Tuesday, April 14, 2015

The Moral Bucket List

This at Buttermilk Channel was the perfect bookend to a wonderful week in that great city.
When you are at brunch with a good friend and they are so struck by an article that they urge you to read it immediately after you decide on the short rib hash, you should listen to her.  I know I'm not sitting across from you in the Brooklyn sun right now, but do go and let the words from The Moral Bucket List by David Brooks speak to you.  It is full of truths that will linger with you after reading:

"As Paul Tillich put it, suffering introduces you to yourself and reminds you that you are not the person you thought you were."

How I shivered with recognition at that.  Go now, and read more about the people we want to be.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

A return to things

A couple of Fridays ago I finally got my butt into gear and signed up for a life drawing class with a couple of girlfriends - and by 'class' I mean we just dropped into a room where a model turns up at some point and you're left to your own devices.  It was a typical life drawing class - we started with a series of short poses to warm up, and then moved to sketching poses over increasing lengths of time.
Here are a couple of pieces that reminded me of just how much I both had and hadn't forgotten:
From one of the short 60 second poses at the beginning.
A couple of the longer poses - charcoal and yellow you say?  It's like every uni assignment I ever did all over again haha (private joke between me and yes, well, actually only I will get that).
I was never really big into figure drawing, but there was something deeply enjoyable about sitting and concentrating on this single craft for a couple of hours.  I was reminded of how much I enjoyed my after-school art classes, far more than piano or violin (probably because I never practiced but that's a different story) *pushes up nerd glasses*.  It's nice to return to something and discover that it still gives you the same pleasure, even if you didn't remember that it did.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Bom dia!

Well, there went February.  
My birthday month also brought a surprise trip to Brazil, which is partly what has kept me out of this internet corner.  The other distracting factors were part work, pretending to go to the gym and general pontificating about my plans for 2015 without actually doing anything about it.  Case in point: one of my vague goals was to spend more time on here.
But, onto Brazil - each of the eleven days I spent there I felt like I was living in a Coke commercial, gorgeous people watching, easy open air bars - and oh the beaches!  Not since Sydney have I been so impressed stretches of golden sand and the clearest water.  We were lucky enough to visit the urban beach shores of Rio (sadly it was raining the day we went to Ipanema, so I could not recreate being the girl from my favourite song - that would have made for some great hashtags on insta) before flying down south to the quieter spots on Florianopolis and around the South.  It must be known that the latter cities are filled with the most beautiful people you will ever see in one place on this planet.  Their skin!  Their glossy hair!  The way they make me think an ankle tattoo is a good idea but really I just want their tanned slender ankles!
Anyway, now I will get to the pictures which of course must begin with the food (and I wonder why I don't have ankles like Alessandra Ambrosio)...
A pastel and my most favourite snack of all: bolinho de bacalhau!  These were little deep fried fish and potato gems of goodness that I could not get enough of.  Serve hot in an open air bar that spills out into the streets with cheap local beer that you don't even notice how bad it tastes because hey, Rio.
From the top of Sugarloaf Mountain - the stuff of postcards!  Not pictured: how much I nearly died of heatstroke that day.
Ah Brazil - where the all the snacks and the bar comes to you!  The days started to blend together at this stage, but I think this is somewhere down South.  Freshly grilled cheese on a stick was purchased shortly after this picture was taken.
There are far more glamorous food shots I could have included here, but this was one of my favourite meals - all the breads!  That big puffy semi circle was a type of tapioca bread that was sort of gummy and delicious, and those four happy little balls were my beloved cheese breads.
You know I had to do it.  What did I tell you about the Coke commercial feeling?  Ahh take me back!
Obrigado por tudo, Brasil!  My tan has faded almost completely now, but even after the few days we had, you forever have a special place in my heart.  That place is called 'countries I am already scheming about revisiting because I've only just scratched the surface and I want mangos right now'.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

But when it works

I read this via the ever excellent Meg Fee, who always manages to pluck out just the right words whenever I need them - this is a snippet from an essay by Rachel Syme, which after some snooping I found is in 'Never Can Say Goodbye: Writers on Their Unshakeable Love for New York'.

As a friend was moving away, he told me he wanted to go somewhere where he can still build things.  "What," he asked, "am I building in New York?" I didn't know what to tell him then, but this is what I would tell him now. 

In New York, you are demanded to build yourself. The environment calls for it. You build on pure speculation, a foundation up from the salty bedrock built upon something that was there before, as many stories high as you want to go, as fast as you can get there. It is possible to fail, possible to outpace yourself, to not turn a profit, to remain empty inside with your lights still blazing for show. But when it works, what you build becomes a beacon. Here is our poetry. Here are the stars bending to our will. Here we are touching them.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Stand up what

Those who know me well are familiar with my principle that you must pursue any idea that persists with you; if you have even a wink of an inkling that presses at you over time and just will not go away, then this your heart's way of saying 'hey, let's give that a go'.  I've felt a nudging towards stand up comedy since I read an article about how you can take classes on it years ago, so in a bid to stick with my own advice, this is what I've been doing for the last few weeks (with holidays in between).
There are worse places to be on a Tuesday night.
The beginners class went for four weeks, we formed a little band of newbies who after class would go for (far too many) drinks and perform for a few minutes each, in the basement of an Irish bar in North Beach.  These were off-the-cuff three minute slots at a time, on a Wednesday close to midnight, so we often made up half the audience ourselves.

Having wrapped that up late last year, tonight was my first week of 'advanced' class - these evening sessions are run by giving each member 7-8 minutes each, standing up in front of a group of other aspiring comics, trying your stuff out and getting critiqued.  Coming fresh out of the holidays I was wildly underprepared and just threw some brain fluff out there.  As always, I got more laughs than I expected, in all of the parts I didn't expect them, but it was still the roughest 8 minutes I'd had in awhile.  I'll spare you the details (largely because I can't bring myself to relive them by typing them), but there is something about standing up and trying to connect with a group of people you don't know very well, and telling them stories which you ruin by trying to be too clever and then having these strangers say you're still funny and you are still enough that is very emotional.  Anyway, this is how I ended up eating a tuna melt downtown, close to midnight on a Tuesday.

I wanted to stretch out a reflective journey home, so I opted out of calling an Uber and hopped on the muni instead.  The bus driver who happened to pick me up was quite amazingly the same driver who first taught me how to flag a bus down (i.e. you don't have to), buy a ticket and use the 3 line to get home when I first moved here two years ago and kept forgetting my cross streets.  He remembered me, and I told him all about how I've settled into San Francisco, including my latest comedic trials.  There has been a lot of growing up between bus rides.