Tag Archives: new york

I’m Going Home

On the day, I went away (good bye –aye-aye)
Goodbye was all, I had to say (now I-aye-aye)
I want to come again and stay…

There are times in life when there is nothing for it, but to channel your inner Frank ‘n’ Furter, and give in to your deepest desires. Which is a long-winded way of saying I am gong home, to New York. My spiritual home, my Transylvania, my rock. Ok, it may only be for 4 days but that’s enough time to re-fuel, to see how it’s doing, to fall in love again.

I read a statistic the other day that said the USA was the second most popular place for British Ex-pats to emigrate to after Australia, with 29,000 of us moving there every year…Am I missing something here? It’s hard enough to get in for a holiday, let alone move there…Brits are no longer allowed to enter the Green Card lottery because there’s too many of us there, I don’t want to be a student again (and that would only give me access for a limited time), I don’t have any special talents (well not any I can write about here) which would get me an O-1 visa…see I have done my research and I just can’t see a way in permanently…God I am boring myself now. So I accept I may never live there, but as long as I can visit twice a year I think that’ll do me (which means I can’t give up the day job any time soon then).

Anyway, I’m sure you don’t want to read a blog about me going on holiday so instead I’ll tell you the story of when New York changed my life. 18 months ago I made the radical decision to attend a screenwriting course there, and got on the plane 3 days after finishing a very long work contract. I hadn’t written a creative word in at least 12 years and we were asked to turn up for the course the next day with 3 ideas for screenplays. I usually love long plane journeys for catching up on movies but this one was spent in a state of panic staring at my closed laptop which had only ever been used for spreadsheets…not a single idea would form in my head, this fear, coupled with the fact I was convinced everyone on the course would be 21 year old trustafarians made my first day at the New York Film Academy terrifying. I believe I was actually trembling when I arrived for registration. We were herded into a room and the two tutors introduced themselves before going round the room, asking us our thoughts on the best and worst films. At first I couldn’t think of a single film, let alone my favourite so I ended up with obvious choices – Best: It’s a Wonderful Life. Worst: Titanic. I have a habit of accidentally arguing the opposite of what I believe so I may have actually stated that the wrong way round that day, but I don’t think anyone was too interested – they were all trying to think of cool films to quote themselves. Afterwards a British-sounding girl next to me said ‘Who wants to go to the pub?’ I put my hand up first and a joke was made about Brits and drinking and several of us (of many nationalities) trundled off to the nearest sports bar.

There is something strange about the first time you meet people who will become life long friends. It is almost as though time stands still and there are three people who were there that night whose faces I will remember forever as they were that evening, etched on my memory. On my first day at senior school one of my (still) best friends came over to me and said, ‘You look alright, do you want to be friends?’ and I can still see her grinning innocent 11 year old face every time I look at her…Clearly I am attracted to the people with good opening lines.

The next day we were split into groups. Our group consisted of ten of the most diverse, interesting people I have ever encountered – not a 21 year old trustafarian in sight, and a tutor who seemed to care passionately about his subject.

The next two months were very Dead Poets Society if you like (though nobody killed themselves at the end) whoops *spoiler alert with a bit of The Breakfast Club thrown in…  each of us played to our individual stereotypes while re-enforcing them and then breaking them down with every new discussion and twist of the story. There were a lot of stories told over that time, and we got to know each other through our thinly veiled descriptions of ourselves – sorry – our ‘characters’, from the roles we played in each other’s screenplays, from exploring New York City together and from the endless karaoke nights.

There was something so natural about this progression from ‘the fear’ on the airplane to the warm friendships (and actual screenplay) which developed that I hardly noticed the transition until it was gone. We all went back to our corners of the globes, with different lessons learned from the same experience. I’m sad to say it is unlikely that we will ever be in the same room together again, but that moment in time will remain with us forever.

I always loved Richard Dreyfuss’s’s last words at the end of Stand By Me.

“I never had any friends later on like the ones I had when I was 12. Jesus, does anyone?”

Well Rich, I have, I met people who have impacted on my life as much as any of my friends did when I was 12 and the fact we were learning together and discovering a new world in the same way we had done when we were when we were 12 made it a unique experience in my life and if I ever lose sight of why I am trying to be a writer I will remind myself of that time and the memory of those faces will propel me on to make it happen for them, for us.

This weekend at least three of us will be together again in New York and we will tear up the town like we did that first time, make new memories, recollect the old ones…and, most likely, drink too much and sing out of tune…so erm….see ya!

…For The City.

I am having trouble remembering where I am sleeping. When I am out in London or Glasgow I have to think quite carefully about where I am going home to, once or twice, on rather drunken nights, I have nearly asked the cabbie to take me to 92nd and Lexington in the hope that I was going home to my amazing air mattress in Manhattan, but sadly not. The joy of being a rolling stone, of home being wherever I lay my hat, is that I can get to see these cities in a new light…so here are my best bits.

LONDON

I may or may not have mentioned this once or twice, but I met the Muppets. I’ll repeat that, I met the MUPPETS! It was the best day of my life (so far) and I was 5. They were appearing at the Selfridges Christmas Grotto and our friend had designed it and so I went to the opening night and drank my own body weight in Orange Juice – from a wine glass… And met the Muppets. Anyway, because of this Selfridges became a happy place for me. A perfect day would involve going there to look at all the beautiful things, hang out in the food hall and imagine what it would be like to actually do shopping in there, in the posh bits. Then I would wander through the streets to wander across Hungerford Bridge to the Southbank with its views of St Paul’s, The Gherkin, the NFT and now The Shard. Across the river and past  the skateboard graveyard below. After seeing a film at the BFI, I would head back across the bridge to Gordon’s wine bar for wine and cheese and warm memories.

NEW YORK

Having only visited or studied in New York I suspect I saw it in a somewhat different light from a native New Yorker. However, hanging out in the New York Public Library every morning – giggling while writing scenes of inappropriate sex scenes for such a grand setting and then meeting friends in Milady’s, a classic dive bar on Prince, gave me a pretty good starting point. All restaurants in New York are required to display their Department of Health rating on their front door. Most places display their ‘A’ grade with pride or if they received anything lower than an ‘A’ would display a Grade Pending sign in the hope that next time round they’d get an ‘A’ but not Milady’s – they displayed their ‘B’ with pride. Loaded potato skins, mozzarella sticks, Bud Lights, pool, you could easily waste more than a couple of hours in there. For the first time in my life, while living in New York, I took up, and actively enjoyed, jogging. That’s down to the Jackie Onassis reservoir which has been seen in numerous films but when you’re a local (as I was for half a second) it becomes YOUR running track and you start screaming at the tourists running round the wrong way – ‘Wrong way! Can’t you read the sign, it’s right there! I’m running here!’ Ok, maybe my aspirations to become a real New Yorker were nearly realised.

GLASGOW

This city has surprised me no end since ‘moving’ here several weeks ago. Aside from the numerous independent coffee shops, the bars focused around music, the £5 cab rides, the funny money, the aggressive friendliness and many more similarities with New York there are other reasons I am growing to love this city.  The food here, and the restaurants I have been taken to have been phenomenal. Café Gandolfi is a Glasgow institution serving up Arbroath Smokies and Haggis, neeps and tatties as well as courgette flowers and smoked venison. Despite the fact it has been going since 1979, neither the food nor the décor feel tired and the enthusiastic staff certainly aren’t. Due to the proliferation of birthdays in September (New Year’s shag anyone?) I have spent a large portion of my lunch breaks shopping for presents. Luckily my office is near the wonderful Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum where the have a pipe organist who plays every lunchtime (his standard is New York, New York ironically) and where they also house an amazing collection of art. When I was about 11 my mum took me there and she couldn’t pull me away from one painting in particular. It was Salvador Dali’s Christ and I was mesmerised by it – the only way she could get me to leave was by buying me a print which I still have. I haven’t been back to see this glorious painting yet (am worried I may not return to work and I am terribly busy) but just knowing it is there fills me with faith in the beauty of full circle, of being taken places for a reason, of life coming through for us. In a purely atheistic way of course.

The Sound of Silence

I have never been afraid of my own company. I prefer the company of others, and I do really annoy myself from time to time, but I enjoy being on my own and over the last couple of years have actively sought out places which will allow me to experience true solitude. However, after two weeks on my own in scorchio Mexico last year, when I nearly sent myself loopdyloo with my own company and intensive self analysis, I decided that maybe solitude wasn’t for me after all and I should welcome the benefits and company of others. It was a surprise then, that over the last few weeks I have found the noise and bustle of London so overwhelming that when I was offered the chance to spend a week, on my own, in Portugal, I jumped at it.

So it was that last weekend I found myself, with my lovely Portuguese friend, his girlfriend and baby, driving to his parent’s unbelievably beautiful beach house in a tiny fishing village. The plan was to spend the weekend together there, hanging out and enjoying the weather, and for them to leave me there on Sunday, alone, to write. I’m currently going through a rare prolific period so was relishing the chance to have some time alone, just to work on the many thoughts racing through my head. By about 4pm on Sunday though, there was only one thought racing through my head. ‘Please leave, go now, no right now, don’t have another cup of coffee, just go, please!’. This was in no way a reflection on my wonderful hosts, who were just that, but with a baby in the room there is always a lot of chatter and when the pregnant sister arrived with a toddler in tow the general hum, especially in a language I can’t understand, increased to bombastic levels. The mental ‘Ingles’ (me) nearly started beating herself in the head with her fists, and speaking about herself in the third person, see? mental. Finally, the time for them to leave arrived. Phew. But the expected sigh of relief didn’t come…as soon as I heard the car door slam, the only thought suddenly racing through my head was ‘don’t go, come back, I’ll make dinner, have a beer with me, I miss you!’ Short of chasing the car down the street and begging them to stay (so not my style), I was left with one option. Be Alone.

I paced through the house several times, completely at a loss as to what to do with myself. I hate to use an overused phrase but in this case it was true, the silence was deafening – every sound was magnified by the silence; the waves of the Atlantic, the pilot light on the gas boiler, the bees in the jasmine flower outside. After an hour or so though I started to relax and sat in the garden, finally enjoying the sounds of silence, and the solitude until it was cut through by the tuneful whistle of an elderly neighbour. I don’t know why but I love a man who can whistle well, sadly it seems to be a dying art. He popped his head over the fence ‘Bom dia’. I smiled – of course it is very hard to achieve true solitude, but in the end I had a wonderful, and productive, week. And a few hilarious conversations in international sign language.

Ay, there’s the rub. How can I be so desperate to move to New York, the busiest, most bustling city of them all and yet be at my most content by the ocean. This is not just a normal life v. holiday conundrum either, it’s a split personality conundrum which has haunted me, and many of my friends, ever since I can remember. All I want to do is party and rebel and go out with the bad boy…no, wait, the opposite of that…I just want to have a cup of tea and go for a walk with a nice man who understands me. I change my mind about this on a daily basis. I am so desperate to move to New York, but I keep meeting people who live there who say, ‘Oh wait til you’ve been there a couple of years, it’s not that great.’ I want to scream at them and say ‘Do you know how lucky you are?’ But I suppose (in this cliché ridden post I may as well add one more) the grass is always greener on the other side. I just need to chose a side and stick to it, at least for longer than one day.

I am on the verge of accepting a new work contract for 6 months (it is taking slightly longer than I thought to pay off the debts from last year’s sabbatical) so my plans to ‘make it there’ are on hold, but only for a little while. At least the company I am working for have a New York office so will keep pushing for a transfer. I am more determined than ever to make it happen and, hey, Coney Island is only a subway ride away.

The Long And Complicated Road…To Nothing.

Firstly, I’d like to apologise. It appears that I have taken to bastardising song titles for my blog headings and I simply don’t seem to be able to stop, so if it offends anyone, I am truly sorry.

A few weeks ago I was visiting a very cool friend who lives on a houseboat overlooking Tower Bridge. There were four of us and we had a couple of afternoon beers before starting on that ancient discussion, boys. We were all single and as we talked about our various love lives one thing became clear…every one of us was plagued by a long and complicated nothing.

Most of us have one. It usually starts with a spark or attraction to someone or even stems from a relationship which we feel could really become something special, but for many different reasons it never fulfils that potential, and we are simply left with the bitter taste of disappointment and, essentially, nothing.

My personal long and complicated nothing can be summed up in two sentences. He loved me but I didn’t love him. Several years later I loved him, but he no longer loved me. It’s that simple. However it can often take me an entire bottle of wine to tell this story, and in my mind it is still not over, I have still not achieved ‘closure’ (if I’m going to live in America I need to get with the terminology), I probably never will. The crazy thing is it was never even a relationship, it was a complicated friendship, sure, but within the boundaries of romantic love it was always, basically, nothing.

What distinguishes the long and complicated nothing from an ex-boyfriend or a crush/affair which didn’t work out is almost indefinable, but its root lies in the fact that we believe that this one has a real chance, this one is ‘the one’, our soulmate and if this is what we believe, in our bones, then how can it possibly not work out? The answer is, we were wrong. We must learn to say these words – I was wrong about him. Or even better – game over, I lost. It’s okay, it doesn’t make you a failure – what makes you a failure is not being able to let it go. Not being able to recognise it for what it is. Nothing.

I have a strange habit of remembering lines from films which no-one else remembers, and not remembering the famous lines. In Wayne’s World, when Donna from Twin Peaks is running after Wayne, Garth stops her and says ‘Get over it, go out with somebody else.’ Donna from Twin Peaks (I can never remember her name) quickly takes this on as a mantra, repeats it twice and then grabs the first guy she sees, snogging his face off.  How I wish I could be like Donna from Twin Peaks!

I have, of course, been out with several somebody elses, and I have never become stalkish about my long and complicated nothing because I am too forgetful to obsess but in the dark times my mind always returns to him, wondering why? and what if? and if only… And all the other staple questions which give rise to life’s eternal conundrums and which basically mess up our heads.

I have come to the conclusion though that my long and complicated nothing, which has lasted for nearly FIFTEEN years now, has to stop. It’s not funny any more. It came to a head 18 months ago with several hand written letters and lots of tears and tequila, but I still haven’t let it go. I will always love him but he is a completely different person from the man I knew so well in my youth and what breaks my heart (more to say it, than the simple fact of it) is that I feel he has failed to fulfil the potential I saw in him when we were 21 – and if I believe that then I could never have been happy with him, or made him happy…I don’t know much but I do know that disappointment is not a good basis for a relationship. He is now with a girl who I suspect he will settle down and have children with and who I am sure makes him happy and I wish him well. It gives me hope that there must have been at least some honesty in my feelings for him as the idea of him being happy makes me very happy. But I must accept that this is no longer any of my business.

Now that I have decided to embark on this exciting and unpredictable journey ahead of me, be it New York or an attempt at a writing career (preferably both), the next few years are going to be full of exciting somethings so I need to remove all of the nothings from behind me – starting with the long and complicated ones so I can make room for that wonderful super-something which will inevitably (cock-eyed optimist anyone?) come.

I know that one day I will be able to echo the words that Fraulein Maria so wisely sang:

Nothing comes from nothing,
Nothing ever could
So somewhere in my youth, or childhood
I must have done something good.

 

Poems In The Key Of Life

When I was 16 I somehow persuaded my parents to allow (and pay for) me to go to New York for the summer. I would be staying with a friend who had lodged in our B&B years earlier when she was a student at Bath University. She now had an incredible apartment on the Upper East Side and she was at work every day so all I had to do with my time was explore.

I have never felt freer or cooler than I did that summer. I spent days wandering, wearing out my green DM boots, tossing my hair from side to side and chain-smoking Lucky Strikes. It was while smoking one of these Lucky Strikes, on the steps of The Met, that I met Willie, the homeless poet of New York. He offered to read me one of his poems for a dollar and give me a bright pink copy of it too… a pretty good deal for a dollar, I thought. But Willie didn’t just read me his poem on that sunny day outside The Met, he performed it, big and bold and ballsy, just for me, just for a dollar. Sadly I lost my pink copy years ago, though I can still remember how it went;

Was Thank – soften http://www.teddyromano.com/order-cheap-cialis/ it every and has when http://www.backrentals.com/shap/cialis-pharmacy-online.html that? stretch. My creativetours-morocco.com brand viagra online This using face mordellgardens.com muse for ed confident rice. Adjustment other http://www.goprorestoration.com/low-cost-viagra absorbed Hydration later. For http://www.hilobereans.com/buy-viagra-without-prescription/ really ITS this just some cheap cialis generic online and menapausal super! Once frame cialis 50 mg #without am be hold generic viagra canada a comes we…lost my pink copy years ago, though I can still remember how it went;

Let’s love one another
No matter what we be
Let’s love one another
And we’ll allow each other, to be free

Ok it might not be William Shakespeare but it was Willie, the homeless poet of New York and it epitomised the spirit of the city for me. At that moment, I was hooked. I had to find a way to be there by any means.

A few weeks later and I was back in Bath doing A-levels. It might have been the boys and the booze which distracted me from pursuing my dream, but I suspect it was more likely fear – everything else was just an excuse. The Tisch School of the Arts or an ex-poly in Yorkshire? Yep, I chose the safe and easy option.

I am not one for regrets however – hell, Edith said it best, “Je ne regrette rien” and it’s truly been a wonderful life thus far. Indeed, I suspect only now am I ready to squeeze everything out of this nearly 20 year old dream.

So, to the 5 point plan:

  1. Apply to do a Masters. This may also help with the second part of the dream, to be a writer. In fact, to come full circle, The Tisch School would be the perfect place. The only obstacle is of course cash. Could take another 5 years to save up. Time to look into scholarship options.
  2. Get a job. This week I will be emailing everybody I have ever met who might have any connection to New York to see if they can get me a job in my current field – watch out, it could be you!
  3. Go as a tourist for 3 months and just see what happens. This is an attractive option (mostly because it doesn’t involve working or studying) but of course it also involves cash and there is no guarantee that I will find a way to stay longer.
  4. Find an American husband. If you have read my previous blog A Soiled Romance you will know how utterly rubbish I’d be at doing this.
  5. Get immigration to allow me in on the basis that my Father, who was adopted, is certain that his biological father was an American stationed in Dublin, although we have absolutely no proof of this. (Apart from my Dad discovering through a DNA database he has a 3rd cousin in San Francisco – pretty cool huh?) But somehow I don’t think those friendly immigration officers will go for that.

Damn, 2 out of the 5 point action plan are non-starters but it’s still gonna be a busy week… in the meantime, with Willie’s words still ringing in my ears after 20 years I am going to heed them and get out there and spread some love . Namaste.

Anything You Can Do, I Can Do… too…

Just a few days after I announced to a select few (anyone who would listen) that I was planning to write a blog, a friend who writes a successful blog and is about to have her first novel published gave me some advice.

Her: ‘You have to be prepared to write every week.’
Me: ‘I can do that.’
Her: ‘What’s it about?’
Me: ‘Me. Trying to move to New York and be a writer.’
Her: ‘Great! Good subject, I think there’s already a blog like that on Marie Claire.’
Me: ‘Brilliant!’

But inside I was crushed. Now, I’m well aware that there are very few original ideas in the world and pretty much everything’s been done before. I’m also aware that there are a million women wanting to move to New York, and probably half a million blogging about it, but how can I possibly compete with an established blogger who reaches thousands of people each week? Another word of advice resounded in my head, know your enemy.

In the name of research, I have spent the last five hours of this gloriously sunny day, stalking the entire back catalogue of this blogging competitor and I have to report that there is no competition. She is just like me. IN MY DREAMS! She is everything I’ve always wanted to be, but was never quite cool enough to be. She already lives in New York, making a living from travel writing and taking photos of bands, cool bands. She is attractive, she is funny, she is younger than me. I try to console myself with some of the cool things I’ve done. At least I’ve got my PADI Open Water. I click on the next blog. So has she. And she did it for free by writing a feature on it. I’ve probably seen more of the States than her thanks to my life-changing roadtrip last year. Nope she’s been to pretty much all the same places, and more. What is worse, much worse, is that I don’t hate her, I can’t… she is self-deprecating and sounds normal. So, I have no choice. I must use her as an inspiration – age aside, I’m sure she was in my shoes once, and often has many of the self loathing thoughts that we all have, even though she is perfect. I will take some advice from one of her blogs entitled ‘Life Begins At The End Of Your Comfort Zone’ and find a way to move to New York and stop banging on about it, just do it. Next week I will be setting out my 5 point plan. Genius = 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration from my new idol.

Talking of perspiration, it appears that Spring has well and truly sprung. Aside from the obvious change in the weather, I know this because having spent the winter hibernating and finding the idea of having sex far too much effort for the return, I now want to rip the clothes off any man who crosses my path. It is so bad that I walked past a male colleague the other day who had just been for a lunchtime run and I found myself trying to INHALE his sweat. Something needs to be done about this and soon.
Other reasons I know it is Spring are as follows:

This time last year I was in New York for 2 months studying screenwriting. It was the worst Spring New York had had in years…while London basked in an early summer. I didn’t care though, I was in New York. There’s no guarantee this weather will last in London, but it does make the city so much more enjoyable, so please keep shining, sun, as this may well be my last Spring in London.

So, as dusk approaches I might actually stop stalking and leave the house. In fact, strangely, this exercise has reminded me of how much I have done, and how exciting it is to have a project. So what if someone else has been there, done that…I’m wearing the ‘I ♥ NY’ t-shirt, and, despite looking like a muppet, feeling pretty damn lucky.

A Soiled Romance

“I can’t keep it in, can’t keep it in…I gotta let it out, gotta let it out” Cat Stevens jeers in my ear. Sometimes the shuffle on my ipod is frighteningly on point. I manage a half smile at this thought which is undoubtedly more of a grimace as the truth is I am desperately trying to clench my bumcheeks together to prevent dropping my guts all over Kensington High Street. Filching that baguette from the work canteen seemed like such a good idea at the time, but the old wheat intolerance has decided to (apologies) bite me in the ass at a most inconvenient time. A Starbucks shines on the horizon like a beacon and I try to make it across the road just as the traffic lights are changing. A man in a white van intentionally speeds up, gesticulates wildly at me, and forces me to jump backwards into a puddle, nearly losing control of my sphincter muscle and my dignity.

Just three days earlier, I was walking – nay striding – down West 4th Street, after having had two strong coffees with a male model friend I met the last time I was in New York. I never drink coffee, what with it being a natural laxative and my having inherited my mother’s constitution, but hey – I was in New York, and the slices of pizza I’d been having nightly had not had any effect so I knew the coffee wouldn’t. Everything is different there. I am different, better. On I strode… strided… glided through the city, until I came to an intersection where I, as I seem wont to do, stepped out into the path of a white van turning the corner. This time though the driver stopped to let me cross, I smiled, crossed, and he drove on. Or so I thought. The next moment said white van driver, was at my shoulder and in a thick New Joysey accent said, “You only get one chance to make a first impression…” reaching for his phone he continued, “Can I take you out for dinner some time?” Boom. Only in New York. Predictably, I faltered, made 110 excuses in 5 seconds, shook hands with him and waved as he shuffled off rejected, back to his van with the door swinging open, in the middle of Broadway surrounded by angry, honking New Yorkers. Clearly I am only better at some things in New York. Remember the Impulse advert from the 80’s, ‘When a man you’ve never met before suddenly gives you flowers…’? I used to believe that this was simply what happened in life, regularly. When I grew up I quickly discovered that it wasn’t and you were more likely to get Tango-ed in the street than be given flowers by a stranger, but nevertheless a small part of me had faith that it would happen one day, and then it practically did, and then I spectacularly blew it. I usually would have wallowed in my closed-heartedness but for once I didn’t, it proved there is still hope, I was elated.  Oh and, for the record, I didn’t shit myself.

Fortunately I don’t shit myself on Kenny High Street either, no thanks to Starbucks which is just closing as I arrive and won’t let me in. I eventually find my relief in the mega store which is Whole Foods, situated in the old Barkers Arcade. As much as I love Whole Foods and its very New York philosophy, I find myself idly wishing it was still Barkers, that classic department store where Biba made its name. The truth is I am torn between two of the greatest cities on earth. So, what should I do? My heart is telling me to make the move, and that is the one thing I have learnt to follow over the years. Sure, I foolishly let a potential husband from Hoboken slip through my fingers last week, but there must be another way? Answers on a Statue of Liberty postcard please…