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It's been a couple of weeks since I started working at Gallery Y on the Upper East Side. Yesterday my coworker at Gallery Y, Mandy, texted me: Let's grab dinner tomorrow—my treat. We went to an Italian restaurant near the gallery and she told me that she already liked me much better than the girl who worked before me. She told me about her boarding school days in Switzerland, her plan to go to Sedona with her friends in a couple of weeks, and that she goes to Hawaii for the holidays where her parents have a second home. She asked me, "Are you an artist, Kieren?"


A hotshot art dealer/collector came by the gallery today. He is friends with the gallery partner Ben, gallery owner Dick's 30-year-old son. They were talking about Miami Art Basel and somewhere along the line talking about the best parties, hotels, and restaurants, he said Miami, out of all Art Basel locations, was the best place "to get young pussy."


Gallery owner Dick smokes in the office. The fire alarm is taken off so he can smoke about half a pack each day without having to walk out of the building. I've quit smoking since college but surprisingly being surrounded by cigarette smoke all day had an opposite effect on me than what I anticipated. I am not at all tempted to smoke again. I feel disgusting every day. 


An old art dealer came by the gallery today. He was frustrated with multiple collectors backing out of purchasing Peter Doig's paintings after Doig retracted his signature from ArtForum's open letter to cease fire. He said "This is all too much. It's messing with business now. Israel should just wipe them out. End it now."


The gallery owner, Dick, wanted to measure the sizes of light fixtures to make boxes for them. He asked me how long they were and I told him they were 12 13/16 inches. He said, "What?" so I said, "12 13/16. Almost 13 inches." And he replied to me "I don't care what you fucking think. Just give me the facts."


Dick wanted me to run an errand to home depot and get materials needed for his penthouse maintenance. My coworker Mandy gave me a debit card and told me to go to an ATM and take out a hundred dollars. She instructed me to take a cab to Home Depot, purchase the items, and take a cab to his penthouse. I was excited to leave the gallery and get some air. I got receipts from the ATM, both taxis, and Home Depot. I couldn't tip any of the drivers because I knew Dick would be furious if I had tipped them. The next day, Dick called Mandy into the office and told her to change the pin number for the debit card. He said to Mandy, "I don't trust her. I trust you."


On my way out of the gallery today, Dick said to me, "You live in the Bronx, right?" I replied, "No, I live in Brooklyn." Dick said, "Well, same thing."


Preview night at The ADAA Art Show, I was so hungry but didn't have the guts to walk up to the catering table and get smoked salmon. I downed some tequila around the corner with people from other booths and tried to get through the night. I saw Jerry Saltz float through the hallway and got excited. I said, "Oh my god, I love Jerry Saltz!" Mandy said, "You think these people care?"


I asked Dick which one was his favorite booth in The Art Show. He said, "Mine." 


Last night of The ADAA Art Show– I was on my way out carrying a box with the porcelain ceramic sculpture inside which we had displayed throughout the fair. Some art handlers holding a huge crate swiped my right-hand knuckles with the sharp corner of the crate. I screamed briefly knowing that if I dropped it I'd be sued. I was made to transport and install all the art without a worker's comp or professional training in art handling. 


Dick's son, Ben, recently launched an emerging contemporary artists program. He asked me if it was a good idea to share the works of artists whom he had studio visits with but not showing. I said I don't know if galleries usually do that sort of stuff. Mandy said, "Who cares?" and smiled at Ben, "You're the boss."


I introduced the works of a painter friend of mine to Ben. I showed him her website and Dick walked by. He said he loved her work and asked if I actually knew her. He also asked me if she was a full-time artist and I said no. He said, "So she's a Sunday Artist."


After about a month of working at Gallery Y, I realized that I wasn't really free to go outside for lunch since there was no lunch break carved into my work hours. I started bringing in a bag of chips, pistachios, or a granola bar to eat. I was eating a bag of kettle corn flavored Popcorners and Dick asked me why I was eating all day. 


Bloomberg Philanthropies signed a 30-year lease with RFR Holdings and all the galleries at 980 Madison Ave should vacate their spaces as soon as their leases are over. Gallery Y's lease ends at the end of 2023. Dick has a huge library of about 5,000 art books and he ordered me to organize all the books into cardboard boxes. Today, I was up on the ladder to grab the large, heavy photography books on the shelf built into the ceiling. I could barely reach the books while tip-toeing on the top of the ladder. As I tried to pass the book to Mandy standing at the bottom of the ladder, an exhibition brochure fell out of the book. In my efforts to catch the brochure, I landed loudly on the floor with the book in my arms. Dick came screaming after he heard my heavy fall/jump: "Do you know how expensive these books are?!"


I have completed packing 159 boxes of books over the past two weeks. I have worked 10 hours per day and 6 days per week without any overtime pay. Dick wanted me to separate monographs and group exhibition catalogs, organize the books in alphabetical order, and chronologically for the same artists, but disregard the order I organized them as I put them in the boxes because I should try and squeeze as many books as possible in one box. I didn't know which artist's last name I should use to alphabetically organize group exhibition catalogs, in which boxes I should put two-person show catalogs, or what to do with books too large to fit into the box, so I asked Mandy. She frowned at me and said, "What do you mean," then looked away. 


I've been having trouble sleeping despite working long hours and feeling exhausted. I go to the gym after a 10-hour workday, shower, and paint until I can fall asleep. I cannot lie on my back on the bed because I hurt my back from lifting and moving the heavy boxes. The gallery is filled with boxes I've packed and every day Dick yells at me for using too much tape, or taking too long to pack the boxes, or touching a bookshelf I'm not supposed to touch, or not being able to answer the landline immediately while being on the top of a ladder. Today he said to Mandy, "Please translate what I'm saying to Korean for Kieren because she doesn't fucking understand me."
















It was about 5 PM when I went to the bathroom. I took a piss and came out. Dick said to me, "Can you please flush while you pee?" I couldn't understand him so I asked, "Do you mean you want me to flush before I use the toilet?" He said, "No, I said flush while you piss. You know we can all hear you in the office?" I said if the sound bothered him maybe I could turn the faucet on while I used the bathroom. He said, "No, I said flush." "Isn't it common etiquette to cover up the sound of your piss if you're a woman in Korean culture?" As soon as I heard him say that I felt my stomach turn in a giggly way. I smiled a bit and said I wasn't particularly familiar with that kind of etiquette. He said it was common sense to mask the sound of piss when you're a woman and that I should be embarrassed for not having that kind of common sense. He told me how ridiculous it would be if he had collectors in the office for an important meeting and they could all hear me take a piss. I said that I would probably not even come in to use the bathroom if he was in a meeting. Ben was right behind me throughout the entire conversation and I responded in a way that I thought he would sympathize. I said to Dick, "I'm not particularly familiar with this kind of etiquette but this is your place of business and I can accommodate." He looked at me with great anger and disappointment and said, "It's not about this place being my place of business. It's common sense. Do you understand?" I replied, "I understand." He asked, "You understand me but you don't agree with me?" So I said, "I'm not particularly familiar with that kind of etiquette," and walked out of the office as he shook his head. 


As soon as I walked out and sat on my desk, I could hear Ben say to Dick, "I don't think you can say stuff like that to people." Dick replied aggressively, "What do you mean I can't say something like that?" Ben said that it's just not right to talk to people about that kind of stuff and that he doesn't really know why the rules should be different for me. He said that if he hears a man take a piss or a woman take a piss, he would just think that someone is taking a piss and nothing else. Dick answered, "Do you think people should be allowed to take showers in the public bathroom?" Ben replied, "Of course not." Dick said, "Exactly. It's the same thing." Ben didn't say anything back. 


Ben came out of the office and over to my desk. He talked to me like nothing happened just then. I did too. He asked me if I could start drafting some bios for the artists on his website and I said I would get right on it. 


It wasn't until I was halfway home that I felt a sense of humiliation. I was waiting for my train at the transfer stop in the Financial District and 

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