Tuesday, July 29, 2008


There's always that negative stereotype of New Yorkers: they're all loudmouths who yell at you instead of talking in a moderate, even, "indoor voice." I always thought this stereotype might have emerged from the idea that New Yorkers had more attitude or are more "in your face" than other people.

Nope. Now that I've lived here for 2 months, I know now why many New Yorkers are well-trained in the art of yelling and have little concept of speaking in a normal tone sometimes: NEW YORK IS FREAKIN' LOUD!!!!

From the buses to the honks of taxi horns to the squeal of subway brakes, the noise of New York is truly an amazing thing to experience. Even walking down the street, I can't hear the voice of the person on the other end of my cell phone very well. Many a time, I will just stop in the middle of my conversation with my husband as a whole series of car honks explode in the street next to us. (By the way, why do drivers here insist on honking their horns for no good reason???) It's a bit distressing because I want to make my career off of my voice, and I can't very well risk hurting my voice or creating nodes by getting into the habit of yelling over the sound. It's why I hate going into a club or restaurant with loud music when I have an audition or rehearsal or performance the next day - when invited to these environments, I usually sit in silence or try to communicate via gesture. No, when I scream, I want it to be on the falling side of a rollercoaster or during the recording session/ADR of a horror movie.

Back to NY: It's no wonder that the parks in this city (especially Central Park) are so revered and well kept. Walk to the center of Central Park, and you can barely hear the roar of the city beyond the trees. These parks provide such a well-needed audio respite from the screetches and rhhhum rhuums and breeeeeeeeek that makes up the daily soundscape of the city of New York.

This 2006 study I found just now notes how hearing loss has been connected to the subway system here in NY. The article also points out that wearing headphones at high volume (which one has to do when the subway is too loud to listen to one's music or podcasts on a regular volume) can lead to hearing loss. Made me want to go out and buy those &#%$@ SkullCandy noise-cancelling headphones that my hubby has. There are a lot of tenant rights and noise codes
that are midly enforced throughout the city around residential neighborhoods too. Coincidentally, today I saw a woman put earplugs in her ears as she traveled through about 5 stops with me.

But it also could have been the fact that a 1 1/2 year old baby started to have a screaming fit on the other side of the car.
I wonder if New Yorker babies have naturally louder vocal prowess than other babies. Can someone start a new study, please?

Monday, July 28, 2008

"Riding the A," a poem by May Swenson

Riding the A by May Swenson

I ride
the "A" train
and feel
like a ball-
bearing in a roller skate.
I have on a gray
coat. The hollow
of the car
is gray.
My face
a negative in the slate
I sit
in a lit
corridor that races
through a dark
one. Strok-
ing steel,
what a smooth rasp—it feels
like the newest of knives
a long
black crusty loaf
from West 4th to 168th.
and rails
in their prime
make love in a glide
of slickness
and friction.
It is an elation
I wish to pro-
The station
is reached
too soon.

"Riding The A" by May Swenson from Things Taking Place: New and Selected Poems. © Little, Brown, 1978. Reprinted without permission, please don't sue me.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

New favorite (& cheap) place to eat: Hummus Place!

It's super-cheap for being a sit-in restaurant(we got two hummus meals and split a frozen dessert and paid $22 after the addition of a hefty tip). And only 20 minutes on the 1 train from our house to the 72nd stop! www.hummusplace.com

Speaking of the train, on our way back, Pete and I found ourselves the only ones on what appeared to be the only non-air conditioned subway train car. We had the whole (albeit hot) place to ourselves! If you ever find yourself in New York in this position, take advantage of it. Run around. Swing on the bars. Yell at your loved one from one side of the car to the other. And above all, sing! It's a lot of fun!

"I'm siiiiiiiiiiiiinging in the train, just siiiiiiiiinging in the traaaaaain!"

"You don't have a look!"

This is one of the many lines spoken by the character of Maria Callas in Terrence McNally's brilliant play,"Master Class." The play is a fanciful recreation of an actual series of Master Classes that Callas did in the prestigious Julliard school during the 1970's. Callas, who was a legend opera singer of her and all time, says this to a young singer who is quite at the mercy of her criticism. In any event, this one line has stuck with me for quite some time after I got to know the play. Although this line is spoken to the First Soprano in the first act (and I played the Second Soprano in the second act), a part of myself - that is, Sierra, not my character - always feels a tinge of self-doubt whenever I think of these 5 simply strung, but very strong, words.

This is regarding identity, something we all struggle with. And casting, something most actors and casting directors deal with. Now, people are supposed to have imaginations. Regardless, one of the biggest gripes in the world of the actor is that actors believe most casting directors don't have imaginations when it comes to seeing their potential to play many different types. Actors are often "typed out" of a movie, TV show, or theater production on a first-glance basis (and this is often done at the casting director's desk as he or she wades through piles and piles of headshots).

I walk through New York and see all sorts of types, Race, weight, clothing, walking gait, hair, makeup, jewelry, sex, everything is taken into account and my eye sees and my mind instantly stereotypes each person based on stimulation. Sometimes I'll even hear a voice and an accent to further flesh out my labeling process. In the subway, I look at people and I begin to paint stories about who they are, where they're going, and how they fit into this giant puzzle called New York.

Then it hits me. What stories are they writing about me? Who do they think I am? And are any of them casting directors?

I try to look in the mirror and "type" myself as a casting director would. Do I have a look? Does my outside appearance and choice of wardrobe speak volumes about who I am? Well, I know what I'm not (ethnic, blonde, male, tall, skinny). On the other hand, I always wanted to envision myself sort of as a chameleon-actress-singer, someone who can change her look both internally and externally (and vocally) to fit a unique character. The musical version of Gary Oldman or Tracey Ullman (wow their names are alike!) -- that's my goal.

But what is me, then? It's always tricky to self-critique and self-criticize when one doesn't have Maria Callas in the room. This is especially true when both the ego positive and the doubt negative seem to fog up the mental mirror. Honesty is the key; asking other opinions (with grain of salt at the ready) is also important. I'm not trying to become something I'm not; rather, I'm trying to clearly discover more of who I am and which facets of myself are available to me during auditions and performances.

Well, the question is out there (although badly worded, I think), and I haven't truly dealt with it in a specific manner yet. I have an idea...this'll probably take another blog entry's length at least. Suffice it to say, it's been on my mind lately. This is especially true because I'm in a new city, introducing myself to new people, fellow actors, and brand new casting directors with their own opinions of me.

I guess the first option of response to "You don't have a look!" is..."Must I? Must I, really?"

More to come...


Stealing America: Vote by Vote, The Movie

The last two presidential elections both came down to a relatively small number of votes, and in both elections the integrity of the voting process has been called into question. With the upcoming election looking to be similarly close, the time has come to ask the questions: what happened in 2000 and 2004; what has changed since; and what can be done to ensure a fair and honest tabulation of votes in 2008?

STEALING AMERICA: Vote by Vote brings together behind-the-scenes perspectives from the U.S. presidential election of 2004 – plus startling stories from key races in 1996, 2000, 2002 and 2006. Unbiased and nonpartisan, the film sheds light on a decade of vote counts that don't match votes cast – uncounted ballots, vote switching, under-votes and many other examples of election totals that warrant serious investigation.

Plus! My husband, Pete, is in the credits for providing the filmmaker with essential news footage and television clips from the elections.

The movie can be seen in cities across the nation (check the website www.stealingamericathemovie.org) including the following major cites:

NEW YORK: (we'll be there opening night!)
Aug 1st thru 7th at the Quad Cinema
34 West 13th St. New York City, NY

Aug 15th thru 21st at the Laemmle's Music Hall 3
9036 Wilshire Blvd. Beverly Hills, CA

Sept 5th thru 11th at the Lumiere 3
1572 California St. San Francisco, CA

Sept 5th thru 11th at the Shattuck 10
2230 Shattuck Ave. Berkeley, CA

Not tall enough for...ensemble?

So, I check Actors Equity casting calls, and see they're looking to cast future replacements for ensemble singers as thus: "Sopranos, Altos, Tenors, and Basses. Looking for singers with big, healthy voices, impeccable diction and wide ranges. Sopranos should not hesitate in showing off their sustained high notes and basses should give us their best ‘low’. Understudies for the Principals may be drawn from the ensemble."

I think...wow, I fit the bill. I have a wide, legit, big healthy voice with a high sustained Eb...perfect.

Then I notice at the bottom of the breakdown:

"Female Singers:
Height, 5’6” to 5’10”. "

Damn!!!! WHY!??! Most women are not 5'10''! They're short, like me, at 5'2"...grrrr!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

First Audition Coaching Session

Just came back from the first audition coaching session in New York. I hired my friend and UCLA alumn Brian Hobbs, who is a pianist, arranger, musical director and writer here. He was my music director/pianist for the first show I directed in college, "Assassins." It was fantastic to work with him for an hour on an upcoming audition song, and I feel so lucky to have him as a resource. I paid him for his time, of course, but he's only 20 blocks away! What could be better than that!?! I'm not a super-good musician and (although I have a good ear and memory for music) I always need a good pianist to play the accompaniment and catch me on any wrong notes I'm just learning.

Thus, my "thank you" to the Gods of Chaos: Yay! Brian is here!

Oh man he's gonna make bank off of me...


Friday, July 25, 2008

Awesomenesses In New York

Check these out in NY:
  1. Town Shop - if you women out there think you've got the wrong bra size, go here and they'll (quite delicately) fit you for the right one. Save up, though. Each will be around $50.
  2. TDF: Theater Development Fund - if you can prove to them you're in one of these groups: "full-time students, full-time teachers, union members, seniors (62 or over), civil service employees, staff members of not-for-profit organizations, performing arts professionals, members of the armed forces or clergy," then you can get Broadway and off-Broadway tickets for $34 with only a $27/year membership.
  3. TimeOut NY - Ok, my husband hates that I look at this magazine and have a subscription, simply because it'll give you thought to 8,000 things you can spend your time and money on in New York when I really should be working on my career. Restaurant reviews, movie and theatre listings, clubs and venues, interviews, quaint articles on what living in New York is all about. Walking guides, how to live cheap, shopping, practically anything that's going on is in each weekly edition.
  4. Pearl River Mart - If I had a million dollars, I'd spend a huge chunk of it here. Not that it's all expensive, mind you. Three floors on Broadway in SoHo all about Asian clothing, housewares, food, and furniture. 1st Floor is clothing, gifts, some lanterns, stationary, pottery, hangings, etc. Bottom floor/basement is cheap curtains, rice cookers, pots, pans, bamboo furniture, figurines, soap, floormats, anything! Top and 3rd floor is some beautiful cloth, expensive knick-knacks, full sized Teracotta figures, room dividers, and expensive furniture that will make your mouth water. All of it will, in fact.
  5. Forbidden Planet - great geek-out spot for comic book tshirts, action figures, books, etc.
  6. The Drama Book Shop - basically like Samuel French, a wonderful resource for artists, actors, writers, directors, anyone in the "biz".
  7. Colony Music Center - Sheet music, records, CD's, DVD's, karaoke music, posters, chatchkis galore.
  8. 24-hour FEDEX KINKO's (faxing, copying, computers, printing) near the Columbus Circle/59th street station.
  9. 24-hour James Farley United States Post Office at 34th/Madison Square Garden. Yowza
  10. South Street Seaport - location for 3-masted ships and age-old tugboats, seafood restaurants, museum and art venues, shopping mall & a great view of the East River.

League of Independent Theater

Reading this week's TimeOut NY magazine (issue $669, July 24-30), I came across a small interview with John Clancy (founder of NY Int'l Fringe Festival) regarding what success on Broadway is. His quote on the matter, "Success is having the respect of people you respect."

He is also just starting up an Off-Off advocacy group called the League of Independent Theater, and I'm instantly smitten with the concept surrounding this group's mission:

"1 - To promote the artistic and economic interests of theater professionals working in New York City in theaters of up to 99 seats;
2 - To organize and protect our members to ensure that independent theater is economically viable for all of its practitioners;
and 3 - To advocate on behalf of the decades-old tradition of off-off Broadway theater to ensure that it remains, and grows, as a thriving artistic and economic sector in New York City."

I'm in love, want to join as a member (gotta budget for the year membership) and would even like to gain employment within this group, if possible. Anyone know anything about this group?


Thursday, July 24, 2008


In addition to booking Equity full-paid productions and being involved in new musical works, my goals this year are a continuation of some projects I have yet to complete. For my benefit and your information, they are (in no particular priority):
  1. Compile professionally recorded audio and create a "demo" of my many vocal styles. 1 minute, tops.
  2. Finish a music video I shot 2 (!) years ago - here in New York, actually - utilizing a song called "Playground in New York." Written by Erin Kamler, it's the thoughts of a young girl coming to New York for the first time. Hmmm...think I can relate?
  3. Revamp "Ridin' High," my one-woman cabaret. This'll take a bit of reworking, editing, reorchestration and work with a new pianist...not to mention finding the venue.
  4. Create a video demo reel of all stage footage I have, just so I can put it online and submit myself through casting company websites.
  5. Write and record with John Seput, who is a composer in Los Angeles. GarageBand and email will be our friends. Also, when UCLA-mate Phillip Kelsey returns from Germany, I will be working with him on a few songs.

Those are the basics so far. Still have to truly set up my digital office so I can edit and record video and audio easily - so I guess that'll be my #1 TO DO on my list. Check back for more updates in the future. In the meantime, I put pictures of myself in "Great Expectations" at the Hudson Theater from last May on my website, http://www.sierrarein.com/. I'll be putting more audio from a recording session for a movie musical as well.

Cheerio! -- Sierra

Monday, July 21, 2008

Did it!

It's now a beautiful day, sunny but moderate in the shade (probably boiling in my apartment). Eating leftovers from my Mr. Bento box outside the NY Public Library on 5th Ave. Celebrating. I had my first NY audition this morning in this, the new chapter of my life.

My sleep last night was atrocious, it being incredibly hot in the apartment. It didn't cool down until 4 or 5 in the morning, so I relied on the big fan, frozen washcloths and nudity (!) to sleep. In any case, a cold bath and coffee helped me wake up at 7:30 am to leave by 8:30 am to get there by 9:30 am.

I made it to the audition location on West 54th by 9:10, carrying my purse and rolling bag.* The audition process itself was exactly like those in Los Angeles. The girls looked the same, I did my song the same. I was happy to see that about 1/6 of those signed up for the audition showed up (I was told earlier by a regular auditioner that this is common in New York), so my number fell from 191st to only 37th in line. I checked in, warmed up in the hallway and the elevator, changed and then stood in line when the 20-40 block of numbers was called.

My audition itself went exactly as it would if I was in Los Angeles. However, there was something wonderful to have the view of grey and red-tinted New York buildings outside as I sang. A reminder - I was in New York!

I finished and thanked the people in the room. As I picked up my music book from the piano, I couldn't resist saying "And I have to let you know, this was my first New York audition. Yes!" The older woman in the room said "Oh! Congratulations!" and then looked at my resume again with a more curious look on her face. One might think this gesture of mine as unprofessional, but I just felt I needed to claim my experience and not hide my new life from myself or anyone else. It just felt good to say it, and if my enthusiasm belied my lust and zest for this craft, then all the better.

I was out of there by 11 am. Now, I'm sitting and listening to old recordings of Barbara Streisandon my iPod. Have called both Mom & Dad to leave word about this "landmark" (dramatic word, I know) day of mine. Soon, it's off to drop off my timesheets to my temp agency (#1 of 3) so at least I'll have money on Weds. The grind continues, but at least this career of mine is heading in the right direction.

Damn, Barbara Streisand can sing!

*see earlier blog for a description of my "Audition Kit"

My Audition Kit

For my first audition here in New York, I packed what I thought would be a well-thought out bag of travel and acting items. This was based on my own needs as well as outside advice from fellow New York actors.

  1. Rolling Bag. Really, I could use any bag, but this one keeps weight off my shoulders and makes travel to audition locations quicker and easier. I bought the Dash Rolling Hardside Carry-on (in cherry red) which is lightweight and small, with a quick-retracting handle and 360 degree wheels. It's also weatherproof, which will come in handy when the rains start pouring. The only thing I don't like about it is that it doesn't have an outside pocket for quick access.
  2. Sigg Bottle. Made by the same company as the famous Swiss Army Watch, these bottles are eco-friendly alternatives to the wasteful habit of buying plastic water bottles. And every singer NEEDS to have water at auditions, especially when the rehearsal building water fountains aren't acceptable. It's apparently "The World's Toughest Water Bottle," and is made of lightweight metal - I think aluminum. Thus, I can hang it from my purse or put it in my bag and not worry about it exploding.
  3. (and bear with me, this is not an advertising list) A Bento Box, or compact lunch box containing several small lidded bowls and maybe a travel fork or spoon (or spork!). Mine is the Mr. Bento box. Bringing some leftovers or simple food in this box will help me save money and prevent lightheaded hunger if ever I need to wait in line to audition for an extended amount of time.
  4. You kind of can't see this, but I packed my skirt and audition shoes while wearing pants and sneakers to get to the audition location. In New York, it's common practice for auditioners (at least women) to dress comfortably and put on whatever they need to wear to be presentable once they arrive. This is easy to do at locations like the Actor's Equity Assoc. audition location, where they apparently have a green room for auditioners to put on makeup and even curl their hair (again, I'm talking women here). I have an audition coming up soon that takes place in the AEA location, I'll see how easy it is to use the facilities.
  5. Audition Music book. The reason I'm there in the first place. I've invested the last 6 years in voice lessons and coaching from Calvin Remsberg. We nailed down about 10 or so audition pieces which we feel run the gamut of audition demands, from rock to pop to opera and legit. I'm still learning new songs for future specific auditions (ie. they want to hear "This Place is Mine" for an audition for the role of Carlotta in "Phantom"), but this book means more to me and my career than anything.
  6. Headshot and Resume. Duh. My headshot was taken by Jonathan Vandeveer in Los Angeles.
  7. Actor's Interview Log. It's important to keep a log of each audition: when and where I audition, who I auditioned for and for what project, even what I wore and what I sang, who I might have met along the way. Plus, any notes on how I felt about the audition after. That way, callbacks become more informed and whenever I write down "ugh that audition went horribly!" and then get a callback, I can be reminded that my perception of how things go are often not the case. :)
  8. Journal. Just to jot down ideas, new audition material ideas, names & numbers, etc. Hey, maybe even write journal entries to include in a blog somewhere...
  9. Audition Post Printout. Juuuuuuust in case, a print out of the location, time, date, and expectations of the audition in question.
  10. Deodorant and Hairbrush. Just in case.
  11. Makeup Kit. I actually am able to do my makeup on the A train before I get to the downtown area, which shaves off some morning "get ready" time for the sake of breakfast and sleep.
Not pictured: iPod (to review audition music or hear a warmup track), Mouthwash (again, just in case) and an immeasured amount of talent and beauty :) All in all, everything I packed was either utilized well or at least good to have on hand. Nothing was too heavy and the rolling bag worked in the subway like a charm.-Si

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Audition to Come

So, I've finally pressed myself against a wall and told myself "It's been 2 months since you left Los Angeles, and a month since you moved into your apartment. You get in that ring and give it all you got, go get 'em Tiger!" Meaning, I have put my name on an Equity Chorus Call to audition tomorrow. It's for "Les Miserables," which is a nice and traditional show, my voice fits the legit style so it's not a huge stretch. Unfortunately, I'm #191 on the list, so my day will no doubt be spent in line, waiting.

This week, I worried about what might come out of my mouth tomorrow, vocally. I haven't been to a voice teacher in 2 months. I vow this day forward to vocalize each day and resume the study of my craft. I had a mini-vacation from my career as I made the biggest career move to date. Now it's time to get my engine restarted here in New York.

A moment of REAL

An experience.

On the 1 train to Target in the Bronx. Big, rough black man with sunglasses and huge earphones (or "cans") on. He's standing right in front of the subway train door, rocking and swaying to the music flowing into his ears. And singing along.
Not just singing. Not just a mild humming or quiet rendition of his music. This is a Wolfman Jack version of the song. A wild yaowling, explosive and powerfully jarring cover. His voice fills the train cab. Some people move from where they are to a different train. Most of us sit with eyes glued to our books or pocket video games, some pushing their earbuds further into their ear cannals. All the while, we listen with eyebrows raised.

I can tell he's listening to modern rock music - something like "Black Hole Sun" or it's equivalent. But he's repeating lyrics beyond the original version. Screams of the same three-word phrase over and over. I recognize the song but didn't write it down. He's obviously enjoying himself, but the sound eminating from him is so violent that it makes people uncomfortable.

Finally, he gets off the train a few stops before ours. I feel the people in the train relax, the heavy strain of his vocal prowess lifted. Then, from the other side of the train, I hear a woman say (with all sincerity and sarchasm rolled into one), "That was REAL." We all laugh, this one man creating connective tissue between us all through a common experience.

Body Tampons

Walking around here in NY, I feel someone needs to invent body tampons for those little places on your body which you KNOW will quickly become drenched in sweat by the end of your travels in the city. Merely walking to the A train on 190th street, my lower back started pooling with little rivulets of sweat. I guess the first line of Body Tampons - gotta figure out a better name - will include patches for the lower back, neck, both underarms, behind the knees, top of the buttocks, between the upper thighs, the lower bra line (for the ladies who sweat beneath the boobies), and maybe a small square one to put on the upper lip. Nah, scratch that. Don't want any accusations of making people look like a sweaty Hitler.

My husband would like to add that the groin area for the gentlemen of New York might have an additional sweat tampon too. Oh and he things "Sweaty Hitler" would be a good band name :)

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Talent Below the Streets

Going home from The Daily Show taping on Tues (7/15), I came across yet another subway musician. This time, it was a black woman sitting on a single speaker which pumped karaoke music from her portable CD player. Her garb and metal push-cart gave her an air of the homeless.

Her voice was incredible, singing a powerful blues song. Heartfelt, loud, piercing. I wanted to drop $20 into her hand then and there. I would hire that voice to be in The Color Purple or Smoky Joe's Cafe. Or at least dress her in black and put her in front of a 3-piece jazz band to wail the night away.

I got a clenching feeling in my chest. Why isn't she making the big bucks? Why doesn't she have at least a record deal or a band to accompany her? It scares me to think that such talent goes unrewarded, and that there are many other talented people in addition to her who might not be "succeeding" in the biz. I don't know her story - I'd like to learn the background behind many of the musicians who stake out their mini-stages down in the hot, airless tunnels of the subway system - and I don't know if she sings for money or practice or what.

I also fear that this city (indeed, life itself) promises many things but has no room for all the talent it contains. It doesn't take just talent and guts. It takes business sense, a desire to compromise and work with other people, and the patience to understand that lightning might strike you any day...but it also might not. You might find yourself at the age of 70 never quite accomplishing what you set out to do when you were 20.

So, if you see me singing over on 42nd street station (near the 1 train) singing showtunes, know that it wasn't for lack of talent...maybe for a lack of something else.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Myself and Rebecca Jones, castmember of "Passing Strange"

Saw Rebecca Jones (fellow castmate of a staged reading) in this amazing musical, unfortunately it was closing the weekend we saw it. But we got to see it and she rocked!

Tips for new New Yorkers

So, I've been in New York for 2 months now. And only just now do I feel like I have my feet semi-planted on the ground. I now know the subway system, where the most essential post offices and Subway sandwhich shops are. I know there's a Pinkberry and a 24 hour FedEx Kinko's (they're not in the same store, mind you) at 59th Columbus Circle. Have found the Equity office, so I know where to sign up for auditions. I signed with 3 temp agencies and have a functional kitchen and bathroom. And I know where the Trader Joe's is. I've got the basics down.

I'm no New Yorker by far (don't know that I'll ever be one), but I have already amassed a few tips on how to assimilate just a bit easier into the fray:

  1. Wear Flats. This is not a glamour city by any means. Your makeup sweats off while you're walking and I just can't understand why women wear heels in this city without the use of a taxi. Apparently, New Yorkers walk "12 seconds per 60 feet, or about 3.4 mph," but they're still not the fastest walkers in the world, according to the Post. In any case, my feet would fall off without my sneakers or my flat baby-doll shoes. If you must, girls, carry a pair of flipflops in your hand or purse (yeah, get some with designer jewels on it if you must) and you'll feel much better off when those 3-inch heels begin to burn.
  2. Be an artful dodger. Walking through the crows of fast-paced New Yorker and as equally slow-paced Tourists, you'll want to know how to weave your way through a crowd, run, stop on a dime, twist your body and shoulders at the last minute. Take a modern dance class to get your body used to sudden, jagged movements. Or, do some American Football quarterback practice routines to learn how to evade contact with other people's shoulders as you walk through Times Square.
  3. Learn sign language. The busses, foot traffic, cars, subway trains and general hubbub of the city makes a gentle but constant roar throughout the city. You can only escape it if you manage to walk into a park. Having conversations over this roar and the louder screams of train and bus brakes is practically impossible. You must either shout over it, stop conversation altogether until the bohemith of travel technology passes, learn to read lips, or continue your chat via sign language. In any case, it's no wonder New Yorkers are stereotyped as loud. They are well trained to be heard over any sound known to man.
  4. Buy a handcart. One of the main tools of the average New Yorker is the little metal handcart on wheels. This brilliant piece of ancient-technology is much appreciated by the NY'er with too many things to carry and not enough arms or shoulders to carry them. Great for weekly grocery shopping or just carrying that piece of equipment that is too unruly to transport by hand. Just choose a handcart that is sturdy. The larger the wheels, the more maneuverable the cart will be. Make sure it folds for easy hallway-entry storage.
  5. Take a tip from the 18th century. You know you it's hot in New York when you appreciate the humid, smelly yet a-few-degrees-cooler air that flows off an incoming subway train. However, it's best not to be at the mercy of the heat - take matters into your own manos and buy a hand fan. Y'know, that old-fashioned kind that folds up, Asian-style. This $2 thing of wonder will help you brave the most humid of days, sunshine and sticky subway trains and all. And you'll look fashionable doing it. Many times I've whipped out my fan under the shadow of a large, imposing, 150-year-old building and wondered how many women have stood at this precise place, fanning themselves from the heat. And they didn't have A/C to hide in either.
  6. 24 hours...where? They say this is the city that never sleeps. Mmmmmm...yeeeee....no. It sleeps alright. Stores might stay a bit later than most cities (allowing people who get off of work at 6 to walk/subway their way over for some last-minute errand-running) and public transit runs all day long (with limitations at night). There's a 24-hour FedEx Kinko's on the aforementioned 59th Columbus Circle, the Duane Reade pharmacy line (on practically every streetcorner known) has some 24-hour stores, and (GLORY OF GLORIES) there is a 24-hour Post Office where one can check PO Boxes, mail and buy stamps (yes, there will be a live person there 24 hours a day). Some coffee houses are 24 hours, and at least a few Starbucks in the Times Square midtown area are open until 1:30am. So, it's the city that gets tired at 2am and takes a cat nap until 6am, basically.
  7. Pack light or on wheels. Make sure when you walk out the door that you're not carrying much. Learn to let go of the tiny things in life that add up to an extra 10 or 20 pounds on your shoulders. You don't need to bring that book you *might* read when you already are bringing one you *know* you'll read. Or, put those in a wheeling bag. Or buy the audio book and listen to your iPod. Your shoulders want to feel as lightly weighted down as possible.
  8. Speaking of iPods...Get Canned. The noise of the subway will likely drown out any low frequencies coming in through your earbuds, and no volume control I've seen can force the sound into my ears loud enough...without the use of noise-reducing cans like the ones sold by SkullCandy. There may be a bit of sweat accumulating around your ears while you wear 'em, but when they're covered you'll be able to actually hear the NPR interviews you so diligently downloaded via iTunes this morning.

    That's a short list of what can be much longer as I continue to live here. I know I sound like a magazine article writer (hey, TimeOutNY - you hirin'?) but these are ultimate truths that cannot in any way be argued against. And I'm a New Yorker now (?) so I should know.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Nutshell in a Me

So, here's my first post on what I hope to become a blog about my new experiences here in New York City, as a singer, actress, and regular human trying to create something in this world. Hope to journal by hand as I trek through the subway system, go to auditions, and ruminate on how temping makes the world go 'round, then post what I scribble here. Feel free to comment and give me your opinion on things - I'd love this to be a place where my friends can add their voice as well.