Good News and Bad News

There is Good News and there is Bad News, to the extreme on both ends.

Fortunately the Good News happened first. Other wise I might not have made it through the week.

Us new New Yorkers get asked “So why did you move to New York?” all the time. It is often a precursor to the discussed What’s the difference between the East Coast and West Coast? My answer is generally “Theatre.” Yes, I am an aspiring actor, in case you forgot, and it wouldn’t surprise me if you had. I’ve been doing much more aspiring than acting these days. And honestly not too much aspiring even. With ENT bills still haunting me and Mahattan rent, making money has been my #1 priority for many months. I’ve assistant directed a play and been on a handful of auditions but I have to admit it’s been on a hobby level. Which I’m okay with- putting off pursuing my dreams for a bit is fine, plus I’m pursuing my dream of living in NYC which is impossible without money. It’s all relative.

We artists are obsessed with “selling out”, “failure”, “giving up”.  Right, these fears only plague artists.

Any how.

On Monday, 7 minutes before the end of my desk-job work day, I received a call from the only audition I’d been on in April (maybe I’d been on 2, but I don’t think so) offering me a part. A paid part. An offer to pay me money to do what I love.

You want details? It’s an offer to be a part of “the oldest full-time professional acting troupe of any Renaissance Festival, and the inspiration behind many interactive entertainment groups in major theme parks across the country” to quote the website. The part is that of a female pirate, “piratess” (yes, there were pirates during the Renaissance just ask wikipedia, and yes, female pirates did exist, though rarely: it’s legit) in a band of 3 pirates out of 30 actors in the over all ensemble. The contract is from June 1-August 16 with the festival only on weekends, meaning the rest of the week is devoted to rehearsal annnnd basically summer vacation because it’s all in upstate NY, 6 hours away from NYC and they provide company housing (and board on the weekends). Spending a summer pretending I’m a pirate, swimming in Lake Ontario, star gazing, hiking, and other “middle of no where” (as we refer to it in NYC) activities; free rent, and a weekly pay check? Or sitting at a desk from 9-5 on beautiful sunny days, dreaming of evenings spent doing all the million awesome things there are to do in this city in the summer and weekends at the beach? Not too much of a contest. I will sorely miss Shakespeare in the Park, roof top bars, outdoor movies, my friends, etc. etc. But trading in the Administrative Assistant title for that or Professional Actor? That’s my dream right there. And June 1st, it looks like it will be coming true- I signed the contract (!!! contracts scare me) but have yet to receive my counter signed copy, so it’s not 100% official.

My reaction to success surprises me. I would imagine myself ecstatic at such an offer, shouting from the rooftops  with glee. It’s much more mixed than that. There’s fear in such success, disbelief, worry that it’s too good to be true.  In this particular example- worry about subletting my apartment for the summer, being unemployed on August 16, telling my office I’m leaving. I guess that makes me a grown up.

Now the bad news.

I decided not to tell work immediately that I was leaving. Wait for 3-4 weeks notice. My superior recently gave me a wink while talking about previous people in my position, how long they stayed on for, and how nice it would be to have someone stick around for a couple years. I could have told her right then and there I wasn’t planning on doing that, but instead pretended it might be an option, and now that I wasn’t even getting past my 6 month mark I felt a little bad. Not that I had signed a contract here or anything.

On Friday however, I learned that quitting my job was nothing I would have to worry about. Because on Friday I was, abruptly, never-saw-it-coming, no-kind-of-warning FIRED. I’ve never been fired before ever. It was shocking to say the least. Everyone who is in the office on a normal basis was about as shocked as I- or so I’ve been told. My firing was in the hands of the Big Boss Man (with the Prostate Problem) who is, as I’ve mentioned, almost never in the office. He had never reprimanded me previously, never mentioned I was doing an unsatisfactory job and needed to improve or face consequences. Maybe it’s because he found my blog, but I highly doubt it.

I’ve been told I was let go because my sales reports had too many detail errors. I can’t deny this, but will say the majority of these errors were because he demanded the reports prematurely, expected me to understand things with no explanation, or because the creator of the report told me it was “ready to go” when it wasn’t. I trust people and don’t read minds. It’s all an extremely aggravating reason to loose a job.

To add to it? They told me I could stay on until the end of the month (April) and needing the money, I accepted. So, as I type I am still behind my desk. Fuming as it is Administrative Professionals Day and no one gives a shit about me. It is awkward as hell working here knowing I’ve been fired. Talk about no motivation. I mean, what are they going to do? Fire me? And no one is talking about it. It’s this huge elephant in the room. I’ve named him Marvin. Marvin the Elephant is the only one in this office who understands me.

Whatever. I was going to quit any way.

So here I am, 8 more days stuck at a desk, 1 month of unemployment, a summer of professional acting, and then…who knows. I have a 4 month plan- that’s more than I can usually say.

I Don’t Know How To Date Boys With Cars

My parents don’t own a car- they never have during my lifetime. They bike or walk everywhere, maybe take public transportation if it’s raining or a cross-city trip. This would be normal in NYC- more people than not live a car-free in this city. In my sphere of friends and acquaintances, no one owns a car around these parts except my former college professor who lives in NYC but commutes to Massachusetts to teach theatre 3 days per week (talk about a horrible commute!)

I went on a date a couple weeks ago and the guy picked me up, at my door, in a car. He was driving in from New Jersey- it shouldn’t have been that weird, but I was 200% thrown. I’m a city girl with limited experience with cars in general, but absolutely no experience with cars on a date. I didn’t know how to greet my date- the normal hug or handshake I wouldn’t think twice about on the street seemed impossible as I climbed into the vehicle. Perhaps this would have been helped had he gotten out and opened the door for me, though such a gesture would have been ludicrous double-parked on a narrow one way street (and made me feel like I’d stepped out of my apartment and into the 1950s).

The date never fully recovered from this awkward start. Dinner and a movie (well films, technically- the 2009 Academy Award nominated short films) in the village. Classification: OK First Date. An OK First Date usually merits a second in my book- I’ll give the benefit of the nerves/bad hair day/whatever. But as he neared my street in his SUV (circa 2000, so not totally reprehensible but still..) I realized I couldn’t do this again when the thought of a good night kiss crossed my mind. I wasn’t even sure I wanted to kiss him but the thing was: even if I did want to, I’d have to overcome even more obstacles than usual. Not just nerves and fear of bad breath and rejection but how do I lean over and not impale myself on the gear shift? How does this already awkward prone gesture have a prayer on front-facing seats? It doesn’t.

Too many added complications. I didn’t kiss him. Didn’t hug him. Just said good-bye and never saw him again. If I were him, I’d probably have spent hours obsessing wonder as to why I didn’t want a second date. He’d never guess his car was the deal breaker.

Roommates: Between Four Walls

My roommates are my 2 bestest friends in the whole world.

This is not the fate of some freakishly-perfect-craigslist-roommate-matchmaking (I have heard of this happening, though I wouldn’t be surprised if such stories are urban myths). The three of us met in San Francisco at the impressionable age of nine and have been best friends for nearly a decade. We often day dreamed about “how hella awesome” it would be to live together during summers of rooming together at Chorus Camp (a camp where you sing 6+ hours a day and think it’s great but complain about the evening activities that involve sport-like games- it’s a camp that makes no sense to outsiders but holds some of the fondest childhood memories for many campers). This was always one of those “wouldn’t that be great, but it will never happen” day dreams. Especially as we got older, fond ourselves in three pretty different corners of the country, and couldn’t even coordinate a summer to all be counselors at camp together.

Then about this time last year, we found ourselves lying on a hill staring up at clouds (picture it that way at least- in actuality this was probably a 3-way phone call or e-mail chain and the image of that is lame), contemplating our futures, which were no longer distant fantasies but up close and staring us in the face. The “what if” turned into “why the hell not?”. Then after months of “I can’t really believe this is actually going to happen”, and 2 of us apartment hunting, signing a lease and faxing papers to the third who signed sight unseen, we all moved into our very own apartment in the “center of the universe.”

The idea of living with your 2 best friends inspires bipolar emotions. On one hand excitement and glee. The other dread and fear. Your living with your best friends? That sounds like a disaster waiting to happen. I’ve heard variations of that a lot. It is terrifying. A classic scary story: One dark and stormy night 3 best friends move into an apartment together, thinking it’s the best idea ever! After just weeks of dirty dishes, loud sex shaking the walls, neglected chore charts, “2 is a company 3 is a crowd”incidences, they all hate each other and claw each others eyes out and never see eachother (because they’re blind AND they’re mortal enemies) again. I’m not just being dramatic, it’s not joke that living together has ruined many a friendship.

It’s been over 6 months in our adorable Manhattan apartment and I still have both my eyes and my two best friends very much intact. We have yet to have a fight, or even any passive aggressiveness worth mentioning. In fact, with one roommate gone this week for spring break in the DR the 2 of us remaining sit around missing her to the point where we are forced to borrow her clothes to simulate her presence, thus making her absence easier (that’s my story and I’m sticking to it).

We may not fill the “live together and hate eachother” cliché but we do a damn good job at the “so cute it’s almost gross, giggly, finish-eachothers-sentences, bestfriendsforever!” cliché. I love my roommates, my living situation, and it’s really amazing.

• Liquor Promos: Next Round’s On Me

I was at a bar the other night and I spent $150 on alcohol, $200 with tip.

For some New Yorkers this is nothing remarkable. The inhabitants of this city are notorious drinkers. I’ve heard the joke plenty of times: a social drinker here is considered an alcoholic any where else. It makes sense, we never have to drive home. A cab will take us right to our door all we have to manage is comprehensible slurring of the address and the stumble up the stairs.

I, however, am not a drinker by New York (or really any other) standards. I’m a notorious light weight. On any night out it’s a given someone will make fun of me for being pretty-much-drunk after 2 beers. It’s great, a huge money saver. Which helps ease the Manhattan Spending Phenomenon. The paradox: New Yorkers spend obscene amounts of money to rent obscenely small apartments which are so so small in fact, you can’t really “hang out” in them. We spend very little time in the spaces we pay so dearly for. We (generally) must “go out” to be social. When it’s cold, going out means quickly going inside. Which involves spending money. On top of our rent. Yes, it’s ridiculous. I’m not telling you anything new. I’m merely emphasizing the joys of having the same effect after 2 drinks that most city dwellers have after four. Problems arise when someone else is buying me alcohol. No one in Manhattan says no to a free drink. If you don’t drink alcohol there’s the Shirley Temple option, if you’re the victim of an eating disorder there’s seltzer, Diet Coke. No one turns down a free drink, the offer comes from someone absolutely repulsive. But my weakness for free-flowing booze is another story…

So how in the hell did I, Miss Moderation, Miss I-Had-One-Beer-I’m-Totes-Trashed!, manage to spend the whopping sum of $150 on cold hard liquor?

Considering yesterday was St. Patrick’s Day, this $150 may not seem too unusual. I easily pass for Irish, but it’s actually other British Isle ancestry coursing through my veins. I did wear green but that’s it. Walking 30 blocks down Broadway, on my way to Trader Joe’s and the Union Square Market, I found myself in a steady stream of revelers. Decked out in tacky felt or sequined green hats and “Kiss Me I’m Irish” and “I Shamrock NY” shirts, all quite intoxicated at 4:30 pm and all more than happy to let EVERYONE know their state of mind. I guess I’m a snob an old soul- I see St. Patrick’s day as a holiday used mostly to drink in excess.  That’s fine. It’s the coupling with the extreme proclivity to be obnoxious in excess that I can not stand. I didn’t set foot in a bar yesterday. Nor did I last year. Granted last year I was dumped most unexpectedly on St. Patrick’s Day…which could influence my grumblings about the holiday.

Well you can bet your bottom dollar I didn’t drink $150 of Guinness/Irish Car Bombs/alcohol of any kind myself. Did I buy a round of drinks for everyone at the bar? Am I celebrating my first Law and Order episode? (Cliché: every actor in NY has been on L&O.) No (and therefore I can’t really claim to be a NY actor). So why, how am I spending money on liquor like it’s my job? Because it is my job! Yes, I got a job where I am paid money to buy alcohol and give it to people for free. It’s great. I’ve never felt so appreciated in anything, ever. People love it when you give them free anything, but free alcohol? I make several new bffs every time I work a gig.

I’m promoting a new spirit. It’s from Thailand and sometimes they even dress me up in “traditional Thai garb” for events (I’ve mentioned my 5-year-old glee at “playing” dress up before). That’s why I get to spend hundreds of dollars on booze and then give it to people for $50/hr. Best Job Ever? Well…it doesn’t beat being on Law & Order, but it is pretty great.

The Time I Met a Cute Hipster on a New York City Street

This is the story of the time I picked up a guy on a New York City street. It doesn’t just happen on TV. Here’s how it happened to me.

I’m walking home from a rehearsal, up 9th Avenue, at about 9PM. Lost in my own thoughts, I blink and noticed the man walking several paces in front of me. Can you measure a person’s attractiveness from their back? I can’t. Sometimes I think I can and end up disappointed. That’s not what bring my eyes to this guy. It’s the banjo he has strapped on his back.

Now I live right by Lincoln Center and work in the Theatre District; Julliard students lugging around upright bases and pit orchestra players with trombone cases strapped to their backs are a common sight. But a banjo? Who plays the banjo and then walks up 9th Ave with the naked instrument slung over his shoulder like a messenger bag? I’m driven to find out, more so than I’m driven to get home.

My (annoying but I’m making progress to change it) proclivity of waiting for people for people to come to me gets trumped when I have something  very specific to say to said person. With Banjo Guy I have just that. I need answers to all questions this banjo brings to mind.

I sidle up next to him,“So I have to ask, do you carry the banjo around just to look cool or do you actually play it?” (I’ll leave it to you to decide whether that’s a better line than my Trader Joe’s check out line line.)
He looks at the person assaulting him on the street (me), our eyes meet (me to myself: now lookie there he is cute! that’s lucky. Possibly a hipster, definitely from Brooklyn, the banjo indicates clear musical tendencies…), and he smiles at me (dimples!! ahhh!).
“You think it makes me look cool?”

I am so in. That’s not a Uh, why are you talking to me? Not a Fuck off, rando. Not even a Oh you think you’re clever? Nice try. It’s a genuine Ok, I accept your random offer of conversation, it’s welcome rather than weird. Sweet.

I would later learn he had a fixie bike in addition to the banjo. Along with many ironic t-shirts and leather jackets. And hipster glasses that he occasionally wore. On top of it all, he denied being a hipster, thus making him the perfect cliche. [credit]
Our conversation begins in the west 40s- I’m walking to the 60s (home), he’s looking for a bar to get a drink. We’re in Hell’s Kitchen, he could have found a bar at pretty much any point during our 20 block walk. But he doesn’t, he walks with me all the way up the street. My burning questions answered: He dabbles in being a street musician (omg! me too! Christmas caroling for ever!) when he’s not tailoring men’s suits (omg you’re not an actor? I extra ♥ you!). Yep, he lives in Brooklyn (told ya!!!) Seems nice, a little bit off sense of humor, but I might like it.

I’m the one who ends the walk – needing to make the necessary veer left to get home.  Before I make said veer, Banjo Guy asks for my phone number. Striking up a conversation on the street? Total success. Not only that, he actually used the number to call me and make a date. Which actually happened last night. No blog worthy story from it (I’m spoiled. My first two first dates in NY were good stories. I now think all first dates should all be that way and this is far from reality) but it was a good date.

Yes, I had fun. Maybe I like him. No, didn’t bring his banjo along.

Weather (or Not)

Throughout my first winter here I firmly believed New York City was brilliant at snow collection. It would snow during the night and by morning the streets would be clear- amazing! This year however, the fairy-tale-snow-land fantasy was broken and I realized the hard cold truth: It barely snowed last winter. New York is not the incredibly efficient city of silly California ignorance. I say all this in light of the snow storm/blizzard (what exactly is the technical difference between a blizzard and a snow storm?), that hit Thursday early morning. It snowed for about 48 hours straight- with barely a pause. I’ve never witnessed so much continuous snow, ever.  Had I not had to go out in it I may adopted a mantra “Let is Snow!” put on a pot of tea, popped some corn, snuggled up in a warm blanket and spent hours content just watching the beautiful flakes tumble from the sky. This is what Californians assume happens when it snows. Unfortunately, I had places to go. And really, snow is only pretty from a warm distance, only fun if you can get out of it and be warm as soon as you want too.

I woke up Friday morning to the screams of glee from both my roommates “SNOWDAY!!” This was expected from my preschool-teaching roommate but not the roommate who has a job quite similar to mine (hello desk). I eagerly checked my phone for hoping for a message: none. Email? None. BUMMER. Business as usual at my office. Jealousy percolated inside me as my roommates sat cozy with coffee, watching my usual morning fuck-I’m-10-minutes-late routine. I left the apartment positively green with envy. Which promptly turned white as I stepped out on the street.  Everything was white.

25 minutes and one snow effected subway ride later I was at work, soggy and sulky grumble grumble everyone-has-the-day-off-but-me grumble. This mood, much like the weather, saw no signs of clearing until 6pm in the evening. By 2:30 I was still grumbling, sitting at my desk, and drafting the first paragraph of this post when I casually mentioned a couple letters I needed to take to the post office, how I was thinking I’d wait until the end of the day and drop them off on my way home. Which turned out to be a BRILLIANT move because I was then told to do it now- leave early, right then and there early. Lovely!

Stepping outside the building, with my brand-new I-got-out-early! gumption, the snow had a different look to it. Flakes were still falling but sun was peaking through the clouds, glittering on the drifts banking the sidewalks. With the weekend now staring me in the face it looked beautiful. I walked to the post office as promised. The streets were slush, like a snow cone you’re having trouble finishing. My Uggs (what kind of cliché would I be if I didn’t wear Uggs?) were soaked through in a few blocks. I finished at the post office and made the fool hardy decision to go on a mission. The sun is out, I haven’t seen it in months, my feet are wet- it’s all impaired my better judgment.

The mission? To find waterproof boots.  Completely practical. Almost a necessity considering the state of the streets and my feet. I’ll pop in a store or 2, get a pair that are reasonably cute or at least not hideous and then journey on home.  Seems genius really. First 2 stores have nothing remotely waterproof. Third is way out of my budget. I make my way sloshing up Broadway. It feels like an adventure, an expedition through urban Everglades. The streets are streams at best, swamps at worst. Every curb is a challenge as this is where the melted snow pools and if you’re really unlucky, where ice forms. Pedestrians form clusters at the curb, offering swears or giggles at absurdity and the difficulty of crossing the street. The world is strictly divided- those wearing water proof boots exuding confidence and fearlessness and those with out: timid and cautious, unsure of their footing.

I stopped at over 6 stores, all populated by people on the same mission as me. Shoe stores with water proof boots are getting out of the red today. Those without kicking themselves, really shooting themselves in the foot. At long-last I accomplished my goal. I now own silver with red accents rain boots. I put them on the moment the sales woman swiped my debit card and my persona immediately changed. Out on the streets I felt dry, warm, ready to take on any crosswalk.

Over confident it turns. Waterproof maybe, ice proof not at all. My  mission may be complete but before my walk is over I lose my footing and wipe out, my butt coming down hard in snow. Fortunately I’m young and resilient. Fortunately I missed a puddle. Fortunately little is bruised but my pride.

Oh winter, will you and I ever be friends?

from a Craigslist ad:

Free Snow!

Free Snow: feel free to come over and remove as much as you want off my driveway.

  • Location: Yorktown Heights * it’s NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests

Enlarged Prostate Behind the Desk

My official title is “Administrative Assistant” (yeck) and the tasks that go with that are exactly the ones you would expect. Data entry, answering phones, composing letters, memos, reports, sorting mail, etc, etc. When Mr. Big Boss Man (BBM) is in the building, I can expect a flashback to eras past. He’ll hand me a yellow sheet with his difficult scrawl and request I type it up for him. Not exactly a difficult task, but one rife with minor but crucial questions: Is that an M or an N? I could greatly improve the structure of that sentence, should I bother? What the fuck would I do without spell check?

On this visit I’m handed several sheets to “type up”. I narrowly avoid a sigh as I close twitter, blogroll, gmail, facebook, etc and open Microsoft Word. I glance at the sheets ripped from a legal pad. Double take. I peer closely at the words. There’s no mistaking the words and phrases popping out at me:

I had an infection and was unable to urinate.

…my enlarged prostate…

Unable to properly urinate, visiting the bathroom eight times during the day, and another six times interrupting my sleep…

I’m supposed to type THIS up? WHY is he asking me to do such a thing? Is this a cry for HELP? How the HELL am I supposed to react to this? If there is anything I can do to help you prostate Mr. BBM, please let me know. I’m so sorry you’re going through this.?

If I had ever visited my university career center would they have taught me how to behave in this situation? I just closed twitter/g-chat/facebook, I can’t even seek advice from my fellow office-job-working friends!

And so I did nothing. I pretended I was a machine typing out but not comprehending meaning. By the time he left on Friday, I had made not one single out of the ordinary comment, about his health or otherwise. I didn’t so much as give a meaningful look.

I can’t help but wonder (ha ha), was this a test and did I pass or fail?