I have never – and frankly will never – run a marathon. The only sport I’ve played is cheerleading and, while the training was painful, we did it in mini skirts and ended it with lemonade. For a week during my senior year of college I volunteered in orphanages throughout Kingston, Jamaica. It was very hot and very emotional but only five days long and we all got free rum.
There are things that push you to your emotional and physical brink: war, childbirth, triathlons – those are the biggies as I see it. They usually involve little sleep, high stress, and no money. I had never been involved in anything quite that “break you down” until I started working for the Tribeca Film Festival. Having just today completed my second Festival I feel qualified to nominate it for placement among those biggies (frankly, I think it’s way worse than what I’ve heard about childbirth, but you don’t end up with a kid when it’s over, so birth remains).
13 days working a total of 208 hours at 36 events serving 71 sponsors, business partners, and the like. It’s a lot like war accept you’re not allowed to kill anyone and you have to wear a dress. Yes, there are celebrities and amazing films and once-in-a-lifetime experiences but the day-to-day tasks are far less glamorous than the Access Hollywood coverage would suggest. One day I worked coat check for a party of 1,000 because my volunteer “didn’t feel like it.”
Kanye West once said, “Work it, make it, do it, makes us harder, better, faster, stronger.” True and poignant words. Of course he also said, “Why everything that so bad make me feel so good?” Both apply to my Festival experience.
I worked – harder and faster than I ever have before. I’d like to think I became stronger than I was prior – emotionally and physically (for some reason setting up bars for various functions with POS (point of sale) items from our beverage sponsors falls under my job description. 6 foot tall Stella neon signs are as heavy as they look.
I survived – succeeded some might even say — and cliché as it is to say, built some of that ever-elusive but commonly hailed “character” to which loving parents and Lifetime original movies commonly allude. It’s like back-packing around Europe or writing your first screenplay. Once you do it you know you can do it, and then you start to wonder just what else you can do. Then just like that, in a haze of Festival swag, free booze, and “then Whoopi turned to me and said, ‘Damn, your Festival’s been around for a minute, but you’re really doin’ it,’” moments, your brink gets nudged a bit further.
It will be good to arrive home in the daylight and eat meals that aren’t passed to you bite-by-bite by people in oddly fitting tuxedos. Tonight I will catch up on four weeks worth of television while putting away the mountain of shoes piled up on my bedroom floor. Over this coming weekend I will call many friends and even see some of them in person. Then, after almost two months, I will make my return to the gym.
But it’s a bittersweet symphony, this life. I’m not sure if it’s that I’m still drunk on the Tribeca Cool Aid or if I’m just the type person that thrives on this kind of crazy, but I’d take another five days of it all. But anything more than that would definitely be beyond my brink — plus I’d have to repeat outfits.