One Day in New York Fucking City

Wednesday Night
Close first day of the Social Innovation Summit down at 7pm. Go straight to bar and demand neat Jack Daniels, courtesy our event catering. Ignore right pinky toe’s insistence that if I was going to run around in heels all day I might as well have just cut it off that morning and saved it the trouble.

Go to office. Work on details of second day of summit. Appreciate that I will not be working until 3am again, like last week. Leave the office at 11:30. Coworker is still working.

Check email in cab home.

Paint nails. Find clean clothes for the morning. Check email. Soak feet under hot tap.

Go to bed. Check email. Try to stop checking email. Fall asleep at 1am.

Thursday
Alarm goes off at 6. Put on clothes. Pinky toe looks like a large grape. Wear flats. Check email. Call the office. Leave the house. The sun is barely up and the sky is still tinged wine-like around the corners.

Go the the glass cube Apple Store for a full-size DVI to VGA adaptor. Check email while the salesperson winds her way to the inventory and back to me. Resist urge to get angry at salesperson. Remind self that not turning into bitch-in-a-rush-New-Yorker is still one of self’s ongoing personal rules. They have no adapters, she says. Turn, swear, run up the glass status, flats slipping.

Try two other stores for adapters, but no dice. Give up. Get cab to United Nations. Check email. Check text messages. Call office.

Arrive at United Nations to find team already inside, setting up, and feel a rush of gratitude, yet again, to not be in charge of this event all by myself. Have eerie flashbacks to last June. Meet UN staff in the lobby. Be glad for the fleeting friendships formed by people in event spaces, grounded in staging and mutual competency.

Get to conference room followed by horde of interns. Begin AV check. Several things go wrong at once. DVI to VGA adaptor appears. Smile at the AV staff ferociously, make friends, hug the photographer, put things right one by one as the room fills up with suits and bright dresses and name tags. Glad again to not be working registration. Glad again to not be working venue. Get AV set with four minutes to spare.

Summit begins. Prepare to sit facing a room of 500 executives all day, make videos play and audio balance. Text messages flying. Begin to regret lack of breakfast.

Youth panel begins. One of the speakers is a blond, blue-eyed young woman who stands 6’3″ and a size zero in a stylish dress. She is in eight grade. She speaks about running health campaigns at her middle school. Reflect with chagrin and moderated terror upon what I was doing in eight grade. Swear that white hairs make tiny popping noises as they appear.

Break. Assure CEO of Idealab that I can run his slides. It will be fine, I say. And it is fine. Too stressed to listen. Realize I can get Twitter on my iPad. The United Nations wifi is fantastic.

Crisis. We are our of security passes. There are too many people coming. Furiously attempt to solve crisis while also running video.

Lunch. Send intern to sneak me sandwiches. Say hello to staff, photographer, speakers from last year. Phone mysteriously stops receiving text messages. Decide not to question. Get into very polite fight with VIP who refuses to believe that we don’t have a lavaliere microphone. VIP insists that a handheld microphone will cripple him. Decide not to call VIP out for ableist bullshit. Refrain from mentioning that if VIP had answered any of my several emails in the past three weeks a lavaliere would have been arranged. VIP huffily accepts handheld, speaks about attempts to change the world through education and technology. Reflect upon the natures of people.

Halfway through afternoon, see tweet that Amanda Palmer’s block party and Kickstarter countdown is in the same place as issue one of twenty-four magazine. Jokingly suggest that we run a flash zine during the party. Joke is accepted as proposal. Send an oh-shit-why-not email. Send several other emails. Cancel plans to spend night recovering. Realize toe still looks like a grape. Wonder about dancing.

Get an email that Amanda Palmer has retweeted the flash zine announcement. Suppress urge to squeak in middle of speech.

Break. Shake hands with Howard Buffett. Take instant liking to him. He is worried about his video. Assure him it will all be fine. He is charming. Everything is fine.

At 5pm, phone starts receiving text messages again. Avalanche of text messages. Alicia Keys has arrived. Phone is having a little vibrating seizure. Alicia Keys is giving an interview. Alicia Keys is in the bathroom. Alicia Keys is in the hallway.

Alicia Keys speaks. Event breaks. Interns descend. Signs are whisked away. Computers are packed, hands shaken, red carpets rolled. In a tent by the East River everyone starts drinking. Order a gin and tonic, take it out to the river and lean over the rail to the water. The sun has started setting and the wine is filling up the sky again, yellow in the edges and gold on the tips of buildings.

Spend ten minutes networking. Get tentative proposal to run a flash magazine in November for a two-day hackathon focused on redesigning the toilet. Realize I would happily run flash magazines forever.

Interns volunteer to take supplies back to office. Resist urge to kiss them each in turn. Drink a Manhattan. Get lost trying to find the way from the river to the street.

Go to Douane Reede. Buy shorts, notebooks, markers, chocolate-covered cranberries. Meet John. Change into shorts in the car.

At the entrance to the party, a guy in rollerblades leans into the open window of the car and says, “Are you spectators or staff?” “I’m supposed to be here making a zine,” I answer. “Cool,” he says, and lets us park in the lot. Realize that this is exactly where we made the magazine. Here is where I found out about the magazine getting boing boing’d. There is the beam of the elevated train that is on the cover.

As we come around the corner the party breaks over us. There are goths and pirates and people in their underwear. There is Neil Gaiman. The zine notebooks are on a picnic table, open and filling with words. Find friends. Kiss Steven.

Two hours pass. John makes a balloon dress. I meet many new people. A fire breathing act starts. Three girls draw a squid with chalk that stretches across the lot. I bounce on my toes and laugh with excitement, all fatigue forgotten. The sun sets and the day moves from sticky to toast.

Three strangers come up to me and try to hand me a notebook. “It’s a zine,” they say. “You need to write in it. It’s very important.” I start laughing.

The balloon dress grows. People come and watch John build it. One guy wants to know if John could make it out of helium and float a small girl. He wants to do a photo shoot. John shakes his head and explains the difference between helium and oxygen molecules. When the guy wanders away, disappointed, I ask John, “Do people ask you that a lot?” “All the freaking time,” he answers, shaking his head.

The lot is full now, with music and people and spontaneous art. The rope bomb squad is hanging people from the fire escape. I am dancing. I am glad of my shorts and my flats and the thin silk of my nice shirt and the smell of Steven’s cotton shirt. I meet a designer, and then another, and then a painter. Kevin and I know many people.

John asks me what Amanda Palmer looks like. I tell him that he will know her because she draws her eyebrows on.

People start asking who will wear the dress. A photographer sees it and takes me over to talk to one of the staff. Amanda and the band are romping around in an enormous tank full of Kickstarter names written on paper, holding them up for the live stream. We cannot get her attention. The photographer turns to me and says, “See if he can finish it in fifteen minutes.”

The dress is finished. We carry it to the front like the figurehead of a tiny parade, I hold it over my head and yell to the people in the tank. “We need someone to wear this!”

And Amanda Fucking Palmer turns, looks at me, sees the red and black dress in my hands, and yells, “I’ll wear it.”

This happens:

And then this:

And then she runs away. She runs away to lead the countdown and the whole lot screams. She has raised 1.1 million dollars. Everything is different now.

They start playing the new record over the speakers. I am saying oh my god over and over and over again. The fire show spreads and the crowd gathers and the entire day hits me all at once. The music is so good.

We sit in the parking lot at 1am as the crowd slowly melts away, and we read from the notebooks. Some of them are beautiful. Some silly. A few are sad. Most are joyous greetings to this mythical being, Amanda, this person we all feel like we know. I think about seeing her perform in a bar ten years ago, in Portland one summer home from school. She wore a striped short dress and red ruffled underwear, and she sang like a hammer striking.

“I want all of my life to be like this,” I say to Steven. “All right,” he answers. “You won’t make much money, though.”

I think about Amanda’s 1.1 million dollars. “That’s all right,” I say. “I’ll make enough.”

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One Response to One Day in New York Fucking City

  1. Roo says:

    <3 <3 <3

    Yeah, I think you'll do just fine.

    Reply

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