Monday, August 31, 2009

From Subletter to Nomad

It all began a few years ago when I planned to be gone for a couple weeks over Christmas. I knew others in New York City who sublet their place while they were gone, so I decided to give it a try. I found someone quickly, created a contract, locked up a few valuables, and made some money with very little effort. I was hooked. Every time I was gone for more than three nights, I lined up a subletter. Soon I had repeat customers and friends of previous subletters asking to reserve upcoming dates. Subletting allowed me to pay my rent while performing in shows out of town for weeks on end. Sometimes I sublet without even leaving New York. Last summer I cat sat for a friend while I sublet my place. It was great, until I was gone more than half the year doing shows while the economy soured and it became more difficult to find the subletters. People were not coming to New York on business, they were not taking as many vacations, and if they were, the price of hotels had come down to reasonable levels, making my sublet less competitive. I advertised for subletters on Craigslist. It was a great ad with beautiful pictures of my place. Pictures that were identifiable enough that my landlord saw it and was not pleased. Sort of busted, but six years of a good relationship softened the blow. He said he'd love to have me stay, but if it wasn't going to be me in the place then it would be better to move. I plan to travel, perform in shows, and generally be gone so I said I would move. And then he asked me for the pictures of my place that he'd seen on Craigslist so that he could post them on his realty site. The very same pictures that got me in trouble in the first place.

And so it came to pass that on August 31, 2009 I moved out of my apartment and officially became an Urban Nomad. Late in the evening as I rolled my suitcase into the hall and took one last look inside, I noticed something left on the floor. Not wanting to loose any part of my deposit, I went back in to pick up whatever I had missed. It was a penny. Heads up for good luck. I'd almost left that bit of luck in the apartment, but I slipped the penny into my pocket, shut off the lights, and headed into my new adventure.

Monday, August 24, 2009


A few years ago, a friend called and asked if I would like to meet him in London for the weekend. Fares were low from both of the cities we were living in, but there was a moment of hesitation as I considered what it would take to pack my bags and make arrangements for my home and job to be vacant for a few days. Nonetheless, we quickly made plans and spent the next four days being tourists.

Being a nomad will allow me to be more flexible and prepared for such opportunities. Now, if someone calls and says, "Shall we meet in London this weekend?" my answer will be, "why yes, my bag is already packed." I also can continue to conduct business from London through internet and phone. Almost all of my attention can turn to the opportunity ahead, planning what to do in London. It's a grand, exciting type of flexibility. However, within that I have lost a certain day-to-day flexibility. If I suddenly decide to wear my green dress and I don't have it in my bag, it requires getting it out of storage. Not impossible, just not as easy as when everything was in my closet at home. Being organized and anticipating my own needs will help reduce those moments of lost flexibility because when I trek to the storage place, I can "trade in" for things I will need in the days ahead. The more organized I am, the more flexible I am. Interesting dichotomy.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Snail Mail

When people hear about my being a nomad, they often ask me how I receive snail mail. I use a service called Earth Class Mail. They receive my mail, scan it, and email it to me. I have the option of picking it up, having it forwarded, or telling them to shred and recycle it. They also accept packages and will hold them for up to 90 days. Their office in Manhattan is conveniently located, making it easy to pick things up. What's even better than picking things up are the things I don't have to pick up. I will never receive junk mail again. I just click a button to have them recycle it. I can also download financial statements, send them electronically to my accountant, and never be bothered with the paper. Never again will I get behind on mail (or have to have it held, or find someone to pick it up) while I am out of town.

My new relationship with Earth Class Mail makes me think back to my early days of having a cell phone. It wasn't long before I had only a cell phone and no land line. At first, I just didn't want to pay for two phones. Now, after 14 years of having the same cell phone number, all of my friends, family and business contacts have the number. Although at first it seemed less "grounded" to only have a cell phone, I am actually EASIER to keep track of than if I'd had a series of land line numbers. I believe that the same thing will happen with Earth Class Mail. As I move around, I will continue to keep my address the same, providing another piece of stability in my life.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Packing Cubes

Among the annoyances of living out of a suitcase is the difficulty in finding what one needs and the general disarray of the contents after one finds said item. Most luggage has pockets, but it is never enough. I add additional organization to the large part of the suitcase by using packing cubes. After visiting four luggage stores and The Container Store, I found that Eagle Creek dominates this market. Thus, I went back to three of the four stores in order to get a variety of colors. By packing the cube by type (accessories in the purple cube, shirts in the black cube, etc.) I can quickly find what I want. Clothes are rolled and stored inside to reduce wrinkles and stay organized day to day. The cubes also make packing easier, since many of my belongings are in rectangular shaped containers that fit nicely into the suitcase.

Here's the best part: I bring the cubes to the laundry room and repack them as I take things out of the dryer. When I had a dresser, I never really liked that last step at the end of laundry when I had to put the clothes into the drawers. Now it's like I am bringing the drawers to the laundry room. Blissfully streamlined.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Traveling with electronics

Go to a hotel and ask a front desk person what item is most often left behind in hotel rooms, and they will all say the same thing: cell phone chargers. In fact, I left a cell phone charger at a hotel in Minnesota earlier this spring. That is why I was so excited to find a travel cord organizer. This one is by Ricardo Beverly Hills and sold at Bed Bath & Beyond. It has pockets for three devices/chargers and another pocket for cords, making it easy to notice if anything is missing as I pack. But here's my favorite part: it comes with a three-plug extension cord. How often have you been somewhere (the airport comes to mind) that you have to charge more things than the number of available plugs? Problem solved, in an easy, travel sized way.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Quoted in Back Stage National Edition, 30 Jul 2009

When I was in tenth grade, the high school counselor told my mother that I was interested in too many things. My mother said that she didn't think that was a problem. This article supports the idea that having a variety of passions can be a good thing. I was happy to be quoted regarding the interaction of two of my passions: life coaching and musical theater, both of which are enriched by being an Urban Nomad.


Back Stage National Edition
30 Jul 2009

How easily we forget there’s life beyond acting. It’s essential for actors to have passions outside the business, providing themselves with other creative outlets and a balance against what can be a stressful and frustrating pursuit. And to more...
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