Thursday, March 26, 2015

More effusive Crown Heights love

Another thing I came up with!
 My mind has decompressed.  The brain buzz that normally keeps in a highly strung, wired, ready to snap state has gone...somewhat silent.  Maybe the lack of outdoor noise has made the indoor noise feel uncomfortable about it's intrusiveness, so it has made a swift exit.
Like, I just got home today.  I worked from 11-5.30 then I had a callback for a play from 7-8.  So a fairly full day following a series of other days ranging in fullness from extreme to somewhat.  Normally I'd get home and feel a pressing need to do a bunch more stuff.
Now the two things I actually am supposed to be doing - earning money to live, and participating in theatre - I did today.  Check check.
I don't really need to cook, I have food I can eat right away.  I don't need to clean.  My room is in great shape.  I could fold a few clothes that are over my chair, or do some press ups - but neither of those are like, essentials, and I don't feel like I will be shooting myself in the foot if I don't do them.
So...I'm watching a film! Like, only watching a film
Well and doing this.
It feels good to be ok with the amount of stuff I did today.  And not be like I DIDN'T DO ENOOOOUUUUGH
This ties in with my lifelong misconception of efficiency, I think.  Which I thought about as I was arriving home, as I tried to gather all my bags and the package that arrived for me and my boots and my coat at the same time and unlock the door without putting them down and enter the apartment.  Would it have been easier and quicker to put everything down, unlock the door with free limbs and then do everything else unencumbered? Or is it quicker to try and haul everything at the same time?  I've always been one of those people who hates making multiple trips to carry things so I bundle it all up together and balance and pray.  Often this backfires.  So perhaps that's a lesson I can, or inadvertently have, applied to life.

In other news, huge fire and building collapse on the Lower East Side has sent everyone reeling.  I think it's no casualties but many injured, some critically so.  Second Avenue is closed from 14th to Houston, and a bunch of businesses and residences damaged and destroyed.  I heard that Pomme Frites, one of my FAVOURITE places to get food, is gone.  Incredibly popular, tiny and frickin' delicious place serving Belgian-style fries i.e. huge, in paper cones and with a multitude of delicious dipping sauce options like mango chutney mayonnaise and parmesan peppercorn.  I really hope they can get back on their feet because they were an awesome, independent, thriving and well-loved business.  And that everyone else affected by this disaster will be able to get back to life as soon as possible.  There was a huge fire all afternoon.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

How Tessa got her Groove back

I'm sitting on my rag rug in the 'living space' area of my room...yes my room has sections.
In the space in front of the three windows I have a rag rug, a silver chair and some knick knacks.  I could also use it as a decent sized exercise space if I wanted to.  It was pointed out to me that my room is bigger than most coffee shops in Prospect Heights.  I could honestly gush about my place all day long.  Someone also said 'oh but you don't have an actual living room space like with a couch do you?' to which I replied 'yes we do it was just so far away that you can't see it in the dark'...because it's that big.  AND a friend who is moving said 'you're going to hate us, it's an artists' loft it's amazing' to which I replied 'does it have a washer/dryer' and he said no...and my place does! So this apartment is literally unbeatable.
See? Gush gush gush
OH one more thing...I may have on of the darkest and quietest rooms in NYC.  Behind this place is some kind of large warehouse and turns out, a room facing a biiig brick building is a good noise blocker.  It's unbelievable.
And this is a few minutes' walk.  I mean you can't not feel good about that.  It's the Brooklyn Museum.

I went out on Sunday night to the Bowery Electric to see a band called The Fine Machines.  The lead singer just happens to be my roommate Dan.  They are really great and his voice is FANTASTIC.  Other roommate David was also in attendance on band photographer duty, as were a bunch of band friends including Dan's girlfriend Kirsten who I have previously met and who I really really like.  Yay for making new friends past the age of 21!
It was great to be out, great to be in the East Village one of my favourite zones, great to be seeing an awesome band and great to finally do some roomie bonding over beer, music chat, an endless stream of jokes and eventually fried foods.  I felt very much at home.  That's saying something quite big, because often in crowds of relative strangers I feel extreeemely uncomfortable and won't volunteer much personality.  On Sunday I happily engaged in conversation with others in the group who were not Dan, David or Kirsten.  I also made my own jokes and volunteered information about myself.  Y'know.  I generally 'hung out' in a normal, social way.  But I felt completely at home and vibed off the whole thing.  The last time I felt quite so comfortable with a new crowd in a completely genuine, unguarded way, honestly, was when I moved into Loftstel and met those people for the first time.  Something about knowing you're amongst kindred spirits.  I had lengthy conversations about what the best genre of music is to see live, working for a Jewish family' on the UWS with a fellow babysitter, how to torture the early morning customers who annoy David who manages a coffee shop, obscure cartoons, more music.  It replenished me.  Like a newly watered plant.
In short I didn't just find a new place to live, I found a new home.

And that is how I got my groove back!
Dan on vox, Nate (who lives downstairs!) on banjo.  Yeah banjo.
Bowery Electric upstairs room.
I also began listening to podcasts from KEXP, a radio station based in Seattle.  These DJs, they just GET ME!
I've listened to this song non-stop since it was brought to me by Don Slack.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Do the Hustle

I may have bitten off more than I can chew

In the past fortnight I've leapt from 2 jobs to 5.

Which would be perfectly manageable if they weren't all at around the same time.


The plan is: book a new theatre job

As crazy as it sounds will actually take off some of the pressure. All these employers come with the understanding that theatre comes first. So doing that one theatre thing would mean I'd be able to dial back all the other stuff. Hmm.

I've been this hectic before though.  When I was at the Thomas Lord and at The George and teaching for Vanessa and teaching for Boppin and working for Guarro/Doris prods plus odd babysits, I did ok. And the tea room. And the agri office. I'm also aware nothing need be permanent. If I'm dying after 2 weeks I will regard that as a sign to ease off.

But in the meantime I will babysit, serve drinks at Stage 72, serve food and tea at Tea and Sympathy, general assist at All Systems Go physio and personal assist writer Lila Azam Zanganeh (who was a teaching fellow at Harvard for French, Literature and Cinema at the age of 22...intimidated, moi?)
I'm kind of excited...excited and scared.

That was a reference: it was Stephen Sondheim's birthday yesterday and 'excited and scared' is one of the most quoted lines from his most celebrated work Into The Woods.
This is the first and last time I ever quote that show on this blog though.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

The pains of being pure at heart

I'm not pure at heart
But I am guilty of trying to be responsible for too much and feeling bad when I can't manage it
Which leads me to being angry about a lot of stuff, angry or defensive or offended or preachy
Because lots of people have no social conscience so I'm like
Ok someone has to have one for that...and that...and that and that
And it's really exhausting trying to be a conscience and an advocate
So I'm listening to a female rapper Angel Haze and I'm thinking some of these lyrics are massively non-PC or offensive
And if my friends who are used to me taking a moral stance against every other thing knew I was listening and enjoying they'd be like 'Tessa you giant hypocrite' and they'd be right
I need a break sometimes, if I am always going to defend the progressive the radical and the enlightened ways of thinking I will burn out so one of you can go do it for a day while I enjoy some dirty beats and po-lyrical incorrectness. I'm still recycling and refusing to buy bottled water, k?

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Hold up wait a minute

Yesterday, rapper Kendrick Lamar dropped a new album titled 'To Pimp a Butterfly', a surprise week early.
A number of friends and acquaintances, the kind who's Facebook activity I do pay attention to, promptly listened and encouraged nay DEMANDED that the world follow suit.

This makes me feel a lot of things which I will now attempt to process

1) I am not a particular fan of Mr Lamar though am in no doubt as to the legitimacy of his esteemed place in the upper echelons of today's music scene
2) I had no idea that a new album was in the offing
3) Some of the people spurring the Facebook world to listen are friends who's musical taste I have deep respect for and with whom I have frequently engaged in artist/song discovery exchanges
4) Point #3 makes me want to listen to 'To Pimp a Butterfly'
5) Points #1 and #2 are in direct conflict with point #4 - without the recommendation by the people, it would never have occurred to me to listen to a Kendrick Lamar album under any steam other than my own
6) I really want to listen because I could then enjoy meaningful musical discussions with aforementioned music sharing peers, an activity I could happily do pretty much 24/7
7) I really don't want to listen because I'm currently in the middle of a late 90 trip hop binge - today, all I have listened to is the song Don't Leave by Faithless. Just the one song on repeat. I can't stop listening. Absolutely nothing could irritate me more on this day than being made to interrupt my listening streak.
8) I'm really cross that I feel pressured to listen to something
9) I'm cross with myself for allowing myself to feel pressured by other people it's just that I really like being able to answer 'yes!' when asked if I've heard so and so, then we can talk about it...I don't know, Kendrick lovers, have you heard Total Loss by How To Dress Well? Can someone listen to it so I can talk about it with them thanks
10) Does point #9 mean I can only take interest in conversations with a majority of humans if they pertain to music? Because now I think about it that might be true...ohhhhh
11) I would like to publicly announce that while I am interested in Kendrick Lamar's new album because my music sharing friends rarely steer me wrong, I would also love if they could stop posting and it could stop 'trending' because I'll listen to it when I'm good and ready but right now I am listening obsessively to Faithless and planned on later listening to Massive Attack, Blind Melon, Modest Mouse and Neutral Milk Hotel because they are all on my current list Kendrick Lamar is NOT
But in the future could be

Maybe if all musical discussion just stopped completely until I'm done...that would be great

Or if I could take the personal initiative to decide not to be bothered, carry on as I was and I'll get to Kendrick Lamar when my inner musical compass points that way...that could also work really well.

I'm going to keep listening to Faithless.
The forces of #trending have sent me into such a state of defiance that I may never hear this damn Kendrick Lamar album even if it means missing out on some great music. Thanks Internet and it's population
Stop talking about things it makes me want to stubbornly resist them as a matter of principle.

ARRRGH to be contrary.
It's hard but someone's got to do it.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

In like a lion

My second week of March was eventful.

1) I moved.

Here's the full scoop.

I have been considering the idea of moving since the beginning of 2015, realising that due to a number of factors I was no longer very happy living in the apartment I'd been in for two years ever since graduating from AMDA.  For a long time it seemed like a mere pipe dream - something that I could achieve, maybe, by the end of the year.  'Moving is expensive, finding a place is hard, I'll never find somewhere for what I'm currently paying ever again' were all factors that deterred me at first.  Nonetheless I continued to feel sure that it was time to make a change so I began apartment hunting.  I saw some places that were so small or in such sucky areas that the prices they were going for were blatant robbery.  $950 for a room in an apartment roughly the size of my current living room? Don't think so.  I began to feel quite discouraged and that I had been dreaming all along.  Then one day a post appeared in the Facebook group from where I began all my searches - Gypsy Housing.  Gypsy Housing is great - it is a group for performers and artists looking for and offering housing in NYC.  It's a good place to search because it is populated by people of mostly a similar age and situation to me.
People offering housing are able to publish to the main news feed of this group pictures and information about their apartment, and interested people then message them to set up a time to see it etc.
So when this post appeared I messaged immediately.  I spoke briefly with the perpetrator of the post, Dan.  We arranged to meet for coffee to discuss the prospect of my moving into the third room in his apartment, about to be vacated by a girl moving in with her significant other.  We met on a Friday, we talked, we found common ground in music, a mutual desire for cleanliness and a nice living space, and some humour.  We arranged for me to go and see the place the next day.
I went.  I saw.  I fell in love.  Dan went through a few more details with me and kindly walked me around the neighbourhood a little to give me an idea of what it had to offer.  After we'd finished the brief tour, he said I would like to offer you this apartment and I leapt up and down internally and said yes please and that was that!
A couple of days later I picked up the keys.
The next Sunday, March 8th, I moved in.  And here I am!

Dan and David are close friends who have been in this apartment around 6 years.  They are creative (musically and filmically) with good day jobs.  They are funny and clever and have been welcoming and kind to me.
The neighbourhood is Crown Heights, and the place is right around the corner from the 3 train.  The apartment has a washing machine and tumble dryer, a dishwasher, granite counters, a living room/kitchen space thrice the size of my old one, two skylights, is in a converted two storey house which means there is only one other apartment in the building, roof access and a back yard.  My room is bigger than my old one...which was already bigger than most people's.  I am paying a bit more than I was.  But I am reaping 20x the benefits.  I am enjoying living on a street of houses not apartment buildings.  Eastern Parkway, the main road of this area, has a tree-lined meridian for easy and safe walking, jogging, cycling etc.
Today I finally had some time to walk around my new 'hood.  Here's what I could now do if I wanted to:
Walk to Prospect Park
Walk to the Botanic Gardens
Walk to the Brooklyn Library
Walk to the zoo
Walk to the Brooklyn Museum
Walk to Brooklyn Flea market
Walk to a myriad of eateries for Caribbean, Mexican, French, Italian, all-American, Japanese et al
Get a nice bagel.  That seems trivial but in beloved Washington Heights there was one place you could get a half decent bagel and the bagel was not the most important thing on their menu.  Now I am three blocks from a designated bagel shop which has a multitude of bagel topping options.  This is important to me, I really like bagels.

These and so many more are some choices I can make for myself now when I have free time.  I mean, I could always make those choices, but it would involve more planning and timing because they would involve long train journeys.

Of course the one downside is the distance that is now between me and all my besties who almost all live upwards of 135th St.  However so far it hasn't made a notable difference in that we are all so busy anyway that even being in close proximity didn't guarantee time spent together.  The only one it does make a difference with is Jacob who I miss.  But we are keeping our friendship strong by texting each other about the important things - Dance Moms, Saturday Night Live.
The distance from Manhattan does not bother me in the slightest.  It's about 40 minutes to midtown so an hour or so to the Upper West Side for babysitting.  This means I am forced to be more organised, more prepared and plan ahead better.  Being in a position where I can't leave things until the last minute is only a good thing.
And, if anyone recalls, I wrote a post a couple of months ago about stress factors and how I use my subway journeys to try and plan things, remember things and list things which was making me slightly bonkers.  Well, having an hour instead of 20 minutes to do nothing but turning out to be a pretty good relaxation tactic.  Even if I do spend 20 minutes frantically jotting notes and answering messages, that still leaves me with 40 to chill.  I'm reading a lot more which fills me with joy.  Think of all the albums I could get on the way out one on the way home every day for two weeks? I could have listened to 28 new albums by the end of the month!
I like having to plan.  And I like that there is no TV for me to get sucked in by.  I like that I don't have so many reasons for procrastinating (not that I won't still, I am only human).  I like that my bedroom faces a row of back yard spaces and a big brick wall, not a very noisy street full of people and vehicles with no regard for what time it is.  I REALLY like my first ever full size bed.
It's only been a week but I have a powerful feeling of contentment.  Long may it last

2) I performed at 54 Below

I don't have any photos from the night yet except the ones of me at the top which my fellow performer Brieghanna kindly took on my phone.

What a night.  It was not my night either it was Sam's, but even so I felt like a star just being there.  54 Below is where Studio 54 used to be (in the basement to be exact, hence the Below).  It is a prestigious cabaret venue where the likes of Patti LuPone perform solo shows.  It's name is ubiquitous in the Broadway scene.  Sam asked me a couple of months ago to tap with him in his own solo cabaret show and of course I jumped at the chance.
We put together a medley of numbers using songs mostly from Gene Kelly/Fred Astaire canon.  For Singin' in the Rain and Moses Supposes we used the original Kelly choreo, as well as for Take Me Out To The Ball Game...and threw in some original Tessa Fairey in the middle of I Got Rhythm to shake things up a little, stylewise (i.e. I interrupted the song to LAY DOWN SOME BEATS).  We had a couple of 'bits' to break up the dancing - and we got laughs! I love what we put together, the audience were surprised by each new thing we did and I'm so very happy with how I performed.  I was incredibly nervous waiting to go on but as soon as I did (by crawling onto the stage on hands and knees and doing a short silly sketch in which I make tap sounds behind Sam's back - the premise being that he didn't know I was there and thought he was making the sounds simply with hand gestures) and people laughed, the performance energy did it's thing and set me on my way.  I came offstage sweaty and exhilarated.
Oh PS Kevin Bacon was in the front row.
Plus a ton of other wonderful people including many friends.  Lauren and Maite came to see me and were the most amazing supporters and advocates.
The post-show drinks across the street were very celebratory even though it meant I got home at 3am after waiting a long time for a train.  And I got to do a girl-tux kinda thing with my outfit.  Which I will be repeating.
My fellow performers - one of whom was Julia Murney, a Drama Desk Award nominee who has been in a billion shows, was one of the first Elphabas in Wicked, originated the role of Queenie in The Wild Party...basically she's a bona fide Broadway star - all brought the house down with their vocal chops (I was the only dancer.  Mmhmm.) and musical director David Caldwell was a total champ.  Fun fact: David was my class accompanist during my second semester at AMDA so I knew him already and he's always been one of my top three favourite accompanists.  And now I can say he played for my 54 Below debut!
Here's to many more.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

I'm on a board!

That's a board
That's my name on the board
That's me with the board that has my name on it