In Paris (aka in HEAVEN)

Baryshnikov and Sinyakina in “In Paris”

It’s difficult to put into words the incredible experience of seeing a childhood hero/idol/visionary performing less than 20 yards from you. It’s part surreal, part dream come true but mostly unbelievable. Last Wednesday I had the immense pleasure to see my lifelong hero Mikhail Baryshnikov in the production “In Paris” at the Roda Theater in Berkeley. I’d always known that Baryshnikov has a聽 special, personal relationship with the city of Berkeley (I’d always secretly hoped that I’d run into him at Chez Pannise when I was in school). So when I heard that he was helping to bring the Dmitry Krymov directed and adapted production to Berkeley – it took me all of eight minutes to already have tickets in hand.

So many dreams are coming true right about now!

Before I start, I really do want to reiterate what a huge fan I am of Baryshnikov. Whenever you mention his name, most people go, “WHO?!” and then when you say that he was Carrie’s Russian Boyfriend on the last season of SATC, then all of a sudden everyone has an opinion . Such a shame. When I was 2-4 years old I CONSTANTLY watched his ballet’s on VHS. I have no doubt that watching him and Gelsey Kirkland in the Balanchine’s Nutcracker is what inspired me to study dance for 12 years. One of my favorite memories from my childhood is being 4-years-old and with my mom in the pediatrician’s office. All the other kids were busy on the floor playing with Lego’s or Lincoln Logs or reading books about some dog named Spot running all over the place. I, on the other hand, was sitting quietly with my mom. She later told me that I was starting to worry her because I wasn’t interacting with any of the other kids or building anything, but not wanting to be an overbearing mother who hovers, so she continued to silently read her PEOPLE magazine beside me. Then out of nowhere, I point my finger and cry out “Look Mom! Its Mikhail Baryshnikov!” after spotting his picture in Star Tracks. All the other mothers in the room turned in stunned silence and gaped at me unwilling to believe that a 4-year-old not only knew who Baryshnikov was but could also pronounce his Russian name! Then when I was 16, my interest in him and his impressive career had a large resurgence with his White Oak Dance Project. So, the idea of finally being in the same room with such a huge artistic inspiration in my life was…actually pretty intimidating. Just ask my friend Ali who went with me to the show. I was hardcore blushing for the first 10 minutes and had a face-splitting grin plastered to my face for the rest of it.

His final scene and also the moment I was able to see Baryshnikov dance in person…

But after all the build-up I am so happy to say that B did not disappoint! He was at once graceful, broken, strong and haunted. “In Paris” follows the brief but cathartic romance between two Russian expats in 1930’s Paris looking for some sort of solace from their country, from their past and from their lonely future. The production spoken entirely in French and Russian was very artfully executed. My favorite scene included a sequence where Baryshnikov’s character Nikolai Platonovitch dances through a Spanish Bullfighting scene. In reality the scene shows his character dodging and fighting his imminent death. B’s co-star in the production, Anna Sinyakina was also incredibly breathtaking – at the curtain call I found myself completely in awe of her after she was suspended, upside down in the air for about 5 whole minutes without moving even an inch. THAT’S TALENT!

I highly suggest that you see this breathtaking play and its legendary cast before the whole production moves to New York.
Baryshnikov FOREVER!

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Saying Goodbye

After working at WB for 2 years, I had a pretty strong sense of their style when it came to introductions and farewells. Which is to say that they don’t stand on ceremony. In fact, its rare to have large heart-felt scenes in this office. And by no means am I try to put down the good folks on Grant Ave., it’s just that being in the industry that they are – often times deadlines take hold of your immediate attention and its harder to set aside time to say your goodbyes.

I knew this on my last day. In fact, I was (in all honesty) not expecting anything. I had been hoping for a card (maybe) but I knew that even that would be聽 stretch. But seeing the spread that they all put together for me was not only heartfelt and sincere, but touched me immensely. As I mentioned in the last post – goodbyes are always the hardest for me. Especially saying “so-long” to this lot. But it feels good to know that I have touched their hearts as much as they have touched mine.

Thanks for the memories – now on to bigger and better adventures 馃檪

 

UC Homesick

The epicenter of my all-nighters, my desk

This past weekend San Francisco had one of the most glorious winter weekends I’ve ever seen. It was a balmy, sultry聽sunny day聽that reminded me of long summer breaks. A few friends of mine decided to take advantage of the day and headed into our old stomping grounds, Berkeley. While driving around and visiting all our old favorite shops and restaurants, I began to reflect聽back on my time in Berkeley and haven’t been able to stop. A part of me feels like I’m just taking a brief hiatus from the campus. That this is my year off to “find myself” before returning back to school. A聽sort聽of backwards Gap Year.聽But then I realize that in fact, I’ve graduated and that my last class was 3 years ago. In so many ways it still feels like yesterday that I was walking down into the depths of Doe to sit in on dark Art History lectures.聽 How vivid is the memory of walking onto campus and stopping off at the Free Speech Cafe to grab an Iced Tea before class? How many times did I stop off at “Mecca” (the holy site of聽stationery stores) to go pick up more 5×7 flashcards? (5×7 flashcards are worth their weight in gold to any AH student – and during midterms and finals are generally hoarded and traded on the black market for blood diamonds or human kidneys)

Study Inspiration...my favorite Library .

Everyone always says that your college years 聽are the best years of your life. I knew “they” were right when I was IN聽college. Although it was harder to convince me of that fact when I was pulling all-nighters聽trying to write聽25-pg term papers or聽cramming for midterms.聽During my time at Cal, I聽was keenly aware that I was聽part of a utopian community where all the people around me were the most gifted in the country. Everyone was excited and happy to be there, grateful to interact with other innovators and intellectuals.聽On our Saturday drive, my roommate and I drove聽past our old apartment on聽Euclid and Hilgard聽and together we聽looked聽up at聽our old living room window,聽looked through to the garage and remembered fondly that time Mike left聽a christmas trees in our front lawn for months or when our neighbors called the cops on us for playing music too loudly. It was here that I can聽pinpoint聽the nucleus of my collegiate life. The core of my happiness took聽place largely聽within those 4 walls. I thought I was untouchable.聽Living with my best聽friends, taking classes together, studying together, learning from the leaders in our field – what could have been better? We dreaded leaving. I felt that I was leaving before my time, a straw dog, an offering to the adult聽world for which I was unwilling. If I could have, I would have stayed…possibly forever. Roaming the campus this weekend the shadows of memories kept springing forward. Old rooms, old cafe’s, places where I studied, paths I walked – are now all being occupied by new students. The places where I used to live have new tenants. In a way I’m so envious of them. They get to continue these wonderful experiences. I was reminded of that line from Garden State where they talk about home as an imaginary place that doesn’t exist any longer but you still miss it. I still miss this.

Napping on the lawn in between classes

But as we crossed the bridge back into the city, I looked forward and onto what I have now. I’m so blessed to continue to live with my college friends, continue to work and be surrounded by some of the brightest and creative minds, and live in a city that pulses with innovation, design, tolerance and creativity. While my class聽schedule might have shifted into a 9-5 job, and my rent might have doubled (city living) it doesn’t mean that I have to stop being a student of life and end my passion for continuing development, learning and education. No matter where I end up, I’ll always be living in Bear Territory.

Lost in Austen

On rain filled weekends like this past one, I can’t think of anything better than sipping on a hot cup of tea and watching all my favorite Austen movies. Pride & Prejudice, Sense & Sensibility, Mansfield Park, Persuasion etc. Each and every one a priceless jewel. But this weekend was different. I decided to read one of Austen’s most classic and revered novels, Pride & Prejudice. Getting lost into the聽world of country聽entails, balls, phaeton’s, and corsets was magical and a dream. And I had never really appreciated what a聽witty writer Austen was. I had always taken her to be nothing聽but fluff (which it is – her novels are the聽equivalent聽to modern-day聽romance novels)聽but still.聽She is the master of the slow burn, starting off her scenes with all聽the inferences of delicacy and then spinning her characters headlong 聽into shocking 聽behavior! OH MY!!聽 I enjoyed my time in Meryton and Derbyshire so much that it was a bittersweet parting when I reached the last page. But then again there’s always next weekend right?聽Perfect ending to the perfect weekend.

All Hallow’s Eve & Dia De Los Muertos

My Spooky Specimen Table with Pumpkins underneath

Anyone who knows me knows that I live and breathe for Halloween. It is by far my favorite holiday EVER! I feverishly anticipate every October 31st and prepare for this night by soaking in all the harvest and autumn inspired surroundings. It聽feels like the entire month of聽October is one big build up聽that only fuels my passion for this night/holiday. I can’t explain how or why I have this passion inside of me for one night of the year, but whatever it is – it has dug its nails in deep and over the years I have just come to accept the undeniable joy I get from the rituals surrounding All Hallow’s Eve. I have learned how to indulge my inner/eternal child by falling head first into all the pageantry and decoration and tradition that truly makes Halloween absolutely wonderful.

The Haunted Mantle Piece

This year I was lucky enough to host a “Victorian Era Eerie Haunted House” Party! Talk about a lifelong dream come true! I can’t even begin to describe how much I’ve wanted to have a blow out party dedicated to my favorite holiday. Ever since I was little I’ve wanted to make my own haunted house. For years I’ve wanted to craft聽a聽macabre headquarters filled with nothing but聽fog, spiderwebs,聽scary sounds and pumpkins, pumpkins聽and MORE聽PUMPKINS! (see聽October Tin5le #2)聽To make聽the scene聽even more perfect, the classic San Franciscan Victorian house I live in lent the perfect bones to create a spooky dwelling. I’ll admit that I got carried away with all the decorations. I know,聽I went overboard. But when your favorite holiday is looming and you are fulfilling a longstanding childhood dream…there is no such thing as a budget or “too much”.

The Gallery Wall of DEATH!

For the party every inch was bathed in orange light. Our drink table was聽overflowing with聽the most “deadly potions and brews”. Cob webs hung from every stationary surface and spooky ripped聽 gauzy cloths draped over the mantle and the staircase. My personal favorite “scene” was my specimen table filled with human body parts in聽bloody specimen jars and labels that I created which described each body part (example: the brain of a madman, the heart of a killer, eyes of a peeping Tom) and behind each of the bloody jars were long tapered candles that bled when you burned them! Another feature that I loved was our Creepy Gallery Wall of DEATH! I聽went online and found a ton of turn of聽 the century聽post-mortem photographs and also some Victorian聽“horsemanning” photos and printed them out and placed them all over the house to enhance our Haunted House effect.

My Halloween Costume

On top of the party decor, I decided to go all out for my costume. In the October edition of Top 5 Tingles, I dedicated one of my tingles to the authentic Calavera聽makeup look.聽I had come across a wonderful and romantic photo of some of the聽sugar skull makeup faces and I immediately knew then and there that I had to try out this look聽for聽my Halloween Costume. 聽I watched a聽plethora of YouTube聽videos and looked at a lot of photographs before trying out my own Dia Look. I’m so glad that I did my due diligence because in the end the look was fantastic and everyone seemed to really like it! I’ve always wanted to represent my Latina heritage (which has remained dormant inside of me for many, many years). One of the things that I discovered in researching these sugar skulls is how diverse each one is. There is so much room for freedom and creativity and I love looking at everyone’s different looks to see how each face can take their own direction while still remaining true to the spirit of the Dia De Los Muertos聽calaveras.

In fact I have to admit that I loved this makeup so much that I wanted to try out聽the look out again! A few days after Halloween was the official “Dia de los Muertos” (November 2, 2011). To celebrate I attended the Mission District’s annual procession with one of my co-workers and his family. They were incredibly good sports and let me do their makeup so that I wouldn’t be the only person walking around San Francisco聽with a face full of Mexican Skull! Their little 3-year-old son Kai is super-duper cute! I loved going to the procession with him and seeing everything through his eyes. All the colors, sounds and smells must be so magical for a聽child! And I聽was also so impressed聽with the general spirit of the march. There was so much positive energy floating around.聽What a special evening. If you haven’t already attended the Dia De Los Muertos聽procession, I highly recommend it! A must see for every San Franciscan. While it may sound crazy to some, I can’t wait to do it all again NEXT YEAR!!!

I’m In The Mood For Gold

I'm in the mood for Gold
After coming back from Greece and still sporting bronzed skin, I have a complete hankering for nothing but golden accessories. I am craving the midas touch in any way I can. I figure if I can’t still be in Greece, then at least I can dress like I am. Here is a little something I created on Polyvore of my favorite some of my favorite gold metallic pieces.


蟿蟻蔚位蠈 螘位位维未伪

The Girls at the Acropolis

A part of me has been putting off this blog entry because I know that once its complete and posted, then the trip is truly over. By delaying this last step, a part of me can keep one foot in Greece, the cradle of civilization, the home of gods and monsters, and the place where I feel like I was reborn. My trip couldn’t have come at a more perfect time. In fact, if anything Greece was an escape. A getaway in every sense of the word. I needed to be able to leave behind everything. Everything that was familiar and that had become mundane. I needed an adventure. And the best part about my 2 weeks in the salty Aegean, on the rocky cliffs, in the baking sun – was that I got to be with 3 of the most inspiring, fantastically beautiful and intelligent friends anyone could hope for.

Looking out onto the Parthenon

Our trip began in Athens. Amidst all the news of the riots and chaos going on in the city in recent weeks, we were all actually pleasantly surprised to discover what an amazing city Athens was. It was energetic, ancient and buzzing. But more than that, every person we encountered was so intensely friendly it was almost shocking. We couldn’t go into one store or restaurant without a HUGE greeting. “Kali M茅ra!!” everyone seemed to say with huge smiles. Even though we were insanely exhausted from our flights from the US, we decided that we could sleep when we were dead and instead opted for a fabulous dinner and a night out at the clubs. Even though most of us hadn’t slept in 48 hours we stayed up dancing until 5am after landing at 9am. I’m always so pleasantly surprised to remember that most everywhere else in the world doesn’t have bars that close at 2am like San Francisco…when do you think we’re going to catch on??

On our rooftop bar looking out at the Acropolis at sunset

The next morning (or same morning depending on how you want to look at it) we took our necessary and highly anticipated trek up to the Acropolis. To say that it was different from what I had imagined –聽but not in any way disappointing, is the absolute truth. I had been studying the Parthenon since I was in high school and in my mind I had created the temple to be larger than life. Historic structures never are, their myths and legends always end up being larger than the structures themselves. While I imaged the Parthenon bigger, I hadn’t been quite prepared myself for the view from the top of the acropolis. It聽opened out to a stunning built up, chaotic and ancient city. I wish I could write forever about that experience of standing in the middle of something so archaic yet so significant to so many religions and beliefs for over two and half thousand years. To think that something could stand for that long is unbelievable. And I was right, seeing the porch of the caryatids was almost too much to take in at once. I could literally feel my heart tighten up it was so beautiful.

The sunset from our balcony in Mykonos

After our trip to the most holy of all architectural sites, it was to time to fly to Mykonos, the first of our island Paradiso experience. Aside from already being in love with the island for years through Fleet Foxes Osmosis, I have to say that Mykonos more than lived up to all my expectations and I fell in love with the land for real this time. After one of the shortest and most eventful flights I’ve ever had聽聽– 聽including聽sitting behind聽a gaggle of the most disgusting and appalling Australians I’ve ever come across (well maybe second worst) it was time to hop over to our hotel. UNFORTUNATELY, when we got to our hotel we were told that they were sold out and that there had been a misunderstanding when we had booked our room online weeks prior. This is not what you want to hear when you have been traveling for 72 hours with 5 hours collective sleep. While at first our hearts sank and we felt like this was the worst news possible, we were quickly informed that we were being given a free upgrade to Appollonia聽Bay,聽a聽 5 star resort. OH HAAAAAYYYY! After feeling so deflated and so heartbroken that we couldn’t stay in the hotel of our dreams, we聽immediately left behind any of that regret as we stepped through the doors and into the reception area that was *literally scattered with candle lit lanterns (melt). Being led up to our hotel rooms felt surreal. Did this really happen? How did we get here? No really…this must be a dream.Our rooms were not only spectacular but had adjoining balconies that over looked the moonlit water. I can’t tell you how much my heart swelled and swooned at the sight of a black calm sea with one perfectly white moon reflecting on top of another one.

Grecian Ladies

Mykonos was one of the best times I’ve had in my entire life. To say that we lived each moment to the absolute fullest is no understatement. In the 3 or 4 days that we were there, all of us must have slept for only about 10 hours in all those days combined. I could never accurately describe how incredible those days were with any form of accuracy, so I won’t even try. I’ll just say that I’ve never swam in clearer aquamarine water, I’ve never danced harder, drank more, eaten so good or laughed so hard. All those days were filled with nothing but cocktails, HUGE belly laughs and lounging by the pool and swimming in the ocean. One experience that I will cherish forever and always remember Mykonos for is the all night dance party we went to while standing front row for DJ Afrojack at the outdoor club Paradiso. I have never danced and partied outside until the sun rose. Watching the sun rise above the ocean while listening to one of the most amazing world-famous聽DJ’s is an experience I’ll never forget.

From our room in Santorini

After all the hard partying in Mykonos the calm whitewashed buildings of Santorini were an incredibly welcome sight. I can’t emphasize enough how聽exquisite Santorini is.聽Again, every place we visited was so beautiful it almost hurt. But Santorini and Oia has a magical allure that only comes from thousands of years of this kind of calm appreciation. Overlooking the caldera from our cliff side private balcony and watching the sun go down over the ridges of the volcanic faces was not only breathtaking, but in many ways miraculous. The beauty and splendor of it all was so enchanting and mesmerizing. The one thought that kept going through my mind was how spiritual this land was. Not only did I feel like I was more in touch with my own spirituality, but I really felt like I could see how the ancient Greeks would invest so much of their faith into the gods. When this ethereal landscape is placed right at your feet, how can you not believe in something larger than yourself? In the聽face of all that majestic beauty you are compelled to聽believe in divine, unseen forces. It is so easy to see how a whole country and a whole culture聽could place all their faith in the hands of gods who ruled the land, the sea, the sky and all other aspects of life.

Santorini

Santorini felt pure. Everything was stripped down to the basic undeniable foundations of life. There were no pretenses, everything was so true and clear. The food was fresh, the water was unpolluted and transparent, days seemed longer and the sun shone brighter than I have ever witnessed. One of聽the reoccurring聽thoughts that I will always remember, is the feeling that I had never been so close to the water and the sun at the same time. The sun and sky seemed to dip down and kiss the caldera each day.

Reborn under the Grecian Sun

It is here that I found myself again.聽Here where聽I believe I was reclaimed. For so long I have been getting wrapped up in all the customary and mainstream petty stresses of life. Jobs, money, bills…everything. It all聽had me so weighed down and distracted from everything聽 – that I had lost sight of how to relax聽and enjoy the small moments. To recognize and appreciate the kairos. Here in聽the Grecian, ancient land and under the burning sun, all those stresses completely melted away and聽I felt聽utterly stripped. I found a way to get myself back to neutral. Get back to basics. Get back to the person I have always meant to be.
Efcharist贸 Ell谩da.
Efcharist贸 Pol媒.

Singing Alonging

I don’t know what it is about this. Most of the people who know me know that I am not your normal cheery-bubbly-gumdrop type of girl…yet I simply can’t control myself!

The Sound of Music Costume Contest

There is something about this shit that I just can’t help. For the past couple of months, I have been LOVING the Sing-A-Long series at The Castro Theatre in the Castro District. I guess it stems from my deep seeded love of musicals that was nurtured very early on, yet thankfully,聽never really had a chance to sprout to any other places of my black cynical聽heart. Sure, Disney definitely played a huge part in my musical education (mostly in thanks to a singing crustacean) But for the most part I really owe all the credit to the first musical I watched and fell in love with, “The Sound Of Music“. I can remember being a very young girl (probably around 3 or 4) and watching that movie over and over again. I have the clearest memory of being so little and living with my mom in our house on Dolores St in SF and watching TSOM on video cassette (’88) and the first cassette ending (it was a duel video set) and running to my mom all in tears that the movie was over. And I can very clearly remember her giving me a side-eye like I was retarded or something and putting in the second cassette before rolling her eyes…hence I learned from that day on to always check the running time before I got back to my mom crying.

So with that indelible love of all things Nuns and Nazis, I carried on my love of musicals onto shows like Cabaret, Chicago, Anything Goes, West Side Story,聽An American聽in Paris聽and the list goes on and on. A couple of months ago with my friend Rachael I聽decided to join in the Castro Theatre’s Sound of Music Sing-A-Long. Really not knowing what to expect we were very pleasantly surprised to be suddenly thrown into such a vaccum聽of cheerful die-hard fans, costume contests, goodie bags and Wurlitzer pre-shows. It was simply amazing to be able to sing along with all the songs that really made up the foundation of my childhood. And afterward, both Rachael and I came out on such a high that I simply had to have more!

The Little Mermaid Pre-show

A couple of weeks later their next show was the Sing-a-Long “Little Mermaid” and again…this movie has ties close to my heart (It was the first movie that I saw in theaters) I remember being in Kindergarten and wishing that I was born with red hair (and perfect seashell breasts…) and to this day, I still own my Little Mermaid beach towel that I’ve had ever since 1989! So again, it was to my surprise that I was thrown into the sing-a-long scene with as much fervor as my first experience. Little girls A PLENTY were dressed up as Ariel, and many adults really got into the spirit as well – dressing up as King Triton or Sebastian. Even though I hadn’t seen Little Mermaid for…probably 15+ years (??) all the songs kept flooding back to me and I really felt like I was time warped to an age that I had all but forgotten. And that age was 6.

So you can only imagine my utter delight when lo and behold, the next upcoming Sing-A-Long was “THE WIZARD OF OZ“!! And let’s be聽honest here kiddies. Everyone, no matter where you come from, no matter your聽creed, race or religion…EVERYONE loves the Wizard of Oz. We are practically trained in vitro to love and revere聽The Wizard of Oz. Everyone knows the songs, the lyrics…the everything. So of course I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to go and bring my cousin Jenna who used to have a WOZ shrine in her room! And it really was so great to see that iconic film up on the big screen. So absolutely worth it! I never really realized how over the top campy WOZ is. I always just took it at face value and never really read too much into it…but very interesting to be able to see it again as an adult…

Now with 3 Sing-a-longs under my belt I don’t really feel like I’ve satisfied any kind of “itch” or need inside of me. Instead, I find that I am even more eager to go to as many Sing-a-long’s as possible! Especially when the next one is “Beauty and the Beast“…how can you possibly say no?!

Blast From the Past!!

I’m not sure if it’s just me, but my childhood was very visual. And I mean that in terms of watching a lot of movies, TV shows etc. I suppose that’s what comes from being a product of the 80’s. Who knows. But anyways, for me, movies have literally become bookmarks and a navigation system of my childhood. Some movies, phrases, scenes etc. have become some of the strongest memories I have. And watching them now as an adult literally TIME WARPS me to a very specific time and place in my life. I can practically provide a list of the movies I watched and re-watched growing up as a kid and for some that list will look like I’m either schizophrenic or perhaps the most evolved film connoisseur ever. I prefer to think its the latter – but then again all opinions are subjective.

But the reason why I’m writing this is because I very RECENTLY came across this priceless gem from wayyyyy back in my collective conscience. I’m not lying when I say that I must have been 5 or 6 years old the last time I watched it. I know that it was part of some bootleg VHS that my mom had taped off the Disney channel because it came before another one of my favorite movies (that completely trips me out as an adult) Beauty and the Beast with Rebecca De Mornay and John Savage. Super trippy. But because it was bootleg I never knew the name of this Disney short (now revealed to be “The Saga of Windwagon Smith”) and I didn’t know how to find it. My memories were very limited and all I could remember is that it’s a western and there is a covered wagon involved and I was pretty sure that at the end the hero saves a beautiful woman and sail away in to the sky together. I think. YOU SEE?!?! How do you track down something like that.

So for years I’ve always thought that I made that up…UNTIL NOW! And of course it was on youtube! Watching it again for the first time in 20 years was one of the most surreal experiences ever. I could literally feel my brain tingling! The best way to describe it is like a Deja-Vu-Acid-Trip! Soooooo crazy. I love that the things we are so obsessed with as children become monumental and mysterious in our minds. Then later on in adulthood, they seem so…normal.