Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Time, Weather, Transport and Money: A Matrix

If you commute in and out of the city like we do, you may have noticed that the traffic seems to have gotten worse over time.  I don’t mean to be one of those “it always gets worse people” (the equivalent of, “kids these days!”), but really – empirically – it seems to take f-o-r-e-v-e-r to get home from NYC over the past several months.  I used to figure on a good five hours for a typical go-see or audition, and when I say it’s been taking seven plus hours sometimes, I am not kidding.  (And please feel free to shake your head and tsk-tsk me on this one; I get it, it sounds insane.  Sometimes it is.  Did you read my last post?  Maybe it’s all connected.)

Yesterday all the stars aligned and I was able to take my daughter to two go-sees.  I had no doctors’ appointments (first weekday in forever), her kindergarten end-of-year assembly was in the morning (in a combined 23 end-of-school-years for my children, I had been to exactly one other one when I was on maternity leave, so BIG MOMENT FOR ME)…and I had the afternoon “free.”  Don’t let that fool you – it’s not like I don’t have a million things piled up from my Spring O’ Paralysis – but I actually sort of thought, hey…I can do this.

Now, being a little short on the cash (co-pays, HSA, etc…feeling kind of broke right now), I wanted to be semi-fiscally conscious.  I used my Best Parking app to check out garages, but these two go-sees were in the fashion district, and parking in that part of town is outrageous during the day.  I was getting amounts like $48 for over an hour.  Let’s throw in some time concerns.  I wanted my daughter to stay in school as long as possible but had to be mindful of two go-sees, one of which was quickly getting the reputation of a million kids with a zillion hour wait.  And it was raining.  Dry day?  Walkable distance between the two.  Pouring rain with a kid who needed to look presentable?  No walking.  So, I’m thinking about the matrix of money, time, transportation, and weather.  This is a true model-mom’s matrix.  And probably the reason why we drink wine immediately upon returning home.

 Rain means slow driving.  We learned that in drivers’ ed, right?  Well, rain on a 100 mile commute could mean three circles of hell in Dante’s world.  But…but…there was no traffic.  My WAZE app took me my most direct and favorite route.  I hardly tapped the brakes.  When I got close to the city, I decided to aim for…wait for it…street parking near a subway.  And where better to do that than my old neighborhood?!?  I got off the West Side Highway at 125th Street, zoomed my way up Broadway, and parked smack in front of the Barnard College gates.  I maxed out the Muni-Park (six whole dollars) in case we had to wait two hours at the go-see and then wanted dinner.  Add the ultra-convenient bathroom in Barnard Hall (I had a big iced-tea along the way) and we were on the downtown #1 train by 2:15.  Frame of reference: I left my daughter’s school at 12:15.  I made it to the city, IN THE RAIN, parked and went to the bathroom in TWO HOURS.

Smooth sailing on the subway…and my indelible memory of the layout of the Times Square station had me exit the subway exactly one block from the address of go-see #1.  A little rain but not pouring rain fell on the way…and we wound our way through one of the big fashion district showroom buildings, which are filled with designers’ workspaces and showrooms where buyers can come to place orders.  These buildings are very cool.  The hallways snake around seemingly endlessly, and you can peek in the glass “storefronts” at the different designers’ stuff.  It’s not like you can shop, because these are appointment-only businesses, but it’s a cool insider view of the fashion industry. 

We were headed to a designer who makes gorgeous stuff – including bathing suits for children.  I won’t name her here, but for those of us in my age range, we may remember her as the teenager who dated Jerry Seinfeld way back when.  Anyway, we waited just a few minutes for another little girl to finish trying on the samples, and then it was my daughter’s turn.  Cute suits!  Nice people.  Good go-see.  And…done, on to the next.  And…of course, by the time we got downstairs, it seemed like the rain had picked up.  We put on our jackets (despite the steamy 80-ish temp) and I had to decide what to do next. 

We needed to go downtown 12 blocks and across town an avenue block and a half.  That’s about a mile.  Probably not a problem on a dry day…but rain?  Sacrifice good hair?  No.  The Subway wouldn’t be too bad, but it would still be about a third of a mile walk.  A battery powered hair dryer might be a good model-mom tool, now that I think about it.  So, executive decision: we would take a cab.  Ok, New Yorkers, what are the odds of getting a cab on 39th and Seventh Avenue at 3:00 on a rainy day?  I scoped out the street corners (four options) and made sure no one else was hailing a cab…and we waited.  And waited.  And got one! after about only 3 or 4 minutes.  NICE!  The ride was relatively short to the next go-see, and I started to get a little worried about what we would find. 

The model-mom grapevine had been all lit up all day about this one…I was hearing about long waits.  But whatever!  I wasn’t freaking out about getting home for baseball or worried about a meter running out or my garage fee going into the three-figure range.  Upon entering the building, a good sign: there were no other kids waiting by the elevator.  No other kids actually in the elevator.  And immediately off the elevator: no other kids.  I saw the name of the product on the directory and saw the studio number where they were casting, but then I saw…like, one kid.  There was no sign in sheet so I waited outside the studio and found out that there was a separate studio being used as a waiting room…which didn’t sound good.  So I went over to that studio and…and…there were two kids and moms in there.  And one mom/kid combo was a friend I was hoping to meet up with since I knew we’d be there around the same time.  SCORE! 

So…all told, between the waiting room and the casting studio, there were maybe two or three kids waiting along with my friend’s daughter.  They were taking their time with each kid, so it wasn’t a snap-and-done go-see, but the wait was really minimal.  How did this happen?  So far this trip was going supremely well (save a little rain) but – truly impressive at this point.  I could only imagine what hell would await me on the ride home.

We took the subway back uptown, and started getting excited about having some scallion pancakes at Ollie’s on 116th Street.  I hadn’t had lunch and was saving my pig-out for some fried Chinese deliciousness.  Another nice train ride, which included my daughter chatting up the other kids on the train, and we were back on Broadway and 116th…and…Ollie’s was all boarded up.  WHAT THE HECK?  I have been eating scallion pancakes at this place for 25 years!  So…we drove home.  (Reminds me that I need to find out – is it CLOSED or being renovated?  Anyone?)  And when I say we drove home – I mean, we drove.  We didn’t sit in traffic.  We actually moved.  And we left the city at 4:15, which is like, totally in the zone of rush hour.  And there was still some rain.  But there was no traffic!  A tiny bit of volume here and there, but no traffic jams!  We stopped in Danbury for a bite to eat (take out) on the way, and made it back to our house at 6:35.  It was really remarkable.

So here’s my tally:
Drive in: 1:45
Parking: $6
Subway: $5.50
Taxi:  about $9 with tip
Waiting at two go-sees: about 15 minutes total
Calories of scallion pancakes: 0
Drive home: 2:20
Savings from NOT paying $48 plus tax (that’s like, 18.75%, no joke) to park: About $30
Traffic time saved by parking uptown: lots.

According to the matrix, that all adds up very well.

Now we’ll wait to see if anything comes of the go-sees.  Statistically, probably nothing.  But, I had a nice time with my kiddo.  We didn’t get too wet…but we were bummed about the scallion pancakes.
My daughter and her buddy at the second go-see...shout out to my friend!

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Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Bizzy Paralysis (A Personal Account)

So, the Bizzy Mama is depressed.  Not like, sad or bummed out…but actually depressed.  As in, Major Depression, diagnosis code 296.33.  This depression, in my case and many others, as I am learning, is bosom buddies with crushing anxiety, panic, and sometimes a little agoraphobia.  You know, just so they have a posse.  One illness on its own is apparently not enough.

I chose to write about this because one of the biggest struggles with these illnesses is the fact that most people who have them don’t look sick.  And if you look at many of the symptoms, it can come across as laziness…or even sloth.  Unless some people really want to take a bit of time to learn about these conditions, it can be very difficult to understand how willpower alone can’t touch these symptoms…and quips like, “Just get it in your head to get up, start moving, and get through the day” get received as so demeaning and guilt-inspiring…can actually make the symptoms worse.  This is a physiologically-based illness, just like diabetes, heart disease, or Alzheimer’s…and so much of the traditional perception of what makes someone ill is based on what you can see or observe about a person.  When you see someone staying in bed all day with overflowing laundry and dishes in the sink, you think lazy.  When you see an Alzheimer’s patient disoriented, you think, oh how sad…I hope that never happens to me…is there a medication for that?

And then when someone commits suicide, I often hear people say things like, “How selfish!  Why didn’t he just reach out for help?”  Truthfully, depression-related suicide is far more likely to kill us than things like liver disease, hypertension, and Alzheimer’s.  There’s a mortality rate to this shit I’m dealing with.  And it’s no small potatoes.

I’ve battled forms of depression my whole life, with my first flare-ups in high school (only diagnosed retroactively, though) and an official first diagnosis in college.  It became particularly bad about a year after the birth of my first son, and I’ve been treated for it more intensively for the past fifteen years or so.  I also have some features of Bipolar Disorder, which do not meet the specific symptoms of Bipolar I or II, but can be nefarious enough to be ready to treat at the start of symptoms.

A few weeks ago, I shut down.  I’ve had an incredibly challenging year (I operate on a school-year schedule) with my boys being in a car accident, my mom being diagnosed with cancer THE NEXT DAY, and my spouse battling illness during the winter.  Work has also been tough, with new evaluation systems, curriculum, and teaching expectations…that make it a place virtually unrecognizable in relation to what I experienced twelve years ago when I started in that district.  I’ve had ups and downs all year, many of which I attributed to being situational – see above.  But even when things started settling down, my migraines intensified to two – three days a week.  Migraines cause exhaustion for me, and I began to spiral downward, even while my doctors were trying to find me some relief.  In the quest for some answers, they found my thyroid to be
Completely out of whack, and all of that created a recipe for disaster.  I could hardly leave my bedroom…or even my house.

So, I’m working on it all.  I have a lot to say – things about the symptoms and the thoughts that run through my head; things about the impact on the people close to me; and things about my treatment.  It will come.  But I thought I would let you know what’s up – and I’m also determined to show that hey, “normal” (that’s like foul language) “high achievers” can suffer from mental illness.  No, you probably won’t understand or recognize us unless you’ve been there yourself, but I’m here.  I want to try and help one person the way others are helping me…and if I do, sharing all of this will be worth it.

I won’t forget to write about the biz or the Biz, but considering how paralyzed I’ve been, I’m just happy to get this out to you!  Thanks for reading.

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