Updated Website! Woohoo!

Hello all and happy first day of football season!  I am post-less today but I have some cool announcements on the horizon.  In the meantime…

Ginny BartoloneI updated my website!  Please check out GinnyBartolone.com and let me know if you have any layout/content suggestions.  Really, anything.  Since this is combined with my acting website, I have been trying to strike the balance between fancy serious actress and blogger that writes about cat hair and eye brows.

 

 

 

 

jc fridaysI have a show tomorrow night!  Around Jersey City and looking for a free event?  I will be performing with Speranza Theatre, an incredible company I have been working with for a couple years, on a new reading series.  The plays are fun and exciting and I cannot recommend this wonderful company enough.  Also, we can grab a drink afterwards!  For more info, check out our Facebook Page!

Celebrating Growth, Even When You’re Bad at Math

I’ve been thinking a lot about math lately.  I’m terrible at math, I always have been.  It was the only subject in school where I was happy if I even squeaked by.  But it took some growing up to understand that the concepts in math are much more relatable to life than I expected.

I’ve started to notice that each time I get into a rut about where I’m headed, it’s because I am looking at the “numbers” in my life instead of the rate of growth.  That’s a math thing, right?  Rate of Growth?  Growth Rate?  Charts?  Great, I took on another blog metaphor that I don’t understand, like that whole basil thing.  Well, here we go!

On those lousy mornings when I feel waves of despondency, it’s often because I am looking at the actual number in my bank account, or the number of shows I’ve done this year (or haven’t done), or the number of things I have fallen behind on.  I look to everyone else’s numbers and feel like a failure, or that I am starting to go in circles.  I think about when I first moved to NYC, confused and broke and start to think, “Aren’t I still confused and broke?”  And things get much worse when I suddenly think, “Will I always feel confused and broke?”

And then it hits me.  If I had the income I have now back in 2010, or wrote online as much as a I did, or had so many wonderful theatre people to collaborate with, I would have considered myself a success.  I would have felt like I suddenly hit the jackpot.  And yet in these low moments, I feel like I haven’t made progress at all.  So the bad self-talk takes over, which spirals me into a state that actually temporarily stops the amazing progress I was too blind to see I was making.

Sometimes it takes all getting in the same place to realize how far we've come. Go team go!

Sometimes it takes all getting in the same place to realize how far we’ve come. Go team go! Photo Credit: John Reardon

Recently I’ve been trying to measure growth over numbers, and here are some helpful things I came up with:

Continue reading

Blogging with Artistic Integrity

Fair warning, this is a bit of a rant…

For the past several weeks I have been throwing my energies into incorporating this blog into my career.  It’s always brought me joy, and as I’ve said many times, it’s helped me grow as an artist overall.  And yet, I completely accept that I know diddly squat about becoming a paid writer.  It’s as if someone was to approach me to randomly say, “Hey, I just found out I love acting!  How can I make any money doing it?” I would look at them with pity, tell them to pull up a chair and a beer (a tall beer) and then deliver the news.

One major issue is the stigma that an arts career is a luxury.  It is not always seen as a necessity to society, when ironically, I can assure that many temp jobs I’ve had that pay me way more than acting, are very unnecessary to society.  The other unfortunate stigma is that it requires little to no “real work.”  Also false, more on that below.

Luckily, this isn’t my first rodeo for building a creative career.  For absolute beginners, I could imagine getting sucked into the scams.  If you Google “How to Be An Actor” you get a long general lists talking about finding an agent and “getting into the actors unions.”  And yet, for an outsider, this does nothing.  The day-to-day work required to essentially build a product (yourself), a brand (your promotional materials), and financial stability (your “flexible” super understanding well paying job to maintain auditioning in NYC) is much trickier to find.  This is why people train and work in the business for years before knowing any of this.  I was very lucky to have parents that grew up in the field and told me everything I needed to know to get started, including that it was probably going to suck for a while, a long while.

Either way, I feel a little bit like one of those “I just wanna be a STAR!” girls this week, googling how to become a paid blogger.  Here is what I have learned so far, in my basic “I have no idea what I’m doing” journey through Google:

no idea

Most websites listed as “paid blogging” sites no longer pay with money, but instead with links to your blog.  

This I understand to a point.  If your website is set up with paid advertisements, arranging more traffic for your page is essentially like paying you.  Fair enough.  Exposure is also a wonderful thing.

No one can seem to clearly explain what SEO really is.

Is it just me?  I understand that key words in your post and headings increase your chances of being found on Google, but am I missing something?   If I literally just name my blog something that people search a lot, it will be rated higher?  And how do you write a personalized unique post and name it something that is trending?  Doesn’t that defeat the purpose of creating an original idea?  Maybe I’m thinking too much about this.  If I write, football, wanderlust, sangria!  Does that mean google will try to find me based on those things now?  Or is there a back-end situation I’m missing?

Supply and demand does not line up

I know this is beating a dead horse, but I am a firm believer that artists are not recognized for amount of training and hours they put into honing their craft and career.  I, for example, would be a terrible stock broker.  I’m an introvert that’s bad with numbers, and I have no training in the field.  I would not asked to be paid for that.  And yet, I find that the amount of money offered to trained artists is not in balance with the scarcity of their particular skill.  Yes, there are a lot of people out there trying to be actors and writers.  But there are a lot of people in every industry, each with its own respective skill set.  Why are the arts considered a luxury that shouldn’t be appropriately compensated?  Rawwwr!!

People LOOOVE lists

I have learned to accept, as I did in my acting, that not every job or opportunity is going to be for me.  The same way I did not want to be a lifelong background actor, even though the job paid the bills and was easier to break into, I do not want to apply to any site that is looking for content of any time.  If I can adapt my style and philosophy into a list of some sort (like this one) then that’s great.  If it’s “10 ways chocolate cake is better than getting married” or “18 ways to take selfies with your cats” I’m not as interested.  Just as background acting started to make me hate acting, these will not make me want to keep blogging.  I’ve seen job posting that pay $8 a post, and ask you to write two posts an hour.  Sweet Jesus!  How on earth would the writing be of any quality?  Again, perhaps I sound like an amateur because I am new to this, but is this standard?  Do people make that work?

 On a happy note, there is a fantastic blogging community, and many talented writers

It’s really pretty incredible to wander around WordPress and see the amazing diversity in writing styles.  I feel like I started this adventure in a bubble, and all I was really hoping for were a few readers.  Yet it took me years to be a blog reader myself.  In the long run, I am only going to learn from my fellow bloggers, just as you would in any artistic field.

So I have been flocking towards the sites I connect with personally, whether they pay or not, because supporting messages are important enough.  And yet, at first glance, I am seeing that “creating content meaningful to you” is far from the only factor, and I guess I could have seen that coming.

And advice is welcome and thank you as always for reading!

 

The Benefits of Being a Multi-Artist

Feeling artistically stagnant and starved is something I didn’t understand when I was little.  If I was in a grouchy mood for days at a time, I was often told, “You just need a show!”  But I didn’t truly understand the validity of this until my twenties.  I did legitimately need to do something artistic, to create, ANYTHING.  And since theatre was my thing, I would riffle through the local newspapers and Backstage every Thursday, hoping to solve the theatrical dry spell.  Usually it worked.  As I got older, it worked less.

Kindertransport in 2001.  Photo credit: Barntheatre.org.

Kindertransport in 2001. Photo credit: Barntheatre.org.

Turns out, I am not the only female brunette 20-something aspiring to be an actor.  So back in 2010, my husband very wisely suggested I take up writing as an outlet for this all-too-familiar theatrical dry spell.   As he always says, “No one needs to hire you to write!”  It was a definitely a breakthrough for me.  With theatre,  I could perform my monologues to the cats all I wanted but at the end of the day, unless I took a class, was cast in a show, or produced the whole thing myself from the ground up, I wasn’t creating.  Writing was my savior during those days.

“So are you a writer now?”

One of the unfortunate negativities I have come across in my career is the “throwing in the towel check-in.”  Even if they don’t realize it, there are a group of artists out there that like to ask the questions, “Oh so are you like, not an actor anymore?”  Will you cool it please?  I realize that this is just a projection of your own instability as an actor, but working on another art form or career does not mean you are giving up your passion.  If life was as easy as waking up one day and following your dream, then would no one would write about it!

The truth is that writing has put me more in touch with my acting and acting as put my more in touch with my writing.  I currently work in the Curriculum Office of an Independent School and I am reminded every day of the importance of interdisciplinary education.  If you think back to middle school, you’ll remember it.  “Huck Finn rafted down the Mississippi.  How many miles did he float down the river if the speed of the current was….” and then there would be a lot of math and I would go to la-la land.  But you get the idea.  We make these connections with different parts of our minds to better understand them.

Put on your writer pants

Sweatpants are great!

Sweatpants are great!

Discovering my love for writing was like finding out that I could wear my pajamas to work.  I have always considered myself an introvert.  When you’re little, they just call this shy, and you assume it’s a phase when you hide behind your parent’s knees when a stranger tries to talk to you.  And yet the feeling to hide behind things on some days never quite went away.  And then suddenly, the creation of Buzzfeed and the internet’s obsession with lists taught me that there are other introverts out there that ALSO want to hide behind things!  And apparently that’s cool now!

Being an introverted actor is often difficult.  A good deal of the business is networking and building your community.  Performing is actually one of the most personal and introverted portions of the field.  Standing in line with 30 people that look just like you who are talking about going on their 5th world tour of Midsummer, while practicing scales in between each sentence, is not as bearable.  There are days when I just don’t want to put on my actor pants.  I don’t want to wear makeup or curl my hair, or bring a change of heels.  I don’t feel like maintaining my “I could take this or leave it” persona while being graceful and welcoming, all the while remembering the words to my monologue.  Sometimes, I just want to throw my hair into a pony tail, find some flip flips, throw on my college hoody, drag myself to the nearest back corner of a coffee shop, and write.  The only person who has to deal with me sounding/looking like a recluse is the barista, and I know from experience that she has seen worse.

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And by cafe, sometimes I mean my couch.

No one needs to give you permission

The most wonderful thing about writing?  When you sit down and create something, you are a writer.  Congratulations!  Some days, you just need this freedom.  No outside force is telling you yes or no.  And the best part?  When I do return to auditioning, I am not so artistically starved that getting the role is the only salvation from insanity.  Because as I’ve heard before, desperation is always louder than your audition.

An actor friend of mine relayed this idea from a teacher to me once, “Theatre is like a healthy romantic relationship.  You need other passions in your life other than just that person, otherwise you’re not growing, and all of you happiness is dependent on things working out.”

So, Theatre, to keep myself from being a needy girlfriend, I will be over here writing in my metaphorical sweatpants.  When I’m ready to put a dress on again, perhaps tomorrow, perhaps next month, I will be back.

I strongly encourage the opportunity to explore other art forms without permission.  The difference between someone who is judging what you created, and you, is that at least you created something.  So if you are worried about judgment due to lack of experience, training, or a relevant career, throw that aside.  Creating art is never for the critics, so you might as well give it a go.

If the Whole World Took an Acting Class

As an actor, I have spent my fair share of time laying on the floor and barking at the ceiling.  Okay, I’m not barking, per se, I am sending my voice through the space from the top of my head.  I have sat on the backs of classmates and been sat on by teachers, all for the sake of a vocal exercise.  I have chased fellow classmates around the room, repeating what they say, and I have run up and down a flight of stairs until I felt the “sensation of doing a line of coke” to start a monologue.  In my children’s theatre days, I’ve played princesses, fairies, puppies, teachers, moms, horses, trees, and once a shrubbery that slowly transformed into Lady Gaga.

Blanka Zizka and I in her workshop at the Wilma in 2014. Photo credit: The Wilma Theatre

On the other hand, I’ve waited in eight hour lines, spent overnight film shoots on the floor of an abandoned Brooklyn middle school, eaten dollar pizza while literally running between two jobs with four bags while dressed as a “hipster type”, and lied to several bosses about dental emergencies because I got a spot at an EPA.

As we all have, I’ve done some strange things, and no, I wouldn’t trade that for security any day.  But two nights ago, when laying on the floor of my Alexander Technique class, my teacher used the phrase “Pelvic Ears.”  I lost it.  I lost it to myself, because I deeply respect my teacher and the group in my class, but for some reason, after many years of the strange things I’ve done, I lost it at “pelvic ears.”  In the context of the exercise, she made complete sense.  Yes, I did want to listen with my pelvic ears!  But seriously, it’s truly remarkable that this is a career path.  And I wish it on everyone that is missing out.

Group exercise before a performance in college

Last night on a particularly crowded train, I sat next to a friendly man who started up a conversation.  The regular chatter began: Where do you work? Where are you from?  Why are you on NJ Transit?  All that stuff.  He was in IT, and I am an actor.  Here is what I notice about genuinely interested non-theatre people:

-They often call their own profession boring in comparison to hearing you are an actor.  Dear sir, this is not true.  If you are good at what you do and you are happy, then you go for it.

-They ask if you’re on Broadway.  This is fair, I get it, why would I know the ins and outs of IT?  I don’t!  There’s no reason you would know there are shows outside of the commercial theatre world.

-But most importantly, they tend to bring up one theatre experience from their past, either from school or community theatre.  Their stories are always specific, personal, and vivid.  It’s as if you suddenly gave them the green light to say, “Yes!  I was upset that I didn’t get cast in Oklahoma in 1994!”  or, “I’ve always want to go back to it, but I’m not as brave as you are.”

Here is what I take away from these interactions:  theatre has an incredibly lasting emotional impact, and the business scares non-career performers away.  I think this is silly and needs to change.  I know there are corporate coaches that bring theatre exercises to executives, but in my tempting experience, it is not seen often, and many of the execs I’ve met look like I just threatened to sell their first born when I suggest they take an acting class.

Skills learned on the road.

What is unclear to those outside the business, is that acting classes make you better at being a human.  A human in public, a human alone, and a human who cares about their present.  Also, a human who knows their emotions are justified.

If I grabbed a selection of executives from one of the many offices I’ve temped in, and threw them into the acting business for a year, this is what they may learn (ups and downs included):

-How to find their feet, and support their body for a healthy life, perhaps correcting the computer slouch from 40 years at a desk.

-How to lay on the floor and make continuous sound, at whatever volume you like, without ever being judged or told to be quiet.

-How to trust a classmate, or essentially, a stranger, to respect your feelings and perhaps catch an imaginary ball.

-To find their true voice.  And experience an entire room of people listening with respect.

-How to be pretty fantastic at costume parties.

Mad Men New Years 2013

-How to think on their feet, and never be scared of the question “What are you doing?” ever again!

-How to ROCK at the “Questions” section of Kings.

-What it’s like to experience the difficulty of not making ridiculous faces during a photo shoot, and reveling in it when you do.

Photo credit: headshot  proof by Emily Lambert

Photo credit: Headshot proof by Emily Lambert

-To see what your body and mind is truly capable of.

-To become closer with a group of people than you ever thought you could be (after three weeks!), and to share your life story over drinks instead of bad-mouthing your coworkers.

Celebrating Opening Night at Speranza Theatre.

-How to support yourself emotionally after leaving a difficult audition, especially after hearing the dreaded words, “You’re free to go.”

-How to stretch $50 until next Friday, and become friends with your mailman, who smiles when he has your check.

-To memorize all the free places in NYC to use the bathroom, and how to kill two hours between gigs without spending a dime.

-To forgive yourself and know that not getting hired is beyond your control.

-To get up time after time, burnout after burnout, and realize you still have your feet, your voice, and even your pelvic ears.

If you are an artist reading this, let us make it our responsibility to share this incredible world that has become a normal part of our lives.  If you are not an actor, you’re always welcome.  The door is always open, and I think you’d be amazed at what you’ve been missing.

What do you think people outside the business could learn from a theatre class?  Are there other similar industries I should jump into as well?  Let me know!

Call for Advice: To WP.org or Not to WP.org?

flowers-edited

Hello fellow bloggers!  I am getting close to my five year mark here and I am very interested in making this a much bigger part of my professional life.  Overall, I am trying to write more frequently, create a rhythm with weekly topics, etc. In a magical world, I would be able to focus on this full-time.  Though it will never be about making money for me (because when that’s the goal, nothing ever really works), but more about allowing myself the time to develop this further.

So I have been looking into transferring my site to WordPress.org and hosting through Bluehost.  I am however, in the very beginning stages of researching how to do this and if it is even worth switching.  So I have a few questions for the group:

1.  Do any of my readers receive income from blogging, even if it is a small amount?  If so, what were your first steps?

2. With the understanding that it requires more hands-on management, have you had a good experience with WordPress.org and/or Blue Host?

3.  Am I better off staying on .com and applying for Adwords?

3. Have you felt in danger of losing the integrity of your blog and writing by using an SEO program?

4.  Do I have no idea what I’m talking about/do you know of any good starter websites or classes I can take to be less clueless?

Thank you so much in advance for all your thoughts!  This is a slow but fun process and I’m hoping to just keep growing in the next year.  As always, thank you to all my very encouraging readers and please never hesitate to alert me of posts you are particularly proud of below, and I always happy to read.

For your troubles, here’s a picture of me looking like Maggie Smith.

IMG_1642

Backwards Budgeting: For National Blog Posting Month!

In honor of NaBloPoMo (or National Blog Post Post Month) I took on Blogher’s challenge to write about something I feel I am an “expert” in.  To say I am an expert at budgeting is VERY far from the truth, but when it comes to somehow keeping our heads above water while freelancing, I have some experience.  So below I have included our tactics for “backwards budgeting!”  Woohoo!

Unless your a freelance psychic, this is for you

In a perfect world, freelancers would have consistent income like the full-timers out there.  For the majority of my time freelancing, I worked more hours than when I have a 9-5.  The hours in between actually creating my art are spent chasing after the next gig or organizing my finances so I can continue to maintain my career. Up until last Spring, my husband and I freelanced at the same time, making our hair stand on end every 1st of the month, because things never seemed to line up.  I recently took a full-time job outside my career to catch up for a bit, and it’s given me some insight into why so many non-freelancing friends of mine are able to do things like chip away at their debt- they have a predictable budget.

learnvest

After discovering the website Learnvest, an incredibly relatable financial site written for women, I started to grab hold of our finances and felt much less alone in our situation.  Apparently I am not the only one frustrated that most budgeting instructions begin with “Enter your income.”  But here’s the kicker – since freelance jobs often come in last minute, and the timing of paychecks vary from job to job, you often do not know your income on the 1st.  (This was one of the hardest things about figuring out the Affordable Care Act forms). But alas, this is a sacrifice that you happily make to do something you truly care about. Still, there had to be a way to catch up.  The constant wave between feast and famine was leaving us in a purgatory of credit card debt that slid up and down depending on the week.  After many failed months of trial and error, this is what we came up with:

1. What do you need vs. what do you have

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The first thing we did when we built our spreadsheet was create a section just for “Essentials.”  These were the “if we ignore these, someone will come knocking on our door” payments.  Rent, credit card minimums (not ideal, but again, bare minimums), and student loans.  I also added groceries to this list, but this was more a psychological trick for me, to remind myself that if all else fails, we will still eat.  I have managed, in a very tight month, to get our grocery bill down to $200 a month for the two of us.  This is thanks to Trader Joe’s and a lot of pasta nights.  The other items on this list are train tickets, gas money, electricity, and internet.  If you cannot do your work without them, you should pay for it.

2. Special Essentials: Or what to do when you drive a U-Haul into your neighbor’s gutter The next section is Special Essentials.  These are all the oh-so-special bills for that month in particular.  Things like union dues, medical payments, and random things like parking tickets or a bill from your neighbor for breaking his gutter.  The only reason they are not in the top category is that they can wait if absolutely necessary.  The world will not stop spinning if a bill has to be a little late.  But it isn’t ideal, and no, it doesn’t feel great.  But it is what it is.  I also try to put savings into this category when we can.  Paying yourself first, especially for an emergency fund is always a priority.

amelia

3. Lifestyle
And this is where all the “living your life” stuff comes into play.  These are the items people often bring up when they say, “Maybe you can just cut back a bit.”  I assure you, freelances are most likely not splurging the way you think they are.  For me, this category is often Restaurants/Bars, Coffee, Gifts, Shopping, Education/Gym, Misc., and any special events that month like a wedding.  Determining your priorities is very helpful here.

4. Making the numbers add up (to something over $0) And this is where the backwards part comes up.  Back at the top of the spreadsheet, have a place for your income.  You can break it down by source if that helps, or by person if you combine finances with someone else.  I like to use a line for expected income and actual income, so that when money is deposited, I enter the actual one and the formula changes the amount that is still expected that month.  Creating a center box for all this is really helpful.  If you are interested in seeing how we set up our sheet itself, I would be happy to write a follow up post:)

As your gigs line up for that month (and you know the check will arrive before the 31st) add this to your income.  This way you can see how far away you are from breaking even.  If at the start of the month, you are not breaking even from what you know, adjust all the lifestyle categories.  If that doesn’t fix it, take off the Special Essentials.  Most importantly though, add the amount you are putting off to next month so that it is not simply brushed aside.  This way, you have a timeline for paying it off.  Having a timeline and a plan is better than putting it in a sad growing pile of bills with the post-it “someday” on top. If your expected income suddenly spikes (hooray!) we try to add a small portion to section of lifestyle, a small section to our savings, and the remainder to our credit card and loan payments.  This way, the extra is going to getting rid of debt, paying into your future and emergency fund, and also giving you some physiological wiggle room to go out to lunch occasionally.  Without this wiggle room, I have found that I begin to resent my art form.  No we are not going out for a night of snazzy cocktails when this happens, but we may have a beer and wings night without worry.

Treat yo' self.

Treat yo’ self.

5. Diagnosing the sneaky problems The first few months for us were very eye-opening.  Every several days, I check in on our account and add the purchases to the appropriate category.  At first I realized that we were spending a comical amount on coffee.  We used to have a Dunkin Donuts next to our train station and so we stopped almost every time.  I think at one point we spent $200 on breakfast sandwiches.  So yeah, that stopped.  But we didn’t even realize it until it was adding up in front of us.  So now instead of wondering where all the money is going, we can see the reality of $3 sandwiches adding up over time.

6. More income over less spending Sometimes there is only so much you can cut.  When you have to pay a bill, you have to pay a bill.  You need to eat and live somewhere, and getting to work is not always cheap.  So this year, I also stopped beating myself up for spending  money on essentials and remembered that increasing income is often way more effective.  Unfortunately, it’s much more out of your control.  I’ve come across similar posts where comments go off track and accuse the writer of “not getting a real job.”  If you are confused by artists and why they break away from the typical structure of 9-5s that aren’t related to your interests, message me, I’m happy to chat. But nonetheless, sometimes your budget can alert you that it is time for a change.  An extra gig, an attack of a particular credit card to cut down your monthly payments, or perhaps an overhaul of how your approach your career in the long-term.  All of this is very helpful to consider.  It’s also important to remember that these things take time.

6. Taking a deep breath Though obviously budgeting will not literally create money, I felt a huge weight life off my chest after we set this up. Learnvest also has a fantastic budgeting program that goes into way more detail, but having an excel spreadsheet worked better for us as far as sharing.  Seeing your end of the month total pop above $0 always feels like an accomplishment, even if in a perfect world, we wouldn’t have to think about this.  But at least this gives you a game plan instead of holding your breath the last week of the month, hoping that it all adds up.

Three cheers for budgeting!

Three cheers for budgeting!

As stressful as it can be, I don’t think we will ever give up the freedom of pursuing our art.  And though we may bring in less money than many, I believe we as artists need to be more diligent and organized because of our income’s inconsistencies.  The best thing I always remind myself is that we are still plugging away, doing the thing that we love and somehow squeaking by.  Perhaps in a few years the phrase “squeaking by” will be a thing of the past, but at least for now we can sleep more soundly because of a meticulous excel spreadsheet.

The Tuesday Situation

It’s been one of those mornings.  I woke up with a mysteriously sore jaw (probably from sinus problems, because the human body is strange), and so I haven’t been able to open my mouth more than about an inch.  It’s really attractive.

Then I arrived early to work for a large event I’m helping run and the milk delivered with breakfast was very rotten, causing a group-wide spit take when everyone seemed to simultaneously sip their coffee.  It was an event planner’s nightmare.  Something has affected the caffeine source, the morning now hangs on the speed at which I can run to the A&P before a coup begins.

meme

panic

But then I walked past the nurse’s office and this was written on her whiteboard:

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It was a nice reminder that the people around me recognize “situations” happen, and that most likely, other people are having them as well.  In the scheme of things, no, a sore jaw and rotten milk is not a real problem, it’s fixable.  But it was my situation.  And now I will remember that the delivery guy, the teachers who had to drink the rotten milk, and the store probably now getting yelled at for their rotten milk, are all also dealing with some sort of situation this morning.  Luckily, you occasionally bump into reminders like this – that you are capable of working harder than the little annoying things that pop up, and perhaps we can have a better day than our morning predicted.

Monday Boost: An Ode to Schleppers

I name this hot muggy Monday, National Schlepper* Appreciation Day!  It is for all the people who think delivery is lazy (or too expensive), who run the office errands, the family errands, the boring “I know the CVS pharmacy is going to take forever” errands, and everything in between.  We work several (usually strange) jobs, commute on sweaty trains, kill two hours in the city without spending money because it isn’t worth going all the way home, and are not afraid to walk those fifteen blocks instead of spending $2.75 on the subway.  We are the ones that get strange glances and are asked “Wait, you’re walking there?”  And you say, “Yes!  I have legs!”  and carry on in the 94 degree heat.  You are the one that teaches on the Upper East Side, babysits in Flatbush, temps in the Financial District, lives in Queens, and makes it to Amelie on West 8th because they have a cheap happy hour.  All on Tuesday.  Today we should be proud.  And in my half-asleep blogging state today, I name this day for you.

*By “Schlepper” I mean, a person who schleps, or carries things all over the place.  It’s Yiddish.  Dictionary.com tried to tell me otherwise.  It is wrong.

$10 Wine Flights...

$10 Wine Flights…

When I was young, I always heard my mom talking about having to “schlep” all over the place.  To the store, to the bank, back and forth to work.  I realized pretty quickly after moving to NYC that I was destined to also live the life of a schlepper.  At one point in time, I had seven different possible jobs at once.  Seven.  One week I was just a babysitter, and then the next I was a babysitter, a secretary, a background actor, and a teaching artist, all depending on if I answered my phone in time to accept the work.  To say the least, it was a lot of running around with many clothing changes, snacks, and all the various crap you need to do these jobs.  I once carried 14 shoe boxes in a shopping bag on the 6 train during rush hour.  This will be my whiny story I tell our grandkids about walking uphill both ways in the snow.

Sometimes I jumped centuries.

Sometimes I jumped centuries.

I am always surprised by non-schlepper’s shock when you use a little more physical energy to do something than is normally required.  The other day, a caring coworker asked me if I needed help carrying a case of water bottles up to our office, and to not hurt myself.  I was tempted to say, “I work in theatre, I once carried a flight of steps up a flight of steps!”  But I didn’t feel like explaining because I was carrying water bottles…and didn’t want to sound like a jerk.

postits

I was once paid $11 an hour to cover this wall in post-it notes…after buying a lot of post-it notes.  At many Staples.

But today, when I am not particularly high on energy, I was thankful to be part of this motivated bunch.  I had a fantastic weekend up in Boston with my college roommates – a group of fellow schleppers that know how to keep a friendship going despite living in different states after almost ten years of friendship.  But because of this wonderful weekend, I am a zombie.  A warm, tired, slightly overwhelmed zombie.  So when my office ordered lunch today, and I was faced with waiting an hour for a delicious sandwich or getting off my butt and picking up everyone’s delicious sandwich, I chose the latter, got the sunshine I desperately needed, and became the sandwich hero (hehe) of the day.  They may look at me like I am an overachieving pushover…but I got to get up and get outside.

Our schlepping will also: (all taken from American Heart Association)

  • Reduce the risk of coronary heart disease
  • Improve blood pressure and blood sugar levels
  • Improve blood lipid profile
  • Maintain body weight and lower the risk of obesity
  • Enhance mental well being
  • Reduce the risk of osteoporosis
  • Reduce the risk of breast and colon cancer
  • Reduce the risk of non-insulin dependent (type 2) diabetes

Ha!  So there!  Today is for us!  We will travel across state lines, borough lines, and out into the hot muggy day to get sh*t done.  I declare we all end the day with a glass of wine, that we all schlep to Trader Joe’s to purchase.

 

 

MaybeThereWillBeCupcakes.com Lives!!!

It’s official!  After nearly 5 years, I have purchased perhaps one of the longest URL’s in history: Maybetherewillbecupcakes.com.  If you are willing to type that baby out, then you are a true dedicated reader, and I love you.

Five years ago I started this blog on an angsty afternoon in my Astoria apartment after a job interview asked me to submit a personal experience writing sample.  I wrote some rambling story about my adventure on the subway once, and I did not get the job.  The GOOD that came out of that was that the interviewer wrote back a very caring rejection email, mentioning that though I didn’t fit the position, he really enjoyed my writing voice and it got him thinking.  That to me, was all that mattered.

A few months before that, my friend Christina has mentioned starting a blog for a class assignment and after seeing how cool hers was, I took a leap and started this little site.  Now Christina and I still write, and I am very thankful for it.  Each time I find myself slipping into the pits of theatrical despair, I come back to my writing and start fresh.

But most importantly, it was the overwhelmingly kind responses from all of you that kept this going.  As much as  we all hope to move ahead in life independently, it is truly our communities that give us the swift shove in the right direction when we need it.  I cannot express my appreciation enough for helping me find my writing voice.

Just for nostalgia’s sake, here are a few posts I’ve been particular proud of over the past several years:

A Perfectly Imperfect Wedding

Unity ceremony, the only potted plant we really needed.

 

Rephrasing the Fall Back Question

It's possible.

It’s possible.

 

Camino Writing: Take One

us with pepe

 

The Secret Life of Background Actors

Play "Find the Ginny"

Play “Find the Ginny”

 

My Real Resume

PLOTTING

 

First post ever!!

toys r us

 

 

 

A poll for you!  Let me know what you think!