Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Sexi Soprano and the City: Subway Hacks

When I think of stressful situations, no doubt being stuck on a subway that is being "momentarily" held on my way to an audition is one of them. It’s important to not to let the MTA get you down! Not only is the subway an excellent resource for getting from Point A to Point B, but also an incredible opportunity to do some self reflection, audition pump up, and meditation – even with the guy next to you doing “The Manspread” and the "It's Showtime!" dance crew doing their newest routine on the platform. There are plenty of subway hacks that can make your commute easy and stress free:

1. Maps. When mapping out your route to your audition, don't use Apple Maps. Instead, use Google Maps, Transit, or HopStop. I know everyone has their favorite GPS/map planner, but these are the most accurate ETAs and subway routes. Try KickMap for a quick NYC subway map reference.

2. Plan Your Route. Plan out which direction you will need to walk once you're out of the subway. This is really important and can shave a couple minutes off of your commute! If you are going to Nola Studios and taking the 1, C, or E train, you are going to have to walk north a few blocks. Plan accordingly and sit either at the front or the back of the subway, depending on which direction you are coming from.

3. $19.05 rule. When it comes to buying your MetroCard, memorizing the $19.05 rule will save you a few pennies. Haven't heard of it? Essentially, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority made close to $50 million dollars last year ALONE on unredeemed balances on your MetroCard! When you buy your MC at the kiosks you are given a few payment options: $9.00 for 3 rides, $19.00 for 7 rides, or $39.00 for 16 rides, as well as weekly/monthly unlimited. When you select one of these quick pay options, you will have a unavoidable remaining balance of $1.95, $2.45, and $0.95 that the MTA gets to pocket. Frustrating, right? Instead of using these trickster shortcuts, select “Other Amounts” and type in either $9.55 (4 rides), $19.05 (8 rides), and $38.10 (16 rides). Your remaining balance will instead be $0.03, $0.00, and $0.01. If you find yourself getting through MetroCards quickly, consider buying  a weekly or monthly unlimited card. Do the math by averaging how many times you swipe per day and see if it is cost effective for you to do unlimited. Also, never throw out an empty balance card: keep the same one to refill so you can avoid the $1.00 new card fee.

4. Bring Headphones. Your headphones will be your most important accessory! Listening to music is great, but I’d like to introduce you to binaural beats. Binaural beats, sometimes called Isochronic Tones, are two slightly different beats pumping through each ear of your headphones. These beats are then processed and reconfigured by the brain as one beat. For example, if your right ear is receiving a beat of 300Hz and your left 310Hz, your brain will perceive the binaural frequency at 10Hz. All the science stuff aside, when you induce certain frequencies into your brain, it likes to match it. With beautifully minimal visuals and an added rain sound function, my favorite app is appropriately and simply called Binaural. If you want to induce a focused and calm brainwave, you might select the Theta setting at 4-7Hz. Any lower and you might fall asleep, so be careful! Likewise, if you are trying to catch some z’s, make sure you don't set your beats to a Beta or Gamma  setting, which promotes high functionality and activity! If you're not so into the beats, try a white noise app or even Chakra tones.

5. Set Your Intentions. Once you have your beats or tunes going, either let yourself close your eyes or do some reading or reflection. This is a great time to set a goal for your audition. Try not to set intentions surrounding technicalities – “I want my high C to soar" or "I want to nail that coloratura passage " could instead be "I am grounded and expansive" and “I have abundant energy and precision”. I find it much more effective to set an intention while in a Theta state rather than right before I go into the audition room or waiting in the holding area.

6. Scent. Bring something that smells good along for the ride. Scent is one of our strongest senses and yet we rarely use it for triggering relaxation or invigoration! It can be anything from essential oils, your favorite perfume, or maybe even your sweetie’s sweater. Whatever it is, something that will mask the myriad of subway smells bombarding you will make your commute a little more enjoyable! 

7. Snacks. Having a snack handy can be very helpful for subway commutes. We all know what it's like to be hangry and let me tell you, there is no worse place to be hangry than on the NYC subway! This leads me to...

8. Sanitize! For the love of all things holy, have hand sanitizer! I don't need to tell you how many people have touched that subway rail or how long those germs can last on any given surface. Take an extra step to keeping yourself healthy this audition season. I love “First Class” by Kiehl’s. Besides it’s potent sanitizing properties, it smells heavenly. I never travel without it!

Photo courtesy of Oliver Palta via Flickr