Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Beating the Funk...

A Funk has overtaken me for a time now. It ebbs and flows and generally pisses me off. Funks are no fun and render me lethargic, uninspired and useless.  I will expound more on this in a later post, as I am trying to collect my thoughts regarding said Funk. So for now I will give you a list of some activities that can beat the Funk, and even if they can't beat it, they can certainly give it a run for it's money.

-Buying a new pair of shoes. Yellow flats are espically funk-repellent

-Planting a herb garden in a pail and seeing the seedlings begin to sprout

-Enjoying a toasted marshmellow milkshake (with a toasted marshmellow on top even!) from The Stand (just don't eat their hamburgers)

-Organizing the CRAP out of your apartment. Like under the bathroom sink, in the shoe/coat closet, and the kitchen cabinets.  It's so cathartic.

-Enjoying Drag Queen Cocktails, while wearing Tiara's and watching the finale of RuPauls's Drag Race.

-Eating yoru first ever double cheeseburger from Shake Shack.  **Warning** deep pangs of guilt may follow this indulgence, but that is just the Funk getting to you. Life is short, eat good burgers.

-Eating an amazing salad of kale, beets, peas, wheatberries, feta cheese and other oh-so-nourishing and soul feeding healthy foods, which makes you feel like a grown up who can balance their diet after eating a double cheeseburger, cheese fries, and ice cream.

-Watching LOST (it's getting so good!) with the two main men in your life and drinking Champagne cocktails

-Lots of cuddly, kissy, lovey kitty time.

-Pre-ordering your ticktes to the midnight opening of Sex and the City: 2

-Drinking margaritta's at 2pm on a Friday with your brother while throngs of teenage girls scream outside the restaurant at Channing Tatum who is filming a movie in Astoria, and you realize you are too old and out of touch to know who he is and why people care.

 -Being asked to be an actor in a staged reading of a very cool new play, performing it for a crowd of intelligent theatre-goers and finally feeling like you are doing something creative after months of stagnation. (Thank you Brian!)

-Watching this on YouTube. Incredible.

-Knowing that as you write this blog your husband is in the process of making sauteed pork chops with musrooms, dill and sour cream along with twice baked potatoes.

What activities do you do to beat the Funk?

Saturday, April 17, 2010

The Great Walk

I am not entirely sure when the inspiration hit. It could have been while at work, or over dinner, or as I was drifting off to sleep. And since I don't know the true origin of my grand idea, and for the purposes of adding a little drama and flare to the story, I will say it happend while I was up in the air.  30,000 feet and descending, as I headed back to New York from Chicago on January 3rd (our one year wedding anniversary).  It was a clear night and I always find myself rather contemplative while in airplanes (does this happen to anyone else?), and as I looked out the window I could see the entire island of Manhattan illuminated. I found it amusing how you could see the pool of lights surrounded by the flat, black, glass like  river and it formed the shape that was identical to that of the subway map. As if I thought in real life it should look different and completely unlike some cartographers hard worked sketch.  Regardless, I was drawn in to this island, which from the air appears so small. Like you could skip rocks across it, or do a few cartwheels and you would end up on the other side.  I wanted to walk it. From tip to tip, and Jürgen was going to come with me.

Jürgen being the cool cat that he is was totally down with my crazy adventure idea, and we decided as soon as the weather turned pleasant we would set things in motion to traverse the island. It had seemed like a lofty idea until last Thursday when I was awoken to the dulcit tones of Jürgen saying "today is the day."  I hadn't mentally prepared myself for the journey, but I decided it was best not to fight a man decided.  It was a beautiful day, and frankly I needed a bit of adventure and challenge in my life. So we hopped the train and found ourselves all the way at 225th street. The journey began.

I am waxed poetic about my newfound love of walking recently, but this was the ultimate in walks as far as  I was concerned.  According to googlemaps the distance from 225th to Battery Gardens is 13.6 miles (give or take a bit depending on your preferred route), however we did a bit of sightseeing and zigzagging along the way, so while neither of us donned pedometers we think we logged almost fifteen miles of foot traffic.  There are many different paths you could take to complete this journey, but we tended more towards the west side of the island following Broadway and then spending a decent amount of time on 6th ave (which if we ever decided to do this again we would avoid), until we reached Battery Gardens with a view of Lady Liberty in all her glory.  It took about seven hours to complete, and I felt the effects of this half-marathon distance walk for days.

It was an awesome experience, and one that I will truly never forget.  It's amazing to see how the landscape changes, culturally and physically, as you travel through the various neighborhoods. At one point I even proclaimed "it's amazing how 'un-New York', New York feels!" and it was really true, there  were times I almost forgot I was in Manhattan.  This really is an incredible city and I am glad we took the time to really travel through it, with the sun on our faces and the wind at our backs.

We took quite a few pictures along the way, and since I recently learned how to make photo slideshows, I have another one! But first here is a list of the few sites we visited, some planned, and some happy accidents.

The Dyckman Farmhouse Museum
The Cloisters
The Morris Jumel Mansion Museum
Alexander Hamilton's Country Home
General Grant National Memorial
Riverside Church
Cathedral of St. John the Divine
The Cross at Ground Zero

(I am sure there are many more sites we could have seen, however once we hit Columbus Circle, it was less about the journey and more about the destination...at least thats what my feet were telling me!)

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

A "Tail" of Two Kitties...

A year ago my world changed in a way I could never have forseen. A year ago Jürgen and I became parents to two precious kittens, and life has never been the same.  The amount of joy these two long-haired beings have brought into our lives was unimaginable to me before I met them, but now that I have them I will never let them go!

I have been very lucky to grow up having animals around, and it was always in the plans for Jurg and I to adopt two kittes after we got married.  I love dogs as well, and I am proud not to have to ascribe to being either a "cat person" or a "dog person."  However, when you are a young couple, living unpredictable lives, cats are much more adaptable creatures who require less involvment in their everyday survival.  So while a puppy may be somewhere in the distant future, for now its all about cats. 

Last year Jurgen was working on a production in Milwaukee and the plan always was to adopt once he returned in Mid-May.  However, one afternoon while I stared blurry eyed at the computer screen at work, and email popped up from my good friend Jenn, informing me that a friend of a friend, had a cat who had kittens, just eight weeks old and they were looking for good homes for all of them.  She made a convincing arguement:  by adopting them from a home I would be able to get them younger (younger=smaller), they were already litterbox trained (major plus) and since the two would have been litter mates they already would have bonded (awww little fuzzy bonded kittens...). My interest was piqued! I called Jürg right away, and thus began almost a week of hemming and hawwing about if we should make a move, a little off schedule. 

Then we received some very exciting news, Jürg got a call with an offer to understudy two Broadway shows! A major achievement! A career stepping stone! Oh if only we knew...

In all of our excitment Jurgen said "Blair, you should go get those kittens."  In an effort not to be too rash, I said "how about I just go look at them?" 

Now let's be honest with ourselves for a moment, anyone who thinks they can go look at tiny, adorable, furry, hand-sized creatures and not steal away with a basketful of them is lying to themselves.  Who was I kidding? I was doomed from the start.

Jenn, being the ever supportive and animal crazed friend that she is, accompanied me that Saturday afternoon, to a basement apartment that held three adorable kittens: two little girls which were all black and one little boy with black and white spots.  I sat on the couch and a teeny black kitten crawled up onto my lap, curled her front paws underneath her chest and proceeded to fall asleep on my thighs.  I had been claimed. I was a goner.

Afraid that I wouldn't be able to tell two all black kittens apart, I naturally gravitated towards the spotted little lad with the precious face.  And with that, a family was born.

We named our little man Stanley, after the character Jürgen was to understudy on Broadway.  Our little miss? We call her Toaster. Yep, like a toaster oven.  I take no credit for this, as it has always been Jürgen's plan to have a cat named Toaster, and despite my protests, I lost that battle after a tension-filled game of Rock-Paper-Scissors.

Despite my lost battle, I am quite happy with her name, and more importantly I am thrilled to be a "proud parent" the these two precious creatures. This past year they have grown before our eyes, traveled from Chicago to New York, and provided endless hours of entertainment.  My love for them has surprised and inspired me.  I am forever grateful to have them in our lives, and as a part of our family.

I present a photo-retrospective of Stanley and Toaster's first year. The photo's aren't great, but regardless they bring a smile to my face and warm my heart. May they do the same for you!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Gotta make that cash...

So there has been a bit of silence over here in my little blog space as of late.  Admittedly I have not been doing my part in carving out blogging time, but I also embarked on a little journey out west and I have been catching up a bit since my return.  No I wasn't in search of gold, but rather fufilling my bridesmaidel duties in a Salt Lake City wedding.  2010 may be the year of the Tiger, but for me it just may have to be dubbed "The Year of Weddings."  I have seven which I will be called to attend, and I hope to make it to all, but that remains to be seen. 

Where was Jürgen you might ask? Well he was not with me, no sir he got to fly the skies to Argentina! Buenos Aires to be precise, where he got to stay in this swanky hotel, eat steak and dance upon the same soil from which my favorite grapes are grown! What's up with that?

Actually, his reasons for travel were purely professional (although he got to experience a fair amount of fun as well!), because Jürg booked himself a commercial! Can I get a what-what?? He auditioned in New York, for an Irish Celluar company commercial which filmed in South America.  If you wish to spend time making sense of that, be my guest.

It did get me thinking about how funny and wildly unpredictable life can be from time to time, espically if you choose a profession in the arts. One minute you can be serving burgers and fries at a tourist packed, time square restaurant, and the next minute you are a working actor in Buenos Aires. Well, in Jürgens case anyway.  It also reminded me of the array of various "jobs" I have had over the years in an attempt to cobble together a living.  So let's bring back the blogging with a little sharing, shall we?

-I had my first "real job" when I was 16, where I worked at a small flower shop in Louisville, KY.  I was too short to see over the counter, and was often left alone to my own devices.  The job was relativley harmless except for two incidents which are worth mentioning:

1) I had literally just received my drivers liscense and on my first day of work they sent me out to make a delivery that involved me taking the expressway-a system I was unfamilliar with at the time- and I ended up somewhere way outside of the city limits, at night with no idea where I was.  This also happened to be before the time when we really relied on cell phones (I feel old!), and "car phone" that I did have was totally dead.  Hours later I made my way home and dissolved into a puddle of tears in my kitchen, because I never was able to deliver the flowers and the arangement and been tossed all over the back of my car.  The next morning my mom and I went to a more established flower shop and had them re-do the entire thing and she drove me to the rightful recipients who were very understanding.
2) The owner of the shop was my friends mom, and while she was a lovely, fun, artsitic woman she really had no business being the owner of a business. Oftentimes there were no records of how much a given item cost, which meant during the times I was left to my own devices I was forced to make up the price of things.  Not being well versed in the expenses of horticulture I inevitably charged a very lucky lady a mere seven dollars for a beautiful hanging fern. For the record it should have been around twenty-five.

The little flower shop closed a few years later. I'm just sayin'

-During college I spent a summer working as an intern for the Lookingglass Theatre Company, which paid me nothing, but I did get to work as the assistant to David Schwimmer for a week, which involved videotaping a workshop he ran and getting him coffee. He was very nice and very humble.  However Lookingglass then proceeded to hire me off and on as a "door watcher" (I prefered the title "securty guard but what can you do) where I made a great hourly wage to sit at the front desk while performances were happing in their rehearsal space and make sure no riff-raff strolled in and made off with the office equipment. As if my tiny self could have done anything about it, but I took their money anyway. It was awesome.

- I have only onced worked in a restaurant, as a host, at a Tapas restauarant one summer in Chicago.  I ate a ton of queso de cabra and very quickly decided I never wanted to work in restaurants again, for the mere fact that I found it rather torturous to watch other people enjoying their food and I had to starve. 

-The job to have while attending Theatre School was to be hired as an usher when rental productions would use our space.  It was great pay for maybe 15 minutes of mindless work, after which you could enjoy the show, or engage in epic battles with your flashlight.  Juvenile, but fantastic.

-I have been babysitting since I was twelve, and still do every now and then. The first child I ever babysat is now an adult and on her way to being a huge star, however there is also one baby who I have sat for at least five times and still have yet to meet. Her name is Macy and she goes to sleep at 7pm, and never wakes. She is a gift from above. 

-Once I was hired through my agency to work at the NeoCon trade show at the Merchandise Mart in Chicago.  It's a huge event focusing on office furniture, and my job was to pass out pins and candy to passerby's and encourage them to find their "style ID" on the 8th floor.  Why you need to know your style when it comes to cubicles I will never know.  It was so horrible that I hid in stairways and behind model kitchen units, in an attempt to keep my sanity. Never again.

-Being hired to perform at the Chicago Auto Show is much less annoying.  I sang "Let the Sunshine In" with a group of incredibly talented Chicago actors, for the launch of a new line of KIA cars.  We each wore a different solid colored crewneck sweater from Lands End, and threw our hands in the air with great abandon.  In a word: queer. In another word: amazing.

-For two years I worked as a receptionist at a commercial photography studio that threw incredible parties and didn't mind if I drank alcohol while working. A privledge I never took full advantage of. 

-One day while working at the aformentioned phtography studio, the producer asked to see my hands, which apparently are photograph worthy and whisked me upstairs to feature my digits in a cataloge.  This gave me the courage to call up the print department in my agency to see if I could be seen as a parts model.  My agent said "its a very quick decision and is usually a no, but I will see you."  Luckily, he said yes, and every now and then I literally make money from my hands.

-After I graduated college I spent a couple years working as the front desk manager of a spa, which once I left I swore I would never revisit customer service ever again. Well "never say never" apparently, because once I decided to move to NYC I contacted the New York branch, and five minutes later I was rehired. Lesson learned: its a good thing to keep the bridges you build intact. 

-Finally, this is without a doubt the best job I have ever had (aside from special theatre gigs) only involved twenty minutes of actual work, but was oh so very cool to be a part of.

Have you had any special/scary/random/interesting jobs you have had to do to make ends meet?