Monday, January 21, 2008

Ways To Develop A Third Eye

Hello my friends!

It's been awhile...again, sorry.
So let's hope that rambling & rant about work is somewhat entertaining:

Thought I would share with you my newfound way of developing my third eye- now I don't mean a spiritual insightful third eye, I mean a giant carbuncle smack dab in-between my brows where a third eye would be...a surefire way to do so- work on a big production shooting in Los Angeles & Palm Springs and two other shoots in NYC at the same exact time.

Don't even know where to begin so will just try to relay the succession of work:

-am producing a big shoot with celebrity out in Los Angeles in a modern loft/house, begin looking into locations, flights, hotels and pulling the rest of the crew needed such as photo assts, catering, prop stylists, permits, vehicles...
-shoot in LA gets moved to Sarasota, FL. Start process all over but in Sarasota.
-shoot gets moved back to LA...back to original requests.
-so in the last week, I have been looking at tons of gorgeous homes, but never seemingly right for the clients...we finally find one, but it doesn't have a tennis court...need to find a tennis court, but it has to really nice and it had to be close by...of course the perfect court they love is in a Beverly Hills house, where the logistics of getting everyone from the the first house to BH shouldn't take too long, but because the traffic in BH is a nightmare- the perfect court is nixed and we are back to the drawing board...

I can't go on describing this, it's just tedious- you get the idea. Just picture this process and now also apply it to models that I need to cast for this project and apply this process again to a second catalog shoot in Palm Springs with location, models etc...and of course, there are so many other things to juggle like the celeb that we are shooting is 6'2 and I am trying to find a model that looks like her & has her measurements & plays tennis so that we can have a real look-alike to be the stand-in. There's also the aversion I have to ordering the catering on this shoot- the celeb likes ham & cheese. I have always tried to avoid any pork when I order so that I can at least save the pigs from the shoot...but they are forcing my hand on this one, all animals will be tortured for this one- dairy cows, pigs, chickens. There goes my hope to get catering from M Cafe.

Anyway, needless to say- I'm busy and happy to be this busy, but my stress level is off the charts. No time to cook, so thankfully I can order some good eats from Good Health on the Upper East Side. One night I was so exhausted, having sat in front of the computer for a good eleven hours straight (when you work from home, you never have the change to get up & chat with your co-worker by the water cooler...), my eyes were burning holes in my head. I needed some greens! Ordered a yummy black bean burger & a green veggie ginger juice. Yep, that set me straight again.

And to really set me back on the right path, yummy banana cream pie which doesn't look so pretty and tastes more like banana cheesecake- well whatever, it's vegan, it's creamy and it's good.

My only day working out of home was a big casting callback with clients-hectic, but again, have to make sure to eat right. Sneaky vegan that I am, I made them all order from Spring Street Natural which is a great place in Soho that serves vegan/vegetarian along with poultry & seafood. The clients were all looking to order burgers and such, but I conveniently could not find the other menus...I ordered cornmeal crusted tofu in mango-jicama sauce.
Some of us were really pooped at the end of a callbacks session...

And Booboo sits ever so patiently waiting for me to get up from the computer so that we can play...I always make sure to get some Booboo time in, it's my home office equivalent of gossiping by the water cooler.

Since I started this blog under the guise of a spiritual matter, it is only fair that I admit that this upcoming weekend I have signed up for a full weekend of reiki training. Reiki is a Japanese alternative healing practice similar to the laying on of hands where one channels healing energy towards oneself & to others. It is kind of crazy to sign up for 9:30-6:30 class on Saturday & Sunday the weekend before my production in Los Angeles, but I am sure that I will learn techniques to heal my own stress and that third eye pimple...I had decided after my meditative New Year's Eve experience when I saw colors swirling about my spiritual third eye, that I wanted to get involved in reiki.

Hope everyone has a wonderful week!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Taking A Deep Breath

It's been a headlong rush into the new year. Work has been plentiful and I am not complaining especially since taxes, closing & moving will all be coming up around the same time in the next couple of months- aargh!

Am always grateful to be swamped with work, but anxiety over my schedule is definitely creeping in and unfortunately, I am not big on delegating, but I really need to learn. Besides learning to delegate, I need to make sure to have a little fun to stave off the stress.

One way to relieve work anxiety is to rely on Fcat to prepare a lovely meal, complete with my new favorite beverage, Lambic Framboise which is a very very light Belgian beer flavored with fruit like raspberries. I do not like beer, but the lambic is akin to drinking a smooth fizzy juice drink. I was first introduced to it by my bff (love that acronym-truly a gem of colloquialism), JK when we had dinner at Red Bamboo.
Fcat made my favorite peppers with crostini. The peppers are completely random in their hotness. Happily stuffing my face with yummy peppers, I suddenly experienced a heat so painful that I could do nothing but walk in circles for several minutes in between spoonfuls of Tofutti sour cream & rice (never drink water to calm the burn- it spreads the heat!). Glad that I had gotten a few peppers in before being forced to stop.

Fcat had also veganized a delicious creamy Cuban black bean recipe which he had cooking for two days- needless to say, it was really tasty with the right amount of heat. I had to laugh at the recipe though where the woman mentions that one could remove the ham hock before serving and it would be considered "vegetarian" by people like her mother- she was being facetious of course.

Early this week, we were invited to attend a screening at The NYS Theater at Lincoln Center for a new documentary about the amazing ballet career of Jock Soto. Fcat knows Jock from the gym, but we had no idea that he was such an influential dancer. The documentary looks back at Jock's career when he started dancing at the age of 5 and then dancing under Balanchine's direction at the age of 16. Jock's story is so compelling & inspirational-being part Navajo & Puerto Rican, growing up poor and achieving the American Dream through his sheer love of ballet. Please check out the movie at The movie will also be shown on April 8th through PBS' Independent Lens Series- check your local listings.

The theater is so gorgeous and it was here at Lincoln Center with the New York City Ballet that Jock danced as a principal for 24 yrs, retiring at the age of 40.

Here is the post-screening chat with Jock Soto & Gwendolyn Cates, the filmmaker. Jock is extremely handsome and charming. One gets the sense that he is a really nice guy albeit not just any nice guy, but one with a tremendous amount of talent, determination to put his body through the rigors of a career in ballet. Fcat confirms that Jock is truly a great guy and that is nice to hear.

Lincoln Center is so pretty. I used to go to the opera & the ballet more than I do now- definitely have to get back to that...

Fcat & I treated ourselves to Rosa Mexicano across the street from Lincoln Center. We debated a bit because the restaurant is a bit expensive, but we had been in the screening since 6:30pm and it was past 9:00pm so we were beyond hungry and well, what the hell- we might as well have a nice night out! I love the wall that runs from ceiling to floor with little divers attached to it.

We had decided on just entrees & a drink but when we were there we decided to let ourselves have the $14 guac which they make fresh in front of your table with mortar & pestle.

The guac comes with yummy flour tortillas to make wraps if one is thus inclined. Featured with the chips are delicious tomatillo & chipotle salsas.Fcat had a margarita & I had some white sangria.

As with any upscale restaurant, they are more than happy to accomodate vegan requests. I had delectable spinach & mushroom tacos in tomato sauce minus the cheese- yum yum yum.

The only thing to detract from our lovely meal was some Asian tourist who thought Rosa Mexicano's was a Starbuck's. She was seated next to us and literally had her laptop out during the entire meal and it only got worse because at some point after she had finished her entree- the dish still in front of her, she was leaning her head on her hand, elbows & half her body draped across the table to look at her laptop. It was so rude! People were staring in disbelief and the waiters came by once or twice to see the rudeness for themselves. I understand that she was a tourist and perhaps thought that since people have their laptops in coffee shops that she could do the same at any restaurant, but anyone with a shred of common sense would see how obnoxious this was here! And the splaying out onto the table to read her laptop just proves that she was never taught any table manners, so perhaps she is also deficient in common sense therefore, possibly immune from being castigated. I promise to let it go now that I have had my say, but it was just so blatantly obnoxious. Fcat snuck a picture of her stuffing her face, chewing with her mouth open, half- laying onto the table, elbows up, reading her laptop- but it's not nice to make fun of people, so I'll just leave you with this pic to show you how glaring a laptop can be in a fine dining establishment.

And I leave you on a sweet note- I found Sweet & Sara's Smores at Whole Foods.

Yes, you can say "yum"!Pricey, but worth it. I haven't had marshmallows in forever...and these are free of the false vegan marshmallow controversy- no lying Emes fake vegan marshmallows here!

Okay, back to work- lots of shootings and a big campaign shoot in February in Los Angeles- exciting! In addition to all the shoot logistics, I'm trying to plot all the vegan places I will be eating at in L.A. too. Hmm, maybe I can get MCafe to cater the shoot- hehehe, don't all celebs in L.A. eat macrobiotic?

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Ringing- Actually "Gonging" In The New Year

Happy New Year! Hope everyone had a wonderful holiday and wishing you all a year filled with much happiness, love, success and compassion.

This holiday season was quite overwhelming, so I took a little blog hiatus, but I am looking forward to visiting & catching up with everyone and of course, I will blog much more diligently this year. That is not a resolution though it may sound like one- I think resolutions set you up to fail because of it's very nature. I will just "do" rather than "resolve to do"- like going vegan, just do it!

Over the years, I have spent New Year's Eve in many different ways- though more years than not were spent partying hard and hurting the next day. As I got older, the need to carouse lessened. There have been years where I spent New Year's with Jared Diamond- reading "Collapse" and then in contrast, the year Fcat & I spent it decadently in Aspen with our fancy friends.

This year, we celebrated the end of the year at The New York Zendo Shobo-Ji (The Temple Of True Dharma). We wanted to do something more spiritual and contemplative this year. I wanted to spend it spiritually to set the tone for the coming year. A former carriage house on the Upper East Side is beautifully done to house this center of Zen Buddhism & meditation- complete with a simple but gorgeous Japanese rock garden in the back.

When I called to make reservations for the New Year's celebration, they told me about the evenings' program:
- 7:00pm - 9:30pm (zazen- seated meditation with eyelids half lowered so that one is neither distracted, yet still awake/alternated with brief periods of walking meditation)
- 9:30pm - 10:30pm (break)

-10:30pm - 11:30pm (zazen)

-11:30pm - after midnight (purification/chanting/striking the gong 108 times- to chase away evil and forming your intentions for the year)

-food & refreshments served

This program immediately brought on some anxiety. How was I going to sit still and stay awake for all that time? And the eyelids half lowered thing the whole time too?!?!? I was definitely excited to participate but definitely nervous too.

When we got there, people were already sitting on small cushions with their legs folded in a kneeling manner or in half-lotus- crossed & folded in. They were sitting in this manner facing the wall. Fcat was placed in a spot facing the glass doors that looked out onto the rock garden- pretty , but cold. I was placed in the corner adjacent to him. I sat immediately in half-lotus, feeling confident that it would be like yoga. Wrong! After several minutes, I began to lose circulation in my right leg and I longed to move it, but I thought- well mind over matter and I let my right leg pass from pins & needles to no longer feeling it. About fifteen minutes later, we stood up to start our walking meditation. As I stood up, I realized that my right leg was not doing it's job- it definitely was not supporting me and I fell into the shoji screen against the wall (thank goodness the screen was against the wall!) and to try to recover quickly I tried to lean forward to hold onto to Fcat, but didn't realize that I was up on a three inch platform- so I tripped. I was a mess and somewhat horrified because I still couldn't feel my right leg. As we began the walking meditation where we walk in single file around the zendo, I did not have the use of my right leg for a few minutes, so I actually had to drag my right leg behind me. I was not enjoying this at all.

I dreaded being led back to the seated meditation, but this time I sat in the kneeling position and decided that I would change positions if I had to. It was cold in the room and I was feeling pretty miserable. The sound of the bell to start the walking meditation could not come fast enough- but this time we sat for over forty minutes before walking. After sometime, somehow, things got better & my mind was somewhat quieted. When the hour break came at 9:30pm, Fcat and I went home for some much needed hot tea (my apt luckily was a block away). When we returned at 10:30pm for the last hour, it was much much easier on my legs and my mind. Having no zen meditation training, I found myself employing do-it-myself yoga mantra during meditation. I held my palms faced up to the universe and asked that I attract good things and that I radiate good things. Surprisingly, I began to see a moving flood of bluish/purple color in my half-closed eyes. The color experience was similar to when I had reiki (healing energy therapy) done a few years ago. After sometime, I turned my palms down and the color movement stopped. I turned my palms back up and again asked the universe that I radiate good & attract good so that perhaps I could see the color again and all I saw was a little bar of yellow that hovered and then disappeared. I have no idea what it all was, but it was really really cool. And I know that zen meditation is supposed to bring you to the point of no-thought and what I was doing was all wrong, but I definitely benefited.

The purification & chanting process was really interesting and everyone got to strike the gong with their intentions twice. Apparently 108 times to strike the gong because that is the number of delusions in the mind and also represents the 108 measureless possibilities present in each moment. In this celebration, we are purified and we release everything- understanding & misunderstandings so that we can see out true selves.

Afterwards, everyone convened for some food upstairs where there were veggie sushi rolls & good luck soba noodles and of course, champagne to welcome the new year. It was a lovely way to celebrate.

After that lengthy discourse about New Year's Eve, I will fast-forward through my holiday review:

Right before the holidays, Fcat booked a job doing an advertising shoot for a local hospital. It was really rushed, but Fcat pulled off a terrific job. I give myself a little pat on the back for producing this job in a working hospital where we shuttled from room to room.

Shooting in a hospital, comes with makeshift spaces- this is where our stylist was setting up in ER.

The Fraser Fir that Fcat brought from upstate to my small apartment- I love a big tree!
Finishing up SKO's really really long scarf- pattern is called Column of Leaves from Can't wait to use up all the wool I have leftover from my dog sweater days so that I buy some vegan yarn like organic cotton, soy, bamboo & corn.

I made a shadowbox for Fcat from the shells & pics from Marco Island. I plan on labeling the names of the shells. And I triple checked to make sure that when I was shelling that there were no creatures living in them! This of course is unfinished and just a rough layout before I hot-glued everything down...there is a little cluster of four tiny shells to the the left of the palm tree pic- those shells are called "Kitten's Paw", isn't that cute?

This was a finished shadowbox that I made for Fcat's mother which I was going to label the shells too, but it would have been too busy and plus these boxes were quite time-consuming to make...
Here's Booboo helping me unwrap some of my gifts. Fcat & I wrapped gifts in newspaper to be more green.
Here's a sampling of some of my goodies from Fcat- yay V-Con, amazing knives, The Landmark Herodotus The Histories (am so excited about this - yes, am such a geek sometimes) and lovely rings & things not picture here and from SKO- D'Aulaire's Book Of Greek Myths (which was my absolute childhood favorite and which of course, started my love for mythology which I gave to SKO when she was little). SKO, sweet sister that she is, gave me a slew of my childhood faves that I no longer have...and also made me a brilliant set of coasters decorated with poetry and a secret message on the flipside- too cute she is.
I made lots of madeleines for the holidays, plain & chocolate. Was my first time veganizing a recipe- was really simple recipe though, just sub the eggs with silken tofu & butter with earth balance. They were perfect.

Also made Seitan Bourgione from The Voluptuous Vegan. This was the most involved meal I have ever made- complete with marinating & roasting peppers & mushrooms and red wine reduction. I also made the basic seitan first from VWAV. Fcat declared it the most delicious & complex vegan dish he's ever had- success!

My cousin drove from Syracuse with her two young boys so we had to take them to see the tree at Rockefeller Center- it was packed with people.

Here's SKO with the boys in front of the Penny Harvest Field from an amazing charity that get kids involved in philanthropy. They estimated about a million's worth of pennies in the field. Yes, those are all pennies!

We also stopped by St. Patrick's to light a candle for our loved ones that we have lost.

Lastly a bevy of sweets for a sweet year to come:

The most amazing white chocolate raspberry cheesecake from Red Bamboo- I had to ask again to make sure if was vegan. It's that good! And not at all too sweet like real white choc/rasp must try it, even SKO loved it.

On New Year's Day, Fcat and I had our first meal of the year at Candle Cafe and capped it off with the Chocolate Mousse Pie which is the most divine thing ever- really and yummy carrot cake (beware it has pineapples, which I was not expecting so I thought the cake had gone bad- but's it is good once you are aware).

Again wishing everyone peace, love and joy and the hope that all beings everywhere will be free from suffering. Happy New Year!
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