Accomplishment: My first New York Stage Play.
I set many goals in moving here. I didn’t want to move to a new place and fall into doing the same things I did back in GA. In moments of trying to elevate yourself, you have to take the opportunities as they come. One opportunity I had my eyes on was hitting the stage in the NYC theater scene. To conquer a stage in the city known for performing arts, Broadway, and theater galore, I needed to challenge myself in this arena to see if I had the chops to do the work and execute successfully.
Submission after submission, audition after audition; I landed a role in the stage play Precious Metals: Beauty in Brokenness. This play centers on women and their stories of overcoming hardships, addiction, and finding the beauty within. All the while creating a sisterhood of support showing that no matter what we go through in life, there’s always someone out there who can relate, understand, and help you heal. The play was written by C.E. Harrison and directed by Tabitha Matthews. The play did its run for the NY Summer Theater Festival at the Hudson Guild Theater.
In the beginning, I almost didn’t make it in the cast. Life happened, dealing with my obstacles of the constant adjustment to New York as well as other areas that weren’t going right. I felt down and defeated. But luckily when God has a plan for you, there’s no way to venture away from that plan and purpose. I thought I’d missed the audition deadline and one day an email came in saying that I was able to still submit my video. I took that second chance and worked tirelessly to create the best audition tape to submit. Hours of setting up the camera phone, doing different takes, and trying to remember what I need to say.
After packaging up the finished product, I submitted and let it be. That’s one thing I’ve learned in the audition process. Once it’s done, you have to let it go and let it be.
About a week or so later, I receive the news that I was cast as the character Winsome in the play. Winsome is a young woman, feeling abandoned and abused by her mother Loretta. But after growing and learning, she realized that she missed out on so much love, fun, and the beauty of life with her mother who died at a very young age.
Working full-time, finishing a book, studying lines, rehearsing the lines can be a lot! But I felt that as long as I stayed committed to the process, it would pay off. I needed this exposure to the NYC market. Being that this was something I’ve always wanted to break into, I couldn’t let myself or anybody involved with the production down. Throughout rehearsing, I was able to challenge myself with learning various monologues while placing different emotions, pulling from other emotions, and taking lessons I’ve learned from different acting classes. It was a great process as my cast mates and team were very supportive and fun to “play” with. I was able to build relationships that I feel will last a very long time. Along with building my acting brand with this new credit and the overall acting experience which can/will take me to higher levels.
With three shows, I was very nervous about how this was going to play out. Will people understand my character? Will they even like me? Will I remember my lines? EVERYTHING was racing through my mind. For opening night, the crowd really came out to support the show which added to the nerves, along with judges from the festival. There was a time when I had a mini-meltdown backstage as I was the last one to come out. The wait got to me, stepping into the unknown. However, once I stepped out on stage, feeling the energy I knew I was READY! My preparation paid off! After the show, I received so many compliments from strangers giving me kudos on my performance. This was really helpful as my family and friends weren’t able to be there that night. Second show was a breeze, I was able to just let go and have fun. The crowd loved it and it set us up for closing show. For the closing show, I had friends from GA and my NYC friends in the crowd. This was their first time seeing me in this element and I wanted them to be proud of me.
Afterwards, I felt such a relief however it was bittersweet because the journey was complete. We ended on a high note, and I was able to share it with my loved ones.
Being part of Precious Metals only amped me up to do more. Although I’ll miss the dynamics of my first NYC stage fam, I’ll always take the lessons and the joy with me. Now I KNOW I was born to do this. I can officially change the title from “Aspiring Actress” to “Actress”.
Boat Watching and Beautiful Sunsets.
Upon my many ventures I stumbled upon a new hobby. Now I’ve always LOVED bodies of water. But growing up in the heart of GA, my options were limited. I thought I’d only have a chance to gain the peace and serenity the waves could bring by only taking a vacation. Of course there are lakes and rivers but I couldn’t stay long because bugs usually saw me as their latest meal. Also, the good lakes were always so far away from me.
As always, NYC never disappoints. Whether I’m uptown or downtown, I get a chance to view the beautiful Hudson River. And across from it, the state of New Jersey. What first started as a walk on the pier with a friend, turned into a constant activity that gave me peace, serenity, and inspiration.
I’m always looking for ways for this city to just calm down in my mind. New York is ALWAYS busy. Sidewalks filled with fast walkers getting to where they need to go. Subway riders are constantly on the move with an “every man for himself” mentality. Not giving much time to take in a new experience because “MOVE! GET ON THE TRAIN!” The Hudson River is very different.
Whether hanging out, having a picnic at Riverbank State Park or taking a walk along Pier 46, the Hudson gives off good vibes and a place of refuge from the city that never sleeps.
One activity that I love while being a voyeur on the river is boat watching. For some reason watching these machines sail along the river places me in a mood that allows me to meditate, think, and get inspired. I love to develop stories for these mini ships as they make their way to Jersey or along the lines of the Hudson River Ride!
Just try it out! You can’t go wrong with spending an afternoon to evening witnessing the sun set and the clouds paint a beautiful picture of colors that you’ll only get to see with your naked eye once. A new visit, means a new canvas. Take in the moment and just BREATHE!
It wasn’t planned but, here we go…
I was on the hunt. The AMAZING APARTMENT HUNT IN NYC. I’ll have to tell you about that one later. But once I found my personal space…I had to wait. Wait to move in that is. So where was I going to go? I was tired of being in someone’s place as I’m 32, I need to be an adult….sometimes. The good thing about New York being a major city, MANY HOTELS. The bad thing about New York being a major city, MANY HOTELS. I had to narrow down where I was going to lay my head for a good price.
With the help of a few sites, Kayak.com, Expedia, and HotelTonight, I was able to go on an unplanned expedition. A hotel tour.
Now why didn’t I just book a hotel or an Airbnb for two weeks and stay put? Great question. The answer, I didn’t know the actual move-in date. Yea, another “Welcome to New York”. Days of emails, phones calls, emails phone calls, and waiting for returned emails put a sister in one hell of a position. A position of the “unknown”. Glad that I’d eventually have a roof over my head, but anxious about when and how much it’ll cost me in the meantime.
First up on the list, The Franklin Hotel. An Upper Eastside boutique hotel, located in a nice area with shopping, cafes, and nice bistros to pop in for a good lunch. The staff was amazing and helpful. Took my bags up to the room, very friendly, and explained all the perks that came along with my stay. One of my favs, along with the free breakfast, free wine and cheese EVERY night from 5-6:30pm. Rushing home after work, I was treated to a relaxing hour of my choice or red/white wine and assorted cheeses to get me in the mood for writing (the Heartbreak Diaries). Now let’s talk about the room. Fit for a pleasant staycation, my room was a resort of its own. Decorated with vintage style furniture and artwork, I was treated to a view of museums every morning when I woke up. I even had a nice chandelier in my room! A few days there was just what I needed to face the continuous unknown “joys” of the apartment stuff.
Upon finding out “No you’re not moving in just yet”. I was on the hunt for another place as extending my time at The Franklin would extend my pockets that I just couldn’t do. Checking out of the Franklin, I found a reasonably priced room at the Days Inn on 96th street to spend the next few days. The staff was VERY helpful and pleasant. Location was GREAT as it had eateries in walking distance and the subway a few blocks over. However, the room…..ehhhh….not my fav. So I’ll just leave it at that.
Then, I was off to Hampton Inn-Times Square North. It was the weekend and I wanted to spend it locked in a nice room, writing! This spacious luxury was close to EVERYTHING I needed! I had TWO queen beds all to myself, big bathroom and the perks of a hot meal in the morning complimentary of the hotel of course. They also provided coffee/tea 24 hours. I was spending my weekend in Times Square! Taking a break from writing, I ventured out to check out the scene. Seeing the beauty of Times Square put me back into the mind frame of why I came to NYC in the first place. I needed that reminder, especially with all the trouble I was going through. Spent some time at a cool bar, The Three Monkeys - American Bar, trying out new beer and eating garlic fries for the first time, I was well on my way to rejuvenation. The next morning, I set my alarm clock, so I wouldn’t miss breakfast and got some much-needed rest in my comfy bed.
Sunday was check-out, and NO you’re not ready just yet to move in. May Monday. Back to my trusty app, I found a gem! $88 a night for another luxury pleasure at the Hilton Garden Inn Times Square (8th Ave). Pleasant staff, another hot meal in the books for breakfast and 24hour coffee and tea just for me! This room was a glorious splendor as once again I had two queen beds to choose from in a big space, my room was located in the perfect position. The sunlight light up the room as it was the BEST place to write, catch up on the Housewives and prepare for the upcoming week. Had to snap a few mirror selfies in the bathroom as the mirror was lit like a celebrity’s dressing area creating the perfect glow. I did NOT want to leave but “maybe Monday” was waiting for me. Right? WRONG!
Next up on the tour, Wyndham New Yorker Hotel. Nice place, very big, the room was vintage decorum but….the Hilton Garden Inn spoiled me. It didn’t do it for me. I don’t know what it was but….It just wasn’t it. It could have been the stress from the non-move in. However, they did have a nice restaurant, Trattoria Bianca, inside where I enjoyed a tasty rum and coke at the bar. Spending my time there watching the Bulls play, I met a foreign businessman who bought me a glass of wine. A few sentences later, I received an invitation to his room. Are you serious?!?! I’m dealing with some real life ish and you think I’m going to come up to your room!?? Nah bruh I gotta go! Thanks for the wine sir. **rolls eyes**
Another swipe on HotelTonight App and I found a good price at St. Giles-The Court. Which should be called St NIGHTMARE! The staff was lovely as I checked, I found a great room adorned with unique décor, big bed, spacious bathroom, and a secret area in the room draped with wine glasses. Dainty right? It also had a comfy chaise style chair right in front of the TV where I spent most of my evening. When it was time to lay down, the nightmare began. I woke up to itchy skin, and numerous bites on my body. Oh hell no! This can’t be what I think it is. Running late for work, I flipped up sheets and then my pillows only to discover a critter chillin on the cool side of the pillow. To my surprise, the dahlia didn’t sleep alone! Uninvited guests who did NOT chip in on the room stayed with me, feasting on my sensitive skin. Rushing to work swelling up, I sent a lengthy email along with pictures to the hotel, along with the Better Business Bureau. I’m not finished with them!
More emails, calls, and another email. Oh girl you’re still on tour. Greeeeaaaat! To the rescue, courtesy of unlocking a new level on HotelTonight, the next tour stop was Hampton Inn Madison Square. After walking over an hour to find the place, THANKS Googlemaps, I settled in a nice room, coffee and tea available, multiple channels on the TV, and some writing time. I was able to get A LOT of work done here but apprehensive to lay down, due to my previous scare at St. Giles. I enjoyed my two-day stay as I ran late because of the tasty breakfast served each morning. And they didn’t give the same treats every day! Gotta love variety!
Glady, Hampton Inn Madison Square was the final leg on my Hotel Tour. I was able to move into my apartment and enjoy settling MY OWN ISH! Now I didn’t leave each tour stop without special gifts. I’m an avid collector of bath soap, shampoo, conditioner, lotion, face soap, and whatever they had laid out for me. I even came across a “vanity kit”. Which included q-tips and a cotton ball. Nice!
Although I had an allergic reaction due to St. Giles’ staff negligence I learned to enjoy my hotel tour and found a great app for traveling. I guess this journey was meant to be in my NYC Living. Wonder what the next journey will entail.
Stay tuned…And don’t forget to download the app, HotelTonight K?
Just give me a minute outside of this “New York Minute”!
The city moves way too fast. People are speed walking, cars going, trains moving (unless you’re late for work, then there’s a delay ugh). But all in all, you need a minute. Everything that should be a simple process causes hours/days/weeks/months of complication if you let it. Learning to adjust to it can be overwhelming but the beauty of the city makes it all worth it. While working out the kinks of getting used to NYC, it treats you to places and spaces to catch a breather. You must look for it or in my case, randomly run into it when life is keeping me on the go.
Why It’s Important to Take That Time?
You can’t allow the makings of a place defeat you. One would think that figuring out the train system is the key to the city. That’s only a portion. Simple gatherings of getting an apartment, getting a job, learning the areas, and even the makings of the people. All the while pursuing your dreams and keeping yourself above water so you’re not on the first flight home. For me, it seems as if every time I was stable in my adulting and I was on my way to get entrepreneurship endeavors together, something out of nowhere went wrong! Now I must take my focus off my dreams to fix something that should have stayed in an established state. That can be VERY overwhelming. So what can I do? Take a break. Through this city, I’ve not only found “Museums” but place of refuge to BREATHE. During these moments, I’m reminded of why I came here in the first place and the thoughts of running back to GA for good simple fade away.
Places like Central Park, walking down 125th seeing the booming businesses murals and the makings of Harlem. And even the building structures downtown can bring you right back to the spirit of the city! When I walk through the city without thinking of the pushy people, horns of impatient drivers, or the complicated measures for the most simplistic things, I say to myself "Now I remember why I came! THIS is what I live for!"
What to Focus on?
During these meditation moments, I think about what's going right instead of what's going wrong. Focusing on the blessings is a way to get back centered and not allowing a bad day or few minutes control me. Remember it's not a bad life, just a bad day. This also helps in regaining focus on the work I need to do. While my mind is in overdrive, I can't seem to remember everything on my "to do" list.
Take that time. You deserve it. Taking care of your mental health is essential in conquering the concrete jungle. You’re a survivor and you can make it. Just take a minute!
Where do you go to "check out" when you're overwhelmed?
Oh so we’re just gonna act like that didn’t happen!?!
Venturing throughout this city, I have found the most unusual quirks, people, settings, and daily routines. I guess these factors are what makes New York...New York. One common denominator is, people just accept it "as is”. No major complaints or that brave soul to stand up and say "Hey, that's weird. Stop it!" New Yorkers go on about their day as if they'd be lost if these occurrences didn’t happen.
I've talked about subway rides before. (Check out “Welcome to New York: The Subway Story”). People getting up speaking their truth, pleading a case for money (which happens everywhere). Within the station, you have your indie and starving artists entertaining the masses with drums, guitars, and a mic stand hoping to get discovered or at least a few dollars to last them for the week. I respect the hustle!
But you haven’t experience a TRUE subway ride unless you’ve seen a full on magic show. Yep, colorful scarves, card tricks, and even a rabbit out of the box. Now how do you hide a rabbit and make it just "appear" on a train!? And it’s the SAME magician hops from car to car putting on his show. Now I love the entertainment but no one thinks that’s a bit…different. And there is no, hey cut the music down or I’m not in the mood for a magic show today….hard day at work. Whatever the space or the crowd’s mood, the show goes on!
Let’s not forget about the dance crews hopping on a semi-crowded car. Looking normal as ever. Just a couple of guys going on about their day on public transportation. Until… You hear a request for riders to clear a path in the middle so they can successfully do their routine. That is when you know, a show is about to begin. Flips on the poles (not in a stripperish way), body contortions, break dancing, and GOD knows what else.
Then there’s the unorganized randoms. The flashy man blasting this reggae song on a portable radio and keeping it on repeat. Is this his music?! Promoting that mixtape “coming soon” bruh? At least skip to the next track. And I’ll never forget that GOD forsaking chorus line, nor the seated dance moves accompanied with it.
And just when you think you’re going to have a normal ride home, a man standing by the door in head phones carries out his “dance dance revolution” routine. Nobody bothers him, nobody cares. It’s just a normal day on the subway.
No one put these performers on a schedule. No one asked for it. But one thing I know for sure, when the entertainment is done, be prepared to dig for dollars or change to support the arts.
Now let’s step off the train. Police officers in full gear with rifles. RIFLES!?!? What happened? Oh nothing they are just set on ready just in case something major happens. And with NYC being a target for terrorist attacks, I’m actually glad for that anomalous.
All the while, I look around and it’s normal. Not a lot of people recording on their camera phone as if it's a wondrous sight, no one complains, no one cares. Just keeping it moving as if this is a normal day. That's just the way it is.
Welcome to my new normal...Gotta LOVE New York!
E. Alexcina Brown
I just like to write and create stuff. These are the diaries of how I'm living in NYC with sprinkles of life lessons I've learned along the way!