Monday, December 22, 2008

Go Big or Go Home...How About Both?!

Flying home on Christmas Eve was looking increasingly like a bad idea as each frigid day passed and my itinerary flight changed for the third time, so I opted to changed my Expedia ticket from December 24th to December 9th. I arrived an hour and 45 minutes early for my flight, only to find out that Delta and Expedia had conflicting ideas of when I was allowed to go home. After battling with both Delta and Expedia, neither of whom particularly seemed to care about my predicament, I had to call a cab company and head back home to try to find an alternate flight. While I was contemplating whether or not I would make it home for Christmas, my mom was taking care of business with Expedia and got me on a flight the very next day. Just try to stand between a mom and her child...take THAT, Expedia.

I received the grand tour of my parents' new home, which, as I was forewarned, looks eerily like our old house. This house, however, has two big bonus features: a pool, and a two-story playhouse. My mom couldn't wait to show me how cute the playhouse was, in spite of the fact that it was about 12:30 am. I think that most of you know what happened here, so I'll leave you with the short version of the story. Mom decided to reenact Jack and Jill, except for instead of tumbling down the hill, she flew down the stairs...chin first. My mom's hang time would put Michael Jordan to shame. It was pretty scary to watch, and after she hit the ground she took a few seconds before she moved or made any noise. When she finally showed signs of life and we determined that no fatal injuries were sustained, we took my mom to the ER. Two days of liquids and three days of mushy foods later, my mom was back to cooking enough solid foods to feed the nearest third world country...or starving actor.

Although the first leg of my journey home was a bit rough around the edges, I am so grateful for this 5 week vacation. Most of my time here has been spent catching up on my VH1 countdowns, hanging out with family and old friends, and enjoying the green, green grass of home. The Monday before Christmas, most of the members from Sweet Peace got together and went Christmas carolling. Without prior rehearsal, we sang the same 2 or 3 songs over and over....and over and over. We were only brave enough to go to our parents' houses, the last of which was the Stewart's. Of course, we ended up singing some of the old medleys from LTC by the end of the night.

I wasn't sure if I'd ever get to see all of my family in the same room again, since everyone's getting older and busier. But this year, everybody made it to Christmas. One of the hardest things to deal with in the city is being away from my family, so I took as many mental pictures as my brain could hold...the space is pretty limited, but I think I did alright.

New Year's Eve rolled around, and after a few rousing games of Catch Phrase with the Martin's, the Price's, the Brandon Lehrmann's, and my parents, we all watched the ball drop in NYC. In that moment, watching the thousands of red-nosed faces shivering together in Times Square, I was glad to be in the magical land of Texas, where 75 degree weather still exists.

My resolution this year is to "be active." Not just physically active, but active in the everyday decisions in my life. I'm working hard to not just dream big, but actually do big. I've got my roots here, the place that keeps me grounded and will never let me down. But the current under my wings, at least for now, is pushing me back to Brooklyn. It will be hard to leave again, but I can go back with the assurance that I've got somewhere to land whenever I need a break.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Turkey Lurkey Doo, Turkey Lurkey Dap, I Eat That Turkey And I Take A Nap

Well the weather outside is frightful...
And I'm sure a fire would be quite delightful, if I could afford a fireplace in my apartment. :)

In all seriousness, it's been cold and rainy here for a while now, with the exception of the 65 degree Thanksgiving Day we had. People played football out in the streets while we watched football inside the apartment. Because cooking is harder than Rachael Ray makes it out to be, we had to catch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade on TV this year like everyone else. Maybe next year we'll be able to catch it in person. We ended up having 8 people show up, so it felt almost like Thanksgiving with our families. Almost. Kara and I cooked up a pretty big feast, and sustained only a few minor injuries in the process. Although, I confess, I did explode one cake because I put too much batter into one pan. When we weren't watching football, we played Three Person Charades and listened to Christmas music. Here are a few pictures:
The Feast
Three Person Charades
Jonathan gracing us with a solo performance
Kara made the turkey dance. It made her less afraid to touch a dead animal.
My Turtle Cheesecake
More charades
Nadia, Shae, Jonathan and I at Trump Tower
I don't know what look we were going for here
Nadia and I eating at Spring Street Natural
This is supposed to be busy season for catering, but I've only got 2 jobs remaining for the month. I had 6, but 4 of them have been canceled due to the state of the economy. Needless to say, catering seemed too good to be true and, thanks to the Lehman Brothers, it is. After Christmas break, I'll be back on the job hunt.

Tonight at 7 pm is the Rockefeller Christmas Tree lighting, so my roommate and I are going to go participate in the festivities. I would be lying if I said that Beyonce's performance isn't one of the main reasons I'm going. Miley Cyrus and The Jonas Brothers are supposed to be there, too. I'll be sure to write about it in my next post.

Three weeks and counting till I'm back in the Lone Star State. I can't wait to see everyone!!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Baracking Around The Clock

In the days following one of the most groundbreaking elections in our nation's history, my normally divided neighborhood changed drastically. The racial (and gender) slurs stopped, people made eye contact on the street and some even mumbled a "hello". A lady held the door open for me on the way to the subway and I almost had to pinch myself. Not that people are usually rude, they're just trying to be invisible. Everybody goes about their own business. For a little while, people were united. I'm sure my experience with this election would have been quite different had I been somewhere else. But here, in a poor neighborhood where many people had decided they didn't matter, that their voice was not heard and their vote did not count, this election was more than a page in history. When Obama was announced as the new president-elect, I could hear cheers from every direction. I sat up in my windowsill and watched streams of people exit their apartment buildings and flooding the streets, banging pots and pans and creating an impromptu rally for the future president. If you saw what I saw, no matter who you voted for, you would have been inspired by the sudden change, the restoration of hope among people who felt forgotten. The party was still going on when I drifted off to sleep. No longer in my windowsill, mind you.

In other news, my friend Caleb from college came to visit last weekend. We did almost every tourist thing imaginable, all in 3 days. To name a few, We checked out the Empire State Building, walked across the Brooklyn Bridge, and we saw "All My Sons" starring John Lithgow, Dianne Wiest, Patrick Wilson and Katie Holmes. It's a horribly depressing show, but it was wonderful. Every time I watch a show, I still wish it was me up there on that stage. As long as I feel that way, I can't ( and won't) stop trying to be a professional actor.

As payment for my assistant stage managing "The Cenci" for the Red Bull Theater, Lyndsey took me to The Rockette Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall. Precision dancing at its finest. And yes, they really do kick that high...I was sitting on the second row and was a tad worried that one poorly buckled shoe might be headed for my face. We also got some 3-D action, flying with Santa all over New York City. The show sure put me in the holiday mood. Kara and I are hosting Thanksgiving at our apartment for everyone we know who couldn't go home this year. So far, I think we have 10 people coming. I'm in charge of the baking, so send me your recipes...and all of your luck.

Thanks for all of your cards, emails, and messages (text, facebook and otherwise). I save all my messages and keep all my cards in a box under my bed to pull out when I get homesick or lonely. I'm going to make you proud :) Miss and love you all!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Keeping the Faith

Still here, in case you were curious. My allergies tried to take me down for awhile, but they were no match for hot chocolate, old movies, and my electric blanket. I had my first audition tonight for an Off-Broadway show called "The Awesome 80's Prom". I showed up, waited 4 hours, and didn't even get to read. I was "typed out", which basically means they looked at my headshot, and based on that alone, didn't think I was what they were looking for. What a lovely career I have chosen.

I went back to Central Park last week with Jonathan to see if the leaves started changing yet, but no such luck. We actually walked all the way from Canal Street to the park...which is about 60 blocks, and by the time we decided to exit the park we were on East 90th. That's a lot of walking. I still have blisters, but I didn't feel so bad about eating pizza that night. Here's a picture of us at Sheep's Meadow in the park.

On Monday, I Assistant Stage Managed for the Red Bull Theater again for a reading of "The Cenci". It was a relatively painless experience and I might even get a free ticket to see the Rockette's Christmas Spectacular out of it. One of the actors had to leave for a while to go to an audition, so I got to fill in. I think I did quite well, considering I was playing an Italian man. Sorry you all missed my Off Broadway debut :)

I'd like to take a moment to talk about Halloween. I assumed that people in the city would be too stuck up to indulge in Halloween festivities. I.Was.Wrong. I saw hundreds of people in some of the most outrageous, nonsensical costumes on the planet. The thing about Halloween in NY is, you don't necessarily know if the weirdo sitting next to you is in costume or their everyday wear. There is also a huge parade in The Village where people march around in elaborate costumes they possibly spent months creating. My roommate and I opted out of the parade to see a free Off Broadway show called "Farragut North", starring Chris Noth (Mr. Big on Sex and the City), John Gallagher Jr. (Tony Award winner from Spring Awakening), and Olivia Thirlby (the best friend from Juno), among others. Kara's head of her department was also in the show, so we stuck around afterward and got to meet the actors and talk with them for a while. Afterward, we grabbed a slice of pizza (a staple in my current diet), came home and made some popcorn balls and watched the original Psycho.

It has been a pretty relaxing couple of weeks. I'm still sending in lots of submissions for auditions, so hopefully I will land one that will actually allow me to speak :) Now that I've done one audition, I feel much better about pounding the pavement for more. It's not nearly as scary as I supposed. I'm far from giving up, so keep believing in me folks! I'm on my way!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Do You Smell What Barack is Cooking?

A faint stench permeates the smoggy air of the city. It's not the least not in the traditional sense anyway. It's the smell of politics, and as election day looms ever closer, it thickens and spreads into every corner of the city. I have always felt rather removed from election business, only bothered by it when I chose to flip on the TV to watch a debate or happened to drive by a yard sign. But here, politics are unavoidable. I would expect to encounter the unabashed preachings of campaign teams in places like Union Square or Washington Square, where rallies are continually held for one cause or another. But the most surprising choice for a soap box has been the subway. I cannot sit down on a train car (if I were ever lucky enough to actually get a seat in the first place) without hearing someone strike up a conversation with his neighbor about Joe Six Pack...or is it Joe the Plumber? Flyers, T-shirts, and, yes, even condoms are being passed out that are plastered with the faces of the presidential candidates. I am often passed up because people think I look too young to vote, but I am never spared their speeches on foreign policy, medical care, and tax breaks. I am beginning to think I could qualify to be a political correspondent for CNN or Fox News.

Even cooler than Election Tuesday is Free Tuesday at the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens. The Gardens are only about 4 blocks from my apartment, and I can walk straight through Prospect Park to get there. Jonathan Prim and I spent a few hours walking through it. An entire garden is dedicated to roses. There is also a Shakespeare Garden that is comprised of plants and flowers mentioned in the works of the Bard. The whole thing is stunning, I'm planning on going back in the spring to take pictures when everything is blooming instead of dying. Little gems like this keep Gotham City interesting. I forgot my camera (ugh), but here are 2 that I snagged from Jonathan.

We also went to Battery Park, which is where you go to take the ferry to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. I'm saving the trip to Ellis Island, I want to devote an entire day to it. I snapped a quick pick of Lady Liberty below...she's kind of hard to see, but she's on the left:

In other news, I journeyed to the West Village on a mission to take some pictures of something inspiring. On a plain chain-link fence that guards a police station, I found it. Tiles For America is a September 11th memorial. People from all around the world decorated tiles with words of encouragement, prayers, memories, names of the deceased, and messages of hope. Some of them just painted something beautiful in honor of those who perished. All of these tiles were collected and hung on this rusty fence on West 11th street, and there they perch as a reminder, as a challenge, as as a plea to those who pass to strive for a better world. I'll let a few of the pictures do the rest of the talking.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Desperate HouseLives

This has been a long but very exciting week and a half. First, I found out that I'm going to be an aunt. Second, I met Tom Cruise, Katie Holmes, and Suri. Since I'm sure you can guess how the first thing happened, allow me to explain the second.

Katie is in a play on Broadway right now ("All My Sons") and Monday is Broadway's day off. She brought Suri to the restaurant while I was hostessing. She and Suri were already upstairs when I got there, but imagine my surprise when the first person I greet at Alice's is Tom Cruise, surrounded by flashes from cameras of 50 paparazzi and fans waiting outside. I have no idea how everyone knew they were coming...I work there and I didn't even know. They had the whole second floor to themselves, but they brought Suri downstairs and let her walk around the restaurant to look at all of the Alice in Wonderland pictures and merchandise. Katie even wore some of our fairy wings in the restaurant. They were such nice people, and it was cool to see them playing with Suri. Tom even shook hands with my manager and I before leaving. The story is everywhere on the internet if you want to see some pictures.

An old friend of mine brought up a good point when, after reading my blog, she told me in a Facebook message, "Isn't it funny how we all find entertainment in each others' lives?" Meeting Tom and Katie made me think about the millions of people worldwide who bought their US Weekly or watched Entertainment Tonight and found the most exciting part of their day to be news of TomKat leaving a quaint New York restaurant. What's ironic, to me, is that Tom and Katie worked so hard to be where they are, whether they like it now or not. And now, they are trying desperately to have just one dinner, one moment of normalcy as a family. And those of us who aren't stalked by television crews spend our time blogging about them and wishing we could have the whole top floor of the restaurant shut down for us. We are all curious about each other. It's my belief that this is partly why all art forms are as revered and addicting as they are. We love to explore our options, to see what life might be like in a different time or place, under different circumstances. We love to wonder "what if", even when we are completely happy with where we are in life.

Mark Twain put it best when he said, "There was never yet an uninteresting life. Such a thing is an impossibility. Inside of the dullest exterior there is a drama, a comedy, and a tragedy." Here you are, reading the blog of a girl who has done nothing so far except try to reach for the stars, and who hasn't so much as lifted a foot off the ground yet. And I love to read or hear stories about home, about trips to the lake for three day weekends or what size the developing babies are, how business is doing and the concerts you go to. Perhaps this chronic restlessness, this insatiable curiosity about the human condition, is what keeps us moving on from one seemingly dull day to the next. Perhaps we all want to live life so much, that one life is just not enough.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Bat Mitzvahs, Brooklyn, and Beyond

The city is kissing summer goodbye. How nice it will be not to stand on crowded subways with sweaty people who aren't accustomed to the heat. Yep, it's autumn in New York, and I'm excited to see if it's all Billie Holiday said its cracked up to be.

Friday was my first full day off of work in 2 weeks, and I was as lazy as humanly possible. Friday aside, I've been splitting my time between Food For Thought and Alice's Tea Cup. Alice's is getting easier everyday, thanks to the cool people I work with (most of whom are actors, designers, or writers). It takes me about an hour and 15 minutes to get there from my apartment, so when I have the opening shift I have to leave by 6:15 am. I'm missing my senior year college days when 10 am was early and the only consequence of oversleeping was possible chapel probation. My current subway reading is "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn". I'm still trying to figure out where that tree went.

I've catered two events for Food For Thought that are worth noting. The first was a bat mitzvahs for a wealthy family in New Jersey. Kelly Ripa was there. Regis, however, was not. The second event was for former basketball star Alonzo Mourning's charities. Not only was Alonzo there, but Patrick Ewing, Dwayne Wade, Nate Robinson, Quinten Richardson, John Starks, Earl Monroe, Herb Williams, Craig Sager, and Chris Rock's wife (random, but true) were also among the folk who put their trash on my little silver tray as I walked around the room. Not exactly what I had in mind when I dreamed of rubbing elbows with the stars.

For the first time in my life, I find myself trying not to be too good at what I'm doing. Allow me to explain. It's not that I want to be bad at it, seeing as I don't want to get fired... it's just that I don't want to be promoted or be considered a "professional" at hostessing or waitressing. If I get too good at it, if it becomes second nature to me, then I will have unknowingly created my very own fall back plan. Not completely loving my jobs is what motivates me to keep auditioning until I get to do what I really want. I never thought I had it in me to shoot for mediocrity, even in things I didn't really care about. Viewing these jobs as just a way to get by helps me keep living beyond...beyond picking up peoples' trash, beyond passing out menus and recommending teas, beyond where I am and what I have right now. I don't need (or want, for that matter) to be famous. I just want to do work that I can be proud of, work that can teach, inform, or simply entertain. I like to think that there's something more to my life than working a bat mitzvahs, that somewhere just over the horizon, something better awaits. And all I have to do to get there is keep truckin.

"That's what momma always says. She says that beginnings are scary, endings are usually sad, but it's the middle that counts the most. Try to remember that when you find yourself at a new beginning. Just give hope a chance to float up. And it will... "--Hope Floats

Friday, September 19, 2008

These Boots Are Made For Strolling

First of all, my apologies for not writing in a while…you can uncross your arms and stop tapping your foot now.

Some of my time this past week and a half was spent at my first 2 catering events, one for each company. Food For Thought was in Long Island for this huge company called Rex Corp, who apparently owns almost the entire island. I had a pretty simple job as a h’ourderve passer, and the people I worked with were really helpful. When we were done, I sampled some Grecian Lamb with Sour Cherry Chutney Sauce, Duck Nacho with Avocado Sauce, Miniature Chocolate Souffle with Cremon Sauce, Sweet Thai Chili Lobster Skewers with Mango, and that was only half of the menu. Sound snooty enough for you? I thought of people back home who would have thrown the skewers at my head and instructed me not to return without enchiladas or a steak. The only downside to the night was that I burned both of my thumbs lighting votive candles…which were outside…in the wind…which, logic would tell us, means that they would blow out, right? Apparently, lit candles were of utmost importance to this crazy corporate lady throwing the party, so I had to relight them when they blew out. I had blisters on my fingers for a week, but all in all I loved this catering company.

My Great Performances event was far less laid back and far less understanding. Highlight of the night: the fact that the wedding we were catering cost over 600,000 dollars. It was a Korean girl and an Italian guy, so they actually had 2 ceremonies- a traditional American ceremony and a traditional Korean ceremony. The kids partied from noon-11 PM...and they certainly had to pay for it. They had cocktails, followed by a 5 station buffet, followed by a 2 course dinner, followed by coffee and about 10 dessert choices. GP is not a bad company, but after working this event with them I decided that they’re just not right for me.

When I wasn’t serving shrimp to the trust fund babies and desperate housewives of the tri-state area, I was Assistant Stage Managing for the Red Bull Theater Company. Red Bull Theater is an Off-Broadway company that focuses on plays with heightened language. This was just a staged reading that people paid a lot of money to come hear so that the theatre could raise some money. An ACU alumnus, Lyndsey Goode, got me the job. The reading was held in a legit theatre space above an Episcopal Church. The cast consisted of several accomplished stage actors, including Reg Rogers (Tony nominee) and Michael Urie (who now plays Marc St. James on “Ugly Betty”).The job was easy enough, I got to listen to the best play reading I have ever heard, and I got to play with a wireless headset. It made me feel important.

Since it was a volunteer thing, Lyndsey told me she wanted to take me out to dinner to “pay” me for my time. As if that isn’t nice enough, she got me a free ticket to the final dress rehearsal of Jason Robert Brown’s new musical “13”. This musical hadn’t even gone into previews yet, so I was part of the first audience to get to see it. Bonus: Jason Robert Brown was there to introduce it to the audience. Another former ACU theatre kid, Michael Miller, came with me. It was on that fateful Tuesday on the 5th row in the orchestra that we witnessed a performance by the most talented group of preteens in America. The entire cast is made up of 12 year olds, or at least people around that age. Even the band is composed of preteens. If you’re familiar with Jason Robert Brown, you know that his music is beautiful, but it’s certainly not easy to sing. These kids blew me away. After the curtain call, each cast member had a little solo time to show off some amazing things that they didn’t get to do during the show. To name a few, a couple of kids did a step routine, one girl had a crazy lyrical dance solo, two of the guys had a tap war with the drummer in the band, and one of the girls (who I swear was a grandchild of Aretha Franklin) sang in the background. I’ve never felt more intimidated by middle schoolers.

One more thing before I wrap this up: I got hired by Alice’s Tea Cup! I started hostess/barista (tea maker) training on Wednesday and I’ll continue it on Saturday. I have to memorize and try over 150 different kinds of tea and deal with stuck-up Upper East Siders, but my co-workers are really cool and the only dress code is that you have to wear something…I mean, if they’re going to force me. We can even wear the fairy wings that we give to the little kids when they come in to the restaurant.

My Pepaw always says "you can live for a while with a rock in your shoe." So even though I’m currently the new kid at my jobs, I am treated as virtually invisible by the people I serve, and I’m wracking my brain trying to remember all of the information being sent my way, I’m still holding onto faith that it's going to get better. I’m finally starting to meet people who I will hopefully call my friends soon, and my Alice’s trainer said he was impressed with my work on the first day. I suppose I've come to the point in my transition where New York City is no longer a surreal vacation destination, but a place where I'm making a home. Auditioning is no longer a grade for a professor, it's an interview for a job. It’s tough sometimes to remember that eventually square one may become Hollywood Squares, that starting at the top may yield to being at the top. It's been said that you have to run the race to get to the finish. I say, why run when, as New York has so thoroughly taught me, walking is just as good for you? I know it's important for me to keep my eyes on the prize, but I don't want to be so focused that I zoom by all of the things that make this adventure blog-worthy...and eventually E! True Hollywood Story-worthy. I will do everything in my power to get to where I want to go, but only God knows where I'll truly end up. So until I get to the finish line, every morning I will wake up and patiently put one foot in front of the other, fully trusting that my feet will take me somewhere.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Sand and the City

It seems like this city does everything in its power to make it hard to survive here. And it works overtime to make it even harder to be happy. There's a condition that develops in pretty much every citizen at some point called "inner city depression". It's the sharp realization that pursuing your dream may not cover your rent, that not a single face on the street is familiar or friendly, that those unfamiliar faces don't care who you are or what you are doing or if they never see you again. It's calling home and hearing the voices of the people you care most about, and knowing that's the closest you'll get to being with those people for several months. It's when the magic disappears and you feel like you're being swallowed up by the sheer size of this city. It's any number of things. And I think it's been trying to sneak up on me.

On Wednesday, my friend Nicole invited me to Far Rockaway Beach. It took 4 train transfers to get there and I got lost a few times, but I finally made it. We spent 3 1/2 glorious hours riding waves and dodging jellyfish. When we got out of the water, I sat and just stared out at the ocean. LeeAnn Womack sings that song "I Hope You Dance", and as cheesy as it is, one of the lyrics is "I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean". And I do. But more importantly, I must New York City. Not even the Big Apple can be bigger than the ocean. They can stack their buildings high enough to hide the stars, but when all is said and done, New York City is just...a city. Just as the surfer heads to the beach with the biggest waves, the actor heads to the city with the most opportunity to audition. I hadn't been able to audition because I was getting things situated here. And now that I'm basically situated, I've been avoiding auditioning because I've felt intimidated and somehow unprepared. I felt the same way about moving to the city until one of my professors told me, "Lindsey, you will never feel ready for that city. You just have to go. Trust me, you're ready." How easy it is to get wrapped up in the idea of New York, in the reputation it has so carefully constructed to market itself to the world. This will by no means be easy, but I'm tired of being intimidated by this place.

I'm reading a book by David Mamet in which he makes a great point. He says, "Alice, when in Wonderland, asked the caterpillar which road she should take, and the caterpillar responded by asking her where she wanted to end up. That's a question you might want to ask yourself. If you want to be in the theatre, go into the theatre. If you want to have made a valiant effort to go into the theatre before you go into real estate or law school or marry wealth, then perhaps you should stay in school." Mamet later speaks on having a fall back plan, like I wrote about in an earlier post. He has this to say, "I was once at a marriage ceremony where the parties swore to 'try to be faithful, to try to be considerate...'the marriage was, of course, doomed. Any worthwhile goal is difficult to accomplish. To say of it 'I'll try' is to excuse oneself in advance. Those who respond to our requests with 'I'll try' intend to deny us, and call on us to join in the hypocrisy--as if there were some merit in intending anything other than accomplishment." I've been holding out on a dream because I didn't feel ready. But I'm going to take my professor's advice and just go. I didn't come here to get a pat on the back or a cookie for giving it a good try. Although I will still take the cookie :)

Sunday, August 31, 2008

To Be or Not To Be...It's really not that hard, Hamlet.

Gorilla Rep Theatre Company put on a free production of Hamlet outdoors at The Cloisters. The Cloisters is up in Inwood, the very top of Manhattan, and it's breathtakingly gorgeous. I want to go back when I have the hour and a half to spare for the commute. I had to take the A Train to get there, which I had only taken a few times before and which is quite possibly the most frustrating train in the city. It kept switching from local to express and back again, so I had no idea where I was going to end up or when I was going to get there. And since I was alone and am directionally retarded, I had reason to worry.

I finally made it to the 190th Street stop and tried my best to follow the signs to The Cloisters. By the time I found the park I was already 15 minutes late to the production, so I decided to ask the ice cream man where to find the Prince of Denmark. He told me "Just follow the path down, you'll run right into it." Seems simple, yes? Factor in darkness and about 5 paths to choose from, and you can begin to understand why I wasn't satisfied with his directions. Fortunately, one of the genius crew members or actors in the cast had drawn little arrows on the ground with sidewalk chalk pointing me toward the production. I found my friends sitting on a blanket and found out they were only on scene 3. It was then that I also found out that this particular production of Hamlet was entirely uncut...and had no intermission.

All in all, the production wasn't bad. It was a cool idea to do it outdoors, especially considering how nice the weather has been. They also used 5 or 6 different locations outside, so the audience had to get up and move along with the cast from location to location. Eventually, my group got tired of walking so we just stayed where we were and missed a few scenes. I was okay with that...I've heard this story before.

Even though it wasn't the best show I've ever seen, it was free. And more importantly, it was the first time I've experienced live theatre in the city since I moved here. It felt so good to see people doing what I want to do, to kind of be reminded of why I came here in the first place. It's been almost 2 months since I have performed, and watching someone else do it made me crave it again. I miss the rehearsal process, the adrenaline rush as the curtain flies up, the family you create with every cast you're a part of. I realize that everything I have done so far (like finding jobs and a place to live) was very important. But I almost let myself forget why I came, what I came here to be. I need to get myself out there and audition. I know what I want to be. And for that matter, what I don't want to be...which is a cater waiter for the rest of my life. I want to be an artist. I want to be a vessel for the words of a playwright, the visual representation of a message that needs to be communicated. I want to make a difference.

It would be easier for me to let my insecurities and my nerves get the best of me, just enjoy living in the city and getting by with my catering jobs. But I'm not really living my dream until I pursue it fully, until I take this great opportunity and try to do what I feel is something I am meant to do here. I will not be tormented by the question that Hamlet has been debating since Queen Elizabeth was in office and men thought it was cool to wear tights. I'm blessed enough to have found a purpose here, and I choose to be.

"This is the true joy in life, being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances, complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy. I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community and as long as I live, it is my privilege to do for it what I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work, the more I live. I rejoice in life for its own sake. Life is no brief candle to me."- George Bernard Shaw

On another note, here are some after pics of the apartment. We haven't really put much on the walls yet. That will come when our paychecks come :)

The Living Room

The Kitchen

The Dining Room

My Room

The Entry Way

The Bathroom

Kara's Room

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Look Ma, No Hands!

The weather here is my idea of perfect. Right at 70 degrees, just a little breeze, and not a cloud in sight. So perfect, in fact, that I decided to be a little brave today and go for a jog in Prospect Park. One great thing about this place is that you truly have to work at not living an active lifestyle, even if you never go jogging or cycling or join a yoga class. Just living in this city is a full body workout. You like the Stair Master? Take a Subway. Trust me, the stairs you have to climb and the people you have to dodge make your thighs burn and increase your agility. For those wanting a more advanced workout, try transferring trains at the 42nd St. station. I never went on Wilderness Trek, but I'm pretty sure I know what it feels like to climb that mountain.

Before I left home, I thought I would try to eat as healthy as possible because I probably wouldn't be able to afford anything but Chef Boyardee, Ramen, and the occasional pizza once I got here. But in NYC, the healthy food actually seems to be cheaper than the fatty food. Fast Food chains aside, it's nearly impossibly to find anything fried. And a lot of food here is organic, so it is possible to be poor and skinny due to nutritional choices instead of total starvation. Bonus!

Everyone here is attached to their iPod. Even homeless people have them. Okay...maybe that's a stretch, but it's nearly impossible to spot someone on the street who doesn't have headphones sprouting roots in their ears. I caught on and started bringing mine with me everywhere I go. It's nice, it's kind of like having theme music for your life. Like today, when I finished jogging my 2 miles, Destiny's Child's version of "Amazing Grace" came on. Seeing as I hadn't run in over a month and was huffing and puffing so hard I could put the Big Bad Wolf out of business, I couldn't agree more, Beyonce.

Keeping to yourself so much may seem very lonely, but for right now, I really appreciate it. I've been wanting to do some self-reflection and it seems like this new start in this new city has been ideal for self-discovery. It affords me every opportunity for spiritual, mental, physical, and psychological growth. It's a place that accepts individuality, embraces the idea of change, and invites you to open your eyes to the world of possibilities around you. New York City is my own personal Barack Obama.

God tells us to seek and we will find, so I hope that you'll keep praying for me as I continue seeking. I wrote in my first blog that I wanted to take a leap of faith to prove that God would keep me from hitting the ground. I don't know if you have noticed, but in only 3 weeks, God has provided me with literally everything I need to survive here. I have a house, a job, and food. And I am learning more about life and about people than I ever dreamed. Not only have I not hit the ground, but I'm flying pretty high. And for once it is easy for me to see who is holding me up.

Monday, August 25, 2008

The Sound of Silence

Jenavene came to visit me today. I can't tell you how good it felt to see such a familiar face in a place where you pass millions of people you have never seen before, and will likely never see again. I met her by the theatre playing Young Frankenstein on 42nd Street and then we went to Chinatown to meet up with Jonathan Prim. After a quick tour of his dorm and neighborhood, we grabbed some lunch and parted ways. Jenavene was brave enough to venture out to Brooklyn with me. She helped me put together what will hopefully be the last piece of IKEA furniture I will have to assemble for many years, and then we decided to go exploring...Manhattan, not Brooklyn, as the latter could be hazardous to our health.
We opted to go for some coffee and to Central Park, which I had only briefly experienced before. You would think that in a city where over 100 Starbucks and countless other coffee companies reside that it would be pretty simple to find one. Apparently not when you actually need one, because Starbucks suddenly became the Where's Waldo of coffee companies when we were desperate for a caffeine fix. On our quest to find coffee we had to cross such streets as Park Avenue and Madison Avenue. I felt my ten dollar Charlotte Rousse flats blush at the very thought of being worthy enough to share pavement with the priciest of stores. One day maybe I'll actually go in a store and not feel bad about dropping a month's rent on a pair of Jimmy Choo's.
After Starbucks, we set out to Central Park. I decided that I want to turn my own photography into posters for my room, so I brought my camera along. The first place we wanted to find was the famous Alice in Wonderland sculpture...I know I have a problem. We found it and I took some pictures. I got a really cute one of a father and his 2 year old daughter dancing around the statue and another of them playing on it. When we left the statue, we took a wrong turn and ended up in "The Ramble", which is kind of like a hiking trail that has lots of dead ends and twists and turns. It's the part you're really supposed to stay out of at night. Somehow, we found our way out of the maze and found ourselves at the Bow Bridge. It's gorgeous. It was at this point that I noticed something missing. Not my wallet, thank goodness. It was noise. I guess I have already become very accustomed to the racket of NYC, and then all of a sudden it was like I was back home. It also helped that occasionally it smelled like horse manure because of the carriage rides :) I never believed the stuff being said about being able to find a peaceful, calming place in the middle of such an energetic city, but I was wrong. I think I will be going back to that bridge for some R & R whenever I get claustrophobic or overwhelmed.
Over the river and through the woods, we came to the Angel Tunnel and the Bethesda Fountain. We were trying to find Strawberry Fields so we sat down in Angel Tunnel to check out our map. All of a sudden, one of the musicians started playing "Imagine" by John Lennon. Movie moment anyone? We were in Central Park for about 2 hours and didn't even cover a quarter of it.
We never found Strawberry Fields, but I thought a lot about the lyrics of John Lennon's song. "You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one." And I realized that even though I will never meet the overwhelming majority of the sea of people I pass everyday, most people are in this city because, like me, they have a dream. Not only do they have a dream, but they love to dream. Hope lives here. And I suppose it made me feel a little less alone knowing that.

It's going to be a little hard to say goodbye to Jen tomorrow. Donna sent me an encouraging card and a batch of cookies to welcome me into my new place. It felt kind of strange not to be starting school today with everyone, but everyday in this city I feel more and more assured that this is where I need to be. It just feels right. Since all of the apartment decoration is slowing down quite a bit, I'm finally about to start living the city life. I promise that pictures are coming soon, be patient just a little longer!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Would you like caviar with that?

I have almost completed Phase II of my New York move--finding a steady income. I now work for 2 catering companies, Great Performances and Food for Thought NYC. Great Performances is the single largest privately owned catering company in the city and does events for Ellis Island, the Mets, and some other huge venues. I have to actually go buy a tuxedo to work for them. Also, most of the waiters who work for GP are artists of some kind, so it's cool to get a foot in the door with that network. Food for Thought NYC is a little more laid back, but no less popular (and it pays me a little more). They do events in all of the city's boroughs and even some in Jersey. Last week, they did a party with Shaq, and also one with the guitarist guy from Bon Jovi.
What's great about catering is that it is far easier than waiting tables, and it's completely flexible. They actually work around your schedule, and there is no hard feelings if you say no to jobs they offer. Actually, both companies made it very clear that they know no one wants to be a cater waiter as a career and so they know we are all pursuing something else and catering is a way to support ourselves in pursuit of something bigger. So they both said that if we, say, land a tour and have to leave for a year, that's totally fine and we are welcome to jump right back in to the business. They also plan things months in advance, which is nice. I already have a catering job for September, October, and November in just the first day of landing the jobs.

I also have an interview with Alice's Tea Cup on Tuesday, which is the cool little tea shop I wrote about earlier. I figured that since I have to kind of work my way up in the catering companies to get consistent work, I need another, steadier job to supply some more cash flow for the first couple months. So wish me luck, because Alice's is perfect!

I finally went to Times Square last night, and realized that it is my least favorite part of the city. It unlike any other place here, and it's just so crowded and stinky. After walking through a crowd of people selling Obama posters and shouting "Obama for a dolla!", we ate at the Stardust Diner where the waiters sing to you for tips, which was a lot of fun. One of Kara's old college friends works there so we got to hear her sing and she gave us free soda :)

On our walk to the subway yesterday we noticed that the McDonalds on our street was shut down. Why??--the health department. Gross.

Friday, August 15, 2008

The Rains Came Down and the Floods Came Up

I'm very proud of myself because this morning was the first time I rode the subway all by myself. I know, I'm growing up so fast. I went to Target for about the millionth time to try to get some storage bins for my room, which is slowly nearing completion. I promise to post pictures as soon as I can. On the train, I was sitting by a couple of men who were having quite a heated discussion in what sounded like Russian, and right across from an elderly lady who wore a baggy blue t-shirt with the word TEXAS across the top...complete with cowboys on horses grazing the wide open fields. I had to smile.

Kara and I have been cooped up in the house for the past 3 days waiting on various deliveries and for the cable guy to show up. Finally, today, the cable guy hooked us up and we decided that we should have a night out to keep ourselves from going crazy.

We took a trip up to Columbus Ave. ( which is a really beautiful area). We went to Barnes & Noble so I could get my NFT (Not For Tourists) Book. It's basically every map you could possibly need to survive here in the city, plus names and addresses of most of the restaurants, shops, etc. On the way to Urban Outfitters we bumped into a fortune teller who told me "Oooooh, you have a good aura." I took that as quite a compliment and went on my merry way. Kara wanted to take me to one of her favorite places for dinner, a place called Alice's Tea Cup. It was here that I fell in love.

Alice's Tea Cup is, of course, Alice in Wonderland themed. We split a dinner called the Mad Hatter, which included 2 large pots of tea, 2 sandwiches, 3 scones, 6 cookies and a huge piece of chocolate-something cake for dessert. We couldn't even finish it all. I loved it so much that I'm considering applying there. It was a very merry unbirthday to me.

After dinner, we were supposed to go a museum where our friend Nicole was catering and offered to give us some sweet free stuff, but it starting raining. Actually, "raining" doesn't quite cover what happened. We bought a cheap umbrella (that we could only half fit under) at a roadside stand. We kept getting turned around and were completely soaked, so after 30 minutes of sloshing through puddles, gave up on finding the museum and just came home. On the way into our building a woman and her daughter were staring out the window. The woman looked at us and then asked her daughter, "Is it raining?" I just smiled as we squished to the elevator and's your sign.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Apartment Pictures (Before)

As promised, some "before" pics. "After" pics coming soon!

The living room/dining room

The Kitchen

The entry way

My Room

Kara's Room

The Bathroom

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Livin on Dreams and Spaghetti-O's

Ever heard of Murphy's Law? You know, "everything that can go wrong, will go wrong." Well, I'm a believer. These last few days have been one problem after another, and now I'm waiting in my empty apartment, praying that all of the furniture we ordered from IKEA shows up and that I'm smart enough to assemble it. IKEA is genius, but spending 7 hours there, over 3 of which were spent standing in line, kinda puts a damper on the joy of home decorating. I've discovered that when stuff is going all wrong, instead of getting grumpy or angry or sad like most people, I get giggling fits. I literally can't control it. I guess it's one of those things where you laugh to keep from crying. Or maybe I'm already going crazy.

New York has got to be the people-watching capital of the world. If I'm ever bored, I can just find a bench somewhere and sit and watch. The entertainment provided by the citizens of this lovely city is unrivaled by any movie or reality show.

I've noticed that New Yorkers are always in a rush. The U.S. should recruit people in this city for the speed-walking event in the Olympics--the gold medal would be in the bag. What's strange, though, is that they rush to get to the subway or the bus stop, and then they spend 15 or 20 minutes just standing and waiting for the train or bus to come. I've spent most of my time waiting and walking. There is also a serious shortage of seating available here, especially in the subway stations. When we were riding on the subway yesterday, after our long day at IKEA, Kara said "We've been here, what, 5 days? And God created the world in 6?! Man, his feet must have been REALLY sore." My boxes of stuff are supposed to get here on Thursday, and the first thing I will do is put those Dr. Scholls inserts into my shoes.

Kara and I installed her air conditioner last night. It's crooked and we couldn't get the left vent to fit, but it's working so we are proud of our work!

Now that we've got our place, we're working on cleaning it and fixing it up to make it feel like home. I think that's going to be really important for us so that we don't give up here. I'll post before and after pictures soon. Now I just have to find a job...easy, right?

By the way, I bought my first Backstage yesterday so I could start checking out auditions. I'm officially a starving artist :)

"Plunge boldly into the thick of life, and seize it where you will, it is always interesting."-Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe
"Vision is not enough, it must be combined with venture. It is not enough to stare up the steps, we must step up the stairs."- Vaclav Havel

Friday, August 8, 2008

Lindsey Hopped the Q Train

This might be a really long post, so feel free to stop reading at any time.

Kara and I forgot to eat before we got on our plane, so Kara actually asked the flight attendant if she would give us other passengers' pretzels if they didn't want them...we ended up with 4 bags each. Healthy, I know. We barely caught our connecting flight from Atlanta to New York... I mean they literally almost didn't let us on the plane. But we made it here and took a taxi up to Washington Heights where we stayed with a couple of Kara's friends. We went apartment hunting in Brooklyn, Queens, and Manhattan the next day from 8:30 am to 10:30 pm, and we only took a one hour break for lunch. Needless to say, we were exhausted. But it was all for a good cause because we landed a pretty sweet place:

Kara and I signed a lease yesterday so we officially live in Brooklyn! We're only one block away from the beautiful Prospect Park...which I remembered has been on law and Order a few times...which kind of made me nervous. But the apartment is huge for an NYC apartment. It's only half a block from the subway and the neighborhood is very family oriented. Our building is nice. We live on the top floor but there's an elevator, so it's actually really nice having no one live above us and being farther away from the street noise. Plus, there is a laundromat that has a drop off service (YES, NO LAUNDRY!) just half a block down and a supermarket that's cheaper than Wal-Mart about a block and a half down. We're only 3 stops down from a 2 story Target and a pretty decent mall, and it only takes us about 25 minutes to get into the heart of Midtown (i.e. Times Square). Considering we're poor, I think we're doing pretty well!

I knew we would be walking a lot here, but my oh my how I underestimated that statement. Apparently I'll get used to it pretty quick, just as apparently I will learn to understand the gibberish that people are speaking when they're telling me how to get around on the subways. The subways are pretty interesting. I've heard 2 sermons, been serenaded 3 times, and witnessed two guys fight all in the first 3 days. You never know what's going to hop on the train with you. People here are friendlier than I expected. Pretty much anyone we ask for directions is more than happy to help us. Kara has been educating me on basics about living in New York. I'm not allowed to get on the last car of any subway because that's where gangs tend to on Adventures in Babysitting. You're not allowed to have a space bubble here, so you just have to get used to having people all up in your grill. You also have to get used to the rude/dirty comments that people shout at you...mostly for being female, sometimes for being white. I can't even remember them all...I should have written them down.

All in all, even though these last few days have been rough, we've been lost about 15 times, and I haven't really felt clean since I got here, I like this place. New York is cool, I have a great place that I get to fix up, and I'm about to be living the dream. I'm excited to get all of this tedious stuff out of the way and just start enjoying the city. It's going to take a lot of adjusting, but I think this could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

"New York is a different country. Maybe it ought to have a separate government. Everybody thinks differently, acts differently --they just don't know what the hell the rest of the United States is. --Henry Ford "

““There are roughly three New Yorks. There is, first, the New York of the man or woman who was born here, who takes the city for granted and accepts its size and its turbulence as natural and inevitable. Second, there is the New York of the commuter — the city that is devoured by locusts each day and spat out each night. Third, there is the New York of the person who was born somewhere else and came to New York in quest of something. […] Commuters give the city its tidal restlessness; natives give it solidity and continuity; but the settlers give it passion.””

- E.B. White, Here is New York

Monday, August 4, 2008

Start Spreadin' the News...

I'm leaving tomorrow!

My family surprised me last night with a Tony/Oscar themed going-away party. There are few better feelings than walking into a room full of family members who all came together to show their support for you. Especially when you get to walk in on a red carpet with Frankie Blue Eyes singing to you. After we ate stack-ups (yum!), Aunt Sherry and Rachel did a David Letterman Top Ten Countdown of the "Top Ten Reasons Not To Go To New York," which I will list for your reading pleasure:

10. New Yorkers don't appreciate Southern charm

9. Your parents say you can "live with them forever"

8. Rio needs a theatre teacher

7. All friends and family will take vacations and stay with you

6. You'll miss your old Rio friends

5. You have to watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade outside

4. Pet Rats

3. You might have Bill and Hillary as neighbors

2. Warm Texas weather

1. Carnegie players need you!

I also got some really creative presents to help me get started in New York. I have enough Ramen to last me a few months, some gift cards for when I will hurt someone if I have to eat another package of Ramen, a sticky dart gun, a gun that came with 3 silver bullets, and a water gun(...are you seeing the same pattern I'm seeing?). I also got a beanie baby dog so that I can have a low matenience pet, some Raid bug spray, a High School Musical doll (so that I can always keep my eye on the prize), some hand sanitizer, a new purse, a necklace that's got a scripture from Gensis on it, my own personal trainer, a star with my name on it, and the awesome list goes on and on...

We had a blast. I have the best if you're not in my family, feel free to be jealous. I haven't even started packing, so I'll wrap up today's post by simply saying "there is no place like home."

Sunday, July 27, 2008

The Life For Me

I'm not exactly sure why I'm choosing to post my first blog during the least exciting part of my summer, but here goes nothing.

My parents came to Abilene on Saturday and loaded up all of my boxes...good thing my dad planned ahead and brought a U-Haul. You never realize how much junk you have until you move. I'll leave Abilene on Thursday, be in Cleburne for about 4 days, and fly to the big apple on August 5th. Now that all of my stuff is gone and I'm living out of a suitcase, I'm feeling pretty ready to get outta here. I've been stalking Craigslist since I decided to move to NYC, but I don't think I'll be able to find a good job until I'm actually in the city.

The next few days are going to be all about getting myself as prepared as possible for a life in which planning is basically pointless...a life in which you may be doing everything right and still not land a job. And as scary as that sounds when I say it out loud (which I try not to do very often), it's all that I want to do. I know there are a few jobs that I would not be unhappy doing, but there is no other job that makes me feel as fulfilled. More importantly, there is no other job that makes me feel like I'm following my purpose.

I believe that God wants to use me in this, which is why I'm allowing myself to do something as crazy as jump on a plane with no apartment, no job, and no agent. This move is going to be a big leap of faith for me. I've thought about having a fall back plan, like getting certified to teach just in case my acting doesn't work out. But I know myself well enough to know that when I play it safe, I don't give it my all. I think God deserves my all, so I'm jumping in. I've gotta leap so that God can keep me from hitting the ground.

I believe in the power of storytelling and art. And it humbles me to be a part of something so powerful. I know there will be days when nothing goes right, I'm completely discouraged, and I will want nothing more than to be back home. But, to steal from the fabulous movie A League of Their Own, "It's supposed to be hard. It's the hard that makes it good. If it wasn't hard, everybody would do it." With this move, there is an adventure to be had, a story to be told, and a step to be taken. Even the longest journey has to begin with the first step, so here's to step one.