Sunday, November 18, 2012

Picking up the pieces wherever they fall

First things first, remember that audition where I said that it seemed like maybe I was starting to get it? I got that show! I am very proud to announce that I will be joining Multicultural Sonic Evolution in Welcome to New Yawk! A Five-Borough Musical Tour. I play Shana in the Manhattan piece "Stay Away from the Cave Man," and Woman in "Staten Island Fairy" (which is about Queens, obviously...).

Our flyer!

It feels REALLY good to be in rehearsal again, and the pieces are super fun and silly. It's gonna be a good time.

To celebrate (not really, but the news coincided!) I went to DC last weekend to drink heavily to visit one of my dearest friends from highschool/recipient of frequent asinine texts about the absurdity that is my life.
Casually chilling with the president. Sup Obama! Happy 2nd term to you sir.

Julia and I are best and most accurately represented by St. Patrick's Day... or one of the really awkward photos of us from high school show choir. Not sharing those.

 I went to DC in April this year to do all the sightseeing and touristing, so it seemed appropriate that this time I would focus on what's really important... visiting all of our nation's capitals bars. Okay, maybe not all of them, but quite a few. And unlimited mimosas, natch.

In other news... I've been slacking. Last Monday I had an audition for Double Falsehood at The Secret Theatre, which I was bummed to learn I did not book as 1) I loooove me some only recently canon-ized Shakespeare and 2) I just felt really good about the audition and it's been a long ass time since I've done Shakespeare. Tuesday I dragged myself out of bed for open calls for ArtsPower and with the intention of going to Theatre Under the Stars' Man of La Mancha call... 

My roommate and I divided and conquered to put up a pretty respectable numbers 15 and 16 on the list at ArtsPower... and 93 and 94 at TUtS. Eh. Could be worse. Being so much lower on the list made us trek from Ripley back up to Nola to do ArtsPower first, and both of us put up pretty lackluster performances. After a quick conference, we realized that it probably just wasn't worth it to go back to Man of La Mancha, and we called it a day to go home and take naps. 

Audition calendar is looking a little thin this week, though I do have an appointment for a new play and a workshop with a Shakespeare company on Tuesday that should be fun.

In the meantime, I have realized that my race is only a month away and I'm starting to realize I'm woefully unprepared. By which I mean I have still only run like 2.5 miles at a time... and I'm doing it sloooooow. And I only went running once this week. And didn't go to the gym at all. Basically it was a fat week, is the point of all of this. Might need to make myself a workout schedule for this week... which has Thanksgiving sandwiched in the middle. Totally gonna happen. Yep. Let's just keep telling myself that.
That's my "I really love exercise and I can totally handle making a workout schedule for myself" face. It's gonna be awesome. 3.1 miles let's do this.

In all honesty, however, I think my lack of physical activity goes a long way towards accounting towards the sort of... off color attitude I've had all week. Nothing is "wrong" in my life, per say, but I've noticed myself getting snippy and short with people who don't deserve it and generally starting to backslide into a negative headspace I've been consciously working really hard to get out of.

I had a small but very real slap in the face of "oh right, your life is kind of charmed" this morning afternoon when, after complaining via text message about wanting brunch, friends who had already eaten agreed to sit with me so I could indulge my brunch craving. Silly? Absolutely. But it was the kind of thing that reminded me that I'm very lucky to have the people I have in my life and I would be wise to focus on that, rather than sweating the small stuff.

This was particularly fortunate as my roommate - one of the aforementioned friends - did this for me anyway after witnessing a very real (if drunken) deluge of my insanity last night and chose to (pretend to) not judge me after I made a somewhat foolish/dignity forfeiting decision somewhere in the wee small hours of this morning.

The truth of it is that while nothing is "wrong," I'm spending a wee bit too much time dwelling in Last November right now - today is the one year anniversary of moving to this apartment and while I'm happy to have HIT a year in one place with no immediate moving plans, as I've discussed a few times, this time last year was not a walk in the park for me. A friend and I discussed it at lunch, and apparently we're deciding that October/November is annually when I do shows about New York and work myself into complicated situations with boys (more on that most likely never some other time). Yikes.

Okay and yes. I actually know how to fix my current complicated boy situation, I'm just... well... not doing it. Learn from your mistakes much, Stevenson? No? Okay great. Carry on. Proceed blindly off the cliff.

Realizing that I'm heading down this road is about as much as I can hope for right now - if I can recognize that I'm about to go off the psycho bitch deep end, I can reasonably hope to put in a little more swimming effort to stay in the shallow end of the crazy pool. That was a really poorly constructed metaphor, but it's what I've got.

So I'm going to take it one day at a time, I'm going to get my ass on the treadmill/pounding the pavement because shockingly, the whole physical activity thing really does help, and keep picking up the pieces wherever they fall.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Starting to finally, maybe, a little bit get it right

Before we begin, WAY TO GET IT RIGHT, AMERICA! So very proud to be an American in the wake of four more years with Obama in the White House. Are we a flawless America at present? Of course not. But I believe in my president and I believe in my country and I am giddy with relief and excitement that Obama gets another term.

Classiest post election photo? Perhaps not. Most hilarious? Yes.

Moving right along, today was a three audition day! This is big, considering I haven't been to an audition at all in over a week. I (mostly) blame Sandy. There is of course, the tiny snag that I was supposed to go to Disney on Monday but my disgusting cold has not entirely left the building and I was phlegmy and coughing and it just wasn't happening in the singing department, folks.

Because apparently the weather gods hate the northeast right now, after last week's run-in with Hurricane Sandy, last night we got treated to winter storm somethingorother. It had a name but I've already forgotten it.
This was my block last night on my way home from ballet. It's NOVEMBER.

I wasn't positive auditions were even going to happen today - curse you, weather! - but a quick search around Playbill/Backstage/Actors Access/Audition Update proved that we were still on track in open call land, which means No Skip November would win out. I tried grudgingly to remind myself that crappy weather is usually a benefit, because it means that less people will show up for auditions. It didn't make my impending wakeup call seem any less crappy.

Nevertheless, I dragged myself out of bed at 7:15 with a RAGING headache, which I thought was extremely rude since it's not like I did the drinking to deserve it. Made it to Pearl by about 8:30 for The Family Theatre Company's In the Heights and found that I was only number 10 on the list. Success! I had an appointment across the street for a new play called Confessions of Poverty at 10 am, though, so I was like ahhh this is confusing because I will be in (wait for it) group 1 at ITH and then how will I multitask ahhhh morning ahhh brainexplodes ahhhh auditions. So you can imagine my surprise and delight when I ran into the monitor, my lovely friend Vincent, on the street! He had my back. It was great.

Confessions of Poverty was meh. I should have read the whole play - which they sent me on Tuesday - instead of only making it to page 30, so that's on me. My reading was solid, I think, but also not exactly right for the way the character was written. There's something to be said for making it your own, but there's something to be said for it not clicking because it's not the best interpretation of the material. Nonetheless, when the author questioned me on my thoughts on the piece I was able to offer some reasonably not bullshit-sounding interpretation and I think overall he liked me. We'll see if anything comes of that.

Went back to ITH and was called literally immediately upon arrival. Win! Decided on the line what I was singing though, which is a habit I desperately have to get out of. It was at this time that I decided to try a new thing - singing from the show!

I was always told this was frowned upon, but I'm beginning to see that in the professional world that's not really true. I've sung "Breathe" on countless occasions in class, concerts, etc. - you can read about my relationship to In the Heights and the song in this post from last January - but I've never once thought to sing it in an audition. Which is silly, right? So decide I did, sing I did, and it felt GREAT. I have sung it so many times I really didn't have to worry about it, and because of that it was also one of the most solid acting performances I've had in an audition in a long time.

They didn't ask me to dance, which means I didn't get called back. And while that sucks, it's been a while since I've walked out of the audition and been like "I feel good about what I left up there."

This evening, much later, I had an audition for a collection of new short musicals about New York. I got home from ITH at 11:30... and this audition wasn't until 9:05. This is not exactly great for garnering momentum, so it was slow going dragging myself back out of the house into the 40 degree feels like 35 degree weather. 

I sang "You Can Always Count on Me" from City of Angels (AND didn't forget the words!) followed by Sara Bareilles' "Between the Lines" and a monologue from Nicky Silver's Food Chain. And everything went over really well! They were verbally responsive to both songs and I got huge laughs on my monologue which is reasonably rare. Afterwards, as I was wrapping up and getting ready to go, one of the panel said that he was really impressed to see somebody who made such smart choices of material and who clearly knew who they were as an actor come in the room.




I was dumbstruck with shock. And (here it comes again) gratitude. And maybe even awe. Because most days I'm not sure who I am as a person, let alone as an actor.

And yet... I think maybe I'm starting to get it. I know how to make the choices that make me feel comfortable and show me off, know how to find and present the material I really connect with that do show me off as a person and an actress. It was a GREAT feeling and I pretty much walked home on air. Who knows if I'll book it - I hope that I do - but that was a hell of a compliment to get today.

Son of a bitch I guess I'm doing something right - I finally got something right.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Hurricane Sandy, gratitude, weekend morning running... And a side of everything else.

Hey there, blogosphere.

As some of you living in America (and Kitty Kat) may or may not know, we here in New York just weathered a hurricane. My neighborhood was UNBELIEVABLY fortunate - Hell's Kitchen suffered now power outages, no flooding, no downed trees, no damage of any kind.

I have to be honest - in the wake of what I remain referring to as Fauxrricane Irene, I didn't prepare for Sandy AT ALL. I battoned down the hatches, taped the windows, filled the tupperware, stocked the dry goods, watched the news and waited through Irene, which in New York city turned out to be a glorified heavy rainstorm that passed by 10 am the following day.

Sandy, on the other hand, turned out to be decidedly NOT that kind of hurricane.

What in the wee hours of the morning would become the most iconic Manhattan image of Hurricane Sandy.

This photo was taken at Avenue C and 8th Street, in lower Manhattan, on Monday night. Shown this photo before last week, I would have assumed it was taken circa several years ago somewhere in Louisiana or Florida. I could share countless more, but you, like me, have the internet and can find the images just as easily as I can. I'd show you a picture of my neighborhood but if you look at this last post
you'll find a picture of Hell's Kitchen and it looks EXACTLY like that post-Sandy.

My hurricane consisted of a very ordinary Monday at work - actually, a very BUSY Monday at work for people looking for an open spot to drink, concocting a DIY Hurricane Cocktail, and partying through the storm with friends. Looking back, this was irresponsible at best and downright dangerous and disrespectful at worst.
I still find this image HILARIOUS, but in the wake of what turned out to not be bullshit the way Irene was, it's also a little embarrassing how much and how closely I identified with this as I did literally all of those things except the cigarettes.

Throughout the week I've heard more and more stories of the devastation of this hurricane of a scale I frankly couldn't have ever expected here in the Northeast. Many of my friends were without power for the last 6 days, most could not work nor get into Manhattan, and I talked to DOZENS of people at the bar whose lives were COMPLETELY changed by Sandy, including an older couple who lives in the building I pictured above. Even friends lucky enough to live in neighborhoods untouched were stuck without being able to go to work and earn paychecks this week because their offices or restaurants were at best powerless, at worst flooded and beyond repair. I watched the news this week with a blank horror I rarely feel, and a powerlessness I have never really known in the face of nature.

Previously, the term "hurricane" hit closer to home for me than many other natural disasters as I had relatives live through Hurricane Andrew in Florida and Katrina in Louisiana. Those relatives checked in early and often, both last year for Irene and this year for Sandy, and their concern made me feel guilty for my own lack of preparation. And made me realize how naive I was to be so cavalier about something like this. It's NOTHING but lucky that I live in midtown instead of the East Village or Battery Park City and that I work in a neighborhood that also never lost power. I didn't deserve to get this lucky and my earlier cavalier attitude is coming back to bite me in the ass with a sense of proverbial Catholic guilt I never knew I possessed.

I grew up in reasonably idyllic California in the 2000s and didn't live in New York for 9/11 or any of its ensuing crises. At the risk of sounding cliché, this was my first real wake-up that things like this REALLY DO happen where I live, to people I know, to people I care about, and maybe probably someday, to me. There are dozens of ways to help and I will be finding them - this is too big a lesson to not act on.

The reason I say this is because yesterday morning and today, I went for runs that took me down the Hudson River to the west village, and it was AMAZING the difference between yesterday morning and Wednesday (my last outdoor run, when the power was still out). And the spirit of New Yorkers hell bent and determined to return to their routine was awe inspiring. This is a RESILIENT fucking city. That's something I hadn't exactly hoped to experience first hand, but it's been pretty amazing to see.

This morning in particular, I ran with what must have been dozens of folks here for the marathon, which was cancelled in the wake of widespread controversy about going on with it in spite of the hurricane. Though the marathon's cancellation is something with which I agreed wholeheartedly, the amount of people out and about to make the best of it was pretty great. I've heard many ran the distance today in Central Park anyway, a lot of whom did so to fundraise for relief efforts. OBVIOUSLY I'm not a marathoner (hi the two miles I did Wednesday, yesterday, and today were killer enough for me so 26.2 is not in the cards for this girl anytime soon) but it's still something I can respect.

I have spent the week telling people that my hurricane was "uneventful" and reiterating how lucky I have been, but it's only recently been sinking in how much worse it could have - and by rights maybe should have - been. I live two blocks from a river and ON AN ISLAND, for fuck's sake. It doesn't get much luckier than having no damage in that situation. To be frank, I've never felt more blessed.

In other news, life goes on, both in New York on the whole and in my life. Pre-Sandy, my beloved San Francisco Giants WON THE WORLD SERIES!

Just after striking out the alleged best player in baseball for the final out for the win. Storming the field. Picture me in a bar screaming and jumping up and down and maaaaaybe crying a little.

Me and one of my best friends JUST after the win and we both called to gush with our moms. This shit-eating grin stayed plastered to my face alllllll night and I'm pretty positive I woke up with it in the morning.

The hurricane hit the following day, and if you want my recap there scroll up or read the goddamn news.

In audition-land, everything was (unsurprisingly) cancelled owing to the hurricane and rescheduled for this week. Tomorrow I have Hong Kong Disney on tap before work, with In the Heights and an appointment for a new musical appropriately about New York Thursday. Back to Backstage, back to Actors Access, back to Playbill... back to life, back to reality.

I also have a real idea for a creative project... it involves Shakespeare, the High Line, site-specific theatre, and me actually really doing some work for the good of my own career. I'm excited and kind of terrified and we'll see what happens. More details to come when I have them. If I can pull this off it's going to be awesome... and if I can't, I will at the very least know I tried.

In fitness land, as I said, I went on three outdoor runs today. I have no idea if my gym was even open, because I was determined to be outdoors... and also because it's time to stop fucking around and getting my body used to how much harder that is than the treadmill (and because it's gotten really cold, and I signed up for a December race like an idiot). In my C25K training, I ran my first 20 minutes without stopping this week! It's not that much, I know... but my cardiovascular fitness has always been more dance oriented. And for someone who still remembers being made fun of for not being able to run one mile without stopping in middle school, it feels pretty damn good to look back at the fact that this week alone I have run six. I WILL get a series card at BDC this week and I WILL be dancing.

I also have to be honest - this post almost didn't happen because I woke up feeling shitty and cranky and angry today after going to bed feeling shitty and cranky and angry last night. Not all of it is resolved, but a lot was a much simpler fix than I thought... and it feels good, at the very least, to know that. Some of it probably stems from bigger issues, but I'm working on it. It also feels really good to know that whatever my (many) flaws, I've come a long way from where I was even this July where I would have bottled this up and lashed out inappropriately rather than accept how I felt and motivate myself to feel better and deal with it. Baby steps towards maturity, baby steps towards gratitude, baby steps towards a better me.

Where I've been running. New York's pretty fucking gorgeous sometimes, right? Here's to rebuilding, and here's to inspiration.