I grew up in Malaysia then moved to the United States as a young adult. Justin trailed along while his father’s highly transient career took him all over the country in his youth. So when it came time to make our own home, we fell into the normal trappings–we bought a house in a nice neighborhood in a state where it was sunny 299 days per year. But we found ourselves making regular trips to New York City that grew longer and more frequent, and soon we realized maybe it was more of a home to us than our house was. For us, home has never been about geography. It’s always been a feeling. A longing when you leave, and a pull to return.
“All photographs are accurate. None of them is the truth.”
– Richard Avedon
If my marriage hinged solely on my aptitude as an “Instagram Husband”, I would have become a divorcée long ago. Though I greatly admire the artistry found in photographs, I’ve never been particularly keen to play the architect of their creation or the subject of their inspiration. Much of that can be traced back to my father’s overeagerness with a camera throughout my formidable years.
Imagine that you’ve had a record-breaking, Seinfeld-esque “Serenity Now!”-level, unbelievably AWFUL day. Some of it is the result of one calamitous decision after another, while the rest is just the universe playing tricks on you. You descended into the subway instead of walking. You spoke up when you should have been silent. Someone hit you with their bag. Twice. You didn’t make reservations. You wore the wrong shoes for this much walking. WHAT is that smell, and dear Lord in heaven, where is it coming from? Oh, and it’s raining. Really, really hard. Of course you forgot your umbrella. Nothing–and I mean nothing–has gone your way. Then add to that the fact that this happens while you’re in New York City, an unforgiving megalopolis with a bloodhound’s nose for the scent of weakness.
I’m not sure if you can tell from the pictures we’ve posted, but I’m kind of… petite. Height-challenged. Runty. Low-profile. Diminutive. Short, okay, I’m short.
Other shorties know the troubles I’ve seen. Trying to discreetly jump to reach something on the top shelf in the grocery store, then finally having to ask for help. Searching for “cute shoes that provide height yet remain comfortable”. (An urban myth, by the way). Having almost every piece of clothing altered. And standing-room concerts? Forget about it.
In the summer of 2007, while Justin and I were still living in Phoenix, we made our annual pilgrimage to New York City with great anticipation. Our trips always included an ambitious list of restaurants to tackle, as well as a sampling of plays and musicals. That summer, we were excited to check out an Off-Broadway production we had read about called In The Heights.
At the 37 Arts Theater in Hell’s Kitchen (since renamed the Baryshnikov Arts Center), we were seated in the second row, close enough to see the beads of sweat on the performers’ faces and watch the spit escape from their lips. It was everything we’d hoped it would be: exciting, fresh, funny, captivating. We were so enamored with the performance that we waited after the show to speak to the creator, a young upstart named Lin-Manuel Miranda. But there was no one else waiting, and we questioned ourselves. Was this not done? Were we not supposed to approach the cast? We suddenly felt starkly like out-of-towners, clueless about the lay of the land. He exited the theater, and we lost our nerve. We stood there and watched him go by.
It might not come as too much of a surprise to learn that I was kind of a weird kid. For a portion of my youth, my family would drive down to Singapore where we’d meet up with extended family members and venture on a vacation together. Riding high on the success of a couple of short cruises to Indonesia, the adults tossed around Disneyland as an ambitious follow-up. I remember thinking to myself, “But Disneyland sounds so boring, it’s just going to be a bunch of kids running around.”
You know that saying about opinions and how everybody has one? Let’s be honest, you can probably say the same about blogs. There are so many out there, from personal blogs to those run by corporations and news outlets. Standing out is a challenging task. I’ll admit that when I meet new people I balk at mentioning the blog. It’s a part of ourselves out there for public consumption, and each post is an exercise in acceptance and rejection. Giving someone immediate access to that puts us in a vulnerable position.
But blogs are simply one of the many vessels of self-expression. Artists, since inception, have dedicated their lives to it. Acceptance and rejection are woven into the fabric of their existence, because their desire to create supersedes everything.
I remember when I first read and fell in love with The Great Gatsby, and I’m sure you do too. Nick Carraway, Jay Gatsby and Daisy Buchanan captured our collective imaginations, and we continue to romanticize the period described so vividly by F. Scott Fitzgerald. However, the term “Gilded Age” originates from Mark Twain’s book of the same name, which was a scathing commentary on the excesses of the time. “Gilded Age” alluded to the shiny veneer that masked underlying poverty and social ills. California artist Liz Glynn bring us a fresh interpretation of this juxtaposition in her latest piece, Open House, for the Public Art Fund.
We’ll let you in on a little secret. While theater is something we love to experience, it’s not something we love to blog about. It’s a daunting task trying to capture the essence of a play or musical. But when we experience something unique, like we did with Wakey, Wakey, we want desperately to share our experience.
In Will Eno’s new off-Broadway play, Guy gazes out at the audience and says:
There were two take-aways from my trip to Venice many years ago. 1) Learn to travel light. Though the bridges are pretty, lugging suitcases up and down them gets old fast. 2) I don’t care if Venice is sinking, it can take me with it. The city that brought us tiramisu, Titian and Vivaldi was as magical as promised. Paris may hold the title City of Love, but I’d be strapped to conjure up a city more romantic than Venice. Maybe the fact that I’m a fan of a little-known rom-com called Only You starring Marisa Tomei and Robert Downey Jr. has a little to do with it. (Fair Venice is one of its co-stars.)