Sunday, June 12, 2016

Israel Day 2 - Jerusalem

Jerusalem Friday,  May 27, 2016

Decided not to go to Eilat because I'd be stuck there until Saturday night since there's no transportation available from Friday afternoon to Saturday afternoon because of Shabbat and Eilat is a super expensive place. (There, I wanted a luxury hotel and they run about $500+/night!)

So I figure I should go to Jerusalem instead, that way I can also do the West Bank sooner rather than later. 

There's an Abraham hostel in Jerusalem, that is the sister hostel to the one in Tel Aviv. I liked the first so why not try it? Big plus: They have a free shuttle bus between hostels! So off I go. I made a detour and misjudged the time, so I ended up running the half hour walk from the beach to make the shuttle in time. An hour later, around 5pm, we arrived in Jerusalem, me barefoot (my hippie heart loves not wearing shoes). The city was buzzing with people rushing to get last minute errands done before Shabbat when everything in the Jewish neighborhoods (not the Muslim and Christian ones, though) shuts down. 


For 40 Shekels, the hostel offers the experience of Shabbat dinner.  So glad I did this! About 20 of us guests "helped" the chef (an amazingly patient man!) cook a giant meal for about 40 people. We learned about the ceremonies, prayers and songs that are part of the Shabbat dinner tradition. And then we feasted.

Afterwards, I walked for two hours searching for the Western Wall unsuccessfully (thanks GPS). But walking alone in dark quiet cool air (the Jewish part of the city is completed abandoned then because everyone is inside observing Shabbat), was kind of wonderful. Somewhere around midnight, I collapsed in bed, sated and happy.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Israel Days 1 & 2 - Tel Aviv


Tel Aviv, May 26-27, 2016

Mixed feelings. It's truly is awe-inspiring what the Israelis have created here, but I can't let go of the sense that the Palestinians were robbed of land for the sins of Europeans. I'll try to suspend those thoughts, though and just take this place in.

The direct flight from Newark was pretty bad - delays because of mechanical issues plus the flight was 100% packed and I was in one of those dreaded middle seats. But my seat neighbors were nice and we made the best of it. Arriving at Ben Gurion airport, my phone died just as I reached customs, so I had no way of showing the customs agent that I had a return ticket and since I'd still not decided on where I was going (straight to Eilat or stay overnight in Tel Aviv), I couldn't provide an address of residence. Not sure why the Israeli guards, normally known to be fierce, were so accommodating. After just a few minutes, they let me pass. No questions about whether I was planning to visit the West Bank (contrary to what my guide book advised).

Friends of my brother in law had suggested a place called Abraham Hostel so opted for that and it was awesome. I booked a private room - because I still don't want to be the old lady at the hostel sleeping on a bunkbed in a dorm room....but I didn't want to "waste" money on lux hotel for just the first night. So a private room allowed me a little bit of separation and privacy. The advantage of hostels is the social environment, when you want it. And it worked out perfectly. Met cool people at the bar and had a great time., then went off wandering on my own.

I skipped all the usual tourist sites as I'm not too into the history of the making of the nation. What I wanted to experience were its people, the food and the beach. Check. Check. And check. Good times.

  



   

  

  







   


     


    


  

Monday, May 30, 2016

2 Days in Mexico City (part 2)



Mexico City May 14-15, 2016

Arriving in Mexico City, my first thought is “I’m an Amazon”. I’m literally a foot taller than everyone around me. It helps that I’m wearing three inch platform sandals, that make my normally 5’ 8” frame suddenly near six feet thereby towering over the crowds at the airport that seem to barely best five feet. So - I stand out. But my comparative freakish length, rather than scaring or repulsing them, is curiously admired. People look me up and down with smiles and friendly glances. This is a happy alternative from other adventures (remember India?….)

Feeling positive and revved up, despite lack of rest, I pop into a cafe to have breakfast and formulate the day’s itinerary, mainly how to get to ruins and pyramids of Teotihuacan the best way. Teotihuacan is a 2400 year old holy site. It’s a small city really, with scores of buildings, but the most prominent are the two pyramids opposite one another, separated by a long, wide corridor. These are the Pyramid of the Sun and the Pyramid of the Moon dedicated to the those gods respectively. There’s speculation about the exact meaning of the site, but it is recognized as holy and as a community that thrived for at least a century. …But it’s 6am and it doesn't open until 9am. 

Next impressions, is the aroma that wafts into the airport terminal each time the sliding doors open. Chicken. Raw chicken. Super strong smell of raw chicken. Huh?

Breakfast: Menu completely in Spanish, so I play menus-roulette and hope that what I've picked is palatable. Success! SO damn good. Converted! I will now only ever make my scrambled eggs with Soarito.

Satiated, I hop in a taxi to the ruins. Hurrah - I beat the crowd. Have the ruins nearly to myself at first. I stay for hours enjoying the exercise, the view, the sun, the people, then make my way to the city bus to go back into Mexico City, aka the DF (Districto Federal - kinda like how we call Washington DC just "DC") to the central bus station. Armed soldiers board the bus at one point for what appears to be just a normal check. After wandering lost in the bus station for a bit, a couple of silver-haired gentlemen help me sort out a taxing about a half hour later, I pull up to the St. Regis hotel. First time ever that I'd booked myself into a 5 start hotel. Thought I'd treat myself for the weekend rather than stay at a backpackers hostel, as I usually do.Crusty and dusty from the hours hiking, in sure need of a shower, I alight from the cab into swanksville literally looking a hot mess - but knowing I have a reservation, I stroll in with confidence and take the elevator up to the third floor where Reception greets me with a glass of champagne. A page escorts me to my room on the 6th floor, carrying my "luggage" which is just a small knapsack. For this glamour treatment, I feel like I should be checking in with Louis Vuitton trunks... In the room, he shows me all the amenities and gives me a tutorial on how to use the iPad that operates all the electric things in the room (climate, lighting, phone, etc). Then, on his way out, he tells me my butler will arrive soon. Huh!? This is too much. I don't even know what to do with a butler, so I tell him I'm going to shower and don't wish to be disturbed. (I think I learned that kind of language from Agatha Christie novels.)

Showered, refreshed, napped and fed (best meal I had the whole weekend was room service! Grilled octopus in spicy mole... ohmygod! So so so good), I can't resist going up to the 15th floor infinity pool. Hell, that was the main reason I'd booked this place! I've done a lot in my life, but never swum in an infinity poo - so this had to be remedied on the spot. Well...it's not really the kind of infinity pool I'd had in mind, but it does overlook the city and has 2 soothing jacuzzis along side it. So.....there goes my afternoon. 

Evening neighborhood exploration helps me fall more in love with this city. It's got everything. Great food, drinks, music, smart chill people...

Next day, it's big buffet breakfast (one, it turns out, I wasn't actually authorized to have, but by the time we realized that I'd worked my way through the buffet - twice). Then back to the pool for spa time. Then off to Frida  Kahlo's house. I've always been drawn to her because of her tragic love story, but there I learn that Diego Rivera really did love her and treat her well, most of the time. He actually revered her and is responsible for preserving the house and making it a museum.
Suddenly, the heavens open up and a downpour begins the won't stop for hours. Still, I press on and explore Frida's neighborhood, then head up to the Zocalo. The humming center of the city. It's cool, but I'm a little underwhelmed - and thoroughly soaked....so off to have a drink. Or two. Mexico City pub crawl?

Only a few more hours 'til my return flight, no restaurants open for dinner, so it's back "home" to the St. Regis for a delicious dinner, the football match between America (Mexico City team) and Guadalajara.

A few more observations from this amazing weekend:
  • The airport is located in a residential neighborhood that is very colorful. Poor, but very colorful. The chicken smell was probably from the scores of mom and pop shops selling food everywhere.
  • Gaggles of school girls roam Teotihuacan asking to interview English speakers on film. Not sure what that’s about. I submitted to 2 interviews with two student teachers practicing their English.
  • Men in Mexico City have a sexy habit of leaning their ladies up against walls and kissing them on the neck. I saw this over and over and each time, I loved the sense of wanton abandon of  that moment. 
  • Restaurants close early on Sundays. Can’t get a meal after 6pm!
  • The citizens of this city are so polite and friendly. I never base this on how a people react to tourists, but how they treat each other. Queuing was done orderly and fairly, no pushing, no cutting, no rudeness. Prices were fair. walking down the street, people were courteous with one another. I remember in South Africa, how walking down the street, Afrikaners would never move out to make room, I was expected to move around them - similarly, on the train from Cape Town to Muisenberg on the day of a bike race, Afrikaners took up multiple seats for their bikes while Black and Coloured passengers had to stand. That was in 2013! Didn’t see any nonsense like that in Mexico City. People were practical and conscientious. 
  • The city is fantastically affordable! Friends asked me to describe it and I said, “it’s like NYC but 10x better”. All the amenities of big city life (great public transport, fashion scene, art, technology, music, chic and grit and everything in between for the hipster/retiree/rebel/religious zealot/committed atheist/geek/flower child and every thing in between….), but at a price that doesn't bankrupt you.
  • I was treated kindly. I say that specifically because sometimes in foreign places, I am pointed at, laughed at, stared at, followed… Being a solo woman with dark skin and big hair sometimes gets me negative attention. Here, no. People looked every now and then, but they smiled and treated me well. I didn’t see any other Black women all week (where are they?! Africans are everywhere, so I know they’re in a metropolis like DF, so why didn’t I run into any?…), but I was never made to feel like an oddity. Thank you for that!
  • Get to a football match. The stadium seats more than a 100,000 people!
  • So apparently, in Mexican museums, you have to pay extra in order to take photographs. I almost got kicked out of Frida Kahlo’s house for that.
  • They have Uber! God bless any place where I can take a cab without having to haggle!!!
  • I managed not to drink Tequila or Mezcal all weekend. Not sure if that’s good or bad.
  • Would I have had the same fun without the pool and hot tub?….. Thank you, St. Regis hotel!
  • The attached slide show should have 40+ photos. Just double check, please, because a couple of times when I’ve viewed it it only showed the first 10… If if does that for you, let me know and I’ll find another way to post the pics.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

MEXICO CITY (part 1)



Addendum or follow ups (to the video):
I didn't edit the video because I'm exhausted and there won't be time later this week. So rather than promise to post it then never get around to it, I thought I'd post it "raw" ... warts and all... 
The hotel didn't charge me for breakfast! The St. Regis is simply the best. 
The butler service is standard for all guests!
It rained all day today so I didn't get to see as much street art as I'd planned. 
You can buy tickets to the Frida Kahlo museum online and that saves you from the immense queue outside! 
I never ended up taking the tourist bus - just taxi'd and Uber'ed everywhere since it was raining so hard and that was very affordable.
Sundays, restaurants here close around 6 and won't seat you after 5pm! Very frustrating.
I managed to squeeze in a little football! Watched the match between America (Mexico City's team) and Guadalajara. The stadium seats more that 100,000 people! 
Did I actually show you my undies?
I took an inordinate amount of selfies.... 
I WANT TO COME BAAAAAAAAACK!!!!!
Now, here are a few more pics...

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Samba Samba Samba!!!


Yesterday, in Quenia Ribeiro's samba class at Ailey, while doing a choreography of Bahian samba, we did a move that made me feel like my vagina was falling out. Literally felt like my entire vagina was going fall on the floor from the amount of shaking on tip-toe I was doing.
That is all.
#SambaSambaSamba!!!

Power of a little compliment


While getting my bi-monthly bikini wax by the Maya, aka the best damn waxer on in the galaxy and the only person with consistent access to my hoo-hoo for more over a decade now, I lay naked on the table feeling like a walrus. Just a big, brown warbly expanse of smooth, shiny blubber. Yes.....I'm still struggling to get my get dress size below my shoe size. (Well, struggle isn't really the word since I don't actually work on it much, instead I just oscillate between lament and defiance. Aging is awful, people! The body just doesn't snap back on its own anymore! Losing weight used to be effortless, now it requires work and I'm having trouble adjusting to that.) Anyway, laying naked there, I had a vision of myself as this walrus and usually that kind of self-hate sends me straight to tears, but this day it didn't and here's why.

A few minutes before that, a man hit on me. Not in a sleazy way! Actually, maybe....I mean he was my Uber driver. So.... But still! You have no idea how long it's been since someone (one the male side of the species) has complimented me on my looks. Hell, I have no idea...years maybe?! My experience with being fat is that people simply ignore me. In shops, restaurants, bars, I'm literally ignored until ask for service. In social environments, people don't approach me. Being a fat actress drastically reduces the roles available. And don't get me started on the nightmare of dating while fat...

Feels like I've been sliding into ugly for so long that I've just accepted being undesirable and therefore undeserving. I reassure myself all the time that "ugly girls" need love too, and that they do get loved! So I'll get lucky too. But, reality feels bleaker. That's why...wow... the power of an old-fashioned compliment from a man to a woman face to face felt immense... Years ago, I would've dismissed those types of "compliments" as shallow; now I see how powerful they can be. He changed my outlook that day with just a few positive sentences. Yeah, he was "just" the Uber driver and maybe he flirts with all his passengers. But this fat girl riddled with insecurities who rarely gets that kind of attention from a guy, floated on air for a good couple of days thanks to those sweet words. I, walrus-looking or not, was still beautiful, vivacious and desirable.

If you're reading this, please go compliment a woman in your life RIGHT NOW. Tell her you think she's the most beautiful thing in the world. Tell her she takes your breath away. Tell her that her smile lights you up. Say something wonderful. It makes all the difference.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

After the show....

This show was so much fun. So sad when it ended. We had 10 shows which is a lot on this circuit, but it's never enough. It takes months to really understand a character and get to the point where you get so comfortable in a role that you become free to play. I envy Broadway actors for that. Having long runs is such a blessing. Anyway, though, a few backstage and performance pics finally popped up.

On that note, I need to get something off my chest. I loved working on this show and with this cast and this company. But.......I think it was a huge mistake that they didn't advertise our show at all, list it on their website, mention our names, post more photos to develop interest, get us press interviews........basically everything one does to promote a show. ai was so disappointed and frustrated about this. As actors, we're expected give it all. Why can't I expect the same from the production? And when we're getting paid peanuts, the least you can do for us is make sure that we get  good exposure.

Ok rant over. Here are some pics from the Hudson Shakespeare library tour of Almost Maine.














Thursday, April 14, 2016

True Love is Friendship


Last night's show was .... ok... ah, hell, actually it was a calamity of errors... (I forgot so many lines, we had a tiny audience, one of my castmate's cars broke down so he only arrive 10 minutes before the show was to start...it was just weird energy all around...) But there was a beautiful, SURPRISE silver lining! I was so upset at my mistakes during the show that I didn't even want to come out and take a bow at the end of the show, but I had to - and when I did, I heard cheers. For me???? No way! Not tonight! Then.....I saw these two amazing friends of mine in the audience! They had come all the way from Manhattan to Westfield, NJ over an hour away! Just to support me. AMAZING. I was stunned. This show only plays in New Jersey and while all the venues are very accessible by public transit, it's JERSEY so I didn't actually expect anyone I know to actually come, at all. Manhattanites will barely go to Brooklyn, let alone "easy-Jersey" like Jersey City or Hoboken. So to come deep into Jersey like this is unthinkable. But THEY did. And they managed to keep it a secret from me (another major feat!). I'm so impressed and my heart was so warmed. Friends like these remind you that you are truly loved. 

I never expect anyone to do anything "extra" for me, that's why it blew me away. 
I'm beyond grateful. 
So we went out for drinks after the show and got silly...

I Get By With A Little Help From My Friends





Still crying over this video.

Friday, April 8, 2016

After the show is the ...



 ......wait for it....

Me last night after the show.

BTW, the show, Almost Maine, is going well. We've had large and enthusiastic audiences so far which is great for a show that didn't get promoted (it doesn't even appear on the theater company's website....). A couple of local newspapers mentioned us and that's about it, but that was enough to get people to these libraries to see us and I love that. The thing is though, after a performance, I'm so amped up. So full of energy. I want to go dance, party, talk, celebrate...I don't know! I'm just extra lively after a show. One of my cast members works out at 24 Hour Fitness after the show. ....good idea, except my gym isn't open that late... So I come home, turn on some music and chill alone with a glass of wine while I wait for my energy to diminish so that I can go to sleep. Last night, Pink, my cat, seemed to be in the same mood.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Friday, April 1, 2016

Gig Alert: Almost Maine

SN0302AlmostMaine.jpeg

A tomboy, a drama queen, a bachelorette bride and a sexpot... These are all the characters I play in Almost Maine, new play opening TONIGHT! Produced by Jersey City based, Hudson Shakespeare Company. This run is a little unconventional because it's a library tour. Haven't been in a library in ages, so I'm not even sure who our audience will be....but it's good to be back "on stage". And this is a great piece to play in. It's a series of vignettes on couples falling in or out of love...We are a cast of 4 (two ladies, two men) and we each play 4 different characters in the various couples. Sweet, funny, sad, all the stuff you feel when it comes to falling in love... ;-)
Admission is FREE.

Shows:
Friday, April 1st
Seacaucus Public Library @ 7pm

Sunday, April 3rd @ 1pm
Springfield Public Library @ 1pm

Monday, April 4th
Kenilworth Public Library @ 7pm

Thursday, April 7th
Teaneck Public Library @ 7pm

Friday, April 8th
Bogota Borough Public Library @ 7pm

Sunday, April 10th
Summit Public Library @ 2pm

Wednesday, April 13th
Westfield Memorial Library @ 7pm

Thursday, April 14th
Woodbridge Public Library @ 7pm

Saturday, April 16th
Johnson Public Library, Hackensack, NJ @ 1pm

Sunday, March 13, 2016

I promise I will post about the Vienna Opera Ball soon!

I finally started writing it but it's very long. And I'm exhausted... So I need another day or 2 to edit it and vet all the pics. But I promise it will be a full and lively recap of that splendid night. Thanks for your patience!

Friday, March 11, 2016

Wanna Know A Secret?

Confession: I never celebrate my birthday with anyone because I'm afraid that no one would show up.

So I never organize parties or dinners or drinks or any kind of get-together for it. I pass the day as unassumingly as possible, alone - with zero expectations and never mention the occasion. And I never advertise the date. So most people don't even know when it is. But today, at work, my colleagues blew my cover and my heart almost burst with surprise and appreciation. I still can't believe it. Yes, of course, Facebook love always makes you smile (we love seeing our timelines getting flooded with bday wishes), but as warmly as many of those those posts might be, you know that they are all prompted and kind of .... effortless. (?) What my colleagues did, in the end, were just little things, but for someone like me who's perpetually thinking that no one cares, it meant so much. They'll never really know. And I'll never really say. But these sweet little things literally made my day. That these folks bothered at all to actually make me feel special kinda blows my mind. Little things mean a lot...


video



Thursday, March 10, 2016

What Do I Sound Like...?


I don't write about racism a lot (at all really) because I've been blessed (knock on wood) - though standard humanitarian behavior shouldn't be special....but it is - not to have experienced the harmful kind of racism that many have to endure around the world. If anything, the opposite was true. I had the advantage of that "positive" side of racism called exoticism. I grew up in a European world where Black women were covered (and fetishized) as beautiful exotics. And the darker the skin, the better!

It wasn't until moving to the US that I began to feel a different experience. There have been no major incidences, but year after year, I find myself more entrenched in the victimization of Blackness. Example: I never had an opinion on interracial relationships before, yet now I somehow am conditioned to resent the sight of a  Black man with a White woman - even though I myself have dated interracially my whole life. And I havee even heard myself say, "Well, it's not that I choose White guys, it's that Black guys don't choose me." Completely false. ...Then there's colorism. I laughed confusedly at the animosity between the Wanna-bes and he Jiggaboos in Spike Lee's School Daze way back in the day, but now suddenly, I'm 100% #TeamDarkSkin whenever debates with #TeaLightSkin come up. (WTF?!) America does that to you. We are far too race conscious in this country. I could go on and one with examples...

All that being said, let me make this clear: I live in a very open society and I'm so grateful for that. But every now and then, weird/funny/irritating/uncomfortable/ridiculous little racial moments happen. And today one did. I work at a very conservative financial institution. During a phone call, a business partner mentioned that he hadn't met me. I said, that I thought we had and he assured me he hadn't saying, "No, when I came to your office I met a Black woman". I had to hold back my own laughter as I replied, "Yes, that was me." (I'm the only one!) My voice clearly didn't match his idea of the sound of Blackness or the image in his memory. He wasn't being racist, nor did I take offense. Should I have?... And was it some strange back-handed compliment? (Is that in and of itself racist?) And what does Black sound like? And am I "code-switching"?

p.s. He was embarrassed and made sure later to work into the conversation that he judges people by character and not by race/religion/etc; that he doesn't care what people look like, Black, White, Blue, Purple (why is it always crazy colors that follow?).
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