Back in NYC

This summer has been amazing. I spent the first two months of it on the road, first at a 9-day meditation retreat with Shinzen Young. I won’t try to summarize an experience that rocked my world like that one did.. Then I headed to Los Angeles to do a few days of work with the New Media Advocacy Project (which is complete and I will hopefully be able to showcase on this blog sometime soon.) Then it was off to Frameline in SF for a week (where my short was playing,) and back to Los Angeles to teach at the Harvard-Westlake summer film program. I was one of a staff of excellent teachers under Cheri Gaulke, and we taught high school students animating, writing, production, and editing. Working with kids was amazing.

After Harvard-Westlake I flew to Nashville to welcome my old friend Suud into the United States, and just so happened…well, I should tell the story.

I was expecting a completely silent meditation retreat. It was what I wanted; I wanted the experience of being so deprived of social interaction, the release of tension that comes with laughter, that my body was screaming for it. So I was very surprised when at check-in they asked “would you like internet in your room?” I thought it was insane that someone would come to retreat from the world and get internet!

But about five days in, I decided it was time to buy my flight from Los Angeles back to NYC. I spent three hours with my phone and computer on and my phone on silent. I just happened to glance at the phone as it was ringing, and wasn’t going to pick up until I saw it was a Kenya number. It was Suud, in Nairobi from his home of Dadaab, telling me he had been approved to emigrate to the United States, in Nashville. I began to give the usual talk I give about how the US is very big and it would be hard to come visit, until I realized that I was in the process of booking flights at that very moment. “I’ll see you in Nashville,” I said.

So we explored Nashville together—Suud, his friend Abdi, and myself. The city was new to all of us, but especially to the two of them. I took them to their first concert (coincidentally, the band Everest, which I shot in April.) First we arrived at the concert and they hadn’t brought their IDs (why would they think to bring identification to a concert?) When we came back, they declined earplugs and then told me that the rock concert sounded like noise until his ears adjusted. They said they absolutely loved it.

After Nashville I headed to Philadelphia QFest, where my short film was on display. Four friends came down from New York City and we had a stellar weekend; it was great to reconnect with old friends in Philly as well.

And now—New York City. I feel like a tourist again. I’m living out of my suitcase on the floor of my friend’s apartment, and am so happy to be a vagabond. Shocked anew at the cacophony of the streets. Tonight there was a tornado. When I was in my comfortable car in Los Angeles and heard about the storms in NYC, I had a feeling of hearing about a crazy ex. “I can’t believe I lived there.” But here I am back again.

Next weekend we shoot Blue Kid‘s next music video at The Muse, an aerials studio. Then I’m headed to the Rhode Island International Film Festival, where my film will be playing again. Then to San Francisco for a few weeks and back again. Aaahh!! I can’t say it’s good to be busy (though I tried damn hard enough to get myself busy) and I’m not in love with the twitter feed of emails raining down in my inbox. But it’s lovely to be making creative work with people I care about, and it’s great to be back with good friends.

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