Friday, November 13, 2009

One with Singapore

One night that so vividly remains in my memory when I think of moving to New York City 4 years ago was my first night there. I had "set up" the room I was subletting as good as I possibly could, having only shown up there with 3 suitcases, one of which had a blow up mattress. I had unpacked my clothes into little piles along the wall, inflated the mattress and made it up, and pulled out my laptop. The ceiling in that apartment was huge because there was a loft and it just made the nearly empty room seem even more cold and lonely. I sat down on the air mattress and looked around thinking, "What have I done?" I just felt like I didn't belong in that city, in that apartment, in that world of New York City.

When I took the subway, I would always manage to get lost or board the train going in the opposite direction. I felt like I was constantly looking for a friendly face to ask which way was what! One day when I was looking for an audition, it had started to pour down rain and my umbrella had flipped inside out and got so mangled I just pitched it in the garbage. New York City garbage cans were often full of umbrella carcasses on particularly rainy and windy days. I had been walking around the same 3 blocks, but it seemed like whenever I reached the street corner, I realized I should have gone the other way so I'd turn around and reach the next corner and still somehow be wrong again. It seemed impossible and I literally stood on the street corner, in the pouring rain, not even caring anymore, just wanting to go home and about to cry. Someone felt sorry for me and said, "Where are you headed?" Then they pointed me in the right direction. (And who says New Yorkers are cold?) I remember thinking I had never felt so alone, while constantly surrounded by people.

Eventually, I learned the subway route. By the time I left I could tell you the order of pretty much every stop on all the trains in Manhattan. I'd hop in a cab and tell the driver which roads to take to get to my destination the fastest. I felt confident walking down the street and didn't have to stand on the corner and stare at the signs when I came out of the subway so that I could get my bearings. It wasn't until about 3 months into living there that I felt like I belonged there, though. I was on the subway platform, listening to my ipod, on my way to work when a young woman came up to me, looking worried, and asked if this was the train she took to get to Union Square. In the few months prior, if someone asked me how to get somewhere (which they rarely did, because I looked lost and vacant most of the time) I would say, "I'm sorry, I'm new here. I'm having trouble figuring it out myself." But the flip had switched. I knew where I was. I said, "No, you have to go to the other platform. Just take the stairs up here, and make a right." As she walked away, I felt this new ownership of New York. I became a "city girl." I loved it.

Moving to Los Angeles had a different feel because you are always in your car. I had a navigation system so I became much too reliant on that. I definitely believe that I didn't know LA as well as I should have by the time I came to Singapore because I was always staring at that stupid Garmin instead of looking out the window and figuring it out. But, it saved me a lot of hours of getting lost and missed auditions, I'm sure. I never quite felt "at home" in LA though. I think California is beautiful and I love the weather, but I don't know if it's really fitting to my personality.

The past couple of days I have been gloomy. It's partly the weather, and partly that I haven't really started rehearsals yet. Everyone else is well into their rehearsals so I feel left out. I had my first fitting today and as I was transferring trains a frazzled looking Australian mother with her small daughter stopped me. "Excuse me, miss," she said, "I'm looking for the train to Clarke Quay. Can you help me?" Instinctively I wanted to say, "Uh, no, sorry. Just moved here 3 weeks ago." But I realized I knew the answer! "Yes, just take that escalator down to the purple line. You'll want to get on the train heading to Harbour Front. It's just one stop." The mother breathed a sigh of relief, "Thank you!"

I walked off and couldn't help but smile. I don't think she realized that she helped me a lot more then I helped her. I know I have a long way to go before I feel like I completely belong in Singapore, but in that moment I felt like I took a big step in the right direction.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Erin Go Braugh

I haven't blogged in a few days because I've felt pressure to write something about Singapore. As I haven't been in rehearsal or working, I've lacked inspiration to write. That's the story of my life: when I'm super busy, I always manage to find time to do what I love, but when I'm bored and have all the time in the world, I tend to do nothing. It's a nice little system I have going.

I just read my friend Joan's blog, which I do on a nearly daily basis because she is great at keeping up with her blog and her stories are always heart-warming and lovely. She just posted a blog about her name and it inspired me to write because that is certainly a subject I relate to.

I have really always hated my name. Mostly because I feel like I'm a very feminine "girly" girl and my name is very plain and sort of asexual. Whenever I say my name, whether at a doctors office, the DMV, a class, you name it, I get the response, "Is that with an "A" or and "E?"" And instead of smacking the person asking that question on the head, I just say, "With an "e," as in E-R-I-N." And in my head I continue, "The only way a WOMAN would spell it." Which, I know, nowadays there are thirty different ways to spell the name, but really, no offense, its original form and meaning is to be spelled ERIN, not Eryn, Erinn, Aryn, or whatever other combination I've seen through the years.

Erin is the romantic, poetic name for Ireland. It can be used as a male name, (in fact, I went to school with a male Erin, but that was really the only guy I have ever met,) but because of it's meaning it is really meant to be a female name. And "Aaron" is a male name and I have NEVER met a girl who spells it that way, yet I'm always asked if that is the spelling of my name. So even though it has a beautiful meaning, for me, that gets lost in the day to day hacking of it.

My mother was going to name me Megan, but she said when I was handed to her as a beautiful pink cherubic baby with blazing red hair, she thought "Erin" was the only fitting name for me. As my mother smiled retelling the story of my birth, all I wanted was for her to go back and name me Megan. My confusion with my name only grew larger when as a child my mother said she had to run "errands." Erins? huh? It took me many years to realize that wasn't about me.

I always wanted a cute girly name like Sally, Katie, or Brandy. Anything with a "y" or "ie" would have sufficed. When I was around ten I loved the Archie comics and named pretty much every Barbie doll or stuffed animal I had "Veronica" because I loved that name. No one would confuse Veronica for a boys name. And you just imagine Veronica to be in high heels, have beautiful long hair and wear red lipstick.

As I got into high school, and actually acquired friends of the male persuasian, they would all call me "Muroski." Although, no one ever pronounced my last name correctly so it was usually more like, "Mur-ow-ski," but I preferred it all the same. It wasn't very feminine but it was sassy, and that was definitely more "me." It caught on, and in college, pretty much everyone called me Muroski. All of a sudden, even though "Erin" couldn't be shortened or made into anything that felt like it belonged to me, I felt like at least part of my name defined me!

And then along came Julia Roberts in her award winning performance in Erin Brockovich and I was quickly back to despising my name. Because now, instead of having the powerful, spunky "Muroski" moneker, I had everyone going, "Hey, it's Erin Brokovich." And if I introduced myself for the first time, I ALWAYS, I mean EVERY TIME, elicited the response, "Oh, like Erin Brokovich?" Yeah. Just like Erin Brokovich.

Now the Erin Brokovich ship has pretty much sailed. I still get it from time to time, but certainly not like the 3 years at the end of my college days, thank goodness. And although I don't know if I've completely embraced "Erin," I know I love being called "Muroski." So much so, that I have to admit, I don't think I will ever change my last name. When I think of who I am and my name being my identity, I don't think I could be "Erin Who-si-whatsit," or any other last name. As my good friend Beau said to me one day when I was with him in NYC and I was feeling really sad and confused, "You're ERIN MUROSKI. You know that, right?" And, I thought, "Yeah . . . YEAH, I AM Erin Muroski! I can do anything! I rock!"

In the spirit of embracing your name no matter what, though, I have to say that I love that the only person who ever calls me "Erin Marie" is my father. I think if anyone else even tried to call me that, I'd have to correct them and let them know that is reserved for my Dad only. And although you wouldn't think my name could be shortened, my mom is the only person who calls me "Err" (pronounced like the first syllabel in "error.") So I guess there is comfort in "Erin" after all these years. I'd still prefer it if you'd call me Muroski, though.