Monday, April 26, 2010

The Price of Beauty...

For those of you who know me, you are aware that I have very few qualms about sharing the intimate details of my many embarrassing moments. For those you who haven't been so fortunate to hear the details, get ready.

In my life, I have kept up with beauty maintenance in the following ways:
Laser Hair removal
Hair Treatments
Vegetarianism- which is pretty much a diet

That stated, you should also know how incredibly painful all of the above are. Imagine a tiny needle penetrating the pores of your most sensitive areas, or wavelengths of laser energy pulsing beneath your skin, and then maybe you might understand the price of beauty.

Usually, I opt out of salon esthetics for my own at-home services for reasons including embarrassment and cost. I may be poor but I try not to look it-most days.

Since I've been in New York, I have managed to maintain my beauty regimes, but this past Thursday I decided to treat myself- to the most excruciating ten minutes thus endured. I went to Randee Elaine Salon in the West Village for a, eh hm, "lady wax." I read about this place in Time Out Magazine. It was voted as one of the best, fastest and cheapest places to go for all spa needs - and they had a spot open. A lovely woman, with a thick and untraceable accent greeted me at the counter and said, "ok baby, you come with me now." She led me through the waiting area and up a staircase. The familiar smells of ammonia and burnt hair instantly filled my nose. Good, I thought. Its clean. The room she took me into provided just enough space for the two of us and the table that I would spread eagle on. As she left me to undress, she patted the paper-covered table and gave me a reassuring wink. When she returned, I almost immediately blurted out, "this is my first time, " which of course was not true, but somehow saying so made me feel that if she thought that it was,  then she would be kinder and prepared for when the unstoppable distraction babble poured out of me.  All in all, the small chat provided momentary diversions in the moments where I could still breathe enough to say anything. She was understanding and patient and thankfully quick. That is until, during a particularly rough rip,  I accidentally jerked my left leg straight into her stomach. Mortified, I sat up and apologized while she caught her breath. To my credit, I am glad I had held out that long because had that slip happened at the beginning of my session, I am sure it would have taken twice along and been twice the sting. All in all, the entirety of those ten minutes was worth it and actually quite hilarious. But maybe only for me...

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Oh Happy Day!

What a day, a quintessential New York City day.

More Free Music at

It began later than I had intended having slept through my alarm which may or not have been a result of staying up into the wee hours of the morning watching "Valentines Day." Yeah, that actually happened.
But when I finally got it together, I set out for the most pleasantly unexpected street-walk adventure. It began at The Square Diner where I had my usual scrambled eggs, bacon and toast with a side of hash browns smothered in ketchup and Tabasco. The restaurant is one of the last remaining train-car diners in Manhattan and the perfect atmosphere for a solitary breakfast. Next, and without a plan I walked west along Franklin Street to Lafayette, then north to Canal and into Soho. My first stop was at the Body Shop to stock up on smelly goodness that I had been without. *Note: for any of you who shop here, please be aware that the almond body butter has been discontinued. I know, it hurts me too.
Once smelling fresh and glistening with moisturizer, I turned up West Broadway which turns into LaGuardia Place and walked through Washington Square Park. It was, as usual, packed full of NYU students enjoying the sun. I relished in the freedom that not being in school gives me.

Years ago on another trip to the city, I was told that 8th Street was where all the shoes were and having enjoyed my previous, tax-free purchases, I strolled in that direction to see what I could find. Unfortunately, I found none and after some conversation on the matter found out that while it used to be a shoe hub, it has since become a mix of big store shopping. Disappointed but not broken, I continued east towards St. Marks place,  and into the East Village. I returned to Tompkins Square Park in the section of the village known as Alphabet city and took refuge on a bench. I people watched; the chess tables were occupied by strangers who- I think, were very convincing of their skills at the game, considering they were playing without any pieces and all. There was an interesting assortment of people differing greatly from that last time I sat here. One man put half of a semi-lit cigarette into his shirt pocket and carried on with a conversation while he casually tried to put the smoking, mini fire out of his shirt. When he got up to leave, there was a charred black hole on the breast pocket of his flannel shirt. He rocked it like it had always been there. Only in New York...

Once ready to go, I walked across the avenues and south down Bowery where I saw Danny Huston sitting on the patio of the Bowery Hotel restaurant having lunch with another. I wanted so very badly to walk over to him, interrupt his meal and tell him how attractive he was in person but thought better of it and kept moving along.

Next, and this is my favourite, I checked off one of those things on my mental list of things that I have always wanted to do. I went into a bar, Tom and Jerry's and had a solo pint of Guinness. It was the most liberating forty minutes of solitude I might have ever experienced to date. I can't even tell you, how proud of myself I was! It might seem like a small feat, but to me it meant that today, I gained a little bit more courage than I had yesterday.

I practically skipped back to the apartment, revelling in all the wonders of a truly simple day. Thank you New York. I love you. 

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

She Works Hard for her Money!

Since my arrival, I have had a few odd jobs here and there. In thinking about how fortunate I have been to have had opportunities as such while in New York, I began to think about all of the jobs I have had since I first started working at 16. They are as follows:

- actor
- mcdonalds- 1 shift
-"entertainment coordinator" aka birthday party host at a glow in the dark mini putt
- assistant manager at a jewellery and watch store
- waitress at a cafe
- sales rep at The Gap
- 'crusader for the arts" at a theatre company
- assistant Manager of Partnership at a theatre company
- sales Manager at a theatre company
- marketing Coordinator at a theatre company
- session runner for two casting houses
- hostess at another restaurant
- waitress- one week
- box office for film festival
- personal shopper
- grant coordinator
- wardrobe assistant
- publicist assistant/ nanny
- barista- two weeks
- cater-waiter
- auntie nanny
- nanny
- personal assistant/cleaner/cook
- promotional waitress
- researcher

And that brings me to now.
When I answered a post on Craigslist entitled "help" I hoped that the woman in need would be "normal"- not just some freak who invited illegal Canadian girls to their apartment in a potentially fitting neighbourhood called  "Hells Kitchen."
And thankfully, all was "normal." Through conversations, I learned that this die-hard Jewish New Yorker and her partner were typical working class women with good jobs who indeed needed just a little help. My boss lady had a degree in English and Women's Studies, and an MA in Social Work. Invested in the youth of today, this woman was smart, well-rounded and a crusader for all those in need. I felt safe and ready to work.
And then she asked me if I knew of any women aged 25-35 who were brunette and busty who would be willing to have a drink with a random man who would pay them to do so. I said, uh no ( as I looked down at my own chest) and asked, with a little hesitation why? She told me 1. that she wasn't crazy and that 2. she made a little side money setting up dates for this really well-to-do man that she had been friends for a few years. She joked that her friends called her a madame and completely normalized the situation by saying, its just a little oral, you know?
Right. NBD. But that's what got me thinking. There are worse ways to make money and in looking back on my ridiculous employment history, I readily acknowledge that we all "pimp" ourselves out to make an extra buck- in some way or another. That's why when I got hooked up to be a promotional waitress at a private cocktail-attired fundraiser, my qualms about pushing my sex appeal a little further than usual to have men (and women for that matter) slide twenties into my hand didn't feel so wrong. At times, a little gross and socially degrading but all in all, pretty empowering.

The bottom-line is that I understand the value of humbling opportunities to make greater ones. Clearly I feel like there is nothing that I can't do...

Thursday, April 1, 2010

"I am Queens Boulevard" in Astoria...

It's an interesting thing, being a welcomed intruder in someone's life.

This past weekend, my doorman moved out of his Bronx house and into the living room of his brother's "bro pad" in Queens, and I was there for every moment. I was there for the packing; removing the photographs of his ex and separating them into a shoebox while wrapping the empty frames in newspaper was a moment onto itself. I wasn't bothered by the intimacy of this act, or any other that helped strip him from his past, but instead by my feeling of being a presence in a place that was unknown, and how ok that was. I saw years of memories run through his face, the anxiety of change and the excitement of a new beginning. Can most people who are new to each other say that they know what that's like? Can you build new memories with an almost stranger and have a place in his past at the same time? I think I did.

Once we had moved all the belongings out of the house and into the Uhaul, I climbed aboard with him, his brother and Sasha the American Dingo and said goodbye to my own short past. We drove the fifteen minutes into Queens and a new chapter in my New York life began.

Another few hours later, and repeatedly tackling four flights of stairs, I was spent- physically and emotionally. I battled the emotions of feeling so out of place and yet, acceptant of something welcoming. To be apart of someone's journey at any point of their experience is something quite remarkable and I am thankful that I have that.

Friday, March 19, 2010


My friend and neighbour Melissa Meyer is an artist.
Since I first met her in early December, she has been my New York cornerstone for arts culture. Last night we had a date- an arts crawl throughout a few of the Chelsea galleries. It was a two-hour tour through four openings featuring artists representing very different forms and mediums.
We began at the massive and highly sought out David Zwirner gallery. The enormity of the high ceiling-white walled space was the perfect landscape for artist Marlene Dumas' "Against the Wall" solo-exhibition. Her work represents her experiences with, and her world view of political discourse through paint using a dark and minimalist technique.

"Her paintings integrate complex themes- ranging from segregation, eroticism, or more generally, the politics of love and war- to explore how image-making is implicitly involved not only in cultural processes of objectification, but also in the way which events are documented and collectively understood."

The Wall, 2009
Oil on linen

Next we moved on to the Elizabeth Harris Gallery for Greg Lindquists "Nonpasts" exhibition of sculpture, painting and performance-based installations. The ambiguity of his locations-based painting evokes-for me- a sense of time past and the loss of an identifiable culture. Throughout the gallery, squared hollowed out cement tiles are placed in grid form. Guests are invited to stand, jump on and/or break the pieces. My impression is that it, in conjunction with his paintings represent urban sprawl and the spreading of human developments crushing the natural structure of "our communities" and how we generally neglect the consequences which may or may not result in a non-identifiable landscape as the basis of our collective culture.

Elizabeth Harris Gallery

With time frames in mind, we hustled out of the gallery and onto the next with artist Lisa Hoke and onto the next. At first glance, artist Warren Isensee's large-scale optical and sculptural oil on canvas paintings draw you in with their linear and brightly coloured geometric radiance. But, give it time and the exquisite multi-dimensional shapes will captivate the senses and create an image so visually stimulating that you feel like you are looking into the soul of the painting. I never would have assumed that something seemingly so simple could evoke such depth. In truth, this exhibition was my favourite.

Ground Loop, 2007
Oil on canvas

Our final stop was at the Don Joint: Waldameer exhibit at the Pavel Zoubok Gallery. The space itself is reminiscent of the Queen West galleries in Toronto, but the crowd couldn't have been more unlike the trendy west-end hipsters that flock to them. His pieces, created in collage form and style suggest a fantastical carnival-like theme. Layers of acrylic paint and ink are the backdrop to various prints and paraphernalia thoughtfully; Japanese Geishas, black and white pen drawings, and vintage movie tickets create dimension. Connedia Dell Arte -esque clowns are studded with tiny diamonds and stand in the forefront of colours so rich and deep and textured. The artist said that he had been working on these pieces for over twenty years, mentally layering the visuals.

As we left, I asked Melissa if there was a market for collage. In my ignorance, I wouldn't have assumed that this "arts and crafts" technique held much weight in the arts world but she said that she tells all of her students that collage is the most important form in American arts history. It is the best representation of the mind and the creative process as it best shows how we build and create from a single layer.
Interesting, huh?

Don Joint, Apples 2009

Monday, March 15, 2010

The Borough-ed Life:Part 1

Sunday March 14, 2010
I’ve been coming to Manhattan off and on since I was 7 and all I really know about this city is… this city. I’ve never explored the boroughs and so, before arriving I began a checklist of things that I want to accomplish while here and the rest of New York City is on it. Luckily for me, I have a great guide who has given me a personal tour of Throgg’s Neck in the Bronx but the real exploration began in Brooklyn. From the Bronx to the heights is about a two-hour subway ride, with a few transfers in between. Once in Brooklyn, it takes some time to find your bearings because it looks-at first glance- so much like everything else. On a rainy, windy day I don’t imagine it’s a number one attraction for those who have never been, but forging through the wet weather is also recommended.
The original plan was to take the train to Coney Island, explore the grounds and walk along the shoreline to Brighton Beach, an area still rich in Russian turn of the century-esque culture. The goal was to end up there for some serious knish. Turns out that the subway lines are under construction and Coney Island is virtually impossible to get to right now, unless of course you’re from there, have a car and know where you’re going. So, when all else fails- you hit the bars...

Monday, March 8, 2010

Sunday in the Park

Sunday March 7th, 2010

Today is the perfect New York day. With the first early signs of spring, New Yorkers are venturing out of hibernation from the long, cold winter. On a Sunday, it is quiet although there are people everywhere. Eleven degrees never looked better.

I write from Tompkins Square Park in the East Village where a bench away, Chloe Sevigny, enjoying the afternoon sun, blends in the rest of us. I’ve just come from Café Pick Me Up, a quaint coffee shop on 9th and 2nd Ave. I’ve been going there for years, and like many other places around this city, it is a personal landmark. It is adorned with trinkets of all sorts, lackadaisically strewn about the wooden tables and antique desks in place of traditional seating. Not an inch of wall space is bare.There is nothing spectacular about it except maybe that searching through the décor can be as interesting as the shop’s inhabitants.

The park is busy with kids and families, skaters with their boards and meanderers looking for a place to relax. This might just be the perfect Sunday and other than the $2.30 I spent on my coffee, it is indeed priceless.

Oh yeah- Sophia Coppola just about ran me over with her daughter (or son!?)'s stroller. NBD folks, NBD.