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!