After a certain time of living as an adult, I discovered that events tend to slide together.
The big first-time moments pass by (the big move to the big city, the big purchase of your first home, the terror attack on your city) and they stick, and stick hard. Then life starts to pick up steam and whoo, if you’re not careful (as Ferris Bueller warned us) it might pass you by. Thank goodness for pictures, specifically digital photos. I have tons of those from this next set of years, which makes remembering when things happened (and in some cases that they happened at all) a whole lot easier. ‘Cause it’s way too easy to let the short happy peaks and short not so great valleys speed by until one day you look back and wonder, “Wait, what happened to the time?”
Shortly after I moved to New York City, I used to joke, I had my baptism. It happened when I was standing on the 59th Street/Lexington subway platform waiting for the N train, and saw a little old lady in a babushka was slow-motion plowing through commuters, all of whom stepped back to let her go. When I didn’t get out of the way fast enough, the sweet little old lady turned around and screamed at me, “Move, bitch!”
But having stakes in the city — a mortgage, real estate — and living through a national tragedy forged a whole new sense of belonging for me. By 2002, I’d been in New York City for over five years and it was the place I never knew I wanted to be but couldn’t imagine being anywhere else. Well, maybe London.
The apartment I’d always said I’d own by the time I was 30 happened, so I began to ask myself “what else do you want to do?” and took the reins to put those things in motion.
First, a dog: After scouring every no-kill and shelter in the area I signed up with Col. Potter Cairn Rescue (I grew up with a Cairn Terrier and was used to the breed) and was lucky enough to become the new owner of 5-year-old Ciara, who had never been anybody’s pet because she’d been a breeder dog her whole life. She was the cutest little thing you ever did see, and she hated being walked. Or really, she hated being outside. It was a match made in heaven for me, since I was working out of the house and she didn’t ache to get into the great outdoors. (Really, she didn’t; I took her to Central Park once and she just sat on the grass and shivered.)
I went to a Halloween party and met the first Morey in my life, though not the last. He was Superman/Clark Kent, and I had a cat outfit on. We went swing dancing and saw burlesque dancers and he took me to a pre-New Year’s Eve bash at the Supper Club, and while there I got sick as a dog. I was kind of excited about this relationship maybe happening, and I think maybe I was a bit too excited because it went pear-shaped pretty fast.
I volunteered with New York Cares, which I can’t recommend highly enough: You get to sign up for the events you want to help with, and there are no long term commitments unless you want them. That said, the longer I did it the more I saw what it meant to have an all-volunteer force — many events were extremely poorly thought through.
But through NY Cares I signed up with a Museum Mentor program, where a group of mentors took a group of assigned kids to a museum once a month. Because Anita and Grace were twins, I had twice the fun … and twice the work. One of my favorite memories is handing over a mix CD of some tunes they might not know and discovering I’d introduced them to Earth, Wind and Fire. I hope they’re having happy lives now — I left the program after about two years, due to scheduling conflicts.
I kept up with Green Party friends — and went hiking with them a couple of times — but I wasn’t quite up for protesting the Indian Point nuclear facility every weekend, and eventually moved on from there as well.
I got some great invitations through my entertainment gigs, and met delightful famous people:
My grandmother (Buddie to those in the know) visited for Mother’s Day and we went to Tavern on the Green. I’m afraid she wasn’t with us a whole lot longer, so this is a particularly fond memory.
My favorite band came to town (the Trash Can Sinatras) and I managed to inadvertently pair them with my pals in Ivy (see Part 2) so that Andy ended up producing their next album. The crossing of streams gave me a thrill.
The next big move for me came in late 2003. I’d been saying (though not to my bosses) for a while that I’d hoped eventually to jump from Soap Opera Digest to The Hollywood Reporter. It felt like a natural next move, and the soap industry was like a big balloon leaking helium — and really, how many times can you watch a story where somebody comes back from the dead or learns they have a twin they never knew about? I admired the form but thought it was moribund, and ratings seemed to agree.
Well, sometimes vocalizing your wants helps: An editor of mine from THR who had moved to New York City was leaving to go someplace else, and she recommended me to her boss. One thing led to another and after five years at Digest, I left to become the only senior editor for special issues at THR in New York City.
Pros: Big prestige jump. occasional TV interviews on CNN’s Showbiz Tonight (where when I suggested that Idris Elba might be a good next pre-Daniel Craig Bond I got a big “who?” from the host) and once even on The O’Reilly Factor (Linda Stasi, the other guest, and I teamed up ahead of time to try and point out what a non-story it was that we were supposed to talk about, which might explain some of why I was never invited back). Better access to talent. Ability to connect with editors at Billboard, who were on the same floor as we were.
Cons: No more enormous private office to lust over. Back to the cubicle life.
My co-workers were terrific. We had a small office, just one section of a whole floor of the building at 770 Broadway. But working as a remote satellite office for the main digs in Los Angeles came with its own challenges — including my heading home many nights just as they were coming back to lunch. Still, I had autonomy and went to a lot of fun parties, red carpet events, premieres and after-parties. It was a full and complete education in every form of creature this industry creates — and I had a blast (most of the time) connecting with every single one of them. I also got to bring a lot of “plus ones” to screenings and parties with me over the years, sharing the wealth as much as I possibly could. As I always said, one day I wasn’t going to have this and I’d be sad.
I am not above admitting that I used my (ahem) prowess to secure my favorite photo ever, the one that would give my 14-year-old self a heart attack. Basically, Duran Duran were doing a promotional event on the island where the Statue of Liberty stood (it was a vodka launch!) and I finagled my way in so I could cover it for THR. I then further finagled my way into their expansive tent after the show so I could “get a quote” about the event for the coverage (all of which was published in the end) and then suddenly there they all were and I further had the salt to ask if I could get a photo. Because COME ON PEOPLE.
I then took this photo and waved it at everybody I knew. My favorite comment from a friend: “They’re touching you!”
Life mission completed.
Meanwhile, back at home friends came to visit, I threw parties (one specifically so I’d have a reason to show off my chocolate fountain, though are you aware you have to mix the chocolate with vegetable oil to get it to flow so smoothly — so yeah, after one use I put it away):
I provided temporary shelter to a member of Naked Eyes who needed a place to crash while he played in town….
That’s not him, of course, that’s his guitar.
Dated a fella named Howard, the first time I dated a teacher (but also not the last). I wanted to like him a lot more than I actually did….
Did a flash mob situation with my friend Cheryl….
I rode a horse that was so neurotic that a girl bike riding by us on the trail with a flower bouncing in her basket caused the nag to take off at a full gallop, causing me to lose my balance and slowly but surely fall off, onto the ground. Miraculously I was uninjured and stupidly I thought, Here’s the aphorism in real life, get back on the horse or you’ll never ride again so I again got on her and then she got spooked when her lead got loose and nearly threw me a second time. Horses, man.
Took in a roommate from Seattle named Cameron who was hilarious and easy to be around, but who had a bit too much love for excess drama for me in the end ….
And I stood up in front of a crowd at a monthly event in Brooklyn called Cringe and read from my high school diary, to everyone’s great amusement ….
Mom visited and met Jane Seymour at an art event….
And I had another Duran Duran encounter (this is Roger)….
Plus one with Genesis (they had a press conference announcing they were re-forming in 2007 for a tour and apparently I scandalized the room of music journos when I asked how much tickets would cost)….
And I made a really good friend for a short time in Mike….
And then it was 2008 and I woke up to discover that Bette Midler had planted a tree outside my apartment window. OK, Midler hadn’t planted the tree personally (instead, she along with Mayor Bloomberg were behind the Million Trees NYC project) but abruptly there was a tree there where a tree had not been the day before and it felt like a gift.
It also seemed to signal new things coming, growing up out of the soil. Or maybe that’s just an overwrought metaphor I get to make because I’m writing with hindsight. But the seven years after the towers fell came and went very fast, and the five years I was with THR even faster, and as it turned out, a couple of very big deal things were on the horizon.
I just didn’t know it then.
Come back next week for the conclusion (for now) of the saga in Part 5!