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.