Thursday, November 26, 2009

Not A Creature Was Stirring...Except For A Mouse

I don't think there will ever be another Thanksgiving quite like this one. For the first time in my life, I faced spending a major holiday--one centered around spending time with people, no less--completely alone. Before you start tuning your violin for me, allow me to say that this was an experience I'll never forget. And I don't mean in the I'll-remember-this-because-it-was-so-terribly-emotionally-scarring kind of way. It was wonderful, and different, and special. I started the day before the day actually started, at 3:30 a.m., at which time I started cooking my Thanksgiving meal and bundling up. I got to the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade at about 6:15 am, and I wasn't the first person there either. I found a spot on 57th Street and 7th Avenue on the front row, and parked myself there for the next 5 1/2 hours. I had to pass the time somehow, so I struck up conversation with my new neighbors. I was standing beside an Assistant Principal of an Alternative School in the Bronx and his 4-year-old daughter who wants to grow up to take Al Roker's job at NBC. She's certainly prettier than him. To my left was a family from North and South Carolina. The grandmother was named Pat, and she talked to me about how she had lived in New York City in her 20's and was a dancer. She danced with Ethel Merman at a Summerstock theatre one year, and got to sing once with Burt Bacharach. How many people can say that? She also invited me to spend Thanksgiving with her family if I didn't want to spend it alone, and told me she would be praying for me. There are still nice people in the world.

I have watched the parade every year for as long as I can remember, but I never imagined how different it would be watching it on the sidewalk instead of the tv screen. There was a man standing across the street from me who started singing Christmas Carols, and much to my surprise, everyone started joining in. Thousands of random strangers were standing shoulder to shoulder, outside, in the New York November, and singing Christmas Carols together. You can't make this stuff up. And then, the parade started. I always knew the balloons were big, but guys, the balloons....are BIG. The people in the parade were chunking confetti at us and yelling Happy Thanksgiving like they just might mean it, and the marching bands kept the beat as the parade marched on.I got to see some really great celebrities, and the ones I didn't know, it turns out, were Disney kids. I learned that from the shrieking 9 year-old girl behind me who kept saying stuff about Hannah Montana.

After the parade I went back to my apartment, hoping it was still standing after I left food cooking there all morning. When I opened the door, it smelled like Thanksgiving. Brandon set up Skype at my parent's house--that's software that lets you do things like video chat. He sat me on the dining room table and I got to "eat" with Mom, Dad, Mary, Brandon and Beau. So, thanks to technology, I didn't spend Thanksgiving alone after all. I spent the rest of the day with Gene Kelly, John Candy and a pint of Cherry Garcia ice cream. I watched "Trains, Planes and Automobiles," "Pieces of April," and "An American in Paris". I've got the pictures from the parade in a Facebook album. Here's a link if you want to check them out:

When Jen got back from her Thanksgiving in Jersey, we got a Christmas tree, some garland and some twinkling lights and decorated for Christmas. We hand-painted some ornaments earlier, and hung them on the tree while listening to Christmas music. Then, we called it a night...or so we thought.

Sunday night, after falling asleep at a decent hour for once, I awoke at 1:45 a.m. to Jenavene's timid whisper at my door--"Lindsey? Um, I think we have a mouse." That woke me up. We turned on the lights and saw the mouse scurry across the kitchen floor, so we left to get some traps at CVS. Since we'd been gone about 10 minutes, we weren't sure where our furry friend had scampered off to, so we started kicking things around and, turns out, he was in Jen's room. And she found mouse poop by her pillow. So it ran out of Jen's room, back into the kitchen, and we started planting our traps around the baseboards. Jen crawled into bed with me that night, and we hadn't been asleep 15 minutes before I heard a trap snap in the kitchen. We catapulted across the living room and peeked into the kitchen to see the mouse's tail and back leg caught in one of the old school trap's we'd set (not one of the fancier, more humane ones). But since the little creeper wasn't dead, we had a problem on our in the world were we going to get that thing outside? While we were debating, the squealer starting darting for his hiding place behind the fridge, so we threw a box on top of him. We thought about leaving him there until the Super could come in the morning...but we'd spent so much time and energy shrieking and jumping on chairs that we wanted that thing out of our apartment before it could figure out a way out of its trap. Plus, the mouse finally figured out his time on this earth was nearing an end, and he started scratching and squeaking and flailing around in the box. So we devised a plan--I put on my rain boots and and got a bigger box with a lid and Jen grabbed the broom. On the count of 3, Jen tried to scoot the smaller box into the bigger box I was propping up on the floor. Well, the best laid plans of mice and men...

The box scooted without the mouse. You know those stories about how people have lifted cars off of small children when they really needed to? In case you were curious, same theory holds true for mice. That fuzz ball got his tail out of the trap! Fortunately, his leg was still caught. But we were all so stunned for a moment, mouse included, that none of us moved. *Cue The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly theme music* The mouse moved first, but Jen's reflexes were fast. She reared back and knocked that mouse, trap and all, into the big box. I flipped it over and slammed down the lid. Jen took the initiative and picked up the box while I ran ahead opening doors and shouting encouragement. We took it to the farthest outdoor trashcan from our apartment, and after Jen gave the box a few good shakes, threw the box with the mouse with the trap in the can. In hindsight, I wish someone had been there to film it. From now on, I will refer to Jen as Gretzky.

Two and a half weeks until I'm back in God's Country where there are stars, and thunderstorms, and queso is a word that people understand.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Connecting the Dots

New Yorkers don't like tourists. Tourists clog up the already jam-packed streets, ambling along in clumps because they've heard horror stories from legitimate sources of how easy it is to get kidnapped and chopped into bite-size pieces--these legitimate sources consisting mostly of Law and Orders and CSIs. Somehow, New Yorkers tend to forget that, while it's annoying that people are too busy looking at the flashy lights to watch where they're going, tourists are most likely the reason they are employed. This week, like the actor I am, I played the part of tourist. My friend Donovan and I went to the Statue of Liberty and to Ellis Island. I looked up some of my family in the records database and found quite a few matches. I'll have to go back and spend some more time there when I've got some more detailed information. We also went to Chinatown, where I bought a cute knitted head scarf, 2 bootleg DVDs, and a Coach purse that a Chinese man pulled out of the ceiling. Go ahead, re-read that last sentence...I promise it's true.

We celebrated my friend Jonathan's 26th Birthday by going to see Where The Wild Things Are at an IMAX movie theatre, then going to the Guggenheim museum on its 50th Anniversary celebration where Kandinsky was on display. Here, I could profess some deep insights on art and Kandinsky's genius. But you all know me well enough to know that I would have copied and pasted something from Wikipedia. In spite of my lack of art knowledge, it was fun at the Guggenheim. After a quick dinner at Tasty's Diner, we headed back to my apartment for presents and Strawberry Cream Cheese Cake.

Jenavene's parents, Adam and Donna, came to visit over the weekend. They fed us and stocked up our pantry. They also got me hooked on a new TV show called Modern Family--if you haven't watched it, allow to introduce you.

Yesterday I spent most of the rainy day playing with GarageBand, a recording software that came with my MacBook. For Memaw's birthday (Happy Birthday Memaw!) I recorded a few hymns. The first 4 tracks I sang all of the parts by myself and just overlapped them, but I wanted the last track to be special. I've recently gotten into studying my family history, and Memaw was kind enough to give me a song that was written by my great great grandmother, Izora, and had never been sung. Jenavene, Jonathan, Seth and I worked on it and recorded it for her. It's a beautiful hymn. A strange mix of pride and humility came with recording this song. I had heard a few things about this distant relative of mine, a woman who was a publish poet, an artist like me. It was a privilege to breathe life into the music written from her heart and indescribably satisfying to connect to someone I like to think I must "take after". You can listen to it here...I had to create a slideshow and upload the song as a video, so here are a couple of pictures from the last month and a half:

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

You Can Take The Girl Out Of Texas...

Five a.m. came exceptionally early on Tuesday morning, having slept restlessly due to an all-to-familiar mix of anticipation, excitement and nerves. I had no idea what to expect on a T.V. set, and I was thankful that out of a database of over 25,000 people, my friend Will and I got called for the same job. I like to think that was more than just coincidence. We met at the train platform at 6 am, each lugging our cumbersome suitcases filled with wardrobe changes for the day. One train ride, 5 streets, and 5 seemingly endless avenues later, we were filling out Non-Union Vouchers in the holding room at Pier 92, the first location of the day. Pier 92 was transformed into JFK airport for the first scene. We moved to one other location during the day and had two wardrobe changes. It was cold, we were outside and on our feet for 10 hours (5 of which I spent in 4 inch heels...never again.) and we were not allowed to even wait in line for food at lunch until all of the Union people had filled their plates. And I loved it. Maybe I should get my head checked.

I got on the good side of one of the Production Assistants who was in charge of placing the extras and giving us business to do, so I got seen in pretty much every shot. The show is a new HBO series called "How To Make It In America." So if you have HBO, you may see me walking across your screen during a few of the episodes. Even though we were sort of treated like the JV team and I got a good sense of how the lepers might have felt back in the day, I learned that I like being on a movie set. It's got a cool vibe, it's hard work, and it's something I'll probably try a few more times.

Jen and I will do anything to get out of the house at the moment--the temperature recently took a nose dive and apparently our landlord didn't get the memo, since our heat still hasn't been turned on. Thursday afternoon we had a late lunch with fellow ACU alum Lyndsey Goode, the wonderful woman who let me ASM with her for those Off-Broadway readings last year. We ate at a bistro called "La Pan Quotidian", which is French for "Our Daily Bread". She's currently stage managing a show on Theatre Row, so I may get to watch her show for free pretty soon. Later that night, due to the bleak and rainy weather, Seth and Jon came over for a waffle dinner in our PJ's and "Love Actually".

Today Jen, Seth, Donovan (another ACU friend) and I went to a restaurant called Stout to watch the Texas/OU game. This place is 4 stories tall, and it was packed with close to 500 Longhorn fans. We had so much fun! Everyone was very friendly. It made it feel a little more like home knowing that there are so many good old southern folk taking over the city.

Other than that, I'm just job hunting, submitting to auditions, and working on photography. I miss you guys!!

Monday, October 5, 2009

With a Cherry On Top

Sunday was another church visiting day. The idea of worshipping idols has always had this distant, antiquated feeling to me. It was a sin that I never really worried about because I never saw myself sitting in front of a golden statue of a cow or giving all the glory to some concrete figurine. It never crossed my mind that the term "idol" could be anything other than the worship of a physical being or object. The preacher at the second church I visited on Sunday put a different spin on it for me. He asked "What is it that you get defensive about? What, if it were taken away from you, would cause you to feel like there was nothing left to live for? Like you were a failure and your life lost its meaning?" He also spoke about how an idol is anything that promises you some sort of salvation, and that New York was the world's number one seller of these life-affirming, dream-fulfilling promises. I wish I had a recording of that sermon because I think it's something I might want to listen to every morning before I leave the house. I'll spare you the dense cloud of thoughts this sermon caused for me and suffice it to say that, among other things, it caused me to evaluate where I put my self worth, what exactly I was striving to acheive here, and what idols I need to dethrone.

I finally, after much trepidation, submitted my first photography assignment to The Photography Institute. My tutor graded it and wrote me back within 24 hours and gave me a 100! I bought myself this amazing cupcake thing from a Greek bakery in my neighborhood and a Diet Coke to celebrate. Also pictures: me --proving that I am incapable of eating anything with whipped cream on it without getting it all over my face.

Also, my roommate just got cast as one of the leads in the Lincoln Center's "Babes In Toyland", so the past week has been quite a successful one for my apartment.

I'm still job searching (I've applied to probably 20 jobs already, to no avail) and I've submitted to about as many auditions. Only time will tell, so keep me in your prayers!

Just for kicks, here's a picture of Jenavene and I:

I'm being reminded, daily, to be humble and grateful for the blessings I've been given. There is a homeless man who stays near my subway stop. His name is Chris, and he is one of the kindest people I've ever met. And he's one of the happiest, too. He's a daily reminder that, although I dream big and make all sorts of plans, God is all I need here. He'll get me to where he wants me, in His time. All I have to do is be patient, serve Him, and take the journey He's prepared for me. It gets hard not to compare my journey to other peoples', not to get impatient or wonder why it seems that some people have it so easy. I have to remind myself that every journey is different, that I'm right where I need to be. My life is a piece of cake. A piece of cake with lots of icing and a cherry on top... :)

Thursday, October 1, 2009

A Little Something Extra

New York decided to skip Fall this year. We've gone from 80 degrees to a blistery 55 in the span of 4 days. The good news? I've got my love to keep me warm.

I've been getting pretty acquainted with my surroundings. Our neighbors who live in the apartment in front of us are Brazilian and spend a lot of their time screaming in Portuguese at the soccer matches on TV. It can be quite entertaining. We found a little cafe that has 25 cent wings on Wednesdays, lots of fabulous pizza joints, and one of my favorite parts--rice pudding is everywhere. I love the Greeks.

I went to a Bible study on Monday night called Haven. It's a group of artists that meet every Monday for 2 hours and look at the Bible from an artistic perspective. We had an hour of worship, then broke into small groups to discuss. The subject this semester is "Seasons", and the topic of the month is "Beauty in Seasons". Imagine that--artists pondering the beauty of things. In my group we had 2 actors, 2 writers, one photographer, one freelance producer, and 2 singer/songwriters. Talk about good networking. They also give you some great ideas for service opportunities as well as ways to get involved in the arts in the city.

I spent about an hour on Tuesday registering with Central Casting Agency, an LA/NY company that hires background actors for film, TV and commercial work. So one of these days, you will be sitting in the dark movie theatre watching credits roll...and somewhere toward the end, you will see "Girl On Bench...Lindsey Lehrmann". Or maybe even something more glamorous, such as "Lady Who Bumped Into George Clooney". The sky's the limit, folks.

We live fairly close to Astoria Park, so I took a jog around the perimeter yesterday and pretty much fell in love with the place. It's quiet, and the view is stunning. However, as winter seems to be approaching rather fast this year, it may be several months before I get to do that again.

Below I've posted some pictures of my friends and I at a restaurant to prove that A) I am alive, B) I am eating, and C)...I have attractive friends. Enjoy!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Apartment Pics

As promised, here are a few after-ish photos of our apartment. We've still got some things to hang up, pictures to develop, and a kitchen table to get, but I think you can get the idea from these.

Jenavene's room
Our studio room (we haven't done anything with this yet, obviously)
The kitchen (which we also have done nothing with)
View from the living room, looking into the studio room
Living room again- door to the right is my room
Back wall of the living room
View from my door into my room. Behind the curtain are some built in shelves. That;s my closet on the left, which is pretty spacious (all things considered). Hey, at least I have a closet this time. 
My "window". It goes straight into this storage room we have, which is now Jenavene's closet
I know, the walls are so bare, ha. I'm working on it though.
Got that gorgeous gold frame off of the street, just waiting to be collected by the trash guys.Won that wine rack (or in my case, apple cider rack) from eBay for 99 cents. Pretty lucky eh? Love my bedspread (thanks mom!).
I should have probably put up some "before" pictures. I guess just pretend all the walls are a nasty yellow-white color and that there's absolutely nothing but a refrigerator in it. It's a pretty good size apartment, my only complaint being that the bathroom is teeny. Anyway, it's a work in progress but we're getting all settled in. We're on the 2nd floor of a 2 story building. It's basically like a 2 story house that was converted into 2 separate apartments. Two of our ACU friends live below us, one of which I'm going to church with later today (yes! a church buddy!) 

I'm liking this neighborhood more everyday. People here are friendly, even though quite a few of them don't speak much English. We live very close to the subway platform and to 2 of the busiest streets in the neighborhood, so pretty much everything we need is within a 5 block radius. We're the last stop on the N/W line, and it's considered one of the safest stops in the whole city. Jenavene and Seth went out of town this weekend for a wedding in New Jersey, so I had the whole apartment to myself. I got to see a Broadway show for free, thanks to another ACU alum. I'm looking forward to going on some auditions and getting a job. It's already starting to get a little chilly, but I love the fall here. I'll keep you updated as things happen!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Concrete Jungle, Take 2

The eagle has landed. After a relatively easy flight--relative to the fiasco I went through with Expedia last Christmas-- my cabbie took me to my new hood where Jenavene met me curbside. After heaving my luggage up two flights of steep stairs, I was given the semi-grand tour of the neighborhood on our way to the boys' apartment. During that 5 block walk, I got my first taste of the Greek culture here. There was a block party down the street with people of all ages, families sitting on their porches who were talking to other families sitting on their porches, and not one person was rude. In 5 blocks. I feel like I should call Guiness and get them to record that in their next edition of world records. There were also no gun shots, no fist fights, no stab wounds, and no nicknames referring to my skin color. So far, so awesome.

Jen, Jonathan and I ate at a little dinner called Tasty's Diner (and rightfully so), then went back to my apartment. I'm going to get paint later today, and I'm about to go meet Jenavene to go to Ikea. So once the apartment is a little more put together, I'll take pictures and post them here. In short, this is starting out on the right foot. Keep me in your prayers and I promise to keep you posted. 

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Shortest Distance Between Two People

This morning I awoke to the delightful sound of a shovel scraping against pavement. Alarm clock companies should really consider adding that sound to their repertoire of annoying wake-up noises. Finding the courage to venture out from beneath my electric blanket, I tip-toed over to my window. Thick layers of snow blanketed the ground and all of the cars. This meant that my subway was probably either not running, or experiencing delays. While my parents were grilling steaks outside, I was snowed in. What a way to be welcomed back to the city.  

My flight was delayed an hour, but at least there were no geese in my engines. I grabbed a cabbie who wasn't angry about taking me to Brooklyn because, as I later found out, he was born and raised there.  While he was helping me with my luggage, some of that good old southern hospitality slipped out of my mouth and I asked, "How are you?" Instead of the expected cold shoulder, I got a slight moment of shock and a grateful,"Doin' aight. Thanks." His stereotypical Brooklyn accent was so thick that I was tempted to reply with a "Fuggetaboutit"...but I resisted and climbed into the back seat. I told him the address and we were on our way. 

Cabbies always ask you which route you want to take. This is how they figure out if they can cheat you out of money or not. If you don't know which way is faster (and therefore cheaper for you), then you'll be paying for your cabbie's gourmet dinner that night. When the cabbie popped the inevitable question, instead of faking it I decided to tell him that I'd only been living here for a few months and wasn't really sure which way to go. It was all in his hands. As he was the first cabbie who wasn't rude to me, I was genuinely interested in talking with him and continued to initiate pleasant conversation as we rode along. About 5 minutes into the ride, my cabbie grew a conscience and "suddenly" remembered a shortcut to my apartment. While he followed the route of his sudden premonition, I asked about how he liked the city, what it was like to be a cabbie, etc. We talked about Texas and how he'd visited there and didn't understand how so many foods could be fried. Before I knew it, my cabbie was telling me about his funniest and angriest moments as a driver, reminiscing about the city before the rampant gentrification, and giving me advice about the safest places to live and how to keep from getting jipped by realtors, cabbies, and street vendors.

As my strangely short drive came to a close, the grand total only a little over 30 dollars (as opposed to the usual 50 plus), my cabbie grabbed my luggage and carried it to the curb for me. And then, he thanked me. He thanked me for being friendly, for not treating him like he was beneath me and for holding a genuine conversation with him. He said had I not been a nice person, he "wouldn't have cheated ya, just wouldn'ta provided chu wit my expertise." :) 

My experience with the cabbie reminded me of a quote from the movie Crash. "In any real city, you walk, you know? You brush past people, people bump into you. Nobody touches you. We're all behind this metal and glass. I think we miss that touch so much, that we crash into each other, just so we can feel something."  Making real connections with people, no matter how small or how brief,  is so important. Try to remember to bless someone with a little bit of kindness, and you may be rewarded in more ways than one.