Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Am I a New Yorker Yet?

I have heard it takes 10 years in New York to make you a "local" and even then I may never be called a New Yorker. But I had my own New York moment the other day which made me think that me an ol' New York are going to do just fine together.

It has been overcast and very muggy the last few days (try 100% humidity) and I was in a subway station traveling to a job interview. I was dressed in business attire, and it was hot. I was looking forward to getting on a nice, air conditioned train. When the train finally pulled up, I noticed that there were a bunch of cars packed with people, and I was disheartened to think that I might have to stand- I had a book I needed to read! I then noticed that there were a few cars at the end of the platform that had fewer people. I thought, "Ah ha! I will run down the platform and get into one of THOSE cars. I am so smart." I catch the train, and right after the door slams behind me I notice that this car is, ready for this, NOT air conditioned. This would account for the lack of people in it. Apparently I made a horrible face of disgust, because a lady across the car laughed and nodded her head, as though to say "Tell me about it!" I sat down and pondered my fate. I was destined to arrive at my interview with sweat rings on my crisp, clean shirt and a foul look on my face. And then it hit me. I knew what to do. I pulled a New York move- at the next station I got off the train and got into another car. Brilliant!

The ultimate NY move would have been to go between subway cars while the train was still moving, but that is just crazy talk!

Saturday, August 27, 2005

"It's a beautiful day," she complains...

The weather is starting to turn here already, or so the locals say. The sun is bright and hot, but the breeze is cool. I can wear more clothing than the few spaghetti strap tank tops I brought with me, thank Dog. Coming from California, I am a fan of layering. I heart layering because in San Diego the temperature will drastically change depending on whether you are in the shade or in the sun. So, you always have to have a sweater with you. But you'll have to take it off, put it on, take it off, put it on, etc etc etc, depending on where you go through the day. So, I am glad that I am finally somewhere where the weather is a little more stable- extreme, but stable. When I leave the house in the morning, I can have a pretty good idea of what the weather is going to be like in the afternoon. Did you know that NYC is considered to have a mild climate?

More differences between San Diego and New York. It seems to me that in San Diego, everyone acknowledges how easy it is to live there, and so any amount of concern or complaint is brushed aside or, worse, challenged. Namely, when speaking of the weather in San Diego, you will easily run into someone who says, "Oh, you're hot? You should see how hot is it near me in Ramona. You have nothing to complain about here." But once someone complains in Ramona, you hear, "Oh, you're hot? You should see how hot is it near me in Borrego. You have nothing to complain about here." And once someone complains in Borrego, you hear, "Oh, you're hot? You should see how hot is it near me on the Sun. You have nothing to complain about here."

So, when I came to NYC and felt the sweltering heat, I got prepared to pretend that it didn't bother me, because I didn't want to be made fun of. But no sooner did I think those thoughts did I hear people around me say, "Man, it is f&%^king HOT! Don't you think it's hot? Man, I think I am going to sweat my ass off!" So, my observation is this: In San Diego, people don't complain that much, even though they want to, which creates a sort of alienation. In New York, everyone complains, which actually creates a bit of community. It seems bass-ackwards, but if you think about it, it makes a lot of sense. Speaking your mind is contagious, and when you know your fellow man, you know yourself.

I love it here.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Thank you!

Thanks to ElectronicWriter who has passed on some words of wisdom about blogging. He recommended a Mac program called MacJournal, where I can create and backup all of my journal entries and then publish directly from the program to my blog. Fancy-schmancy.

If you are bored, take this quiz:

Unabomber Quiz

Then poke around their website. Fun stuff!

I forgot to mention

One of the other projects I have been exploring is standardized patient programs through local medical schools. This involves portraying a patient sop that student doctors can practice their clinical skills. Really fun, and really rewarding. I did this work in San Diego, and want to do it here too. So, I looked up all of the medical schools and started contacting their development departments. I have already received 2 responses from people who want to get my resume on file. Wish me luck!

New Look- Same Attitude

Well- you have probably noticed by now that my blog has a new look. That's right- I have gone to the dark side and decided NOT to code my own blog anymore. The main reason for this is that I have had a blast having someone else host my Moblog, and I have already met lots of people through that community. Blogger has its own network of cool people, and a great interface, so I decided to switch. The decision to switch was easy. The transition proved to be a little more tiresome. For two hours this morning I transferred all of my postings from my website to this blog. That was...fun. I am looking a little bit of flexibility but am gaining the ability to forget about HTML code for this part of my site, so I give it a two thumbs up!

My recent job interviews went well. I was signed by the temp agency, who has already called me to talk about a possible job. That is pretty cool. It is very similar to having an agent as an actor. They get a fee on top of the hourly rate that is paid by the business, but I don't miss that money because it was never mine to begin with. It takes all of the pain out of having to find work for yourself. Yummy. The other great thing about temp work is it allows you the flexibility to do other part time work (eg: theatre) while still having a steady income base. Howver, before I make any firm plans, I am holding out for another job for which I have a 2nd interview on Monday. This job involves assisting an Off Broadway producer in preparation for a show that is opening in October. This is the perfect job for me (aside from performing) and I hope I get it! [cue "A Chorus Line"] If I do get this job, then I can still temp but work around that schedule. If I don't get it, then I still temp. See the brilliance?

On Monday, after my 2nd interview, I have a coffee date with a program director for a possible job directing workshop productions of new plays. It doesn't pay much (if at all) but it links up directors with playwrights in the development of their work, which can lead to paying gigs down the line. Ever since the Festival I have had a burning desire to explore directing more fully, and this might be the perfect opportunity. One of the reason I am so excited is that it has been a long time since I have been allowed access to non-union or start up projects. As a member of Actors Equity and SAG, I am limited to what I can do as a performer. But as a director, I am able to explore all avenues, which is incredibly freeing. I am sure that once I have a lot of directing experience under my belt, I will want to be a member of the directors guild. But for now, I am basking in the opportunity to build my resume, make contacts with people I admire, and explore the possibility of making a difference.

Don't you love naive optimism?

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Monday, August 22, 2005

Interviews galore

Happy Birthday to my good friend Robin, who is happily on a Hornblower cruise with her boyfriend on the San Diego Bay right now. Lucky her!

I have 2 job interviews tomorrow- both jobs would allow me the time & flexibility to audition for shows and doing odd jobs in the theatre (ie: standardized patient training at medical schools; hand modeling demonstrations at conventions; directing...) Things are really starting to progress- hopefully they don't spin out of control and get me committed to a full time job. I rather like having my days free to roam the city unchaperoned. It's like summer camp without the mosquitos and more beer.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Today's Happiness List

• Having internet access at home
• DVR (Digital Video Recording)- now I can see The West Wing anytime I want!
• Sleeping in with my dog curled up in that space my legs create when sleeping on my side
• Late night conversations with old friends who have just met
• Coffee
• Knowing that I belong here but not having to know the reasons why
• Good Pizza

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Life is Good.

I am on track to find work, which will go a long way in funding my alcohol habit (sorry, Mom and Dad, that you had to read that. Though I am mostly Irish, so it is really your fault anyway). I had a phone interview today for a job assisting an Off Broadway producer for a show opening in October in the Village. I have exactly the skills they need, but I got the sense from the interview that they were calling LOTS of people and don't know how well I did. My lunch partner (who will remain nameless) said I was "articulate." I also have some "in's" with a few temp agencies. Thank Dog I spent all of those years doing office work. Temp work could perfect because it would allow me access to full time work but also flexibility so I can pursue theatre. Hey, if you are reading this and have a job opening that sounds like that, let me know. Is anyone actually reading this? Hello...

So, I was talking to my sister on the phone last night, and she asked me what my favorite part of living in NYC is so far. I had just left Starbucks, and in the span of 15 minutes, I walked home, dropped off my computer, went back out to a Chinese restaurant, ordered take out, and went back home to eat it. Here was my answer: I love the fact that I have everything I need at my fingertips and I do not have to own a car to get it. This aspect is the best, bar none (or bar MANY, in my case). Everything I need is here. I feel right at home. It is awesome. I also like humid weather, and the fact that I can walk around Astoria at 2am and it is just as busy then as it is a 2pm. I like that I can walk down the street and hear many different languages being spoken, even if those words are being yelled at me through a mail slot. Who knew that I actually like being unemployed?

If you have read my blog from beginning to end (and, dear Dog, I hope you were drinking at the time) you would know that I worked for the Actors Alliance and this summer I directed and produced a production at the Actors Alliance Festival. And that the playwright of my show, Judd Silverman, contacted me when he saw I was doing his show. Well, he and I met in person for the first time yesterday, and I don't think I exaggerate when I say that I was in the presence of greatness. See, this is why I needed to come to New York. This is where all of the geniuses ply their wares and even if I never become one of those geniuses, I am surrounded from them, I can be inspired by them, and I can write about them in my blog to make myself seem greater than I really am.

New York Moment- a youngish Latina girl (18 or 19) just knocked on the window I am sitting by at Starbucks and tried to tell me something, but I couldn't understand what she was trying to say. She started motioning to me, I think the words "I like" came out of her mouth, and when she tried to motion what she meant, she put one hand on her hip and one on her head, like when girl is doing a sexy pose. It was a bizarre case of failed charades. She gave up after 3 tries. I choose to believe that I was being worshipped.

And, to close, I'd like to say that last night, for the first time, I hailed my own cab. And an even better tag to that story is that I hailed a cab in Astoria at 12:30am to go INTO Manhattan to meet friends at a piano bar. Kick ass.

Monday, August 15, 2005

New York Moment

Last night I experienced New York Moment #2. I wish I was able to take a photo, but that is part of why it was a New York Moment. It was 11:45pm and I had just got done watching "Mad, Hot Ballroom" at a theatre in Chelsea. I waited for more than 15 minutes to catch the A train from 23rd Street, to connect at 42nd Street to the N, W or R to go to Astoria. Once I got to 42nd Street, I walked the equivilent of 4 long city blocks to get over to the N/W/R. When I got there, there was a train at the station, and everyone was running to catch it. However, the train was PACKED. Mind you, it was a Sunday night at midnight, at this point, and it was worse than rush hour. There was a conductor on the platform encouraging people to pile on, saying the 7 and R were closed, so this would be the last train for a while. Normally I would have waited, but I went ahead and squeezed in. It was wall to wall people, but at least I was able to get my hand on the rail to steady myself. The train takes off uptown, stops at 49th street, and more people start to pile on. At this point, I thought we were going to burst and I was being touched in places by strangers that border on illegal. Everyone is in good spirits, though, because we figure that it can't get any worse. The train stops at 57th, 5th Ave and 59th & Lex, and each time more and more people get on, and no one gets off. There are so many people that you cannot even see the handrails anymore, just a sea of hands overlapping hands, slippery from the rain and sweat. These trains are air conditioned, but I would have bet against that. Eventually, people are packed in nowhere near handrails, with their hands raised in the air holding onto the ceiling. This was a deoderant commercial waiting to happen. Once we got across the bridge to Queensboro Plaza, the train emptied out, and I was left to contemplate the experience of being that intimate with complete strangers for 20 minutes after midnight. Facscinating. Welcome to New York.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Mmm... pizza...

I think I have found the best pizza in NYC. On Thursday I went up to Harlem to hang with Courtney and she took me to Patsy's. The pizza was the thinnest I have ever seen with just the right amount of sauce and cheese. I am a little embarrassed to say that not only did we finish one large pizza between the 2 of us, but I ordered 2 more pieces for myself and ate them right then. Gluttonous, I tell you.

By the way, the above section was meant to incite others to tell me what THEY think the best pizza is... I double dog dare you! You can let me know by making a comment below.

On Friday night I hung out with friends Jessica and Noah on the Lower East Side at a bar/lounge called The Living Room, where we saw The Gabe Dixon Band perform live. They were fantastic. You can download their music at their website. I highly recommend going to live music venues- they are inspiring, fun and full of great energy.

I met Jess and Noah in San Diego, and they moved to New York last year. Noah is the drummer and occasional guitarist for another amazing performer, Randi Driscoll. I am thrilled to be living in New York where I will be able to see them perform far more often. Unfortunately for me, they are traveling to California soon to do some tour dates there. They will be in San Diego at Twiggs on August 21. Stop by and say hello.

Much to my delight, I have discovered a Goodwill Store right by the subway station. Those who know and love me are aware of my penchant for designer clothing at cheap prices. I am also thrilled because when my parent start to ship my stuff to me, I will invariably have packed too much and will need somewhere to get rid of it. The Goodwill is the perfect solution. So, if you have been trying to call or email me and I am not getting back to you, chances are I am at the Goodwill.

Speaking of shopping, there is a street fair on Steinway today, and I fear that I will walk home with a bunch of stuff I don't have room for. We'll see...

Friday, August 12, 2005

Mystery solved

My dear friend Brent was the one who sent the plant to me. What a wonderfully sweet gift. I promise I will photograph it and add it to my Photo Blog on of these days.

Happy Birthday to Claire!

Well, I have been here a week exactly, and the honeymoon period has not ended yet. I am truly lucky to have great friends taking good care of me in the city. Rarely have I found more hospitality than I have experienced here. Tonight, I get to go out with my friends Jessica and Noah, who live in Brooklyn. We are seeing a band in the East Village, which should be lots of fun. Jess is an actor/educator turned lawyer, and Noah is a software guru turned musician. They courageously have followed their dreams and are a constant source of inspiration for me. Tomorrow, I get to have dinner with theatre friends Sarah and Matt, who are visiting from San Diego. Sunday I will be out with Jess again in the evening meeting some of her friends.

Monday is when I will start working on the career aspects of my new life. Starting with a trip to the Actors' Equity building, I will look into auditioning and flexible work opportunities that will be both financially rewrading and emotionally fulfilling. It would be a dream situation to be able to find a job like the one I had in San Diego at the Actors Alliance. I miss them. I'll be sure to let you know about my various pursuits, and be following it with my camera, as always!

Courtney has something on her blog that I have always liked- she often talks about what she is grateful for in her life. I have maintained a list like this for years, but it is called my Happiness List. Things that no matter what my mood will always make me happy. I thought I would share some of those with you now and then add to them every so often.

Happiness List

Napping with my dog Denver

Walking up the the subway platform with my train just arriving

Getting mail from home (or plants)

Being with friends I have not seen in years

Warm weather at midnight

The promise of a new day

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Being Neighborly

Only here 6 days and there is already a snafu. I have already evoked the ire of the neighborhood sidewalk nazi. Two days ago, while walking my dog, I heard someone banging on a window, and I turned to find a woman screaming at me from inside her home in broken English, pointing and waving, and two little kids doing the same thing. The only words that I could make out were "no" and "dog" and "mine." They scrambled past their windows to the foyer, where I was certain they would open the door and come out to confront me (for what, I had no idea). Instead, the kids opened up the mail slot in the front door and proceeded to yell at me through that, their wee mouths poking through the metal slat. "Maybe they are just trying to welcome me" I thought. So, this morning I go out to walk the dog (the sheer nerve!) and I see this woman out in the street, yelling at the construction workers who were filling the holes in the road. I thought maybe in her frenzy she would not see me walking by, but no such luck. As my dog dared to stop at the tree on the street (planted in dry dirt at the edge of the sidewalk) she begins to shoo me away, telling me (in broken English) "they... kill... your...dog." Now, I was starting to wonder if she was protecting my dog by saying the streets are filthy and that I should find a safer place for my dog, when a miraculously lucid sentence poured from her mouth: "My kids play there, I don't want your dog pee-peeing."

Now, if you have seen the tree lined streets of Astoria, and witnessed the majesty of their trunks and roots, you would know to NEVER let your children play there. The "planter" which housed the tree was no more than 2'x2' square- not even kittens would have enough room to play there. Consider also that if my dog does NOT pee in an area such as that, the only other place to go would be the sidewalk, which I would venture to guess that far more people access than the 2'x2' area of tree roots. It was a judgment call...

I politely smiled and said I would continue walking, and she went back to shouting in broken English until I was well out of ear shot. All before 10am.

For reference, I have posted a photo of the pee-perpetrator. Please, judge kindly, she is getting old.

Gift, Gifts, Glorious Gifts

This afternoon I received a lovely gift of a palm tree from someone who knows that I will miss San Diego very much. Unfortunately, that is all I know about this someone, because the box did not include any identifying information. So, if you sent me this gift, please let me know so I can properly thank you. Otherwise, I will assume that I have a secret admirer and will hold off on dating any new men in lieu of dreaming about the person who bought my affection with a plant.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Thought for the day

Be aware that when you are at Starbucks, sitting right by the front window, you will feel like a animal behind glass at the zoo. It is a fact. Don't feed the monkeys.

Tuesday, August 9, 2005

Thought for the day

I am already starting to notice that some phrasing is a little different here:

San Diego: "For here or to go?"
New York: "To stay or to go?"

San Diego: "Cream and sugar?"
New York: "Milk and sugar?"

San Diego: [HONK] "I'm sorry, sir. I didn't mean to step in front of your car when walking against the traffic signal obliviously"
New York: [HONK] "Yeah? Fuck you too!"

One may note that two of these experiences have been from ordering food or coffee. And that most of the photos I have taken on my Photo Blog involve large amounts of alcohol. There are other things that I do here, I swear!

More differences to come as I discover them...

Sunday, August 7, 2005

I'm here!

I have been here only 3 days, but I have to say...


That phrase bears repeating...


And not in a crazed, hyper, overly stimulated sort of way, hence the lack of exclamation points (!!!!!!!) I mean in a peaceful "I know where I belong" sort of way." Maybe it is because I am unemployed that I am so peaceful, or maybe it is that Astoria is a kick ass place to be, or maybe it is the coffee I have tapped into the IV in my arm. Regardless, I am thrilled to be here.

Courtney is my great friend who I met in 2000 doing a show at Sledgehammer theatre in San Diego. From the beginning, I was drawn to her energy, her spirit, that sort of "I am who I am- you got a problem with that?" mentality, and yet she is one of the most down to earth and giving people I know. This was evident when, at her party, her apartment was filled end to end with friends who did not care that it was at least 90 degrees in her apartment, or that an unmentionable amount of liquid was spilled on her floor and was being stepped in. The place erupted into a very well sung version of Happy Birthday, with Tom on the piano and Debra providing the cake (and me providing the drunken harmonies). I met lots of people who were excited about my transition to NYC and were helpful, kind and giving.

I also love the place I am staying. I am living in Astoria, which is, apparently, a sort of artist's haven. The city gets more populated at night, with the slew of bars, live music venues, and fantastic restaurants. My section of Astoria seems to have a large Greek contingency, so I have had a fair share of authentic Greek food since I have been here. I am only 3 blocks away from the subway, and only 25 minutes into midtown Manhattan. My roommates are cool. Most of you know of Jessa Watson, performer extraordinare- she got me this sublet. She is staying in one of the rooms, and a great guy named Aaron is in the other one. I am subletting for a cool girl names Andra, who is away for the month. Jessa is thinking of picking up a different sublet in September, so if things continue to go well I should be able to take over Jessa's room. The rent is reasonable, and everything I could ever want to buy is at my fingertips (markets, drug stores, shoe stores...)

I am currently at a Starbucks on Steinway (there is not cable or internet access at the apartment). Steinway is like a huge outdoor mall, although the streets are not closed like in Santa Monica's Third Street. There are tons of stores, including chain clothing stores, and mom & pop places. Fantastic. I have found the people here to be kind, willing to give a smile, but busy enough that they will not take the time to hassle with you. Just the way I like it.

Tonight I am seeing Jessa in a show at the Midtown International Theatre Festival- an Off Off Broadway gig. I cannot wait to come to support her. This will be my first show since moving here. I am going to try to see some shows this week too. And museums. And concerts. Oh boy, I am getting excited just thinking about it!

I am all written out- I think I may just walk around again and see what's around. Maybe buy some shoes...

Monday, August 1, 2005

Is it already August?

August was this magical month sometime in the distant future when I "might move to New York" and now it is actually here. Creepy. And I am actually moving the New York, which makes is even creepier. And wonderful!

My 2nd show at Schroeder's Club and Cabaret was amazing! I had such a great time, and the audience seemed to enjoy it. I got to debut 20 new songs, most of which I have never sung live before, and threaded them together under the title "The Callback." Lots of stories about the theatre and what it is like to perform professionally. Lots of hi-jinx with my friend and accompanist, Cris O'Bryon. Fun was had by all. Go to my Photos and Reviews page to read some of the comments made about the event. I do have a video of the production, so if you missed the cabaret and happen to be traveling to NYC at any time in the future, you might be able to persuade me to show it to you. If you beg...

On the 28th I had tons of fun at my going away party, held at the Yard House, which is legendary for the Yard O' Beer, which the Minnions bought for me. I am sure the yard o' beer was purchased for comical effect as opposed to the quenching of my thirst. Good Lord, drinking out of those things looks ranchy. Thank goodness no one took a photo- I have a reputation to uphold. I arrived at the Yard House at 8pm, and there was a steady stream of friends coming and going until 12:15am when they kicked us out. My dear friend Dean flew in from Florida just in time to come to the event. Joey Landwehr, one of San Diego's most talented performers, dragged 6-7 of his closest friends to the restaurant to serenade me with an a cappella rendition of "In The Still of the Night." Their group is called In A Chord (if I could find a website for them, I would add a link). It was awesome. Thanks to everyone who came- Mom, Dad, Dean, Matt S, Matt L, Christina, Mike, Brooke, Rich, Sara, Kurt, Colleen, James and friends, Mike, Nick & Rebecca, Suzanne & Kevin, Diane & Michael, Cory and friend, Jim, Jason K, Jason H, Fred, and my friend Sergio (and his friend Fram), who I ran into randomly and haven't seen since 2002. I am sure I have forgotten someone- which probably means you did not sign my "Starving Artist in NYC" advice book!

That weekend I drove up to Los Angeles to visit with some friends I hadn't seen in a while. I had dinner with Henry and his wife Angela. I went to college with them, though I spent more time with henry because back in the day, he was dating my roommate and I dated a good friend of his. It was nice to see them again. I also visited my best friend from high school and college, who I had lost touch with since 1998. I posted a photo of us on my Photo Blog. It's nice to know that some things never change. We fell into the old pattern of talking and it was really nice. After that I went to visit my friend, Jesus, who is moving to NYC after he saves up some money by living with his family in LA. He must have seen how much fun I had living at home and decided to copy me. We went to the park and just sort of enjoyed how still life could be. I am going to miss those open spaces.

The rest of the week, I madly struggled to finish packing and seeing everyone I needed to see, not to mention sell my car! That was an interesting experience- once I got the money and we signed the paperwork, he drove me to a rental car place and that was the end of my life with the RMS Diva. But this sort of change in my life is wlecomed with open arms- open because I will have to carry everything in New York...

Gotta go- the boxes are calling me and I must obey!

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