February 7, 2011

Shock to the System.

This week marks my 10th Anniversary in NYC! 
Click Here to catch up on the story of how I ended up here!
My 1st NYC Performance.
"Kiss Kiss" Elan Awards 2001 honoring Ann Reinking.
Choreography:  Rhonda Miller
Let's just begin my journey in NYC by saying... HOLY SHNIKES! I was clueless! CLUELESS people. But lucky for my clueless little butt, I had friends that wanted to take care of me. 

When I got to NYC, I already had an in to get a waitressing job from an old drill team student of my mothers. (A story all its own for a later date.) So, after my first weekend in the city, I called up Dana and she told me to come down and start training. (Now, that is lucky my friends! Looking for a waitressing gig in this town BLOWS!)  
Getting to the restaurant would be my first venture on the NYC Subway system without my friend Jordan. So, I looked at the map for hours the night before. I finally came to the conclusion that I needed to take the 1 to the 7 to the 6 train. I left my apartment 90 minutes before I needed to be there. (Tardiness is one of my biggest pet peeves... It's rude!) That long 2 transfer trip took me about 45 minutes. Oops. Well, better to be early. I trained that day, set up my schedule for the next few training shifts and headed home. Back through the 6 to the 7 to the 1 train. It took about an hour this time. 
I did this long trek day after day. Eventually taking my server test (I think I failed and Dana didn't say anything about it... Cause I know I didn't study!) and beginning to wait tables. I had been in NYC almost 2 weeks. 

On Feb. 13th, I came home from my very first shift making money to hear Jordan tell me that she had been cast as the lead in the National Tour of Footloose and was leaving in 2 days! 2 DAYS!! How was I supposed to navigate NYC without her? Why was she leaving me? And... I was supposed to find us an apartment alone? Alone!! This poor girl had no allegiance to me! Why did I feel so shocked that she got a job? That is why we both moved to the city! 

I called my mom the next morning crying and crying. At the time, I don't think I was aware the reason I was so upset was because I was scared for her to leave. I didn't want to go take dance class alone. I didn't want to sit in that apartment alone. I didn't really know anyone else. I didn't want to be alone! I was happy she got a job, I just didn't know what I was doing. I really contemplated getting on a plane and going back to Oklahoma that minute. But I am full of way too much pride and it would have killed me to have people think I gave up that soon. So... I stuck it out. 

The next few months of my life were crazy difficult then and insanely comical now. 
I had to leave the sublet in Harlem at the end of February but had no where to go. My mother had a sorority sister that had an empty bedroom in Alphabet City so I crashed there for the month of March. I moved all my things there by a very kind stranger with a truck. Yup! That's right. A stranger with a truck people! I met him while I was waiting tables. He was an actor. Still cannot remember that nice mans name! 

I then had to move out of that place in April because the tenant was returning. Lucky for me, Dana had an extra room! I cannot for the life of me remember how I moved my things over there and up those 6 flights of stairs. (I had Jordan's things as well you see.) That apartment was fabulous for me! I finally felt like I had a place to rest that was mine. Sort of, anyway. And that really helped the Psyche. But unfortunately, I was still extremely homesick. I just didn't realize how hard it would be to make it in this business.  
At Dukes Summer 2001.
That summer was great! Annie came to live with us while doing an internship. Jordan was back and I finally had people to hang out with! The 4 of us, Dana, Jordan, Annie and I, all lived in the worlds smallest apartment with the 2 biggest couches on the planet. Cramped or not, it was fun. 
Then in August I finally went home for more than a weekend. Taught dance for 2 weeks and really got my fix. I did NOT want to go back to NYC. I just didn't. But I did. 
And then THIS happened.

After 9/11, I had an entirely new outlook on my time in NYC. I had a new outlook on life. I stopped my moping around and got down to business. 

I chose not to write about 9/11 in this post as I have already written that post. Please feel free to read that story again and understand what I mean by my outlook changing. 

February 6, 2011

Up We Go...

This week marks my 10th Anniversary in NYC! 
Click Here to catch up on the story of how I ended up here!
Last night out in Norman with my girls before I moved!
January 2001.
While I had a plan to move to NYC, it wasn't until just before the end of fall semester in 2000 that I actually started to act on the plan. I had NO IDEA where I would live or what I was going to do when I got there. Until...

My friend, Annie, called and said that her Lil Sis at OCU was planning on moving as well and needed a roommate. I only knew this girl from dance competitions in high school. She and I spoke on the phone a few times and started to get the ball rolling. She found a sublet on craigslist for a month and we decided to jump on it. Figuring that we could spend that month getting settled and finding a place of our own while actually in the city. 

I am hazy on how things took place before we were all ready to head out. We booked one way tickets to NYC for Firday Feb. 2nd, 2001. My grandparents had a wonderful going away party for us the night before and it was such an exciting time. The next morning we got to the airport crazy early. (I don't know what time it was but I feel like it was at 7am or something crazy.) This was before 9/11 so our entire crew went to the gate with us. We are talking the whole fam-damn-ily! Not too mention... we had friends from college surprise us at the airport! LOVE! I don't ever remember being more scared in my entire life. It was a good scared but I am pretty sure had someone jumped out from behind a corner I would have peed my pants. I cried with family and friends with both sadness and joy. The mix of emotions were pretty crazy. 

Jordan and I boarded our flight and off we went. We were both a bit teary and while we barely knew one another, it was so comforting to be taking this leap with friend. I think we said more to each other in the silence of that flight taking off then we ever really knew. 
Jordan and I on our layover in Chicago.
Feb. 2, 2001
We arrived in NYC. Snow covered the ground and we had TONS of luggage to haul. We hopped in a cab and headed off to our new little Harlem apartment to begin life in the big city!

Thank GOD for Jordan Ballard that day! I do not think I would have lasted more than 5 minutes without her. I just followed her like a little puppy. We went to the grocery store and stalked up on food. We walked our little neighborhood and even went out with some of Jordan's friends from college. Looking back on this day brings me such a mix of emotion. What kind of crazy idiot hops a plane with a girl she just met, to live in a city she doesn't know, with a one month sublet and did I mention a total of only $500 to her name??? 
Me! I do. I am that girl. Sometimes it shocks the hell out of me! 
The 30 year old me would NEVER to that!! 
Good thing we have no fear as youngsters!

February 5, 2011

The College Years...

This week marks my 10th Anniversary in NYC! 
Click Here to catch up on the story of how I ended up here!

I packed up my little blue Altima in August 1999 with nothing but excitement in the air. I could not wait to go be a real live Oklahoma Sooner, go through sorority rush and began dancing in college! 
I really was overly excited. 

I was unprepared for the emotional roller coaster that sorority rush would take me on. In short:  I had a fabulous rush, I pledged a great sorority (just not the same one as my family members) and made amazing friends. (I promise to write more on rush and such some other day because it is a story for sure!) Here is a funny fact:  I never thought that I was one of the "popular" girls in high school. And well, that is because I wasn't. But something about this new sorority made me feel like I might actually be hanging out with the coolest girls at OU. (Because that is such a mature thought... oh Lord save the 18 year old me!)

Once classes began I was in for another rude awakening. Sororities and the Dance Department DO NOT MIX. I had on my Bid Day shirt in the locker room while changing for class one day and a really sweet girl came up to me and explained to me that I shouldn't wear my letters to the dance building. Boo! Then while my entire pledge class went on their walk out to get to know each other and bond... I had to stay in the dorms alone, and go to rehearsal each day. Double Boo! And from that moment on I always felt just a tad bit disconnected to my pledge sisters. 

Unfortunately, I also felt disconnected from the people in the dance department. The reason those two worlds don't mix is because no one has time to harbor both sets of friendships properly. While dancing I was always missing out on some sorority social event and while at a sorority social event I was always missing out on bonding with my fellow dancers. By trying to belong in both worlds, I didn't really belong to either. (Dance in college needs its own week as well! I promise to share much more later.)

I was excelling in dance despite my loneliness. I was the only freshman in the modern dance company and I even got a duet my first semester. (I would post a picture but I was so fat that the computer would burst!) The head of the Modern Dance Department was insane (seriously) and sort of made life a living hell. I was beginning to hate dancing and that had never happened for me. So...
I quit. 
My bestie, Bridger, and I at a KKG Date Party.  Sometime 2000.
I left the dance department and thought I would major in something practical. Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha! 
I had lots of college girl fun while taking my break. Auditioned for the OU Pom Squad... didn't make it. DON'T GET ME STARTED ON THAT! And made up my mind that day that I was moving to LA or NYC as soon as possible. When I say "that day" I mean this; My parents and I decided that if I did not make the OU Pom Squad that I would quietly begin to prepare for the big move. I didn't even tell my very best friend who was about to go through rush. But my mind was made up in April of 2000 when that lovely woman didn't give me any "sponsor points." ;) I would like to thank her for that someday. Wink Wink.

That summer I traveled to LA with my mothers studio kids and danced. Someone got sick that was assisting at the convention and the next thing you know my mother has offered me up as an assistant. I was super excited and terrified at the same time. I had a BLAST! 19 years old and dancing with all the people I had admired for so long. One of the best summers ever! And when all was said and done, I had created a friendship that would last a lifetime and take me to NYC! 

I went back to Norman for "work week" and rush late July 2000. I knew I was moving to NYC after that semester but told no one. Rush was extremely hard on me from the other side. My very best of friends were going through and while I really wanted them to pledge my house... I also knew I would be leaving and felt extremely guilty that I had not shared that with them. Out of all my little beauties that went through rush only one came to the Kappa house. And while I was sad, I was a tad bit relieved. I could now leave for the big city without the guilt of leaving someone behind. 
My Pledge Class on Big/Lil Night. Sept. 2000

I had a BLAST living in the Kappa house that semester. I really loved it. And say what you will... nothing was better than that sleeping porch! I loved my Lil Sises and actually had time to create real friendships with the girls in my pledge class. But... not dancing was killing me and as fun as all this socializing was, it just wasn't enough.
With My Lils, Kristen & Michelle. Sept. 2000
I packed up with bitter sweet feelings at the end of that semester. I was sad to leave my friends but super excited about all the exciting things that life was about to throw my way.

February 4, 2011

Happy Happy Girl!

This week marks my 10th Anniversary in NYC! 
Click Here to catch up on the story of how I ended up here!
At Clifton Dance Project in California.
July 1999.
While I had some serious challenges in high school, I also had some amazing experiences. 
There were several places that I did dance while in my Dolly Parton days. In the summer of 1996, I danced at Walt Disney World, Oklahoma Summer Arts Institute and Dance Aspen. I even arrived to school a week late my sophomore year because I was still at dance camp. I think I was home a total of 3 weeks during that summer. (Pretty sure my parents planned that.) 

After my sophomore year, I danced at Oklahoma Summer Arts Institute again. This time I went back as a ballerina. (I switched between modern dance and ballet a lot.) And went to dance in Los Angeles for the first time! A BLAST!! And then I came home to have the surgery! Woooo!!! 
So while I did get turned away from several dance camps because of my body, there were others that still saw talent and looked past my body. Yay!

Then the dance world really opened up for me after that chop chop chopping! 
Junior year was a fabulous dance year for me! And I loved all the choreography my mom did that year too! (It was the first time she cast me as the lead!!)
"W-O-M-A-N"  April 1998.
"My Love Is For Real" April 1998.
That summer we got asked to dance on the WB 34's 4th of July Special, We ALL went to Los Angeles to dance and I, of course, went back to OSAI! 

Senior year is a bit of a blur. I auditioned at every college known to man.
1. Arizona State (accepted w/dance scholarship)
2. Julliard (denied!)
3. NYU (accepted)
4. Oklahoma City University (denied... too fat!)
5. University of Oklahoma (accepted w/dance scholarship)
 I didn't even want to go to college! I wanted to move to NYC and dance. Or LA. I hadn't really thought that through yet. Ha! I really dug my heels in about going to college. I just thought it was silly to waste my best physical years at school. So, Daddy made a fabulous deal with me. I go to school for at least 1 year and he will pay for it if I ever decide to go back. If I went to NYC right out of high school, college was on me if I ever decided to go. Lucky for me, I took the deal. 
Graduation Day! May 1999.
After much dilberation, I chose to go to OU at the very last minute. I spent my summer before college the way I had spent every summer since I was 13... dancing at camps. I loved every minute of it and little did I know, I was making friendships that would come in very handy in the near future.

February 3, 2011

I Chopped My Melons

This week marks my 10th Anniversary in NYC! 
Click Here to catch up on the story of how I ended up here!

Today we venture down a dark path in my life...
(beware I am about to use words like boobs, jugs and knockers!)

While at dance camp in the summer after 7th grade I began to develop a "real woman" figure. (Up until this point in my life, I had been wearing Limited 2 clothes and wishing I could wear "big girl jeans!") But nothing too crazy... until...

The summer after 8th grade. Dear Lord, WHY?!! 
I somehow ended up with the worlds largest breasts. Seriously. By the time I attended my first day of high school I was 5'2", 100 lbs and wearing a 34 DD. I looked like I needed to be walking on all fours. 
Check out the girl front row, first on the left.

Those jugs could feed an F*ing village! I was 14! 14!!!!!! 
This is NOT okay! Not okay I tell you!!

And while many women would be so excited to have knockers like those, I was not. 
On my first day of high school I was asked by a Sr Wrestler if I had socks he could borrow because he "forgot" his. Good thing I was naive because I didn't understand he thought I stuffed my bra. When I walked down the hall guys would yell "There goes Tit-ney, she is my breast-est friend!"  And the really fun part about school was the Jr. & Sr. girls. Apparently if you have blonde hair and Double Ds you are a whore. Which was always news to me considering I hadn't even kissed a boy until well into my freshman year of high school. BUT... I was a whore. Don't kid yourself... I am still hurt and pissed by all the things that were said. LOTS of tears were shed over those mean words. I could have cured a drought.

But nothing, NOTHING compares to what it felt like to dance with those melons. 
If you want to be a professional dancer, you are well on your way by 14 years old. It is totally unfair to be blind sided by things that take you from dancing at the barre to on the bar! 

My Dad took me to a total of 2 auditions that I can remember. And Thank You Jesus that he did! One was for American Ballet Theater during my freshman year, where I got no feedback as to why I was not accepted. The other audition was for Pennsylvania School of the Rock. Unlike most summer camp auditions, they tell you right then and there if you have been accepted. I had a great audition. I just knew that I got accepted. Then, the instructor separated us into 2 groups. Myself and one other girl were not put in either. I remember thinking this just had to be great! Because the other girl with me was a beautiful dancer! Then she asked to see our guardians. What came next didn't completely shock me... but it sure shocked ol' Daddy. 

It was explained to my "guardian" that I was a beautiful dancer but they would not be accepting me into their program because of my body. And she went on to explain that I needed to find a new career path as I would never be a ballerina with this figure. (The other girl was told she was fat and it was fixable!) I had known all my life that your body has a lot to do with your career in dance but it just never occurred to me that I would be told to stop trying because I had big ta-tas! Talk about shattered dreams. "You're a great dancer... but you should quit." WHAT?

Well, that was that. Dad & Mom are the bestest parents in the world! I got to chop my melons off and it was the best day ever! EVER!!! I have nothing but bad memories about those stupid boobs and I have never been happier with a decision in my life. I won a scholarship at every convention that year! I finally got to look cute like my friends in dance costumes and... best of all .... I got to dance for a living!!
Bye Bye Boobies!
Say what you will about plastic surgery, it changed my life for the better. 
I was 16 years old when I had my breast reduction. Medical insurance paid for a portion of it, as I was just going to need a chiropractor later. I didn't have the surgery just because I hated my tig-o-bitties, I had the surgery because those stupid things were keeping me from the life I had worked so hard for. I eat, sleep and breathe dancing. The only way someone is taking dance away from me is to kill me. Even if I lost my legs I would find a way to dance. It was my very first love affair and I cannot imagine my life without it. 

So good riddance to my jugs, melons, cans, ta-tas, titties, and boobs. You are unwelcome here! 

February 2, 2011

Happy Anniversary to ME!

Wedding Wednesday will return next week... 
Until then, enjoy my walk down memory lane!

The next 7 days I will be celebrating my 10 year Anniversary in NYC!
Today we go from birth to junior high! 

My first solo award.
April 1994.
This story begins so long ago I don't even know the real beginning. 
I guess you could say it begins from the very first time I was asked that age old question, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" You see, unlike most children I had the same answer from the first day I was asked until, well, now! I have always wanted to be a dancer. Always. No wavering from this decision. Even when I left the college dance department... I still wanted to be a dancer. It is both a blessing and a curse to know what you want from such a young age. But I wouldn't have it any other way. 

Like any other life long story (career) mine has its ups and downs. Mostly ups. 
You see, I came into the dance world naturally... my mother is a dancer. And when I was a kid she so badly wanted to not be pushy... that she enrolled me in gymnastics. NOT DANCE! Ugh! (backfire much?) All my little friends took dance, but not me. So sad. I did not start dance until I was 5 years old. While this may seem young, I was in the 1st grade. It's old in dancer years people! :) Anywho, my mother taught dance at a local studio in town and I took my first classes from the owner. I loved it. I got to be "teachers kid" but not really. Best decision ever! Had my mother been my teacher at 5 years old... I think she would have killed little bossy me. 

My first real downer (or so I thought) in dance was the summer before my 4th grade year, when my mother decided to open her own studio and leave the place I began my training. I can only imagine what she felt like when I told her I still wanted to take jazz at the other studio because she was just a ballet and tap lady! (Oh boy she must have wanted to kill me!) But ...I will never forget my mother calling the old studio and asking if I could still take one class there. The answer was, "No". She asked for me! Can you believe it?! What a woman! I was heartbroken but soon learned how awesome it was to take from my mother! 
"Keep Warm" Jan. 1992
(and yes, I am still a foot shorter than these girls)
The next few years were a learning curve for us all. I started to get really great ballet training (Thanks MOM!) and Mom learned the jazz & funk world inside out. By the time I was in 6th grade... we won our first high score overall! 
"The One" April 1993

After 7th grade, I attended my first dance camp. Talk about falling in love. Oklahoma Summer Arts Institute was and still is one of my favorite places in the world! Ballet for 6 and half hours a day and I loved it!
Mountain View Cabin... LOVE!
June 1994.
And by the time I was in 8th grade... we were killin it! We were, and still are, the only dance studio to perform at an OU halftime. We promoted the opening of the Sam Noble Museum of Natural History all year long! It was amazing! Not too mention... got a PERFECT score at competition!
"Jurassic Park"
Promoting Sam Noble Museum of Natural History April 1995.

I attended Quartz Mountain again this summer and then my whole world got rocked...
Stayed tuned for the story of the boobies tomorrow! 


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