[Photography by Alexandra Wolf]
It’s 4:10 am and I’m making a frenzied dash up the street to my celebrity boss’s apartment in a panic stricken quest to get her up and airport ready.
With droves of fans already lining up outside of Barnes & Nobles stores in Cleveland and Chicago, respectively, there’s no such thing as late, sick, or lightheaded (due to mass sleep deprivation + unexpected sprints) when it comes to preparation of aforementioned diva. Although I packed my carry-on the night before and spent the greater portion of the weekend ensuring that all of the spa services that she requested have been booked and triple confirmed, I failed to factor in the difficulty that apparently comes with hailing a cab at 4 am in New York City. With no mobile options in sight, I commence an awkward sprint throughout ten pitched black, snow-laden streets.
Utterly convinced that I’m going to die via an aggressive bout of frostbite or the blunt force trauma that occasionally coincides with running through the streets of Manhattan alone at 4am, I start talking to God, begging Him to send anything.moving my way. From what I’ve been told by the other girls in the office (because, invariably, I’m the newbie), one mistake, no matter how trivial or innocuous it might seem, could easily beget the wrath of a no holds barred emotionally unstable reality TV star meltdown unto me. As such, not only do I manage to ensure that we make it to the airport well in advance of boarding time, but I spend the next forty eight hours running (literally) on coffee and manic energy alone, ensuring that no task – however bizarre or demeaning that it might seem — is ever completed without precise attention to minute detail.
Upon return to New York, I’m immediately instructed to unpack my boss’s suitcase, and although I pass out on the floor of her walk-in closet while doing so, I find that I’m satisfied with myself today because, despite mass sleep deprivation, prematurely raised blood pressure, and a .05 mg increased clonopin dosage, I got the job done and I can rest assured that I’ve given it my all.
In law school, my final semester consists of studying for a mock bar exam, which is a grueling prerequisite to graduation. As such, I spend about eighteen hours a day locked in a library examining everything from Article 9 of the United States Constitution to the specificities of criminal procedure. Foregoing any and all social interactions, and most forms of basic personal hygiene, as well (overshare?), I spend my “free time” either on the phone with my therapist or running like a lunatic on the treadmill at 2 am. For six months, I go without seeing friends or family, barely brush my hair, and break down crying in front of a particularly smarmy professor in the middle of the library, which, in law school, in definitely NOT a safe space. But although I’m under an intense amount of pressure, I’m once again completely satisfied with myself. This is what you should be doing with your life, I insist, although I never really ask myself why I consider that to be the case.
I’m in Central America and I’m producing a shoot for MSNBC. After working four consecutive twenty-hour days under dangerous and emotionally taxing conditions, my team and I are stopped by local police. Detained on the side of the road for three and a half hours, our passports are seized and we have little to no idea what’s going to happen to us. Have you ever seen the show Jailed Abroad? With an onslaught of police vehicles continuing to drive up, firing off quick fire exchanges in Spanish about the odd ball group of Americans with cameras and microphones aplenty, I should probably be scared, and to a certain extent I am, but my level of exhaustion is so extreme that I can only manage to take a seat on the sidewalk and stare off into a lake bereft of energy, adrenaline, or any of the other requisite emotions that might ordinarily be induced by such an occurrence. Upon entry back into the US, I give myself a huge pat on the back; you’ve done a good job this time, Brooke.
An interesting observation: I seem to have two speeds at which I operate – Mach 10 or passed out in bed. During this shoot for instance, I avoid traffic by hopping out of my cab and sprinting seven city blocks to meet my photographer. I hop on top of a bolder in Central Park in thigh highs and a mini skirt to get a good shot and the proceed to strip down in front of a gift shop (not entirely, but closely enough) in December to change for my next look. But when I’m not completing my work in a way that’s entirely exhaustive and all consuming, I tend to get incredibly down on myself, insisting that I’m perpetually lazy and wasting my life away. Attribute it to some deeply rooted childhood issue, or a culture that seems to propagate the glorification of busy, but whatever the reason is, I think it’s enormously important to learn what work-life balance is.
During a recent conversation with my almost ninety-year-old Grandfather, he suggested that “things are weird now,” and told me that he used to work from 9am – 6pm and that he doesn’t “understand the hours of today.” 9am-9pm? Why? After raising five children and providing them with a financially sound enough upbringing, I wonder if he, too, ever admonished himself for failing to put in those ten zillion extra hours — you know, those that provoke anxiety attacks, physical responses, and nonsensical tears. Although I love my blog and feel incredibly blessed to get to do this for a living, I think about my upcoming honeymoon and wonder if it’s even remotely appropriate to ask my fiancé to snap pictures of my OOTD’s throughout our various pit stops in Asia. I mean, we only get one honeymoon, and while the scenic opportunities are unquestionably visually spectacular, when is time to put down the camera?
I really don’t know. But right now, I’m off to go get my second iced latte of the day because I have about ten more hours of work to tackle. 😉