28 September 2014

I (heart) New York.

One of the 5 things I decided to give myself for my 40th birthday (more on this later; I'm celebrating throughout the entire year in a variety of ways) was a trip to New York City. I love this place. I have been to this city millions of times. But my last trip was in 2008. That felt like way too long ago. So I decided that on my way to Baltimore for graduate school this summer, I would stop off in NYC for a few days. 

My love affair with New York started when I was in elementary school--before I had even visited the place. In 5th grade, I had to do a research paper. I chose to do my research paper on the Statue of Liberty. And that was that. I ended up collecting various things with New York or New York-based imagery emblazoned on them: bumper stickers, posters, trapper keepers, etc. I laid out in the hot Texas sun on a giant beach towel with Lady Liberty on it. And of course, I fell in love with any movies, plays, or television shows based in New York: Desperately Seeking Susan (of course there is that little lifelong obsession with Madonna too), The Way We Were, When Harry Met Sally, Julie & Julia (combining my love for France and cooking: holy wow!!), Elf, The Goodbye Girl, Rent, Fame, Mad About You, Seinfeld, Friends, Sex & The City . . . I like imagining the New York of the days of Judy Garland and Barbra Streisand, maybe even Joni Mitchell and Lou Reed. I like the cliches. Hell, I love the cliches.   

It wasn't until I was 15 that I finally got to visit the city for the very first time. My dad moved to New Jersey for a job. And he ended up staying there for about 15 years. From that moment forward, I was in the city--yearly--as much as I could be. New Jersey was just a stopping over point. My dad's house was about a mile from the train station. I went to museums and vintage stores, broadway shows and off-broadway shows, record shops and clubs, and watched roller skaters and dancers for hours in Central Park. 

So when I decided to stop off for a visit this past summer, I planned nothing. I flew by the seat of my pants. 

I found a fabulous place to stay through a friend. I was hardly there, but mornings and evenings on the balcony were totally worth it. The view was incredible. And I was literally two seconds away from Columbus Circle. What an amazing location!

A friend of mine who teaches 3rd grade at my school in Singapore was at the Jersey Shore and invited me down for a day. I hopped on the train and was laying on the beach in a matter of hours. 

My friend from Nashville was now living in the city and noticed from Facebook that I was visiting, so he invited me to lunch. He just kind of mentioned to meet him at the building behind the giant Apple store next to FAO Schwartz. Okay. But when I got there, he had me on the list to go up to Estee Lauder's office. Totally blew my mind. I walked in and was completely floored by the space and the collection of artwork, and the beauty products powerhouse that surrounded me. I was so taken by the artwork (originals of anyone you could possibly think of) that I didn't realize what was behind me: floor to ceiling windows with the most spectacular view on the planet. Can you imagine? I can't. I was there and I still can't believe that view . . . I think I might have cried just a bit. PS: We ate at The Plaza across the street. It was so great to catch up!

After lunch with Dorian, I met my friend Mark at a coffee shop in the Village. We sat and talked for a while, and then took off to see a few galleries. Mark and I knew each other from The University of Texas at Austin. He was an art history major, and we attended the study abroad Learning Tuscany trip together in 2008. 

After seeing Mark, I went to two smaller museums right around the corner from where I was staying: The American Folk Museum and The Museum of Arts and Design

The rest of the time, I just walked around. I walked through almost all of Central Park over the course of three days. I ate street food and expensive cupcakes (it was a birthday trip after all)

I captured New York moments that made me smile. I reconnected with the city like I had never done before. 

New York used to be a place that I would over-plan for. I would try to make sure I knew exactly what I was doing at every little second because I was afraid that if I didn’t, the city would swallow me up and I would be lost in it's vortex forever. But when I arrived this time, I didn’t feel that way. Perhaps it’s because I’ve been traveling so much over the past couple of years. Or perhaps it is in fact because I am now 40. I don’t know. The city just doesn’t seem daunting to me, or busy, or filled with billions of people (although I know that it is these things). In fact, it feels so much quieter than some of the cities I’ve been to in the last year. And I love it for that even more! It’s really so very wonderful. The best place on earth.

If I could almost see myself living there before, I could DEFINITELY see myself living there now. 

Love, love, love!!

07 September 2014

Pure Energy . . .

I get really stressed out sometimes. I'm pretty good at masking it, but it rears it's ugly head in other ways: sleepless nights, weird nightmares involving wild animals, and solitude. 

This past week I had several things happening all at once and the stress was coming on full blown. My graduate school life, teaching life, personal life, and creative life all collided. But instead of going a bit crazy on the inside, I turned my attention to music.

Music--as you might have picked up on by this post and that one--is my go to . . . It infuses me with energy, excitement, passion, ideas, thoughtfulness, and confidence. The following videos are some of my favorite videos to go to when I'm feeling a bit lethargic and overwhelmed. And they pick me right back up--almost instantly!

This list was compiled by videos I absolutely love combined with a few thrown in that my students are constantly requesting. Sometimes something that reminds me of all of the little people in my life is all I need to keep me focused! 

(While these videos have been completely censored by Singapore's YouTube, some of them still have questionable language and situations . . . Just FYI peeps. Have fun!)

See how great Macklemore & Lewis are live? Now watch the actual video for this song: it's incredibly beautiful!!

I first heard this song when Lil Wayne performed it on Saturday Night Live. The energy he put into this performance completely sent me over the top. Here I share the actual video (above) and a clip from his performance on SNL (below).

When all of the craziness subsides, look for upcoming posts on past projects with students, community projects, tutorials, travels, and community workshops. Keep your energy up and #gomakefun! More soon . . .