Fall 2000 in Astoria, Queens, New York, I was starting to settle in.
My friend Andria (who I met at CAP21 in the Summer of 1999 and became the god mother of my first born) helped me get a job in an Italian restaurant (Brio) on Lexington and 61st street. I was taking orders for the delivery boys, improving my english and having a tiny bit of social interactions. I worked 3 shifts a week, not much, but it felt good to earn some money.
I put some ads in different schools and Asher Fisch (Israeli Conductor) called me seeing my add. What a chance I had! I was then teaching piano in an upper east side apartment, to his daughter named Koko, her Dad (Asher Fisch) was a famous conductor and her Mom a famous opera singer (Linda Pavelka). I was honoured to be entering their world and Linda was a really kind person, she offered me to stay of few times at her place, I also took care of Koko a couple of times when her parents were not available. Linda stays in my memory as a kind-hearted and very talented person. Koko took lessons with me until the birth of Mathilda (at the end of 2003). I had dinner with their family once, and I remember not feeling quite as clever or as smart or at ease as everyone else, but it wasn’t their doings, it was me, it was my idea of me that kept me from being totally grateful, thankful and present with them.
Koko was a natural talent and in weeks made lots of progress. Today, doing some research, I found her on the web and she seems to have graduated as a nutritionist…food…another very creative domain in my idea.
I also worked shortly for a teacher at the AMDA (Richard Danley), that was actually the perfect job for me, but unfortunately I did not have the right way of dealing with american men, and a couple of times, they misunderstood my intentions or words. You have to know that when I arrived in New York, I did not speak english, I learned it as I went and eventually sounded almost like an american. So Richard once kindly brought me home in his car after having had dinner at Brio’s while I was working there, but he was obviously hoping for more than just a hand-shake and a thank you. So that was that, and he never called me again to help him with correcting his classes’ tests or assignments.
I wrote and recorded about 30 songs in French for the Language Workshop for Children. I was hired by François Thibaut, the founder and director of the school. It was a fun experience.
My teacher William Riley helped me settle in, he gave me a coffee table he did not need, brought it to my studio with his car. Linda, his wife, was very busy at the time writing her PHD, so she hired me on Sundays to babysit their daughter Jennifer. I remember one Sunday, we went out for a walk with Jennifer and we had so much fun at the park, then stopping at Starbucks, that 2 hours passed. In 2000 cell phones were not as commun as they are now, and even if I had one, it wasn’t working. When I came back to the apartment, they were worrying for an hour, this is how I learned to make shorter walks with Jennifer, and also to always say how long I would be gone. Jennifer was a nice child and she was exploring the world like any toddler. I was happy to spend time with the family and with her.
Every minute I could that Fall and Winter of 2000, I was writing songs, recording them and wanting the world to hear them, so I put an add on the web in order to find members for a band. Soon enough I was going to NYU facilities (New York University) to meet with music students there. They had read my add and heard my songs, and were wanting to try it out. I had a beautiful talented keyboardist and cellist, who was so in feel, I was each time blown away on how she was playing my songs. There was the bass player coming from Long Island, just because he thought my voice was beautiful, there was Victor, the guitar player who was organising the space for us to rehearse and we also had a drummer (whom I don’t remember the name). It did not last long, I did not speak english well enough to communicate with my band, I might have sounded too demanding or maybe I just had no clue on how to lead a band.
So I worked mainly alone in my studio with my pens & notebooks, my keyboard, my mixing table and my computer.
My first few songs Sandrine helped me out with, she made the arrangements and we went to meet with Christian a talented swiss mixer, who lives also in New York and my first 3 songs were born. It was not my best work, it was not mind-blowing, but that was okay. They were done, and that is what mattered. I knew they were not going to be hits, but it did not matter, just doing the work was for me thrilling, and I could not wait to get back to do some more. If you are leading a creative life, you know that just doing the work makes you a better person, creates you forward, if you have a love relationship with creativity as I do, you know done is better than perfect, and that you need to move on and create another piece of music, another book, or another recipe in order to feel alive and contributing at your best to the world.
While writing those lines and remembering my adventures in my first few months in New York I realise more and more how lucky I was, and how many beautiful opportunities I attracted. I might not have been so clear at the time, but now I am forever thankful for all of those!
(to be continued)