The wandering gypsy returns…

After a most enjoyable two months with family in Northern California, following a three month cruise ship entertainment contract that ventured halfway around the world, I am pleased to report that this rambunxious redhead is returning to New York City.

Considering I haven’t experienced truly cold weather since last winter, I am pretty nervous about the trek from the aiport to Astoria in a sweatshirt and my Dad’s old leather jacket. (Currently on the plane as I type.) I clearly wasn’t thinking about packing my full length “sleeping bag” coat that I normally don in below-freezing weather. I barely rememered to pack gloves and a beanie for this trip. I mean, can I really expect to survive the next couple weeks of real winter?

“Couple weeks?” you might ask…

Well, yes. At the end of the month, I return to California, this time to the mountain town of Sonora, for a three month run of Mary Poppins at Sierra Repertory Theatre. I’m thrilled! However, it seems that I cannot commit to one home for more than three months at a time. Is this my destiny?

In 2014, my “home” went something like this: one week at sea, two weeks in NorCal, three months in NYC, two weeks in England, nine days at sea, three months in NYC, three months at sea, two nights in NYC, two months in NorCal… (sigh)

It seems silly, really. And yet the question I seem to be answering more and more these days is:

“Where do you want to live? New York or California?”


“Are you going to stay in NYC now that you’re not doing any more ship contracts?”

6a00e54fb3acaa883400e550025a408833-800wiI have to admit that this is better than the questions about when I would move back to the Bay Area and find a man with whom I could procreate. But the honest truth is… I have no idea how to answer. How I wish I could give a tidy response, all tucked up with glitter in colorful cellophane with a big fucking bow. These days I respond with a blanket statement that soon I’ll be super duper rich and can live everywhere. That’s plausible, right? I think I’d make Santa Barbara my primary home… a nice townhouse in the West Village, private yacht in the Mediterranean, a sensible time share in Kauai…

I digress. Luckily I can always come home to my awesome apartment in Astoria. I doubt I’ll ever move out of that place.

Looking at my life in the arts – it doesn’t truly seem possible to predict or have any certainty of where I might live. I will return to New York in the Spring when Mary Poppins ends its run – but I am sure that my next project will take me out of town. (I have my hopes as to which ones pan out.) It used to confound me that this was a subject of such uncertainty, but I believe that the last few years I have spent living at sea – hopping from country to country and witnessing the remarkable minisculity of the world – have alleviated any sort of fears that this very uncertainly could exist my entire life. In fact, that, almost spinning of the globe and placing a finger, somewhat frees my spirit and excites my soul. If only my amazing kitty Marcel could always come along…

Look at the great artists of the past.Frederick-the-Great-at-his-retreat-Sanssouci Composers, painters, sculptors, poets – for them to survive in certain times, they were taken on by a patron who would house them, feed them, nourish their art and soul. In the theater world, the modern equivalent might potentially be an equity national tour with a weekly minimum and per diem. (Here’s hoping!)

It’s all very romantic and exciting. With a milestone birthday last year and my final cruise ship contract with Choozi Entertainment and Silversea coming to a close – there was a lot of anxiety and tense nerves surrounding my inner-thoughts on my future. But something must have snapped along the way. Maybe in a trip to St. Petersburg’s Hermitage Musuem at the Winter Palace? Or was it the Plains of Abraham in Quebec City? That last snorkeling trip at the Baths in Virgin Gorda? Maybe it was dinner and bowling with my family last night in Danville. Everything will be okay. I’m on the right path. I will honor my creative impulses and keep taking these risks. Because so far it’s paying off. And while I may not know where I’ll be this summer – I guarantee I’ll be having a hell of a time being my authentic artist self.

Update: I made it home just fine and am now nice and warm in my delightful apartment. Props to Hoyt Limo and my fantastic driver Giuseppe for the awesome service as usual.

Stomach ache remedies

166 days of travel.

49,485 miles traveled (approximately).  Roughly equivalent to circling the earth 2 times.

Thirty-two countries (only two of which I have been to before), including: Cape Verde, Croatia, Egypt, France, Ghana, Greece, India, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Kenya, Madagascar, Maldives Republic, Malta, Mauritius, Monaco, Montenegro, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Oman, Qatar, Reunion, Senegal, Seychelles, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Tunisia, Turkey and United Arab Emirates.

Stay tuned!  Day 1 of 166 is tomorrow.

Stop to Breathe.

I have come to believe that moving within Manhattan is a lesser known form of torture employed by the United States Justice Department and the CIA.  You take your entire life, which is carefully composed into about 150 square feet, try to pack it up into a minimal number of boxes, then figure out exactly how to get it from one end of the island to the other.  Torture.

I am currently making my way through this arduous process, and wondering when The New Yorker editorial staff will show up at my apartment to expose this cruel form of punishment to the general public.  I, Ashley Harrell, am freaking out.
A delivery of boxes were delivered to me on Monday morning and have been contently nesting in the corner of my living room, awaiting their contents (which are currently sprawled out on my bedroom floor).  I am in the process of deciding what exactly I am keeping and what I will throw away.  It’s funny to dig through things I moved out here that I haven’t touched once in the last year.  Can you BELIEVE I’ve been here for nearly a year!?  In the middle of this process, I have also been loaded up with a huge project at work, performed in and worked at the Del Close Marathon, been performing with Nudists in Love, rehearsing for improv, working at UCB, and trying to get my new apartment ready for the move.  I am heading over there today after work to paint my bedroom (bluish gray) and stain my new platform bed (dark brown).  
It cracks me up as I look at Marcel lounging on my bed and I wonder if he has any idea what is in store for this weekend.  That’s right, only three days until the big M-O-V-E.  Alphabet City, here I come.


So, apparently, it’s much harder to find friends willing to help you move than I realized.

Moving day is in eleven days, and I might be completely f***ed!
Sending out a facebook invite shortly…