the deadline.  The Chan Plan was underway.