June 3, 2003 -- Begone, Winter Doldrums

Hello dear friends:

Spring has finally, FINALLY come to the Big Apple. After the worst winter in many a year, followed by weeks and weeks of rain, it's so wonderful to be able to walk outside without a coat.

To be honest, I wish I had more fantastic news to report. You know, something along the lines of landing a role. Well, of course, that has not happened. The truth is, the blush is definitely falling off of the rose known as New York City. Mind you, I still do (and always will) think that it's an amazing city. It's just that its treasures seem to have drifted farther away from my grasp.

For one thing, given the economy (and given the relatively small paycheck which my job proffers every week), living well is difficult, to say the least. Add to that the drudgery of commuting on the subway (does EVERY mental case in the area use the last car of the "A" train as an outpatient ward?), the crowded sidewalks, the surly attitude of the populace, and the maddening pace, and, well, you can imagine how it can get one down.

I started back at my job at the bank in late February, on the evening shift (5:00 pm to 1:00). Naturally, that did not lend itself well to rising at 6:00 to go stand in line for Equity principal auditions, especially while the temperature was grazing the hindquarters of ten below freezing. I've since been placed on a three-day daytime shift -- good for my sleeping schedule, but not so good on the pocketbook.

I've actually been very slack about auditions. After the thrill of landing a lead role at HB Studio, I threw myself into the world of Equity auditions -- and promptly crashed. Hard. They were fruitless at best, and humiliating at worst. My ego took a serious bruising when I made the sorry mistake of telling the auditors for a regional production of "Me and My Girl" that I could handle light tap. Well, obviously they had a totally different definition of "light". It was a miracle that I didn't bolt from the room in shame. :(

I've so far logged about twenty-five auditions, and not one single callback. This is a TOTALLY new experience for me. The funny thing is, much as I expected this to be the case, I guess I just didn't prepare myself for it psychologically.

I've also been quite lax (how about downright truant?) about going to the gym. I turned in my membership about two months ago, as I simply wasn't using it. Naturally, this has led to a low endorphin level and a high waist level. I'm nowhere near as porky as I was ten years ago (who remembers roly-poly Buddy Fiddler in "City of Angels", or the rotund Voltaire in "Candide"?), but still, I've managed to make myself lest cast-able.

I had signed up to continue singing classes and advanced acting technique at HB Studio, but have let those slide as well. I did manage to get a deferral on the acting class, but given my work schedule, I'm not sure how that will work out. All in all, I've definitely entered a slump. Sad to say, I worry that I've taken too big of a bite out of life, and I'm having trouble swallowing and digesting it. I'm beginning to wonder if I've made a colossal mistake in leaving San Francisco.

At this point, I'm weighing all of my options:

1. Stay in New York a while longer and continue to tough it out -- just to be sure that I can really and truly say I gave it my best shot. Seriously, I've barely been here a year. Is that long enough? I'm even considering shifting my focus from an acting career to simply finding a serious day job, so that I can at least enjoy New York via the lobby door (as opposed to the stage door).

2. Go back to S.F. Definitely an attractive option, given my friends and contacts there. However, the idea of once more having to stake out a place to live (in a city with the SECOND highest cost-of-living index in the country!) daunts me to no end. And given the current job market and the economy, what are the chances that I'd be able to float this move at all?

3. Move to someplace in the middle of the country. Many options there. Would I be able to make a change to a bucolic environment?

4. ??????

I suppose I should be telling myself that were it not for life's valleys, I wouldn't appreciate the peaks. Sounds reasonable to me. Titus is actually doing great. We both look forward to our walks in the Park, especially now that we have a lot of time during the day for it. What Titus REALLY likes is our occasional car trips to Pennsylvania to visit the family. There he gets several acres to bound around, and he has his cousin Nike, a beautiful yellow Labrador owned by my sister and her family. Everyone there is doing great, although Mom is still struggling with her Parkinson's. She does her best to keep her spirits up.

I've seen some terrific shows! "Movin' Out" was excellent; "Life X 3" was . . . interesting; "A Year with Frog and Toad" was a delight; "The Look of Love" was a disappointment; "Urinetown" was the strangest evening I've spent in a long time. I'm really looking forward to "Long Day's Journey into Night", featuring the amazing Vanessa Redgrave and Brian Dennehy in what may be the greatest American play ever.

Well, that's the story for now. Hope everyone has a great summer planned. I'm hoping to get away for a week -- somewhere quiet and remote, with as few people as possible. Been a while since I've had THAT kind of experience. Let me know what you're all up to.

Love to you,

Michael and Titus