Wednesday, August 28, 2013

March on Washington - Flashback

1983.  Summer.  Washington DC.  My mom and I were visiting her family there, as we did every summer. This, though, was the summer of the 20th anniversary of the March on Washington.  Mom was a volunteer and she took me with her.  I was just a little kid, but she took me everywhere and so with our yellow volunteer t-shirts we both ended up being part of the human fence that held back the crowds (300,000 people!).  This fence was an endless line of volunteers in yellow shirts linked together hand in hand around the inner perimeter of the Mall.  We were meant to be a protective barrier, but we faced the stage not the crowds, so we were able to watch the entire event.  It was almost like having the best seats in the house. But more than the speeches and the stars, I remember the kinetic energy of the crowds behind us, but it was a gentle, safe energy.  I mean, I was a little kid, anyone could have easily pushed me over, but no one did.  It was orderly and everyone was looking out for one another.  It was love.  En masse.  That’s that I felt.  And in front of me was the beautiful Reflecting Pool.  Clean, quiet and serene.  I watched that water and its gentle ripples just as much as I watched the podium... There was an impressive roster of speakers, but I only remember recognizing three:  Jesse Jackson, Diana Ross and Stevie Wonder; and, honestly, the one who stood out most for me then was Stevie Wonder.  He performed “Happy Birthday” and EVERYONE sang along loudly, proudly, weeping and laughing at the same time.  It was hot, in the crazy humid way that DC gets in August, so after the speeches, all the volunteers unlinked their hands and crowds swarmed through into the Reflecting Pool to cool off.  We spent the rest of the day sitting on the lawn with new friends, talking and playing.  It was like a giant community picnic – or like a massive family reunion. That’s what I remember.

I'm so grateful to my Mom for taking me that day.  I feel so lucky to have witnessed that incredible event.  It makes today's 50th anniversary even more personal.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

African Food! Make. This. Nowwwwww!

If I've never talked about my ever expanding family on this blog, I don't know why.  Like they say in the Bronx, "it's a movie...".  I grew up as an only child. My parents divorced while I was a toddler and my Mom raised me on her own.  My father never really looked back, wasn't involved in my life at all - so I have no memories of him.  But when I dropped out of college, I felt a compelling urge to find him.  I never did, but in that search, I found several half siblings.  So, I like to say that The Temptations lyric "papa was rolling stone, wherever he laid his hat was his home" is the tagline of our family saga.  The next part of the lyric is also true: "and when he died all he left us was alone" because I learned later that he had passed away, so I lost the chance to ever get to actually know him, and he lost the chance to ever get to know me (the same is true for the rest of my half-siblings, unfortunately).  Sob, sob... But the journey to find him opened the door to many new relatives and Facebook has made getting to know them so much easier. (The internet and social media have sort of become the answer to everything, right!?  But I digress.)  We are now 8 half siblings (with 7 different mothers), on 3 different continents...and every few years, we learn about yet another. Ugh,  I kind of hate saying that, but it's not my shame, it's his. I'll tell that story another time...

The point of all this is that, last week, a new cousin found me, so we've been chatting and catching up. He lives in Lomé (capital of Togo) and is a chef.  For a couple of years now, I've been toying with the idea of creating a West African cookbook, so chatting with him about what he was cooking today got me thinking this could be an interesting family project...  And that leads me to today's post.  One of the most delicious dishes in Togo is Chicken Peanut Sauce with rice, rice paste or fufu.....  So here's a fun video recipe.  Two beautiful things about this video:

1.  The woman is speaking in Ewe (pronounced "eh-vay"), so you get to hear the actual language of the people (French is the official  state language because of colonialism, but this is what people are speaking in their homes).
2.  It's translated into SEVENTEEN other languages via subtitles!   I love to think that so many different cultures might take an interest in tiny Togo's cuisine.  Maybe my book would do alright...!

Anyway, this is a hearty vegan (substitute chicken w/ seitan) big-pot dish that makes excellent leftovers and can be served with just about anything: starches (rice, dumplings, potatoes, couscous, pasta...), meats, veggies...  And, most importantly, it's outstandingly delicious!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Fat Actress: Workout Challenge #4

The good news is that I booked the role that I auditioned for on Sunday!  It's so nice to get cast as a romantic lead!  I'm usually what you call a character actor - always the bridesmaid, never the bride. There're great roles (often better) on the character side so I don't complain, but we all secretly dream of being the "Star".  So this feels really nice.

The bad news is that my face still looks like a puffer fish, my tummy is still a sack of blubber and filming starts in 4 days!  That means I've got to do everything I can to get toned and looking like a leading lady.  :-) Adding to the stress is the fact that a lot of my floor space is now covered with moving boxes...  So this week's ZWOW  workout is specialized for small spaces. No room? No excuse! Let's go.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

The Audition Look #7

Hey y'all! I just got back from an audition and since I realize that I've been posting "The Audition Look" updates soooooooo late, I figured I'd get right on it.  So today's audition was for a short film and the role was of a fiancee who's having trouble with her man - she's given up a lot to help him live his dream, but then an accident happens...  The script involves time travel, romance and cultural issues  (the lead characters are West African - so I got to use my Togolese heritage!).  It was a lot of fun! And here's what I looked like....  :-)

Monday, August 5, 2013

Fat Actress: Workout Challenge #3

Ok, true confession:  The last workout I posted was so damn hard that I've barely been able to complete one all the way through over the last 2 weeks.  And it was only a 10min workout!  ....those damn ninja squats are simply ridiculous - absolutely, outrageously, crazy.  The workout was so hard that it was discouraging me, so this week I'm going back to an oldie but goody from Zuzana's BodyRockTV days. This one is deceptively easy looking....  Don't let it fool you, though, these pistol squats and side lunges will have you sorer than a mofo tomorrow.  Try it with me!

Friday, August 2, 2013

The Audition Look #6

July 15th.  5 auditions during a heatwave in NYC.  And this is what I looked like. It was really all about just trying not to be a disgusting sweaty mess. The auditions were for 2 musicals, a commercial and print ad and a play. So I was singing, posing, reading sides and doing monologues (for one, the requirement was a 19th century monologue, so I had to dust one off then learn it quickly!). Anyway, it was a good day. I always have fun auditioning because it's like play-time.  It just happened that this was way too hot of a day for all that activity!

More later...

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