The Genesis of Modern Amerika

In the beginning, Donald Trump created the United States of Amerika.

This has been regarded by most (specifically, God-fearing Republicans, His lordship’s most trusted servants) as the greatest gift to ever bless the universe, as per the social media posts immediately following this event. Trump had done the impossible: aside from creating a new reality (which was a very impressive feat), He demonstrated His complete and utter control over the inhabitants of that world.

This was unprecedented even by past deities, as His word was law as soon as the thought was typed, and His followers followed. Mindless. Deadpan. As rigid as stone unless called to move, these flocks of sheep and blue birds chirped and floated and nayyed by Him wherever He went. They called it magic, other times unshakeable logic: as the infatuation and admiration of His lordship’s character contributed largely to His following, the determination to succeed had fueled tribal mentality, splitting Amerika into two camps: Republicans, and Demonrats.

There was also plenty of worshipping involved; so much so, the day of creation has been designated specifically in His name: July 4th, the day Trump Trumped the nay-sayers, or The Great Covfefe for short. It was a blow-out! The Republicans reveled in the return of their Supreme Leader and their natural “enemies” to the East – for decades prior bleeding huge economic gains relative to their Western counterparts – finally saw a way out of their respective shitholes.

Backstory: His lordship returned to planet Earth as predicted in the year 2016 A.D., in the Final Judgement against the satanic, blonde-haired witch – a Demonratic leader. It was the first coup against His lordship. And as it was written in the Old Testament:

Covfefe 3:34: “No COLLUSION!”

The rest was history.

His inevitable return was to be followed by the Battle of Bulging Egos; the Conflict of Big Red Buttons, and the Fight for The Right. But not before winning against the Demonrats (again) and letting His followers know. As His lord ship didn’t just like winning, he loved winning. He just couldn’t stop winning. And he won against the Demonrats in 2016 as he did many years prior.

On Facebook and Twitter – His favorite method of communication – He made his message known: Demonrats (His favorite insult; alongside “fake news” and “enemy of the people”) are terrible, sinful creatures. Demonrats lived like savages in urban Amerika; eating and skinning one-another; with astronomically large abortion rates and a fixation to identity politics. His lordship wanted nothing other than the socialist and Muslim takeover (a notable facet of Demonratic principle, according to His lordship) of modern Amerika to be stopped – as he once again showed the world that Christianity was the only religion to ever matter, and those of left-leaning perspective bled the oppressive reddish hue of dictatorship and inadequate healthcare.

In 2017 A.D, exactly two-thousand and seventeen years after the birth of his son, Donald Trump Jr., His lordship banished one of His own from the Heavens – commander-in-angelic-chief James Comey – dooming his once closest aide to a life of mockery by Republicans (remember: the superior class) and martyrdom by the Demonrats. A bold move, to be sure, but one that produced an immediate challenge to the omnipotent presence that was His lordship, and, for the first time in recorded history since The Great Covfefe: checks and balances.

The first “check” implemented by those who didn’t fall for His lordship’s reality-bending spell of persuasion and intoxicating tirades on Twitter. The check was a group of 13. They were designated: Special Counsel for Ousting Really Dumb Deities. His lordship, having predicted this would happen since the beginning of time but continuing in His charade of complete and total surprise, had told His followers the Demonrats had once again attempted a coup.

The fight was on.


Our First Apartment in New York

If you take the B or Q train from the 34th street and go all the way down to Brooklyn, you end up at Brighton Beach. You know, it’s kind of a bit surreal how you get on a train in the heart of New York and get off in a post-Soviet Union town. You see familiar faces (at least to me) – Russian and mix of Central Asian. Everybody speaks Russian. The signs are in Russian. Even the homeless people are Russian (isn’t that crazy?)

My very first visit to Brighton Beach was in September 2015 when my husband and I were desperately looking for an apartment. When we got off the train and found ourselves in the filthy streets of Brighton, I immediately wanted to cry. I was like, how come I made it such a long way across the planet to eventually end up in Kazakhstan again. I mean, it wasn’t horrible, I don’t want to be mean. Let’s say: I was unexpectedly disappointed.

You ask me why go to Brighton when there are so many beautiful neighborhoods in New York? Well, 2015 was the year when we came to the states. And despite the fact that we had money (or at least we thought we had) nobody would let us rent an apartment. Cause we didn’t have jobs yet. We didn’t have a bank account yet. And of course, we didn’t have a credit score, which means you don’t exist yet. So you have no choice, but to go to Brighton and beg and assure the people living there that you will have a job soon and that you have the cash to pay for six months right away. And so they sometimes let you in their basement apartments, cause they were in your shoes too. Some 20 years ago.

That’s how we ended up in Sheepshead Bay, one stop away from Brighton Beach. Though our crazy nomadic days jumping from one filthy hotel filled with bedbugs to another  (New York bedbugs deserve another long story), finally came to an end, I still was devastated.

Here is the thing: before moving to New York, I imagined myself living in one of those beautiful brownstones (where obviously every movie character lives), doing my morning runs in a Central Park and sipping my coffee from a paper cup while strolling down the cobblestones of Soho. But the reality was much harsher.

When you come from a country like Kazakhstan and hear a lot about the American dream, Americans living in big white mansions, Americans driving the biggest cars on Earth, you never imagine that people here might live in basements. And there is no central heating at all. And there is no laundry machine in a building. Well, I must admit, that downshifting was a huge culture shock for me.

There were no real windows in our apartment, so we never knew whether it was morning or night. Every weekend we would grab two full IKEA bags and take a bus to the laundromat. I would sit there surrounded by some crazy, extra loud people speaking all the languages in a world except English and have an existential crisis.

The apartment wasn’t that bad. I mean, at least we had a place to sleep and eat, but you had to make sure not to step on a cockroach when going to the bathroom at three in the morning. I guess 3 a.m. wasn’t just the time when the demons of Emily Rose would wake her up, but when the roaches felt pretty safe to stroll around the apartment.

When my husband started a job at GAP moving the boxes at night shifts, I would stay awake all night listening to all the noises outside and anxiously waiting for a mole to dig a hole in the kitchen floor.

Yes, I hated that apartment. I cried a lot in that apartment. Not just because it was so bad, but because I was terribly homesick. And I had zero friends. And the neighbors would never say a word passing by arrogantly, probably thinking we were some kind of illegal savages. And I argued a lot with my husband in that apartment. But one year passed, and we found a fantastic new apartment with huge windows (which are too hard to keep clean. Shut up, Aizhan, learn to be content). The neighbors don’t pretend they don’t see us. And I finally don’t feel alone anymore, cause I made friends. Not many, but I don’t need many.

So what would I say to myself in 2015? Calm down, everything will be fine, and you will be happy again. Not all the time of course, but most of it.    



My Very First Internship Interview

Flashback to my first blog post…

I had written I had two “crazy” roommates who both had “normal” summer jobs. Sadly, I was the lone one without one. Honestly, I didn’t think I’d be blogging about my first experience interviewing for an internship simply because I hadn’t landed it. That being said, sometimes I think it’s a good thing to sit down and reflect on certain events that don’t exactly turn out the way you want it to.

It was my first semester of college. As an eager 17-year-old, I researched possible Journalism/Writing internships via Bookrags – honestly, I’m not really sure if it’s a legit, credible site, but there were about a hundred internships listed, so why not? I stumbled upon Carol Mann Agency and sent an inquiry to the copy editor about a possible internship. Quite frankly, here’s the worst that can happen: I don’t get the internship, meaning that I either get a kindly sounding “reject” email or the typical no response at all, which makes one wonder if my email was sent to the Black Hole.

Screen Shot 2018-10-25 at 13.37.54

One day after sending an email with my resume and cover letter attached to the assistant to Carol Mann at the Agency, I heard back from her. She had replied with a tentative list of dates and times for me to select for a phone interview. Wow, it certainly felt like there were a whole lot of hoops and hurdles I had to pass through since there was the initial phone interview, then an in-person interview, then some kind of a take home test I had to complete as a First Reader. For someone whom this was their first ever job interview, I was very anxious.

I selected a weekend when I knew I was going home anyways, so I could squeeze in the time for an in-person interview. Honestly, I didn’t even know what to wear. I had googled what to wear during a publishing company interview and it said to dress casually, meaning a dress or jeans with a nice blouse. I couldn’t find a “nice blouse” in my closet that seemed interview appropriate, so I stopped by Free People and purchased a boho top with a purple paisley print – thinking back, that was probably the worst choice for an interview shirt – and paired it with dark wash denim jeans.

To be honest, I didn’t know what I was supposed to bring to this interview and it seemed awkward to ask the interviewer via email. I ended up bringing three copies of my resume and cover letter along with a pen and small journal to take notes in.

The building itself was located on 14th street, around the corner from a pizza shop and the office building was on the 7th floor. Since I show up early to absolutely everything, of course I appeared twenty minutes too early. Everyone was having their lunch break and the lady who was supposed to interview me was munching on a turkey sandwich as she ushered me into an office room the size of a bathroom. Showing up early backfired since no one was ready for me and there I was, sitting in a cramped space trying to remember the research I had conducted on this agency and the post-interview questions I had prepared.

After what seemed like forever, two women greeted me. It’s been a while so I don’t remember their exact names. One of them had funky looking turquoise glasses, while the other was dressed from head to toe business attire, which made me regret my interview clothing all the more. Anyways, the one with the funky glasses told me she had attended Skidmore – it explained her artsy vibe – which we bonded over. I pretty much knew my chance of landing the internship was super slim after she asked me, “so are you really a freshman in college?,” to which I responded “yes, I was.” She furiously scrawled something down – which was the first time she had even taken notes during the interview – and then said, “well we don’t hire freshman.” I mean how was this my fault? I had bolded and italicized both in my cover letter, resume, and email that I was a freshman.

Even though I reiterated the statement that I was a freshman, the other interviewer looked interested. When I mentioned that I was an online Second Reader for Polyphony H.S., she wanted to hear more about my experience reviewing other people’s works and making edits. The majority of the work at Carol Mann was writing up First Reader Reports, which I was highly familiar with. I thought it was a good sign when the interviewer asked me to complete a Reader Report for a Manuscript about twins and send it back to her via email within two days. I mean if she really disliked me, I don’t think she would’ve given me the opportunity to do the “take home writing test.”

The manuscript was 100 pages; honestly, there was no way I was going to finish reading the entire thing! It was primarily about how two sets of twins, or four kids total, had gotten mixed up at birth and while two kids were raised in the right household, the other two weren’t. The writing was confusing since it wasn’t clear if the writer’s aim was to write along the lines of a personal narrative or along the lines of a researcher taking a look at the sociological implications of twins being reared in significantly different environments. Anyways, I followed the instructions the interviewer had given me, which guided me to write down the length of the piece, whether or not you would accept it + your reasoning for doing so, a quick summary of the piece, and if Carol Mann should still take a second look at the piece. I even had my English professor, who worked in the field of publishing for years, take a glimpse at what I’d written because I was so frightened of turning in Reader Report littered with errors. I was told it looked fine, so I sent it in and crossed my fingers, hoping to receive a positive response.

Of course, I got the response of… we’re so sorry, but due to the high volume of applicants… I didn’t even bother to read the rest of the email because it was evident from the first line of the email that I wasn’t getting an offer. At the time, I was devastated and tried to finish up my essays for the midterm period to get my mind off the rejection. Looking back, it’s honestly okay that I didn’t land the paid internship. The interviewer had flat out told me that I was competing with people who had MFAs in Creative Writing. Just having the opportunity to undergo the interviewing process for a great agency and writing a Reader’s Report was a new experience; as cliché as it sounds, I’ve taken it as a learning process. Because of my “failed” experience, I’ve learned how to improve my interview etiquette such as not appearing so early and asking questions that relate more to the future: ie. what can I get out of this internship post finishing it?


Journalistic Integrity – The 10th State

Only on the fringes of Heaven and Hell do you have those willing to brave nuclear shenanigans to get the scoop on the latest world-ending devices. We call them journalists. Journalists are a masochistic lot, as they are subject to domestically-made pipe-bombs at best, and getting axed by Saudi-led terrorists at worst.

In the year 2006 of the common era, soon after the North Korean nuclear yield fizzled in the mountains of Hwadae county – an event that could be described as a BOOM for big-dick geopolitical posturing and BUST for humanity – and gave China and the U.S. a collective migraine, these journalistic folk, armed with pen, paper and human curiosity, swarmed on the news. It was a collective hullabaloo: upping more screen time to the Great Leader’s chubby derriere, media agencies across the Western world felt obligated to inform the populace of Pyongyang’s suicidal impulses and their incessant need to share those sentiments with the rest of us.

The fourth estate lead that charge, sending some of their own into the battlefield of  starving, growth-stunted children to find the “truth”. A truth of gross human violations and obsessive bomb-making, certainly, but a truth that didn’t spill the full story.

The DPRK conducted the process of nuclear armnent in lieu of a long-standing, evolutionary trait passed down from generation to generation. Through the watchful eyes of Darwinism it formed, unabated, through centuries of development with little change. That trait, to the DPRK, was called fear.

Translated into superpower terms, fear referred to the terrifying possibility of a growing nuclear power, whose pernicious influence – in the eyes of the well-established U.S, China and Russia – must be resolutely and totally eradicated. The glorious Great Leader, Kim Jong-Il, through flopping his member via geopolitical posturing and banging on his desk like a man-child, realized the crucial fact: that dying wasn’t fun and the desk-banging wasn’t loud enough.

Get this: Kim loved life just as much as he loved denying the people he ruled over a chance at life. Between government-sanctioned haircuts and the country-wide Kim family masturbation session conducted every morning by North Korean citizens, it was a sweet deal Kim couldn’t afford to lose. He had to up the ante, so to speak. And his country – unfortunately for everyone else – had uranium.

The fourth estate, however, relished in the sweet deal of fear-mongering. A delicious trade-off that wasn’t – still isn’t – transparent enough on Pyongyang’s true intentions. And yet represents another example of misinformation that, although displayed one clear truth, didn’t necessarily display the other.

North Korea was then christened as the 9th state, in a not-so-long list of powers with the utmost capability of blowing themselves – and everyone else – into frilly bits, a gazillion times over. And it only further prompted speculation of the nuclear bomb’s tenth potential host. As it became clear to smaller nations that the only way to prevent their annihilation, be it economically, politically, or literally, was to show the world through the bomb that they, too, wanted to exist in peace.

Oh, the irony.

– BD


Stocking Stuffer Gifts

I’m certain it’s not a “me thing,” but I have the hardest time gift shopping for people; I know there isn’t a “perfect gift.” For me though, finding gifts is a struggle that follows the lines of… I haven’t seen this person post our high school graduation… I don’t know what they’re really like anymore… hmmm what could they possibly appreciate?

Oh boy, October is a tricky month since there’s more October birthdays in my friend group than I can count! Last Saturday, my close friend from high school, Emily, and I went gift hunting all over the Upper West Side to get something for a mutual friend. We had googled a bunch of places finally come across a boutique on Amsterdam Ave. called Magpie, which had Christmas lights strung across the front with Thanksgiving and Christmas cards glossing the glass windows. Wow! What a cute shop, I thought to myself. The store had a wide assortment of mini gifts for stocking stuffers from pocket wallets with animal designs – corgis, beetles, elephants… you name it! – to handmade layering beaded necklaces all the way from Africa to breakfast bowls dotted with bubblegum pink cherry blossoms. I’d pick up an item and flip it over for the price, only to be left feeling starstruck each time. Hmmm… definitely not happening!

Feeling the unmelting weight of finding a gift within two hours, I recalled Dana’s magnificent idea from last Friday about stopping by Flying Tiger Copenhagen. Honestly, the store reminded me of Jack’s 99 Cents store in that everything costed only a few dollars max, but the quality surpassed that of Jack’s 99. Flying Tiger had practically every random item you could imagine: perler beads – check, jumbo neon colored calculators -check, blankets with squiggles and geometric patterns – check, and oversized mugs -check. I’m kind of embarrassed to admit it, but I purchased a pack of perler beads for myself and ended up making a baby blue peace sign.

Screen Shot 2018-10-18 at 13.03.21
Photo Credit of Steve Smailes.
Screen Shot 2018-10-18 at 13.03.39
Photo Credit of Steve Smailes.








Anyways, I snagged a pretty great deal. It honestly felt like I was reliving the experience of being a kid looking for presents under the tree on Christmas morning as I filled my shopping cart with one little item after another until it was overflowing like a fountain. Since everything only costed a dollar or two, I hadn’t thought about the prices of the gifts adding up during my shopping spree. definitely went overboard with the shopping as I bought tons of crazy items: neon colored string lights to hang along the wall right above the bed, chocolate bar shaped calculator that also smelled like chocolate, a throw blanket with geometric patters, a lightbulb to drink out of, a floral patterned iPhone case, and more junk one person doesn’t really need to be quite honest.

When in doubt of where to go birthday shopping in Manhattan since there’s stores on practically every few blocks – like there are Starbucks shops – head over to Flying Tiger Copenhagen and you’ll find something that suits your taste!


South Street Seaport

A Delightful Place with Maritime History

If you say “South Street Seaport” more than a few times, it’s definitely a tongue twister. It kind of reminds me of the alliteration “she sells sea shells by the sea shore.” Anyways, located between the Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattan, South Street Seaport is an area I once considered super touristy. Of course, it pales in comparison to Time Square, with its masses of people swarming every single block like a bee hive no matter the time of day and year. South Street Seaport has its own semi touristy vibe in the sense that only during the scorchingly hot summer months is it an “It” destination for people wanting to take a cruise from Pier 17 to see the Statue of Liberty.

This past weekend, I found myself wandering the cobble streets of South Street Seaport since I live in the nearby Financial District area. I myself felt like a tourist, even though I wasn’t lugging some sort of gigantic suitcase. My go to tea shop, which was once located across the iPic movie theater, had vanished and my all-time favorite ice cream shop – Big Gay Ice Cream – had its doors wide open, though I think it’s getting way too cold for ice cream right about now. Its rainbow colored flag, along with its bubbly font sign, appeared too colorful against the backdrop of dreary, grey buildings. Once located across the street, the all-you-can-eat chicken wings booth had planted itself elsewhere and in its place was an odd looking restaurant decorated with large beads hanging from the ceilings. To be quite frank, all the new stores seemed almost too modern for a historic, ship town, which made it all the much harder to appreciate all the renovations.

Still, there was one block that had retained its sense of historic-ness. Go ahead and take a guess as to what was on the block. Like you probably already reckoned, of course it was the South Street Seaport Museum! As a New Yorker, I refer people to the MET or the MOMA or the Guggenheim or the Whitney or heck, even the Museum of Mathematics for my nerdy friends – just never the South Street Seaport Museum.

Having visited the museum though, I have to admit that I now have an unhealthy obsession with print shops and way overpriced postcards with antique prints – but then again, it’s NYC, so I can’t complain about money. I’m the kind of person who collects things – as a kid, I tried to find the quarters for all fifty states rather than spending the money – so I sure hope this infatuation with postcards, or whatever you want to call it, goes away soon.

Anyways, the museum had this cute little print shop called Bowne Printers inside! Considering I don’t even write letters to mail out these days – I mean why would I bother to, when there’s text and email? -, it was cool to “go way back in time” by seeing the workings behind letterpress printing, which was invented by Johannes Gutenberg way back in the 15th century. It was mainly used until the 19th century before offset printing became in demand. To me, it was amazing that there is a museum that still taught letterpress printing by revealing how direct impressions were inked against rolls and rolls of paper. Honestly, letterpress printing is unique, but it’s still widely stamped onto postcards and wedding cards and even Holiday cards. I took some pictures of sample letterpress postcards that the artists from the Museum had made and were selling in addition to other goods – refer below.

South Street Seaport doesn’t sound like a super intriguing place to visit, but I promise you it’s fascinating in the sense that it’s like visiting Old Town in California, or like any other “antique looking” town. Let’s be honest, South Street Seaport probably isn’t the first place that comes to mind for weekend travel destinations, but give it a shot, you won’t regret it!


It’s a start- P3

It began with an all-too simple question:

“What IS science?” I asked Him in Heaven.

The ghostly, white-sheeted figure – a being who should’ve championed evolution, rationalism and the heliocentric model (I believed He thought the Catholic Church was bonkers for thinking as such, I wasn’t sure) – never seemed to answer in a satisfying fashion, at least to my taste. I’ve asked multiple times before. And He avoided questions as often as the plague killed people.

“Well,” He began, falling short of pronouncing both L’s. An incomplete answer.


The title of this blog, “God Bless You, Gotham Writers,” was inspired by a similar-sounding, Vonnegutian novel: “God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater”. The truth was, I never read it. I just liked the title.

Now, if I were still religious in some fashion, I would’ve asked that specific deity for title-naming advice, certainly. But then again, maybe not. I was stern in the belief that titles – whether they include book titles or not – were final.

Science – the physicality and abnormalities of animals, human beings and everything in-between however, was never an absolute in this universe. The truth about the sciences was that such a process was ever-evolving: just as the advent of germ theory and tooth brushing were borne from the antagonism of other, more prominent choices at the time (miasma theory and laziness, respectfully).

And the sciences enlightened humanity: took them on a walk into the consciousness of the universe; had them realize that the big, pink organ in their noggins named itself and that an additional 3 continents (dare I say 4, Australia?) existed far beyond the grey and untrendy territory of Old Afro-Eurasia.

The sciences were never arrogant, but rather indecisive. Never inept in it’s particular methods of searching for truth, but cautious in giving final answers. Therefore science, to the boys in lab-coats and funny-looking glasses fresh from the Enlightenment, was no different from an elusive matron who at times seemed to reach out and confirm her interest, whereas otherwise never bothered to answer the creepy letters concerning calculus, physics equations and dating advice. This no doubt charged scientists worldwide to fetishize the sciences as efficiently as possible and to conduct the truth-seeking campaign. This, a conclusion I reached by using the big, pink organ in my own head.


Science, I felt, was a juicy conglomerate of truthfulness and falsehood all at the same time. And God, in all His omnipotent (?), pretentious glory, failed to answer the question and fully pronounce His words because deities, as far as I’ve observed, only ever answered their compatriots in firm, black or white responses. Absolutes. Answers that could never be wrong in biblical terms.

These supposed ‘perfect’ replies were derived from the written word (ironically, given that writing was a product of human hands, it, too, became subject to the morality behind perfection). With many deities using their biblical doctrine of choice to avoid critical thinking and responsibility for their followers. Science, however, couldn’t afford to be right all the time. Or wrong. It simply was until cited accordingly.

Unsurprisingly, He was much too reluctant to secure an answer He couldn’t find in the testaments, so He floated away in shame.


Summer Days Spent Skeletonizing Everything

I had survived my freshman year of college – without gaining the dreaded freshman fifteen – and I officially had nearly three months to spend. My roommate – the crazy one who had brought her oversized Shetland pony to college with her – had found work at a local Mexican restaurant as a delivery chick (is that even a phrase in existence?). My other roommate – equally crazy, if not more, for having slept in a camping tent both semesters – had made plans to scoop ice cream at Ben & Jerry’s. And then there was me, the somewhat normal one with a “lost soul” who hadn’t honestly given the summer much thought beyond planing to wake up around noon everyday and babysitting a 5-year-old with ADHD who likes to hide behind plants in the lobby(a long story for another time).

Having not landed the internship at Carol Mann Agency and not wanting to complete a virtual internship for Silverpen Productions, I had zero idea as to how to spend my summer. I lamented about my boredom to my mom for a week to which, she responded, “you can work on transfer applications or sign up for a class in something you actually enjoy because once you start working, you don’t have the luxury of free time.”

I couldn’t tell whether or not my mom was being sarcastic about the SAT part. Anyways, for me, that “something” was art. I had attended the NYC Arts Students League as a child growing up. To be quite frank, I don’t really remember what kind of art I did there as a kid beyond having completed a really questionable looking “self-portrait” that didn’t even remotely resemble me. Considering my art level is the equivalent of that of a five year old, I signed up for the Drawing and Composition class, which was the most basic, yet substantive class – kind of like Gotham Writers’ Creative Writing 101.

I had finally printed my class ticket for Studio 6. I’m sure I looked quite ridiculous in the subway lugging around a Stratford sketching notebook that was practically my height of 5’2” attached to an oversized clipboard. But then again, it’s NYC and there’s odd people everywhere, so I’m sure I didn’t look that out of place. After elbowing my way through the infinite mob of tourists in Columbus Circle, I finally found myself at Studio 6, which was in a quaint looking building.

For no reason, I had pictured my instructor as a young, balding guy, but the actual instructor had a whole head of white like snow and thin, straggly beard hairs. Standing at 6’5”, he looked all the more intimidating with his extra large pointer stick he always carried and fiddled around with during class. I was deathly afraid he was going to poke the eyeball of a student sitting in the front row, so I always made sure to sit in the back row. Mr. Bourbon, the instructor, was an extremely straightforward guy who would tell you to your face that your art piece sucked if it really did. The man’s bluntness even made some students in the class shed some tears, but at least he was good at outlining the basics and fundamentals to sketching.

Having taken the intensive version of the Drawing and Composition class, I actually took away a lot from the 11 AM – 6 PM Mon – Fri classes. Mind you I have the artistic knowledge of a five year old so for the first two weeks, I was an absolute whack job at proportions. The model I drew had a huge head – like that of a bobble head – with the body the size of Puck. You might think, how difficult can it be to draw since you have a model posing right in front of your eyes? Well, it’s even harder than I could ever imagine because it’s not like I could take tracing paper and outline the figure and it would magically look perfect.

The first rule was to not move my fingers and wrist when sketching. After hearing the story about how some kid had ended up in the hospital with a fractured wrist as a result of terrible pencil etiquette, the rule was an 11th Commandment to me. Even though the human body has curves, I was supposed to work with straight lines for the sake of proportions and angles. Arguably, the figure looked like a slightly better version of hangman (refer to the sketch below and ignore the random squiggly lines).

Screen Shot 2018-10-18 at 09.05.30

Anyways, I worked with angles and lines for what seemed like an eternity, until the instructor brought the importance of shading to bringing dimensionality to the picture to my attention. The key was to capture all the shadows under the arms, legs and face. To do so, I held a tiny white paper pencil and carefully rubbed the utensil against the paper. I mean the example of the leg I did below is pretty messy, but you get the point.

Screen Shot 2018-10-18 at 09.04.31

In short, I learned a lot from this past summer. Even though I still consider myself a kid at 18 years old, I realized I can care for a 5-year-old with ADHD. And yes, it was super scary to try my hand at drawing, but I can work with lines and gestures now. But above all, the overarching take away for me was that I didn’t have to stress out so much about how to spend my summer. Yes, it was different from what I expected in that I didn’t land an internship or job, like my roommates, but it was okay to take the summer as a learning experience. 


Journalistic Integrity – P2

I interviewed a rather famous movie director once. Actually, no – I did so several times, with several famous characters from the industry of Bonnie Clyde, Lord of The Rings, Ghostbusters, Brokeback Mountain, and the numerous Hollywood hits that seemed to resonate with everybody but me.

However, for this particular case, her name was *BLEEP*.

I made her acquaintance at the 10th annual Cinema Eye Awards, hosted by the Museum of the Moving Image, in Astoria early last year. The place was teeming in white, like the inside of a pearl. Teeming in food, and camaraderie, and wine. Teeming in happy faces, black suits, and stylish dresses.  The ceremony hosted documentaries by the dozen, all of varying quality, and only awarded the best ones.

It was a process, though.

After each winner you heard an eruption of cheers. The artistic genius was seared into the gray matter of the audience after each film. And it was after the dopamine (the addictive chemical responsible for all happy-time feelings you’ve ever felt) went down across the room that I looked at my phone; opening it to a message my editor texted a few hours before. It said:

“Do some interviews on carpet” – no period. 

Only issue: it was 10pm and everybody was leaving. There was an after-party two blocks over. We were all told that alcohol was going to be making an appearance there too. And they didn’t want to keep him waiting. Alcohol was a very, very busy man.  

The young woman I had initially planned on speaking to had run off, disappeared into the rainy night. Likely entranced by that succulent liquor. I was, nevertheless, fuming.

However, as a young “journalist” (In the era of subjective truth, there was no such thing as a true journalist), I felt that I shouldn’t doubt the power of my voice, as corny as that was. So I held my breath and dragged my socially-drained carcass across the floor to the other side – where *BLEEP* was, taking pictures with other directors – and asked for a quick interview. I hardly knew this woman, you see. 

But – (against all odds, but!) — she immediately took my hand as her eyes shined like stars and her touch as warm as the sun. Processing her verbal orifice, she granted me a positive response. I went supernovae!

But let’s forget the sentimentality for a moment. This is the kicker! It is what she told me during that 5-minute confrontation that which will stay with me for as long as I can think:

Because it’s just like, you know, we’re in this world together, and we really need to find the way for everyone who needs to tell their story to tell their story. And sometimes, it takes a really long crazy road, and most of the time it does. But our world would be a really beautiful place if everyone was given the same support, and love, to tell their own story.”

Later on (perhaps a couple of seconds, it felt eternal), after the initial shock of that first response had been registered and organized and sorted like a dusty book deep in my cognitive nexus, she said this:

But, as we know, sometimes it’s dangerous to just be. And that’s wrong. And some of us, who are optimists, we wish to not see that. But the truth is — you and I know the truth — we live in a world where it’s dangerous for some people just to be.”

We’re denied. Denied. As human beings! What rights do you have against the kooks in monkey suits? Hmm? Throw me a banana-split, why don’t you.

Anyways, these dangerous crushing systems were common among every-day folk. They were flattened like pancakes on a daily basis, stirred right up with eggs and flour. Topped with Aunt Jemima pancake syrup, it was such a sight. And everyone’s got it made at least once. Slaves got their whippings. Jews got their showers. The Chinese got sliced up like pizza and a terror scare almost wiped the Iraqis clean off the Earth.

Humans are altruistic animals, after all.

– BD


Hello Gotham Writers

It is extremely easy and almost impossible at the same time to find a job in New York. Easy to find a job in a restaurant, construction, basically any service area. Usually, that is the most classic option for any new immigrant here. And that’s actually cool. I mean, with very basic English, no American experience at all, but you’re still able to earn some money for a place to stay and food.

But what if you want to take a different path? Try to get into the creative world where you will have to compete with Americans coming to New York from all around, chasing their American dream.

Earlier this summer, when I finally decided it was time to stop trembling out of fear and do something towards achieving my goals to become a writer, I was pretty realistic about my chances finding anything in that scope. I’m a young immigrant from a third-world shithole country, as Trump mentioned last year. Well, what does an average New Yorker associate Kazakhstan with? Sounds like Afghanistan, right, which means he or she would probably imagine boundless landscapes, sheep grazing the grass, me pasturing the cattle… Anyways, all I could offer is a frantic desire and ambition, but zero experience in where I wanted to be. And I wanted to be in a world of writers, journalists, filmmakers.

In my first week of searches, my absolute confidence in ‘everything is possible in New York’ crashed down to me feeling like a total loser.

The requirements for jobs were so high, that I thought for a moment maybe it would be better to go waitressing. A week full of desperate searches and reading hundreds of articles on how to land your dream job, I realized it was better to start with an internship. In a nice place. But again, the requirements were crazy. At a certain point, I decided to do what I was always good at – give up.

“What was I even thinking about?” I scolded myself, lying in bed and binge eating my stress. My husband told me if I went on like this every time I failed, I would never achieve anything. Obviously, he used more explicit language and that was like a magic punch for me to start all over again.

I again started searching for jobs, endlessly mending my resume and cover letter. And one day I stumbled upon Gotham Writers. They asked for a creative letter. It took me seven days to complete it, I sent it the eighth and received a complete silence the ninth. Despite my dreary expectations, I finally was invited to an interview and it went pretty well. They asked me why I wanted to write, what it is to live in New York, etc. I was told to start on Wednesday.

So what is Gotham Writers Workshop? It is the biggest writing school in the states and the best people I have ever worked with so far. Our mornings start with writing emails to people from California, London, Hong Kong. Then we answer phones and consult with people. I bring my old heavy laptop to work as it has a grammar checking app. Considering I’m the only non-native speaker here, the last thing I want to do is make mistakes. Alex, our boss, having seen my laptop said seriously: “I heard Kazakhstan is famous for making the biggest computers in the world and they are made of  Russian rockets’ leftovers”. He just loves those sort of jokes.

Apart from routine office work, we also get to read all writing contest entries and it feels so good to be involved in such an amazing process of finding the winner.

During the breaks, we discuss the books we read, the movies we watched, the latest news and I feel like I belong here.

It’s been almost seven weeks now since I started my internship here and I have learned that when you’re surrounded by smart and confident people, there won’t be any ‘where is my coffee?’ ‘bring me this, bring me that’ kind of stuff.

Sometimes the teachers drop in – writers, literary agents, New York Times bestselling authors, and we’re introduced to them. And I realize that if I wasn’t a part of such an amazing team I would never get a chance to meet them.

This is my very first blog written in English and I’m pretty nervous honestly. But I know I’m in good hands here. And I also know that I finally made my (yes, tiny) first serious step towards becoming a writer.  Cheers!

Aizhan Yes