Year One in New York City (A Recap)

This week begins my second year in New York City and it seems like a good time to assess, to think, and make some new goals--  to think about my achievements, where I have grown and where I need to recommit.

To begin with, I am proud to have made it this far.  A year ago I was house sitting in Brooklyn, unemployed, brand new to the city.  I had a couple of close connections to keep me grounded, but I was still very much a stranger in town.   The time between then and now has largely been a process f familiarizing myself with the culture and finding a way to fit in here- finding y place as a person.

And now?  I've been through a lot.  I have a full-time job which I've been in for three months(the decision to take said job being something I honestly worry was a "sell-out" move, and yet, we need money to support our creative life don't we?).  I spent a wonderful time at The New York Transit Museum and met some truly original people who felt like family in so many ways.  I'm so grateful for Polly, Kristin, Marie, Berto, Christina and Kathleen, as well as all the other amazing folks there, and for the opportunity to perform for little tots.    Being there was a major highlight of my year, a tremendous blessing, and I continually wish I could have made it work for a longer time.  

I got my Equity card and booked a job upstate, my only official gig so far.  I have mixed emotions about that.  Yes!  It was the universe affirming my decision, giving me immediate metaphorical hugs, but since then, there has not been much career activity, except for the kind that can't be measured.  I've been getting seen, hopefully planting seeds, making connections.  As far as having my card?  I feel like now is the time for me to be trying new things, working in smaller venues, experimenting, meeting people.  Am I letting my Equity status hamper that?  I've auditioned perhaps twenty-five  other times and have yet to receive a call-back.  Most of the auditions have been for big shows, Broadway, with a few summer stock jobs mixed in.  I feel daunted by the fact that I have yet to book anything else.  On the up-side, I worked with an amazing pianist who has really encouraged my move and been very helpful in expanding my book.  I HAVE A BOOK!  I've received encouraging communication from an agent, even if it was really just "let me know when you are in something and I'll come see you".  

There's been so much amazing theatre in my year here, some of it experimental, and some very mainstream.  My highlights would have to be seeing the revival of The King And I, and sobbing through the entire production.  It's proof positive that an amazing director, creative team and cast can make a classic piece really breathe.  I connected with so many stories that night, felt such empathy for ALL the characters.  It was truly breathtaking, and one of my favorite nights in the theatre ever.  I also saw Deaf West's revival of Spring Awakening, saw the legendary Charles Busch both in his cabaret at 54 Below, and in his most recent play Cleopatra.

I've gotten closer with two of my friends from college, and I've been really grateful to have them to cheer for and cheer me on, to commiserate with and to stay focused with.  One of them I literally ran into in my neighborhood, and it was a uniquely serendipitous New York kind of moment which we luckily both took advantage of.  I also reconnected with a friend from High School.  She's a terrific, and very prolific playwright who has seen a lot of success, and we've shared writing sessions, I've joined her writer's group for a session, we've delved into seriously nerdy boardgames, and been oddly fascinated by Korean dramas on T.V.  

Of course while some friendships have flourished, one, in particular did not, and the hardest thing I did this year was lose my best friend of over twenty years.  I don't regret any of the decisions I made or any of the things that happened, as they brought me here to this moment, which I am grateful for.  I do still grieve the loss of the friendship, however, at this point there is no turning back for me.  

Creatively I have done a few things.  I've kept up with this blog, written a short play, guested on a friend's podcast, dipped my foot into the audition pool, and written 40,000 words of a novel which I began in November.  Working on it is like a marathon- tiny bit by tiny bit.  My goals for growth in this upcoming year are most concentrated in the arts.  I want to redouble my efforts in auditioning and growing my skills, collect more monologues and songs, and join a class to both learn and enlarge my creative community.  I am here in New York to create, and I cannot let fear beat me into submission.  I will finish my rough draft by next July, and I will have performed in a cabaret venue--even if it's an open-mic.

One of the reasons I came out to New York was to explore my romantic side more, and that has probably been the most active side of my life.  In Austin it was beginning to feel like I had been through most of the men that I would be interested in and that would be interested in me, and I was so tired of trying to meet men at bars, because apart from one pretty lovely person, I had only found brief flings there.  In New York I have been on many dates, met some really great guys, and while I am not at this moment in a long term relationship, it has been really exciting, and a learning experience, certainly.  

So, the end of one year finds me in a different neighborhood than I started, one that I had eyed enviously before I lived there, and it finds me with a really lovely roommate who I could not be more grateful for.  But what happens next? 
Joe Hartman