Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Monster Smash

My Smash Book (challenge no. 26) is close to bursting. With only a few pages left to fill, it's crazy to look back at all the bits and pieces that landed a coveted gluey spot. Here are my latest:

Storm gloom + Hurricat + our marionette costumes.

Photo from Wicker Park, Chicago + some textural framing.

Squirrels go to Chicago for a week, then San Francisco.

Card from the Clift Hotel in San Francisco.

And also, just because, here are some haunting phone shots I took earlier today after venturing out into the city. Happy Halloween:

Subway stairs to nowhere. 

Con Edison trying their damnest.

Union Square Park got slapped around some.

Spoiled Fruit-ball!

Fallen awning.

Batteries and flashlights for sale on the street (Lower East Side). 

Fallen gas station sign (at 2nd Avenue and 1st Street).

More people than I've ever seen making their way across the Williamsburg Bridge.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

No One Likes You, Sandy

I was on a two-week business trip (so my challenge posts were already lacking), arriving home just in time to welcome Sandy with un-open arms.

Not until I started seeing some of these images throughout yesterday, last night, and this morning did I realize just how lucky we were to have power and no flooding:

 Many of the subways have been affected. MTA is saying they're down "until further notice."

Alphabet City, Manhattan 

 Manhattan without power.

 Dumbo, Brooklyn (southwest of us)

A double rainbow the morning after the storm. Pretty unbelievable.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Eleven Months In: Progress Report

Welcome to the last month of my 20s and also the scariest sentence I've ever typed.

With the exception of challenge no. 7 (which is very much in the works and something I'm extremely excited about), I think I'll be able to successfully cross all challenges off the list. Here is approximately where I stand with thirty-ish days left:

The challenges in blue are the ones I'm actively working on. The challenges in green are the ones that are completed.
  1. Do yoga three days a week.
  2. Give a stranger $100. Film it and post it on YouTube.
  3. Eat 29 cupcakes in 29 days and write a review of each. 
  4. Research and identify 10 procedural reforms that would help move congress and the executive office back to being a government of the people and for the people. Print these 10 reforms on handout cards and distribute to anyone and everyone you know. Post them on your Facebook page and website. 
  5. Travel overseas, ride trains only, and put together a collection of photos titled "Window Seat."
  6. Sit in silence and stillness each morning for 15 minutes before you start your day.
  7. Write and direct your own short film and submit it to a film festival.
  8. Spend one night in a women's shelter, make a connection and offer to take family portraits.
  9. Make and bottle your own wine. Save it for a future birthday.
  10. Lie down on your back in a NYC street and pretend to be a dead bug. 
  11. Write a sad story about a girl who gets the things she always wanted -- on your typewriter.  
  12. Make a conceptual photo series, preferably a book. 
  13. Your 27th and 28th years were characterized by massive life changes that included a move and job change; my challenge is make one more life change. I'm not going to define it, but some suggestions would be: take another step with Austin, get a friend for Dagmar, get involved with something you care about in an incredibly inconvenient capacity.
  14. Take flying lessons.
  15. Do 200 crunches and three 1-minute planks every other day. And assist your scared, almost-grad cousin in finding a job in Atlanta New York. 
  16. End every day by writing down one positive thing that happened in the previous 24 hours.
  17. Learn how to perform an authentic Japanese tea ceremony.
  18. Get a photo (or photos) into a gallery/showing AND/OR sell one of your photos.
  19. A year-long water challenge: Drink 1 liter of water per day, wade across a stream, swim across a pool, row across a lake or pond, and fly across an ocean.
  20. Make and bring your lunch 2 out of 5 days a week.
  21. Manifest yourself in an act of humanitarianism that permanently and positively enriches the life of a child. The act may not be accomplished with direct financial, but must involve sacrifice of your time and attention.
  22. Research your Jewish heritage going back at least four generations. 
  23. Pay one compliment to a different person every day.
  24. Raise a basil plant and name it Kyle.
  25. Take an art class and create an original painting.
  26. Keep a Smash Book (scrapbook) for the year.
  27. Write words (the grouping of letters that hints of story and promise), even if it's only one line or thought or idea, in a momentary embrace of lapse of reason, everyday, and incorporate these words into a future novel.
  28. Learn to sew, design an outfit, make it, do a self-portrait in it.
  29. Attend 10 religious services. Record your impression of each.  
  30. Write the first chapter of your first novel and the outline. Submit to a publisher.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Positive Things: Chicago Edition

I spent last week in Chicago for work purposes. Here are a few of my positive moments (challenge no. 16 is to end every day by writing down one positive thing that happened in the last 24 hours):

Discovering possibly my new favorite raw place in the U.S.

 Getting to spend a week in a fantastic city.

Working on a Super Bowl ad for the first time.

This sweater.

Seeing the real thing (at the Art Institute of Chicago).

Keeping a 25-year friendship going. 

Friday, October 19, 2012

Going Through the Motions

Now that all of my Japanese tea ceremony equipment has arrived, I must practice the steps of the ceremony itself, as I only have thirty-eight days to complete the challenge. While I do have my hardcover step-by-step guide, sometimes it helps to watch someone move through the steps (it's been many months since I had my private lesson where I watched my instructor perform a simple ceremony).

Here is one of quite a few videos I found to give you an idea of what I'll be doing when I get my tea party on. The napkin folding part might take me a half hour, so I hope my guests are patient types.

One thing the video doesn't show is the offering of sweets ("wagashi") before the tea. They are placed on a lacquered tray, for the guests to enjoy while the host is preparing his or her ceremony. I found a place in NYC that makes these traditional (and gorgeous) Japanese sweets, which look something like this:

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Finished Product

Here is my homemade blackberry wine for challenge no. 9 (drinkable!) with the labels now on it, perched confidently on my bar cart like a good bottle of wine should. If you are ever a guest at my house, I will force a glass upon you, and I predict it will go something like this:

Guest swirls wine in glass and takes a sip. Guest makes mildly unpleasant face, but quickly covers it up with an enthusiastic smile.

Guest:  "Mmmmm...SO good. I can really taste the blueberries."
Me:  "Blackberries."
Guest:  "Blackberries."
Me:  "So glad you like it! You can just take that whole bottle home if you'd like."
Guest:  "I would LOVE to, but you worked so hard to make it, I think you should keep it. Plus I can't feel my tongue anymore."

Monday, October 15, 2012

Reconnaissance Mission

I recently went artist-stalking at Brooklyn Art Space (formerly Brooklyn Artists Gym where I took my watercolor painting class) in order to collect more scraps for my photo series, "Discarted," for challenge no. 12.

Not only did I get to take some pictures, but I met a few artists who welcomed me anytime to their work space to take more pictures of their used paper towels (you can imagine the awkward opening question). And, if you're curious, the overwhelming majority of painters prefer Bounty over any other brand.

Here are some of my favorite images from the visit (this artist preferred old t-shirts over paper towels, and I think it made for some really interesting shots):

Friday, October 12, 2012

Pretty Sure I Made Wine

The wine is done! I bottled it last night (after waiting for it to ferment for MONTHS when I thought it would take days) and had my first experience with a hand-corker. If anyone needs anything corked, let me know. That thing is super fun.

And the wine itself is...drinkable! It's not the best tasting wine in the world, and not sure I taste any blackberry in there, but hey, I up and made some wine.

Challenge no. 9 is history. Cheers!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012


Challenge no. 7 is to write and direct my own short film and submit it to a festival. Being the most ambitious challenge by far, you'd think I would have started it earlier.

I did. I came up with many, many ideas for my short film, starting months and months ago. Even wrote a couple of scripts. But no premise felt right. Until this one:

What happens to an imaginary friend when the kid who created him dies?

It's dark but sweet. It's sad and weird. It's Where the Wild Things Are meets Wes Anderson.

The script is title-less but finished, and I am now in the process of finding interested production partners. I want to do this one right, and in doing so I'm most likely sacrificing the ability to complete this challenge by the time I turn thirty. Sure, I could go out and shoot it myself on my Canon, but if my name is going on it, it needs to be polished. And polished takes time, favors, and luck.

Also, no stealies. I'll know.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Life Change Update

Challenge no. 13 was to make some sort of a life change, and little did I know that my boyfriend was planning (independently of this challenge) on asking me an important question. I said yes to that question, and so begins the process of throwing the most important party of our lives.

Today we found our venue, a photographer's industrial loft in Atlanta, Georgia. Here is the sneakiest peek I would allow myself to give:

Thursday, October 4, 2012


My outfit is done! I finished the shirt last night (with some expected imperfections) and am making plans for a self-portrait shoot very soon. Here's a sneak peak at the final pieces (for challenge no. 28):

 I plan on styling it with this belt.

 A homemade shirt. Clearly.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

A Little Honesty

So, how are those daily challenges working out? Do you really do them every day? What about when you're on vacation?

Somewhere in the midst of traveling, planning a wedding, and launching the biggest campaign of my career, I have slacked on some of my daily challenges. I haven't been drinking a liter of water, meditating, writing or complimenting someone every single day. I haven't been perfect. I don't get an A.


Do I fail? Do I get to cross them off the list at the end of the year? I don't know. What I do know is that I'm dedicating the last 55 days of my 29th year to these daily challenges. They are great challenges, good-for-me challenges, challenges that encompass everything this year is about, and I owe a little more effort to those who issued them.

Excuse me while I fill up the Brita.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The Final Twist

Regular posting shall resume tomorrow, as I am currently stuck in a glass box in Times Square.

It's the last day (day 100) of the Oreo Daily Twist, a campaign I've been working on.

Me, on a live video feed billboard in Times Square.

If you'd like to submit your own idea, you can:

Monday, October 1, 2012

Losing My Religion

In the eyes of all 10+ gods I have met over the course of the last 10 months, I hereby cross challenge no. 29 off the list. I have now attended ten different religious services.

Last night my cousin and I went to a Hare Krishna service at Sri Sri Radha Govinda Mandir in downtown Brooklyn.  The 6:00 Sunday service is called Sandhya Arati + Kirtan.

It's pretty much an hour-long incense-induced shoeless dance party, but hey, they have fun with their religion. And they get to wear robes.

Everyone faced a main stage, where an older gentleman in a white robe performed a series of rituals involving fire, water, and a large fan. The man leading the chants stood in the crowd next to a microphone, surrounded by boys and men with drums. The atmosphere was joyful. Little girls danced in circles. Here are some pictures (sorry for the poor quality):

Upon entering the room, each person got on their knees and bowed, some a little more dramatically than others:

And don't ask me who that guy on the couch is. He faced the stage near the back and remained unmoved for the entire service.

At one point a woman walked around with a flame on a plate. She instructed us to put our hands over the flame and then touch our foreheads. Next, a different woman came around with a bowl of water and splashed us with droplets.

After an hour of music and chanting that escalated into jumping up and down with hands in the air, it all ended with a quiet prayer:

Since walking blindly into the service didn't really reveal much about the Hare Krishna belief system (and my knowledge to date has been based solely on an episode of Mad Men), I dug a little deeper via their website. Karma, vegetarianism, and yoga play a large role, as do the following four principles:

1. Cleanliness: Of body, mind and soul.
This means the daily washing of the body, but also refraining from illicit sex (only sex for procreation within marriage). Celibacy, recitation of God´s (Krishna´s) holy names and studying the holy Scriptures help us to keep the mind and soul clean and balanced.

2. Mercy: To help living entities (materially as well as spiritually).
True followers of the Vedic (or any other) Scriptures are strictly vegetarians. It is perfectly possible to live healthily and happily without needlessly killing innocent animals. To kill our fellow living entities instead of protecting them, is against the laws of God.

3. Austerity: To take only what we really need, without greed or violence.
Intoxications like alcohol, hard and soft drugs, tobacco, caffeine etc. make someones mercy and friendliness disappear. Addictions are not only unnecessary, but also very harmful (to body, mind and to others). The best alternative for addictions is an awakening of our eternal relationship with God (Krishna) by living in accordance with His laws.

4. Truthfulness: Means that we should not lie or gamble.
Gambling destroys truthfulness because it is an attempt to bypass the laws of nature and obtain material profit without honestly working for them. An honest deed is the best gamble in the world and a sure winner.

But perhaps the largest part is what they call "Mantra Meditation," which is both individual and congregational. Individually devotees of Krishna perform a daily schedule of personal prayer and meditation. This is centered around the recitation of the names of Krishna (God) using prayer beads to count out the number of names chanted. The prayer, or “mantra”, that they repeat is called the Hare Krishna Maha Mantra.

“Hare”, “Krishna” and “Rama” are all names used in the Vaishnava tradition that refer to God and His energies. Because God is spiritual and all-powerful if someone chants His name then they will become purified – materially and spiritually. This chanting is also considered a form of prayer whereby the devotee is appealing to the Lord to please engage the devotee in the Lord’s service.

Overall, it was pleasant. The people were relatively welcoming but pretty much left us alone. I didn't get a cult vibe. And if I ever feel like dancing and touching fire and feasting on vegetarian fare, I know where to go.