03/21/12

All New People

In 100 years there will be all new people. It’s an interesting idea to base a play off of and of course Zach Braff did it with wit and a heavy dose of the dark. His new play is captivating London and I got to see it tonight. Braff brought the same charm he had in Garden State and the play reminds my ALOT of the movie. I was also reminded of my favourite play of all time Three Days of Rain. Things are a bit manic, heart-breaking, honest and funny. Some jokes were unnecessarily explained, my writing teacher wouldn’t have let me get away with that, but over all I loved it and wish I could say I’d written it. Hehe. Braff came to the stagedoor and signed tickets and took photos (he gets a gold metal in the one handed picture taking as well) which always makes me feel better about a celeb (be nice to your fans people!). Also he signed pictured of JD (his character on Scrubs) but did warn the kid “It was three years ago. Get over it.” All in good fun and so true.

03/21/12

Covet: Beauty Boxes

I spent the day watching haul videos from people’s Voxbox’s and i must say I’m insanely jealous. They don’t do Voxbox in the UK and I can’t afford Birchbox or Juleep (although once I’m rich I’m subscring to those, Netflix, and about a dozen magazines! My mailbox with be overwhelmed). Usually my mailbox here is a bit sad but this month I got a good haul. Just opened my box from Laminate for this month’s issue. LOVE. I got it because of the Tom Lewis signed poster. Twenty quid for a signed print isn’t bad especially since i already paid 15 for his posters. Tom Lewis is a great British spraypaint/neons/graphic artist I stumbled upon in Spitafields. He’s having another little boutique ther ein June/July and there are some rumours of an upcoming show (I’ll post if I find any details or sneak in!) While his dark backgrounds with bright neon sign style ‘angels’ attracted me to his booth I immediatly had immense respect since he sold posters and cards of his work (you can even find pillows online COVET) for a reasonable price. I understand that artists must charge a healthy chunk for their art but its always disheartening when I can’t even show my love by buying a poster. I am a huge Takashi Murakami fan (so is Tom Lewis according to his Laminate spread) and it has taken me years to amass a collection of his stuff. Of course the originals are out of the question and his posters bottom out at around 5,000 but I did manage to get my hands on an estate sale Murakami/ Louis Vuitton purse and scarf for 50 USD and a stuffed Dokuro for 25 USD at the Brooklyn Museum show. Of course I would have bought more if I realized I’d have such a hard time ever finding ANYTHING by him again.
But back to the Laminate box, the magazine itself is awesome. Large glossy posters by Lewis and Nicoletta Ceccoli (her stuff is dreamy – with wide eyed girls that aren’t naked and don’t look like they’re about to pop out of the painting and kill you) . The biggest problem I’m having is I feel guilty taking the magazine apart to hang them all up, also some of the posters are back to back, that doesn’t really work now does it? The other stuff in the box was alright. I got the Tokidoki box and I’m a big fan but it was just a gelaskin (basically a sticker), a keychain, and a sticker. Plus a weird DVD that won’t work on my computer. Still, all I wanted was the Lewis print with siggy and I got that! Overall I’m really rather pleased!

My final bit of mail, although I had to ship this to my parents in the US instead of here to save $$$, was a SIGNED, FIRST EDITION, COLOUR PRINT, copy of Christopher Moore’s new book Sacre Bleu. This was purchased right after I swore off buying books until I had more money. It was $25 which is a small fortune for a book but I adore Moore (oh looky rhyme time) and it was a beautiful product. Those can be purchased from his websites. This is the danger of being Facebook friends with your idols, you spend money worshiping them.

Finally, after my unsuccessful search for a free UK beauty box I was jonesing for a bit of girly shop. One thing I use in abundance in the dry yet rainy climate is lotion and I’ve been looking for something for face and hair. This month’s Elle included a bottle of Neal’s Yard Rehydrating Rose daily moisture. It felt a bit greasy when I put it on but after a rub it left my skin feeling very soft. The smell isn’t overly rosey, which I was worried about – hate that smell. (collective gasp from all of England, I apologize). Then Glamour offered Percy & Reed finishing polish. Love it. I hate putting things in my hair but this sucks in my split ends and makes my stringy bits look fluffy and living. Zombie hair!

Both of my free products were a win this week and now I have magazines for my upcoming beach vacation. Just have to make it through two more papers and Portugal here we come!

03/19/12

Passports and Predjudice

He said, “Jane Austen is terrible! She didn’t understand women, or men for that matter, although I can forgive her the latter as she was a spinster. But I understand women better than she did.”

I said, “And sir, you just proved how little you understand women.”

I have grown to realize that I am deeply suspicious of men who claim to understand women. Anyone who makes such rash generalizations is bound to be entirely stupid in all rights. To say one understands women, the fairer and more contradictory sex, is simply pompous and self congratulatory. This fellow is nothing more than an average academic. He who looked for a role in life in which he could pontificate and spend hours over thinking the role of a loaf of bread on a dinner table and never actually needing to find the usefulness of his own discourse.

As much of my travel abroad has been rooted in educational pursuits, I have often found myself afflicted by the mindful ambitions of others.

As an undergraduate I was given the opportunity to travel to Strassbourg, France on the German border to represent my College at the BCA Peace Conference. My group was generally made up of young minds aiming to become wizened heads of states and leaders of NPOs. The severity with which they met general conversation was unnerving and rather boring. Shopping was capitalism, television was propaganda, and sex was the ritualistic condemnation of women. Even the addition of alcohol did not change the general abuse of language, instead of injecting gaiety into their tone it simply bolstered the volume of their declarations.

I am a princess and these serious conversations have an expiration date on my shelf. (this way of thinking was rather ironic on this trip as our group leader was a literal princess of a Middle Eastern nation not far from our meeting point.) This isn’t to suggest that a princess cannot be smart or academically inclined but rather to say that there is more to life than sitting around and discussing everything that is wrong with the world. I have met countless people on these trips who have spent years living in the far off corners of the world only to return with a single photograph and a tale of nights spent in the same pub with the same ex-pats having the same conversation. The great adventurers of the 1920s and 1600s were movers. Diaries were filled and thoughts were spun into great narratives and modern doctrine but they were never sitting, never still. This weekend was trying for me as there was lots of exploring to do and a lot of sitting was being done. (for those who know me they will also know how deeply i adore sleeping and general laziness but there is a time and a place for such things) An unfortunate moment occurred one night while we had a nightcap in the hotel bar, two students, who later turned out to be NPO organizers and panelists, asked us each what we intended to do with our lives. I am a proud member of the undeclared. One of those people who showed up in college and picked the most generalized major one could think of, and passed, and who then went on through life with no real direction hoping things would eventually hash out into a well paying job and the supposed happiness that goes with financial security.

I was on this particular adventure as the resident journalist and had already been branded a traitor in the first panel discussion. One should never trust a write. (being called out for being a bad seed in front of heads of state and business was oddly exhilarating if not a bit insulting) clearly the organizer has not done his due diligence to see that my portfolio consisted of assignments on movies, shoes, and snow days. So when asked to describe my future in ten SAT words or less I was a bit lost. I didn’t know what i wanted to do. I like philanthropy as much as the next person but it had become clear to me after years of Girl Scouts that one must have an even temper and good disposition for these jobs and I have neither. Not to mention i tend to be a bit of a capitalist when it comes down to it, i believe in the power of a lot of money. This is essentially what I said to the group. “I don’t really know. Whatever pays the most.”
There is nothing quite like the feeling of eight pairs of eyes starring at you and thinking, ‘well she’s obviously dumb… And possibly evil.’
I was joking a bit when I said it, after all when is anyone ever held to what they said in a bar. But after being judged so harshly I felt I needed to defend it, and then I found I actually meant it. The other students at the table planned on running orphanages, teaching abroad, fighting for women’s rights, and putting their ivy league education to good use. All i could think was, ‘great. Good for you. When your NPO flatlines look me up and maybe if I’ve forgotten your accusatory stares I’ll cut you a check.’

03/19/12

There lived a Lonely Woman

There lived a lonely woman
There is a lonely woman who lives by the sea. Her home is now open to all, guests who never come and family who never stay long. The entire town is now desolate. Their scenic views and historic treasures went out of style with peasant tops and daisy chains. Matala is as disturbingly lonely as it is disturbingly beautiful. The shores are peaceful and even the ocean dare not let its incessant lapping reach a decibel above a baby’s coo. A large cafeteria in the center of town holds the town’s population most days and they serve fried foods and cold coffees while watching old soccer games on the large corner tv. An old man looks up at us, the picture of youth and hope, four young tourists who have somehow come back to this spot. A small glimmer in his eye suggests hope, a wish that we were the first of many to come. That tomorrow he would wake up and find life breathed back into his world. But the sparkle quickly fades and he asks us with a self deprecating laugh what has brought us here of all places. He says here as if it were nothing but a pit of despair. As if there was no golden sand, lush vineyards, and endless hiking trails. We explained that we had come to Crete on holiday and after touring Iraklion, the most popular port, had intended to go on to Santorini but had been prevented by the off season suspension of boats. We kept the exact reason, that Matala had sounded like Nutella when the boat captain had said it and we simply loved the hazelnut treat, to ourselves. We left him and his comrades to finish their beers and dreams of yesterday and set off to our hotel. Angelique was older in disposition than she was in life and her hair had more brown than gray tied up in that pony. Stray cats congregated at the door, meowing for supper but refusing to cross some invisible boundary. Little furry vampires that could not enter without permission. Angelique yelled at them harshly but fed them anyways. She had a son but he lived far away and rarely visited now. She offered us coffee and toast and sucked up the conversation and companionship as if it would keep her alive a few more years. Her portrait called to mind rapunzel with hair long and free and a soul locked up with a house and a dying town. She offered her guests a shuttle to Phaistos, a neighboring ruin and home of a sort of Greek Rosetta stone aptly named the Disk of Phaistos, we accepted and after a harrowingly quick twenty minute drive along the cliffs and coasts of Greece we arrived at the park and said goodbye to Angelique, who’s cheeks already looked a bit rosier at the prospect of leaving town for lunch with a friend.
Traveling in the off season is certainly full of pros and cons, an obvious con being buses and ships abandon all schedule and its easy to be stranded. We were so enamored with the pro (we had the ruins all to ourselves) that we lost sight of the single other tourist family and soon found ourselves rather hungry and lost and without a clue how to return to this century. Sitting on some large steps that we liked to imagine were once a bustling Minoan thorough fare, we decided that instead of waiting for the night bus (a wait of almost six hours) we would walk back, the car ride was short and we were sure it couldn’t take that long to hike. Off we went collecting flowers for our hair and singing songs we barely remembered from back home. The sky was dark but did not rain and the weather held steady without breeze or heat. We came to a fork in the road, and though we did not take it, we read the sign and were happy that we were on the right trail, 12 km to Matala. Along the way we met a goat and two ponies who had been tied up in an orange grove, although their presence suggested we were always near people we never saw a soul. Hours passed and still no one, every half hour or so we’d find a sign saying that Matala was only 12km away. It was like walking on a treadmill, i was fairly certain i’d once seen an episode of are you afraid of the dark like this, but i didn’t dare mention it allowed. I had no intention of joining the midnight society tonight, not in the middle of an island once known for cyclops, minotaurs and gorgons. A few silences began to fall into the conversation. We stopped collecting flowers or singing songs, we didn’t discuss travel or work, we simply took a few moments to walk. The damp mud beneath our feet seemed to slow us down and every time we left a sign behind we feared we were terribly and irrevocably lost. Suddenly there was a new voice amongst us, a low humming accompanied by the rough swish swish of a broom. We took a sharp turn around a stable and found an old woman hunched over and clearing her stoop. The large white house behind her was connected to the field that had been visible on much of our journey. She looked up at us and smiled, a toothless grin distracting from her full beard. Opa! She screamed, the national cry which we had come accustomed to imitating. She ushered us into the house which had a small sign next to the door suggesting they served the best oozo in town. The front room had been cleared out for two tables and a computer. Several young men were hovered around the computer which sold access for a half hour every ten cents. They each created a facebook page in turn. She yelled at them in Greek and one relented and brought us menus that hadn’t been used in months. She yelled out the back door and a man appeared and fired up the stove, she pushed the menus into our faces and we pointed with no comprehension of what we were to get. The young boy put placemats before us, they were small maps of the island and they turned out to be the most accurate indicator of where we were, they said we were halfway to Matala. We ate what we believe was lamb patties and fries and when we left the bearded woman looked a bit disappointed and gave us oranges and shots of oozo for our journey. We attempted a polite goodbye in an odd combination of english-greek-and sign. A few hours later we were back in Matala, the stars just beginning to twinkle. We sat on the beach and watched the dusk take over the sky. The ocean turned periwinkle in the light and we decided to climb the rocks a bit before it was too dark to see.
There travelled a lonely man. We stopped when we saw him. He was grey and hunched over, not from any visible disability but from a deep sadness that started at his brow and worked his way down. He touched the rocks, deep incisions had been made in them. Peace signs, ying yangs, and initials. Evidence of the hippies that had once slept here, made love here, and brought life to this inlet. He missed a life that had disappeared with changing times, his steps were slow but never unsure, he had been here before, he had been here many times. He walked to the shore and disappeared into the settling twilight. We sat on the ledge and discussed those who had sat there before us. Who he was then and who he was now. Where we would be in twenty years and if wed ever come back. We made a pact then to return in ten years, a pact none of us were sure wed ever manage to keep. Before us flower children had stared at the stars and dreamed of equality and freedom to be whomever they wanted, before that Roman soldiers had been laid to rest in the caves, souls that would forever dream of the freedom they had fought for and the home they could never return to.
There exists a lonely inlet. It is isolated by its stark beauty and inaccessibility. The kind people who live there will never leave it. You will just have to come.

03/16/12

Backpacks and Sensibilities

The real purpose of this post is to vent some of my frustrations of modern women travelers. Before moving to the UK for school I was gearing up for my adventures when I read a Cosmopolitan magazine (will try and find article link) discussing the recent rise in deaths of women travelers. Adventure tourism seems to have taken a real hold of our generation and while I do have a penchant for strange side streets and the occasional midnight stroll through the woods I do try to temper my actions with common sense, and more importantly, my friends and I act as checks and balances for all decisions. Sure I wanted to walk home late at night in Scotland, my friend said let’s not. A creepy field is no place for us. We probably would have been fine. But we definitively were fine taking the bus. Another friend wanted to get a tattoo from a bar in Cambden, I said let’s go home and Google it first. So let’s try and be safe ladies. Also that whole We Can Do Anything Men Can Do Better thing, doesn’t mean we have to actually prove that we too can jump off the ski lift into the parking lot – can we all agree to leave the proactive attitude for things like making it into the Oval office?

So often I have had the argument of whether or not to book a hotel before arriving in a city or if hitch-hiking into the jungle is a good way to save money. I have my share of “well I was traveling” moments of true stupidity but again – it’s checks and balances. While one friend of a friend Philicia* is working as a day laborer to travel around Europe and staying with “good-natured” strangers, Helen* is telling me about her trip to Cambodia where she was stranded by her “tour” group in the jungle and it took them two days to get back and she was hysterically crying the entire time. But at least they really experienced the place right? Once someone tells me they want to really experience a place I’m immediately worried about traveling with them. TV shows and beatnik novels have made it seem cool to wander around an unfamiliar city and trust the kindness of strangers. This is not only dangerous but its very annoying because these people are also extremely averse to tours and guidebooks which is how you spend 10 hours changing buses and train instead of two driving on a bus, then go to a club and don’t realize there is an amazing and famous fresco you’ve always wanted to see in the church next to your hotel.

Really it is not Jane Austen who demonstrates my point best but the show Castle where the new captain is a woman who refuses to answer to ma’am only captain or sir. Every time they call her sir I’m annoyed. Why can’t a ma’am have power? Yes, yes, I know all of the sexist connotations that have built up over time but I would like to think that there are a few women out there who are capable of knocking the rust off it. I don’t need to be a man, or be referred to as one, to be strong or accomplished.

Ok annoying rant completed. Next post will be shopping I promise.