Saturday, October 30, 2010


Today is my birthday. Twenty four years ago today my mother was quietly waiting in a hospital room in Muncie, IN, having finally decided to undergo a cesarian operation, given I was two weeks late and had no intentions of leaving my warm bed (that hasn't changed). Today, my mom is in Spain, hopefully having the time of her life, and I am in New York City at the Astoria Panera and for the most part still running late. Sentenced to a life in the food & entertainment industry, I am of course working tonight, having a very Locale Halloween weekend. I am going as a cat burglar, not the most original costume idea given I work all black when I am there anyway, but it works and we were told we couldn't show an abundance of skin or work in heels. Monday, my friends and I will gather to celebrate my birthday and no doubt get into all sorts of mischief in Manhattan ("Mischief in Manhattan" that's a great title for something, right?). I could be sad about having to work on my birthday or having to compete with this weekend's ghoulish holiday. But you know what, I'm doing OK. Last year, I spent my birthday weekend at work and in bed, slightly under the weather and mostly out-of-sorts. This year, I am also spending the weekend at work and more than likely by the end of the night will be out-of-sorts, but I am also spending the weekend with some of my favorite people, my coworkers. I also am a genuine fan of Halloween and get to play my iPod at work, so it's not that bad, right? I also have the chance to fag-out to one of my favorite movies, Hocus Pocus, for two more nights ("the bewitching hour is about to begiiin!").

23 was a hard year in a lot of ways. I moved to New York, started writing this blog, I experienced a horrible tragedy in my life, said goodbye to my beloved great-grandmother, booked my first professional theatre gigs, and bought a lot of clothes (New York will do that to you). I also made a lot of new friends, saw periods of both sobriety and debauchery, gained and lost a lot of weight, and ate a lot of food (New York will also do that to you). I have gotten my first real tastes of the business, some I am still trying to swallow, and have seen my dreams at once crystal clear and other times foggy and muddled. If I had a prayer for this coming year, it would be peace and health and sanity. Am I less than ambitious than I was a year ago? Maybe. Or perhaps more realistic. Though if you take a short walk outside your door, one will soon realize that peace, health, and sanity are lofty goals indeed. A bit of advice I have learned from this first year in the big city, simply walk outside your door and realize how well you are doing (this applies both if you are wondering down 8th avenue or through the aisles of the New Castle Wal-Mart). Do I still have dreams of fame, fortune, artistic accolades aplenty? Everyday. But a lot of my thoughts are also centered on matters more simple, more humble. I want to fall in love, start a family (maybe not today), have financial security, love my job, love my family, get a better apartment in the neighborhood of my choosing, and grow wise and loving, instead of lonely and bitter. A lot my energy has been going into staying healthy, not just for vanity's sake (so I tell myself), but to appreciate and celebrate the body and health I have been given, to make what I've been given last a long, long time. I suppose that means I should probably stop smoking cigarettes (I only had one yesterday, so it can't be that bad, right?). Today I made sure to go to the gym for a bit because more than anything, it makes me a saner person. That and I plan on indulging myself over the next few days, and isn't life just one great balancing act? A lot of days, I pray just for safety and security and peace. That people would be kind, and I would be well and happy. That sounds like I have gotten scared right? It's probably true. My quest for theatrical achievement has not quite been a blaze of glory and my sister's tragic death haunts me everyday. Some days, I'm ok, I can do it. I can put on my game face and go to the gym and eat healthy and be kind and funny and smile a lot. And sometimes I'd prefer to stay in bed (and do). This past week, I attempted to go an audition and simply felt sick waiting in that cold and lonely room. After waiting around for a couple hours, I went home, deciding my own inner peace was ultimately much more important than whatever opportunity may be waiting for me behind that door. Right before my mom left for her trip (of which, I am so, so, so jealous!), I got really worried, really afraid. My Wantz genes began to kick in on overdrive, the question, "But what if something happens?" reeling through my brain. Every time my grandmother hears an ambulance, she calls our house to make sure everything is OK. My grandmother also takes a lot of Xanex. Some days, I think I should do the same. Well, so far nothing has happened, and I don't think anything will. Fear can be so crippling, so exhausting. And fear is something I have been battling a lot this year. What do I want out of this coming year? Growth, a return to simple things, health. A trimmer waistline and lots of money? A simple pleading for happiness everyday seems a little childishness, but perhaps just the ability to take in a little bit of joy from the things around me, even when a lot things are not as they should be. As I have been reading and thinking, watching and moving, trying to grow as an artist and a thinker (though I have no visible proof, I feel I have made some progress in this arena), I do feel that I have something to say, that I do have some great work ahead of me, but in what form I do not know. Options loom in front of me: should I stay in NY, keep plugging away auditions? go to grad school? study what? acting? directing? maybe writing, or even something totally different like arts administration, English, or education? Some days, especially after reading a political article in NY mag or the Times, I think I should jump on the political bandwagon, because these can be scary times. Whatever I do, I have the strange feeling that I will need to do it my way, to follow my own path, that that's the only way any of it could ever work. I look ahead, and I see no proper prescribed path to guide me. So, maybe after get myself feeling safe and stronger, I'll be up for a little adventure. I was recently having a little talk with God, and I told Him I was ready to take a chance, to go out on a limb. I have a feeling that this opportunity may be coming along soon enough. But will I be ready to take that leap? Only time will tell. For now, Happy Birthday to Me (to quote my favorite character from A Little Night Music - can you guess which one?) and Happy Halloween to all of you.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

An Ode to New York

Do you know that I live in the greatest city in the world? Of course you do. Or perhaps you are an NYC-naysayer or even a traveler more experienced than I. True, I have never been to Dublin, Rome, London, Madrid, or Paris (or even L.A. for that matter). And while taste and experiences vary as we age, I have a feeling that New York and I have a long road together. On Thursday evening, I was fortunate enough to go see a new play by one of my favorite playwrights (Edward Albee's Me, Myself, and I) only to be surrounded by an evening of some of my favorite songs and favorite people (i.e. more debauchery at Uncle Charlie's). The show was quite good, one of the more stimulating evenings I have had in the theatre in New York, starring one fo my 'new' favorites Elizabeth Ashley (I also saw her in August: Osage County). The following two evenings were busy nights at work, surrounded by colleagues that I truly trust and even a few customers I actually like. There's nothing better than a really busy night at the restaurant then immediately going out to celebrate and let off some steam (i.e. debauchery all over Astoria). This morning I am waking up well rested, pleased with my decision to stay in last night. The cool, fresh air is coming in from my window, gently waking me, inviting the sun in. I love having my windows open. Even on the coldest winter days, you'll find my windows open just a crack. Sure, sometimes the noise from the street can be annoying (there's a small café/bar caddy corner from my apartment), but then the street's residual noise can be quite the comfort from the occasional lonelies, the energy from the world leaking into my domain, helping me make it out of bed (well, I'm still in bed, but I am upright). Not to mention, it is always helpful to keep one's windows open if you decide to stay up until the wee hours smoking cigarettes and watching movies with your best friend (not that any of you would ever do that). Now when I read plays or see movies, so many of them are set in New York, I know those places, get the references, I see the difference between Stephen Adly Guirgis's Our Lady of 121st Street andWall Street (ok, think about it and you can probably get that one too). On Monday, I had the chance occasion to see a rare reading of Stephen Sondheim's Evening Primrose. For most there, the evening's focus was on a benefit for the St. George's Society of New York. For the few of us in the cheap seats (thanks to resourceful friends and TDF), it was a chance to catch a rare performance with the possibility of a few celebrity sightings (Angela Lansbury, Tommy Tune, Marian Seldes, and Alan Cumming were all in attendance; Candice Bergen played Mrs. Monday). Set in a New York department store, it is not Mr. Sondheim's most brilliant work, but does contain some really wonderful music. After all, who has seen or even heard of Evening Primrose? I can now proudly say that I do. While this city is very expensive, exhausting, oftentimes stressful, and for a few months of the year with less than desirable weather, New York is New York, defiant, individual, different than any other place in this country (or the world for that matter). For me, it is now also home. For how much longer will either of these facts be true, only time can tell. But for now, I am loving the city and aim to take advantage of its full benefits. As we go deeper into the fall season, things begin to slow down just a tad, our clothes getting a little bulkier, our bright summer patterns and prints give way to deeper hues, our season of feasting about to begin. And feast I intend to do.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Keeping Busy

Oh, how busy these past few weeks have been. Really, I'm serious. I'm not even trying to legitimize the nearly three weeks that have passed since my last blogging. With work, auditions, friends, movies, reading, and my new fascination with hulu, a lot has been happening. I'm finding it harder to find my time to write, but also harder to find things to write about. It's not like when I first moved here and could chronicle my first subway ride, audition, meal, or shift at work. Those things have become part of my usual routine. Nor am I content to let this blog merely be a listing of my recent activities (i.e. I went to see The Social Network this evening, and it really was quite good). After all, I claim to be some sort of an artist, perhaps somewhat of a writer, so if I am going to continue this escape (which I have no intentions of quitting) for my thoughts both serious and trivial, I find I need to push myself to at least be interesting. And there are a lot of interesting things going on.

First, though I am no politico serio, there has been a lot happening in our country's state of affairs, that even an artsy fartsy type like me cannot ignore. Don't be concerned, I'm not actually voting this fall. I don't even know where I would place my vote. Recently, I received an anonymous, unsolicited call from a politician and unable to recall where this statesman even resides, I quickly said, "I'm not interested," as if I would have given this caller some of my precious time anyway. However, the political ring keeps popping into my life, from that 'bewitching' Christine O'Donnell to Crazy Carl to David Patterson on SNL and the continued coverage of the local and state races in my current issues of New York and the free subway newsies (which I'm addicted to). This year's races seem particularly heated, polarized, and even warlike. Unlike the presidential election of 2008, this year's fighst seem sneakier, dirtier, the candidates more extreme. While some of us Americans are awash in a bath of apathy caused by our continuing military conflicts overseas, oil spills, natural disasters, and murky economy, others are ablaze with extremist passion, steeped in the Tea Party's promise of a better America. While I think these people have more than enough reason to be angry at our country's state of affairs, they seem, at best, a "little" misguided. Personally, I find myself apathetic an exhausted by our president's seemingly inability to get things done. Like so many others, I placed so much Hope (was that not the catchphrase of the 2008 election?) in Obama, his promises, and dreams of a better, eh hem, more liberal America. I feel I put up my end of the bargain, casting my vote, outwardly supporting Obama and the Democrats, and even patiently waiting for things to happen. Well, Mr. Obama, your 100 Days are more than over (remember that CNN catchphrase?). At this point, Obama seems weak, unable to carry out many of the promises he made, stalled by a partisan Congress. His recent refusal to support a judge's ruling against Don't Ask Don't Tell policies in the military is embarrassing and cowardly. Instead of spending one's entire presidency attempting to be re-elected in 2012, why not throw some real fireworks in the mix and try to get things done? Mr. Obama are you content to make history solely by being the first Black president in office, or do you plan to do something while there? I find our country's recent bickering about the proposed mosque near (not on) Ground Zero disgusting, racist, and small-minded. As President, Obama should have addressed this issue more firmly, reprimanding the squabbling instead of letting it continue in foolish pageantry (i.e. Whoopi and Joy's recent walkout on The View). On top of these other issues, we have seen a new wave of homophobic violence and sentiments, from NY gubernatorial Carl Paladino's anti-gay sentiments, to a wave of teenage suicides, to the horrific gay-bashing of three teenagers in the Bronx (yes that is a part of supposed gay-haven New York City). That people should be so persecuted, physically tortured, or deemed "dysfunctional" is unacceptable. And while Sarah Palin, Christine O'donnell, Bill O'Reilly, and Carl Paladino certainly didn't torture those poor men in the Bronx or push that young man off the George Washington Bridge, their attitudes of intolerance, judgement, and self-righteousness seep into the American psyche, making homophobic violence somewhat OK and something that just happens. I am continually shocked by these people's ignorance and lack of knowledge or respect for anyone different than them. Just today, I read that Christine O'donnell didn't even know that the separation of church and state was actually in the Constitution. WTF?? I know there are a lot people in this country that know A LOT more about politics than I do and certainly more able and willing to run the country than I am, but please America, can we get it together?

Whew, that was a lot, but I had to get a few things off my chest.

In less heated news, I have been spending my free time catching up with friends, exploring the phenomenon that is hulu, and trying to get myself back into the kitchen. A recent cooking venture included baked chicken with lemon and my Jim Beam spice rub (thank you bourbon trails. on a side not, I have more than once whipped my recently acquired bourbon knowledge out for much Locale acclaim). To go with my chicken, I sauteéd some garlic, onions, bell pepper, kale, spices, and plantains together. I think my side dish would have turned out a little better if I had not mistook my jar of cinnamon for cumin, the dish now a strange mix of spicy and sweet. After courting plantains at the supermarket, puzzled at what sort of wonders these banana-like fruits could be hiding behind their husk, I finally took the plunge and attempted to use them in my own cooking. Though far from perfect, I have a feeling that our newfound relationship is not quite over. Perhaps I shall take a chance on the green plantains, supposedly tasting like potatoes (impossible!). Friend Esther and I recently cashed in on some Open Table magic to sample the offerings at Zengo. We drank spicy margaritas and munched on crispy tofu, salted edamame, and a very spice piece of barramundi (fish). We put out the fire with traditional Latin churros in dark chocolate - warm, moist, delicious. The goings on have been going on, catching up on movies/tv, trying to get myself to the theatre, work, the gym (ugh), auditions, and attempting to get myself back on TV (my recent 3 seconds on Gossip Girl was glorious). I'm doing the best to help the stars align, so that my star can be born.

*What I'm Watching: The Social Network, Me, Myself, and I, Brief Encounter, Let Me In, Case 39, Catfish, Wall Street 2: Money Never Sleeps, Brüno, Glee, Easy A

*What I'm Reading: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Living Out, The Clean House, The Waiting Room

*What I'm Listening to: Katy Perry's cover of "Black and Gold" and her oh-so-addictive album Teenage Dream

Friday, October 1, 2010

Drink Myself Skinny

I'm going to drink myself skinny. I mean it. A theory that has been in development for months, I find I am now in possession of the ultimate diet plan. Now, you may think this sounds a bit debunct, but let me explain how liquid consumption can lead to a thinner waistline.

1) You Gotta Drink Water
Water, water, water. O calories, and if you are at home (or anywhere else really), free refills. Load up on that water and not only will be burning extra calories with all those extra bathroom trips, but being super-hydrated, you won't quite notice how hungry you are. Need a boost? Use your favorite flavor of Emergen-C. Personal favorites include the Pink lemonade (fight breast cancer!) and orange flavored Joint Health (not affiliated with any "herbal" usage). At 10 calories a pop, they won't break the bank and may trick your brain into thinking it's real food. I mean look at all those vitamins! Ride that rush of vitamins all the way into the next mealtimes! As a general rule, I drink one glass of water per caffeinated or alcoholic beverage. Hence, I am always in the bathroom. And if you need a change-up, just go the sparkling water route, its added gas making you feel that much fuller. Your body will be so busy juggling all that extra water, that it won't notice you neglected to feed it! Ample water also makes for better skin and will ease any tension in your vocal folds. Drink up!

2) If it's Hot, It's Almost Food
Tea or coffee? Yes and both and more! These brewed beverages are great hunger fighters and are filled with caffeine, keeping you going without actually ingesting solid food. Tea is full of antioxidants (and in my mind, coffee is too), helping you look and feel great. Without all the preservatives or sugar of sodas, these Hot beverages are the superior pick-me-up, even if you have to add a little milk, sugar, or honey. In fact, green tea especially has been shown to boost the metabolism and is a common ingredient in many diet pills and weight loss supplements. Instead of a nice hot meal, gulp down a nice hot beverage.

3) Get Naked
Looking at myself naked is usually reason enough to put down the Big Mac. In all honesty, I am talking about Naked Juice, the power food in a bottle. Coming in a variety of flavors, these juice drinks pack a large portion of your fruit and vegetable intake as well as health supplements like minerals or even protein. Favorites of mine include the Green Machine and Wild Berry Protein. Sure, some of them may look like pond scum, but what better way to get in touch with Mother Nature than to ingest something that looks like it came directly from her bowels! With these drinks you can get fiber, protein, vitamins and minerals, all natural and without actually putting something solid into your mouth. They make for great meals on the go. Shake extra rigorously before indulging to get that extra arm workout you have been missing.

4) Drink well, Drink often, Drink less
You want to lose weight and feel great about yourself, bring on the booze! This may sound crazy (and maybe is), but better boozing can lead to a better waistline. Just think how much more likely you are to dance the night away if you've had a few stiff ones. Opt for better quality liquor (i.e. put down the Boons Farm) as these are better filtered, have less additives, make you feel super cool, and will make you sip slower as gulping can prove rather costly. Skip the mixers, juices, and colas, and opt for your beverage on the rocks, neat, or with a little club soda. Champagne makes a great toast, and at only 90 calories a glass, will leave even Jenny Craig smiling. Plus, those added bubbles will make you feel both giddy and full. When it comes to drinking to your health, wine is where it's at. Time and again, red wine has been proven to give all sorts of health benefits and white wine can even lower insulin levels after one glass. Instead of drinking three bottles one ill-fated night, allow yourself one or two drinks a day, moderation as opposed to binges into the dark side. Go for dryer wines, as they contain less sugar and usually have a higher alcohol content. Knocked out by a nice glass of wine, your body will forget all about that cupcake you didn't have. As a general rule, I don't allow myself to start drinking until I have first been to the gym or yoga. As I enjoy drinking very much, I have frequented the gym more often of late, sometimes very early in the morning.

5) Eat Pray Love
Don't go see this movie as it will only leave you craving amazing food and wondering if this film was supposed to come with a plot. Instead, drink a big glass of water and meet your friends for happy hour. Skip the nachos and park your car as far from the bar as possible. The longer walk to your vehicle will help burn those extra calories as well as sober you up before getting behind the wheel.