Friday, August 5, 2011

Writing to no one: a post-grad story

So, recently, some of my undergrad friends decided to start a little newsletter to "publish" and leave lying about our theater building's greenroom.  Said newsletter would serve a useful function: ie: to announce shows and to help people find collaborators in and out of the department, but would also serve as a place for us to, as one friend put it, "collaborate to put out something fun, pithy, only mildly mean, and generally hysterical."   I was one of two recent alumni included in various facebook messages and groups regarding this publication, and my status as a grad was making me a little sad, in terms of this publication, and you know, in terms of the unknown status of the rest of my life.  They suggested I write an article about my first summer post-Schwartz (our department building is called the Schwarz Center) and I gladly obliged.  And then I realized something.  That was kind of fun.  I like to write.  Maybe I should start a blog.

I have had blogs before.  A craft blog, and a fashion blog, which I actually kept up with for quite a while, but in a way, I feel like those blogs were never really for me.  I was trying to show off to an audience that, for the most part, didn't exist, and after a while keeping up with blogging started to feel like a chore.  That is why I want this blog to be different.  I want a place where I can, write to no one, as it were; a place for me to be creative, and get my thoughts and feelings down, if I want to; where I can try to be funny and pithy and what not (though generally I find I tend to ramble and be quite the opposite of pithy) but where it doesn't matter if I fail.  I want a place which is all about the words.  Or maybe pictures if I get inspired.  But for now, just words.  So many people stress how important it is to stay creative at this point in my life and I have all these friends who do that by writing plays or music, or utilizing some other creative outlet that requires skills that I don't have.  However, this, this I think I can do.  

But, in case anyone out there does decide to read this, I suppose I shall say a little something about who I am.  After all, I am putting this on the web and not in a notebook by my bedside (I wrote website there at first...), because I think the public nature of a blog will help encourage me to create content.  And hey, maybe one or five of my friends will decide they want to read what I have to write.  Who knows?

Anyway, my name is Nathalie Frederick, and I graduated from Cornell in May 2011 with a degree in theatre arts, with all the fancy honors and distinctions that make you feel special for a day but two months later are generally useless... unless having your Phi Beta Kappa key serve as an impetus (here, my brain kept trying to get my to write "impotence"...) for an Eli's delivery boy to spark a conversation with you and attempt to pick you up on the subway is useful (sorry young man, you're barking up the wrong tree.)  I am now living in New York City, with my parents, in the neighborhood where I was born and in the apartment where I was raised, and I am trying to make it as an actress.  And this is my life story.  Or something to that effect.  For now, I plan to keep this blog fairly no frills, just about the words (which really means no one will read this... a blog with no layout and no pictures? pshaw) but who knows, maybe at some point I will feel like getting fancier.  We'll see where this takes me.  If you want pretty colors and pictures and things I suggest you check out my professional site:  I did think about integrating this blog with that site, but decided that that's professional and this is personal.  So here we are.

Anyway, to begin, as if I haven't already said enough, I wanted to post the article I wrote for the aforementioned publication:  The First Post-Grad Summer.


The First Post-Grad Summer

The first post-grad summer.  For me, it lies somewhere in a place between freedom and confinement, an inexorable land of limbo.  I mean, I haven’t really graduated until everyone else goes back to school, right?  Freed from the prospect of classes, papers, and assignments, instead, I am back at home with my parents, their eyes perpetually judging my state of unemployment, how late I come home at night, that I haven’t unpacked yet, and whether or not I’ve gone back to the freezer for a second helping of ice cream.  Granted, I am a member of the lucky few, living in Manhattan rent free because I was born and raised here.  But this return to a pre-college state makes me feel less like I have progressed onto adulthood, and I cling to childhood, a world of few responsibilities, by the whitening tips of my fingers.   As an actor, there are plenty of auditions to be had, but many are for things you might have turned your nose up at in college.  When you book that low budget (unpaid) independent film with a questionable script (college juggling club battles monsters from another world?) you waffle, but accept, because really, what else are you doing right now?  Auditions gradually begin to bring less suspense.  Instead of just one or two rounds a semester that you put all your faith in, they fall gradually into a steady stream--if you’re lucky--for you to attend, forget, and generally, never hear from again.  Looking for auditions and planning your schedule become a full time job, sometimes so full time you forgot you will also soon need a job which pays you.  You spend hours a day trolling the net, and any kind of planning, be it work or fun, becomes increasingly difficult when you never know what might come up last minute (hi, I received your headshot and resume, will you be in my student film short tomorrow?)  The uncertainty is refreshing, but stressful, and google calendar becomes your new right hand.

Not to say there’s no fun to be had here in post-grad land.  New York City is full of bars, people, and things to see and do, and there are plenty of other post-grads for you to hang out with.  Alex Viola (post-grad ‘10) just played Nina in The Seagull in Riverside Park and Amanda Idoko (also ‘10) has been performing in serialized sketch comedy at The Flea Theater, where you get a free beer with your $10 ticket, a clear win.  The free and discounted are highly sought after by our kind in this city.  There are also people to collaborate with here, but a lack of resources means your next reading is probably going to happen in Prospect Park, or in someone’s living room (Ryan Olivera ’08).  While the city is full of what to do, the hour and a half subway ride from a bar in Brooklyn in the middle of the night often makes an evening on your couch with hulu and your cat immoderately appealing, and the once grueling walk from collegetown to north seems like a brief stroll.  At least it won’t take long for you to become a lightweight, a blessing on your wallet when you do go out, at $6-$10 or more per drink.
I don’t mean to sound like I’m complaining about this land of ambiguity I now live in.  Every day feels a little like holding your breath, exhilarating but exhausting, whether it consists of four auditions back to back spread out all over Manhattan, or four episodes of The Voice back to back stretched out on your couch.  While it’s nice to languish in lazy days once in a while, I think one of the most important things to do in post-grad land is to stay busy and be proactive, lest you slowly start to lose your mind.  In the next month I earnestly plan to begin agency submissions, train for my prospective New York City tour guiding job and maybe, just maybe even unpack.  For now, however, I am doing my best to enjoy these last few days of summer, the days that lie between now and when you will sit in the greenroom reading this, and I will finally be forced to admit, that I am indeed a post-grad and there is no going back.  Right now, I think it’s best to take things one day at a time, so I’m going out for a run and then I need to action my scene for a Chekov acting workshop I’m taking… perhaps the post-grad life isn’t so different from college after all.


By the way I wrote that article two days ago.  I did go for a run, but I still haven't actually actioned my Chekov scene.  Whoops.  That is rather collegiate of me, isn't it?

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