February 16, 2011*

            Yesterday I spent 8 hours in the basement of a large dilapidated warehouse. Not the place I would have thought my greatest WISE experience so far would come from but, indeed, it did. Only the night before last I received an email saying little more than “we will be at a music video shoot tomorrow, what time can you be there?” Underestimating the time it takes to find a parking spot in San Francisco (and overestimating my ability to be speedy when getting ready), I told her I could be there by one in the afternoon. As one o’clock rolled by I was not greeting Danielle at the address she had given me, but missing the freeway exit, freaking out, crying to my mom on the phone, and getting angry at ’30 minute only’ parking spots. Finally, after parking and feeding the meter 3 dollars per hour worth of quarters, I rushed up the street to find Danielle waiting patiently for my 20 minute late arrival (I will now give myself an extra 30 minutes so never to be late again). I found it strange that she was actually waiting for me outside the building, but as I approached, she told me she didn’t want me to enter alone (kind of scared now) because “this place is so dark you won’t be able to find your way!” (oh, ok, a bit better). She led me through a huge, unlit warehouse to an old freight elevator piled high with a rack of clothing and boxes of shoes and accessories.
As we descended into an even blacker abyss, a wave of excitement flew over me as I realized that I was in a place (both literally and figuratively) that I could have never possibly imagined a year back. The reason this revelation was so exciting is because never before in my life have I been able to say that, in a year, I could literally be anywhere. As much as I used to like to imagine, I always knew that in a year I would most likely still be living in the same house, going to the same school, hanging out with the same people, but now that’s changing.
As the gate of the elevator opened, I entered a world I had never been before. People darted back and forth as we made our way to our designated ‘styling area’. Immediately the friendly Danielle I had met upstairs became drill sergeant Danielle as I was instructed exactly what needed to be done before the clients came. We organized each accessory on a small table where I learned quickly the method to which one must organize necklaces, bracelets, hats, and sunglasses. A delicate pair of sunglasses must never be near the edge and each necklace should be laid out with its chain pulled straight so length can be determined at a glace. Before we could even settle in there came actors and various extras ready ‘to be dressed’.
Although I cannot tell you exactly what the plot or theme of the video is, I will tell you that we were given almost absolute freedom to style them to our liking. The band members (I can’t tell you the name of the band either!) and a few of the prominent actors had set outfit ideas, but after them, Danielle and I could design an outfit as they stood before us. At first I was hesitant to give my opinion, seeing as I was never really allowed to before. However, as we worked, Danielle began to ask for my opinion and I became increasingly more confident in my abilities. Soon we were feeding off each others ideas like business partners of several years. At about , the director called for a half hour ‘lunch break’ and, after 5 hours of being on my feet, I was finally able to sit back, relax, and eat. Instead of socializing with the crew and actors at the communal table (although I wish I could have done that too), I used the quiet time to reflect on everything WISE, especially on how my relationship with Danielle was progressing.
            Within five minutes of meeting Danielle for the first time, I felt comfortable and confident around her. Even in professional settings I don’t feel like I need to act any different than how I would naturally act in any situation. However, I think I believed my relationship with Danielle would have come further by now. Maybe I am just ignorant to how the corporate world works, but I figured I would know a little more about her by this point in time. I guess we have never really been given the chance to discuss more than what is happening in that moment and maybe, because she is technically my boss, I am not supposed to know much more about her. However, I do wish to someday ask her about how she got into the styling industry and her honest opinion of her jobs ups and downs. After all, her knowledge and insight could truly guide my future. More on this will definitely come later.
            I didn’t have to much time to ponder because extras were piling in by the minute. Danielle and I got back to work and as the night wore on, we realized our clothing and accessory supply was dwindling quickly as ‘surprise’ extras, well, surprised us. Among the last of the extras to show up was a young Indian man who told us he really didn’t mind what we dressed him in. Knowing there were only two options of bottoms to  choose from, large worn jeans and leopard print harem pants, we asked him to put on the jeans. The result however, was quite dull and I glanced back at the harem pants (version pictured right). Although they were made for a woman, the young man I thought could no doubt fit into their wide legs and the color was actually quite complimentary on his dark complexion. However, would I dare make such an outrageous suggestion and risk complete rejection from Danielle? Well, yes, I actually quite liked the idea and felt I could argue it if necessary, so I made the suggestion. Danielle looked at me quite funny, looked back at the pants, then back at me again with a slight smile, “Would you be willing to try on these pants for us?” she asked the young man. He agreed, and the rest is history. Ok, well I just really wanted to say that, but he did indeed ended up wearing the pants. I had made a styling decision that a professional stylist had actually agreed with and allowed to be sent out to set where everyone would judge her styling. I had done something right and it felt amazing.
             As the time of my departure crept steadily closer I knew I would have to leave well before the process of the video shoot was complete. Knowing there was homework still to be done when I got home, Danielle nudged me to leave around eight thirty at night. I wanted desperately to continue my work, for the 7 hours I had already been there felt like no more than an hour had passed and my excitement for the program was still growing. I glanced at the director’s schedule and saw that they were planning to work until in the morning. No way were my parents going to allow that one. I reluctantly said goodbye to Danielle and various other members of the crew and made my way upstairs and onto the dark streets of San Francisco.
            I drove home in a euphoric daze (that actually sounds quite dangerous now that I think about it…). The freedom and trust Danielle had given me that day was nothing I had ever experienced before. I don’t think I ever really believed that I would be able to make something big out of my life. I never saw myself as having any real abilities or talents, but all of a sudden I knew that I could make something with my future as long as I had full confidence in pursuing it.
            There is one final extraordinary thing that happened that day. In the last few minutes before I arrived home, a song I had not heard in quite awhile came on. For years I sang this song at a summer camp that was near and dear to my heart, but this past summer was my final summer as I will become too old to attend again. This song, known as The Circle Game and sung by Joni Mitchell, has several lines about growing older that have always made me loathe growing up. Lines like:

So the years spin by and now the boy is twenty
Though his dreams have lost some grandeur coming true
There'll be new dreams maybe better dreams and plenty
Before the last revolving year is through

            I always heard those lines as telling me I was too young to have achievable or real dreams and that I would settle for different dreams as I aged. However, on this night, I heard that song and smiled. I heard, for the first time, the ‘some dreams are coming true’ part and the ‘new maybe better dreams’ part and knew in that moment that I was no longer a child. I arrived home, balling, but full of joy. After calming myself, I wrote the previous entry. The smile never left my face.

The full song with lyrics...

The final video (released April 2011)

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