Tuesday, July 23, 2013

iPad iPhone iDon'tKnow and iDon'tCare

Well, my career as an Apple product user was short lived - the iPhone is broken.  Not beyond repair, it's just that the little slot where the sim card goes is busted so I cannot put my sim card in it any more (I took the sim out yesterday and put it in my old phone because the iPhone ran out of battery and I was trying to schedule babysitting so didn't have time to wait for it to charge)
So it is a perfectly functioning phone...with no sim card rendering it useless.  I went to the Apple store today to try and get it fixed and the techie guy there that I talked to could not grasp the problem at all and merely suggested I try another Apple store.  Ironically the section of the store where you go to get your things repaired is called the Genius Bar.  Based on that man's advice I wish them to rename it the Thank You Captain Obvious Bar.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Vegan like Sunday morning

Vegan pancakes with chocolate banana coconut sauce.


So that's what...exactly 21 days (with ONE cheat day)

Look at me go!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Meet the Rhythm Titans

Miller and Ben Triple Threat tap shoes, built like a 4x4 vehicle, ring like a gong, thud like a sledgehammer and slide like an ice hockey puck.

Shit Vegans Say

Phrases I come out with since I started eating vegan include:

'I burned my hand on my lentils!'

'Excuse me does this coconut milk dessert have any dairy in it?'

'I will come but I won't order anything'

'I NEED to go to Trader Joe's, I'm out of almond milk'

'Oh my gosh I can eat this cereal bar! This cereal bar is vegan!'

And some of the delicious and nutritious things I get to eat:

Strawberry ice cream made with coconut milk IS AMAZING

As is my potato kale and mushroom stir fry for tomorrow's lunch

As these lentil burgers will be when I've finished making them

And my new favourite alternative to crisps are baked green pea sticks nomnomnom

Still going, one cheat day so far in almost three weeks! So impressed with myself.  If I was in England I wouldn't do this, but it's a good way to avoid all the extra hormones and crap in the animals here.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Censorship and the City

We had a meeting for the store workers last week to kick off the new semester.  When asked about any ideas we had I suggested we begin a store Twitter account - all the employees could have the login details and be able to post about merchandise, deals, contests, alumni updates, pictures and general fun stuff.  We've been talking about this for a while - the library has one, admissions has one and the school in general has one.  The library is our closest comparison - their Twitter feed is really only for current students and alumni to follow, they post funny things, videos that they make, pictures, competitions to win free sheet music etc etc - it is a good way to keep in touch with the school community.  The library like the store is a school hub where students gather every day.
With approval from the manager I opened an account last week.  My fellow employees were happy to have a way to give the store a personality and promote it a little.  People began posting - we had pictures of us at work, news about when we would be throwing out food that people could come and grab for free, shout outs to people who had recycled their coffee cups, congratulations to graduates performing in shows.  Our followers included the afternoon receptionist, the financial aid guys, the library and several students and a couple of alums.  People were becoming aware and my managers were happy about the way it had excited the workers about representation for the store.

Until today when marketing came by and told us it had to be shut down because 'something inappropriate had been posted'

  1. Congrats to the ........... current 4th semesters and grads who killed it at the Mamma Mia call today!
  2. coming to the Stratford arms our new ............. mini store
  3. just gave a fabulous presentation of the store to future student Emily and her mom Candace
  4. Hey everyone!!! You should follow the !! Why? Because I work there!
  5. Hello to my friend at the !!! You are the nicest kids in town :) (ooh ooh ohh oooohh)
Was it one of these things, Mr Marketing Department? I can see how this content would be considered inappropriate...no, no I can't.

Our assistant manager went to talk to Mr Marketing and when he asked what specifically was inappropriate they were unable to provide examples.
Later on he received an email to say yes, it did have to be shut down, the company that runs the online store already has a Twitter and this one was superfluous.

*Cue Tessa's rage*

Noone knows about the online store.
The online store is mostly relevant for people who do not yet attend the school.  The company running it have no connection to the school.  They do not know the students or what is happening in the building that day.
The aim of our Twitter was to make ourselves a stronger part of the school community - this is a generation of young people currently in attendance who are all about social media and connecting with each other in that way.  Being able to tweet @ their school is part of our version of school spirit - we don't have sports games that they can cheer at or teams representing us in competitions.
It was also a good way to get all the workers involved in something fun - it bonds us as a team, having a project that we are all involved in, as the rotating shift schedule means you only ever see a couple of the other employees every time you work.
It was a way to get the persona of the store out there - to make it not just a taken-for-granted convenience but something with a pulse that matters to the people who go there.

Perhaps it seems silly to expect a Twitter to do all that but you know what? It was already working. Having it shut down makes me feel like the Machine thinks we don't matter.  The parts of that Machine come by every day for their sandwiches and their iced teas and their protein bars.  To have something be successful it is important that the people behind it take pride in it.  Our crew was taking pride in the store but those in power clearly don't.  It is unjust and unprompted.
What happens then to the library Twitter? From a marketing perspective it is as irrelevant for them to have one as for us.  They are purely internal as are we - current students and those already graduated alone will benefit from knowing what is going on their (or from seeing their friends and peers in silly fun videos).  Will the library Twitter have to go too? And the Instagram? And the Pinterest? If we're talking superfluous then surely three - in fact I think there's more - social networking sites for one school organisation is too much.  If that's how we're playing.
Perhaps the company running the online store would like to come and spend a couple of weeks getting to know all the students, faculty and grads who we see on a daily basis so they can actually have some relevance to the people they will supposedly be representing.

I have avoided saying the name of the institution at which this today occurred, and have also blanked it from the Twitter messages.  Apparently that is now necessary to protect my interests and perhaps they would sue me for mentioning the name if this was seen by any of them.  Gosh I hope it is.

I am biting my tongue hard...and weighing up the pros and cons of putting forth a prepared and reasonable argument to prove that this is, err, bullshit.

Just in case I missed something inappropriate here are some of the pictures Tweeted.  You be the judge.


A sandwich that we used in a pun
Fruit and muffins
The charming Anik
The store
A first semester who was having a stressful day but was happy to smile for us

Vulgarity in the extreme.

Dear Machine,
At least if you want to shut something down, don't be a vile coward and lie to our faces about the reasons why.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Summer nights and Fourth of July

A wonderful New York summer weekend with people who count...introducing some new characters

Lola having a little dance to celebrate America's independence from...well...us

The heat

Park snacks!

Just chilling

This is Nico Baumgartner (Spain/Finland...I think!) and Isabel (Brazil)

Ruth (Czech Rep) unwillingly photographed

Ruth...decided to chase a dragonfly with mixed results

The melon that Lauren was craving all afternoon  and Sam showed up with later on so she cut it up and ate it with a plastic knife and fork.  Turns out 'melon' to British people means nothing to the rest of the World, Isabel couldn't understand what we were talking about.  'Cantaloupe' would've worked.

Lauren Lola Sam...three of my care team!

157th St on our way out...

And at Bourbon St in Hells Kitchen

And at 50th St on the way home!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Shake it out


Agenda for today's meeting

Item 1: Dad's visit
Item 2: The saga of the heat
Item 3: Vegantime
Item 4: Oy! Brasil!
Item 5: A 100% non-American 4th of July
Item 6: Chi
Item 7: Mystery item

Item 1

The whirlwind of activity that was the transatlantic intergenerational Fairey visit! Woah, we did STUFF.
Soaking up the sun, ice cream, the High Line park, bus tour, Governor's Island, Savion Glover, a little shopping, Williamsburg wandering, flea market, beer tent, plus Daddy did some stuff on his own when I worked/babysat so his itinerary was truly packed.  It's nice to get to be a tourist for a few days because obviously I'm settled here enough that I don't always spend time seeking out things to do, sometimes I'll just settle for something I already know or go to someone's apartment, y'know.  It's good to be able to refresh your view of the place you live, especially when it's this place, and try new things - I've never taken an open air bus tour full stop so that was a nice first.  Also interesting in this city, where the traffic and pedestrians on the street below you can provide equal entertainment to the tour itself, especially when you're headed south down Broadway and a siren is yowling behind you, then you get to watch all the standstill cars trying to wiggle their way out of it's path with varying degrees of success...good grief.  Bus tour is a great idea on a HOT day because you can just sit back and chill as the sights go by plus it's a little cooler up on the top deck than it is down in the madding crowd.  I also really enjoy chances to see familiar sights in New York from new angles - the Empire State Building from directly underneath in a bus is a whole different story.  And the many very old buildings especially around Soho and Chinatown yield brand new findings when you are almost level with their higher floors - actual dates engraved telling you just how old, incredibly intricate carving, Greek revival decor, statues on the sides of buildings I've passed a million times but never seen.
I've also never been to Governor's Island before, which I am planning to do again as soon as the opportunity strikes.  It's a great place to spend a day or few hours when you want a little respite from the city.  There are no cars, and there's something distinctly National Trusty about it which as far as I'm concerned can only be a wonderful thing.  You can enjoy lots of green grass, learn about the history of the island as a fort, military outpost and one time jail from way back when New York first began to now, they have a number of art initiatives and small exhibitions in the small houses once used for military families.  And having been there I finally have a grasp of what 'American Colonial' means.  Oh and if you're my dad you can also go there to watch me suffer whilst eating jerk chicken that tastes so good but is reeeally spicy.

Savion Glover I can't even talk about - I'll need a whole separate discussion about him.

Williamsburg again is a nice place to see the city and skyline from an alternative perspective (so is Governor's Island and the ferry that take you there) and it is a totally different vibe from Manhattan - it feels like a real neighbourhood, the roads are smaller and buildings are not high.  They also, apparently, close off streets and lay down turf for people to sit on so that a Cajun music trio can set up on a crossroads.  Y'know.  Whilst in the nabe we visited my new favourite tiny discovery, the City Reliquary - a little mini museum housing a collection of, yes, NYC relics including rock samples from subway tunnels when they were first built, a newsstand from the 70s, baseball memorabilia, a turnstile from 1950s Yankee Stadium, signs and notices of all kinds and currently a small exhibit on the Coney Island velodrome - which I never knew was a thing but turns out it was a actually kind of a big deal.  And all the bikes were made in Birmingham, word up.
Things like that are my favourite.  We also explored the ever-expanding Brooklyn Artists and Fleas, a sprawling market set up every Saturday with a wealth of artisan goods (like all those kind of things you can't expect most merch to be affordable but they're still really cool/original/beautiful/fun - like Portobello Market or something) and they also have all kinds of food inc my new love Vietnamese rolls nom nom...the line was sadly too long.  But we were able to get beer and hot dogs in a tent where we were joined by Lola and Maite.

Of course being English we - especially me - had to take care to suncream up and wear hats and have water whilst trekking all over the place in the crazy this brings me nicely on to

Item 2: THE HEAT

It's hot here.  Really hot.  Really feckin hot.  Melting on a daily basis.  And in 2C we are in a ventilation-free situation, almost - there is an air conditioner but it's highly ineffective and it will send the electricity bill rocketing.  There is also a fan - or there was, until one of our subletters announced that it had been promised to her and took it into her room.  So Lola got a new one which we are returning because it is of very little use.  She and I could use one in our room at night as sleeping in this heat is tough sometimes, and this new in theory would do the job - except it only rotates on about 45 degrees so the air flow either reaches just one of us all the time, or neither of us.  To deal with the heat last night we actually got the sofabed out and both slept there with this one fan so we could both get the benefit.
I am lucky in that I am mysteriously bite-free - poor Lola was being viciously attacked every night by mossies which left me completely alone.  In the same room! Talk about picky.  She is now armed with anti-mosquito devices and after-bite treatments.
As much as many complain about the heat I love it - I don't love the feeling of being sweaty and sticky, noone does, but ahhhh...the sun blazing down on you, even when I'm on my way to work I feel like I'm on holiday.  One of the many benefits of being raised in England, I suppose - sun/heat are synonymous with going abroad and the summer holidays.

Item 3: Vegantime *Tessa takes a break to eat a snack*

You heard, vegantime.  I have been having a vegan week and it looks like it's going to extend for another week and...who knows?
I decided to do this at the end of the week that Dad left.  While he was here I got to indulge in cake, ice cream, beer, y'know.  Not that I never indulge otherwise but it's been a while.  So one reason was to give myself a semi-detox.  But the main reason is because I am and it seems will ever be at war with my skin - both my hands and my face suffer from various conditions and I am quite frankly sick of it - but that's a whole nother blog post.  Having researched and consulted a number of sources I thought trying a vegan diet might do some good.
So, at the end of week one, what have I learned? All good stuff.  I have enjoyed being creative with what I eat - for example, just now I was craving something sweet so I put a banana, some coconut cream (thank you Trader Joe's) and some cocoa powder in the blender with a handful of chia seeds for their high nutrient content, whizzed it all up and enjoyed a delicious tropically chocolatey shake containing only ingredients that do some kind of good, no added sugar etc etc.  Also it naturally encourages you to up your veg intake to feel full.  I am also certain that is is doing my skin good - my right hand which for almost a year now has been wracked in it's own individual chronic eczema-type thing looks better than it has since before Christmas and I'm not needing to slather it in hand cream every 5 minutes which I was having to do just to get away from the constant discomfort and soreness.  It is highly impractical to perform most day-to-day tasks with a thick coating of lotion, it will get on everything.  My face, while still breaking out, is doing so less vehemently and apart from the breakouts it is more radiant than it was.  I also feel light and detoxed, I have lost weight without really trying at all.
Other fun things I've eaten as a vegan:
Peanut butter, banana and almond milk smoothie
Dried mango slices as a good take-anywhere snack
Roasted Mediterranean veggies with falafel and rice
Burrito with beans, spicy coconut cream-based sauce, jalapeno hummus, green peppers and tomatoes
Avocado on toast
Root vegetable crisps
Kale chips
Coconut milk ice cream
Potato and leek bake
DELICIOUS cold vegan dumplings oh my I need to remember where I got those
And more stuff besides.
I thought I would complete my week and be gagging for some cheese, cupcakes, a steak etc but actually I feel good to carry on...I think I will carry on until I do have a huge craving and then sure, I'll have whatever it is I feel like...if I can get to somewhere in between my normal diet and this past week then I think that'll be pretty good.


Another visitor from another country, my friend Eduardo Moura of Brazil, a former Loftstelite, is here! He has come for a month to take video editing classes at NYU and he's living in Bed Stuy around the corner from our old shared home, n'aww.  We met yesterday and wandered and talked and wandered and talked for about 4 hours, catching up, reminiscing, being grown ups in Starbucks and drinking juice out of a carton. He is one my all-time favourites as he always has something funny to say - no matter what you're talking about he can manage to take you onto some weird twisted off-topic craziness until you're like 'yes the Pope and Whoopi Goldberg...what were we talking about???' So another month of that to go, can't wait!

Item 5: Fourth of July - 
Know what, this one is all about the pics.  Which are on Lola's phone.  So til she gets home I will hold off.
The general idea: England Brazil Mexico Canada Scotland Spain Scotland Czech Republic England!

Item 6: Chi

I had this whole blocked chi theory, remember that? Yes.  Well it's still a thing.  I've had things to do, work, babysitting, dancing, a social life and friends for which I am eternally grateful, but lately it's been a little quiet - very few auditions going on and I've been in a bubble of work and babysitting which means I leave in the morning and come home in the evening sometimes pretty late and life sort of goes on around me without me ever actually doing it...if that makes sense.  So today when I was not scheduled for work I decided to get into my life and deal with a few things.  This means finally organising the growing pile of papers next to my bed.  This means cleaning out my makeup bag.  This means spending a day with a clean face sans makeup.  This means folding and hanging clothes, writing this blog and getting my guitar out to play around with.  Actually dealing with life instead of apathetically letting it pile up around you as you move through it in autopilot is the number one chi unblocker, probably, I don't know I am not a zen master but that makes total sense to me.

Item 7: Mystery item...let's make this the iPhone.

I have an iPhone.  It wasn't my idea.  Sam has given me his old one with much support from my dear Pater, harumph.  So far I have used it about twice...it is taking so long to transfer all my contacts and get rid of all the old ones that more often than not it's easier for me to just use my phone.  When I have used it I am mostly confused...I can text and call just fine of course, but the many other little icons that promise to lead me to other functions mostly confuse me.  I don't know what they all are or why I need them all.  I would like Whatsapp so that any time I am in a wifi zone I can message my people at home with ease.  It will take me a lot of adjusting.  It is great to have a phone with a back...but I'm not sure I like the feeling of being another iPhone with a human attached to it.  We will see...

A little of the company I keep...girls just wanna have fun.