It seems a nearly impossible task to sum up these last few days in one blog post. But I’m going to give it my best shot. Here's week one. More to come soon.
I mentioned two job interviews scheduled for my first full day in the city. Well, God is indeed amazing, and after less than 24 hours in the city, I was hired as a nanny by a family in Brooklyn. Liam is a year old with blond curls and an enormous personality. Love him already. I spend a few hours each weekend at their place so Mom can get some errands done around town. The other interview, for Little Maestros, was a dud. I didn’t like the vibe of the place anyway. Ever get the sense that you’re being viewed as a disposable piece of merchandise? Yeah. Not the folks you want to work for.
Now for the interesting stuff!
Thursday, June 17
My interview for 10:45 Little Maestros is cutting into my morning audition for Jekyll and Hyde. I leave the sun-yellow-glaring Hungarian church, the basement of which houses the Little Maestro offices, and take a few trains to the West Side. This is my first open call. I arrive sweaty and disoriented. It’s one thing not to understand the city and public transportation, but for anyone who has never been to an Equity casting call, it’s a whole other world. There should be an easy-to-read guide book for kids like me. I not just green. I’m “positively phosphorescent.”
Jekyll and Hyde is my introduction to Equity, firsthand. The monitor has a list for Equity Member Candidates (EMCs, or those working to join the union) and non-Equity actors. Equity actors have pre-arranged appointments, and he calls those lucky ones six at a time every 20 minutes. If there’s a no-show, an EMC fills the slot as an alternate. Once the monitor has run through the list of EMCs alternates, non-Equity kids get a chance. There are thirty-something “non-eqs” today. I’m number twenty-six. It’s 5:10, and the monitor stops us at number eleven. No more for today. But we’re invited to come back for the open call the following Friday.
Friday, June 18
This morning, I show up early for the 9:30 Baltimore Centerstage EPAs. It’s in the AEA building which is massive. I feel very small and young here. Someday, I’ll be a proud member. I sit and wait with a couple dozen actors, and most of them audition with monologues. I don’t have one. I’m singing because I know their big musical for next season is The Wiz. Do mi sol mi do. But every singer I hear through the thin-enough walls is black. An interesting trend. Ten minutes. Twenty minutes. Every few auditions is some gorgeous diva belting out Ragtime or Porgy and Bess. I double-check the casting call in Backstage, and whaddya know? It’s gonna be an all-black cast in the tradition of the original 1970s cast. Well shoot. I’m as white and freckled as they come. I gather my bags and slink out the door, take the elevator sixteen floors down to the lobby, and tiptoe past the man at the shiny, massive front desk. Why do I feel like I need to whisper? Probably because I still feel very small and humbled. Little fish. Big pond.
And it’s back to Times Square. And home. No more auditions today.
I meet Taryn and her friend Jeremy in the East Village for lunch at this amazing Japanese ramen restaurant at 10th Street and Fourth Avenue. It's called Ippudo. Apparently, the place has been reviewed several times by the NYT, and anyone who’s anyone goes here at least once. Jeremy is really nice and conversational. I always appreciate when people are easy to talk to, since I can get a little awkward and freeze up when the conversation seems forced. He’s from Redmond and is a med student like Taryn. He’s actually moving into my building for this weekend. It’s nice to know somebody nearby.
That night, Taryn and I walk down a few streets to another friend’s apartment. Christina and Gabe are grilling Mexican food on their rooftop as a last hurrah before everyone splits for the summer. The guacamole is amazing. And the margaritas are heavy on the tequila. (Rachel, I now understand how quickly it goes to your head!) The sun sets while we’re on the roof, and I can see the Chrysler Building in all its glittering gaiety. Not much beats the New York skyline on a summer night.
After dinner, we catch a cab to a club in the village that’s hosting a private party for Cornell med students. There’s an open tab, so I order a Blue Moon. The music isn’t my style, but I’m fascinated by the walls. They’re covered in what looks like micro-suede couch cushions of all sizes and colors. The people are friendly enough, and the beer is nice at the end of a hot day, but I don’t quite jive with it all. Gabe asks me how I like it, and I tell him it’s fine. “You sure you don’t want another drink?” I tell him I’m fine. I’ve had plenty for one night. He seems mildly amused. He asks about Whitworth and what it’s like. He knows it’s private and “religious.” I give him my scoop, about how I love everything about Whitworth, and how much it means to me that we don’t have a ton of rules and doctrine being shoved down our throats. I tell him Whitworth is great about fostering discussion and welcoming tough questions. I tell him about the Big Three: no alcohol, no co-hab, and no “disruption of community” (such an umbrella term). I’m pretty sure I start looking like an alien to him. “You mean, no sex?” Oh boy. “Yeah. It happens but if that’s your thing, there are plenty of other places to go.” I make a few comments about how less alcohol and such make for a more conducive learning environment. I want to stuff a sock in my mouth. It all makes sense to me, but I know this is coming across as totally bonkers to a 31-year-old who spent eight years in the Air Force before going to med school. “So, you’re pretty religious then.” Oh how I hate that word. “Religious is a pretty narrow term,” I tell him. “As clichéd as it sounds, it’s a relationship for me, more than a set of rules. At the end of the day God is number one in my life, and I try to live like he would have me live.” I tell him a few more things about me and God and my take on faith, consciously avoiding any language that might be taken as trite, preachy, or hyper-conservative from somebody just asking a few harmless questions. I try not to spill my guts. But I do my best to be honest and open with him, too. It’s a careful balance. At the end of the night, I pray that Gabe takes whatever came out of my mouth and hears it the way God would have him hear it, because goodness knows I'm about as eloquent as Moses.
It’s funny. I went to a Christian college for four years and not once did I really share anything substantial about my faith with a “non-believer.” I have a feeling I’ll grow more as a Christian here than I ever imagined possible.
Saturday, June 19
In my apartment, I explode in a hurricane of homemaking. I unpack all my clothes and give them a new home in lots of drawers and closets. I marvel at Taryn’s empty sock drawer. It’s organized with cut-up Ritz Cracker boxes to keep things straight and separated. A girl after my own organized heart! I spread myself around the bathroom and explore all the kitchen cabinets. It’s fun having my own space!
Today is also my first day nannying for Liam. Hilary, his mom, spends the first part of the morning with us. We take the subway out to Fort Greene Park to a Greenmarket which is kind of a like an extra-hipster Farmers’ Market. I push an empty stroller most of the way. He’d rather walk with Mom and explore on his own. This kid is great, but he’s going to be a handful when he’s older! Back at their apartment, I give Liam his lunch and finally get him to go down for a nap while Hilary is at the store. She arrives at 3:00 on the dot with $60 cash for me. Not bad, considering I wasn’t banking on any income this summer! God is faithful to provide, and I, as usual, am immensely humbled.
Sunday, January 20
I make plans with Jeremy to meet downstairs at 10:20 so we can walk to church together. He goes Redeemer Presbyterian Church, the church Taryn goes to as well and recommended to me earlier this spring. I’m all set to go when I turn the doorknob the wrong way and it comes off in my hand. I am stuck in my own apartment. Already sweating with mild panic, I call Jeremy. “I’d come downstairs, but my doorknob just came off, and I’m stuck in the apartment!” So he comes to my rescue and lets me out from the other side of the door. I jimmy the thing well enough to get it to lock. “I’ll worry about fixing this after church.”
Redeemer’s morning service is more traditional than the evening service. But I like it. The music is classical but beautiful with brass and hymns and an organ. It reminds me a little of chapel at Whitworth. :) The sermon is fantastic, and the pastor makes me think, which has become quite the accomplishment the longer I’ve been in school. There is a slew of volunteer opportunities and groups for me to get involved in. It’ll be a perfect way for me to meet some people and strike up a few conversations. I’m going back to the evening service next week.
Back at my apartment, with the doorknob securely in place, I embark upon a deep-clean of the kitchen. I scour the refrigerator and purge it of all expired foods and unidentified Tupperware. The cabinets get a good wipe-down, and I organize the spice cupboard. Yep. Alphabetically. It’s even inventoried. The stovetop gets a good scrub, and soon everything is shiny and smelling like soap.
Monday, June 21
Today, I tackle the floors. Armed with a broom, plenty of hot water, and Pine Sol, every room is soon dust- and dog hair-free, not to mention that the whole place smells wonderful. There’s just something about having a nice clean living space. Clutter I can handle (have you seen the way I can take over a dorm room?), but the dirt has to go. Happy to have that done.
Tuesday, June 22
As if there hasn’t been enough re-hashing of The Phantom of the Opera, yet another composer has decided to write a musical of the same title. The Players Theatre casting call is at 10:00, and I arrive at 9:30 to sign up, but there are already two dozen names before mine. I make a mental note to disregard the sign-up time and just come as early as I can next time. I sing 16 bars of “Tell Me On A Sunday”—poorly. Everybody has their days. Better luck tomorrow.
For a more productive turn today, I make a trip to Trader Joe’s at Union Square. This is cheap by New York standards, and the place is packed. The line is literally halfway around the store. But it’s worth it. Several weeks’ worth of groceries for $63. I cram it all—foolishly—into two eco-friendly totes and carry it home. My shoulders are numb and knotted by the time I walk through the door. Regardless, I’m happy to stock my own fridge with all the food I love. Call me ridiculous, but it’s one of those homey things I’m learning to take pride in.
Wednesday, June 23
Oklahoma auditions are at Ripley Grier Studios at 520 Eighth Ave. It’s a touring production based in Florida, and when I show up for the 9:00 sign-in, there are already 113 girls on the list. I’m 114. They tell us, “If you’re not a strong dancer, if you just move well, go home.” I swipe on an extra coat of mascara, decide to gamble, and stay. “Sing 16 bars from the show or in the style of the show.” I sing 16 bars of “It Might as Well be Spring” and, thankfully, sound much nicer than yesterday’s audition. And that’s it. Show up. Sit and wait for four hours. Sing for thirty seconds. Go home.
But I don’t go home. I head to The Producers Club to audition for a show called Karate Tango. The wait is much shorter, and the monitor is really friendly. His name is Eduardo, and he banters back and forth in with one of the other bilingual girls at the audition. I wish I were fluent in Spanish. For the audition, I sing 16 bars of “Still Hurting” a capella, and the two nice ladies behind the table say I have nice tone and ask me to take a side for the character of Amy. I prep in the hall, go in for my reading, and feel good about it. “Do you dance?” “I do.” “We’ll be making calls tonight if we think we’ll need you tomorrow. Thank you.”
I don’t get a call for either show tonight. But this is just the first week. I’d say I’m rolling with the punches, but I don’t even feel that bad yet. I just know I have to put in my dues and eventually something will work out. I’m eager, but not in such a hurry that I’m going to get bent out of shape. I feel like that’s a good attitude to have.