Thursday, December 31, 2009

All About (New Year's) Eve

Well, it's New Year's in the Big City, the Broad Meadow, and across the world. There's a new coat of snow on the ground and the city is abuzz. It's hard to believe another year has gone by. It's even harder to believe that we are about to enter a new decade. Wasn't Y2K just a couple years ago? This New Year's promises too be bit more memorable than my previous holidays, if anything because I will be working and sober instead of passed out in a gutter somewhere. Just kidding, I'm not much of a drinker. . . anywho, we have a fairly healthy list of reservations for tonight's New Year's prix-fixe celebration. Hopefully it means lots of money and lots of people ready to have a good time, because by golly, I'm going to show them one! Yesterday and Tuesday were surprisingly busy at the restaurant, people must be celebrating early this year. I joked with one of my tables that we were having a preview party, a promise of fun things to come tonight. Perhaps people are hungrier for the new year than usual this December, ready to put 2009 in the books, and wish for better things (namely, the economy) in 2010. 2009 was certainly a big year for me: I graduated from college, directed my first play, saw two cousins get married (don't worry, not to each other), my sister graduated from high school, finally saw the end of Bush, I moved to New York, became really poor, said goodbye to my great-grandmother, and started this blog you are now reading so I can cope with it all. I'd say this is one to remember. Let us hope that 2009 was a year of work, a year planting seeds, and that 2010 will be a time of reaping what we sow, a time of harvest and peace. Perhaps I'll get my big break? Perhaps I'll wrack up a lot of credit card debt? The possibilities are endless. I do know one thing: that I am going to stick with it and give 'em hell all along the way. I know that my friends and family will always have my back and be close to me, and theirs the opinion that really matters. I know I promise to not give up on myself or my dreams. As Granny says, "Life is for the living," and this is one year I am going to live. Recently, I made a mock-up list of resolutions during my whiskey sour-induced visit to the US Airways terminal at LaGuardia. I hope I don't jinx them by writing them down now. At least I didn't say them out loud. 1) Lose 10 pounds (I think that one's been on the list a good ten years and counting), 2) make more money (is it greed or necessity), 3) be creative (to survive), 4) face my fears (scary), 5) stop settling (for the same old shit), and 6) stop giving a fuck and be myself. Though I think these are all admirable goals, though perhaps not worthy to be hung up in an elementary school, I think the last is both pressing and practical. Your boss driving you crazy? A customer giving you a hard time? You could get upset, or remember that wait, you're not giving a hoot this year. Someone tells you your ugly? That you're not their type? Fuck them, you're great just the way you are! Worried about what someone might think? Afraid to take the next step? Thank God you're not giving a fuck. What ease, what wrinkle-free features. Now, I'm not talking about some Nihilistic, unfeeling mentality, destructive and depressed, but rather one of freedom and bravery and sass. If there's one thing I have learned in the Big City, meekness and shyness do not always get the job done. To get the best things in life, we have to reach out and take them. Referencing my title, I think I will borrow a bit from Ms. Bette Davis - her sass, her hunger, her outspokenness, and maybe even her eyebrows. The way she could silence a nay-sayer with a simple glance. Though I will try my best to accomplish these things without a cigarette and a Scotch in my hands at all times (though not a bad idea). Most of all, I pray for growth and good things for myself and my loved ones. And perhaps a little mischief. Now, would you like to start with the Lobster Bisque or the Roasted Beet Salad with Goat Cheese?

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Hello, Goodbye

Hello, New York. It's good to be back. Hello hipsters and Halal carts, bodegas and gypsy cabs. Hello, Locale. Thank you for welcoming me back and excusing that clumsy impostor who showed up to work last night. Hello blustery winds and hissing steam pipes; hello, winter. Hello, rent check, is it the first of the month already? Hello, rehearsal; let's hope I learn my words in time. Hello airport bar, airport security, airport peanuts, thank you for taking care of me this holiday season. Hello, old friends: it was so good to see all of you, I hope to see you soon. Hello to all those I missed this trip, my love goes out to you wherever you are. Hello aunts and uncles and cousins aplenty. How did we all get to be so grown up? Hello New Year's Resolutions and what adventures may await me in 2010.

Goodbye, Broad Meadow. Thank you for your gentleness, your peace, and fresh air. Goodbye, car, I don't know when I will be behind the wheel again. Goodbye, family, though I think I will see you all soon. Goodbye roast beast, chicken and noodles, collard greens, country ham, and pecan tassies - until I get a taste for you again. Goodbye, Christmas, you're my favorite time of year. Goodbye slow drivers and friendly faces. Goodbye giant-size Wal-Mart full of giant-size people. Goodbye cable television, we really must see each other more often. Goodbye 2009, it really was one for the books. Here's to good health and good luck in the future. Goodbye, Granny. Rejoice and run free and see with perfect vision - you've earned it. Tell all the others we say hello, and we will see you before we know it. Sweet dreams. Goodbye home and vacation, it's back to work for now.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Back in the Broad Meadow

This Christmas season has found me once again in Indiana, a little older, a little thinner (all that walking), a little paler (goodbye Bloomington Total Tan), and very much with my family in mind. Following my first semester in New York (a nostalgia for the safety of academia - no?), I find myself once again in the country, in the quiet, and surrounded by the many faces I left behind. And now, after a 2 week hiatus, back to my blog. Gone are the bright lights of Time Square, the legions of yellow taxi cabs, and the inexhaustible trains, snaking their way through the city, giant arteries feeding the city's hustle and bustle. After a delay-filled flight featuring grumpy airline employees and several whiskey sours, I return once again to the Broad Meadow, the place I travel to so often in my mind. Breathing fresh Hoosier air once again, I am filled with nostalgia for my childhood and clinging to the safety of family and friends and work-free days. According to New York Magazine, nostalgia has been one of 2009's overriding themes, so it seems I am right in line with the rest of the country. Since my arrival here, things have mostly been quiet and even - dare I say it - serene. Instead of New York's dizzying pace, my surroundings are for the most part slow and calm (well, excluding a gutsy trip to the Wal-Mart and the Wantz's gift exchange). These past two weeks have been very strange, time mostly spent watching time go by, anticipating what's coming next: Christmas at home, seeing Granny, New Years, and my upcoming show. The trains come and go, the tables arrive and leave the restaurant, each nightfall gets me closer to vacation and loved ones. Now that I am here, I have the strange sensation of putting part of my life on hold, my journey at a pause, while at the same time returning to myself, returning to my center, and (lucky for you) returning to my blog. We are currently in the middle of our Christmas-ing, having partied with my Dad's family yesterday, spending the day with each other today, and looking to celebrate with Mom's family this weekend. I am looking forward to continued gluttony (jambalaya and fried turkey lead the menu tomorrow), unwrapping gifts, and familiar faces. While other Yuletides have been filled with excitement and expectation, this Yuletide finds me somber, sobered by the solstice, rather than drunk with the season. I think this means I am getting old. I feel very thankful for all that I have, for my home, my freedom, my family, seeking their company rather than Santa's. This Christmas has had a bittersweet note, as I am sad to say that after a long, long ride, Granny went home to the Lord early Tuesday morning. As we still sort out our feelings and reel from the shocking loss, I know I must find a way to say goodbye, though I am sure she will find her way into my life (and this blog) again and again. But for now, I choose to celebrate the holiday, embracing those around me, thankful for God's gifts, and maybe even spreading little cheer. I'll borrow a phrase from my friend Judy and invite you to "have yourself a merry little christmas." I know I am.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

'Tis the Season

December has found me struck with new inspiration, new ideas, and seemingly, lots and lots to do. After a couple slow months, I feel I am back on the ball, getting things done, trying to move ahead, reminding myself why I came here. There are to-do lists aplenty. Perhaps a mixture of the approaching New Year, the promise of heading home, my recent Broadway viewings, or Stefano's continued tyranny have pushed me into gear, jolting me from an autumn slumber and re-igniting my ambition. Next week, I am scheduled to get my new NYC-quality headshots taken. I am both excited and nervous, this step an even further plunge into the starving New York actor lifestyle. I have been taking deep breaths, thinking skinny and acne-free thoughts, and pinching my pennies like never before (this new level of frugality, or cheap-ass-dom, has helped to severely limit my drinking and trips to McDonalds). Yesterday, I got my first haircut in NYC, luckily at a little Colombian gem of a place here in Astoria, rather than some overpriced, opulent salon in Manhattan. So what if no one else is speaking English, less pressure on me (though I did try a little of my increasingly rusty Spanish with them). $17 plus tip for a haircut and eyebrows is a-ok with me. I think that beats any cut I had in Bloomington and perhaps even equals New Castle prices. Note: follow the Latino crowd for the most affordable curly hair cuts, best dancing, and good eats. The show is a-rolling, with less than a month before opening and lots and lots to do, this "dream of passion" may, in fact, come together. At this week's rehearsal, I was rewarded yet another shining bit part, that of the finale's New Year's Baby. Those Depends already have me thinking even skinnier thoughts and seriously considering my hairdresser's suggestion of shaving my back ("trends are little bit different here," he said, looking at my furry espalda with shame). If any agents come, I can at least be sure they are going to get a real good look at me, whether they want to or not. I have been ditching yoga class for the past few weeks for free and train-less trips to my gym. That crappy little place is starting to feel like home, and I am definitely getting my money's worth ($200 for 15 months is murder). Should I move to another part of the city, looks like I will be returning to Astoria for the good deals. Christmas is fast approaching, and try as I may to get into the holiday spirit, I'm just not quite there yet. It's cold, then it's sunny, then it rains and rains and rains, and I never know whether to wear my winter coat or fall jacket. I have even broken out the long underwear some nights. What I need is a good snow and some consistency to feel like December (though I will give the weather a break; it's not officially winter until December 21, the day I fly home). I've sent out my cards, but have yet to do any shopping, merely browsing then running from the huge lines and incredible crowds. Perhaps the lack of academic pressures, holiday parties, and finals' week have me all confused. Christmas seems far away, an extended weekend at the end of the month, surrounded on both sides by work. What happened to 3 weeks of gluttony and sloth? New York seems very abuzz right now, a combination of holiday planning and holiday worries. December's arrival has seen business at Locale come to a slow grind, bitten by people's busy schedules and unwillingness to part with their oh, so precious dollars. Perhaps a corporate angel will shine down upon us and host a knock-out Christmas party at our place, though reports of these lavish affairs seem far and wide nowadays. Instead of people laughing and caroling, they are holding their breaths until Santa Claus arrives. In ways, even I am more stoic towards the holiday, but also much more thankful, the bittersweet joy of time-off and visiting with family mixed with money woes and weariness. I am excited to see friends and family and celebrate all that we have, as well as anxious to see loved ones after several-months' absence, all of us getting older and older all the time. This year, I am the brief visitor from afar, there and gone before you know it, but making the time count double. For now, I am praying the next 11 days fly by, then time will slow way down again once I smell that Indiana air. Though, somehow I suspect the opposite may be true.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Lessons from Granny

This past week, I have been doing a lot of thinking about the Broad Meadow and my family, especially my great-grandmother, or as we call her, Granny. Last week, hurrying to the bathroom (a situation I am constantly in; we must be related), she fell and broke her hip. Requiring surgery, she has been in the hospital since last week and looks to endure a long and tedious recovery, especially for a woman of her age. Did I mention Tuesday was her 105th birthday? So, along with the current holiday, my mind has been traveling back to the country, back to where I came from, and to the people who made me. Granny has always been a very strong presence in my life, the grand matron, a titan of character, wisdom, and sass. When I was young, we made frequent visits to Granny's little house on 23rd street (she lived by herself until the ripe age of 98) for long chats, games of UNO, and fried chicken. I would pound on her screen door and yell, "Ma Boiles, Ma Boiles," and she would slowly come to the door, saying, "I'm a-coming." Oftentimes, she would watch me while my mother ran errands or was at work. My mom loves to tell how Granny used to sit with me and read, and as she or I would begin to doze off, I would nudge in the side to "Read!"
I think one of the most important lessons she taught me was to celebrate and value the important things in life, and for us that meant food and family. A fresh peach, a ripe juicy yellow tomato off the vine, homemade applesauce, and long green beans, grown mature and beany. A little glass of milk and cornbread. A homemade pie, sitting fresh and pristine on the counter. These were all causes of joy and wonder. Food has never ceased to grab my attention or warrant my praise. For a long time, we would go to the orchard every summer to pick up bushels and pecks of fresh apples and peaches and drink fresh apple cider. Food was a time to celebrate, a time to share. Days spent canning beets, making homemade jelly, husking corn, or snapping beans, were really opportunities to visit and gossip, to appreciate the wonders of God's earth. It was never treated as a chore. For many years, every Halloween, Granny would make homemade popcorn balls, a most delicious treat, and a truly daunting task. To make these confectionary spheres (the store-bought stuff doesn't even come close), you take freshly popped popcorn (knowing her made on the stove, not in the microwave), and combine with a hot corn syrup mixture to gel the kernels together. Then, trying to not completely burn the living daylights out of your hands, you reach into the vat and form this sticky mixture into balls, working quickly before the syrup cools and hardens, then wrapping each ball individually in plastic wrap. They were so good, and so sticky, one of my favorite parts of the holiday, something to be savored until the last bite. Next up came Thanksgiving, which was always a major affair, hosted at her sister Eula's house in big Fort Wayne (not quite as big as Big New York, but still big in comparison to our town). Every year, she would invite gobs and gobs of people into her house, relatives from all across the spectrum, and we would eat and eat and eat to our heart's content. I can't even begin to list the number of dishes she made, not to mention the dozen or so pies laid out for dessert. One of my favorite memories of her house is waking up early the morning after Thanksgiving, always one early to rise, and eating a big piece of homemade cherry pie for breakfast. Whether it was a mammoth holiday celebration or a simple lunch at Granny's, it was always a time to share, savor, and celebrate. It's funny, I remember in French Women Don't Get Fat, with the book's point being on enjoying and savoring your food, Mireille talks about her grandmother's joy in the kitchen and appreciation for each season's produce. Though rural Indiana and the French countryside are quite different, I'd like to think I know exactly what she's talking about.
And so, as I anticipate heading back for the holidays and pray for Granny's speedy recovery, I have to celebrate my life, to find the joy instead of the woe, appreciate the little details that make life special, and be brave. As Granny says, "Life is for the living," and that's just what we have to do. Though, to try to savor and cherish hospital food, seems a bit of a losing battle. However, I hear she's been receiving smuggled goods from the outside world, so it looks like she's in good hands. After all, we have to break the rules a little now and then.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Fun in the City

After a sleepy and fairly unproductive Tuesday, mostly spent reading old NY Times e-mails and creating a "Locale Mix" on my iPod, I awoke early yesterday to sunshine (somewhat) and a big day in the city. Having planned on seeing at least one show this week, I was checking things on Playbill for student rush info and the NY Times for the day's news. And thankfully I did! To my great surprise, the current revival of David Mamet's (Ma'am it) Oleanna, starring Bill Pullman and Julia Stiles, is set to close early this Sunday after slumping sales. Lacking a green witch, a Tony, Disney backing, or megawatt stars (sorry Bill and Julia), the show has not been able to compete with all the other rich offerings on Broadway this year. My $25 cash in pocket, I headed out to the big city to secure my tickets and spend a solo day in Manhattan. The show was fantastic; searing in its intensity and scope. The play follows a college professor and one who student, who after seeking help from him in his office, charges him with sexual harassment, threatening his upcoming tenure decision. The play is part classic Realism, an office-bound version of cat and mouse, and part philosophical debate, a dually visceral and intellectual work. I thought the play was relevant for me and for now, having just come from the world of academia and all its committees, rules, and regulations. The economic squeeze that Carol (the student) eventually puts her professor is very real, thoughts of losing a house or loan falling through all the more pressing as our economy continues to tank. I thought the two actors' performances were quite stellar, living up to one of Mamet's best and most famous scripts. As the lights slowly faded, the office blinds mechanically lowering, a sound effect giving the impression of the coming battle, Stiles and Pullman appeared out of the darkness, as if in mid-scene. With the house sparsely populated (it was a Wednesday matinee after all) and the news of the show's closing made public, I was anxious to see what these two actors had to give us. They did not disappoint. After somewhat of a slow start, the fire ignited between the actors and didn't let up until the play's shocking ending. What was most exciting about this production was that rather than watching two celebrities onstage or expensive theatre magic, the acting (and the script) was really the star of this production, rather than the dancing, music, or flashiness of most Broadway shows. I told Julia Stiles as she was signing my Playbill (oh yea, I got the ink), that I hoped to see them both back at the Tony's. She politely smiled and looked at me like she thought the Tony's was a bad thing. She was very down to earth, simply signing programs for the few of us that were waiting at the Stage Door, then walking down the street for lunch with a friend, disappearing into the crowd. Mr. Pullman was a little more movie-starish, having been famous little longer than Ms. Stiles, but still kind, signing programs and taking photos with fans. It was an excellent way to spend an afternoon and an excellent use of $25. The rest of my night included a bit of shopping, avoiding the rain, a yummy dinner of Asian noodles and grilled Japanese eggplant, and karaoke with a friend. It's funny, as we took a taxi back to Queens, fed up with the rain and the subway, the view from the Queensboro bridge was still able to take my breath away, the moonlight reflected on the water between the mountains of bright skyscrapers, the city calm and tranquil in its rainy slumber. How lucky I am to live here, living my own life, seeking my own dreams.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Shows and Showers

Well, it is another rainy Monday and back to the grind. After a wonderful holiday weekend, it has been back to work, back to doing dishes, back to the gym, and back to food made without butter or bacon. The march to Christmas begins now. I had a very nice visit with my aunt this weekend, and we got to do lots of fun things. On Friday, we caught the special matinee showing of Finian's Rainbow. Given my student rush ID-status, we had tickets up in the box (where u get to sit in a real seat, not the folding theater contraption) for only $27 a piece (what a deal!). On Broadway for the first time since the 1940's, this old-timey musical was nothing but a good time. Though the story and style of the musical are certainly not new or thought provoking, this production reinforces all the traditions and magic that are the foundations of musical comedy, rather than aiming for something or trying to reinvent the wheel. The set was splashy, colorful (given its many-hued title), simple yet stunning. The cast was quite excellent, not only showing their skill at dance and song, but also seeming to share their love of musical theatre. And one would certainly need that in full to excel in this musical. The story follows an Irish father and daughter, newly relocated to Rainbow Valley in the fictional state of Missitucky. There, they encounter the local sharecroppers, led by the hunky Cheyenne Jackson and sassy Terri White; a leprechaun named Og, and a bigoted senator who in the course of the show gets turned into a Black man. Though the show certainly does not avoid the term hokey or corny, it embraces instead of hides those qualities. The production felt very genuine, despite its strange and racially questionable subject matter, from the writing to the direction and individual performances. I felt this most deeply during the show's most noted song, "How Are Things in Glocca Morra," beautifully performed by Kate Baldwin (I'm betting she gets a Tony Nom), which tells of longing for home and family. Given I saw this during the Thanksgiving weekend, I was particularly struck by the song's sentiment and my own longings for home. The dancing was quite stellar with excellent choreography from the director-choreography employing jazz, ballet, Irish, and American popular dance into the work. Of particular note is the dream ballet sequence, oddly placed in the musical, but certainly ethereal and moving. A solo dance by Susan the Silent (the town's mute who communicates solely through dance - a little hokey I know), the piece is moving and reaches for deeper waters than other numbers in the show. Susan dances to the mostly unaccompanied harmonica music of a Black sharecropper, combining ballet and modern movements to a colloquially American sound. In the scene, she steals the pot of gold (ok - hokey), but through this action and the dance, we sense her longing, channeling a hidden womanly strength, rather than the cutesy, juvenile energy she employs earlier in the show. The show deals with racism in a pretty blunt manner: it is silly and wrong. Rather than trolling the depths or elaborating on this idea, the production simply let it be, without much comment. The senator looked bigoted and stupid, and everyone seemed to live in perfect harmony. One striking moment occurs when a young black servant is being taught to be a "proper waiter," saying 'Bosss' and taking on the characteristics of a Sambo. The scene is quite funny, but only a blip in the show, the actor's finally expression reading "now that's enough." We really enjoyed ourselves at this show, and it certainly was a welcome retreat from the cold winds of Black Friday.
The weekend also saw us briefly scrambling through the Macy's, observing the Black Friday madness, before scurrying off to the subway station for less crowded spots in New York. We visited Ground Zero (Nancy had never been there before), a much more solemn and silent scene. It was inspiring to see how much work has been done and how much more is in the works. The proposed 9/11 memorial looks quite stunning, reminding me of the tranquil memorials throughout the DC area. For dinner on Friday, we ventured down to Ten Bells, for more yummy oysters, sparkling rosé, salmon tartare, and prosciutto and goat cheese cigars. We had pondered going to the MOMA for Target Free Friday Nights, but the line was insurmountably huge, so we decided drinking and eating oysters seemed a much better idea. After brunch at Locale the next morning, I sent Aunt Nancy on her way, back to good old Indiana.
It has been really great to shows the past weeks; I am making a vow to myself to get to theatre more often since I am 1) in New York and 2) that's why I moved here. I am already having dreams about seeing A Little Night Music. It's on my absolute must list. In fact, it's already haunting my dreams. I had a nightmare I missed Angela Lansbury's number, much as I missed her performance in Blithe Spirit this spring (why, why, oh why did I go seeImpressionism). Somehow in this dream universe, I then was sitting with Ms. Lansbury, having a wonderful time, until the truth came out that I had yet again missed her performance. From there, things got ugly. It opens in the next couple weeks, and I am counting the days. Oh, and did I mention Catherine Zeta-Jones is in it? Check.
Book-wise, I have moved on from Alan Cumming's naughty Tommy's Tale to the Fitzgerald classic Tender is the Night. Things on the Locale front have been going ok. I had my best table thus far last Tuesday, when a visiting aunt and her nephew (a recurring theme) came in and spent about $260 on very nice wine and food. I am hoping we get some good holiday business over the next month, so I can buy Christmas gifts, theatre tickets, new underwear, and other important stuff like that. The next round of rehearsals is about to come up for "If This Ain't It," and we will see what those hold. There is a number in the show called "Waiting," and that is what I feel I am doing a lot of lately: waiting for Christmas, waiting until closing time at work, waiting for the train, waiting for this show to get going, waiting on my stolen Internet. Like I said, this is the March towards Christmas and it begins today. For now, it is head to the grind, looking to shake things up once the New Year has passed.

Friday, November 27, 2009


After a too-long absence following my major blogging outburst concerning my recent visitors, I finally return to the blank screen to release my ideas, dreams, complaints, and commentary. Today (well, as I am editing this, yesterday) is Thanksgiving in New York, and it has been an absolutely gorgeous day, full of blessed unseasonal weather and unexpected sunshine. Considering my absence from my web memoirs and extracurricular data entry, I should be writing about the million things I’ve done or thought about in the past week or so, everything I have been meaning to say, but haven’t for whatever reason. I should be telling you about the delicious Prince Edward Island oysters I had in the Lower East Side (at Ten Bells), my growing love for the Whole Food's hot bar (grilled pear and brie pizza, forget about it!), or my strange viewing of The Me who Stare Goats. I should be reflecting on my suicidal attempt to attend the 90 minute HOT Yoga class (105 degrees). If I were doing things right, I would be telling you about rehearsals or the super cheap dumpling place I found. And surely, I would have more news from Locale. However, I think I'd like to talk about all the things I am thankful for this year, like a first-grader finishing their final writing/creative assignment before shipping out for the long weekend. This year, I feel I have so many wonderful things in my life, that I've been given so much. I am thankful for a few days off of work, that I get to spend hanging around the city with one of my favorite aunts. I am so thankful I have a job to have time off from (and that we had a very nice Thanksgiving party Wednesday afternoon). I miss and love and am thankful for my family. Though separated far and wide, we are united by our love for each other, by cards and calls, and random texts for those tech savvy enough to T9. I am blessed with good health, despite no current health insurance, and feel good and fit and centered in my body (thank you yoga, water, and spinach). I am thankful for new friends in New York, and the old ones I have here and around the country. I am thankful I live in a free country where I can say and do and believe what I want, and write this blog, whatever the content. I am thankful for our wonderful meal yesterday at Roth's, the salmon, goat cheese tart, butternut squash soup, and smoked turkey amousse bouche were particularly excellent. I am thankful for my independence, that I am able to live my life without constraints, at least for now. I am thankful Granny's surgery went well on Wednesday and pray she makes a speedy recovery. I am thankful for funny and interesting things on youtube, that sometimes inform, but usually distract me. And days like this, I am thankful for New York. For its energy, its vastness, its collection of people from every corner and walk of life. The walk we took through Central Park along the Jackie O reservoir was the perfect way accompaniment to our big Thanksgiving meal (not to mention cocktails and a bottle of wine). And I am thankful for what lies ahead for me, the treasures yet undiscovered, and what adventures may come next.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A Taste of Home, Part 3

We began our eventful Monday at Mom and Wendy's hotel, nibbling on a little complimentary breakfast before heading out into the big city. Prepped for a day of walking and touring, we took the train down to Union Square to check out the plaza and the nearby Whole Foods and Trader Joe's. I wanted to show Mom how yuppy New Yorkers do their grocery shopping. "But how do they get it all home?" she kept saying. After staring at the whole monkfish in the seafood section (terrifying), we made our way around the corner to Max Brenner's for some chocolate. Wendy got a mashmallow-topped hot chocolate, while Mom opted for a chocolate chai, served steaming in its own pot. While we enjoyed our richy, chocolatey beverages, we sampled the cocoa and chili powder infused waffle fries, which were quite delicious, adding them to our NYC fry count. After checking out the gift shop (decidedly better than the Godiva store from the night before). We crossed the street to check out the Strand Bookstore, another one of my favorite stops in the city. After walking around, scoping out titles and calendars, and making use of the public restrooms. From there, we moved east to, believe it or not, the East Village to hunt down The Theater for the New City, where "If This Ain't It" will be taking place in January. We passed dozens of pizza parlors and pastry shops, homeless men and hookers (well, perhaps I am exaggerating, though these are none too unfamiliar sights for the area). Upon locating the theater, we commenced in a brief photo shoot, assisted by TNC's own Bob, the facility manager. On south we headed, passing the Village Voice offices, Cooper Union, and stopping for a slice of pizza at St. Mark's Place (for $7 we got three slices of pizza and three bottles of water - our cheapest eats of the trip). After spying Yoga to the People, we stumbled upon Sex and the City designer Patricia Field's clothing store and had to go in. Unfortunately, we did not find anything for Mom or Wendy in the midst of the wigs, panties, baubles, and plastic pants. There were even a few men's options and a Mickey Mouse beer cooler. We soon found ourselves on Houston (How-stun) and headed to the Crate & Barrel, a beacon of white china, comfy couches, and elegant stemware. We shopped around for kitchen gadgets, presentation pieces, and new placemats for my apartment, adding a touch of decoration to our humble abode. The afternoon growing short, we hopped on a train to the West Village area, in search of Magnolia Bakery and Carrie's stoop. Though we found the street, we didn't have time to hunt down the exact stoop, though we did have time to hunt down our confectionary delights at Magnolia. Wendy opted for a peanut butter cookie and caramel cheesecake, while Mom got an old-fashioned lemon bar. I picked up a molasses cookie and a couple snickerdoodle cupcakes for later, choosing instead to indulge in a Key Lime cheesecake that afternoon (it was divine). Sugary treats in hand, legs given a workout Disney World-style, we headed to the subway again and returned to Queens. After feasting on our sweet treats at the Ramada, I headed to work, while the women readied themselves for a night in the city featuring that evening's performance of Rock of Ages. My shift at Locale went on as usual, nothing too special to report. We wined and dined our Monday regulars as well as a few new faces. It certainly didn't rival Mom's reported filet in Times Square before the show. After seeing their show, they joined us at Locale for some dessert (Mom got the Tiramisu, Wendy the Strawberry Napoleon) and an opportunity to not only meet Stefano, but also Johnny, the owner. Between their two visits, I think they met almost the entire Locale staff. Tired from a long day, we headed back to our respective homes, aiming to meet for breakfast in the morning before their flight. Breakfast that morning was delicious and cheap, courtesy of Sanford's, the chic-infused 24 hour restaurant. Caffeinated and full, we went back to their hotel for one last time, to check out and say some final goodbyes. It was a really wonderful weekend, one of the best I have had in New York. I was excited and proud to show them around my new city, feeling surprisingly more at home here than I would have imagined. Though I don't get to see everyone for Thanksgiving this year, I certainly am looking forward to Christmas to get another taste of home and the people I love. For now, this wonderful tidbit will have to tide me over.

A Taste of Home, Part 2

Sunday saw us get a much later start. Well, the women more than myself. While I hustled over to Locale for brunch duty, they slept in, then joined us for eggs and Bloody Mary's. It was good to be back at brunch, reunited with my brunch bitch Katrina, seeing a few of my regular customers. Everyone got a kick out of meeting my mother, and the women seemed to enjoy their brunch grub (as you can see, brunch is a very important happening in the city). After visiting with the Locale crew and gathering up their strength, I sent my elders out into the city unsupervised. Their destination: Macy's - Herald Square. Who knows what damage they did. With over 7 floors, the red-accented beacon of shopping held their attention until sundown. Luckily, they only had to get on one train and only walk up the stairs to find their shopping haven. Once I cleared out of the restaurant, brunch put away for another week, having devoured a piece of carrot cake with bartendress Kat (which sounds so so good right now), I went home for a short recess then readied myself for the city. I followed Mom and Wendy's tracks from the Godiva store to Rockefeller Center. We looked at the trees and coming Christmas decorations before journeying up 5th Ave to check out the high end shopping and designer duds. Once we reached the Plaza hotel, we hit the subway again to return to Queens, gearing up for Sunday's big Colts/Patriots game. After dropping their bags off at the hotel (a familiar experience), we took the train farther into Astoria to Gleason's Food and Spirits. With a good-sized crowd formed, we took a table in the back in anticipation of the big game. Lucky for us, it was 25 cent wings, and we each got a plateful, as well as sweet potato and traditional fries, our food our choice this trip (A special note, do not get the honey mustard wings at Gleasons, they're just not what you are looking for). As we sipped our beers and Coke respectively, the game began. After an initial touchdown by our Indianapolis Colts, things did not look so hot for the remainder of the game, encouraging us to drink more beer. Along the way, Katrina from Locale stopped by as well as roommates Megan and Erin. Katrina and I told stories and/or bitched about Locale, and Megan and Erin swapped stories from the temp-ing field. Mom and Wendy got a big kick out of Katrina's transportation of choice, skateboard, complete with its own set of stories. The game trudged on and on, looking none too good for the "home" team, and as our food and beer began to settle, our long began to catch up with us. After paying our tab, we hopped in a cab, making our last stops of the evening at comfort and sleep. I instructed them to be ready at 9 am for the next day's adventures. As we later found out the Colts won.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

A Taste of Home, Part 1

This weekend, I had a real treat in New York. Mom and Wendy came for their first visit since I've moved here to the city, a taste of the broad meadow in my urban jungle. Weary from a week of tax conventions and boring lectures, the Hoosier ladies made there way here early Saturday morning. Greeted by another grey and rainy New York day, we met up at their hotel in Astoria/Long Island City, just down the road from my apartment. After checking out my new digs, with pictures to prove it, we headed into the city to see what trouble we could get into. Coming out of the 49th St, we met the crowds and rain of Times Square (much to the dismay of Wendy's hair) and ventured to the TKTS booth, currently occupied by a band of foot stomping Jesus Freaks. After picking up some chance matinee tickets, we veered away from the crowds and traveled west to Hell's Kitchen for a bite to eat before the show. Spying an advertisement for brunch, we tucked into a near-empty Mexican restaurant for salsa, steak, and an hour of unlimited drinking (for only $5 - who doesn't love that?). Our stomachs full and a little buzzed (Wendy sipped cokes and supervised), we braved the cold again and headed north to Studio 54, the location of our afternoon show, the one I have been aching to see since landing, Wishful Drinking, created and starring Carrie Fisher. Set against the backdrop of the decaying the mysterious Studio 54, former home to legendary parties and height-of-their-youth stars like Liza Minelli, Michael Jackson, Debbie Harry, and Andy Warhol, we settled into our prime-orchestra seats (thank you TDF) in anticipation of the show. As the curtain rose, Ms. Fisher appeared in silhouette, making shadow puppets to a mashed up intro of "Happy Days Are Here Again" and the Star Wars theme. Entering through the scrimmed-door, she appeared onstage in pajamas and rhinestone flip-flops (which she quickly removed), on a living room-esque set, complete with glasses of water, Coke Zero, and a garden gnome who was never introduced. Sighting some skeptics in the audience, she even passed out drink tickets and ear plugs. Like Studio 54 itself, Ms. Fisher has seen brighter, flashier days, as the show chronicles her journey through Star Wars fame, Hollywood marriage and divorce, alcoholism, substance abuse, and mental health. Not missing a beat, she quips that last time she was here, people were having sex in the balcony and doing lines of cocaine. As far as I know, the Saturday matinee crowd, of which I was the seemingly youngest member, were only guilty of unwrapping candy and checking their hearing aids. She tells her story with overwhelming veracity and wit, assisted by slide projections, a few songs, audience participation, and even a giant chalkboard for a lesson in Hollywood Marriage 101 (her parents are Eddie Fisher and the divine Debbie Reynolds). Similar to Elaine Stritch at Liberty, she uses her time onstage to deal with her troubled past, work her through her issues, and learn to laugh at what was once tragic ("Location, Location, Location"). The show was clever and very funny, more Fisher poking fun at herself and her mistakes than any sort of serious or sad reflection. Not a swan song, but rather a triumph, a portrait of a woman coping with her problems, rather than a woman defeated by her problems. Brimming with camp, sass, boozing and Hollywood name calling, this was my kind of show. We all enjoyed the show very much, and were glad to have caught it on a rainy Saturday afternoon. Busy bees we are, we scooted back down Broadway to hit up the TKTS booth again for evening tickets. With orchestra seats for the evening performance of Ragtime obtained, we took the subway back into Queens to check into the hotel and allow Mom and Wendy to freshen up a bit. Dark but still rainy, we met up again and took the packed train into Manhattan, along with everyone else form Astoria looking for fun in the city. After locating the Neil Simon Theater, we went around the corner for beers and appetizers at a corner diner, though I probably should have had coffee and salad, you only live once. Ce la vie. We popped into the theater for showtime and situated ourselves in the cramped seats (perhaps when the theater was built a hundred or so years ago, people were smaller?). Having just opened a few days earlier, the house was quite full and abuzz with what the first Broadway revival of Flaherty and Ahren's most celebrated work might behold. The curtain opened to a huge, vertical set, the actors assembled in tableau. Unfortunately for us, the overhang from the balcony blocked our view from the very top and took away from the evening's performance (if only the TKTS man would have spoken up!). The musical tells the story of the early 20th century, played by three families, one white, one black, and one Jewish, their paths intersecting each other as the plot unfurls itself. Mixed in are appearances by several famous figures of the era including Houdini, a sexy Vaudeville star, Henry Ford, and Booker T. Washington. It is a very interesting concept and subject material, especially now that I am living in New York. Today, both the African-American and Jewish communities are quite established in the city, giving way to new immigrant groups from Latin America and Asia, another chapter in this island's mixing pot. The story and the music are quite grand in scheme and style, embracing the qualities of opera as well as musical comedy. This production was done in a fairly bare bones way, with limited set and theatrical flare, focusing rather on the story, acting, and music. I thought the production was quite good, though I admit to some minor dozing, as I am apt to do. Warm theaters, beer, and a lack of brass and dazzle are a deadly combination for Bradley the theatregoer. Drowsy and recovering from the complex piece, we headed to the Upper West Side for a few nightcaps and munchies at Magdaleer's (spelling?) Pub where Aly is now working. After being ID-ed (Mom and Wendy were thrilled), we found a table in the packed house. The evening turned into an IU reunion when Justine, Quinto, and Dylan Weinberger showed up, and it was quite a good time. We guzzled down beer and hard cider and gnoshed on jalapeño poppers and thick cut fries, everyone catching up or meeting for the first time. Two subways later, we arrived back to Queens a little after 2 am, certainly having made the most of their first day in New York. I'd say it was a little more exciting than tax classes.

New Beginnings

(I started this one on Saturday morning, but am just now finishing it). Last night, we began rehearsal for "If This Ain't It (or Disaster on Parade)," a musical revue by Don Arrington. Our motley crew assembled in the basement of the Theatre for the New City in a hallway/rehearsal space that also stores many props and set pieces (there were even some fake rats and giant feet with faces). Our company of about ten, sat around the piano as Don sang the songs to us in his bluesy/Broadway/smoker's voice, more vim and fire than text or emotion, and read the parts he assigned us for the evening (he is still seeking a transgender, Bessie Smith-esque Lady Liberty if anyone is interested - Edris?). For now, I will be appearing in two numbers, one as an incarcerated child (the Good Little Boy) and one as a dancing Mexican woman ("Starving But Dancing"). What a range. My string of characters and funny voices continues, though, I guess I will have to hold out for that romantic lead next time . . . The show looks like it will be a lot of fun, and I will definitely have a lot of fun stories to tell. Right now, most of it lies in Don's mind, let's hope it makes it to the stage by January. Spent after our 2 hour+ readthrough and disgusted by the ever-present rain, I snuck into Whole Foods for some comfort food relief (creamed spinach and homemade stuffing) for my subway ride home. Dry-ish and in Queens, a few hard ciders found my tired and ready for bed. Thursday was an exceptionally slow night at the restaurant that mostly saw us stand around and find our favorite selections from the Locale iPod. Though we certainly did not make bank during that shift (thank God for a guarantee), it was one of the first shifts that I have been totally relaxed and was not stressed out about anything (except for how I am going to pay my energy bill this month . . . ha . . ha . . I should probably unplug this kilowatt sucking laptop . . .). It also found me drinking copious amounts of coffee, tea, and soda to pass the time and the cold, which made for a long night Thursday for no reason at all (luckily I found vintage X-Men episodes on Youtube, my new guilty pleasure). On the book front, I have finished The Sun Also Rises and am looking to move on to my next assignment (perhaps I will continue my early 20th century theme with a little Carson McCullers or Fitzgerald, or a surprise book I picked up at the library by Alan Cumming). When the day comes, I will be most ready for the literary/arts section of CashCab/Jeopardy/Millionaire. Today, I am looking forward to a very special visit this weekend from my mother and her friend Wendy. Who knows what excitement awaits us in the city . . . much walking is guaranteed.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Happy Hump Day - Or is it?

The grey and the cold have returned to New York after a small relapse into summery weather this weekend. I can't stand the grey! Another day off, another off day. Can it really be called Hump Day when it is technically my day off? I think my official is sometime Sunday around midnight. I find most of my days off include lists of well-intended to-do's, that rarely get done at all. I suppose this is typical of days off, or at least the lazy days I tend to have. The city seemed especially quiet today, in part because of Veteran's Day as well as the somber weather. I had lunch with my friend Liz (of Locale) at Burrito Loco (the crazy burrito) in the West Village . As it has been a while since I've had Mexican, it was a yummy treat and fun to hang with Liz in the city. The restaurant is located across from a string of sex shops, so it makes for great one stop shopping: Spanish rice and Spanish fly. Hah. On returning to Astoria, I was still feeling the effects of my Mexican food coma and slept through yoga class. I suppose I will have to try extra hard to get there tomorrow before work at Locale. Last night, I had a wonderful dinner with Aly at the restaurant our friend Angie works at called Good Enough to Eat. Located on the Upper West Side, it is in a trendy, neat area full of restaurants (though sans sex shops). I dined on corn bread, collard greens, succotash, mac n cheese, and pumpkin pie. It was a very good night, and I undoubtedly had my butter fix for the week. As usual, it was a pleasure to see Aly, as we live in quite different parts of the same city, and check a new neighborhood. There are so many great hang out spots in the city, there's an endless amount of choices to the age old question: "What should we do tonight?" Somehow the Super Wal-Mart and Applebee's pale in comparison to New York's plethora of pubs, patiseries, and prixe-fixe (sorry New Castle). We begin rehearsal for "If This Ain't It" on Friday, and I could not be more excited. I am hoping this show will be just the bolt of inspiration I need to give myself the professional and personal motivation I have been lacking the past few weeks and will keep me busy during the upcoming holiday season. So many times where I am and where I want to go seem separated by such an immense distance, I don't even know where to start. Or worse, any action on my part seems futile. Seems silly. As usual, I am anxious to move on to the next thing in my life, the next project, the next job, the next holiday, instead of staying in the moment, savoring and exploring, living the day out to its fullest. So, while today has been a rather uneventful day (I did manage to do a huge load of laundry today), perhaps tomorrow will hold something brighter, or at least see a little more motion from yours truly. Work is so important for me. It anchors; structures my week. It gives me deadlines and discipline and gets me out of the house every morning (or afternoon at 3:30). I constantly find myself getting jealous of the city's many 9to5'ers, craving there schedule, their weekends, their professional attire, and supposed higher wages (not to mention health insurance and other benefits!). But for now, this is where I am, becoming somewhat of a night owl believe it or not, with a lot of free time to rest and wonder and dream.

Monday, November 9, 2009


his Friday, I had the special opportunity to see the new film Precious. Based on the novel Pushby Sapphire, the movie was produced by Oprah Winfrey and Tyler Perry. As a privileged New Yorker, I was one of the first people in American to see film, attending the viewing on the first night of its selected city opening. The film tells the story of a teenage girl, Precious, who lives in Harlem during the late 1980's. Throughout the film, she struggles with obesity, teen pregnancy, abuse, and a myriad of other issues that occur during her life (I don't want to give any of the plot away). She is akin to The Color Purple's Miss Celie, a tragic character nearly destroyed by the wicked world around her, rather than her own choices. Like the Celie, we see Precious learn to finally love herself and embrace an inner strength of steel that leads her away from her mother's smoke-filled apartment. Her witch of a welfare mother is played by comedian Mo'Nique. The entire experience was quite grand. I saw the film with a few friends at the AMC movie plaza (home to at least 25 screens) in Times Square to a soldout house. It was one of the most exciting events I have ever attended in a theater, be it screen or stage. The full audience was entirely locked into the movie, cheering for Precious, laughing, crying, and oftentimes verbally responding to the movie. By the time the end credits commenced, I was glued to my seat, stuck in thought, rather than anxiously ready to exit the theater, glad I had endured 2 hours in my seat, asking where everyone would like to go for drinks. The film stands alongside my Broadway experiences seeing Wicked and August: Osage County or the SITI Company's recent Humana offering Under Construction as one of the most spellbounding and amazing theatrical events I have witnessed. The movie kept me guessing, completely locked into the moment, not looking ahead or guessing what's next. Instead of daydreaming or thinking about what i had to do the next day, the film in front of my eyes had my complete and total attention.

I cannot give enough praise to the acting in this film. I was blown away by the breakout talent of the young lady playing the title character and floored by the wicked, destructive, and oftentimes very funny character Mo'Nique, someone I never considered as a major acting talent, created on the camera. Like August, she shares lineage with that play's destructive mother, the pill popping Violet (both with ever present cigarette), as well as Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf's Martha and Long Days Journey into Night's morphine addicted Mary. Deceptive, manipulative, fast talking, seeing and knowing all, she sits in her chair each day, blazing through copious smokes, watching TV game shows, and ruling her daughter's life, a royal welfare Queen. Though her performance is both horrifying and entrancing throughout the entire film, it is her final scene that in the social worker's office that sends chills down the spine and calls for ovation and ah. She is a vision of Realistic acting, the art we so desperately strived for in college, she plays the scene moment to moment, working her triggers, the images of what she is talking about coming alive in her eyes - she had it all. The movie masters the art of capturing the beauty in the ugliest of things, the delicate balance of tragedy and comedy, and a real reciprocity in telling the truth, rather than sugar-coating or playing the film at a biased angle. Admittedly, I have not seen many other movies this season, I hope this film stands among the winners and nominees when awards season commences this winter. Told through an Afriecan-American motif, this is an American story. While the aforementioned Color Purplewas shut out at the Oscars, I hope Precious brings home some metal come February. Rather than playing a Mammy (Gone with the Wind), a comedic sidekick (Ghost), or a famous singer(Lady Sings the Blues, Ray, Dreamgirls), this is an authentically African-American story told through the clearest lens, presenting the truth, without pretense or comment. When this film comes to your city, I hope you will check it out (and tell me what you think!); it is certainly worth seeing and eye-opening.

In other news from the city, things at Locale have been going out, becoming more and more a routine rather than an experience (it is work after all). The cigarette urn caught on fire last night, and it was quite comical to watch Stefano and the bus boy put out the potential fire. I have been doing an OK job of avoiding McDonald's, finding the Subway (the one with the sandwiches, not the rats) and eating at home. Though I did demolish a pint of ice cream last night . . . though that's at least dairy right? I think it may have even had less calories than a Value Meal. So it was the healthy choice, no? I attended the Afterparty again this Friday, which was very fun and found me drunkenly eating a hotdog in Times Square before dozing off on the train home. All in all, a good and busy weekend. This week sees me working a little bit,getting my life and apartment in order in anticipation of my mother's NYC arrival this Saturday. Time to finally scour that filthy bathroom. At least it's sunny out today!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Addiction: A Prisoner in a Golden Fortress

I have an addiction. No, it's not drugs or porn or cutting or smoking. It's combo meals. It's hot, salty french fries. It's the fizziest Diet Coke imaginable. It's McDonad's. I am powerless against its Golden charms. Resist I may, but I'm lovin' it. Every time I walk by one of those red and yellow burger palaces, I am drawn in, be it grey rainy day or late night munchies. My locations of choice tend to be the Times Square/49th St location right near the subway (I'm defenseless!) and the 31st location right by the Broadway stop here in Astoria. I feel like Rapunzel in her tower, trapped in an impenetrable tower, though hers was the case of dark leafy greens, nature's bounty, and I am addicted to grilled and fried products meant to make you "happy." While my usual defenses can last a few days; walking different routes, cursing its corporate wickedness, going to the gym, trail mix on the run, and cooking at home; I am ultimately drawn back to the Golden Arches like a moth to the flame. Circle and dodge as I may, even I cannot resist its magnetic pull and soon enough, I am alone and defenseless at its grips. I rarely indulge in McDonald's (it sickens me to the say the name) in the company of others. Perhaps I am ashamed. Perhaps it fills the void left by my lack of friends (must these paper napkins dry my tears?). What is it about these golden french fries and marginally flavorful beef and chicken products, which put me into an immediate comatose upon ingesting?Since childhood, McDonald's has been viewed as a treat. Now that I am an adult and have a sizeable income in comparison to my younger years, I can "treat" myself whenever I like. What's the treat in overpriced (thank you New York) over processed nutrient lacking food ranging from blondest brown to the most amber yellow? I don't even get a toy when; I abandoned the Happy Meal years ago in my lust for more food. Amazingly, I am always sad when I have finished, like my friend has gone home. At times, I am tempted to get seconds! Maybe I really did need that Filet of Fish as well . . . No! Perhaps as an American this chemical addiction is implanted in my brain from birth, as if there were trace elements of the Declaration hidden in amongst the calories and saturated fat. When we were kids, we would trick (yes, deceive!) my sister by telling her everything we ate was McDonald's. Meatloaf? Fried chicken? Hamburgers from a myriad of restaurants were all "McDonald's." It even became code for a general lie. "Jessica, the dentist is fun!" my mother and aunt would say. Brow furrowed, they would yell "McDonald's!" to me, as not to ruin their game. Oh the deception! While they may parade that disturbing clown Ronald as their mascot, I believe the Hamburgler would make a more fitting spokesman, for all McDonald's does is commit crimes! In the case of my family, it even encourages them! With over 99 billion served, we wonder how the world got itself into such a state! This madness must stop! Given years of consumption, my ongoing McDonald's addiction will leave me looking a lot more like Ursual than Prince Eric. Now that I am in New York, my guilty pleasure is far more complex and troubling than ever before. For some reason, knowing you are ingesting 1000 calories (half the daily recommended amount?) takes the fun out of that white paper bag filled with goodies. Depressed, alone and unloved, I flock to McDonald's for comfort, only to be reminded by the best itself that I will never be pretty enough to live in Chelsea unless I rebuke the Devil and run now! As if a mere mortal like me could that. What kind of mental manipulation must I endure in order to reset this innate hard wiring, to convince myself that indeed spinach and yogurt and green tea and daily hourslong trips to the gym are really what I'm craving. "Kale, I'm lovin't it." The phrase just doesn't have the same ring. Of course, I could always switch to one of the 'lite' options, try a salad or apple dippers . . . as if that's why I came to the golden enclave. How shall I escape this predicament? this addiction? this sin? Like Paul, will this addiction forever by my thorn in the side? Alas, we must endure, we must resist, we must move on. We must get more chicken nuggets. Oh no. This is not going well. I'm famished.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


Besides the usual ghoulish festivities, this past weekend marked my 23rd birthday. It was not an especially special day; there were no fireworks, no surprises, no all-night bar crawls or fancy packages. For the most part I did not do much on my birthday. I lounged until midday, staving off my laundry until today, then met a friend for lunch and drinks. Afterwards, I returned home and immediately returned to bed - apparently my Asian lunchbox was not agreeing with me in the least. The next day, Halloween, was spent entirely at Locale, in my usual macabre inspired outfit of all-black. Again, I went straight home, went to bed, and arose the next for another edition of Sunday brunch Locale style, my apron just clean enough to squeak through one more shift. After an especially busy shift that found us all snapping at each other, I escaped Locale's clutches for a brief recess to visit my favorite IU professor Nancy Lipschultz. In town for a voice conference, we met up at a tiny Thai place on 10th Ave to dine on pad thai and enjoy each other's company as well as her two friends Mike and David. It was so, so nice to see her and go back to theatre world instead of restaurant world, reminding myself why I came here and receiving some encouragement from my superiors (I wouldn't dare write elders). They all congratulated me on my upcoming gig at Theatre for the New City, saying it was a well-renowned venue in the theatre community. Despite not the best birthday on the books and an abundance of plate carrying days, I am feeling more and more I am where I need to be. I am living in New York. I have a job that I somewhat like and at times rather good at. I am in a show that I know near-nothing about, playing a part supposedly written just for me. It is a time to save and slave and keep my eyes and ears open to what Fortune and Chance may throw my way. My goal is to get through the upcoming holiday season and emerge in 2010 with fresh head shots and my eyes on booking paying work for the summer/spring, still somewhat financially and mentally stable. As the leaves turn color and gather in the streets, my mind is continually drawn to the changes in the seasons and the seasonality of our lives, both in our external world and in our bodies and minds. My own season seems to be shifting, from a period of newness and exploring, to one of routine and work and carving out my New York existence. Now is not the time for the bright lights of Time Square or the flashiness of fancy restaurants, but rather the simple, cheap places to eat, shop, and do laundry and the comfortable drabness of Queens. My mind keeps returning to my summer reading list, particularly French Women for All Seasons, the sequel to French Women Don't Get Fat. In it, she speaks of taking full advantage of the current season, taking in the brisk winter days and enjoying hearty stews, red meat and wine, and root vegetables, instead of longing for summer sunshine and ripe tomatoes. So, I am going to ride out this winter, learning and gather, hoping to re-emerge in the spring fresh and at the top of my game - and hopefully having pushed myself to go the gym. Things at Locale seem to have calmed down, and I am "in" for the moment (I even had to wait on Stefano's wife this past weekend). So, maybe 23 is not necessarily an exciting year, but rather one working towards something else, planting seeds to be reaped later. Perhaps it will be 24, the hours in the day, or 25, a perfect quarter. For now, it's to the grind, taking in what I can and storing up my luck for my next big chance.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Changing Tides

How the days go by! This past week(end) seems like such a blur (and only partially alcohol induced at that!). More and more of my time is being spent at the Locale Cafe & Bar - I scary notion. This weekend was awash in troubled waters for the employees of Locale. Friday went mostly off without a hitch, but Saturday found me sick as a dog and struggling through my double. Stefano did allow me to go home for a bit in between shifts, which really helped, but it certainly was a test, and I was not my usual, vigorous self. I spent the first half of Sunday in bed, then headed to the restaurant again for an evening shift (a new change in my schedule). From the onset, I knew a storm was brewing as Stefano entered in a huff, verbalizing his disgust for brunch and beginning the knitpicking. My nausea suddenly returned. After we shooed away a late brunch crowd, we prepped for dinner and our demise. We really weren't that busy, but had strange customers, all coming in spurts. Stefano hassled me no more than normal, and knew I was still a little sick (on account of my glassy eyes). We had people outside, we had strange requests, and we had one group arrive with a baby (who at the end of their meal, knocked over all the water glasses and coffee cups in sight). I hate children. I have never had more respect for "adult time," than working in a restaurant that clearly is not meant for the little pests. We have no kids menu, we have no kiddie cups, we have no cheesy animal characters. And of course, as their waiter my main responsibility is to coo and giggle and make friends with the child. Following our disaster in the lounge, things began to heat up as Stefano started drinking, and began to berate my coworker Sam. Having worked there since the restaurant's inception, Sam had no patience for Stefano's foolishness, and they quickly began to rumble. As things escalated through the night, Stefano drank more and more (free of charge) and when it was time for Sam to leave they tangled again, resulting in Sam's dismissal from Locale. Thank God he likes me. Kat (the bartender) and I endured the rest of the evening and luckily made it out of their with our wits in tact. Arriving the next day, we found a much changed Stefano, both elated by Sam's exile and also reprimanded for his boozing and bad behavior. Business was actually fairly nice on Monday; we sold a lot of food, desserts, bottles of wine, and cocktails. I received one of the greatest tips of my waiting from a young gay couple out dining, $60 on a $152 bill. I couldn't believe. That, combined with some positive feedback from both first timers and regulars, helped to secure my job for now, even impressing the aloof owner Johnny. After a day off yesterday, that mostly consisted of lying in bed reading Memoirs of a Geisha, which mostly gave me cravings for sushi and my Japanee days, I return to work tonight for who knows what lies in store. It is Stefano's day off, so hopefully it will be smooth sailing instead of this weekend's rough waters.
In other news, because my life really does not revolve around Locale (right?), I have been cast in that crazy show in the East Village entitled "If This Ain't." Apparently, he has written a number for me, and I will be playing a naughty child, complete with propellor cap. Our first rehearsal is set for Friday, November 13th and the show goes up shortly after the first of the year. Who knows what this new addition will bring to the pot and what exactly I am getting myself into. I am sure it will make for good blog fodder and hopefully will be a rewarding theatrical experience. I will be interested to check out the cast members; it would be great to have some new friends in the city. And being in the East Village on a semi-regular basis is not a bad thing at all. Hopefully, it will see me attending yoga class more often, though I am sure my stops at the nearby Trader Joe's wine shop will become a regular "errand." Nearing my two month mark, I think I am doing quite well in this city life. I am getting used to the hustle and bustle, the ubiquitous Dunkin' Donuts, and loving the all that the city offers (including the beautiful deep green kale I picked up at the Farmer's Market last week). I have not been to an audition in a few days, but am also ok with that. Now seems the time to rest, to regroup and restrategize, save up some money and enjoy those around me. Hopefully, this late fall will see me getting new headshots and ready to make a lot noise come spring audition season (i.e. Summerstock). On a recent trip to McDonald's, my monopoly pieces revealed one Indiana Avenue and one New York Avenue, a good indicator of where my life is right now. I was at first alarmed as avenues do not cross, but rather run alongside each other. Do I have to choose which street to travel? Or rather are these avenues, these two energies, simultaneously flowing from east to west, a perfect pair, leading me to the same place?

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Grinding Away, Grinding in Gray

After a few beautiful, summer-like days, New York's gray has returned. The time to bundle up has come, beaching and outdoor seating is over; soon, steam will be coursing through the city's intricate system of pipes and radiators (or so I hope!). Having enjoyed a string of days off, I return to Locale tonight for my weekend streak: this time it's Friday night, Saturday brunch, Saturday night, and Sunday brunch followed by a Monday night shift. In fact, my stretch technically began yesterday with another staff meeting. The Zagat reviews have come in and for the third year in a row (apparently), our service has been ranked a measly 19. This has our stony-eyed owner pissed, but not pissed enough to get to the meeting on time - he was an hour late. With no pay and no meal for being there, most of us were pissed too. Looks like it will be more one-on-one tutoring from Stefano from here out. I attended three auditions this week, but only actually auditioned for one: I cut my losses on Monday at the Drowsy Chaperone auditions and called it quits at the Equity audition for Earnest in Love, a musical adaptation of The Importance of Being Earnest. I did get seen today at the auditions for "Scrooge: In Concert" a musical/concert version of The Christmas Carol. Not exactly something that gets me excited, but another audition alas! Yesterday morning, audition brushed aside, I spent the morning in the sun's rays, reading some more E.B. White and another play (Cloud 9) in a surprisingly quiet Union Square. Courtesy a portion of Whole Foods' cheesy grits it was a good morning. I also surrendered to my first beef patty in NYC. Ubiquitous at every Halal food cart and pizza place in Manhattan, the savory pastries are a Caribbean version of a Hot Pocket: bright gold/yellow crust encasing a stewed beef mixture. It tasted alright, and for $1.99 (including soft drink) certainly filled my tummy, though may give me cancer and/or indigestion. Post-meeting I resisted urges to attend the nearest happy hour and instead, trucked myself over to the East Village for another round at Yoga to the People. Covered in sweat, I left happy, energized, and free in my body. Given the relaxed state and late hour I arrived home, I did not make it out to Uncle Charlie's to sing a few songs with my new found vocal coach. All this real life stuff is getting in my way of going out all the time! What happened to those college days? What happened to Fall Break? Thanksgiving Break?!? This weekend is another Locale-filled weekend; time to put nose to the grind and push through what surely will be another hectic (but hopefully booming) stretch. Is it strange that I now especially look forward to Tuesdays?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Finding My Voice

It is sunny again (or at least it was)! After a lot of cold, rainy days, the sun and its warmth have returned to New York for a few special days. I was glad to get out of the house for a bit today to soak up the sun. Off from work following another Locale weekend, I was glad to sleep in today, free from any work or audition obligations, not getting out of bed until the sun hit my eyes and forced me from my slumber. I spent most of the morning cleaning my room, which has a particular way of getting dirty very frequently and washing dirty dishes, which never go away. Alas, for the days of a dishwasher (or my master bedroom in Bloomington!). This afternoon, I met with a vocal coach for the first time since arriving in New York. Having met at a bar a couple weeks ago (he was playing piano there), I got his business card and finally set up a meeting for today. After my trek from Queens (fairly daunting considering he lives on the way Upper West Side/Harlem), we talked about my voice, my acting, my career, and sang through my book of repertoire, then talked about what I have and what I don't. It was so good to sing, to hear my voice loud and clear, sans pressure from the audition room, and not limited to 16 bar cuts. So many of the songs in my book are selections I have sang for many years and bring back memories of Bloomington and my vocal journey up until now. Our meeting went very well, and I am looking forward to continue working with him and hope it can help to bring me big returns in the audition room. There is something very special about singing with a piano and the interplay between voice and accompaniment, the subtleties, the call and response, the ornamentation and subtext. How nice it would indeed be to perform the songs I love, instead of waiting tables for a living! One thing I find so fascinating, but also daunting about this business is the need to really, truly know yourself: the weaknesses, the strengths, who you are and how you are perceived. As actors, the bulk of our work is in one minute or less to convince a group of people that we can not only sing, but be believable and entertaining onstage, as well as coming off professional, polite, and competent (in other words, letting them know you are not a bitch to work with). While here in the East, I have not only been working on my musical voice, but also writing a good bit (almost 30 total blog entries) through this blog and private poems and journal entries. Who knows, maybe one of those will see the light of blogdom one day . . . I have been working to sharpen my writing skills and allowing myself to let what is inside me flow out onto pen and paper or word documents. Not only is this beneficial for my mental health, but presents a possible other avenue for me some day. Maybe even a future play or one-man show. . . Regardless, this writing helps get me through the (Locale) day and keeps me honest, daring to tap into the deep, honest parts of myself that contain the most potent thoughts and passions, those things truly worth seeing onstage or putting into print. As I learn to trust this voice, I find myself bathed in confidence and self-assurance during the day, not walled off from outside forces, but rather fueled from within. For this I am very thankful.
I am also very thankful for the tasty fried chicken joint next to the subway stop near his apartment/studio, though my stomach is questioning my choice to get this savory snackbox. It definitely beats the Central Park hotdog, but seems to result in the same need for Tums come sundown. The spicy chicken and greasy (but delicious) fries remind me of going to Captain D's on Sundays after church or bringing a bucket of chicken over to Granny's for an afternoon of Uno and stories. Though I have found excellent Latin, Asian, deli, and European offerings, I am still in search of good homestyle/soul food offerings. In apartment news, we are all doing alright, working a bit here and there, trying to save our money, and feeling more at home in a little piece of the peninsula (Is Queens on an island or peninsula?). We even have an official lease (still in need of signatures) and should soon see some needed repairs to the apartment. Per last week's cold weather, the girls set about removing the A/C units from the windows. One survived, one did not. It currently lies at the bottom of the walled-in area in between buildings that we have not access to. Woops! Let's hope our move-out inspection is as lax as the previous tenants . . . for now, we will enjoy our semi-warm apartment. Looks like Erin will make a great Ginger for this year's Halloween. Tomorrow, looks like another day off (can it be?) that will hopefully find me again soaking up the sun, exploring the city, and growing more and more into this New York life.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Brunching in the Big City

(Why has this post taken three days to write?) Today, I enjoyed a delightful brunch at home with my two beautiful roommates Erin and Megan and their WKU friend Sean. Thanks to a coworker of mine needing extra shifts at work, I was able to enjoy my Saturday morning for the first time since the beginning of September. I made an egg scramble with spinach and roasted red bell peppers, homemade oats with apples and cinnamon, and sausage links. Erin played bartender and kept our blue Solo cups full of classy mimosas. Work went just fine tonight, fairly slow by Locale standards. I sold NY strip steak, I sold swordfish, I bragged about our polenta, offered up dessert, and even sold the last monkfish. Things went off for the most part without a hitch. It is now very cold in New York, and I have given to wearing my winter coat and gloves ( I wonder what I will be wearing in the winter!). The outdoor tables have been removed from Locale, and red wine season is upon us; the cold has settled in. I find I don't mind the sheer, striking cold when it is in its purest, but rather it is the transition between seasons or days of heavy rain that really get me down. And nothing wakes you up in the morning like a quick slap in the face from an unexpectedly cold morning. I attended auditions for background casting for the film Wall Street 2, but no dice there. They were looking for formal wear for a charity scene in the, apparently I should have brought the tux with me to NYC. Oh well, at least I went! It has been entertaining to compare crowds at the musical theatre, singer, and cruise/entertainment staff callouts. There were many older actors and actresses dolled up for the movie audition (in a church basement). Halloween update: I believe we will appearing as Gilligan's Island (though if Erin was a blonde, it would probably be Three's Company). I've added a couple more good eats places: John's Pizza in Midtown, famous for well, pizza; and Macondo on the Lower East Side, offering up Brazilian, Latin, and Spanish cuisine and cocktails. Today, Monday, holds an audition for The Drowsy Chaperone and dinner shift at Locale. Here we go!

'Homemade Oatmeal' w/ Apples and Cinnamon
One medium-large apple, cut into tidbits
2 TB butter
2 cups Old Fashioned Oats
4 cups milk (or water)
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon (to taste)
2 TB brown sugar (more to taste)
Squirt of honey

In a medium sized pot, melt butter over medium-high heat until melted. Add apples and brown for a few minutes. Add milk/water, salt, and cinnamon and bring to a boil. Once boiling, add oats and return to a boiling, stirring frequently. Once boiling, reduce to medium and heat over medium at least 5 minutes or until oats are tender. While oats simmer, add brown sugar and honey. Taste for desired sweetness. For an interesting add-in, try a large spoonful of orange marmalade or strawberry preserves to give an alternately citrus or berry flavor to the oats. Once done, remove from hear and let stand 1 minute before serving. If desired, garnish with crushed walnuts or pecans, additional cinnamon, dark chocolate chips, or toasted flax seed (the healthiest choice.

Serves 4ish

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Rain, Rain Go Away!

It is very rainy and cold today in New York. Gray and chilly, it's the sort when you definitely don't want to go traipsing around Manhattan with your yoga matt and suitcase full of audition materials, maps, etc. Yet, somehow that's what I did today. I forced myself to actually get up early today (well, early for me) and embark on my audition schedule du jour. I left the house planning to audition for Carnival Cruise Lines and the national tour of Shrek. Upon signing up, I settled into my chair to read my free copy of AmNewYork and James Baldwin's Go Tell It On the Mountain (I tell ya, this auditioning circuit is going to leave me very well read if nothing else). Once the audition was primed to begin promptly at 10 am, the monitor and producer came out to speak with us for a few moments about what they wanted, which ended up being solo singers for their 23 ships (think American Idol contestant-types). Seeing as I had no music prepared for this genre (I doubt he wanted to hear "The Ladies Who Lunch" or that Cole Porter classic "Friendship."), and am not really the type they were looking for, more of a Nathan Lane than an Adam Lambert, I decided to mozy over to the Shrek room to try my luck there. The contrast between the two rooms was quite telling: Shrek, being an Equity audition for only a few principal roles, was fairly sparsely populated with lots of seats availability, everyone looking calm and collected, real pros all around. At the table, there were nice, neat sign-up lists and casting info, even some donut holes. Across the hall at carnival, it was quite a different story. With scant chair available, the room was crowded with anyone and everyone who might want to attend the "singer's call:" lots of bleachy blonde, soul sistas, people warming up in the hallways and subsequently being reprimanded, and of the audition regulars, whose faces I have grown to know and love. Of particular note, there was a tiny Filipino man near the doorway, maybe all of 3 1/2 feet tall who looked as if he could have been the next Youtube sensation, a large Black woman with a silver sequin laden top, and my favorite, a "middle-aged"African-American woman with a red-orange perm, very low cut (at least a D cup - at least), tight pants, glittering silver jacket, and Duane Reed headshot. She looked as if she probably knew James Brown at some point and did a really flawless Tina Turner. Thinking back to the Miracle on 34th Street audition, I decided cruise ship was not for me, and after singing for Shrek, perhaps an equally pointless go-around, I cut my losses and journeyed farther down the island to catch the noon Yoga to the People class. This was my third day there in a row, and I was hurting. I am really enjoying yoga, visiting the East Village, and exploring my "practice," as they say. Yoga to the People is a donation based yoga studio, with drop-in classes throughout the day, open to any and everyone. It makes my body feel good, it centers my mind, and reminds me a lot of prayer+sweat. And looking around the room, maybe I too will be a really hot yoga one day, maybe by the next time I return to the Hoosier state. Yesterday, I went to an evening class and beforehand stopped in at a little café for some reading and writing. I am quite enjoying this artist's life and assuming I can pay my bills and don't develop an opium addiction or the like, could see myself make a life of this here in New York - even if I'm not booking it every time I am in the audition room. In fact, the more I audition, the more I feel I should be creating my own work and opportunities, as well as needing to improve my material so that it is really right for me, even really skimming the audition notices for what I am right for. Oh, the joys of being a "non-traditional" performer. Sometimes, I entertain the thought, what if I had been born a 6' 2" tan Abercrombie type with a good pop belt and double pirouette. Some days it seems things would be much easier. I suppose if I wanted easy, I should have wanted to be born with a yearning to work with computers, in medicine, or be a CPA like the rest of my mother's side of the family. But then, where's the fun in that?
Yesterday, besides yoga and reading, I visited with a friend in the city to watch the original film of Clare Luce Boothe's The Women with Norma Shearer, Joan Crawford, and Rosalind Russell. From the costumes to the acting, it certainly was epic and puts the recent remake with Meg Ryan and Annette Bening to shame. We ate at a very New York diner after and enjoyed the kind of weekdays nurses and waiters enjoy as recompense for their lack of a weekend. Following yoga, I met up with my good old pal Quinto for drinks in midtown. We began our night at the 9th Ave Saloon for $3 ciders and the company of older men (unplanned). It was definitely, well a daddy/bear bar, with bartender clad in leather pants, wife beater, cop-esque hat and chain accessories. Unfortunately, we left before karaoke had started. We then went down the block to The Ritz for $4 Sex on the Beaches (made much stronger by the Asian bartender) and retro music videos (Pat Benatar, Rick James, Madonna, Donna Summer, etc). After spending our cash, we tottered off of our bar stools and went our separate ways home. Needless to say, I needed a nap after returning from the city this afternoon. The rest of the evening contains more reading and writing, cleaning my messy messy room, and possibly karaoke night here in Astoria with my roommates (we have been planning a brunch and our Halloween costumes). I am doing well, enjoying my NYC life, but missing a few things from the Midwest, like cheaper drinks, drive-throughs, the Piccadilly (ok that is in Louisiana, but I want fried chicken and stewed cabbage!), college parties, and carpeted floors. Oh, and here is the black bean soup recipe I promised days ago . . . I quite enjoyed some leftovers with a cup of hot tea upon escaping the rain. Cheers!

Black Bean Soup
This is how I made it on Friday, though it changes every time.

1 onion (or whatever you have)
3 cloves garlic
1 jalapeño
1 green bell pepper
Olive Oil
Cajun Seasoning
Hot Sauce
Three Cans Black Beans
One cup Brown Rice
One can Corn
One can chicken, beef, or veggie broth
1/2 can of red wine (Rioja, Shiraz, Cabernet, Malbec)
One small can tomato sauce
3/4 cup salsa (eyeball it)
One healthy squirt of honey
One package Lean smoked sausage
Chili Powder
Ground Cloves

In a large pot, saute onions, peppers, and garlic until vegetables begin to soften and onions become translucent. Add smoked sausage and continue to saute. Season with S&P and cajun seasoning. Once ingredients are incorporated and fragrant, add beans (lightly drained), corn, wine, broth, hot sauce (spicy as you like it), and salsa. Bring to a boil. Add more S&P as well as one tablespoon chili powder (to taste), 1/2 tsp cloves, and 2 tsp cumin. Once boiling, add rice and reduce to medium. Stirring occasionally, simmer until red is tender and liquid reduces. If needed, add more liquid (broth, wine, water) as rice expands. Once reduced, add cinnamon and adjust seasonings if necessary. Makes great leftovers and is easy on the pocketbook - though maybe not on the bowels. Bon Appetit!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Days On and Days Off and Off Days

I don't know why I have had trouble writing of late. I suppose I am getting used to this New York existence and am settling into some sort of schedule. Instead of everything being new and unfamiliar and dangerous, the familiar has begun to creep its way back into my life. I have gotten off the W train 28th St. stop enough times to know I should turn right at the junk shop with the pink purses and the Dunkin' Donuts means I am going the wrong way when I head home. It's funny, I grew up in a small, secluded place where Dunkin' Donuts seemed such a special and metropolitan place; now, it has become the usual, the pedestrian. This weekend was filled with work, and trying to not kill Stefano, and after-work drinks congratulating myself that Stefano had survived another day. I hate to say it, but he really is a miserable human being. Perhaps that is a little harsh. Let's just we clash . . . and then some. When you are a superior, friendly, likeable being like me, it is very difficult to stand subordinate to, well, underlings. But time is a long, long thing, and we all get our just desserts. Once again, I am reminded I have a strong Appalachian streak in me, courtesy of my Boiles blood (I'm convinced it is also where I get my hairy chest, bushy eyebrows, and ability to make a perfect meringue). Anywho, my work is on recess, for now. In all actuality, I think Stefano likes me and thinks I am a good server; he keeps up-ing my schedule, and at least two customers have spoken to him about my excellent service. He keeps scheduling me on the days he works (joy). I'd say, if he weren't so nit-picky or neurotic or addicted to cocaine (I swear) or Catholic (actually true), we might actually become quick friends. Today, I ventured to another audition, this time for Prather Entertainment Group. My dear friend Aly, pioneer woman herself, braved the Manhattan waking hours to not only sign us up, but create the unofficial sign-in list for the Non-Equity auditions today at around 5 a.m. We luckily were seen a little before 10 o'clock. Again, I was not called back, but, alas, at least I went. When I was in college, auditions were something special, something I worked on and expected and planned for for months on end. How am I supposed to make everyday special? I thought I sounded ok, but didn't have enough to secure a callback. Oh well, I suppose I just was not the type they were looking for. Or something. The audition/restaurant schedule is wearing me down a bit, at least when it's one after the other. Those minimum 30 minute subways trips don't help. I get the feeling I am going to need to find my own path here, my own way of doing things and create my own opportunities. Tonight, I am attempting another yoga class, this time with my trooper friend Aly at Yoga to the People in the East Village. I am looking forward to these coming days off rest, as I recharge my batteries, renew my passions, and restrategize for any upcoming auditions. As the winds begin to blow, and the cold begins to settle in, I see how important it will be to find my center, my truth, and what makes me tick, the reasons why I actually came to New York (beyond the numerous pizza-by-the-slice shoppes and open-on-sunday liquor stores). So, while today is in truth a day off, it is also an off day that leaves me tired and grumpy all day. Without fail, I will be in high spirits upon waking tomorrow. However, for tonight it is braving the outside world again, seeking to be bent and broken and stretched in order to learn and prosper.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

All Night Party

I survived another double at Locale last night. There were only a few moments I thought I might actually kill Stefano or throw a plate or cocktail glass across the room - a marked improvement over my first times working with him. It looks like this Herculean feat will be my weekly routine, double on Saturday, brunch on Sunday, dinner on Monday. This leaves the strange gap of Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday to do really whatever I want. Hopefully, that continues to include going to auditions. Now, perhaps yesterday's shift would not have been so difficult if I had made it home from the After Party before 4 am on Friday. But, I would not have missed it for the world! Ray and Brandon celebrated their birthdays during Friday's show. There were a ton of special guests, lots of drinking and jokes about age and death, and a very packed house. New Castle's Carey Anderson was even in attendance as a special guest. One of my favorite parts of the night was an After Party cast member's specially pinned song "Brandon and Ray" to the tune of "Send in the Clowns." Another continuing theme of the evening, were several Sandi Patty influenced numbers. Being Brandon's favorite singer, I saw drag queens and singers alike doing their best Sandi Patty imitations, key changes and hand clapping included. It was a very fun evening, and, hidden deep within the basement of the West Bank Cafe, seemed quite the exclusive insider's party (OK Idina wasn't there, but Jeffery Self and Cole Casserole were as was Kevin Chamberlin - the original Horton in Seussical and Uncle Fester in the upcoming Addams Family musical.). Though by the time I did my number there were few people left, and even fewer people sober, it was great fun and I did it for me; it felt so good to be onstage under the lights again. So, clinging to the joy that is my friends and being onstage, I brave Locale one more time! My friend and coworker Katrina, who also works every weekend, has dubbed us the "Brunch Bitches" - and I couldn't agree more. Hope to write more often this week, XOXO - BW.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

An Air Mattress No Longer!

My bed is made. A beautiful, full size bed with real sheets and special hide-away drawers underneath. I have a bed, and it is made. Tonight, I may even get to sleep on it. The air mattress is deflated and stuck between our hand-me-down green couch and the wall. I feel amazing. Yesterday and today have been days of rest, relaxation, and regrouping. My overdue laundry is done, my bed is made, I've been to the bank, and we have successfully pulled the beige couch out of the kitchen and into the living room. We have a kitchen table, I have a bed, this is now a home, of sorts - it's a good day. Yesterday, I rose early and hit the gym (for only a second time - need to work on that) and had breakfast of a banana and cereal. The afternoon found me arriving in the city and venturing into Central Park. After hoofing around the park for a while, I found a nice set of benches on the park's western border and "parked" with my book to soak up the generous sunlight. As I sat there, warm and happy, I constantly found myself distracted from my book (though I really am enjoying it) in order to gaze at the continuous stream of runners, bicycles, strollers, and bell ringing, bike-drawn carriages. The smell of hot dogs and halal perfumed the air (after two hours siege, I gave in and ate a NYC hot dog in the park - the dog was great, the bun was garbage). A homeless came up to the cyclist sitting next to me to admire his bike, and a girl came up to me asking if I wanted to a buy a joke for a dollar (I said, "No."). The park is such an oasis in the middle of the city, green and expansive, with lots of public restrooms, a haven for the hooty-tooty and the homeless. On a nice day, you can find New Yorkers flocking to the park, actually smiling, slowing down a little, lounging on the many rocks, benches, and the giant open lawn. I am so thankful I didn't have to go another fucking audition that day (pardon my "french"). For a city made of metal and grime and noise, it is streaming with an amount of immense life. Afterwards, I met my friend Quinto for happy hour at a sushi bar and lounge, and I had a yummy Basil-Pear martini. It was a nice (and thankfully cheap) little pick-me-up, and the restaurant's vibe strummed my heartstrings for Japanee days of old. For dinner, I returned to Astoria to meet up with my new roommate and Locale coworker Katrina. We supped at a little trattoria a few blocks down from my house called Vesta, gnoshing on potato and pancetta pizza, white wine, and garlicky Brussels sprouts. Thanks to Katrina's good rapport with owner/bartender (she's a regular), we were treated to an additional glass of wine and two desserts (a warm chocolate cookie with espresso ice cream and something they call their "Baby Jesus cake."). I was very full and very happy and slightly buzzed, and on returning to home, drifted into a very pleasant sleep on my last night on the air mattress (still of wild dreams). Today has been devoted mostly to cleaning the apartment and setting up my new cell phone - which has a keypad! Apparently after 2+ years of man-living, an apartment can collect a lot of dust. Though the base boards and such are very much to be desired, I feel very good about the apartment. I can even walk around barefoot. The rest of the evening looks to be devoted to making black bean soup (recipe in tomorrow's feature), checking out one of the free yoga classes at the gym, and enjoying more wine and The Time Traveler's Wife. Days like these it is worth living in the city, and assuming I can pay my bills each month, I think I could get used to this. To quote my pal Cole Porter, "I Happen to like New York."

Monday, October 5, 2009

Survival Strategies

I dropped the wine. All over the subway platform. What used to be my wine supply for the next two weeks was now a puddle of White Rioja and Sauvignon Blanc mixed with shattered glass and soaked lables, encased in my Trader Joe's wine tote. This mess of mesh and fermented fruit juice sat there, staring at me, indifferent to how I might have felt about the situation. Scorned, I turned my back and moved farther down the train track, praying for a Queens-bound train. Needless to say, it has been a trying and tiring few days.
During my truancy from writing (my sincerest apologies), I have been working, auditioning, and welcoming a new roommate into the apartment. A month into my move, it seems I've established a bit of a routine: work on the weekends, audition during the weekdays, eggs in the morning, cocktails by night. I've gotten used to seeing the same set of people at auditions, know a few of their names even, and have gotten friendly with some coworkers. I've even seen a drag queen do the same number twice; indeed, I have been here a month. Work is going well, I didn't have any major spats with my favorite Italian, and am beginning to actually make instead of solely spend money. I am headed back there tonight; assuming it goes off without a hitch, I might just be able to survive this New York life.
We have welcomed a new roommate into our apartment and wished another well. Erin went to school with my other roommate Megan, and we are all becoming fast friends (well, I guess I am becoming their friend - lucky them). Erin is also in theatre, a stage manager in fact. Which means she is blessed with common sense, patience, hand/eye coordination, and fine motor skills: qualities Megan often lack. In her short time here, Erin has already fixed our loose deadbolt and tightened the towel rack in the bathroom, tasks Megan and I could never have accomplished and the previous tenants ignored for who knows how long. It wonderful to have things hang on the wall via a nail instead of packing tape. Who knows, this apartment might feel like home one day.
Today, I auditioned for the upcoming OFF-Broadway production of Dear Edwina. Although I was not called back, I did get "typed-in," so I was able to sing. I managed to make them laugh, but their cause for laughter remains vague, perhaps even troublesome. My audition for the principal of Cabaret went much the same way: my new friend Paula Sloan smiled and laughed at my song, but a callback she did not give me. At least she knows my name by now. The audition season looks to be closing, which, admittedly, is alright by me. I am looking forward to getting some more work (and money) rolling in, eventually getting new headshots, and beginning work with a new vocal coach (who I met at a piano bar). So, by spring I am looking to really be a contender. I may even move beyond my current 5-song-audition lineup. In other news, I have finished the Dorothy Parker biography, and have begun The Time Traveler's Wife per my friend Amy's referral. I thought I could benefit from something a little lighter than Dorothy Parker's troubled and seldom sober existence. Tomorrow is time for laundry, cleaning, and recharging my batteries for the rest of the week. I will attempt to bring my purchases from the wine store, but I can make no guarantees. It certainly is more fun to drink your hard-earned dollars than drop them on the floor and watch them shatter to pieces. I hope that's not an omen . . . for now, I continue to trudge on, learning, stumbling along the way, and attempting to survive - maybe even live. Wish Stefano and I luck tonight.

PS - Thankyouthankyouthankyouthankyouthankyou everyone who reads my little blog. It means the world to me.