Tuesday, February 19, 2013


Friday started like so many other days. I set my alarm for 5:50am in order to hit the gym before work. That day, like so many other days (too many, perhaps) I set "screw it" and set a different alarm to wake me up an hour later, deciding that sleep was more important than exercise that day. I drifted back to sleep until I got a text.
Normally, at this hour, the only person who texts me is one of my friend's who teaches in the New York City  public school system. At 6:10 in the morning I'm usually stuffing my bag into a locker, so I answer her messages after the gym. Today, I curse her name under my breath and check the phone. Except it's a message from my boss, without a subject, which means it is sent to me and my colleagues.
I open it up and scan the message once. Twice. I get in the shower and speed off to work.

I don't know if you heard, but there was a fire last night. Our office is flooded.

I do not have a typical office job. I work at a prestigious art school in Brooklyn. Where many college students are worried about finishing papers and projects, our students are slaving away in their studios. I never understood what went into being an art student until I started working here, and even then I never got it until the fire.

And that's a shame.

The fire devoured two floors of a building, taking out the studios of multiple upper class people. The subsequent efforts to fight the fire flooded out the main offices of my department (I had never been so glad to be across a court yard) located in the basement. The morning of the fire we opened up the Student Union and watched as  people arrived. Many had no idea they could not access their offices and buildings.

Then the students showed up.

Many were handling it well, but a few...it was hard to watch.

My college girlfriend once lost a paper to her computer. She was frantic, but some quick thinking and one system restore later, she got back most of her evening's work.

These students will never have that option.

I write. I save documents in multiple spaces. Google is a godsend. When I lose some work, I lose it on purpose. I can write and revise, throw out scraps and eventually come to a final piece that might be written on four different computers on multiple days. If something fails, that's alright, since I have part of it here.

These student will never have that option.

It is a shame it took me this long to realize the art of creation. The only solace I can take is watching the community at the school, and that of the local art community at large, striving to support the seniors who lost their final projects. The culmination of their career.

I hope it helps them.