Week 2: James Learns A Lot

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It’s been a long week.

I’ll start with a brief photo tour:

I bought rice. It was only natural that it should say this ^—–

In case you can’t read it… it’s a giant picture– 2 GIANT pictures of Glen Beck. (Forgive me, sir, if I have misspelled your name.) Here’s what they say: “If I had a dollar for every person who bad-mouthed me… I’d have enough money to launch a network.” And then it announces the start of it all and I guess his slogan is “The truth lives here”. Yeah. Your slogan couldn’t be FARTHER from the truth.

I GOT MY FIRST LETTER. (I hung the letter on my wall next to pictures of my friends. Oooo I should take a picture of that! Maybe next week, when it’s more extensive..)

So Boardwalk Empire, the TV show, was doing some promotion stuff the other day. And they had like VINTAGE subway cars running. I got to ride one. I took pictures. People got in the way. I don’t mind. It doesn’t look like they mind either.

So here’s been my week:

Trying to find a job…
It’s really hard. For many reasons. To be an actor, it would be ideal to work at night, because auditions happen during the day. So I got a job for the daytime. I work for a cleaning/organizing company. It’s awesome, and the people are super nice. But I need another job like once a week to supplement my income just so I can break even. I made a budget plan the other day. And I didn’t include money for alcohol, gym membership or extensive eating into that budget. But I DID include voice lessons, dance class and emergency money. So. If I got another job (hopefully catering, keep your buttcheeks crossed!!!) I would be able to eat like a normal person. AND I’d be able to get a gym membership so that would be REALLY nice. BUT. Today Angela told me about FREE YOGA in St. Mark’s in some church. SO. All I need is a mat, and that would be a good investment. Otherwise, I can rent one. AND I LOVE YOGA. It’s good for my body and good for my mind. So I think I shall do that!

Let me tell you what’s really hard about getting a job as a waiter here in the city. There’s this terrible double standard in place: you need NYC experience to wait tables here. But you can’t get NYC experience until you get hired.  So…. OH. And there are INFINITE more fine dining establishments here. And those are the worst! Cuz you need fine dining experience in order to get hired. But you can make BANK.TOWN. But it’s all about who you know, even in the world of survival jobs.

I searched Craigslist for hours for two days. I submitted applications all over the place. I walked all over Chelsea, turning in my resume anywhere that looked cute (I ended up dropping off like 10 resumes). I heard back from a couple but none of them turned out. So I put up a facebook status saying I needed help finding a job. And I got a job through my friends. It’s ALL about who you know. I’m trying to secure a catering job, and if I get it, it will be thanks to Eric, Adam and Dana because they worked there before me. It’s all about who you know.

(Also, Eric suggested to me that I try to get into some modeling. So I’m totes defs gonna try that… yeah, I might need a gym membership. Good thing there’s a gym 15 minute walking distance from here for 10 DOLLARS A MONTH. That’s right, biotch. So it would kind of be silly for me not to get one…. but then I need to buy protein so I build muscle…. ugh, we’ll see.)

Making Friends:
This isn’t too hard. I just talk to people everywhere. This girl joined in our conversation the other night on the subway, and we both got off at the same stop. So on our walk, I talked to her and now we’re FB friends. And who knows, maybe we’ll hang out! I went to slam poetry the other night (SO AWESOME. SO.AWESOME. Here’s a link to one of the guys there, if you’re interested/intrigued: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rSj7oKJY0c8 ) I talked to a girl sitting at the next table. My roomie, Brandon, took me out to some bars the other night and I met all his friends. I’m meeting my co-workers. It’s painfully easy to meet people. One of my co-workers, when she found out I was a newbie to the City, gave me the run-down of all the discounts here. She made a LIST of all the free things. She told me that the farmer’s market in Union Square is a good place to come by some bargains, especially at around 2 or 3 when they’re trying to get rid of everything. Movies at AMC are $6 before noon (thanks, Drew). Angela says Trader Joe’s here is relatively cheap. http://www.nyc.gov is a website where you can find a bunch of free stuff to do here in the City. TimeOut Magazine is good to subscribe to cuz it tells you all the stuff that’s going on every week. THERE’S SO MUCH TO DO HERE. SO.MUCH.

Preparing for Auditions:
So I started organizing my book. And I put up a facebook status asking how it should be organized. This seemed to be the general response: full songs (just in case) with 32 bar and 16 bar cuts of each. GREAT. And my roommate has a printer so I’m EXTREMELY blessed in that sense. But I just got a library card today so I could use those printers, too. There are copy machines EVERYWHERE. I bought new dance shoes…. a week ago. I have not yet received them. So I called the dance company from which I ordered them. They said they were delivered at 10:00 am on Saturday, September 10th…. it’s Tuesday the 13th. The dude gives me the FedEx tracking number. My address is 23-05 30 Ave Apt D5… it was delivered to 2101 30 Dr Apt A5…. WHA?!?! So. I’m humored by the mistake. I decide to walk the two blocks over there to get my package… cuz it’s there. I get there. I look to buzz A5 and it says “J. Hansen”. Ah, of course. FedEx, when they’re lost, just scours the area for someone with a name similar to mine. So I buzz but she’s not there. I talk to the super, he tells me to come back. I go back at 5… still not there. J. Hansen, listen. This is a senior citizen apartment building. The phone number for the dancewear company is ON THE BOX. What is this old woman doing with my 2 pairs of size 20 jazz shoes and my pair of size 20 ballet shoes?? She’s had them for… days now, and she’s done nothing. I can only imagine… *cut to a granny doing flawless pirouettes in my oversized jazz shoes* damn you granny…. But I called Rochelle today, hoping she still wanted to represent me. SO. We’ll see how that goes. But I’ve been vocalizing pretty regularly. I find it’s most appropriate during the day on weekdays… cuz everyone is probably at their 9-5 job. So, vocalizing between 1 and 4 seems most appropriate (any day of the week). And one of my neighbors watched movies with surround sound and one of them fights loudly and one of them plays saxophone. I figure we’re all even. ALSO. I have been practicing my pirouettes in my room (BOTH sides, even though the left side can choke on a fatty). I’ve been stretching; my ladder for my loft is the PERFECT location. Cuz if I want a deeper stretch, no problem, I just use the next rung up. IT’S AWESOME. And I can work out in my room: push-ups and abs. My legs get a CRAZY workout from walking up 4 FLIGHTS every day and taking the subway all over Kingdom Come. (If you’re not aware, I’m baffled by proper nouns.)

The Money Situation:
Listen, money is hard. BUT. It’s doable. When I first moved out here, Drew told me that you need to make about $15 an hour, minimum, to survive out here. I would agree with that so far. Because if I work two shifts a week with my cleaning job and then one job a month catering (FINGERS CROSSED), I’ll break even. So. It’s doable. BUT. Keep in mind that in my budget, I’m sharing a room. But it’s RIDICULOUSLY cost-savvy: $457.50 per month. Yeah, how bout THEM tatties?? It’s so doable. It all depends on what you’re willing to sacrifice. I’m willing to sacrifice a bit of luxury and privacy in exchange for more time to audition and hone my craft. You just gotta be clever about it. I can get in some cardio with dance classes and I can do weight training in my room. And if I don’t drink my tits off, I don’t need to do a lot of fat-burning activity. (Eventually, yes, I would like to make a bit more money so I can have a bigger food budget [obvi] and get a gym membership.) But even when I make more money, I think I’ll still share my room because food and gym time is more important to me than having a room all to myself. But that’s just me.

(On a side note, a prostitute yelled at me the other day for looking at her… justlookdownjustlookdownjustlookdown)

I cried today. Yep. Broke down and had a little cry. I was talking to my mom on the phone and I believe I ended the conversation with, “Well, I’m gonna go eat and cry.” And I did. I cried, and I made tuna salad. Sometimes, money just gets you down. And sometimes, living in New York can be incredibly lonely, even though you’re living on top of/underneath so many people. But then I had money in my budget for froyo (frozen yogurt) and so I.DID. And my friend sent me this really nice article about crying in NYC: http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/04/20/look-at-me-im-crying/?src=tptw

But I survived. And it wasn’t even my first PUBLIC cry. Oh boy.

But still, as my mother said, I’m living exactly where I want to be living and I’m doing exactly what I want to be doing. And there are SO MANY amazing things about living here. Like, there are A MILLION places to just sit and read a book. THEY’RE EVERYWHERE. I read an ENTIRE play on the subway the other day…. well, it was a quick read (for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf by Ntozake Shange). It’s really beautiful by the way. And now I’m reading a book called Waiter Rant by Steve Dublanica. It’s all about waiting tables in NYC and how people can suck and how people are vulnerable in restaurants. (Damn, I miss waiting tables…) But anyway. Then I fell asleep while reading it and I woke up before my stop. It was awesome. Everything here is awesome. Life here is awesome.

And I can only anticipate it getting better.

Tomorrow, I work!! For the next three days I have solid work. Hm… maybe I will get that gym membership… (not working out tends to make me cranky for more than one reason [lack of cardio and seeing the decay of my physical fitness in the mirror]). We shall see.

We shall see….

Let me just say something about slam poetry. I love slam poetry for the same reason I love art: people are so vulnerable. No matter how fleeting, they rip themselves open and expose their beating hearts. And that rawness is SO beautiful to me. So beautiful.

The slam poetry event I went to was in remembrance of 9/11. And one of the guys went up and before he started his poem, he said, “If you love someone, tell them.”

Here’s my favorite excerpt from for colored girls…

“one thing i dont need
is any more apologies
i got sorry greetin me at my front door
you can keep yrs
i dont know what to do wit em
they dont open doors
or bring the sun back
they dont make me happy
or get a mornin paper
didnt nobody stop usin my tears to wash cars
cuz a sorry

i am simply tired
of collectin
i didnt know
i was so important toyou’
i’m gonna haveta throw some away
i cant get to the clothes in my closet
for all the sorries
i’m gonna tack a sign to my door
leave a message by the phone
‘if you called
to say yr sorry
call somebody
else
i dont use em anymore’
i let sorry/ didnt meanta/ & how cd i know abt that
take a walk down a dark & musty street in brooklyn
i’m gonna do exactly what i want to
& i wont be sorry for none of it
letta sorry soothe yr soul/ i’m gonna soothe mine

you were always inconsistent
doin something & then bein sorry
beatin my heart to death
talkin bout you sorry
well
i will not call
i’m not goin to be nice
i will raise my voice
& scream & holler
& break things & race the engine
& tell all yr secrets bout yrself to yr face
& i will list in detail everyone of my wonderul lovers
& their ways
i will play oliver lake
loud
& i wont be sorry for none of it

i loved you purpose
i was open on purpose
i still crave vulnerability & close talk
& i’m not even sorry bout you bein sorry
you can carry all the guilt & grime ya wanna
just dont give it to me
i cant use another sorry
next time
you should admit
you’re mean/ low-down/ triflin/ & no count straight out
steada bein sorry all the time
enjoy bein yrself”

~for colored girls who have considered suicide/ when the rainbow is enuf by Ntozake Shange[sic]

I don’t start my prayers with, “Dear God.” I say, “To whoever’s listening.”
I don’t end my prayers with, “Amen”. I say, “Thanks for listening.”

LOVE.

JAMES.

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One response »

  1. Someone told me to read one of your posts… the most interesting things about this whole situation you are in is that you concede that success is largely about who you know which is why I am really confused you moved out to New York without contacting a very well-connected relative. So here is a small unsolicited favor…look up Ulises Solano and tell him you are related to me. If anyone can make a champion singer out of you it is him… Like you, he is in Astoria. He is a legend in his field so approach him with respect. good luck.

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