W E L C O M E ! ! !
So brief uh EXPLANATION about the title. Basically. I am a tater tot. You know how some people say that their spirit animal is Honey Badger or, I don't know, a hippogriff? Well mine is a tater tot with little cartoon arms. I'm a chump who likes to laugh at myself and pretend push my friends.
About me: I hail originally from Central Pennsylvania (well, originally, originally from Bolivia, but that's a long story -- basically I was adopted as a young babe), growing up in the Cumberland Valley surrounded by mountains. Who would have thought I'd end up at college in flat Ohio? But don't knock it til you've tried it, you can't overestimate that nice midwestern sensibility.
At Otterbein University, I was blessed to be able to call my class my family. We nicknamed ourselves TwentyAteTeen... because we love to eat.
After three and a half years in our "Quiet, peaceful village," my class moved to New York to pursue internships with New York theaters and casting agencies, as the final part of our degree. For me, New York City and "being on The Broadway" was never my dream, but being here, I love it. So Hollaa!!
Monday, January 15...
I remember the first time I had my epiphany that New York is more than just concrete buildings and people bustling about. It was when I was in New York to see The Public's King Lear with friends, and then I was going to stay on the next day to see Jordan in Phantom while they drove back. And that whole next day when I was alone -- Grace in the City -- sitting in Bryant Park, it hit me that no one CARES what you do. Everyone is just existing in their own bubble, but in a comforting way. Not like snobby no-on-cares, but rather in a you-do-you way. And being here I think that’s what I love. It’s also not that New Yorkers are cold faced and separate from each other; when needed, people will jump up to pry open subway doors that are trapping a child, or catch your eye and laugh when you both notice a tiny kid hailing their victory at having completed a level in Temple Run.
I love being a commuter who reads on the subway, standing up or sitting down. I love having a purpose living here and going places. Once I got my metro card, I felt limitless. “I can go ANYWHERE.” The possibilities were endless.
And then there’s internship. I love working with Michael. The past two weeks I think my most used word when writing about being in New York has been “grateful.” So many times I would walk out of the casting office at the end of the day, or be sitting on the couch with my roommates Daria and Chris, and feel happiness bubbling inside me.
Sunday, January 21...
Yesterday I went to the Women’s Rally with my friend Julianne, and from the first subway stop, waiting for Julianne there was this pouring down the stairs of dozens of women and girls all wearing pink hats, holding signs and talking excitedly. It was beautiful. And it made me so proud to be a woman and to see the support that we have for each other, and that men have for us too – because there were many men and boys too.
We were in a holding pen for hours before we were allowed to march, and there were these people around us who became our friends. Ladies who looked out for short Julianne and me and kept us together. Little brothers who marched for their sister and a sister whose voice rang out high and excited “Let us march!” perched as she was on her mother’s shoulders. We made way for a UPS guy who had to make a delivery. We talked about the past marches, we played telephone for others “Annabelle says the gates are opening! (Who’s Annabelle?)” I almost got elbowed by this tall slighty whiny boy at the Women’s March. Julianne looked squished. I used my relevé fuh days. And people held you up when you couldn’t stand cos you lost your balance cos people were pushing through. It was beautiful – and strangely maybe my favorite part.
That is besides yelling My body my choice. And the cheering that surfed the crowd like an audience’s laugh. And Yelling Shame at the Trump Tower. United all of us.
Loving working in the office! But I was working with some scores, and WHY would you make a musical of The Yearling?! A) It’s the saddest story you will ever read (Jody loves Flag who Fodderwing names – yes that same Fodderwing who dies – and then Flag grows up and Jody has to shoot him, and Jody’s estranged from his mother and loves his father but then grows up and runs away and realizes what hunger is and poverty and returns home.) B) A deer onstage?
On internship, it's crazy the amount you learn being in the room for auditions and callbacks, and even just by perusing dozens of headshots and resumes. There's etiquette, but also so many moments of "well I'd hire you on the spot," and conversely "Why would you dooo that??" Just... first make sure you have SOME form of contact information on your resume, and second, have the same name on your headshot as you do on your resume.
Things I have accomplished since moving here:
- setting off the fire alarm (there was no smoke from that grilled cheese. I SWEAR. Fortunately it was only in our apartment, and even more fortunately, Daria and I were able to do the tried and true method of waving towels by the alarm and it stopped. But I don’t know if I’ll ever get the cool-voiced lady’s voice saying “Fie-yer. Fie-yer. Fie-yer.” out of my head.)
- Washing my hair in a pot on the floor because our hot water was out.
- GETTING MY LIBRARY CARD. Which is last because I do think owning a library card is one of the most important steps to belonging to a place.
Wednesday, February 14...
I just want to take a moment for alumni appreciation. You cannot overestimate the power of having a huge network of support here in the city. We had a showcase rehearsal the other day -- and it was so glorious to be able to see my whole class, and to be PERFORMING TOGETHER again. (I love those people, they are such a supportive family that I am blessed to be a part of.) The day after that, we performed for a panel of alumni, receiving feedback following, and then just advice. On the subject of showcase, the emphasis from the alumni was to celebrate the day as our day. Not because it's make or break, but because we have earned it over the past four years.
Courtesy of our alumni, I was able to get (a. free tickets for me and my friend Katie to see Come From Away and) b. free tickets for me and my friend JT to see Relevance with the GODDESS Jayne Houdyshell (aka my hero from The Humans. The woman I would follow anywhere.) Alumna Molly Camp was incredible as the moderator and Jayne was everything I could have asked for. And the show itself. Was beyond words. It’s about two generations of feminists and was so REAL. I can’t describe it. Also the nature of the show was that we the audience were the panel audience. There were moments of horror and bombshells dropped and it was so relevant. It’s something all should see. And I was fortunate enough to see it in previews when they were still getting rewrites. So before it started the announcer said hey, they might call for line, or hold scripts. But no one held scripts, and it became so much more real because there were times when you could watch them reaching for words. But you didn’t know what the actor, or the character was going to say. It was understanding both sides and feeling compassion even when someone says something touchy or uncomfortable. Seeing the reasoning and justification. Maybe not agreeing, but seeing.
Following the show, me and JT couldn't stop talking about it, because it brought up so many issues that we have to tackle when talking about the generational gap on issues of race, and equality, and gender and... I love shows that make you think.
So thanks, alumni! It's incredible to have such a strong support system out there. You're the best(:
Friday, February 23
The Met: Ok I love a good museum. (And let me tell you, Hallelujah HANDEL, cos when I was a tiny child, all I wanted was to sit down cos my feet hurt). But, I went to the Met and it was hard to immerse myself at first. I kept comparing it to the Victoria & Albert, which I went to last summer in London, and which was just so wonderful. At the V&A there was this paneled room where you stood and felt like you were inside of history, a time long gone, but hand painted with beauty by dedication. A time when the arts were held high. I wanted to find the magic of that paneled room. But it wasn’t quite there. ALSO, gotta say, the Met wasn’t super friendly with the maps, so it was hard to actually find things). I like the immersive rooms where you can imagine you’re there, and the… history is so much more present in Europe. It’s at your fingertips and in the rivers. On the stones you walk on. Here it’s distant. In part what widens that distance is the obsession with taking photos. You can’t really capture being there. There are grand beautiful pieces that speak to you and you want to remember even only by a picture for yourself, but all too often what I felt happening – especially with the Michelangelo exhibit, was the fetishizing of things. Taking pictures of each sketch, knowing that it would be held in your phone storage until you deleted it, making proof of the lives you lead. And in saying this I feel myself a part of it too. But.. it’s hard because unless you have a personal connection to something, or you can See, there is no reason why one thing should be lauded over another. In the exhibit, I wanted to see the great works of art, the sketches were interesting from an artists point of view, and when this visitor was talking to his friends about the Michelangelo and the eyes and the young man and ___, but when it wasn’t that, I didn’t care. I knew I “should,” but what is “should.”
The reason I liked the Madonna on the Rocks was because of theatre history. The reason I liked Vermeer was the colors and the details and the story and the mirror. The piece of art most recently that I’ve felt the greatest connection to was the piece that looked like a relief stone carving, but was really only a flat surface. Because of the skill, the detail, the wonder at what humans can achieve.
At the Met I loved the Roman/pre-Roman carvings of patterns that could be seen in my main lesson book borders at the Waldorf School (an artsy school I went to -- we made our own textbooks). I loved the Celtic designs on brooches. I loved the arms and armor section. It drew me back to my childhood and the arms and armor books and Will, and drawing knights on horseback. I miss drawing those things. I love reading about the purpose of the objects in museums; the historical basis/elements. Because of the stories they tell. This was from the Dark Ages, parchment made from ___, this was for the Czar’s guard during this time period, stirrups made so because they… (All of this also makes me think of The Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. Spending the night in a museum, anyone?)
Friday, March 9...
Internship: Working for Michael, I am continuously learning: from working with headshots and resumes and seeing the do's and don'ts (...and just INTERESTING things people choose to put in special skills), to the masterclasses that being in the audition room are. Learning firsthand the etiquette for the room, as well as how many things go into casting. So many things go into it that are BEYOND beyond control of the actor, and it's fascinating to compare and see how my vision compares to what the director/team is looking for.
I also want to emphasize how awesome the people who are in my office are. Michael is wonderful as a boss, (even if he always has another stack of headshots to be filed after I think I got the last one.) Stephanie Cowan, his casting associate is a sunny star -- if that's possible -- and I am so grateful to also have her to work with. And Alan Filderman who shares the office space? Alan is great. But, true confessions, the first time I got coffee for him, it was so nerve wracking. You know how in comedies the intern or assistant is told "Get paper towels, 2% milk, and chocolate cake mix." And they go to the store determined to get it right? Cue the following: "Paper towels, 2% milk, chocolate cake mix. Paper towels, 2% cake mix, chocolate milk. Or was it paper cakes?" That's how I felt. I was certain that, oh, typical intern, I'm going to get it wrong. Or if I got it right, it would spill. But, dear friends, by some miracle... the coffee run was a success!
Odds and ends of the office? Making BOXES, feeling legit with my handcart, seeing this building grow before my eyes.
Saturday, March 31...
Showcase: Showcase was FUN. And that's what I keep coming back to. There is this day that you've been working for and had on the horizon since before you were even a freshman. There is this promise and expectation of "showcase." I remember actually being a freshman and saying goodbye to the seniors in the fall, and then in the spring being conscious of the fact that "this is their showcase day!" You hear about it, like you hear about New York. And you paint these pictures in your mind about what it will be like. Before it happened, I was so nervous that I would BE so nervous for the day. I know myself. But all in all when that day came it was just fun. Fun to be able to see my class, and fun to be able to catch up and rely on each other to boost one another up and joke. I feel older here in New York. I think a lot of it comes in just getting out of Otterbein and "being an adult." (Whatever that means. Do adults eat Kraft Mac N. Cheese out of the pot?). But regardless, the day of showcase came and I was my whole self. I know myself so much more than I used to, and I am comfortable with who I am (give or take some awkward days when I'm like... Grace you're such a chump). That day my focus was to do good work. And I did. We, the Class of TwentyAteteen, said “We are here.” And I am so proud of us for that.
Since then I have walked through parks, watched many a horror movie with my friends JT and Ben -- and enjoyed the thrill of scaring ourselves/each other haha -- drunk milkshakes, seen shows... And, clearly most importantly, done an (almost) 12 hour Lord of the Rings marathon with friends. Gurl, you want to know something I’m a nerd about? Lord of the Rings. And yeah, of COURSE I cry every time Pippin sings his song and you betcha bub every time Sam is inspiring. Because no one, and I mean NO ONE, deserves the friend that Samwise Gamgee (son of Hamfast – I played Lord of the Rings cards and read the books. Don’t judge!) is. And can we just talk about what a heartthrob Aragorn is? Umm… HELLO!
But in undertaking this momentous (yet always so needed) marathon, and with graduation approaching, I started getting sentimental when writing the final paper for Otterbein. It’s always that bittersweet feeling of goodbyes at the end of a movie or piece of literature. How does one go back to the way things were when you know that so much has changed? And these people, they are the ones who saw you at your lowest and highest throughout it. My class, my beautiful class, we held each other up during Sophomore year when it felt like the world and ourselves were against us. We came out strong and fighting. From an epic 5 hour Freshman Acting final with our professor Lenny Leibowitz, to the showing of our Senior Launch (a best of/dream role type of cabaret for the school and community), to taking our final bow at Showcase… We have loved, hated, laughed, and cried together. These people are a family. And it is the breaking of that family in a way. We’ll always be connected, but who knows if we’ll all meet again and stand in one room as a class again? And yet, as Bilbo sings, the road goes ever ever on… and another adventure awaits. The final pages are only the final pages of one story. After the book shuts, stories go on.
Thursday, April 5
These Boots Are Made For Walkin': It was a gorgeous day, and I decided I wanted to walk from 180th to 42nd. It was an idea that I'd been playing with for a while, just to see if I could. Plugging it in to Google Maps when it was still an idea, it only registered as 2.5 hours. And when I was in London last summer visiting friends we walked the same time from the Tower of London back to their house... So why not?
Well let me tell you, aside from my feet being sore the next day, it was so worth it! Walking through the different neighborhoods I loved being able to see how each one had its own voice. I also made it a point to go through all the green space I could. Highbridge Park (where the sun came flooding from behind a cloud and lit up all these different colored red yellow blue buildings), to Jackie Robinson Park, to St. Nicholas Park, then Morningside Park, and on to Central Park. What was funny is that Central Park North is so different from Central Park West -- where I've been before -- and the Park itself is so huge, that after walking for a while (and then seeing the Reservoir) I started thinking that maybe, MAYBE there are two parks? Like, Central Park North here, and then some city blocks, and Central Park West (aka the regular one with boats and all) farther down?
But lo and behold, I kept on walking and exploring -- and oh my GOD taking in the sun and blue skies and people playing sports and enjoying the sun ... but not too many people which was nice -- and there came the Delacorte, and farther on the bridge that I'd paddled under with friends one summer day a number of years ago, and then the benches and paths of the part of the park I was familiar with.
I knew Central Park was big, but it was bigger than I knew! It's crazy how much can fit in what seems like a big, but not too big, area. Woof, how many times can I say "big"? I think it's the buildings being so tall. From the reservoir you can see the buildings that rim the southern side of the park, and you think wow, I must be getting close to the end. But listen, you're not.
After much meandering throughout the park I made my way out of it, and on to Times Square. And I mean 42nd St. I stopped in the Hershey store like you do (cos let me tell you, I wanted some free chocolate, and they give you a piece as you enter) and wandered down to where I work on 39th St. By that point the tall buildings had eaten up the sun, so I hopped on the 1 train, and headed back to my apartment! All in all a great adventure(:
Saturday, April 14...
This Summer! Following graduation I will be going back to my home town in Central Pennsylvania for a little, then traveling to North Carolina to begin my job as a Senior Counselor at Camp Celo, near Asheville, NC. Camp Celo is... a magical place. I went there when I was in 6th grade and it's stuck with me ever since. I can remember walking the sheep, Zuzu, writing letters to my parents, daydreaming of the taste of an apple during the four-day hike. Hiking through the waving grass on the top of a North Carolina bald, looking out and seeing the mountains before us and thinking that nothing could be as beautiful as this. Writing our hopes and dreams in the Appalachian Trail log at the Big Red Barn. Playing basketball and relishing in the freedom of acceptance that resided there. The number of stars that spanned the sky. Listening to our counselor read The Pushcart Wars...
I want to go out and explore the world. And see how it will play on me, and what I can do for it. That’s where I am at. I want to continue discovering who I am, and what the world is. To learn the stories and cultures of others. When I was in London last summer I went to the National Portrait Gallery, and two things hit me: 1. It was arranged by time period in different rooms (so these people for the Elizabethan era these people for the English Civil War, etc.) and having it be by room and reading the little card about each person it blew my mind about how it is these peoples’ stories that entwine together to create history, in the end it’s ALL about our stories and how they touch the threads of others 2. How following the break of America from Britain, I barely knew any names. Because in class, our focus is on America.
And here, history is obviously taught a certain way, but I would love to go to a different country and sit in on a history class there. In a South American country, and even more so, for Asian history which we learn next to nothing about unless in college or higher education, you specifically seek out that type of class. I was talking to my brother and his girlfriend about how people tend to think that the Asian countries were primitive or something, when the fact is, they were far beyond where Europe was during the Dark Ages. We just never learn about it. And so yes, I want to learn different but no less true history. To understand other people, and myself more.
Tuesday, April 17...
This morning I got a call that I had been accepted as an intern at SPACE on Ryder Farm. Y’all… this was the place that I geeked OUT about when I first heard about it. Which, if you, dear reader, didn’t know, was at the A.R.T. Internship Fair.
Like with most things in New York, I didn’t know what to expect of the Fair itself: who would be there, would there be places that really piqued my interest, places that I as a college grad would be eligible for? Yes. And one of them was SPACE.
Reading about it in the booklet they give you describing each internship, my heart started beating faster – and no, I’m not exaggerating. This was what I’d been looking for. As spring started coming, or at least as summer started waving in the distance, I could feel the push/pull to get out. To go and do and see and learn. Watching my friends start getting in the “audition life” groove, I could tell that it wasn’t for me… not yet. I wanted to go and travel. One of the lines in one of my favorite scripts, My Name Is Rachel Corrie, that has always stuck with me and become a motto of sorts is: “I want to write and I want to see. And what would I write about if I only stayed within the doll’s house, the flower-world I grew up in?”
I want to learn more about the world and the people in it. To go out and share stories and connect with people and learn new things. Maybe I have a secret passion for beekeeping or glassblowing or __. And so in addition to applying for theatre internships and jobs for the summer, I started to fill out forms for a farm internship, a Youth Hostel job, I opened hundreds of pages for volunteer abroad, and Habitat for Humanity, and teaching English. I wanted to see, and most especially, be outside this summer.
Learning about SPACE – a farm where artists (writers, directors, choreographers, musicians, playwrights, etc.) go for 1 to 5 week residencies, it sounded like a dream come true. As an intern, you have a rotating focus of culinary, administrative, working in the garden… and then for every meal, all gather to eat the farm fresh meals together. People have talked about the healing power of Nature, and I know how it brings such freedom to people, myself included. There is a calming, centering nature about it that feeds creativity. Talking about it at the Fair with Maggie Raymond, the Company Manager of SPACE, I wanted to geek out and roll around on the floor (I know I’m weird. But guys, listen, this was my *dream*).
Anyway, I got Celo for this summer, and thought that would be it for SPACE because of time commitments and the like... but I’ll be going there this fall, the end of September to mid November. And I could not be happier! I want to grow as a human, because in the end, in life and on stage, all we have is our selves. One of my favorite childhood authors, Brian Jacques, did it all: he was a sailor, a milkman, lived through the war, was a radio host, had a band... and I think that’s why his writing – his art – was so powerful. As one of my professors would say, everything is juice.