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Escape of the Heart

May 9th, 2011

Have you ever met a person you immediately connected with on a deep level – almost like you already knew each other at a core level? Have you ever loved someone so much you felt you could die of it? Have you ever loved so much you only wanted absolute freedom for the one you loved? For what is love without freedom, and what is freedom without love? · I think that all humans desire love and connection; we all have the same basic needs and desires to share ourselves in a profound, sincere way with others. · I miss connection. I miss the overwhelming sense that I am truly connected with another human. I miss the intensity of spending time with someone that knows me, loves me and comforts me, without even having to say a word. I desire my heart to be ripped open, exposed, and my wounds to be licked clean.


continuing great escapes

March 15th, 2011

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about where I want this blog to go. Initially, I started the blog to write about my travels abroad. I’m back in the States now looking for work and to settle down for a while so I have been wondering how I can tailor the blog to fit my current life. I definitely want to continue writing and using this site because, let’s face it; it’s some kind of wonderful! I have finally decided that I’m going to continue writing about Great Escapes, but this can mean a lot of things. Great Escapes are little holiday trips (vacations); Great Escapes include flights into my own head and thoughts or fun things I do wherever I’m living at the time (right now that happens to be the San Francisco Bay Area). I want to get caught up on some of the Great Escapes I’ve had lately…

The Grand Canyon l Arizona

I spent five days in Las Vegas at the beginning of February – I’ve got a really good friend (Jesse) there who I went to boarding school with when I was 15, so we go way back. He lives in Vegas and works at the Bellagio casino as a poker dealer, so his life is pretty sweet. I stayed at his place and rented a car, so I was able to have the freedom to get around as I pleased. I took a road trip to the Grand Canyon, an amazing site that I’ve been to a few times before, but wanted to see again. The Grand Canyon is definitely something that just puts me into a state of awe.  Just being there, walking around the perimeter of the canyon makes me realize just how small I am, how small all of us humans are. This is an astonishing, stunning world we live in and I think we don’t take the time to admire our surroundings enough. The rest of the weekend I enjoyed hanging out with Jesse and seeing the local view of Vegas (we both dislike the strip). I also did a photo-shoot for my sister’s brother-in-law’s kids who live in Vegas. So I had a great trip, it is always nice to get away and feed a bit of my overwhelming sense of wanderlust.

My 33rd birthday was on 11th Feb and I had an epic weekend. I started partying on Thursday night thru Sunday and had a great time. I made some amazing new friends and had pretty much the best birthday weekend I can remember! Ever since then, I have been going out a lot. One of my favourite parties here in San Francisco is Ritual, a free weekly Dubstep party every Thursday night. It is, hands down, one of the best weekly parties I’ve been to here in San Francisco since Eklektic ended many years ago. Ritual has quickly become the highlight of my week; it is my weekly Great Escape… into music, friendship and dancing. I love it!

happy birthday to me - happy to be going out dancing to dubstep on the night of my 33rd birthday

I wrote about this on my photography blog (Capture the Glow), but my favourite daily escape lately has been this new iPhone app called Instagram. It is a free app (so if you have an iPhone I highly recommend you download it!) and it’s basically like a Twitter for photos. I created an account and can post photos to my “feed” and other users can “like” and comment on my photos. I have seen some amazing photographs, gotten to know a few people personally from comments and seen parts of the world I’d never see otherwise. It’s pretty amazing to get such a personal look into other people’s lives. Totally feeds the voyeur in me! This app has also re-sparked my interest and love in photography, as well as made me feel excited about taking photos and sharing them. This in and of itself is nothing short of wonderful, if you ask me, because my interest in photography was lost a few years ago and I’ve been struggling to reignite the fire!

i love reading <3

Lastly, I have been escaping into my own thoughts via reading. The past six or so years I’ve read mostly fine literature – I admit I am quite the book snob and I only like to read exceptionally good writers. Prior to this foray into literature I’d been reading mostly non-fiction and I’m not sure what spurned this venture into the world of fiction, but I devoured quite a lot of books. Haruki Murakami is now one of my favourite writers; if you haven’t read him I encourage you to! Reading his books taught me so much about myself, my own psyche, my dreams and my interactions with other humans. His books have definitely contributed to making me a better person. Anyway, so yes, now I am on a non-fiction kick again. I borrowed a stack of rather thick tomes from the library – a few Richard Dawkins, the 2010 Best American Science Writing (great so far) and Sex: A Natural History. I am rather enjoying working my way through them.

Great Escapes can be found in everyday life! What are some Great Escapes you’ve made lately?

Bring out the Barrel

February 2nd, 2011

a sampling of photos from the weekend

The winemaker pulled a long, curved glass holder out of the barrel and asked us to hold out our glasses, which we eagerly did. He lifted his thumb, which was holding the air pressure, and a bit of wine poured into my glass. I twisted my glass around to aerate the wine a bit and then lifted it to my lips. The first taste at the El Dorado County event, Bring out the Barrel, was absolutely delicious.

California is celebrated for its wine and most famous for the Napa Valley wineries in particular, but I am finding that there are better wines to be had outside of Napa! I started wine tasting in Sonoma (which is about 20 minutes east of Napa) years ago and loved it. For all of the pretentiousness of the Napa wineries, Sonoma winemakers were laid back, easy going and down-to-earth.

When my friends told me about the Bring out the Barrel event I bought my ticket right away! I mean it’s a really a steal of a deal – wine tasting at over 25 wineries in one weekend and a glass to keep as a memento all for just $20! Kind of unbelievable, right?

The first day – Saturday 29th January – we started out with a great homemade breakfast of delicious omelets stuffed with fresh veggies. Then we packed into the car and drove the hour north up to El Dorado County. We went to our first stop and signed in, picked up our glasses and put on our wristbands. Then we started tasting!

me, spent from a full day of wine tasting

I’ve never had wine directly from the barrel before and it was quite the new experience for me! I didn’t realize we would be mostly tasting wine futures (from the barrel) all weekend, although you’d think, judging from the title of the event, I’d have figured that one out, right? The winemakers were so friendly and talkative about the process of winemaking and what types of grapes they used, etc. It was so interesting and informative – I love learning about wine almost as much as I adore drinking it!

Our first three wineries were right there on the same property, so we left the car parked and just walked around enjoying the great warm 70-degree (Fahrenheit) weather and sunshine. At many of the wineries they had cheese that they paired with the wines – so we would get a pour of wine, and then taste a cheese that was paired specifically with that wine. Talk about taste sensation! By the time we reached the third winery I was feeling amazing (read: buzzing and happy) and starting to feel like quite the princess! I mean, who doesn’t like to be fed wine and cheese all afternoon?

pizza margherita served at one of the wineries

We slowly made our way through the day, enjoying the wine, company of friends, warm sun and delicious morsels of cheese and various soups and grilled meats served at each winery. The next day was more of the same.

Overall the Bring out the Barrel event was a smashing success and I had such a good time! It’s really nice to visit low-key, friendly winemakers, taste their wines and talk about winemaking and enjoy nature. The El Dorado Wine Association really is amazing and I love the area. I will definitely be coming to this event next year, and for many years to come. What a fantastic weekend of wine tasting!

Oh! The Places You’ll Go!

November 11th, 2010

I haven’t seen nearly enough of the world…

I’ve seen mostly all I want to see of the United States… however, I’d like to go to the north east up to Maine, Vermont, etc. I hear it’s beautiful up there. But clearly, I can do without all the “middle muck” hehe

I must get to work on putting more red on this map:

Make your own maps here!

The Shining

November 10th, 2010

“It’s his bedtime, he gets a little cranky around bedtime, don’t you, love?” Ronald cooed at the large, colourful parrot perched on his left arm. This large bird had just scared me half to death by flapping his bright red and blue wings and squawking at me.

Dana and I were standing in the hallway of the sublet room we’d rented for my visit to Los Angeles. Dana had found the rental on Craigslist and the photos of it had looked nice, the West Hollywood neighborhood was a great location, so he gave me the info for Michelle and I spoke to her on the phone and booked the room. The evening I arrived, Dana picked me up at LAX and we drove to the house to drop off our things, pick up the keys and then go out and get some drinks.

When we arrived we were escorted into the house and my first impression was a bit of dismay. The house was bathed with a thick stench of cigarette smoke, the carpet was worn and stained and while the owners seemed to do their best at keeping the place clean, it was clearly a bit filthy. They also seemed to be pack rats.

Michelle showed Dana and I round the house and kept eagerly inquiring if everything were ok. “Are you ok with this? Is this ok for you? Is everything up to your standards?” (Uh, no, but thanks for asking!) She appeared to be a bit frenetic and frazzled. After the tour of the house, Ronald, her husband, appeared with the parrot perched on his arm. They both cooed at the parrot as though it was an actual child, and Ronald mentioned something about putting the parrot to bed, which seemed a bit odd to me. (Really? Parrots have bedtimes now?)

Ronald tried to get the parrot to speak, but the parrot did not comply. He then told us an anecdotal story about how the parrot once flew out of the house and got stuck on a neighbouring roof. He yelled out “Danger! Danger” until he was rescued.

“Yes, and sometimes when we are fighting, the parrot yells ‘Danger! Danger!’ too,” Michelle interjected. My eyes found Dana’s and we shared a private moment of horror – too much information, lady! I knew he felt the same way I did – we both wanted to get the heck out of there, fast!

As we were talking in the hallway, I noticed a very quiet, sullen looking man sitting at the kitchen table in the other room. This man was never introduced to us and just sat there silently staring at us, observing our interactions with the owners. Creepy.

After Dana and I had put our things in the room and shut the door, I inquired about a key. Michelle said that she wouldn’t be giving us a key to the house as we were only staying a few days, but instead informed us that someone would always be at the house and gave us the house landline number, Ronald’s mobile number, and then told us about her personal assistant, ‘Nemo’ – and gave us his mobile number. I assumed the creepy guy sitting at the kitchen table was Nemo.

Interesting. Dana and I took our leave and as soon as we got in the car we collapsed into a fit of uneasy laughter. We shared our individual observations and concerns and Dana said the home reminded him of the film The Shining. So thereafter, we referred to the rental as ‘The Shining’.

We made sure to spend as little time there as possible, mostly only sleeping there and showering in the mornings. We noticed that the bed (which Michelle proudly touted to me on the phone as being a “lovely four poster bed, perfect for a couple”) actually appeared to be some piece of a BDSM setup – it did indeed have four posters, but they were made from steel, and there was a steel rod going across the top middle. There were telltale little hooks on each corner as well as across the top middle rod. I’ve been around the block enough to realize that this bed was definitely used for (ahem) tying people up.

Another discovery worthy of note was the choice of books on the shelf in the room. There were a few books from Alcohol Anonymous as well as Narcotics Anonymous (!!!) and quite a few thick books on fetish lifestyle, etc. Interesting choice of books to leave in a room you’d rent out to travelers, eh?

Despite The Shining, Dana and I had a great time in warm, sunny Los Angeles! And, to look on the bright side, sometimes these situations make for great stories.

ISO: Inspiration

November 7th, 2010

Have you ever taken a moment to really think about what moves you? What gives you inspiration? What fills your life with meaning and purpose?

I think about these sorts of things all the time, and for a very long time in my life I had nothing. There was a period where my photography was what I lived for – it inspired and moved me to no end and made me ridiculously happy. For some reason (I still don’t know why) I completely lost interest; although I still take photos, I just do not feel the same about it as I used to.

When I chose to travel I hoped that traveling would fill me with a sense of well-being, meaning and purpose. Traveling and experiencing new things definitely provided me with a sense of freedom and moving around satiated my desire to really experience life, but it was not enough, of course. In moments of loneliness, which happened now and again since I was, after all, traveling alone, I turned to my old friend:  Music.

I’ve long had a lasting love affair with music, particularly drum-n-bass and more recently, dubstep. While I was in London I was completely spoiled by the music scene. DnB was born in the UK and in London there were fabulous parties practically every night – I went to as many as I possibly could while I was there. The DnB scene in London is amazing – it’s so vibrant and radiant. The music is, of course, mind-blowingly amazing each and every time; there are never any disappointments in London.

However, I find myself back in San Francisco where there is a DnB/Dubstep scene but it’s miniscule compared to the London scene. There are maybe a few parties every month and honestly they’re hit or miss. Mostly miss. I’ve been sorely disappointed since I’ve been back here, and it breaks my heart.

Going out and dancing a few times a week had kept me in such a buoyant, happy mood whilst I was in London. Dancing, getting the endorphins flowing through my blood and the dopamine surging through my brain and feeling the heavy bass rock me to my core, massaging my soul: these are the things that make me feel alive.

Now I’m back in San Francisco, where, as I said, the scene is mostly a miss and a total scene. (Meaning, people that go out are scensters and not really there because they love the music.) It’s a sad, sorry affair, really and I feel total letdown.

I’ve already gotten a new job (yes, that was quick, I know! I’ve been back less than two weeks and I’ve already secured work!), and I start tomorrow morning. Reality is literally hitting me like a ton of bricks. Reality could be more bearable if I had some dancing and good music to look forward to but there’s nothing. Zilch. Zero.

I honestly do not know what to do. I do not know where to find my happy place. Yes, I’ve got tons of good music loaded on my iPod and I’ve got a great set of speakers at home to play my music. But going out, dancing, feeling the bass vibrating my core through a great sound system, being one person in a sea of DnB enthusiasts… this is really what inspires me and makes me feel so good. This has been my thing since the 1990’s when I first started partying. What will I do now that I don’t have access to that?

I suppose this is a bit of culture shock, as a good friend suggested. I know it’s hard to come back to a place you really don’t want to be, because you didn’t have a choice. I’m trying so hard to adjust and remain happy, positive and buoyant. The past two weeks I feel like I’ve remained in a happy state, but right now reality is crushing me. I’m just wondering what I am going to do to keep myself afloat. I’m wondering how I will be ok. I question what my inspiration will be; what will fill me with marvel and awe. I need a reason, a purpose; I need meaning.

Most people find this feeling of purpose through romantic love and/or religion. Religion is definitely not for me (I’m an atheist) and I have no love in my life (and given up hope on finding it). So… what will it be? I am fully in love with music, I just want a place to go to express my love and keep me afloat.

London! I miss you!

(Take a listen to a track that’s making me happy right now: Innocence by Nero)

all good things (must come to an end)

October 27th, 2010

It’s 3:40am and I’m sitting outside my West London flat in a cab with my luggage loaded in the back, waiting for the taxi driver to figure out where, exactly, my shuttle bus is meant to pick me up so we can be on our way. He doesn’t seem to sense the emergency in the fact that my shuttle bus is leaving at 4am to take me to Stansted Airport and we have less than twenty minutes to get there.

He finally pulls off and I realize that he has no clue where he’s going. How can a cab driver not know the city he’s driving in? It’s already 4am and I’m seriously freaking out, losing it. We see a bus driving down the road with ‘London to Stansted’ printed on back, so we follow the bus. The cab driver, possibly intoxicated by my urgency, tries to run the bus off the road in order to get him to stop. The bus finally pulls over, and we both jump out of the car.

The bus driver, of course, is irate, yelling at the taxi driver, “What the fuck, mate?!?” I interject, “Please, I am going to miss my flight if I don’t get on your bus, can you please take me to the airport?” The bus driver looks at me and seems to take sympathy on me. He tells us to meet him at his next stop: Green Park.

I jump back in the cab and we follow the bus to Green Park. I leap out of the cab, throw £10 at the driver (I shouldn’t have paid that fool at all!) and grab my luggage. I thank the bus driver profusely, but he insists it’s not my fault and helps load my luggage onto the bus. Whew.

After spending the month of September in Scotland, I came back to London. While in Scotland I’d done a lot of networking with friends of the owners, sending my resume out to their friends in finance and also sending my resume out on my own to any job I could find on the Internet. I also spoke with a representative regarding getting a working visa and they told me that in order for me to qualify for a visa, I’d need a job offer in writing. So I worked hard to get that job offer. I also went around to various pubs and inquired about work. I seriously pounded the pavement the best way I knew how, but I’d reached a dead end.

My savings account balance was dangerously low, and I was not securing work. I felt like it was time for me to stop lying to myself – the reality of the situation was plain as day: I was not going to find work or be able to stay in Europe.

As soon as I admitted this to myself, depression set in. I really didn’t want to leave Europe and especially did not want to come back to the Bay Area, but I didn’t feel as though I had much of an option. With no money to stay afloat and no job prospects, I had no alternatives open to me. So, I looked online for a plane ticket. I found a one-way ticket from Stansted to SFO for only $408. I purchased the ticket and planned to have a great time my last few days in London.

I bought a discount ticket to see Phantom of the Opera at Her Majesty’s Theatre, which was excellent. I always love musicals and theatre. I also got four tickets to see some films during the London Film Festival and I researched every single DnB/Dubstep party going on in London while I was to be there.

So, in essence, I lived it up my last days in London. Partied, went to films and had a good time with myself. My last day there, I packed in the morning, then went to see my last Film Festival film, and then went to a DnB party in East London to see three of my favorite DJ’s. After the party, I went back to my flat, showered, and got the shuttle to the airport.

I slept a few hours on the plane, but for the most part the flight was fairly uneventful (save for the screaming, crying children, one of which who threw up! Eww!).  After landing in San Francisco and going through customs my dad picked me up outside and we drove back to my parents home. I unpacked, showered and spent time with my sisters and parents, and then took the car and went to a Dubstep party in San Francisco with my good friend Jason.

Party one night in London, the next in San Francisco! Got to love that, right! I had a good time, but the San Francisco scene is markedly different from the London scene. Very much a ‘scene’ indeed, which I do not like. But the music was amazing and I had a good time regardless.

So here I am, back in the States. Right now I’m looking frantically for work and have met with some employment recruiters so I’m pretty sure I’ll be working soon. I’ve got 13 years of experience in my field (finance) so I don’t expect I’ll have any problems finding work shortly. I am staying focused on what I want, though, and that’s to live in Europe permanently. I don’t know how it’s going to happen, but I know that it’s what I want!

I am focusing hard on finding work and choosing not to think about the circumstances I find myself in. Those circumstances being: living with my parents, having basically nothing (as I sold all of my things before I left, I literally have to start all over again completely from scratch), being back in the States, etc. But, if I stay focused on what I need to do to make things happen, I will be ok.

A chapter in my life closes, and another page is turned. I have no idea what the future holds for me, but I am always completely open to whatever life brings me. I just hope it’s first-rate!

London Film Festival

October 21st, 2010

I sat at the bar listening to an amazing live jazz band play at a big bar/restaurant in the Chinatown Area of London. I noticed a stack of large magazines on the bar and picked one up. They were magazines for the BFI London Film Festival, and I rolled one up and tucked it into my purse.

When I got home that evening I flipped through the publication and decided that I’d go to see some of the films whilst in London. Why not, right? I love foreign, independent cinema so this was a perfect opportunity. I got online and ordered tickets for four of the films playing throughout the next few weeks. I thought I’d give the synopsis of the films taken from the BFI website and then give my own thoughts of each film. I am so glad I had the opportunity to attend the London Film Festival and hope I can attend another in the future – maybe even Cannes someday!

BLESSED EVENTS (Thursday 14 October 2010)

Director: Isabelle Stever

Synopsis: Since Isabelle Stever’s previous feature played in the LFF a few years ago, we’re very pleased to be screening this, her third full-length film – co-written by the author of the novel that inspired Gisela. Again the film centres on a decidedly ordinary young woman – here, thirtysomething single Simone – caught up in an extraordinary situation: finding she’s pregnant after an anonymous (and evidently rare) one-night stand, she visits the hospital and unexpectedly bumps into the man in question. Still more surprisingly, this young doctor reveals he’d hoped to see her again and, told of the pregnancy, confesses he wouldn’t mind their becoming a couple. Nor would Simone – but is it all too good to be true? Few films have explored the psychological effects of pregnancy, planned or otherwise, and as with Gisela’s account of an extramarital affair, Stever steps into the fray bravely but wisely; steering clear of moral commentary, she allows actions to speak for themselves, while colour, lighting, landscape and architecture are deployed to evoke Simone’s swings between enchantment and alienation, desire and despair. Kuhl’s understated but eloquent lead performance fits the bill perfectly.

My Thoughts: This movie had very, very little dialogue and an interesting directing style. Most of the camera shots were on the faces of the actors, and not much body movement, scenery, etc. were captured. The movie was so slow paced and so quiet that one barely knew what was going on. It was also hard to identify with the characters of the story because there was hardly any character development and reason to CARE, really, about the characters. I was sort of disappointed with this film but enjoyed seeing it regardless as it was artfully done and interesting to watch. I couldn’t be bothered to stay for the Q&A with the director for this film because I had been so disinterested with the story and disappointed with the lack of character development.

LOVE LIKE POISON (Friday 15 October 2010)

Director: Katell Quillévéré

Synopsis: Small communities, Catholicism and burgeoning sexuality: not an unfamiliar combination in French debut features. But it’s rarely carried off with such confidence and subtlety as in Katel Quillévéré’s winner of this year’s Jean Vigo Prize for first features. Fourteen-year-old Anna (striking newcomer Clara Augarde) has returned home to her village in Brittany, where she and mother Jeanne (Lio) live with Anna’s ailing paternal grandfather Jean (Michel Galabru). Jeanne has fallen out with her husband over her Catholic convictions, and has developed a conscience-troubling attraction to the easy-going village priest (Stefano Cassetti). Anna, meanwhile, is caught between her own religious belief and sexual stirrings, awakened by a precocious choirboy friend. Life, death, desire and teenage confusion fuel a contemplative, atmospheric drama with a streak of rebellious black humour, with comic veteran Galabru excelling as the grandfather, irrepressibly raging against piety. Tom Harari’s photography captures faces and the Breton landscape with equal sensitivity. Love Like Poison (its title taken from a Gainsbourg song) is a genuine one-off, and a true discovery.

My Thoughts: Gorgeous, well done film. Plenty of character development and lots of food for thought. I enjoyed watching the protagonist, Anna, as she grew into her sexuality and herself as a woman. It was also interesting to see her rebelliousness towards her mother, separated from her father, who had cheated. It was almost as though Anna resented her mother in a way… even though her father had clearly done wrong. At the end of the movie as the credits rolled, an acappella version of the song “Creep” by Scala and Kolacny Brothers played, and it brought tears to my eyes. This was definitely an appropriate song for this film – so moody and gorgeous. Unfortunately there was no Q&A with the directors at this screening.

WOMB (Thursday 20 October 2010)

Director: Benedek Fliegauf

Synopsis: Hungarian director Benedek Fliegauf (Forest, Dealer) makes his English- language debut with this exquisitely designed and photographed drama. Shot on the spectacularly bleak but beautiful German North Sea coast, and described by its director as a kind of fairy tale, Womb is a love story with Oedipal overtones and a sci-fi twist. Rebecca (Eva Green) and Thomas (Matt Smith) are passionately in love, but a fatal accident robs them of their future. Rebecca, unable to bear being without her lover, resorts to cloning to produce herself a ‘copy’ of Thomas. All is well while Thomas is young but, as he grows-up, unaware of his history, he naturally enough finds himself a girlfriend, leaving Rebecca to battle with feelings that are distinctly more than maternal. Fliegauf excels in creating a hermetic, claustrophobic world for his protagonists, set in effective contrast to the wide open spaces that surround them. And while social attitudes towards cloning are touched on, it is the complexity and intensity of the central relationship that really hits home.

My Thoughts: Impeccable execution and a gorgeous film. Amazingly well done, despite the sticky content. The scenery where the film was shot was dark and cold, but with bursts of blue sky occasionally through the clouds. The ocean waves and the cold snowy beaches juxtaposed with beech wood forests was definitely a sight to behold. Rebecca, our protagonist, gave birth to and raised Thomas’ clone as her son, even though she must have known she’d feel something other than motherly instinct for him as he got older and looked exactly like her deceased lover. The ending of the film was a bit shockingly Oedipal but also gorgeously executed and just all around well done. I really enjoyed the Q&A with the director and two of the actors because it provided more insight to the location where they filmed as well as what the director wanted to convey with the ‘fairy tale’ aspect of the film, which he said was a love story.

ELISA K (Thursday 21 October, 2010)

Directors: Jordi Cadena and Judith Colell

Synopsis: Elisa is almost eleven, but her contented world shifts overnight when a friend of her father’s makes her cry and promises her a bracelet if she stops. No one knows what has happened; only that Elisa is not her normal self: her grades suffer and her confidence plummets. But it takes fourteen years, four months and a few days before what really happened comes back to haunt Elisa. Adapted from the novel by Lolita Bosch, Jordi Cadena and Judith Colell’s striking film offers a sensitive and daring treatment of the subject of child abuse. From the elegant black-and-white photography and voiceover narration of the first half that works to position the viewer outside of the action, to the emotionally pulsating second half that lets loose a whole series of complex sentiments and feelings, Elisa K beautifully handles the fragility of the self coping with a past that imposes itself when least expected. Cla√πdia Pons and Aina Clotet are both hugely impressive as the child and adult Elisa while Cadena and Colell – co-directing for the first time – inflect Bosch’s novel through a discerning but empathetic poetic eye.

My Thoughts: Beautifully done film done in two parts. The first part is the day Elisa is abused by her father’s friend. This half of the film is done in a haunting, arty black and white. The second half of the film is in colour and Elisa is now an adult heading off to college. The scene when she remembers her abuse is gorgeous, wrenching and something I could completely identify with, strangely. The pain she shows, her crying, her dry heaving, the banging of her head against the wall, breaking a glass, and cutting her feet by walking on it – this grief is palpable and real. It’s an amazing film and I really enjoyed watching it. The Q&A with the directors afterwards added another layer to the film and helped me to understand even more what they were trying to convey.

how to seduce a lady (an open letter to Conan, the barbarian kitty)

September 28th, 2010

Dearest Conan:

Conan sits on my lap, purring, while i read a book one rainy afternoon in Scotland

Oh, my love! When we were first becoming acquainted, you acted as though you did not like me at all; I realize now that you were playing coy to win my attentions. You refused to allow me to touch you; you would prance away at any sign of affection coming from me. But after you watched me closely for a few days, you let me into your heart. O, Happy Days!

I remember the first day we spent together: your head on my lap while I stroked behind your ears tenderly. Those were warm, special moments and I could tell just how much you loved my keen attention to your soft spots from your rather loud purring. After that, Conan, we became inseparable. I remember you nudging your way into my room and spending the night with me. In the morning you pushed my arm aside and made a snug little spot between my chest and arm, purring and nudging me for a tighter fit. You really know how to make the ladies fall for you, Conan. Yes, you do!

After that special night, you started bringing me gifts. The first gift was found as I was going to take my shower. I saw a pile of bloodied bird feathers and guts in the shower. I shrieked with surprise; I was appalled! You stood by with what I believe to be a sly smile on your kitty face, assuming I was happy about your gift. I gingerly cleaned up the gift you left for me and admonished you not to do it again.

Not more than a week later, another gift was waiting for me in the shower. This time it was a mouse with its guts splayed all over, almost all intact. You shock my sensibilities, Conan. What makes you think that a lady desires such gifts? A few days later I found a small bodily organ in the shower, what I believe to be the heart of some small creature. Does this mean you’re giving me your heart, Conan? Is that what you’re trying to communicate?

The other morning, I awoke before the sun and made my way down to the shower. I noticed something right outside my room, in the alcove; it seemed to be a dark mass. I turned on the hall light to get a better look, and what should it be but another gift from you, Conan. It was a small bird; feathers artfully decorating the carpet, its tiny head placed perfectly facing my room, as though watching me.

Conan sits at the kitchen door, welcoming the morning

Conan, I love you, I really do. We share special moments together. I love it when you jump onto my bed while I’m using my laptop, and curl up on my lap; your head in the crook of my arm while I type rapidly. I love it when you nudge my leg with your gorgeous little soft, brown head, and reach up for me with your front paws. I love it when you dig your claws into me as I pet you, purring all the while. I enjoy the way your sandpapery tongue feels as you lick my fingers while I pet you. I really do adore you, Conan, but the gifts have got to stop.

Conan, allow me to let you in on a secret. Women adore gifts, but they want a specific type of gift. Feel free to leave flowers outside my door, Conan, instead of dead birds. I encourage you to surprise me with boxes of fancy truffles in the bathroom, instead of the remains of a mouse. Conan, I implore of you, please, when you are trying to get a lady to fall for your charms, consider the presents you’re giving her.

I still love you, despite your choice of gifts. Luckily you are beautiful enough for me to overlook your dreadful choice in love offerings. I just wanted to give you some advice for the next lady you try to seduce.

With Love,



September 21st, 2010

An overwhelming sense of nostalgia has washed over me as of late. Memories flash into my consciousness and I feel a longing I cannot quench.

my friend Josh cooks a delish seasonal-veggie dinner for us in my kitchen in CA

I miss my friends, old and new. I miss the feeling of being completely at ease in the presence of another human being – that comfortable space where words are no longer necessary, where we read each other’s body language and just know. I miss walking around Golden Gate Park in San Francisco with a good friend, each of us sharing our love for photography, taking photos of each other and playing with light. I miss happy hour in New York City, laughing and having the best time of my life. I miss taking an afternoon hike in the Oakland (CA) hills after a filling brunch shared with good company. I miss strolling through the East Village / Alphabet City streets of New York, feeling the warm East Coast sunshine on my skin and hearing the familiar sounds of the city. I miss having a girl friend over for the afternoon, laughing, listening to music, taking sexy photographs, drinking wine, and baking strawberry crisp. I miss sharing a glass of wine in my friend’s New York City apartment while revealing devious stories and giggling like teenagers. I miss being a passenger while driving through the streets of New York, whipping through traffic with speed and ease with hip hop blaring through the sound system. I miss taking day trips up to Napa/Sonoma valley with good friends, a delicious picnic lunch in the trunk, good music and excellent conversation filling our ears while we enjoy a gorgeous day of wine tasting.

hanging out in Central Park, NYC with good friends

I miss sitting around the table after a long day of school in Greece, laughing and eating with house mates. I miss getting to know Paris with a new friend, taking bike rides through the city and racing through the Paris city streets. I miss picnics in the park (in Brussels, Paris and Amsterdam) with new friends, enjoying a bottle of wine and sharing exciting travel stories. I miss the art gallery in Amsterdam I would have never found on my own and the excellent company that accompanied that special evening. I miss connecting with new and amazing friends in fresh and incredible cities. I miss those singularly unique moments when I really connect with another human being, that moment where we look in each other’s eyes and time seems to stop – these are exceptional experiences that stand out in my mind and fill me with nostalgia.

Maybe it is the turn of the seasons, the slow change from summer to autumn, which brings about this strong feeling of nostalgia for the warmth of friendship.

Most of all, however, I miss my home. I do not miss the actual physical location of my home; I just miss the home itself. In California, I had a lovely 2-bed/2-bath home all to myself. I love(d) that house! I miss it so much. I miss having friends over, cooking dinners together and sharing wine and mixed drinks. I miss quiet evenings at home curled up on the couch, wrapped in a warm fuzzy blanket, watching a movie and sipping a glass of wine. I miss coming home from work, stripping off my work clothes and curling up in the warm sun-spot on my bed in my underwear, letting the stresses from the day fall away as I enjoyed twenty minutes of peace and quiet. I miss going to farmer’s market every Saturday morning and filling up my ‘fridge with gorgeous seasonal fruits and veggies. I miss cooking dinners in my kitchen. I miss baking – making healthy, organic delicious treats like stone fruit gallettes, pumpkin nut mini-muffins and vegan chocolate cupcakes. I miss taking hot showers in my bathroom and wrapping myself in a thick, warm Egyptian cotton bath sheet afterwards. I miss having my own space, something that is mine and mine alone. I miss my home.

I do not know where my next home will be, but I hope it’s somewhere in Europe. I’m looking forward to all the new memories I am bound to make as my future stretches out before me, all of the beautiful moments I will share with friends old and new, and most of all, I am looking forward to creating a warm, loving space of my own.

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