Friday, April 29, 2011

the past 4 months

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Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Don't Tell My Parents

I always wanted a trampoline.

The day I first saw a big one, I knew I had to have it. It was the most glorious thing I had ever seen.

The day I first jumped on a big one, I felt that I had met my soulmate, in the form of mesh stretched across a steel frame, attached by springs.

It wasn't until I was around 19 that I finally had this soulmate sitting joyously in my backyard.

It took years, YEEEAAAARRRSSSS, of begging. Pleading. Reasoning. Then more begging.

Finally it's assembled in the yard, only after my Dad makes repeated visits during the build, just to make sure the foam safety padding isn't forgotten. No Dad, I didn't forget.

The first jumps are magical. The next jumps are bordering a religious experience. I can't believe this is real.

Now the jumps come only after a verbal contract with my parents:




Fairly straight-forward.

So it's 2 days after we get it, and news of the new purchase travels fast. My friend Ross is one of the first ones to come over for a jump.

We're both doing tricks and jumps and jumps and tricks, all under the watchful eye of my Mom who's at the kitchen sink. Everything is going well until Ross does some spin move and loses his balance. He lands too close to the edge, and his momentum leads him off the trampoline. Instead of being thrown onto the lawn, he rolls onto his side, attempting to grab onto the frame. His side hits the padded bar, and he groans in pain, then flops onto the lawn.


He lies there holding his ribs, fighting for breath. A million things are going through my head.

Most of those things are "I CAN'T LOSE THIS TRAMPOLINE!!!"

I run to the kitchen, with a fraudulent air of relaxation and calm. I'm an AC-tor.

I get two large cups full of ice. "They're for frosty beverages, of course - all this jumping has worked up a sweat." I also pocket a plastic bag.

I return to Ross who has regained his ability to speak, but is now feeling a crunch every time he breathes. It's probably the muscle that is knotted up and rubbing against the ribs when you breathe, I explained. My 19 year old brain is grasping for straws.

He puts the bag of ice on his side.

Soon after, the pain is too much to bare and Ross needs to leave. DON'T TELL MY PARENTS, I plead. He doesn't.

He sneaks out of the house so they can't see him limping along with his leaking bag of ice, and drives home. Apparently on the way home the pain gets even worse, and he drives to the hospital instead. It's confirmed: 3 broken ribs.

I don't remember much after this. I think it's my brain trying to protect me from evil. All I remember is Ross saying something about blood in his pee.

That's gross, and I feel bad for Ross.

But I still have my trampoline.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Vincent (Starry Starry Night)

Here I sit, in a hotel room in Cabo San Lucas. I'm here for 3 days for work, and sipping tequila while watching the Simpsons. Very sophisticated, I know.

It's an episode where Lisa discovers her love for astronomy, and when she knocks the power out in the whole city, everyone is able to see a meteor shower that would otherwise be invisible.

The strangest thing happens: when the meteors start falling, a song plays in the background. Don McLean's "Vincent (Starry Starry Night)".

Instantly I'm transported back to 2nd grade. Westwood Elementary, room 6, Mrs. Garbus.

As if it were yesterday, I remember sitting in 2nd grade watching a slideshow about Vincent Van Gogh. This is long before the days of digital projectors, and the presentation is made with a film strip carefully loaded into a projector. An audio cassette is loaded into a corresponding player, and at the cue of the distinguished "BOOOOP" noise, the film advances to the next frame. The original projectors were completely manual - you hit a button to advance the film - and the next generation advanced on their own. If one was good, he/she earned the honor of loading the film, and was responsible for advancing the film when cued.

I remember loading the film. Hitting the buttons. That song. That Starry Starry Night song, playing in the background with the film projecting from a desktop onto a collapsible screen.

I haven't thought of that for years. How many I can't tell you, but it's been a long, long time. Yet one trigger - this song - brings it back with such clarity and intensity.

This makes me think two things: 1. the workings of memory are fascinating - how many other memories are locked in there, waiting for their cue to pop back into the front of my mind? And 2. If I tried to explain to my young cousins what a filmstrip presentation is, with an audio cassette playing the soundtrack, they'd look at me like I'm on crack - there are so many things that were instrumental parts of my childhood that are completely foreign to anyone young today.

I suppose the latter is always true - things that my parents grew up with are completely antiquated now. Or even when I was a kid. Radio programs, vs. TV. Baseball cards in your bicycle spokes. Etc.

So I think about the things that I know so well, that would baffle my cousins. The Dewey Decimal system - the idea of endless drawers of index cards, whose sole purpose is to tell you where to find a BOOK in the isles of a library. The sound a modem makes when you log into a BBM or internet service provider - why would you have to CALL to connect?? I can remember having to yell at my mom when she'd pick up the phone to make a call, and I could hear her through the modem. I knew that I'd be knocked offline in about 3 seconds.

How many of these things are there? Things that were just part of life; absolutes that one accepts and absorbs.

Now of course, my cousins read about these antiquated objects and concepts on their iPads, while wandering about in sprawling WIFI coverage, simultaneously chatting and streaming the latest episode of Glee.

Perhaps 20 years from now they'll have the same nostalgia about iPads, when some (then) vintage pop music plays on a primetime cartoon.

Streaming, of course, probably to their cell phone or watch, or something else that hasn't even been invented yet.

But at least tequila will still be around. Hopefully.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Lady, I'm sorry.

I'm on the train in NY. If I remember correctly, it's the 4 heading downtown.

There's plenty of room on the train as it's not rush hour, but there are no empty seats. I'm standing right in front of the doors, floating between the two vertical metal poles. Sitting in the 2-seat cove, just on the other side of the metal pole, are a couple ladies probably in their late 40's or early 50's. I'm gonna say late 40's. I think they were talking about cats.

Across them is a smattering of other people, some seated, some standing. Guys and gals.

Now, sometimes a train conductor is smooth, and probably has a good deal of experience under his/her belt. It's like you're riding a cloud - a loud, dirty cloud, with breakdancers or a mariachi band. OR you get the conductor who is: A. brand new, B. has restless leg syndrome, or C. doesn't really give a shit.

When you have this kind of conductor, great things happen. People suddenly get inappropriate with their neighbors, faces fly into bodies, bits and pieces touch each other - all things that justify yelling "STRANGER DANGER!!"

On this lovely day, we have the latter of the 2 conductors, and he/she is getting trigger happy with those brakes. Instead of a smooth stop, it's a haphazard, jerky jolt, that's more like a mechanical bull ride. There is no finesse with this one.

I'm gonna be honest, and say I should've been holding onto that pole, but it's filthy and I generally don't hold on unless I have no other choice. So I'm just standing there, trying to keep myself upright while the spazmatic conductor hits the peddles.

Here's when everything goes wrong: at an instant, the train lurches forward, brakes screeching, and my arm flies out to grab the pole and save me from disaster. Unfortunately the lady sitting next to the pole is leaning forward, and my hand goes slightly past the pole.

She's wearing a baseball cap, and my hand perfectly flips the cap off her head. Not a big deal, except her hair is attached to her cap.

Ahh fuck.

The cap and her hair goes flying backwards, and lodges between her back and the seat. She's scrambling around trying to find the thing with the train still jerking, finally standing up to find it on her seat. She puts it on crooked, and it looks like a bad 80's wig for the lead singer of a hair-band.

I feel awful and gush apologies while trying to keep myself upright. She's clearly embarrassed, and that asshole driving the train is tapping the breaks to the beat of his AC/DC tape playing in his Sony Walkman.

I look away, trying to make the situation go away, and find everyone sitting opposite in tears fighting back the laughter. Red faces, sweating, hands over mouths, bodies twitching with suppressed laughter. They're all staring at me. I see this and immediately fight back my own outburst of then-inappropriate laughter. Quick, look at the floor.

The train finally gets to the next stop, again with no finesse. I'm not sure if this was their intended stop, but the whole side of the train sprints onto the platform, and immediately burst into cackling, howling, screams of laughter. Like a volcano of laughter just erupted after decades of building pressure.

This is the train version of getting hit in the nuts with the football. That lady's hair was the nuts, my hand the football. For my part, I'm sorry mystery lady.

But fuck it's funny when someone gets hit in the nuts.

MissMe Fall/Winter 2010

Check these on billboards, wild postings, Elle's 25th anniversary issue, and more!

Monday, October 18, 2010

British Airways: a love affair (not)

Mediocrity. I hate it.

If you're doing a job, do it right. I don't care if it's packing grapefruits or building bridges, do your fucking job.

Somehow, the airline industry doesn't seem to subscribe to this school of thought. Mediocrity thrives. Actually, complete failure thrives, and occasionally you get something mediocre, IF YOU'RE LUCKY.

Everyone has rough times flying, and with all of the security issues it's become a nightmare. I travel frequently, and can say without question that the overall quality of service has become complete shit, and the airlines use any excuse they can to shirk responsibility.

My latest story of joy and sunbeams begins with British Airlines, flying in and out of London. I'm flying for a job and traveling with the hair stylist I'll call J.

First rule of flying is never put anything valuable in your checked baggage or it WILL get stolen, probably by baggage handlers. Don't believe me? Go here:

Once it's gone, the airline will have you fill out all kinds of paperwork and provide receipts for everything you packed, only to offer around $300, which may or may not cover the cost of the bag itself. Unfair? Take them to court.

** side note - a friend checked a bag of equipment (that they wouldn't let him bring on board), from LA to Chicago, stopping in Vegas. He got to Chicago, his bag didn't. He got a call a few days later from Vegas Police saying they found his bag in an alley, and he can claim the bag and miscellaneous clothing if he shows up in person. No equipment.

I digress.

So all of my camera equipment and computer equipment comes with me on board. Getting through security varies from ridiculous to rectal exam. J unfortunately can't bring her bag on board - it's too large, too heavy, and has all kinds of tools that could be used to hijack a plane, like curling irons and bobby pins. We check her kit and our 2 bags of clothes, then cross our fingers.

3 bags checked, 2 arrive. The 3rd never left LA, and clearly won't make it for our connection to Paris.

This is J's clothing. Thankfully her kit arrived, but apparently she'll be working naked, as her clothing don't fly out till the next day, missing 3 flights with no explanation. Thanks a bunch BA.

Flying home is worse. I'm exhausted after fashion week and shooting, and I'm sick from rain and no sleep. All I want is to sleep on the plane.

I go to the BA check-in kiosk and it spits out some error ticket, saying I have to go across the terminal to a customer service desk. When I get there they tell me I have a ticket, but no seat.

What the fuck??

I show the guy my email confirming my seat, and he just smiles and nod, with a dull look on his face. Actually it was a mix of dull and smug. Smull. He had a smull look on his face.

He repeats: I have a ticket, but no seat, and this flight is oversold. He's gonna see if he can squeeze me on the plane.

What kind of horse shit is this??? SQUEEZE ME ON THE PLANE???

The airlines don't care. Period. With BA, when you select a seat, it's just a request, not a reservation. God forbid I actually want to sit in the seat I selected when I bought the ticket in the first place. You pay for a ticket, but now BA makes you pay EXTRA, to confirm your fucking seat!

How does this happen?? Will they start charging for fresh air and a seatbelt too?

I can't wait to go to a restaurant, pay for a sandwich, and have them deliver a turkey leg because I didn't pay extra to confirm my sandwich.

Or maybe I should buy a ticket to a JayZ concert, then be thrilled when they switch my ticket to Justin Bieber.

I end up getting a seat in the back, right next to the bathroom, where all of the large old people bump into me while doing their strange plane exercises or frequent trips to the baƱo. One guy who looks like ET, with a blanket over his shriveled head, does repeated trips up and down the isle, leading me to wonder if he's sleepwalking. The stewardess is about as pleasant as a rhino with a hemorrhoid, and the final icing on the cake - on my one trip to the bathroom, I find someone's teeth on the bathroom counter. Yes, teeth.

So, to recap: If you want to have your luggage lost, your seat snatched out from under you, ET bumping into you all flight, and teeth in the bathroom: FLY BRITISH AIRWAYS.

Otherwise, I recommend getting some rollerblades, flippers, and a snorkel - it will be far less painful.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

No shocker part 1 - African dance class

It's no shocker that every time I'm in Paris, I (re)discover an abundance of artistic and cultural activities that are just part of the Parisian lifestyle.

Two things have been stand-outs so far. The first is an African dance class, which blew my mind.

I went with a dear friend, who I will refer to as "F", and she goes to this class regularly.

It's appropriately held in a building which is entirely dedicated to dance, movement, capoeira, yoga, etc. There's a central courtyard where people sit and talk, or eat food from the health-conscious cafe, and the building stands 4 stories all around you. It's cobblestone in the courtyard, and vines and ivy growing along the building walls. It feels like it's been here for a long time, and is more of a dance academy - this is serious business.

At least 7 classes are going on at once - Flamenco, Tango, maybe another Flamenco, some Yoga, and other stuff I couldn't see but could hear. We walk up 2 or 3 flights of stairs and into the appropriate room. It's humid, smells of exercise, and has well-worn wood floors that have seen years of blood sweat and tears.

No shoes are allowed, and everyone piles their sweaters, water bottles, and other items against the far wall. 3 African men enter and set up their musical instruments: one has a wooden xylophone which is clearly hand made, another has 2 round hand drums sitting on their sides on top of one another, and the third has a stand-up conga drum. He sits in the middle, and is clearly the leader of the group. He's also missing one of his nostrils, which I find fascinating and distracting.

The actual leader of the class enters - she's a fit early 40 something lady, with brown wavy hair, light olive skin, thin black cotton yoga pants, and a big smile on her face. She reminds me of a slightly shorter Catherine Keener. Who loves to dance.

Catherine gets everyone to find space, which is significantly difficult with the number of people present. It's not a huge room, and you only have a few feet in any direction before you're on top of someone else. Most of the class are girls of varying ages, and there are a couple young boys and 2 other men - one could be Richard Simmons' brother, the other looks like an English professor.

We start with warm ups, and the musicians play an appropriate beat. It's all improvised, but works organically and seamlessly. It's beautiful.

By the time the class is in full swing, there's chanting, hair flying all over the place, and an incredible, soul-shaking drum beat. Catherine introduces a new series of movements and the class duplicates. It's difficult at times, but everyone is free to express themselves as they please. It's like a physical form of emotional therapy. All those times you wish you could "dance like no one is watching" and shake like a fool - there's a class for that.

I loved seeing Catherine and her interaction with the leader of the drummers. The guy without the nostril.

She would lean in and give him high fives on the beat, as they, and the class calls out melodic chants of African origin. It was truly a spiritual expression. And they had such great mutual respect and love for each other.

The class lasts an hour and a half, and by the time it's finished, everyone is thoroughly soaked in sweat, their souls purified, and their bare feet worn. I have a huge grin on my face, and I still can't believe I went to an African dance class, in this incredible Academy, in the middle of Paris. And how cool that these drummers have found a forum in which to utilize their talents and make a living.

It just goes to show you, no matter what you love to do, if you follow your bliss, you can make a living doing it.

If a one-nostril African drummer can be the beating heart of an awe-inspiring dance class in Paris, there's nothing you can't do.

But this is one of those awesome activities and resources you wouldn't know is there, unless someone shows it to you. And you would never think to participate unless a friend encourages you. So thank you F - you exposed me to something fabulous and inspiring, and unique, and I'll dance next to you any day.