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.

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. 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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best nine: vol. 3

new york, personal

In March I started rehearsals for a production of Chess at The Gallery Players in Brooklyn. Admittedly, I almost didn’t take the gig. I was afraid I would get an offer to work wardrobe for a show over the two months we would be in rehearsal/production.

I sat in The Chipped Cup formatting a “respectfully decline” email for the director when my friend/collaborator/(sometimes) writing partner Emm O’Connor unexpectedly walked in. She was meeting a mutual friend of ours to start collaborating on a web series. We all ended up sitting together, talking out ideas for an hour or so, and I was elated. Emm walking in at that moment was a reminder from the universe that I moved here to create art; not to turn away from it in fear that better opportunities would come my way at the same time.

As we sat there, I deleted my draft and quickly typed out an acceptance email – thus signing onto one of the most interesting experiences I’ve had in a show in New York and meeting some of the greatest people I know. This show taught me humility, patience, and a lot about how not to lead a company when you’re carrying a show on your shoulders.

best nine: vol. 1

new york, personal

As we turn into the homestretch of 2018, we’re naturally privy to a lot of self-reflection. It’s especially easy to do when we’re influenced by everyone around us; specifically on social media. I mostly find the last week of December, my feed is filled with the grid of photos generated by a website called “Best Nine.”

If you’re unfamiliar with Best Nine, it’s a collage of the top nine Instagram photos from your page that received the most traction from #1 to #9. It’s fun and all, but here’s the thing — more likely than not, that collage of photos will in no way represent your best nine moments this year – just the most aesthetically pleasing ones.

I started thinking about self-generating my own Best Nine. What were truly my best moments of 2018? If I could encapsulate my year in nine moments, what would I choose?

Over the next nine days, I’ll be giving you my best nine (in chronological order) and the stories that surround these significant moments.

February 9th: The Day I Saw Waitress for the 3rd and a Half Time.

In November of 2017, my friends and I had purchased tickets to see Jason Mraz’s very limited run in Waitress. I had already seen the show twice, but Jason Mraz has always been one of my favorite artists, next to Waitress composer Sara Bareilles. I was working at CATS at the time, and had taken the night off to go see Waitress, but made up for it working that afternoon. Jason’s dresser also happened to be doing daywork at CATS that same day and told me that I could come backstage and meet him after the show (cue the ugly crying).

I left from daywork and went straight to Bareburger on 46th street to meet my friends for dinner before the show. About halfway through the meal I started to feel…not right. You know, that rock-in-the-stomach kind of feeling. With every step we took from Bareburger to the Brooks Atkinson, I was feeling worse and worse. We sat down in our seats and I was 99% positive I would have to preemptively apologize to the woman in front of me in case I threw up on her – that was where we were at.

I barely made it through Act One. I tried invoking the “mind over matter” mentality and just kept telling myself I got to meet Jason Mraz if I kept powering through.

During intermission, I reluctantly left, got in a cab, and threw up three times on Riverside Drive on my walk home. There was a man walking his dog who definitely thought I was some drunk idiot stumbling through our neighborhood.

I was so bummed. I missed my chance! I was going to meet Jason Freaking Mraz and nothing was going to stand in my way and my body was like, “Hold my beer.”

So here we are, February 9th, and Jason Mraz is now playing opposite Sara Bareilles in his final weekend at Waitress. I am gainfully unemployed, but still went to the box office and got the cheapest ticket I could to the show (for the low low price of $160 – oops).

And afterwards, I got to meet Jason Mraz, and tell him the tale of how I almost threw up all over him in November. But instead, I was here, not throwing up all over him, and wearing my favorite sweater.

Fin.

dear mama

new york, the coffee chronicles

Y’all know I live for a good coffee shop. It’s my thing. Some people love going to the beach or museums – I love a day trip to a coffeeshop I’ve never been to.

This morning, as I wandered the upper east side awaiting my time to be officially dubbed a kitten mama on 110th and 2nd, I spotted a coffeeshop around the corner called Dear Mama (ironic, right?).

I rarely make it to the east side. To be frank, when you live on the west side of Manhattan, the east side feels like another land (don’t even get me started on Brooklyn). So when I do make my way to a new part of town, I like to embrace it and explore.

It’s sweet but chic – bright and beautifully decorated. They have metallic pineapple wallpaper and homemade pies and everything croissants (be still my heart). The baristas promptly invited me to the shop’s Friendsgiving — so if you’re searching for a place to eat delicious homemade food, look no further:

(If you attend, please take a photo of the secret special departing gift and also stash a piece of Apple Caramel Pie in your bag for me).

If you’re wandering the upper (upper) east side, swing through here. It’s super cute and friendly and the chairs are comfy.

Okay, brb — going to become a mama.