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."