Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Train of Work

If you know the transit system in New York City, take a close look and say what's wrong with this picture. If you really know the system, tell me how it happened, because I don't know.

I've been spending a lot of time on the subway system for a reason that really comes as a relief more than anything else: with the school year in full swing, tutoring work is coming back in force. I'm working with five different students on subjects spanning writing, math, chemistry, physics, English lit, US Government, and US/World history, plus a little computer skills and general organization. I still think this is the best non-acting related day job an actor can ask for. It strangely doesn't make me want to become a classroom teacher, just because I find the one on one work so much easier and more enjoyable. But it is a lot of fun. I've even been doing some at my boss' place which mean I also sometimes get to play with their three happy-go-lucky Portuguese water dogs.

This does mean that acting has taken a bit of a backseat in a way. I'm in a weekly acting workshop on Thursdays to brush up my Shakespeare, (first project is Camillo from Winter's Tale), but I haven't auditioned for anything in more than a week. That of course was for The Flea theater, whose auditions end today. I don't know what their timeline is for casting.

The basic problems are twofold. First, I'm busy with tutoring and stuff. But the second is that I've gotten picky. Last year I just wanted to prove I could act in New York, so I went out for anything and everything, paid, unpaid in freezing rain, clown-suits on street corners, whatever. I've now proven I can act here, so I'm getting more selective. Which is a good thing because it, not only does it mean I'm more likely to get something I enjoy, but it means I'm focusing my marketing on parts that I'm really appropriate for and will have a higher chance of being cast in.

But also it means I have to take the time to sit in front of my phone or computer and log in to actors access, or backstage, or Mandy, and submit myself to stuff. Instead of doing silly things like writing blog posts.

Like this one.


I think I'll go do something productive now.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Wandering my Afternoons

My life's been kinda packed this last week. And I can't remember a thing I did. I'm not sure how much I can ever account for myself without thinking pretty hard. I don't keep a daily diary, and I have hardly any fixed routine to anchor anything to. Not even my work day. I don't punch in at a set time, take my lunch, punch out and go to happy hour with the fellas after. I do sort of envy that life right now a bit. It might be kind of boring and repetitive, but at least it's organized.

Oh and it comes with a steady paycheck. That's something I haven't had in a few years. Not that I'm not getting paid, it's just not reliable.

I may not earn much money right now, but I'm picking up all kinds of skills, and as I'm starting to realize, I have a lot of free time. I feel like it's been about a full week since I had any unstructured free time.

Like when I took this picture. I was just wandering the upper east side, a bit hungry, heading home after a tutoring session and a walk in the park. I had my good camera with me for once, so I took this picture. how many people do you know who can do that? Wander a nice part of New York City at 4pm snapping photos. Not being a tourist. Not unemployed. Just happen to have some free time because of my lifestyle.

So. How do I have this lifestyle? Tutoring has started again. Between my current client list I have a 1 hour (or longer) appointment four days a week, and as my boss has pointed out, nobody's even taken a test yet, so I'm likely to get more from that.

I was also handed a great opportunity by a friend of mine and former coworker-- I'm now getting trained in basic web design, and getting paid a little bit for my trouble. Not a ton hourly, but I'm learning very useful and very employable skills with HTML, CSS, PHP and Drupal. I haven't brought it up yet, but once I master the basics of those, I might branch out a bit to Ruby on Rails to see what the world of web development is like. I've always like computers, and though the repetitive nature of coding has always made me cringe a bit, it's work I can take anywhere I can take a laptop and do on my own schedule.

I'm still waiting to hear from the folks at regarding my voiceover work. Hopefully should know what's going on with that in a day or two.

But most exciting of course is something that doesn't pay a dime. Tomorrow, I will be auditioning for The Flea Theater's resident company: The Bats. Hoping for the best!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

New Year, New Responsibilities

It's funny how, in the US, the first twenty years of lives the new year starts for us in September. The school year. So it is for me. It's a new year, not only because I've now been in the city for a year, but also now school starting again. As a tutor, that means I go back to work. Which is a very good thing. It's been kind of lean summer, money wise. Once I can get back to my students, I can stop paying rent out of my savings, and start putting something back in.

Not only that, but I've just been hired to do voiceover for, an internet guide to, well, the internet! I will be one of thee new voices on staff, and my profile is that of the guide to all things young and creative. They don't have scripts for us yet, but they will be using our demos and auditions to test drive a few things with study groups etc. and then hopefully have work for me soon! It's voiceover, so the hourly pay is fantastic, and the original invite to audition said they'd call me in two or three times a week, probably three hours a job. So I'm very happy about that.

Since it's a new year here, the second one, I feel like it's time to really start thinking about my long term responsibilities. And the main one of those that's looming in my mind, is that by July 2012, I will be 26, and no longer covered by my family's health insurance. I'll need my own. And since I'm not counting on being employed by a company that covers that expense, I'll need to navigate the murky waters of individual health care plans. Because after the things that've happened in my family lately, there's no way I'm going uninsured.

Similarly, since I'm not employed anywhere that gives me a 401k or similar, I've got to start thinking about retirement.  Grownup things. I've been putting things away into a small investment account for a couple years, and I realize that now is not the greatest time to invest in the short-term, but for the long term, when I'll want the money 40 years from now, it should go somewhere. So now that I'm on my way to being net profitable again, it's time to start managing those things myself.

I kinda wish they taught that stuff in school. Because as it stands I'm going to need to teach myself how all these things work.

Friday, September 2, 2011

525600 Minute Anniversary

When I exited Grand Central Station last night, I walked right past a someone playing bagpipes. It was almost a minute later that I realized, that one year ago, I would not have seen a bagpipe player in the street as normal. I've gotten used to things that would amaze most people. Life in a city with this many people is full of characters and events. And after a while, sadly, you start to take them for granted.

I have been living in New York for one full year, as of today. That makes this the first time I've lived in one city for a full year since I was 17 years old.

This photo is the home I made out of mostly an empty apartment over the course of a year. It feels a bit sparse , nothing inside it is fancy. But it's furnished and decorated, with electric heat and a/c. The walls are covered with memories from before New York.

I don't feel satisfied. I mean, I've made plenty of professional progress. I've been in three Off-Off Broadway shows, the last one paid on a union scale. I've performed the lead role in a short film. I've managed to live and pay for a one bedroom apartment in Manhattan by myself. But it feels a bit empty. Mostly because if someone sat me down and asked me for stories from my year here, I'd draw a blank.

Partially that's because of the competition. When you've push-started a car onto the German Autobahn, nearly gotten killed on a bike in the mountains of Peru, and ziplined off of the Great Wall of China, you become kind of a tough audience for yourself.

That and I think I've spent the vast majority of my time here preparing for the future. Most of the things I've done have been in an effort to get something else later. It feels like a long time since I've done something big for its own sake. I guess when you spend that much time preparing for the future, you don't really notice whatever is happening now.

But I have gained something: a genuine social life. Turns out when you stay in a place for a long time, you actually make friends. Not just people you have one great conversation over drinks and a couple days of hiking with. Friends you see every few days. You get to know their lives, significant others, music tastes, catch phrases. I hardly ever have to say goodbye anymore.

So, yeah, I miss adventure. Life feels a bit static. But it's good to have a simple, reliable set of people you know and trust.