Monday, June 16, 2008

An Unintentional Music Monday - Swervedriver

Coincidentally I went to a concert last Thursday and as it happens I am only writing about the show today, hence the unintentional Music Monday.

A couple of months ago I was perusing Time Out Magazine and saw that a band called Swervedriver was coming to NYC. They were going to be playing a show at the Bowery Ballroom and one at the Music Hall of Williamsburg in Brooklyn. I got myself a ticket for the Brooklyn show. Small venue, cool band - good stuff.

Swervedriver is another one of those British bands that falls into the shoegazer genre. An amazing band from Oxford who were active in the 90's and that somehow I discovered randomly way back when. For those unfamiliar with the shoegazer genre, best I can say is that it is a sub genre of British alternative rock, with a psychedelic dreamy sound and some serious guitar distortion.

I made my way to Brooklyn at about 9:15 thinking by this time I had missed the opening bands, which would be my usual modus operandi. Apparently not - nope, nobody had played yet. So I checked out the venue, got myself a beer and made my way to floor and prime position in front of the stage. The opening bands, Longwave and The Still Out were actually good and I would recommend checking them out.

At about 11:30 we were finally ready to go, the hall was packed, I worked my way right up to the stage in front of the bass player proceeded to get blown away by Swervedriver, my personal favorite songs were 99th Dream, Never Lose That Feeling (was only sorry they didn't play Never Learn) and Duel.

Great show, good crowd and after the encore the bass player, Steve George shook my hand and gave me his pick. Rock on dude! Yeah!

Funny observation though - in all the shows I have been to over the years, never have I been to a venue where there was NO line for the women's restrooms and a line for the men's. I think I need to be going to more of these types of shows... ha ha ha.

As far as I'm concerned the best thing about NYC these days is that cool bands generally come here. So here's hoping more British bands start reuniting and/or head over to NYC. If Ride (were to reunite) and Sterophonics come to NYC I may just lose my mind completely.

PS Last time I'm taking pictures with my damn phone - I've had it, I'm bringing a camera from now on!

PPS A belated Happy Father's Day to all the dads out there, especially my own!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Unwanted Houseguests

Last week I was sitting on my sofa and out of the corner of my eye I thought I saw something scurry past my curtains. The something seemed to have a tail. Being that it was pretty late and pretty dark in my apartment and my curtains were blowing being that my windows were open, I decided it was a figment of my imagination.

Well, it wasn't. Sunday night, day 2 of NYC's sweltering heat wave, I'm sitting in my apartment watching Drive Thru, for joy and laughs were very necessary. Clad in a tank top and shorts, armed with a "Hawaiian Breeze" fan from Target and a cold wet towel, I settled in to watch the surfing show (the AC I inherited from my old roommate died).

This time, out of the corner of my eye, I spot movement on the table next to a chair in my living room. Apparently my little house guest decided to be brave and leap from the table to the chair and after I shrieked, it proceeded to hide in the cushions on my chair. I lept up from the sofa and as I was shaking and my heart was about to pop out of my chest, I started to pull the cushions off the chair. Armed with the wet towel, the plan was to catch the mouse and take him outside. Well, the mouse crawled up into the clothes I had over the chair. So I carefully shook out each item and threw it on my bed. No mouse on the floor. Oh no, that's gotta mean he is still in my clothes and now on my bed. I unpiled my bed and there he was, at the bottom of the pile. In a feat worthy of an Olympic medal, the mouse lept behind my bed.

Oh no, this was not gonna be good at all. I was so shaken up with our exchange I needed a break, the mouse must have needed one too after all that. Plus now I was really sweating - it was something like 97 degrees in NYC. So after a bit I decide ok I'm gonna give it another shot and reminded myself it is totally idiotic to freak out, I mean I must be over 1000 times bigger than the mouse - if anyone should be scared sh*tless, it's the mouse.

I spot him and manage to corner him in the bathroom between the bathtub and the sink. He was so tiny, couldn't have been more than 2 inches long and poor thing looked so scared. However, despite my best efforts, he managed to escape me and dart into my closet - with my shoes - not cool.

I headed for the internet, maybe I would find a way to catch him or scare him away. Well I found this easy way to make a no kill trap and went to work. Baited it with granola, finally went to bed and hoped for the best.

The next morning I awoke in anticipation of finding a mouse in my empty laundry hamper (part of the trap), but to no avail - no mouse and the granola did not appear to have been tampered with either.

Alright so I get dressed and head out into the sweltering sauna outside, walking from store to store (as my car is currently in vehicular surgery with the mechanic for the second time in a week) to find a no kill mouse trap. I go to my local organic supermarket and my local organic food coop, I mean if anyone should have the no kill traps it should be them - well, not so. I go on to Duane Reade, CVS, the dollar store and more. The damn hardware store is closed due to the Jewish Holiday and my blistered feet can't walk the 15 blocks to the other hardware store.

So I finally buy the $1.29 glue trap, after these guys tell me I can use vegetable oil to get the mouse loose. The heat must have fried my brain - how in God's name am I supposed to get a mouse loose from a glue trap with veg oil??? Besides, the mouse would totally freak out - I know I would. I mean imagine, you're walking along one day and all of a sudden you get stuck on something, you can't move and now you have to hope the giant who trapped you isn't gonna bash your brains in or rip your limbs off as they try to free you. No THANK you. Ugh!

I refuse to buy poison, I don't want a dead mouse in the walls, pipes or, God forbid, my Guggenheim shoes. Ewww. As for the traditional killer trap - I just can't bring myself to actually kill the mouse.

The inability to kill an animal all stems from my childhood. When I was about 4(?) I used to sit on the sidewalk and look at the big black ants. I was totally fascinated by them and would pick them up and split them in half to see what they looked like on the inside. One day, it dawns on me that what I'm doing is quite awful - how horrible would it be if I was sitting minding my own business and a giant came along and ripped me in half just to see what I looked like on the inside! I stopped ripping insects apart that very moment. 28 years later I still cover my eyes during kill scenes on nature programs, cry during The Dog Whisperer and refuse to watch Animal Cops.

Suffice it to say, I WON'T be killing any mice.

So during my dog watching stay in Manhattan I will scour the city for a no kill trap, attempt to catch the mouse again on Friday and when I do, I will deposit it safely in Prospect Park.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Giggles in San Francisco

Due to some sillyness related to my former job I went out to San Francisco last week and no that's not where the giggles come into play.

My friend Sheila lives in San Francisco however at the time of setting up the trip I thought she was going to be out of town, she's the friend of mine that decided to bike from California to wherever. I was kind of bummed that she wouldn't be there. So I'm reading her blog one day after my ticket has been booked and lo and behold, what do I see? Sheila's getting back to San Francisco the same day I arrive. OH MY GOD!!!!! I was sooooo excited and dropped her an email to that effect, which in turn resulted in me receiving an invite to stay with her and her boyfriend, Melton for the weekend. Yippee!!!

So after some mind numbing hours in an office building (the people were nice, the topic not so) I was thrilled to head over to Sheila and Melton's place. Sheila is my friend who I met in Bali and we stayed on after the surf retreat, doing lots of hanging out. We recently had a discussion how I should market myself as a hang out coach - teach people to chill out in NYC, the idea has merit. However, I digress.

Friday night I was treated to a delicious dinner and we hung out and conversed for hours. Of course.

Saturday after the requisite morning hang out and conversation we headed to the neighbors for a visit and a chat, then to the food coop and then for a hike up Kite Hill. Sheila is much fitter than me, so she took it easy on me and the hills weren't too bad. We walked through the Mission and took in the fabulocity of the Castro and up to Kite Hill where we took in the amazing view of the city. On our way down the hill we came across an apparent famous playground with these awesome slides. Of course, we had to go down them, twice - as you can see in the video below.

After our fill of giggles we headed back home and had a delicious barbecue at the neighbors.

Sunday morning we moseyed over to Ti Couz for a deeeelicious brunch of crepes and then it was back to the apartment to catch a taxi to the airport for my flight back to NY. A wonderful hang out, chill out weekend with great friends!

Ok the break is over for now....

So I received a couple of comments about my apparent "slacking off" or abandonment of the blog, and apparently people were asking other people if everything was ok with me. Weird. Anyway, the person that actually made me want to write was my mother. She sent me an email saying she would be sad if I stopped writing, and that she for one, really enjoys reading the blog. And being one who does not like to disappoint my mama, I told her rest assured, I was just taking a break. However it got my mind thinking about my mom and her awesome-ness, so I figured why not write an ode to my mom. (I know, Mother's Day was last month).

I like the way a band called Slightly Stupid puts it in one of their songs "To my mother, I love you, ain't no one above you" and that's pretty accurate. Don't get me wrong, I adore my dad and my sister too but this is about my mom.

As several of my friends are now embarking on the new journey of motherhood, I think of my mom and what an amazing person she is.

Some may know my mom was born and raised in Switzerland, she grew up with three brothers and one sister and was without a doubt a tomboy. My mom had a passion for animals, especially horses. When she finished school, her greatest desire was to go work with horses, but my grandfather, being a practical Swiss told her she had to do a proper internship and learn something of value before she could take off and chase her dreams. At the age of 20, after finishing her internship, my mother took off and went to Western Switzerland to work with horses. Eventually she made her way to France and worked with racehorses for a few years, which after a time, brought her to live and work in the USA.

Some years later, my mom decided she wanted to try something new and decided to become a flight attendant. She traveled all over the world, exploring new cultures in Japan and Thailand amongst others.

Eventually she met my dad, got married and had two kids and started a new journey as a wife and a mother. As we got a bit older, she decided to start working in the schools we attended (maybe to keep an eye on us, but really we were good girls).

My mom has shared her love and appreciation of animals, nature and travel with my sister and I - amongst many other things, and for this I am eternally grateful.

She has allowed me to have such a magical childhood, where I could play in gardens, get dirty, explore my imagination and have amazing memories. Some examples of these memories are from France. Once we were in Chantilly, France at the training track for the racehorses. It was early morning and the light was misty and dewy, the track was in the middle of a forest and you could feel the horses pounding the dirt seconds before they actually appeared from around the bend. Another time, my mom, my sister and I were driving through France and came across one of these enormous fields of sunflowers. My sister was obsessed with sunflowers, so my mom pulled over and let Carmen and I jump the fence and run through the field. Memories like from a storybook, except these are real.

As an adult my mom has supported me in ways I don't know that so many other mothers would. Never any pressure about what are you doing with your life, when are you getting married, when are you having kids and those quintessential "mother" concerns that seem common in our society. If anything she bugged me for years about working too much and when I decided to quit and travel she did not bat an eye. Safety concerns, she had but she definitely didn't make a huge fuss.

So to my super duper mama, tough as nails, adventuring, incredibly supportive of living against the grain, best lasagna and chocolate mousse maker on the planet - thank you.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Time for a break?

Today was a lovely and most productive day; the sun came out, I had some great music on, I had a good meeting and all was well.

I had been feeling quite uninspired with my blogging and other creative pursuits for a few days and had no plans to write a post today, however an article I read today got me thinking.

This evening I went on my facebook account and saw that one of my friends had posted a link to a story in the NY Times about blogging and the effects thereof. I read the extremely lengthy article, here's a link to it if you want to read it,
and I read about 50 of the over 700 comments about said article.

It got me thinking. Am I sharing too much information about myself on the internet? Couldn't I be more productive with my time? As I sit here typing, while watching a show about skateboarders and surfers who travel to remote places and have real experiences with the people there - I can't help but think maybe it's time to put the blogging on the backburner and do something a bit more worthwhile with my time.

I definitely don't share to the extent that the writer of the article did nor do I spend such an extreme amount of time blogging as she did, however maybe it's time for a little break. After all, I started the blog to share some of my experiences traveling not to write about me or my opinions. In light of the article it seems a bit vacuous and self absorbed to me.

So for now, I'm taking a break - maybe 1 day, maybe 1 week, maybe 1 month. We'll see but for now I'm just going with the flow.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Good Stuff - Drive Thru

So being in a blah, lacking inspiration, yucky weather sort of mood , I decided to turn on the tv and watch something.

Much to my delight, FUEL TV (an extreme sports channel) is playing Drive Thru. Drive Thru is this awesome series where a group of pro surfers go on a surf trip and their adventure is documented. It is informative, interesting but best of all it is hilarious. And I need a chuckle today.

The new series takes these surfers across New Zealand and films their surfing and their hijinks. These are some seriously funny (and cute) boys. In fact, I think I may love Benji Weatherley.

However don't think the show is just for girls who want to drool over surfer boys, it's a super cool show, with awesome surfing and super fun adventures in amazing places, not to mention a cast of extraordinary goofballs.

If you can, check out some of the other series', Drive Thru Caribbean, Drive Thru Europe and particularly Drive Thru South Africa (where South African Airways happened to go on strike at that time and threw the guys for a few loops). I can relate, SAA threw me for a few loops in the past as well! Ha ha ha.


Inspiration, or the lack thereof, that's my problem right now. I didn't feel I had any interesting material for yesterday, Music/Movie Monday. Not that there aren't tons of cool bands or movies to write about, I just wasn't feeling the writing part of it.

Today I was harassed by some readers and thought well, I'll go for a surf and then maybe I will get inspired. I was tired of being on the internet and am having issues today with my creative process for logo and website designing anyway. I wriggled myself into my wetsuit, packed my backpack and grabbed my board. I get downstairs and it's pouring, somehow I missed that when I looked out the window at the grey sky above. So I emptied the mailbox and went back upstairs. That was a fruitless exercise. I mean I could have gone surfing anyway, being that I'm gonna get wet in the ocean in any case but somehow driving 45 minutes in the rain wasn't that appealing.

I sprawled out on the sofa and read some of my Outside magazine that has all this great stuff about summertime and still nothing. I decided it was time to move my car and go to the grocery store.

I think I am a little stir crazy and suffering from vitamin D deficiency. My body is refusing to accept that it is spring and it's raining and 50 odd degrees outside. My lower half decided to wear capri pants and flip flops, while my upper half decided to wear a sweatshirt and a rain jacket. It's like my body is trying to will sunshine and warmer weather. Maybe I need to do a sun dance or something in my apartment.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Random Thursdays - Random Ramblings

I wrote the following earlier this week while having a bit of a drama mama moment. I thought it was kind of funny, but not for Work Wednesdays - gotta keep that one positive. However, random ramblings with a touch of insanity are ok for Random Thursdays, so hope this makes you laugh.

Rush, rush, rush to be in a chair by 9am. To do nothing. Send email to my bankers and the other assistants to see if they need help. Nobody to talk to, barely anyone even looks at you when they walk by. Try to plan the day, break it up with a snack, a bathroom break and if I'm lucky a trip to the cafeteria to get some coffee. Can barely wait until lunch and then until 5. I shouldn't complain, I am getting paid to answer two phone calls per hour.

Wow, when people sneeze and I say bless you, they don't say thanks. I think this side people are weird and a bit rude. The silence makes me want to run through the maze of cubicles saying silly things. The big boss is really nice and friendly as is one other guy but the rest of them, wow, they look right through you. The first time I was here it was different. Sat with 3 other assistants who were really nice, had some travel booking projects and had the Figi water crisis. Still slow but not at this level.

I'm going into rigor mortis. I'm comatose. I'm falling asleep reading the news on the internet. I'm supposed to look "alert and willing to take on work", sure when someone walks by I manage to yank myself out of the hypnotized stupor I'm in but they don't even acknowledge me at all. Plus it's cold, I wish I had my hoodie and could put my head down on the desk. That or escape to the sunshine outside. How is it that the office job is sapping me of my will to live? I'm actually wilting here. I need the money but I need to find something more rewarding and challenging to do. I think my work ethic is getting the better of me today.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Work Wednesdays - Paint away...

Today while in a colossal state of boredom, I came across an article that Robert Rauschenberg had died. Rauschenberg was an American artist that came to prominence in the 1950's. While I was reading, I came across the name Mark Tobey and had a bit of a flash back to the days when I was an art student.

About a million years ago I took some summer classes at Rhode Island School of Design, one of the classes I took was abstract painting which was taught by a wonderful professor called John Thornton. In terms of the type of art I like to make, abstract painting is my favorite, so I was very lucky to be able to take this class. The class was held in an old bank building and on the second floor we had some individual loft spaces where we could work. It was amazing.

Anyway, during a critique session of one of my paintings, John suggested I look up a painter by the name of Mark Tobey as he thought I may like his work. Mark Tobey was an interesting painter from Wisconsin, he was born in 1890 and died in 1976 in Switzerland. He was an abstract expressionist painter who delved into the works of Arabian literature and East Asian philosophy. He traveled extensively in his life to places such as France, Italy, Hong Kong and Shanghai. At one stage he even lived in a Zen monastery in Japan to study poetry and calligraphy. His travels influenced his art and his art influenced his travels. His philosophical and spiritual beliefs influenced everything.

So John was right - the mix of the Asian style, the spiritual representation in art, and the new techniques did appeal to me. And I forgot all about it.

Tobey said "Let nature take over your work. Get yourself out of your way when you paint." I think this applies not only to painting but to life in general, almost another way to say, go with the flow.

So this week, I want to be a painter. I think it's time to buy some canvas again and bust open my old tool box filled with all my paint and brushes (that I finally brought up from Miami a few months ago).

Photo credit: Mark Tobey "Blue Interior"

Monday, May 12, 2008

Movie Mondays - Sipping Jetstreams

Saturday I went for my usual weekend surf with my friend Jen. A nice swell was hitting Long Beach, but it was cold and the sun wasn't making much of an appearance. After suiting up and psyching up, we got in the water. The size of the waves produced a bit of anxiety but we each managed to catch at least one. The tough part was getting back to the outside, every time I would get past a wave and make some progress the next wave was just behind it and would push me back towards the shore. After battling a while, we decided we had enough for the day.

So not our most successful day.

I went home and decided I needed to watch something to make me think about the good parts about surfing rather the frustrating parts and popped in a dvd I bought a few weeks ago. Sometimes I think I am weird when it comes to books and movies, I may have a book or movie for months and not watch it until I'm somehow in the proper frame of mind. Maybe other people do that too but if they do I'm not aware of it.

Anyway, so this movie - Sipping Jetstreams, is incredible. It is the perfect balance of surfing, travel and music. It is inspirational and visually stunning. An ode to the adventure that is travel and how it becomes part of your life. The movie is shot with different kinds of film stock and has this almost luminescent look to it. Funny enough they cover Bali, Hong Kong and Italy among other places, and being that those are destinations I have been to in the last year it was awesome to see these places in the same light as I have them in my memory. Really beautiful.

In addition to Bali, Hong Kong and Italy - the film is also shot in Morocco, Egypt, Japan, Barbados and Cuba. It made me want to go discover those places too - remarkably even Cuba. I have often been asked if I want to travel to Cuba, being that I am of Cuban parentage on one side - my standard answer is no, that there are lots of other places I would rather travel to before going there. I still want to go to lots of places in this world but after this film, I would add Cuba to the list. (I know - not ok until the Castros are out).

Anyway, check out the movie if you have a chance. It is really incredibly gorgeous and inspiring. Kudos to the filmmaker and photographer who decided to take us on this amazing journey and on that note, I leave you with a quote from their website.

"Travel keeps you young. It does this by simply putting you in situations that make you feel like a child again. Magically lost in a moment of discovery. Beautifully confused. It could be the first time you awaken to the 5:00am call to prayer from the local mosque on Morocco's far Atlantic shore, the first time you feel the weight of the Egyptian sun on your shoulders, the first time you paddle out over the shallow reefs of the Caribbean, or the first time you realize that people living in squalor can achieve happiness as easily as those living in mansions. These are life's opportunities to shed the hustle of modernity, to join the moment, and stop sprinting towards some prefabricated goal. Your heart races. Your metabolism shifts into a lower gear. Everything is new again. You're sipping jetstreams."


Friday, May 9, 2008

Reader Feedback

I met up with some friends yesterday and received some interesting feedback.

I was talking to one friend and telling her about having different themed days for the blog but that I have not figured out what to write about on Tuesdays. She suggested food as the subject for Tuesdays, not a bad idea, I thought.

Funny enough, later I was having dinner with another friend who has been a pretty faithful reader and he told me he doesn't care for the new prescribed format. Ok, fair enough.

Here's my question to any readers out there - should I introduce a food Tuesday or should I scrap the new format and go back to a totally random format? Emails, posted comments, phone calls or conversations would be appreciated.

So what do you guys think?

Random Thursdays - Great Stuff

This morning I made the drive from Brooklyn to the Bronx for a press conference for Project B.R.I.E.F.

A few weeks ago I learned about a group called Project B.R.I.E.F., actually what happened is that a friend of mine works there and asked me if I'd like to design their website. I took the project on and drove up to the Jacobi Medical Center to meet with their team and learn a bit about what they do.

Project B.R.I.E.F is an incredible concept. A few years ago a doctor by the name of Dr. Jason Leider, as the Director of Adult HIV Services, noticed that the majority of his patients were developing full blown AIDS within one year of HIV diagnosis. At the same time Dr. Yvette Calderon, Director of Urgent Care, knew that many of her patients used the ER for their primary care needs and these patients did not have a lot of access to health education. Together Drs. Leider and Calderon came up with an innovative system that offers HIV testing to EVERY patient that comes into the emergency room. Amazingly 85% of the patients opt to take the test and so far Project B.R.I.E.F. has tested over 11,000 people.

If you have ever been in an ER, you know it is a chaotic place. Can you imagine any hospital fitting HIV testing into their day to day routine, for every patient?

Well, Project B.R.I.E.F. definitely uncomplicates the process. Patients come in, and with the use of computer tablets, fill out a questionnaire and watch a few videos about testing and prevention. A counselor is there to answer any questions and guide them through the process. The test is actually an oral swab called a Rapid Oral Test, with results available in 20 minutes. It is all in all a simple procedure and what is so fantastic about it, is that this process is quick and very private.

What an amazing idea, brought to life and actually changing the lives of people. The sooner people know their status, the sooner they can get adequate care and hopefully maintain a good quality of life.

For me, as I am sure for many others, I didn't realize what a prevalent problem HIV and AIDS still is. I'm not sure why we forget, there is still a lot of attention on it but if you are not seeing how it affects communities and individuals first hand, somehow it seems to disappear into the background.

Thanks to Project B.R.I.E.F. for increasing my awareness and letting me be a tiny part of such a great thing.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Work Wednesdays - The slash/slash/slash job

I didn't post yesterday. I suppose I wasn't sure what to write about and I was actually quite busy, not an excuse though. So today I've been struggling to come up with an idea about what to write about and I check my mailbox. Guess what's there? My Outside Magazine and on the cover it says "The 50 Best Jobs". Ironic, isn't it?

This led me to pull out my old life saving issue of Outside Magazine and an old notebook where I wrote about different things I want to do. Yesterday I met up with some friends I used to work with, got a lovely email from a friend I met in Bali, talked on the phone with my sister (who is my friend - not everyone can say that about their siblings, you know) and went surfing with another friend. I had such a great day.

So today I will write an ode to my current job, the slash/slash/slash job. Allow me elaborate. My current state of affairs is that I have a variety of jobs, I temp, I design, I dog sit and I research. Although I miss the security of a regular paycheck, being that I still get regular bills, I absolutely LOVE the flexibility that I have.

Sometimes I get anxious about the money factor and sometimes shit happens that ends up costing me a lot of money, such as the week of vehicular trauma - however ALL of that is outweighed by the freedom I have. Specifically now I have more time to see people I care about, spend time catching up with them and being a part of their lives. In addition to connecting, I make time for important things like being creative, doing yoga, going surfing and working on my own business ventures.

Whilst this goes against the grain of every social rule we have been indoctrinated with, is running yourself ragged for a regular paycheck really worth it? For me it's not. Yes, granted, I am extremely fortunate, I don't have to financially support anyone but me. Maybe one day that will change, maybe one day I will tire of the lack of consistency and "security" but for now this fits. So today I thank God for my slash/slash/slash random jobs.

PS When I went to the art function on Earth Day, I had a fortune cookie and it said the following: "The voyage of discovery is not in the seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes. Marcel Proust" I just thought that was so lovely, I had to share.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Music Mondays - The Verve

So this Music Monday I have a some rants and raves. Last week I went to a show at the WAMU Theatre at Madison Square Garden. The band that I went to see was The Verve.

Back when I was in high school and college I was super into British music. I was all over anything that fell into the Brit Pop / Shoegazer category. There was a really cool radio show on the University of Miami radio station that played a lot of this type of music and I was an avid fan, I called in and everything. I even had my own part in the show for a while, it was called "Christina's Corner" and the DJ would play the bad ass songs I requested. Yes, I had my very own 5 minutes of radio fame.

One of the challenges of being into this sort of music, was access. This was in the early days of the internet and I used to scour message boards for information on my favorite bands. When I used to go to Switzerland over the summer, the best was a layover in Gatwick or Heathrow, where I could hunt down CDs and music magazines in the airport music shops.

Anyway, so somewhere along the way I heard of this band called Verve (before they had to change their name to "The Verve"). Their music absolutely captivated me, their sound was so completely ethereal, lush, rich and sensual - all at the same time. The music literally had and still has, the ability to take me to another world.

If memory serves correct, about 10 years ago, my sister and I saw they were coming to the US and to a city sort of close to us. We drove to Atlanta to see them, quite a long drive. It was, without a doubt, one of the best shows I have ever seen. The band played an incredibly intimate show in a club in the Buckhead area of Atlanta.

So all these years later, I saw they were coming to do a show in NY. I had to go.

The Verve played a great show, they were on and incredibly intense. Although I am happy for them that they were able to play two shows in a larger venue, I missed the intimacy of the smaller club type show. However, again, nothing against the band - they made my week. My gripes come in with the crowd.

A - If you come to see an awesome band play, SHUT THE F*CK UP while they are playing! Do you think any of us give a crap about your social calendar??? Have some respect for the band and for your fellow concert goers.

B - Are people too cool to stand and rock out? A high proportion of the crowd was sitting for most of time, about the only time everyone got up was for the song "Bittersweet Symphony". I'm not hating on the people that only know their popular songs but what's up with sitting the WHOLE time? Maybe it is my Latin blood that makes me move and my age that really makes me not care if I look like a spaz.

Anyway, rants aside, it was a great show and next time they come to NYC I'm going and making my sister come with me! (Consider yourself warned Carmen!)

PS Blackberrys don't take good pictures, so I messed around with the picture in Photoshop. Next time I go to a show, I'm taking a camera.

PPS I'm trying to make some changes to the blog, new addresses and new website. Some of the posts may be looking a little crazy....

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Random Thursdays - Venting

So this week has had some annoying moments.

I am dog sitting for a friend this week and staying in her apartment. Since I am temping at a financial institution I had to pack some work clothes and man, what a shock to the system to wear that stuff again! Anyway, so being that I have a 9-5 gig plus some other stuff going on I packed a suitcase and decided to drive my car to the city as schlepping on the subway is a pain, plus had I left my car at home I would have had to deal with somehow getting back to Brooklyn to deal with alternate side of the street parking. It just wasn't fitting into my schedule.

Anyway, Sunday I get here and park. Monday morning I walk the dog and repark the car due to street cleaning rules. So I must have been half asleep and end up parking where I am not supposed to. Monday, after work, I go to where I thought my car was and guess what? It is not there. I check online and see that, yep, you got it - my car's been towed. Ugh! Well in the interest of saving on cab fare, I take the subway to 34th Street and walk 5 long blocks over to 12th Avenue. In the pouring rain. I get to the impound lot where all my fellow morons are waiting, sit for an hour and a half and finally get my car out. Of course, in addition to the towing fee, you get a fine too. Lots of fun. Nobody ever said NYC was cheap.

So the week goes on, I'm super vigilant about where I park, I get out of my car and read the 35 million parking signs about 50 times, just to make sure I'm 100% legal.

Right, so today after work, I head to take care of my parking business. See my car, good start. No ticket, even better. Get in the car, engine starts - bonus! Think, "hmmm, that's weird - it sounds like my window is open." Look back, see glass on my back seat. Well, that's not good. I get out of the car and inspect the situation. Passenger side, back seat side window shattered, back door open. I decide not to touch anything, I mean the NYPD may want to dust for prints right? Ha ha ha. I've think I have been watching too much CSI. I call the police and they show up about 45 minutes later. They ask me if anything is missing and I tell them I did not touch the passenger side of the car, because I wanted to wait until they got there. Good thing I didn't tell them, "No - I was waiting for you guys to dust for prints." I think they would have looked at me like I was an alien.

So about 15 minutes later and police report in hand I head off to a GARAGE, to park. The attendant tells me it's $45 per day and I ask him to cut me a break. I tell him about all the vehicular trauma I have had this week and he offers $35 per day. Not a bargain, but at this stage I think it is my safest and cheapest option.

All in all, things could have gone better but then they could have been worse. I still have a car, my first temp job has been quite nice and hanging out with Finn (the dog) has been fun. This damn city hasn't got the best of me yet, at least not this week!

Work Wednesdays!

Ok ok so I'm a day late with this post - some of us have to work for a living, right? Ha ha ha.

Anyway so this week's fabulous job is being a music supervisor.

Last weekend I met up with a friend who I would say is about equally obsessed with music as I am. We were driving along in my car, listening to my ipod and chattering away as we do. At some point in a conversation about music, my friend made a statement that almost caused me to have a car accident. Reena says "I feel like I have a soundtrack running through my life." I totally freaked out - I have felt like that for ages! I can apply music to just about any part of my life. I basically score my life in my head.

Well I can't recall anyone else agreeing with me on that one, so it was really funny to discover someone else that subscribes to my particular brand of crazy. So Reena and I decided "music supervisor" would be the job to have this week.

According to our friends at Wikipedia, a music supervisor is an individual who combines music and visual media. The job is both creative and logistic (check, check); music supervisors select music and negotiate usage licenses. Their job is very diverse one, they have roles in the creative process helping to emphasize storyline, emotion, time period and cultural location.

Seems pretty cool to me.

PS Big shout out to MCH who became a mom for the second time this past Saturday. XOXO!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

21 Questions

Some may know, some may not - I'm temping this week and so between waiting for the phone to ring and someone to assign me a task like faxing or copying, I have spent a good part of the day reading New York Magazine online.

After reading NY Magazine's 350 entries of "21 Questions" I felt doing one of my own. So here are my 21 Questions...

Christina Algeciras


Temp, dog sitter, freelance designer and researcher, blogger, aspiring artist, aspiring yoga teacher and whatever else I can do to make a few bucks.

Kensington, Brooklyn (yeah, nobody else knows where it is either)

Who's your favorite New Yorker, living or dead, real or fictional?
Realistically, probably my friends, cause I love em!

What's the best meal you've eaten in New York?
Too many to even say but anything at Da Ciro's ranks pretty high.

In one sentence, what do you do all day?
God only knows.

Would you still live here on a $35,000 salary?

What's the last thing you saw on Broadway?
Lots of people trying to cross the street.

Do you give money to panhandlers?
Sometime yes, sometimes no.

What's your drink?
Tea, water, beer or a vodka tonic (not all at once, of course).

How often do you prepare your own meals?
About 75% of the time and that includes reheating.

What's your favorite medication?
Sunshine, reggae yoga and glassy surf on a warm day.

What's hanging above your sofa?
Nothing, I have no wall behind my sofa.

How much is too much for a haircut?
Anything over $60.00 but I haven't cut my hair in over a year.

When is bedtime?
Usually too late.

Which do you prefer, the old Times Square or the new Times Square?
I'm not equipped to make that comparison, but I can say I generally avoid all of Times Square.

What do you think about Donald Trump?

What do you hate most about living in New York?
NYPD Traffic Police, endless construction on the BQE and the high cost of living.

Who is your mortal enemy?
I could not really say I have a mortal enemy but I don't care much for people who are mean or have attitude problems.

When's the last time you drove a car?
Last night, reparking on the Upper West Side.

Who should be the next president?
Someone who is not a "politician".

Times, Post or Daily News?
Times online when I have nothing else to do, but generally I avoid newspapers.

Where do you go to be alone?
Just about anywhere, but I have a spot in Central Park, a bench in Dante Square or a seat in my car for a drive to the beach.

What makes someone a New Yorker?
Knowing how to navigate through pedestrian traffic and standing on the street NOT on the curb when waiting to cross the street.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Music/Movie Monday - The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou

So today we are doing a music/movie combo day. A couple of weeks ago I headed to my local Blockbuster and rented "The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou". The movie is written and directed by Wes Anderson, who has written and directed a number of other films that are probably best described as quirky.

The movie is a black comedy starring Bill Murray, Owen Wilson and Angelica Huston (who is so fabulous and super cool in this movie) amongst many other notable actors. We meet Steve Zissou, an egotistical oceanographer whose career is fading. Steve's partner has been eaten by a jaguar shark and Zissou is determined to exact revenge. He gathers a crew and is off to a fantastical journey at sea.

I have seen the film before but it is one I can watch time and time again. The humor is offbeat, the story poignant and the film is shot in a strangely engaging and beautiful way. Somehow reminiscent of a grown up childhood fantasy.

In addition to being a great movie, there is also a fantastic soundtrack, particularly "The Life Aquatic Studio Sessions featuring Seu Jorge". Seu Jorge is a Brazilian singer and actor who acted and sang in the movie. Especially cool is Jorge's interpretation of David Bowie songs in Portuguese, which he sings solo with an acoustic guitar.

The cover of Bowie's "Oh! You Pretty Things" is so incredibly lovely. It makes you feel as though you could be transported to a lovely garden somewhere in the South of France or on the Italian Riviera, where you literally dream your days away lounging with a glass of wine in your hand.

Nothing like a little mental transportation on a grey, rainy, chilly NYC Monday.

Movie poster credit BLT & Associates

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Random Thursdays - Fun Stuff

I have decided to write about any random topic on Thursdays so today I'm giving a big shout out to one of my new favorite bloggers. Funky Brown Chick is a blog about sex, dating and relationships and it's hilarious.

A couple of weeks ago I was searching the internet high and low for temp agencies in NYC. While looking for some more in depth information on NY staffing companies, I stumbled on this blog called Funky Brown Chick, the writer by her own admission is funky, brown and a chick - hence the name.

So I read the post about her employment situation and explored FBC's site a bit further. Funky Brown Chick has some hilarious posts like Manly Mondays - How to Hide an Erection and a variety of other highly entertaining entries.

Bonus points also go to FBC for her posts on Paul Walker. Nice to know I'm not the only grown woman with a celebrity crush! Ha ha ha!

So for some laughs, head over to Funky Brown Chick's site and tell her Christina sent you!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Work Wednesdays!

So the theme for Wednesdays is work, but I'm not talking about ordinary things. I'm going to blog about cool people who have amazing jobs.

This week one of my ambitions is to be the back up singer for the Rolling Stones. Last Sunday a friend and I went to go see the Rolling Stones IMAX movie. It was a seriously rocking movie! We almost felt like we were really at the show. It was actually tough to stay seated but we may have gotten kicked out of the movie theatre for dancing in the aisles. Those guys are soooo cool and they have so much energy!

So my friend decided she wants to be Keith Richards. Yes, I said she wants to be Keith Richards. So I'm gonna buy her a headscarf and a pirate pin. I think she could pull it off.

Since we were on the topic of fantasy jobs, I picked being the back up singer for the band. Lisa Fischer is the the back up singer for the band. She performed with so much charisma and looks like she's having a blast. So this week, I want to be Lisa and shake it with the Stones! If only I could sing!

Monday, April 21, 2008

It's Earth Day!

Since I have not quite figured out what Tuesday's theme will be, I just figured I would write about Earth Day.

I tend to get really taken with the beauty of our natural environment, it often leaves me breathless - especially in the last few months where I have taken the time to appreciate it all the more. Very often I can be caught at the beach going on and on and on about how gorgeous it is.

I started to write a post about a recent discussion I had with someone about conservation, but the whole sentiment of the debate is annoying me so I just deleted everything.

What I really want to say about Earth Day is that if you have a gift shouldn't you cherish it? The world is a treasure and why shouldn't we do what we can as individuals and a collective society to conserve it?

So in honor of Earth Day, I'm going to do some walking in the sun, some yogaing, some meditating and some art projects. Hope you do something nice too.

Post script
I sat in the sun in Bryant Park and I went to an Earth Day art event at the Creative Pier in Union Square, where I played with paint, glue, paper and scissors. It was fun.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Music Mondays - Turning Frowns Upside Down!

I have decided to try to put some structure to my blog and being that I am currently doing a bit of this and a bit of that for work, now is as good a time as any to get started. I am making Mondays either Music Monday or Movie Monday, I love both artistic formats so much that it makes it quite impossible to choose, so depending on my mood it may be one or the other, or even both.

This week, as you can tell by the title, it is Music Monday!

Now you may ask yourself, what can I write about music? Honestly, I'm no proper critic but I know what I like. I have had what some could classify as an obsession with music since I was a kid. I listened to my parents records of The Steve Miller Band, Strauss and Sergio Mendes as a little girl. I actually remember sitting on the floor by my parents records looking at album covers for what seemed like hours. And there was nothing better than when my mom would take us to the beach and we would listen to the Caribbean guys playing their steel drums.

When I was a bit older my dad introduced me to the artistry of Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones and Fleetwood Mac. We would get in the car, blast the music and just drive. Over the years I have developed a passion for music from all genres, from hip hop to punk rock to folk to reggae and so on.

Now I have had a few missteps in terms of my music choices in the past and like most people I have a few embarrassing tracks in my collection but really, who the hell cares. I can't help it, I really loved Wham!

I read a post by Jonathan Fields today "108 songs that’ll stop you from biting your cubicle-mate…or at least curb the urge!" and thought this would be a fitting way to start off Music Mondays. Jonathan lists his 108 favorite songs for changing his mood. I am not sure I could limit it to 108, for me it depends entirely what mood I'm trying to get in/out of and being that I'm a woman, you know that means LOTS of moods.

So Thursday I was in a super crappy and frustrated mood because of this whole job search and didn't wake up feeling much better Friday morning. I had a meeting in Manhattan, got in the car, plugged in the ipod and got on my way. I started to play the best music in the car and all of sudden I'm seeing it's a beautiful day, the sun is out, all of NY is in spring bloom and it's about 70 degrees. Perfect! And the cause of this sudden shift in perspective? Music. Rather, listening to the right music.

Here is my list of some of my current feel good music. Being that it's Monday shouldn't we talk about stuff that makes us feel good anyway? I'm talking about sun on your skin, warm breeze, no traffic, cruising around, weekend afternoon, chilled out happy.

Slightly Stoopid - Up on a Plane
Slightly Stoopid - Basher
Slightly Stoopid - Ain't Got a Lot of Money
Slightly Stoopid - Bandelero
Kings of Convenience - Live Long
Gipsy Kings - Djobi Djoba
Culver City Dub Collective - Crying Shame (Culver City Dub Remix)
Born Jamericans - Warning Sign
The Beautiful Girls - Music
The Beautiful Girls - Morning Sun
Ballyhoo! - Cali Girl

So I say get your ipod, cd player, tape player, record player or even 8 track player and put on your favorite happy time, sun shining, life is good tunes and enjoy the day. Happy Monday!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Cool As Sh*t Job

This morning I got up and got on my computer as I do most mornings. I checked my email and then checked my blog reader. For those who are not technically "with it", (usually I fall into that category too), you can use google or yahoo and probably some others to subscribe to a number of blogs. Then you can read all your favorite blogs at the same place rather than going to 35 different websites. Pretty handy.

I digress. Anyway, I get the all the job postings for Patagonia in my reader. Patagonia is a SUPER cool company that designs outdoor clothing and gear. They have been actively involved in environmental initiatives for over thirty years, it's about cherishing the natural world we all live in.

So this morning I'm reading their job postings, one was Surf Sales Representative - East Coast, the other was Surf Sales Manager. The Surf Sales Manager reports to the "Director of Surf" - how freaking cool is that?! Imagine you are meeting some people and going through the usual what do you do for a living nonsense and you can say "Yeah I work for Patagonia", then comes the "Oh what do you do there?" and you can reply "I'm the Director of Surf." Too cool.

If I was inclined to move to California at this stage, I'd be all over these jobs!

Just sharing!

The Great Bike Adventure

So let me tell you about my friend Sheila, we met last year at surf/yoga camp in Bali and you may recall that we traveled a bit through Bali after. Sheila returned to her home in San Francisco and once I got back we spoke on the phone a few times.

I have to say, Sheila is one of my heroes, there is so much she has done with her life you can't help but be inspired by her. Well one day in January I get this really funny email from her, which with her permission, I am posting below.

"Tuesday, January 15, 2008

As fate or whatever would have it, the electricity to our home is out. We went in a little celebration walk to celebration sushi and when we came back, PG&E celebration trucks were in the street, street lights mysteriously out, we making jokes about celebratory electricity until we opened our celebrating door & the switch didn't work—we'd been had. I shall celebrate in the darkness.

Any wondering about whether I would allow myself to get distracted by other matters in lieu of writing my invitation/celebratory missive/declaration of freedom and first day of the rest of my next few months is over. No wondering. It's 9pm, dark & I have time on this battery operated information-catcher. I write.

Today was the last day of my current job in real estate. Some of you know that I went on a trip to Bali in October & was inspired to quit. I've really wrestled with the notion of staying in this job for some time—it's not what I would call inspiring work. It has at times been interesting & I've certainly learned a lot, but inspiring…no.

My endorphins have been libidinously giddy since I came to this conclusion—the conclusion that my soul was withering and sucked dry by the demands of said job. My goals for my trip to Bali were refreshment & inspiration—I got what I wanted.

The past two months I've spent helping hire & train my replacement & prepare the way for her to assume my duties as seamlessly as possible. The past two days were pleasantly LIGHT in workload—I've planned well & it was an easy baton to pass on.

I've also been trying to think expansively & open up to all possibilities in life—what can I do now that obligation and money aren't arm wrestling?

I was going to go to Bali in March and surf some more. I was going to go hither & yon, visiting friends. Somehow, with or without segues, I was reminded of my dream to travel around the world by all means other than the two-winged hollow metal bird: boat, foot, bike. I love bike touring—I love the compactness, the self-sufficiency, the direct sense-engagement that I get from wind and smells and sounds that I just don't get from enclosed vehicles.

Flowing with the idea of the bike, I have decided to bike from San Diego, California to Sarasota, Florida this Spring. This is where the invitation comes in—YOU'RE INVITED to participate on this tour.

If it strikes you as cosmically necessary and good and life aligns for you to take this mythic quest with me, please come. I plan to leave on March 15th. I MAY start biking from San Francisco, but it's likely I'll start from San Diego. I have two months to train & get my bearings & stuff together for the tour.

Lodgings: a mix of camping, hotel/motel and some couch surfing if possible

Pace: I'll have a better sense after a few more weeks of training, but my initial realistic desire is to bike about 300-350 miles/week. I think I'll be doing a 60-70 miles per day 5 days/week. A lot depends on hills, wind & weather conditions.

Rest: I want to stop where inspired for a few extra days. At this point Melton has agreed to fly to Austin, Texas to meet me there.

How long will I be gone: At this pace and with a few days rest (from what I've read so far), I think I'll be on the trip for 12 weeks.

Where will I be biking: Through the Southwest & South. Across Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Georgia and down the peninsula of Florida.

What is this invitation exactly?
Well, if you have enough freedom, interest & gumption, I can give you more details about approximate arrival times of where & when. You can drop in on the ride (you'll need a bike or a skate board & one really strong leg and some camping stuff) and ride with me for a few days, a week, whatever.

I'm also interested in crashing @ your friends homes if you have friends along the way. I want to camp as much as possible & do the hotel thing when I need a proper bath & privacy. I'm open to the hospitality of anyone who enjoys visitors as well.

Though some see this as a very isolated, off the grid experience, that's not my intention for this trip. I want to meet people, connect, indulge my passion for travel & biking, enjoy the beauty that this geographic mass has to offer my eyes, nose, skin & heart. I'll be getting a small laptop & blogging my way across the country.

Music playlist donations for my biking soundtrack are also welcome.

I'm STOKED about this very RAD adventure I'm about to embark on. Melton has been super supportive, which I appreciate tremendously.

I'm very excited for the next few months! Let me know if you want to join me. Thanks to everyone I corresponded with about the job stuff and all your support!!"

So I'm not joining Sheila but I figured I would share her email with you all. How cool is this adventure! You can keep up with Sheila and her adventures on her blog

Let's support the people out there who are bucking the system and doing their own things in life!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

How Outside Magazine Saved My Life...

I had been itching to get out of the airline business pretty much since I got into it. The summer I was 14, I worked in my dad's warehouse doing data entry, labeling newspapers and doing other stuff. It was a weird world I had ventured into, the walk from the office to the bathroom, all the way on the other side of the warehouse, was particularly scary for a 14 year old girl. There were stories of crazy people - like the crazy old European woman that would lift up her dress in meetings with her vendors and crazy people that tried to make me memorize the international rule and tariff books, for fun. I think that the combination of lacking sunlight and wacky people made me not want to ever go back. Don't get me wrong, I appreciated the job from my dad but I just wasn't that into it.

So numerous years and accelerated summer courses later, I landed back with my pops. What you may or may not know is that both my parents worked in the airline industry and my dad used to take me to the airport with him when I was a baby. I joke that I must have inhaled too much jet fuel as a kid.

So what I expected to be a short term gig, ended up becoming a career - one that I never actually wanted. No doubt it was what I needed at the time, I used to be scared to answer the phone and years later I could be found sitting at my desk with my office phone on one ear and my cell phone on the other! But jokes aside, I got stuck, I let it happen. My mom says I'm a gypsy, and that is something, along with all my creative aspirations, I turned off. At least I thought I could.

So I had this great, very hectic career, working with some awesome people and I couldn't breathe anymore. Traveled the world (didn't see much of it), rented an apartment in Manhattan (didn't see much of it) and I couldn't take it anymore.

Around the summer I turned 30, some great people made their way into my life and helped me uncover some of those passions of mine that I thought had been long lost at this point. I am a person that used to look at the sky, trees or ocean and try to see how many different shades of color and shapes I could see. It's sort of about training your eye and mine had been severely out of focus.

It took me months of mental anguish to start taking the steps to make some of the changes I needed to make. At a particular low point, I had to go on a few business trips. I was at the airport browsing the magazine stand and I saw the cover of Outside Magazine, on it were three surfers and it said "Dream Jobs - Turn Your Passion into a Paycheck." I didn't buy the magazine on the first flight or the second or the third. Finally on the fourth flight, after a particularly aggravating conversation about my career path, I bought it. I read the issue from cover to cover on that flight.

I realized there are millions of people in this world who hate their jobs but that I did not have to be one of them. Sure, it is only a small percentage of people that are successful doing something they totally love to do, but what is stopping me from being one of them? Me - that's my obstacle, that's it. So if basket weaving is what turns me on, might as well go for it.

I guess today is online journal day, given that I have spent hours online looking for a job over the past few weeks and I don't feel I'm getting anywhere at all, I think I had to remind myself what it's really all about.

PS Pick up an issue of Outside Magazine and get inspired!

Photo credit - Outside Magazine.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

The Seasons First Surf!

A cold and nasty day last winter, I'm lying under the covers of my bed, watching a cheesy surfing chick flick (ok I'm embarrassed to admit it, yes - it was Blue Crush) and I have this thought - man that would be kind of cool to try. I have loved the ocean since I was a little girl and when I was a teenager I started getting really into the the whole surf culture, and of course I always loved those surfer boys. Anyway, time passed, I grew up and sort of forgot about all of it. So on this winter day I come up with the whacked out idea that I'm gonna try this. Maybe it was part of an early mid life crisis or something, who knows. After researching on the internet a bit I see I can take lessons in Long Beach, NY about an hours drive away. So a year ago I started taking lessons and well, you know the story, I quit my job, took off and went to learn to surf in North Carolina, Bali and Miami.

About two weeks ago I reunited with my crew - we are three girls and we met in the surf classes we started taking last year. We are not any good but we love it and we have a great time together being stupid and cheering each other on. After a lunch in Long Beach we head to Unsound surf shop to get properly outfitted. We have wetsuits, they match - it's retarded, but for these waters we also need neoprene boots, gloves and hoods. This in itself was a hilarious excursion, the gloves are so thick you can't move your fingers, the hood makes you look like an idiot and the boots. Well if you can actually get them on it's an accomplishment but getting them off - that's an exercise in patience, willpower and strength. Much to Jen's mortification, Reena literally had to pull on my boot and drag me across the floor of the surf shop. Funny.

So this last Saturday, now being properly outfitted, we met up again. Jen and I to hit the water, Reena to assist us in getting dressed and cheer us on. One definitely needs a helper because once you have one glove on it's practically impossible to get the other one on and rocking the Michael Jackson one glove look is not wise in 43 degree water. Once fully dressed, Jen and I braved the water. It was not actually that cold but the wind was a killer. We caught a few waves, they were baby ones, but that was just right for us. Despite the cold and the extreme exhaustion from paddling in neoprene it was so good to be in the water again. You are out there on this deserted beach, it's so beautiful, the birds are fishing and you are working hard to paddle, stand up or not fall off; but somehow it is so incredibly calming. All you can concentrate on is the ocean and for a little while all that crap driving you crazy just goes away. Corny but true.

So kook that I am, I'm gonna keep doing what I'm doing, get out there and keep paddling.

Sex and the City

Not really. Last week I had visitors. My cousin Samantha and her friend Steffy came to visit me in NY after they had visited my family in Miami and gone to Key West and the Bahamas (you see - this traveling thing actually does run in the family). The only people that visit me sort of regularly are my mom and my friend Camille who comes up for business. How exciting to be able to show these two around one of my favorite cities!

I picked them up at JFK, we had dinner in Brooklyn at Picket Fences, which is in my neighborhood and is really delicious. Their mac and cheese is awesome. Anyway after dinner I packed these two into my car and drove them into Manhattan. I have some pretty strong opinions on how people should see NY and I consider a night time drive through the city essential. How else do you begin to take in the twinkling lights, the bridges, the billboards, the shock and riot of color, sound and light that is Times Square?

So we drove over the Brooklyn Bridge with great views of lower Manhattan, up the west side, down through Times Square (that really hit them!), through the Village, up the FDR, back down through Times Square again (for the pictures) and back over the Brooklyn Bridge and home. But not before they could experience the difficulty of finding legal street parking in Brooklyn at 1am. Ha ha ha.

The next day, with spectacular weather, we went to Rockefeller Center. The top of Rockefeller Center is 70 stories above Manhattan, with amazing views of Central Park and the Empire State Building. No lines and no waiting. Bonus.

We visited St. Patrick's Cathedral on 5th Avenue, which is as beautiful as any cathedral in Europe. Funny enough I have lived here for 8 years and never been to either the top of Rockefeller Center or St. Patricks.

We hopped on the subway and went to Gray's Papaya on the Upper West Side for hot dogs that my sister insisted they try. So for something like $3.50 you get the recession special - 2 hot dogs and a drink. I have to say they are really good. I have actually been here before but generally after a night out. We sat in the little park on 72nd and Broadway, watched the city walk by and took it all in. I think one of the really important things to do when in a city, be it your own or one you are visiting, is sitting on a bench in the sun. Somehow I think you get a better feel of the place, you just have to sit, be still, observe and get the energy of the place. Now that I think about it I think I have been doing this for a really long time. Funny that I just notice this.

After chilling out a bit we headed back on the 1 train and hopped on the Staten Island Ferry, the best and cheapest way to see the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, and lower Manhattan. Why is is the best? It's free! Imagine, something that's still free in NYC! So after the trip on the ferry it was time to get back on the 1, we went to Central Park, took a carriage ride through the park - again something I have never done, and it was really nice. After taking some pictures with our cranky horse, we walked up to Lincoln Center and had dinner at Rosa Mexicana. For sure one of the best restaurants in the city. We drank pomegranate margaritas, Samantha made guacamole table side with our waiter overseeing, we ate too much, tried to get through the pitcher of sangria and headed out again. But destined for home we were not.

I ask, where in the world can you go shopping at 11:30pm? Times Square of course. So we headed to the Quicksilver store, the girls did some shopping and we finally made our way home.

The next day we headed back to Manhattan. The girls were not much for seeing museums but the weather was not so great, I thought well, I could take the to the Museum of Sex. (Yes this is where the Sex and the City part comes in.) Again another place I have never been - so first we see the exhibit on Sex in Design - plenty of interesting objects and art on display, for cultural purposes of course. Next comes the "film" exhibit. Well, that was interesting. Everything from "educational" films to soft core, hard core and celebrity films on display. Kind of a weird place, a few suspect characters standing around just sort of watching the films very intently. It was sort of shocking and funny all at the same time.

We decided to go get some lunch and headed to Coffee Shop in Union Square. Models and quasi celebrities abound, we ate a delicious lunch, went shopping again in the claustrophobic atmosphere of Times Square. We caught our breath in Bryant Park with a coffee and made our way back home. Initially I had big plans to take them to a fancy dinner and then out to a bar or lounge but I think we were all so tired out that we opted to stay in, order a NY pizza and watch a movie.

The following day, I got the girls some bagels (I had to make sure that they ate the NY classics!) and they packed. We went for lunch at the super fantastic A Farm on Adderly, where we intrigued the bar man and the patrons with our Swiss German. We finished up, packed up and made our way back to JFK for their flight to Zurich.

6 Months Later....

So I started documenting my journey 6 months ago and so much has happened. I have been half way around the world and back - it almost doesn't seem real. I made some really great new friends and have been able to spend some quality time with old friends and family. Lots of catching up on the last few years.

Did I have that epiphany as to what to do with the rest of my life? No, not at all. I think one of the hazards of taking off and doing something like this is that you can end up more confused than ever. I know other friends have gone through this. You start running out of money, you don't want to go back to a corporate world and way of life but you have NO clue what you want to do.

What have I learned? I know I like to chill out and live life a little more slowly, but I also know I like certain parts of city life and it's vibrancy. I know I have great friends and family, that every time I start to get stressed out about where I'm going seem to have just the right things to say to me. It's weird, I did this thing - traveling across the world by myself, quitting my job and looking to start over doing something else and I get scared just putting a resume together. Aren't there jobs for people who want to travel, write, take pictures, do yoga and surf?

I had plans to start a yoga teacher training course now in April but it was cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances. Isn't that a funny way to remind me everything happens for a reason and I should just go with the flow? Strange.

But don't take this post as me bitching and complaining - I am happy and I am so so so happy I did what I did. It's probably the biggest gift I could ever have given myself. Somehow I just thought it might be good to recap the last 6 months and give an honest statement of where I am now. So I will keep blogging about where ever I am and whatever I am doing, if only for myself. I am kind of liking this online journal thing!

Time to go home

After spending a few fabulous weeks in Europe it was time to go back home to the USA. So once again I boarded a plane and made my way back to JFK International Airport. However I was not to be spending my time at my home. I had a job lined up! So I unpacked and repacked and headed to the Upper West Side of Manhattan where I had the job of watching Finn, my friend's cocker spaniel for a few days. I love animals, so for me it was a great way to make a few bucks. I spent my time hanging out with Finn, froze my ass off in the snow, went to a career seminar to look for that epiphany and did some general catching up.

After Finn's mom came home I was back off to my home in Brooklyn to repack again, I was off to Miami again but this time to pick up my car and drive it back.

I spent the next few weeks in Miami, lethargic as all hell ( I think there is something in the air down there!) I visited with family and friends, worked on business ideas, hung out with my cousin and her friend who were visiting from Switzerland and did not do much else.

Finally on the 17th I was ready to get on the road again, this time really eager to drive and get back to NY. So I drove - no stopping for sightseeing (although I would not have minded a few surf lessons in North Carolina again), no speeding tickets and 1 flat tire - and 2.5 days later I was home and ever so happy to be back.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Venezia Parte Due!

The next day I woke up, got out of the hotel and went to see Piazza San Marco in the light of day. I don't think words can express what a magical sight Venice is, the skies were bright blue, the sun was shining making all the gold on the buildings glitter and because it was not high season there were not a lot of tourists. Perfect!

The piazza originated as a small plaza in front of Basilica di San Marco in the 9th century and was later enlarged to it's current size in 1177. I went to explore the basilica, which is this amazing mix of various styles of design and architecture - Byzantine, Romanesque, Gothic. I was told that when you walk in the basilica your jaw literally drops, well I can attest to that. The walls are covered in the most amazing mosaics, many of them gold, so everything just twinkles. I figured since I prayed in about every temple, Hindu and Buddhist, that I have come across in the last few months I might as well pray in a church who's faith I was actually born into. So I sat in a little chapel off the main basilica, on the the creaky wooden bench and kneeler and listened to an at least 90 year old priest give Italian mass. After mass, I walked up into the dome of the basilica where you can actually go out on to this roof terrace and take in the sights of the piazza. Really spectacular.

That morning, my aunt Helena and her friend Gertrude had driven down from Switzerland to meet up with me in Venice. It was really nice to have some company - Venice is almost too romantic a city to visit alone. Either be with a boyfriend or some friends and family but not necessarily alone. So once we met up, we went for a fantastic lunch at a lovely restaurant on the Grand Canal, next to the Rialto bridge. We basically walked for hours through the city, past technicolor bright buildings, into fantastically expensive boutiques, we went to the Basilica Frari where I was able to see the famous painting "The Assumption" by Titian. In this painting Titian developed a particular shade of red paint now known by any art student (me) as titian red. We kept walking through the city on these winding roads and alleys over these tiny bridges. We passed antique booksellers, paint pigment stores where the colors are in powder form and you just wish you could stick your fingers in the powder, the color is just that beautiful. I think over all the color and light in Venice is one of the most beautiful I have ever seen, this rosy pink misty light in the morning and in the evening turns white buildings pink and just accentuates the vibrancy of the colored buildings. It is like literally wearing rose colored glasses.

We had a lovely dinner where we received free prosecco (sparkling wine) for apero and a free limoncello for the digestif or after dinner drink. Limoncello is a tart and sweet lemon liquor, served chilled and especially delicious. We visited Harry's Bar for their famous bellinis, prosecco and peach puree. Harry's Bar created the Bellini and was a favorite haunt of Hemingway. What a day!

The following day we went to the local market where we saw all the food the locals were buying for their lunch and dinner, oranges from Sicily, anchovies, artichokes, octopus and all kinds of fish. After seeing where our food came from, we went for our lunch. I had planned to go see the Guggenheim museum after lunch but I was having so much fun with Helena and Gertrude that I decided to skip it and stay with them. Instead of going to the Guggenheim I ended up purchasing a pair of ridiculously gorgeous and sexy Italian shoes, now known as my Guggenheim shoes as they are quite the work of art. Ha ha ha.

After lots of walking, talking, shopping, eating and such it was time to go home the next day. So after breakfast we drove north, stopped at a town by the Garda Lake for lunch, stopped to visit the Virgin "Rosa Mystica" in Montechiari and finally made it back to Switzerland that evening. All in all, a fantastic trip.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Ah Bella Italia!

Since I was having such a good time in Europe I decided to extend my stay another week and upon the suggestion of my cousin Philipp I hopped on the train to Venice. I have loved riding trains since I was a child and this was quite a long one, Luzern, then various towns in Switzerland, Chiasso the border town where ultra serious Italian immigration officers check your passport, then on to Milan, Verona, and finally Venice.

This was my first time in Venice and I was strangely daunted by the fact that I was arriving in this unknown city in the evening by myself. I made my way out of the train station to the Vaporetti (the boats that are the city "buses"). Sitting on the Vaporetti, driving down the Grand Canal, I was breathless. It was evening already and the water glittered with reflections of the lights shining from the palatial villas on the Grand Canal. Every little canal, like an alley, held the promise of secrets and mystery.

I arrived at my stop at the Rialto Bridge and tried to find my way to my hotel through the piazzas and alleys that snake through the city in no logical way. A word to the wise, if you go to Venice, PLAN to get lost. I made it to my charming hotel without major incident and was so excited to see this beautiful city. I dropped my bags and headed to San Marco Square. I walked through little alleys and over little bridges and arrived at this magnificent square. While I was taking it all in a man selling tickets for a concert approached me. He spoke to me in Italian for a bit and at the end of his spiel I laughed and told him I don't speak Italian. But I did buy a ticket and listened to Vivaldi's Four Seasons performed live in a church. Amazing.

After the concert I decided to get some dinner, well unbeknownst to me at the time, all the restaurants around San Marco are very expensive. I walked into a cafe and asked about dinner for which they sent me upstairs. When I arrived upstairs I noticed this was a bit posh for me, ladies in dresses, men in dinner jackets. Oh well, what the hell I'm rocking this fur coat from my aunt and I figured I would play woman of mystery for the evening. So I sat down, received a few curious looks from other patrons and had a lovely glass of wine, pasta dish and tiramisu. After a brief conversation with the Swiss couple next to me I finished up and headed back to my hotel (after getting lost again, OF COURSE).

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Queen of the Mountains

No not me, Mount Rigi that overlooks Lake Lucerne is also known as the "Queen of the Mountains" and that is where I went after recuperating from Fasnacht.

On Thursday, another picture perfect day, Radka, Cedric and I met up with my aunt Amay down by the wharf on Lake Lucerne. We got on a boat that took past the picturesque towns until we arrived in Vitznau, where we boarded a cogwheel railway that would take us up to the Rigi Kulm (peak). In 1497 humanist Albrecht von Bonstetten referred to the Rigi as "Mons Regina" and its description by the local population as the "Queen of the Mountains".

After reaching the top we took a walk around the peak, had a lovely lunch and hiked part of the way down the mountain. One thing I find fantastic about Switzerland is that there are lots of well marked hiking trails every where. The are actually called a "wanderweg" or a wander way. I would almost call hiking the national sport, everyone does it, old and young. The Swiss call it wandering, which seems to give it a more special sentiment than just "hiking". Wandering and exploring versus the effort of a "hike". Interesting.

Anyway, once we reached the point where it was too steep for us to walk further, we stopped off in a little village on the mountain where we had a rest, a cup of tea and a horse pulled sleigh ride. The sleigh ride was great. The four of us sat in this classic sleigh that was pulled by two massive horse and we jingled through the town and forest a bit.

As the light was fading and the air was getting colder, we finally hopped back on the cogwheel train, back on the boat and were back in Luzern.