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Friday, August 12, 2011

History Day!

I love having a plan. I love themes. I love planning themed days. Yesterday was History Day, and History Day is absolutely going down as one of my favorite days of the summer. Granted, I've had a lot of favorite days, but this is definitely on the list.

History Day stemmed from the simple fact that I had a miserable day a few days ago, and I wanted to make up for it... Miserable day= I missed dance class by 2 minutes because the stupid bus was running slow, it started raining and I had no umbrella, none of my friends were around, the line at the Museum of Natural History was way too long to even bother (especially since I was all alone and feeling pitiful), I couldn't find shoes that fit me, blah blah blah... SO, I text my friend Katherine to say we had to go to the Museum of Natural History at some point. I also remembered that "The Help" was coming out this week, so I told Katherine we needed to see that as well. Put the two together, and you have the beginning of History Day!

Katherine was having some work done on her apartment, so we decided to start the day with a historic in-house breakfast = pancakes! Pancakes date back to the times of the cavemen, when they would make flat breads on hot stones, and sometimes add berries and such. (at least that's what Wikipedia says). Katherine is a kitchen master and insisted that our pancakes be from scratch. (Those of you who know me know how terrifying the words "from scratch" are to me.) So, history day began with a delightful spread of banana pancakes and cinnamon pancakes with fresh strawberry sauce, cinnamon sugar, syrup, scrambled eggs, and orange juice.

While we waited for Manuel to finish fixing the lock and replacing some bathroom tiles, Katherine, Meghan (my new roommate) and I all sat around the living room talking about "personal history." With a little help from Myers-Briggs and Disney cartoon characters (all somewhat historic), I think we developed an even better understanding of each other- and that's what history is all about, right? We laughed a lot too.

By the time Manuel FINALLY finished up... and let me tell you, it took a while, Meghan had to leave us, and Katherine and I embarked on History Day Part 2 - the Museum of Natural History (the museum from Night at the Museum). We arrived at the museum at about 4:15, perfectly aware that the museum closed each evening at 5:45. Fortunately admission for the museum is "suggested donation" so we donated what we saw fit and began our quest - we would see the entire musuem in under and hour and a half... and we did... minus a couple of people groups, the planetarium, and the brain exhibit... I don't think I've ever had so much fun in a history museum... Don't take that the wrong way. I've thoroughly enjoyed other history museums I've been to, but this trip was strictly for the FUN of it.

Naturally, our first stop was the dinosaur room! DINOSAURS!!! We took pictures.
We then quickly moved to the African Mammal exhibit. We took pictures.
We passed through the reptile room towards the Brain exhibit, but were informed that it was too late to purchase tickets for said exhibit... So we took more pictures in the Hall of Biodiversity; with the people groups of Africa, Asia, and the Pacific Islands; and with the whale and other sea creatures underwater. We saw rocks and monkeys and minerals and skeletons and maps and diagrams and pictures... SO MUCH HISTORY! And when we heard the delightful voice on the intercom explain that the museum was closing, we were satisfied with our conquest and exited the museum with our heads held high.

We walked through the Upper West Side towards Lincoln Center, marvelling at how crisp and clean the buildings looked after the previous night's rain and in the cool clean air, and eventually found ourselves at the movie theatre. We had just enough time to buy our tickets, go across the street for snacks, go back, sit down, and momentarily relax before the movie began... Ahh the magic of History Day... We couldn't have timed that more perfectly if we had tried.

For the next two and a half hours we laughed, cried, and sobbed our way through The Help. If you haven't yet seen it, please do. It is absolutely going on my favorite movies list... I thought there was no way they could do justice to the book, but WOW... It was incredible. And it was so neat for me to watch a movie about my mom's home town from New York City. It was very personal for me, and I was deeply moved. There were so many connections for me in the movie that it's nearly impossible to explain them all here, so if you're truly curious, we can chat later. There was a wonderful moment, though, when Celia gets so excited about shaking the bag to make fried chicken, and Katherine leaned over and whispered "that's so you!"... I got really excited about flipping pancakes earlier that morning. I'm kind of learning to cook this summer... But that's another story for another time... Just go see The Help! SO GOOD!

Well, before the movie we realized we were going to be hungry afterwards, and we had planned to go to Coney Island and get a corndog...because that's historic. Well, after the credits we both looked at each other with puffy eyes and runny noses and decided to forego the Coney Island trip, so we headed back uptown to find food. The night was so crisp and clear that for the first time in a very long time, I got to see a couple of stars!! I LOVE stargazing, and that's one of the things I have really missed about Montevallo, especially. So, to see those stars as we were walking was really special. And there was a massive moon, too. It was perfect! We decided to skip the subway and walk all the way from 66th to 110th to get some food. We at at a semi-historic burger place called Mel's, and it was delicious. The perfect end to an incredible day.

AHHH, History Day! So, today I am taking it easy. Writing blogs, running errands, walking the Brooklyn Bridge and eating at Grimaldi's Pizzaria... you know, no big deal. ;)

Grace be with you,
Lindsey Shea

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Star Power

Asian tourists are my favorite.

If you are of an Asian ethnicity or have friends who are Asian, please don't be offended. I have many Asian friends myself, and I mean no disrespect by stereotyping this particular people group... However, for my purposes here, the best way to explain my amusement is to use broad generalizations.

That's not even the whole point of this blog... That's just the early disclaimer that I'm not prejudiced.

Last night I was determined to see the new musical The Book of Mormon. I was at the lottery by 4:30, and when I didn't win, waited an hour in the Standing Room Only line where I missed the chance by 3 people in front of me... Major bummer. So then I tried to get tickets for War Horse, but they were sold out too. At this point I was bound and determined to see a show, so I stopped at the first theatre I came to: the Addams Family...

I still can't believe I actually bought a ticket for that show. HOWEVER, I wouldn't have traded the evening for the world. About 15 minutes to curtain, all of the seats around me are completely empty. UNTIL a group of 30 or so high school students file into the seats in front, beside, and around me. Oh my stomach dropped. I just knew it was going to be an evening of texting and chatter, and I don't put up with that during a live show.

Not long after they filed in, I found myself engaged in very slow, meticulous conversation with the boy beside me and the two girls in front of me. I found out they were visiting from Korea, and spoke very little english, but they loved my blonde hair and blue eyes. They asked why I was in the city, and I explained that I am an actor. When they heard that, their faces lit up and the started to chatter amongst themselves. They each reached out to shake my hand and started exclaiming "You famous!" "You take picture with me!"

As much as I tried to explain that I was not famous, and I did not, in fact, know Brooke Sheilds, there was no dampering their spirits.  During intermission I must have taken twenty+ pictures with my "adoring fans" in the lobby, and signed as many, if not more autographs. Some of the other theatre patrons started to inch their way towards the group, thinking that I might be a celebrity they didn't quite recognize.


It was hysterical... At least I thought so... I hope you do too...

Grace be with you,
Lindsey Shea

Monday, July 25, 2011

Q&A

Life in Manhattan is very different from life I’ve experienced anywhere else. Many things are easier in Manhattan: transportation, exposure to art- both visual and performance, entertainment. Many things are more difficult than I would have expected: laundry, grocery shopping, things of that nature. I’ve noted some of the simple questions I’ve been asked, or that I’ve asked myself, that aren’t so simple to answer in New York…
 Is there a Walmart nearby?
            No… To get to Wally World I would have to take a train downtown, transfer to another train that would take me to the path train, then take a bus. In a perfect world, it would take me an hour and a half, but if I were to miss one bus or subway train, the minutes would start adding up and it could be a three hour adventure just to make it to the front door… Then I would have to get back. It’s not worth it. There is, however, a Target about 35 blocks from me, so that works out nicely.

Have you found sweet tea?
                First, I’m not much of a sweet tea drinker anyway, but when I was at the Mississippi Picnic (back during my 2nd weekend here) McAllister’s had huge cups of sweet tea, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. McDonald’s claims to have sweet tea, but I don’t really even want to bother. There are some wonderful tea places in the area though. I was introduced to this delightful little tea shop near my church called Alice’s Tea Cup. It is all decked out in Alice in Wonderland themed paintings and wall fixtures, and the iced berry tea I had there was delicious! They also have incredible scones. I’ve become slightly addicted to scones since I tried them a few months ago. YUM!


How does a date work? Does a guy pick you up, or meet you there?
               I still don’t really know about this one. I’ve been on a couple of dates, and it seems to be the general consensus that the guy lets you know when and where to meet, and gives directions if needed. After you’ve enjoyed the date, he will either walk you to the nearest subway station and make sure that you can get back, or commute with you to your local stop so he knows you can get home safely. That’s been my experience anyway… Others may be different.

Are you safe?
                Manhattan is one of the safest cities in the world. I have never felt threatened or uncomfortable. Granted, I’m always very aware of my surroundings, I take busses instead of subways at night, and I call my mom if I’m walking by myself late at night. People tend to keep to themselves for the most part, and I live in a very family-oriented part of town.

 What do you do for fun?
                What do you NOT do for fun?? There are so many things to see and do! Movie theatres are expensive, but it’s definitely an experience.  The Harry Potter midnight premier at Lincoln Center was an absolute madhouse and I loved it. I’ve been to midnight premiers before, but I’ve never seen lines wrap around an entire block four times. There’s an overwhelming amount of wonderful restaurants, and I wish I could eat at every one of them; however I don’t have the time, the money, or the stomach for that. Central park is also a wealth of entertainment opportunities.  Whether you want to have a picnic, see the opera, experience Shakespeare, throw a Frisbee, or go for a jog, Central Park is where you want to be. There are also museums, Broadway shows, shopping, libraries, and plenty of sights to be seen.

Laundry: how does that work?
                I wish I had a laundry room in the apartment. A lot of apartments do. However, when I want to wash clothes, I have to go to a Laundromat. I’ve found a nice little place about a block and a half from my apartment that is very reasonably priced and pretty quick. You can have laundry picked up, washed, and delivered for you, but it’s a little more expensive, and I don’t really want strangers touching my stuff.

What do you miss about home?
                Of course I miss my family like crazy. Mom came to visit me last week, and that was incredible! (That deserves a whole blog in itself) I miss Montevallo sometimes- especially my buddies, but it’s nice to hear from them on facebook or texts. I miss being in a show. Granted I’m doing a lot of career-oriented stuff still: taking classes, going to workshops, watching other performances, making connections… but it’s just not the same as being in rehearsals or getting ready for a show. I’m really excited to start working on Pippin. Sometimes I crave Sonic, and I really missed Chik-fil-a until I was told there’s one at NYU so I’m going to try to get a chicken sandwich before too long.

Groceries:
               That’s not really a question, but it’s definitely worth addressing. I love Trader Joe’s. It’s a grocery store that sells its own brand so it’s a lot less expensive than most around here. Groceries are RIDICULOUS! A box of cereal cost me $6.78 the first week I was here. That’s just not right. So Trader Joe’s has been a wonderful alternative. The only drawback: it’s about a 20 minute train ride, and the groceries are usually pretty heavy on the bus-ride back home. I’m super excited though, because they just opened a Fairway on 86th street – just 3 blocks from my apartment! I haven’t been yet, but apparently Fairway is a lot like TJ’s except they have more brands. YAY! I’m excited to check it out.

Where can you get a bag of ice?
               We had a hard time answering this one at a going-away party I went to last week. There’s no gas station down the road with ice coolers. The grocery stores don’t usually have them either. Ice machines in refrigerators are also really rare. Nobody knew where to get ice! The only option we could thing was to send Steve, Meredith’s scientist husband, to his office to pick up some dry ice they use to freeze scientific samples. We decided just to be satisfied with ice-less drinks from the fridge. I found that rather amusing.

Ok, I think that’s enough for now. If you have any questions, just let me know and I’ll update.

Grace be with you,
Lindsey Shea

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Night Life

You all know my general opinion about Manhattan by this time. It is wonderful in almost every way- but that's just during the day. After 9 PM when the sun sets, Manhattan becomes magical.

Those who know me well know that Christmas is my favorite holiday for many reasons: 1) the celebration of my Savior's birth 2) quality time with the family 3) Christmas traditions 4) cold weather (sometimes) 5) food 6)Christmas music 7) twinkling decorations... The list goes on and on, but I'm going to stop at 7 because this is not a Christmas blog.

The sparkling lights of Christmas trees and wreaths and yard displays have always fascinated me. I think that one of the most beautiful sights in the world is a light display reflected on water. Nightime in Manhattan is basically a massive light display that never goes away. And, because it's an island, there are plenty of places to see the reflections of the skyline. I love to just walk around and look up- you seem like less of a tourist if you wait until evening to look upwards. ;)

A few weeks ago, my friend Katherine M and I went to get some Grom Gelato on the Upper West Side, and it was such a beautiful night we decided to walk around. We ended up in Riverside Park, and we found the pier. I looked up and saw the New Jersey skyline right in front of me. I turned around and saw Manhattan's west side towering over me, and all of the millions of lights were reflected in  the water around me. Katherine laughed at me because I couldn't speak for a solid minute. I could hardly even breathe!

When I first moved here, Kathryn F took me to a restaurant at the top of the Empire Hotel in Midtown. We spent the whole night dancing under the clouds, overlooking the entire city, never wanting our feet to touch the ground again. I felt like I was in a movie. Places like that shouldn't exist in real life. There were beautiful people everywhere, music was pounding from the speakers, and the rest of Manhattan was shining light on the young New Yorkers enjoying themselves.

A few nights ago, after a trip to the MoMA, a few friends and I decided that it was entirely too early to go our separate ways, so we decided to continue the evening at David's apartment. We picked up a freezer pizza, a block of cheese, some grapes, and some twizzlers, and we headed to TriBeCa not knowing what was in store for us. David took us up to his apartment and gave us a tour. When we got to the livingroom, I almost fainted. The livingroom walls were all windows revealing the most spectacular view of the city I could have imagined. From the couch you could see the Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building, and the Brooklyn Bridge- all illuminated brilliantly. The car lights on the street way below us were zipping around, and the river was catching everything and tossing lights back up at us.

The next evening I found myself in another Financial District apartment with a few other Mississippians. The exclamations of "Oh Heavens" and "Dahd Gum" thoroughly amused our native New York host. We spent some time on the rooftop terrace, enjoying the view and the warm summer air. The whole thing was just phenomenal.

The lights aren't the only reason I love New York after dark. There's just a special energy in the "city that never sleeps" once the sun sets. There are shows, concerts, jazz clubs, night clubs, restaurants, movies, entertainment of all types. Manhattan is truly a fantastic place to live.

Grace be with you,
Lindsey Shea

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

I've completed over 1/3 of my summer stay in Manhattan. On one hand, that makes perfect sense. On the other, that number blows my mind. This month flew by. I can't believe it's already in the past. At the same time, I have crammed A LOT into a month, so I feel as though I've lived here much longer.

I must apologize. I feel like I might have unintentionally lead some of you to believe that New York City is a perfect wonderland of fun adventures and neverending excitement. I hate to bust up that little picture, and I don't want to sound like I'm complaining, but I hope you understand that truly, as in any situation, the cliche "it is what you make of it" is absolutely relevant.

I love living in Manhattan. I have had some incredible opportunities, met some fantastic people, and have created more memories than I would have ever imagined, but life isn't all sunshine and lollipops (except at Dylan's Candy Bar), so today I would like to shed light on the quirky, less glamorous aspects of life in the city.

It is hot in New York in the summer. I live on an island, so humidity is a given, but I don't know that I was expecting this. Granted, I've spent 21 summers in the sticky humidity of the Deep South, but the difference between these two regions is intense: air conditioning. Almost every room in every building I've been to back home has air conditioning- whether it be central air, or a room unit- so while it may be hot, Southerners generally stay indoors where it is nice and cool..

My apartment has one air conditioning unit. It is in the living room, and we only turn it on when it is absolutely necessary because it jacks up the electricity bill. I am so thankful for the living room AC unit because my skin would have been long since peeled off by the leather couch had we been without. Unfortunately, my bedroom is not AC equipped, and one of my windows doesn't close all the way, so the humidity has a wonderful way of sneaking in and settling. I do have an oscillating fan, but I've definitely had to adapt to a warmer sleeping climate.

There are a lot of germs in New York. Those of you who know me well know that I don't like drinking out of glasses without a straw, and I wash my hands (with soap) as often as I reasonably can. What you've heard is true: it's a dirty city. My feet are basically disgusting by the end of the evening if I wear sandals, and even though I carry hand sanitizer with me and use it every time I get off the subway, I still constantly feel kind of gross.

Public Transportation is both incredible and miserable at the same time. To get to work downtown, I have to walk uptown to catch an express train. It's also hot in the subway stops. It takes about eight minutes to walk from my apartment to the subway stop, which is about the amount of time it took me to get across Montevallo's campus. On the East Side, there is only one train - the 4,5,6. SO if I want to get to the west side, I have two options, take the green line all the way down to midtown and transfer to another train that goes across, then to another that goes uptown or downtown or wherever I need to be. The other option is the cross-town bus. Busses are slow. I have a love/hate relationship with busses.

Let's see. GROCERIES! Groceries are pretty darn expensive in Manhattan. I bought a box of Special K Fruit & Yogurt cereal a few weeks ago, and it was over six dollars! Fortunately, I have found Trader Joe's for groceries, so I can get much more reasonably priced food (even if I have to commute 30 minutes- which, if you think about it, is not terribly different from driving to Walmart in Calera from UM, except I don't have a car).

Also, they are doing some heavy-duty construction on 2nd Avenue near my apartment. It is rather a strange phenomenon to have a phonecall temporarily interrupted due to the excessive noise of a jackhammer. I'll be very glad when that is all over.

I'm sure there are other quirky things about living in the city that frustrate me; OR if they don't now, they will eventually. However, that's about everything I can think of at this moment. I hope you see that it's not ALL fun and games up here - just mostly... Kidding. But there really is something special about Manhattan. I know I'm supposed to be here right now, and I'm pretty positive I'll be here again - next time, for longer than three months.

Grace be with you,
Lindsey Shea

Friday, July 1, 2011

Top 10 Ways to Look Like a Tourist

In the month that I've been here, I think I've developed a pretty decent sense of New York. While I don't claim to be a New Yorker, I believe I have mastered the art of blending in (in most cases).

So, I've compiled a list of things that separate the obvious tourists from the rest of the city, in hopes that if and when you visit Manhattan, you will be spared the embarassment of tourist blunders.
Granted, everyone in NYC knows that tourists are here every day, and they appreciate the economic revenue tourism generates. It's fine to look like a tourist - unavoidable in many cases, but it is appreciated if you at least attempt not to stick out like a sore thumb.

So, here are the Top 10 Ways to Look Like a Tourist from the eyes of a temporary resident. In no particular order :

10. Wear a cute outfit with bulky tennis shoes
New York women wear heels or sandals. They suffer through blisters, callouses, and dirt to look presentable at all times. Eventually you build up an endurance strong enough to ignore all foot pain. You can tell someone is a tourist even if they are making an effort to blend in by the shoes they are wearing. Heavy duty New Balance running shoes with ankle socks paired with shorts and a decent top of some kind are a dead give-away that you don't belong in the city. THE EXCEPTION TO THE RULE: occasionally you will see a business woman in sleek, light-weight tennies on the subway. She's probably been in heels all day long and was smart enough to pack comfy shoes for her commute. SO, tennis shoes are fine if they are not clunky and awkward looking.

9. Pull out a subway map ON the subway.
I don't claim to know every stop of every train, or even the best way to get to a given neighborhood, BUT I've learned to check the subway map BEFORE I leave the privacy of my own apartment. A New Yorker always appears to know where he or she is going. If you pull out a map en-route, you are a tourist. Dead give away. Plan your trip ahead of time, or invest in Google Maps on your phone - New Yorkers are always looking at their phones, so it will be much less conspicuous.

8. Walk together as a family unit- especially with teenagers.
I love seeing families exploring Midtown together. There is nothing wrong with it, unless you're worried about looking like a tourist - which you shouldn't be, because if you're walking with your family, you probably ARE a tourist. There are plenty of families in Manhattan. In fact, I had no idea there would be this many children in the city. There are tons, especially on the Upper East Side. However, you often see small children walking with their mother (or being pushed in a stroller - side note: I hate strollers on the subway), or some elementary schoolers heading home with Dad. It is a rare occasion to see Mom, Dad, and children out on the streets together because in the evenings, when one or both finally get off work and make it home to see the family, it is dinnertime, or just time to be at home enjoying each other's company. As far as I can tell teens in New York are too independent to be seen with their family. They have their own jobs, their own schools, their own friends, and their own lives.

7. Look up
This is my touristy pitfall. New Yorkers have their ipod shoved into their ears, cell phone in hand, a focused stride, and eyes turned down towards the pavement. They are simply trying to get where they are going. If you are looking up at the architecture, taking in the scenery, you are probably a tourist. I'm still a tourist in this sense. The different buildings still fascinate me. I love the jagged angles the skyscapers cut into the sky. I love the ornate carvings or brickwork on some of the older buildings. I love the cathedral-esque churches that explode out of nowhere and don't quite seem to fit in the line up of buildings. I love the creative advertisements on busses, billboards, and even buildings that give everything color. This makes me look like a tourist, and I've accepted it.

6. Meander
New York is a quick paced city. If you are walking slowly, enjoying the day, you are a tourist. And you are probably in somebody's way. Period.

5. Spend more than 10 minutes in Times Square at any given time.
I didn't think it could happen. I swore it wouldn't. It's happened. I dread going to Times Square. I wish Broadway shows were located somewhere, ANYWHERE else. I cringe when I get off the subway and try to squeeze through the fanny packs and cameras carried by people who have no idea where they are going and what they are doing. And I admit, I was one of those people for a very long time. Some tourists never get past Times Square, which is rather sad, because there is so much more city to be seen. New Yorkers try to avoid TS as much as possible. SO, if you're caught in Times Square, you are (more often than not) a tourist.

4. Carry a camera in plain sight
As sad as it is, only tourists take pictures. This is another touristy habit I can't seem to kick. New Yorkers have gotten used to the sights that surround them. They have mental images stored up, and they probably have pictures from when they first moved in. Honestly, pictures don't do the city justice, and stopping to take a picture in the middle of the sidewalk is inconvenient for everyone around you. Granted, it is perfectly acceptable for New Yorkers to take pictures with their friends as any normal Facebooker would. That's different though.

5. Ask celebrities for autographs or pictures
In New York, a celebrity is just another person living life. They are to be treated as such. As hard as it is, you should never approach a celebrity if you want to look like a New Yorker. Just inconspicuously observe from afar and Tweet about it later. If you scream and run up to a celebrity, or whip out your camera to flash a quick picture, you are a tourist.

4. Wear an I <3 NY shirt
Really that goes for any New York apparel other than a Yankees ballcap or a Mets shirt on gameday. The only time you will see a New Yorker with that kind of kitchy trinket is when there is a sudden downpour and they are forced to buy the cheapest and closest umbrella available. At that time, they do not carry said umbrella with pride, but rather attempt to sink into oblivion from embarassment of looking like a tourist. Feel free to purchase these souvenirs, but save them for when you get home.

3. Only walk when the crosswalk flashes green
Only tourists really pay attention to those things. While they are definitely a good guideline for safe travel, if you are stopped at a red hand and there is absolutely no traffic anywhere in sight, you look like SUCH a tourist. Don't try to cross in front of a taxi barrelling down the one-way street to avoid stopping at the red hand, though. That would be dumb. Simply note that if the path is clear, people will cross, and if you wait for the green/white man to signal you to walk, you will probably have been left in the dust of the non-tourists.

4. Stop
If you have to stop for ANY reason, move to the side, as close as you can get to a building. If you stop on the sidewalk, someone WILL bump into you, or curse the day you were born because you got in their way. Treat the sidewalk like a highway. If you get lost or run out of gas, pull over. It's easy. The picture you want to take, or phone call you need to make will be exactly the same 3 feet to your right, and everyone will appreciate your courtesy.

3. Smile at everyone
I'm a smile-er. I like to be happy. I have learned though, that smiling at everyone is creepy. It's perfectly acceptable to smile at someone if you have both witnessed a funny subway event, or if they hold the door open for you, but if you're sitting across from somone on the bus, don't try to make eye-contact and smile. It's just weird. New Yorkers are known for being in their own little world. Accept it and move on. You can smile all you want when you're at work or with your friends.

2. Wear a fanny pack or a backpack
Backpacks are great if you're going to class or taking your laundry to the laundromat. Backpacks are not great for shopping. It is very annoying to be in line behind someone who has to take off her backpack, dig for her wallet, find it, zip up the backpack and swing it back onto her back, pay, get the receipt and do everything again in reverse order. It takes forever, and she looks like a tourist. A large purse is should be more than enough space for your daily needs. Also, you also don't have to clutch your purse to your ribs. Fewer people steal than you might think. Just be aware. Fanny packs should be an obvious no-no. Duh.

1. Know the name of the place you want to see, but not the cross-street
Manhattan can be confusing if you don't know your way around, or you get turned around easily. However, it's pretty manageable once you figure out the grid. Generally, most of the horizontal streets are numbered 1-150+. The vertical avenues are 1-12th with the occasional named street thrown in (Broadway, Lexington, etc). The internet is a brilliant resource for you to use. If you know what you want to see, look up the cross-streets before you head out. A New Yorker is much more likely to point you in the direction of "Crumbs on 52rd and Madison" than "The Crumbs bake shop." It's totally ok to get turned around. People do it all the time, but if you do your research, you'll fit right in. The exception to this rule is downtown, off the grid. It's confusing down there, so if you ask for directions multiple times, don't be embarassed.

Hope you find this amusing and maybe a little helpful.

Grace be with you,
Lindsey Shea

Thursday, June 30, 2011

My sincerest apologies to anyone who feels neglected by my lack of recent blogs. I'm pretty sure that's only my mom, but her continuous prodding has lead me to believe that nearly all of the 7.1 Billion people on this Earth are dying to hear about my puny little summer adventure. I'm not sure how the primative tribes in East Asia are able to read it without computers or knowledge of the English language, but Kathy insists, so I will do my best to regulate my updates to prevent additional world suffering.

It has definitely been an interesting week.

I said goodbye to LA Digital on Friday with promises to stop by for lunch in the future. The weekend was pleasant, mainly because I got to sleep in, which was really nice. I went for a run around the pond in Central Park. I had my first run-in with a laundromat in the city (I got a month's worth of laundry done for $8 with a little bit of stuffing... I was proud). I've officially decided that Trader Joe's is every bit worth subway commute because it only costs about half what most grocery stores charge around here. The commute really isn't even so bad when I think of how long it took to drive to Walmart while I was in Montevallo. Everything is relative here. In the past few days I've been within 4 feet of Eva Mendes, Jason Sudeikis, Jason Bateman, and Hugh Jackman. I also started my new job at Dylan's Candy Bar.

BUT that's not the point of this blog...

Many seem to be curious about the new church I have so quickly come to love. Through subleasing from Shelly, I was encouraged to audition and fill-in for her at the Central Presbyterian choir. I was hired on the spot and attended choir practice that evening. While the choir is small (only about 12 people when we're all present - apparently there are a few more during the school year too) the people are incredible, and very passionate about worshiping God through singing. The choir has practice Wednesday nights, then again Sunday mornings. I love Sunday mornings because when we arrive, we start with Bible verses that have meant something to us that week, we pray and get our hearts prepared for worship, and we practice. THEN, we have a time of choir fellowship with scones (more to come on scones), and a devotional time lead by one of the sunday school teachers. At the end of the devotion we begin the service. After the service is over, there is a "coffee hour" for fellowship with others in the church. I love coffee hour - not only do they feed us, we just get to sit and enjoy each other's company. I've met some wonderful people with incredible stories at Central's coffee hour.

I've basically jumped in with both feet because the congragation is so welcoming. I attend a "Names of God" study on Sunday afternoons, which has really resonated with me this summer as I see different aspects of God's character revealed in various ways. I also attend a Women's Fellowship Group. I love the ladies of this church! There are a lot of older women, but then there are a lot of young families, and 20-30-somethings. It's a very diverse congregation. The only gap in the group is the "youth" age. I think that's mainly because the church is in a transition period, and these young families will grow and build the youth group in a few more years.

All in all Central is incredible. God is SO GOOD! And I have to go get ready for work!

More to come soon-ish, I promise ;)

Grace be with you,
Lindsey Shea

Friday, June 24, 2011

Real World: NYC

Workin 9-5, what a way to make a livin'...

I have a big-girl job this week. I feel like such an adult!

Well, actually right now I'm working 9AM to 6PM, and I eat lunch by the phones. Three days ago, I would have told you that while I was thankful for the opportunity, being a receptionist is the most miserable job in the world.

Today, I admit that a job is simply what you make of it.

For the past week, I have been the temporary receptionist for the company formerly known as LA Digital Post. (currently Butterfields, or Epic Post, or LA Digital, or [as I say when answering the phones] 'New York Post Facilities']). The company is in a transition period in many ways.

From what I can tell, there's been some type of merger, but that's not really a big deal. The big deal is that they just moved into an office building in the West Village a week before I got here. It's definitely been amusing to watch people scurry around, frantically digging through boxes to find office supplies or other essentials. At least, that's the way things were going at the beginning of the week. Today is Friday and most of the edit rooms are up and running, the boxes have been mostly unpacked, the kitchens are beautiful (and well stocked), the walls have been painted, and the windows have been cleaned and tinted.

My responsibilities include mainly answering/transferring the phones, cleaning/stocking the kitchen, signing for mail and packages, washing dishes when clients just leave them in the sink, copying, scanning, faxing, and Fedex-ing various document, ordering bagels on Friday, and ordering meals for clients other days during the week. It was a little overwhelming at the beginning, but I've settled into the routine quite nicely.

Because the headset isn't hooked up yet, I've been generally confined to the front desk. I thought I was going to go crazy on Monday! Since then, I've discovered all kinds of productive things to do on the computer. I've been catching up on all of the "happenings" in the industry on various Broadway and entertainment websites, sending out tons of headshots and resumes, noting interesting places and events to explore around the city, and of course, checking email, facebook, and twitter. My nook has also proven rather handy. I'm on page 290+ of Pride and Prejudice.

That's the boring part, for those of you who have been asking about my job. Here's the fun stuff:

The walls are turquoise and gold. There a green trees and other plants, and there are posters currently being put up on the finished walls. There's a painting crew touching up as I type. :)

Every morning I transfer to the 1 train, get off at Christopher Street, and explore a little bit of the infamous West Village. I've been trying to walk a different way each day to make the most of the few minutes I have out of the office. There seem to be a million little boutiques and restaurants around here, and even more apartments. Most of the buildings only go up to about 5 floors until you get down to Morton, then the high-rises start again.

Apparently, this week is Gay Pride Week in NYC, and the West Village is all a-flutter with rainbow flags and signs promoting specials at restaurants. Needless to say, it's a pretty colorful area.

I thought this area was generally nice: cute and quaint with small walk-ups lining most of the streets. That was, until I was told that many of those walk-ups are single-family homes! HOLY MOLY!! They're gorgeous!! And apparently ridiculously expensive.

I love the people I work with. I'm not exactly sure who my "boss" is. From what I can tell, there are three, maybe four, "bosses" in charge of the company, and then a "boss" for each group of clients. It doesn't really matter - they're all wonderful! We all eat lunch in the lounge (with the phone sitting next to me) and laugh and chat. They wear jeans! It's fantastic! I've gone back and forth between jeans and dresses, but it's nice to not have to worry about looking completely "corporate professional" every day.

We had preliminary "fire-safety" day a few days ago. At lunch, Jim (one of the bosses) came in and announced that we had to have elections for each EAP position that the building required for our floor. Basically, individuals had to be bribed with various goodies to accept a role in each Emergency Action Plan. By the end of the day, Jim and Kristin were wearing red EAP Warden and Deputy Warden baseball caps, Kevin - one of the techs- had on a school crossing-guard vest, and Julie- another tech- got to carry around the First Aid Kit for the whole afternoon. It was hysterical! I almost wish I could be here for the fire drill.

Our main in-house client at the Morton Street studio is MTV's 10 on Top. I think I'm allowed to tell you that. Either way, it's fun to walk past the edit rooms and peek in on everyone cutting and splicing and fixing celebrities and music videos. While it's not exactly my field of study, it's definitely been fun to observe and work in an "industry job".

I'm realizing today, because it's my last day, how much I'm actually going to miss this place. Kristin, one of the "bosses" told me yesterday, "I can't believe you're leaving after tomorrow. You just fit in so well here. It's like you're actually one of us. We're going to miss you." That made me feel wonderful! This is definitely a great crew of people, so if you ever find yourself in need of some editing space or tech help, I absolutely recommend Epic Post New York (or Butterfields, LA Digital Post, Post Facilities New York, etc). They'll take care of you.

Grace be with you,
Lindsey Shea

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Metro Transit Authority

I love the Metro system. Is that weird? By this point I've had plenty of practice on buses and trains, and I feel fairly competent in my navigation skills. Google Maps helps, too. There are random oddities I witness on my commute each day that I thought you might find amusing, and if you don't, well, they amuse me, and on a morning commute, that's important.

I've almost mastered the proper subway stance. Sitting: make yourself as small as possible, trying to touch no-one, with a blank stare into nothingness. Standing: make yourself as small as possible, trying to touch no-one, with a blank stare into nothingness, while shifting your weight to keep balance. I'm still working on the blank stare part. I have this eager curiosity to take in the scenery around me. There are always new faces on the train, each with a story. So far it seems perfectly acceptable to glance, but it is definitely a faux pas to be caught staring. I've discovered that my nook is actually a nice companion on long subway or bus rides, it keeps me interested without offending anyone, and I can peek over or around it to catch glimpses of the people on the bus going up and down, up and down, up and down. :)

There is a shuttle train running from Grand Central Station to Times Square (extremely convenient, always crowded). Last week I noticed said S train had been given a bit of a face-lift. I found myself riding in the midst of a massive Lady Gaga advertisement. This "Gaga-Mobile," if you will, is shrink-wrapped on the outside with Lady Gaga's face, decorated on the inside with promotional posters, and fitted with tiny televisions that loop clips from her most recent music videos. It was a little overwhelming. It was incredibly amusing, and the reactions of the commuters around me were even more hysterical.There were many explicit exclamations that in essence all expressed the same sentiment: "What is this?" Thank you Gaga for adding a little flavor to my commute.

There is almost always some form of musical performance in the large subway stations. People are just trying to make a little money doing what they love to do. If you have your ipod blaring in your ears, you can generally tune them out, but why? Yesterday I had the distinct privilege of hearing "Sweet Home Alabama" performed by a windpipe/bucket drum duet with synthesized accompaniment. I had to suppress the strong urge to yell "Roll Tide, Roll!" It's just a little habit I've developed over the past three years. Don't judge me.

Of course, you always have your break-dancers, your karaoke stars, and your guitar heroes. It's often quite impressive. Then again, often, not. So, while many of you enjoy your xm radio or ipod plug-ins on your way to work, I am serenaded by an endless array of interesting individuals. Be jealous.Well, don't actually, but you are welcome to be amused with me.

Grace be with you,
Lindsey Shea

Monday, June 20, 2011

Culture Shock!

Most cities in the United States of America have some artistic outlet where an individual can hear live music, see a show, or watch a performance. Many cities actually have multiple entertainment venues. The difference between the rest of those cities and New York City, is that NYC is simply bigger and better in almost every way imaginable.

In the past three weeks, I have been exposed to an abundance of artistic culture that many people don't have the opportunity to see in a lifetime. Not only is it readily available, it is top-quality, world-renowned talent... Again, only in New York.

As you may know, shortly after I arrived in the city, I got a student ticket for the new musical Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark. While my opinion of the show as a whole may be low, I don't know that I've ever seen such incredible special effects on a live stage. While the music quality is questionable and the book is weak, there is no denying the aesthetic pleasure of this Broadway show (FINALLY we can actually call it a Broadway show... good grief that was a long run of previews).


A few weeks ago, my mom's cousin and her husband were in New York for a business trip, and I had the pleasure of meeting her at the Metropolitan Museum of Art for a morning of art. That place is a massive maze of beauty. Had we had more than a few hours to pick our favorite exhibits before meeting Doug for lunch, we might have gotten lost among the modern, contemporary, African, Renaissance, and hundreds of other rooms filled with priceless masterpieces. We had to choose carefully, and I think for the amount of time we had, we made wonderful choices.
We started on the rooftop garden, covered in sculptures and overlooking the Manhattan skyline and central park.We then made our way downstairs to a night-photography exhibit where I got to practice my chiaroscuro identification (thank you Art 100 at UM). We actually then stumbled upon the Alexander McQueen Exhibition.
GASP!
Good gracious. I'd never really viewed fashion as art until we went in. It was bizarre and beautiful and powerful. If you've been living under a rock and have never heard of Alexander McQueen, please, for your own sake, look up his designs or watch bits of his fashion shows on youtube. His work is just unreal.
We passed through some modern art on our way to see the masterpieces of Monet, Degas, Picasso, Van Gogh, and other artists that my wonderful mother introduced me to at a very early age. It's just incredible to see, firsthand, artwork that you've read about for years. That's the best way I can think to describe it: incredible.

Side note, I didn't realize until the other day how often I use the word "incredible," so as of right now, that's the most important word in my vocabulary. That should help emphasize how much I appreciated it.

On the same day I got to experience the MET, I won tickets to Shakespeare in the Park's production of Measure for Measure. For those who don't know, the Public Theatre has been hosting free performances for the public for years at the Delacorte Theatre in the middle of Central Park. The Delacorte is a large, open, outdoor theatre that backs up to a small pond/lake in front of a miniature castle-esque building. I have a confession to make. I don't understand Shakespeare unless I read the synopsis, but fortunately there was a synopsis printed in the program, and the show was beautiful! I mean WOW there were some talented performers on that stage, and it was FREE!

Last weekend I had the opportunity to see Norbert Leo Butz and Aaron Tveit in the new musical Catch Me if You Can. Aaron Tveit's voice is pure deliciousness, yes, but Norbert Leo Butz absolutely stole the show. There are a lot of talented people in the world, but there are very few who can truly caputure an audience the way he did. I literally did not want to watch anything or anyone but him - not in a distracting way. He never really upstaged anyone. He wasn't over-the-top. He was simply captivating. The essence of stage presence. It is a rare treat to see that kind of performance live.

On Saturday night, I was invited to the American Ballet Theatre's performance of Copellia at the MET in Lincoln Center. If the ballet had been lame, it wouldn't have mattered. The opera house was phenomenal! The chandeliers hanging from the ceiling were exquisite, massive, and just plain sparkly. The gold walls and ceiling only made the lush red chairs and carpet seem that much more elegant.There were patrons in the audience with fur stoles. The whole atmosphere was exhilarating. Then, the lighthearted ballet was just breath-taking, fun, and, well, incredible.The standing ovation at the end lasted at least fifteen minutes. I've never applauded that long in my entire life. The prima ballerina ended up with so many bouquets of flowers that she had to set them on the stage. What a night!

Finally, last night I attended the Broadway Inspirational Voices concert: Wondrous Grace. The BIV is a choir of diverse Broadway performers who perform gospel and praise songs across the city to raise money and awareness for different philanthropic causes. The concert was hosted by Central Presbyterian Church- my "home away from home church." The president of the choir, Phylicia Rashad was among the powerful voices performing last night. The music was fantastic, don't get me wrong, but the coolest part of the night for me was that Phylicia (Clair Huxtable from The Cosby Show) was singing in the EXACT SAME SPOT that I stood to sing earlier that morning as a part of Central's choir. Clair Huxtable was singing in my church!!! OH I loved it! And again, the music was ridiculously powerful.

Three weeks... whew, it's been crazy! And as expensive as everything is here, I didn't have to pay more than $30 for any of these performances! Most were actually less. Granted, for a college student paying rent for the first time, 30 is still a decent amount of money, but each of these experiences was worth every penny and so much more!

That being said, I don't have to be the only one experiencing art this summer. Like I said, every city has SOME kind of wonderful performance just waiting for you. So, get out and go see a show, visit a museum, or listen to a concert! Support the arts, because art is beauty, and everyone needs a little beauty in his or her life.

Grace be with you,
Lindsey Shea

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Celebrity Sightings

Only in New York (and maybe LA) can you walk down the street and see a celebrity either giving a concert, stopping for pictures, or even playing games.

In the two weeks that I've been here, I've seen more "celebs" than I have in, well, let's just say a very long time. So, for those of you who follow the tabloids and can't get enough of the media mayhem, here's your blog...

I was walking down 5th Avenue the other day, just minding my own business, looking for a blouse to wear my first day at my new job, when I noticed a massive crowd clumped around a tiny little stage. I decided to stop and see what the commotion was all about. Mainly, I stopped because I had nothing else important to do because when you're unemployed in New York City, you've got to find all of the free entertainment you possibly can. There was a man onstage trying to pump up the crowd becasue "Jennifer will be out here in just a few moments!" Well, there are a lot of Jennifers in the world, but I was intreagued, so I stayed. I ended up watching CBS film their Early Summer Concert Series with Jennifer Hudson. She sang 3-4 songs, had a few dancers and some fun lights, and that was that. I moved on and so did everyone else. You don't get that in Biloxi, MS.

A few days before that, I was meeing my friend Chris at Washington Square. Chris and I did community theatre together back home, and he's now a student in New York. It took awhile to find Chris because I got so distracted by the sight of Mike Meyers playing beer pong in the middle of Washington Square! Who knows what he was doing!?!? Not me. There were a few cameras around, so they may have been filming something, or he may have just been killing some time, kickin' it in the square.

For those of you theatre buffs out there, you'll appreciate this one. If you've never cared about Broadway, you might as well skip this paragraph. I was walking back to my apartment after a relaxing picnic in Central Park when I saw Cheyenne Jackson driving down Park Avenue in a Range Rover! I almost passed out in the middle of the sidewalk. That may not be as exciting as meeting Cheyenne Jackson in person, like I did a few years ago at the stage door of Damn Yankees, but you definitely don't see that kind of thing in Montevallo.

Let's see. Who else is on the list...

OH, two more theatre names: Aaron Tveit and Norbert Leo Butz! I saw "Catch Me if You Can" last weekend and was floored by those two performers. Aaron's voice is beyond beautiful, and Norbert, well, he's Norbert flipping Leo Butz. I'll have a "show critique" blog soon, so you'll hear my whole opinion of the show.

I went to the filming of the Today Show's summer concert series at Rockefeller Center last Friday Morning and saw Matt Lauer. The Script performed that morning, and even though the lead singer had laryngitis, it was fun to watch the show.

THIS WAS MY FAVORITE! I was exploring Downtown Manhattan about a week ago (Battery Park, Brooklyn Bridge, Wallstreet, etc), because I've never been down there. I was wandering around Battery Park when I was redirected by an individual with a sign explaining that there was a television filming in process. I was nosy, and asked about the show. They were filming Damages, my mom's favorite show - with good reason (Damages has probably the best acting on television right now). Glenn Close was on set that day, right in front of the Statue of Liberty! I sat and watched for about an hour. I was close enough to hear some of the dialogue, and I got a couple of decent pictures before getting called in to sign some forms for my Temp Agency.

It's incredible what kinds of things you can see and do in the city if you just get out and go. I had no idea most of these were happening, I was just in the right place at the right time. I've realized that in life, those are some of the best moments: the stumble upons. So, here's to hoping for more stumble-upons, and more exciting adventures in New York City.

Grace be with you,
Lindsey Shea

Saturday, June 11, 2011

It's a Small World After All!

Every year, NYC hosts a Mississippi Picnic in Central Park. Mississippians who have relocated to New York and surrounding areas, Mississippi residents who want to spread MS hospitality and recruit/raise awareness, and New Yorkers who stumble across the blues music and smell of catfish all meet together to celebrate everything the Hospitality State has to offer. This year the theme was a celebration of 100 years of Tennessee Williams and other MS artists.

First, there was Blues music. Then there were plates of catfish, hushpuppies, french fries, and watermelon slices. Then, I noticed the free McAlister's sweet tea and brownies... SCORE! After visiting the local artist and author tents, and picking up a box of free cheese straws (SCORE AGAIN!), I stopped by the booths for the Universities. It was so fun to tell the representatives at Mississippi College's table about where my parents met and chat with the Mississippi State alumni about my the future bulldog in my family. I also met a sweet family whose son is going to be an Engineering major at State next year. He was adorable. I hope he meets my sister ; ) ... just kidding... kind of.

After listening to Haley Barbour welcome the crowd and thanking everyone for coming (despite the dreary weather), I started to walk back to my apartment, thinking that I had done and seen everything. All of a sudden, I heard my name!

Now I want you to understand, hearing someone call out your name in New York City is very rare and almost strange. Hearing someone call out your name and turn to find out they are really talking to you is incredibly bizarre! I turned to find an Ole Miss southern belle smiling at me. It took me a minute to process the whole situation, but I soon recognized the face as an old friend from my days competing in the Mississippi's Junior Miss Scholarship Program! Marianna and I had gotten to know each other pretty well during our week in Meridian back in high school, and we both had made Top 10 at the state level. We've kept in touch sporadically over the years through facebook, but I never really expected to see her again. We chatted for the longest time, just catching up and talking about summer plans. She's working on an internship in DC and their whole crew just decided to come up to NYC for the picnic! I told her about my summer plans (or what little I know- I'm still basically playing everything by ear). Turns out she wants to live in the city in the future, and I may have just found myself a Phi Mu roommate. (Did I mention we're sorority sisters? Because we are!)

Not long after, I bumped into a fellow Coastie, Emily. We both looked at each other with the "wait, don't I know you?" expression. It was a little while before we placed our mutual coastal connections, but then the laughter of recognition and old stories ensued. I absolutely couldn't believe I was hanging out with people I had known from back home and meeting all of their other Mississippi friends. It really did feel like a little bit of home in the big city.

After a long afternoon of blues music, lots of laughter, a little networking, sweet tea, and even a "Stella" contest (Thank you Tennessee Williams), I headed back to the apartment, thankful to call Mississippi home and New York a home-away-from-home.

Just goes to show, even in the Big Apple, it's really just a small world we live in.

Grace be with you,
Lindsey Shea

Friday, June 10, 2011

Alone in the world was a little CatDog

My family has never owned cats. I've never spent much time with any felines, really, but the ones with which I have been acquainted have never seemed to like me, and I must admit, I liked them even less.

I now live with two cats...

Kiarra is a black and white cat that weighs much more than she should. Kiarra hates me. She looks at me like she wants to claw my eyes out every time I walk into the room she is in. She avoids me at all costs, and will not let me touch her... I don't try anymore. I didn't like being bitten.

Nermal on the other hand is a very interesting kitty. I think the reason I can tolerate Nermal is because she thinks she is a dog. No kidding. And she acts more like a dog than any cat I've ever observed. Nermal likes being scratched on the belly. Nermal follows me around the apartment, everywhere! She even tries to sneak into my bedroom (she's not allowed, but it's so cute to see her little head poke up under the curtain). She growls at Kiarra when they are sharing food, and she plays fetch.

YES THE CAT PLAYS FETCH!

Well, sort of. Nermal has this awesome little trick where she sits on top of the toilet seat (closed, of course) and will catch a tossed q-tip between her paws, tuck it into her mouth, hop down, and drop it at your feet before climbing back onto the toilet to catch again. It is hysterical... I assure you, a video of this epic trick will be on youtube soon.

My roommate works a lot, and because I'm still looking for a job, I spend a good deal of my time at the apartment (which isn't a lot of time, but still) talking to Nermal. I guess that's one thing about the city I'm still not used to. At home and at school, I always have someone to talk to nearby. Here in New York, people don't really chat as much as they could, so unless I'm at church, at an interview, or catching lunch with a friend, I'm either talking to myself or to the cat. So, today, I thank God for Nermal for keeping me company in the big city. I would thank Him for Kiarra too, but I don't like that cat. Period.

I promise, my next blog will be about New York City, not cats, but I thought you should know about my roommates other than Kellie.

Grace be with you,
Lindsey Shea

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

One Week Anniversary

Be careful what you pray for, because you just might get it.

HAPPY ONE WEEK ANNIVERSARY! I've officially been here for a week. I still can't believe it. On one hand, it feels like I just stepped off the plane yesterday. On the other hand it feels as though I've spent a month exploring and networking. Today I thought it would be fun to recount my favorite memories of this week, some you've read about, some you haven't. So, in no particular order, here are my favorite parts of New York thus far.

1) A quiet rock in Central Park where I can sit and read Pride and Prejudice on my Nook while overlooking the city

2) A street fair I randomly stumbled upon on my way to Central Park to read my Nook that sold the most incredible red velvet cake double layer cookie i've ever tasted

3) Watching Glenn Close film a scene from Damages at Battery Park when all I really intended to do was see the Statue of Liberty

4) Being called to Mid-town from Battery Park to sign a confidentiality agreement for my FIRST TEMP JOB! I would love to tell you more, but I signed a confidentiality agreement ;)

5) The Metropolitan Museum of Art Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty Exibit with my (2nd?/1st once removed?) Cousin

6) Realizing (at the MET) while looking at Monet's Water Lillies that at this time last year I was looking at the same artwork in Giverny, France at Monet's gardens.

7) A fabulous Monday night Bible Study with some fantastic women from Central Presbyterian

8) Spiderman: Turn off the Dark - Act 2... Act 1 was miserable. Act 2 blew my mind... and I only had to pay $30 to see it

9) Successfully conquering the Bus system after the "Queens Incident"

10) MTV Movie Awards/Teen Wolf preview with my neighbor Kathryn as we watched her gorgeous face light up the screen for at least 6 seconds (she was an extra in Teen Wolf... We screamed)

11) Dylan's Candy Bar interview

12) Disney Store in Times Square

13) Pretending to be a Juilliard student and getting a library card at the New York Public Library for Performing Arts

14) 10 floors of Bloomingdales

15) Walking around and simply looking up.

I'm sure there are some things I have forgotten, and I hope to cover them in more detail in the next few days. I've been so blessed this week with so many answered prayers and opportunites. As you probably know, I like to keep busy, and New York has definitely proven to have plenty of ways to keep me on my toes.

Grace be with you,
Lindsey Shea

Saturday, June 4, 2011

City Wisdom Round 1

The first in what may or may not be a series of blogs about what I've learned:

Don't get on a bus if you don't know where it's going.

Proverbs 16:18 says "Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall." Well, it's true...

Somewhere between Tuesday and Friday I convinced myself that I was officially a city-girl, able to navigate the subway with ease, quickly zip in and out of tourists as I walk, and decode the grid that is Manhattan. I was invincible. In the spirit of exploration, I decided to forego the subway once again and catch a bus back to my apartment from my first few job interviews. (Remember, you can see more of the city when you ride the bus...Blog 2) Kathryn had explained to me that busses generally go along each street and avenue in a straight line, and you can transfer horizontally or vertically at just about any stop... At least, that's what I though she had explained.

I hopped on a bus somewhere near 45th and 6th, thinking that if I could just get to the East Side, I could transfer uptown and be good to go. The bus was nicer than the others I had been on. The seats were cushioned, so I thought I had gotten pretty lucky with a new upgraded vehicle. I saw that my supposed stop was coming up, so I collected my things and started to get up. Then the bus turned...

We got on a bridge. A bridge that left the island. A bridge that took me out of Manhattan. A bridge that I had never seen before. A bridge that was tucked in between some buildings SO CLOSE to what should have been my stop! I started to panic and asked the girl in front of me where we were going. She laughed a little and explained we were on an express bus to the absolute other side of Queens.

OH CRUD!

During the next 45 minutes we were riding into the middle of nowhere, my new friend explained that she had moved to the city from Ohio, and didn't use the busses for the first 2 years because they were so confusing. That made me feel a little better. I also got to see a part of New York I'd never seen before. That would have made me feel better if it wasn't so terrifying. By the time we FINALLY stopped, I was in the middle of a full-blown conversation with all five of the New Yorkers around me. They were incredibly helpful, explaining all of the different ways I could get back. I ended up having to get off the bus at the end of Queens Blvd, catch a bus going in the opposite direction, get off that bus at the next subway station, and catch the E train back into Manhattan.

When I finally reached Grand Central Station again, I started crying because I was so thankful to be alive and in a familiar place again... I treated myself to McDonalds, a quick touch up at Sephora (shout out to Sephora for making me smell decent again. thank you!), and the new musical Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark. My adventure was complete, and I climbed into my bed at the end of the night and slept harder than I have since I moved in.

No adventures for me today... I'm taking it easy... And it might be awhile before I get on another bus.

Grace be with you,
Lindsey Shea

Thursday, June 2, 2011

And thus it begins:

Blog 1 was easy... Blog 2...hhhmmm... I'm not even sure what to write. What do you want to know?

I've been in the city for two days and have already decided I never want to leave. It truly feels like I belong here (but then, when you know you're in the will of God, doesn't it usually feel like that?).
My apartment is fabulous. I have an incredible roommate with two cats. Now, we've never had cats because of allergies, so this is all rather new to me. One simply looks at me like I'm in his way all the time. The other follows me everywhere, and I mean everywhere. It may get old after awhile, but for now it's nice to have something to talk to when there's no one else around.

The lack of communication I have during the day is, well, it's weird. That's the only way I can think to describe it. It's not bad. It's not good. It's just new. I don't feel lonely, I just don't have anyone to talk to. Of course, being a true southerner I have started a few conversations at the bus stop, but generally I'm just doing my own thing and so is everyone else.

That being said, the evenings have been full of wonderful chatter. Yesterday evening, after pounding the pavement collecting job applications all morning/afternoon, I had a meeting/audition with the music director at Central Presbyterian about filling in for Shelly (my sublettor) in the choir. As a born-and-raised Southern Baptist, it blew my mind to hear that one could be paid to sing in a church choir; apparently it's pretty common here. After explaining how God had brought me to NYC for the summer, and after singing through a few scales and hymns, I was hired on the spot. At choir practice that evening, I was introduced to a small portion of my new church family. They are just incredible, talented individuals who are passionate about praising the Lord. One of my concerns about the city was finding a community of believers who would keep me accountable and encourage me through fellowship and God's Word. BUT, if I've learned nothing else, I've learned that God provides, and after an evening trip for gelatto with the other ladies in the choir, I quickly realized that God was obviously working in this community and they were ready and willing to pull me in with open arms. They've already even given me job recommendations and imparted a wealth of "city wisdom."

Ooh, city wisdom... that would be a good blog...

Today was rather similar in the fact that the day was fairly silent while the evening was full of laughter and conversations. I took the morning to fill out all of those many applications I had collected, and hit the city after lunch for what I deemed an adventure. I didn't know where I was going, and I didn't care. I hopped on the bus and rode down 2nd Ave until I felt like getting off. The subway is brilliant because it is so fast. The bus is pretty slow, but the advantage of the bus is that you actually get to see the city as you travel along! I ended up stopping at 42nd Street and took a walk down memory lane as I passed the Grand Hyatt,- the hotel where my show choir stayed on my first visit to NYC- the New York Public Library (GV to those who love the lion in the front as much as I do), and Times Square. After a subway ride to Lincoln Center, I decided to get a library card and spend a little bit of time doing research for Pippin at the New York Public Library for Performing Arts, conveniently located next to Julliard.

After my research was complete, I decided to check out the famous performing school. I walked in like I owned the place, and quickly turned around and walked right back out because I didn't have a student ID to get me through the turnstile. I wasn't bothered though, because when I walked out the front door, all of the other tourists looked at me with the excitement that only tourists have when they think they see something they've read about. For all intents and purposes, in that moment, I was not a student from Birmingham, I was leaving one of my summer classes in Rennaisance Play Analysis at The Julliard School. (Don't judge... I'm an actor... It's what we do) It was fun for about three seconds. Then I heard some kid on his cell phone yelling about needing his music equipment and needing it NOW, and I was so thankful for all of the nice people at Montevallo.

I had full intentions of moving on to Central Park to sit and read my Nook and enjoy the beautiful weather, but being the newbie that I am, I got completely turned around and just decided to get on another bus until I either saw Central Park, or ended up somewhere else that seemed interesting enough to explore. Fortunately I didn't have to wait long for a plan. Kathryn wanted me to meet her at the Apple store on 58th and 5th. I was already on one of the 60's and it didn't take long to figure out which way to go to find 5th. And then SURPRISE! There was Central Park as well. The night ended with sushi on the Upper West Side with another Samford graduate and a bus ride back "home."

Eventually I will know how to navigate the busses as well as I pretend to navigate the subways. I think learning Avenue names will be helpful, but I've got three months to figure it all out. The only even slightly negative thing I can think to report is the weather. I must have brought the heat and humidity with me on the plane because it was scorching and sticky when I first arrived on Tuesday. I probably wouldn't have minded so much if we had air conditioning in the apartment... The landlord is supposed to install that soon. Fortunately, though, today it was much cooler and pretty breezy.

Tomorrow I have an interview for a job and a Temp Agency, so if you think about it, please pray for me. I'm sure there are many adventures to come, so after a much longer blog than I intended, I am calling it a day.

Grace be with you,
Lindsey Shea

Monday, May 30, 2011

Before I leave Biloxi...

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the Lord.
-Isaiah 55:8

I've heard over and over in the past few weeks "Oh, Lindsey! Tell them the story of what you're doing this summer! But make it the short version..." I've tried and tried to cut the story down to a quick summary, but I've found it nearly impossible to cut out some of the incredible details Christ has worked out along this journey so far. So, here is the "not-so-short" version of the first step of my summer adventure.

In March, I attended the South Eastern Theatre Conference's professional auditions, hoping to get a summer acting job. I was proud of my audition, I got quite a few callbacks, and a few companies seemed genuinely interested in hiring me, so I started the waiting process, checking my email every few hours in hopes of a contract offer. The weeks passed, and I didn't hear anything, so I started putting in applications to other theatres and theatre camps, knowing that I had prayed fervently about where Christ wanted me to work over the summer, and trusting that with every door that closed, there would be one open door, leading to the summer God intended for me. While I knew he would provide, I started to get really frustrated with the fact that He hadn't shown up yet and wondered if He had forgotten about me completely. At the point when I was ready to give up, I made one last plea of surrender, begging God to just give me a hint that He was still working. Only once I had truly surrendered did the Lord start to reveal his plan... a plan I would have never imagined for myself.

During the spring semester at UM, we had a guest artist scheduled for a dance workshop. She is not only an incredible dancer, but she is a wonderful woman of the Lord who had recently earned her MFA at NYU. I had the chance to ask her about Manhattan churches, and I expressed my interest in living in the city at some point. She told me about a website, Redeemer.com, hosted by the Redeer Presbyterian church, that had a classified section for members or guests of the church to rent/sublet apartments (A Christian Craigslist according to my dad). At this point I had no idea I would be looking into apartments so soon, but Alisa was one of the first road-markers God put in my life to point towards a summer in Manhattan.

Now, I've always wanted to live in Manhattan, and I knew I would be there someday, but as I started to discuss options with my parents and professors, I started to realize New York could easily be in a more immediate future than I initially planned. I started to look through Redeemer's classifieds, as well as Trinity Grace and Craig's List options. I emailed 10-20 individuals in the first few weeks. Some were looking for more long-term roommates, some had just recently filled the vacancy, and others proved unavailable for various reasons. There were a few, though that seemed promising. I started an email conversation with a girl, Shelly. She was offering a three month sublet for a reasonable price on the Upper East Side, an area I knew fairly well from previous NYC visits. She asked if I had a friend in the city that would like to check out the apartment before I committed to a contract. That seemed logical. I called my friend Kathryn to look at the building and let me know.

Kathryn and I worked together at Student Life, Inc. two summers prior. Student Life, for those who don't know, is a wonderful company that provides youth groups with opportunities to go to Christian summer camps. Kathryn and I were both actors, and while we were on separate teams, we kept in touch throughout the summer and became close friends. I stayed with Kathryn at her Upper East Side apartment when I visited the city in January for a Broadway Intensive. I knew Kathryn lived just a few blocks away from Shelly, so I gave her the address and asked her to check it out. As soon as she saw the address, she called me and explained, "that's not a few blocks away... that's in my building." Shelly was living in the apartment directly under Kathryn and her roommates!

When I visited in January, I remember heading out the street one day on my way to a workshop, and getting stuck trying to unlock the front door. Fortunately a girl from the second floor came down at about the same time and was able to help me. We were both wearing the same black/white trench-coat-esque jacket, and laughed at the irony. As she pointed me towards the subway, we started chatting and she explianed to me that she was an "opera singer who did some musical theatre"... I emailed Shelly after Kathryn told me about the apartment and asked what she did in the city. She wrote back that she was an "opera singer who did some musical theatre"... I couldn't believe it. Of all of the thousands of apartment buildings in NYC, I had been lead to one in which I had already stayed. Of all of the millions of people in Manhattan alone, I was renting from a girl I had already met!!

I don't believe a bit of it was coincidence. God's timing is perfect and his plan is incredible.

Just two days after I had signed the sublease contract and sent in my first month's rent, I received a call from a company in Atlanta, offering me a wonderful job. I froze. This job, I knew, would offer a steady income and would be safe. Days would be scheduled for me, I would be interacting with other performers, working with kids, and even take some classes. It was the safe choice. There were still gaping holes in my New York plan- mainly the fact that I still have no job. For a split second I started to doubt. I realized though that God had not worked out all of the details so perfectly for me to drop the opportunity for something safe or familiar. I've committed to stepping out on faith, trusting that God will continue to provide as he already has. Turning down the job offer was easier than I expected, and I started to see the call as more of an encouragement than anything else. The Lord knew that I needed affirmation that I was qualified for other jobs, but that He had something better in store. Just two hours after I received that call, Shelly emailed me with possible income opportunities to fill in for her while she's away this summer. Whether or not these options pan out, it was just another confirmation that Manhattan is exactly where I'm supposed to be this summer, and that Christ is sufficient and will provide.

Grace be with you.
Lindsey Shea