Apartment Hunting, boom boom

We found out we’d have to move after sending our landlord a kind, intelligent message about the raise in rent and the change to a month to month lease on September 23.

I was still away doing a show. I did some legwork and he saw a handful of apartments. This was three days or so worth of agony (this is NY real estate after all). We put in an application on a place I didn’t even see on September 28. We felt sure.

We waited. And waited.

Two weeks of waiting, I had had enough. I scheduled a number of viewings on October 10. We saw four units that were fine and then… the one. We still hadn’t heard from apartment #1, but this one was so clearly “it” that we didn’t even care. We got our application in that day.

October 13. Find out the first application for the first apartment was rejected. Unclear reasons. We’re not married, our income is too low, our guarantors are out of state… the bottom line is that they’re obviously assholes so who cares. We found a better place anyway.

October 14. Today.

We find out we lost the second apartment. A hair’s breadth too late. I am heartbroken. I am exhausted.

I spend hours staring at a screen, sending emails, making appointments, completely unsure that I’ll find anything at all, alone and crying and frustrated because it’s NOT FAIR. It’s NOT FAIR that we are good people with a great rental history and good credit and amazing tenants and now it’s no no no no no no no.

And I am binging.

I can feel myself hurting myself because this is too hard. It’s too much. I can’t handle my own feelings of anxiety AND A’s, because his are strong too. I can’t do this much longer.

We’re living in an apartment that is completely packed up. I haven’t unpacked from my two months away. We don’t have fall or winter coats.

I am so tired of this. I am so scared we won’t find another place we love. I am scared we will be down to the wire with this move. I am scared that I won’t be able to get back on track… this month feels like it’s running away from me. So does this year.

Why did I get to have such joy to come “home” to such awfulness?

The things that make me happy are not making me happy because all that’s in my head is 1 bedrooms west of broadway pullman kitchen dishwasher laundromat across the street .5 miles from the A train sunny Hudson Heights steps from transportation roomy comfy converted uptown rent stabilized walkup low fee broker fee st nicholas eat in kitchen

My eyes are crossing and my heart is hurting and I’m hurting myself because I don’t know what to do.

Scrappy

I know a girl, my age, who is on Broadway right now in a featured role in Cabaret with Michelle Williams and Alan Cumming. She went to Juilliard.

I’ve bitched about this before, because it’s neverending. It’s hard to say that I am GLAD I didn’t get into Juilliard, but I try to remind myself of what I have that’s unique (a fantastic education, scrappiness, a sense of agency, etc). It’s not easy when I watch these girls, no more or less talented than me or any of my friends, seem to have smooth paths to success. They have teams with huge power, they have opportunities I don’t. Because of what’s on their resume.

my graduating class. imperfectly perfect.

my graduating class. imperfectly perfect.

So I often feel bad about this. I feel jealous and frustrated and small.

But I also know that I’m on a different road than they are. Just entirely different. And with the tools I have, my team, my skills, my scrappiness, I’m doing okay.

one time I didn't get picked to do something so I did it anyway because #idowhatiwant

one time I didn’t get picked to do something so I did it anyway because #idowhatiwant

Today I recorded a commercial voiceover demo. I’m really proud of it. I paid for it, a lot of money, but got a good deal and you know what? Did a fucking amazing job.

I fight harder. My cache is different. I am glad that my friends aren’t super skinny girls on network TV shows; my friends are those downtown theatre artists saying “hey, I’m making what I want to make,” and even starring on AMC shows but staying grounded and realistic and genuine and reading every. damn. day. I am proud of what I have accomplished with the tools I have. William Morris didn’t sign me, but someone did. Because I am who I am. Period.

scrappy but award-winning theatre

scrappy but award-winning theatre

(B, remember this next time you feel like shit, k?)

My demo is live. Check it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Oxor7SBEnY&list=UUyw8oawxDvhYkEAYNWMK31Q

#myfriends

#myfriends

Summer Showers

A huge droplet of water slapped the sidewalk in front of me, and I sidestepped towards the street, squinting upwards. A/C pee. I walked past the Post Office, and I felt another, like a single finger tapping the top of my head. As quickly as it took for me to look up from the ground at the offending tapper, the cement in front of me was being painted with quarter-sized water stains, dark at their center with just a bit of excess splashing in tiny pinpricks around the nucleus. The sky above the Trump Tower was bright– not the cloudless blue of many early mornings in the NYC summer, when the sun begins to burn the dew off the lawns of Central Park, but the earnest gray-blue of a sun that can’t decide whether it’s shining or crying.

As with all sudden shifts in climate in the city– whether a rainstorm, a traffic jam, or a celebrity leaving his theatre in Schubert Alley– the people began to move in flocks. They swept in running packs across Broadway, and huddled under the Starbucks awning, arm to arm with fellow refugees.

By now, the wet, round stains on the sidewalk had been washed into floods, rivulets of water coursing down the streets into the gutters, pooling in dips in the cement, ceaselessly pockmarked with the fall of new droplets. I wanted to stand in the center of the sidewalk and let the rain batter me with cool wetness, my shirt clinging to my back, face wiped clean of makeup, sandaled toes nearly submerged in a growing puddle. But I’m self-conscious in this city– surrounded by "others."

My one rebellion was to walk at a normal pace, to keep my chin up, to not avoid the backsplash from hundreds of feet slapping the saturated pavement. I reached the 59th Street station, and there was a rotunda of commuters, staring up, squinty-eyed, just as I glared, frustrated, toward a phantom A/C dripping mild water on my head. I push past them and swipe into the station, scraping my wet hair across my face, and smile.

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Scared, disappointed, lost (and hopeful)

Went to my friend T’s cabaret tonight. It was a benefit for a theatre company and featured a number of young Broadway stars (from Annie, Mary Poppins, Matilda, etc).

I was at a table with the people I so blissfully spent last summer with. They make me feel important. They make me feel like I could be someone; like I AM someone, and it’s just a matter of time.
But we talked about the show we did last summer.
And we talked about the movie adaptation (which is happening). And we talked about how I would play my character’s sister. Because I’m “sexy” now. I’m too old.
I’m too old.
I’m too old.
It’s over.
I will never play Jonatha again.

My heart feels like it’s breaking. It doesn’t feel fair. It doesn’t feel right. It feels like I was given a beautiful gift, but after a few months of enjoyment, it’s been taken from me.

Which isn’t a fair way to see it.
The girl who developed the character through a number of years and a number of readings was replaced by me. It’s the way of the world.

But it was supposed to be me.
They told me it was me.
They told me not to worry.
“13 till 30,” we said.

But it took too long. It won’t come to NYC till next year. Next year I’ll be 25. Wow.

And I can guarantee you that I’ll be too old to play 14, no matter what they said last summer.

The thing is, they still love me. They still talk effusively about working together. How my success is just a matter of time. And I believe them. I do. I wouldn’t be in this business, breaking my own heart, my own spirit, constantly, if I didn’t believe that I would make it.

But that comfort.
The comfort of a part I’m perfect for in a play I love.
The comfort of knowing something is coming, and I don’t have to be afraid of what’s next.
The comfort of having something that’s mine.

Since I left my company, since last summer ended, I haven’t had that comfort. I have been struggling hard, frustrated and broken, scared and yet somehow still hopeful, for the last year.

But to find that one comfort, the comfort of Jonatha and the summer that changed my life, gone? I feel untethered. Scared. I feel like hope isn’t enough. Hope is great except when you don’t have anything to rest it on.

Scared and hopeful.

Disappointed and hopeful.

I guess if I can keep the hopeful, I have something to hold on to.

Seismic Shifts

I’ve been thinking about what to write for a few days now, and I’m just now sitting on the couch, hoping to scratch some of it down. It’s going to be jumbled, but sometimes there’s poetry in chaos. My dad always said to start with a free write.

The window behind me is open a crack. The air is wet and full, but the breeze has a chill. It’s been a rainy June, but we’ve had a couple of miracle days. Days of perfection– bright blue skies, calm air, just enough warmth to release the sounds and smells of spring, as if every piece of the city was perfectly placed on its coordinates, suddenly allowing things to flow just right.

I have moments in this city, like I did yesterday on the way home from working with my boss while he was in rehearsal at the Barishnikov Arts Center on 11th Ave, where the pieces feel like they fit just right. I can glance at the skyscrapers uptown and wonder at how a homebody from Idaho made a life here. I’m not hungry, but I’m not overfull. Breath flows, unobstructed. Heading home in time for dinner, the sun just starting its descent over the Hudson.

I’m alone, usually, when this happens. It’s like those toys we had when we were kids– the beak of an eagle perched on your finger balances the whole bird. Miraculous. Also, temporary, and also, solo. If a bee lighted on the back of the small plastic eagle, it would crash down, all memory of balance gone. So I relish those moments– solo, balanced, and necessarily brief.

I have found that I am still very young. This is not shocking. I mean, I’m not crazy– I’m 24 years old and I’ve known I’m young for about as long as I’ve been alive. But I don’t have a life pattern yet. I have little to base what’s next upon. I was in school for 22 years– day care and preschool, elementary school, high school, boarding school, college. And now I’m entering my second year of true "adulthood." That’s not a very long time to develop of sense of what "life" is.

So I falter. I compare. I long for last summer’s career arc, and I pine for my college friendships. I am a different person now than I was two years, four years, ten years ago. Which surprises me, in some ways.

Perhaps personality develops through a series of catalysts. Choices we make that echo long after they’re done. Battles we fight until we can finally emerge, bloody and mutilated, but victorious. Sometimes the mere shape of the world around us– a high school, for instance, or a mother-daughter relationship– catalyze what’s next. I wonder how long I will keep changing. Will who I am ever cement? Or with every shift of the seismic plates, every strong Noreaster, will my "self" be changed a little bit too?

 I come from a town that is bigger than a town but smaller than a city. There were cul-de-sac suburbs and junky trailers off the highway, but where I lived there was a front yard and a backyard, an elementary school in walking distance, piano lessons, ballet class, and gymnastics. I had a younger sister and two parents who worked. My dad, a PhD and a Rhodes scholar, professor of English and author of creative nonfiction, my mother a labor and delivery nurse who often worked odd shifts but could be counted on, when home, to prepare stir fry or pesto pasta and knew when we should finish our last snacks so we had room for dinner. I had some friends from school– Heather, Keako, Andrew, Evan. We went camping in the mountains during the summer, alternately covered in dust and damp with lake water.

This was the structure of my life from age 6 to age 15. And yet, the inside is so much more complex. I was a difficult little girl– tempermental, moody, destructive, obsessive. My parents fought often, and for some time, slept in separate bedrooms. My mother sent money, and then refused it, to my drug-addicted cousins (there’s more than one), and she learned that her sister was in prison. My father still struggled to come to terms with his childhood sexual abuse at summer camp. It shuttered him. I didn’t know my sister, despite the fact that her room was next to mine.

The facts of my life are these:
I live with my boyfriend. I’m a professional actor. I’m a resident of New York City. I graduated summa cum laude as the salutatorian from college. I take the subway every day and see a therapist every week. My eyes are blue, or green, or gray, or a mix; no one can decide. My hair is blonde, or dark blonde, or light brown, or honey-colored; no one can decide.

Underneath, the struggle:
I can no longer see food without considering whether or not I should eat it.
I know when I’m depressed when I can’t read.
I am terrified that I have alienated the dearest friends I have.
All I really want is for people to love me as much as I love them.
I feel trapped and terrified and lost nearly every day.
I fantasize about a childhood that I know didn’t exist.
Sometimes I go through days in New York where every single person I see, I resent.
I want to write powerful personal essays like my father, but I don’t know where to begin.

Everything changes. It would take years and years to trace each seismic shift from its starting place, to its catalyst, to its change. There are patterns, of course. My triggers are familiar. Many of my dreams are the same.

But the way I see myself, the way I see the world, has transformed, and on more than one occasion.

I’m okay with that.

As long as I still find those moments where all the pieces of my life, my desires, my city, can balance momentarily on a finger. As long as I feel those sharp flashes of knowing I’m exactly where and what and who I’m supposed to be. The inside transforms the outside, and the same is true the other way around.

And maybe that makes me hope that I’ll never stop changing, that with each turn of the season and spin of the axis, I’m finding my balance on the point that feels just right, at least for a moment. And then I’ll fall off, only to tip and spin and flounder until I’ve found my perfect, temporary fit again.

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