Monday, December 29, 2008

sweet nothing

j'adore
mon prince
tu comprends tout

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Ice and Snow and Others

A visual survey of the land of ice and snow and the world of stefan...















Sunday, December 07, 2008

Ode of a social caterpillar

I am at peace in feature film silences,
darkness that negates conversation.
I thrive in meditative warmth that shuts
out the world and allows me thought.
I can smile and chitchat only when social
activity is structured, square-danced.
Otherwise, I paper the wall and stick
to my one friend, I run away and circle
the block, spinning, before returning, breaking
off another part of my cocoon.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Canadian Politics: Where's the Confidence?

Canada faces, as a reporter said on the news tonight, a "new and strange" situation in national politics. Something that distantly resembles a coup. The Conservative government, recently re-elected into a minority government, is facing a possible vote of no-confidence next Monday. The opposition parties, the Liberals, the New Democratic Party (NDP) and the Bloc Quebecois, have joined forces to form a possible coalition government.

The fall from grace comes when the Conservative government unveiled their economic plan that featured a slash of 75% to the funding of all political parties, thus cutting their only source of funding since independent solicitation is not allowed. The economy was already a touchy subject, a bomb one cilia away from exploding, and this proved to be the last straw.

Originally I had confidence that Stephen Harper and the Conservatives could cautiously lead this country to stability amidst the unrest of a global economic crisis. I've been unconvinced, seeing our leaders confused over the course of action. We were originally told that we might run deficits in order to to help sustain our economy, supposedly one of the strongest ones in the world (according to the IMF) that would resist a recession. But recently Conservatives seemed to announce that a surplus would result for this year. Brace for the worst and give us the best? We don't want you to flash your smile and brown-nose us to get our approval, we want to see you work hard, explain things, and do what you have to in order to fix things and anchor us back to solidity.

I'd like to think we want a situation that unfolds much in the methodical and clear way that Obama rolls out his new government. Instead we have a squabbling house, a pathetic leader, and a pathetic coup of the current leadership. Nothing at the moment inspires confidence.

I would like to believe that a coalition government could help fix things. But how exactly would decisions be made under a coalition government? At a time of economic instability, political instability is the last thing that Canada needs. Canadians need to know exactly how things would work in terms of the balance of power. We need to have all the cards on the table: the platform for such a coalition government along with the concessions and agreements between the parties involved. The Liberal leader, Stephane Dion, (whose power was seriously questioned at the time of the last election and who will relinquish his leadership in May) leans heavily on the NDP and the Bloc for support. The NDP is feared to be a socialist stronghold while the Bloc feared as a separatism monger. WE AS CANADIANS NEED TO KNOW MORE.

Canadians need reassurance that those we elected on the Hill are thinking of our future as a country not just their future at its helm. How then would the logistics of decision-making under a coalition help or hinder our country?

Friday, November 28, 2008

Vestigial

Sometimes I think of you and wonder if you’re dead, wonder
if you think of me, or if you stop to consider
writing of your mind, your trajectory. There
are only so many lives, only so many
friends I can stretch my ten fingers towards. The others, like you, fall
to my imagination and I start to tell stories
of make believe with only the smallest
remnant of you. But I do not yet know
the end, my stories run on in the past
and again I think of you and wonder.


-SZR

Monday, November 24, 2008

Eye of the Fire: Best. Story. Ever.

Friday morning, on the last day of a 5-day early morning Chakra Yoga workshop, we reflected on our week, meditated and engaged in some free-flow yoga. Over the course of the week we had focused on each of the seven energy centers of the body. We learned their colors, we learned their sounds, we learned over what domains of life they preside. The third chakra, where the ego lives supposedly, had been a particularly challenging centre. The yellow fiery energy hub had stirred up a lot of stuff about life, direction, purpose... Apparently its the last domain of the body/ego before you go upwards to enlightenment. Or so they say.

So we were engaging in some free-flow yoga. Basically the music went and we just did the positions that our body demanded. At the beginning of Friday's class we had all lit a candle and put it at the front of our mats. As I got out of child's pose and leant forward in downward facing dog, my hair hung down over my candle. And suddenly, I heard the FOOM of flames catching, and looked up as I leant back down into child's pose just quick enough to glimpse the brightness of fire that had caught my hair. It extinguished just as fast as it caught fire.

The stench was instantaneous. I ran my hand through my hair and immediately took out a dried crusty smelly clump. I left the room quickly to survey the damage, brush my hair and get back to class. HI-LA-RI-OUS. We had talked about getting the energy from our lower energy centers up to our minds, get the energy flowing. I quite literally got the fire to go right to my head!

And class just continued (regardless of the stench).

After the final class was over, I surveyed the damage and discovered I had a little tuft of hair at the base of my scalp over my right eye. Hardly noticeable. But I took it as a sign, go lop off the hair, it's about time.

So the next day I went to Funky Toque and told the hairstyle to work with the tuft... and from the flames, we have renewal, and a much younger looking Stefan (see below, and note the reds and yellows and oranges in the background).

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Keep Your Fancy Pants for Special Occasions

As with every Sunday edition of the New York Times, I acted no differently on this week's end in immediately flipping to the Sunday Styles section. I like looking at the photos of the newlyweds, scanning the fashion photos and reading the stories that seem more affable and comforting then the bad complicated news the news usually delivers. Reading an article entitled 'No More Fancy Pants,' I was disgusted, not delighted as I usually am with exposes about contemporary life.

See article:
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/16/fashion/16consumption
.html?partner=permalink&exprod=permalink


The article looks at the current trend of downplaying the luxurious lifestyle. Just as sky-rocketing gas prices shook the populace to suddenly realize the ecological impact of their automobile affinities (issuing a rush of commercials touting the most fuel-efficient cars on the road, abruptly ending the fad of tanksized vehicles), the crashing economic markets have commercial enterprises advertising the affordability of their wares and their many sales. At a time when people are losing their homes and their jobs, "if you're laying people off," as the article states, "you don't want to buy a Ferrari."

My problem with the article which focuses mainly on the well-to-do and how they are shifting their lifestyles in accordance to the current economic climate, and its subsequent effect on trends in lifestyle, is that it treats modest living as nothing more than a trend. While I have no doubt that it is true (the article briefly mentions previous economic downturns of the 1930s, 1980s and post 9/11), the author misses the boat completely on the artificiality of blind consumerism.

In my humble opinion, flaunting opulence, fine jewelry or expensive clothes is never in fashion. Recycling your wardrobe every season, while it might be nice, is not realistic. There is this ideal of having massive amounts of disposable income to spend and buy at your heart's every whim that represents, for me, empty desires without any substance. I balk at this article and its claims that "thriftiness is making a comeback," "it's now chic to cut back," and "roast chicken will be very popular [addressing ostentatious and over-the-top restaurant food]."

Having clothes of quality, a comfortable home, strong connections to your family and friends, and a healthy lifestyle rooted in your local environment shouldn't be something that comes in and out of fashion. Such things are timeless, classic, but more importantly fundamentally human. Treat yourself every now and then, make it special, to be savoured. And focus on the foundational and eternal trues of life, the ones that never fade in and out of style.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Swedish Poetry? Swedish Poetry

My mother recently gave me a small collection of poetry from "one of the most influential figures in modernist Swedish poetry." It consisted of a collection called Ideals Clearance written by Henry Parland in 1929, a year before he would die at the young age of 22. I'm 22. If I were Henry Parland, I'd be dead.

Anyways, I wanted to share to pieces from the poet that got me thinking...



from SOCKS

XV.
Everybody
wants something from me
even the cigarette smoke
coils question marks
doors threaten to devour me,
the matches' legs
are so long and hungry,
the coffee cups curl their pale lips
with scorn-.


from FLU

IX.
I'm scared
very scared
that when we one day creep out
of ourselves,

we will stand on a beach
with runny noses,
wrapped up in the raincoats of our personalities
and watch ice floes drift past.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Expression

It's incredible how I feel when I can put thoughts into words, when unlikely similes and metaphors just bubble to the surface, to the tips of my fingers and come out. I feel a certain very simple pride and humble radiance when I do this. For that I must continue writing...

Ghandi once said: "Whatever you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it." And in fact it's true, you must do whatever it is you do to feed yourself, to inspire others, to help, to comfort, to connect. We think about purpose, and goals, and plans, and returns too often... when really we should just stop, and do.

A friend of mine who is still at Harvard and devoting himself to a craft he does so well is my friend Jose Olivarez. Him and his friend Nate have undertaken a challenge to write 30 poems in 30 days. I commend him. At a place like Harvard, you need to put yourself up for the challenge to promote what you truly believe in. Keep with him as he continues along the poetic month: http://quetothepasa.wordpress.com/.

Another wonderful display of expression in action is the show So You Think You Can Dance, which is in its inaugural season in Canada (the top 10 took to the stage last night). There are some incredible dancers who pour their soul out and radiate their spirits across the airwaves. Something about the show just inspires me, music embodied, passion presented, spirits shining. Two technically incredible dancers who I think have lots of spirit are Vincent Noiseux and Allie Bertram; both danced well-choreographed solos and displayed style. Allie, with training in ballet, rocked the stage in a pouffy tutu but a plaid vest and one pink-red slipper. Vincent kicked ass in his disco routine with Arassay. Which brings me to the other two dancers who should be in the top 4: Arassay Reyes and Nico Archambault. These two are stunning dancers as well as beautiful people, both physically and spiritually. In my opinion, in their solos, they really put their hearts on the stage. It is incredible to see people ooze passion from their pours and make you feel their potency, their energy, their spirit.

*Images from CTV website for So You Think You Can Dance (Allie, Arassay, Nico and Vincent)




Belated Boo!

It isn't too late, there isn't any snow on the ground yet.
Although, as a child, November 1st was often the day of our first snow.
Here, then, is our glorious pumpkin.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Opening the Floodgates: New Poems

I hadn't sat down to write poetry since I came home from school.
I never felt motivated.
I got discouraged.
My poems wouldn't be published, no one would read them, nothing would happen, what's the point?
But as the summer continued, I reminisced back to dreams I had when I was younger.
I wanted to be a writer.
And I can BE a writer, very simply someone who writes.
Who cares where the words go?
If they touch even one person, it will be worth it.
So here for you, two as of yet untitled poems.

*the open square bracket means the words that follow are meant to be at the end of the previous line




I wasn't aware there was
God in my hands. I thought He only lived between
and in my eyes. But yesterday, the charge electrified
my fingers. I wanted to taser my heart and spread
divinity through my bloodstream.







If I could walk and write at the same time, I would pen shaky-handed
masterpieces and illegible soliloquies that soar. My mind would [continue
dropping unlikely phrases, trailing them behind as I walk home. [Punctuation
and words would leave their invisible trace, stealing the breath of [hearts that have sung
true poetry, lost words, and bled gratefully into triumphant echo.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

No to Yes

This morning there has definitely been a noticeable pattern. At first sight, obstacles stood in the way of my tasks. But if I just tried and tried again, the obstacles came down.

It started at the bank. I went in to discuss my accounts and my investments and I had made an appointment last week. When I checked in with the secretary and she tried to find my appointment, she started frowning and looked puzzled. It seemed I didn't have an appointment. I gave her more information and she asked if I had had an appointment last week. No. I made an appointment last week. With a bit of discussion she informed me that the man I had made an appointment with had made my appointment for the day I had come in. He was new. But there was no problem, I saw the bank representative nonetheless, without too much fuss, and a little bit of a wait.

Then I was off to vote. Do my civic duty. Outremont is one of the hot ridings in which the Liberals really have to fight to get their seat. We elected an NDP candidate in a by-election and now they put in a new Liberal candidate. The NDP encumbent has much experience at the provincial level with the environment and finance while the Liberal is a strong proponent of the arts. We'll see what happens. Anyways I showed up at the polling station but soon realized that there must be something wrong. My polling station number wasn't represented in the building. Perhaps because it was before 10am on a Tuesday, I had just gone on autopilot to the polling station of the last election. My polling station was actually somewhere else. So I walked down the road and finally figured it out and I voted.

After these two obstacles I thought a coffee would do the trick and headed to a Caffe Olimpico for a latte. Latte pour ici, I said to the barista. Caffe latte?, he asked. Oui, I reponded. I just said that, I thought. He followed up, Pour ici? Oui, I responded again. I said that too, I thought, what is going on with my morning....

And I thought about these little moments. Appointments and plans and communication not going as ahead as planned. But with a bit of thought, plenty of breath, and calm, the goal was accomplished nonetheless. Maybe it's a pattern of my life at the moment? I am waiting to hear about jobs, waiting to hear about details, and have heard nothing. By the end of the week, I was told... last week. Deep down I knew that it would maybe be this week. I hope. So with a bit of thought, plenty of breath and calm, maybe I'll get the positive responses I want. The path isn't what I thought it would be, but the goal remains the same. Patience et courage, overcoming obstacles can only make you stronger...

Monday, October 13, 2008

shifting focus, changing seasons, giving thanks

Whether I like it or not, summer is over. This past weekend Montreal has been blessed with lovely warm weather and I was lucky to spend my afternoons wandering the city. And although some were still in flip flops and shorts (or barefoot dancing to the drumbeat at the Tam Tams), it was definitely scarf-light-jacket weather.

Yesterday morning I went to the Jean Talon market and saw the local harvest in full color: cranberries, butternut squash, peppers, corn, brussel sprouts, cabbages, potatoes, onions... A busy local market in the first chills of autumn. We were doing our shopping for the Canadian Thanksgiving meal today.

In the past, when I was in the States, the Canadian Club at college would put together a meal and my American friends would ask, What are you celebrating? As far as I know, Canadian Thanksgiving is not tied to any historical event but to the change of the season, the gathering of the harvest. But really, who really needs something to celebrate or commemorate? It's more than enough to just give thanks. So often in our lives we focus on the negative; we bitch and moan and complain. There is at least this one supper where we sit back and reflect on what we HAVE, what we are thankful for, focus on the positive instead of the negative. Health, love, family, stability, food, shelter, friends. There is so much that we have, we should really take more time to take tabs. Every day should be thanksgiving. We would lead such fulfilled lives.

For now, the turkey is brining in a massive pot (ironically made in Turkey), we're planning our supper, inviting our neighbours, and coming together. And for that very simple communion, I give thanks.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

More Quotes for Thought

I am right now in the midst of Living with the Himalayan Masters. But I finished Jeanette Winterson's Written on the Body and Jean-Dominique Bauby's The Diving Bell and the Butterfly last week and have some quotes that resonated with me. Bauby's memoir which was turned into the movie by Julian Schnabel had such delicacy, vividness and evocation. It's a quick read and very much worth the time and attention. I had read Winterson before (part of the myth series from Knopf) but never really delved into the rich poetic prose that I discovered in Written on the Body. Both such rich reads, enjoy the snippets.


The Diving Bell and the Butterfly...

Meticulous people never go wrong: they scrupulously note down each letter and never seek to unravel the mystery of a sentence before it is complete. Nor would they dream of completing a single word for you. Unwilling to chance the smallest error, they will never take it upon themselves to provide the “room” that follows “mush,” the “ic” that follows “atom,” or the “nable” without which neither “intermi” nor “abomi” can exist. Such scrupulousness makes for laborious progress, but at least you avoid the misunderstandings which impulsive visitors bog down when they neglect to verify their intuitions. Yet I understood the poetry of such mind games one day when, attempting to ask for my glasses (lunettes), I was asked what I wanted to do with the moon (lune).

I have known gentler awakenings. When I came to that late-January morning, the hospital ophthalmologist was leaning over me and sewing my right eyelid shut with a needle and thread, just as if he were darning a sock.




Written on the Body...

You didn’t answer. Why do human beings need answers? Partly I suppose because without one, almost any one, the question itself soon sounds silly.

‘Hello Louise. I was passing so I thought I might pop in.’
Pop in. What a ridiculous phrase. What am I, a cuckoo clock?

All these jewels were escorted by amply cut grey suits and dashing spotted ties. The ties twitched when Louise walked by and the suits bulled themselves in a little. The jewels glinted their own warning at Louise’s bare throat.

I cut a slice of fruit bread. If in doubt eat. I can understand why for some people the best social worker is the fridge.

I am drowning in inevitability.

What of that other characteristic prevalent in human living things, the longing to be loved? No, it doesn’t come under the heading Reproduction. I have no desire to reproduce but I still seek out love. Reproduction. Over-polished Queen Anne style dining-room suite reduced to clear. Genuine wood. IS that what I want? The model family, two plus two in an easy home assembly kit. I don’t want a model, I want the full-scale original. I don’t want to reproduce, I want to make something entirely new.

The bolts of the collar bone undo me.

Shuttered like a fan no-one suspects your shoulder blades of wings. While you lay on your belly I kneaded the hard edges of your flight.

In the very early morning the hours have a different quality, they stretch and promise.

I’ve though a lot about death recently, the finality of it, the argument ending in mid-air. One of us hadn’t finished, why did the other one go?

What do the dead do at night? DO they come forth grinning at the wind whistling through their ribs.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

A Big Ripe and Harvest-able Apple

Finally I have a relaxed well-rested moment to write about my recent whirlwind trip to New York. I flew in Thursday for two interviews on Friday before leaving on Saturday. It was quick, it was busy, it was rainy but it was fruitful. For the first time I arrived in New York and realized very concretely that I could live in this city. People live in this city. People are bored in this city. People do nothing on Saturdays in this city. They're realizations I couldn't make before the very sobering reality of arriving to the city thinking that I could potentially get a job here.

New York is such a mythic city, really. It is THE city of Sex and the City. The Big Apple. New York, New York. It's the city of TV shows, and movies. It's always seemed like a backdrop to morning talk shows, and a city chockfull of museums, all of which need to be visited in one trip. But no, it's a city. A big city, sure, but if you can focus on where you need to go, and skirt away from the tourist-dense parts of town, then you can be alright. People live in the city, a TON of people LIVE in New York. People do yoga and somehow find peace through meditation in NYC.

Can you tell it was something of a revelation? I won't speak of the interviews, they went well and I'm waiting. But as we all wait you can enjoy the images below from my trip.





Sunday, September 21, 2008

Love Letter Open Mic

Just returned home from the Love Letter Open Mic at the Cagibi in Mile End, from such intensely personal, comical, praising, loving, hating words. We laughed, we aww-ed, we grimaced, but in the end, we felt the love. And I thought I'd spread the love, three pieces I shared tonight...

PostModern Longing

I miss you. I want to see your face
book profile. I want to read you
my latest posted item. I want to see where you've been
tagged these past months. I don't want to read the writing on the wall
your wall with all of the flirting suitors. How are you today?
What is your status? You haven't updated me
or your profile picture lately. Where are you?
I miss you. I want to see your face


Halation
You shut the door to the cold outside and shed
your wool layers, peeling back to the core
of the onion. I watch the heat of your body
radiating outwards like the haze of exhaust fumes
from an airplane. I imagine the skin
tones of your flesh beginning to permeate
the threshold of your body. And I see
pigment spreading like the cyclic cloud of cream
in coffee, allowing itself to dance into neutral
colorless territory. The ink of your skin
tone wanders its way towards me like the very
liquid black of my father’s pen sketching
on napkins, following patterns, losing definition.


(In your eyes, I see moonlight)
In your eyes, I see moonlight
on the ocean’s surface.
The moon brings its face to the mirror and
it shatters.

You steal heartbeats, catching
them before they breathe every time
you enter a room and put them away in a cardboard box.
They run around like chickens, clucking
rhythmically, shadows of breaths
that escaped. I soar up for air, every time.

I would rather enter your body
through your mouth, the swollen
prey inside the belly of a snake.

The mirror game, mere child's play of making my hand follow yours, renews
when we two men stare at each other as if our eyes were needles, yet still
seeing everything else we bare.
We move in parallel, my muscles baited
to yours, we echo
one another. My shoulders, wrists... ankles, knees
Your shoulders, wrists.... ankles, knees
they move together, as if string has grown between
our joints, eyes, navels; cardinal points
for the movement of a marionette, but here no hand
rules, instead, in tandem, two bodies.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Reading Life: Pascale Quiviger's The Perfect Circle

I've been wanting to put together some sort of reflective piece on my life of late, but it hasn't been terribly exciting. work everyday, yoga as much as possible, and deadends. The jobs I waited so long to hear responses from have ended unexcitingly in 'you've got a strong application but no'. So the quest continues.

And the reading continues too. I keep wondering what would happen if I picked up books I devoured as a child. Books speak to you, draw out your thoughts, echo your current dilemmas. So without further ado, some quotes, windows into my thoughts... echos of ideas...

In that language [French], a single word, monde, means both people and the place where they're located, and it's because a place is its people.

"I'll ask you then: what is the meaning of life?"
"It's... to live."

Later, Marco stops the car to pick a giant artichoke blossom, mauve and white, its leaves pointing towards every corner of the earth at once.

On one side there is life and on the other, death. During life, we live. Death is simply the completion of that verb.

And I see clearly how at certain blessed moments, the question of location loses all significance, because reality starts to speak our imaginary language.

Perhaps the desire for God emerges like that, with a sudden awareness of time that condemns us to lose small things - the red shovel, a billfold, some gloves - and then the important things - a friend, my grandfather, and summer, several times.

And beneath my revolt against so terrible a wound, I think that for the first time, I chose to be alive. Not by enduring the kind of life that is anticipated, not by taking it from waking to waking, through activities that pass the time, but rather in its perilous nudity; with utter selflessness, I chose life with its black night and its white day, chose it fully and letting nothing slip, with my arms spread wide, in the garden, I accepted everything, all at once...

Hold me in your arms all night, the bedroom was blue and the window open, through the sheer curtain the stars took on impossible dimensions, and you even got up to check that we were still on earth.

The walking man undermines the work we do every minute, he makes us suspect that maybe there's no charge for the fact of being alive. Terrifying: there may be no other meaning for existence but the simple fact of existing. A grandiose fact. A miracle repeated unobtrusively by every springtime on earth, by every morning. To owe nothing to life and, for that very reason, owe it everything, that is to say: owe it life itself.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Oh College.

Today I was assigned the task to go to university campuses to poster for upcoming events happening at the Canadian Centre for Architecture. I've been frequenting the McGill library among others all summer, so I thought, piece of cake. As I arrived at the McGill campus, I found it swarming. Students. Everywhere. Of course it had to be the first day of classes.

It was sort of exciting to be part of the madness. Lining up at the administrative office (to ask permission to poster not to haggle for classes), wandering around and looking lost... in other words, fitting right in.

I had fun being part of the energy - the hundreds of late teen early twenties kids milling about. I got a little nostalgic, soon little Harvard students will be shopping around for their fall courseload, popping into twenty-five classes, on ly looking for four. But it was also nice knowing I wasn't part of it, no stress, no worry, no school supplies, no lineups, no scheduling problems.

Now, I'm on the outside, working. And the back to school season doesn't really mean the end of summer as it has in the past. I get to keep enjoying summer like I have since June (but even more now that the weather in Montreal has turned hot and dry... a Rome/California identity crisis? Don't mind at all...). And I get to retreat back to my office at the CCA and continue on doing my thing, doing my yoga and learning the lessons and enjoying the self-reflection that I find immensely more valuable, enriching and evolving. It is, without a doubt, a new phase of life.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Notable Quotes: Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray

I've just finished reading the very charming, stimulating and exciting novel from Oscar Wilde and wanted to share a few quotes that resonated with me. I find it amazing how one can read a book more than once, or listen to a song twenty times and always find something new. Although I've never read this book before (and am reading it because so many kept pointing me towards it), I think the collection of quotes indicative of what stimulates me and what is happening in my mind at the moment...

"I have grown to love secrecy. It seems to be the one thing that can make modern life mysterious and marvelous to us. The commonest thing is delightful if one only hides it"

"Words! Mere words! How horrible they were! How clear, and vivid, and cruel! One could not escape from them. And yet what a subtle magic there was in them! They seemed to be able to give plastic form to formless things, and to have a music of their own as sweet as that of a viol or of lute. Mere words! was there anything so real as words?"

"I felt that this grey, monstrous London of ours, with its myriads of people, its sordid sinners, and its splendid sins, as you once phrased it, must have something in store for me. I fancied a thousand things."

"Children begin by loving their parents; as they grow older they judge them; sometimes they forgive them."

"I once wore nothing but violets all through one season, as a form of artistic mourning for a romance that would not die."

"Yet, as has been said of him before, no theory of life seemed to him to be of any importance compared with life itself. He felt keenly conscious of how barren all intellectual speculation is when separated from action and experience. He knew that the senses, no less than the soul, have their spiritual mysteries to reveal."

"But youth smiles without reason. It is one of its chiefest charms."

"The tragedy of old age is not that one is old, but that one is young."

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Your Energy, Your Body, Your Practice

I've been doing a lot of yoga lately. Ever since I went to that ashram I've had a renewed dedication to trying new classes, stretching my limits and expanding my mind. These days, I have to admit all I do is work and yoga. Even so, I'm not complaining, I find that even though my social life isn't off the wire, I've got an incredibly multidimentional life going into work and practicing yoga. I've started discovering that I have a fascination with the relationship of man-nature through architecture/planning and that yoga is an incredibly important in my life. As for architecture, even though my dad has been an architect longer than I have been alive, it is only this summer that I've started to really delve into the field of study/practice and see how much varied potential there is in it; I've heard the different opinions of various visiting scholars at the Canadian Centre for Architecture as well as seen the essays and articles and books they want me to find (sometimes holding onto the book or making an extra copy for myself). I've started learning that every moment of the day has potential for new paths, new learning, new connections. Extra employment in the form of translation jobs have popped up out of nowhere and given me a nice rhythm to life.

But while I am offering a nice little digression, I really want to write about new realizations I am getting to in yoga. Sure it's cool to build strength and pull of those difficult positions I couldn't do before (I'm still working my way into the free-standing headstand). But it's cooler to grow in emotional stability, inner strength. [I keep fearing that I am going to go off the Zen end and go a little hippy, if I do, please let me know.] I've had some trouble focusing in class, always straying to what other people are doing, always worrying if my body is in the right position, if I am doing the right thing... I compared myself to others and fell into a mental block of having my mind be all over the room. Now that I think about it, it's the same for life; we constantly worry what others think and don't take the time to turn in. Call it selfish, I'd rather call it selful and absolutely necessary. I came up with the mantra today heading into yoga class: Your Energy, Your Body, Your Practice. I just focused on the breath and repeated my mantra when I felt my mind sway, worry, tense. It's funny that the mantra is in not My Energy, My Body, My Practice... somehow I am disembodied.

Leaving class today I could already feel the benefits, or foresee them. If I come to terms with the way my body works, beyond straightening my arms in warrior or always rolling down the shoulders, and see the way my practice enriches my energy, I'll then be able to turn outwards to others and make stronger connections having built a stronger foundation. For me, this revelation of a mantra that just distilled itself from my thoughts is wondrous, it feels so freakin' cool. And it's for wonderfully liberating, accepting moments like these that I am going to continue raving about the exercise because, really, it's so much more.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

What did you do Saturday?

On Sunday morning, I got up at 5.30am for a 6am silent walk up a mountain in Val Morin to take part in 6.30am prayers. By 8am I was outside on a wooden deck doing yoga for a good two hour stretch. Only at 10am did I first eat.

This past weekend I escaped Montreal to the peace and quiet of the Sivananda Ashram in Val Morin, one hour from the city. Being on edge about job decisions and the upcoming year, I decided to forego a more ambitious vacation for a peaceful staycation. I went up North for 2 days for yoga, meditation, prayer and wonderful fresh air. While I did pay to wake up at 5.30am each day and do one hour of Karma yoga (some sort of chore around the Ashram), I must say that I enjoyed the focus and healthy energy that runs through the place.

I was a bit apprehensive on day one. The early morning wakeup call was no problem and the half hour of silent meditation was a challenge. But I was put off by the chanting and the intense breathwork that was part of the routine, activities which I haven't practiced diligently. But I acknowledged the fact that I was resisting and tried to go with it. By the next day I wasn't questioning as much and I was definitely getting more involved in the rhythm of the ashram (although I had to leave that day).

I've come back to Montreal with a much more positive outlook on life and a renewed dedication to my practice. Today, for no reason, I woke up at 6.30am refreshed and ready to go. I keep having dreams about looking at the clock and seeing the time I should be getting up and awakening in reality only to realize it is way early. I also have dreams of planes landing on beaches and highways before the final destination.

I realize more and more that this is a time of transition, and that can be difficult. At the same time though, my attitude needs to be positive, it needs to take each day and moment for what it is right now. Positive energy needs to constantly be flowing, because you never know when opportunities will arise, you never know when a new path will open up. But thanks to two 5.30am wakeup calls, a lot of prayer, a lot of meditation, and a ton of yoga, I'm now quite open to possibility...

Monday, August 11, 2008

Leverett of Yore

I was doing my thing, finding articles at yet another Montreal library, when I stumbled across a Yale-Harvard Game spread. I flipped back and saw that it was also a little photo reportage on Harvard itself. And then, on the righthand page I saw LEVERETT HOUSE... And there was a nice little description of my House back in 1932 in Fortune Magazine. So, I thought I would share.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Passion

I can tell when you're happy and when you're sad. It's in your eyes. - E. Zebrowski

Passion. when it comes to career-finding and 9-to-5-working. "passion" is one of those buzzwords you can't escape. It's a word that, for me, embodies a beautiful idea but quickly falls from its bastion of beauty to the shunned valley of cliche'. Even so, it has been on my mind.

You can see emotion - it's in the eye and it's in the gesture. My mentioning interior architecture to an unsuspecting architect last week caused her pupils to expand and her body to turn into the conversation. On the show I love, So You Think You Can Dance, some dancers perform with such passion that you feel it - it transports you into emotion. As my mother said, emotion can be communicated. I believe that you can feel genuine emotion, feel the enrgy transmitted by a person - in real life, on TV, in a still image.

When it comes to work, I want to feel that passion, want to continually chase after it, feeding the fire in my eye, lighting up at the mention of it (whatever it is). Incendiary inspiration. It's something everyone should have. But to invent that fire (a task not everyone can do), you need to try, explore, and test until, finally, the sparks take.

Monday, July 07, 2008

You're not here to make friends?

In a clip compiled on YouTube of reality TV moments (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w536Alnon24), contestants all basically claim that: "I am not here to make friends." I couldn't get through the whole clip because it kept hammering out the same point, but the collection of echoing voices of the competitive and the anti-social got me thinking. Contestants seem to be of the mind that when they are in a competition and they are driving towards an end-goal, courtesy and kindness get shoved violently out of the way. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think any of the success-focused contestants actually won.

I assume that the win-all attitude comes from the fact that something stands to be won in a limited timeframe. In other situations where there is a timelimit, do you say fuck you to courtesy and just go for the gold? No. I think these people need to step back and reprogram their attitudes towards life.

I find myself in a situation where I am in my home city for three months. My time here has an expiry date. While it seems limited, each day has opportunity for connection, growth, evolution, discovery. I can't shut myself down and say that I cannot live each moment with the integrity it deserves. It is better to embrace the moment and live life to its desirable fullness. I know I can't cultivate really enduring longterm relationships and friendships at this moment in time, but I can nurture strong connections, follow-through with old friends to build new memories.

As for the reality show competitors, I think they have it all wrong. Sure you are in it to win, but that can be done with grace and respect for your fellow competitors. One reality show that I think fosters community and family is the summer smash So You Think You Can Dance. Those kids love each other and you see it when they interact with one another and when two of them leave in the elimination show every week. Needing to work together for an artistic endeavour seems to make them all such caring, kind, and admirable individuals. The YouTube clip does demonstrate that the fuck-you attitude in competition is definitely pervasive, but in the end, who really wins?

Friday, June 27, 2008

I get to thinking about the future...

It really is astonishing what graduating from college will do to you. At least for me, I have started re-evaluating most everything. I get to thinking of the future.

I am home for the summer, working, chilling, rediscovering, reconnecting. And it's been a process, full of transitions, changes, gearshifts. Brings to mind the adage... the only thing constant in life is change. I went from being a student to working parttime as a research assistant and a translator. Once a dorm-liver and a meal-plan devote', I now live in the room adjacent to that of my parents and frequent the kitchen for meals. A campus of 6000+ shrunk to a household of three in a major metropolitan city. It means I spend a lot more time alone, it means a lot of thinking, it means a whole new routine.

And with those changes come mindshifts as well.

My summer job as a research assistant is nice somewhat fulfilling work, researching projects here and there, assisting others in their endeavours, making things work, tracking academic material. But I get to thinking of the future, I recontextualize the work in a post-college life. Do I want to do this for the rest of my life? What do I like about this job? What don't I like? What would I really like to be doing? A continuum expands forward, a far-reaching unstructured shapeless road that extends and disappears without notice.

My father mentioned over dinner the other night, after noticing my comments and sensibilities lately, that I may want to consider Interior Design as an option in the future. And I thought, hm. Considered a bit of what might be involved, and did not recoil at nit-picky details or cons of the job. Of course I need to do more research, but to be able to entertain a career and become indulged in reverie was nice for once. I'm through with academia for now, that's for sure. I've continuously refrained the fact that my job needs to be dynamic, concrete, visual and creative. But beyond adjectives, I haven't been able to name a specific job beyond the internships for which I've applied for next year. Interior design, I can see a future there... I must get to digging.

Up until now, time has been structured. But now... grad school becomes wild and expansive, work could extend on for who knows when, relationships float into a fluid and dynamic space. Chances are now you'll meet people at random parties through no one in particular or anywhere else... the gist basically is, the structure is now up to you. How do you want to live? Where do you want to be in 6 months? (Don't ask 5 years, that's unfair). Do you want to get married? Will you have kids? What do you want your life to be about? How often are you going to go out and party? What is, in fact, your definition of a good time... a satisfactory life?

Questions, questions, questions. All intensely personal, local, driven by a one-person story that only one person knows completely. So I wonder, try things out, and think a lot. I get to thinking about the future, and I also get to dreaming.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

e-xcited for wall-e

call me childish, or just flat out call me a child, but whenever the commercial for the new pixar flick comes on, I get giddy. It may be because the little robot (whose name is Wally or Wall-e for the technologically inclined) puts a bra over his eyes in the first few seconds. Childish innocence, a confluence between toddlers and robots, I revel in it.

Check it out for yourself: http://youtube.com/watch?v=fCcCZOSAtxA&feature=related

the cutest thing ever. especially the way he says his voice at the end. seems to be an intergalactic love story. who couldn't love a robot? where's my movie-going buddy abby when i need her?

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Commuter Sights

The past few days have been strange in terms of changing place and starting a whole new routine. Along the way, I've seen some funny/strange things...

- My sweetheart of a mother dropped me off close to where I would begin work yesterday and I had a half hour to kill so I walked up Ste. Catherine. Seemingly all of a sudden, the street cleared and a noticed policeman after policemant mounted on motorcycle forming a sort of motorcade down the street. And in the distance I heard blaring. A parade? A protest? The noise approached and there I saw it, a float in what must be a parade. No wait, just one float. No no, not a float at all but 20 people in rows pedaling the 'float' along for some sort of fundraiser. Way to stop traffic.

- As I walked by the fountain in the park near my house after my first day at work, I heard noises. I looked up and saw a guy playing a sitar. Weird. Walking a little further I saw he was accompanied by a friend on a guitar. Ok, cool. I thought nothing of it until I walked even further. There, next to the sitar and guitar player was another guy. He was playing what I believe to be called the mouth accordion (my roommate Susan had one and it consisted of a pipe you blew into that led to a piano that you played). An unlikely trio.

- This morning I auditioned for Kaplan (went well but they need a 12-month time commitment) and once again, I had time to kill. I decided to pop into the Bay, that big ol' department store downtown, to browse around. I wasn't completely wary and found myself in a place few people want to go. I found myself in the gauntlet of perfume saleswomen. You know, those middle-aged or downright old-aged women all dressed the same, made up as if in warpaint, ready to sell and spritz and hand out. Those women, always ready to pounce. I gasped (on the inside) and kept my eyes low to the ground. I escaped unscathed and unscented.

- As I walked to the bus stop from the McGill library, I came across a broken fence. Not only was it a broken fence, but a damaged car and a blocked road. A tree had come down in the storm earlier that day. I had been sitting in my office at work tracking down books and articles when it went dark outside and a vicious rain started. This was the type of storm that made me want to curl up into a blanket and snuggle, if with no one else with my stuffed bear Henderson. The storm came complete with the orchestral theatrics of thunder and lightning. And I saw later what it had done. This tree was massive and felled. Luckily the house was intact and the car's windshield was only minorly damaged.

- This afternoon on the sweltering busride home the doors opened at one stop to the sounds of laughter. I saw two Jewish boys (earmarked by the tallis and yamacha each was wearing). One was pushing the other in a wheelchair. And the kid in a wheelchair (who was slung into it, not a usual wheelchair rider) was laughing, laughing laughing. Laughing so hard you could still hear it after the doors closed. Mirth.

Just a few sights along my daily journeys so far...

Monday, June 09, 2008

Then, Press the Shift Key

Today, I started my first day of work. And with that first day came new building layouts to remember, a bevvy of names to remember, and new mental notes of tasks to complete. Three days ago I was in Cambridge. Four days ago I graduated. Immersing myself in this new environment makes me realize just how stunned I am at this rapid shift in rhythm. A new routine can't be established in a day, it's kinda like Rome and its required timespan for construction. Throwing myself into it more fully, I guess I am hoping to find new comfort in a daily routine.

I am realizing more than anything how much I miss my friends: saying hello to my roommates while one of us is in the shower (now, I have my own bathroom), being surrounded by students in the dining hall (now i just go down the stairs to the kitchen) or just being able to call up friends and meet up like that (now it takes time, days, weeks). I miss the physicality and quasi-instantaneity of my friends. I now realize I need to start over with the introductions, the same sound bites of conversation, beginnings.

I know that this will probably be the rest of my life, constant introductions and beginnings. It comes as a bit of a shock given the timespan of the last week. Last Monday, I was meeting my dear friend Susie for dinner before enjoying the cool evening, little get togethers, and crashing early. My parents would arrive the next day for the Graduation events, mobs would ensue. And here I am now, typing away in my room after my first day of work. Where is that shift key? I must have inadvertently pressed it.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Stuff.

I returned home almost trapped amidst all my stuff in the backseat of my father's car. We JUST managed to get everything in, parting with some items along the way. Since I've been home, however, going through the stuff,a snowball effect has initiated. Sorting, sifting and purging the stuff from school has led me to sort, sift and purge the stuff I have at home. It is no easy process, but a lengthy and overdue cleansing.

Stuff. Shit. Crap. The words we use to describe the ensemble of our possessions are either vague or derogatory. There's little reason to wonder why. We don't actually need as many possessions as we own. The things we don't actually cherish get relegated to that shapeless crapfilled group, the junk. Why do I hold on to all these things? Do I really need all these books? Couldn't my life be simpler without things, stuff, junk, shit, crap? I might be able to breathe better. I might be happier. In today's day and age, we do have less stuff, but the junk appears on our computers and the organizing scheme takes on a whole new dimension. But I digress.

I do love organizing, I won't lie. There is something satisfying about finding that hideous t-shirt and putting it in a pile to be given away. I've been going through my clothes to accomodate those items I've been living with these past few months at school. I've been organizing the spaces around me so that they are more liveable to me. I'd like to keep my belongings down to what I need and a few things that have memories attached. I'd like to flow more with trends, get rid of things as they get old and unusable. It is perfectly acceptable to catalogue away the memories, but you need to ask yourself what do you really need?, what can you easily be without?. All of a sudden, with school finished, I find myself plunging into these questions and looking through the volumes of stuff I own. I've got so much stuff; and I need to purge a lot of it in order to reorganize this space, my childhood room in the house my Dad designed, so that it will become my own once again.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

This is IT: A tribute to the Class of 2008 at Harvard University

I just wanted to share a speech I entered for Class Day at Harvard that unfortunately did not get selected. Regardless, I think it expresses something we've all felt throughout our experience here and in this last week of insanity. I tried on my cap and gown tonight and I definitely had that shiver of recognition of the end/beginning of things. Enjoy.
-S


Congratulations. You made it. And what a glorious moment it is. But I can guarantee that you, the Class of 2008, have all been here, in this moment, before. And I quote:
“Dear Mr. Zebrowski-Rubin
I am delighted to inform you that the Committee on Admissions and Financial Aid has voted to offer you a place in the Harvard Class of 2008.”

And you probably thought, at that moment: this is it. You, the number one student of whatever high school you attended, got into the world-famous, top-notch, ticket-to-success Harvard University. You made it through the SATs, the APs, the IBs, the extracurriculars and the sports. Now, you would find yourself among a sea of 1700 number-one students from across the country and the world. And thus began the journey through Harvard.

After a year of owning up to the fact you were a tourist attraction, adjusting your eyes to the flash of photos and telling yourself, “I really am at Harvard” you had to pick a concentration (or major for the outside world). At the end of Freshman year, I panicked, I really had to decide what to study. Initially thinking I would study Engineering, Psychology or Philosophy, after two semesters at Harvard, I had discovered that the math was far beyond highschool level and had words in it, psychology was an actual science not some dream of leather chair counseling, and philosophy involved overturning large abstract concepts using logic. I decided to meet with my Freshman Dean, Dean Mancall. I met with Dean Mancall 4 or 5 times.

In and out of these meetings, I wandered the concentrations, looking for the right fit: English? History? Literature? What about History AND Literature? But I soon realized that I learned best with pictures and settled on Art History joined with Italian Studies just for kicks. And at that moment, with concentration decided, I thought: this is it.

But at each new turn, came new challenges. Papers, problem sets, core classes, section, blocking groups, changing concentrations, changing concentrations again… and just when you thought you could relax, watch another YouTube video, Facebook stalk that special someone, or chat up an acquaintance at the Lamont CafĂ©, there was more work, longer papers, more problem sets, more classes, tutorials, and finally, what you thought would be the pinnacle of your Harvard career, a thesis. And if you wrote a thesis, after you handed in that 50- to 120-page sucker, you also thought: this is it. But it, as you can probably tell by now, really isn’t it at all.

And so, today, we hit that nondescript two-letter word again, and we label this moment: it. What is it this time? The end of a very expensive education? The end of a four-year paper-writing friend-making party? Or is it something else? Is this, indeed, the start of the rest of our lives? Is this the part of the story where we, the Class of 2008, grow up? In this it moment are all those moments of triumph from the past four years where we thought this is it: from our first wide-eyed glance up the stately columns of Widener library to that moment we put down the pen in our last exam. As we move on towards our next it moment in our lives, let us take the time to remember all those that came before.

Sure, that 20-page paper wasn’t always an easy late-night, day-before creation, and we haven’t always been frolicking joyously through the tasks and requirements Harvard set for us, but the substance of this place: where no question is too big to be asked or tackled and where students arrive with sharp minds for learning have made it a worthwhile journey.

Just think of how lost you were when you first wandered into Widener stacks looking for Pusey… or remember how awed you were hearing the names of the professors who taught here, no remember instead how awed you were speaking to those professors that teach here, or recall again how talented/intelligent/artistic or take your choice of praise-slathering adjective your classmates are… or bring to mind the gratification you felt joining the Boston community the year the Red Sox broke their 86-year losing streak and went all the way, and don’t forget the gratification you felt three years later when they did it again.

Most of all, however, wrapped up in all the it moments of Harvard are the classmates and friends who sat next to us in core classes or stretched meal times out to an hour or two. Sure, Harvard has the largest undergraduate library in the country, and a jaw-droppingly impressive roster of professors, but the students, your classmates, these kids sitting next to you, these are the people who populated and created the Harvard experience. I think it safe to say that you will be hard-pressed to find an environment filled with such intelligent, driven, multi-tasking, multi-talented colleagues. This may be it, but look around you… we are it, a crowd of students, teeming with talent and popping with potential, both past, present and future.

Freshman year, you might have thought that you were a whole other brand of it, that you were the mistake, the kid who shouldn’t have gotten in. But here we are, all graduating tomorrow. Secretly, those kids that thought they were the mistake are now thinking Haha, suckers, I got through… Truth is, each and every one of the members of the Class of 2008 here assembled has made it, we all graduate, cap-and-gowned, tomorrow. We all know how capable we are: all of us have an incredible drive, commitment to hard work and some carefully honed talent that we will continue to bring with us.

Whether you’re headed to Wall Street to take on the Dow Jones, back home to reconnect with family, around the world to travel, to pursue an introductory foray in unemployment, or chase after a dream that can’t be recruited, each and every one of us has a four year Harvard experience, full of it moments. Besides the HBomb we now have as ammunition, Harvard has given each of us a valuable and formative education. Regardless of what classes we took, if you wanted to Count People or just engage in some Loitering, if you wanted to make your Psychology, Positive or become a Medical Detective, we have, with Harvard’s help, continued to nurture that thirst for questions that doubtless got us here in the first place.

I remember in my meeting with Dean Mancall, I kept saying that at the end of 4 years I wanted to have read the classics, done multivariable calculus, been exposed to world religions, etc. etc. My refrain was: after 4 years, after 4 years, after 4 years. And here I am, after 4 years, and only now do I remember what Dean Mancall told me: “Your undergraduate education will, hopefully, only be the beginning. You may not satisfy the academic checklist you set out for your education. It is only the first 4 years.” And he was right. I will leave Harvard tomorrow perhaps a little wiser, maybe a little more popular, and a lot more qualified. But I will also leave with that constant questioning, drive, and love of books that I and we have had all our lives. These instincts, which make us all the intelligent and on-point capable people we are, have, with the help of inquisitive classmates and encouraging professors, come to a nurtured fruition here at Harvard and, as a consequent, can only continue.

So, Class of 2008, this is, indeed, it. But sit tight, because this IT is only the beginning.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

drugged out and... fashionable?


Right before I left for March Break, I decided to enter this modeling competition. It was a total shot in the dark, but it's something I had always toyed with in my mind. The competition was being put on by Vmagazine and Ford modeling agency, thus, I deemed it credible and worth a shot. Over the next 2 months, I rallied some friends to vote for me, who rallied their friends to vote for me and I managed, in the popular vote to stay in the top 12. A good showing.

Ultimately, though, the final decision of picking three finalists (from a pool of over 1000) came down to industry professionals. Let me just say that I am not bitter at their decision. It is what it is. And it is symptomatic of the fashion industry in this moment... supposedly. They picked three white boys from Ohio, Alabama and Tennessee, all in their teens, all 6'1". According to the official rules, the selection criteria, determined by "a panel of judges...consisting of individuals from the modeling, casting, fashion, and fashion magazine industry... [will judge the finalists]... on the following criteria: (i) the Finalist’s “match” with the current modeling and fashion industry “look”, and (ii) the originality, creativity, appropriateness to subject matter and sincerity of the Personal Statement." Now, while all three of these boys match up in their look, their personal statements definitely lack orginality, creativity and appropriateness to subject matter and sincerity. They read (i) "Thought I'd give it a shot" (http://www.vmagazine.com/vmanmodel_viewprofile.php?model=7674), (ii) "This is a dream of mine. I love Hedi!! [Hedi Slimane the photographer for this contest]" (http://www.vmagazine.com/vmanmodel_viewprofile.php?model=7671), and (iii) "Because I look good" (http://www.vmagazine.com/vmanmodel_viewprofile.php?model=7670).

If anything, the personal statements are cliched, taciturn and boring/arrogant. That set aside, because we all know how much fashion models actually talk, let's check out their look.

My mother responded "they all look like druggies" when shown their pictures. "Crack, Meth and Budweiser" responded someone else. They all share a sort of scrawny muscular bad boy not intimidating types who could be spotted on a street corner in a hoodie, smoking a cigarette. I thought this look was done? Didn't Lindsay Lohan and co. exhaust the checked out of life (nudge nudge wink wink) stereotype? I knew the industry was favoring a skinnier model with a less A&F look, but I didn't think that the men were still catching up with the women of pop culture and were stuck in rehab. Drugs and drug addiction isn't something to joke about but, somehow, the paparazzi has forced its way into the personal lives of the stars and caught them in their lowest of low moments and turned it into an en vogue look.


Maybe it is just my taste, but I'd like to see it done with a little class. It might be nice to see these boys modelling something else besides their bare chests in horribly pixelated images.

While I will go on my merry way and pursue jobs and maybe continue to pursue modelling, I can't help but feel the competition was a little capricious in its being carried out. With over 1000 contestants, I definitely wasn't counting my chickens... and I know the contest could have gone any way. Why did Calvin Klein pull out half way through the competition to be replaced by Diesel? Why wasn't the contest period thought out so that it didn't have to be pulled back, impromptu, by two weeks? Why was there a major open call for models throughout the USA DURING an online competition? Why were the final three lumped all together in the rankings online, nos. 949-951? Why did the location of the final selection change both in date and location (from NYC to LA) during the competition? The fickle nature of the rules may also just be symptomatic of the fickle nature of the industry...

All that said, there were definitely a sizeable number of stunning guys in this competition. Flip through the pages yourself: http://www.vmagazine.com/vmanmodel_topten.php. In the end, the look someone searched for in the competition can go any way. It is subjective, it is unpredictable. If these three men that the panel of judges selected is the look the industry currently seeks (because, you and I both know their personal statements didn't win them the competition), I am fairly confident that I will continue being myself until elegant, classy and intelligent comes into vogue.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

people come and go, but the vibe remains the same


last night was my final spoken word open mic. all week i've stressed a little about the details, the AV, the DJ, the food, the setup, the list, the seniors spotlighted. i also stressed because of the conflicts our event had with others; the female orgasm seminar would be overlapping for the first hour of our show, VES film screenings were happening all night, the Leverett Formal was rockin up the Hyatt that night. but, round wednesday, i realized that whatever the event would be, it would be lovely.

in the past spoken word gatherings filled the kirkland jcr, this large room of rich wood and lush couches and seating. we've usually filled the space. but last night we had a small gathering, at least at first. but it was okay, it was great actually. it was small, it was intimate. i was emceeing the night, trying to be funny, to some avail, but otherwise soaking up the strength of the voices and the images of the poets coming up to the mic. some poets i knew and had worked with, others i and most of the audience had never heard before. oke was even back to perform, leaving his trademark jovial sonorous voice, offering us, once again, the continual supernova of thoughtful expression in his work. jose rocked the beats, liza shared her delicate verse, anna shared her wit, jack whipped out another poem from memory, james brought power. but it was all a wonderful ride, personal, deep, playful, funny, poignant, evocative. over the course of the night, i realized that the vibe of that room, the vibe amongst people expressing themselves, that vibe never changed over the last 4 years.


spoken word has always been a nurturing, warm, open and lovely environment. my fellow senior katie said it best, spoken word was a group of people offering support to each other through expression and creativity. such a beautiful thing. i left in disbelief. i was the last person to be in kirkland jcr that night, the room gone silent again after such beauty of expression. and that was it. i came home not knowing what to feel, knowing that regardless of the honors i receive when i graduate or the prizes i do or do not win, spoken word has been such a valuable, nurturing space. and once again, as always it refreshed me. it may not have been the buzzing packed scene as in years past last night, but the vibe was definitely the same. i read with confidence, works from my past 3-4 years at Harvard up until the most recent works of poetry created for a class this semester. they ranged from love poems (or lack of love), odes to venice, and a commentary on facebook. below i share the poem that caused the most stir, continuing the sharing in a new arena... leaving the Word in the hands of another class of poets, because my time has come to an end.


Halation

You shut the door to the cold outside and shed
your wool layers, peeling back to the core
of the onion. I watch the heat of your body
radiating outwards like the haze of exhaust fumes
from an airplane. I imagine the skin
tones of your flesh beginning to permeate
the threshold of your body. And I see
pigment spreading like the cyclic cloud of cream
in coffee, allowing itself to dance into neutral
colorless territory. The ink of your skin
tone wanders its way towards me like the very
liquid black of my father’s pen sketching
on napkins, following patterns, losing definition.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

PostModern Longing

I miss you. I want to see your face
book profile. I want to read you
my latest posted item. I want to see where you've been
tagged these past months. I don't want to read the writing on the [wall
your wall with all of the flirting suitors. How are you today?
What is your status? You haven't updated me
or your profile picture lately. Where are you?
I miss you.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Save Water... Shower with your Toothbrush?

Last Friday, I couldn't manage to get up. On Mondays and Fridays I work from nine to noon at the GSD Library in the Visual Resources Department. But last Friday, Stefan and his bed were pretty inseparable. Somehow I had found that niche where supreme comfort reigned. It's come to that time of the year where I've slept in my bed for so long that there is probably some sort of indentation that remembers my body just right.

Anyways... so I hadn't been on time for work lately and, last Friday, nothing was going to get in my way of arriving at 9 on the dot. Once I had the cognitive capacities to roll out of bed and head to shower (some things I won't give up), I decided the only way to get out of here in time would be to brush my teeth in the shower.

Maybe lots of people do this, but I'd never done it before. I've gotta say, it was an awesome new sensation. Minty freshness while you wash your hair. Wild. Does it actually save water? Maybe. Maybe not. But it does save time. :P

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Ring in Spring, Bring the Color

If anyone knows me, they know I own a pair of robin's egg blue canvas pants, a pair of neon green corduroy pants, a pink/purple sweater, and a dirty orange blazer. I don't shy away from color. A varied palette of colors was something I learned from the Italians. It may be the fact that it's springtime, or perhaps the general populace has been brainwashed by J. Crew, but I've noticed that strong colors are definitely hitting hard this season.

My roommate Shivani works her colors marvelously, maybe it has to do with the Indian roots, maybe it has to do with the sexy artistic person she is, but her wardrobe (when not pajamas :P) often pack a punch. Three simple items that literally pop into mind are her bright red and bright yellow coats along with her boppin' blue leggings. Adding these things to an outfit, she pops from a crowd with confidence, color and oomph. Girls can easily pull of loud colors because they have more variety to work with, but can boys?


The other day I was catching up on my guilty-pleasure TV show, Gossip Girl and noticed that a similar vibrancy of color had crept into the wardrobe of Chuck Bass. In the intro paragraph of the show, Chuck sports a bright orange trenchcoat. Bright orange, like highlighter orange, just bordering on traffic cone orange. But somehow he pulls it off.


While the upscale girls also pull off bright yellow, pink and green coats and colorful headbands, for some reason the daring palette and the male sex don't seem to associate normally in North America. But why not? Birds do it. Cardinals, for example, give the males bright red coats while the females are boring and grey. Peacocks too endow the men with scintillating pompous-worthy feathers and leave the women with nothing much to strut around. While I don't want to argue for men primping more than the ladies, I think men should be entitled to a little fashion power.


Chuck not only sported the orange trenchcoat, later in the episode he wore a bright red riding-inspired coat (with black trim on the collar) and to top it all off, with simply a glimpse at the episode's conclusion, he mix-matched a pink/purple shirt with green collar, a purple cardigan and oh so big-bird yellow pants. Totally wild? Sure. It definitely is saturation to the extreme. But, I dunno, I kinda like it. What do I say? Kudos to the stylist on the set of Gossip Girl. Bring on the color, men, be bold, be ballsy, go nuts. I know I intend to.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Taking a Sinister Turn

Last night, I rejoiced. Finally, I could make one of Susan's gigs. Every time Susan's band, The Sinister Turns, has had a gig in the past few months, I've been busy, or out of town, or on the moon, or sick, or needing to sleep, or whatever. The heavens have been particularly unfavorable. But, last night, after the most glorious of sun-shining days, I could make it.

Now the gig was in the Quincy Cage. And all I knew about the Quincy Cage was that it was in the basement of Quincy. Perhaps there was a staircase that just went downwards from the Dining Hall? There used to be. No more. So I started snooping around, being, of course, too confident in my manly ways to ask for directions. I took the elevator down.

When I got to the lower level, I heard music. But as I waited a bit and wandered, I knew the sound of trumpets and guitars definitely wasn't the type of gig I was looking for. I had found the Harvard Mariachi Band. Right. They're fantastic but I came here to support Susan, not the Mariachis! So I went to the end of the hallway. Nada. Maybe the other way? And sure enough I got to the cage to the jamming and multi-musical skills of FunkHarp (www.funkharp.com), a really fun band. And within an hour, The Sinister Turns took to the stage in all their giddy energy and fun songs. So happy to hear them live. Unfortunately, if you want to hear them you're just going to have to check out their myspace page: http://www.myspace.com/thesinisterturns.

Maybe someday, the heavens will be favorable for you too and you'll hear them live :P