Ramblings: The most AWESOME customer

Sometimes things happen at work that I can’t help writing about… I apologise in advance for the amount of times the word “awesome” appears in the below – it really did come out of the girls mouth at least, if not more, times than I have mentioned it.

It was 12:30am on a Saturday night and with half an hour to go until it was time to close the restaurant I was surprised that we hadn’t had any real crazies in, especially due to the intense heat and humidity that we had all been suffering through during the week. The weather was supposed to break slightly the next day, so I was just pushing through and couldn’t wait for the last few minutes to go by until we could close and get out of there. Two six tops of rowdy drinkers remained, as well as two girls who I had told as soon as they sat that we would be closing shortly, and they both said “oh no worries, we are just grabbing a bite and then heading home”.

Ten minutes later, I came out of the kitchen to find that one of the girls was slowly eating her dinner, while the other one had pushed hers aside and had fallen asleep on the table. Now I don’t mean head on her folded arms fallen asleep. No, literally sprawled out over onto the table next to her asleep, mouth wide open ready to start drooling, nearly snoring, asleep. And her friend was sitting across from her, acting as if everything were normal, stuffing her face (very slowly) with food while chatting on the phone. I went up to her and told her that we couldn’t have people sleeping in the restaurant, and if she wanted I could help get her friend in a cab. Her response was polite and articulate when she asked me for 5 more minutes to finish up and get her friend out of there. I granted her the time, especially seeing as her friend lifted her head and began to pull herself together.

Fifteen minutes later, all the other tables had left, the lights were up and the music off, the sleeping girl was back in her dead drunk sleeping position and the other girl was still slowly shoving food in her mouth, as if everything were normal in the world. Again, I went up to her, and told her that it was time to leave as we were closed, to which she responded “why did you question me on the state of my friend earlier? She is absolutely fine and I am fine too!”

Take a deep breath Jade… 

“Well first of all I cannot have anyone sleeping in the restaurant, and second of all I asked you 15 minutes ago to leave, and you said you would be done within 5.”

“But we are fine and I just want to finish my dinner.”

Another deep breath.

“I honestly don’t care if you are fine or not, I just can’t have anyone sleeping in the restaurant.”

“Well based on your outfit and on the fact that this is a bar, my friend can do whatever she wants here. This IS a bar, and it’s 1am!”

Hold hands behind back so that they do not impulsively fly out and smack the girl in the face, and take another deep breath.

“This is a restaurant, and we are now closed. Please leave right now, and get your friend home to her bed, as this is obviously what she needs. This is actually a family restaurant, and in any case, I would never let my friend sleep in a bar or a restaurant! There is absolutely nothing normal about this!”

“Well, in that case, if it’s a family restaurant, and I brought my child here, you wouldn’t complain if it fell asleep, so I really don’t know what the problem is here.”

Deep breaths not helping anymore.

“Oh don’t be stupid! Now get up and get out before I actually have to throw you out. You are completely ridiculous!”

“Oh so now you are calling me stupid? Well look at how you are dressed! You are just an AWESOME manager, you should be SO proud of yourself. I work on 5th Avenue and am 100% Mexican and you are Australian!!”

“I’m actually English and yes, I am an awesome manager. Have a wonderful night!”

At this point the sleeping girl starts to stumble towards the door, and her friend who obviously thinks it’s normal to pass out in public spaces, knocks her bag over, manages to pick it up and follows her friend towards the door, all the while telling me that I am AWESOME and that I have now really hurt our business because she is going to tell all her friends how AWESOME I am not. Scary. Oh and she works on 5th Avenue, and I really should do something about my outfit, because it’s really AWESOME. Oh and she works on 5th Avenue and I ONLY work in a restaurant so what do I care anyway?

Two seconds later we realised that her wallet had fallen under the table, so I ran out to give it to her. She thanked me by yet again telling me I was “AWESOME” and by checking that I hadn’t stolen anything.
The best part of the story is that 15 minutes later my coworker texted me that she sailed past them in a cab and they were still standing outside the restaurant, begging a cab to stop for them. Maybe next time drink a little less? Or order take out and eat it at home so your poor friend can get the rest she obviously needs.
I mean however AWESOME this girl was, she obviously forgot her restaurant etiquette when she walked through the door. Or maybe my shorts and t-shirt made her think that she was better than me in some way? Well I shall remain AWESOME and she can keep her spot on 5th Avenue, because I sure as hell am happy being AWESOME and working where I work.

Maybe someone can help her diversify her vocabulary too, because the word AWESOME is very overrated. And really doesn’t work when you are trying to be sarcastic.
At least quite a few laughs were had after this little incident... I am kind of hoping that she comes back so I can tell her how absolutely AWESOME she is!

Short story: Autumn's Place

Autumn’s Place

There is a place not too far away from here where the sun always shines and the sky is always blue. At night the moon rises through a clear dark sky speckled with a million stars, all flickering away to some kind of galactic symphony. During the day the birds sing in harmony and at night the fireflies float around in the air, humming along to their own songs. Once in a while voices can be heard across the bay, but most of the time all you can hear are your own thoughts. If you close your eyes and clear your mind you can imagine this special place not too far away from here.

Autumn dreamt of this place when she wasn’t there. It was her haven away from the real world, her spot in the world where she felt like she really existed. Two days of real existence cancelled out the other five days of the week where she felt like she was just another ant building up the ant hill. Alarm clock to work to lunch to smoke break to work to gym to dinner to bed to alarm clock again. The boring cycle of the week days made her want to randomly kick things while screaming until her throat was hoarse. But once Friday came along, she would grab her weekend bag and hop on the subway, knowing full well that within the following 12 hours she would taste freedom again.

The air felt so pure and fresh that Autumn would let it fill her lungs as soon as she stepped off the train. Rain or shine, summer or winter, she would try to never miss a weekend away. There was nothing that the city had to offer her than millions of people, emails clamouring for her attention and a small, box-like apartment where she could never feel at home. Out in the special place she had as much space as she needed, more space than she would ever need. The deer would run across the lawn, chomping on the hyacinth flowers in bloom, and the raccoon babies would hole up beneath the ceiling rafters, keeping warm until they were big enough to venture outside alone, ready to attack the garbage cans that lay around for them to choose from.

On Saturday mornings, during any season, be the roads frosty or glistening with ice, or the air so humid with heat that one felt like one was drinking airdrops, Autumn would rise before the sun and walk down to the bay to watch it slowly come up over the water to the east. The sky would turn purple and then orange and yellow, bruised streaks lining over your head, until it looked like the sky would alight upon the bay, throwing fire onto the water, before the sun broke through the horizon and another sunny day would start. In the evening, she would rush over to the west bay and watch the sun set on the water again, sometimes over fishermen and swimmers, other times over blocks and blocks of ice that were floating about. Even during the winter months the sun rays were piercing and strong, as if nothing could beat the power it had over the place. It was clear that nature ruled the place that had captured Autumn’s heart and had given her the freedom that she needed so much to make it through the week days of her life.

Autumn had chosen a life of compromise: if she had the weekend of her choice she would endure the other five days of the week. She felt that she had no other choice than compromise. There were no shades in her black or white, it was prison and escape and back to prison again. She lacked the imagination or the will-power to make her freedom an everyday occurrence. By accepting what she saw as her fate she gave up on seeking for anything more in life. 

Saturday nights were for lighting the log fire and curling up on the couch with the dog and a book. Dinners would be fresh vegetables cooked into soups and stews and salads over the stove, herbs picked from the garden and tea made from lemongrass and honey. Produce was always purchased locally, from the farmers, or picked directly from the vegetable garden amidst the hibiscus flowers. Autumn’s choice of a book was so very eclectic, but she would always finish at least one during the weekend, another form of escape. Escape within escape, so that what was considered by most to be her real life was completely forgotten for hours on end. What was real life anyway? The job that she hated and that took up most of her days, but that paid the bills and allowed for short getaways, or the life in her place by the bay, away from everything and everyone, where dreams could be dreamt without any guilty feelings?

Autumn would walk down to the ocean on Sundays, never mind the season or the weather, to sit by the waves and watch them crash against the shore. The ocean made her feel serene and energetic at the same time, and helped her collect her thoughts and her doubts together, and make sense of them. There is nothing more powerful than the ocean – it will pick you up and throw you about without fail, and will take anything in that you throw into it, swallowing it whole and throwing it back up miles and miles away, somewhere else in the world. Some things never come back up, they are swallowed forever, and disappear into the earth. Autumn would imagine all of her fears disappearing into the darkest parts of the ocean where no one would ever think of looking for them. Or maybe they were swallowed up by a shark and shredded into a million pieces, never to be found again. Every week new fears and doubts were thrown into the waves, some disappearing, others coming back again, weeks later.

Whereas the ocean was the beginning of all feelings of freedom for Autumn, it also ended up being the end of it for her. Autumn’s life was divided into boxes, all enclosed by one big box; a small box for her city prison, a bigger box for her free life and tunnel boxes that lead the way to both boxes. There was no sign of a tunnel to go outside of the biggest box, it was one that Autumn had forgotten to build for herself. There was no outside, there was just the city and the special place, just a train ride away. A week day life and a weekend life, nothing else, carefully built so that nothing ever felt out of place. Even her freedom was built to last only parallel with the prison life. The ocean would take and take from her, but it would also give her back something that she had not even tried to imagine existed anymore: something outside of all of this.

One Saturday night, on a rare night when Autumn found herself stuck in the office, working on a project that needed to be finished before Monday morning, the rain started to fall. And fall, and fall, and fall. By Monday the rivers had washed up over the borders, and were racing through the lower parts of the city, picking up cars and debris and trailing them along the streets. Television showed scenes of chaotic winds, trees falling and electricity pylons rooted up from the ground, leaving thousands and thousands stranded without power and water. On Tuesday the storm dissipated and the sky became blue again, washed clean of the anger nature had unleashed on the country. Whereas the city had weathered some damage that would take time to fix, Autumn’s special place had been reclaimed by the ocean. Where she had once walked and ran with the dog, watched the sun rise and set, read books and picked flowers, were now only fish and waves and the odd roof and boat floating about before it was dragged into the midst of the ocean. The special place was somewhere down there, among the fears and doubts that Autumn had sent into the water. The ocean had taken Autumn’s self-created freedom but had thrown her something back: the ability to make a choice and a change in her own creation. Instead of living in the self-contained box for the rest of her life, content but not happy, she now had the choice of breaking free. It was now up to her to make this choice.

When one thing disappears another thing is not far behind to take its place.

Ramblings: Of Changes and Survival Modes

I can't believe how this year is flying by, it's already the middle of May, Spring is finally here and I'm going to be flying to California for two weeks in exactly a month. Which also means I need to save and save and save every penny I make over the next month, because nowadays holiday means unpaid time off, and rent and bills still need to be paid, wherever I happen to be in the world. I'm not complaining though, this time last year I would sleep about 3 hours a night, go into work with a pit in my stomach that would grow and grow throughout the day, and go home and collapse, still stressed out and thinking about all the projects I was undoubtedly going to mess up at work. Now I am working three different jobs, 7 days a week with a day off thrown in here and there, but I have time to see my friends, hang out at home and write, draw and dream. I even have time to read and write at one of my jobs, which happens to be in the middle of a theatre, which is probably one of the coolest things ever. But the best part of all this is that I go to work and then don't have to think about it until I have to go back again. No one calls me with questions about different projects, I don't have to spend 12 hours working on a coverage chart when I take a day off, and guess what? I actually have fun at work. Who would have thought?!

I can't say that it has been easy to pull off, this whole change thing, there were days when I didn't know how I was going to actually afford my next meal, let alone pay rent and other important bills, and I still have a lot of credit card debt I am going to have to start paying off in the very near future (because letting all those 1-800 and 1-866 numbers ring to voicemail every day is really not dealing with the problem very effectively), but, you know, I feel like smiling every morning/afternoon when I wake up. There are days when I still feel so mad I want to stomp my feet and kick people, and there are still days when I don't want to get out of bed to face the world, but they aren't as frequent anymore. I just feel like this is what I always should have been doing when I moved here. What I want. I still don't know if I actually pulled anything off really, everything could fall apart tomorrow, but at the same time I know it will always be OK.

I was walking to the subway this morning, thinking about a million things as usual, and it dawned on me that I live most of my life in some kind of survival mode. Not real "I am being hunted by evil murderers" survival mode (although that is a recurring nightmare of mine), more like a "shit happens so I just have to bear with it" kind of outlook on life every day. Tired because I got home at 7am, had to take the dog out and have to be back at work at 4pm? Oh well, I'll sleep better tonight. Annoyed because friend never comes to say hello because her job is too tiring? No problem, there are at least ten other better friends who always come to visit me. Nose broken because stupid ice machine lid fell on it? No problem, it will heal again, just like the time before, and the time before that. Annoying people being dickheads at work? I just complain and then forget about them (even those annoying student idiots who thought that adding a tip to $2 beers didn't apply to them).  It's all about getting to a place where you want to be in life, a place where you don't have to worry so much about everything... I feel like I am nearly there now. Don't get me wrong, I still worry about everything, but just less than I used to.

I'm so in love with this city, still today. It's been 7 years now, and I can't really imagine myself being anywhere else. I was writing a short story based on a parting of ways that occurred in my life in 2004 last night, and was looking for the journal I wrote during that time. While searching for it I came across a couple of journals I had started in 2005 and 2006, and spent an hour reminiscing about those days... It was all a lot of innocent fun, words about people I had just met who now happen to be my closest friends; words about people who have now disappeared into different lives and places; places that no longer exist and other places that are still there, and are still frequented by us all. Then there was one entry, written during my last trip to France in 2006 that was so insightful at what was to become of me over the next few years that I wish I had listened to myself a bit more when I wrote it. Or maybe not, because in the end it was all for the best. Someone once told me a couple of years ago that I just needed to hit rock bottom in order to find my way again, and I think he was right. I probably always knew what I was doing, even when I thought I didn't anymore.

So yes, New York. I often say that I miss Europe or that I want to move to a desert island and live by the ocean for the rest of my life... This isn't a lie, and I do miss France terribly every once in a while. I just need to make my way back there for a bit, see my friends, go to the old haunts and see how Grenoble has changed over the years (or not, whatever the more accurate statement may be). But New York will always be the city I come back to, I know that all too well now. I've never felt so completely at home as I do here. My apartment, my friends, my jobs, my favourite places to drink and eat, my memories and the new memories I create every day. Sounds silly maybe, but I spent so long looking for a place I could call my home, and it makes me happy to know that I found it.

I wrote a piece called Paradise the other day, based on the same theme for an online magazine. If it doesn't get accepted I will post it here seeing as I was quite proud of it when I wrote it. Something a lot of people can relate to I think, and it also goes along the vein of living in survival mode, continuing to move even when you think you can't anymore. I used to write mainly based on images in my imagination, nowadays I feel like most of my writing comes from something that happened to me, or that could have happened to me. I don't know if that is good or not, but I know that I need to get it all written down before I forget it.

The sun is shining outside, I'm writing this at work listening to Ride and I'm looking forward to seeing what this summer has to offer... And I just got inspired to write a few more short stories. Not a bad start to the day, I think!

Ramblings: Airport notes

I always have a notebook or a journal on me, as sometimes I am inspired to write or doodle in the most random places. I always worry that I will forget what is passing through my mind, so I just scribble it down, sometimes to be forgotten until I come across it again, sometimes the scribbles become a story or an essay. Last Monday I was sitting at Heathrow airport, waiting for my gate to be announced when I noticed a man looking at a PowerPoint presentation on his laptop, and another women typing feverishly on her computer. I pulled out my notebook and wrote the following piece. Interesting or not, I do not know, but I felt like posting it on here.

I used to pretend to be a business woman. "Pretend" being the accurate word because I just didn't fit the profile, and never felt comfortable in it. My "suits" never looked 100% comfortable unless I was wearing flip flops or Converse, and had rolled up the shirt sleeves. On business trips I would walk around the airport barefoot totter along in my 4 inch heels that I deemed necessary for a client meeting. I've never been able to wear "sensible" heels anyway, in my world it's either gorgeous 4 inch heels or biker boots (mainly the latter these days). At airports I would sit on the floor, nearest the closest electricity outlet, typing away frantically, responding to the 100+ emails I had received during my 60 minute flight. My desk always looked like a bomb had gone off somewhere near: papers everywhere, dust piling up on little dolls and knickknacks I had inherited from colleagues who were long gone, pictures and postcards stuck on the walls and a little headset that I had stopped trying to use because it kept echoing in my ear.
That said, I was pretty good at my job. Sometimes pretty brilliant. Sometimes I failed in a nice, big exploding splash, but I often succeeded, most often without much of a word, except a thanks from my client (and undying love from some of them). For six whole years I would walk into that elevator on the ground floor and whizz up to the 40th floor, my stomach falling to my knees, not because of gravity, because of dread. Dread that I would be found out for being an imposter.
Every day I would get my coffee from the same mobile coffee vendor, my lunch from the same two or three salad bar/sandwich/soup places, nab my cigarette breaks whenever I could between client calls. I would go home after work and guess what I would do? Check my email, work some more and dream (nightmare) about something I had forgotten (or not forgotten for the most part).
For six years I felt like I was playing a part, trying a role out in a play that I didn't really understand or like that much. may have played it well, sometimes too well. I kept my own personality and tried to mold it into a business woman persona.
I used to pretend to be a business woman until I got tired of pretending. In the end we only have one life and it really is up to ourselves to make it into something that we can be proud of and happy with. That may not always be something that you find immediately but there's no harm in trying everything until you do. Just don't spend your life pretending, it's not worth it.
Maybe I should become an actress...

Ramblings: February

It's been quite an intense week or so. Actually it has been quite an intense month already and it's only half over, so I really don't know what the next few weeks will bring, but they can only be positive. January was filled with enough negative to last a whole year, so I'm just focusing on completing what I set out to do this year and maintaining some balance and calm in my brain. This means focusing on writing, creating and my family and friends and just removing myself from anything other than that... This city can be severely draining at times, but it can also be immensely rewarding too, have to keep that latter part in mind and just ride through the rest.
After being financially strapped for the past few months I am finally seeing the light AND got another part-time job that I started this week and am really excited about. I am working for an amazing independent book shop in Fort Greene called Greenlight Bookstore, and will mainly be working at their kiosk at the BAM during performances. It's pretty much perfect for me because I love books, I love theater and music and photography and opera and cinema. It's also the perfect balance with the bartending work I do during the week at 200 Orchard. This is all making me super happy and also excited about the next few months.

I feel like I lost most of my inspiration in January but now I finally feel I am back on track with the novel again. I'm about 9 chapters into the second part now, which is both the easiest and hardest part to write. The easiest because I am pulling a lot of it from my own life and the hardest for exactly the same reason. I'm just writing as much as possible and will go back and edit once I am done. I feel like it is going to be a lot more autobiographical than I initially planned it to be, but I'm not going to worry about that part just yet, I really just need to get it written. Once Part 2 is finished I can continue with Part 1 and Part 3. I know it all seems a little backwards, but Part 2 is going to be the main chunk of the novel and the first and last parts will follow from that. I'm still worried about actually showing it to anyone, but I got some good feedback from my little sister, so it can't be that bad, even in it's first draft format... I hope.
There is a lot of music in my head when I am writing and a lot of this is transferred into the words... So this morning I made a playlist to go with it. It really relates to Part 2, music that I listened to between the ages of 10 and 25, some that I still listen to today, others that I had actually forgotten how much I loved. I limited myself to one song per artist, because otherwise there would probably be 260 Cure songs in it... I am sure I will update it as time goes by, but here is the first version:
Part 2 Playlist

I've been going through a lot of old photos and writing and journals and have found some things that I forgot I had written and done... I am naturally a nostalgic person, always a mix of melancholy and happiness, but finding all of this makes me feel like I have accomplished a lot but still have so much more to accomplish, to see, to live. I've stuck this pinboard up on the wall and it is already full of pictures and drawings and things to do and see and remember. I have all of these photos I have had printed recently to sort through and to frame. Letters to write to people and photos to send to them. Things to write about outside of the novel (the list just keeps getting longer and longer). I'll always be at my happiest when I have a million things to do, but only when those million things are what I want to do... And right now they are. I now need to start on the set of articles I will be writing on domestic violence; an article on women in music and about 20 other smaller articles on different things that pop into my head every day. And just keep my focus on what really matters.

Carl Cox Mixer app - shooting the commercial

Back in 1996 my sister and our friend Daphné wouldn't stop going on about Carl Cox spinning at our local techno/house room in one of the nightclubs surrounding Grenoble (CO2 was the name of the room). I even think that they dragged me along, and I probably danced my ass off when I was there (even though I was the token goth on the techno dance floor, nothing has really changed there!).

Fast-forward to today and I had the honour to not only meet the Techno/House DJ legend, but also star in a commercial with him!
My close and extremely talented friend Dana Distortion was shooting a commercial for the Carl Cox Mixer app, developed by Musicsoft Arts. The commercial took place in a room at the Thompson LES (rockstar haven apparently), and included about 12 of us dancing our asses off around Carl Cox himself, who DJ'd for us using his iPad. SO COOL! He's SO nice and down to earth. This guy literally DJs to hundreds of thousands of people at a time, and we pretty much got a free show. i seriously had a blast, and wish I could do this type of production more often.
So much fun!

Here's the man himself, with Dana, Mariné and me :)

The walls are starting to crack...

The title of one of my favourite Secret Machines songs...

By using that title I don't mean that I feel everything is falling apart around me, but more like I am pushing the walls I have surrounded myself with for so long outwards. This tends to happen at undetermined moments of my life... I build these walls, brick by brick, and then feel an intense need to fly away, just to rebuild yet another wall. This time I don't feel like going away, I just want to give myself the chance to be free again.
After two amazingly long weeks off work I finally feel like a normal person again, with dreams and plans and hope. I don't want to go back to the ball of stress I have been for so long now, assuming that I need to work like an insane person, because that is how life should be lived.
So I have made the decision to go back to work a free person tomorrow. Whatever happens will happen, but it's time for me to break away from the mold I cast for myself.

"I can leave I can leave by my own power
Go ahead tear this old tower
The rooms already outgrown
Just don't tell me what don't exist
Outside where the darkness sits
When the ground starts trembling through"

The craziest project of all

Sometimes I think that I have seen it all at work: insane clients, bi-polar clients, projects that make no sense, clients that go MIA for 3 weeks and reappear and decide the project MUST be finished within 24 hours etc etc. But this one is really way out there. Twenty people involved on the client end with no main point of contact. Different people sending me different components in the most convoluted manner. For example, they found a list of images that hadn't been translated... Instead of sending me the text in one file,three different people sent me three separate files and then set a conference call up to "walk me through it", and left me with an hour of work figuring out how to consolidate it all!!
Setting a deadline of 06/01 8 months ago and not moving in when they finally sign the contracts on May 1st, even though there is 3 months of work needed in order to get even part of the project done. And the worst part of it... 3 hour calls every day, including Saturday and Sunday, to go over and over and over a list of bugs. EVERY SINGLE DAY.

Keep in mind that they all seem to working against each other internally, or at least not communicating, not always listening to me, and have a wonderful expectation that I sit around day in day out just waiting to hop on calls with them.

If I make it though to the launch date without killing someone, smashing my computer or jumping out of the window I will be very proud of myself.


Confined to this space 14 hours a day. Magnificent views over the East River, rooftops in Brooklyn and Queens, the ocean on the other side. But I am still trapped, stuck in front of two screens, screamingly urgent emails that just beg to be deleted, dust piling up because I don't have the energy to clean up, phone ringing off the hook with demands. Too much too much too much.

I would like a different view, one of horizons far away, endless skies, cloud meeting ocean, space so wide it never comes to an end. Add to that the warmth of the sun on my skin and the peaceful sound of soft wind.

Music to get you through the day

Today's it's particularly gloomy out, I have way too much work to do and need about 20 more hours sleep... So this is how I am getting through the day:

Otis Redding: These Arms of Mine
Elenore: The Turtles
Dancing in the Street: Martha Reeves & the Vandelles
I'm Alive: The Hollies
A Whiter Shade of Pale: Procol Harum
Five Years: David Bowie
Father and Son: Cat Stevens

I'm eating Thin Mints and wishing it were Friday...