Thursday, December 30, 2010

Snow!

So, maybe you heard...it snowed here. A lot.

Dean and I missed the Blizzard of 2010 (it's funny to use that phrase seriously, and not just to mock the dusting of snow we'd get in SC), but returned to NYC to fully experience its aftermath.

I have to say that despite all the slush, piles of snow, covered cars, and uncleared sidewalks, people are being nice. People are holding doors for each other, thanking the street cleaners, and helping old ladies cross the street. Really.

Here are some photos for your enjoyment...I'll post again really soon.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Stuff I've Seen on the Street Lately




Someone lost their headband, and a kind stranger put it on a tree.








Someone lost their Diesel jeans on Columbus Avenue.









This little doll was trying to hail a cab.







A fella dressed as a tree.





...and a book. Whoever left this out there
leaves books out a lot for people to pick up.
It's kinda cool.






Next blog: Stuff I see in windows.

Stay tuned...









Thursday, December 2, 2010

A Post-Thanksgiving Cornucopia

As I walk around NYC, I jot down things I want to share on my blog. Usually, when I go back to read them, they say things like "train" or "girl," which doesn't usually help me to remember what it was I wanted to share. So, before my notes become just a bunch of weird words, I thought I'd throw these things out there for your amusement.

"Catch Umbrella"
OK, this means it was really windy yesterday, and as I was walking in the Lower East Side, an umbrella came tumbling down the street at me, chased by a screaming girl. So, I went into the busy traffic of East 10th Street (there was none) and caught the girl's umbrella for her. It was good karma, because mine had just been flattened earlier by the same harsh wind. On the next really windy day, I'm hoping a really good replacement umbrella will tumble towards me, without a girl chasing it.

"Robbing Donuts"
This is a good and awful one. As I said, it was windy (and rainy and cold), so I ducked into a Dunkin Donuts for a cup of coffee for the train ride home. As I stood there, waiting for my coffee, a huge guy comes in, squeezes between me and another customer at the counter, and casually picks up the fairly full tip jar. I thought he was friends with the people working there, joking with them, he was so nonchalant about it all. I said, half incredulous, half nervously laughing, "what are you doing?" He turns his back to the counter- remember, we are inches away from this guy- dumps all the money into his giant paws (spilling half the change on the floor), pockets the cash, puts the jar back, and walks out like nothing happened. Three of us stood there, dumbfounded, and the poor little DD employees finally turned around and just watched their tip money walk out the door. I would've been really mad if I'd just tipped them. But I didn't.

"Girls with photog on train"
THIS was the day before Thanksgiving, and I was on the C train. At one stop, three heavily made up young women got on with two photographers snapping away. The girls were really animated, talking a lot with their hands, pointing at things that weren't interesting, really posing it up. They sat directly across from me- the car was pretty empty- and I scooted down so the photographers could get a better angle. Cut to the next morning, when we were watching the Best Holiday Parade Ever, and a big pink Barbie Castle float comes by with the three girls on it! Apparently, I was riding on the train with someone named Keri Hilson? Is that it? Since then, I've learned from Perez Hilton that Miss Hilson has a pretty racy song out there, and people are a little up in arms about it. I guess that's what happens when you let your daughters wear too much makeup.

"Clear Throat Hail Cab"
I think this has to do with watching tourists hail cabs. Some of them just can't get it right. I actually saw someone standing on the sidewalk, with a line of parked cars between him and the street, trying to hail a cab with his hand at shoulder height, close to his body. Like he was sheepishly confessing he'd cheated on his high school biology exam. Another woman was whispering, "(ahem) taxi?" They just need to get OUT there. Stand IN the street, hold your arm up high and strong, and SHOUT. Or show a boob. Both work well.

"She's a Toxic Person, and I Don't Need That in My Life Right Now"
This is just something I overheard on the street. There are a million good things overheard everyday. I should start a whole new blog of just that. Plus, I get what she's saying. Sister, I hear ya.

That's enough for now...I gotta save some of these for later. Who am I kidding? I'm going to need a little more time to decipher what they mean. Help me out...what do you make of "Sorosis on Train," or "Note to Maze?"


Monday, November 29, 2010

Pre-Season Observations




Fear not, Gentle Reader. There will be an entire post devoted to the Magic of Our First New York Thanksgiving later this week. But for now...I have to tell you these things before I forget, or before I realize they aren't all that funny after all.

The Christmas windows should be up by now at the big department stores here, but the Saturday before Thanksgiving, Dean and I found ourselves outside Macy's, enjoying the "Miracle on 34th Street" window display a little early. It's full of little automated people, doing things like smoking pipes, sitting in a stranger's lap, and going on trial. It really piqued our interest in the Splendor of Macy's, so we ventured inside to experience the thrill of holiday commercialism first hand.

The place was packed- locals and tourists, perfume sprayers and asthmatics, children and their handlers, all rubbing elbows, all side by side. Kids were everywhere, especially around the special "Write a Letter to Santa" display. They could sit down, write a note to Santa, and then put it in special mailbox that is solely for letters headed to the North Pole. However, letters to the North Pole are not exempt from US Postal Service rules and regulations, and the letters would not be accepted without a stamp on the envelope. Seriously. A stamp.

Dean was especially aware of the irony there, and as we walked away from the mailbox area, he declared- in the midst of many, MANY young children- "Why do letters to Santa need a stamp? I mean, come on! Guess they're really making their money off this, aren't they?" I looked around, noticing the number of kids holding their parents' hands, and I loudly replied, "Because they want to make extra sure the letters make it to the North Pole! Everyone knows Santa won't get the letters without proper postage!" And that was how Dean almost ruined Christmas at Macy's.

We actually were looking for a good terry cloth bathrobe for me, and it's worth sharing that these days, most ladies' robes are this polyester fleece stuff. After lots and lots of looking, we realized that cotton terry cloth robes are in the same section as towels. Did you know that? It was news to me. It's like putting baby clothes in the lingerie section. I guess one leads to the other...?

And speaking of babies, I have a request for all the holiday shoppers with babies. Please leave your strollers at home when you know you'll be in close quarters. After Macy's, we wandered down to Union Square to check out one of the city's Holiday Markets. They're great, full of little pop-up stands with people selling handmade and specialty items- it's where Dean found my new hat! It's a cute place, and very popular and crowded. But people, space is at a premium there. People make faces at you if your coat is too big, or if your shopping bag infringes on their personal space. When you take a giant stroller and shove it through a crowd of people, we resent you. We aren't thinking how sweet it is that you have been blessed with a sweet little miracle; we are thinking, "I was going to stand there." Take a tip from the hippies, and use that Baby Bjørn you got at your baby shower. Take it out of the box, sling it around your neck, and put your baby in it. Parents all over the world carry their children like this- close to them- and their fellow shoppers are grateful. And we will be, too. Now excuse me while I look at these hand made dog sweaters.

We did other things that weekend- we saw "The Coward" and "Looking at Christmas," and really enjoyed each other's company. We also went to mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral Sunday morning (my birthday), and it was really strange in some ways. It was like going to church during a football game. People were jockeying for a seat with a good view of the priest, sometimes settling for a good view of the television monitors. Tourists kept opening the side doors during the service, checking things out and taking pictures. Communion was rushed and a little unorganized, with one priest looking like he was just shy of tossing a handful of wafers out over the crowd, like beads at Mardi Gras. But on the flip side, it was very moving. The church itself is ornate and historic, and I just felt better for being there. While Dean and I go to another church on occasion, I found that I missed the familiarity of the prayers in a Catholic mass. I like knowing the words without looking at the book. I like incense, and the ceremony and ritual of it all. While it may be awhile before we head back to St. Patrick's Stadium, it was good to go, especially on my birthday.

So there you go, Gentle Reader. Let's review what we've learned from this entry:
1. Letters to Santa need stamps
2. Cotton terrycloth robes are located in the towel section.
3. Keep your baby close to you while shopping.
4. Church can be like football.

Until next time,
Monica













Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Why Our Neighborhood Rocks

I will be the first to admit that sometimes I joke about our neighborhood. I often fake-complain that it's full of pregnant women and strollers, or I pretend to be really annoyed by all the tourists on Central Park West, taking pictures of the Dakota or asking me for directions in the park.

But I wouldn't want to live anywhere else.

Case in point: I got home from an agent audition tonight (it went really well, thank you for asking), and Dean has gone to a play reading, and I thought it would be nice to have a glass of wine waiting for him when he gets home. I realized there was no wine in the house (it doesn't last long around here), and I looked at the clock- it was 9:03! So I grab my keys and dash around the corner to Nancy's, our beloved wine shop which normally closes at 9:00. Mike was bringing in the plants, closing for the night, but he said, "come on in, and take your time," which was really sweet. But what was even SWEETER was that the other guy...the bald one...the one who wants to look at our groceries before he recommends a wine...Jerry? JERRY says, "and you're taking home some pinot." I thought it was a sales pitch, but it turned out he was sending me home with FREE WINE! They'd had a tasting earlier, and I was the lucky recipient of the leftover wine.

Reason number two: our Italian landlords yell at each other a lot, sometimes in Italian, and it's pretty entertaining. Pedestrians are treated to Romance-language arguments on a nearly daily basis. It's a shared experience, really, and it's fun to make "yikes" faces at the other people on the sidewalk when Luigi and Maria are going at it.

Reason 3: An old guy was sitting on our corner today, playing Christmas carols on the sax. The best part? He was wearing a Rudolph nose that lit up. He threw in the theme from Spider Man, but all I could think of was Homer Simpson singing "Spider Pig."

Reason 4: As mentioned in a recent post, the Most Famous Parade in the World starts two blocks over. Enough said.

Reason 5: We find the coolest stuff on the street. First it was a really good quality bookcase, and the other night it was what is likely a haunted portrait of a woman holding her creepy baby. It was a total score. And bedbug free!

Yep, we have a great apartment...a little messy on occasion, but a great place to live in a super neighborhood.

Come visit us and see for yourself.

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Tragic Tale of the Sneaky Jalapeño...or...The Post My Mother Doesn't Want You to Read


Beware the jalapeño. Though it is little, it is mighty. And sneaky.


Last night, Dean and I made pizzas for dinner. Individual sized pizzas, so we each had our own toppings. Dean is not a fan of mushrooms, so I loaded them on MY pizza, and I am not a fan of jalapeños...and will never touch them again.


I do a lot of chopping in our kitchen, while Dean does most of the cooking. True to my job description, I chopped our toppings, including the jalapeño, and as I chopped, I told Dean the story of the last time I chopped one of those little buggers. I’d been wearing contacts at the time, and found out the hard way that touching the jalapeño, and then touching my eyes was a bad idea. I went on to tell Dean that I’d tried everything to get the pepper oil off my hands: I soaked them in milk, I doused them with bleach, I washed, rinsed, and repeated- to no avail.


As we were enjoying our pizzas, I happened to wipe my mouth, and the sudden burning was a pretty good clue that once again, I’d fallen victim to the sneaky, injurious jalapeño. I did my best to avoid touching my face for the rest of the meal, and then we settled in to watch “Raising Arizona.” (“Turn to the right.”)


And then, I went to the bathroom.


You never stop to think about just how one goes to the restroom. The actual gathering of the toilet tissue, the folding, the...using. One never really has cause to think about just how much of the tissue’s surface is actually touched by our hands. Or how much of our body is touched by the tissue. I’m here to tell you, you’d be surprised.


I came out of the restroom, sat back down...and that’s when I felt the burn.


Apparently, the oil from the seeds is transferrable. As I sat there writhing, Dean suggested I take a shower to try and wash it off. Even though I’d washed my hands multiple times without benefit, I thought it was a pretty good idea, and figured it couldn’t hurt.

And...I was wrong.


I was standing in the shower, when it dawned on me: I would have to use my hands to wash myself. I thought back to the toilet tissue issue, and did some quick calculations. There was no way I could touch the washcloth and then touch myself. Nor could I not use a washcloth. My hands were poisonous. I was helpless. And most of all, embarrassed.


At this point in the story, I will spare you the details, but will say that being married has its benefits. And I can say without hesitation that Dean Poynor is the most caring, helpful man I know, both in and out of the water.

I'm typing this with bandages on the three offending fingers, bandages which serve as a barrier between my contaminated hands and every touchable part of my body. If memory serves, it takes a while for this to wear off my skin, so I'll still be extra careful--and extra grateful that I'm not wearing contacts these days.


And if I find myself needing some extra help until then, no problem- because with Dean around, I am in very capable hands. (Pun intended.)





Friday, November 12, 2010

Holidays in the City

New York is America's City. It's Big Apple Pie, it's the country's second-greatest baseball rivalry, it's Mom and Mama Mia.

Veteran's Day was yesterday, and veterans got an all-American parade up 5th Avenue. A couple of weeks ago, our city hosted the legendary West Village Halloween Parade, and in a couple of weeks, we will roll out the Mother of All Parades, the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. People all over the country will pop the turkey in the oven, and plop themselves in front of the TV to watch boy bands lip sync, Disney starlets waving out from under furry parka hoods (provided they get a day pass from rehab), and high school marching bands working it all the way down Central Park West and Seventh Avenue, never letting on that they've lost the feeling in their frozen toes.

The Thanksgiving Day Parade begins TWO BLOCKS FROM OUR APARTMENT! And they inflate the giant balloons the night before right next to the Museum of Natural History, also TWO BLOCKS FROM OUR APARTMENT! Our friend Jill gets up at the crack of dawn to secure a prime viewing spot on Central Park West, and this year, I'm getting up with her. We'll all watch the parade live, then come inside to watch it on TV as it reaches the finish line at Macy's in Herald Square. There will be turkey in there somewhere, and our friends Tim and Stephen, and probably some pie. It's going to be a good, good day.

And as we all know from watching this parade for years and years, the parade ends with the arrival of Santa Claus, and the start of the holiday season. Christmas in New York City. Think about that one for a minute. Isn't it like a fairy tale? NYC is where America comes to do their holiday shopping! It's horse drawn carriages in Central Park, it's hot nuts for sale on every corner (not just in the Village), it's big shopping bags and twinkly lights and F.A.O. Schwarz. Christmas here means ice skating under the giant tree in Rockefeller Center, it means the Rockettes' Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall, and this season, it means Elf, the Musical on Broadway.

I have this running list in my brain of all the New York City Holiday Things I Want To Do, and Dean can tell you, the list keeps growing. Sometimes I forget that we live here now, and that we're not tourists who want to pack as much NYC fun as we can into a few short days. We have weeks and weeks to check out the windows at Barneys, visit Santa at Macy's, and gaze at Christmas lights. But time flies, doesn't it? One minute you're mad because your mom makes you put plastic baggies on your feet to go out to play in the snow, and the next minute you're married to an amazing man and living in New York City.

So, I'm going to start on this list before it's too late. And once I've checked it twice, I can start thinking about how to spend St. Patrick's Day in America's Most Irish City.



Thursday, November 4, 2010

It's all in the bag

In NYC, everyone needs a bag. I don't mean a purse, I mean a tote bag to haul stuff around in. We are away from home for hours and hours every day, without the ability to use our car for our locker. Like an urban hiker, we have to pack everything we'll need for our day on the streets.

For me, my bag usually holds:
water bottle
folder of headshots/resumés
umbrella
granola bar type snacks
notebook
regular purse
extra bag for purchases
phone charger

And it MAY hold:
extra pair of shoes
scarf/hat/gloves
lotion
gnomes
laptop and charger

(Were you paying attention? One of those items is fake- I don't usually carry lotion.)

This morning, I had a revelation. I realized that the store with the coolest bag wins. If a store sends you out the door with a kick-ass bag for your overpriced purchases, you may use that bag over and over again, and what does THAT mean to the store? Free advertising.

Perfect example: A few months ago, I desperately needed a new yoga mat. I'd not packed mine when we moved, and I NEEDED ONE NOW. (It's the same feeling I had when I bought Bento for the computer.) So Dean and I trek all over our neighborhood until we stumble on a little shop called Lululemon.

I'd never heard of it before, but apparently, it's like hallowed ground for yoga enthusiasts. So Dean and I buy a yoga mat. (Side story: When we took it to the counter, the woman said, "What type of yoga do you do?" I replied, "The kind a person does when they don't ever really do yoga, but think they want to, so they go out and buy a mat." Turns out, there are different mats for different types of yoga, including one type where people voluntarily cram themselves into a heated room and sweat all over their new mats. To each his own, I guess.)

And here's the point of the story: They put the mat in this awesome tote bag.

photo.JPG

The bag is covered in sayings like, "Do one thing a day that scares you," and "Dance, sing, floss, and travel." Inspirational things for city folks like us. And the thing is, I see these bags EVERYWHERE. Little ones, big ones, on the arms of the elderly and the bouncy- they are all over the place here. And every time I see one, I think of going back to that pricey, elitist, awesome store to spend money I don't have on items I will rarely use.

Their scheme worked. Damn you, Lululemon. Damn you and your kick-ass bags.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Hank's New Career

Today Hank had an audition for a commercial. And I'm worried it's gone to his head.

Let me clarify that I ALSO had an audition for the same commercial, but Hank would like you to know we had different call times. I went in at 1:10 to audition for "Dining Couple," and Hank went in at 3:30 to audition for the role of "Dog."

I learned today that A) it's tricky moving a dog 45 blocks, and B) Hank does not like cabs. Regular cars, regular drivers, no problem. But Hank quivered and shook on the floorboard of our cab for the entire ride there. (see photo)




I actually felt kind of silly hailing a cab with a dog on a leash, and several passed us, even though they were
clearly available. But one good natured cabbie picked us up, and even offered us blow pops. At least I think that's what he meant. It was just Halloween, and there was a bag of candy hanging just above Hank's head...




There was another dog waiting for the elevator, but he was clearly inexperienced, and wanted to play with Hank in the lobby. Hank is a professional, and needs his time to focus and smell things, so we took the stairs to the 3rd floor- Hank enjoying the scent of whatever that was in the corner, and me enjoying the Sharpie graffiti on the walls of the stairwell.



After that harrowing cab ride, Hank needed to check himself in the mirror. We decided he looked pretty good, and hoped they wouldn't smell him, because he needs a bath. I told him to wipe that sad look off his face (see photo), and he took a minute to get into character.



It was Hank's turn to go in, and he really wowed them, keeping in mind "Wow" can apply to lots of different situations. Hank did sit on command for as long as it took to blink, and was then more interested in looking out the window than he was in sitting, laying down, or staying. He did manage to pull it together and lick peanut butter off a plexiglass window, as directed. But what do you expect? Food was involved.



We left the audition, and started to walk home, rather than hail another cab. The walk home was 45 blocks, from 30th to 75th street. All in all, it was a good walk, and Hank got to see lots of places he's not seen before.



He also saw some places he thought he might like to audition next. The Big Apple Circus, for example.



Or maybe there's a role for a dog in an upcoming opera at Lincoln Center?












Yes, Hank has gotten his first taste of fame. He's been bitten by the acting bug, and is already pestering me to enroll him in obedience classes so he can ace his next audition. And maybe we will. Maybe he'll get an agent before I do, and maybe he'll show up in the next J. Jill catalog, instead of those stupid bulldogs they use.



Until that happens, I'm going to do my best to keep him grounded. He'll still eat Beneful instead of chopped sirloin, and he'll still sleep on his bed, instead of getting some fancy trailer.

Which is fine with me, because it's pretty darn cute.



Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Stuff you hear in NYC

Living in NYC, you hear lots of things on the street (or in the park, or in the stores.) We are a city of walkers, and we are privy to other people's arguments, cell phone conversations, lunch orders, and random mutterings.

Sometimes, the things I hear are really funny.

This morning, for example, one of those Upper West Side Moms really had her hands full. She was walking a giant dog, and pushing a stroller with a toddler and an infant in it. The baby was crying, and the dog was pulling, and the toddler wanted the baby toy, so the mom says to the toddler, "HERE! Play with this hat!" The toddler said, "But I want a toyyyyy." And the mom said, "Play with the HAT! Hats are fun!" Poor kid- hats aren't fun. Mittens are fun.

Sometimes we hear noises, not voices.

Friday was garbage day, and our street is one-way. You do the math: Sometimes people in cars will get stuck behind the truck. And sometimes that can be frustrating. There are "No Honking" signs all over the block, so when some idiot decided to lean on his horn for several minutes without a break, it was cause for a hand full of neighbors to stream out of our apartments and into the street. We located the offending car and the still-honking driver, and knocked on his window, throwing our arms in the air, yelling at him to stop. "People LIVE HERE," we hollered. (Our street is tree-lined and residential, not the type of busy New York Street accustomed to honking.) It was a scene right out of a movie, and if the fella had honked for another 20 seconds, my very verbal neighbor was going to get out the crowbar and smash in his windshield. It was SOO New York.

Sometimes the things we hear are troubling.

Walking Hank in the park the other day, a big burly guy with a backpack approached us on a path. As he neared, I heard him say what sounded like, "Eating people is a good way to share, especially for gays and faggots." He then perched on a bench near a sleeping homeless person, and continued his rant. I was worried for the sleeping person, and saw the same concern on the faces of other dog walkers who passed by. I felt like I was going to witness one of those crimes that begins episodes of "Law and Order." It was pretty busy in the park, so I hope things turned out alright.

Yes, we hear lots of things here. Subway musicians, dogs in the park, sirens, different languages, babies laughing, car horns, feet hitting the pavement, boom boxes, rain, wind, and leaves falling.

And it is wonderful.


Friday, October 22, 2010

Friends

Right now, I am watching two of my best friends sleep on an air mattress in my living room.
Our dog is curled up on the bed with them, and at least two of them are snoring. It's heavenly.

Tasha and Amanda are here this weekend. They were two of the four witnesses at our wedding in April. They're like family, really. They get their own milk from our fridge, and know where the towels are. They know that Hank sheds on everything, and are fine using a towel as a bath mat until we pick ours up from the laundry.

Friends should be like that. They should give you a little grief for not calling, and they should bring up your most embarrassing moments over dinner. They should remind you to take an allergy pill when you have wine, and be really proud of you when you do something good.

Friends should support your dreams, even if they don't quite "get it." They should always treat you the same way, whether you've become some superstar, or you've hit rock bottom.

When I was in high school, there was a song that we sang at some of our assemblies. The lyrics went something like, "A friend's a friend forever, 'cause the welcome will not end- and a lifetime's not too long to live as friends." We'd all hold hands and sway and sing...it was Catholic school in the 80's.

As I sit here listening to some of my favorite people snore, I am grateful to have their friendship and unconditional love in my life. And I will go to sleep happy, knowing they are here.

And I will wish we'd stocked up on some Breathe Right Strips. Or ear plugs. They are really sawing some wood.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

A Real Eye-Opener

I'm busy. It's neat.

There's a ton of theatre in NYC, and so far, I'm doing OK being a part of things. Since my last update, I've been cast in a reading of Larry Loebell's new play, The Shanghai Kaddish. It's at 6:30 tomorrow (10/18) at Jimmy's No. 43, if you want to come hear it. Also.... (drumroll, please) I AM A BAT! I mentioned in an earlier post that I'd auditioned and gotten called back for the Bats at The Flea Theater, and I got in! We went to see their new show, A.R.Gurney's Office Hours, last night, and it looks like it's going to be a cool place to work. Check them out online.

While theatre is my "thing," there is a lot of on-camera work available here, and I've decided to hone those skills a little more. So, I took a two day intensive on-camera audition class with Bob Krakower last week, and WOW...I learned a lot. It was 16 hours of information overload, with lots of "slap yourself in the forehead" moments, or "A-Ha" moments for you Oprah fans.

I'm going to save you $550 right now, and share with you the most important things I learned:

1. Play what's in the script.
2. It's not about you and your feelings.
3. Be willing to be spontaneous.
4. Don't overly rehearse your sides.

For example: Bob asked a girl in class to describe her night last night. She said, "I did laundry, went to the grocery store, made dinner, and had a fight with my roommate." She did NOT say, "Well, I was feeling kind of blue, so I started to wonder what my problem was. Then, I started to feel better, but then I felt sort of hungry. And my roommate made me feel upset because..."

So, her night was about a series of actions, not feelings. Just like audition sides. Just like scenes in a movie. The casting people and producers assume you already know how to act- that's why they called you in to read. What they want to see is how well you work the frame, come alive on camera, and do what's on the page. Are you open and spontaneous? Are you easy to direct? They want to see your best version of you doing the actions in the scene.

OOH! He also said to always hold your sides during your audition. It's a psychological thing for the directors/producers in the room. If you're so memorized that you don't need the script, then they may think that what you're doing in the audition is all they're going to get. With the script in your hand, you appear locked in, whether you actually are or not. Holding it gives the illusion that you can go with the flow...be spontaneous.

At least, that's what Bob said. Take it or leave it. :)

There was a lot more- lots of anecdotes and examples, lots of watching ourselves on camera...I'll spare you the rest of it. But if you're in NYC, definitely take a class with Bob Krakower. It's an eye opener.

Dean and I are headed to see "The Scottsboro Boys" tonight, thanks to our good friend Seena Hodges. There was an ariticle in The Times this morning, so we're looking forward to it.

Enjoy your Sunday!
Monica







Monday, October 11, 2010

In da hood

I just got back from the gym. And I don't mean, "30 minutes on the treadmill, watching TV." I mean personal trainer gym. Personal Trainer at the Gym After Being Gone for One Month. I found myself apologizing to my trainer for being gone for so long, but really, I'm apologizing to myself. What does he care if I've been M.I.A. for a month? He's still getting paid. And I'm the one who's paying...in sweat, just like Debbie Allen in Fame.

The New York Marathon is fast approaching (November 7th, I think), and I'm considering signing up. I figure if I start walking now, I'll cross the finish line by then, and I won't even have to sneak a ride on the subway.

The neighborhood is bustling with people wearing scarves and cardigans lately, as the weather is cooling off a bit. Even Michael Douglas was wearing a puffy coat as he walked is daughter to school the other morning. Seeing them as I walked Hank was really neat. Neat because he lives a few doors down from us, and he's looking great for someone who has been so ill. Neat because it's clear he loves his daughter a whole bunch. Neat because they both looked at Hank as we walked past them, putting us one step closer to my not-so-secret dream of Catherine Zeta Jones petting Hank on our walk one day.

But seeing them also made me feel bad. Bad about myself. Bad that I was really no better than the horde of paparazzi that waits outside his apartment every school day to snap shots of this father-daughter ritual. I knew he'd be out there, and I wanted to see him in person. And you know, he's just a man. He's someone's father and husband, and he gets sick and gets better and goes to work and wears baseball caps, just like my dad. So, I feel like I invaded his privacy by taking that route the other morning, and I doubt I'll do it again. Leave 'em alone. Let the man walk his little girl to school. And let's hope he gets real better real soon.

Week Two of the Estrogenius Festival closed this weekend, and I made lots of new, cool friends. It can be hard to meet people here, if you're not in a class or show, or you don't work in a place with other people. The dog park is a great place to make friends, in case you're looking. (Granted, Hank may say otherwise- he's not so into making new friends at the dog park. He'd rather smell and drool and feel the breeze on his face, than have another dog sniff his privates.) I've met teachers, actors, retired people, and the other day, I met a cool couple who run a program called The Bully Project. Their aim is to end dogfighting in NYC by getting dog owners (mostly kids) to compete their pit bulls in other ways- agility courses, weight pull contests and the like. Teaching the dog owners other ways to love and train their pets. Check out what they do- they're really neat people with big hearts.

Today, I am going to ride the bus. To nowhere. Just around. In my next project, I play a woman who found a stack of money on the bus one time, and rides the bus all day, waiting for it to happen again. So, I'm gonna do some research before rehearsal today. I'm so glad I'm not playing a proctologist. Or a butcher.

Alright! I'm hitting the park with Hank. He is pestering me to publish his blog, by the way. He's got lots of entries stacking up, and just needs to find a catchy title before he launches it. Your suggestions are most welcome.

And if we see Michael Douglas, we will walk the other way. :)








Wednesday, October 6, 2010

A Whole Lotta Movin' and Shakin' Goin' On

When Dean and I decided to move to NYC, I vowed to needlepoint us a pillow that said, "We Did Not Move to NYC to Work in a Crappy Office." The pillow would remind us why we are here, especially on days when working other things (besides acting and writing) was getting the better of us.

While it's fun to update y'all on the crazy things we see here, I thought it'd be a good idea to let you in on what I've been doing professionally lately. (Mainly, so you won't think I'm roaming around the Upper West Side all day, hoping to run into Catherine Zeta Jones.)

Things have been going great lately. Tonight, Week Two of the Estrogenius Festival begins, and I have one of the main roles in the one act, Little Goldie and the Shines. It's been a great way to meet new people, and I was happy to be cast in the very first thing I auditioned for when I moved to NYC. It runs through Saturday at the Manhattan Theatre Source in the West Village.

Almost every day, I submit myself for roles in theatre and film, and have had lots of auditions and callbacks in the last few weeks. I've been offered two leading roles in two different plays, but I turned them down for different reasons.

In one play, the director (who is also the playwright) felt the leading role of a schizophrenic woman was too demanding for one actress to play for 14 performances, so she double cast it. (Apparently, she didn't know who she was dealing with- multiple personalities? I got that DOWN.) So, I graciously thanked her, and explained I'd prefer to be cast in a smaller role that was all my own than to share a role with another actor. Comparisons would inevitably be made, and it just seemed like a sticky situation to me.

In the other play, I was cast as the mother (I'm getting that a lot lately) in a play that I just didn't feel was well-written. It dealt with a lot of gay themes in very stereotypical ways, and while the role was substantial, it didn't feel right. It seemed to me there was a better way to tell that story, that the target audience deserved something more meaningful. But what do I know? I'm not a playwright, nor am I a gay man. It'll probably be a huge hit, and I'll be kicking myself.

But when we close one door (or two doors, in this case), a big ol' window opens, and THAT leads me to a really exciting project I'll start working on next week. The play is called The Dog(run) Diaries, by Andrew Kramer. It's a four-person show about the relationship between a teenage boy and an older man, and it's fantastic. It's well-written (even Dean says so), the characters are REAL, it's funny and touching, and I believe it will have a life beyond the two performances we're being given by the Prospect Theatre Company, as part of their Dark Nights Series. I play the boy's mother (told you so), and the role is a really nice one. The entire team on this project is smart and talented, and I'm just excited to be in there somewhere. If you're in NYC, we play at 3pm on Saturday, October 23, and 8pm on Sunday the 24th, at the Hudson Guild Theatre, 441 W. 26th Street.

I'm taking classes at a place called One on One, and am looking forward to a two-day intensive, on-camera audition class with Bob Krakower next week. (For kicks, you can click here to see my Actor Webpage on the One on One site.) I've just started there, so I'll keep you posted on what that place is like.

One final thing that was fun: I auditioned to be a member of The Bats at The Flea Theater. I had a callback Monday, and it went well, so we'll see how that goes. I may have been the oldest person there, but it was a great audition with a respected, really cool director (Jim Simpson), and that can be every bit as important as getting in. Hopefully, writing this won't jinx it.

It's sometimes tough to wrap my brain around the fact that is is my JOB right now. When I read plays to find new audition pieces, I am WORKING. When I go to class or to an audition, I am WORKING. And when I go to the park to get some exercise (or to the gym, if I can remember where it is), I am WORKING. Am I being paid in money to work? Not right this second, but I will be...soon.

And when I get back from working out, maybe I'll finally start on that pillow.










Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Highs and Lows from a Rainy Monday

(Disclaimer: I am aware that the weather may not have been rainy where you were yesterday. I hear my LA friends were a teeny bit warm, and my Charleston peeps were about to drown at the intersection of Calhoun and Rutledge. The "rainy Monday" in the title of this blog only refers to the weather in New York City, and more specifically, the Upper West Side. No disrespect to those of you who did not have a steady, calming rain yesterday.)

The daily schedule of an actor widely varies from day to day. Last week, for example, I had several days chock-full of auditions, callbacks, rehearsals, and actor-themed errands. Days that began with the following conversation:

Me: (sternly) I absolutely cannot do any extra errands today.
Dean: (drinking coffee) OK.
Me: (defensively) I mean it. I don't have the time.
Dean: (not looking up from the paper) OK.
Me: (on the brink of a freak out) So, don't even ask.
Dean: (yawning) Were you saying something?

Yesterday, I had an audition later in the day, so I got to spend the day doing other stuff. First, I made another trip to Kinko's to copy scripts for Dean. (Shout out to Dean Poynor- he's had lots of really good theatres request scripts lately.) Finally, the people at Kinko's understand that we are married, and that while the scripts are copyrighted, it is OKAY for me to copy them. I had to forward them an email from Dean that began, "Hey Baby...could you please copy the attached script for me," to prove I was legit. Of course, now Renaldo seems super attentive when I go in, but I'm afraid clearing things up would affect the level of service I now enjoy.

Dean is the cook in our house, but he's been working late recently, so I made dinner last night. I did. I found a crock pot recipe, made a list, and went to the Trader Joe's for supplies. (While I love Trader Joe's, it's just not the same without Two Buck Chuck- grocery stores here can't sell wine, and it makes me wonder why I went an extra block out of my way to shop there. Maybe for the frozen rice.) So, I made this healthy, chicken stew-y thing, and it was very...healthy. So healthy, in fact, it prompted Dean to say, "With all these good ingredients, I wonder why it's not tastier." This was not a slam, but a shared confusion. Why wasn't it tastier? I followed the directions. OK, I added some extra veggies, but I mostly followed the directions. I take it as a sign that I should practice drinking wine and looking cute while Dean cooks for us. We already know I'm good at that.

On the way home from the store, a guy was walking ahead of me with a bouquet of roses. He was carrying them pointing down, so as he walked, rose petals would occasionally fall onto the sidewalk for me to walk on as I followed behind him. It was pretty sweet for him to do that for a total stranger. It made the walk home from the store much more regal.

Today, I'm going to take some time to get to know the new program I bought to organize my mailing lists. It's called Bento, like the lunch box from Japanese restaurants. Then, it's off to an audition I've been called in for, so I'll get those sides prepared, too. I'm working from home today!

It's almost lunch time, and last night's leftovers are calling me. But I might ignore them, because Japanese food is calling just a tiny bit louder.








Thursday, September 23, 2010

Stuff I've Seen This Week

You all know New York is diverse, right? And it's full of weirdos, too. Those words may mean the same thing, actually. Like "diverse" is a polite way of saying, "chock full o' weirdos." In any event, New York is really...diverse.

We live on the Upper West Side, which some people think sounds fancy. Which is another nice way of saying, "not too diverse." Which really just means "full of yuppies and not too many weirdos."

I beg to differ.

Yesterday, I walked past two middle aged men, one wearing khakis and a polo shirt, and the other wearing sweat pants, a dashiki, and a hat made of what looked like banana leaves. They were having a perfectly normal conversation- at least the polo shirt guy was; the other guy was listening to the wind, I think. Either way...Hat Made of Leaves.

Walking back from the grocery store, I passed a man who I believe was the basis for the movie, Candy Man. He had real freaky eyes, and stared right at me, mumbling what I assume to be a voodoo hex. So far the worst thing that's happened has been we've run out of creamer, so maybe Candy Man needs to step up his hex game a little.

I see lots of women rolling their dogs around in pet strollers, which is really sweet and kinda sad. Sad because maybe the dogs can't walk on their own. Sad because maybe the ladies wish the dogs were really babies. Sad because I see them and wonder if Hank would like his own stroller, too...

On a less weird note, Dean and I were at lunch yesterday, and saw an old-school checker yellow cab- the real chubby ones from the movies! I would hail that thing even if I didn't have anywhere to go. Oh, and we saw a pack of really young nuns, too. They weren't getting out of the cab, but that would have been cool. Especially if the cab was one of those clown cars.

In rereading this post, I see that it's taken a turn down a winding path to nowhere. The theme has fizzled out, it has forgotten its purpose. So I'll tell you what I'm gonna do...

I'm gonna go outside and look for some good-sized leaves, and I'm gonna make myself a hat.

I'll let you know how it goes.
MW








Thursday, September 16, 2010

Let's get this ball rollin'

This week, I learned something.

OK, I've learned a lot of things, but some of them are, "Don't take the 1 train" or "That pedi-cab with the fringe is unlicensed." But this week, I learned some encouraging things about being an actor in New York.

First of all, I finally got around to having my head shots reproduced, so I can avoid making a trip to Kinko's every time I need more pictures (yes, I know they are called "FedEx Office" now, but I'm set in my ways). I ordered 300 of them, not because I'm planning on going to that many auditions (though this week is turning out to be a busy one), but because I'm going to do the Mass Mailing To Agents and Casting Directors that actors do when they're new here.

I did have to go to Kinko's earlier this week to copy my resumé, and as I stood there trimming them all down to 8x10-size (so they'll fit on the back of the photo), I realized that I'm always turning my photo over when I'm in there, so no one will see that I'm an actor. Same thing with the resumé- I was cutting them all face down. Then, I saw a woman across from me who was wearing a dress identical to one I owned, one Dean bought for me in the Village soon after we moved. She was pretty, and also had a resumé in her hand as she stood at the copier, and I realized, it's okay to be an actor. The people at Kinko's must see tons of us every day. Everyone in NYC must personally know at least one of us. I need to stop shrugging it off, or apologizing for it. So I turned that resumé face up, and finished my task with my head held a little higher.

Today, I auditioned for a place that offers classes and sessions with casting directors and agents. It was strange, because I've gotten used to auditioning for someone and then immediately leaving the room- no one ever chats. But this guy gave me feedback. He invited me to sit down. We laughed and his suggestions were really good. And I realized that even though I've been acting for a long time, there's a fair amount I don't know, and a good bit I need to be reminded of. Granted, it is very convenient that this place offers classes, and I feel the need to take some classes...but it was a neat feeling to realize there is something I want to learn.

So this week, I feel on my way. I'm getting all the tools together I need to do this thing. Now I just need to figure out what my "type" is. I'm compelled to say "Liz Lemon meets Judge Judy," but that might not go over well. Your suggestions are welcome. (Seriously.)

And by the way, I got in. :)


Thursday, September 9, 2010

Dear Celebrities: You are WELCOME.

Dear Celebrities,

First, allow me to welcome you to New York City (though many of you have been here longer than I have.) Your work here is important-whether you're shooting a film, boozing it up at 1OAK, or stealing a Broadway role from a lesser known actor.

As someone who has made personal connections with a number of celebrities, I understand how important it is for you to walk the line between "leave me alone" and "look at how fabulous I am." I get you- I know what you need. And I apologize on behalf of the unenlightened cretans who stop you on the street, and force you to pose with their 4 year olds (I'm talking to you, Christopher Meloni.)

I am making a promise to you, Celebrities. I vow to ignore you completely.

Liam Neeson, I vow to look away the next time you and your new blonde girlfriend walk past my table. I want to enjoy my sushi dinner as much as you do yours.

Ellen and Portia, I promise to "hold it," and not wait for the bathroom at Bar Centrale, as you are sitting in the adjacent booth.

Sean Hayes and Kate "Meredith from the Office" Flannery, I will resist the temptation to interrupt your dinner to remind you we've met before at Sam's house, and I won't ask you what you think of "Pretty- The Series." (www.prettytheseries.com)

Christiane Amanpour, I won't ask you why you downgraded from CNN to ABC, and I definitely won't comment on your mom jeans as you report from outside the Langham.

Frankly, Celebrities, you have interrupted my week. Your presence has distracted me from my own conversations. Your "Law and Order: SVU" has kept us from enjoying that little corner of Theodore Roosevelt Park we never, ever go to. And this morning, your trailers and catering wagons parked across the street from my front door are going to force me to walk all the way around them to get a good peek at Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

Yes, Celebrities...you are welcome. I will be ignoring you from here on out.

But I can't say the same for Hank.



Yesterday

Here's a list of why yesterday was so good.

1. My mom was in town, and I got to spend a little time with her before she went home.

2. My mom went home. (just joking, Mom!)

3. I caught up on submissions and audition notices, after being out of the loop for three weeks.

4. I saw a matinee of Mrs. Warren's Profession with my friend Libby.

5. I have a friend!

6. Libby and I made fun of Mrs. Warren's Profession.

7. I went to the first read-through of my first NYC show, which is also the first thing I auditioned for when I got here.

8. I played a solid game of solitaire on the train home.

9. My husband made a great dinner of delicious leftovers. Sweet AND economical.

10. We went for a night time walk to a different area, WITHOUT the dog.

11. Dean told a panhandler to back off, and said, "Dude, we're having a moment here!"

11. We played Scrabble, and I made words with a Z, Y, and X. Boo-ya.


Somewhere in there, I had an argument with our ancient, misogynist Italian landlord. Our oven has never worked since we arrived, and Luigi insists I do not know how to use it. I invited him and his wife over to bake me some cookies to show me that it's fully functional, and that went over like...well, a woman standing up to Luigi.

I have so many things rattling around in my head- so many stories about Australia and getting back into the swing of things here, and being married and being an actor in NYC...

But those will have to wait until our oven is fixed. And until Libby and I figure out what the hell that scrim was supposed to mean in Mrs. Warren's Profession.

I'll keep you posted.






Sunday, August 29, 2010

Climbing the walls

(Alternate title: "Are you KIDDING me?")

Just when you think the universe loves you and is paving your way with an international premiere, open bar tabs, and free lunches, Mother Nature sneaks up behind you, kicks you in the ass, and runs away.

Dean's plane is delayed, and I have no idea where he is, or when he'll get here. Cairns is rainy and extremely foggy today- I can't even see the mountains from my balcony- and the airport is not allowing planes to land. You might be tech-savvy, and you might be wondering why the air traffic controllers don't do their jobs and help the planes land in this mess. Well, the tower has been nonoperational for a month now, and planes have to land on sight here. The airport is surrounded by mountains, and apparently, it would be "dangerous" for the pilots to try to land.
Please. Dangerous? I was considering going bungee jumping later this week. THAT is dangerous. Aren't pilots trained to use the dials and knobs in the cockpit to make the plane work? And isn't landing the plane at least half of what they should know how to do?

I'm one of those people who, in a situation like this, immediately assumes this does not apply to me. I'm the first one headed for the rental car counter, the first one to pull up bus and train timetables on my always-functional smart phone; I am the Problem Solver.

But I'll tell you...today the Madd Skillz I have in the US aren't cutting it here. It seems Dean's plane may be grounded in Rockhampton, which- to my surprise- is a 10 hour drive from here. That would be like a flight to Columbia landing in Baltimore. This place is HUGE, in case you haven't looked at it on a map. There is no driving to the next closest airport, apparently.

My castmates are off with our director, driving up the coast to the Daintree Rain Forest, and I am in my hotel room, looking out the window at the fog and rain, phone in hand, waiting to hear from Dean.

Normally, this would be amazing snuggle weather. Obviously, Mother Nature is bitter...and single.






Thursday, August 26, 2010

Distance is a Bitch

The grass is always greener on the other side, even on the other side of the world.

So, I'm here in Cairns, Queensland, Australia, and Dean is in New York City. I imagine that to him, being in Australia sounds a lot better than whatever he is doing there- picking up laundry, going to work, or even emptying the litter box. We've talked quite a bit since I've arrived here, maybe more than our pocketbooks will like, but even the twice daily calls leave us both wishing we could be where the other is. Right now, walking our dog sounds really good to me, even if it is raining there.

Since we've been in Cairns, we have eaten like kings (and big queens), and have made some fantastic new friends. We've seen the Cairns Esplanade, the Lagoon, and much of the scenic Boardwalk that edges the city's waterfront. We can see mountains from our balcony, and we have grown fond of the giant bats (Flying Foxes) that swoop by every evening, giving us a creepy and beautiful show. We have seen indigenous people, college aged backpackers, and tourists from every corner of the globe.

More than anything, however, we have seen the inside of our hotel rooms and the venue in which we will perform next week. Our noses have been in our scripts, and we are drilling our lines nightly. We work in the space (a funky bar, since the play is set in...a bar) from 9-3 daily, and work on lines and other scenes during breakfast and from about 5pm until bedtime. We want so much to make Dean proud of what we've done with his words, we've put our sightseeing and festival-going on hold until after our show is finished next week. Great band down the street? Can't go- we're rehearsing. Super cool stilt walkers and aerial acrobatics show? Sorry, we're rehearsing. Musicians from New York (who live a matter of blocks from us back home) performing one of Paul's favorite pieces? Yeah, you know it. We're rehearsing.

The cool thing is that it doesn't feel like a sacrifice to put off seeing our surroundings. This script is so beautifully constructed, so thoughtful, so rich on many levels...it deserves, demands our attention to detail. And I'd say that even if I wasn't married to the playwright- it's that good.

Dean arrives in Cairns on Sunday (that's Saturday to you in the USA), and I couldn't be happier. Happy to have him see the work we've done. Happy to save some money on those overseas calls. I'll be happy to take him to breakfast at our new favorite restaurant, Twelve B.C. Happy to show him the bats every night.

But mostly, I'll be happy that we'll be in the same place. And happy that he'll see he hasn't missed much, and that we saved all the sightseeing until he got here.

Yes, distance can be a bitch. But meeting your loved one at the airport on the other side of the world...well, that's some pretty green grass.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

This ARVO we'll have a CUPPA

OK, I'm not 100% sure what the title of this entry actually means, but I DO know that those are Australian phrases, and I'm trying to incorporate them into my vocabulary now that we've landed in Sydney. I think ARVO is something dogs get, and CUPPA probably has something to with holding one's breasts. I doubt I'll do either, not today, anyway.

We have finally landed in Sydney, Australia, after a hundred and twelve hours of flying. Actually, it was more like... (counts on fingers, gets out pen, does some math, looks at clock) a hundred and two hours. I'm not sure how long I've been awake, or even how long I've slept. I'm pretty sure I brushed my teeth yesterday, but I just ate some gum, so now the minty taste is confusing me. The clock here says it's 10:46 am on Monday, August 23rd, but we left New York on Saturday, August 21st. Where did Sunday, August 22nd go? I have no idea. It's kinda freaking us out, honestly.

At this point, I'd like to give a shout out to Qantas Airlines. Despite the frustrating absence of a "U" after the "Q" in their name, this airline did not disappoint. The food was good, the crew was friendly, and the in-flight entertainment choices were plentiful. (I now have decided that we need HBO so I can watch "True Blood," but first we need a TV.) Interestingly, many of the crew were men in their 50's, and many of them have been with Qantas for over 30 years. Quite a difference from America, where the job title, "flight attendant" is right up there with "waitress" and "stripper." (Disclaimer: I have waited tables, and it is hard work. I respect my server friends, and if they want to strip, it's fine by me.)

I miss Dean already, but am happy to be here with Paul and Katie, and we're looking forward to experiencing this amazing, wild place. We hope to see kangaroos and emus, the national animals of Australia. And for the record, Aussies eat them. It's like us eating an eagle.

I'll keep you posted...


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

This is REALLY happening.

Yesterday, we began rehearsals for Homo apocalyptus, a new play by the brilliant playwright, Dean Poynor. (Full disclosure: he is my husband.)

We've rented a rehearsal space right off Times Square, our director has just come in from Williamstown Theatre Festival, our leading man has just flown in from SC, and our ingenue is a recent graduate from the respected program at Carnegie Mellon University. Me? I'm the "leading lady," I suppose, and if you're reading this, you know enough about me.

In short, we are really doing this. We are producing our own material, and we are flying to the other side of the world to perform it in Australia.

This is really my life. Pinch me.


Monday, August 9, 2010

If This Street Could Talk...

I am a sucker for gossip. I read Perez Hilton like retirees read the obituaries. Recently, I've come to realize that our neighborhood is a mecca for the Liz Smiths of the walker and cane set. These people have stories to tell, so listen up.

It began when we met Irene and her constant companion, her dog, Jaia. Irene claims to be 71 (she just had a birthday), has the curly red hair of a true Irish lass, and is either a 5th or 7th generation New Yorker, depending on what version of the story she tells. Irene is a woman you cannot NOT speak to. She is warm and inviting, sassy and spunky, and keeps you lingering on the sidewalk with story after story about the people on our block. She's told us of the tragic deaths of two of our landlord's relatives (one fell off a ladder outside our apartment, and the other was struck by a car on our corner); she's regaled us with stories of her close friendship with Billy Squier ("and his beautiful wife- she is just lovely"); and she has outed a neighbor ("he's a big queen, and he HATES those flowers out front of your building.")

Irene tends to repeat stories over and over, but we don't mind. Instead, we find ourselves almost enjoying showing Irene how very interested we are in the new Brazilian neighbor (some days she's Colombian), or in the life lessons Irene has to share ("You can do ANYTHING. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.") Irene is the mascot of our block- everyone knows her, and she knows everyone- though maybe not by the correct name.

Two fellas who know of Irene are Ricky and Jimmy, whom I met at Strawberry Fields a couple of weeks ago.

Ricky and Jimmy are in their 70's, and have been together for over 40 years, which is also how long they've lived in our neighborhood. I met them when I heard a voice say, "Beagle, beagle," and looked over to see an elderly man sitting on a bench, making kissy sounds at Hank. Ricky is the quieter one, and sits with his arm around Jimmy, who does the talking. Jimmy, who dresses a little like James Dean would if he were still alive, told me that he used to rent an apartment from a woman on my block who'd killed her husband, though she was never charged for it. He told me one building on our block used to be full of prostitutes and criminals, and when it was renovated, dozens of guns were found in the courtyard. He told me that as a young man, he'd glanced into a window on our street and had seen a woman's lifeless body on a blood-soaked bed. (At this point in the story, Ricky leaned over and said, "that was on 74th.") As our conversation came to a close, I learned that the fellas are friends with Luigi, our landlord. I said, "Oh, then do you know Irene?" Ricky leaned over and said to Jimmy, "She's that know-it-all with the red hair and the dog."

We met our most recent "neighborhood historian" yesterday, on the sidewalk a few doors down. Once again, Hank brought us together, and we quickly learned from our new friend, Ms. Dana, that the frail man inside the apartment with the blaring TV was not doing well, and would probably pass soon. (Ms. Dana will not be attending the funeral, because "At my age, they happen all the time, and it's just too much.") She told us stories about sending her children to a Catholic school on the Upper East Side (she is Jewish), and that the nuns always liked her kids the best. She told us she loves dogs, but her son was so affected by the loss of his last pet, she couldn't bear to have another one. (She said she'd had a dog once, a shepherd, when she lived in Germany long ago, and another dog when they went to Switzerland. Put those pieces together, and tell me she doesn't have some incredible stories to tell.) Ms. Dana walked with us down the block a bit, aided by her cane with her name and address on it. Before we parted ways, she said she hates walking past "that bitch" down the block. I asked, "do you mean the woman with the visor?" Ms. Dana said, "Yes. You know she killed her husband."

Yes, our street is a regular Peyton Place. These people have lived here longer than many of us been alive, and I can't wait to hear what other stories they have to share. And you know, I won't feel bad listening to them talk about our neighbors, because think about it-- isn't today's history just gossip from a really long time ago?




Friday, August 6, 2010

Babyville

No, I am not having a baby. But I may be the only woman in the Upper West Side who isn't.

Lately, it seems that every time I venture out, I find myself saying, "I should be taking pictures of this." By "this," I mean the astronomically high number of women who are either painfully pregnant, or pushing a child (or children, as is often the case) in high-end, souped-up strollers.

(At this point, I headed out with my camera to take some photos, but A) Hank was too distracted to cooperate with my secret mission, and B) how would you know if the photos were all from the same chunk of time? So, mission aborted. No pun intended.)

Seriously, though, there must be something in the water. Or more than likely, a high concentration of women in their late thirties who have lots of money and who have undergone fertility treatments of some kind, which would account for the high numbers of twins we see in our neighborhood. And the high number of blank stares on the faces of the fathers.

Have you seen the strollers out there these days? There are jogging strollers and twin strollers, and strollers that hold twins AND a toddler while you jog. These things have cup holders and phone holders and parking brakes and sunshades and umbrella attachments and ipod plug ins.

Dean and I were in the park the other day when we saw a whole line of mommies jogging behind their baby strollers. Just as I was about to snap a photo, the whole posse turned a corner, parked in a line right near us, and started doing leg lifts, using their strollers for balance. Upon closer examination, we realized they had a TRAINER who was leading a group exercise class for them. That guy is a genius, whoever he is.

Annnnd........here's the video to prove it. Watch over Dean's shoulder.


video

Don't get me wrong- we love our neighborhood. It is safe and clean, and there are lots of restaurants and museums and trees. It's a great place to raise a child. Or in our case, a Beagle named Hank. But just to be on the safe side, I'm going to drink good old fashioned NYC tap water instead of whatever fancy bottled water these chicks are drinking. We're not taking any chances.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Ancient Chinese Secret, Huh?



Laundry is an issue in New York City. Not only do we not have a washer dryer in our apartment, but there's not even one in our building for tenants to use. This means we have a few options when it comes to laundry:

1. Don't do any.

2. Gather up loose change and wash it ourselves at a local laundromat, all the while avoiding eye contact with "SCRAM Bracelet Lady", Lop-Sided Face, and Dog-Hating Visor Woman (all real people.)

3. Take it across the street to the magical Chinese laundry.

We went with Option 3.

In St. Elmo's Fire, Kirby vows to go "Fluff and Fold" once he hits it big. Actually, it's not expensive at all, and it's worth every cent to see how your laundry is transformed when you pick it up.

You know what laundry looks like in a laundry bag- it's lumpy and huge and hard to carry. BUT...when Poly Organic Cleaners is done with it, our laundry looks like this: (I've put my foot up against it to show scale.)


Inside this exquisitely wrapped package is ANOTHER package that looks like THIS:

It may not look like it, but inside this plastic cube are around 25 shirts (including t-shirts and tanks), 6 pairs of shorts/pants, about 10 pairs of boxers, 15 pairs of socks, and a couple of hand towels that got thrown in the wrong bag. Everything is folded perfectly, to the exact same size, and it's all shrink-wrapped.

As a cherry on the top of this Laundry Sundae, an autographed photo of Mr. Steve Martin hangs in the cleaners, alongside one of our yet-to-be-spotted neighbor, Mr. Billy Squier. Even the greats appreciate Poly Organic's Ancient Chinese Secret.


Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Auditions are...(fill in the blank)

Today I went to two auditions. WENT to.

In the first play, I was auditioning for the role of a woman in her mid-30's who is going through a gender identity crisis. This role required some tasteful rear end nudity, and the character sings an a capella song at the end of the play, likely about her transformation. If you know me, you know I love two things: baring my rear end and singing in front of people. If you don't know me, then that doesn't seem funny to you at all.

The second audition was for a show based on a book with somewhere in the neighborhood of 60 characters, but the play has only 5 actors. I was reading for the role of Gertrude Bell, Aunt Mumma, and about a dozen more. The director not only wanted actors to come in with a 90 second monologue, but also (get this) a scene in which the auditioning actor would portray BOTH roles. Memorized. You know, to show range. Because playing Lady Macbeth, Juanita from Sordid Lives and Fudge in Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing means I'm kinda a one-note actor.

You may be wondering how these auditions went. "If I know Monica, she really shone in that gender-bending role- she loves a nice pair of slacks." Or maybe, "Monica has always reminded me of extraordinary British diplomat and spy, Gertrude Bell." If only...

As it turned out, both shows are knee-deep in rehearsals while we are in Australia, so the stage managers sent me on my way with a "thank you anyway" and audible sighs.

Still, I feel pretty good about today. My hair did exactly what it was supposed to do, and Hank said my monologue was very effective, even though it made no mention of dogs. I took the train in the correct direction to the appropriate stops. I finished reading Wonder of the World and plan on using something from it for a new comedic audition piece. And for a late-afternoon treat, Dean and I are going to a taping of David Letterman's show.

Tomorrow morning, I will go to the Actors' Equity Audition Center to sit and wait for the chance to audition for the new Playwrights Horizons show. Maybe I'll wear a nice pair of slacks...


Monday, July 19, 2010

Celebrity Sightings in NYC

First, it's worth mentioning that the local NPR news station is doing a call-in show right now about NYC celebrity sightings, so this is a hot topic.

Since we've been in NYC, we have seen numerous celebrities, most of whom require a sentence or two of explanation before you'll recognize who I'm talking about. Ready?

1. During the Great Apartment Hunting Weekend, we spotted Bill Hader from SNL. You know, the wacky one. No, the other wacky one.

Bill Hader-ALO-023778.jpg


2. On the train one day, I sat across from the chubby, balding guy who plays one of the writers on "30 Rock." No, not Phil. No, not the guy with the funny hats, and not the black guy. You know that OTHER guy who eats donuts and probably lives with his mom? THAT guy. (JD Lutz)

lutz.jpg


3. In the grocery store last week, we saw Dennis Leary. Keep in mind, we were at the fancy grocery store, Citarella on Broadway and 75th. It's not like Leary shops at the Pioneer, for Pete's sake. He was in the sauce section. And by that, I mean fancy pasta sauces, not rot-gut rye.

dennis-leary-md.jpg


4. Running errands the other day, I happened to be looking at what people were eating (you know, people sit outdoors for lunch, and you can look right at their plates), and I saw that freckle-faced actress with the short reddish hair who is on one of the Law and Order shows. In real life, she's British, which I already knew, but it was clear that's who she was when she spoke to her lunch date. (Julianne Nicholson)

Megan-Wheeler-Julianne-Nicholson.jpg


5. We firmly believe we may have been stalked by Jesse Tyler Ferguson on Saturday. He's the redheaded actor who plays Mitchell on "Modern Family." The gay one. No, the other gay one. We passed him while walking the High Line, and then we passed him AGAIN roaming around the West Village. In my effortlessly cool way, I alerted him to the poop on the sidewalk just ahead, and warned him and his friends not to step in it. I care.

jesse-tyler-ferguson-picture.jpg


So far, these have been our only sightings of the celebrities in their natural habitat. Like US MAGAZINE states each week, "Celebrities: They're Just Like Us!" In fact, they ARE. Only they have bigger apartments and better clothes.


This week, we'll see Helen Hunt in "Our Town," but we won't consider that an actual sighting, since we're paying for it. Now, if I run into her in the ladies room of Bar Centrale after the show....we'll be sure to mention it.