Saturday, October 29, 2011

Happy... Halloween?

Because snow makes lots of sense right here, right now. I guess when stores start putting up Christmas decorations on October 15th, someone upstairs decides they should play along too?

It's been that kind of week. Discombobulated is the word that comes to mind. Like the way I realized just how rushed I've been every time I stop by my own home: after coming home from an audition, mucking my way through the "wintry mix", as my phone's weather widget calls it, I opened my fridge for a snack and found that I'd left my roll of plastic wrap on the top shelf next to the cheese and tortillas.

I've been bouncing around a lot. My job is all over the city, and even when I'm only working about six hours in a day, I will sometimes end up leaving at 9am and coming home at 10pm. It's all in the commute times between clients.

And then it ends up here tonight, after one audition (and possibly a callback-- I'll know by 3pm), I'll be going to my first Halloween party of the year, this one with a TARDIS in the bar. Apparently I've got two costumes this year. Two more than I have most years. Weatherizing them might get interesting (especially the one involving a lot of silver face paint).

Then tomorrow I meet a new client. Then I help an old client. Then I'm invited to party number two, with karaoke, and possibly with my second costume, if I can somehow find a way to get a nice dressy vest, suspenders, or both. May end up making do without.

After that, Monday, the real day, which I still don't know what I'm doing for, aside from seeing more clients, and possibly the Halloween parade, which I'd like to see. The problem is, the friends I've talked to about this idea are *over* it.

And then it's November. I'll have a performance on Thursday. I'll get to bill my clients for the month. And do laundry. I'm already out of clean socks, and my underwear supply is dwindling.

...and I'm pretty sure that was thunder I just heard behind me.

Here goes.

Saturday, October 15, 2011


I was recently offered a part I like in a performance I auditioned for. It took me two full days to even respond.

Work has been hectic. I went from not tutoring students to tutoring six students. Five of them have special needs. Two of them have me working in close connection with their psychotherapists. One of them I meet with at least five times a week.

I'm recording the voice of Avatarr, the smartass with all the best lines in the upcoming, fan-made video game, Wing Commander Saga. I'm being paid by a hilarious German dude named Anton in Euros, so long as I make the time to sit in my closet and yell things into a microphone about alien fighter spaceships and hit on any female character Avatarr comes in any kind of contact with.

I'm enrolled in a Shakespeare class that formally meets on Thursdays and normally has a free workshop on Tuesdays. I joke about it being the closest thing I do to church. Every week, I go to join the congregation while we share the words of a great book we all admire, led by a respected elder expert or two, drop off donations if we feel able, and then go out afterwards for refreshments and a social hour or three after. The space is a basement rehearsal room, the book is The Complete Works of William Shakespeare, the leaders are actor/directors, and the social hour happens to be in the downtown bar MI-5, but the idea is still kind of similar. Nice community. We're having a showcase night, for which my scene partner and I still need to learn lines.

I'm blogging for myself, backstage, and now have been asked to submit some of my favorite places to travel to Glenfidditch Explorers as one of their extensive panel of travel experts. Who knows if and when that will ever get done. I'm even still doing some couchsurfing stuff. I hosted one of my friends from my time in Shanghai a couple years back, and through her ended up sipping green tea with a half a dozen other travelers on the roof of a high rise downtown with a stunning view of just about every bridge on the East River just in time for sunset (see pic above). That was before we got stuck up there with no food or had the security guards try to throw us out. Makes me miss life on the road.

But in case you haven't noticed from the last few paragraphs, I've got a good handful of responsibilities tying me here in New York. Including now, an onstage performance with SWEET: Actors Reading Writers. I'll be reading a personal essay from published novelist Stefan Merrill Block.

So what do you think I should do now that I've got all these jobs and things to rehearse for? Add something else to do of course! I wouldn't want to get bored, now, would I?

So I'm making it official here and now: I am registering for National Novel Writing Month. By the end of November, I'll have the finished draft of a brand new novel.

Anyone care to join me?

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Drop Everything and Go

On Saturday afternoon, around 3pm, I was sitting in front of my computer in my Spanish Harlem apartment watching an old episode of a British Sci-Fi TV show in something like its thirty-second season, of which I've seen the latest six. I was waiting for the newest episode to come out in some form I could watch it. I don't think I was actually eating a bowl of cereal or sitting around in my underwear but I might as well have been, if it gives you an idea of the scene.

I won't say I was bored. I wasn't. Doctor Who is good stuff, if you're into that sort of thing. But I was sitting in front of a laptop, by myself, on a weekend.

Then I got a text message. It was my friend, Barry. It said "Hey I know it's last minute, but if you want to take the train out to Montauk tonight, you're welcome to stay here."

If stopping a spoonful of cereal halfway to my mouth while I'm mostly undressed, crouched in front of a computer screen helps get the gist of the image across, feel free to imagine it that way. I knew almost nothing about Montauk. I knew it was on the end of Long Island, and I vaguely remembered it mentioned in some movie I'd seen. That was it.

Didn't matter. That was all I needed.

I jumped out of the chair, called up Barry and started pacing. He was apologetic. He wanted to hang out, but it turned out there were no trains. Since I'd need to be back in the city by the next evening, it might not be worth the travel time. There was a bus, but it either left the upper east side at 5:30 and got in at 9:30pm, or left there at 3:30. And since it was already after 3:00pm...

I thought for a moment. Back at my computer, after a little searching, I pulled up the timetable and took a good look at that 3:30 bus. It made stops all along the east side before leaving, the upper east side, the closest stop to me, was the first. It passed just south of Grand Central Station around 4:00pm. Perfect. If I timed things just right...

I jumped up, packed a bag, called Barry up again to say I was coming, and dashed out into the rain. I raced up to 125th street to grab an express subway to beat the bus down to grand central. I swung out in time to grab more cash from an ATM for the bus fare, and rolled right up to the stop less than two minutes before the bus itself did. I was on, and on my way.

Getting on the bus felt good. But weirdly, what felt better was running through the rain with the bag on my back, out to catch the subway. Because once I was on the bus I was safe. While I was running, I was on an adventure. And it's been a long time since I had a taste of that. I'd forgotten how much I liked it.

That said, the evening and next day was some of the most relaxing time I've had away from "The City," as everyone calls it out here. Montauk is a beach town just east of The Hamptons. Technically it might be part of The Hamptons, depending on who you ask. But if you ask the people at the kinds of places Barry and I went, they would probably not take kindly to the insinuation. But that was because we were going into the kinds of places that didn't allow cell phones, yapping dogs, or, frankly, tourists.

So my Saturday went from sci-fi TV on my computer alone to seafood, drinks on the beach, watching mysterious paper lanterns and fireworks off in the distance... it was not how I'd pictured that day ending when I got up that morning. And then of course the next morning was more good food, more beach time, and then even more good food (first ever lobster roll at the place that made them famous, along with their seasonal pumpkin crab and lobster bisque). It was a great way to spend a weekend. All thanks to one text from a good friend.

Though I have to admit, the ability to pack a bag in under five minutes does help.

Next time you have a chance to just drop everything and go somewhere. Do yourself a favor and just go.
This entry cross-posted to my travel blog: JTrek.