How to Be Young, Poor, and in Love

“A butterfly can flap its wings in South America, and in Central Park you get sunshine instead of rain.” 

The Universe has a funny way of deciding who it chooses to send in and out of our lives. Some of those people become main characters, some have supporting roles, and others are day players, around for just one episode. It tends to be those with the smallest part that can have the greatest effect.

Let yourself hear the weight of my words, read them slowly, fully allowing each one to sink in as I say: last night was one of the best nights of my life. My girlfriend Jessica and I met Feliciano the eighty-five year old photographer from Argentina for dinner at a little Italian bistro in the Meatpacking District.

Feliciano has been living in the hotel I work at for almost one month now while on vacation. I don’t know why this man keeps coming into my life but I sure don’t mind. The man is alive, in every single sense of the word. He makes the people around him glow; he finds a way to turn the key to unlock what they are hiding from the surface.

Jess and I arrived fifteen minutes early and were greeted by the old man moments later. Before we sat down, Feliciano asked the waiter to take our photograph. New friends. The three of us toasted to life as the sun sank low in the West over the Hudson River, casting a surreal painted vanilla sky that would have inspired Monet.

Conversation flowed with such ease. He never spoke of himself, only when asked. He talked briefly about his fifty years living on West 23rd Street in Chelsea, his humble beginnings in Argentina, and how much New York City has changed. He kept stating the great importance of true friendship, intelligent conversation, hearty meals, and health.

There was a moment of silence in between words. The three of us sat rapt in our stillness and took in the scene around us as we dined outdoors on the New York City street. It was dark now, the sun had set. There was the distinct sound of expensive shoes on cobble stone streets, horns honking, and the warmth of laughter.

If I close my eyes, listen to the city, experience the scent of the food, sense the cool summer air on my skin, it is almost as if I am young again, sitting on the streets of Paris.”

He slowly opened his hazel eyes and stared with admiration at the two of us through his glasses, as if he was captivated, deep in a lost memory:

“There is something romantic about being young, poor, and in Love in New York City, isn’t there?”

His words seeped deep into me. I allowed every single one to marinate in the moment. A question he knew did not require an answer.


After a full course meal of Northern Italian food, tiramisu for desert, and three rounds of Pinot Gigio, Feliciano said it was time he went back to the hotel to get some sleep. I offered to pay for the meal. I’ve never had much money and so I tend to get uncomfortable when others treat. I  couldn’t help it; Feliciano insisted  it was his pleasure. Jess and I walked Feliciano back to the hotel, where all the staff knew him by name and greeted him like family.

“There is nothing like new friends and intelligent conversation. We must come back one year from now.”

And with that, we said until next time to Feliciano from Argentina.

Jess and I left Feliciano as better people than before we met him. An internal fire, like burning furnace for life, had been stoked. We rode the subway uptown back to our neighborhood, got off a stop early, and sauntered slowly up along the East River under crescent moonlight. The air was quite cool now, as I held her tightly under my arm. We headed back to our tiny matchbox studio apartment and made love before drifting off to sleep sometime around midnight.

My alarm clock sounded for work at 5:45 AM. I thought for a moment, it was all a dream. I write this narrative in my journal as I glance up between my thoughts, peering out over patches of robin’s egg blue sky hidden by indigo feathered white clouds hanging low, teasing the tops of skyscrapers, with no place to go, simply drifting toward the ocean.

– EC

© All rights reserved 2014



Myself, Jessica, and Feliciano

Climb That Goddamn Mountain

We tend to toss around inspirational quotations on the internet without fully grasping the weight of the very words we strive to embody, myself included. With that said, there is a quote I came across by Jack Kerouac that has become my life manta since moving to New York City over one year ago.

“Because in the end, you won’t remember the time you spent in the office or mowing your lawn. Climb that goddamn mountain.”

Twenty-four hours ago, I was gliding down the face of a head-high wave, surfing a point break where the Ogunquit River meets the Gulf of Maine. I followed that river north into the White Mountains of New Hampshire.


I write this entry in my red leather-bound journal 4,459 feet up in the sky, as a mammoth cumulus cloud caresses the summit, briefly igniting a refreshingly cold rain in the distance. The veins of the mountain flow to life, cascading down the peak feeding Echo Lake miles below. My lungs have never inhaled air so pure. My lips have never tasted water so crisp, untainted by man.

A sea of green below extends for one hundred miles in every direction, blanketing the rugged landscape. Drops of sweat pool on my brow, down my chest, soaking my white t-shirt from the three-hour ascent up the Flume Slide Trial to the summit of Mount Liberty. My hand is shaking as I write. My heart is pounding. My endorphins screaming. I am alive. I am standing on top of the world, with my little brother and older cousin by my side.

An inspirational quotation means absolutely nothing unless we act on it. Live it. Practice what you preach. Climb that goddamn mountain. Time goes on. So whatever you’re going to do, do it now, don’t wait. My mind is clear . . . back to Manhattan . . . mountains await.

What words do you live by? Tweet or comment below.


The view of Mount Liberty from the Summit of Mount Flume

IMG_4178 There is no feeling in the world like standing on the top of a Mountain

Click here to see more photos from the road trip

The Best Is Yet To Come

 -It was the coldest day of the year.

The glare of the winter sun dipping low behind skyscrapers was reflecting off the fresh snow pack in Central Park as I made my way uptown to the Guggenheim. When I say it was freezing, I mean, it was one the coldest days on record in over 30 years. The walking uphill both ways to work kind of cold you tell stories about to your grandchildren. I was on my way to a film screening. A very close friend of mine who runs an online fashion magazine  had asked me a week in advance if I wanted to attend a film screening in his place. He lives in Toronto and could not make it down to New York City. I jumped at the opportunity.

The evening of the screening I was warmly nestled in my prewar matchbox sized studio apartment. The cloud of an excuse began to form in my mind. Stay inside. Stay warm. Stay comfortable. For a moment I almost didn’t go…because of the weather! I layered up for the trek across town from York Ave to Fifth Ave. My passion pushed me right out the door.

The film was called, “Brothers, Sisters, Sons & Daughters”  for Barneys New York, shot by photographer and film maker, the iconic Bruce Weber, written by acclaimed  journalist Patricia Bosworth. The film chronicles the lives of 17 transgender young men and women and their extraordinary stories of love, passion, and identity.

I hurried my way out of the cold into the foyer of the Guggenheim Theater, heat blasting, my cheeks grew rosy and I began to thaw. As the warmth spread through my body I slowly came back to into reality from the cold and looked around. I realized I was quite under-dressed among tailored suits and cocktail dresses. I would describe my style as vintage Americana. I’m an avid thrifter. I showed up wearing my falling-apart tanned chukka boots, white long johns hugging my legs under dark Levis, a couple of layers of thermals with a grey crew neck sweater over, and my favorite tan beat-up leather jacket.

I sauntered my way into the theater. Not knowing a single person, I sat down alone and took in the scene. I saw Bruce in the corner by the stage surrounded by a flock of people. I had met Bruce briefly once before at his Lower Manhattan Studio for a casting back in September. Both times I’ve seen him and the man has this smile on his face and a look in his eye, like he’s in on some big secret; he loves what he does.

As the film was about to begin a woman with curly silver hair and kind eyes asked if the seat next to me was taken. I said no, I’m solo tonight and offered it up to her. She said she was at the screening in support of her friend who was the writer of the film. We began talking. Well, mostly I talked; she listened, until I started gushing about acting. She casually mentioned she was a lifetime member of the Actors Studio, and introduced herself as Mirra Bank.

The Actors Studio. Paul Newman, Martin Landau, Monty Clift, all the actors from the 1950s that I highly regard have been members of the Studio. To become a member is extremely difficult. One must successfully pass a series of auditions to be awarded lifetime membership. Respect. Mirra asked if I had thought about applying to audition for membership. I told her I had just embarked on my studies in New York and I am far from ready.

Mirra suggested I inquire about interning at the Studio. There are a limited number of internships available to actors willing to trade their time helping out at the Studio, for the opportunity to observe studio sessions. I took Mirra’s suggestion. The following week I met with the Executive Director of the Studio, who looked curiously at my green PDF resume, wondering how I even got to sitting in her office. I became an intern, and observed every single session this spring. I took what I saw at the Studio and applied it in my classes. I got to opportunity to be cast a part in the staged reading of a play at the Studio called, “They Shot Bobby” directed Patricia Bosworth written by Jim DeMarse.

Move forward openly with curiosity and amusement with your passions rather than with demands and hopes. Don’t expect it to go as planned but know that the unplanned may lead to the best later. Put on those long johns, say goodbye to the warm nest, and venture out into the cold. The best is yet to come.


© All rights reserved 2014

Erik Conover Actor

They Shot Bobby by Jim DeMarse 

Make Strong Choices

Journal Entry, April 28th, 2014:

” How hard this is, how much work it will take. I have greatly underestimated. All I can do is smile. I know who I am, I know what I need to do. Buy into your choice whole wholeheartedly Conover.”

Make your own life. Your life is the direct result of your thoughts and the choices that you make. Make strong choices. Just decide. All you have to do is decide. Decide who you’re going to be.  Decide what you’re going to do. Decide how you’re going to do it. Decision is the ultimate power. Easy right? For most of my life I could never decide, never make choices. Something in the past year has changed that, a quiet, internal choice, and I began to see things clearly.

Do not be shackled by your circumstances. Do not limit yourself by the constructs placed on you by society that have been internalized. There will never be a perfect moment to decide, no such thing. The future is transpiring as we speak, shaped by the thoughts, decisions and actions of the present.

I’ve grown to love writing in my journal. Even if it is just to pass the time, or I am wrenching emotionally and need to spill it out on paper. I find peace in writing and expressing those words verbally. I mean after all what more can a man want then peace? Peace of mind, love, health, what you value changes as you grow older with the seasons. At times I don’t feel 24 years old. My body is in its prime, but my mind feels like that of a 50-year-old. Ripe with experience, failure, and a small share of right place right time. I wouldn’t call it luck.  But right place at the right time.

Come to think of it, my experiences here in Manhattan the past year or so are the result of happenstance, but mostly the result of taking action and pursuit when certain opportunities presented themselves. Choose to act on an opportunity…because the absolute worst thing you can do is nothing at all.

– EC

© All rights reserved 2014

Erik Conover

Choose to be happy


Be Specific…with What You Want in Life

In the world of theater I can’t stress enough how important those two little words are. Be Specific. Those two words make a story go from a pile of dry wood… to a bonfire on the beach, burning bright passionate flames up toward the heavens on a crisp late October evening in a small town in Southern New Jersey. The sweet aroma of burning cherry wood filling the air blowing down the boardwalk as a young couple dances in the dusk. See what I just did there. Specific. The details ignite the furnace and breathe life into a story. It’s all in the details.

You need to be specific with what you want in life. Otherwise you’re just selling yourself short. How do you expect to hit a mark on the wall if you can’t see the exact spot you’re aiming for? Clearly define what it is in life you want. Be specific with it. It’s not enough to say you want to be happy. You want to be happy because you’re living your passion. You want to be happy because you’re doing something you love everyday. What do you want? Be specific, be as clear as the ocean off the coast of Fiji, and go wild with your ideas.

– EC

© All rights reserved 2014

Erik Conover

Dancing in the dusk with my love