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Archive for August, 2010

My shoe-box apartment in Brooklyn smells all kinds of good tonight. It smells like three years ago.

New York City: Year 2, Day 7

Poet Boyfriend and I got food-happy tonight. The result: grilled portobello burgers topped with bacon and pepper jack, homemade lemonade featuring simple syrup, and St. Louis’ famous gooey butter cake.

Mushroom-burger, stellar. Lemonade, pretty awesome. (It’s even more awesome because it’s being housed in an empty Sazerac bottle. I dare you to find lemonade any more hip.) Gooey butter cake, not quite right. Not the pure gooey buttery heaven I remember it to be. Ah, well. I’ll give it another go next week.

I’ve not had this particular combination of pure sugar, eggs, flour, and butter since I left college, Forest Park, Katie Consamus, Imo’s Pizza, the Cards, the Saint Louis Art Museum, Soulard Farmer’s Market, the Central West End, and Xavier Hall.

Thinking about all things St. Louis has me missing college and these folks:

Maly, Consamus, Vieira and I at the "House of Blue Leaves" cast party.

It also makes me miss these things:

Spending "Language of Angels" strike collecting discarded law books for "Hedda Gabler" with the lovely Ms. Hoeing..

Sledding on Art Hill with Shannon and the gang.

Thanksgiving 2008

"House of Blue Leaves" with Christian Vieira

"Language of Angels" with Billy Kelly

Jegar Fickel. Danny Maly. No words. Only love.

Miss Katie's Tap Class, circa 2006

Tacky Christmas Sweater Party, 2007

Filming in the fountain on Grand with Colin Harris.

Katie and Dylan's Zoo Wedding

Ok. I’ll stop. Man, college was fun. Missouri, you treated me well. I’m not sure when I’ll be back, St. Louis, but for now I’ll dream of Imo’s Pizza and feast on gooey butter cake in your honor.

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I feel like I’ve been crying for a week straight.

New York City: Year 2, Day 6

Everything (and I mean everything) has been bringing me to tears for the past few days. A man walking down Driggs carrying  three bunches of flowers with a stupid grin on his face. The all-too precious bicycle gang of 7-year-old girls congregating in the park last night. The bells from St. Stanislaus waking me up in the morning.

Hey. Hormones. What the hell?

At the moment, I’m grateful that I don’t have a TV anymore. I’m suddenly remembering Saturday mornings in college, sitting on my red slip-covered couch and crying at Haagen-Daz commercials. Not Hallmark– Haagen-Daz.

My tears have only been happy (knock-on-wood). And, (oh right) I’m an actor. I should count myself lucky that the emotional well that so much of us spend all too much time digging for seems to be overflowing here in my neck of the woods.

Last night, The Poet and I celebrated our first anniversary together (which is surprising to a good number of people who, since knowing us, thought us to be high school sweethearts) at a brilliant restaurant here in Brooklyn called Five Leaves. If sipping on Chris’ Sazerac and sharing the most amazing Devils on Horseback ever served weren’t enough to make me weep tears of joy, the organic lamb shepherd’s pie sealed the deal. Ok, I didn’t really cry over the food (though it was pretty damn good) but, sitting across from Chris, laughing with him until I ached, thinking about the beautiful year we’ve had, knowing that I’ve found the person who, before we met I knew we’d meet— that made me cry.

Sometimes, walking in this city. Sometimes, thinking of the work I do. Sometimes, holding Chris’ hand. Sometimes, with a book in my hands. Sometimes, while I write. Sometimes, while I hear Katie’s voice all the way from Iowa. Sometimes, watching the water. Sometimes, when it rains. Sometimes, I’m just too full, too happy to do anything by cry.

And this made me downright weep, sucker that I am:

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Something in my dreams tells me I must be anxious about my approaching 2nd year at The New School for Drama.

New York City: Day 350 or 60something. I’m not great with numbers.

This morning, I was having a dream that I’ve had many times this summer. Always, I’m in Co-Lab, the four hours a week that my entire cohort (actors, directors, and playwrights) spend together creating new pieces. Always, one of my professors says, “And now we’ll begin the monologue presentations.” Always, I have no idea that I’m supposed to have a monologue prepared.

In one version of the dream, I ask to use the restroom, hoping that I can recall a monologue I already know, do a few quick bathroom stall runs of the text, and pray that I can redeem myself somehow later on in Co-Lab. I choose to do Nina from The Seagull. But upon returning to the theatre, I hear every one of my classmates (including the men) doing the exact same monologue and all of the them (including the men) are doing a far better job of it than I ever could.

In the version of the dream I had this morning, my entire cohort was in the auditorium of my grade school in Florida. We were all wearing the Catholic school uniforms that used to be so familiar to me. Someone drew the curtain on the stage and there were rows of desks under harsh stage light. After completing a three hour written test in front of a large audience, again a professor announced that it was time for the presentation of the monologues. Again, I panicked. This time, though, I immediately decided to do Chekhov because I didn’t know anything else. In this dream, all I had ever done was Chekhov and, of course, one-by-one all of my classmates proceeded to do Shakespeare while being accompanied on the piano by Kathy and Ellie— Co-Lab 2′s acting and directing professors. Pippin, the playwrighting professor, was nodding Yes or No to large men who carried away students that got the No.

Always, I wake up just as I’m about to perform.

Two weeks from today is the day when, in reality, I’ll be presenting the monologue of my choice for Co-Lab 2. I’m aware of the assignment. I’ve chosen a monologue that I’m excited about, one that couldn’t be further from Nina in The Seagull. So, why the anxiety? I wonder…

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In ten days, I can celebrate being a member of this city for a full year.

New York City: Day 355

I came here on August 22nd, 2009. It is absolutely mind-blowing that a year is close to passing. It doesn’t seem right. It happened so quickly. It also doesn’t seem right in that I feel like I’ve been here for lifetimes. I remember having that sense that during my first weeks exploring the city. It’s still there.

The start to my second year as an MFA Acting Candidate is nearing. I remember how panicked, how excited I was last summer. Now, I’m anxious. I’ve given myself plenty of work, but it’s time to be back in the theatre with the playwrights, with the directors, with the rest of the actors in my cohort. In two short weeks, I’ll enter my second full year of Alexander Technique, Vocal Production, and Co-Lab but will also face entirely new beasts in Classical Technique, Theatrical Clown, Stage Combat, Dialects, Scene Study, Auditioning for the Stage, and British Theatre of Anger. And that’s only first semester. Layer on evening rehearsals for our two big Second Year productions (in the fall, The Adding Machine by Elmer Rice, directed by Lou Jacob and in the spring, The Chekhov Project adapted by Casey Biggs and Robert Hoyt, directed by Casey Biggs– both of which I’m extremely excited about…) and hopefully I’ll emerge from it all in May to tell you how it went.

I hope I’m kidding. I like to think that I’ll be careful enough with my time that posts will be frequent, but the fatigue and constant state of motion I watched the Second Years walk around with last year make me wonder if I’m completely delusional.

I need school to start. Lately, working on my book (which is the largest reason for my ten-day absence) I’ve been letting my head go wherever it wishes to go. After five trips to the Haunted exhibit, consuming multiple essays on memory in art and Derrida’s idea of hauntology, devouring a beautiful book on the idea of the listener as a medium (chapter titles include “Chair creaks, but no one sits there” and “Snow falling on snow”), and a resent trip to the town in which I spent my childhood, my mind has taken itself to strange places. Places I’m fascinated by, but places I might be ready to come back from.

My weekend, for example, consisted largely of sitting at my desk (which is covered with Poe, Joyce, Chekhov, Dostoevsky, Shakespeare, and Proust at the moment… aaaand I’m suddenly sickened by how pretentious I sound…), picking up whatever was closest, reading it for a few hours, listening to David Byrne and Brian Eno, writing for a few hours, then smoking cigars, drinking wine, and talking to The Poet all night. Sneak in a few hours of sleep, hit repeat. They’re nights I’m happy to have. Empty wine bottles and ashes in the morning are usually signs of an evening well-spent. But get too much further into my odd little brain and I’ll have trouble not staying there. And I certainly can’t stay there if I want to do the kind of acting work I know that I’m capable of in the coming months. Nobody likes an actors who’s too much in her head.

In many ways, I’m glad graduate school is swooping in to hand me texts I’ll need to read by Day X or Day Y. Left to my own devices, I’d continue to hunt down essays by Guggenheim curators and read them into oblivion.

Though, I recognize that the mind is going to focus on what it wants to and that school might not even be able to save me from that. I prepare for my coming auditions, for the work I’m to do this year, and I can’t stop re-reading The Cherry Orchard. (“Look! There… in the orchard… it’s Mother! In her white dress! …it’s alright. I was just imagining things.”) Over and over, Chekhov in my brain. And I still want more of these people haunted by ghosts they’ve created for themselves. Allowed to choose a monologue from any play I wish to present on the first day of Co-Lab, I’ve been pouring over plays and I keep coming back to a piece I had the privilege of doing in undergrad— Language of Angels by Naomi Izuka, directed by Tom Martin; it remains one of my most-cherished stage memories, partly because it terrified me. Am I surprised that I’ve essentially chosen a piece of a ghost story to share? Not at all.

Yes. I’m delusional if I think school is going to keep my mind from exploring the things it wants to explore. This happened last year, too. Everything I worked on, everything I wrote, all of the ideas I explored all circled around and fell back in the nature of dreams. That’s certainly still there, but something bigger is also at work now and I’m excited to find out what these explorations will produce.

You know– there’s something funny about The Cherry Orchard, about my recent obsession with the past, with memory and its place in art, with the ability of things in my life to circle back on themselves. In ten days, I’ll have completed my first year in New York City. In Chekhov’s play, the orchard is to be put up for auction on August 22nd. And because of inaction on the part of the family, on August 22nd, the cherry orchard is sold. On August 22nd, I made the move here. There’s something in that, I think.

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I should’ve written last night. I’m afraid I’ll forget the things I wanted to say.

New York City: Day 345

Yesterday, I spent close to two hours in that sometimes confusing, sometimes welcome, sometimes sad place where your heart jumps into your throat and lodges itself there after hearing a laugh that might be familiar or smelling an old lover’s cologne or tasting a jello concoction that could only have been made by your grandmother. Only you don’t know the person laughing and the person you once loved and their cologne are states and lifetimes away and you’re not in your grandmother’s kitchen or anywhere close enough for her to be making jello for you.

One of the things I love most about the Haunted exhibit at the Guggenheim is the way it deals with and responds to the nature of memory, of things lost, of the discrepancies between what actually happened and the way we recall those same events. The Dark Sounds series (or at least the Andrew Bird installment last night) certainly captured the lachrymose and wistful undertones of the exhibit. The questions posed by the art in the rotunda accompanied by Bird’s violin and his signature whistle was together eerie, nostalgic, and beautiful.

The Dark Sounds logo design was adapted from Sarah Anne Johnson, Hiking at Night (from the Tree Planting series), 2003, on exhibit at The Guggenheim.

Upon entering the Guggenheim’s rotunda, we were met with three large groupings of what Bird referred to as “speaker horns” which were made by his collaborator, ¬†sculptor Ian Schneller. Their project together, Sonic Arboretum, culminated last night with Bird playing through 96 of the horns, each one made from dryer lint, baking soda, recycled newspaper, and birch.

The atmosphere was that of a roomful of people trying together to corral the past. I’m fairly positive the youth of Brooklyn collectively decided to take a trip to the Upper East Side last night and navigate their way through the exhibit and the scattered Victrola-esque horns. This particular group of young people seemed to have been aware that the night would harken to a time that has already come and gone. The men wore button-down shirts. Many wore fedoras. The women were almost exclusively in dresses— mine, plain white lace. Aside from the bizarre number of vegetable tattoos (I counted five last night, two of them being eggplants), the room and people in it looked like they’d come from a photo I’d seen or maybe a story someone told me.

Before beginning the sound sculpture installation, Mr. Bird waved hello and slipped off his shoes to better control the petals at his feet. Then he picked up his violin and started to whistle. I listened and, for a moment, it was January and late at night and a New York City knee-deep in blizzard. The Poet and I were sliding down the streets of the Financial District through the nearly blinding snow, until we got to Battery Park where I ran through the snow to reach the water. I was listening to Andrew Bird in the Guggenheim and I was leaning over the railing on the tip of Manhattan and watching the snow come down torrentially over the New York harbor. I wondered what other people were remembering.

The audiovisual landscape created by Bird through the Hornlings and Hornlets is something I’ll not soon forget. Before and after the show, the sounds of a summer night were sent through the horns and into the rotunda. I left quiet and happy, noting to myself that it was refreshing to see an artist embracing the sound of crickets.

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I’d imagined that dear, dear Brooklyn would welcome me back with open arms yesterday afternoon. I’d be away again, this time for two and half weeks. On the flight back, I’d imagined one of the just-right kind of sweltering New York City nights I’d been missing so much. Sadly, that wasn’t the reception I received.

New York City: Day 344

The Poet and I, home from Florida, headed to the back porch of one of our favorite restaurants in Brooklyn for a drink and some good eats. I went in happy and went home with food poisoning. I won’t sully the good name of the restaurant by telling you where we went. I love the place too much. And maybe I’m just allergic to mussels. Or maybe I’m in denial. In any case, I have really attractive burst capillaries around my eyes from hours of vigorous vomiting last night. That’s nothing to be jealous of. But this is:

I was in bed most of the day, but Night, beware. I’m feeling great, drinking a cup of coffee and gearing up to head to the Guggenheim to see this fellow…

My friend the mighty-talented whistler and instrumentalist Andrew Bird is playing at the Dark Sounds series at the museum to accompany their Haunted exhibit. Have I written about that yet? I need to. One of my favorite experiences since I’ve moved to New York City almost a year ago (can you believe it?) has been the Haunted exhibit at the Guggenheim– so much so that I’ve been back three times and purchased the exhibit book. Seriously. If you’re in or around New York, get yourself to that exhibit before it closes in early September.

Expect more about the exhibit and about my brush with Andrew Bird tomorrow. A little taste of what’s to come…

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I promise, I’m still alive.

New York City: Day 342

I decided to take a brief hiatus from the blogosphere to work on my book and spend a few days sleeping, eating, swimming, cooking, and watching too many movies in sunny Florida. Here’s a peek at what Christopher and I have been up to this week:

It’s beautiful here, but I’ll be happy to head back to Brooklyn on Wednesday. Regular updates return next week.

Also, this video makes me happy.

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