Sunday, November 30, 2014

Move, b****, git out da way!

I have lots of blog catch up to play. I'm going to start with what I suppose is my thought of the month - I've had this notion in the back if my head almost every day and it's really changing the way I do things and see things.
It is the notion of getting out of my own way. It seems like an obvious thing and I was certainly taught it a lot during my time at AMDA. In acting class or musical theatre especially teachers would tell us to stop overthinking, get out of our own way, just say the line. In that conext I'm totally cool with it, it makes perfect sense. But in the wider arena of life I never really took it on board until very recently.
I'll give some examples to better explain my meaning:
I was getting frustrated at being the main and sometimes only person to clean and generally care about the apartment. Once upon a time I would have felt burning resentment inside, bottled it all up, continued to work my ass off doing the work of four people and become pretty unhappy with my living situation. Why? Because I didn't want to stir anything/its easier if I just do it/I have an overwhelming compulsive need to be the best and that includes being the best at cleaning/etc etc.
I didn't do that. I got out of my way, stopped worrying about what my roommates would say and talked to them. They were completely fine and we came up with a schedule of household tasks. Now everyone is participating in the maintenance of our living space and I feel much better than if I hadn't said anything.
Example two: My new phone.
My old phone was so smashed up that it was about to stop working and I definitely planned to get a new one. For the last four years or so anytime I've needed a new phone which let's face it has been a lot, I've gone and hit the cheapest, most straightforward one possible. Because I couldn't be doing with smartphones, I wanted to spend money on something other than a fancy phone, because I couldn't justify it. Well. This time I spent good money on a Samsung Galaxy S4. It's not the most up to date Android phone but it is brand new and has a ton of space for apps plus decent camera, video camera, microphone and speakers. Because it's not the newest model by a long way it was a good price, though still more than I have ever spent on a phone before.
I got out of my own way, said 'Tessa it is 2014 and your rigid anti-smartphone/technology fearing mentality has valid principles and I know they are important to you but just for once give yourself an easier life' and got a new phone. On it I have: PayPal, OneDrive, two email accounts, Skype, BBC News, an app for weather, an app for the subway, an app for food delivery, Audible, Twitter, Facebook, Whatsapp, fitness apps and best of all -Netflix and Spotify.
No more borrowing devices from friends, no more traipsing to the library to download a document. My life is definitely easier because of this purchase.
Final example: Communicating with employers
My natural state with most employers is to be constantly a bit nervous in case they think I'm a complete spanner. If I get set a task I'm unsure about traditionally I panic for a long time and hope I can work it out alive with then if I do panic that I've fucked it up. I also like to be completely at their mercy regarding my time. You need me to stay longer? Ok. You need me completely last minute? No problem. That's being a good employee, right?
The time I had away from my two employers was like hitting the refresh button on a webpage. I came back stronger and clearer. If I'm not sure about something I'll just frickin ask. I'm frequently unsure about things because my employers, dear to me as they are, have a tendency to be vague. If I've been given a vague instruction but think I can figure it out, I'll trust myself to do it - even if it's not exactly what they were thinking I'm too smart and ingenious to ever shoot more than a couple of centimetres wide of the mark. Essentially I've got out of my own way and stopped being afraid of getting in trouble. I do an amazing job at both my workplaces so there's no reason why anyone would want to chew me out, and because I'm talking to them a lot more if something does go wrong there's a pretty high chance that it's their error not mine.
Getting out of my own way is all about giving myself an easier life. This concept is super alien to me: my mentality is pretty hard-wired to say 'why should I have an easy life? If you didn't struggle for something you don't deserve it'. I think it's a good quality of mine that I understand the value of money and work and I don't expect to be handed things. However it's almost like I've been trying to single-handedly undo the imbalances in the world caused by the privileged few who do have everything handed to them by feeling guilty about anything that makes my life easier. That's not my job. It's everyone's job to be conscious of the world's imbalance. Me giving myself a hard time doesn't actually help anyone, certainly not me.
It's a big step of growing and learning that I'm taking by getting out of my way. And I'm really proud of it so this is really a brag post!
NB written all on my phone:D

Sunday, November 23, 2014


That's supposed to be a clever play using NY to substitute the first two letters of the word mysteries. I guess it only works visually.

Anyway I was in Trader Joe's a little while ago waiting to be sent to my cashier by the cashier-sending-person.
And I heard something you hear a lot in TJ's which is the sound of a bell ringing twice and then someone calls out 'two bells!'
I have no ideas what that means so I thought hey I'll look it up. While I'm at it I think I'd like to debunk some more mysteries of New York that I have found along my way.

1) 'Two bells' means a cashier needs a price check on an item
While I was looking this up I discovered also that every Trader Joe's in the country has a plastic lobster hidden somewhere. There is no known reason so I'll have to be satisfied with finding it.
2) OK I stopped because I am soooo infuriated that the second mystery was completely unravelable. I have researched and researched  and no one seems to have ever documented what the deal is with the small memorial fountain built into the wall of Trinity Cemetery on the corner of 155th and Broadway. Yep, 155th...I know, it's two blocks...but you know what, they are uphill blocks and it is cold out! And I'm just indignant that no one has written anything about it, I found a walking tour map of the entire Trinity Cemetery and there was even a picture of this fountain included on the map... but no description! What the hell!
So, more on this later. Meanwhile I shall eat the banana bread I just made.

Monday, November 17, 2014

The green green grass of home

It's a two-post day.

Beware of selfies.

Timely reminder

I sang in a concert yesterday.  It's a small fundraiser at a church in Bayside, Queens that is the brainchild of my friend Kevin B. Winebold, a marvellous musical director.  He is so marvellous that he is leaving this week to send some time playing piano for Ringling Bros Circus.
He gathers a few performy friends together and has us sing Broadway numbers and they raise money for various causes, some in the city and some from the rest of the World.
It's a nice fun occasion, I did it last year too and there were many familiar faces and we had a nice reunion.  I sang three songs - Suddenly Seymour from Little Shop of Horrors in a duet with the delightful Mike who I met about two hours before performance. Screw Loose which is my go-to for all occasions and As Long As He Needs Me from Oliver which I've never sung in a performance setting before.
Iiiii'm not going to lie...I kind of sucked.  I did the run-throughs fine but boy oh boy oh my did my voice crack a LOT in performance.  Suddenly Seymour was the worst - there's a lot of money notes, which I can usually get no problem - but as I got to 'suddenly Seymour...shows me I CAAAAAAN' I was think no I cannot, I cannot because it just never came out right.
What can you do? Nothing really, it's not a huge deal in fact it's kind of funny how awful it sounded.  Kind of like how this is funny

Mine wasn't quite this bad at least...but it goes to show it happens to even the best!

Suddenly Seymour did not go well, live and learn.  Screw Loose I have done so many times that I could do it in my sleep, and it's a funny song on it's own you don't have to make it funny.  People always enjoy it, it has funny lyrics, I do lap steel air guitar, I pull faces - it's an entertaining number so it always goes down well.
Two down, and As Long As He Needs Me to go.  Well, this was pretty awesome for me.  I don't know if it was awesome for everyone else - maybe it didn't sound that good, maybe I cracked here too, whatever.  For me, it was very special because I had sort of a moment.  Bear with me as I go down the path of cheesy actor spiel that I hate so much...
So there I am singing away.  'He doesn't say the things he should.  He acts the way he thinks he should.  But all the same I'll play this game his long as he needs me I know where I must be, I'll cling on steadfastly as long as he needs me.  As long as life is long, I'll love him right or wrong and somehow I'l be strong as long as he needs me'
And I don't know exactly what it was.  I'm going to say a combination of those heartrending lyrics, the melody that somehow evokes resignation and hope at the same time, and simply where the song sits in my voice - low, and in a good place for encouraging a 'cry tone' (a sort of soulfulness that is quite common in female English alto-mezzos) I don't know what it was but as I started in on the 'as long as he needs me' I felt myself almost welling up, the singing became really effortless and I didn't have to think about making good acting choices because it was just sort of happening.
Actors, teachers and directors like to talk about 'living' when acting - that is, you've connected with the character, understood their perspective, figured out how they would handle a situation based on what you know about them, you take all that information and internalise it and then you just GO.  I had a really amazing moment of living during this song, and when I sat down having finished I just thought 'wow.  That's what it is - that's that thing that I want and that I love about live theatre.'
It has been a long time since I experienced that - because I haven't been performing a lot in the last few months, because I've had a hard time with all the visa crap, and because I let it all get to me so much, so it really couldn't have come at a better time.  It gave me a nice confidence boost and a reminder of why I want to do what I do.


Actor speech over.  Eugh. I went to an audition for Fiddler on the Roof today (is everything I do in NY going to be somehow Jewish? We'll see!) and at the moment am in the library working the daily grind - submissions, emails, castings, job listings...the good stuff.

In other news, the UWS comes through with the good advice
Probably shouldn't have taken this picture while walking Yahli the 8 year old home from school.

And the A Team is back in business.  Now with more words including: NO, why?, COME! (to the dog) SHAAAAY (somewhere between sit and stay, also aimed at the dog), hola, monkey, done and cool!

Could you just die

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Lord of the Rings: Return of the Queen

First things first. Let me address what I got back to when I arrived in my apartment last Thursday around 9pm.
This. It's this. It's a Mr Blobby costume.
Happy Halloween................?
So since I've returned unto my humble abode and the life that comes with it, I have worked every day which is fabtastic, enjoyed margarita night with my pals, cleaned a bunch, gone for four runs, sent a lot of applications and submissions for auditions and jobs, lined up an audition for Monday, scheduled a charity concert for Sunday, ate pizza four times, grocery shopped, visited AMDA, switched my summer clothes for winter ones and got to know my new roommate Eric. Oh, AND started planning Thanksgiving - I kid you not, that was in the opening sentences of four people in a row when I reunited with friends. 'Now you're back, what are we doing for Thanksgiving?' Worry not friends I'm back and I brought my control freak hat.
I mean my party planning hat.
I have a lot of beautiful England photos I want to post but I'll save it for when I can use a computer, it's hard to do n a phone.
But I thought of this really great idea to help me celebrate both the two months I has at home and coming back to NYC.
HA vs NY
  • Not being bombarded with advertising at every turn
  • Free art on the street
  • Peace and quiet
  • Noise and atmosphere
  • Green, trees, sky, hills and the horizon
  • Icons, architecture, lights, fashion, views
  • Having a cup of tea by the Rayburn
  • Having a cup of coffee by the window
  • Real ale in the pub with old friends
  • Cocktails in the bar with new friends
  • Going for a walk across fields
  • Going for a run along the river
  • Welles
  • Doc Martens
  • The freedom and solitude of driving a car
  • The convenience and fascinations of the subway
  • Local or homegrown food
  • Food from absolutely anywhere in the world
There are many more but that's a good start: reasons I love both the home that made me and the home that I made.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Thoughts on online dating

I will do a proper post about my return to NYC, I will.  But right this minute I'm having an awful lot of feelings about the shit show that is online dating.  I have delved into this strange and frightening world with the encouragement and testimonies of friends. 
Oh my god
What the - sorry - what the fuck??
So far it's pretty depressing, for a few reasons.
20-something guys in the NYC area love to tell you certain things in their online profile and one of the most common is 'I'm well-travelled.' Someone should explain to these idiots that that does not assign you any merit.  It's thrown out there in their self-summaries as if one should read it and think 'well-travelled? That's almost as important as a chiseled jawline!' If you are well-travelled, I'm sure it is reflected in your wide cultural horizons, your enjoyment of a veritable smorgasbord of international cuisine, your command of multiple languages - I'm sure that's all true and congratulations. But being well-travelled rarely makes you merit-worthy, it mostly makes you lucky.  I'm sure many of the other chaps on these online services would be well-travelled too but maybe they had to pay exorbitant hospital bills, maybe their house burned down, maybe they have a condition that prevents them from flying. Don't use 'well-travelled' as a bragging right, you dick.

Another thing a lot of young trendy guys like to say is that they love spending time with friends and 'good whisky'. Good whisky.  Good whisky? Who gives a fuck if you like good whisky?? Like, if I want to go out with you, all you ever have is whisky and I can't have a gin and tonic? Either that or 80% of the men who use online dating services are genuine connoisseurs of whisky and therefore qualified to make such statements, which I do not believe.  So shut the fuck up about your whisky and why are you even specifying? If we go for drinks and you order a whisky, I'm not going to swoon, it's barely going to register. I wouldn't expect you to ask me about my gin and tonic. And why is it always whisky, why do no guys say they are rum experts or tequila experts? At least be original.

Next pet hate: 'I'm a laid-back guy'. As if anyone would write 'I'm a very highly strung, intense and anxious guy'. The phrase becomes so ubiquitous that it is redundant.

'I hate writing these things....' proceeds to write three paragraphs and that's just the summary, forget the favourite things.  That's some pretty clear subtext to spot, 'I want to seem humble but actually just talk about myself a lot'.

'Tech startup' what even is that, it is a meaningless phrase

Profile pictures that look like mugshots.  Who are you trying to pull??

'I am good at making people laugh' no, just no. I'll be the judge of that when we don't go ut because I was too annoyed by the rest of your profile.

'I can usually be found hiking biking, longboarding, mountain climbing, surfing, basejumping...etcetcetc' Right... why do you bother living in NYC then? Why do you live here and not in Colorado/Northern California? This doesn't make logical sense.

I just read a new favourite, on a typical Friday night 'if there's a concert, I'm probably there'. Ah, at the one concert that happens in NYC every Friday night  then? Or do you mean you go to to all the many, many separate concerts, somehow, all in one night? Or do you mean that you're making a sweeping statement in the hope of sounding more exciting?

I spend a lot of time thinking about...' existentialism'. Seriously? How boring.  In my 'thinking about' section I said that I spend a lot of time thinking about food, friends and what I have to do for the rest of the day. If you've got the time and the ease to not think about any of those and can sit around mulling human existence, bully for you.

Ok I can't think of any more just at present, also I should stop because wow this makes me really cross. But there will be more, oh yes yes yes.  Cathartic blog post, done.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Hair, flow it, show it Long as God can grow, my hair

Why I'm not cutting my hair

  • It's been about six years and I want to see how long I can go without cutting it
  • It's the longest it's ever been 
  • Having not cut it for so long, the idea of doing so makes me physically nervous
  • In recent years I've had to adapt certain things about myself - learn how to hide tattoos, remove nose ring frequently, dress conservatively - even remove the bright colour from my hair.  I have to do all for one reason or another these days, but at least I don't have to cut my hair.
  • Long untouched hair is kind of my thing - I don't straighten, blow dry or otherwise attempt to alter it on a regular basis
  • Because I don't care enough about having manicured hair tips to deal with my split ends
Those are the top six reasons I've got.  It's not a life or death thing but, just if people ask, I do have some reasoning.  I could cut it a little.  But six bullets point at the top of this post explain why I don't really want to.

Not gonna lie this is something to do with it as well I've chosen a life that doesn't lend itself to full time I can at least pay tribute by following the philosophe de coiff of the Tribe!