L Train Photo: freewilliamsburg.com
A Day In The Stride
Lincoln Center Rush
By Glennis McMurray
Welcome to a new G.L.O.C. column highlighting the ins and outs, ups and downs of being a working actress in New York, A Day In The Stride, written by founder of G.L.O.C., GLENNIS MCMURRAY.
I am a New Yorker by way of a trailer park in Colorado. I claim the title “New Yorker” with pride just as I did the title “trailer trash” in my early life because, dammit, I earned it. My domination of these gritty New York streets began at age 19 when, upon arrival, I vowed, in my overalls and box-colored blonde hair, to make it as a real New York actress. And I don’t mean to brag, you guys, but I am one of those rare and enviable overnight success stories. Just 12 years later—twelve!—I am certifiable. Don’t hate me because I’m living my dream; hate me because I just booked a local Wendy’s radio demo. (After two callbacks.) I am an actress living in New York. This is my story.
The sounds coming from my ear buds change from the gentle stylings of Paul Simon to the booty-blasting beats of the Chemical Brothers. We are clearly on shuffle, iPod and I, and the volume has clearly not been equalized. Add that to my To Do list. My eardrums threaten to revolt down into the safety of my bowels in the wake of this audio assault. Could I help I would, but figuratively speaking, my hands are tied. Literally speaking, my arms are pinned to my sides as I stand packed in a sea of hipster sardines on a rush hour L train streaking under the East River into Manhattan. I break into a sweat in my winter wear as I frantically try to reach the iPod in my right pocket before my hearing is permanently damaged and my affinity for techno causes an eye-rolling revolt among the uberhip that surround me. My head, which is packed with a sort of concrete mucus mixture from the super virus I’ve caught, for the second time, from the cast of my current show, threatens to split wide open and ruin the vintage wear of my fellow passengers. I do the only thing I can think to do. I stealthily wrap a finger around the cord aiding the assault and rip the ear buds from my ears. Relief! Momentary. I instantly realize these block-rocking beats are now blocking and rocking everyone within my direct vicinity. Spontaneous dance party, anyone? Not today, McMurray. Throwing genuine looks of apology throughout the train as we sway back and forth, I wonder if indoor rain is a possibility as it’s the only thing that could make my morning commute worse. Perfectly on cue, my blocked-up nasal passages let loose and I feel a tiny line of snot start to run down my upper lip.
The doors open at my transfer station (sweet relief!) and I bolt off the train simultaneously checking my phone for the time (late!) wiping my nose (with my sleeve!) and replacing the dangling ear buds in my ears. Bonnie Raitt accompanies me through the tunnel connecting the red and orange lines as I dodge morning commuters in my raggedy 6-year-old boots. My neon yellow sock pokes out of one of the many holes (one for every year) threatening to disintegrate the boots mid-stride. I’m going to get these boots repaired. Tomorrow. It’s on my To Do list. The red subway line in sight, I check my phone for the time. I have 15-minutes to make it 52 blocks uptown. I hope for the sweetest of New York moments: perfect commuter/train arrival synchronization. I near the steps leading down to the subway platform.
The platform is nearly invisible under a sea of bodies. Train troubles. My brain goes into overdrive. Should a train arrive in perfect synchronicity with me (seriously, there is nothing better) it will be another exhausting fight to climb aboard. Well, bring it. Give me all the dirty looks you want, ladies and germs (sniff, sniff *cough*), I am getting on this mother-humping train. Don’t you know who I am? Don’t you realize where I am headed? I am a New York Actress! Today I perform at Lincoln Center! Yes! THE Lincoln Center! In a theatre! Yes! A real theatre! For children! Yes! REAL children! So stand aside, you paper pushers, I have an improvised musical to perform.
Jeff Hiller & Glennis duet in Baby Wants Candy Photo: Leah L
Yes, musical improv. It’s sort of my specialty. (Cher-like hair toss.) I performed in a two-woman group for 5 years and all I got was a lousy box of t-shirts nobody cares to purchase. Spending 5+ years of your life perfecting a skill, such as the improvised musical, is a little like getting a degree in Philosophy. Useless in the real world and an embarrassment to your parents. Regardless, the audience of 6th graders that morning eat it up, and I leave the theatre feeling like I’ve really made a difference in their lives. Sure, they sat silently, arms crossed, as I portrayed possibly the world’s most delightfully neurotic hoarder turtle (the irony of a turtle buying paper towels in bulk is wasted on the youth) and they boo’d when I mentioned Justin Bieber (noted), but I’m pretty sure at least a few of them will take to the stage later in life because of me. (As political figures looking to cut arts programs.) You’re welcome!
The show ends. I head outside, check my phone and secretly puff a cigarette—the first & last thing I need—in a hidden corner out of view as the children head to their buses. I wouldn’t want them to see their idol succumbing to her vices. I leave that to Lindsay Lohan. I have 20-minutes until my next appointment in a day without a real break until 10 p.m. that night, when my (NY Times reviewed!) show ends and I can wearily drag myself home only to rinse and repeat tomorrow. It starts to rain but I’ve come prepared and I slip two plastic bags over my socks to counter my holy boots (Batman) and protect my sweet, neon socks. Putting out my cigarette with my boot, I rub my eyes with my paws raccooning my mascara. I’m already exhausted so I reach for my morning bagel nestled inside my purse to fuel me through the next few hours. Looking up at Lincoln Center, I remind myself how cool this all would have sounded to the 19-year-old me sleeping on the floor of a railroad apartment in Jersey City. I’m not chained to a desk in a shitty day job and in a few minutes I’ll be auditioning to be the new voice of Yoplait. You’ve come a long way, McMurray.
I mean you’re still kind of an idiot, but now you’re an idiot who makes money doing what you love.
This post was commissioned by and originally posted on Comediva.com.