December 27, 2010

How do you burlesque?

Two weeks ago, I started my vacation with a day trip to New York City. I had signed up for a hula hoop workshop with Miss Saturn to learn how to use multiple hoops. Since one of my goals is to make my own hula hoop, I figured it would be a good idea to learn how to use several of them to encourage me to make more. Unfortunately, the workshop was postponed until the following month, but I had already purchased my bus ticket and had to make a mad rush to change plans. Another unforeseen event changed my plans as well. I had ordered two pairs of 5-inch heels online and had hoped to take a class to learn how to dance in them, but the shoes were not delivered in time. I got them three days later. That's for another post.
To my good fortune, there was a six-hour burlesque movement intensive workshop scheduled for the same time with the New York School of Burlesque. This way I could at least take a class with a pair of regular heels and learn something new in the meantime. I had just purchased Jo Weldon's The Burlesque Handbook and her fan dance DVD to improve my belly dancing, and I was looking forward to finally meet her.
I must admit that I was pretty nervous to take the class. There were so many things running through my mind, mostly of self-doubt like, "Am I even cool enough to take a class like this?" "Can I survive a six-hour dance class?" "And I'm to do this with what?" After doing a quick YouTube search, I found this video of one of the workshops:

That didn't help me at all. All the negative thoughts flooded my head, but I chose to ignore them and just go for it. And I was glad I did. There are so many burlesque moves that are similar to belly dance, and some of the new walks I learned would work for my choreography. The girls in the class were really nice and fun, and Jo had so much personality and advice. No more dance costumes in black for me after this class. And although I danced in a pair of 1.5-inch heels, I felt a bit more glamorous that day.

Headmistress Jo Weldon at the New York School of Burlesque with me after the six-hour movement intensive class.
By the time I started a yoga class about two hours after the workshop, my body felt the effects of the six-hour class. I was completely exhausted, but I kept twirling and strutting throughout the rest of the day.

Lastly, I had to great opportunity to meet Celine, a fellow lister who was able to achieve a goal on her list through the workshop. She took the photo of Jo and me. Thanks a million, Celine!

Weeks 4 and 5 in review

Outside the Lever House in New York City
  • How many items on the list were attempted? Five: 8, 9, 17 and 18 and accomplished 26.
  • What did I do? Took a six-hour burlesque class, a donation-based yoga class, attempted 36 sun salutations for winter solstice, bought and walked in 5-inch shoes, watched seven movies and bought a round of drinks.
  • What will I work on next? Complete 9 (all there's left to do is dance), return to 16, work on 13, and start thinking about 6.

December 21, 2010

26. Buy a round of drinks -- DONE

I've had a lack of updates because I can now cross one more goal on my list: buying a round of drinks. I'm not a drinker. I have probably consumed seven alcoholic drinks this year, and that's a lot for me. Between age 21 and 27, I had only 10. On top of that, I don't buy alcohol or spend much on it. I've been lucky that I get some of my drinks for free because I know someone at the bar or someone buys me one because they know I could use it. But that's not the point of this entry.

Meet Ryann. She is one of my former co-workers who went on to graduate school. In the back is Kristen, one of my current co-workers. I had picked up some take-out earlier in the evening only for the restaurant to give me the wrong food. As I went to tweet my frustration, I saw that Ryann was in town and headed to one of the two bars the work crew visits. This was the perfect chance to get No. 26 done, pick up dinner and hang out with friends.

Lucky for my wallet, there were only three people I knew there, so only three drinks I had to purchase. So for $30, including the tip, I got a burger with fries and my usual skinny Cuba Libre (is there really such a thing?) and three beers for my friends.

Ryann was in town for winter break and recovering from a broken leg due to being hit by a car. The guys gravitated to the crutches while everyone else chatted. Good times were had for the short time I was there.

I think that if the full crew was there that night, I would have spent $100 on the alcohol alone. I was slightly disappointed, but the charge card was not.

December 16, 2010

Week 3 in review

Members of a mariachi band on the subway
  • How many items on the list were attempted? Six: 4, 9, 16, 17, 18 and accomplished 25.
  • What did I do? Bought shoes, took a yoga class and burlesque movement class, created a pummelvision video, and made sorbet.
  • What will I work on next? Complete 9 and build upon 4.

December 14, 2010

Make ice cream from scratch -- DONE

White Chocolate Mint Cookie Sorbet
It's not attractive. It's not as smooth as the stuff in the carton, but it is very sweet and minty. I made white chocolate mint cookie sorbet last weekend and it is good.

Without an ice cream machine, it took about six hours for it to freeze fully and I had to churn the mixture every 30 to 45 minutes. In the meantime I watched "Alice in Wonderland" to pass the time. I made about a quart of it and it's still chilling in the freezer.

December 8, 2010

La vie de la crème glacée

Vanilla Ice Cream
Vanilla Ice Cream by David Lebovitz
David Lebovitz makes me want to move to France and make ice cream every day. How much fun is it to tour markets and specialty shops and be inspired by food? Lebovitz's blog, Twitter and Facebook are entertaining and make me want to experiment in my own kitchen.

So far, I've only attempted one of his recipes, the l'opera milkshake. Opera cake is one of my favorite desserts, and it's hard to find it in a small area where I live. At least with this shake, I can capture the flavors of the cake without having to find a French bakery.

pouring a shake
L'opera milkshake by David Lebovitz
I made some modifications to his recipe, using fudgesicles instead of chocolate sorbet, skim milk instead of whole milk, Starbucks VIA packs in place of instant espresso and low-fat frozen vanilla yogurt instead of French vanilla ice cream. Either way, it's goodness in a tall glass.

So now, I'm preparing for a big one: No. 25, making ice cream without a machine. I know that these appliances are now cheaper than ever, and I even picked up one over the summer on clearance. I returned it because I didn't see myself making ice cream all the time, and since I want to make Philadelphia-style ice cream (without eggs), it costs more to make the ice cream than to just pick up a few pints of Ben & Jerry.

My goal this week is to make my own ice cream, using the white chocolate sorbet recipe found on Lebovitz's site. In the spirit of Christmas I plan to throw in chocolate mint cookie crumbs for an added crunch. Maybe this will be the first item off my list.

On the big screen

I've only seen four movies in my quest to watch 100 movies in one year, but I thought it would be a good idea to review the ones I've watched so far:

  1. Unstoppable, Nov. 16 -- 3 out of 5 stars. It's nice to watch a popcorn movie where the villain is not human, but a machine. Then again, maybe the real villain is just laziness.
  2. Broken English, Nov. 24 -- 3 out of 5 stars. Formulaic rom-com with an indie edge. The last third of the film is refreshing but comes too late.
  3. Don't Look Back (Ne Te Retourne Pas), Nov. 24 -- 3 out of 5 stars. A film about identity and self-discovery turns into a head scratcher.
  4. The Secret in Their Eyes, Dec. 4 -- 4.5 out of 5 stars. This film succeeds in the thrill of chase, pursuit of the truth and an ending that required me to see it again.
Only 96 more to go!

December 5, 2010

I got 5 on it

Stripper 7a by Cap'n Monky

I don't wear high heels. The highest heel I have is a 1.5-inch chunky heel that I've only worn in public once. They stashed in a closet somewhere, but I probably will wear them once more.You will more likely find me wearing a pair of Sketchers workman's shoes or flats then to see me wearing dress shoes, let alone heels.

So why would I challenge myself to wear 5-inch heels (No. 9)? Part of the appeal is that it's not practical to wear these. The only people I see in these are exotic dancers, entertainers and Elton John:
Elton John's shoes as seen at the Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto
Then I saw Celine's hunt for "stripper shoes" -- the category 5-inch heels fall into. And while there are some crazy ones out there, there are also some pretty ones I would like to have for myself. I found a local store where I tried on three different varieties, and I fell in love with two of them. Unfortunately, the style I wanted were not in stock, so I had to order them online.

I hope they arrive before my vacation in mid-December so that I can try them out before debuting them.

Week 2 in review

  • How many items on the list were attempted? Six: 6, 8, 9, 17, 27 and 29.
  • What did I do? Visit a doctor, lift my own body weight, ordered two pairs of shoes online, had two yoga sessions.
  • What will I work on next? Continue with 8, 9 and 17, and possibly work on requiring a bicycle for 21.

December 2, 2010

Crossing off other people's lists

My former motivation board in my old house
When I was coming up with this list, I did some Googling and found so many gave me ideas of what to add to mine. At first, I wanted to do a 35 before 35 list, but I'm too impatient for that. At the same time, when I prepared that list, I had some very lofty ideas that would be impossible to reach (visit Paris, attend the Sundance Film Festival, learn how to knit) and I was afraid that if there would be a bunch I'd never reach that I had failed somehow. I figured a mix of the complicated and the basic would give me motivation to achieve goals outside the list (health-wise, work-wise, etc.)

And then I looked at other lists. At times, I was amazed at the depth of the tasks and thinking I wish I had as much money and time as these people have to do work on their lists. However, there was also a sense of accomplishment for me when I saw items that people were trying to achieve for the first time that I've already done:
  1. Buy a new car: At age 23 with the car I have now.
  2. Write articles for a large publication: I'm a journalist, so that's a bit unfair.
  3. Ride a horse: I did take pony rides as a kid.
  4. Try a hot yoga class: Did it once, but it was the music that bothered me, not the heat.
  5. Lose 50 pounds: Did that last year and I'm trying my best to keep it off.
  6. Learn to belly dance: I've been dancing for two years.
  7. Go out to dinner alone: This is a frequent occurrence.
  8. Sing karaoke: Give me a song by Blondie, and I'll sing the heck out of it.
  9. Stage a performance: I've done two post-academic performances.
  10. Meet your favorite Hollywood star: Going to film festivals has given me the chance to meet great people, my favorites and my new favorites.
  11. Sell something you have created: I have sold four digital media works and jewelry creations.
  12. Eat Ethiopian food: While visiting a friend in D.C.
  13. Quit a job you hate: My first job as a telemarketer, lasted four months.
  14. Attend the midnight screening of a blockbuster movie on the day it opens: The first Harry Potter movie on my 21st birthday.
  15. Make cinnamon rolls from scratch: It took forever, but I did make a Cooking Light version of pumpkin cinnamon rolls.
  16. Go to a major sporting event: I've been to a NIT semifinal game and I have been to the Masters (working at the concessions stand, but I was there).

December 1, 2010

Be comfortable being uncomfortable

Fortune cookie message

I took my first yin yoga class last night. While I have practice yin for about 18 months on my own, I thought it was necessary to try it out in a class setting. It was mostly to see if I was performing the poses correctly and to gain ideas for future home practices.

The instructor in this class was a substitute. My usual teacher, who I've had off and on for a year, is on vacation this week, so I was excited to have a new instructor. What I expected to be a 75-minute slow flow session turned into a three-hour block of pain and meditation. While there's not much wrong with that, I wasn't expecting to stay in a meditative state for 90 minutes. On average, I can't go beyond three minutes of silence and clear thinking (thus, the challenge of No. 29). However, the time I spent in this state was mind-numbing and reflective. 
The first 10 minutes was in shock. I sat crossed-leg with the right foot in front, and my hip and right knee were immediately killing me. The earlier poses already stretched out my quads and hip flexors, so my hip was internally kicking my rear. I thought about coming up with a mantra to get my mind off the pain. Then I was thinking when would the instructor end the class or when will someone get up and roll up their yoga mat. But here were five people just sitting in easy pose as the instructor went on with her own meditation. I had a million things to do after class: pick up groceries, grab a quick dinner, do my second half of exercise for the day. I thought about the two bottles of ibuprofen I had in my purse. I had no time for meditation.

Soon after, I said to myself, "I hadn't been in meditation this long before." It was time to take advantage of this. I squirmed around a bit to find a more comfortable position before settling on my back. No more torture for the hips. Reflected on the silence in the room, the calmness in the room and the unusual humidity for a late November evening. I was satisfied, but I still thought about my poor hip. 

Then someone finally got up and said goodbye. The rest of us collected our things and before I headed out the door, I saw that it was much later than I thought. It was 10 p.m., not the schedule 8:30 dismissal. My hips were roaring back at me, and if they could form fists, they would have punch me in the mouth. I was satisfied with my practice, especially the meditation part. I had to learn about finding comfort in pain in order to achieve peace.

November 25, 2010

Week 1 review

Pillowscape at the Affinia Shelburne Hotel in New York City
  • How many items on the list were attempted? Three: 16, 18, 27.
  • What did I do? Continued to read "Franny and Zooey," practiced yin yang and purchased a foam roller, watched three movies.
  • What will I work on next? Get started on 29-31.

November 24, 2010

Finding lotus

I have limited flexibility in my hips. For two years, I have practiced yoga, Pilates and regular stretching to solve this problem. Having tight hips can affect your posture and develop pain in the lower back and knees. These are common side effects that I have and I hope to alleviate them, too.

That's the purpose of No. 27: Execute lotus poses. The photo above is an illustration of this yoga pose. It's commonly associated with meditation (No. 29) and it's best done with open hips. Usually I have to sit cross-legged whenever I try to get into this pose, and sit on several blankets and cushions in order for my knees to be aligned with my hips. What's keeping me from doing this is my right hip. My right knee is about 1 foot above the ground when I sit down, which is not good. The left knee is about 8 inches off the ground.

For now I have invested in a foam roller and will probably have to schedule a few physical therapy sessions in order to open up the hips.

November 17, 2010

Reading material

16. Read and complete 10 books.
I don't read enough books, and when I do read one, I will stop reading it if it takes me more than a week to finish it. The object of number 16 is to finish what I've started -- at least finish one book I'm reading now and add new ones to the list.

I started "Franny and Zooey" by J.D. Salinger in mid-summer. Actually, I purchased the book in mid-summer, kept it in my purse for about two months, read 28 pages in September and 20 more in November. This is how most reading goals go. And this is actually a great, short book with 208 pages. I've read a 341-page book in one day, but I can't manage to finish this one. It's now on the top of my list.

November 15, 2010

Before I get started

I decided to come up with this list of goals to achieve before my 32nd birthday because I do much better when I have a deadline ahead of me. Turning 30 was one of the hardest times of my life. It was more than the actual number; it was a year when life smashed my face. I encountered more problems than what I faced in the last seven years, but I know that what lies in front of me is higher ground.

Through this list, I hope to become a better person, remember the importance of setting goals, and relish in what I have achieved. I am probably setting myself up for failure, but I shouldn't even think of that, either. No, this is a new year, much like a new year's resolution. It's just in a 32-part series
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