NYC and Me: Year One - A Summary

Last year, I started this blog. I was encouraged by family and friends to journal about my first year in “The Big City”. I touched it 4 times, and then I never touched it again.

I want to pick the practice back up again and invite readers to share in my story. At the bottom of this post are the four initial blog posts from last year….from when I moved to NYC to when I left for China. I’m about to leave for China again and I’d like to touch base on what this past year has brought me.

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Post 1- September 2017

I’m three weeks into this thing. NYC is a beast. There’s no doubt about that. I’m tickled at the thought of millions of people moving together within a 5-mile radius. It’s a giant beehive….but that image is expected. When people from home raise their eyebrows and ask me “You’re living in New York City? ” I smile and remember the other millions of people who have had this very same conversation. I enjoy the sparkle. I enjoy the grind. I enjoy the people. We’ll see if I eat these words in a year or so, but I don’t think that will happen. God has given me something wonderful; a heart that views people as He sees them…His children. Every shape, color, and size are here in this city, and He sees them all individually. They are more special to Him than the stars in the sky, and therefore, they are unique to me. They intrigue me. They fascinate me. Let’s see if they will listen to me when I tell them “God loves you” in every way I know how. 

And that is why I am here. 

- Cheers

“Just a face in the city…just a tear on a crowded street, but you are one in a million and you belong to Me and I want you to know that I’m not letting go even when you come undone.

I love you more than the sun and the stars that I taught how to shine. You are mine, and you shine for me too. I love you yesterday and today and tomorrow, I’ll say it again and again…I love you more.” – Matthew West, More.

Post 2 - September 2017

Walking down Bleecker St. (my street) in Brooklyn, I see a variety of people, and therefore a variety of stories. God has created everyone as a storyteller. By simply being, we are telling a story with our dress, our smile (or lack thereof ), and our carriage. As I observe the people, the street and the homes that surround me, I allow my mind to wander, and consequently, I notice the details of my surroundings.

For example, I've noticed how wonderful and inviting a street seems when trees line the sidewalks. I've noticed that school buses bring nostalgia to a neighborhood. I've noticed that well-kept doors create a sense of safety. I think it is comforting to see order and thoughtfulness in a space. It's what makes being human artful. I would wager that art is an element of all human hearts, and it sets us apart from the rest of creation. The ability to make order out of chaos is a huge responsibility, and it is why we humans are here. We have an internal call to take care of and to make order out of this world. Many have forgotten the call, but many have not. Think of our city developers, community organizers, and business people; the engineers, manufacturers, and architects; the carpenters, designers, and decorators...it takes a village of artists to make a village.

Although my philosophy is one of optimism and hope, I cannot ignore our reality. Even Mother Nature shows me that our world is out of whack (prayers for all hurricane victims are being lifted).  With the same powers that give us abilities to create good, the human race has done a fantastic job at creating bad. Humans are a force of paradox and confusion. It's one of the reasons why I love them. I'll echo the same sentiment from my last post; humans are fascinating.

Post 3 - October 2017

The leaves are starting to change here in Brooklyn! It's quite romantic walking down the street as the wind throws the hem of my dress back and the leaves fall before me like every young man I've ever encountered...I hope you can hear the sarcasm in my writing on the last bit of that sentence. No man has ever done that...ever, BUT, no- matter, I quite enjoy my solitary walks through my neighborhood. They give me a great chance to practice looking up instead of looking down at my phone. I get to practice smiling at other human beings ("I just like to smile. Smiling is my favorite."- ELF). I also get to look up and remember who brought me here. I give thanks to my God for all He has done and will do in this life.

For example, in the last few weeks, the Good Lord has had me take up a babysitting gig, witness the magic of a street corner, and showed me that I am a sucker for well executed baked goods.

The babysitting gig was a long time coming. My dear friend, Maddy Miller, has been here all summer babysitting for a lovely family on the UWS (Upper West Side). When Miller found out that I was moving to the city at the end of the summer, she asked me if I would replace her in her babysitting position. (This is also when I found out what the difference between babysitting and nannying was. Babysitting is short, sweet, and sometimes sporadic. Nannying is every day and the responsibilities are much more intense.)  I said, "yes", of course! I was about to move to a new area and a babysitting gig would get me out of the house and in connection with an established family. The best part of the gig was that the parents only needed someone for a few hours each week, which left me plenty of time to work elsewhere and take classes. After a few weeks of working for the family, I am happy to say that the child is adorable. Although she has her moments, she is an adventurer! She is constantly on the jungle gym or walking next to me (she's not a fan of the stroller. I think she feels oppressed when shes buckled in.) We can walk together for 20 blocks or more before she starts to show signs of exhaustion. It is pretty impressive. I'm excited to see who this girl grows up to be...female Micheal Phelps? I wouldn't be surprised.

Post 4 - November 2017

WHAT A MONTH!

FIRST OF ALL- Happy Thanksgiving. :) If you are reading this, you are probably a close family or friend s let me just tell you how much I love you and you will be receiving a call from me at some point during the day so make sure you pick up the phone or you have a killer voicemail box set up.

Now onto life.

Well, I am currently in New Orleans, rehearsing with the technology-based dance company, Lightwire Theater. We are polishing our holiday show, "A Very Electric Christmas." This show is going on tour, so we leave for Alaska in three days. We spend a week in Alaska and then we head to China for three weeks. It will be an adventure for sure! Here is a link to the company's website with more details about the show:

https://www.lightwiretheater.com/a-very-electric-christmas/

Below are some pics from rehearsals. The first picture is of us rehearsing our Waltz of the Flowers. The net one is of us "glowing." That means out lights are on and the number is being shown as it would be in a real performance. Photo cred to fellow cast mate, Sam Rounds! I'm having a blast getting to know these crazy people in these crazy costumes.

The hardest part of this show is the attention to details in the hands! There is choreography for the body, but there is hand choreography to operate all the machinery. We have soldier uniforms, rat costumes, giant birds, small birds, a nutcracker....its the whole holiday she-bang down here in NOLA! Operating everything is a whole new level of detail I have never had to work with, so I feel very good about adding that skill to my arsenal. It's intense to trust a certain amount of your performance to a machine. Dance is so reliant on the human body, that I get very nervous before we start that some part of the machinery will fail me. However, that is why presetting all your own machines is so important. If you use it, you should set it up, tear it down, and put it away...if only to eliminate any excess human error.

The show is a gamble in some ways. It's so much fun when you get it right, but sooooooo terrible if you get it only a slight bit wrong. Light travels faster than most things, so when something goes wrong, YOU KNOW!  The margin of error is little to none.

I was talking with my boyfriend about how wonderful it is to be a new professional. It's wonderful when you do something well and you know its something you've worked on. When you feel all the training has been worth it, the fulfillment is amazing. I thank God for bringing me to place where I can show the world what I have to offer by His grace only.

There are other updates in life at present, but it is 6am and insomnia only lasts so long. Time for rest. I will be writing from China in the next post. Then, I will have even more to share.

Until then,

eat, drink, and be merry. It's the holiday season :)

AND YOU NEVER HEARD FROM ME AGAIN…

:)

POST 5 - 2018

I hope we all had a very good holiday season. I did!

I flew home ON CHRISTMAS. It was amazing. This year, I will not be so fortunate. I will in China for both Christmas and New Years with a group of people who are now strangers to me, but who, I’m sure, will become good friends (fingers crossed, prayers lifted). People will MAKE OR BREAK a working environment….and with a job that requires one to trust their other colleagues intensely and intimately for two months straight, one must pray their teammates are decent.

What are the characteristics of decent teammates? These characteristics shift with each job. When you are assessing a new team for a job, you are taking inventory of the tools in your team’s toolbox. Three obvious characteristics needed to work well with others include:

-          Listening Skills: easier said than….heard?

-          Open Mindedness: be unafraid to try a new idea that wasn’t your own.

-          Humor: no better way to bond than over a good laugh.

In the end, if the characteristics of each teammate ends in good team work, then you’ll survive.

 

Speaking of survival, I survived my first NYC audition season. Whew!

Some days were slow, and some days were quick, but all days were adventuresome. After suffering through many auditions without a proper warm up, I finally figured out how to sign-in on time, go to the gym for a full hour warm up, and arrive dressed and ready for number calling. It seems simple on paper, but the nerves of your first few auditions can really cloud your judgement and cause you to waste time. I found it incredibly helpful to play through the morning’s event’s the night before as if it were choreography. In a sense, it is. You are priming your body for the simple movements of first fruits of your day. Many professionals in all industries will tell you that the first few hours of your day are the most precious because they either set you up for success or failure. Take time to rehearse a good morning routine on an audition day. It helps to guide your body when your brain is cluttered with sleepiness and anxiety. Then, when you find yourself in the middle of the third round of auditions feeling strong and confident, you can thank your yesterday-self for taking the time to rehearse.

That’s all I’ve got for now. CHEERS to a full year in NYC!

With love and hope,

Sierra Lai Barnett

Sierra Barnett