Jun 7, 2011

My New York Diaries -Part 4

*All names are changed

Over the next little while, I'll be writing my story of when I was living in NYC studying acting. There's a lot to my story and for many years it's been so private and special it was hard to even talk about. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times :) If you're just tuning in, I suggest you start at Part I for it to make sense. I promise it's a juicy read. These entries often include actual journal entries from that time in my life. I'm so grateful I documented so much! Once I finish here, I hope to expand into a book. Thanks for reading & supporting!

A picture of my first bedroom in my first NYC apartment, in the Bronx.

I had an air mattress to sleep on. I planned to buy a bed or futon of course, but I was so busy with everything else that believe it or not I hardly thought about it. In fact, I would sleep on this (soon deflated) air mattress for 9 months. It was basically like sleeping on the hardwood floor with little padding. How I lasted in those conditions that long I'll never know.

There were now a few other people I had met that I need to introduce you to.

*Brayden. He was in class with me and he was sweet, laid back and just plain cool. He always seemed confident, worldly and in control. He was a couple of years older and in a way he took me under his wing. He was very supportive and looked out for me. Giving me tips and telling me stories about the city, auditioning in NYC, etc. He was open minded and accepting. The type of guy who could get along with anyone. He made me feel welcomed and accepted and I was so grateful for his friendship. I'll never forget his kindness.

*Oscar. Oscar was originally from California but had been in NYC for awhile already. He was perhaps un unlikely friend for me to meet but would become a very important part of my journey as well. In fact, I'm not sure how we met or when we became so close. We didn't even have any classes together at first. And he was shy until you got to know him. I do know that we bonded over being the "Atlantic Babies". He was the same age of me and we both felt out of place at times being some of the few that were still not only under age, but teenagers. Our birthdays were actually just a couple of days apart.

*Mark. Mark was in class with me. He was 7 or 8 years older than me and I thought he was kind of cute.

More on all of the above later.

Now back to school. School was strict. In The Lounge was a huge white dry erase board where the schedule would be for each day. You'd find out what room your class was in and you'd better do it early. Each class technically started 15 minutes earlier than the given time. This was to ingrain in us the rule of being 15 minutes early to auditions and rehearsals in our professional career. Atlantic also believes and teaches that your professional career starts on your first day of school there. You are not allowed to audition outside of school your first year, so that you have the proper time to get out of old bad acting habits and begin to learn your new training. Sometimes class could be held in the actual Atlantic Theater, so there were times you'd have to book it a block or two to be on time. If you overlooked something and missed a class or were tardy, consequences were not kind. The door to any given class was locked at the 15 minute mark. You were not allowed and if this happened three times you'd be kicked out of the class. There were only a few times you could be absent, so it was wise to check the board, double check, and check again.

In my previous post I talked about not knowing how students were able to juggle jobs with the heavy school load. I never had to like some of them, I was very lucky. But I did work at the front desk of the Atlantic school in order to take money off of tuition. I answered the phones, transferred calls (sometimes unsuccessfully) and booked studio space when students needed to rehearse. Also in the office were ATC grads who worked there part time while out in NYC auditioning. I thought they were the coolest. Especially two of them who were particularly nice to me. They were best friends, *Lisa and *Tony.

I was still hanging out with Martha but she started doing something that would turn out to be the beginning of the end of our friendship. She was constantly pointing out my age in a negative way. Always reminding me that I was only a teenager and saying, without directly saying, that I didn't know anything and she did because she was older. She also thought Mark was cute. Great. But beggars can't be choosers and I still didn't know many people. So she remained my friend and roommate.

One night a group of us went out. A mix from various classes. I found myself sitting at a booth with a girl from another class, *Jenny. I loved her instantly. She was fun, bubbly, nice and we clicked right away. She would become, and remain to this day, a friend and huge part of my life. It was like a breath of fresh air to find a girl friend like this. I couldn't wait to get to know her better.

It turned out that living in NYC I could get away with something I wouldn't have been able to back home. Being served alcohol. I was rarely carded which meant I could drink. I was no longer living with parents, I was on my own with adults who did what they wanted (and had more experience with drinking than me) and let me tell you, I lived it up. In those early NYC years, I learned all about cocktails and going to bars and having a different kind of social life than I'd ever known or expected. I felt like the city was so full of opportunities, fun, things to do, places to go. I wanted to experience absolutely everything. Somewhere along the way I was introduced to whiskey sours, midori sours, and amaretto sours. Tasty, tasty sours. Problem is, the midori and ammarettos taste like candy and it was easy to drink up to six of them on a night out. Which happened frequently back then. This also meant that this would be the first time (and hopefully only, knock on wood) in my life I'd gain weight. Boozing like that with late night food to follow is a recipe for disaster.

We were also preparing for our first performances on the ATC stage. I was prepping two scenes, opposite two other women. One was a comedy and the other a drama.

I was learning all sorts of acting exercises that were taking me out of my comfort zone as well as opening my mind. A whole new world was being opened for me. I was learning about physicality in our movement class, my voice and sound in our voice and speech classes and how to start seeing and identifying what was going on in another person with our repetition class and allowing myself to be vulnerable enough so that they could do the same. Over the two years there, it was often emotional. For everyone. I never knew it would be like this. We deconstructed everything in order to rebuild with new knowledge. From my movement teacher pointing out that my hips were tilted, a little uneven, to walking across the room one at a time with all eyes watching in order to see if we were physically doing anything that needed to be brought to our attention in order to get to a neutral place. I never thought of myself as shy. In fact, I was quite confident. But I'll never forget how hard it was to walk across the room back then and just be. Then wait to hear what everyone else was going to say from their observation of you.

One night, a guy in our class threw a party. I was stoked. I remember it was an awesome apartment and he took a liquor from his freezer that had gold flakes in it. It was the first time I'd ever seen Goldschlager. What?! What a world I'd stumbled into!

This was the night I began to flirt a little with Mark. But you know what? I never truly liked Mark as more than just a friend. He was nice and fun to hang out with but I was only biding my time with him, mean as it may have been. I was still thinking of The Guy I saw on the first day of school. My memory is vague, being that I was a little drunk and it was so long ago, but someone that night told me (maybe the guy that was throwing the party?) not to attach myself to someone because it could be deceiving. Not knowing anyone, being in a new city it would be easy to attach myself to a guy, just for the sake of being with someone. I still think about that for some reason. I didn't think I was in danger of that but was it a foreshadowing?

I'd also met a few people from various classes when on breaks in The Lounge. I did meet someone who was in class with The Guy and I asked about him. I was told he had a girlfriend and they'd been together for two years. Two years! That seemed like an eternity. But it was okay. I knew that even though we had no classes together, our paths never really crossed, I wasn't sure how we were going to meet and he had a girlfriend, that we would still be together at some point. I know it sounds strange. I don't mean to say I didn't care that he was taken. It wasn't a malicious feeling. It was just something that I knew. I knew to be patient and that it was going to happen soon.

And as it turns out, I was right.

Part 1: http://beanerlarue.blogspot.com/2011/06/new-york-state-of-mind.html
Part 2: http://beanerlarue.blogspot.com/2011/06/new-york-state-of-mind-part-ii.html
Part 3: http://beanerlarue.blogspot.com/2011/06/my-new-york-diaries-part-3.html

1 comment:

  1. Deena, reading this blog brings back many memories of my own during this time. I often think of you anytime I think of Atlantic, NYC, and around our birthdays.
    It's surreal to read this knowing I was one of the people there going through it with you. I look forward to reading your story. It's very brave of you to write this, and I know it will turn out to be an amazing work of art. Remember what our teachers said: "Be comfortable with being uncomfortable"