You see, she’s used to curating her remarks to create hilarious haiku sound bites about the city.
What was your first reaction when you moved to Manhattan?
“welcome to New York: your
pizza slice is larger than your
That’s how Caitlin, a model-tall woman with eyes the color of cream-less coffee, describes her initial space-let, one of several, she sublet.
It was, she says, nothing more a nook in a room that was defined only by a skimpy curtain.
Stage-struck since childhood, Caitlin, an actor/singer/model, grew up in Burke, Virginia, which is about 30 minutes from the nation’s capital.
She was so enchanted by New York City that she didn’t waste time getting here.
She came after earning a degree in musical theater from Emerson College in Boston.
“There were no entertainers in my family, but my dad loves musicals, and I used to watch all the VHS tapes of them,” she says, adding that she also attended free performances of Shakespeare in D.C. during her childhood. “And my grandpa used to play show music on his piano.”
Caitlin began taking performing seriously in high school around the same time she started a poetry slam team.
“These are still my two main interests,” she says.
But her first foray into Manhattan, in 2009, lasted less than a year.
Gigs in regional theater productions in Boston and Washington, D.C. lured her away.
But she knew it wouldn’t be a forever farewell.
In 2013, she did, indeed, return, and by 2014, she had started putting down her cheeky city observations under the umbrella Urban Haiku.
“I had a day job with a hedge fund, and to make the other assistants laugh, I put a haiku on an email thread,” she says. “It got my synapses firing.”
From the subways to the taxi drivers, Caitlin has found the city to be an ideal muse.
“My main form of relaxation is sitting in a café and watching people,” she says, adding that sometimes snippets of conversations she overhears appear in Urban Haiku.
As she and generations of others have discovered, New York’s an easy subject to be seduced by.
“There’s a parallel between the city and living here and writing haiku,” Caitlin says. “The city is laid out in a hard-edged grid, but you still can be creative and do your own thing.”
Which is exactly what she does.
“if Manhattan were
a man, I would laugh loudly
at all of his jokes”
Haiku, the Twitter of its time, “is very New York,” she says. “It gets in and gets out very fast.”
Her haiku, she pointedly notes, is intended to bend the traditional three-line, 17-syllable Japanese form of 5/7/5, which dates to the 17th century.
“Mine are set up like jokes,” she says. “They are comic, they are about people and foibles, not nature. They are structured but surprising; they are fresh and timeless at the same time.”
Apparently, that’s what Pepsi thinks, too.
Declaring her “The Bard of the Boroughs,” the soft-drink company featured her in a 2021 summer ad campaign with several other iconic New Yorkers.
“It came out of the blue,” Caitlin says, a note of awe in her voice. “One of my followers nominated me.”
“New York, my darling:
I am content just to be
near you, listening”
Like a lot of actors trying to break into the business, Caitlin has had a number of day jobs.
Her latest is with a health-tech startup.
“I can wear a lot of different hats,” she says. “I enjoy being pushed out of my comfort zone. Startups are creative, innovative and allow you to think outside the box.”
She may work a million jobs, but Caitlin will never give up on her acting career.
Or on the city that just might make her dreams come true if she wishes and works hard and long enough.
“I am still waiting
for the next thing; I will do
whatever comes to me”
Nancy A. Ruhling may be reached at NRuhling@gmail.com, @nancyruhling, nruhling on Instagram, nancyruhling.com, astoriacharacters.com.
Copyright 2021 by Nancy A. Ruhling