Hey Saratoga If Being With You Means I’m a Fool

I arrived at the Jazz Fest with a stomach-full of anxiety. All day I had dawdled around the house, finished Dos Passos, and worked on my backyard tan, but I still couldn’t rid myself of the mania manifesting from my core down to my finger tips. Go, go, I kept urging myself. If I don’t involve myself in this place I’ll never know it. I left in time to make the big final acts.

At the gate, the woman couldn’t find my name on the list so she buzzed my boss over a two-way walkie.
“SHANE,” she shrieked, “I HAVE A LAURA MURPHY HERE.”

I glanced back at my car, it was parked near enough to make a quick getaway.

“You can go right in,” she grinned, “Have a nice time!”

No act on the main stage, so I strolled the grounds. It was a hot day and people were lolling in arm chairs and washing their faces in the melted ice from their coolers. Some had set up elaborate tents smelling of fried southern barbecue and bug spray.

At the Gazebo stage, a crowd gathered around the Brian Mitchell Band. People swayed along and clapped, “So sweet it’d make a rabbit hug a hound,” his voice rasped as a band member took to his trumpet. A thin woman in a marine green sundress danced through the audience with a can of Coors in her hand.

Afterwards, I found a shady spot on the lawn close enough to the main stage to discern the figure of Diana Krall, uncharacteristically dressed in shorts, a T-shirt and sunglasses. As she didn’t seem to be in the mood to vamp for us, I laid back and watched the clouds drift into a woozy romance.

As Diana Krall diva’d her way off stage,  people began to pack up their bags on the lawn.  I watched as a little girl in front of me in a black and white checked dress twirled and twirled, lay down to nap, then sprang up to spin again.  Her parents debated whether to stay for the final act, but the air was tuning into mosquito frequencies and the dad looked as if he dreaded weathering the post-concert traffic jam before facing yet another Monday morning.  I smiled at them as they walked past.

About a minute later, the woman returned, breathless, “We have this ticket, for the amphitheater. It’s not very good.. but” I started thanking her before she could finish. I couldn’t believe my luck: one golden ticket to Trombone Shorty.

The ticket taker directed me to the back section on audience right. It was fairly empty, but I sat in my assigned seat next to a young girl and her mother.  Following the entrance of the rest of the band, Troy Andrews aka Trombone Shorty leapt on stage, and, pulling his instrument on us like a machine gun, he bombarded the audience with brass. Elderly people sprang to their feet and down near the stage men and women began to shout and twist. I sat up straight in my seat, self-conscious, but unable to resist. The music caught me like a hook in the back and I shimmied and twitched.

He transported us to a shiny gauntlet of New Orleans Streets. The audience, indolent in the thrall of Diane Krall and the syrup-sweet July heat, was revitalized, made new by this magnetic, muscle-bound man and that golden arm of the trombone thrusting again and again and again into every very beat of my heart which itself had become like a helpless partner in a pas de deux.

I leaned forward as he exchanged the trombone for a trumpet and burst into a new song. The band jammed on as the man held a solid note on the horn. The audience began to whoop when they realized he planned to hold it for long. The shouts died as the note spread out and over the amphitheater, it was one solid, pure sing in a cacophony of melodies.

We all held our breath then began shouting again.I started giggling uncontrollably: it had gotten in. I could feel it swimming in my chest and barreling down into my hips. On the screen, his face contorted like a blowfish. He’s stealing our air!, the thought occurred to me. I began to feel dizzy and started to giggle, half-fainting into my seat. Without taking a breath he began to finger the instrument and the note gyrated bliss. I was lifted to my feet. The little girl and her mother, too, were borne up in ecstatic praise. He lifted the horn in one last piercing high note then fell to the ground and began to sing:

I’m talkin’ to you even when I sleep and you’re not there
People keep tellin’ me I’ve changed but I don’t care
If bein’ with you
Means I’m a fool
I don’t mind
I don’t mind
If being’ with you
Is the only thing I do
I don’t mind
I don’t mind

About the Author

What can I say about the Millennial Generation that hasn’t already been said?  We grew up with every opportunity and then were spit out into a world of few. We were raised on the 1990′s Wonder Bread Diet that promised us we could have everything we want. 

Most of us watched uncomprehendingly as the Twin Towers came down from a high school or middle school classroom. Our stories start the same way: Ms. Crockett’s 3rd period; A.P. U.S. History; an announcement over the loudspeakers; the classroom T.V. flipped on.  I was in French class.  I had never heard the term, “Twin Towers,” but I was wearing a t-shirt of a style in vogue among pre-teens during that time: on its front was an airbrushed rendering of the New York City skyline.

 You see, back then, more than anything, I wanted to be an actress in New York City. I imagined myself alighting from the privileged homogeneity of the Atlanta suburbs, flying through some prestigious North Eastern college, and settling in New York City where I would make a life on the stage until I was ready to come home.

And it started to happen that way. Upon graduation, I accepted admission into Boston College while my parents, reacting again to the demands of corporate America,  packed up another home and moved here, to Saratoga Springs. 

Fast forward four years ( it really did happen that fast) and before I even had my degree in hand, I landed a job in academic publishing. My parents, surprised and relieved that I seemed to be eschewing the bohemian lifestyle of which I’d always dreamed, applauded me for my foresight and maturity. They were deceived.  The job was a means for me to stay in Boston with my wildly attractive boyfriend who fulfilled all of my thus far unfulfilled aspirations of popularity and acceptance. 

As you may have already guessed, the relationship ended with the summer.

I turned to the cold comfort of my friends’ Facebook pages. It seemed like everyone had moved to New York City to pursue a life on stage.  Before I could get comfortable with the idea that I had “sold out” and would never live that childhood dream, I met some one new. I met some one who reminded me of innocence and possibility. And, all of a sudden, I realized that I was only twenty-three and that it was far too early to let the weight of regret bear down on me.

And so, in the darkest hour of the recession, I quit my full-time job with health benefits and relocated to the Big City where I began to cobble together an income as an assistant to a Hedge Fund CEO who suffered from a lack of people skills; as a freelance copywriter; and, to my naive wanna-be bohemian delight, as a waitress.

The problem with Facebook, of course, is that everyone looks like they’re having fun. Few people will take a photo of their 4X6 apartment or make an announcement about their dwindling financial state or admit that the play they’re in is one awful piece of work. 

I appeared, with middling success, on the New York City audition circuit, but with disappointment I learned that what makes the most successful kind of working actress, in the traditional sense, is some one who is OK with being one of many very pretty, very talented, very docile cattle. 

Strangely enough, I found creative satisfaction in an entirely unexpected place: experimental theater and performance art.  I write, perform and create multi-media, maybe-feminist, maybe anti-feminist pieces for the stage.

 Unfortunately, I quickly discovered that unless you’re Marina Abramovic, theatrical performance art doesn’t pay the bills.

Now lacking professional fulfillment, I spent a long, dark winter sending resumes to unresponsive places.  At the restaurant, I watched diners who, notwithstanding me, didn’t even know how to look at each other. I seriously questioned whether the CEO, who had never once thanked me, had even a shred of empathy.

And so, disillusioned and desperate, I, like many of my generation, returned home, except “home” was a place I had never really known. A mutual friend put me in touch with SPAC, who graciously welcomed me to their team this summer.  Scared, but determined to know what this beautiful place is all about, I went to my first show, the Jazz Fest, alone.

A Day in the Life: Inner Monologue from a SPAC Intern

By Lucia Schepps

7:13am – Alarm goes off. I’ve found that I avoid pushing the snooze button if I set my alarm to an odd number. I’m less tempted to calculate 7:13+5 than 7:15+5. Simple numbers, complex thoughts.

8:00am – Breakfast of champions: 2 large cups of coffee, 1 serving of oatmeal, and a healthy sprinkle of blueberries – topped off by background noise of perky morning TV shows telling me about the latest summer trends and the long awaited finale episode of The Bachelorette: Season 5,690,890,789

8:45am – On the road. Down East, up Nelson, right onto Crescent…

8:58am – At my desk. Always be early, on time is late.

9:05am – Listen to the 24 messages left after last night’s Lil Wayne concert

…11:16pm “Hiiiiiii SPAAAAAC, I lost my phoooooone”

….11:19pm “Um, Hi, is this the right number? I lost my phone at the concert tonight…”

…12:09am “Is this the lost and found? I can’t find my phone…”

…there are 5 more messages just like this. Don’t these people have pockets?

9:45am – I check my purse, just to make sure I didn’t lose my phone when I stopped by the concert last night. It’s safe. #winning

10am – Staff meeting to discuss the schedule for tonight’s Family Night and performance of The Philadelphia Orchestra. I’ve made copies but forgot to press the “staple” function on the high tech copy machine that I’ve battled with so many times before. You win this time, copy machine.

12pm – What is “lunch”? Is it the 30 seconds I take between phone calls to scarf down trail mix?

12:33am – I’m back at my desk going through today’s newspapers looking for clips about SPAC. There is a piece on Branford Marsalis and a review of the Chamber Music Series. I put them together to make copies for our files. I walk into the copy room again and stare across the paneled walls to the hard edged plastic machine purring quietly in the corner. The “start” light flashes in the distance, we meet again.

1:49pm – I call the Hall of Springs Catering Office to order linens, ice buckets and tables for tonight’s event. I’ve never said the word “linen” as much as I have during this internship. You have no idea how many times you need linens in life…seriously.

3:15pm – I make an excuse to go to the Box Office so I can walk through the park. I walk extra slow and blame it on my cute new heels.

3:29pm – I have a missed call from my boss. Maybe she noticed I’m wearing flats…

5:00pm – Stewart’s should be showing up any minute now with free ice cream for tonight’s promotion. I keep my face pressed against the window. I am determined to be the first to see that truck. I’ve been waiting all week for a free dish of Cookie Whipped.

5:14pm – THEY’RE HERE

5:16pm – It took exactly 2 minutes to finish my dish of ice cream. Best 2 minutes of my week.

5:17pm – I shouldn’t have eaten that ice cream so fast…

6:00pm – The family night preshow event begins. There is a magician, a stiltz walker, chalk contests, and balloon animals. I ask the balloon animal guy to make me a pony, he gives me a funny look. I walk away empty handed and remind myself to remove my SPAC employee tag before asking next time.

7pm – Time to facilitate the Children’s Workshop on the Lawn. I practice my opening line over and over again “Hello everyone”, “Hi everybody”, “Welcome all…”

7:05pm – It’s time to start, I forget my line…

7:06pm – “Hello everybody and welcome to our Albany Medical Center Children’s Workshop Series on the Lawn!”…nailed it!

7:40pm – After the workshop we give away free water bottles. A flood of hands come into sight and I panic. In a flash, the bottles are gone and hysterically smiley kids are running back to their picnics on the lawn.

8pm – The performance starts, it’s time to go enjoy the bennies of being a SPAC intern. Another successful day at the office.

11:13pm – I have a text message from Intern Chloe asking me to pick up 1,500 crackers tomorrow morning before work…always on call.

Every day is an adventure!

By Brianne Fennessy

Hi! My name is Brianne Fennessy and I will be a Senior at Union College studying Sociology, German and Women & Gender studies.  Music and the arts have always had a very constant and important role in my life.  Growing up, I experimented with playing the flute, the cello, singing in the choir and all different types of dance as well.  I am a big believer in being open minded and embracing new experiences.  I have found that these two qualities have definitely helped me in my time here at SPAC.  In order to be successful here, I think that the willingness to really throw oneself into something key.  It is important to really give a task your all-whether it’s promoting an event on a chalkboard and making painstakingly sure those displays are colorful, clear and neat or distributing brochures in a new area or making cold calls for our upcoming auction and being confident and enthusiastic.

I have a lot of different interests, so something else that I have appreciated about working at SPAC is the variability that each day holds.  On any ordinary day, I typically answer and make phone calls, respond to customer emails, organize, coordinate and work to raise money for our upcoming auction at the Wine & Food Festival in September.  However, there aren’t too many ordinary days here at SPAC—so aside from those tasks, I’ve also dressed up in a lion mascot costume (yes, that was me!), spray painted Quidditch balls, gone on a wild hunt for the perfect…. tub stopper, driven all over the capital region distributing posters and brochures, watched the NYC Ballet perform from the wings of the stage, dug into the 1983 archives to find out the summer schedule for a curious customer, helped find the lead singer of Def Leppard’s favorite shirt, attempted to use my artistic skills to promote our events, been a bar back for wine tasting events…and so on!

Each day is new and exciting. Before this summer, I never thought I could make a cold call, asking for a donation, but now I probably speak to 40 strangers a day.  My experience here has taught me a lot about myself, other people and business in general—and I anticipate that I will only continue to learn much more in the next month!

Hello world!

By Chloe “Pre-Show” Prasinos

Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Chloe “Pre-Show” Prasinos, or so I’ve been deemed during my time working at the perpetually buzzing cultural hub of the Capital Region, colloquially known as SPAC. For the duration of my whirlwind summer at SPAC, I’ve “run lead” on all of SPAC’s promotional events that take place prior to every classical performance and then some. You can identify me easily in the office; I’ll be the person asking, “were you pleased with the way the lion head was bubble wrapped?” or “now, how many live cannons will be on site for the Tchaikovsky Spectacular and who is going to operate them?”

As a rising junior at Skidmore College double majoring in Dance and English, my position as a Marketing Assistant at SPAC may seem out of my niche. However, as all of us interns have come to realize this summer, our titles do not begin to cover the expanse of our responsibilities here; simply the variety of the tasks that rapidly fill a typical day at the office to the brim ensures that both idleness and boredom stay far out of bounds.

Aside from making sure that everyone involved in any of our pre-show events knows where they need to be and when, answering questions and making sure everyone gets paid or properly compensated at the end of the night, some key responsibilities pepper my evenings at SPAC and keep things interesting. I’ve included some words to the wise.

  1. Never provide more than 2 flavors of sno-cone syrups when serving hundreds of children with the two sno-cone machines you just learned to use with the help of any and every staff member that was available. Everything gets more complicated when swarms of little girls toting American Girl Dolls discover the “rainbow” option.
  2. Golf-carts offer a few brief moments of salvation on scalding days. Enjoy them.
  3. The duct tape that you use to lay marley dance floor for Albany Medical Center’s Children’s Workshop Series on the Lawn melts in the hot Saratoga sun at noon on a scalding July day so lay the floor fast.
  4. Wine lingo: think fast when you’re quickly told, “Please go unload 16 crates of wine from my van. There’s  4 cabs, 4 chards, 4 mers and 4 mels!”
  5. Finding 15 Harry Potter style wizard capes and hats on the fly does not present as much of a challenge as you may think. You can do it. Also, always wear a bandanna when wearing any of the mascot costumes that stroll the grounds on CDPHP Family Nights.

Tid-bits aside, during the whirlwind that has been the past few months at SPAC, I’ve learned that it’s most important to always be present; keep your eyes and ears open because there’s always a customer, patron or business partner whose time at SPAC you could make a little bit easier, whether it’s getting an elderly woman some water on a hot day and seeing that she’s moved to a more comfortable seat, having a small conversation about the ballet with some young dance students or telling a mother with 4 small children whose faces are covered in Stewart’s free ice cream where to find the closest bathrooms. Also, always stake down pop-up tents, when in doubt, get extra bubbles and, yes, you’re usually forgetting something, but you’ll figure it out.

The calm between the storms

by Laura Stewart

Hello everyone! My name is Laura Stewart and I am a rising senior at Syracuse University studying Advertising and Marketing. It’s hard to believe how fast the time is flying here at SPAC. The New York City Ballet has come and gone, the Orchestra is right around the corner and I am almost a month away from entering my *gasp* senior year! 

Here at SPAC, my day-to-day tasks revolve predominantly around public relations. Organizing press tickets, writing media advisories and press releases, and making sure local papers and news stations know all about the fabulous events going on at SPAC.

As almost anyone who knows me will tell you, I have a very “type A” personality. Everything has a place and there is a place for everything. My desk is piled with various well labeled and organized folders, intense to-do lists where I write everything down (just so I can have the pleasure of crossing it out!) and my agenda full of color coding to keep me organized.

Every day, I come into work with a plan. I know exactly what I have in front of me to do that day, when it needs to be done and about how long it will take me. This plan usually lasts until I turn my computer on before different tasks and priorities are thrown my way. I have learned to always be on my toes, ready and eager for what is coming next.

Stuffing envelopes for the Ballet Gala, playing bubbles with kids, dressing up in flapper costumes with my fellow interns, moving giant bathtubs, hanging up posters, pouring wine, taking pictures, rolling out dance floors…there are new and exciting adventures that await us every day.

I have spent the last two weeks in a whirlwind of excitement with the residency of the New York City Ballet. As a dancer myself, witnessing the NYCB load in, watching their practices and performances, and even meeting some of the dancers was surreal. My fellow interns and I spent many hours at SPAC during the NYCB. Bonding over pre-shows and lack of sleep, never complaining (mostly) and always ready for what was coming next.

This week, it has been all about the calm between the storms; catching up on emails, organizing my priorities and getting ready for opening night of the Philadelphia Orchestra on July 27th. We’re resting up, staying hydrated, and getting ready for the all the excitement and challenges that are awaiting us interns as the orchestra makes its way toward Saratoga.

Hello World!

Hello world! My name is Lucia and I am a rising senior at Syracuse University studying Public Relations (Go Orange!). This summer I’m armed and dangerous with a label maker and an arsenal of post it notes as I step into battle as a Marketing Assistant at SPAC. I’ve been working a lot with the Sponsorship Department, pitching to potential corporate donors and executing sponsor benefits. I’m also the front desk girl here in the office, tending to the needs of the world one ring-ring-ring at a time. Have questions about a performance? Need advice about where to sit? I’m your girl!

While interning at SPAC, I’ve learned many important life lessons. Coffee is a necessity, copy machines are out to get you, don’t wear heels on performance nights, and of course, always keep a smile on your face and a pen in your hand.

Of all these important tidbits, three things stand out as the most important lessons a young intern can learn as a newbie in the workforce.

1. Details matter. Working in a performing arts venue, I’ve come across many names with unique pronunciations and spellings. Whether it’s the title of a ballet or the name of an orchestra soloist, it is important to always spell and pronounce names correctly in order to properly relay information. Triple checking is a must. After all, just imagine the horror of accidentally telling people that tonight’s performance is in SPACE instead of in SPAC. One little vowel can mean the world…literally.

2. Sometimes you need to kick it old school. As a member of Generation Y, I know how to tweet, poke, check in and tag like a pro. With an influx of technological skills, young students aren’t learning traditional and important office basics like how to replace toner in a copy machine or how to cc snail mail (no, cc-ing is not just for emails). Don’t even get me started on the whole charade of sending faxes. The ancient and mysterious art of faxing still baffles me, doesn’t scanning and e-mailing do the same trick? Regardless, these techniques are oldies but goodies that are vital for young interns to learn.

3. There’s always time to get to know your coworkers. The people you work with become somewhat of a family as you spend 40 hours or more in the workplace each week. Learn something about each individual that you work with and take time to personalize your connections. I’ve enjoyed learning fun facts about the dream team of SPAC-ers. My fellow intern Chloe is obsessed with balsamic vinaigrette and my buddy E-rock once appeared on a reality TV show! Bonding in little ways like this is essential to healthy and productive teamwork and keeps me enthusiastic about coming into work each day.

Living and leaning all summer long, oh the life of an intern. Until next time, have a SPAC-tacular day!