twenty seven lessons from twenty seven

personal
  1. Your kitten will become a cat because growth is inevitable. Don’t fight it.
  2. Living in the moment is paramount. It is also much easier than your thought it would be.
  3. Create your own way, you will thank yourself for it later.
  4. Paris will rapidly become your favorite international city, but the water they bring to your table will not be free.
  5. Friends helping friends is always on brand.
  6. All good things must come to an end. Even if it’s a Broadway show where everyone’s cool and kind to each other, it must, at some point, become a really happy memory.
  7. Less is more. Sell it, chuck it, give it away if you’re not using it.
  8. Your voice is interesting and unique. You will learn to use it, embrace it, and silence those who try to convince you that it must conform to the norm in order for you to succeed.
  9. Sit in the uncomfortability that comes with the changing seasons.
  10. Not all connections will become lengthy relationships.
  11. You are not letting yourself down simply because the narrative of your dreams is shifting.
  12. Botox is your friend, as long as it’s in moderation. It is not taboo. Say it again.
  13. Your friendships will shift with age and with time. Sometimes the shift will be a resurgence, sometimes the shift will mean letting them go.
  14. This is the first age you will reach in your adult life where you don’t have a boyfriend. Embrace that.
  15. Skincare routines are important. Even when you think you’re too drunk to complete it.
  16. Don’t leave the house without first filling in your eyebrows.
  17. Screen time can and will compromise your eyesight. Eat your carrots and order blue light glasses on Amazon.
  18. Some things – relationships, experiences, pieces of art – are better left where they are rather than trying to revive them.
  19. You are allowed to wear a myriad of hats. Stop limiting yourself.
  20. You will be met with people who may not recognize your successes the same way you do. Their opinion will not shrink the narrative you’ve written for yourself unless you allow it to.
  21. You cannot have more than two drinks anymore without being met with a brutal hangover the following morning and you just need to start accepting that.
  22. Turkey is the least cool part of Thanksgiving. #TeamSides
  23. If you get a weave, you will feel like you’ve lost your hair when you get it taken out. You are not balding. You are normal.
  24. You can act on-camera and you should act on-camera.
  25. Never fly Norwegian.
  26. Lean into the idea of coexistence over competition.
  27. Cilantro still tastes like soap.

Five Years, Four Apartments, Three iPhones, Two Broadway Shows, and a Partridge in a Pear Tree.

new york, personal

Today marks my fifth year in Manhattan. Every year that I celebrate my anniversary with New York feels like another milestone. To be fair, it’s the longest consecutive relationship I’ve ever been in (key word: consecutive).

Like any relationship, New York is a commitment. You have to really love it or you simply won’t enjoy yourself. It has enriched my life, taken me on many adventures, introduced me to some of the greatest people I could ever hope to know, and cultivated a more cultured woman than the sheltered girl who arrived here in early 2014.

We’ve almost parted ways a few times – coming eerily close to imploding break-ups where one of us had to move out (that would be me). I have felt impossibly suffocated by it, needed to escape from it, but somehow always manage to find my way back.

New York isn’t for everyone; I’ve learned that the hard way over the past one thousand, eight hundred and twenty five days. I love it, so I expect everyone else to, too. When my mom visited my very first apartment in Harlem, I felt like I was introducing her to a new boyfriend she didn’t entirely approve of. But it grew on her. It’s grown through me – New York is a part of who I am now.

I am better for knowing you, New York. Thank you for teaching me to be a bolder, braver, more patient and steadfast individual. You have my heart.

adventure awaits

personal, Travel

In November I came across an advertisement for a floral scratch-off map of the United States from Etsy with the title across it “Adventure Awaits.”

screen shot 2019-01-04 at 11.18.50 am

This isn’t my map, trust.

It’s pretty self-explanatory.  It starts out completely gray, then you scratch away states as you’ve visited them.  It got me thinking about how many places I’ve been to in the country I live in – which, admittedly, isn’t as many as I would like – but I would love to see more states bloom from the gray this coming year.  So, I ordered one for myself to frame on my wall – where it will become ceremonious to scratch away once I’ve returned.

This is, by all means, not a New Year’s Resolution.  I’ve placed zero expectations on what this year has to come, and I plan on keeping it that way: moment to moment (see The Year of the Moment).  But I do have many travel plans this year – most of which to states I’ve never been to – so this will be a beautiful representation of where I’ve been.

Stay tuned, y’all.

2019: the year of the moment

new york, personal

I’ve spent the past few days asking friends, what I believe to be, a very crucial question: what do you want to manifest itself in 2019?

Rather than resolutions, I’ve gotten in the habit of naming my year (thank you, Hailei Call). 2017 was The Year of Travel, 2018 was The Year of Patiently Evolving.

This year, I wanted to focus on being more present, listening more intently, and trusting the journey I’m on. I’m always thinking about what’s coming next; which can be both a blessing and a curse. I also live in a city and age with so many distractions. So I decided that 2019 will be The Year of the Moment. Embracing the moment, living in the moment, appreciating the moments I have with others, and accepting that some people and experiences are meant for the moment.

I have been ready for 2019, but not in an eager way. 2018 was a wonderful year, and I hope that 2019 continues to manifest even more joy. So I’ve welcomed 2019 in with open arms, from the comfort of my home, next to Luna, with good friends and delicious Prosecco.

Happy New Year, y’all. I hope that on December 31st, I can look back and know I was present for every moment.

best nine: vol. 9

new york, personal

The last puzzle piece to make up my year – my twenty-seventh birthday.

I hold birthdays to a pretty high standard – it’s your day! You’ve got 24 hours that are designated to be solely yours – whatever that means to you.

I’ve been pretty jazzed to turn twenty-seven. It felt like coming home – much like 2019 feels like coming home. Since my birthday falls so closely to the end of the year, December has become an even deeper month of reflection for me. I tend to not only think about what the new year will bring, but a new age.

Last year I had one of the best birthday celebrations to-date. My friends and family gathered at Playwrights Tavern in midtown on the first snowfall of the year and partied-down with me. So many people passed through and watched me drink (and drop) a lot of cosmopolitans. My mama and I took a lemon drop shot together (what?) and I ended up housing four extra people in my teeny-tiny studio apartment.

This year my day was spent laughing over brunch, working at Pretty Woman, eating and drinking at our holiday party, and dancing and singing Amy Winehouse’s “Valarie” onstage at Haswell Greens with a slice of pizza in hand with some of my closest pals. Twenty-seven felt more sophisticated, more down-to-earth. Twenty-seven feels more like me.

I dig you, 27. I think I’ll wear you well for like another year or so.

best nine: vol. 8

new york, personal

On October 30th, I woke up bright-eyed and bushy tailed at 8 AM to deliver roughly 12 bags of donations to Goodwill – old clothes, purses, knick-knacks. Why you ask? Because I was bringing a ten-week-old kitten home that day. The less you have, the better.

Her name was Lumi, a beautiful, itty-bitty Calico kitten I first saw on Instagram when my friend Lauren Molina posted that she was looking for someone to adopt her. I immediately messaged her: “I need this cat.”

And she said, “She’s yours if you want her.”

I didn’t actually think about taking her when I sent that message. She was just too cute, I couldn’t not say something. But what if I actually got myself a kitten? What’s the worst that could happen?

So on October 30th, I brought home my sweet little devil angel, renamed Luna Llew, dropped her tiny little two-pound body on my couch, and instantly broke into tears. What was I thinking? I’m going to have this cat when I have kids. This apartment isn’t mine anymore, it’s hers too. Now I’m actually responsible for someone who isn’t me. What did I just do?!

And then she sat on my shoulder and fell asleep.

I love Luna Llew. She’s a feisty little thing – just like her mama. I can’t remember a time when we weren’t sharing my sweet little studio together. What a serendipitous moment 2018 brought me through her.

I want her to stay little forever, but for now, we’ll settle for this photo.

best nine: vol. 7

new york, personal

September 2nd, 2018: The final incarnation of Seams and Songs – my one-woman show about my journey as a wardrobe-supervising actress in New York. I’ve done this show three times since 2016; and I think it’s suffice to say this was, by far, the cleanest, tightest, funniest version.

Which is why I’ll never do it again.

My knack for writing and assembling one-woman shows for myself will not go to waste; I will do other ones (stay tuned for Twenty Eight Years Later: the show I’m putting together for my birthday next year. It’ll be a good time). But this year’s Seams and Songs was too good to try and tamper with again. I’d like to leave it where it is.

The show started 30 minutes late because the waitstaff didn’t anticipate the turnout. I had three costume changes during this version – all underdressed, all pretty rad. I stood onstage with some of the best people I know. I finally publicly opened up about my time working on CATS and how hard it was. It wasn’t perfect, but it felt right.

Here I am, post-show, between my two beautiful childhood besties and brides-to-be. I also got this delicious red romper at Forever21 for $9 and altered it myself to be t-length because it wouldn’t be Seams and Songs if I wasn’t clad in items of clothing I learned to rig along my wardrobe journey these last five years.

best nine: vol. 6

new york, personal

The big kahuna of 2018: Pretty Woman.

I vividly remember feeling like the frantic energy surrounding my job at Desperate Measures would subside once we opened on June 13th. Alas, it only grew – between understudy put-ins and wig drama and the upkeep of being a one-woman department head of two departments that desperately needed two department heads – I was completely spent. So much so, that on June 21st, I stood alone in the dressing room angrily styling a wig, venting to myself about how much I could not do this job on my own anymore. To add insult to injury, I soon-after realized that I had run out of laundry detergent as I went to wash the clothes for that afternoon’s performance. So I bolt upstairs to the RiteAid across the street, and as I step outside, a text comes through on my phone from an unknown number asking if I would like to come in the following day to discuss becoming a dresser for the upcoming Broadway production of Pretty Woman.

If you’ve never been to/worked at New World Stages – there is no service. None. Goodbye world, hello crappy WiFi! So, had I not gone upstairs to get laundry detergent, I wouldn’t have gotten this message until much, much later; this perpetuating the insanity of conversing with myself. The universe is funny like that.

The next day, I stepped away from New World Stages to go to the Nederlander Theater for my interview. As I was walking down 8th Avenue, I crossed paths with my pal Chris Luner, who had worked on Desperate Measures with me and, ironically, was in pre-production for Pretty Woman. He escorted me through the theater and hand-delivered me to, who would soon be, my supervisor, the great Robert Guy.

I had barely sat down before he looked at me and said, “Do me a favor – walk all the way up the stairs to the sixth floor, then come back down and tell me if you still want to work here.” I did, said I couldn’t wait to see how great my butt would look after tech, and walked out of the Nederlander with a my next Broadway contract.

It was bittersweet – I had to call several friends to cancel plans I had made – including concerts, bridal showers, and alike – to accommodate my new, impending tech week. I also had to call my dear friends who had hired me at Desperate Measures and give them exactly two weeks notice. And, what’s worse, I had to tell my sweet cast that I would soon be leaving our wonderful show.

Despite the madness, Desperate Measures had become my home, and I loved working with my people every single day. I was very sad to leave; even if it was the best move for myself. Sometimes what’s right can feel wrong when you’re taken away from something before you anticipated.

As many of you know, this is my second Broadway contract as a dresser – the first was pretty rough. I was relentlessly bullied for most of my time there and it brutally tainted my experience. Leaving a company filled to the brim with kindness, patience, and encouragement at Desperate Measures was daunting for that very reason. What if I had the same experience that I did on CATS?

If you can’t tell by the sheer joy all over my face, my experience on this show has been nothing like my first. I love my job. I love this company. I loved this night. Opening Night of Pretty Woman was nothing shy of perfect. I danced all night surrounded by my favorite people, wearing a stunning dress (this entire ensemble cost me less than $80, by the by) singing my favorite songs.

I ended the night eating a personal pizza in bed with my mama zonked out on the couch ten feet away in her llama pajamas.

Quite possibly one of the best nights of my New York life.

best nine: vol. 5

personal, weddings

My one stipulation of taking my contract with Desperate Measures was an out on June 2nd, our third preview, to attend the wedding of my two friends Alexandra and Chris in Pennsylvania.

It’s typically unheard of for a supervisor to miss a performance during previews, but I was lucky to have an amazing friend and colleague in my GM Brian, and my designer Nicole Wee, who very quickly assured me I could use a sub without a hitch. It was also a blessing that my close friend Maggie Luther had previously supervised the show in an earlier incarnation, and already knew it well.

I rented a Zipcar and drove with my pal Holly down to Fiddle Lake Farm, where I attended the best wedding I have ever been to (sorry everyone – your weddings were still great, but this was actually perfect). From the drinks named after their two cats, to the bluegrass trio, to ice cream sandwiches as you walked in, to the vintage hankies basket next to the entrance (for all the tears we cried over the beautiful ceremony), to the food, to the bonfire and s’mores at the end – I could go on and on about how endlessly wonderful the entire celebration was. It was a proper tribute to two souls perfectly made for one another to celebrate their love with their people. Alexandra and Chris’s love is inspiring.

Despite the fact that I am ugly crying and laughing in this photo, it encapsulates June 2nd – which will forever remain one of my favorite days.

best nine: vol. 4

new york, personal

I spent most of the first half of this year gainfully unemployed. It started to get old right around the beginning of March and I went looking for odd jobs around the city. I dabbled in babysitting and picked up a few daywork shifts at Kinky Boots a couple Sunday’s a month. Once I started rehearsals for Chess, my weeks became saturated with a more routine schedule; but I wasn’t making enough money to continue living that way once Chess closed on May 12th.

Sometime at the end of April, I received a text from my sweet friend, Brian Letchworth, asking if I was available to supervise the next musical he was putting up. I was going to kick myself if Chess prohibited me from doing it. I asked when the starting date was and internally kept saying to myself, please let it be after May 12th, please let it be after May 12th.

“May 13th.”

If that’s not some universe magic…

The day after Chess closed, I started pre-pro as the wardrobe and wig supervisor for a new musical called Desperate Measures at New World Stages; my old stomping grounds and the scene of my first dressing job in New York when I did Heathers in 2014.  It was an incredibly taxing undertaking – I have never had a job that took so much out of me.  But what made Desperate Measures one of my most memorably enjoyable experiences were the people I built the production with.  Never have I worked alongside such a warm, talented, inclusive group of people.  In the midst of previews, Nick Wyman showed up one day with a bouquet of orange roses because he saw how hard I was working every day to keep my department a well-oiled machine on my own.  It set the entire tone for the wealth of gratitude and kindness I would share with these people; making my time at Desperate Measures unforgettable.

Opening Night was a whirlwind – I had ordered a dress from Rent The Runway (my go-to for any and all Opening Nights) that hadn’t arrived on time.  It was also only available in the size below mine, but I took a lot of chances on this dress.  After many, many phone calls and a pair of Spanx, everything ended up coming together; and I shared a beautiful Opening Night with my beautiful new friends and my handsome forever-date.

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