City Girls Leave the City

It’s easy to get trapped in New York City. Everything you need is here, that is part of the Big Apple allure. One day you wake up and realize you haven’t been outside the five mile radius in six months. NYC and you, you’ve become that couple, the one who spends every moment together. You need time apart, you know it’ll be good for you. But it’s not easy to pry yourself away from a love like New York, you need to be up for the challenge.

When Sheep Meadow starts looking like this, it usually means it’s time for a change of scenery.

One sunny Sunday morning, three city girls woke up and decided they were up for the challenge. They put on sunscreen (no other make-up),  threw on t-shirts and sneakers (outfits usually confined to the gym), packed their backpacks (a bag so functional it’s not even considered an accessory) with bottled water and snacks, and raced to Grand Central Station. After sprinting through the terminal with barely enough time to buy train tickets and coffee (both given the same priority), they boarded the 10:07 AM train with not a minute to spare. They settled into the cushioned seats of Metro North and spent the next hour watching the scenery change. The apartment towers of East Harlem fading into the manicured lawns of Westchester followed by the Hudson River landscapes of Putnam County.

A pleasant seventy minute train ride and the conductor is announcing their destination station. The town of Cold Springs: a small riverside town surrounded by considerable hills with a copious number of hiking trails all accessible from public transportation. They exit the train and survey the unfamiliar surroundings. Standing on the town’s main street, they can see a smattering of antique shops and cafes. No taxis, not a Starbucks or bodega in sight.

The three ladies on this adventure are myself and my two best friends: Charlotte and Miranda.

They decide to buy sandwiches and fruit, a picnic for the hike. An ancient deli presented itself, its painted sign woefully faded, the Hostess products on the counter giving the distinct impression they’d sat there unsold for months. The homely woman behind the counter is confused by their requests for whole wheat toast and no mayonnaise. She only has white or multi-grain bread. “Multi-grain is fine,” they say, rolling their eyes. They leave the shop, sandwiches in hand, disappointed the price was no cheaper than that of sandwiches in the city. “And they didn’t even have avocado!”

It is a land of large houses, yards, elaborate gardens, and supermarkets with parking lots. All-American fixtures, but strange to eyes accustomed to skyscrapers and shoebox apartments.

Next time an awful smell envelops a New York City street, I will think of these roses.

They turned around a corner, started down a path, and the next moment they are surrounded by thick woods. No other people in sight, no signs of civilization, apart from the occasional yellow trail marker. They sally forth, dappled by sunlight shining through the trees.

We would have been utterly dependent on the map had we not had Miranda’s phone. “Navigating the wilderness on an iPhone,” was her ironic proclamation.
Our toady friend. We also made friends with a lizard who’d lost most of his tail.

As they hike, they remember stories from summer camp, share plans for the summer, and check GPS from an iPhone that still has service. They befriend a toad, pose for pictures, and dish about the various men in their lives. The exclamations of “this was such a good idea”, “we should get out of the city more often”, and “it’s such a perfect day” are numerous.

They hike for several hours, stopping to eat their sandwiches (“not bad”), to admire views, and bemoan the blueberry bushes that are not yet baring fruit. They all agree this is the best exercise they could hope for and a fantastic way to spend a Sunday. “Let’s promise we will do this more often,” they vow.

Me, admiring the view.

They stand at a vista point. “This is higher than the Empire State Build. Breathtaking.”

The hike ends with a long stint down hill and some unsure footing. The woods ends abruptly, cut off by the highway that leads back to the town. For ten minutes they walk on the shoulder of the road, no sidewalks in these parts, passed only by the occasional car.

That hike would earn anyone an ice cream, but as city girls they opt for frozen yogurt covered in blackberries and chopped mango. The next train departs in 30 minutes: the perfect amount of time to stroll down to the river and to finish their frosty treats.

Small town waterfront. Couldn’t have asked for a better day.

They sit by the water in the early evening and wonder if they’ll ever move to the suburbs. The thought isn’t exactly appealing, but in a future with a family- who knows? What they do know, right in that moment, is that as much as they love New York City, they love leaving New York City too.

Other NYCs: The Bonafide Brooklynite

It seems like a lifetime ago. A horrendously awkward lifetime ago. The first day of freshman year. The day I met Joel. We both wore plastic-framed glasses and were approximately the same weight. Perhaps because of these similarities, we became friends. And have been ever since. My first trip to NYC as a independent adult was with Joel. My maiden voyage to Central Park, we made together.  I remember exactly the section of grass where we sat, admiring the fantastic May weather and the boats on the pond in our periphery.

I thought of those memories while formulating this post, going so far as to dig up some old pictures of the trip. I found a gem of a picture, a “doozy” if you will, taken on a rock formation in Central Park. A simultaneous embarrassment and relief: thank GOD we don’t look like that any more.  My hair is pulled back into a frizzy pony tail, unflattering plastic spectacle frames create rectangles across my eyes. I am outfitted in a Planned Parenthood t-shirt, at least a size too small, highlighting the Freshman 15 located at my belly. Joel is on my left, looking about five years younger than I, a believable fourteen. A “Jew-fro” with no hereditary basis crowns his head, a goofy smile across his face. We are eighteen/nineteen at it’s worst, “the prime of life” eluding our uncomfortable appearance.

I was tempted to post the picture. There is no way you would ever look at that photo and recognize me as I am today. But,

The Financial Goals of a Starving Artist

Starving artist. Broke. Living more or less paycheck to paycheck. These all describe my current way of life. Extremely budgeted, I’m very conscious about everything I spend money one. Currently, I’m not worrying about someday having kids or saving to buy buying a house. Right now, I’d just like to be a little more comfortable.

I believe these are all very much attainable in the near future.

  1. Buy fresh flowers once a week. They make me happy and instantly transform a space.
  2. Order orange juice and coffee with brunch instead of “I’m good with water, thanks.”
  3. Embrace my love of macarons, not think about how one can buy a whole box of cookies for the cost of one of these sweet little morsels.
  4. See plays that aren’t just on http://studentrush.org
  5. Have the ability to say “Next rounds on me”.
  6. Have all my underwear be cute, not too embarrassing if caught with my pants down, underwear.
  7. To just take a cab after 3AM, not deal with waiting 20 minutes for the subway or worry about getting mugged.
  8. Shop according to what I want, not what’s on sale. Buy a pair of red polka-dotted sandals because they will make me smile all day, even if I just wear them three times a year.
  9. Spa day. I’ve never had one.
  10. Annnd one big one: Go backpacking around Europe. It is such a cliché, I have to do it. And I have to do it in my 20’s- only 4 years and one month left (my birthday’s in July)!

    Thanks for reading! Until we meet next post. Or check me out on Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat @newyorkcliche. Leave a comment with your financial goals, whether you’re “starving” or not!

Other NYCs: The Sports Fanatic with an Alter Ego

There was a time three summers ago when my blog was in potential danger. It was being watched meticulously. I had signed a contract with a social media clause. One post too many and the whole thing could have been shut down- even worse than loosing my job. I knew my manager was reading it when he mentioned something he could have only known from a previous post, accompanied by a wink for emphasis. All summer he read my blog like it was his job, and indeed, it was.

By the end of the summer, he morphed from boss to friend, from monitor to actual reader. I’m still grateful he never shut me down, many a manager would have done so. Then again, there is probably no other authority figure in the world who owns the title of “Lord of Misrule” as his alter-ego. Charismatic, talented, inspiring, and he’ll instantly make you feel comfortable- even when you know he’s reading the blog you’re not supposed to be writing. See for yourself:

Name/prefered pseudonym: The Godfather [that’s one I haven’t heard before…]

Borough and neighborhood: Astoria, Queens

How are you a New York cliché? I get too wrapped up in local sports, I’m a musical theatre snob, I believe in the Miracle on 34th St.

They say no one who lives in New York is actually from New York. Where are you from? …um, New York? Well, really, Long Island, so everyone can just interchange their favorite New Jersey & Staten Island jokes and apply them here…

Bloomberg is banishing you from NYC. You have 24 hours before you have to pack up and leave for ever. How do you spend them? I gather up all my talented friends, who I think are at their very best when they’re all together, and produce the greatest show no one has ever seen – something we totally can do in 24 hours. In a twist at the 23 hr. 30 min. mark, I shave my beard and go into hiding in Brooklyn (no one will think I’m there) because there’s no way my fiance is leaving NYC!

What restaurant/bar you keep going back to, even though you’ve been meaning to try a dozen others? I’m so happy to have found a go-to ‘wings & beer’ joint at Dillinger’s on 30th Ave/47th St in Astoria. 30th Ave has a great run of restaurants including Sugar Freak, Matsu Sushi & Rizzo’s Pizza (technically on Steinway of of 30th Ave.).
Hot dogs or pizza? This is a tough call as the two greatest pizza places are on Long Island (Umberto’s in New Hyde Park and, its sister, Village Pizzeria) and I’m a big baseball guy so I have to have two dogs and a beer at CitiField or Yankee Stadium… I’ll go Pizza. Such tough questions!
So you live in NYC, but what’s one super-touristy thing you secretly love? I was in Times Square for the first time this past New Year’s which the late, great Dick Clark made me believe was the craziest place on Earth. Now, granted, I was nearly 20 stories above it all, but from 11:58pm, 2011 until 12:04am, 2012 was the most amazing experience. The energy emanating from the street couldn’t be matched… And, my opinion, walking through Midtown on St. Patrick’s Day is far crazier than walking through pre & post New Year’s Eve.
Ever had a run-in with a celebrity (A-D List)? It’s a tangent to my job. Last week I was in the same nook of a hallway as the cast of ‘Person of Interest‘ (do you not watch it? you should!).

You totally saw something weird on the subway or street today (you may not have registered it was weird because you are jaded), what did you see?  When the weather gets warmer, the N train just gets stranger.

What is your favorite fictionalized New York? How does it compare with reality? ‘When Harry Met Sally’. Now that I have written that answer, I have to go back and watch because I may have lived it!

Plug something! Be it something you are involved in, your significant other/roommate/cat is involved in, or just something you think is extra-special going on in NYC. I will always plug the fancy group I have produced [By The Mummers]– today we seem to be dormant, but that can change at the drop of the hat. My alter ego Lenny Burrows is trying to throw the first pitch at a AAA baseball game to promote the Sterling Renaissance Festival this summer. And if you find yourself a Disney fan, @DillosDiz.

Thanks “The Godfather” (really? you made me call you that? I don’t even understand how it applies to you!) for gracing us with your presence for my Other NYCfeature!! Now I very much want to watch “When Harry Met Sally” again (for about the 10th time) and I want to go to my first (yes, I’ve never been!) Yankees game. I’m rooting for ya to throw that first pitch- it would be positively wonderous!
What do you think of this series? Love it so much you want featured? Fabulous! Email NewYorkCliche@yahoo.com.

Playing Possum: Meeting My Missed Connection

[continued from The Case of the Wild Goose at Strawberry Fields]

When confronted with an uncomfortable situation involving a romantic prospect, I am not myself. I’m not even human. My confidence and pride threatened, my first instinct is to freeze, essentially play dead. I’m an opossum, falling over in the path of an attractive male. If I don’t exist…he can’t see me. Not many animals are less attractive than opossums.

Which is uglier? The possum, or my crude photo editing?

This affliction dates back to pubescence; I spent most of high school pretending my romantic interests didn’t exist. This is a tactic commonly used by teenaged girls. The thing is, usually they’re terrible at masking their feelings;  giggles, knowing glances, and twirling hair swiftly betray the true emotion. But little ol’ me with a natural proclivity for acting? I was so brilliant at acting like I never gave boys a second thought that they never gave me a second thought. Looking back, it’s no surprise I didn’t have a date for prom.

For the most part, I’ve grown out of this. But catch me off guard, give me no time to think, and I revert back to my primordial ooze teenaged self. Charm, wisdom, and grace replaced with a ratty-looking worm-tail as I lie in the road, frozen. This is exactly what happened when I went on a wild goose chase, searching New York for a man I had had a brief connection with. Not expecting to actually find him, I was agog when there he was in Strawberry Fields, the one and only place I had thought to look. A possum comes face to face with a wild goose? Of course she’s going to play dead, those birds are scary.

The minute I saw him, my heart stopped. So I immediately pretended he was the farthest thing from my mind. I scurried around Strawberry Fields, the feeling of an unsightly worm-tail dragging behind me. I tried to regain some of my wit, composure, human-sized brain- any antidote to my opossum affliction. I snapped some pictures with my camera, taking them for no other reason than to have something to do. After a handful of truly pitiful photos, I had a revelation. I did have something to do: I would blog about this. Oh yeah, I’m a blogger, not a marsupial! I’m creative, witty, and brave- not a passive opossum! My pictures improved and I started to feel more like myself, my phantom tail shrinking from behind me.

The scene at Strawberry Fields. The object of my attention is somewhere in this photo. If you can figure out which he is, I may declare you an even better detective than myself.

I stopped worrying about how to approach my wild goose and just started enjoying the moment. I’ve walked through Strawberry Fields countless time, never really thinking the man it honors.  How every day, thousands of people come together to lay flowers and think of his spirit captured in a single word. How every second, thousands are connected through his music. I decided to take in the scene and “imagine all the people living life in peace”. I sat down on a bench.

The “Imagine” memorial to John Lennon is covered daily in flowers, “Strawberry Fields Forever”.

 “Hey!” the guy seated next to me exclaimed. I turned my head. “Oh! Hi!” I said, taking a moment to place him. “It’s you from…back with the listener guy.” “Yep.” He said, and smiled. Ok, so I didn’t need the moment to place him, he was my wild goose! I had purposefully sat down next to him, pretending not to notice him, figuring I’d eventually break the ice. But he beat me to it!

“You’re following us, aren’t you.” he said, clearly joking. I smiled, taking the question far more seriously than he meant me too, “Yeah, I guess I am.” I said thoughtfully. “I’m kidding.” He said quickly, “It’s just funny how you’ll run into the same people in this city.” “Yes, yes it is.” I replied. If he only knew…

The possum and the wild goose finally face to face. We sat on the park bench, getting to know each other a bit. Right off we had a lot in common. Our past- growing up in California as only children- and present- both artists, he is a painter in Brooklyn. Recently moved to New York, college educated, the ever-present good vibes, and calm, comforting presence. His mother sat on the other side of him for a few moments and I could tell she liked me. And was just tickled her son was potentially picking me up. When he pulled out his phone to take my number and it was a sad-looking flip phone. Much like my own. I’ve long said I am searching for a man who doesn’t consider his iPhone second only to his penis…

And yet, he’s not the guy for me. Why? Because he never used the number I myself plugged into his phone. He never called me. As simple as that. Wild geese fly away and you never see them again. Possums stop playing dead and carry on with living.

It’s a great story and nice to leave it at that. I think in the past, I’ve been to drawn to the romance of meeting someone, of having that great “how we met” story. I have a dozen entries to prove it. Now I want to try to meet someone in a purely pedestrian way- through friends. I’ve never done that before. So, who wants to set me up?

Happy Fleet Week: Sailors Swarm the City

Happy Memorial Day weekend everyone! Kick off of summer!! How are you spending the weekend? At the beach? BBQ-ing? Picnic-ing? Beer garden-ing?

I plan to spending Memorial Day weekend doing some sailor scouting. That’s right ladies (and gentlemen). Fleet Week is here in New York City!

Fleet Week

Sailors are swarming the city. The boats arrived Wednesday, a day I was in Times Square seeing Potted Potter (cute, fun, worth the comp tickets I scored). Groups of men looking like they wander off the stage of Anything Goes drifted through the bright lights on all corners of Broadway. It was a surreal sight.

fleet week sailors

So far my interactions with the seamen have been limited. A “You boys are hard to get passed” as I tried to walk by a slow-moving (read: weren’t walking at typical Manhattanite speed) group of them on the side walk and a grin to the ridiculous line, “How you doing?” delivered by a naive baby-face. Perhaps my next post will have the title “How to Snag a Sailor”. We can only hope.

Next week my “Other NYCs” feature will continue, I have a New York sports fanatic and a bonafide Brooklynite on deck.  Until then, enjoy the weekend (that goes for those of you who don’t celebrate Memorial Day as well), hope we get some sun!

P.S. A big thank you to the 3 lovely ladies who commented on my “Four Years” post. I needed comments, yours meant a lot to me.

Four Years In NYC

Four years ago today, I stood in the doorway of my college apartment, surveying the scene. My room an explosion of belongings that needed to be packed. My desk littered with souvenirs- a graduation cap, a program from my final college performance “Extremities”, a huge stack of papers awaiting their fate: the recycling bin or the filling folder. My waste-paper basket full to the brim with tear streaked and snot-filled tissues. There were a million things I needed to do, I was moving to New York City in four short days; so, true to college form, I procrastinated. I sat down at my desk, opened my ailing Thinkpad laptop and began my first blog post ever, titling it “Four Days“. I let the words flow from my fingers, unlike most of my later posts, not concerning myself with story arch. I had little idea of where my life was going, aside from location and the same went for my fledgling blog. Would I have anything to write about once I moved? Only time would tell.

New York Cliché’s 4th blogiversary: a time for reflection and cake!
(click image for photo credit)

Well, time has told. Here I sit, four years later perhaps to the minute, in my little apartment in the heart of Manhattan. There are parallels- my room is in some state of packing, story arch is not the focus of this post, and the path of my life is still unsure- perhaps more so than ever. I could stop there, leave it at that, taking comfort in ambiguity. But I’m brave, I am. I’ve said it before, “I am brave”, but actions speak louder than words.

I feel expected to sugarcoat my life. Everyone else is, and it’s so easy to do. You can make everything look perfect on Facebook- like you’re always smiling, always busy doing amazing things with the best and most attractive friends, your relationship is perfect, and all your accomplishments are significant. This is the norm. I talk to my friends, have a drink and an actual conversation with them, and then I go online and feel sickened by how airbrushed our lives are. I feel like Holden Caulfield, I want to cry and call everyone a phony. I sit in Central Park, my doubts weighing heavy on me. I don’t want to reveal them to anyone, not even my best friend. And there’s an irony of Woody Allen proportions: I’m ashamed of my insecurities and ashamed I’m to scared to admit those insecurities to anyone. Everyone on my newsfeed is getting married or getting into grad school. What’s wrong with me? Why don’t I have it figured out?

Four years ago, I was so sure of what I wanted to do with my life. I was moving to New York, I was going to be an actor, and fuck anyone who said I couldn’t do it. Four years of living in NYC, I no longer have that confidence. I am unsure of my talent, and beyond that, unsure I have the relentless drive and perseverance that is even more important than raw talent. “What’s my motivation?” -the old actor cliché. “Where’s my motivation?” is my more current dilemma, one that can be paralyzing.

This picture of me, (c) Howard Kerrart, strangely captures my feelings about life right now. The last grasps of my childhood that seems further and further in the distance, perhaps leaving the “dark age” of my early 20’s, and what lies ahead? No one knows. With all the possibilities of symbolism, it’s a great picture, no?

As I typed that last paragraph, tears rolled down my checks. Part sadness, yes, but more so a release. It’s something I’ve needed to admit. Something I’ve needed to say. It’s vulnerability: my biggest fear, and we’ve all heard the best way to manage fear is to confront it.

Four years in NYC, two months from turning 26, and so much is unsure. I’m not sure I can give up on acting, yet. I’m not sure what else I want to do. I doubt whether I’ll ever fall in love. I’m not sure I’ll ever want kids. I’m not sure if I want to stay in New York City. I’m not sure where else I’d want to go.

Yet, in four years, I have figured somethings out for sure. I know for sure, when I am on stage and performing a character, I feel incredibly fulfilled and in-my-element. I know I’ve brought many people joy from my performances. For sure nothing makes me feel more accomplished than connecting with a person, watching their face light up with laughter because of something I did. For sure I am not happy working behind a desk. I know for sure I will never again date a 19 year-old. I know I am not giving up on love. I know for sure I have amazing friends in New York. I know I have people who would listen to my insecurities and fears, and be more than happy to help me anyway they can, if I wasn’t scared to ask. For sure that conversation would have me crying (I am unsure if I’m ready for that.) I know just typing all this is a step in the right direction.

One thing I know, without a doubt, is I am immensely proud of this blog. It is something I control 100%- the polar opposite of the acting world, in which I only control my performance, a comparatively small percentage of a whole piece. Sometimes, it is my creative solace. I am so grateful to each and everyone of you reading this, whether you’ve stuck with me for four years or four days, for being a part of my solace. Thank you. Happy Birthday, NewYorkCliche.com!

I’m looking toward the future. To figuring things out, getting motivated, having no need for airbrushing.

Another thing I know for sure? I love New York City. Thank you for four fantastic years.