Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Life Transplanted: ATX to NYC

No matter where the pushpin pierces the map, I somehow find an open-mic night.

The scene is usually the same — candles flickering waves onto the walls, exposed brick plastered with old posters, a small stage lit by bright bulbs. The singers croon into the microphone; some clutch the stand like a walking stick, others rotate the metal adjusters with rhythmic dedication between their fingers. Performers sit anxiously on the edge of their wooden chairs, seats etched with scratches from the fingernails of fidgety showmen's past.

As usual, I'm one of them.

Walking into the open-mic at Sidewalk Café in Alphabet City, I saw familiar personalities, if not faces, and I greeted the overachieving pianists, the shy two-part harmonists and the slam poets in jeans and flip-flops with a smile. When it came time to draw for a spot, the emcee's clenched fist opened to reveal a solid, black "1" scratched onto a small slip of paper. I was first.

Ben, the open-mic's organizer, called me onstage. I stared out into the crowd, the heels of my boots temporarily taking root in the cylindrical slats of the stool.

"My name is Jane Claire, and I moved here last Monday. I'm from Texas," I said, my voice eerily domineering through the speakers. 

One of the poets, in his denim-on-denim glory, shouted, "Well, sweetheart, you've been here a week. You're an old New Yorker now."

And there was something remarkably solid and reassuring about that sentence. I thought to myself: Yeah, I did not get lost on the subway yesterday. Yeah, I have eaten brunch on a Sunday in Brooklyn. And, when I went to my first day at Reader's Digest this morning, I gave someone else directions. You're not right, poet, but you're not entirely wrong. 

"Feels like forever," I said. The poet laughed. No longer nervous, I began my allotted two songs. When I was done, I stuck around for a few sets, then walked to my dorm.

As my steps clacked on the pavement, my guitar almost whacking passers-by on the street, the poet's words began to sink in. I started to think about the true opportunity this ASME internship presents. I'll learn plenty about magazines this summer, gain experience in the industry and discover loads about myself. Although these next 10 weeks are sure to bring new experiences, it's also comforting to know that some things haven't changed.

Because no matter where the pushpin pierces the map, I'll somehow find an open-mic night. 

I'll somehow find myself. 

— Jane Claire Hervey, University of Texas at Austin, Reader's Digest
Edited by Jordan Smith, South Dakota State University, Inc. 

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