Saturday, December 27, 2014

Christmess

Merry Christmas!

This is the post-Christmas and Boxing Day post.

I will share my pictures from Christmas Day but honestly I didn't take that many...you'll see why!

This is my Christmas Story.....


I'm staying at Anel and Maite's and I brought in my own decorations:D This is this year's Christmas Tree
Cards, wine, clementines, candles...beginning to look a lot like Christmas

My present from Jacob and Naty's presents from me under the tree
Christmas Eve: Naty's first Christmas cracker!


What we ate for most of  the day
One part of my AMAZING Buffy the Vampire Slayer gift from my AMAZING roommate Jacob - Sunnydale High School tshirt (the school Buffy attended) GO RAZORBACKS




As the day progressed things started to look like this...yes that's toblerone
And like this

We however remained in our PJs looking like this


Until we GOT DRESSED AND WENT TO FIFTH AVENUE
To see all the pretty lights

It was very crowded
The Rockefeller Centre Tree


CHRISTMAAAAAAS


And we made it home and continued eating drinking and being merry...we watched Love Actually, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and an independent movie that I forgot the name of.  

I'm delighted to have spent the evening and day with Natalia Ivana Escobar my dear dear Argentinian, who recently received her visa!!! So she and I had extra reason to celebrate.  She is a wonderful friend and understands me far too well which is what made her such a great partner in Christmas.
Huge thanks for my mum and Granny for the lovely lovely gifts that I can't wait to wear, Shirin Tinati for all the donated makeup and clothes, Anel for my Felix Felicis, the Evens for their great card and gift, Sara Sugihara for taking me to the theatre and dinner AND the gifts...so many people taking care of me, it's unbelievable.
All my love to family and friends who have made my year fantastic and given me plenty of reason for joy, peace and goodwill!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Tapuary

My friend and giver of opportunities and choreographer Katie Pettit has done me the honour and the solid of asking me to join her in the Peridance Faculty Showcase for which she submitted a tap duet that got accepted into the showcase the other day.  We had a fab and very tiring rehearsal last night before she headed west for the holidays and I have a lot of material to work in her absence ready to pick up again in Jan for a Feb show.  Yipeeeee!

Miss Motivator

So...one night, hanging out at Lauren's enjoying some ice cream, beers, Spotify ya know jus' chillin...things got...a little weird. When we get together we often spend a lot of time bemoaning out lack of time/motivation/energy for going to the gym or otherwise exercising. Well she bemoans not having those things, I just like to complain about gyms and 'working out' in general, since I am vehemently against them (I love sports I hate working out, two different things) I do like food though. Junk food. Delicious, tasty, junk food. The conversation about exercise + the 90-second intervals between my thinking about some kind of indulgent food = .....well, take a look at what it =. So I made all those ones and a few days later Lauren and I were hanging out at my place, enjoying some wine and pizza, Youtube ya know jus' chillin...and I thought of something I hadn't tried yet. This time Lauren just looked at me and rolled her eyes (she was the one who came up with the beer drinking leg lifts above) And so began and ended my career as an exercise guru. Although I will say one of those videos got over 1000 views and all of them were very 'liked' on the Book of Face so perhaps I'm onto something. Mostly I just relished the chance to briefly unite the large but not very vocal community of people who are not exercise addicts/exercise braggers. And make fun of those who are. Yay sandwich knees!

Now light one thousand Christmas lights



Our lovely living room 'tree' designed and created by Jacob and Eric

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Recent haps

I've been back in  NYC over a month now.  Here's what's been going on!

I have babysat lots, right now it's Hannukah so the family is celebrating each evening - I thought Halloween was the hardest time to be a babysitter in the US because the house is full of trick-or-treating sweets and chocolate and it's hard to not munch them all the time.  Wrong: it's Hannukah because the house is full of delicious food but noone can touch it because it's for the candle lighting which happens at night.  Ahhh temptation!

I have enjoyed nights in with friends and roommates (and a few days too).  In the spirit of scrimping and saving I'm basically avoiding going out.  I really want to, I love to go out and find things to do but even if you go out to do something free or very cheap, you will end up needing to spend money on food eventually, or a metrocard or something.  Hey, at least it's warm in my place! Lots of Netflix, some arts and crafts, some pizza nights.  It's all good.

Iiiii have got something new that I'm very excited about but I want it to be a surprise so...no more on that now!

I have equipped myself with winter boots so I now have two fantastic pairs and am ready for the vicious despot that is winter in NYC.  Of course now that I've done that, it's gone a bit milder with no precipitation.
Whatever.

YESTERDAY I sat on the subway next to.........BRADLEY COOPER


Yeah.  This dreamboat.  Phwoar.  Star of movies like Silver Linings Playbook, The Hangover, that other movie he was in...yeah I've only seen one movie with him in it (Silver Linings) it's good.  Just because I don't know his work doesn't mean I can't appreciate a fine figure of a famous film star.  He's in town doing The Elephant Man on Broadway.
I sit down, realise it's Bradley Cooper and internally think 'what a great day' but externally obviously do nothing.  He's just a guy, he's taking the train, he's going to work.  I'm on the train every day with hundreds of people doing the same thing and I don't randomly talk to them and nor they to me.  Thank heavens.
I have told a bunch of people about this.  It's a fun story, it's fun that we all unite over our crushes on Bradley Cooper.  It is not going to harm him in any way.  What I do find weird is that people asked me 'oh did you talk to him? You should have got an autograph! Did you say hi?'...........err.....no.  Because of aforementioned 'just a guy going to work' scenario.  I can't believe people really truly have that mindset.  I've gone up to precisely two famous people in my life and spoken to them.  When I was 15 Graham Norton gave me his autograph.  I truly do love him and I treasure that memory, he was super nice about it.  Last year I saw a cast member of Orange is the New Black in Buffalo Exchange and I told her that I loved the show.  I felt pretty dumb about it afterwards, honestly.  What are people expecting me to say to Bradley Cooper chilling on the subway on his way to work? 'Hi you're incredibly well-known and good looking?' That's all I really know about him.  People also said 'oh my god...he takes the subway?'...well, yeah...it's a great method of transport...is he not allowed to take the subway? He's a person, people.  A normal person.  But that doesn't mean just because he's in a public place he is somehow public property.

Which brings me to

I hung with Sam last week, we did a little tapping.  He did a one-night show that he's been in before, it's called Gotta Getta Girl and pictured above are Sam and David Caldwell who is the musical director for the show and also was my class musical director for second semester and an absolute hero of a man.  I absolutely love this guy, he's so great and my favourite accompanist.  So these two rehearsed and I was invited along to hang, watch, contribute a little.  And I went to see the show on Thursday evening, it's uproariously funny, the jokes are non-stop.  I had a lovely evening.
Here's what was weird: while we were at AMDA during the rehearsal, some girl took a picture of Sam through the door.  And people randomly said hi to him.  He's getting more and more well known and the next season of his TV show is filming right now.  He has a lot of fans.  A lot of them showed up to see this show.  I'm looking at it from this side, going 'oh there's Sam, yep just Sam same as ever' but seeing how not ok it is when these kids are doing things like take pictures through doors while he's trying to rehearse, in the broad light of day with absolutely no shame about it.  There are fine lines, it's a contentious topic.





I ascended the stairs behind this lady who I think is me in the future based on her outfit alone - checked trousers and hi tops are a look I've rocked many a time, and I used to have a coat just like that.




I stayed in a crazy hotel room, $700/night, to do a babysitting gig in which I ended up doing no babysitting.  I still got paid.

I saw a lot of this gal who is now back in Scotland for Chrimbo.

We got a Christmas tree in our lobby! We didn't last year.  It's obviously not as good as one from home.  But I'll take it.

I went by the Bryant Park Christmas market and ice rink.  I haven't made it to Rockefeller Tree yet but I will.

The time on my computer is running out so I must leave the library but more Blogathonning to come.


Thanksgiving: One 20-something's journey to turkey

Last Thursday was Thanksgiving. Last year, my friends and I banded together to throw an epic friendsgiving with international potluck, a crazy smorgasbord of dishes, a giant game of charades...it was pretty much the party of the year. This year we did things differently. We are missing a few key characters this time around, people who are not currently in the city or even the country. A couple of friends were working. Trying to replicate last year's raucous festivities wouldn't work. So we went small and traditional. Although it was smaller, this year's celebration was actually a bigger personal triumph for me because, assistance from Anel and Jacob with the shopping aside (and I'm so happy we did it as a team it was hilarious) I did all the actual food part single handed. Wait I lie, Jacob helped me put the turkey in the oven ' those things are heavy and awkward!
But on my own I made: sweet potato mash with brown sugar marshmallow topping (it's a US thing - tasty!), mashed potatoes, carrots, green beans, butternut squash, styffing, cranberry sauce, gravy, an entire 16 lb turkey AND pumpkin pie. And I'm talking from scratch, gravy made from giblets, pie crust and filling all homemade, the cranberry sauce, the works. That entire meal was my masterpiece. I will never stop being wildly proud of it.
Of course the delightful Jacob, Anel and Natalia were there every step, preparing games, helping decorate (I got out last year's paper bag leaf garlands), pitching in with the cleaning up, supplying booze and generally doing the Thanksgiving thing which is to say come together to appreciate what we gave and celebrate our friendships and triumphs. Of course I have a ton of things to be thankful for this year, even more so than usual which is already an awful lot.
Here's just a few:
My visa
The unwavering support of my loved ones during what was a really tough time for me
Having two homes and a crazy extended multinational family
Reconnecting with some of my past and old friends
Letting go of other parts of my past
Stars
Opportunities
The luck that found me my great apartment
The privilege to enjoy a day to gather friends and eat a hearty meal
Oh so much more! Tip of the iceberg, really.  Anyway I know Thanksgiving comes from Pilgrims and Native Americans and a traditional story in which they share a meal YAY but I'm not American so for me it's about all the stuff above.

Oh and drinking, obviously.














Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Blogathon 2014

Much much catching ups to do. I have to cover Thanksgiving, ventures, thoughts, lists, friends, general silliness. This is the intro to a blogathon here goes...

Monday, December 1, 2014

People try to put us down...

I'm just talkin' bout my...GENERAT-ION.

I've done some reflecting on my generation of late. I think I'm supposed to be part of Generation Y.
Things that represent a large sector of my generation really well are YouTube stardom, Tinder, Vine, Instagram, Urban Outfitters, soy lattes, gym selfies and EDM.
Of course there are a bunch more and many of them are not generic or kind of embarrassing. But in the same way you might sum up a 1980s generation with synthesizers, shoulder pads, leggings and blue mascara and perms, I'm going for the most blatant things here.

That's a list of things that does not make me all that happy. It's a list that says 'we want things easy, convenient and instantly gratifying. We don't want to work for what we want, we don't want to develop our own style, we want to feel good about ourselves without having to give up personal pleasures'.

I watch Jenna Marbles videos religiously. She's a YouTube star with no particular skills - I mean she has a psychology degree and is a solid athlete but she doesn't use those in her videos - other than a natural gift for comedy and a firm belief in not caring what others think. I love her, I want to be her best friend, I think the message she puts out is wonderful.
I wish that last statement was about a journalist, or an academic or a firefighter.

Gym selfies reinforce the 'fitness is important for looking hot' mentality dangerously prevalent among young people.  So much internet content is based on saying 'look what I have, look at my life'.

I hate it and yet I am a part of it.  It gives me a lot of inner turmoil.  I'm part of an industry that relies increasingly on the social media that I avoid, and that values high physical standards sending everyone racing to the gym (which I hate) in their Lululemon $90 leggings (which I'm not insane so I won't purchase).
Where's the compromise? I've taken to Twitter in the last couple of days.  I'm seeing how it feels to go 100% against my instincts that tell me 'shut up unless you have something sensible to say' and instead promote myself like a product.  So far it feels weird, fake and unnecessary.  I would like to go against the tide forever and refuse to become entwined in the vapid self-absorption promoted by life-sharing tools.  But not many people will do it with me.  I can't turn the tide alone and, because of the world I have chosen to be a part of that means sometimes I'm going to have to surf the wave.

It makes me mad to even write that.  But I've been fiercely opposing all the things that signify my generation for a while and I'm exhausted.  I'm upset, I'm disappointed in so many of my peers and I'm disillusioned with humans in general.  The humans who are allowing Taylor Swift and Beyonce to be the main females held up as role models, the humans who decided that social media can be a career, the humans who perpetuate the crap in the World by continuing to talk about it (see the recent madness when humans landed a craft on an asteroid but everyone was preoccupied talking about a trashy magazine cover)...BUT I DO IT TOO AND I'M MAD AT MYSELF!

We should all stop feeding the machine.  The trouble is you can't get this kind of message through to a lot of people.  They have been brainwashed by the corporations who told them through advertising that Tinder would bring them love and Vine would make them a star.

Wow this post got really dark...I had a much more reasoned argument planned and then I got angry with the World.

The good news is there is hope...and that hope is IRONIC SELF-AWARENESS


Bah. If anyone needs me I'll be in a cabin in the woods. Or, y'know, hating myself for being an internet user and for wanting to buy things on Black Friday.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Move, b****, git out da way!

I have lots of blog catch up to play. I'm going to start with what I suppose is my thought of the month - I've had this notion in the back if my head almost every day and it's really changing the way I do things and see things.
It is the notion of getting out of my own way. It seems like an obvious thing and I was certainly taught it a lot during my time at AMDA. In acting class or musical theatre especially teachers would tell us to stop overthinking, get out of our own way, just say the line. In that conext I'm totally cool with it, it makes perfect sense. But in the wider arena of life I never really took it on board until very recently.
I'll give some examples to better explain my meaning:
I was getting frustrated at being the main and sometimes only person to clean and generally care about the apartment. Once upon a time I would have felt burning resentment inside, bottled it all up, continued to work my ass off doing the work of four people and become pretty unhappy with my living situation. Why? Because I didn't want to stir anything/its easier if I just do it/I have an overwhelming compulsive need to be the best and that includes being the best at cleaning/etc etc.
I didn't do that. I got out of my way, stopped worrying about what my roommates would say and talked to them. They were completely fine and we came up with a schedule of household tasks. Now everyone is participating in the maintenance of our living space and I feel much better than if I hadn't said anything.
Example two: My new phone.
My old phone was so smashed up that it was about to stop working and I definitely planned to get a new one. For the last four years or so anytime I've needed a new phone which let's face it has been a lot, I've gone and hit the cheapest, most straightforward one possible. Because I couldn't be doing with smartphones, I wanted to spend money on something other than a fancy phone, because I couldn't justify it. Well. This time I spent good money on a Samsung Galaxy S4. It's not the most up to date Android phone but it is brand new and has a ton of space for apps plus decent camera, video camera, microphone and speakers. Because it's not the newest model by a long way it was a good price, though still more than I have ever spent on a phone before.
I got out of my own way, said 'Tessa it is 2014 and your rigid anti-smartphone/technology fearing mentality has valid principles and I know they are important to you but just for once give yourself an easier life' and got a new phone. On it I have: PayPal, OneDrive, two email accounts, Skype, BBC News, an app for weather, an app for the subway, an app for food delivery, Audible, Twitter, Facebook, Whatsapp, fitness apps and best of all -Netflix and Spotify.
No more borrowing devices from friends, no more traipsing to the library to download a document. My life is definitely easier because of this purchase.
Final example: Communicating with employers
My natural state with most employers is to be constantly a bit nervous in case they think I'm a complete spanner. If I get set a task I'm unsure about traditionally I panic for a long time and hope I can work it out alive with then if I do panic that I've fucked it up. I also like to be completely at their mercy regarding my time. You need me to stay longer? Ok. You need me completely last minute? No problem. That's being a good employee, right?
The time I had away from my two employers was like hitting the refresh button on a webpage. I came back stronger and clearer. If I'm not sure about something I'll just frickin ask. I'm frequently unsure about things because my employers, dear to me as they are, have a tendency to be vague. If I've been given a vague instruction but think I can figure it out, I'll trust myself to do it - even if it's not exactly what they were thinking I'm too smart and ingenious to ever shoot more than a couple of centimetres wide of the mark. Essentially I've got out of my own way and stopped being afraid of getting in trouble. I do an amazing job at both my workplaces so there's no reason why anyone would want to chew me out, and because I'm talking to them a lot more if something does go wrong there's a pretty high chance that it's their error not mine.
Getting out of my own way is all about giving myself an easier life. This concept is super alien to me: my mentality is pretty hard-wired to say 'why should I have an easy life? If you didn't struggle for something you don't deserve it'. I think it's a good quality of mine that I understand the value of money and work and I don't expect to be handed things. However it's almost like I've been trying to single-handedly undo the imbalances in the world caused by the privileged few who do have everything handed to them by feeling guilty about anything that makes my life easier. That's not my job. It's everyone's job to be conscious of the world's imbalance. Me giving myself a hard time doesn't actually help anyone, certainly not me.
It's a big step of growing and learning that I'm taking by getting out of my way. And I'm really proud of it so this is really a brag post!
NB written all on my phone:D

Sunday, November 23, 2014

NYsteries

That's supposed to be a clever play using NY to substitute the first two letters of the word mysteries. I guess it only works visually.

Anyway I was in Trader Joe's a little while ago waiting to be sent to my cashier by the cashier-sending-person.
And I heard something you hear a lot in TJ's which is the sound of a bell ringing twice and then someone calls out 'two bells!'
I have no ideas what that means so I thought hey I'll look it up. While I'm at it I think I'd like to debunk some more mysteries of New York that I have found along my way.

1) 'Two bells' means a cashier needs a price check on an item
While I was looking this up I discovered also that every Trader Joe's in the country has a plastic lobster hidden somewhere. There is no known reason so I'll have to be satisfied with finding it.
2) OK I stopped because I am soooo infuriated that the second mystery was completely unravelable. I have researched and researched  and no one seems to have ever documented what the deal is with the small memorial fountain built into the wall of Trinity Cemetery on the corner of 155th and Broadway. Yep, 155th...I know, it's two blocks...but you know what, they are uphill blocks and it is cold out! And I'm just indignant that no one has written anything about it, I found a walking tour map of the entire Trinity Cemetery and there was even a picture of this fountain included on the map... but no description! What the hell!
So, more on this later. Meanwhile I shall eat the banana bread I just made.