On Saying Yes

There have been a number of instances over the past few months when I’ve really thought long and hard about throwing in the towel. Not on life, obviously, but very truthfully on New York. I’ve never been too shy or modest to say that this city will eat you up if you let it. And sometimes, even for the most enthusiastic of its fans (i.e. myself), surly New York can get pretty darn close to taking a big bite of your confidence. Her sharp, pearly whites are constantly chomping at the bit of your dreams. If you’re lucky, she’ll rip you up and spit you out. But preferably, she’ll swallow you whole…

But then you’re walking home from an after-work yoga class, and due to forgetting proper footwear, you have to do the 50 minute commute home in dressy boots, a long overcoat, short gym shorts and an oversized tee. You resemble what could only be described as an out-of-shape, disheveled, and just overall bad, masculine prostitute, when you run into someone on the street looking 11 shades worse, and who is very much rocking it on purpose.

Or you’re heading to a friend’s apartment after a long day to work on a project and you, like any annoying, yet serious-about-her-career New Yorker, need caffeine. You stop at the local coffee shop on the way to the E and the Barista says, “Hey, this one’s on me.” It was probably because you’re so sleep deprived you look like you could murder four puppies without blinking and he’s frightened, but you know, in a world of jerks, it’s a win.

And then you have a Monday — a figurative AND literal Monday at work — and due to a swirl of irony and happenstance, you make one of your favorite comedians laugh. A silly face, some dumb accent. It very well could have been a pity laugh, but if he felt compelled enough to fake it, at least you must have been true-to-form: awkward and hopefully, likable.

This city isn’t for the faint of heart. It isn’t for the half-assers, the get-embarassed-easilyers, or the try-it-once-but-then-I’m-done-ers either. And contrary to popular belief, it isn’t even for the dreamers. It’s for the doers. The open-minded, hard-working, inadequate humans who fail SO much and HATE it — but aren’t afraid to keep failing. To keep improving. To keep trying. To keep saying yes. The kind of people who say “Yes” are not the kind of people who succeed in New York, but rather are the kind of people who survive here.

Maybe it’s not even specific to New York. In light of taking an improv workshop with Second City through my job and re-reading Tina Fey’ Bossypants, I feel enlightened and compelled to keep saying “Yes” to life. I haven’t finished meeting these insane and wonderful people harboring vast and unique experiences only New Yorkers can offer. I’m not over chasing my dreams. I’m not done with New York, and I don’t think New York is done with me. I have more to do here — more to experience, more to lean — and I’m excited and ready for whatever that may entail.


Have you said “Yes” today? Or walked by someone wearing fishnets, black spandex and a cowboy hat out in public? If so, where do you live? And why?


I’m a UCB Fangirl, and You Should Be Too


At least once every month I try to make my way over to the Upright Citizen’s Brigade Theatre to catch some type of comedy show. Whether it’s an improv troupe, or sketch show in Chelsea or a stand-up special at UCBEast, it’s always worth the $5 or $10 I spend on a ticket. Truthfully, it’s worth much more as UCB is the top comedy school in the nation and the seriously insane level of talent that it houses is unreal.

A crowd favorite, and one of (if not the) longest running shows at UCB is ASSSSCAT 3000, which is offered at 7:30pm and 9:30pm each Sunday. It’s always a fully improvised show (they play off the stories of a guest monologist) and usually features some of the greatest people in the industry. Some of my fav ASSSSCATers [I’ve seen] are: Zach Woods, Adam Pally, Gavin Speiller, Fran Gillespie, Neil Casey, and the always hilarious Shannon O’Neil. I consistently pray to the comedy gods that one of these Sundays, I will cross paths with the beautiful and glorious UCB founder, Amy Poehler. So far, no cigar, but I remain hopeful.

If you live in NYC, like to laugh (or just generally smile and/or not be a terrible person), SHAME if you haven’t gone to a UCB show. If you’re visiting New York, attending a performance – any performance – really should be on your tourist to-do list, right up there with seeing Lady Liberty and eating at the Times Square Applebees.

I’ll likely never be one of the top actresses, improvisationalists (a word I made up) or sketch writers in the industry, but anytime I’m at a UCB performance, I break out of whatever world I’m spinning in for an hour or 90 minutes, and just laugh. And any place that can get someone like me out of my head that quickly and reliably in the heart of NYC deserves some serious accolades. Book those show rezzies here!

Yes, and…

I am at a crossroads in life, once again. In some ways, we are always at a crossroads. But, when the decisions require a little more effort than Subway vs. Chipotle, I become a little anxiety-prone and have to ask every person I know for advice. (And speaking of the great Subway vs. Chipotle debate of last week, my apologies to the customers I was polling on that…on the off-chance any of you read this blog.)

In addition to making this “Great Decision of 2012” (as we’ll now refer to this cryptic possible turning point of my life), I have also been thinking, for whatever reason (because I think too much) about the improv philosophy of “Yes, and…” while drawing parallels between it and life. For those of you who don’t know anything about life the world of improv comedy, the “Yes, and…” principle refers to when an improvee (improvist?) vocalizes a decision onstage, his fellow improvitutes are to follow suit and add something if they don’t like the direction the skit is heading, and never, ever, ever shut the original improvonaut down.

An Example:

Ron: This warm, starry night would be perfect for cow-tipping!

Leslie: Yes, and we would get to visit Lil’ Sebastion’s parents on the farm, too.

Ron: Yes, and we haven’t gotten to see them since that miniature horse’s sad passing.

Leslie: Yes, and I can’t believe that happened. Thinking about it now is making me tear up.

Ron: Yes, and that only happens to me when I think about Jerry’s life.

Something like that, I think. (I’m no improvonaut.) My purposed thesis to question the practicality of applying this philosophy in real life decisions. One of my coworkers has told me this is one of the reasons that lead to his long and successful career. First, he never had a boss whose name was not on the door of the store he was working in–which, this idea is already out the door for me as I have no idea who the original JoAnn or Mr. Sears is/was? And secondly, anytime his manager said, “Ken, would you like to move to Austin to open this store?” or, “We’d love you bring you to Los Angeles to head up the new sales team,” his response was, “Yes, and when would you like me there?” He believes that one of the best things about being young, strong-willed and unattached is that the wind can blow you anyway it chooses…and that you should let it.

The Great Decision of 2012 (both my thing and the presidential election) could have a big impact on the world my personal life. I’ve done the pro and con list, googled “decision maker” and typed my question in to an online magic 8 ball, talked both of my mom’s ears off AND cried on the subway like nine times. I’m ready for a big change in one very important area of my life, but not ready to change another equally important area of my life. I could see things working out very well for me in both scenarios, and I also could see a swirling black hole of unhappiness and regret in both decisions. Basically, I do not know what to do and have exhausted each and every option of advice I can get except to translate this mess of a situation into a  confusing, cryptic mass of words and employ strangers blog-reading friends on the internet to have at it. So…GO!

In [Mandy’s] Great Decision of 2012 (NOT the presidential election, just to clarify), Mandy should:

  1. Trust the way her gut is kiiiind of leaning, which is the little bit easier and more comfortable decision, even though she could possibly not get what she wants out of other aspects of her life for some time.
  2. Trust the way her brain is kiiiind of leaning, which requires more effort, but she thinks is a stepping stone in the right direction, although she will kind of feel like a failure in other aspects of life for choosing this.
  3. I have no effing idea what any of this even meaaaans, it is all too cryptic and confusing for my brain!!! (Editor’s note: for the record, this would probably be my pick)
  4. Yes, and Mandy needs some wine.
  5. Yes, and I need some wine.
  6. Obama?