review and renew

As this notable year comes to a close, I can't help but be amazed by the amount of change and growth that has happened. Ratha and I strive to give each year a theme, and this past one's was "2009: Live it Up!" Let's see if we accomplished that goal.
  • My first act of 2009 was one of forgiveness. Off to a good start.
  • Starting and finishing Third Semester at AMDA. For those who've never done it, it's one hell of a ride.
  • Michelle's bachelorette party in Las Vegas planned by Danielle and myself. Over indulgence? For sure.
  • California in the summer. Almost as good as California in the fall.
  • Cathy's college graduation!
  • First professional audition: National Tour of Avenue Q. Scored two call backs for the role of Christmas Eve. Many more auditions - and call backs - quickly followed.
  • Building amazing friendships with two inspiring people who have already changed my life.
  • Quarter Life Crisis. More like Quarter Life Celebration!
  • AMDA Graduation - "Kiss today goodbye..."
  • Post-school job at Havana Central. Truth is, I love that place.
  • Booked my first acting job, an Off-Broadway show, which I eventually ended up dropping out of.
  • Sang in my first cabaret. Will certainly be doing more of that in the future.
  • Job promotion offered. Job promotion declined because...
I'd say I did pretty well, overall.

And now, "2010: Legendary!" So far, it's gearing up to be the best year yet.
  • California in winter. Not as pretty as California in spring. But it will do.
  • Moving to, living in, and working and earning EMC points in Miami, February 8-April 5.
  • Mexico in April.
  • Moving back to New York City and into a new apartment late April/early May.
  • Back to survival jobs and open calls.
All that before the summer? Yeah!

Finally, my annual resolutions.
  • Lose 15 pounds by March 3, opening night of Miss Saigon. I'm fairly satisfied with my current weight, but if I have to traipse around in a bikini on stage seven shows a week, what I've got ain't gonna cut it. I'm easing up on the grub and hitting the gym as often as I can.
  • Travel some place I've never been - a continuation of my former lifelong resolution. I didn't actually go anywhere new in 2009, so Miami and Mexico are making up for it.
  • Go to church more often. I've been so incredibly blessed during my time in New York. Thanks are long overdue.
  • Read all the books in my bookshelf. Because sadly, I haven't.
  • Blog more! I feel like this time of my life is the start of something wonderful, and I want to remember it all someday.
It IS going to be legen - wait for it - DARY! Blogosphere five!


all i ever wanted

You know, I spend all this time carefully weighing my options before I make decisions, and somehow, things always end up the opposite way from which I planned. Sometimes it's unfair. Other times, it's fortunate. Either way, life never fails to remind me that things really do happen for a reason.

For the last month, I have been training to become a Catering Manager with Havana Central. About a week ago, I sat down with the Senior Vice President of the company to discuss the future of the department, and this is what he told me: "We are reorganizing the department right now, so we don't know exactly where you'll fit in. That, combined with some changes we're making with our budget for next year, means that we're not sure when the promotion will officially take place. January is slow, so it might not be until March, possibly May or June. We think you are very talented and we feel you are a great addition to our team. However, I know that you are passionate about performing and are pursuing that as well. I respect your decision to keep your options open. So what I want you to do is take a few days and think about where you see yourself in one year, two years, three years. If that includes Havana Central, then we'd love to have you."

I did think about it. And for a second, it seemed like a good deal. Working to build a company, having my ideas heard, using the work experience I had gained in the last few years. But then I really got honest with myself and began to think: what do I want? What, in this world, would allow me to feel like I was contributing something to the community, help me leave an impression upon others, and ultimately, make me happy? And the truth is, as it always was, that I want to perform. I didn't leave California behind to live the same life I had been living. I didn't work myself to the bone for 16 months straight to quit the moment I graduated. And I didn't devote nearly 20 years of my life to performing to give up on it the moment I faced a little adversity.

I decided to decline my promotion. The thought of doing more work for up to six months without officially getting promoted made me question why I took the job anyway. I took the job to survive in New York while I auditioned and pursued acting. If I accepted, it meant I would work a regular job schedule, weekdays 9-5, and that I could no longer audition. Since I wasn't getting paid any more than when I was hosting, I chose to return to my old position to give myself the freedom to do what was really important to me.

And then, I received the phone call that would change the course of my life forever.

Two weeks prior to that promotion talk, I received a call back from Actors' Playhouse in Coral Gables, Florida, for their spring production of Miss Saigon. I had originally auditioned for them back in August and hadn't heard from them since. In early December, they returned to New York to finish casting for the show. I went to the call back, my first audition in weeks, and did quite well. At the end of it, the Artistic Director asked me questions about my dance experience, availability, and ability to move to the Miami area come February. All of which I took as good signs, but I didn't want to get my hopes up since I had come this far in the past without booking anything. Haha, not this time!

Tuesday morning, I was offered a spot in the cast of Miss Saigon. The two-month job contract includes round trip airfare from New York to Miami, housing, transportation, a salary, and points toward joining Actors Equity, making me an Equity Member Candidate. As a non-union actor, this is one hell of a deal. I'm literally one step closer to all I ever wanted.

I informed my restaurant of my intent to leave. From this point on, I'll be working administratively to help tie up loose ends from busy season. My last day will be sometime in late January. After that, I'm making a quick trip home to California to see family and friends, as well as performing in one (and quite possibly two) shows before I fly to Miami on February 8.

From there, who knows where life will take me. As previous posts will attest, I had been so unsure about whether or not I could find my niche in the performing arts. Booking this job means that I actually have a shot at doing what I love for a living. And that is an INCREDIBLE feeling.

"I've learned that if you're truly honest about what you want out of life, life gives it to you."
-Wise words from my friend, Ted Mosby



My life has changed so dramatically in a matter of days. Here's a quick run down:

1) I booked two singing gigs. The first is a cabaret show that takes place next Friday at the Broadway Comedy Club, and the second is a benefit/fundraiser that is happening at the end of January.
2) My website is up and running at ginagloria.com.
3) I got a job promotion. I am currently training to be the Catering Manager at Havana Central - Union Square. I'm also working under the corporate Catering and Special Events Manager at our Times Square location at the moment, in addition to still working my Catering Assistant position hosting parties at our West End location in the evenings. Needless to say, I'm working a lot.
4) I have decided to take an indefinite break from auditioning. Most of this comes from having to be at work all the time, but part of this also goes from the ongoing debate I have with myself in regards to whether or not I actually want to pursue acting.
5) My sister is coming to visit in two weeks. During that time, I will, along with the help of all my friends in New York, desperately try to convince her to move here next summer.
6) I have made a handful of fantastic new friends, thanks to work. I get the feeling that some of them may soon play very important roles in my life.
7) I am not going home for the holidays, and it looks like I may not go home in the months following them either. I Skyped with the family last night for Thanksgiving - our first video conferenced family gathering - and it was a blast and a half. I'm blessed to have a family that cares so deeply for me.

Updates to follow, as soon things fall into place.



I woke up at 6:00 am that Thursday morning, October 15. My eyes were raw from the crying that had taken place over the last few days following my graduation. There was an empty void inside me that was once occupied by the daily presence of a good friend who had recently moved thousands of miles away. My morale was low after the tormenting battle between my heart and my head about the direction in which my future was about to go. As I walked to the subway station in the early morning hours, on my way to what would surely be another disappointing audition, I began to wonder why I continued to try when all I wanted to do was crawl into a hole and disappear.

Then, the ticket dispenser gave me this:

It's times like these that I know God speaks to me.

I've kept this reminder in my wallet since then, and I plan on holding it close in the months to come. I need to have something with me to keep going, to fight for the happiness I know I deserve. I moved to this strange place all by myself so that I could take hold of my dreams and live them. Maybe that sounds cheesy. But if it does, then I guess you've never tried to do it yourself.

Trying to be an actor in this city is more than trying to accomplish the impossible. It's like willingly offering yourself up as a sacrifice to the most unyielding tyrant in all of history. And doing it over and over and over again. Why go through it? Because in that one, singular moment when you do get a taste of victory, it is so fulfilling that you feel like you could fix the world of all its ailments with time and energy to spare.

I've been doing a lot of thinking over the last few weeks about where my career is heading. The difficult part is that I really feel like I'm at a crossroads. I've just began to embark on a performing career, but simultaneously, I'm picking up where I left off professionally in order to make it day by day and survive. So where do I go? Should I start back at square one and compete with people who are younger than me, more talented than me, better looking than me, more marketable than me? Or should I continue along the path I already carved out for myself, where I feel confident in my abilities and sure of my success? I don't have any answers, and I fear that time is slipping away from me faster than I can process all this information.

The only thing I can do is take it day by day.

Today was my first open call in over a month. Actually, my first open call since the day I got that subway card. On October 15, as I walked into the audition room, the back of my dress ripped open, my nearly tripped over my own feet in three-inch heels, I sang a song I had never heard on the piano - and quite horribly at that - but despite all those mishaps, I was told by the casting director that I would be placed on a list of potential hires for the 2010 season of Carnival Cruise Lines productions. Today, at the open call for Norwegian Cruise Lines, I was put together, confident, sang impeccably, and was sent off without a word.

The truth about this industry is that none of it makes sense. All I have to believe in is the strength of my character and my love of the art form. That's what gets me through it all. Well, that and the knowledge that I have the ability and right to make the best decisions for myself. Meaning: I've dropped out of my Off-Broadway show. There were numerous factors contributing to this, but mostly, it wasn't right for what I need at this very moment. Of course I'm sad to lose that experience and that credit in regards to my artistic development, but I have faith that something else - perhaps something perfect - will come along soon.

Que sera sera, whatever will be, will be.



Lately, I've felt like everything I've ever wanted is right in front of me, but I just can't reach it. And it is so frustrating. I simultaneously want to stay right where I am and run far far away. My mind is fuzz, I can't focus, and I wish, for just a second, I could have a moment of peace.



Auditions are slow this time around, so I'm not doing much at the moment. Thankfully I've got at least one show to keep me occupied through the winter, but then what? I went to Actorfest yesterday, an actor's resource expo, in the hopes of finding more networking and auditioning opportunities. Instead, I got this:

Gina: (arrives at a table, looks at resources, waits to talk to the Exhibitor)
Exhibitor: (to a female Caucasian teenager) We have a couple of seminars coming up, check them out, our casting directors are currently looking for young types like yourself!
Gina: (still waiting)
Exhibitor: (to a young Hispanic man) Check out our upcoming seminars, our casting directors are really interested in young Hispanic males right now!
Gina: (still waiting)
Exhibitor: (to Gina) Oh, hi. Are you an actor?
Gina: Yes, what are your seminars about?
Exhibitor: We have a variety of seminars listed in this pamphlet. Thanks for stopping by.

Okay, so the harsh reality is because I'm not a young or Caucasian or African-American or a bi-lingual Hispanic actor, there is no room for me in this world. Add to that the slim to none chances I have of being cast in a musical theater production, especially as a female, I sometimes wonder why I even try. As if it weren't hard enough being an Asian-American in everyday life, I've decided to try and become an Asian-American actor. Well shit.

Because of this, I have to start considering other options. Annie, Lotus, and I are currently in the process of writing a play about three aspiring Asian-American actors, and with time, patience, and a lot of hard editing, we're hoping to submit it to a festival or two in the future. There are a lot of stereotypes about Asian-Americans that we're not only hoping to dispel, but to own and use to our advantage in order to give people like ourselves a voice that will finally be heard. I've also been thinking about song writing again because there is a part of me that would maybe like to become a recording artist. Maybe. It would require the purchase writing and recording equipment - most notably a digital keyboard and a microphone - and of course, the courage to begin writing again. It's one of the things I lack confidence in, but I suppose if it's something I really want to take a shot at, I'll have to get over it.

And then there's my "real" life. Admittedly, my job is getting better day by day. I really enjoy my co-workers, and they help make my 40-hour work week feel less like 40 hours and much less like work. I did a couple of parties all on my own this week, and I'm starting to get the hang of it. The parties are an excellent life study, and I'm using them as a way to continue my acting education. I worked a job recruiting event, a new student/alumni meet up, and a wedding, all of which captured incredible milestones within these random people's lives. Maybe I'm just being romantic. Or maybe I'm desperately trying not to be cynical.

It's so easy to be cynical these days.

All of this makes me wonder where my life is headed. Right now, I feel like I'm living two separate lives, neither of which really fit well with each other. On the one hand, I'm an aspiring artist. On the other, I'm your average restaurant worker. And a big part of me feels like I'm not taking advantage of the right opportunities. To add to all of that, I'm starting to worry that I'm too old to be taking these sorts of risks anymore. I no longer fall into the "young actor" category, I'm too old to be working entry level jobs, and soon enough, my biological clock will start ticking so loud I won't be able to pretend it's not my time yet. I don't know, I just feel sort of unwanted lately. And I feel like everything I have is not what I want.

Okay, I'm lacking a sense of direction at this point, so I think I'll stop writing. Let's just end it by saying I need some guidance. And maybe a nice, stiff drink.



It's been a little over a week since I graduated from AMDA, and things are starting to fall into place. I began my job last week, and while it will certainly do for the time being, I know that I do not want to stay there longer than I have to. This, in itself, gives me hope that things are going as they should; because I know my job isn't right for me, it gives me the motivation to continue auditioning and pursue acting, which, as I've really known all along, is what I want to be doing. So yay for that! It isn't quite party season yet, so I spend about half my time doing catering and parties and the other half hosting. Not exactly what you'd call intellectually stimulating, but, at the very least, the restaurant has a nice vibe and the people are very kind. I think, once I get adjusted, it'll be an alright place to be.

Random fun fact: My restaurant, Havana Central at The West End, is only about three years old. It was formally a long-standing establishment called The West End. In the spring of 2004, while on an east coast tour with AiR, we sang in the basement of The West End. It was my first time ever in a bar. And now I work there. Coincidence? Who knows?

Aside from starting work, I spent the end of last week bidding farewell to Rafa, who serendipitously became one of my closest friends at AMDA, and has since returned home to Mexico City. Rubria and I rented a car, "kidnapped" him, and drove us all out to Long Beach in Queens for a night of nostalgia. We presented him with a movie we made, with the help of all our friends, chronicling his time at AMDA and in New York. I don't think words could ever describe that night, so I won't even try. Nevertheless, it's one I won't ever be forgetting.

I also booked my first acting job. I'm doing a new musical Off-Broadway called Bobo's, which follows the story of an bi-racial teen struggling with the issues ethnic minorities face in the pursuit of the life they dreamed of. It's an urban musical, sung through with R&B and hip-hop music. I'm playing the Hispanic mother of the lead character. Rehearsals begin at the end of November. We're doing a concert version of the show in mid-December, and previews begin in February for a March run. I'll be doing this in addition to working, so there will be something aside from work for me to look forward to in the coming months.

In preparation for the show, and life in general, I guess, I've signed up for a membership at Planet Fitness - for $10 a month, you can't go wrong! And deals like that remind me why I love New York so much - and I've restocked my kitchen with healthy foods. I had been making such poor choices during the last couple weeks of school, but I've decided to turn over a new leaf and not make any more excuses for not taking care of myself. Thankfully, Rubria has joined me on this quest, so I have someone to help hold me accountable. It's really nice to get back into a normal regimen. I loved being at school, but I must admit that during the last 16 months, I've had little time to focus on myself. So now that I'm working only 40 hours a week, as opposed to the 24/7 commitment I made to AMDA, I have more time to devote to my health and well being, as well as my interests, like leisure reading (including plays for continued education, of course), visiting museums, arts and crafts, cooking, and being a young adult in general. I kind of missed "real" life. It's nice to get back to some sort of semblance to it.

So far, so good. And here's to hoping things continue to get better.

Long Beach, Queens

"Tragedy tomorrow, comedy tonight!"

Celebrating Rubria's birthday - Las hermanas en la fe


bring on tomorrow

Graduation came and went. And while I am more than happy to say goodbye to some things and certain people, there are a few that will always hold a place in my heart.

The original A1s

Drew and his bevy of Asian Maidens

Nothing but love for Rafa and Rubria

Miguel, my brother or cousin or whatever we want to call it today

Me and the family

This is only the beginning. As Rubria says, "The best is yet to come." And I'm a believer.


the six-month plan

Seven days and counting till graduation. Dear Lord, how did it happen so fast?

I'm not feeling overwhelmed by nostalgia and fear just yet. Maybe I won't this time around. I already did the whole graduating thing a few years ago after all. And, in a way, none of this ever really felt like school. It was more changing the direction of my life in a large, tangential sort of way. So, in the next week, I'll be finishing up my Drama Showcase - which I am incredibly proud of, especially considering that I have never previously thought of myself as an actor - and welcoming my parents and aunt into the city for my graduation.

I really thought I'd have it figured out by now. I thought that after 16 months of conservatory training, I'd know exactly what I'd have to do to get exactly what I wanted. But the truth is, I still don't know what I want. After all of that, I don't know if I want to even be an actor. It's not the competition that scares me; after about four months of non-stop auditioning, the fear has definitely subsided. And it's not that I don't think I'm talented enough. I think what's making me reconsider is my awful tendency toward realism and logic. The truth is, I need to make money. And right now, no one's willing to pay me to be a singer or an actor. So, for the time being, I'm working as a catering assistant-slash-party planner at Havana Central, a Cuban restaurant, on the Upper West Side near Columbia University. Okay, not at all what I thought I'd be doing after AMDA - restaurant work, really? - but it was the first place that was willing to utilize my skills and work experience and pay me a lot of money for it. At this point in time, the most important thing is keeping myself in New York City and paying off my student loans.

So that's what I'll be doing for the next six months or so. That and going on the occasional audition. I had vowed to take a two-week break from auditioning, but I quickly broke that promise by getting an appointment for this weekend to audition for a festival play and putting the Disney Princess audition that's taking place next week in my calendar. But to be fair, the play is about a couple of young Asian-Americans who are trying to reconcile their Asian past with their American future, something I can easily relate to, and the Disney Princess call is for all Princesses, including Mulan, the non-princess heroine of the Disney empire. I couldn't really say no. Plus, with the major rejection I faced this past week, I think I need something to get me back on track. It has always been a dream of mine to be a high school choir director, and that opportunity arose about two weeks ago. A Brooklyn high school was seeking a part-time choir director to add to their staff, and I scored an interview. The interview went well, and I was invited to come teach a 15-minute mock lesson. I spent a week preparing and told myself that if I got the job, I would give up acting for a while and focus on teaching because, in all honesty, that's what I really wanted to do. When the time came for the lesson, what I thought had been an excellently planned 15 minutes turned out to be chicken shit compared to the three other candidates', all of whom had bachelors and masters degrees in either music or education. It's been a long time since I've felt that intimidated. And it was certainly enough to make me consider my potential for that career path, at least at this point in my life. Obviously I didn't get the job, but perhaps it will turn out to be a blessing in disguise. Working full time at a restaurant will keep me focused on acting, which is the real reason I came out to New York City. And as an added bonus, my restaurant is frequented by Columbia students and staff. Bring on the cute, smart, straight boys!

That's the plan for now. We'll see how well it holds up.


the quarterlife

My 25th birthday was on 09.09.09, and as much as I wish I could say it was an incredible spectacle of a day, the truth is, it kind of came and went just as any other. Of course, the days leading up to my birthday were laden with unbelievable amounts of sheer gluttony, and the big event itself was kind of a funny haze of alcohol. So I guess I can't say it was just like any other day. Regardless, I had a great time, most of which is attributed to my loving friends here in New York City. Below are some photo highlights, which include a Labor Day weekend trip to Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey and happy hour madness.

Sunny day at Six Flags with Rafa, Annie, and Rubria

Photo op with Gotham's hero

We like to dress up

Obviously - the costumes were Rafa's idea

The flying nuns!

Documentary of our trip

Bamboo 52 with Ryan and Zack

Iskritsa, my favorite Bulgarian showgirl

Getting cheeky with Matt

Drew, Annie, and I go way back to our first days at AMDA


relationships on the rocks, with a twist

My Musical Showcase came and went, and, sadly, I must say it wasn't all that special. Not the performing part of it, but everything leading up to and surrounding the showcase was not what I hoped it would be. There's more to this, but I suppose divulging into a world that most people who read this are not a part of would be confusing, mundane, and quite possibly offensive. So I'll just leave it at that.

Here are some snapshots of the weekend. There were some good moments to be had, after all.

B4, Summer 2009: Headshot Board - Can you find me?

In costume and character

Group shot

Lil Sis came to visit



I'm blogging from my Musical Showcase tech rehearsal at the moment. Tech rehearsals are always somewhat of a drag. Not that the work isn't important - lighting and set cues and all - but it just takes so long, moving moment by moment through the entire show. I've got a bit of downtime on my hands, so I'm sitting backstage, listening to a dance number getting stopped every so often so that lights can get adjusted. And blogging.

A couple of things have been set into motion since my last emo-post. I got a side gig to earn myself some extra cash in the coming months. I'm now a member of The Newyorkettes, a four-part women's a cappella group that sings 40s and 50s music. I'm glad to be singing a cappella again. While I love musical theatre, I've definitely missed the challenges and intricacies of a cappella singing. My first rehearsal is tomorrow, a five-hour rehearsal covering music and choreography for two songs that will be used to audition for The Sing Off, a new reality show by NBC that pits a cappella groups from across the nation against each other in the hopes of winning a recording contract. It's basically American Idol for a cappella groups. Should be fun, if not profitable. Aside from that, I've scored a job interview with a tutoring agency. I'm hoping to do some part time work after graduating from AMDA to help pay the bills but still allow for time to audition every once in a while, since I don't expect to get a full-time performing job within the next few weeks. I'll also be registering with a temp agency, just in case the tutoring job doesn't work out. Or even if it does, it wouldn't hurt to make the extra money, so long as I can fit it all into my schedule. I've also registered with Central Casting, which casts the background actors in major movies and TV shows. If I can do some background work every now and then, I can earn even more and add credits to my resume. All this is becoming my survival plan, so to speak, and the details are all coming together nicely. What's most important for me is to keep acting and singing as my primary focus. I know that it would be so much easier just to get a full-time job, but if I do that, I know that I'll put my energy into work and making a living for myself, rather than pursuing what I've started at AMDA. I need to give it my all for as long as I can.

Looking at my calendar today, I realized that I'll be turning 25 in about two weeks. Time seems to be flying faster than normal lately. I guess that's how it goes as you get older. I'm not anywhere I thought I'd be at 25, but I don't know whether or not that's a good thing. I assumed I'd be married by now, teaching high school math or music, paying the mortgage on my suburban home, and picking out a dog to adopt. But instead, I'm single, living the dream in New York City, living paycheck to paycheck, and picking out a dog to adopt. Not what I expected, but I definitely wouldn't trade any of it. That's life, I suppose.

My friend Zack says hi. He wanted me to mention him in my blog.

Cathy's coming to visit next week for my Musical Showcase performances. I'm happy to have some contact with home. It hasn't been all that long since I last visited, but I'm feeling out of touch. Maybe it's because I'm so busy trying to get my life in order and prepped for the unknown future that lies ahead of me. A little grounding will do me some good.

Alright. Back on stage, ready for lighting. I'll be sure to post some pictures of next week's shows. Ta ta until then.


mirror, mirror, on the wall...

The last few months, my blog has turned into this kind of obligation. I feel like my writing has lost my sense of purpose because I haven't been doing it for myself lately. I write here every so often to keep people posted on what's going on in my life, how I'm adjusting to the city, blah blah blah. And it's become this laundry list of tasks and daily appointments. Bo-ring. The months leading up to my move were so much more exciting to read about, I think. They chronicled my excitement, my fears, my goals. Nowadays, I read this thing and can hardly tell the difference between my blog and my calendar. So I've decided that today, I will take a step away from the day planner and take a step toward the mirror to take a look at, and write about, what's going on inside of me.

To begin, I shall scratch the surface, just to make sure I cover all my bases. This week, I auditioned for jobs. I did not get any. That is my life as an actor. There's nothing else other than that, really.

Okay, now that that's out of the way...

Honestly, I am scared shitless. I'm two months away from graduating, after which I will no longer have the comfort and safety of a class schedule and, more importantly, financial aid. In two months, I will have to find someway of sustaining myself, my lifestyle, and my career. Ten bajillion times easier said than done. I'm no stranger to working multiple jobs, but back when I did it on a regular basis, I wasn't trying to be an actor in New York City. The obstacles I face in that feat alone are too exhausting to try and recapitulate in this text box, so I ask you to use your imagination. I will say, however, what I'm doing here, all by myself in the Big Apple, is harder than anything I've ever done in my life. And those who really know me can vouch for the fact that I've been through some rough shit.

There are other things too. I'm afraid I won't get a job because I'm inexperienced. I'm Asian. I'm a girl. I'm 5'4". I'm slightly overweight. I don't have long hair. I'm not the pretty girl. I can't sing the way I look. I'm not a dancer. Or maybe I'm just not good enough. And the worst part of it is that I can almost guarantee that I work harder than anyone else waiting in that audition line with me. In fact, the only person I've only met two people in my life who I can say, with complete and utter confidence, work harder than me. And one of them is my mother. But how do you show that in a 90-second audition? What does talent have to do with work ethic? God, imagine if it did. I'd be making millions by now.

I don't really like where I live. The apartment is great, my roommate is fantastic, and her dog is adorable. But the neighborhood. Meh. It's okay, in terms of safety, but if I had the opportunity to live even just a few blocks south of where I am now, I'd feel so much more comfortable coming home at night. Also, some people on this street really have no respect for women. Never before in my life have I felt like a total piece of meat. Even when I wore less-than-appropriate outfits for sorority invitationals in college, I didn't feel as violated as I do now, walking down my block. It doesn't matter what time of day it is or whether I'm wearing shorts and a t-shirt or sweats and a snow jacket. Men eye me like I don't have a face, ask me my name, and try to follow me home. I should have taken self-defense. Maybe I will, once I'm out of school and if I can find some spare cash to invest in my safety and well-being. I'd also like a dog of my own someday for some added protection, as well as companionship.

Companionship. Heh. My lifelong search continues. One of my best friends got married earlier this year, adding yet another name to that long list of people who've found happily wedded bliss, and I just heard of an old classmate who is two months pregnant. All around me, people are finding love, having babies, starting families. Yet here I am, alone in the middle of it all. I guess you could say it's an equal trade, what I'm doing. Living the dream and all. But the chances of failure far surpass those of success. And the amount of judgement I submit myself to... I must be a masochist. This career has demands so much of me. Sometimes I forget who I am or why I'm here in the first place. Scary. I don't want to be alone. I want to be in love. I want someone to love me. But how do you find time for that when something else requires 100% commitment, inside and out? I have no more to give to anyone, even myself. And in those rare times I find just a scrap of myself I want to share with someone else, I'm reminded of the last time I willingly did that. Jesus Christ, I was hurt so bad that these days, I'm too terrified to approach a man with a ten-foot pole. Only lately have I realized how poorly I've recovered from that last big blow. I'm so much more judgmental of people than I was a year ago. I so easily reject friendship now when I sense that same sort of destructive neediness. I even put up walls with people I'm close to. Damn, I'm fucked up.

That's where I've been, lately. The biggest thing that's eating away at me is this nagging fear that I'll have to go home soon. Because I really really really don't want to. I like this place, and for as much grief as it gives me, I feel like I have to tough it out. If I do, I think I'll find the person I'm supposed to become. Life's just a bit hard at the moment. I'll get over it. I always do.

And that's the gospel truth.


getting a foot in the door

It has been far too long since my last blog post. I'm disappointed in myself for not keeping up with this regimen, but the truth is, life moves faster than I can type. So here's the low down on what's been going on in the last month.

As soon as I returned to New York, most of my time has been spent in preparation for my final semester at AMDA and the start of my career as a professional actor. I got my headshots finalized and printed; edited draft after draft of my performance resume until I came up with a final product; scoured auditions postings for opportunities; and began adjusting to my new class schedule. As a fourth semester student at AMDA, I'm taking night classes from 5:30-11:30 pm. Classes consist of Musical Theatre Audition technique, an acting Scene Study class, Monologues, Film & TV Acting, Improvisation, Cold Reading technique, and dance - tap, jazz, ballet, theatre dance, and combinations. All of these classes lead up to Panel Night, which is a mock audition happening this coming Wednesday, where we will learn and perform a short dance combination, a full musical theatre song, a 16-bar cut of a musical theatre song, and up to two monologues for a panel of casting directors and agents, all of whom have the power of employing us as new actors. It's a big deal, to say the least. Much of my focus has been on preparing for this night, in addition to getting ready for my acting and dance finals, both of which take place this coming week as well. For the remainder of the semester, I'll be preparing of two showcases that are open to students, staff, and theatre professionals, thereby giving us even more opportunities to be seen and make connections. My Musical Showcase takes place at the end of August, and my Drama Showcase will be held the same weekend of my graduation, at the beginning of October. More details on those in the weeks to come.

Outside of class, I've picked up a part-time job as a school librarian. The pay isn't much, but it gives me a little bit of pocket money for the weekends, which is nice. Mostly I get to learn about musicals and plays and work with my friends. The last two semesters of not working have made me feel antsy, despite the copious amounts of classwork and homework I had been assigned during that time. I'm just a workaholic, I guess.

And to prove that point even further: when I'm not in class or working at the school library, I'm auditioning for theater jobs and submitting myself for film and television jobs. Now, for those of you who don't know how the audition process works, here's a quick run down:
  • There are two kinds of auditions: Union and Non-Union.
  • Union jobs are restricted only to actors who are part of a union. These unions - which cover all forms of performing jobs (theatre = AEA, film = SAG, TV = AFTRA, etc.) all have different membership requirements and all cost a lot of money to be a part of.
  • In regards to union theatre jobs, union members get priority for audition appointments. After them are actors who are union eligible, meaning they have met some, but not all, of the union membership requirements. After them are non-union actors, who must simply wait in line the day of the audition and hope that at the end of the day, when all those with appointments are seen, that the auditors will have the time, energy, and patience to see non-union actors. These lines can be tremendously long, and in order to have even the slightest fighting chance, you've got to be in line by about 6:00 am. That's nearly 12 hours of waiting, if you get lucky enough to be seen.
  • Non-union jobs have open calls, also known as cattle calls. You wait in line, sign up, and sing. If the audition attracts a large number of people, the staff may opt to type-out: everyone submits their headshot and resume, and based on that, the director and all the powers that be will determine whether or not they even want to see you. If they say yes, you stay and sing. If they say no, you go home.
  • If you're lucky enough to have an agent, they can book an appointment for you. Unfortunately for me, I don't have one of those. Yet.
Taking my class schedule into consideration, auditioning is quite a challenge. When classes get out at 11:30 pm, I usually get home around midnight, shower off the sweat accumulated from dance class and the summertime humidity, pack up my belongings for the next day, and am finally in bed by about 1:00 am. With throngs of actors heading off to audition each morning, I've got to be in line sometime between 5:30 and 7:00 am in order to have any chance of being seen at all the next day. And as a new actor, you better believe I want to get seen. At least to get my face out there. Now, factor in travel time and the time it takes me to get ready, I've got to be up around 4:00 am or so to start the day. That gives me three hours of sleep, friends. Three hours. Sounds crazy, but it's worth it to me. Since I usually get to auditions that early, I am seen early, so I have the chance to go home and nap before school starts in the evenings. Not so bad, I suppose.

Thus far, I've gone on three auditions. I auditioned for the national tour of Avenue Q on June 22, my first day of school. I actually got two call backs for the role of Christmas Eve, but I haven't heard from them since my last call back a few weeks ago. I auditioned for the international tour of Fame on July 1, and I got a call back for the role of Serena Katz. I was cut on the same day of my call back. And on July 17, I auditioned to be a performer for Royal Caribbean Cruise Line. I was not offered a call back.

As far as auditions go, I have to say that I'm proud of myself. The audition process for Avenue Q surpassed any of my expectations. I heard that about 1,000 people auditioned for the show and only 35 got called back for all of the roles. When I auditioned for Fame, I was one of 9 women to be called back for Serena Katz out of about 300, and above that, I was the only ethnic actor called for the role. With Royal Caribbean, I got the opportunity to sing both my audition songs, which only happens if the auditors like what they hear in the first song and want to see what else you can do. So I'm doing pretty well as a new comer. I learned a lot about the audition process as well. Every audition proceeds differently depending on what the staff wants to see and needs to cast for their productions. There are so many variables that I can't control, so instead of worrying about what will happen, I know that all I can do is do my best, show off my best, and be proud of my work. There will certainly be far more rejections than acceptances, but I know when the time comes, it's because I turned out to be the one they really wanted. More importantly, I learned how I personally react and respond in an audition. This process has taught me how to adequately prepare myself for the day ahead, and every time I go, I get a little more confident in my skills and abilities. I'm fortunate to have had the opportunity to go through a call back so early in my career, and I can use that knowledge in the future. Of course, there is a lot more learning to be done, and I can't wait.

In the weeks to come, I'll be going to as many auditions as I can. I have a few lined up already: the national tour of Rent, Disney Cruise Line, Tokyo Disney Resort, and Holland America Cruise Line. And hopefully Panel Night will provide me with some career opportunities as well.

So there it is. I've got my foot in the door. And the rest of me is sure to follow.



I'm nearing the end of my two-week mini-break from AMDA, most of which was spent in California. Few words can sum up what an enjoyable vacation I've had, spanning Las Vegas, Sacramento, San Francisco, the greater part of the East Bay Area, and New York City. Here are some photo highlights of the fun I had.

Michelle's bachelorette party in Las Vegas

Meeting up with the family

Relaxing by the pool

Touring the California State Governor's office

Street fairs on sunny days in San Francisco

Cathy's graduation from the University of California, Davis

Celebrating with the family

Playing with Photo Booth

My time spent in California was both relaxing and enlightening. I spent much of my time alone, since my friends and family were at work, and I had the opportunity to reflect on all that has happened in the last year. There are times, I must admit, that I feel guilty for leaving. My family ties are so strong that I often feel incomplete knowing that my family is so far away from me. Being in New York City is not what anyone had ever intended for me. I went to college to become a Human Resources specialist, not a performer on Broadway. Sometimes I feel selfish for going after what I want most in this world, in this life. Part of being an adult means making sacrifices, and I am being childish by refusing to honor those obligations.

Then I got to thinking: maybe that is my sacrifice. Leaving everything I knew, everything that ever made me feel comfortable, behind. Turning myself inside out and putting everything I have on the line. Opening myself up to criticism and judgement, all for the hope of just a little bit of recognition in the world. Because doing this for myself means being an inspiration for someone else who wants to take a life-changing leap. It's silly to think that anybody back home holds this adventure against me. Being here means being me, wholly, happily, and unapologetically. I'm starting to see that now. I take criticism with a grain of salt; everyone's entitled to their opinions. I no longer seek out to please everyone I encounter; it's a big enough job to please myself. I am proud of my work and where I've come, even if the steps I take are smaller than my peers. Relatively speaking, I've come a long, long way.

Returning to New York after my time spent away, I felt like I had slipped back in unnoticed. The currents of the Hudson and East Rivers, the pulsating current of Manhattan itself, engulfed me swiftly, easily, as if I had never left the water to begin with. It was a good feeling, knowing this place has become welcoming, without ceremony, and simple to understand. Home-home, California-Home, felt that way once. So then, I guess this is a big moment in my life.

Hello New York City. I'm home.


1... 2... 3... HEADSHOTS!

I took a major stride toward my career in the performing arts this past weekend: I took my headshots! As the first impression casting agents and directors will have of me, it's important that my headshot capture both their attention and the essence of who I am. Below are some of my favorites from this weekend's shoot with Beau Allulli down on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. I'll have the final version picked out soon. Considering that I'll start auditioning for jobs this summer, I'll need something good to put out there. Yeah!


home stretch

Wow. Time always manages to surprise me with how quickly it flies by. Seriously, it's been over three weeks since my last blog post, but I could have sworn that I wrote something just yesterday.

In the three weeks that have passed, I've pushed my nose further into the grindstone. Finals - Demos, as we call them at AMDA - begin in less than a week, so I've spent the majority of my time in rehearsals, polishing and fine tuning my work. And it is seriously starting to pay off. The quality of my performing has definitely improved, and I'm managing to stay consistently at or above my new level of personal expectation. What a great feeling. Also, when I make mistakes and fall back a little, I'm becoming less and less hard on myself because I've seen how far I have come with persistence and dedication. Mistakes happen, and I'm learning not to let them overtake me and my positive mentality.

At the end of every semester, there's this thing called Final Demo, which features the best performances of every department within the entire school. Prior to Final Demo, there's a sort of semi-final called Select. Thus far, my Musical Theatre duet, "Single Man Drought" from I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change, and the original ballad I wrote for my Composition Elective class, "Picture It," have been chosen for Select. This is a huge honor, and I'm so proud of the work I've done and really excited to share it with the rest of the student body and the faculty. Of course, I would love to be chosen for Final Demo, but I've still got some work to do.

For Musical Theatre, the head of the department, who was my teacher during the first term, comes into our class to listen to a few of the solos we've performed during the term and selects which one we will perform for our Demo. I was expecting to perform "An English Teacher" from Bye, Bye, Birdie, my strongest work I've done during the semester, but surprisingly, she asked to hear my pop song. We were assigned pop songs this semester because for many contemporary shows, companies and casting directors will ask to hear pop music to determine (a) whether you can sing in that particular style, and (b) whether you can act with music that is not necessarily meant to be acted. Acting through a pop song is much more challenging than acting through songs that have stories and situations built into them, but I was up to the challenge because pop singing is my thing, my comfort zone. So I sang my pop song, "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman," made famous by Aretha Franklin, and to my surprise, it was selected as my Demo song. I think I may be the only person in my semester performing a pop song for Demos, which is so exciting. I'm working hard on making my acting clear, and sometime soon I'll have a stellar and solid performance.

After demos are over, I'll be heading out west. First stop is in Las Vegas for my friend Michelle's bachelorette party, then it's home to the San Francisco Bay Area for a week of rest and relaxation. I'm so looking forward to sunshine, friends, and Mexican food! After my short break, it's back to New York for my fourth and final semester of school. The exciting part - I get to start auditioning for professional jobs! My classes will now take place during the evenings, so my days will be free to run around the city and sing and dance my face off in the hopes of landing a professional gig. That's why I came to New York, and it's amazing that my time has finally come.

So I'm here in the home stretch, and I couldn't be happier. I get the feeling that from here on out, things will be a lot different.



Tonight, I was doing a little bit of personal history research for an assignment I had in Musical Theatre, which required me to dig out influential moments from my past. To help with the process, I consulted the archives of my blog to try and find the exact dates and locations of some memories that are less than pristine, having been stored for a while now, and retouch some of the color that has faded over the years. As I was browsing my six-year blog history - and I really can't believe that I've been blogging for that long - I began to get a little sidetracked and sucked into reading some of my very oldest posts.

It's kind of staggering, the amount of growth that has happened in six years. So much of what I wrote about in my early years reflects a life I nearly forgot I had lead. One in which I forced myself into the mold of a person so many others wanted me to be rather than accepting who I was and celebrating the dreams and aspirations I had for myself. But the reality of it is that that's exactly what my life was at 18: making other people happy because I had absolutely no idea what made me happy. Fast forward a few years and stumble over a few of the milestones that shaped me into the adult I am today... The end of my first serious relationship; my participation with my college a cappella group, Artists in Resonance; getting rejected from the Haas School of Business; graduating a semester early from UC Berkeley; being dissatisfied with my first job out of college; moving out of my parents' house; the heartbreaking summer of 2006, filled with the loss of loved ones and the pain of grief; finding a stable and meaningful job at Kaiser Permanente; discovering musical theatre; visiting and falling in love with Italy; and finally, moving to New York. Seriously, if the girl I was six years ago met the girl I am today, she would have never believed we were the same person.

Coincidentally, I began blogging on April 30, 2003. Exactly five years later, I moved to New York. Self-reflection leads to self-discovery, I swear.

I found this on my Xanga, dated April 20, 2004. I thought it was an accurate representation of who I was all those years ago.

I WANT: to find myself
I HAVE: friends who embody the true meaning of charity
I WISH: they could love me just the way I am
I HATE: losing control
I MISS: the days when reality didn't apply to me
I FEAR: being alone
I HEAR: random syllables in the background of every single song I listen to
I SEARCH: for a purpose
I WONDER: what will happen to us over the summer
I REGRET: not saying how I feel when I feel it
I LOVE: wholly, devotedly, and in complete honesty
I ACHE: when I am lied to
I ALWAYS: wonder how it could have been
I AM NOT: as naive as I may seem
I DANCE: when I listen to "Toxic," for more reasons than one
I SING: because it makes me happy
I CRY: when I'm heartbroken
I AM NOT ALWAYS: strong enough to stand up for myself
I WRITE: when I have no one to talk to
I WIN: occasionally
I LOSE: more often than I'd like to
I CONFUSE: myself, mostly

And this is me, a little over five years later.

I WANT: to find happiness
I HAVE: friends who embody the true meaning of charity
I WISH: our world wasn't deteriorating
I HATE: when I don't allow myself to lose control
I MISS: the smell of the Pacific Ocean
I FEAR: not fulfilling my life's purpose
I HEAR: the bustling sounds of the New York City
I SEARCH: for the potential within people
I WONDER: what will happen to us over the summer
I REGRET: not saying how I feel when I feel it
I LOVE: wholly, devotedly, and in complete honesty
I ACHE: when my trust is betrayed
I ALWAYS: give people the benefit of the doubt
I AM NOT: as young as I may look
I DANCE: when the music moves me
I SING: because it makes me happy
I CRY: as a release, out of happiness and sadness and all the emotions in between
I AM NOT ALWAYS: strong, even though I pretend to be
I WRITE: music, lyrics, and prose
I WIN: when I put my mind to it
I LOSE: my inhibitions more and more each day
I CONFUSE: my parents, I'm sure

The important things never change.


so happy together

My love affair with New York City began on April 29, 2008. One year, two jobs, three semesters, hundreds of tears, and an infinite number of laughs later, I'm still head over heels and crazy for this incredible city. This place completes me. And I really don't care how cheesy that sounds because it's the truth, baby, it's the truth.

Here's to many more years to come.



For those that know me, I'm sure you can easily attest to the fact that I am extremely hard on myself. Almost unhealthily so. All of this stems from my experience, which has created a complicated psychological web of troubles that plague me to this day. They probably don't remember this, but one of the more harrowing memories I have of my childhood is of my parents yelling at me, telling me how extremely disappointed they were in my report card: all A's and one A-. ONE A-. Yes, just ONE A-. And because of that, I was a disgrace. I was stripped of all social privileges for a week. Because of ONE A-. Growing up, I was never told by anyone who claimed to love me that I was smart, pretty, funny, or any of the other things young girls long to hear about themselves. I was told to keep work hard, be respectful, become the best in my class in order to gain personal and long-term success.

I resented this for a long time. I became self-loathing and self-destructive because I wasn't perfect, which meant that I would never be successful or happy. But as I grew older, I came to understand that there are certain things that are beyond my control, and this helped me to ease up on my own personal expectations. Though, sometimes I still feel inadequate when I fail to achieve the goals that I set for myself.

Today was definitely one of those days. On the whole, today was a good day: I had my Musical Theatre Dance midterm demonstration, my Acting midterm demonstration, and my Musical Theatre Performance conference with my instructor. I nailed all my dances, I presented my Shakespeare scene very well, and I got high marks on my musical midterm performance. Yet I still can't help but beat myself up about all the things I didn't do today. Right before our dance demonstration, I hurt my toe pretty badly. It had been hurting for a few weeks now, and because I'm stubborn and have no time, I haven't consulted a doctor. I'm pretty sure it's sprained, if not broken. Anyway, it was killing me by the time the demonstration began, and at the end of it all, the head of the dance department commented that my turns were a little off center and balance. Well, of course they would be if my toes, which I use for balance, were all messed up. But instead of thinking of it as a fluke, all I have been able to think about all day is how I should have sucked it up, worked it out, and danced flawlessly, because if I was good enough, that's what I would have done. Similarly in Acting, I received one negative comment, which was to match my breathing to my choices in physicality (e.g. pant when running, shallow breaths when crying, etc.). A small thing, really, but all I have been able to think about all day is how I should have known to do that on my own because if I was smart enough, that's what I would have done. Finally, in musical theatre, I received my highest midterm performance grade to date, which indicates that my skill and comprehension level is progressing well, since I keep doing better and better every time I have a midterm. All I have been able to think about all day is how sub par of an actor I must be because if I was a real actor, I would not have done anything less than perfect.

I hate when I fall into this state of mind. And I wish that I had some random pearl of wisdom somewhere inside me to pull me out of this mind-funk. The best thing I can think to do for now is simply vent.

Well, mission accomplished.


a day in my life

Have you ever gotten to the point where things are just so crazy that it becomes ridiculous to even worry about them anymore? I'm definitely there. The days rush by in a flurry of wind and rain, and I can't even remember the last person I talked to, whether or not I ate breakfast in the morning, or if my cell phone is actually in my backpack and not sitting on to of my dresser. But all I can do is smile and laugh off the worry. Take my schedule for tomorrow, for instance:
  • 7:45-8:30 am: Commute to school
  • 8:30-9:00 am: Final Acting scene walk/talk through (environment work)
  • 9:00-9:30 am: Start reading Flower Drum Song by C. Y. Lee
  • 9:30-11:20 am: Acting class
  • 11:20-12:30 pm: Musical Theatre solo rehearsal
  • 12:30-1:00 pm: Finalize Musical Theatre solo paperwork
  • 1:00-2:00 pm: Voice lesson
  • 2:00-2:30 pm: Continue reading Flower Drum Song by C. Y. Lee
  • 2:30-2:40 pm: Musical rehearsal
  • 2:40-3:20 pm: Lunch
  • 3:20-3:30 pm: Musical rehearsal
  • 3:30-4:00 pm: Dance review for Jazz midterm
  • 4:00-5:20 pm: Jazz dance class
  • 5:20-6:30 pm: Dinner and Acting rehearsal OR Musical Theatre duet rehearsal OR start memorizing lines for final Acting scene
  • 6:30-7:30 pm: Composition elective class
  • 7:30-9:30 pm: Floor Barre and Dance Review
  • 9:30-10:15 pm: Commute home
  • 10:30-Midnight: Homework - Research Flower Drum Song and the American 1950s for Musical Theatre solo work, continue reading Flower Drum Song by C. Y. Lee
Ridiculous, right? Ridiculous! All the other days of the week follow suit, only with more classes taking place during the day, usually (Wednesdays are my shortest class days).

Somehow, between all the madness that is my life of Musical Theatre, I strive to find time to enjoy the city and remind myself that I am a living, breathing, feeling, stressing, worrying, loving, caring, sharing, giving, happy human being. Some of my free time - yes, I actually do find free time every once in a while - has been spent with friends in Chinatown having dim sum, watching movies with the discount tickets we get at school, going thrift shopping, or attending a play or musical. Now, all of this can be considered acting research, and being the multitasking bird I am, I always find some way to relate my everyday life to my work. When you've got limited time like I do, you've got to find millions of little ways to be productive and efficient.

School itself has been going well. I'm still faced with some insecurities about my own progress, but it gets better and better as the days move on. I really have a secure handle on the skills that I've been acquiring over the last nine and a half months, and because of that, each time I work on a scene, song, or dance, I think less and less about technique and more and more about enjoying myself. I attended the Film, Stage, and Showbiz Expo a few weeks ago, where I learned about work opportunities in the entertainment industry. I also recently participated in an introductory seminar/workshop on commercial voice overs, which taught me about recording technique and working as a voice over artist, which is something I am definitely interested in. On top of all of that, I'm currently searching New York City and the surrounding areas for a photographer to take my headshots soon, hopefully by the end of May. I can begin auditioning in June, and I'm really working hard to make sure I'm ready when the time comes.

Things are getting serious here, but I'm not letting the magnitude of it all get to me. It's important to have fun and remind myself to keep doing so. After all, that is the point of all of this - have fun!

Okay then!


forget the fall back

There's this rumor at AMDA that by the time you get into your third semester at school, you surrender your right to a life of your own. I never believed it; after all, I had graduated from UC Berkeley, one of the top universities in the world, in three and a half years without breaking much of a sweat. But you know what they say - rumors are often based in truth. And, oh God, that rumor speaks volumes of truth. I'm about a month into my third semester at AMDA, and it has consumed my life. Obviously. I mean, I haven't been blogging for close to a month. All I do is go to school, rehearse, analyze, observe, comment, recreate, channel, and experience. Such is the life of the actor. I did ask for this, after all.

Now that I'm more than halfway through with my training, I'm starting to seriously consider career opportunities. I'm attending a Showbiz Expo at the end of the month - the industry's own brand of a career fair - and I'm hoping to get information about head shots, agency representation, and actors unions. I've been reading audition notices on a regular basis to get a feel of what's currently available and what material I should work on getting together for my audition repertoire.

Let's back this up about nine months. When I first started at AMDA, to be completely honest, I didn't really think I had the talent or courage to actually pursue a career in the performing arts. Going to a conservatory had been a lifelong dream of mine, so mostly, that's what school was about - doing something for myself. I figured that after finishing school, I'd try auditioning for a few months, but I'd eventually fall back on my degree and end up in an office, right back where I started. But the more I got into it, the more I came to understand my true potential and passion for the art itself. Last weekend, I had lunch with a classmate of mine, and he asked, "In case this doesn't work out, what's your fall back?" And without thinking, I replied, "I don't have one. I'm going to do this." That was the first time during this whole experience that I had felt that with such certainty. I actually shocked myself with the realization. But at the same time, I felt exhilarated because for the first time in my life, I had felt so certain about myself that every single insecurity just melted away.

It wasn't just school that brought about this new perspective. Over the last few months, I've been chronicling my latest of heartbreaks, which was, by far, the toughest one I've gone through to date. And it's true, what happened to me was incredibly shitty. I mean, it was the kind of thing that you never think would happen to someone, but yes, it happened to me. Now that I'm months beyond the awful incident, and with the help of my 20/20 hindsight, I've begun to understand that every moment of my life, good and bad, has led me to the point of believing wholeheartedly and steadfastly in myself. That shitty thing was a part of it. Italy was a part of it. Chez Echo was a part of it. Getting rejected from the Haas School of Business was a HUGE part of it. It's amazing to see how every moment of your life leads you to where you're supposed to be. It leaves me awestruck sometimes.

I've been in New York City for about eleven months now, and I'm quickly and excitedly approaching my one-year anniversary. Since most of my time here has been spent at school, I have been giving my all to that and not really absorbing the fact that I actually live in New York Freakin' City. But sometimes, when I least expect it, the thought will hit me and I'll realize how incredibly lucky I am. Like when I'm shopping for school supplies and I look up to see the dazzling lights of Times Square and think to myself, "Jesus Christ, I'm shopping for pencil lead and batteries in Times Square." Or when I'm in acting class and I feel the floor rumble because of the subway winding beneath me in its city-wide underground labyrinth. Moments like those make me stop and think, "Wow! I live in New York City!"

Tonight I had dinner with my dear friend Jen, a fellow Cal Bear and AOII, who's currently in town on business. It had been over a year since we'd seen each other last, but we managed, as good friends always do, to pick up exactly where we left off. Of course, things have changed - I'm living 3,000 miles from home and she's engaged - but it didn't take much effort to fill in all the gaps. But what sticks out most about our evening together was her brief but succinct description of how I had changed: "New York is for you. You're different, and I can tell you're different. You are more alive than I have ever seen you before. At school, you were just sleepwalking through your days because that's what you were supposed to do and you had to go through it. But I can tell you're happy. And that makes me happy." It's satisfying to feel like my life is falling into place. Yeah, there are definitely areas I want to improve on, but for now, I'm exactly where I'm supposed to be.

So much of me wants to make this journey a permanent change. I honestly can see myself living in New York for a very long time. Possibly for the rest of my life. But I guess that will all depend on what happens after graduation from AMDA and where my career decides to take me. Whatever happens, I'm sure it will be for the best. My plan, for now, is to sit back and enjoy the ride. Much easier done than said.

God, I love it here.


laundry time

Not literally, but the past few weeks have been the kind that just go by in a blur, and all I can do to record this short but eventful time of my life is list it all out, laundry style. Ready, set, go!

Boston: Took a day trip to Boston with Miguel, Lotus, and Ray. We walked a lot, shopped a little, and ate quite a bit. I reintroduced myself to clam chowder, which I liked more than the last time I remember having it. But, for the record, I attribute this to the fact that whenever I'm with Miguel, I tend to try and like foods I never would have without him.

Boston Commons

We're boiling up in here!

AMDA Orientation: I worked the Spring 2009 orientation, welcoming incoming students, selling textbooks, playing the piano and leading vocal warm ups, setting up and breaking down tables, and having a good times overall. It didn't hurt that I made some extra spending cash.

AMDA 3rd Semester: I started my third, and second-to-last, semester at AMDA this past Monday. We had tap dance placements first thing Monday morning and ballet dance placements first thing Friday morning, and to my surprise, I was moved up to the intermediate levels in both classes. Turns out my rehearsal and hard work last semester did pay off. Still a beginning level jazz dancer, but that's fine by me. The rest of my classes are getting along fine. During the week, I've managed to get a tiny step ahead in my homework, which doesn't seem like much at the moment, but I know that once classes really start rolling, every little bit will help.

Yelp ROTD: I've been Yelping recently, contributing to the online community forum by writing reviews for local businesses. I have used Yelp for a little while now, getting recommendations for restaurants, shops, entertainment experiences, and the like. I decided to start writing reviews because I wanted to contribute to the pool of local expertise as well as gain more practice on my writing skills. Today, I received the Review of the Day (ROTD) recognition, and my review for a neighborhood restaurant was featured on the homepage of Yelp NYC. I'm aspiring to be a part of Yelp's Elite Squad, and hopefully, this will bring me one step closer to that fun little goal of mine.

My Review of the Day (bottom right)

Weekend Plans: I'm ushering for Second Stage's Off-Broadway production of Becky Shaw, a comedy about blind dates and bad dates and how people deal with them. I'm looking forward to it because I've heard great things and, since I'm ushering, I get to see it for free. This is the third show I'll be seeing as an usher for Second Stage, and I must say, I'm a fan. I hope to see more shows in the next few months; I haven't seen one in a while, mostly because I've been so busy with school, but I want to make it more of a priority because I will be auditioning for professional acting jobs in the very near future. I want to see what I should be working towards and scope out my potential competition. Also, going to see shows is a real treat for me, especially living here, right smack dab in the middle of New York City, so I should take advantage of my student status and get all the rush tickets I can afford. A few on my list include August: Osage County, Little Mermaid, and, if I can score tickets, the Kristin Chenoweth Gala at New York City Centers.

California, Here We Come: Plans are in the works for my trip home this summer. Cathy's graduating from college, and Danielle and I coming up with ideas for Michelle's bachelorette party. Michelle's getting married the same day of Cathy's graduation, but it will be a small private ceremony, so I won't be attending. But being that the three of us have been good friends since high school, Danielle and I are refusing to send her off into this new part of her life without getting into a little trouble with a bachelorette party. Oh, it will be legendary.

And that's all she wrote! More to come as the semester unfolds, along with all the unavoidable drama.


the sixth year

Well, here it is, my obligatory Valentine's Day post. This Valentine's Day marks my sixth year of being single. I broke up with my one and only boyfriend a little over six years ago, a few days shy of both Valentine's Day and what would have been our two-year anniversary. Since that time, I have been on a couple of dates, but I have not officially dated any one. The closest I got to "dating" was the almost-two-month-thing, whatever it was, that blew up in my face last fall. Depressing, right?

No, not really.

I'll be the first to admit, that came as a big surprise. Having wanted for a relationship for so long, and having been so pathetically disappointing in the romance department for the entirety of my adult life, I was sure that today would be akin to a slow and torturous death. I made plans to lock myself in my apartment, stay in my pajamas, sit on the couch, and drown myself with cheap alcohol while watching toilet humor comedies all day long. Instead, I found myself surrounded by love.

The day began with a late breakfast at a cafe on the East Side, where I sat alone and indulged in a custard pastry and the eleventh chapter of The Kite Runner, which I am currently reading. That was followed by a much-needed hair appointment, during which I let the stylist have at it while I caught up on my celebrity gossip via Star! magazine. Afterwards, I made dinner plans with my good friend Marisa, who traveled back home from San Francisco to New Jersey this week to be with her family. I spent the rest of the afternoon Yelp-ing, which is quickly becoming a new hobby of mine; I'm aspiring to be a member of the Elite Squad here in New York City, which will not only expose me to more of what this amazing city has to offer but will introduce me to a handful of witty and intelligent people who are seeking the same cultural enlightenment I am. Marisa and I had a casual and comfortable dinner in Chinatown, and we ended the night with exotic ice cream desserts from the Chinatown Ice Cream Factory.

After Marisa and I parted ways, I walked a few blocks to the nearest subway station, finishing up my ice cream cone and people watching as I went. I thought of everything that had happened today: watching a late-night showing of Slumdog Millionaire with friends; receiving a Facebook message informing me that my friends back home were checking up on me via their Blackberries shortly after midnight, while they were all out at a bar; having little details about my hair preferences remembered by a stylist who had only met me once, over three months ago; tasting ice cream that reminded me of the flavors of home; all of which led me to the understanding that despite the fact that I am alone, I am so incredibly cared for. Around me, couples were bickering over restaurant choices, significant others being late, or how a waiter's mistake over dinner ruined an entire evening. I smiled at how wonderfully simplistic my day was, in my solitude. And I thought about how I didn't want this contrived holiday to be about showering someone with material representations of affection. Rather, I like to believe it's more about understanding what love is and finding your own personal joy in experiencing it, no matter how that may be.

Maybe I'm making all this up because it's been so long since I've felt a romantic connection with someone and I have to find some way to comfort the pain of my loneliness. Because I'll admit it, if I had the choice, I would have loved to spend this day with someone who loves me. Regardless, I can honestly say that when I look back on this plain and simple Valentine's Day, I'll see myself standing on a street corner, ice cream cone in hand, enveloped by a cold winter wind, and smiling at the thought of all the things that made this day a happy one.