A Real Life Gallery Girl Speaks

These are the girls that make up Gallery Girls.

Okay, so I confess that I have yet to tune into Bravo’s latest reality TV confection and second foray into the contemporary art world known as “Gallery Girls.”

“Why do I need to watch a reality show about the New York art world? I lived it! I still live it every day! I eat girls like that for breakfast!”

Unpaid internships. Trying to woo notable collectors in the hopes they’d make my name. Throwing about the word “post-modern” like I actually know what it means. Dipping my feet into the “to-be-seen” crowd at openings. Contemplating ripping a page from a book a fellow grad student needed for their thesis. Crying the night before an opening.

When it comes to the “ugly” of a girl trying to make her way in a cutthroat job market, where the supply of the over-privileged with an “in” and bitchy, inadequate backstabbers outweighs the demand for jobs, I’ve done it all.

Luckily, I survived that stage of unpaid internships, underpaid assistant gigs, and digging for threadbare connections unscathed and with my dignity intact.

I want to still be me when I wake up one fine morning and have breakfast at Gagosian

“I want to still be me one fine morning when I wake up and have breakfast at Gagosian.”

Okay, so that’s not exactly the way Holly Golightly said it, but you get my drift.
I decided I wanted a career in the art world when I was a sophomore in college.
By the time I finished my masters, I had already been an unpaid museum intern, an unpaid gallery intern, a curatorial assistant at a marquee institution, and a paid gallery researcher.

While I was getting that degree, the bottom fell out of the economy. The bustling, booming art market screeched to halt. And the academic world lost interest in the unsung stories of women artists.

I took at unpaid internship at MoMA — an amazing opportunity that I never would have gotten without a graduate degree. Go figure.

What I learned en route to becoming a Gallery Director was that, just like any industry, getting a foot in the proverbial door is as much about chance as it is about skill set, bravado, and connections.

The job I wanted opened at MoMA four months after my internship ended. I sent in my resume to HR but followed up with an email to the curator I had worked for. I would learn months later that the email went into her SPAM folder.

“If I had known you were applying, I would have stepped in with HR,” she told me when we crossed paths at the museum.

Sometimes your resume goes missing.

Sometimes, you piss-off the wrong professor and get black-balled from admissions to the grad-school program of your dreams (what happened to me).

Sometimes the collector that family friends puts you in touch with gets you an interview at a great gallery (not what happened to me).

Sometimes that collector wants you to hand out napkins at their dinner party — but at least they’ll pay you $15/hour (what happened to me.)

Sometimes you land a paid internship that turns into a full-time job (not what happened to me).

Sometimes you land a paid internship — a $10/day lunch stipend in a neighborhood where the average lunch price is $15 and there is no public transport node near the gallery because it’s practically on the West Side Highway (what happened to me).

Sometimes you read an article about a person in a magazine and think, hey I want to work for her. And then you become an unpaid intern in her company, but never meet her until 3 years later when she’s interviewing you for a job. She lets you in. (what happened to me.)

The door’s open.  All that’s left is you and your experience, your eye, and your bravado to make something of yourself .

Once you’re through the door, it’s up to you, your experience, your eye and your bravado to make something of yourself.

What Superbowl XLVI Revealed About my Relationship History

I'm armed with my Giants t-shirt. Too bad my date rooted for the Patriots.

Who would have thought a Superbowl Game could reveal so much about my romantic history? Gearing up for this weekend’s New York-New England showdown put me face-to-face with a startling trend in my dating habits.  Apparently, there’s a part of me that’s a masochist, because as I look down the timeline of relationships and dates past, all this Yankee sees is a string of New Englanders in their Red Sox caps and Patriots jerseys.

I was still carrying the bag housing my freshly-purchased Giants t-shirt when I met Robert for drinks. Robert and I seemed a nice fit. Putting aside his boyish good looks, he was an artist and environmentalist, and for both of these I have a particular soft spot. But then the trouble begins. Robert is a Rhode Island born, Vermont educated Patriots fan. I am a Giants fan (newly-minted, albeit, but still a fan), and when our discussion turned to the pending Superbowl, we both started to get prickly.

It's a modern day, sports world Romeo and Juliet. If they can make it work, why can't I?

The story of Romeo & Juliet is one of the most over romanticized in the history of English literature, and yet I find myself destined to play the part of the New York Montague consistently attracted to a New England Capulet.

That boy my senior year of high school. My first love in college. The last 4 guys I’ve been on at least one date with. Red Sox fan after Patrios fan after Bruins fan after Harvard alum. It’s my tragic flaw – I always seem to fall hardest for men who root for my teams’ arch-rivals.

I blame New York men, mostly, for this. If New Yorkers canoed more, if they were more transcendental, if they had served time on turkey farms  in their youth, I might find it easier to fall for one of my own men in pinstripes. But there’s something about that rugged New Englander with a well-worn copy of Walden in his back pocket and a knack for layering sweaters that I find totally irresistible.

Given my type, this may very well have to be my wedding cake.

Luckily, Robert hates baseball, so if anything comes of this, I won’t wake up to find my Jeter t-shirt slashed to bits or my traveling Yankee gnome beheaded.

Back in 2008, when my MA thesis advisor recommended I apply to Harvard for my doctorate, I practically spat at her:

“I’m a New Yorker! I can’t live in a city that roots for the Red Sox.”

In the wake of Superbowl 2012 and what it reveals about my dating history, it occurred to me that this may have been a foolish display of stubbornness. In December, I’ll be applying again for PhD programs. I suppose I’d better apply to some Boston schools, because apparently this pinstriped Juliet is in the wrong city to find her Romeo.

When You’re Having a Bad Dating Week Just Don’t Read “He’s Just Not that into You”

Jack Berger was my favorite S&TC boyfriend... even if he was insecure and emotionally handicapped

I’ll never forget the first time I saw that episode of Sex & the City where Jack Berger (incidentally, my favorite of Carrie’s emotionally inadequate boyfriends) bursts Miranda’s bubble with the simple phrase “He’s just not that into you.” The scene struck a chord as I had recently tired to tell a good girlfriend exactly the same thing:

“Listen, Jess, he took the evil red-headed stick figure actress to his office party. And the book signing. And dinner. He’s not dating you. He just d0esn’t, ya know, like you.”

Albeit, my phrasing was perhaps a big meaner. But frankly, we had consumed so many bottles of sake that she didn’t pay much attention to my solo shake-up in a chorus of “He’s totally waiting for the right moment to tell you he loves you.”

Gag me with a spoon.

Jane Austen’s Mr. Darcy claims: A lady’s imagination is very rapid; it jumps from admiration to love, from love to matrimony, in a moment.” I’ve never been one of those girls. But that doesn’t mean that once in a rare, rare while, I haven’t found myself face-to-face with a man who ignites daydreams of the possible. Once in a rare, rare while, this pragmatic romantic loses the pragmatic and becomes a full-fledged romantic.

I think the post-it notes say it all...

And it was one of these rare, rare moments that sent me running to the book that came out of that Sex & the City episode, that book “He’s Just Not That Into You.” I had bought it to give to my aforementioned friend. I kept it instead. She clearly had no intentions to read it anyway.

The writers confirmed my intuitions — his lack of follow-up to our enjoyable early dates were sign that he wasn’t interested enough. The reasons were irrelevant, all that mattered was he didn’t like me as much as I had liked him. Ouch.

The book may have been right on some points, but it was wrong to tell me not to chase a little. Years later, when he was on to someone else, he confessed:

“I didn’t think you were that interested. If you had called, I absolutely would have seen you again.”

Some women are barracudas -- flashy fighters worthy of a trophy mount

New York is a man’s world when it comes to dating — this was a conclusion a male friend and I came to not so long ago over coffee. In NYC, an accomplished man with taste and half-way decent looks is the fisherman that doesn’t have to drop a line into the water to catch a fish. The fish just jump into the boat.

In a sea full of well-educated, well-dressed, good-looking fish, a man has options. Some of those women are barracuda — flashy fighters worthy of a wall mount. Which means sometimes, if you don’t want to lose out on a happily ever after, you have to get in the game and hop into that boat.

Anthony Bourdain Takes Me Back to Cuba

“Of all the places you’ve been,” asked Frank over a drink, “what’s your favorite?”

I paused to consider — when you’ve been a lot of interesting places and made an effort to make the most of your journeys, the answer is always: all of them. But in an attempt to be both cool and thoughtful, I cited Havana, Cuba.

In June of 2008, I was a fencer en route to a World Cup competition. I arrived in Havana dressed in white linen and a straw hat, hoping to capture a bygone era, thirsting for a Mojito, and hungry for a taste of a forbidden city. I could travel there, the letter from the US Treasury said, but I couldn’t spend any money.

I didn’t know what to expect when I arrived, but like Anthony Bourdain said on “No Reservations” last night, “I didn’t expect it to be so beautiful…Even run down, shabby, neglected Cuba is beautiful…heart-breakingly beautiful.”

Walking through Old Havana is like walking through an archeological dig undergoing a fairy-godmother transformation

I was struck by many things during my stay — mainly that walking through Old Havana is like walking through an archeological dig undergoing a haphazard fairy-godmother transformation. The architecture is striking. A mix of deco and colonial baroque styles set against the ocean’s edge. From afar, the skyline still beams the promise of a cosmopolitan city. Up close, the buildings’ dilapidated state becomes abundantly clear. Beautiful buildings a shell of their former selves.

A city under construction
An old city under slow and plodding construction

Before I left New York, I made sure to do some reading on the Cuban Revolution — The Motorcycle Diaries would not be my only source of information on Che Guevara. But to visit the Museo de la Revolucion to see a Cuban history of the shift to a communist regime was enlightening. It’s always healthy to compare one side’s propaganda with the other’s…

At the Museuo de la Revolucion, the delivery truck that allowed the students to rush the palace and thus begin the change in government
A wall label at the Museo de la Revolucion
The leaders of the revolution, Castro, Che and Camillio

As Bourdain experienced, I found the Cuban people to be warm and approachable, proud and  resourceful. “We like Americans. We love Americans,” my bellhop said. “It’s only your government we don’t love.”

A street vendor in Havana
There is a profound sense of community

Unlike Anthony, I can’t say I ever had a great meal — several good mojitos, yes, fantastic dinner, no. I got to ride around town in a vintage car, with native Cubans who spoke little English but who were eager to converse. But if there’s one thing I wish I could have done while in Cuba, it was go to a baseball game. On that, Anthony has the one-up.

the vintage car that showed us Old Havana

3 Guys and 3 Dates vs. the Blizzard and “Say Yes to the Dress”

The best-laid, over-ambitious plans of mice and single women often go awry.

3 guys. 3 dates scheduled, snowed-out and rescheduled…all for one Friday. Could it be done? The men and the proposed timetable seemed agreeable: one date would be with a doctor for a professional NY sports team who had an afternoon off. The second would be early evening drinks with a guy I had had crush on when I 17 . The last would be dinner with a guy I had uncharacteristically made-out with at a bar. I had the dress, the shoes, and the stamina. They had the charm and the credit cards. What none of us had going for us was the weather.

It was a romantic winter wonderland... but a winter wonderland condusive for 3 dates in one night?

I woke up Friday Power-Date Day to a raging blizzard. Hand-sized snowflakes blurred the trees 10 feet from my window and coated the streets. Date 1: snow-checked, again. Dates 2 and 3: pending.

By early evening, the snow had relented and the streets were being cleared. It would not have been impossible to forsake the new designer pumps in the name of sturdy boots. It would not have been impossible to head out into the night for lightweight flirtations buoyed by liquid fortification. I called Bachelors 2 and 3 — the winter-weather advisory was still in effect until morning. Should we meet wearing our snowshoes or cross-country skis?

3 guys. 3 dates scheduled, snowed-out, rescheduled, snowed-out, and rescheduled.

My dates now canceled, I was content to be snuggled in alone. With my phone turned off and my sweat pants on, I turned my TV on and tuned in to TLC. Sometimes, hot cocoa tastes better when enjoyed along side other guilty pleasures… like wedding-themed reality TV.

Outside, one snow storm settled while another loomed in the coming week.

Somewhere in the city a couple was grateful for sloppy street cleanups giving them an excuse to be snowed-in for a weekend together.

Inside my living-room, a “Say Yes to the Dress” marathon raged and I was a willing, if not unexpected captive.

What to do when your date gets snowed out? Watch a "Say Yes to the Dress" marathon, of course!

My Mother is my Wing-Woman

The Dynamic Duo of Diane & Kathleen

My mother and I make one notorious team. We’re legendary actually. We’re kind of big deals. Ask anyone in any department at Neiman Marcus or Whole Foods or Agata & Valentina or NikeTown. We’re a sort of the Hilary and Chelsea in the great world of unsung heroes. Imagine a  little Lucy and Ethyl mashed with Keri Walsh and Misty-Mae Trainer. There’s a 40-year spread between us, but you wouldn’t know it to listen to us.

We’re power-players with big ideas, big plans, and a knack for getting things done… and for getting in to trouble. What, drive 3,000 miles in 3 days to avoid taking an airplane? No problem. But we’re also a walking comedy act.  Get us together in an awkward situation, and everyone goes home giggling.

She’s a master at the big picture and too brilliant  for her own good. I’m Miss Detail and a quick study who knows how to make ideas into material things. She has experience and smarts, I have the boundless energy of youth. We’re both quick to point out the absurd and even quicker to make a wisecrack. She raised me on Farragamos, Tanqueray, and the Beatles. I introduced her to Tory Burch, Cosmopolitans, and Madonna.  She taught me everything I know about most things, but I taught her about Kirchner and Sargent. She’s my best wingwoman. When I’m out on the town with her, I never go home without a phone number.

We’d make an awesome duo in a reality show. Don’t believe me? Here’s a sneak-peak:

We're good at making biker-buddies

Scene: Kathleen and Diane are sitting in the living room.

Kathleen: Do you want to see Bob Dylan in concert?

Diane: Sure. When is he coming to New York?

Kathleen: Actually, I was thinking we’d go seem him in Cleveland. It’s about a 500 mile drive.

Diane: Okay. Did you want to rent some motorcycles too?

(Kathleen and Diane drive to Cleveland and meet up with some vintage Hell’s Angels… no joke)


Scene: Kathleen and Diane are standing in the elevator of a medical building. A tall, dark, handsome resident wearing a Columbia signet ring walks in and smiles at Kathleen, who is also wearing a Columbia signet ring. On the next floor he’s gone. Diane smacks Kathleen on the back of the head.

Diane: How many times do I have to tell you! When you see a good looking man in an elevator, talk to him. As long as he doesn’t look like an axe-murder, good things may come of it.  I met your father in an elevator. I asked him if he was Dutch, because, as I told him, he had a very Dutch-looking nose. 48 years later, I’m reminding him to trim his nose-hairs.

Scene: Kathleen is getting dressed for an interview. She has poison-ivy on her feet and ankles and is in crisis mode because she can’t wear her designated “interview” dress. She hollars for Diane. Diane comes up the stairs and finds Kathleen standing on the landing in high-waisted Katherine Hepburnesque pants, 3-inch Farragamo pumps, and a magenta bra:

Diane: That looks good. Why can’t you wear that?

Kathleen: Because I’m interviewing to work at an auction house, not auditioning to be one of Madonna’s backup dancers.