Monday, February 15, 2010

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Lisztomania! Traveling.

Hi. I'm listening to Phoenix's Lisztomania which is from an album that I find manically addictive. Check out Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix if you get a chance. And while listening to this I thought why not write myself a freaking list because I freaking love freaking lists.

I've been in a really big travel mood recently. For many years now, I've dedicated myself to going on at least one big trip a year and I'm starting to get the itch to see another part of the world. I've been lucky to have been to so many different places in the last few years: Australia, Argentina, Hungary, France, UK, Italy, and all over Asia and India. And every experience has been amazing, be it for work or for fun. I love it all, the airports, the food, the sights, the people watching, the museums, the drinks. Everything.

Without jinxing myself, this year I want to go to a place that rhymes with Shmouth Shmafrica. I haven't asked my boss for time off yet though. Eek! But this won't stop me from writing a list!

Essential things to do while traveling:
* Enjoy the airport. I hate rushing through the airport. Why set yourself up for stress? Also I am in love with SFO International Terminal. Love! As an aside, have you ever seen that impeccably dressed woman with the perfect non-sweats outfit and beautiful handbag who looks completely unfrazzled? I want to be her.

* Make up a mini ritual to give yourself something to look forward to. I have a ritual that I do when I'm at SFO. I always buy every magazine I could possibly want for my flight (as in... I spend more than $20) and then I get a bottle of water and a chocolate croissant every time I am prepping for a big trip. Long flights suck, so why not start relaxing before you get on the plane?

* Snacks, before and during. Guys, this is me we're talking about. I love snacks. I always bring some with me from home. I'm like that over prepared mom - I carry bandaids, ibuprofin and nutrigrain bars. But you know what, I can't tell you the number of times I've landed in a country and I don't have the currency yet but I want to eat my arm off. So I go prepared. I also stop by local grocery and drug stores and pick up new stuff just in case too. Because you never know. (Also I am always hungry.) Plus grocery stores are interesting and make for good shopping for interesting and inexpensive gifts.

* Coin. ATMs. Don't get ripped off at the Bureau de Change. Because it is a Bureau de Scam. Get thee to an ATM and just get a bunch of cash at bank rates.

* Try McDonalds in a country. I'm not lying. It is the most fascinating experiment you can do in every country you go to. You don't have to like, enjoy the meal. Just go see the menu and try something out. It is different every time. I think it is SO INTERESTING. I learned, with McDonalds as my first experience and followed up by regular restaurants, that cheese is not good in Australia. Even processed cheese tastes like a farm. But McDonalds in Taiwan sells rice/Korean BBQ/kim chi burgers. Really. See?

* Get a real local, leisurely breakfast. Skip that continental shit (unless you're tired of eating rice at breakfast) and go all out. In UK? Tomatoes and mashers. In India? Idli. In Taiwan? Congee. In France? Croissant or bread and butter. Have some tea. Read the paper. Don't mess with the good stuff and don't be in a hurry to go stand in line for that next touristy thing you have mapped out. The Eiffel Tower is open late. Eat some breakfast and stay a while.

* Find a local sporting event and go, even if you risk your life. In China, I saw Roger Federer play in an amazing new arena in Shanghai and it was amazing to experience something so international..... internationally. Our cabbie fell asleep at the wheel a few times on the way back. In Argentina, I was fortunate enough to have met up with friend of friends who took us to a Boca Juniors game which, if you've ever seen Argentines and their crazy soccer love, you'll know how insane it can be. The stadium rocks, literally. The fans cheer and throw stuff. Was that gunfire? Maybe. A brush with death? Maybe? Both experiences though- worth it.

* Tours. I'm not saying you should join that tour your parents go on where they follow the lady holding the umbrella. But it is totally worth it to do a small walking tour and to rent headsets and get that additional layer of information that you can't get from skimming a lonely planet book that you are trying to hide from everyone else. We had an incredible tour guide in Italy who was young and fun and recommended great bars while also giving us a little insider history that we wouldn't have learned from any books. Plus she taught us Italian slang which comes in handy!

* Try not to dress like a douche. It is totally tempting to put on your new balance trainers and traipse around with that fanny pack and the map plastered to your chest. Your feet will hurt after an entire day of walking regardless of if you're wearing sneakers or not. Tie on a nice scarf, accessorize nicely, and pretend to blend in a bit.

* Notes! I write everything down, like little snapshots of memories. I am a big experience person, can you tell? I love recording little things I saw that were interesting - and not just the big sights, favorite pieces of art, weird things I've seen, little places I stopped to do something quick. Sometimes the more interesting stuff isn't just going to the top of XYZ cathedral, it's seeing the school group of locals working on art projects outside the Uffizi or seeing how fast the women made xiao long bao dumplings in that restaurant in Shanghai.

Ok enough! I can't wait to travel more. That chocolate croissant is calling me!!!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

sometimes only in darkness, one can see light

today a dear friend of mine told me that a dear friend of his (and an acquaintance of mine) was dying. she is in her mid thirties suffering from a rare form of cancer and is in home hospice care. he asked me to pray for her and it made me realize i wasn't sure how. in a world full of war, bad economies, unemployment and general unfairness, it is so much easier to pray for miracles, hugs and winning the lottery. but when it comes to real life and real people, everything changes. it becomes a genuine desire, a real gift you want the person to have and in this situation, what can you truly give?

i spent a long time trying to come up with the best thoughts to give her. and so i prayed that leigh has comfort, that she has peace and that she is surrounded by love.

in a way it got me thinking that these were such small, almost daily instances that happen in our lives everyday. we live in the comfort of our homes, we surround ourselves with people that we love and care about and conduct ourselves in ways with certain ritual that bring us peace. it reminds me not to take it for granted - that these were the few gifts that i would want leigh, her family, her friends - anyone, really - to have when they need it most. gratitude in its truest form, in the small things that surround us in daily life.

Friday, September 11, 2009


today of all days i am so ever grateful. for the finest and bravest that serve us every day, thank you. to my neighbors who embodied community and found strength in sadness, i will never forgot you. it is strange that in life, sometimes you need to experience the greatest loss - on any scale. big or small - in order to understand love and how precious life and the people and memories we keep in our lives really are. i will always love my beautiful city of new york. i will always remember.

Monday, August 24, 2009

also, here's a quote

i don't necessarily buy into the whole self help realm but i do like a good quote:

Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed. Happiness is the experience of living every minute with love, grace and gratitude.

dennis waitley

i am grateful that there are loads of people that dance better than me

for those of you that know me, you'll know i love dance movies and tv shows that involve competitive dancing. i'm that person that picks a favorite crew during the first episode of america's best dance crew and takes it personally when people say bad things about them. i watch SYTYCD on jet blue flights. i do not change the channel if "Step Up/You Got Served/Center Stage" comes on. yea i even love the ballerina movies.

of course this does not mean i'm a good dancer personally. i've taken a total of maybe 5 dance classes in my entire life: 2 hip hop, 1 afro brazilian, 1 tragico salsa class, maybe 1 in elementary school where we learned the hokey pokey and at some point i know i learned the macarena.

i watched a fascinating documentary this weekend called "planet b-boy" which follows in the same vein as all the stuff i love to watch except that it is more interesting than say, step up, because it was a) real life, b) a fascinating perspective on bboys and global hiphop culture as a whole and c) exciting to see so many people that were passionate about breakdancing as a form of self expression regardless of where they were from. it was more than just rooting for the underdog dancer trying to make their way. i felt almost-olympic level pride in watching certain teams battle their way to the top of the breakdancing world.

ok well - maybe you should see for yourself:

yea, see? so cool. hey maybe everyone will see my moves! for day 8 of le projet i'm supposed to post a video for project gratitude about - you guessed it - gratitude. except maybe i should spare you of a video of me doing the macarena. you'd prob be pretty grateful.