It’s been an interesting 12 hours full of new experiences, and I’m going to try to record some of my thoughts before I tumble into slumber.
I drove up Highway 189 through Provo Canyon, past the original Sundance Resort (where some VIP stuff still happens) and through Heber City to Park City. The midday drive was beautiful, and I wish that I could have stopped to just take it all in. The temperature stayed in the teens, though, so if I’d stepped out of my car it wouldn’t have been for very long anyway.
I’ve been up to the Sundance Resort and also to Park City, but I haven’t driven through Provo Canyon before. The roads were good and it was a clear day… but on the way back I decided (with the input of some other volunteers) that I should go the slightly longer way home through Salt Lake City. There were still some white-knuckle areas of that drive down Parleys Canyon, but otherwise uneventful. Happy about that.
Once I arrived in Park City, I had to find the Marriott hotel to check in. My experience with Marriotts has been in downtown and suburban areas, not ski resort towns… so it took me a little while to find the non-highrise building. I got my packet of information and my uniform: a nice deep, bright blue Kenneth Cole coat with a removable inner vest, a black knit hat with blue piping, and a matching scarf with thin blue and black stripes. I didn’t get any photos of those today, but they’re cool. The only crappy thing is that the "unisex" coat wasn’t made for women with any semblance of an hourglass figure. I guess Kenneth Cole only designs for toothpicky New Yorkers and doesn’t have a clue that 65% of the Sundance Film Festival volunteers are females with hips.
The first shift I’d signed up for–Environmental Graphics–didn’t work out. I was in touch with the coordinator who sent out an email to all of his volunteers asking us to call him before the shift started… so I did, and he basically decided that it wasn’t worth it for me to find the mysterious place where they were working on Main Street if I wasn’t familiar with Park City, and suggested that I ask the volunteer desk if I was needed anywhere else.
The volunteer desk was delighted to schedule me for a volunteer check-in position from 4-8, which left plenty of time for me to attend the hour-long orientation session. The orientation hit on a couple points worth remembering (they were reiterated from the guide that was sent out in the mail) but was otherwise not extraordinarily useful. But it’s my freshman year as a volunteer so I thought I should go. I still didn’t have any Festival friends.
That changed during my check-in shift. One of the nice things about working check-in is that I was able to have brief encounters with many people, some of whom I was bound to recognize later on. And I ended up going to the Volunteer Kick-off Party with two of my fellow shift workers, Lisa and Tim. It was a weird experience for me to suddenly attach myself to these acquaintances, but it worked out better than I’d hoped.
Every time I’ve taken a personality test, I always come out on the fence between introvert and extrovert. I’m not necessarily scared to talk to strangers, and sometimes I find it invigorating. But at the same time, it’s a little nervewrecking to go to a party where the only person you know is someone whom you don’t really know. Yeah, can you tell that I don’t get out very much?
The party was at the Legacy Lodge at the base of the Park City Mountain Resort. It was for all 1400 or so volunteers, and the place was pretty packed (though I doubt the numbers were past a couple hundred). Still, I have never really been to a closed party or club environment like that.
I had to show my ticket and credentials to get in, then was given a wristband with three drink vouchers (which I gave away because I didn’t want to stay long, and I had a long drive home). I checked my coat (I made sure that I kept my wallet and my car key because coat checks make me nervous). Then I walked upstairs and headed straight for the free food line. There were amazing potstickers, a good fresh veggie selection, quesadillas with icky cilantro, penne pasta in a tomato-artichoke alfredo sauce, a massive hunk of meat carved on demand, and some other stuff. It was all good except for the cilantro taste that took a while to fade from my delicate taste buds. There were also cupcakes with custom frosting on each one to match the theme of the festival… and circle with "place" written inside. [graphic snagged from www.sundance.org/festival]
There were a ton of people at the party, and I basically knew two of them. At one point, with food in my hand, I realized that my new friends were nowhere in sight. My mind started sinking into a mild anxiety because I didn’t want to go sit alone and eat my food like a loser. Then I was amused by my thoughts. How did I even become "friends" with my new acquaintances? By talking to people, duh! Then I spotted Tim talking to someone and I dropped my esoterical thoughts for the reality of social graces and fumbles.
It turns out that Tim had worked the previous three festivals and knew a fair amount of people, even being the somewhat quiet guy he appeared to be. Through him I met a couple people whose names I don’t really remember, as well as Alberta from Nashville and Therese from Park Slope, Brooklyn (whom I realized lives on the same block as my aunt and her family–what a crazy small world). The four of us were having a conversation and suddenly I realized that the word "fuck" had been thrown about a few times, and it just made me giddy with excitement. I told them I was so happy to be around people who said fuck, because living in Happy Valley with all the Mormons has deprived me of hearing that word or really feeling comfortable enough to swear at work or around town. Alberta, an outgoing black woman whom I liked immediately, obliged me with a hug and then a second when she realized that I live in Utah County. Tim hadn’t said much up to this point, but he blurted out the F-word in his next sentence to prove that the four of us were in fucking good company.
I also liked Therese right away, and not just because she’s originally from Toronto. Later on in the evening I caught up with her while she was talking to a smartly dressed black man (I feel weird calling out race, but keep in mind that I currently live in Utah where there are very few people of color and it made me happy to see a more diverse crowd. Hell, even the Italians with darker complexions helped alleviate the blinding whiteness of Utah). Anyway, the guy introduced himself and I couldn’t believe it… his name is Yves! He’s the first person I’ve ever met with the masculine version of my name. Am I a serious geek to get excited about that? I mean, how often do women named Nicole or Michelle (for example) meet men named Nicholas or Michael and never think about the fact that their names are basically the same? I’ve met a couple Yvettes in the course of my life, but never an Yves (pronounced "Eve"). He was a nice guy, and I was really miffed to realize that he and Tim were younger than me. I’m really used to being "young" and it’s really throwing me off to meet people who I assume are my age and it turns out they’re my younger sister’s age. I’m not an agist or anything–it’s just weird to me.
Okay, I’ve not talked about the actual festival much because the majority of it has been experiencing the festival through social functions. The real film festival starts tomorrow, but my next volunteer shift isn’t until Sunday. I’m starting to fade fast here, and I have to work tomorrow morning, so I’ll finish with a final musing.
Everyone I met tonight was a volunteer, so a fair question to ask them is what they do
in "real life" for a job. Most answered with typical things, like human resources or corporate telecom drone. But even though we were all volunteering at a film festival, I was still floored the first time I heard "I’m a film maker" as a response. For some reason, I wasn’t expecting to meet any "normal" people who were also film makers or in the film industry. Like, duh, of course there would be.
Also, nobody asked if I have kids, even though I shared that I was married. That’s pretty much the first thing that people ask me if I meet them in Utah County.
Overall, I felt like an overly excited n00b. But it was great, and awesome to both do something different in my life and to meet people from all over the world.