Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Closet

Where I come from, cleanliness is next to Godliness, and organization is a close second. I must admit that I do not always organize my physical space, but when I do I love it. While I've been in the West Village for the past six weeks, I've had full use of a closet, a rare gift for an Urban Nomad.  Inspired by this closet and the level of organization that I have achieved, I have a few tips, tricks and insights to share:
  • Organize items by type: Starting from the left side, I hung coat, dresses, sweaters, skirts, and pants. I have always done this since childhood. Not only is it practical in terms of having space for the longer garments to hang, it is helpful when choosing what to wear. Everything of the same type is near each other. 
  • Adopt a color scheme: When I travel, which is pretty much all the time, I coordinate everything. It gives me options to mix and match. It also reduces the number of accessories that I need, since all of these clothes match my gray handbag and coordinate with my gray, magenta or purple shoes. 
  • Don't be bland: Just because everything matches doesn't mean that it's boring. What's boring about magenta shoes? I also have interesting jewelry which is small enough and strong enough to travel well and allows me to change my overall look.
  • Go for quality, not quantity: I have never had as many clothes as some of my friends, but the clothes I have are quality. They feel good and they last a long time. When I unpacked at a previous stop on my Urban Nomad journey, a friend joked that I am a homeless person walking around with six cashmere sweaters. Fairly accurate. 
  • Have a catch-all: The larger cloth basket is a laundry basket that was here when I came. The smaller one on the right is my own basket. It folds flat into the bottom of my suitcase. I use it to contain all of the little things that would start to clutter up my physical space if they were just sitting around.
I will be sad to leave this closet, but I know that there will be new delights at the next stop on my journey. That's the best part: I get to apply my organizational creativity to a new set of circumstance. The skills go with me as I constantly change my physical location.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Audition Season

March means many things to many people: Spring Break, Lent, Passover, St. Patrick's Day, "in like a lion out like a lamb". For actors in New York City, it means Audition Season. While there are auditions in New York year round for shows throughout the United States, many regional theaters cast their summer season in March. For three intense weeks, there are more auditions than one person could possible attend. Last year, I missed audition season because I was away in Kansas doing "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers". (Ironic, isn't it? Because I was in a show I was unable to audition for other shows.) This year, I submitted my resume and was granted audition appointments at a few of the theaters. Some theaters do not give appointments, so you must go early in the morning and sign up on a list, which often grows to over 500 people before 10:00 am when the auditions begin. If the list has more people than can audition in one day, the theater "types" by collecting resumes, looking quickly at each person, and then announcing who they will allow to audition, based on whether you are the "type" of person they need in the cast.

Audition season means getting up very early, rushing around from one midtown building to the next, strategizing with friends about signing each other into various auditions, and remembering your number on the list at each audition because you must go in order. It means carrying a water bottle, a snack, a dress, makeup, dance clothes, four pairs of shoes, a book of audition music, headshots and resumes everywhere you go. It means warming up in hallways and subways and fitting in a dance class whenever possible. It means waiting hours to sing for 30 seconds, or learning a dance on the spot and then performing it for the choreographer minutes later or acting out a scene for the director opposite someone you've never met before. It also means spending each day surrounded by people who are passionate about the arts and wondering what it would be like to live for the summer in the town where the theater is located, performing whatever show they are doing. The possibilities are endless. And that's why I love it.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Community Preparation

I was in North Carolina last month when it snowed an inch. Everything was shut down for days. I have been in Minnesota many times for an inch of snow. It is a non-event.

When northerners are in the south during cold weather, they love to say, "This is nothing. Why did you shut down for this?" What they fail to take into account is the way in which communities are not prepared, making it very difficult to be out in the snow. In the south, they don't have enough snowplows and people don't know how to drive in it and buildings and roads are not built to accommodate snow. Plus, their economy and their school system can withstand closing for a couple days since it is not likely to happen very often.

When southerners are in the north during bad weather they love to say, "Why would all y'all live in this weather?" They fail to consider the ways in which communities are prepared, making it easier to be in the snow. While it is much colder for much longer, snow is expected, so towns have snowplows and people have sturdy cars and know how to drive them in the snow and roads are built with wide shoulders to accommodate the snow that has been cleared away. It is actually easier to withstand a blizzard in the north because the community is so prepared. No one is surprised when the snow arrives, they just get out their down coats, use their remote starters to warm up their cars, and leave a little earlier for work.

I guess you might say that the snow is always icier on the other side of the fence.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Personal Preparation

A couple years ago, my friend Travis and I climbed a glacier in New Zealand. One does not just drive right up to the side of a glacier, get out of the car and start climbing. The glacier continually moves, so they can't build a parking lot right beside it. In addition, this glacier was surrounded by a beautiful rain forest that should not be disturbed by traffic. Thus, we had to follow a steep trail through the rain forest to arrive at the edge of the glacier. After about an hour of hiking into the rain forest, we paused for water. I was winded. Travis was fine. I attributed this difference to the fact that Travis runs on a regular basis, so his cardiovascular health is much better than mine. Because of his exercise habits, Travis was more prepared for the hike than I was. The difference was vast enough that I was not having any fun, and Travis was happily snapping pictures of the rain forest as we hiked. Later, once we got up onto the glacier, our skills were more matched and we had a truly memorable day.

Preparation has a significant effect on your experience of an event. Travis and I were both hiking on the same trail, but his preparation made the experience much more pleasant for him than for me. Travis did not train specifically for the glacier, but his life habits had the accidental effect of of preparing him.

Sometimes we actively prepare for something we know will happen, and sometimes we end up being prepared simply because of our previous life experiences.

What challenges are approaching for which you should actively prepare? What recent challenges have you been more prepared for than you at first expected?
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