Sunday, March 15, 2015

In like a lion

My second week of March was eventful.

1) I moved.

Here's the full scoop.

I have been considering the idea of moving since the beginning of 2015, realising that due to a number of factors I was no longer very happy living in the apartment I'd been in for two years ever since graduating from AMDA.  For a long time it seemed like a mere pipe dream - something that I could achieve, maybe, by the end of the year.  'Moving is expensive, finding a place is hard, I'll never find somewhere for what I'm currently paying ever again' were all factors that deterred me at first.  Nonetheless I continued to feel sure that it was time to make a change so I began apartment hunting.  I saw some places that were so small or in such sucky areas that the prices they were going for were blatant robbery.  $950 for a room in an apartment roughly the size of my current living room? Don't think so.  I began to feel quite discouraged and that I had been dreaming all along.  Then one day a post appeared in the Facebook group from where I began all my searches - Gypsy Housing.  Gypsy Housing is great - it is a group for performers and artists looking for and offering housing in NYC.  It's a good place to search because it is populated by people of mostly a similar age and situation to me.
People offering housing are able to publish to the main news feed of this group pictures and information about their apartment, and interested people then message them to set up a time to see it etc.
So when this post appeared I messaged immediately.  I spoke briefly with the perpetrator of the post, Dan.  We arranged to meet for coffee to discuss the prospect of my moving into the third room in his apartment, about to be vacated by a girl moving in with her significant other.  We met on a Friday, we talked, we found common ground in music, a mutual desire for cleanliness and a nice living space, and some humour.  We arranged for me to go and see the place the next day.
I went.  I saw.  I fell in love.  Dan went through a few more details with me and kindly walked me around the neighbourhood a little to give me an idea of what it had to offer.  After we'd finished the brief tour, he said I would like to offer you this apartment and I leapt up and down internally and said yes please and that was that!
A couple of days later I picked up the keys.
The next Sunday, March 8th, I moved in.  And here I am!

Dan and David are close friends who have been in this apartment around 6 years.  They are creative (musically and filmically) with good day jobs.  They are funny and clever and have been welcoming and kind to me.
The neighbourhood is Crown Heights, and the place is right around the corner from the 3 train.  The apartment has a washing machine and tumble dryer, a dishwasher, granite counters, a living room/kitchen space thrice the size of my old one, two skylights, is in a converted two storey house which means there is only one other apartment in the building, roof access and a back yard.  My room is bigger than my old one...which was already bigger than most people's.  I am paying a bit more than I was.  But I am reaping 20x the benefits.  I am enjoying living on a street of houses not apartment buildings.  Eastern Parkway, the main road of this area, has a tree-lined meridian for easy and safe walking, jogging, cycling etc.
Today I finally had some time to walk around my new 'hood.  Here's what I could now do if I wanted to:
Walk to Prospect Park
Walk to the Botanic Gardens
Walk to the Brooklyn Library
Walk to the zoo
Walk to the Brooklyn Museum
Walk to Brooklyn Flea market
Walk to a myriad of eateries for Caribbean, Mexican, French, Italian, all-American, Japanese et al
Get a nice bagel.  That seems trivial but in beloved Washington Heights there was one place you could get a half decent bagel and the bagel was not the most important thing on their menu.  Now I am three blocks from a designated bagel shop which has a multitude of bagel topping options.  This is important to me, I really like bagels.

These and so many more are some choices I can make for myself now when I have free time.  I mean, I could always make those choices, but it would involve more planning and timing because they would involve long train journeys.

Of course the one downside is the distance that is now between me and all my besties who almost all live upwards of 135th St.  However so far it hasn't made a notable difference in that we are all so busy anyway that even being in close proximity didn't guarantee time spent together.  The only one it does make a difference with is Jacob who I miss.  But we are keeping our friendship strong by texting each other about the important things - Dance Moms, Saturday Night Live.
The distance from Manhattan does not bother me in the slightest.  It's about 40 minutes to midtown so an hour or so to the Upper West Side for babysitting.  This means I am forced to be more organised, more prepared and plan ahead better.  Being in a position where I can't leave things until the last minute is only a good thing.
And, if anyone recalls, I wrote a post a couple of months ago about stress factors and how I use my subway journeys to try and plan things, remember things and list things which was making me slightly bonkers.  Well, having an hour instead of 20 minutes to do nothing but turning out to be a pretty good relaxation tactic.  Even if I do spend 20 minutes frantically jotting notes and answering messages, that still leaves me with 40 to chill.  I'm reading a lot more which fills me with joy.  Think of all the albums I could get on the way out one on the way home every day for two weeks? I could have listened to 28 new albums by the end of the month!
I like having to plan.  And I like that there is no TV for me to get sucked in by.  I like that I don't have so many reasons for procrastinating (not that I won't still, I am only human).  I like that my bedroom faces a row of back yard spaces and a big brick wall, not a very noisy street full of people and vehicles with no regard for what time it is.  I REALLY like my first ever full size bed.
It's only been a week but I have a powerful feeling of contentment.  Long may it last

2) I performed at 54 Below

I don't have any photos from the night yet except the ones of me at the top which my fellow performer Brieghanna kindly took on my phone.

What a night.  It was not my night either it was Sam's, but even so I felt like a star just being there.  54 Below is where Studio 54 used to be (in the basement to be exact, hence the Below).  It is a prestigious cabaret venue where the likes of Patti LuPone perform solo shows.  It's name is ubiquitous in the Broadway scene.  Sam asked me a couple of months ago to tap with him in his own solo cabaret show and of course I jumped at the chance.
We put together a medley of numbers using songs mostly from Gene Kelly/Fred Astaire canon.  For Singin' in the Rain and Moses Supposes we used the original Kelly choreo, as well as for Take Me Out To The Ball Game...and threw in some original Tessa Fairey in the middle of I Got Rhythm to shake things up a little, stylewise (i.e. I interrupted the song to LAY DOWN SOME BEATS).  We had a couple of 'bits' to break up the dancing - and we got laughs! I love what we put together, the audience were surprised by each new thing we did and I'm so very happy with how I performed.  I was incredibly nervous waiting to go on but as soon as I did (by crawling onto the stage on hands and knees and doing a short silly sketch in which I make tap sounds behind Sam's back - the premise being that he didn't know I was there and thought he was making the sounds simply with hand gestures) and people laughed, the performance energy did it's thing and set me on my way.  I came offstage sweaty and exhilarated.
Oh PS Kevin Bacon was in the front row.
Plus a ton of other wonderful people including many friends.  Lauren and Maite came to see me and were the most amazing supporters and advocates.
The post-show drinks across the street were very celebratory even though it meant I got home at 3am after waiting a long time for a train.  And I got to do a girl-tux kinda thing with my outfit.  Which I will be repeating.
My fellow performers - one of whom was Julia Murney, a Drama Desk Award nominee who has been in a billion shows, was one of the first Elphabas in Wicked, originated the role of Queenie in The Wild Party...basically she's a bona fide Broadway star - all brought the house down with their vocal chops (I was the only dancer.  Mmhmm.) and musical director David Caldwell was a total champ.  Fun fact: David was my class accompanist during my second semester at AMDA so I knew him already and he's always been one of my top three favourite accompanists.  And now I can say he played for my 54 Below debut!
Here's to many more.

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