project 365

On January 1, 2010, I embarked on a life-changing mission called Project 365. The challenge was to take one picture every day of the year. Of course, at the time I didn't think of it as much of a challenge, nor did I expect it would actually change my life. But, at times, it was, and at the end of it all, it did.

I feel fortunate to have captured the entirety of 2010 in digital images. When the year began, I had no idea about the things that were about to happen, grand adventures that were about to unfold. Project 365 has helped me to find gratitude in every moment, allowing me to recognize and acknowledge my blessings. While I can easily look back and assign milestones to years, it's not often that I can truly claim that one year in particular was the best year ever. I know that I have a lot to look forward to, but damn, 2010, you did me right!

My dear friend Ratha and I have this funny thing we do where we assign an overall theme to the beginning of the year, sort of a self-fulfilling prophesy for all the things we hope to accomplish in the days and months to come. 2008 we titled "The Year of Change," and that's precisely what it brought; the glory days of Chez Echo came to an end, I moved to New York City to change careers and pursue my dreams, and Barak Obama was elected into office as President with a promise of change for the American people. In 2009, we vowed to "Live it Up!," which I certainly did while spending my one and only full calendar year living in New York City. When 2010 rolled around, we weren't quite sure how to label the beginning of a new decade. Ratha thought we should call it "The Year of Love" because so many people she knew were getting married. I wanted to call it "Legendary" because I had my first professional acting gig lined up and could sense a lot more incredible things coming my way.

2010 has blown me away. I began the year in high spirits, wearing my brand new and smoking hot LBD, drinking mojitos with my girlfriends at the Cuban restaurant I was working at in New York City. I was preparing for a belated holiday trip home, after which I would be flying down to Miami for a two-month contract with Actors' Playhouse doing Miss Saigon. That officially crossed off two things on my bucket list - perform professionally and perform in Miss Saigon. After that, I hoped that I might get another job offer within the year. Little did I know that I would get three, one of which I would have to walk away from in order to accept another that I probably would have waited a lifetime for if I had to. I spent much of this year in Florida, a place I had always thought of living in but never really considered a possibility, and my in-between time was spent in New York, where I unexpectedly fell into the center of a budding lawsuit and simultaneously burned a bridge with a now-forgotten co-worker, and back home-home in California. I dealt with unemployment and its accompanying depression for the first time in my life, and I had to say goodbye to some of the closest friends I've ever made, not knowing when, or if, we'd ever see each other again. I helped those same friends produce two of our own shows in New York City, living up to the age-old adage that if you can make it there, you can make it anywhere. At home, I reconnected with long-lost friends that I had fallen out of touch with over the years, and I learned about the resiliency of love. I made plans for the future, I cancelled plans for the future, and I tried my best to live in the moment. I struggled for money, lost a lot of money, then came into enough money to help me start breathing again. As the oldest in my family, I feel a lot of pressure to be the ideal role model for everyone else and a strong pillar of support that my relatives can rely on. But this year, I came to accept my faults and weaknesses and learned to find strength in my sister and cousin, to whom I offer all my love and gratitude. I miraculously traveled for free much of this year, and though not every place I've visited has been the ideal travel destination, I am thankful and humbled by the opportunity to see the world and gain invaluable knowledge and wisdom, all while doing what I love.

So 2010 was legendary. But Ratha might have been on to something. This year was also full of love. Those adventures and experiences never would have happened to me if I didn't pursue the thing I loved. This was the year I made a full commitment to my health and fitness. I did that to help cultivate a self-love, and I wanted to give myself the best possible chance for a long and healthy life because I have finally started to believe that I am deserving of all that. And then there were the three men who came into my life this year and taught me, each in their own way, that I am worth loving. I owe a lot of my recent happiness to them.

Bottom line: 2010, you were awesome! This New Year's Eve, I'm coming around full circle. I'll be wearing my not-so-brand new but still smoking hot LBD, drinking mojitos with my guy friends on the cruise ship I work on in the Bahamas. It feels right to end the year much like I started it. Joy begets joy. Or something like that.

2011, bring it on!

View my Project 365 here:


diary of a single girl

If I were to be completely honest with myself, I'd have to admit that the truth is I've never been in love. There were times when I thought I was in love, but in retrospect, turns out I was actually in need. I needed someone to make me feel like I was special because at the time, I didn't believe it myself. And having someone like that around made my days bearable. There were also times when I'm pretty sure I've been close to being in love. The trouble is, the other person never knew it. Extenuating circumstances - usually another woman - prevented me from professing my amorous feelings, and as a result, love never truly blossomed.

For a long time, I thought that my ultimate life's goal was to be married, own a house, and raise a family. I mean, isn't that what everyone who grows up in the suburbs wants? Okay, I'm a bit of a non-conformist, and my life thus far hasn't really pushed me in that direction. But I always believed I was just a little bit misguided and that eventually, the path I was on would join up with the ones everyone else seemed to be following. I also believed that if I pursued the things I loved - music, travel, adventure - I'd fall in love with someone along the way. Um, God? It's been about 26 years now, quickly going on eternity. Don't you think I've been wandering around long enough?

Maybe I'm not cut out for love. I don't suppose everyone is. You hear stories of people who spend their lives in solitude; maybe I'm one of those people. It strikes me as a bit odd, though. I believe I'm an incredibly passionate person, and I strive to build strong and meaningful relationships with people. Wouldn't I be suited for love? I think I could handle it.

I have received endless advice from people on the subject: "You've got to put yourself out there!" Okay, so I've tried online dating. Multiple times, in fact. Every guy I run into on the Internet just never seems to be a match. Either he wants to marry me in a week, he can't hold a conversation to save his life, or I'm just not that attracted to him. I've been set up on dates by friends, but there's usually a lack of chemistry. Hell, I've even picked up guys at bars. But those kinds of guys end up working in the porn industry (true story, and I swear I didn't see it coming) or have some frighteningly weird sexual fetish (also another true story, which I probably should have seen coming). There's also the good old, "You've got to stop searching for it. I found the love of my life when I was least expecting it, and I've never been happier." For all those who have ever doled this piece of wisdom out to me, first of all, I would like to make you aware of the fact that when I came on board the Carnival Sensation, the last thing I wanted was to start a relationship. But then I fell for a guy, and it's turned out to be the most complicated, difficult, and heart-wrenching situation I've ever found myself in. Second of all, fuck you. (I mean that in the nicest way possible.)

How many times do you have to strike out before you realize that you just aren't that great of a baseball player? Don't get me wrong, I know my way around the field. I suppose I'm not meant to be a pro, that's all. So perhaps I should consider an alternate course of action.

I'm giving up on the suburban dream. You know, rich husband, white picket fence, 2.5 kids and a dog, the works. It's not that shocking, I guess, given my track record (headline: Single Girl Gets Her Heart Torn in Two, Yet Again!), and come on, can you really imagine me settling down? The passionate musician who leaves all she knows behind to pursue and preserve her art, becoming an avid globetrotter in the process... Maybe it's worth throwing in the towel. At the end of my life, I'd love to tell stories of me singing my way across our lovely planet, exploring unfamiliar corners and meeting the fabulous folks of our great green earth. Not many people get to do that. And I've got a good start on it already. Is it necessary to have a life partner to do it all with? I've still got chemistry, I've still got romance, that should suffice. It has so far, for the most part.

Okay, there is a part of me that is surrendering. I've never felt like a keeper, mostly because no one's ever wanted to have me. But instead of wallowing in my misery, I'm rejecting it and embracing the life of the Single Girl. At this point, what else is there to do, really?

Maybe I'm not meant to find love. But I sure as hell will find adventure.


drumroll, please

There's this incredibly romantic episode in season one of How I Met Your Mother, my favorite TV show, called "Drumroll, Please." Here's a rundown for those not in the know: Ted, the protagonist of the show, attends the wedding of an old friend. There, he meets a girl who catches his interest. When he approaches her, the interest is clearly mutual. However, she proposes that the two of them attempt to achieve the ultimate one-night stand - all the romance without the awkwardness of the morning after. The rules are no last names, no kissing, and no goodbyes. That way, in the years to come, both she, first given the alias Buttercup but later revealed as Victoria, and Ted will have an untarnished memory of an incredibly romantic night that neither or them will forget. Sounds good enough. They spend the evening doing fun and spontaneous things, like stealing the bride's bouquet, tap dancing to piano music in an adjacent reception hall, doing cartwheels down the hallways. At one point, Ted asks Victoria if he can kiss her. She declines, saying that kissing would shatter the illusion of idyllic romance because Ted may end up being a bad kisser, thereby ruining the perfect evening. So Victoria suggests that they do a lead up to a kiss, the moment of anticipation right before the lips meet. A drumroll, if you will. Ted reluctantly agrees, and both admit the moment is exhilarating. At the end of the night, Ted confesses that while the evening was indeed perfect, it will end unhappily as he watches Victoria walk out the door. She smiles at him, asks him to close his eyes and count to five, and tearfully walks away in the brief moment that she is hidden from him, to help him preserve a perfect memory of her.

I first watched this episode about three or four years ago, when I first discovered How I Met Your Mother. I have since watched it multiple times, and every time, I am simultaneously entranced and frustrated. What an interesting concept, to have an unadulterated evening of bliss with someone you are clearly enamored with. But how frustrating to think that moments like that can't last forever. Of course, in the course of the season, Ted tracks Victoria down and they get involved in a short but sweet relationship, eventually terminating because of long distance.

Now that's the stuff that romance is made of. But come on, who does that really happen to? No one, right?

Wrong, friends. So very wrong. I know this because... Well, I just met my Buttercup.

Truth be told, when I first got on this ship a little over a month ago, romance was the last thing on my mind. First of all, I had a job to do, a job which I've been waiting a lifetime for. Second of all, and just as important, I had some money to make. And I didn't want to engage in anything that might be detrimental in achieving either of those goals. I also understood and accepted the reality of my situation; I'd be here for six months, during which time people would come and go, and it wasn't a good scenario for starting a lasting and meaningful relationship. I was ready to have non-committal fun, in whatever form it took. But then I met Buttercup.

The funny thing was, I already had someone else in mind for myself. Someone whom I'd been secretly waiting for and hoping that he was also secretly waiting for me. I never really gave him much of a thought previously, mostly because I was never in the right place at the right time, but recently, new possibilities opened up. And I was holding out for those. Maybe I still am, I don't know. But the truth is, I'm here, he's there, and there's a whole lot of time and distance between us at the moment. Then Buttercup walked into my life. Or rather, I came on board his. He took me by surprise, mostly because there were so many things about him that didn't fit my usual bill: he's younger than I am (I'll admit that I'm an agist and have historically refused to date anyone younger than me), he's not really my type (you know, I've got the Miss Saigon syndrome - Asian girl falls for the clean cut, all-American white boy), he doesn't have the type of career I prefer (I dated a guy years ago who does the exact same thing that Buttercup does, and it blew up in my face, so I've sworn off those kinds of guys since then). There are a lot of other complications to throw in the mix as well. In a nutshell, he's not right for me. But geez Louise, I think he's the bee's knees. Everything about him, from his looks to his laugh to his charming personality, has me doe-eyed and star struck. He really does it for me.

We spent one incredible month together, the last week of which sent me reeling back into youthful nostalgia as we spent nights walking along the beach, dancing under the stars, and kissing on balconies. But last weekend, he was transferred to another ship, where he is finishing out the remainder of his contract. As expected, I am heartbroken, and not a day has yet passed that I haven't cried like a teenage girl who just broke up with her high school sweetheart. We are trying to maintain contact, but living on the seas makes communication difficult. The odds are not in our favor, and I honestly wonder whether I'll ever see this incredible man again.

Here's the thing that I find most interesting about the situation. Those that are closest to me can attest that I am a closed person. Very rarely do I let my emotional guard down, and of the few times that I do, about 0.01% of those are for romantic endeavors. So why him? Why was he the one that I let myself open up to? Maybe it's because I was so physically attracted to him. Maybe it's because he is so genuinely sweet, and I felt that I had found a kindred spirit. I think, though, what it boils down to is that I know things here are temporary, so I want to make the most of it. Buttercup and I had a clear expiration date, and I wanted to relish every moment I had with him, even if it meant becoming vulnerable. And for the first time in a very long time, my feelings were reciprocated. Being open to him opened me up to happiness, no matter how short-lived it may be. I learned that I want more of this in my life and that the risk is clearly worth the reward. I just have to let myself fall once in a while.

I know that reality is gaining on the fantasy life Buttercup and I managed to piece together. Regardless of the outcome, I will cherish the time we had together. We had one hell of a drumroll.


beyond the sea

I can't believe I'm approaching the end of the first month of my contract. Time really flies when you're having fun, and I'm having a TON of fun! In a nutshell: singing with the band is a complete joy, and it's so fulfilling to have my knowledge and skill challenged on a daily basis. My performance is improving day by day, so none of this ever feels like work. The only difficulty is keeping my vocal health up; I sing a large portion of my sets near a smoking area on board, so I am affected by the secondhand smoke on a regular basis. I do have a handful of medical tools to help keep my chords lubricated and in tip top shape, and it's simply a matter of staying on the ball. I'm enjoying my company, and I'm learning to be more social, which can be difficult for me sometimes. But I keep reminding myself that this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I'm trying to live each moment to the fullest.

I've continued to think about what I want to do after this contract is over, and day after day, my answer stays the same. I'm going to expose myself to some musical opportunities here on board to help me explore what exactly I'd like to immerse myself in next to help me keep all my options open. Though I'm starting to see that my hopes and desires are well developed and getting to the point of fruition. Which is so so so exciting, but there is a part of me that feels like I might not be ready to grow up yet and take the plunge into adulthood. There is a lot more I want to see and do in this world before I settle down, if I ultimately decide to get settled, and I wonder if those things will fall to the wayside while I pursue my greater goals. Perhaps all this is needless speculating, but it's the kind of thing you've got to consider when making giant decisions, right?

Well, while that's happening, I might as well take things as they come. That's all I can expect to do, after all.

Pictures to come soon!


getting my sea legs


I just completed my first week with the Carnival Sensation, and I'm happy to announce that things have been, well, sensational! As was expected, I've had an overwhelming seven days, chock full of employee training, performance observing, show rehearsing, and environmental orienting. This life will be a tough one to adapt to, mostly because everywhere I go, the floor seems to be sliding out from under me! I've got Dramamine on hand, in case my motion sickness takes the turn for the worst, but I'm hoping that my body will naturally adjust itself sooner or later. And it better be sooner rather than later or else this will be a very long six months.

My first impressions:

  1. This boat has a LOT of neon. I mean, it's like Vegas threw up a cruise ship and sent it sailing to the Bahamas. The Sensation was built in 1993, and it hasn't gone under any renovations since then. It still maintains its original tacky splendor. But hey, it's as good a place as any to call home.
  2. The clientele are not the type of people I was originally expecting. There aren't too many families, and the few that are here have children of all ages, from toddlers to older teens. Mostly it's middle-aged and older couples. There are a lot of Black Americans, but there are surprisingly a large number of foreigners traveling too, which I really didn't expect.
  3. In terms of the crew and staff, there are very few Americans. I think I'm one of maybe nine or ten out of a total of 800-ish employees on board. I've learned it's because Carnival doesn't have to pay taxes on any employees except Americans. So I'm a rare breed here on board. It's a bit confusing though because there are a TON of Filipinos, and a lot of them think I'm Filipino. Until I start speaking perfect American English. Then it's another story altogether.
  4. My bandmates are AWESOME! I'm singing with four guys - wait, take it in, four STRAIGHT guys - and all of them are extremely talented musicians. They seem to like me well enough, but at this point, I can't tell if they're just being nice to the new girl. Their humor is going to take some getting used to; I forgot how raunchy straight guys can be, and that level of raunchiness grows exponentially when there are more of them congregated together. I think I'll have to take a lesson or two from Robin Scherbatsky. (Side note: I'm re-watching season one of How I Met Your Mother, and I completely forgot how incredible that season was. It might just be my favorite.)
  5. I am always hungry! I think because we're not allowed to have food in our cabins, I'm eating less in general than I would normally. Also, there are set meal times, so I can't just aimlessly eat. I have to plan my meals, which makes me more conscious of what I consume. This is probably a good thing.
  6. I'm not stateside very often. We only port in Florida twice a week, and when we are there, we're only there till 3:00 pm. I'm a lot more isolated than I thought I would be. This is also probably a good thing.
  7. #6 means that I may not get to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part One in movie theaters. I'm very sad about that.
  8. My first official performance happened yesterday, Wednesday night. (I had a "preview" of sorts Monday night in one of the ship lounges that doesn't prove to be very popular on Monday nights, so I had an audience of about 6.) It was AMAZING! I had so much fun singing and laughing with the guests, and they were having fun too, apparently, because about halfway through the set, the audience started cheering, "We love Gina! We love Gina!" Afterwards, the band and I received compliments from many people, saying that we made their entire vacation. I'm so happy to have put smiles on so many faces and really enjoy myself while I'm doing it!
  9. I've done a lot of thinking about whether to stay at home or move back to New York after this contract. Every night this week, I have written in a journal about my feelings toward each place and what I hope to get out of either home of New York. It has been extremely enlightening, and things are much clearer. My decision will be an easy one, I'm sure of it. In fact, I probably already know what I want to do. But I'm going to let myself continue to write out my feelings because there is always the possibility that my decision could change in the next few weeks or months. However, at this point in time, I can say that what I seem to be headed toward is making me very very happy.

Two cruises down, fifty one more to go!


bahama breeze

I'm happy to announce that I finally received my ship assignment! On November 7, I will be joining the Carnival Cruise Line's Sensation as a vocalist, sailing between Orlando and the Bahamas, through May 2011. I'm really looking forward to spending the next six months in tropical paradise and escaping my second winter of the year. Geez Louise, I'm so spoiled.

I'm also grateful for the time I'll have to really meditate and figure out what I want to do with my life after those six months are over. As cool as it sounds to be cruising for six months, the flip side is that without phone, Internet, or TV service, or any real time off the ship (I work 3- and 4-day cruises back to back with little time stateside), I'll essentially be living in isolation. But I'm counting my blessings and am taking this as an opportunity to reflect and asses my emotions about the state of my career and, potentially, the beginning of a new chapter of my life.

I've constantly been mulling over my options during the last few days, and I'm starting to feel bad for my friends because it seems like all I ever talk about now is whether I should return to New York or stay at home in the Bay Area next summer. So I apologize to those who have been at the receiving end of my rants. Please know that I place an incredible value on your opinions, and I treasure every bit of advice you throw at me, even if it's the things I don't want to hear. I've come up with some more ideas and options for myself, and most of the time, it can be incredibly overwhelming. I think the time alone will do me good.

But aside from that, I really am exciting to be cruising. After all, it is definitely a career goal of mine, and I can't wait to be traveling once again. Oh God, and that beautiful Caribbean ocean. I hear paradise calling!



My sleep schedule is all out of whack, and I think I can attribute it to last week's multiple impromptu plans, all of which led to an unbalanced amount of sleep every night. Or maybe it's the fact that there are a million and one things swimming through my head right now, none of which make any sense and are doing a damn good job of keeping me up worrying tonight. When all else fails, the blog comes in handy.

I'm having a lot of trouble deciding what to do after my cruise gig. (Oh, and nearly four weeks after the job offer was made, there's still no word on when I'll be leaving or where I'll be going... It's a huge headache I'd rather not talk about or deal with till it's done, whenever that may be.) I think the reason is because I have no idea what I want to do. I know what I could be doing, but what it comes down to is whether or not I actually want to devote the next few years to THIS or THAT. THIS being acting, and THAT being whatever else is not acting. I have good arguments for both sides, so it makes the decision-making process extremely difficult. I told myself I'd spend the next six months at sea meditating on the subject, during which I'll probably come up with a solid solution to this problem, but dang it, I'm getting impatient! I want to figure out my life NOW, and I'm really getting tired of not being able to plan long-term, despite the fact that letting go of that concept has really improved my level of happiness in the last year. It's contradictory, I know, but I think I'm quickly approaching a time in my life where I'll be seeking some stability. And I'd like to get a head start if I can.

Yesterday, I woke up with an interesting perspective on New York City. Relatively speaking, acting and living in New York is a brand new thing, so I try to give myself some time to really think about and analyze the goals I set for myself that take place there. In recent months, I've added the elusive Great White Way to my list of long-term goals, and for the most part, it seems fairly attainable and something I can conceivably work toward with the possibility of success. But yesterday, out of the blue, I questioned where that idea actually came from. Is it something that I truly aspire to achieve, or is that something I put on my list of things to accomplish simply because that's what everyone else wants? Every actor dreams of being on Broadway, so I guess that means I have to too. My friends all want to see me on Broadway someday. Also, I certainly have the skill and work ethic to make it there successfully, that much I know. But is that reason enough for me to go after it 100%?

I don't know. And I don't think I will for a while. What has to happen is that I've got to sit down, list every one of my long-term goals for the next four or five years, and analyze it from both sides, stating possible outcomes and consequences of my decisions. Then I've got to prioritize what it is I want out of my life, specifically what I want to happen before I'm 30. Because the truth is, a lot of things will change in four years. First and foremost, the inevitable biological changes that no one is immune to. My voice will undoubtedly mature soon, which may lead to changes in my singing capabilities. And then, of course, there's the whole female-baby thing, which I try not to think about, but damn, that stuff hits you out of the blue sometimes. Secondly, there are financial issues I have to consider: where will I get the money to pay for next year's taxes or an apartment or living expenses in between jobs? And third, do I have the time to do it all? Sometimes I feel like time moves faster than I can process it, and I worry that making the wrong decision could cost me in ways that I couldn't possibly imagine.

I have this feeling that this moment, this particular time in my life, is a very important one. The crossroads I'm currently facing are big ones, and whichever path I ultimately decide to choose will possibly determine the course of the rest of my life. Though deep down, I pray that things aren't that serious. I mean, that's a lot of pressure.

I wish there was something pulling me in either direction, rather than both my choices being equally appealing. If someone could do something to change that for me, you would have my eternal gratitude. Seriously.



A little over two weeks ago, on my twenty-sixth birthday to be exact, I resigned myself to the fact that I must step back from performing professionally, stay at home, find a "real life" job, save up money, and reevaluate. This isn't at all a bad idea. In fact, it is a completely rational one. An idea that had my brain grinning from ear to ear, patting myself on the back, and saying, "Way to be a grown up." So then why did it feel so awful? Well, because my heart was being forced back into its cage, screaming, "No! No! No! I don't want to go back to cubical cell walls and lackluster office jobs that will certainly be killing me softly!" Alright then. The two of them compromised and agreed on a full-time job in the educational arts field, along with some community theater on the side. A step back, surely, but not a fall back. Okay, we can deal. I spent the next week applying to jobs, never once hearing back from anyone, except for the occasional "Thank you for submitting your application." Ugh.

Then one day, the threat of being not only a former actor but a BROKE former actor really got to me, so I caved in and planned to apply as an administrative assistant to a very large Internet company (HINT: It rhymes with "noogle" and is also the company that supports the program which this very blog is hosted at.). But just as my cursor hovered over the "submit" button, I realized I wasn't ready for that yet. I was too afraid of committing myself to a job, career, and work environment that I knew I would love (I had interviewed with this company right out of college, so I knew what it would be like to work there) and potentially walking away from a career that I ultimately know I was meant for. So instead, I resubmitted to a cruise line agency that I had sent materials into about a month and a half ago. I didn't suspect anything would come of it, as nothing had happened the first time around, but I noticed that the job I originally applied for was being reposted, meaning it either hadn't been filled or a new and similar position had just opened up. There was no harm in reminding the agency of my interest, and I had new performance material to include. I emailed them without a second though and without much expectation.

The days wore on, and eventually I did end up applying to the aforementioned Internet company, much to my dismay. Then, on a fateful Tuesday afternoon, in the middle of my first jazz piano lesson (I recently signed up for piano and guitar lessons to reinstate a sense of purpose in my life as I face unemployment), my cell phone began to vibrate in my back pocket. Embarrassed at the disturbance, I nonchalantly tried to switch it to silent while intently nodding my head, indicating to my instructor that I was listening, when in reality, I was cursing my sister for sending me what surely must not have been a very important text message.

Now, at this point in my story, I have already accepted the fact that I would be staying home for a long time, a year or possibly more, during which I would be working a steady job and performing on the side. It wasn't what I really wanted, but I knew it was the smart thing to do. I could save up money and consider alternate career paths. Because the truth is, I'm not getting any younger. And if I want to do all the grown up things I'd like to do - primarily raise a family - I need some security. I began to think that maybe a little bit of sacrifice is necessary now; I've accomplished many goals in the last few months, and perhaps it's the time to start working on another. It was heartbreaking to think that I might never perform professionally again, but I urged myself not to think about that and take it all day by day.

Okay, back to that text message. Which turned out not to be a text message at all. As I left my piano lesson, I noticed a missed call from an unknown number. Then it hit me - FINALLY! Someone is offering me a job interview! I dialed the voice mail, and eagerly waited for the details.

And that's when everything changed.

My jaw dropped as I listened to the message. It was the cruise line agency, expressing their interest at signing me on as a vocalist. I immediately called back and got the details. I would be signed on with the agency, who in turn would submit me to one of eight cruise lines they work with. Contracts would begin immediately and last approximately six months. I would get an impressive benefits package (relatively speaking, from the vantage point of a non-union performer), and I would be traveling to far off and exotic places for free. I agreed to the terms of the partnership, expressing my sheer excitement for this opportunity.

The following morning, I woke up to yet another call from the agency. They had an offer waiting for me, for immediate placement as a vocalist on Carnival Cruise Lines. I accepted, submitted the contract, and am currently waiting on placement details, which are pending a series of pre-employment requirements. I'll know within the next week or so where I'll be going, and I should be shipping out within a month.

I cannot believe my good fortune. Just a few days ago, I was lamenting the fact that I didn't have any money and possibly wouldn't be performing for a long time. Then this opportunity came along and changed it all. Not only will I be performing for a living for the next six months, but the job is such that I will be able to save a lot more than I had on previous acting jobs. At the end of it all, I will be back on my feet and better than ever!

Sometimes I wonder how it is possible that I am so incredibly blessed. I have successfully started a career doing the thing I love most in the world, and I have encountered and befriended such beautiful, generous, and intelligent people in the process. The relationships I have with people from the past are stronger too, rooted in compassion and gratitude. Not to say that my life has been without hardship; in fact, the archives of this now seven-year blog will attest that much of my life has been highlighted by frustration and sadness. I have made some significant changes in the last year that have positively affected my outlook on life, most of which I will address soon in later posts.

I'll continue to enjoy all this goodness while it lasts. And when the next storm comes, I'll remember what it felt like to be in the sunshine. I'm sure it'll be enough to keep me hanging on until I see it again.


change of plans

Okay friends, here's the deal: I'm staying in California.

How'd that happen?

Well, let me break it down for you. I've kind of been on the fence about this job from the beginning, and the primary reason for it is finances. The theatre I previously was contracted with hired locally, meaning they did not have the budget to support housing or transportation for out-of-town actors. Now, seeing as I did not have an official place to live at the time the job offer was made, I thought it would be entirely possible to move to Ft. Lauderdale on my own and make a living there. Turns out, I was wrong. So very wrong. When I actually sat down and analyzed my finances, I realized there was no way I could feasibly manage the move. Because I'm poor. Dirt poor. Everything that has happened this year - sublet fiasco, student loan payments starting, bouncing between acting jobs with just a few hundred dollars to tide me over until the next one begins - has drained my bank account down to the last meager drops. The time for dreaming is over.

That means I'm stuck in California indefinitely. It's not a bad place to be, believe me. The weather is nice, I don't have to pay rent, and I've already got a ton of friends to see and do things with (although most of them are employed, so I sit around and wait for them to call me after work is over and pray they aren't too tired to hang out for a little bit). My family is supportive of my career and the choices I have made to sustain it. I had a long talk with my parents about my decision to become an actor, which helped dispel some of their worries and, thankfully, helped me gain their trust and support. The only real trouble is that I don't have access to the auditions that will help me build my career. Also, the acting gigs that pay here don't pay very much. If I want to get back to New York, and I really, really, do, it will require some sacrifices.

Lord almighty, I don't want to sit behind a desk. But that seems like my only viable option if I want to get back to New York quickly. Suck it up for a year, make a ton of money, and start all over. The alternative means staying away for much longer, though I'd be doing what I love. Pick up acting jobs here and there, work in performance arts on the side, and slowly but surely save up that cash. Geez Louise, that is going to take FOREVER!

There are other things I have to consider and take care of before I head back to New York. Like the fact that I am now 26 years old and have no health insurance. Or that I have to save up money to pay the income taxes that weren't deducted from my 1099 acting jobs. Or those loans that need to be paid off. Or that I don't have a car to get around the suburbs, and if I'm going to stay as long as I think I am, I better buy one soon. Ugh. How is it possible that I missed the lesson on being a grown up?

I want to believe that this is the right choice, that this will eventually bring me back to where I know I belong. I wish I had a crystal ball at my disposal, one that would assure me that success is guaranteed somewhere down the line, provided that I stick around here for x amount of time. I really hope I don't regret this.


i left my heart in new york city

It's the start of my second week back home in Suburbia, and I can hardly believe the change of heart that's taken place in the last few days. To get to the point: I'm going back to New York City. Of course, not without this break back home and that upcoming job in Florida. But after all that is said and done, I'm returning to the place that my heart has decided to call home.

There were some revelations during my last week in the Big Apple. First of all, it is the mecca of theater, the place I must struggle to survive in if I am to ever reach my life's goals. Second of all, the pulse of the place matches my own heartbeat, my desire to live life to its fullest and embrace all the wonders that exist in my world. And third, and most importantly, it is where my comrades are. These are the people I started the journey with, and I cannot imagine continuing without them by my side. This handful of gracious souls has seen me through the best and the worst, and they are the ones who continuously encourage me to forge on when I know the easier and safer thing to do would be to give this up all together. Their presence in my life has been an incredible blessing.

So now, it just feels like a waiting game, passing time until I'm back in the greatest city on Earth. There are things that must be done, some of which have already been accomplished. While all of that is happening, I'm already planning for my return. And believe me, this time will be so much better than before. I'm a lot stronger, wiser, and happier. I'll do things more efficiently, like find the perfect apartment in a safe and affordable neighborhood without a broker, score a survival job that supplements my career goals, prepare myself more adequately for seasonal weather changes, and present myself with more poise and grace in auditions. There are so many things I can't wait for.

I really hope time begins to fly so that New York and I can be together once again. This time, baby, I'll be bulletproof.


farewell, for now...

A bit of the parting message I left to my friends in New York City.


I'm a couple thousand feet above the ground at the moment, though by the time this message reaches you, I'll be safe and sound in California. I'm experiencing a slight sense of deja vu, as I recall being in a similar situation just about two and a half years ago, writing a blog post on an airplane about impending change. Back then, I was flying in the opposite direction, away from home, toward all my hopes and dreams. I had no idea what to expect; I thought that I might leave immediately after finishing AMDA, that it would probably be a year or more before I got my first acting job, and I assumed New York City would never feel like home. I now know that a lot can happen in a year or two, or even in just a few short weeks; that opportunities fall into your lap when the stars align, which happens more often than you think; and that home is truly where your heart is.

Moving to New York was a challenge for me in many ways that I know each of you can relate to. There was, of course, the fear of leaving behind a life that provided financial and emotional security. Then there was learning to adapt in a multi-cultural, multi-sensory, and multi-personalitied metropolis, the likes of which my imagination could only begin conceive. Living here is quite a trip, isn't it? There were other things I had to deal with too, like true independence for the first time in my life, with all its glory and unexpected letdowns.

There came a point during my time in Florida that I wanted to give up the fight, put aside my own happiness, and compromise for the sake of my own sanity. This is the primary reason I planned on leaving New York. What I would have done after that, I'm not really sure. I looked into masters programs for music education and simultaneously researched regional theaters in Southern California. Though nothing seemed very promising or enticing or as exciting as anything else leading up to this point in my life. And it made me seriously reconsider my decision to move back west.

Contributing to that was my "final" week in NYC. Parts of it were hell: downsizing from an entire storage unit to three suitcases and a duffel bag, getting yelled at by crazy people on the street, and spending way more money than my meager actor's budget can currently withstand. But all of that was countered by the time I spent with each of you. I had been so wrapped up in worrying about my parents and moving and trying to make ends meet that I forgot what it meant to feel so devoted to something that nothing in the world can stop you from achieving it. All of you reminded me of that, from planning and promoting your own show, to working multiple jobs at odd hours to support yourself in this expensive city, to doing unpaid gigs just for the sake of practicing your art, and to stepping away from this place for as long as it takes to come back to it. Despite all the difficulties that were evident and the challenges that were present in your lives, I truly cannot recall a time when we smiled or laughed more than we have these last few days. It was so refreshing to see such a vivid reminder of why I came here in the first place, with the belief that the only life worth living is one you're truly passionate about.

So, the point of all this is to say that my time in NYC is definitely not over. It is the place that challenges and encourages me to be myself, regardless of the expectations people have for me. I plan on taking this time at home in California not only to recharge, but to take charge of my own life. Then it's off to Florida for a temporary relocation. Following that, who knows where I'll end up? If I'm really honest with myself though, New York is the only place to be in this country, especially if I want to continue growing in this profession. Besides, despite the saying, "Once a Californian, always a Californian," I know that I've found home in all of you. You are all such an incredible inspiration to me, and I am blessed and filled with gratitude to have you in my life. Thank you, thank you, thank you for being your wonderful, beautiful, and generous selves. New York City is a much better place because you all have been a part of it.

I have nothing but respect and love for you all, and I cannot wait to see where the journey will lead us.

Till we meet again.


sleepless nights

I've had trouble sleeping the last few nights, and I attribute it mostly to the fact that I get too much sleep on the whole. But tonight, my inability to slumber comes from an entirely different culprit. Damn that iced tea I had for dinner. And also, my mind is far too restless for its own good.

I don't know if I've made the right decision about my short-term future. I'm weighing the pros and cons of moving to Ft. Lauderdale, and I feel like my insecurities are steering me in a different direction. I know that my recent job offer is a great opportunity for me, but there are so many things that are making me feel hesitant about taking that next step. Mostly what it comes down to is money and the fact that I don't have very much of it. I've done a preliminary financial assessment, and even if I cut back on all scales and take a second job, I'll still be just barely getting by. And on top of it all, I'll be entirely alone in a new environment. I don't know if that's a challenge I want to take on at this point in time.

I went to church today for the first time in a long time, and the gospel reading focused on material wealth versus spiritual wealth. I strive to be a generous person, sharing my gifts and resources with others in the way that I believe I have been called to do so. And I know that ultimately, the material things are fleeting and all we really have is our relationships with each other and with God. But the trouble is, getting by day to day relies on materialism. I need money for shelter, food, clothing. Not to mention those things I consider to be luxuries, like health care. How am I supposed to find comfort in my spirituality and faith when I don't always know how I'm going to feed myself tomorrow or next week? Is this what it means to serve God?

Of course, the alternative would be to take some time off from acting to get a "real" job, save up money, and start the whole entire process over again. I feel so conflicted with that, though. It's not what I want to do, it's not what I find meaningful, and worst of all, it's leading a company to believe that I want to be loyal to them when the truth is I'm just using them for their money to help kick start my own dreams. And during that time, how would I be using my skills and talents to help others? I love acting because I have the opportunity to bring culture to life, to preserve art, to teach others about history, and to build self-esteem in youth. How can I do all that working in behind a desk?

I know I'm being literal (and a bit dramatic) in my state of confusion and supposed despair. I'm just, once again, seeking answers I'm having trouble finding myself.

I really just need to get some sleep.


the next great adventure

Well, I gave the VLogs a try. I realized that I just don't have the patience to put them together. Or a variety of footage. Also, I feel a little narcissistic doing them; sitting in front of a computer talking about what I've done all week feels pompous and a little bit awkward. So back to text I go.

The 70s Show opened a few weeks ago and was well received. Low ticket sales often result in the canceling of shows, so often, we only do three shows a week. A lot of free time means a lot of movie watching, restaurant visiting, and P90X exercising, all of which are going well.

The 70s Show: Act I Costumes

The 70s Show: Act II Costumes

I've also been going on a bunch of auditions lately, and I was fortunate enough to score my next acting job. I'll be relocating to Ft. Lauderdale in October to be a resident company member with Laffing Matterz Dinner Theater. I'll be performing original political satire music revues, and it'll be nice to have the opportunity to work on new material and create original characters. In the mean time, I'll be finishing up work here in Ft. Myers, going to New York for a week to hang out, perform in a cabaret with some friends, move all my stuff out of storage, then take an extended break back home.

The job in Ft. Lauderdale can last up to eight months, so it's nice to have a feeling of security, at least for a while. I'll still be auditioning for things here and there and will continue to look for the next great adventure. I've been considering relocating to Southern California after that contract is finished, giving me the opportunity to plant some roots closer to my family and friends while still having access to a thriving theater community. But we'll see where the following months take me.

Hopefully good fortune will continue to come my way. I really do appreciate and enjoy it.


to be free

I'm taking a brief interlude from the VLog to muse about some of life's other happenings that I don't necessarily feel comfortable talking about out loud. Also, it's about 5:00 am EST, and I'm having trouble sleeping because of the insane amount of sleep I got yesterday. So I figured I might as well update the blog.

Things are mostly hunky dory. Both shows are going well and are being well received by audiences; I'm starting to see results from P90X (I've just started the fourth week of the program); I'm getting A LOT of rest and relaxation; and I'm enjoying my time away from the hustle and bustle and stress of the big city. But there are prices to be paid for this kind of freedom.

I recently had a falling out, and to be honest about it, it was a bit unexpected. I won't go into much detail, but I will say that the events that transpired left me dumbfounded because ultimately, I was hoping for forgiveness, and at the very least, acceptance, for a decision I made. Neither was offered. Now, I like to think that I am a strong and independent person who can take care of herself in the worst of situations. But so far, I've been helpless. I've tried to come up with solutions to this problem, and the more I think about it, the more I stress out. To make matters worse, I've never really confided in anyone how I actually feel about the situation. See, the thing is, I get the feeling that people expect me to brush it off like it was no big deal, maybe because I seem so strong and independent or because that's what they would do in those given circumstances. The truth is, I've had to hold back tears since it all went down. I feel abandoned, misunderstood, and unloved. It sucks.

So, because of all that, my plans for the immediate future have changed. As a result of a prior falling out that happened right before I came down to Florida for this contract, I don't have enough money to live in New York come mid-August. I had made alternate plans, but those are no longer a viable option. So I'm looking at staying in Florida, at least for the short term. Of course, that means finding a job, securing a sublet apartment, scouring up enough money (which I absolutely do not have) to pay for a reliable means of transportation, and having the courage to be all alone for the next few months. I suppose I could go home as well, but there are a lot more negative things associated with that, primarily because my job options are so limited. At least out in Florida, I could potentially find a professional performing job. Paying gigs in the Bay Area are hard to come by, and I'd rather not wait tables in my home town as a form of survival. I mean, if I'm going to be waiting tables, I might as well do it somewhere interesting.

Other changes must be made as well. For the past month and a half, I've been really good about my budget, but for all of this to work, I have to cut things back even more. I'm realizing that my recent luxury purchase - a used Canon DSLR from eBay - was way beyond my means, so I'm probably going to be selling it at the end of summer to contribute to my survival fund. If I make it back to New York at the end of this contract (pending job offers), I'll probably sell off some of my belongings in storage as well. Basically, I've got to cast off everything I absolutely do not need. I've officially become a nomad.

That's the price I pay for freedom, I suppose. I get the things I want, but I feel so alone most of the time. Perhaps it's time for a reevaluation.






summer in the sunshine state

During my time in Florida, I'll be updating via Video Log, or VLog, on this site. I've always enjoyed video editing, so I thought this would be a fun way to play around with that and accurately capture what goes on in my day to day life as an actor. Check back often for updates; I hope to do this once a week for the twelve weeks I'm here. Wish me luck, and watch my first episode!


two years strong

Today is my two year anniversary with New York City. I can easily say, with utter certainty, that these past two years have been the most challenging I have ever been through. There were so many obstacles to face: broker's fees, dumb-ass managers, train delays, unpredictable weather, unpredictable boys, bed bugs, losing money, ceiling leaks, losing more money, being swindled, illegal subletting, not eating because of having lost so much money. But in contrast to those obstacles were the successes: graduating from AMDA, standing up for myself, free theater in Central Park, free concerts at Rockefeller Center, meeting a handful of incredible, inspiring, and genuine people, losing weight, growing up, getting my dream job once, getting my dream job twice, finding ways to keep living the dream.

Despite all the adversity I have faced in the last two years, I have experienced such great joy. I have done the things I once thought were impossible for me to do, and I have emerged from it all standing tall, ready to face the next challenge. It is a great accomplishment in itself that I am still living here and trudging on. And I've learned so many important lessons, the greatest being that I am a person of value. Every time New York picked a fight, I've fought back hard. While I may be a little worn for the wear, I'm still winning, and that's what counts.

I don't know how much longer this love affair will last. Maybe a few more years, or maybe just a few more months. Who knows where my life will take me? But no matter what happens, I know that every second I have spent in this tough metropolitan will have been worth a lifetime of experience.

New York, I love you. For better and for worse.


here we go again

It's been about two weeks since my return from Miami, and I have run through the gamut of emotion. There was the sadness of parting with the amazing people I met during the run of Miss Saigon. There was the happiness of being reunited with my friends in New York. There was the anger that resulted from a fall out with my subletters as a result of a breach of contract. There was the frustration that accompanies the return to the grueling grind of auditions. There was the excitement of being in a new environment. But the combination of all that does not even come close to the elation I'm feeling right at this very moment.

This past Friday, I was offered my second professional acting job. I am a principal cast member of two musical revues being produced this summer at the Herb Strauss Schoolhouse Theater in Sanibel, Florida. Same deal as before: salary, housing, transportation, and one hell of a fantastic time in the Sunshine State. I know that I'm a dedicated and professional worker who can expect a certain amount of success because of my work ethic, but still, I am in awe of my great fortune. I had hoped I might get another job by the end of the year, so to have received this offer less than two weeks after the end of my first job fills me with infinite gratitude.

My dad sent me an email that same day, suggesting I begin considering more secure and lucrative job opportunities. He assured that my time at AMDA and in New York would have not been in vain if I left the acting world and returned to Corporate America where I started. When I told him about my new acting job, he was congratulatory, but still suggested I get my head on straight and remember that I spent too much time on my bachelor's degree to let it go to waste.

His display of hypocrisy was upsetting at first. But then I took a deep breath and thought about things from his point of view. My parents had a plan for me, and they changed their lives to make sure it would happen. And I went along with it for as long as I could until I realized that I couldn't sacrifice my happiness for theirs. Because while I love my parents, I'm the one who has to live with my life choices, good and bad. I came to realize that money had little to do with my personal definition of success. For them, it was everything. But as far as I'm concerned, I have everything I need to survive: a little bit of cash to get my what I need, the love and support of my family and friends, and the guidance of a loving God. So all I have do to is find the thing that makes me happy, the thing that I can look back on at the end of my life and say, "Yeah, I had an incredible run."

So I'm learning to be patient with my parents' worries and fears. It is all out of love, after all. I believe this is what I'm meant to be doing, at least at this point in time, and soon, they'll come to understand this. Or at least accept it. I think part of it is because they only see this as fun and games and not necessarily as a job or career. What they don't see is the amount of work and research and preparation that goes into every acting job and the incredibly difficult skills that those jobs require. And what's difficult for them to comprehend is the direct connection between my college education and my choice of career. I would have never made it here if I didn't make it through all that. I see that, I know that, and I appreciate that.

For now, I'm enjoying the ride and soaking in the experience. I'm also simultaneously exploring new hobbies to cultivate my creative side in the hopes of finding an alternative career in case I should need one. I'm reading more than I have since college, I'm taking pictures everyday to contribute to Project 365, and I'm continuing to improve my video editing and web design skills. From my experience with Miss Saigon, I learned that I'm not so great at keeping the blog updated while I'm on a contract because I get busy with rehearsing, performing, and exploring the local area. But I managed to take a lot of pictures and get a lot of video footage. So this time around, I think I'm going to take a cue from my friend Annie and try a video log, or VLog, for this upcoming contract. Should be a fun change of pace from my seven-year text run.

So the journey continues! Looking forward to what's ahead!


late night limbo

As my days in Miami come to an end, I start to worry that I don't have much else to look forward to. I'm big on planning, and thus far, I've been fortunate enough to have things come and go in a timely manner. But this time, I'm looking forward into a great big void. I'm returning to New York City in less than a week, moving into a new apartment with relative strangers, just a little bit of money, and completely unemployed. Worrisome, yes, though this is how it all started two years ago. It's hard to keep my faith, but I have to believe that everything happens for a reason and that I will end up where I'm supposed to be. Otherwise, I'll fall to pieces. This is a very hard thing for a Virgo to do.

I've had an incredible time working on the show and seeing what life would be like as an actor. But is this something I can really sustain myself on? The instability is frightening, though the rewards are great. Beyond great even. There are roadblocks, namely my own insecurities, so it's hard to feel like I can devote myself to this 100% all the time. I mean, I like it and all, but couldn't there possibly be something more stable, and more lucrative, which would make me just as happy as I am now? Geez, wouldn't that be easy.

I wish I had the answers. More than that, I wish I knew exactly what it is I want out of life. For so long, I've felt like I had everything under control because of my maturity and experience. I'm starting to feel like I'm not as put together as I hoped I would be or as everyone else perceives me. Because the truth is I'm just a 25-year-old girl trying to figure out who she is and what she can offer to the world.

I also have this sneaking suspicion that I'm running away from something. I really can't say what or who it is, but I often get this feeling like I need to leave before things settle or before my heart breaks one more time. I guess I've had a lot of disappointment in my life and would prefer not to deal with it yet again. Though overall, I think I'm stronger than I was before. So the question is, what am I afraid of?

That being said, I've got some ideas in my head for where I'd like to be one, three, or five years from now. Some of those scenarios include New York City, many of them do not. I don't know what I expect to find in all these places. Maybe love. Maybe happiness. Maybe wealth. Maybe freedom. Is it possible that all of these things can exist in one place, in a neatly combined package I could purchase at a convenience store with a Bachelor's Degree, a Professional Certificate, or maybe a hearty resume? That would be nice. I'm getting tired of searching, though I sense that there is a lot more of it to come.

I guess what I'm trying to say is: I feel so behind. So many people I know have begun to establish their careers, have fallen in love, have started families. All of which I WANT. Maybe even NEED. Yes, I'm jealous. Even though I'm following my dreams, I wonder whether they're really my dreams to be had. Am I supposed to do the things everyone else is doing? And if so, why am I taking the long way to get there? Am I making the right choices for myself? Will I ever not feel alone in this world?

Dear God, I could use a sign right about now.


for real?

I know I've been bad about updating this thing lately, so here's a quick rundown of what's been happening down here in Miami:
  • I was in rehearsals for three weeks straight, during which I got to know Miss Saigon on an intimate level and build a lot of new friendships.
  • We opened the show last week and are pretty much now on our feet, for better and for worse.
  • I've rediscovered my intense love for sunshine and beaches.
I cannot even begin to describe the sheer happiness I've been feeling these last couple weeks. I'm so immensely blessed to be doing what I love in the company of amazing people. So much of it feels like a dream, and often times, I wonder what I ever did to deserve this kind of greatness. I've fallen in love with Miami, and the weather keeps me smiling 24/7. Palm trees, coconuts, freeways, cars, cheap beer, Latin music, excellent food... It's no wonder I don't miss New York. It will be interesting to see what it will be like when I return this summer.

For now, the best I can do is embrace each day and send praise to God for all the blessings. I mean, is this for real? Oh yeah, baby, you better believe it.


migrating south for the winter

It's now my fourth day in Miami, and I still can't believe I'm here. The last few weeks have flown by in a blur, as usual, and I'm trying my best to slow down enough to capture it all. This is yet another feeble attempt.

My return to New York was a good one, focusing most of my time and energy on our showcase, "A Standard Night in New York." When Friday rolled around, we performed to a sold-out audience and had an amazing time doing it. The entire show was video recorded, and I just finished putting together DVDs for the cast. The next step is to edit the show down into song clips to post on YouTube. That will take a while, but I'm looking forward to having an updated video reel for my website and audition submissions.

After the show, I came down with a nasty chest cold, and it was tough to make it through my final days of packing and moving against the impending snow storm in New York. But somehow I survived and arrived at Gate 20 in Newark Liberty International Airport in one piece. The flight wasn't so bad, and I trudged on despite a mild fever, achy muscles, and continuous coughing fits. I think my excitement made me feel better than I actually was. We landed in Ft. Lauderdale, and from there, we picked up our rental cars and headed over to Kendall, where our cast house is located. The '70s inspired decor and layout has kept us laughing since day one, but all in all, there are no complaints to be heard.

Aside from living in a kick ass pimp house, our days have been easy going and fun. The weather is mild and the sun is constantly shining. When I'm not in rehearsal, I'm at the gym or exploring the local area to find out where all the necessities are. I suppose we'll start going out soon, but for now, we're all trying to get settled. I'm one of 12 New Yorkers in the cast of 24. A little more than half are non-union actors, like me. Yesterday, I enrolled in the Equity Member Candidate program, allowing me to gain my first credits toward joining union, Actors Equity Association. It'll be a while before I become a full-fledged member, but this is a great first step toward that.

The process has already been a huge learning experience. Having in been in school for nearly two years, I definitely forgot what it felt like to actually be in a show. A lot of the last few days has been getting used to that alone. But also, this is my first professional production, and the level of focus is much higher than anything I've experienced in the past. In our first music rehearsal, we finished one entire song in about 15 minutes. I'm normally accustomed to finishing a song in about half an hour, so I actually felt like I was struggling a bit to keep up. That's a great feeling, to know that I have a challenge ahead of me to make me a better and stronger performer.

So it's been a great start to what will surely be an amazing run. I'm really very fortunate, and every day has been filled with gratitude. I'm so lucky to be here.


okay, wow

It's been way too long since my last post. There's been a lot going on lately, and I'll try to recapture it as best as I can.

Since I put in my notice to leave work, I've been relegated to administrative duties in the office at the Union Square location. Basically, I spend eight hours a day filing paperwork, doing telemarketing research, and answering phones. The last three weeks have put me on the edge of sanity, and the work I'm doing has served as a daunting reminder of what I should never ever do with my life. I'm not made to work in an office, and as scary as the prospect of instability is, I must avoid administrative and business work if I want my life to have any smidgen of happiness in it. That being said, these last few days have been torture. But I constantly remind myself of my need for cash, especially since the flow of it will come to a near halt in the next few weeks until I start getting paid for being an actor. Which, by the way, still ceases to amaze me.

I'm making plans for the future. Miami is just a temporary thing, and unless something miraculous happens, I'm definitely returning to New York. But not without a nice long vacation in Mexico before then, of course. When I get back to the city, I'll be looking for a place to live and hopefully, I'll have saved enough money to refrain from working for a while so I can focus on auditioning. Ideally, I'll book another job, either a regional theater show or a tour, so I'll be out and seeing more of the country while gaining experience and hopefully more points toward joining Equity. If I do need a survival job, I'll probably go back to serving or doing something else that will allow me to work part-time in the evenings and still audition during the day. This whole Catering Manager experience has reminded me that acting must remain my primary focus. Moving out of my apartment will help with that by reducing my living costs and eliminating the need for me to work full-time. So that's that.

I'm nearly finished moving out of my apartment. With the help of some friends, I transported all my stuff yesterday from my apartment to Rubria's apartment, a few blocks northwest of mine. Afterwards, we spent the afternoon painting my lively bedroom back to white in preparation for the termination of my lease and my final official move out in May. I've just got a few more things to send Rubria's way Wednesday afternoon, right before I leave for California. I've been getting nostalgic lately, thinking of how life was when I first ventured into the big city. A lot has changed since then, but the one thing that's held fast, despite the many challenges that have been thrown my way, is my determination in fulfilling my dreams. Thank goodness for that.

I'm really looking forward to going home, especially because I wasn't able to this holiday season. I think it will be the recharge I need just before I head off to Miami. I've got a lot planned, though I still intend on it to be a relaxing visit. As the months move on, I see myself simultaneously detaching and clinging on to home more and more. Sounds like a paradox, but the truth is, while I am growing up and finding my independence here in New York, it's made me more appreciative of everything I learned and had back home. It's a nice feeling, and definitely a continual growing experience.

After the trip, I've got a few days back in New York to prep for Miami and unwind and enjoy my last days of winter. Also, my friends and I put together a showcase, "A Standard Night in New York," which we're performing the last weekend I'm in town. We'll be doing jazz and pop standards from the 1920s-1950s, accompanied by one of our former class music directors. Rehearsals are going extremely well, and we are all proud of the work we've done not only in preparing our material, but in putting a show together by ourselves as well. It goes to show that if you're truly passionate about what you do, you can make anything happen.

Finally, I've got a little pet project I'm working on. Project 365, introduced to me by my sister, encourages participants to document a year-in-the-life with by taking one photograph every day. My sister and I are simultaneously working on the project and posting our pictures via Facebook every few days or so. In the end, you'll get a wonderful overview of the year that passed. I like it because it forces me to take pictures, which I feel that I do not do enough of. More than that, though, it's helping me live a life of gratitude. Sometimes I feel like my days are meaningless and I'm headed towards nothing. But this project is helping me find noteworthy moments in even the most simple of days. Those moments also have a big influence in the person I am becoming, and it's nice to be able to capture them.

View my progress: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2581747&id=1204954&l=d4bed45e35

That's all for now. More to come from, or after, California!