Thursday, October 31, 2013

My New York Branch, Year Two: "I Got A Rock."

This is actually not my building, I am in its twin
next door.
Just about everybody I know, who has moved to New York City from elsewhere, knows the exact date of their arrival, and takes at least passing notice of that date every year.  There must be something about this city which causes people to remember such a thing;  I am not aware that other folks who move to other cities commemorate the exact date of their arrival. 
The lobby displays in my building continue to impress.  These are real pumpkins, all carved differently by who knows whom.  From the frequency with which the lobby display changes, according to season and/or holiday, there must be someone employed full-time to handle it all.
I certainly do not know the exact date I moved from Atlanta to Los Angeles back in the early 70s, nor do I know the exact date I moved from LA to Salt Lake City in the early 80s.  I do not know the date I moved back to LA from SLC, nor do I know the date I moved from LA back to Atlanta in the late 80s.  Nine months after that, I moved back to LA, but I do not know the exact date I did so. (Are you detecting a pattern? It sometimes seems, looking back, that I never really knew where I wanted to live...) 
I am now unsure if always following the sign is a good thing.
I don't know the exact date I moved cross country to South Carolina, and I don't know the date I moved from Columbia to DC.  But I DO most definitely know the date I moved (at least part-time) to New York.  It was exactly two years ago.  By sheer coincidence, the day was Halloween.
I was surely lucky to snag a place at Manhattan Plaza two years ago.  I wonder if that luck has run out?  I don't get many presents from my NY life these days...
Last year, I wrote a bit about how my first year as a Manhattanite (part-time) had gone.  Tonight, as I listen to sugar-hyped children charge up and down the hallway of my building, I'm trying to clarify, for myself, how my second year has gone.  Well, I am much better at negotiating my bi-urban lifestyle (a term I invented to describe the fact that I live, simultaneously, in two cities).  I spent a lot more time in NY this second year, and have become comfortable here.  If I spend a long while in DC, as I did at the beginning of 2013, I actually miss my view out the 29th floor of Manhattan Plaza.
My homelife at ManPlaza has been dominated this year by: these guys.  The complex is undergoing some major structural realignment, so all year long, teams of workers have hauled themselves up the sides of the building and drilled, baby, drilled.  I'm not kidding you, on a daily basis, and depending on where the guys are located, the walls shake and the noise drowns out even your thoughts.  Unless it's raining, the work runs non-stop from 8-4.  I've learned if I want to take a nap, it must be from 11:45 to 12:45, when the workmen take their lunch.  It sounds, and feels, like the building itself is having a root canal.

Posters for my 5 NY shows are the only things
adorning my wall.  They are concrete reminders
that I am doing something here.

The view inside my apt hasn't changed much in the past year.  As opposed to my DC Branch, whose walls are crammed with all sorts of photos (of me, natch), posters, and other paraphernalia, I have kept the NY Branch remarkably clutter-free.  Above my desk, I have hung posters of the shows I've done since arriving in NY, and on another wall, a lonely digital clock reminds me that, well, the clock is ticking.

While the outside world ignores me, I continue
to nest.
My flat screen TV was actually purchased in the early days of my life in NY, but for the first year, I steadfastly refused to add a cable bill to my monthly nut.  I hooked the thing up to the building's antennae on the roof (16 flights above me).  Though there are about 1600 tenants in this building, I was apparently the only one who was using the ancient relic, and it was woefully inadequate. 
I spent all summer in NY, working outside. My
apt faces East, so the sun shines unmercifully.
I finally ordered drapes to try to mask the sun.
Note the aptly named tiebacks I use.

I got ABC and PBS only.  This year, I bit the bullet, and enrolled in a very basic cable service;  I still don't get any news channels or even basic ones such as TBS or Lifetime, but I do now get the broadcast networks, plus about a dozen local stations in foreign languages.  This might be a good time for me to learn Spanish or Mandarin.

Let's face it, the major, in fact only, reason for me to be juggling a bi-urban lifestyle (see how that term's catching on?) is professionally.  And along those lines, I must face the fact that my career has not progressed very much since last year. 

I added three more shows to my New York resume, all of them artistically satisfying but financially embarrassing.  I have put off the biggest chore an actor has when relocating to New York: acquiring an agent. 
I started my 2nd year in a
wintertime production of

I know very well that my professional career is not going to expand much without one, yet I confess that I've used every excuse in the book to avoid the arduous (and deflating) task of getting one.  That really has to be my next big priority, if I intend to continue living, even part-time, in New York.

So what HAVE I been doing here the past year?  By my count, I have attended 35 cattle call auditions, including the one this morning which may sum up the quasi-uselessness I am currently feeling. 
Two outdoor shows kept me in
NY all summer.

I visit the Actors Equity casting website at least once a day, and whenever there is a general audition for a show, or a theatre, or a season, which I feel may have a possibility for me, I print out that announcement and add it to my calendar.  Two weeks ago, I did exactly that, for a bus-and-truck tour of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.  They were looking for, among others, the exact roles I played a few years ago in DC, so I optimistically thought there may be a chance at snagging this gig. 
I don't audition for many musicals
in NY, but having played this role
before, I thought there might be
a chance.

The audition was scheduled at one of the many rehearsal/audition spaces in Manhattan, but because the audition was basically "first come / first served," I awoke early and schlepped downtown to wait in line to snag an audition slot.  I was surprised when I arrived.  For a project such as this, there is usually an onslaught of people crowding the room to be seen;  today, there were only an handful.  I waited over an hour for the Equity Approved Monitor to arrive to begin to sign up actors for slots, at which time I discovered that this was not an audition for principles, as the website had announced, but a chorus call.

So, a wasted morning.  Is this a metaphor for my past year in New York?  I hope not. 
In DC, I have a large pendulum clock which
comfortingly ticks and chimes and does not tell
time. In NY, this digital timepiece makes no noise,
and keeps perfect time,
but whenever I look at it, it reminds me:
the clock is ticking.  Time is passing.  Am I wasting it?

I did two more shows in Manhattan in the past year, and it looks likely I will return to some of those haunts next spring.  But if I intend to begin to book projects which pay more than subway fare, the next step is the most distasteful to me: finding representation.  Stay tuned for those horror stories.