December 5, 2009
The Town Hall

New York City, NY

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Letter

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SS: Dear Family and Friends,

I am sorry it’s taken me so long to write. I arrived in New York on Labor Day and here it is almost Christmas. But I have not been mugged and I am not living in a cardboard box in the doorway of a church. I am living in Brooklyn and commuting every day to my job at the artisan bread shop in SoHo where I am the assistant lead counterperson and where everyone else is a liberal arts graduate with enormous college debts just like me. If my writing seems a little scrawly, it’s because I am on the F train. I've now got my commute down to two hours each way and when you live with four roommates who are feminist-anarchist, anti-sizist, anti-silence, it’s nice to have a few hours to myself when I don't need to yell at anybody. I respect my roommates and all of their lovers who also share our space, but it takes a lot of energy to be with all 8 of them, and if it weren't for the cheap rent ---- $550/month to sleep on a futon in the bathtub ---- I would feel victimized. But I don't. I love it here. It’s a place where you never know what’s going to happen from one day to the next. You're sitting on the train playing Scrabble on your iPhone and suddenly a strange lady tells you the story of her life in forty-five seconds in Polish then asks for a dollar to get to a shelter in New Jersey. It's the stuff of life.

Saying what you think is pretty much a requirement in New York. So I pretend to be deaf.

SS: I remind myself not to smile at strangers. I study the subway system through trial and error, refusing to ask for help, and I make it to the best after-after parties by waking up at 4 AM. I try to keep positive about my career by striving to satisfy the ambitions of wealthy downtowners to eat only the finest bread with beautiful golden crusts, chockful of seeds and nutrients, bread that Rembrandt would’ve loved, bread that costs more per loaf than anybody ever paid for bread before anywhere in the world. It's something to see.

Oh, and I've been taking a pole-dancing class at my health club. It helps me get out of my comfort zone and I'm developing crazy core stamina. And I discovered that I really can sing. I've been dropping in at a little club on the Lower West side and dancing on the bar while I do Stevie Nicks impersonations in a costume I made myself out of pieces of old underwear but it's actually very classy in a sexy sort of way. Duke the bartender says I look like a pro and he gives me a ride home every night. He lives in Queens. He's 45 and divorced with a couple kids and he knows so much about so many things, like standing on the north side of the platform, and where to find alternate side of the street parking. Tomorrow he's promised to take me to his favorite breakfast joint.

Well, that’s all for now. I hope to be home for Christmas, but if not, I will write again very soon. Thanks for supporting my dreams.

XOXO, Nicole

Old Sweet Songs: A Prairie Home Companion 1974-1976

Old Sweet Songs

Lovingly selected from the earliest archives of A Prairie Home Companion, this heirloom collection represents the music from earliest years of the now legendary show: 1974–1976. With songs and tunes from jazz pianist Butch Thompson, mandolin maestro Peter Ostroushko, Dakota Dave Hull and the first house band, The Powdermilk Biscuit Band (Adam Granger, Bob Douglas and Mary DuShane).

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