my year of change

2008 has been, by far, the most dynamic and important year of my life. Looking back, I still cannot fathom how I got to be so lucky as to experience such wonderful and life-changing things, meet such kind-hearted and inspiring people, and learn so much about myself. The following probably cannot do this amazing year any justice, but I need to record a set of reminders to celebrate all the great things I managed to accomplish and to keep myself focused in the year to come. For while I've gotten so far, there is still much further to go.
  • New York City. Enough said.
  • Making new friends from scratch.
  • Surviving broker's fees, restaurant jobs, humidity, cockroaches, bed bugs, and snow.
  • Fulfilling my lifelong dream of attending a conservatory and seeing everything else fall into place.
  • Fighting for myself in a competitive environment, leading to belief in my abilities and self-worth.
  • Finding out who my real friends and family are.
  • Keeping in touch with them and, consequently, myself.
  • Saving money. Losing money. Realizing that money doesn't really matter to me.
  • Expressing my creativity in all sorts of ways.
  • Music. Music. Music.
  • Voting for the first black president of the United States.
  • Being blessed with the insight that everything is a blessing.
  • Falling for a boy. Getting hurt by that boy. Finally understanding that I was never to blame, for his mistakes or all the others made by boys that came before him.
  • And most importantly, being completely, utterly, and unapologetically happy.
As the hours draw closer to 2009 here in the Big Apple, I have a few goals in mind. The ultimate resolution: live it up! And that I shall.
  • Lose weight. I suppose this should always just be a given.
  • Secure a professional acting job.
  • Recruit members to Team AlphaBar, New York Chapter, and complete the illustrious alphabetic bar crawl.
  • Reinstate Something New Sundays.
  • Continue to "put myself out there."
  • Find Ted Mosby. Well, one can dream.
  • Travel to a place I have never been, preferably outside the United States, but I think that will be determined by the job I hope to have by the end of the year.
That's a good start to the new year.


new impressions

I'm flying back to New York today. Having spent over a week at home in California, I have barely had time to breathe or think or blog. But miraculously, I've had plenty of time to eat. Dear Lord, I will have to kick my butt into high gear to lose my holiday pounds. Yeah, I've probably only gained like two of them, but being out of my routine of yoga at 8:00, tap at 9:30, dance review at 5:30, and all the other things that come with being a full-time conservatory student have left me feeling, as my good friend Lenny once so eloquently put it, "like a whale!" Well, being a fat kid again was good while it lasted.

It's interesting returning to a place I had previously never left. To see my home from an outsider's point of view gave me a lot of perspective on my new life. Looking out the window as my plane descended toward San Francisco, I realized that I had forgotten how green California is, with its endless fields, variety of evergreen trees, set against a background of curving hills and mountain ranges. On the other hand, things that once seemed so grandiose to me shrank and transformed into quaint representations of nostalgia. Everything was cute, old world, trying to hold on to something that might not longer be there. That's how I was once. Doing my best to prove that I had value, not ever knowing that there are much bigger things in this world.

I had made plans to see a lot of people, and for the most part, I did. However, some of the people I expected to call me never did. And some of the people I didn't expect to hear from made huge efforts to see me, even if it was just for an hour or so. I thought I would be more upset about this, finding out that the people you think care for you might actually not. But in reality, this sad truth didn't hurt me much at all. Life happens, things change, people move on. And while it's difficult to say goodbye to someone who was once a big part of who you were, it's important not to dwell on the things that have ended. So many good things happen to us each and every day, and we have to search for them, grab hold of them, appreciate them before they disappear. I'm thankful for those who have kept in touch, who did take the time out of their busy busy holiday schedules to share a cup of coffee, an ice cream sundae, a beer, a story, and a good laugh with me. You mean the world to me.

Being home for the first time in eight months means having to retell the story of my life over and over again. It sort of becomes robotic and mundane, and the more I talked about New York City, the less meaningful it became. It's hard, though, to transform eight months of magic into about three minutes of brief conversation. But I managed to surprise myself once. One of my friends asked me why I thought New York City was so right for me. And I responded: "New York is so competitive, and in order to survive, I've had to become competitive too. And because of the pace of the city, I don't have time to sit and feel sorry myself. It has built my self-confidence more than being at home ever could, and for the first time in my life, I feel 100% good about myself. I wouldn't trade that for the world."

So for now, at this moment in my life, I know I'm where I'm supposed to be. Being home confirmed all of that. I'm going to miss the simplicity and the comfort of this place as soon as I return to the city. But that's not what I need right now or what I'll need for the years to come. Much bigger things are waiting for me.


better days

It just occurred to me that it has been far too long since my last post, and life has changed a lot since then. I'm no longer angry, just sad that I wasted so much time feeling that way. School has been incredible, friends have been amazing, strangers have given me comfort, music has given me joy, and the prospect of being home in a few days gives me more than my fair share of happiness. Just as a brief record for myself, here is a laundry list of the things that have given me a reason to smile over the last few weeks.
  • I wrote my first song. Ever. It's titled, "What Am I Doing Here." It's a theatrical piece, and it will be the opening number of my Composition Elective Cabaret in January. It's not anything too thrilling, but I am really proud of myself for taking a leap of faith and creating something out of thin air. I plan on doing more of it in the future.
  • I've lost so much weight, it's ridiculous. A dress I wore a week ago that fit me was sliding off my shoulders today. The more pounds I lose, the better I feel about myself. So I guess it's a good thing.
  • My bangs are growing in. I cut them way too short at the end of October. I'm starting to not feel so hideous.
  • The head of our Musical Theatre department said my midterm performance, "is exactly what this school is striving for." That is the ultimate compliment I can receive at this point of my training.
  • I performed for Rachel Sheinkin, librettist of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.
  • Michael John LaChiusa, Broadway composer/lyricist/librettist (Hello Again, Marie Christine, The Wild Party, See What I Wanna See), heard a recording of my voice and liked it.
  • I have been on multiple dates with multiple men. A number of them are very good looking.
  • Snow. East Coasters take this natural phenomenon for granted. It is beautiful.
  • Cold weather means I get to crochet scarves for my nearest and dearest. Crocheting is calming and helps to relieve my stress.
  • California is just a four days and one plane ride away.



Yesterday, I took some time to think about all the things I am thankful for. This list consisted of the usual and expected: friends, family, music, creativity, New York City. Considering all the incredible things that have happened to me in the course of one short year, you would think that I had so much to be happy about. And yesterday, I tried to be happy. I put on the smile, took in the sights, drank all the booze, and laughed the hours away. But honestly, just below the surface, I was dying inside.

These last few months have often left me speechless, and I spend many of my days staring in awe at the new world that surrounds me. I never would have believed that I would have had the courage to follow my heart and leave everything I've ever known 3,000 miles behind me. Every day, I count my blessings. I have fallen head over heels in love with this city. But because of one stupid, awful, mean thing someone did to me, I am heartbroken every time I turn a corner.

I don't say these things aloud because my friends tell me I'm too good to waste my time thinking about him. They tell me to forget about it and move on. They don't know about what happened to me before and why this was so important to me. They don't know that I still cry myself to sleep and wake up shaken by my dreams. They probably will bitch and moan about what I'm about to write here. Whatever, deal with it.

I have been alone longer than anyone dares to believe. And with each ignored phone call, broken date, or heartless text message, I move one step closer to thinking that I am unlovable. Science tells us that if a hypothesis is proven a certain number of times, it becomes a theory. Each time I meet someone new, I get better at predicting when, exactly, he'll break my heart. And with the last one, I called it five days before it happened. Just one more, and I'll be hopeless.

I'm fuming inside. I don't know why I deserved to have such a mean thing happen to me. I was so incredibly hurt, embarrassed, dejected, ashamed... Honestly, what did I do to deserve that? It kills me to think that he's okay with it all, ignorant to how angry I am. Every time I see him, I want to bash his head against the wall, throw every profane and crude insult I can think of in his face, spread hideous rumors about him all over the city. I feel like I'm in middle school again and everyone is laughing at my misery. And instead of crying about it like I want to, I'm expected to suck it up and live my life like nothing ever happened. But goddamn it, you happened, and you ruined a place I love so so so much. I can't be at school without wanting to hide. I can't be in Times Square without thinking about September. I can't wear my AMDA t-shirt without remembering the night you walked me home. I wish you would just disappear.

Part of the reason I just can't let this go is because I needed to prove to myself that I made the right decision in coming to New York. I had felt so uncomfortable in my own skin for so long that being here, in a place where I believe dreams really can come true, was like breathing again for the first time in years. I felt that my career goals and personal desires were completely justified, and I had finally found the place where I could be myself. And because of that, life and love would just sort themselves out. Life got where I wanted it to go, but love, clearly, not so much. I was never expecting a sweeping romance; I just hoped I wouldn't get hurt again, and in the same way I've been hurt a million times before. But it happened, and I'm starting to believe that some greater power is trying to tell me that I'm just not cut out for that sort of thing.

I don't like it when people who are in relationships try to comfort me. Especially when they tell me they were in my shoes once. It's like your parents telling you about the time, way back, "when I was your age." What do you know about loneliness? Feeling like a complete and utter outcast because at 24, when most people my age are either seriously attached, engaged, or married, I am single for yet another painful, embarrassing, and nauseating year? Praying that someone will return your desperate text message on a Saturday afternoon so you won't have to spend another night alone watching reruns online? Putting a portion of your hard-earned cash into monthly payments for online dating services, hoping that you'll meet a good person through a carefully calculated matching system, only to find out that everyone in the world lies and can skillfully edit their pictures on PhotoShop? Cutting and dying your hair a thousand different ways, losing more and more weight, buying make up and perfume, and forcing your flat feet into four inch heels, all for the hope of catching someone's - dear God, ANYONE'S - attention at a bar? Please, for the millionth time, do not tell me he'll come along one day, like he did for you. I've waited for him steadfastly, impatiently, nonchalantly, demurely, and desperately for years and years. Your pity just serves to remind me how pathetic I really am.

Right now, I want nothing more than to be home in California, far away from the person who has made each day of the past month miserable. For the first time in almost eight months, I don't want to be here.

I hate him for that.


putting it out there

I had an interesting dream the other night. I dreamt that I was a successful professional Broadway performer, getting ready for one of my weekly shows. My friends were all around me, milling about and preparing for the night ahead. But something was missing, and I couldn't quite put my finger on it. I felt angry at something, but nothing was there. No one would believe I was angry and no one could understand how I was feeling. I, myself, didn't really get it.

When I woke up, I replayed the dream over and over, trying to figure out what was missing in my life. Then it hit me - he did not exist. At all. Like, he had never been thought of, conceived, or made. He was simply non-existent. And I was angry at NOTHING.


I realized today, that I had been leaving a huge part of my life out of these blog posts over the last two months. It wasn't an accident, though. I made the conscious decision not to write about my love life because, truthfully, part of me knew it was all going to fall apart. And I didn't want to have a record of any of the good times when I felt like bad times would come so soon after. This has nothing to do with my history and any bitterness I still hold toward those who've hurt me in the past (because sadly, the bitterness is still there). In the beginning, I wasn't pessimistic about any of this at all, actually. But something in me - intuition, maybe? I don't trust it enough - told me I was making the wrong choice, that I would eventually not want to remember it. However, optimism always finds a way to win, and for a while there, I was hoping things would be different this time around, since I was a new person in a brand new city where anything is possible. But reality grounds you, and when you're at the end of it all, you realize what a fool you've been. That's my story, anyway.

So here I am, two months later, single and lonely as ever. Trying to figure out how the hell I'm gonna get past this one because it was a doozy. (Really, who the fuck would do what he did?! Crazy people, surely.) Then, out of nowhere, God or my subconscious or whatever sneaks into my dreams to tell me that I have to let go of my anger because the thing I'm fighting against is no longer there. Alright, I think I can do that. But then what?

I believe in fate, destiny, all that everything-happens-for-a-reason business. It comforts me to know that my trials are serving a greater purpose, beyond the pain, heartache, and disappointment, and leading me toward something incredible. Otherwise, I'd have nothing to live for. But fate is just a small part of the big picture. It requires my trust, faith, and honesty. The truth about New York is once I started being honest with myself about what I wanted out of life, as well as believing that I deserved of all that and could obtain it for myself, everything fell into place. And easier than I would have ever imagined. That being said, I have a request to make of you, Fate:

Please send me someone to love.

I am a good person; I recently covered that one, you can check my archives if you'd like. I am a loving, kind, generous person. I am loyal, honest, sincere. I'm genuine, and I keep it real. I'm passionate, ambitious, idealistic, and optimistic. I can be neurotic at times, but really, it's because I care so much. I remember birthdays, check in on people when they're sick, send letters for no particular reason. I love animals, dogs especially. I like working on crossword puzzles, even though my vocabulary is too limited to get me beyond #7 across. I make up dances to celebrate the serendipity of life, like having the last class on a Friday afternoon cancelled or finding a restaurant that actually has Kool-Aid on the menu.

I believe there are an infinite number of good things in this world and life to experience, and I have been blessed with the opportunity to live through many of them during my short time on this earth. But one I haven't experienced, and am, admittedly, jealous of most people my age because they have, is love. The kind of love that makes you want to stop time or climb a mountain. Love that is overwhelming, awe inspiring. The stuff that makes it difficult to differentiate between fantasy and reality. Magic, in a way. To feel that way about someone and have someone feel that way about me would be my own bit of Heaven on Earth. I like to think I deserve that kind of happiness.

I don't know when you'll find the time to make this happen, Fate. But for now, I'll take it as a sign that both in the last dream I had and the dream you sent me back in February that indicated I would meet someone incredibly important in New York City, I was wearing the exact same outfit. I'll keep track of the clues you leave me here and there, and hopefully I'll find what I'm looking for at the end of this long, tedious, and broken road.

Just putting it out there.


today in history

America elected its first ever black president.

I voted Obama. I made a difference.

The people in Harlem are running down the streets and cheering at the top of their lungs. Today, I'm proud to be an American.

Here's to a brighter future.



I am a good person.

I make the conscious effort to reduce my own carbon footprint. I recycle, use energy efficient light bulbs, and purchase rechargeable batteries. I contribute to AIDS research. I volunteer my time to the community. I am anti-violence. I believe in peace. I support the arts. I am open-minded.

I adhere to the Golden Rule: treat others how you would like to be treated. Even if they don't deserve it. I am agreeable and seek compromise. I celebrate birthdays. I give gifts not out of obligation, but out of love. I really do care about how you feel about your job, your family, your partner. I value my friendships and work hard to make them last.

Because of this, I am a pushover. I let myself get stepped on and mistreated because I have such a need to give. And I find myself getting trapped in the same patterns over and over again. My history repeats itself, and at some point, I fear my heart will break into too many pieces for me to be able to put it back together again. I don't want to be cynical. I don't want to be cold. But every time something hurtful happens, I think that maybe it's the best way to prevent myself from feeling any kind of pain.

I remember that first night, listening to you unload all your emotional baggage onto the floor, and I thought to myself, why would you tell me all of this when I've barely even known you for a week? I realize now that people like you use that as an excuse for their behavior. I mean, didn't you wonder why I never shared any of my resentment or anger? I don't use my past as a way to justify my stupidity. In fact, I fight so hard against it, sometimes people wonder how I ended up so strong. That, in itself, makes me better than you.

But still, as I always do, I gave you the benefit of the doubt. As time went on, I started to see the familiar sign posts leading me to my usual exit. I hoped it would be different though, because I was in a new place and I had become a new person in the short time I had been here. But that's where the problem was. I had always believed that I was never good enough for people. That I messed things up because I said the wrong things, wore the wrong clothes, wasn't pretty enough, wasn't skinny enough, wasn't smart enough, wasn't witty enough, wasn't this, or wasn't that. I never put the blame for my unhappiness on others. The truth of it is the world is full of jackasses.

Now here I am, on the familiar side of it all. Of course I'm sad. Even if you're used to mistreatment, there's always that little bit of hope that keeps you from feeling numb. And maybe that's why I'm not a cynic. I hope for the best because I think I deserve it. So I'm gonna keep on truckin' on. There's not much more I can do, other than that.


seasons change

There's a chill in the air. Fall is upon us.

Summer/fall break ended spectacularly with a heartfelt reunion over diner food, a nighttime trip to the Statue of Liberty, a picnic in Central Park, drinks with good friends, snuggles and sleepovers, and gearing up for school. I've just completed my first week of my second semester at AMDA, and everything has gone pretty well thus far. Classes are just as expected, picking up right where we left off with little time for us to get comfortable. I got accepted into the Dialects Elective, where I'll learn how to speak three to four different dialects and accents this semester. I'm really happy about that, since the class is selective. Acceptance was based on an audition, which included speaking in various dialects and accents (and I had no previous experience doing so), transcribing text using the International Phonetic Alphabet, performance in the previous semester of Voice Production and Speech class, and teacher recommendation. Not only am I looking forward to the class for its subject matter, but it will surely be a benefit to me when I enter the professional performing world a year from now. Aside from Dialects, I'll be taking the Composition Elective this semester as well. It's been one of my life ambitions to write a song, but I've always been too scared. And for no real reason, actually. So when I heard about this class last semester, I made sure to make time for it in the fall. I attended the first class this past week, and it looks like its going to be a lot of fun. I also was elected Co-Dance Captain of my class group, and it was quite the honor to know that my peers trusted my leadership. I'll be running rehearsals outside of class and helping to teach and clean up dance routines in preparation for midterms and finals.

Outside of school, I've been happily adjusting to life as an unemployed, full-time student. I've gotten to spend a lot of time with my friends and I've gotten a lot more sleep than I've been used to in recent years. My loan application was declined, which was scary for about a hot second. Then I realized I did the application incorrectly, so I just reapplied and am now waiting on a positive response. With my credit history and guarantor, I should have no problem getting the money I need to get by. Knock on wood, of course.

I'm slowly, but surely, making plans for the holidays. No idea what I'll be doing this Friday to celebrate Halloween, but come Thanksgiving, you can surely find me on Central Park West watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade and having an orphan Thanksgiving feast later that evening. Sometime soon I'll be ice skating at Wollman Rink in Central Park, the one featured in a handful of movies. Christmas will be spent in California, and I'll likely be visiting both the North and South counterparts of my lovely home state. And this New Year's will be my first in New York City and my first away from my family. I've got quite the holiday season ahead of me. More details to come in due time.

I've got a whole lot of reasons to be happy right now. My only worry is whether or not this feeling will last. But I'll figure it all out in the weeks ahead. Until then, all I can do is patiently smile and wait.



Now that I don't have school, for the moment, and a job, I have been so incredibly bored. The days move forward like molasses, and I can't find enough to keep me occupied during the day. I have slept more in the last four days than I have in the last four months, and I've watched so much TV, I swear I'm turning into a potato. Thankfully, with my lack of physical activity, I've managed not to scarf down too much food. Surprised myself there, since I have this awful tendency to eat when I'm bored. The terrible thing is that when I don't have anything to do, my propensity toward procrastination, which is usually close to non-existent, dramatically increases. So I haven't yet started working on my first song for second semester, due the first day of class. Well, that's not entirely true; I've learned and memorized the song and did all my preliminary research. It's just the paperwork I've been procrastinating on. Hopefully I'll get it all done soon.

I'm approaching the end of my sixth month here in New York, and my circle of friends is increasing. The funny thing is, I never expected to have people I could count on this early in the game. But while I wait for school to start again and spend my days here in solitude, I realize that the people I've met and befriended in the last few months mean more to me than I could have possibly imagined and certainly more than I could have hoped for. That makes me so happy. It makes me feel like this is where I belong if it all came so easily. And that's the truth of it all: when it's right, it's easy.

So far, so slow, so not much of an update. More to come as my second semester begins.


catch up

Too much has happened in the last few days, but most of it is too important not to mention. Sadly, all this running around has left me with a vicious cold, my first here in New York City. Ah well, it was coming sooner or later.

First, and most importantly, I quit my job! Well, not officially yet; my last day is this Sunday. I always talk about feeling burnt out - psshh, I haven't stopped talking about feeling burnt out since my junior year of high school - but this time, I finally did something about it. Thanks to my scholarship from AMDA, I didn't have to take out much of a loan to cover the remainder of my tuition. And since I have no debt from college and no personal debt of my own, I decided to be my own age, for once, and live off of someone else's money for the remainder of my time in school, which is just one calendar year. I realized that I didn't move 3,000 miles away from home to be a waitress, get stiffed by European tourists and yelled at by native New Yorkers about the quality of their bagel and lox, or be mistreated weekend after weekend by droves of hangry (hungry + angry) people. I came to New York City to perfect my craft and learn about myself and this beautiful city. So I'm gonna do that now and say goodbye to my first ever waitressing job. It was fun while it lasted.

Final demos are nearly completed. I spent the last couple of days throwing around more money than I could realistically afford to treat myself on a job well done. This included a mani/pedi, a stylish new haircut, a fantastic fall jacket, and a little special something for myself happening this weekend that I shouldn't (and never will) write home about. It was all well deserved, that much I can say.

I'm so addicted to How I Met Your Mother and Heroes. Seriously, how did I ever manage to get through the first 22 years of my life without watching TV? I don't know. Today, I discovered the wonders of HBO On Demand and watched all five premiere episodes of True Blood, a new vampire thriller. I have a thing for the supernatural, I suppose.

Nikki comes home from almost a month-long business trip in Toronto, so Bosco will no longer be my only roommate. As cool as it is to have a dog around, it'll be nice to have a person to talk to during the evenings. Most other people I know will be going home for the week break we have off from school. But seeing as though I no longer have a job and cannot afford to go back to California (even when I had the job I couldn't afford the cross-country flight), I'll be spending my week off at the AMDA library doing preparatory work for second semester as well as exploring the city. I hope to go to the movies, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Brooklyn Bridge, hopefully in time to see the waterfalls before they are taken down next week, and shopping for winter clothes.

The temperature is dropping and the seasons are changing. I cannot wait for winter in New York City.


click, click, ka-boom

Holy crap, I got it.

After 14 weeks of being in school, I finally got something right. Now, I consider myself a fairly intelligent person. Theory is my thing; explain something to me, and more often than not, I'll understand what is supposed to happen. Practice, on the other hand, something I'm not so good at. I try too hard when it comes to the application of theory, and that screws me over in the end. But not this time.

I can't pinpoint exactly when it happened or why it happened or what made it happen. I know a lot of it can be contributed to the new friendships I've developed, which, over the last five months, have been my joy and saving grace. I was in class the other day, getting ready to perform my piece, and a voice in my head said, "It's okay, Gina, just let it fly," something my friends and teachers are constantly telling me. And this time, I actually did let go of everything - my fears, my insecurities, my resentment - and followed my head and my heart, simultaneously. I started to do things out of the blue, but it all made sense. I didn't feel trapped in myself and my uncertainties. I allowed myself to tell the truth, my own truth. And by God, it worked.

That one instance carried me through the week, and I miraculously began to nail it all. Class after class, I just seemed to get it right. Click, click, ka-boom, the pieces fell into place. The doubts are disappearing one by one. I'm going to fight desperately to hold on to this memory, this feeling, because this is the kind of thing I need to keep me going, despite the inevitable challenges I will continue to face. But nothing that's ever worth having comes easy. True story.

I was out tonight, roaming around the streets, and even in the midst of impending rain, I couldn't help but feel like the city was smiling at me. Welcoming me into its arms, celebrating my initiation into this select society. I learned to do what this city asks me and wants me to do: let go, dive in, and live for the moment.

I am, officially, a New Yorker.


die, vampire, die

I'm approaching the end of my first semester at AMDA, which means that final demos are looming around the corner. I've been tracking my progress, and though I still have a long way to go, I am overall pleased with the growth I've experienced in the last thirteen weeks. But there's one class that I just don't get - Musical Theatre. I know exactly what I'm doing wrong: I hold back, and I don't allow myself to feel what the character I'm portraying is feeling or act the way the character is acting within the given circumstance. And no matter how hard I try to fix that, I always get too scared. Growing up, I was taught to believe that showing emotion was a sign of weakness, so I've always held everything in. And eventually, I stopped feeling. I've known this about myself for a while now. It's the reason why I'm afraid of love, afraid of getting close to people, afraid of my own desires. I thought I had let go of it all when I took the plunge and moved to New York. But bad habits are hard to break.

I'm using this as an opportunity to kill all the vampires. I don't apologize to those I might offend because I need to allow myself to feel what I'm feeling without consequence. So there.

And here are the contents of my my heart...


Everything comes back to you. All my successes, all my failures, all of my pain. I remember being seven years old, crying because I had fallen on the pavement and scraped my face. As my tears mixed with the blood clouding my vision, you stood there and told me to go away because you couldn't stand the sight of my sorrow. What the fuck is that. I was seven. SEVEN. When something like that happens, don't tell a seven-year-old to go away. Hold them and tell them everything will be alright, and at the very least, give them a fucking Band Aid. I got nothing. I ran to the nearest bathroom and sobbed at the reflected image of my distorted face in the mirror. From that point on, I never came to you when I hurt myself. When I cut my thumb open with a razor, when my foot sliced open from broken glass, when I fell down the stairs, or when I experienced my very first real heartbreak. I needed you, but you didn't want me to. So I learned to live without you.

Things are better now, a thousand times better, but it will never make up for your neglect. Here I am, 24 years old, and everyday you tell me how proud you are of me. All I've ever wanted was for you to hold me and tell me that you love me.


I was wrong about you. When we first met, I thought you were adorable, charming, intelligent, and kind. Then, when all those crazy events transpired, I learned that everything about you was fake. I felt so betrayed; I had befriended you, trusted you. I was crazy about you. You drove me crazy. Despite the fact that it was for all the wrong reasons, that doesn't take away how fucked up what you did was. Still is. I'm 3,000 miles and almost one year away from you, and I still can't get you out of my head. I stopped caring for people like you along time ago, but then you came along and tricked me and made me do it all over again. Well, fuck you, asshole. FUCK YOU.

Goddamn you and your thick head. You probably would never believe I was actually writing this about you.


I feel so lucky to have someone like you in my life. Whenever I don't believe in myself, you give me enough courage and support to make me feel like I could run forever. But you're so sporadic; I never know when I'll hear from you again, and I feel like every time we're together might be the last time. I wish you wouldn't fall off the face of the Earth so much. Because the truth is, I need you. I love you. I don't know if I tell you that enough or if you believe how honest I am about that sentiment. Please understand that I mean every word I say.


Isn't it funny how you can be acquainted with someone for so long but never really know them? Sometimes I wonder what would have happened if our paths never crossed the way they did. I never would have gotten through my post-collegiate depression, and I surely never would have moved to New York. I owe much of my current happiness to you. Thank you for being my friend and confidant. Though we're on opposite sides of the country, I know I can always count on you. As corny as that sounds. But we're corny together, so that's okay.


I'm happy we met. And that's all I have to say about that, for now.


my favorite year

A brief recap of what has, undoubtedly, been the best year of my life:
  1. Shows - Kiss Me, Kate and Chicago, both of which led to breakthroughs in my performance skills and incredible friendships
  2. Trips - Disneyland with my boys, Italy and Spain, New York (twice before officially moving)
  3. Boys - Two, both of whom fell into my life at the right time but for the wrong reasons
  4. Endings - ACLO, KP Educational Theatre Programs, Chez Echo
  5. Beginnings - New York City, AMDA, my life as a waitress
  6. Discoveries - The importance of my family and friends, my independence, my voice
23, thanks for being so good to me. Here's to more in 24.


playing fetch

Nikki is out in California for the weekend, so I'm dogsitting Bosco while she's away. Our daily routine consists of a game of fetch in Central Park in the mornings, a walk around Harlem Meer in the afternoons, and a bathroom break before bedtime. As much as Bosco needs his daily dose of fresh air, I'm finding that I'm benefiting from our time spent together too.

I've been feeling really burnt out lately with all the time I spend at school and work. And with that have come a whole lot of negative thoughts. Things like, "I'm not improving fast enough," or "I'm not talented enough." I knew I would have moments like this, but I told myself I would push through it because in reality, time will fly faster than I want it to, and I owe it to myself to stick this thing out. This morning, as I was playing fetch with Bosco, I imagined that every time I threw the ball away, I was casting out a negative thought. And every time he brought the ball back, he was bringing me a positive thought in its place. Amazingly enough, this little mind game worked. And as we headed back home, my heart felt a thousand times lighter.

Sometimes, all you've gotta do is throw it all away.


I pulled a Ratha today. I was shopping at Target for my essentials, and I saw a box of hair dye for a reasonable price and in a bold color. I tossed it in my basket, and three hours later, my hair is burgundy.


I turn 24 in about a week and a half. Seriously, where does time go?



The last couple of days have been hella crappy, with the stress from both school and work really weighing me down. In fact, today on the subway, I had to fight back ridiculous tears that sprung from nothing. Well, almost nothing, if you count stress as something.

When I arrived home at the end of a very long school day, I paused for a moment to check the mail. I found the usual junk: a J. Crew catalog and a postcard ad for a local car dealer. As soon as I got into the apartment, I headed into the kitchen to throw it all out. But before I let go of the postcard, the back of it caught my eye. It turned out to be one of those "scratch and win" cards, and since I had my keys in my other hand, I thought I'd use them to scratch and reveal the number on the card to see if I had any chance of winning a prize. As the residue eroded away, my stunned eyes grew wider and wider, and I came to see that my numbers matched the ones required to win the grand prize: $5,000.

Dumbfounded, I double, triple, and quadruple checked the numbers to confirm that they did, indeed, match. Then, I scanned the card for the game rules, to find the details about what must surely have been a gimmick. "No purchase necessary," the three magic words I was hoping for. To be safe, I called the dealership to find out about the official rules and whether or not I really, really had to submit to some kind of loophole. Nope, nada, no strings attached. I just won $5,000 in cash, friends.

And here's my winning number to prove it!

So now the big question is, what am I going to buy first?

EDIT (8.26.2008): I went to claim my prize today at the car dealership, and it turns out there were more rules to the game that weren't posted on my postcard. Apparently, there were three different winning numbers distributed to consumers, and the one I got did not win me $5,000 as indicated on the card, but I did win a 3-day/2-night hotel stay at certain participating hotels across the country. I was a little disappointed by the false advertising, but hey, free vacation! Anyone down for a weekend trip to Vegas? Yeah!


california dreamin'

I'm approaching the end of my fourth month in New York. That's a third of a year spent away from home. And it's starting to feel weird.

When I dream, I tend to dream in cycles. Meaning that I'll have several vivid dreams in a row, usually all pertaining to one major theme, then the dreams will stop suddenly and disappear for a few weeks until a new topic comes to mind and I start subconsciously musing about that one. The last two nights I've dreamt about home. But not in the way that I would have expected, with warm and fuzzy feelings brought about by fond memories. I actually felt extremely agitated in both dreams. The first had be living back in Oakland, and strangely enough, my hair was long, as it was before I decided to move to New York. Throughout the dream, I kept insisting that the hair wasn't mine and that I didn't live in the apartment because I was now living in New York City. No one seemed to be listening. My second dream had me trapped at home because my flight back to New York after Christmas had been delayed a week. Though my family was happy to have me stay, I wanted to go back east and get back to where my life really was.

To remedy my restlessness and irritation, I decided to take a look at some old pictures from my last couple of years spent in the Bay Area. I felt detached for the most part, but there were a few exceptions. First, I got teary eyed when I found the picture of me and Lucy, my beloved Rav4, on the day I got her. And second, I felt a pang in my heart anytime I came across pictures of me and my last two roommates. Everything else left me feeling empty.

A classmate told me today, "You miss California, don't you? I can tell." And I responded, "No. Well, yes. I mean, I miss the place - the trees, the sun, the warmth, the smell of the ocean in the morning air. But I don't miss the life I had there." And I guess that's what this is all about. Figuring out where, exactly, I belong.

I think what is missing is the sense of familiarity and comfort. Everything here has been incredible so far: new environment, new challenges, new friends. But the constant flow of new things has left me feeling really exhausted at times, and what I want is just a moment to sit down and understand what is happening around me, rather than having to analyze and dissect and make sense of it all. Seeking this kind of support from home is not the answer, as indicated by my dreams. I have to find my answers here.

I don't know when that will happen, when I start feeling like this place is really my own. I don't know how I'll find it. But I suppose that it will happen sometime. It does for most people.


my summer romance

I've been missing in action for a little while now, and I attribute it to the fact that every day that I decide to blog, something noteworthy happens to distract my attention from the task at hand. So the things I have to blog about just add up, and now, here I am, two weeks and - get ready for it - one haircut, one play, two celebrity almost-sightings, three new family members, one museum visit, four visitors from California, countless kisses, and one original musical since my last post. Life in New York City can move very fast sometimes.

The humidity in this city can be unbearable at times. With what little money I have to spare, I decided to save up and visit a place in the East Village, Astor Place Hairstylists, which I found on yelp.com, and spent a whole $20 on a nice, short haircut. I got about two and a half inches cut off, and made my former subtle a-line cut more angled and defined. It's all very Sassy New York and, more importantly, keeps me cool in the summer heat. Right around the corner was Beard Papa's, best known for it's handmade cream puffs. I decided to try one out, and biting into that delicious work of art was like chewing on a piece of Heaven. It wasn't too sweet or too flaky or too whipped creamy. It was perfect.

Two weeks ago, I volunteered as an usher for the production of Richard Nelson's Some Americans Abroad at 2econd Stage Theater in the Theater District. I had no idea what the play was really about or who was in it, so when I arrived and opened up the Playbill before for house opened to familiarize myself with the cast, I was pleasantly surprised to find that Anthony Rapp was in the cast. Okay, not pleasantly surprised. Ecstatic. He originated the role of Mark in Jonathan Larson's greatest achievement, Rent, and I have always wanted to have the opportunity to see him perform. Associations aside, he is a superb actor, and I learned a lot from watching him in the play. I tried to meet him after the show, but I wasn't able to stay at the theater because it was closing. My heart broke a little, not gonna lie. The following day, I heard that Jodi Foster and her children were at the restaurant I worked at, but I missed seeing her because I was in such a rush to get started at work and walked straight through the floor without seeing anything. Bummer times two.

Last weekend, I was contacted by my grandma's first cousin who lives in New Jersey. She, her husband, and her son, came out to Manhattan to meet me and take me out to dinner. We had never met, and the last time she saw my dad was when he was 14 years old in the Philippines. We had a great time, ate a lot, and chatted it up as well.

Meeting the family: Lolo Ben, Allan, me, and Lola Delia

Also during the weekend, I visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art for the first time. Unfortunately, I only had an hour and a half to spend in the museum because of my packed schedule, which is hardly enough to explore even one section, if you consider the size and scope of the Met. It was beautiful, and I'm going to try and set aside one day of my fall break to just go and wander throughout the museum. In the little time I had, I viewed the impressionist paintings, a homework assignment for acting (to help stimulate our sense of sight), and the superhero costume exhibit. So cool! Oh, and I introduced my friends to Beard Papa's that evening, on our walk to the museum, and everyone agreed: they were too good to be allowed to eat. But we ate them anyway. Of course.

Couture costumes

Cream puffs in Central Park with your friends = best thing ever

In the last week, I've had four Californians come to visit New York. I had dinner Wednesday night with John and April at their hotel in midtown, which was decadent and a lot of fun. Al and Jacob came much later that night, due to a 5-hour flight delay, and spent the next two days at my apartment. Sadly, again due to my packed schedule, I have yet to hang out with them. But we're planning on dinner Monday night for Al's birthday, so I'm looking forward to that.

Dinner with John and April

After six weeks of straight work, between school and my job, I needed to take a break. No work, no homework, no talk of anything requiring any sort of responsibility. Friday night, I went out with some friends from school for dinner and drinks. And though nothing particularly spectacular happened, I had so much fun. It was probably the most fun night I've had since moving here. I felt, for the first time, that my relationships with people, these former strangers who fell into my life a mere six weeks ago, finally progressed past the stages of superficiality. I had a lot of meaningful conversations with my friends, and though they were certainly aided by a non-stop flow of alcohol, they were honest and genuine. I know I say it all the time, but I really am so happy to be here.

Bright lights and big smiles in our lovely city

Finally, I met up with Miguel for the first time in a while, and we had what is quickly becoming a typical Gina-Miguel Saturday night: dinner and a show, thanks to the TKTS booth. We scored tickets to [title of show], which I've been wanting to see since I got the cast album last year. It was hilarious, as expected, but heartfelt as well. We met the cast after the show and took some pictures. Jeff, Susan, and Hunter flipped out over Miguel's shirt because Susan had bought the exact same shirt as a gift for Hunter from the exact same craft fair in Brooklyn that Miguel had gotten his shirt at. Small world. And I've got the pictures to prove it. What up?!

Miguel with Jeff Bowen

Me and Heidi Blickenstaff

Miguel, Hunter Bell, and the shirt they have in common (which says, "make me a sandwich")

And thus concludes this chapter my continuing love affair with the Big Apple. New York, New York, I can't get enough of you, baby.


light bulbs

In my Musical Theatre class, we're learning how to act through singing. To accomplish this, we use a procedure called "the approach to a song." It's a multi-step process that helps us to analyze a song musically, lyrically, literally, and figuratively, all within the context of the musical which it comes from. A key element of this process is creating a parallel situation to help you, the performer, better identify with the character. Sometimes, characters are in such unique situations that you have to make up your own story (consider Sarah from Ragtime or Javert from Les Miserables). But more often than not, musical theatre songs are about love. All kinds of love: romantic love, familial love, nostalgic love, unrequited love. And most people can relate to that in some form or another.

My first song, "I Will Be Loved Tonight" from the musical review I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change, is about the excitement of love. And it was easy for me to relate to because of a significant person I met here in New York City. However, the song is two fold. It also talks about the somber acceptance of being alone. That was where I was having trouble. While rehearsing the song, I had felt something was lacking, that I wasn't conveying the true sense of being in love, which can include both joy and sadness. I picked the song apart, revising pages and pages of analytical work I had done, and then one day, something clicked.

I do not allow myself to feel. Before I left for New York, a host of things happened, one of which was completely unexpected. And it was strange and complicated and, worst of all, unresolved. I felt a whole lot of things about it after I left home, wallowing for weeks on end, dreaming about how it could have been different. I was afraid of my emotions, upset that they make me feel so powerless. So instead of dealing with them, I simply stopped feeling them. But after working at this song, I realized that reliving that particular experience could bring humanity and honesty into my performance. I sucked it up and wrote about everything that happened and everything I felt and everything I continued to feel. A huge weight lifted from somewhere inside me. Allowing myself to be vulnerable made it easier for me to emotionally connect to the story I was working on. And I realized that in order for this whole thing to work, in order to be completely invested in the journey I am taking, I must accept myself and how I feel, regardless of how embarrassing or hurtful or ridiculous those feelings may seem.

Because, after all, that's what makes me human.


While I was at Berkeley, it was really important for me to do well. I had this sort of complex about school, where I believed my self worth was reflected in the grades I earned in class, at least in the eyes of my parents. I worked and worked and worked for A's, and in the course of three and a half years, I only earned two solid A's.

This time around, grades are unimportant to me. What I strive for most is understanding and getting each and every concept thoroughly ingrained in my mind and body. So far, so good.

Last week, we had our first demonstration during which we presented proper vocal technique to our instructor. I practiced for nights on end, making sure I really understood what was going on, how I reacted to various alterations of the technique to know when I was doing it right and when I was doing it wrong, and to ensure that I wouldn't be nervous when the day of the demonstration came. That dedicated effort got me an A- on my first try. And considering this is just the beginning, I'm sure to improve in the next few weeks and months.

Wanting to understand taught me the more important lesson, rather than simply wanting to achieve.


I am broke. The kind of broke that is almost unbearable. My weekly budget for food is $15 a week. And that is the largest allowance I am giving myself. Having spent two years working for a large and successful corporation, earning more money than I needed, kept me comfortable, especially since I was so close to home, where I had all the resources I needed to feel secure. I knew that moving to New York would mean making a lot of sacrifices for the sake of the pursuit of my dreams. I didn't know it meant I would be wondering each and every day how I would make it through without much more than a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and a pack of fruit snacks.

I've been trying to work my way around this. I pick up shifts at work when I can, which isn't often because of my class schedule, but I try anyway. I've requested to work longer on weekends, giving up what little free time I have to make the money I need to pay bills, feed myself, and save up money to fly home for Christmas. I'm considering picking up a tutoring job when the fall comes to make a little extra cash on those evenings I get out of class too late to work at the restaurant.

I lamented about my struggles with Lexie the other night, and she kindly redirected my focus to the big picture that lay in front of me: "You have an old soul, but you're not old. You have to remember that. You're a 23-year-old starving artist. Comparatively, you're doing really well."

She's right. And 20 years from now, I'll look back, laugh with my friends and family, and say, "Remember that time I moved to New York with nothing more than a little bit of money and a pocket full of dreams?"


Finally, a shout out to my Auntie Marie. Becky told me you read this, so I thought I'd make it extra special for you this week. ;)


school is cool

I've been studying at AMDA for three weeks now, and to sum in up in three words: it is tough. I am taking Musical Theatre, Acting, Vocal Production and Speech, Sight-Singing/Music Theory, Film Lab, Dance (Tap, Musical Theatre, Jazz, and Ballet), and private vocal lessons. My days are spent in 2+ hour workshop sessions, building skill and technique. And that's just the tip of the ice berg. Outside of class, I spend hours listening to music, analyzing scripts, building characters, observing people and performances, viewing live theatre, rehearsing, rehearsing, and rehearsing. When I'm not doing any of that, I'm working my butt off at my job, trying to scrape enough money together to pay for that coming week's food and, further along, next month's rent. And when I manage to find a free second, I try to cultivate friendships among my classmates and co-workers so that I can feel like I have some semblance to a social life.

At the beginning of semester, the incoming class was divided into groups based on criteria such as age, experience, and training. My group consists of the older students. There are 17 of us. We are all aged between 21 and 35, and almost all of us have undergraduate degrees. I attend all of my core classes with my group. Our classes are conducted in workshop format, where there is more exploration of the artistic material than there is lecturing. This helps to cultivate creativity within a safe space. The remaining classes - dance and sight-singing - are divided based on skill, which was evaluated through placement tests during orientation, so students from different groups are combined for these classes. I have been placed in the second level, of five, for all my dance classes, and in the fifth level, of five, for sight-singing. I really enjoy the people in my group, and I especially like that the school considered separating us by age. There is a high level of commitment and dedication among the students in my group, and we have a lot of discipline when it comes to rehearsing and completing our assignments. I think I would have been frustrated if I was taking classes with students fresh out of high school and living on their own for the first time, in New York City nonetheless. Also, being surrounded by people who have been through the same thing I have - giving up established lives to pursue a performing career - gives me the confidence and support I need to continue with this program.

Despite the incredible amount of time and work that is required of this program, I feel so fulfilled, even though I haven't been here very long. It is the kind of work that I am happy doing, even the most mundane parts of it. It does get grueling at times; the program is physically, emotionally, and intellectually demanding. I have really been challenged to work beyond my limits to develop my potential, and for that, I am grateful. It is something I felt that has been missing in the last few years, and I'm happy for the opportunity to see how much I can grow.

While at Berkeley, I often questioned whether or not I was supposed to be at such a place. I went through the motions and got through the days, but I never truly felt like I belonged there (with the exception of AiR, which was my performing outlet). This time around, I am studying something I love in a place that moves me. I don't regret my college experience. I'm happy I went through that, got my bachelors degree, and acquired the skills to help me live productively on my own. It's just that now I'm finally doing something for myself, rather than because it's the "right" thing to do. And that keeps me motivated.

But... as any New York conservatory student would do, I put aside my homework for one night to attend a not-to-be-missed performance here in the city: Boyz II Men! Having been a long-time fan, I couldn't pass the chance to see them in concert for the first time. It. Was. AMAZING! Check out the photos below of one of the best live performances I have ever seen. Woo!

Motownphilly IS back again!

Shawn, Nathan, and Wanya (Michael no longer tours with the group because of his scoliosis)

Me, my roommate, and some friends


happy independence

Living on my own - and I mean really living on my own - for the past two and a half months has been an incredible learning experience.

Well, duh.

I guess I'll elaborate.

When I made the decision to move here, I wanted to start from scratch. No friends, no contacts, no real knowledge of where I was going. All my history was left back home in California. Once I arrived in New York, I had the opportunity to begin the second volume of my life - recreating characters, building new environments, stumbling upon an entirely different set of conflicts. It's amazing to see the kinds of things that can come about when you put yourself in an unfamiliar setting. I am surrounded by strangers, all of which have something to offer and are looking for something to take. As I sift through the unknown to try and find some stability, I begin to understand my strengths and values and what I have to give to this place. The learning in itself is exhilarating.

That being said, I have made some recent and delightful discoveries in the past few weeks:

1) I am more tough skinned than I would have thought. Whether this is something I always had in me or whether this is something New York forced upon me, I can't really tell. Probably a little bit of both. But go ahead and tell me I suck. I can take it. Because what you think of me will not diminish what I think of myself. Besides, I think you suck too.
2) I am not ashamed of my mistakes. I'm human, so I don't know all there is to know about the world. If I mess up, whatever. Now I know what to do in the future.
3) I have a lot to offer in a relationship. And if you can't see that, well, I'll find someone else who can.

Self discovery is a wonderful thing.


I spent the 4th of July sick with a stomach bug, but I managed to host a potluck at my apartment regardless. My new friends from AMDA came over and spent the afternoon barbecuing and taking a much needed break after a grueling first week at school - the program is incredibly intense, but I'll save that for my next post. Afterwards, we headed midtown, where we watched the fireworks on a jam packed street corner in the summer rain. It could have been miserable, but seeing as it was the first fireworks display most of us had seen in New York City, nothing would have diminished our joy and excitement.


Loving the show

Soaked from the rain, but we don't really mind

A few other firsts I have neglected to write about until now:

During my fourth week in New York, I was evacuated off a subway train at 11:30 pm. On my way home from work (at the old job), a suicide jumper got trapped under the train I was riding. I later found out he survived and was treated at a local hospital for traumatic cardiac arrest.

One night, walking home from the subway station, a flash of light zoomed in front of me at about waist level. I stopped dead in my tracks, wondering if I was seeing things, then I realized I had just seen a firefly for the very first time. So peculiar.

I woke up two nights ago, at 3:42 in the morning, to the sound of an incessant car horn, flashing lights, and the smell of smoked. I peeked outside and saw flames ascending from directly below my window. It was a car fire. About 60 feet below me.

Lexie and I joined her roommate and some of his friends to attend our first free summertime event: The Man Who Came to Dinner at Bryant Park, a part of the summer movie series hosted by HBO. It was ridiculously fun.

A good crowd going

Big screen before the movie

Show time

We love it here!

So life in New York continues to be amazing. That's all there is to it, really.


back to school

This post is long overdue, but I must defend myself by saying that damn, it's been a crazy two weeks.

I'll spare myself the trouble of recording the mundane details by saying there was a little bit of this and a little bit of that, all related to getting started at AMDA. And that right there is the big news - I am now a full-fledged conservatory student! Orientation was Thursday through Sunday of this past week. It was chock full of information, much of which was not age appropriate for my orientation group, composed of the older students (e.g. not fresh out of high school and aged anywhere from 19-35). I mean, really, why must I be told how to hold my backpack on the subway, how to set up a bank account, or that if I'm late multiple times to school, the administration will call my parents? Come on.

The highlights, in short form: meeting a whole bunch of people from all over the United States and some other more distant parts of the world (though, surprisingly, I was the only student in this incoming class who is from a state west of Texas); seeing In the Heights for "free" (surely it was paid for by the large check I submitted to cover my tuition) and meeting Lin-Manual Miranda, star and creative genius behind the musical, and Christopher Jackson, co-star and AMDA Alumni; and finally doing the thing in New York I came to New York to do. Classes were as I expected - fast-paced and informative - and I already have a handful of homework assignments underway. It's all very exciting.

Aside from school, I've managed to visit the new Ikea with Miguel in Red Hook, Brooklyn. It's just the same as any other Ikea, except it's in Brooklyn. Very convenient. I actually saw In the Heights prior to the AMDA Orientation outing this past Tuesday with Lexie. Her friend Philip, who is attending AMDA beginning this fall, won the lottery tickets but he couldn't make the show. So we got to see it front row. Amazing! Work is going well; I'm quickly learning the ropes and making friends, as well as a nice chunk of money. Thankfully, my class schedule still allows me to work a few nights a week without taking away too much from my studies and rehearsals. So I'll continue to financially stable, something I have been worrying about since day one. After dating what, by my standards, seemed to be too many boys, I'm now dating none. Things just didn't click with one guy, and when I started to think that things were going really well with the other, they didn't end up that way. It's complicated, but let me just say I've learned that some things don't ever change. Ah well, such is life. And in the vast expanse that is New York City, there are sure to be plenty of other fish in the sea.

I've got more visitors scheduled for the next few weeks. Sarah Bacon's coming by mid-July, Nathan Rossi will (hopefully) be here at the end of July or in early August, April and John Francis are visiting in early August, and Chris Lee will be around shortly after that. My immediate family is planning a tentative trip for late September, and if that all works out, I won't be missing home as much as I thought I would. Not that I'm missing home much right now. Actually, I'm falling in love with New York.

So that's the current state of my life in a nutshell. Or a blog post, rather. I'm sure that after a few days at AMDA, I'll have more insight to share. But for now, I'm riding the wave and enjoying the ride. Woo!

P.S. Happy Pride to all! I joined some of my new AMDA friends at NYC Pride this past Sunday - in the pouring rain - and thought of all my loves back home. It was fun, but I still think SF Pride is better.

Firefighters, always a parade staple

Google bus

Wouldn't be Pride without a rainbow or two... or three... or a bajillion



Not much to report this week, expect a few key milestones:

(1) New MacBook + Free HP All-in-One Printer/Scanner/Copier + Free iPod Touch = Happy Gina
(2) My bedroom is now painted purple and all my stuff has been put away.

The accent wall

The rest of the room

The finished product

(3) Our living room and kitchen are livable.
(4) All of my school supplies were purchased online and have arrived.
(5) My California Driver's License has been surrendered for a New York Driver's License, and I am now a New York State resident.
(6) My New York Public Library membership is effective as of today.
(7) I was recognized on the street by a co-worker, which means I officially know people in New York.
(8) I found a good Mexican food restaurant, which is saying a lot, coming from California - granted, it's a little bit ghetto, but that's how you know it's hella good.
(9) I have nearly exhausted my moving funds and am now proceeding by living paycheck to paycheck.
(10) My student health insurance begins next month.

That's it! I'm settled in!


two by two

I'm a little late on my blog update, but I attribute it to the crazy week I had. Where do I even begin?

As mentioned in my previous post, I picked up a new job. So this past week has been spent finishing out the old one while training for the new one. While the work itself isn't too difficult, putting in all those hours per day certainly is. I was working 13+ hour days, with a one-hour break in between shifts/jobs to get myself a quick bite to eat and travel across town to make it in time. Rough. I made a little extra cash though, and I'm going to try my hardest to make it go as far as possible.

Two sets of two friends came to visit. First off, I had two people come to find a place called home. Marisa was in Miami for business, and she made a trip up the coast to visit home before going back to California. She took me over to Google in Chelsea for lunch. Holy crap, that place is amazing. I wonder what life would have been like if I had landed my very first job interview post-college, which was with Google. Anyway, it was a fun afternoon filled with unlimited food, good conversation, and Razor scooters zipping along the hallways. Later that night, I met up with Lexie, who just moved to New York City from Alameda. We bar hopped in the East Village, where we seriously couldn't stop guys from talking to us. Seriously. It was ridiculous. I've never had so many free drink offers in my life. Needless to say, we had a great time out. And it is so nice to have a recent California transplant to explore the city with me.

Lexie and Me at Doc Holiday's in the East Village

This past weekend, my two best friends from high school, Danielle and Michelle, came to visit. It was Michelle's first time in New York, and I felt bad that she had to experience it during a torturous heat wave. It really was unbearable - 100-degree heat with intense levels of humidity. Awful. Though the thunderstorms at night were way cool. Our itinerary consisted of simple New York-ish things: Yankees game, shopping and dining in Times Square, bar hopping in SoHo. I got to show off my quaint apartment, which received less than stellar reviews. But I think that was attributed more to the fact that I didn't have air conditioning rather than anything with the physical character of the apartment. I bought an air conditioner yesterday, actually, so my next set of visitors will be comfortable in the summer heat, for sure.

At Yankee Stadium - The view from the bleachers

The girls and me

The most exciting thing that happened last week - and all month, probably - is that I went on two dates each with two different guys. What?!? Stuff like that never happened to me back in California. I don't want to divulge too much here, nor do I want to get my hopes up, but what I can say at this point is that things are going very very well.

Aside from that, things continue to get settled. I've updated my wardrobe to accommodate for the scorching summer I am about to face; I've gotten some more of my belongings organized and am looking forward to painting my apartment this weekend; I bought a new computer and got a free printer and iPod Touch to go along with it - I love the Apple store!; and most importantly, the city is starting to feel less like a stranger. I've only been here a month, but the changes in me are evident. I'm more independent, resourceful, open, discerning, and smarter about my surroundings. All in all, I'm really starting to like it here.


paramus, new jersey

As I mentioned in my last post, I had a couple of furniture mishaps that needed fixing. So this past Tuesday, I made a reservation with the Harlem branch of Enterprise Rent-A-Car, got myself a set of wheels for the day, and ventured into Paramus, New Jersey, where the nearest Ikea is located. I was assigned to a Ford Taurus, but the car wasn't ready when I got there, so I got a PT Cruiser instead. It ended up being to my benefit because the back seat was able to fit more of my furniture and purchases from both Ikea and Target, which I stumbled upon while driving around in the morning, waiting for Ikea to open. I had a really fun time being able to drive again - though I was extremely cautious because I was, admittedly, terrified of driving in New York, and I'm sure my fellow motorists didn't appreciate me driving 10 miles under the speed limit the whole time, but whatever - and it was nice to get out of New York for a day. The only downside was trying to get my furniture pieces down and up from my fourth-floor walk up apartment. Turned out to be a pretty good workout though, and a little soreness never hurt anyone.

Here are a few pictures from my adventures in the Garden State:

The PT Cruiser I rented, in the Target parking lot

I crossed the George Washington Bridge into NJ - $8 toll back into NY! Insane!

My new dresser, all pieces included

My one piece of decor includes pictures of my four favorite places in the world - Berkeley, New York, San Francisco, Venice

My workstation

There are only a few more things I need: purple walls and a MacBook. Oh yeah, and a roommate and her dog, and they're moving in this afternoon!

In other news, I got a new job! I'll be working as a server at a restaurant on the Upper West Side starting this coming week. So much closer to home and work, and I'll be making a lot more money. Many thanks are owed to my friend Pete for all the support and guidance.

And that concludes my first month in New York. Woo!


pros and cons

I’ve been in my new apartment about a week now. It’s nice and spacious, though without a roommate, it’s been quite lonely. Now that I’m not spending four hours a day commuting to and from Long Island, I’ve begun to realize how little I actually have to do in this big city. Aside from work, my days are spent cleaning the apartment, unpacking as slowly as I can so I have something to do the following day, roaming around the Upper West Side to familiarize myself with the neighborhood near my school, trying my best to stay occupied by stealing wireless Internet until I have the money to pay for it myself. I just found out Central Park is wired for access, so I’ll have to try that sometime soon. Nikki and Bosco are moving in next weekend, so soon enough, it’ll be threes company.

Here are some pictures of the progress of my room:

Bed, before

Bed, after

Room, before

Room, after

"A Tree Grows in Harlem" - Knit tree from the Brooklyn Flea Market

Harlem Meer at Central Park North, located right behind my apartment

The other night, I had my first battle with New York’s most enduring resident – the cockroach. I found a few in my kitchen and bathroom, and to be completely honest, they simultaneously scared and grossed the crap out of me. They’re disgusting. After freaking out for about half an hour, I calmed myself down by telling myself that I am not the only one who deals with cockroaches in this city, and thank God they’re not rodents. I wasn’t prepared and hadn’t bought any bug spray, so I terminated the first couple ones with bathroom cleaner. The following day I bought some roach trap/repellent thingies, and I’m happy to report that I have been cockroach free for about a day now. I don’t suspect that they have completely gone away, but as long as I don’t see them roaming around my apartment, I’m happy. I guess you could say that was my initiation into living in a New York apartment.

Other things that have transpired in the last week: I bought faulty furniture from Ikea and am now having to pay the consequences. First, I was a complete dumbass and bought the wrong sized sideboards for my bed frame. I correctly purchased a full sized headboard and footboard, but I neglected to check the sideboards, which ended up being for a queen/king sized bed. I didn’t realize this until my bed was completely constructed and my mattress seemed to be floating in between the headboard and footboard. Yeah, good one, Gina. I was going to just suck it up and have a misshapen bed so I wouldn’t have to make the trip out to Ikea to fix it. Then I opened up the box for my dresser and found that it was missing several key pieces. What the hell? One of the sides of the dresser was no where to be found, and it is short one drawer. So now I definitely have to make the trip back to Ikea. Unfortunately, because I am by myself and because these furniture pieces are too large to take to New Jersey by bus or train, I have to rent a car to exchange my purchases. Laaame. I should probably be more upset about it, but at this point, all I can do is laugh. Anyway, something had to go wrong with my move sometime or another, and if this is the bad stuff, I’ll grin and bear it. It’ll be my first time driving in the tri-state area; hopefully I don’t get too lost and end up in Maryland or D.C. or something. The cost is going to take a sizable chunk out of my already depleted bank account, but because I would have had to pay for delivery from Ikea to Manhattan if I didn’t have a car, this actually ends up costing about the same. And I’ll get that feeling of freedom that comes with driving a car, something I’ve been missing for the last three weeks.

Speaking of cash, I am quickly becoming strapped for it. My job is not what I expected, for reasons that probably should not be divulged in a place accessible for public viewing. But at the very least, I can say that with the salary I’m earning and the hours I’m getting, I’m not making enough to comfortably survive here on my own. I’m on the job hunt again, though if nothing comes up in the near future, I’ll probably apply for one of many jobs on campus once school starts. The nice thing about that is the school will work around my class and exam schedules. I might not be making as much money as I could be elsewhere, but like I have been saying about this whole experience, I’m trying to keep my options open.

This past weekend, I had my first visitors from home. Tristan, former ETP co-worker, was visiting New York with a friend, and he took some time out to have lunch with me at Peanut Butter & Co. in Greenwich Village, which specializes in gourmet peanut butter sandwiches. Yum! Tristan had the Elvis Special – peanut butter, bananas, and honey on toasted bread – and I had the Cookie Dough Surprise – peanut butter, vanilla cream cheese, and chocolate chips. All sandwiches are served with carrot sticks and potato chips because the owner states that that is how his mother would serve peanut butter sandwiches to him as a kid. Clever concept. I will most definitely be back, especially since I got a frequent visitor card and can earn a free jar of peanut butter after 10 visits.

Me and Tristan at Peanut Butter & Co.

Stephan Diaz, fellow Deer Valley High School alumni and close family friend, surprised me by calling two days before his trip to New York. He had auditioned for the Broadway revival of West Side Story, and he was called back for the auditions in New York. He booked the trip at the last minute and needed a place to stay because all the hotels he was finding were completely booked. As luck would have it, he was arriving the day I moved into my apartment, so he spent his evenings with me, lounging in my empty living room. His audition went well, and he should be hearing back within the next month or so. It was really nice to have someone to break in my apartment with, even if he was only staying for a few days. Hopefully he gets into the show, so I can see him more often.

Gina: "Aww, what a cute pict... Hey, you can't see my eyes!"

Stephen: "Try raising your eyebrows."

Stephen: "Oh God. Okay, don't raise your eyebrows."

I finally saw my first Broadway musical since moving here. This past Wednesday, Miguel and I watched Spring Awakening, which was fantastic. I can see why it won the 2007 Tony Award for Best Musical; it’s expertly crafted, and a lot of it was very innovative in regards to design (lighting, staging, sound). The soundtrack is fresh and exciting, and strangely appropriate for a book that’s over 100 years old. It was a good time, and our seats were great. Thanks TKTS!

Aside from Miguel and my two visitors from this past weekend, I haven’t been hanging out with many other people here in New York. Schedules with my friends from California are difficult to coordinate, and other than them, my list of new friends from New York remains quite short. I’m considering joining the Cal Alumni Club sometime soon just to broaden my horizons. They’re hosting a happy hour event later this week, and next month, they’re teaming up with the alumni clubs of other Pac-10 schools to host a nighttime cruise around Manhattan. It would be nice to meet more people, in general. The stress of moving and settling in has left me short of energy, and I find it taxing to try and extend myself even more by attending these huge social events. I’ll just have to psych myself up for it, I guess.

This coming week will be filled with completing the furnishing of my bedroom and possibly painting the apartment, if I can find the time and the money to do so. I’m hoping to catch another Broadway show soon. I’ve got Saved!, Cry-Baby, and In the Heights on my list of shows to see ASAP. Sex and the City premieres next week, which I’m planning on seeing with Nikki and some of her friends. And the week after that, I have three of my very good friends from home coming to visit. Exciting things await!