Friday, December 25, 2009

I Travel to the West Side

It finally happened. I finally trekked across the park to the...gasp... West Side. I never thought I'd do it. Sadly, I somehow thought upon moving to the Upper East Side that the West Side was some mysterious territory that was very unreachable, and, just so...foreign. Of course I knew that I could take the bus to the other side of the park, but there was just no way I could picture myself doing this. I had a vision in my head of this bus trip being an intimidating experience like it was in Baltimore- me being the only white person there- people staring me up and down with angressive looks on their faces. I dreaded the thought of breaking my normal pattern of taking the subway and the occasional taxi. God forbid I step onto a bus and break my routine. The possibility of crossing the park by foot had occurred to me once or twice, but it never seemed like a truly viable option. Knowing myself, I'd most likely get lost, or it would just take too long. I think what I was really waiting for was somebody to trek to the West Side with, someone whom I could use as a sort of travel companion (afterall, this crossing over to the West Side was truly going to be an epic journey). 

The opportune moment to embark on my wild West Side adventure arose when my friend Steph visited a couple of weeks ago. Her bus back to Philadelphia wasn't going to leave until Sunday night, and seeing as it was rainy and miserable all day, we decided that the best activity for us would be to visit a Museum. After researching our options, it came down to either the Met or the AMNH, as both have optional donations. We thought the Guggenheim would be an excellent choice, as we are both intrigued by modern art and convenience as well (it is located right next to my apartment). However, the entrance fee was $15, and, well, that was just unreasonably expensive in our (very cheap) minds. So, we opted for AMNH, as I have been wanting to see it for quite some time.

Steph and I grabbed our umbrellas and braved the nasty weather that day. The wind was howling, and we were both afraid at several points that our umbrellas were going to blow inside out, or completely disappear altogether. It was cold, rainy, and windy- the worst possible weather combination, especially for traveling. Steph and I were travel buddies abroad, though, and we had survived a near hurricane in Salzburg (literally crossed a bridge as lightening was striking down on us and hail was flying everywhere), so we knew that we could make it through this. We hopped onto the bus, and much to my surprise, I felt completely comfortable. I was very worried that we would miss our stop or get lost, as busses have typically proven to be very confusing for me in the past. Who would have thought that we would be there in ten minutes safe and sound?! Not me. I was shocked as we screeched to a halt right on West 86th street; it truly was a short trip. We stepped off and struggled through the blasting, windy rain to the looming steps of the AMNH on 79th. It felt comforting to finally step through the doors of a shelter, but the museum was dark and cold. Regardless, we were just happy to be out of the frightening weather.

Steph is applying to grad school for anthropology, so I knew that she would enjoy this museum, and she certainly did. I also found it to be very interesting. We browsed through all of the various culture displays and found the stuffed animals and semi-realistic settings behind glass to be fascinating. This museum had a beaten down quality about it, but kept us there for awhile, nontheless. There was just so much information to read about, and all of the history present there that I have never been exposed to before almost made me furious. How could I have gone through so many years of school and still not know about any of these cultures or historical events? Of course I had heard of some of this before, but all of it just seemed so distant to me.

 What also struck me about this museum was the attention to evolution; I found it to be eye-opening. The evolution of both humans and animals was highlighted here, and the effect was really startling. Day to day we do not think about these sorts of things, but at AMNH, you are forced to dwell on the cold, hard reality surrounding humanity- a bit frightening, I'd say.  As I explored this display, I began to think about the fact that it is just so easy to get caught up in one's routine while working in the city (what many refer to as "the daily grind") and forget about philosophy, science, literature- all those things we dwelled on so much during our studies. Leisurely trips to the museum like this need to become more frequent of an activity for me, I think. Regardless, it is so important to be able to take time to reflect in solitude once in awhile while living in a city like this. I think that may be why I value going to church so much more than I ever did. It has the same effect- it makes me sit there and really just quietly think about "the bigger questions" in life. A friend of mine who also lives in the Upper East Side just agreed with me on this. She said just walking into a quiet church calms her down.

After walking through the various halls filled with historical and anthropological displays, we stepped into the ocean wing. The giant, life- sized blue whale hanging from the ceiling was absoutely terrifying and awe-inspiring. It took me awhile to realize that this was actually the size of this ocean animal. After this, Steph wanted to take a look at the Margaret Mead wing, which was an expose' of her Pacific anthropological studies. I think this was very inspiring for Steph, as she is about to enter the same field. 

Towards the end of our browsing, we took a look out of the wide windows on the top floor that overlook the city. We sat on a bench and just tried to soak in the expansive, dreary setting before us as we caught our breaths. I had forgotten how exhausting it was to visit museums, even though it only involves walking around and browsing. We did it all the time in Europe and somehow had unlimited energy for everything we did while abroad, but not on this day. Maybe it is because we are just getting older!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Billy Elliot!

Change of plans- I probably won't be hitting up the museums until at least next weekend. I was lucky enough to be taken to one of the greatest shows on Broadway by a close friend from Leuven (Katrien) and her boyfriend Jon- so nice of them! I feel that a write up on this spectacular play is more than appropriate for an arts and society blog! Miss you Katrien!

To be completely honest, I had no idea what Billy Elliot was about before I went to see it. The only thing that really drew me to the show was the fact that it has won numerous Tony awards. Rave reviews from people I know was added incentive. At the beginning I wasn't sure if it was going to be as great as people made it out to be, as the opening act consisted of a huge television screen with video footage of union protests in Newcastle. It seemed like it was going to be more of a history lesson than a broadway production, and even though I am very interested in history, it just didn't catch my attention. However, as soon as the wide array of intricate sets were revealed, and the young actor playing Billy Elliot began dancing, I started to become more engaged in not just the show, but the context of it. I started to feel for the characters and become interested in their fates.

Billy Elliot is a twelve year old boy growing up in Northern England who has no desire to mine coal, drink all day, or become a boxer; he is the black sheep of his family and town, a social outcast. One day, after accidentally stumbling upon a ballet class full of girls following a pitiful boxing lesson, he realizes his potential and passion to become a great dancer, and finds himself taken under the wing of the instructor, who sees a future in ballet for this young, talented boy. Billy's father walks into the building right in the middle of Billy's dance, and angrily tells him that he will not be a goddamned "bally" dancer. Afterall, "bally" dancing is for "poofs". Billy is left hysterical and alone, not knowing where to turn for support.

Following an offer from the dance instructor to give him lessons and help him apply to the Royal Ballet Academy, Billy continues practicing ballet in secret, until he must acquire the money to audition for admission into this prestigious school. This forces him to reveal to the public that ballet dancing is his life pursuit. Surprisingly, the blue collar town contributes to his fund, which brings about unity between all of the various classes, and allows the families to bond, despite their varying backgrounds.

The most impressive parts of the play for me were the intricate sets and the story itself, more than the music or costumes. I've heard much better singing on a broadway stage, and I've certainly heard better music by Elton John, but those working on this production did a great job with conveying the atmosphere in Newcastle at the time. Billy's home consists of a kitchen below a tall spiral staircase that rises from below the stage (not sure how that technology works). His bed is situated at the top of the spiral staircase, and emphasizes the fact that Billy's only places of refuge are the privacy of his own bedroom and the dance floor. His elevated bed draws attention and forces the crowd to empathize with Billy's situation. His abusive father forces him to escape whenever possible, and his feelings of frustration and loneliness are highlighted with the elevated bed. In one scene, Billy tosses up the wire frame of his bed and dances to a dark song that reveals his inner anger, all of which displays a creative use of the set.

Another scene that strikes the attention of the audience is one in which a hoard of police regulating the strike come onto the stage with the ballet dancers, while both dance in unison. The policeman, standing rigidly in a horizontal line, beat their batons against thick plastic shields, resulting in an extremely terrifying noise, so loud that forces you want to plug your ears. The ballet dancers take part in their own routine while this goes on. The clash between the police and the delicate little ballet dancers emphasizes the struggle between the common folk of Newcastle and the brutal authority of Margaret Thatcher's enforcers.

My favorite scene was one in which young Billy meets an older version of himself and dances in unison with him. Both are wearing the same outfit and perform the exact same moves (older Billy is much more muscular!), so it is almost as if it is a mirror image dancing on the stage. Fog is blown onto the stage to create a dream-like effect, as Billy is, in fact, supposedly imagining this encounter. Billy's encounter with his older self bolsters his self confidence and enables him to stand up to his angry, forceful father. At the end of this powerful scene, Billy strikes a solid pose right in front of his outraged father, who is standing arms akimbo. This scene is symbolic of Billy's evolution from boy to man; it displays Billy's newfound confidence, which he slowly acquires, despite all of the obstacles that face him. After this, I found myself reflecting on times where I have envisioned my future self and tried to picture the state I will be in ten years from now- scary, yet exciting.

The lead actor in this play, although only 12 or 14 years old, was an excellent dancer, and was most impressive throughout. I should not have been surprised with the amount of young talent present in this musical, but I truly was. Billy's young sidekick, who reveals himself to be a "poof" in secret, was extremely talented as well for his age. His antics were entertaining, and, all in all, I believe that it was great to address the issue of homosexuality and the oppression that can result in exposing one's true nature. There was one particular scene where Billy's young pal (gosh, I'm blanking on his name) makes Billy dress up in his mother's clothes and dance around flamboyantly. He reminds Billy that there is no shame in this and that he should do whatever he wants, regardless of the social stigma that can come with being genuine. The overall message of this play was great; it really reminds us all to be ourselves and accept others, regardless of our varying talents, hobbies, appearances, or passions. Billy ultimately is accepted into the Royal Ballet Academy and becomes a successful dancer, illustrating the fact that dedication, self confidence, and perserverence in the face of opposition are the keys to accomplishment in life. This play was powerful, and the scene with Billy and his future self dancing together is absolutely the most inspiring scene I've seen in a musical to date. Go see it!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

The Necessity of Friends in a City Teeming with Strangers

I am sitting alone once again in my barely furnished apartment with mixed feelings of both respite and loneliness- a combination of feelings frequently felt by anybody living in New York City. My friends from Leuven came out last night and we had a great time together, but it has been hard having people come in and out, always staying just for a bit. This morning we all sat and reminisced about our days abroad when we would travel on a whim and then sit all day talking and eating together for the majority of the time that we weren't traveling. The most special thing about going abroad was being able to bond with people on a deeper level than with anyone else in any other circumstances.  Now it seems as though all catching up must be done within a small time frame; everything is just so much more rushed than it used to be. I don't feel settled. 

Even though people come and go, staying for only a brief stint, seeing familiar faces makes it so much easier to survive in such a cold-hearted, frantic city, full of people who only notice themselves. For such a populated island, Manhattan is ever so lonely, and I don't think I will ever be able to pinpoint the reason for this. When friends aren't coming into town, I am usually escaping to the suburbs in New Jersey or visiting friends in other cities.  I must admit that I do feel a bit lost right now, and am trying to find a place that I can truly call home. These days, "home" seems to be a relative term. I guess if I had a community here I would perhaps feel more at home, but this city isn't very conducive to that. As cliche as it really is, the people in your life make a place feel like home. I am not sure where I will be one year from now, but I do hope that I am surrounded by people that I know and love, regardless of where my path will lead. I do know one thing for sure; it is strange trying to find a home, a place to truly fit and feel content and blissfully happy, even through the down times. I'd say I had finally found that two years ago in the people I became so close with from Loyola. 

Next blog will be more artsy- Moma and AMNH October 15 or 16!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Meet Me at the Met

Believe it or not, I have yet to experience just about all of the museums that New York City has to offer- which sure is a lot. So far, I have only been in the Met, but if it counts for anything at all, I have been there twice.  When you initially step foot in this vast museum, you are overtaken by throngs of tourists trying to figure out where the heck they are supposed to pay for admission and begin their exploration of this never-ending, world-famous mansion of art that can sometimes seem like a maze, even if you've been there a few times.  Once you finally discover how to line up for admission, almost everybody  around you proceeds to chat-chat, trying to figure out just how much the admission actually is. "I heard it was free; Is that true?" is the line coming out of most mouths as folks wait in line.  Nobody really knows how much the met costs, which is quite normal, considering that it has an optional admission donation. This does not mean that you can choose if you want to pay or not, but, rather, it means that you can choose just how much you want to give to the Met. After spending a year bargaining my way through Europe, finagling deals left and right, and moving to the city on a publisher's salary, it is difficult for me to want to spend any more than the bare minimum for admission, regardless of my avid support for the arts.  So I feel my face turn red as I pretend to act like I am uninformed of the optional donation amount.  Once I discover that it is optional from the clerk, I hang my head and say, "fifty cents is all I have, sorry. I'm a student". Not only is the first part a blatant lie, but the second part of that couldn't be farther from the truth either these days. As I stand at the entrance of such a classy, historic museum, I can't help but feel cheap and shameful at the thought of my fifty cent donation. Some guy says to me, "Hey, you can pay twenty- five cents and still get in!", as if to try and make me feel better. Soon after, I walk up to the "Met Supporters" wall and realize that this museum is doing perfectly fine and does not need my pathetic fifty cents, even if there is a sign that claims it needs our donations to stay open.  Conde Nast publications and J.P. Morgan Chase are just two of the donors to the Met. Needless to say, even if my fifty cents were fifty dollars, The Met still has these big time organizations to provide for it.

The first time I visited the Met, I walked through the "Model as Muse" exhibit, which was stunning and tragic at the same time. It was enthralling to be able to see the old covers of Vogue- covers from a time when the publication still held its dignity and had old fashioned class. One cover stands out in my mind. It is black and white, and simply has the face of a woman on the front, wearing a large brimmed hat. The hat has a connecting piece of net on it that partially hides the woman's face, making for a mysterious, sexy, and unforgettable image.  I think one of the only colors visible is the red from her lipstick.  It is so simple, yet so elegant. These days, Vogue is something close to 75 percent ads. As I made my way through the exhibit, it was sad to see the classic fashions of Dior and Chanel fade and give way to the trashy, edgy looks that Kate Moss sports. Suffice it to say, the evolution of fashion says a lot about the direction our culture has gone and where we are headed. Magazines pander to the consumer-driven world of advertising, and, sadly, they are watered down versions of what they used to be.

Now that I'm done with my little tirade about modern culture, I will tell you a little story about something that happened to me in the Impressionist exhibit. I've always been a huge fan of Impressionism, mainly because of the light and use of color that is such a large part of it altogether.  One of my all time favorite museums is the Musee D'Orsay in Paris, due to its large collection of brilliant impressionist paintings by Monet, Degas, Van Gogh- among others. I could really spend all day looking at this stuff; it just makes me so calm and happy. So anyways, I am looking at this beautiful painting of the shore by Degas, and all of the sudden, this short, creepy looking guy comes up to me and asks me what my opinion is of this painting and if I am an artist. He then starts to go on about his attempts at art and his skills at writing, which is really of no interest to me whatsoever. I think I tried to be somewhat friendly and told him about my career as a staff writer for our school newspaper, which seemed to impress him a bit too much. However, after this short attempt at socializing with a complete stranger, I awkwardly listened a bit longer and decided it was time to make my escape. This sorts of run ins are commonplace for me- just ask anyone who knows me well. Is there a sign on me that says, "Please come talk to me and increase the level of awkwardness in my life, because it just isn't high enough"?

My second visit to the Met was with a friend, and I must say that going with somebody is far different than going alone (more enjoyable? Depends on your mood). I showed her my favorites, as if the Met was my living room.  There's something empowering about being able to guide somebody around the Met. It was also nice to have feedback about the art this time and to not have random strangers approach you for no particular reason.  We were particularly impressed with the large, open room full of statues that is used for swanky fundraising events.  Light streams in from the glass windows located at the top and causes the place to glow, contrasting nicely the rest of the museum, which is is dark and cold. 

Another impressive part of the museum is its Egyptian art collection. From sculptures to vases to sarcophogi (how the heck do you spell that?)- they really have it all. It's always been so fascinating to me that all of these artifacts still exist, despite thousands of years of death, destruction, wars, etc. I will admit that I used to have a strange obsession with all things Egypt, so their vast collection really excites me.  When I was in grade school, I would check out books every single week from the library on mummies and pyramids. I was literally obsessed with mummies- especially King Tut. I truly believed that the curse of King Tut was on the whole city of Cairo and that everybody there was doomed for all eternity. Looking back, I don't know how I slept at night after looking at pictures hundred year old frozen explorers found in Nova Scotia and the like. I'm not normal now, and I wasn't back then either. Nobody needs to remind me of that; I am too aware of it.

 I think I'll go to the Met again many more times, both alone and with friends; it is nice knowing that I can walk six blocks and pay fifty cents (or less) for the likes of Monet, Michaelangelo, and 5,000 year old Egyptian sculptors. No offense, guys.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Subway is New York

I decided to start this blog for several reasons. Primarily, I really just wanted to have a chance to keep writing, now that school is over and I can't write for the fine, upstanding Loyola Greyhound newspaper anymore.  I guess I'll go ahead and just admit that I miss writing English research papers as well (although certainly not as much).  Second, I feel like it is a great opportunity to share my thoughts, just in case somebody out there does care (haha).  At the NYU Summer Publishing Institute, all of the panelists really encouraged us to start a blog, as a means of practicing writing and developing our thoughts on things, as long as our musings are an honest attempt to be intelligent, hah. 

So I think I'll make my first post kind of general for now and just go ahead and talk about my adjustment to life in the city- sort of a blog on New York City life coming from a small town girl who came here to break into publishing.  I think my general reflections on the subway may be a good place to start, as it is probably the most interesting facet of New York that I have encountered thus far. On the subway, people are absolutely relentless. The mass chaos begins at approximately 8:00 am, when hoards of angry looking people in their suits and dresses rush towards the 86th street stop in a mob, like rats running from water or something like that. You would never guess that they are simply going to work, because it seems like they're running from something- that there's a dire emergency of some sort that they are worried about.  With ipods in their ears, these people never once look up from the pavement to make eye contact with anybody around them, much less smile- or make any facial expression, for that matter.  For a moment, I feel as though I am in the movie Groundhog Day.  When I first started taking the 86th street stop, I didn't recognize anybody at all, but now that I have been taking it for over a month, I begin to see the same people with the same clothes on, performing the same actions- over and over. For example, I always see this older blonde woman with brown sperries and navy shorts on walking her small dog every single morning at the same time. She is always right outside of Papaya, and chats in a friendly manner with her neighbors, friends, or whatever they are, as if she is in suburban North Carolina. It's kind of funny to see that sort of thing in the morning as everybody else is solely concerned with catching their train on time to get to work. It's a breath of fresh air. I just worry that somebody will notice my routine, because there are enough mentally insane people in this city that there's that chance of being stalked. And of course I'm paranoid enough of a person to have that cross my mind.

As I approach the entrance to the subway, I get extremely anxious- my heart rate soars, and I start to sweat profusely. Everybody is pushing and shoving to get downstairs to the turnstile first, as if one second will make or break their entire existence on this earth. I have noticed myself getting much more pushy in the city with each and every incident that I am pushed out of the way. People grab an AM New York from the various men shouting out random friendly phrases such as, 'Have a nice day', 'get your AM Metro here!', 'yeah girl, you got it goin' on, getcha metro!' Try to stay cool out there ladies and gents!' 'TGIF!'  The rush to the turnstiles then begins- people swipe and run. They bolt towards the six, even though it's directly behind the turnstiles and isn't even there yet, and those trying to make the 4 or 5 express trains get aggressive as they make their way towards the stairs. Once the subway arrives, people flock to the very outside of the doors, usually warranting a comment from the subway director telling them to back off before the others are able to get off. These people jump on to the train as soon as possible and the hunt for a minute space to stand and hold on for dear life.  I don't usually expect to find a seat, but if I ever do, it basically makes my day. However, if being seated means sitting next to a crazy person that smells so bad you can't even breathe, then it's more of a curse than a blessing.  This actually happened the other day and I almost got sick on the train. I had to stand up at the 77th street stop and bolt out to the next car, just so I could prevent myself from being one of those sick people that holds up the entire 6 line (aka one of those hunted down by other New Yorkers late to work and probably pictured on "New York's Most Wanted" list the next day. It is actually hilarious when the subway breaks down, because New Yorkers break out of their daily routine to start complaining to others about "how terrible this system is" and how they are lucky to have an understanding boss who won't be mad about them being late. I am thankful for a kink in the routine, because I know my boss will understand, and also because there's human interaction. Even if it's just complaining, I'm talking to somebody. 

As the train takes off, people start to make awkward eye contact with each other, which is interspersed between reading and listening to music. There's always that occasional obnoxious person who plays their music loud enough to deafen others, let alone themselves. As people begin looking around, I always feel as though somebody is staring into the back of my skull, and it really makes me uncomfortable. It really baffles me how New Yorkers refuse to look at you until they are bored and forced to stand still for five seconds. Then they make up for the lack of eye contact they have experienced over the course of their time in New York- the result is a complete stranger memorizing every blemish on your face at 8:15 AM. LOVELY.

Oh Grand Central. How I adore the 42nd street stop. As the train halts at this particular stop, the train cars opens up and you don't have to be crammed up against random strangers fearing that a creepy man is checking you out or that somebody desperately poor or crazy will rob you.  You can breathe, relax, and sit down. I may consider opening a book and beginning to read just like everybody else, but as soon as I open up my book, people start staring at me and trying to figure out just exactly what it is that I am reading, which also feels like an invasion of privacy. As I sit there, I honestly can't help but look around at everybody else and wonder where they are from, what is running through their heads, and where they work. My privacy is being invaded, but I partake in invading the privacy of others. As far as I'm concerned, I don't have a choice in these situations. The worst thing ever in the morning is couples- couples groping each other and whispering sweet nothings into their partner's ear, loud enough that the entire train can hear them. I think recently I have actually begun to roll my eyes at people such as this, and they probably think I am some rude, heartless, grumpy love-hater, but really, it's just annoying to have people displaying so much affection so early in the morning in public, when you are just trying to mentally prepare yourself for the workday ahead and you are alone all day every day, separated from all friendly human contact yourself- so ok, yeah maybe their assumptions about my angry stare are correct. New Yorkers are incredibly private, except when it comes to the subway. Here, people's entire lives are exposed to strangers in a car with minimal space, causing love to make you feel claustrophobic, and consequently feel like a New Yorker- paranoid of human interaction-wow, what a paradoxical situation. 

On the subway, you also get to to see an interesting slice of the diversity that is New York City. Just the other day, I was taking the express from 86th to 14th, and this fifty-something year old guy walked on with a mountain bike and tattoos covering his entire body. He was nervously shaking, as if he was either on drugs or too much caffeine; he looked paranoid or something. I had enough time to explore his tattoos and it was odd that I could actually discover a few things about a complete stranger whom I would most likely never see again in my life. For instance, he had a Maryland flag tattooed to his leg and also a swiss flag. I got a bit excited when I saw both of these flags, as Baltimore will always have a special place in my heart and so will Switzerland (probably my favorite country that I visited while abroad). I could definitely picture this guy leading extreme excursions in Switzerland in the canyons or something like that. It's funny how you can learn a bit about somebody on the train from body language, dress, or the book they are reading. On other days, I see mexican families speaking Spanish to each other as they ride the train to work with kids in tow. I'll get on the train at 86th and notice that it's only African-Americans sitting down, as the train has just come from Harlem. I'll see Chinese women with kids and can't help but think that they are probably headed towards Canal to sell purses or to their dry cleaning store along with others from their neighborhood or family. I have these impressions (and hope I don't seem politically incorrect), but it is comforting for me to know that all of these people have their communities in America, regardless of how strange they must feel in a foreign country. I always wonder- why are nail shops always run by Asians? Why are the laundromats always run by Mexicans?  These may seem like very elementary musings, but honestly, who doesn't wonder about these things? What matters is that they feel a part of something. And the fact that they feel a part of something makes me jealous. I'm an American and I probably feel more foreign in this city than they do. Just the other day I was doing laundry and three Mexicans were folding wash and speaking Spanish to each other as they put the clothes in bags for delivery. I sat alone with my book and just tried to take it in.

When I step off the train, it is suddenly stripping away the temporary state of comfort that I am in. Oddly enough, I go from extremely UNcomfortable to comfortable throughout the morning subway ride. After 42nd street, it is much more calm and it allows me to almost fall back asleep, as I haven't had my coffee yet.  But then the 28th street stop comes up, and I have to force myself to off the train, trudge up the stairs, and be teased by the delicious smells coming from the coffee and bagel stand directly outside of the stop. I remind myself that there's free coffee in the office and that I have already had enough Kashi Go Lean Crunch to kill a horse (my attempt at being healthy consists of eating five bowls of 'healthy' cereal in the morning). Keep walking, Lauren. You'll make it. "Another day, another dollar", the song "Money" by Pink Floyd, and "Everybody's workin' for the weekend" go through my head. I walk through the revolving doors to my 40 story building and take a deep breath.