About Me

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I live in Brooklyn, NY and I love it here.  I came here for my career in 2009 and haven't once looked back. 

Monday, July 23, 2012

The Time Management Ninja...

I gotta admit I was almost stumped there on how to squeeze in all the activities I had planned this week.  But my grad school time management skills have not yet failed me.  I figured out a way to go to almost every yoga class I wanted to, make up one of the two make up co-op shifts I owe before my vacation starts, pack for said vacation, stretch my remaining clean clothes until I have time to do laundry on Wednesday, fit in rehearsals with Lacy and two of the three open mics we wanted to do, a meet up with Tania about the video from Galapagos at my place Thursday morning and find some quality time with a friend I've been seeing.  Indeed I might even have time to meet another friend for drinks before she moves to Florida next week and, god willing, train my cat to stop peeing on my couch (bought some Nature's Miracle no spray spray on the way to brunch after church this morning).

And on top of it all, I have time to still work a full time job and juggle two music projects.  Regrettably, voice over is taking a break this week, but that's okay because I got another gig from the guy out in Oregon I've been voicing videos for and have finished that already.  The two music projects are the Samurai film, for which I await instruction on the next round of revisions, and a mockup for a collaboration with Marie-Christine Giordano, the dancer whom I met at the bus stop a few months back who knew Lacy from their days at Martha Graham.

That's a fun project and it'll be a nice change from all the film work I've done lately.   So far we've sat down at her studio, bounced around ideas and came up with a palette of sounds which I'm currently trying to creatively string together into something coherent.  Little by little.  It's coming along well and I'm really psyched for this project.  I love working with dancers but I also love a project where I can come in early on in the process.  More on this later.

I have an exciting week with Lacy coming up too.  We're reconnecting with the open mic scene while she simultaneously scouts locations for some potential gigs.  On Wednesday night at 7pm we hit Bar 82 in the E. Village and on Thursday we will try out a new one: Lucky Jack's on the LES.  I'm psyched for both especially the new one.  Later that night we will go see her friend Tom Tallitsch, a jazz musician she's worked with, at The Garage in the W. Village.

And all this is made more exciting by the fact, that after this Tuesday, I don't have to be back at work until the 3rd of August, a full 9 days off!  My folks will be in town Friday and we will likely do a leisurely day in Brooklyn, potentially Botanical Gardens or something else outside…perhaps even the Intrepid museum, which I discovered I can get into free with my NY1 badge.  Saturday we will head upstate for the Cousins by the Dozens family reunion.  Then Sunday we drive to Virginia to see my sister's family, Monday it's to NC to see my other sister's family and laze around by the pool.  Then Tuesday, I go see my brother in the mountains of NC, with a potential jam session still on the docket the last time I spoke with mon frรจre.  Then, it's back to NC for at least one more full day of lazing by the pool.  I know.  It sounds like a lot of travel.  But the pay off is I get to see everyone.  But I am going to get sick of cars.  I'll probably blog later on this week and as I'm traveling.  For now, I'm going to sleep though because this crazy week I have planned starts tomorrow morning at 8am!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Why I love New York....

So, each and every one of us has lost (or thought they lost) a wallet or a purse before or at least something of equal or greater value.  So I'm sure you'll all be able to relate to this story on some level.   The initial panic that ultimately swells to a tidal wave of realization of the importance of every piece of plastic that was in that thing on top of how much cash there was is not a great feeling at all.

I had left my department at work for my break complaining to my co worker about how I've almost lost my wallet before wearing the shorts I have on today, as I picked up my wallet out of the chair I was sitting in.  Then, I went to sit in the conference room for a few to bask in the wifi that I can reach with my laptop there.  Knowing I needed to get cash out to pay the musician for tomorrow morning's pickup recording session, I started to gather my things while I still had about a half hour to squeeze in a bank trip. 

I made it all the way down to the bank on 8th Avenue and 16th street before I had any reason to reach for the contents of my back pocket and realize that my wallet was in fact not a part of those contents.  I was certain I knew exactly where the damn thing had fallen out: the last place I was sitting.  So I hurried back to the conference room, one avenue block away and 6 stories up, casually ignoring the person trying to talk to me on the corner.  After 3 and a half years in New York you always just assume it's a crazy person and keep moving.  Remember this guy though he comes into the story later on. 

I get back to the chair I was sitting in and realize it's empty and begin frantically tracing my steps back through the break room, past all the desks in the bull pen, down the back hallway and into the tiny control room me and my colleagues have been stuffed into while they renovate our department.  Nothing.  Anywhere.  All the while, I keep checking every pocket in these damned shorts that I now thoroughly hate and will never wear again.  Two weeks ago on the 4th of July, as I partied with friends on a rooftop wearing these shorts, someone located my wallet distinctly not in my back pocket.  So, I knew that this was a possibility but I was still pretty pissed because then it started to occur to me what would happen if I didn't find it.  Nothing major, just that I had to cancel all my cards, get a new ID and a library card and oh, no metro card and no cash to buy one with and no way to get cash to buy one and no way to pay for a cab, hence no way home. 

Right about the time this dawned on me, I ran into one of my co workers who was touring her family around the station on her day off and who works in the empty offices near my beloved secret wifi conference room.  She was nice enough to loan me a $20 bill so I could at least get home and wouldn't have to walk or spend the night in the station.  Reason #1 the title of this blog is Why I love New York.  People are nicer than you'd think here.

The other reason ties closely into that one.  Since it was almost 6pm, I talked to my co worker who had to leave at 6pm and made sure she was okay with me running down the block to the bank to retrace my steps.  I talked to both my security guard and the ones downstairs in the Chelsea market to see if they'd seen anything for good measure and then set off down the block all the while considering how futile this endeavor was.   A place like New York, what are the chances someone's going to pick up a wallet and not steal it and everything in it?  Well, about halfway between 8th and 9th avenues, the memory of that man shouting at me that I witnessed only out of the corner of my eye, drifted back in across my train of thought and I said to myself, "you idiot!  That guy was probably trying to give you your wallet back." 

One string of obscenities and half a city block later I get to the corner and start wondering if that dude is still around.  It doesn't take too long before he appears from across the street holding out my wallet but he is not pleased.  Apparently he was a transit worker and was sitting in a parked MTA vehicle right by the subway entrance the whole time so it's not like he was going anywhere.  But he then proceeded to yell at me for ignoring him when he was trying to give me my wallet back.  "Acting like you don't want it back," "You lucky, I was about to just throw it out" and "You got all this shit in your ears and you can't hear" (referring to my headphones) were a few of the lines he spat at me as I thanked him profusely.  He didn't care though, he was more pissed that his random act of kindness almost went unthanked. 

This is why I love New York though.  Maybe it's just sheer luck that he was the one that found it instead of someone who might have kept it but the point is people like that do exist here despite what people might think.  And not only does the kind of person exist who will show that kind of kindness, they come with their own unique New York flavor.  I didn't even care that I was getting fussed out by this guy for having headphones in and not listening when he tried to hand me back my wallet.  That's just how you know this story happened in New York F%^&$ City.

Now, nevermind the fact that these cursed shorts also somehow managed to lose the $20 that my co worker let me borrow.  But I focus on the positive.  At least I have a way to get home now. 

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Leisure and its antithesis...

These days I feel as though someone just invented the weekend and I'm among the first to benefit from it.   Yes, I'm talking about the schedule change that happened at work now more than a month ago.  Having two full days off is just amazing.  At first, right about the middle of the first full day off I would always get this slight feeling of "oh crap, I gotta go back to work tomorrow," followed almost immediately by the relief that I don't have to go back to work tomorrow.  Slowly but surely, though, it's turned into just the random acknowledgement throughout the day of the fact that I don't have to go back to work tomorrow.

And that I can do more stuff!!!  So tomorrow a friend and I are going to swing by the pre Bastille Day festivities in the city at Cercle Rouge in Soho on W. Broadway.  And today, I already had lunch in the city and walked around Washington Square Park!

And on top of all that leisure, I'm still getting tons of work done!  I had another voice over gig that I was able to finish and submit a first draft for plus, I'm pushing forward on all the tedium in this next stage of the Samurai film: editing all of my recorded takes.  I found out that I accidentally recorded over one of the takes so I'm having to call back the performer to redo that one little snippet.  It sucks but I have to do it and it's my gaff so I have pay him out of pocket for his time.  Only fair.  But it's a pretty good lesson even if I was anticipating such a mistake happening and still thought I had prepared enough to make sure that I got everything I needed out of him.  I printed up a score for him, wrote time codes and lengths on each cue, down to the shortest one, even wrote notes for myself about what kind of extra sounds to get out of him after we were done with the main cues so that I'd have extra material for the fight scenes.   But alas, I still managed to miss something.

What happened was, a few times I didn't start a new file for each new recording and expected that the program I use, Sound Forge, would just record from the end of the file but instead, somehow, in one of the files, the playback cursor reset to the beginning of the file and it recorded over the first takes of that cue, including every single take of the first part of the cue.  Ack!

So, luckily this only happened with one file but initially, I thought I had lost a lot more.  Somehow when I transferred all the raw files over to my Macbook via dropbox, not everything was showing up.  So I went back to the PC and checked and was able to find the rest, all except for those takes of the first part of cue #4.

You live and you learn.

Anyway, I should mention that the takes sound awesome and I had so much fun recording James, the Shakuhachi player.  The instrument is extremely expressive and James knows it inside and out, extended techniques and all.  So I have some neat sounds from him that I promised I wouldn't sample in addition to the beautiful interpretations of my music.

I'm going to be posting this stuff for sure once the film is done…which I can't really say when that will be at the moment.  Hopefully, I'll have my work done in about a week.  I'm also adding Japanese Taiko drums and potentially other percussion instruments and mixing and mastering everything.  So that should take some time.  This is a pretty tedious part of the process and my right hand is starting to hurt a little (most noticeably in yoga classes in downward facing dog) from using the track pad on my Macbook so much.

That having been said, you guessed it, I have to go to sleep so I can be up bright and early for another of those yoga classes.  And who knows maybe I'll get a little bit more done on the film score and try to do some voice over auditions as well before the Bastille Day fun.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Plan A...

Wednesday, the 4th of July.  Off work and free to enjoy.  This is odd to me.  Considering it's one of two full days I will have off from my full time job at NY1.  Odd but good.  No more overnights means my days off are truly my days off.  And I can say that I actually have two of them.  I had no idea how much I missed having a real weekend.  Plus, not having to take a nap every Sunday of my life is quite nice.  Being able to wake and sleep and normal hours.

So, it's been slowly setting in over the past few weeks.  And I like it.  Especially since I have more time to do the things I want to do.  And the things I need to do.  Since getting this new film job writing the score for the Samurai film, I'm basically juggling, four projects: the two scenes from the Life, which are coming to a close (Sundance version of scene 1 is in the bag and the Ballerina scene is also in the bag), the tail end of Ben's sci fi short (the last revisions of which I just punched out tonight before starting to type this blog) and the Samurai picture itself.

Thursday, in fact, I have a recording session with a Shakuhachi player that I found through a friend of a friend of a friend.  I love how you can throw a rock in New York City and hit a musician...sometimes you don't even have to throw it, you could just drop it and still hit one. This'll be the first time I've worked another musician for a recording session of my music since recording Murat for the score to Sides of the Track about a year ago.  I love collaborating and hearing someone realize my scores.  So, needless to say I'm excited. Especially since the acoustics in this apartment are far better than the last one.  No exposed brick, no tiny room.  I'm considering using the foyer as a spot to record.  The reflections in there are amazing...at least according to my memory of the time I wandered in there playing my acoustic guitar.  Meanwhile, I have a few minor revisions to deal with first, involving placement of the cues and, thankfully, not with actual structure of the melodies (save for a few note extensions and added rests, things we can iron out during the session).  So that's going to eat up most of tomorrow morning/afternoon (well the part I don't spend in yoga class and doing laundry).

In the late afternoon though, I'm going to a rooftop cook out at Mohammad's place in Prospect Heights for the birth of our nation, complete with a sixer of gluten free beer that rests quietly in my fridge at the moment.  I think I could stand to cut loose after all the hard work I've been doing.

I feel like a lot of it is slowly but surely paying off.  Case in point, remember how almost three years ago I got a short-lived freelance gig at CNN?  Well, I finally got a chance to interview with them again for a media operations coordinator position, and while it's only a part time job, I decided I'd express interest during the initial phone interview and see what it's about.  They contacted me about a second in person interview a week later and I scheduled it for this past Monday.  I won't know anything for a month, but I felt good about the interview.  The job schedule is two days a week and no benefits and I'd have to make a major decision about what to do about my full time job at NY1.  It's a scary thought to think of going back freelance and potentially losing my health insurance.  But, oh the extra time I'd have to focus on voice over and music.

I've been feeling lately like I'm getting closer and closer to breaking through on that front as well, the voice over.  I got my first repeat customer the other day.  This marks the first one who's said there was more work coming and who actually delivered.  Nice feeling.

Anyway, the whole thing, considering changing my job situation, is definitely a little scary but, whether or not I get this job at CNN and I make such a decision, subsequently, it has certainly opened my eyes a little to some different options I might try.  Because ultimately, I want to feel more comfortable having my music and voice over career as my Plan A and not my Plan B.  I thank one of my old managers at WFMY News 2 in Greensboro for that insight.  It's about really believing in and betting on myself.  Not letting the thought even enter my mind, "oh, I don't know if I could manage a living with just music jobs."  Plan B is staying in television full time, I must tell myself.  Plan A is doing what I came here for.

More on this as it develops (no one who hasn't worked in television as long as I have would end a blog like that...see, I think it's time for a bit of a change).  I'll be blogging in a few days to talk about how the recording session with the Shakuhachi player went.  Meanwhile, I want you all to check out my great friend Tania Stavreva's kick starter page for her upcoming classical album.  Please contribute and help this extremely talented pianist realize her dream of releasing a studio album.  She only has a few days left to reach her goal.