Juxtapositions and the City

The other day i was very much in the mood for a romantic comedy, one of those very silly ones, that require very little use of the brain, so i reached for my “binder” in which i keep my movie collection and picked “Two Weeks Notice”, with Sandra Bullock – who i love – and Hugh Grant – who i don’t love but like very much, particularly in this movie. As the movie goes by, one specific scene took me back to a thought i had stuck in my head once while traveling through the countryside of Australia, and one which was never really a stranger to me, for whenever i am flying or even more so when the airplane is approaching its destination, i catch myself lost staring out the window, but never had i realized why, until these two moments came along; first in Australia, and then watching “Two Weeks Notice”.

That specific scene in the movie, in which Sandra and Hugh are in a helicopter approaching Manhattan, was what specifically awoke me to that thought that always kept ringing in the back of my head; and that is of an uncontrollable admiration for the image that is created by the view of the city from the distance and these multiple angles created by an airplane as it is descending towards the ground, the beautiful juxtaposition created by different colors, shades, scenery and aspects.

I believe what caught my attention in that scene and made me think of it was the fact that this movie was the first movie entirely shot in New York after “September 11”, I remember very vividly that Mayor Giuliani had a special ceremony to thank the entire crew, studio and producers for bringing life and entertainment back into the city. So this scene, in this movie, was particularly important, because it showed for the first time in the big screen, New York city’s new sky line, without the World Trade Center twin towers, and it showed that skyline so beautifully and naturally that it made the city look just as alive as it was when those towers were there, standing tall and strong. It is a very quick and simple scene, but it is an important one, it was especially back then, and it showed that life goes on and there can still be beauty in the world.

Now, here is where i really wanted to get to: The juxtaposition. Juxtaposition is a great word on its own, but its meaning is even better, because it offers you the opportunity to look at things in a different light. I remember while driving through the Blue Mountains outside Sydney, of how many different shapes and colors that place had, how beautiful it was to see the shades of green going from the deep valleys to the high peeks of the mountains turning into a blue-ish green in the far layers of hills in the back to then mesh against the brightest and most majestic blue sky i have ever seen in my life, going for miles without having hardly any clouds. It was one of the most beautiful and inspiring things i have ever seen in my life, it was like the mountains sang to me. I also remember though, that when i was arriving back in New York i felt a crazy rush of emotions as i saw the overlapping of the skyscrapers against the river, given a certain angle, and then against the baby blue sky filled with beautifully spread and shiny white clouds, clouds that fit that scenery in perfection.

If you observe really carefully, the city offers so many different types of juxtaposition that you could go crazy. I can observe the layers of buildings, concrete, glass and metal for hours and never get tired; its different shapes and colors, the way the materials reflect one another, how some of the colors go really well together or even how they fail miserably by being side by side. A few years ago, in one of my first trips to New York i went to see a friend’s apartment, at the time she lived in a great place at Park Avenue and in one of the balcony’s i was floored by what i saw: building after building, behind building and on top of building, not an inch of anything else, no sky, no room for a view, the view was just that, the juxtaposition of the city, you could only see the sky if you looked up, and even then, it would be in a very limited space. That sight, that many people could consider horrendous, i considered beautiful, an invitation to the imagination, and so i took pictures. They weren’t the most beautiful buildings, but they went very well together.

There is a Brazilian photographer, Bob Wolfenson, who has taken a series of photographs of just that, the city overlapping itself, the juxtaposition of São Paulo, a city at least twice as big and as populated as New York, and one that offers the same kind of feeling. Bob’s work was brilliantly shown in an exhibit that pushed the at times confusing images to their maximum potency and made your eyes blink and focus in confusion and despair, trying to figure out which was what and how could that make any sense. To me, that kind of sensibility and ability to look at something that could be so ugly and turn it into a piece of art that is so overwhelming that makes you change your outlook to life and start admiring every little piece of your day, is a very special gift. Bob did not reinvent the wheel, he simply showed to the viewer another perspective, his perspective on the madness of the city, He showed us that we may be lonely, but we are never alone, most importantly, He showed us that we may be caged in a concrete jungle but we also can be free from it if we allow ourselves to think freely.

In a not so claustrophobic way, there is also the overlapping of the clouds, which when you are in luck and paying enough attention, can also be something quite beautiful. I many times catch myself staring outside the airplane window for hours, because a vastitude of the clouds can be quite an impressive thing too. Clouds go so high and so deep that they almost seem like discolored mountains, grand and pompous, almost like the Blue Mountains of Australia, but with a more heavenly feel. The clouds at times you can see going endlessly for miles, and it looks almost as if you could hop out of the airplane and walk on them.

From above or below juxtaposition is a word that i have welcomed into my life, as it opened my eyes to a much greater world to live in, one where the beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder.

Ambitions

I remember, when i was twelve years old that the only dream i had was to move to Hollywood and work in the movie industry. I remember following absolutely everything that was Hollywood related; i would buy magazines like Premiere and the long deceased Movieline and eat them up. Vogue, Allure, In Style and Rolling Stone were constant as well, but my only interest in them was their movie content. I wanted to know all about the movies; the directors, the studios, how the movies were made, what the stars thought about their jobs and how they lived their lives. During awards season, all my friends would come to me for information, i loved it, that was definitely the one time of the year when i was the center of attention in my microcosms in the deep south of Brazil. My wildest dream was to have a job in Hollywood, live a good life in a beautiful home, not a mansion, and at least once go to the academy awards. Oh, and let’s not forget the most important part: i wanted to live with peace of mind.

I remember that even though i was physically extremely far from the hurlyburly of Hollywood, it seemed very close and possible to me, i never hid from anyone my intentions to leave my country and pursue a life in the United States. Fast forward more than a decade and i have achieved pretty much all my dreams and i could not be happier. What happened though, and that i hadn’t expected, was an overwhelming amount of twisted crazy ambitions along the way, ambitions that went overboard and drove me completely off course and made me forget about what i really wanted in life, and above all, it made me forget to be grateful for all the amazing things that i have achieved so far.

What i realized and was so baffled by the other day was that along my path to get where i am, other ambitions came up along the way, they made me lose focus of where i really wanted to get to in my life, they made me disconnect from the person i really aspired to be and the life i wanted to lead. This i realized, is not such a rare phenomenon, i see it in several of my friends and people who surround me, especially in my industry; we work so hard and we are so ambitious that we completely forget why we are doing so and putting ourselves through it all. What are we trying to prove and to whom?

The path that should be filled with joy and happy accomplishments ends up becoming a resentful and stressful dark brick road; no more red tapping shoes for you Dorothy! The reason why it happens in my perspective is mostly because of this extremely competitive world, in which to achieve a position or get a job, we need to meet certain people, act a certain way, dress head to toe in a certain fashion and dazzle people with our powers; be it what it is: charm, ego, anger, relentlessness; you have to use your powers to the maximum levels. What happens here is that we have to achieve so many things and walk so many different paths to get to a certain place, that it is easy to get lost in the maze. Life is a maze, and to get to the core and find the way back what you really need to do is search for peace of mind, serenity, patience and above all, hand your fate over to destiny, or god, or whatever you want to call it; because no matter what happens, the outcome is not necessarily in your hands, and in the maze of life it is extremely important to find the way back to where you began.

I realized, finally, that i have achieved pretty much everything i always wanted, and that whatever comes my way from here on is a bonus, i realized, finally, that i don’t need to struggle to get anywhere, all i have to do now is navigate to whatever life is handing me. Some people may not be as fortunate as i am right now, and many people are just as much or even more and don’t even realize it, not even when they are told, but i certainly hope that everyone gets to walk to this direction, because i know that everyone is more than able to.

I still don’t own the home i always dreamed of, or have the job in the movie industry, but i was able to reconnect with that twelve year old kid, and i was able to feel what i felt back then, and to realize that things don’t come out exactly the way we want them to, but the general feeling that surrounds our dream, our idea of a dream, is what we should aim to achieve, and i got that. I can safely say today that i am genuinely happy and satisfied. Whatever comes my way from here on will be a great bonus; and who’s to say i won’t be able to get  the home i always dreamed of? A house overlooking the water, with lots of whites and browns, a bedroom with a gorgeous bay window where i can sit on and watch the waves crashing against the shore, a gorgeous wood and white marble kitchen with two dogs, a cat and my best friends and family sitting around a fireplace in the winter or out in the garden in the summer, having a great talk and drinking lemonade; that’s my home, that is where my heart is, and i already have that; in different proportions and places, but i have that feeling inside my heart and that is all that matters.

There is no ambition that should be greater than the feeling of accomplishment inside your own heart, there is no outside factor that should matter more than what you feel inside, there is no notion presented by the outside world and people around you that should change how you feel and how you live your life. If your heart is filled with love, than why should you keep on struggling to get somewhere else? Just go where life takes you and accept all that is handed to you, with the good, the bad, the ugly and the beautiful and enjoy the ride, cause it’s a great one!

See me in the Morning

I remember up until a couple of months ago I would always tell anyone who wanted to hear that I was not a morning person, I was in fact a person of the night, an owl really, looking for fun, food and someone to “mate” with. The night was my zone, I knew all about it, I knew how to be and where to be, no matter where in the world it was.

I always felt terrible about the morning, I guess as a reflection from my childhood, because I remember having to wake up really early to be taken to my grandparents house as my parents had to leave for work, so my day always started at a very early 6am, at the most. I never got a break, it never stopped being like that, the mornings in fact only became more challenging, and so I developed a pattern, of dreading the mornings and being very lazy and/or angry about having to wake up, either to be dropped at my grandparents house, or to go to swimming classes, or school, or work; the morning had always been a huge pain. The evening however was always fun, the family would all be together, watch movies, eat around the dinner table and always have something to share, and as i grew up it continued to be better: parties with school mates, sleep overs, going to clubs, getting drunk and feeling on top of the world.

Well, I don’t know if i have really become a grown up now, or if being a grown up actually has anything to do with it, but things have shifted a little bit. I no longer long for the night and dread the morning, I’ve been loving and admiring the morning just as much as I would the night. Living in New York particularly, I have realized that there is a certain time, usually around dawn in the winter and right after it in the summer when the city is particularly quiet and serene. I don’t know how many people have taken the time and had the opportunity to do this, but follow my advice; take a stroll through New York between 6:30am and 7:30am; you will see and feel the city like never before.

Because night life pretty much dies at 4am and the day life usually starts after 8:30am, there is this window of time, where everything has been cleaned and rearranged for the next day, when the city is just waiting for the next day to begin, and everything is perfectly quiet and in place. Union Square feels like an empty movie set, impeccable, Madison Square Park and its beautiful foliage seems proud of existing, the streets of Greenwich Village have an inexplicable glow and midtown, more precisely Times Square, looks like a postcard picture, minus the people, the smell of garbage, street kebabs and the noisy traffic.

In fact, during the “limbo-hour”, as i like to call it, the entire city probably lives its quieter moment in the day. All deliveries have been made, there are no trucks roaming around, all store fronts are still closed, people are still getting ready for work, and there are usually no work shifts beginning at this hour, so you will only see the occasional person going from point A to B because there is a place to be, or the occasional jogger. In the summer, limbo-hour is particularly special, the day has this beautiful natural light that almost seems fake, and the heat is gentle, followed by a warm-nearly-cool breeze that caresses the skin. Walking calmly and observing the scenery is not only a possibility but a true requirement at this time of day.

Don’t get me wrong now, i haven’t turned my back against the night, i still enjoy it very much, and i would say it’s one of the most exciting and alive times for any city, especially New York, that’s when everyone is out of work, meeting friends, having drinks, extending the happy hour into a night out at the clubs and maybe hitting two or three clubs in the same evening. At night is also a great time to walk around and see the city in a different light, you get to observe things that you usually wouldn’t in the rush of day to day life, the lights are bright and beautiful and no matter what time of the year in New York, the nights are always festive. The holiday season though is when the New York night truly shines, the Christmas lights are out, the ice skating rinks are open and there is a happy glow wherever you look at, especially if the streets are white with snow.

So, what has happened to me i believe, is a simple shift in my heart, i started to admire and love the mornings just as much as i love the nights, and to find balance i have chosen to cut my nights short and add some hours to the morning; instead of sleeping in, i now wake up earlier, take a walk, read the newspaper and try to get to my day earlier, so that hopefully i can also have it finished earlier to enjoy more of the night. And it all comes full circle. It’s a great trade off and i still get to stay away from the afternoons, and that is an entire different issue, but let’s not get there just yet, i am still in my early love affair with the morning after all, i’m honey-mooning.

Have a good day.

Accepting Life

All my life i was in control. Or so i thought. The bills got paid on the 5th of each month, religiously; i had lists for everything that had to be done; i got late to work every day, but never more than fifteen minutes, because i knew i would get off work at least one hour late. I always had my schedule in order and even when i overbooked myself for dinner or lunch i would always find a way to graciously adjust and make everyone feel like they were the only ones in my schedule, even if that meant having dinner twice in one evening.

My family was kept in a shelf aside and in order, whatever issues needed to be addressed would be addressed and nothing would touch them and no one needed to be dragged into it, it just made it all more simple and organized, after all, all of them already have too many opinions about themselves, the last thing i needed was outsiders barging in with their own thoughts. My childhood friends always held a special wing of my heart and i had a very meticulous system for keeping in touch with all of them and making sure they were all in the loop of whatever was going on in  my life. My professional life went full throttle, and without stomping over anyone i managed to move up and move fast. My love life on the other hand didn’t matter too much, even though i loved to think it did; but it was never a major focus of my day and didn’t mean much, as i preferred to focus on other things, after all, who needs a commited relationship at twenty three years of age anyway? Time and fate would take care of that one thing for me eventually, as long as everything else was under control, love would find its way into my heart.

Well, the obsession with control was the only thing out of order, and i never relized that. My insistence on always keeping things organized and making lists and trying to not come off as if i were obsessing too much about everything, rather than just letting life carry its sweet course, started to drive me crazy. The minute one thing got done, it was then time to move on to the next, and to find all the answers to all the questions at once and immediately was a must. Well, it wasn’t acceptable to me that i would start working on a project today and then have to wait another six months or a year to start seeing any results. No, results had to be immediate, and by the moment i touched something it had to turn into gold, otherwise it was rotten, or even worse, people could think i was rotten, and that i would absolutely not accept!

Well, here we are, in this fast-paced new millennium, and i am a product of all the technological advances and the quest to have more and be perfect. Well, guess what, the times may have changed, technology may have advanced, but there are some very simple and basic things that haven’t. Instant gratification still isn’t the answer to any of our problems, immediate results hardly ever exist and can never be trusted and anxiety only gets in the way. What’s the point of rushing through life and trying to run away from the obstacles and the emotions if that is precisely what life is all about? Isn’t that how we learn and evolve? When did the world stopped having twenty four hours that we can’t even find the time to live on trial and error anymore?

While watching Woody Allen’s new movie, “Midnight in Paris”, i realized that the constant search for something different than what those characters had was also my own, and in those characters i saw myself for a moment, because i had finally realized a couple of weeks ago that i had to learn to accept my life as it is, with its ups and downs and all the feelings packed into it. Acceptance is key. Just like Owen Wilson’s character learned that he had to embrace life instead of simply choosing the easiest path, i had realized the same thing a couple weeks back, and when i did it hit me like a bullet train.

I have now started to understand that we need to take it all in, the easy way around things is most of the times not the best way to go, because eventually it will come back to haunt us, as it always does. i don’t know the answers to all the questions, but i know that with some patience and hard work i will be able to find the tools within myself to solve the puzzle and move on to some more complicated and bigger one. Being in control of life is impossible, because life is in control of me, and the more i try to make it change, the more it will hit me in the head to show me the fool that i am.

It’s not like i have become the Dalai Lama all of a sudden, but to understand this tiny little thing has changed my perspective about it all and made me a much more relaxed person. To accept that life sometimes moves in mysterious – and at times annoying – ways has been the most liberating experience i have ever been through, and I hope it sticks with me.

The Normal State of Being

When i was in school i was bullied tremendously; i was called gay, fag and all other sorts of names that i was too young to understand. I didn’t even used to understand what the whole gay thing was supposed to mean, but i knew that by the tone that it was being pronounced and the reactions it caused on others that it couldn’t be a good thing. There it was, the beginning of the problem, and i couldn’t even understand what the problem was , i didn’t even know what that fuss was all about. Well; back then i had absolutely no idea what i liked: boys, girls or even myself. I was told that the normal thing to do was to like a girl. I didn’t know there was the option to like a boy, i was a kid trying to get through school and play with my friends. When i finally realized what all of that meant i got really angry, after all, how could they know something about me that even i didn’t know about? And i truly didn’t, and i struggled with that for years, until i grew out of it and learned to dodge the attacks and turn them back against the attackers in a very fierce yet polite manner. But what i took from that first encounter with the gay world was that it was absurdly abnormal and wrong to be gay, and for many years that was the most solemn truth and being gay was absolutely unacceptable and a disease, but being straight and bullying whoever was different was the normal thing to do.

It was also around the times of those first encounters that i first knew of a disease that was so powerful that i couldn’t even share a glass of water with an infected person. Or so they said. It was extremely frightening to be a little boy and not even be able to come near another human being for fear of dying. I remember not being able to understand that, not being able to understand how it was possible for anyone to die from being near another person? It was an extremely sad time and i hadn’t thought too much of it until this year, and i hadn’t even gone back to that feeling until tonight, after seeing the masterpiece by Larry Kramer, “The Normal Heart”, that will say its goodbye to Broadway this July 10th.

This year of 2011 has been of profound investigation, about myself, about the world that surrounds me and about how some of our actions have irreversible consequences. I have met people and lived situations that never before had i even considered possible and all of those little things were really hard to digest and even understand, they made me once again feel like that little boy facing the unknown. And these “things” came from all sides too, so, it is only normal that i had to go see this play. Earlier this year i read a surprising article on New York Magazine and wrote about it in this blog, i was baffled by the lack of space, time and attention the world was giving to the first man to ever be cured of HIV. Not Aids, HIV. These are two different things;  and this too was also a new realization for me; i had never given this evil disease a minute of my day to properly read about it, i mean, why should I? My life was so beautiful and fabulous on the outside, who needs to know about such things when they are so distant from us? Well, they are not distant, and what was true decades ago, continues to be very true today, and even with all the technological and medical advances on improving the quality of life for HIV patients, people continue to get infected and to die daily. We still have no cure, and no one seems to be giving the time of day to the one man who lives among us with a possible key to the cure of this malign disease.

Ellen Barkin did it perfectly, she showed us with every shade of emotion what it is to be in the front line of this war, and how frustrating and nerve-racking it is to be screaming for help and still not be heard. Ellen Barkin was so perfect in her role that she made me cry copiously every time she appeared on stage; her passion and her emotions were not an act, they were real and very much alive. The entire cast was tremendous and absolutely impeccable, but Elle Barkin, oh, she made us all want to get up and throw some paper on some politicians faces, just like her character did, she made us all want to stand up for human rights, yes, human rights, the most basic ones, not just gay rights, or women’s rights, but basic human rights. What was done to all those people in the early eighties was one of the most unfair things ever done by men to its own kind, and that brutality was very alive on that stage, and every visceral performance was like a punch in my soul and it shook me up and made me once again wake up and pay attention and spread the word even further.

Today, with internet, twitter, Facebook, television, newspapers, magazines and even still the radio, it’s hard to believe that there are so many people getting sick, and that alone is to me the most saddening part. We are all very much aware, this disease has been a shadow over our lives for the past three decades, it is literally like a huge grey cloud above our heads, at least a couple of entire generations grew up with it in their vocabularies, and still, to this day, there are people who insist on pretending the cloud is not there. Well, guess what? Every now and then it rains from this cloud, and it doesn’t just drizzle, it pours, and every time it pours it’s another family that is shattered, another relationship that is broken and another life that is taken. It’s past the time to take action, it’s time to be responsible, each and every one of us all need to be responsible, because action is being taken, daily, but it doesn’t seem to be enough, so let’s do it like Larry Kramer said, lets start teaching it in schools, lets teach it at home, lets show our kids all the colors of the rainbow, let’s tell them what it means to love others like we should also love ourselves, lets teach our kids the gift of acceptance and awareness and let’s teach them about what it is like to be a proper human being, so that maybe then one day there won’t have to be talks about what is the normal heart.

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See clips of The Normal Heart below:

You Tube Channel HERE

The Return

After quite a busy and interesting week of work in Paris it’s weird to be leaving all of that gorgeousness behind. Not only Paris is one of the prettiest cities in the world, but it is also filled with culture and constant opportunities to discover new things.

This time, as always, i left something behind, i wish i could explain what it is, but it’s more than something i can touch, it’s a feeling. I am sure this is in part due to the sensation of having the clash of the modern world with ancient history, having current history happening on such strong historical foundations. It’s also about the fact that even in such a big and famous city, they still manage to maintain unharmed some aspects of life that are really unapreciated or forgotten in big capitals like New York, São Paulo or Beijing.

From a meal – all organic, no questions asked – that can be appreciated with time, where each flavor of every ingredient is enjoyed with real passion, to the ritual of actually leaving your office behind during lunch time and sitting quietly at a small restaurant or square to appreciate your baguette sandwich. There is a better sense of time management in Paris, because so many things that we New Yorkers take for granted, like 24 hour drugstores, restaurants and even supermarkets, in Paris people plan their time, and by some magical twist of fate, everything gets done. Not only everything gets done, but surprisingly everything and more: more than anywhere else in the world, people go to museums, concerts, art galleries, take time to sit and talk to friends in cafés, go to church – if it’s their thing – or simply take a stroll with the dog without obsessing over conference calls or the Dow Jones. In a city where getting a taxi is a mission, you make the extra effort to use public transportation, or even take a walk in the rain, when permitted. in Paris, you don’t have to rush through dinner to get to the night club, why would you? They stay open until the early morning, which in consequence allows you to meet a friend at the end of the day for the happy hour, or like they say, the aperitif, which will then lead to dinner, that will lead to drinks which will only then take you to a loud night club. Also on their side, and of all Europe is the easy and cheap access to so much culture from all those other countries that surround them, or the simplest act of driving down to the beach for weekend getaways at the Cote D’Azur or Provence.

In Europe, people make time for having a good and well enjoyed life, the carpe diem is taken seriously, and it’s that very feeling that lacks in America.Our constant obsession for achieving more, and buying things only drives us mad, not to mention advancing in our careers and trying to become an icon of our trade.The key should be to maintain a healthy rythm at work, but not get overly stressed, not care too much about the sillyness of a job that at the end of the day could end up taking from our lives instead of giving us a life. Learning to become more mindful about my life is a big goal that i am sure to reach. Time is of essence in a city like New York, where people are hungry for success and never happy with what they have achieved, in New York, no matter how healthy you eat or how much you exercise, life is still not plenty, because there is always a need that’s unnatended.

I am sure i am preaching to the choir here, but regardless of that and of all the cons about living in New York City, i still always find a reason to come back. I feel that eventually i may end up in Europe, with a house on the beach or by the lake, living my life like a king, a king who runs his own kingdom and still manages to enjoy all the perks of being the guy who runs the show; but right now, well, right now it’s time to work, start building my empire, whatever that may be, and get ready to move on, because the day the ship to europe sails off the american coast, it will probably be for good.

For now,  i leave my friends and some of my favorite spots behind, knowing that whenever i find some time i can just hop in an airplane and fly straight back to the city of lights, after all, isn’t that one of the blessings of living in the century XXI?

— Originally written in october 2010 and recently found in a dusty notepad. —

Eye of the Beholder

I just finished watching the glorious documentary “Bill Cunningham New York”, and it brought me to my knees. This 84 minute movie contained such a powerful and touching story that it took me to a place – which is how I like to call a certain type of feeling – where I very rarely go to, and it is my dearest and most special place to be. Only two times before had I been this moved, and when that happened I also wrote about it.

One of them, and probably the most mind-blowing one, was in early 2010 when Patti Smith delivered the book “Just Kids”, one of the most beautiful books I ever read. The minute I learned this book was coming out I had a strong feeling, I didn’t read the review, I didn’t know exactly what it was about, but I literally, got up from my chair and went to Barnes and Noble; only to find that the release date would be in another two weeks. Well, eventually I got it, and I cried copiously as I saw my love for the arts was coming alive through those pages.

With Bill Cunningham’s documentary it was my love for beauty that came tearing out through the screen, it was my love for all that is or can be beautiful in this world. Bill said it himself – “if you seek beauty you will find it” – and I could not agree more, it brought tears to my eyes as it did to his, and I felt the most extraordinary connection to this man who is a living legend and a visionary. Bill’s story, like Patti’s, is of a person who feels love through every pore of their bodies, it’s intangible, you can’t explain it, but its there like nobody’s business.

As I watched Bill Cunningham’s life, work, and passion unfolding before my eyes I couldn’t stop the tears from rolling down, what I had before me was a man absolutely in love with life, fashion and beauty, a man who didn’t need another person or loads of money in the bank to have happiness, he had it right there, and he lived a full and happy life, with no regrets and many accomplishments.

There is a certain calm and peacefulness that I get from staring at a certain picture sometimes, and I know, that this feeling is all I want to achieve. I know that sometimes, in order to get there i will have to go through some rough patches, and that’s ok, I am not looking for an entire life of fulfillment, love, passion and happiness, but what I want is as many of those “picture staring” moments as possible, I want to feel my heart beating fast and my eyes tearing up as many times as possible, I want to be able to see in other people’s lives what I aim to get for my own, it makes it all more realistic, it makes it less of a fairy tale.

I recently met some very interesting and loving people, they happened in my life like the big bang to earth, and I just accepted them, just like the universe accepted earth when it turned up. One of these marvelous people invited me to a “vision board” party, where they would build vision boards for what they wanted for their future. I could not understand the concept: cutting from magazines and gluing to a cardboard didn’t seem much to me; but I went anyway. What happened to me was an epiphany, I had all these images inside my heart and they simply appeared to me in magazines, and from there they jumped into a board, and that board looks exactly like my life! So, it was just like that, I realized that I do have a full life, and that I do have plenitude and that all I need is in front of me.

I won’t lie to you though: it would be lovely to achieve something really pivotal for mankind… or maybe even just my neighborhood; you know!? And for at least once have someone look at all the things I did and lived through and feel their heart fill up with joy and peacefulness and have their eyes fill up with tears and their hearts fill up with joy; nothing would make me happier than to be able to inspire someone, that would probably be my greatest accomplishment, and also a great compliment.

But you know what!? If that moment never happens, I am totally cool with that, because the tears that rolled down my cheeks today, watching Bill’s life in the movie, were also of recognition of all that I have achieved in my life, and I am a lucky bastard for being able to look inside myself and recognize that, and to see that I am living a full life right now, filled with love, joy and strength; and for all my blue and trying moments I can save a pitiful laughter, for they are powerless in front of my beautifully accomplished vision board of a life.

Take a look at the trailer by clicking HERE.

The Beauty in Getting Old

Do you know how i know i’m getting old? Last night i fell asleep at 11pm, with an open book over my face and the lights on. When i woke up, my arm was in a much deeper sleep than the rest of me, and i was immediately sent to the days when i was a little boy and i would walk into my mother’s bedroom only to find her in the exact same situation. I remember thinking it was super funny and asking her why did she put an open book over her face to go to sleep? And why wouldn’t she turn the lights off? I thought it was funny, now i understand.

So i grew up, and off i went to work at a video store, and i remember half the customers coming in and saying they couldn’t finish the movie because they had fallen asleep halfway through it. I thought that was a betrayal to the art of film making and was profoundly offended that they wouldn’t finish watching the movie i recommended especially for them. It was an affront to my “talents” and it made me question my “skills” at my job. Ok, give me a break, i was fourteen! Back in those days i used to spend nights watching one movie after the other, it would range from the “The Attack of the Killing Refrigerator” to “Out of Africa” or “Pulp Fiction”, it didn’t matter what the movie was, it could be an old cowboy movie and i would still be watching, to me, still to this day, any movie is worth watching. The difference now is that i am the one falling asleep.

In the height of my teenage years i could not fathom the idea of being so tired to the point where a person wouldn’t even be able to stay awake through one of the most enjoyable things in the world, which is watching movies. I would go to movie theaters on my own and spend the entire afternoon thinking of how great it would be to work in that industry and how everything was so creative and beautiful, i mean, even “Striptease” had its good side – in fact I secretly love it, I mean, Burt Reynolds anyone!?. Every movie had a good side. Every movie, even the really crappy ones, still has a good side. Back then i could not go on a day without watching a movie and could swear on my sweet grandmother that i would not go on a day without movies for the rest of my life. Well, fast forward 10 years and here i am, a once a week movie son of a gun who will sometimes even fall asleep during “The Family Guy”. I take it all back, i am getting old.

I am not saying I Am old, but i am definitely moving towards my own extinction, it’s what happens to everyone. As i grew the more responsibilities i acquired, the level of stress increased and the pressure to maintain a well-oiled machine of a life became bigger than myself. That happens to pretty much everyone, it’s just life, sometimes it’s overwhelming, sometimes it’s like a walk in the park. Looking back i see all the things that my parents used to do and I thought were tedious and that they were wasting their time (and mine) with bills and a calculator, i mean, couldn’t you just go to the ATM and get money? I have been supporting myself and living far from home since i was seventeen, I always had a very responsible outlook on things and a bill overdue freaked the hell outta me. Nowadays i live in New York, a place i dreamed of when growing up, I went to Hollywood, and attended Oscar parties, traveled to Australia, another city I dreamed and planned on living when i was in high school, traveled through Europe on my own and saw everything I learned in art school and history class. I was only able to do all these things and become this person I Am because of all the work I put on my goals and ideas, and because of all the stress i had to go through and responsibilities i had to acquire, and also because of all the movies i had to fall asleep in and miss. Life will not hand you all you want in a silver platter, you have to work for it.

It’s beautiful nowadays to realize that i am growing old and to be able to look back and see all the great things i lived through, the people i met and the experiences that made me learn and understand so many other things. So, i guess the rule doesn’t only apply to the movies, but to everything in life. There is beauty in everything, even in getting old.

Times they are a-changing

So, as i sit to write on my computer my text message alert rings on one of my two blackberry smart phones, a conversation is initiated, then a second conversation is initiated with another person, and next thing i know i am having five conversations at the same time. I hate texting, bbm’ing, chatting and all of its similar evolutions, i believe it has made us handicapped, it created a distance even bigger than the one we allowed ourselves when we only had a phone call to count on. I remeber the times when it wasn’t polite to call after a certain time in the evening, and also that you would only let the phone ring a few times and had to wait several minutes until you tried again, i mean, it was part of the telephone etiquette my grandmother taught me.

Nowadays people text and bbm, constantly, and things that could be said in less than 60 seconds are scattered through endless text messages that can go on forever. Nowadays it almost feels like calling someone is a gigantic bother, like you are invading someone’s space. I will constantly hear: “why didn’t you text me?” or: “i can’t talk, i am in a meeting, send me a text”. Well, you can’t talk but you can text? How is that any less disrespectful to the other people in that meeting? How does that not take from what you should actually be doing? What happened that made us so afraid of talking on the phone? Does that mean that one day if they creat holograms we won’t ever need to actually meet people for dinners or conversations? Will we only want to talk to the hologram of a friend? I mean, looking at the way things are shifting, it seems like it could definitely happen. This is the tip of the iceberg.

I once considered myself a very well informed and skillful person when it came to technologies, i was always upgrading my equipment and myself, but then life happened and i acquired more responsibilities and little by little Facebook, Google and finally Twitter started creeping in, and i had no idea what that meant. I remember thinking – what’s the use of this dumb website? Why would anyone care for what i am doing, where i am going or any of that crap? Well, i wasn’t alone, but very rapidly people realized all the money that could be made and all the business that could be generated with little to no money and the social network craze was let lose.

I currently have a blog, facebook and twitter accounts, i probably have other similar stuff around too but i rather not even think of those as these three are already a lot of work to maintain. I have updated myself, i am very much aware of the new medias and i find all of it truly fascinating. I have however seen and lived the decline of several industries, even more so after the financial crisis in 2008, when everything fell to pieces.

When i heard about the documentary “Page One – Inside The New York Times” i was very intrigued and happy to see that finally someone took the time to put the message out there, that there has been an ongoing revolution for several years and still, to this day, many people and corporations do not pay enough attention or understand what is going on. And what a greater way to show the revolution than from inside one of the largest, if not THE largest media outlet in the world: The New York Times. I have watched the documentary and i connected to it in so many levels, of course there were many things left unsaid, but the main message was out there: we have these medias, now how do we handle this revolution? Are we prepared for the consequences?

I saw it happening in front of me, i am a manager at a modeling agency and also work very closely with tv, film and music, which puts me in the middle of a whole other sector of this revolution. For the music industry it started ages ago with illegal file sharing, Napster and so on and so forth. The music industry was probably the first one to bring attention to the new medias. Around that time people started questioning wether newspapers would fall through the cracks given the amount of bloggers making news on their own terms; however i also remember that most people dismissed that idea by saying that all of it was a mere copy of yesterday’s newspaper or information coming from sources that could not be trusted. As the new medias kept evolving and gowing the film and tv industries also started facing piracy and there was another huge propaganda against these medias. Little by little fashion started following the trend too, and utilizing these medias to promote itself, and even though you can’t download a pair of pants, you can certainly buy it online, instead of a catalog, and maybe you can even see a fashion show in real time instead of attending it in Paris or Milan. You can also see a video editorial on a magazine’s website instead of buying the actual magazine, and that is how, little by little the fashion industry silently began to collapse.

When the economic crisis hit in 2008 i moved to New York, i was lucky enough to get a great job at an amaing position in the middle of a sea of uncertainty and lay offs; every company, including mine, was firing almost on a daily basis, i saw huge fashion conglomerates filing for bankruptcy – as i still do – and everyday as i walked around in New York i would see those awful boxes walking around from one place to another, years of work and dedication compartmented into boxes. It was one of the most terrifying and sad moments of my life, i saw people getting fired daily. I had a failed relationship because my partner had been laid off and for the past four months could not find any job anywhere, so finally the pain and disappointment of seeing a lifetime of work and dedication fall to pieces became so unmanageable that the relationship disintegrated.

What happened in the fashion industry is still not very much talked about, the modeling agencies still don’t pay enough attention to the new medias and allow themselves to fall into these traps made by their clients, who take full advantage of these medias, and the models, by consequence take the worst end of the deal. The rates for models dropped dramatically, several models that had been working for many years all of a sudden became obsolete and huge department stores like Sak’s Fifth Avenue, Macy’s or Bloomingdales simply started cutting back on their bookings for catalogs and advertising and established there own rules, making it either their way or the highway. The modeling agencies, in the midst of a crisis did nothing but nod their heads and move forward, trying to hang on to whatever was left. Because of a lack of unity in this market, we still face a very sad future, no one stands by the agencies, there is no union and the agencies won’t stand by each other. Nowadays work has been reduced to 36 hour image use for online stores, catalogs are outdated, no one needs art directors, the models don’t need to be anyone special, sometimes they won’t even have the models heads in the shot, and because of that they feel entitled to pay close to nothing.

The agencies that sat foot and demand respect for their models lose those clients, but then again, do they rally need them? Isn’t it time new standards are established, new rules are made and people become more aware that there is a bigger picture in stake with this entire evolution and revolution process? This also works for the publishing industry, every day you hear about bookstores closing, publishing houses firing employees and the numbers of book sales dropping by the second. Of course people can now read their books on kindle or ipad, but is that under control? Maybe it is, and maybe that industry is the only one that has their future figured out, but where do we go from here?

The New York Times is not only an American institution, it is a global institution, it is point of reference for the entire world, it’s a newspaper that generates news for several other news outlets accross the world. The New York Times cannot perish. We fight to save education, yet we complain when a newspaper starts charging for viewing its content online. The newspaper is also education, did we all forget about that? Why should that content be free if before this revolution you had to pay to have access to it from the news stand? Why do we feel like we are entitled to have that information for free? Why do we feel we can just declare all newspapers dead and move along to the digital era? What happens with all those people who will lose their jobs? Who will be generating the news? Are those sources trustworthy? Who is going to the battle front to make sure the right story is being told? And where will the money for all of that come from if no one wants to pay for the news? The only reason why some blogs and websites have “free” news is because of press agencies and reliable entities like The New York Times, and i believe people seem to forget that. So, what would happen if all of a sudden the penal system decided to shut down operation to operate on line? What would happen if we could no longer rely on going to appointments with doctors but only on reading about symptoms on Wikipedia? The world would collapse, and the world is collapsing as i type this. This is what Nostradamus and the Mayans predicted as the end of the world, our planet will not be hit by the Armageddon, but it will wear itself out until it becomes unmanageable to keep on living and existing. The same way we disrespected nature, we are now disrespecting each other and ourselves. It’s easy to say you don’t want to pay for a song, or to have access to an article, but try and think of the bigger picture, try to think about the chain reaction caused by those U$2,50 that you are “saving”. A tremor in america today may cause a tidal wave in Japan tomorrow, the same applies to this technological revolution.

“Page One” is one of the most compelling and relevant documentaries made in the last fifteen years, it shows and proves something that has been quietly going on for too long. This, like the “Social Network” registers decisive and revolutionary times in our history, these movies are masterpieces and must be seen by all, must be shown in schools and must be advertised and pushed forward as much as possible. It is our responsibility as fellow human beings to be aware and take action. You can’t turn your face away from the reality, we live in 2011, we may not have flying cars or be ruled by apes, but we are definitely facing something that was beyond anyone’s imagination, and it is wild.

Click HERE for the trailer of “Page One -Inside The New York Times”

He had HIV. Now he does not.

Timothy Brown had HIV. Timothy Brown also had leukemia, twice. Timothy Brown is no longer sick, Mr. Brown is a healthy 45 year old translator who lives in San Francisco and is currently quite possibly the most studied human being in the planet.

When Dr. Gero Hütter, a specialist in blood cancers in Berlin came across Timothy’s very unique case of HIV and Leukemia, he chose to think outside the box, he brought an option to the table that was revolutionary, even though “revolutionary” was not what they saw, that was the option for a man who needed help, it was a long stretch but a possibility none the less. For a man who had been fighting two diseases at once had gone through all the procedures in the book, anything was valid as long as it meant getting his life back. Well here was an option that could literally give him his life back. With a very bold concept in his hands, Dr. Hütter took the plunge and so did Mr. Brown, they chose to go for a brand new procedure, where they would transplant stem-cells with a Delta-32 mutation into Timothy’s sick body. These very rare mutated cells are found mostly in people in northern Europe, and they are basically 99.9% resistant to the HIV virus, so by doing this very unconventional transplant, Dr. Hütter reprogrammed Timothy’s immune system, and not only got rid of his Leukemia, but also his HIV.

Now ask yourself, had you heard about this before you read my blog? And if so, how many more people you know, heard about it too? Because Mr. Brown has been HIV and Leukemia-free for more than four years, and only now this has come to my attention. New York Magazine has published a six-page article on this case, they have even given it headline on their cover, however they haven’t given it the actual cover. The New York Times has written a couple of pieces on this story too, but they were buried in some section that you would never read unless you are one of those people who read the entire newspaper back to back or are particularly interested in medicine. This is truly preposterous!

Why the world doesn’t know that a man has been cured from HIV, i don’t understand. I do understand that this man’s cure is not the cure for the disease, it is a very complicated and expensive procedure, it caused Mr. Brown to have complications, and it could lead to death. But it hasn’t. This particular case is revolutionary, even if it isn’t a vaccine or a medication that ends HIV, it could certainly lead to one. The concept here is fresh and refreshing and was only possible because Dr. Hütter wasn’t a skeptical, he allowed himself to try and seek new possibilities, while every other HIV researcher had very little to no belief in the cure.

These aren’t the times to fool around, HIV research has reached amazing levels and advanced so fast that people now have access to this revolutionary treatment that allows them to live almost as if they didn’t carry the virus, and the littlest advance in this field is like a giant step forward. What i also did not know, was that there was little to no money being sent to the research for the cure of HIV. Now pay attention because this is where it gets tricky: the money was being put into research for medication, ways to improve the quality of life and immunodeficiency, but not necessarily to kill the virus. Researchers from around the globe have grown skeptical after one of the most publicly discussed attempts to cure HIV failed, and that was also when millions of dollars were pulled from the “cure” research and that word became practically a blasphemy in the medical community.

When it was scientifically proven that Timothy Brown was cured, there were still people who

could not believe it, and to this day, even though everyone agrees that Timothy is the first person to be cured from HIV, this subject is the big white elephant in the room. So why should we allow it to be? Why can’t we bring it to the table and turn it into a topic for discussion? Why can’t we put it on facebook and twitter, why can’t we write about it in news papers and magazines? Well, we can. This subject needs to be addressed, it is our job to make this a public as possible, because if we were able to cause so many changes via the social network and the media, i am sure we could also get people’s attention to the research for the cure of HIV.

Let’s all speak up about this subject, let’s show the people who have money in their pockets where they should be sending their money to. Let’s send money ourselves, let’s speak up ourselves, who better to start a movement than you and me? This is the time when everyone and anyone has a voice, this is one of the best things the internet has made for us, it has given us a voice, so let’s use it wisely, let’s spread the word and make this world a better place.

Danke Berlin!


This week i am very proud of myself, i did something that is trés grown-up, i went away on a holiday trip to Berlin, Germany – not Berlin, New Jersey. Well, you may be asking yourself – how is that a grown-up thing? – but, yes, it is, because what could be more grown up than traveling to Europe for four days on your own expenses and responsibilities? To throw yourself into the immensity that is the unknown and open yourself to whatever comes your way and then be back to work on tuesday as if nothing had changed, as if 8 hours – each way – inside an airplane was the same thing as going to the deli to get a new bottle of diet coke and a wrap. I was in awe with myself, almost as in awe as when i rented a house on the beach – literally – for the summer, now that was the epitomy of becoming a true grown up!

But getting there was an even more jaw-dropping experience than i expected; not only Berlin is one of the most exciting and curious cities i have ever been, but NEVER have i seen such politeness and respect to others like i have in Berlin, to me that is what the word civilized was invented for. Someone told me that there were only nine homicides in Berlin last year – yes, nine… NINE! Well, i didn’t go as far as believing in that information, but it came from a good source and i am pretty sure that if it wasn’t the most acurate, the actual number would probably not be that far anyway. But my point here is: go to Berlin and learn something about proper living. Period.

So, as you get off the airplane, each gate has it’s own separate immigration, baggage claim, security check, check in, etc. All is individualized and extremely simple and organized, a true shock, specially after having seen half demolished terminals and the atrocity that is the airport in Newark, New Jersey – where else!? So here is where it starts to get really good and juicy, listen up. The minute the doors of your gate open up to the terminal you are invaded by a smell that is a croos between the best croissants i ever tasted and some delicious pastry that kicks France in the ass big time. Then from the ticket booth from the transportation ticket to the flat it was a jiffy. No joke, with two euros i got all the way home, and that included changing from a bus to a train and not going through a gate or a “ticket person” once! Yes, that was the second shock, that is proof that good and honest people exist in this world, here is a country that has the doors to their trains and buses wide open for anyone to walk in at any time and they trust that everyone will stop by the machine before entering and buy their tickets. And they do.

In Germany everything works, no one crosses the street if the light is red – even if there isn’t absolutely anything moving in the road, people don’t speak loudly, they mind their own businesses and respect everyone else’s space. At the same time there is a sense of community that is remarkable, people congregate and communicate to perfection. Punk rock mixes with art, church, school programs, families, demonstrations,cats and dogs all at once and within the space of a small park, everyone takes note of whats happening around them and if they want to join… why not?

Berlin is bustling with art, energy, music, creativity, Berlin is the German capital of fashion, movies, music and arts in general. It seems like there is a museum in every corner and it seems like all of them are constantly busy, even the ones that are temporarily built by the artists themselves in half-destroyed and abandoned buildings. But while all this energy is flowing all over the city, Berlin finds a way to remain very austere and extremely silent. Berlin is so silent that at times it becomes scary. Aside from a couple of central spots like Alexanderplatz, which would be the equivalent of a downtown area for instance, Berlin is without exagerating one bit, as quiet as being in the middle of the country or in a farm. Walking through the streets on any time of day o night all you hear is steps from other people walking near you and the eventual louder car noises, but the predominant sound in the streets is of the birds hapilly singing from the top of the trees, that are also plenty. At night it becomes so quiet that the mere steps of someone outside will seem loud, especialy since there aren’t really that many people roaming around.

The nightlife and the bars are also a thing of their own. People are respectful of the neighbors and enjoy themselves inside if they want to be loud, and if you think that the streets are taken by bars and 24-hour parties, well, they are not. Berlin manages to have one of the best night lifes in Europe without being noisy and annoying to everyone else, which to me is truly bizarre and hard to achieve.

The overall behaviour in this city is of deep respect, you can be walking down the street topless and people will not be staring or making comments, you will see, like i have, men with heir butts showing in one of those fetish leather pants, walking around naturally like everyone else, and not a single person cares, to which its own.

Berlin has grown to become such an important cultural hub and trend-setter for Europe that you even forget the whole wall deal. And it seems like that’s what they really want to see hapening. That damned wall is nothing but a sad reminder of bad days gone by, of atrocities and deep disrespect to other human beings, but still, parts of that wall remain there, as a reminder to this new generation of all that has gone wrong, of all injustice and foolishness that has been poduced by none other than human beings just like any of us – well, maybe not me, but i can’t b so sure about you – just kidding.

I have thought of many theories to explain what makes Berlin such a riveting and civilized city, but the best one is that it probably was restrind and contained for so long that pople just learned to live under strict rules and respct each others space, people had to learn to live with each other and endure through good, bad o ugly. the sense of community must also definitely come from that same place. it seems to me that the ways of Berlin can be quite deceiving for those who go visit unaware of their costumes. But mostly in a good way, of course.

Berlin, made me shine, through every corner, park, grafitti, museum, river, creek and fountain, Berlin had a magic that was really hard to explain and even harder to put into words, Berlin filled my heart with joy and opened my eyes to much brighter world, where people can rely on each other and trust whoever or whatever. Berlin in its entirety was the most inspiring experience i have had in a long, a very long time!

The Wonders of Love


There is a difficulty that i believe is inside most of us, it’s not the usual obstacle, it lives inside us and we don’t even know about it. It only comes out in those moments when you really should not have it, and you really have to fight it in order to achieve a certain place. This place is a feeling, this place also generates many other feelings, in you, a friend, a relative, or even that someone you’ve been secretely admiring for quite some time. To say “i love you”, or “i love this”, is one of the hardest things to do.

By finding love inside myself over and over again i was able to let go of the restraints of embarrassement or fear of saying the words. I found that loving myself was the most invaluable feeling i could have ever achieved, and from that i found that i had to – A – admit it, and – B – learn to share it. It’s not like i made a mission of walking around grabbing people, shaking them down and telling them to love as much as they could and love themselves above all – that would be crazy… Or would it?- but it was simply by paying it forward.

There has been so much pain and rejection in my life, there were times when it was impossible for me to understand why should people be put through so much hurt. Everyone has their share, some people learn from them, some don’t, a few others keep bouncing back, others harden themselves and build a wall to make it all more distant, but i lived through all the pain, quietly inside myself and by myself. Please stop right here. This is not meant to make you feel sad or bad for me, so keep on reading. I lived through the pain, i had no one to share it with, i didn’t believe in therapy, i didn’t feel i had anyone i could share it with to a level where i would be heard and understood, so i looked inside myself, i searched for the elements that were already in me, because someone once told me that we hold the answers to all our questions inside ourselves, and that simple phrase stayed with me, and eventually i understood what that meant.

It started off by not feeling sorry for myself, and also by rationalizing all the pain, i could not care less for the tears, which by the way hadn’t turned up around my face for many, many years, all i wanted was to make all the problems go away, one by one, and there was no way around it, i had to face the music, and that would be whatever was playing, i really did not care. As each problem came tumbling down, i grew stronger and my heart eventually could not fit inside me anymore. That was when i found love, and as tacky as it may sound, it was love that saved my life. By loving i started feeling again, the tears finally started to roll down, even when i was watching silly tv commercials i would cry, i mean, i cry for everything, and it’s because i am touched, or happy, or sad, or angry, it doesn’t matter, but for me it was the best thng that ever happened, because it showed me that i was alive again. To live through pain, death and illness and not shed a tear is the weirdest feeling i ever felt, and it happened repeatedly, for many years, that’s why i say that crying woke me up.

When The Beatles sang “all you need is love”, they knew what they were talking about, it is the most absolute truth and it’s what keeps me going. Not only did love solve my problems and finished with my pain, but it also made me a much happier and open person, it made me see that the possibilities are infinite, it made me see that there is absolutely nothing wrong with trial and error, nothing complicated about taking chances and speaking up, that giving a hand to a stranger could lead to endless possibilities and that everyone needs a little love, so why not share it? I mean, i sure have plenty to share.

I found that loving is an exercise, you have to remind yourself constantly of the love you have for yourself, you have to constantly throw it around at others so that they know they feel it too. Life is hard and sometimes it toughens us a bit too much, to the point we forget we are human beings and we feel everything; that’s how we were built and meant to be, otherwise we would be just like every other animal.

I have come to learn that no matter how bad things are or how hard it is to understand the world around you, you have to always keep on loving as much and as hard as you can, because there is too much negativity all around and even at the worst moment, there will be something to be loved, there is this belief inside of me that everything, anyone, all things that exist deserve love, of course there are flaws in all and any, but why should you hold on to the flaws when all else can be far more interesting and entertaining anyway?

Think about it, love is not just something for silly romance movies, love is serious stuff, and if you open your heart and sould to it you will see how good it feels to love so much and how good it makes the people around you feel too, there is no way around it, it is contagious at its best, and i love it!

The turn of the Swan


What can i say about the ballet? Well, I love it. It my sound tacky, old or boring to most people, i know, because that’s how i used to feel about it too, but that was because i did not know ballet. I had never in all my years experienced what ballet really is, never had i gone to see a show from a real ballet company and experience the nunaces of the dances and the music and how they interact so beautifully to create images and how all these images lead to an exciting story.

It was the New York City Ballet that showed me what the art of the ballet is all about. This company showed me that ballet is not all about tutus and classical music, it showed me that there can be twists to it, that the music, whatever it may be can always have an interpretation and tell its story through the precise steps and gentle moves of the dancers.

The first show i ever watched was The Nutcracker; it had been a lifelong dream of mine to watch this particular show at christmas eve in New York city, and so, on my first holiday season alone in New York, thats what i did, i bought myself a good seat for the 8pm show and immersed myself in that art, i decided that if i was oing to do it, sit through three hours of ballet, i was going into it with an open mind and heart, and try to learn as much as possible aboutit and try to feel the same excitement that the people who are presenting it to the audience do.

The beauty of the stage design, the costumes and the stunning music were all gorgeous, it lifts you up, there is no other way, however, as those dancing heros, jump and twirl and glide through the stage, that’s when the magic happens, because i saw people just like me and the guy sitting next to me, doing things that i could never imagine possible, every move of every part of their body was all of a sudden communicating something different, they were saying this person was happy, or sad, or in love, or deeply hurt, o confused. Their bodies also showed the unbelievable capacity of moving and reaching places and positions unseen, it was like watching a scene from a movie filled with special effects, except that it was all real, happening in front of me on the stage of the David H. Koch theater.

I could not believe what i was feeling, i was laughing, crying, being surprised every minute and all i wanted was more, more, more. When the show finished i was even more puzzled: Was this a one time only experience or did i really like the ballet? Well, i went on a search and bought myself tickets for another show, completly different, no big sets or flashy costumes, just dance and music, and this time it was even more exciting. To be able to read into the dance is a privilege, and to be able to witness those dancers making such beautiful art happen right in front of me is an even greater privilege. I since then became a member of the New York City Ballet, i make sure to get my tickets for all my favorite shows in advance and i don’t miss a single one of them!

It still puzzles me why are people so resistent to such a beautiful form of art, a form of art that is so alive and is so vibrant, that brings you into the show, makes you feel a part of the action and opens your heart to feelings that cold have been long forgotten. The excitement of the ballet is far beyond my abilities to write, soi will no longer try to explain it, but it would be really amazing if every day more people felt interested by the ballet, because for me, it’s a form of art that should never be gone.

Lola’s Scream


i have been thinking a lot lately about how the mind works, i mean, not in regards to every aspect of it, but mostly, you know, about how our wheels spin and how our thoughts, ideas and decisions come to be. I have been thinking a lot about it, it’s been very unsettling, very different too, because up until now i never really cared that much, things happened like they always do, sometimes very easily or with some difficulty, but right now, in this place where i find myself in my life, i ask myself: how does all this decision making go on? I have been thinking about it all the time, i also wonder if other people think about it too, i wonder if they even think there is a mechanism or even a “thinking”; or if they just assume things happen because they do.

The reality is that i am really tired. I am tired of making decisions, and thinking about them, and thinking twice before doing something, you know, like in that saying? I know it may sound premature, but i think all the time, all day long, i make decisions for myself, for my clients, for my friends, for my family, for god knows who! I decide from the moment i wake up and lately i have been deciding even in my sleep. Lately, the “decision making” has been heavier than ever, the “thinking” has been more frenetic than New York traffic during the holidays and all of that has translated in so much noise in my head that sometimes it becomes so loud that it is unbearable to carry on, or stand still, or have my eyes open or closed, it’s all so loud and so messy that it’s hard to just be.

I can be standing still but i won’t be, i can try to lie down but i won’t rest, i can sit in the darkest corner of my room and i will still be in motion, my body still moves in spasms and twitches from all the thoughts floating in my head, it’s a clash that comes from all sides, from the noisy silence that comes from the street or from the just finished day still echoing in my ear drums; it’s the actual physical manifestation of my thoughts that lately hasn’t even allowed me to sleep, that wakes me up in the middle of the night to say: REMEMBER THIS! DO THAT! BE THAT WAY! This is why i am tired, because never before have i had to think about thinking, never before have i had to try to stop myself from thinking in order to conclude a thought and get to a decision, never before has the white noise become so poisonous and loud.

I have all these pictures that pop up on my mental screen, they are references from movies, songs or plays, of those moments when the carachter stops everything and analyzes that scene or moment, or in a song when a singer screams and every sound stops… to only then resume in perfect synthony again. But the image that has been haunting me lately is of Lola, from the German movie “Run Lola, Run”, a brilliant piece of work from the early 00’s; and in it Lola, is running so desperately to save her lover and everything is so frenetic, and her head is spinning so fast, that there is a moment when she screams with all her strenghth, and she screams so loud that people around her can’t even bare it, glasses break, clocks stop running and at the end of that scream everything is perfect and well and she can then return to her running yet again. That’s the image i have been visualizing lately, and as awful as i know it may sound, i wish i could scream even louder, but so loud that even some people’s heads would pop and they would cease to exist, they would not die, because i don’t necessarily want that for them, but they would just disappear with the head, and they would disappear from my microcosmos. Maybe they would carry on living in their own space, but they would just be inexistent for me. Wouldn’t that be nice? But i wouldn’t want any controle over it, this would just be something that could happen or not, and when it did it would be very random, according to what fate judged necessary, like popping a pimple, instant relief to something that is really annoying, like a torn in my foot or a pebble in my shoe. It would be like a bonus for excessive thinking.

I don’t know what to think anymore, my mind wonders and wanders away, it thinks of completely unnecessary things constantly; i mean, why should i be thinking if i will live long enough to have a house by the lake or children to raise, when right now what i should really be thinking is about my career; or that date that went really badly because i couldn’t stop thinking about the bad date that i had the previous week. It is complete insanity, but it is what it is and this is the point where i am at in my life, when thinking is such hard work that it even hurts. I am not joking.

Maybe there is something that is tangled in there, in my little box of thoughts, because to me that’s all the brain is, a little woody and wide box where everything is stored in files and cabinets and sometimes in computers and hard drives too. Sometimes there are spirits floating around too, i don’t know if i would call them that, but they would be like clerks or librarians or something, and i guess they make the mess; maybe the clerk’s assistant files something in the wrong cabinet and next thing you know i am taking a train to Jersey while i still live in Manhattan, that kind of stuff, the kind of stuff you do when you are really exhausted.

So, the hope here is that this will help my head to untangle, maybe writing this will send a clue to the guys up there in the box that maybe it’s time to put things back in order, and i certainly hope that they read this before they put it away.

Yours truly, the body.

Sylvia, who are you?


I was just now going on and on about the Italian spirit and how you have to admire their way of life, every time i go to Italy i feel super inspired, and someone said: “Oh darling it’s La Dolce Vita” !

And it is true, that scene with Anita Ekberg in the fountain is so remarkable and gorgeous, it is breath taking, one of the most outstanding images ever created by the movie industry and also a really good idea of what the Italian spirit is to me!

Viva Frederico Fellini !

See the video of the scene here!

A Kick from Mother Nature

I have recently been to Haiti on a mission: to get to know the country and their people in order to help their children with the non-profit organization Lakay Pam. Upon my return, Modelinia.com asked me to write an essay about my experience there, and I wanna share it HERE with you.

Enjoy!

A Kick from Mother Nature

While the world has kept Haiti on their minds and in their hearts ever since the tragic experience, only a select few individuals have had the opportunity to visit the country and see the tragedy while lending a helping hand. Elite agent Gabriel Ruas shared his experience in Haiti with Modelina, just in time for the Lakay Pam event, hosted by Coco Rocha tonight – to which you’re all invited!
I have been working with NGO Lakay Pam (”My House” in Creole) for a little over three years. The organization, started by one of the models I manage, Carolina Bittencourt, has touched me from the beginning. Carolina, who traveled the world through her modeling career had always felt the need to help, but never believed that simply giving money away was the right way to do it. It was only when she met Haitian entrepreneur Cedrick Roche that she finally came accross her mission. With Cedrick by her side she set off to Haiti to learn all about this tiny country in the Caribbean, so close from the modern world but so far from everyone’s memories.
Carolina and Cedrick set sights in one particular orphanage and the goal was to help the children of Haiti, many abandoned by their parents, many unable to afford education, many without even a grain of rice to eat at the end of the day. Today, Lakay Pam helps to provide shelter, education, health care and food for over 700 children in Haiti, but the number of the ones in need is much bigger and it grows on a daily basis.
After the earthquake in January of this year, I decided I would finally make my way to the emerald shores of Haiti and put my hands to work. Through the invitation of Lakay Pam and their local supporters I ended up in Port Au Prince, and I couldn’t be more excited and panicked at the same time; the thought of what I was going to run into was unclear and blurry in my head. After the easy and comfortable 3 hour flight from New York, arriving at the airport was simple, but the effects of the destruction were already visible; military helicopters and airplanes parked in the partially destroyed airport and very minor organization on the way in were nothing more than the expected.
After I settled in and reorganized myself, I hopped in the car and went to downtown Port Au Prince. Everywhere I looked around me, I found destruction, from small houses to tall buildings, most of the city crashed down to the ground, 6 floors of construction layered on top of each other, like a sandwich of death. As the car got closer to the core of the city it got worse, and some of the buildings that are still standing show signs of instability, keeping their residents outside, living in improvised tents.
The tents are an entirely new chapter. Tents are spread all over the city where there used to be beautiful squares and monuments, in the hills that border the town, everywhere you look you can see them, alongside tons of debris and trash. It’s heart breaking and disappointing to see that in the modern age we still are subject to such cruelty.
But not all is lost, and every single Haitian citizen and visitor, like myself, will tell you that. The people in that island share something very special, that is their will to survive and their positivity. Haitians have been ruled by brutal, corrupt and selfish presidents; disrespectful and near useless police force, and they have always managed to keep on living, why shouldn’t they now?
The art is spread all over the country, their local artisans show their skills in mosaics, stone sculptures and unimaginable things made of straw. And all that work is done without ever attending a class to teach them the things that many design students from the developed world would take a life time to figure out.
The help that is coming from all sides is being allocated to their respective places, but at this point the damage is so extensive and so lost in the middle of the politics that it has become easier to do as we are doing, going down there and assessing what you can do for yourself. If it’s cribs, xray machines, mattresses, bricks or cement that they need, let’s buy it, let’s do what we can. In a country where the vast majority of people have no running water or electricity, even one hundred dollars can go a long way.
But let me tell you now, what you can do, that would be even easier and surprisingly pleasant: next time you have to take a vacation, instead of going to every other packed destination in the Caribbean, go to Haiti. Yes dear reader, that’s what I said, go to Haiti. With some of the most astonishing beaches in the world, Haiti was once the top destination for vacation, even Elizabeth Taylor had a house there! Well, Haiti’s beaches are still the same and nature has never looked better! Places like Ile à Vache, Port Salut and Cap Haitian have outstanding resorts surrounded by culture and history, not to mention a much different scenario than the one you will run into at Port au Prince. I’ll also tell you a little secret: If you ever went on a cruise through the Caribbean, you have probably already bathed in Haitian waters and walked in one of their beaches; the reason why you don’t know about it is because they won’t tell you, simply because of the bad reputation the country had for many years.
And how will vacationing in Haiti help the country? Well, the more people go there, more money will be injected into the country and more the hotels will be busy and with that more jobs will be generated and more the economy will get back into place. It’s not a rare and unknown formula, it has happened in many cities of Africa, South America, and Asia, which now solely depend on tourism. It may seem like a long shot, but at least you are trying and will have an amazing experience while doing so!

I would even take the chance to say that if you got to the end of this long writing, than you already are on the right track! Help in any way you can, but help no matter what, don’t let this destruction go unresolved don’t let this disaster be forgotten, don’t let Haiti go once again into that dusty place that lives in your end every bodies brains. Only together we can help this nation struck by some bad luck and a lot of bad political decisions.

A Song to say Goodbye

Would it be happy or sad? If you had to use a song to say goodbye, would it be a sad goodbye or a happy farewell? Would it be filled with melancholy or with hopes for a happy re-encounter? i never thought about it in fact, i kept on listening to this specific song that repeated the phrase on and on like a scratched record and it was only now that i realized that the phrase is actually quite interesting.

On its own, detached from any other words, signs or phrases, that one specific sentence can really put your brain to work. Of course there are sad songs, happy songs, violent songs, songs of all sorts, but what does a song to say goodbye sound like? Should it be mellow? why would anyone use a song to say goodbye anyway? Goodbyes are moments dreaded by most of everyone; when have you ever heard anyone saying that they “loved goodbyes”? I would not raise my hand for that one, and i am pretty sure that pretty much everyone’s answer to that question would be: never.

it is simple as that, if a goodbye turns into a moment, than it is most likely not a happy one. Even if the goodbye is happening because of a really cool occasion, like a promotion to a branch in a grater city or a scholarship in that cool foreign country, the goodbye on its own, the act of saying goodbye at that moment is not necessarily so filled with joy.

So, at the end, i guess that a song to say goodbye could turn out to be a pretty cool thing. Imagine; you are at the airport, dreading that awkward moment when you hug-kiss-cry-all at once moment, and everyone else around you can tell whats going on, and then, all of sudden you lover, or child, or parent starts singing you a little song, and that song will probably stick to your brain, better yet, to your heart, and will help both to go on and give both something to cling to whenever missing that special one can’t even be translated into words.

Songs are meant to lift you up, songs are meant to generate emotions, to make your heart beat faster, songs can lift moods, carry movies, change the course of a play and make or ruin your day. Songs keep you company and never ever let you go, not even when you don’t have anywhere or anything to play a song on, not even if your mute and can’t even humm, you will always have your songs stuck within the walls of your brain.

So, yes, a song to say goodbye probably would be something very cool and generous, a true act of love!

Order and Progress

Times have changed, and they still change constantly and much faster than they used to. you get around nowadays and talk to people from whatever part of the world, and the level of education and knowledge is maybe 10% of what it used to be fifty years ago. The perception of the world have changed; yes, it’s easier to get around and access information, but how much of the knowledge are we really absorbing?

There was a time when people would get great education at their countries, learn the history of the world and be open to know the stories of the past. Those who had some level of money and power would send their children to schools abroad, to learn different languages and get higher level of education and broader cultural knowledge.

Nowadays the furthest you will go is with an exchange student program for six months, and even then, the level of education is not guaranteed to excel. Yes you have experiences that are valuable for your life, but what is your money really paying for? Maybe some different scenery views, movie sessions and frat house parties?

Let’s talk about day to day politeness too. Back in the day, families ate together, talked about issues of the world. People asked to be excused, said they were sorry when wrong and complimented their friends even at the smallest accomplishment. Hello’s, goodbye’s and pleases were exchanged at all social levels and ages, and the grammar was respected in both in the writing or in a conversation. Letters helped too, it made the reader use its imagination, it encouraged writers to practice their writing and had a certain romance to it too.

Today is today only, and maybe there’s room to discuss tomorrow, but today is never yesterday. The past has been shot dead by a bazooka and with the years passing it’s getting deeper and deeper under ground, buried under a pile of stupid useless knowledge. Who now has the time to think about the formation of the great lakes, or who made the first airplane, or how some of the countries that are now living in poverty used to be the safest, most educated and more sought after in the world?! Not many people; not many are interested in what makes the world spin, in the mechanisms that could change the course of history. The short attention span is one of the causes of the decline of the modern civilization, people are interested on what’s hot now, but five minutes from now something else will be hot and that’s when the world starts cracking and why it is now falling apart.

There is a reason for every little thing that happens on earth, the explanation for it all is available, be it in a text book, a biography, Google or in a Discovery documentary; but the information is there none the less. What is really scary is the fact that even though the information is more abundant and accessible than ever, people still choose to live blindly, and even the ones who choose to see, don’t feel empowered enough to affect changes into the system.

The truth for these times is that it takes a couple of bold people to affect change, and even the smallest change is a big push to our world. Our planet is going down, and the way of the future has to be made by the combination of knowledge, action, hope and urgency, because if order is not urgent for the progress of our planet now, than I don’t know what is.

The Greatest

This morning I was in a bus on my way back home from the beach after a weekend of fun, and after a good hour of sleep I woke up to realize we were almost arriving at the bus station, and as I looked out the window the greatness of the city hit me. The skyscrapers, the bridges, the tunnels, even the bus station, everything here is greater and grander than any other place in the world, but not in a show off kind of way, this is a city that wasn’t designed to be that way, it just happened.

But the city’s greatness is not limited to the city itself, the city is only this great because of the people in it, because the people here always worked harder than anywhere else, the people here were the people from everywhere else, people who arrived here with no money and the will to survive, the will to start fresh and rebuild their lives, because talent here is appreciated and recognized, because from the start, years and years ago the city was built by great people, and they set the bar really high, and that was it.

Location was important too, whoever had the idea to come here was really smart, this piece of land is nestled in the heart of the universe. Whoever got here first also set a precedent for the prices we deal with now; the prices we deal with now, however, only seem to matter in the beginning, when you first start paying rent, because after a while you feel like what you pay is quite all right for such a great place to live in.

What other city in the world is as great as this one? Culturally there’s nothing like it. The theaters are always packed, filled with energy and great productions, everyone wants to perform here and the audience loves it. The Broadway shows are filled with charm and again, greatness. The museums are innovative and always open to new ideas, filling their hallways with old and new blood side by side making for a great experience. The streets are also part of the culture, there is street art, street dancing, street music, street performances and pop art, everywhere. Even the way some of the billboards are made are still very old-school, someone is paid to go all the way up there next to a tall building wall and paint the adds that you will be looking at for the next two weeks and feel like they were printed by machines on paper to be glued on that very wall. But they weren’t.

If you want to travel in the summer, there are endless options of beaches to get to within a 6 hour drive, it doesn’t matter how rich or poor you are or how long you’re willing to travel, you can get there easily, by train, bus or car! In the winter you can also go up to the mountains for snowboarding and that’s not a big stretch either. You can even cross the border and go to another country if you want to. You can get to Boston or D.C. if you’re in the mood for a different capital. All within those six hours. You could go to a different place every weekend if you wanted, and never get too tired.

Here you can also hop in an airplane and within 8 hours you can be in any major European city, or in the middle of the Amazon, or enjoying tango in Argentina. You can also opt to stay in American territory and visit your friends all the way in the west coast or maybe try your luck in Vegas, or even see the greatness of the grand canyon and the glaciers of Alaska.

Here is the city that truly never sleeps, here you can get a slice of pizza at any given time, you can also go shopping at 3am if you feel like it, or you can go dancing to jazz, salsa, dance or samba music at the endless night clubs available. If you’re up for a more quiet and natural experience you can go bird watching at the Central Park, said to be one of the richest natural environments for wildlife in a big city. You can go ice skating, you can go to times square to look at the signs that are so bright that they fill the sky with light and erase the stars, you can cross the bridge into the next door neighborhood and see the postcard skyline live and filled with energy, like no picture or movie on earth could reproduce.

Here is where everyone wants to be, and also where everyone is welcome to be. Here there are no boundaries for you to be whoever you want to be, you can be black, white, yellow or red, you can be Christian, Buddhist, Muslim or Jewish, you can be gay or straight, married or divorced, fat or skinny, you name it, you can be it, there is a place for you out here.

This is New York, the greatest city on earth, the city that made me feel like part of the world, because this city as problematic and complex as it may be, as any other large city is, still manages to be in peace, still manages to show the world what the world could be like, a peaceful piece of land, where its citizens care for the environment and each other, where people live together in unison, where its narrow streets make you feel like you belong and its large avenues can show you the beauty of a sunny day, be it summer or winter, the sun always manages to come out to bathe us in joy. In New York there is no room for mediocrity, here is the land of the great, and as Frank would say, if you can make it here, you’ll make it anywhere.

This is New York, the Big Apple, so come on in and take a big bite at it.

I Am Love


And so it is, you feel human once again. Not very often though, it’s not something constant, but every now and then something pushes you towards your hopes, fears, emotions, thoughts and even your own soul. We are inclined nowadays, by accident as I like to believe, to just live, get through this or that issue, say big words like love or happiness without being sure of what it is we’re saying, but we keep saying it, because that’s what we’re supposed to do, that’s what we know.

Once in a blue moon though, something happens, what you thought you knew as angst shifts and shows you the real meaning of the word, and makes you wonder: do I really know what it is that I’m doing around here? Am I serving my purpose? Do I even have one? The minute life throws you a curve ball is the minute you come face to face with your life. How will you deal with what really matters? How will you deal with your feelings?

What I believe in, is that we put a mask in our feelings without knowing it, because it makes it easier to go on living, or perhaps because it’s not something that we really know how to handle. We don’t learn anything about it in school, our parents don’t sit us down for a talk about it, apparently the use of a condom is a bigger priority, and our friends, well, they are just as lost as we are; but perhaps, we should also consider the fact that many go on living blinded by facts, numbers and rules.

The breath of fresh air and the shade of hope in life comes as it always has, through inspiration, through ideas, through the universe that conspires for us, not against us. Painters and sculptors had muses and their art inspired millions, and so it is, to this day, we are constantly being pushed and inspired by outside factors that surround us. A song, a goodbye kiss at the gate in the airport, the laughter of a child, a great book, someone’s life story or a movie; these are some of the things that can wake us up, depending of course of where we are in life. Or where we aren’t.

I am love. A simple phrase, but a phrase that makes you think, that sends your neurons spinning and that also is the name of a movie. I am love was for me a source of inspiration and fuel for thought. This is not just a movie, this is one of those things that puts life in check, it speaks to everyone, maybe not entirely, but there will be something that will catch your soul. I am love makes you feel it all at once and than it crashes you only to lift you up all over again.

Every aspect of this masterpiece is engaging and mind blowing, the soundtrack may be simple but comes into perfect coordination with the cinematography, that highlights the arts, the architecture, the actors and their brilliance; the elements are put together in a way that you are also there, feeling every breath of every character and hearing their thoughts even if they are not thinking, because you feel their life coming through the screen, because the screen is merely a way to communicate to you what someone had the skill to write, direct and produce, with love, with feeling, with brilliance. That’s why the title, as simple as it is, screams for your attention, read it again: I am love. Io sono amore. Je suis l’amour. eu sou amor. Yo soy amor.

The phrase resonates, makes you wonder, drives you crazy; this single phrase, as simple as it is, pushes you, sends you off the edge. This phrase makes you feel. Well, how can anyone actually be love? How can anyone love that much to actually be love? Or how can one assume that he or she is that important to deserve such a feeling? How does one even know what is love? How do I know what is love?

Well, here is my point exactly: I don’t know, and nor do you. We don’t really know what any of those feelings mean until they run into us and we assume that’s what it feels like. What we feel is very particular, very intimate, but this is, when it happens, the opportunity to have a dialogue with ourselves and decide where we’re headed and reflect on where we came from, to figure out what our core is. My life is here now but it may not in the next ten minutes, so, what do I do? I grab on to these little moments of inspiration and enjoy them as if i was a drug addict having that lat hit, because i don’t know when something will inspire me that much, i don’t know when will the next muse come around the corner, so i choose to feel it all, and keep feeling everything to exhaustion.

Pay it Forward

That the world is filled with nasty scumbags we all are very much aware, in all shapes and sizes, from minor to major scumbags, it’s easy for the most of us to identify them on a daily basis, sometimes even without them having to say a single word. Well, most of us even know the little scum bag that hides inside us, it comes out every now and than, it can be pretty spooky, but hopefully it won’t affect anyone else but ourselves.

But you know what’s hard to see around? The cool guys and girls, the people who thrive on paying forward the good things they get, people who are always willing to extend a helping hand or just putting in a good word for a friend or even a total stranger. As I was watching Amelie for the 25th time it suddenly hit me that one of the main reasons I love this movie is not only the amazing cinematography and direction, but that within that genius script you find loads of generosity and inspiration.

Amelie is the ultimate good girl, she has flaws, just like you and me, she has her life to deal with, as do we, but even then she always finds the time to keep good and positive things moving forward, creating what I like to call human generated serendipity. I know, I know, it probably couldn’t technically be called serendipity, but hey, it’s all about being groundbreaking, maybe this is my turn!

So, human generated serendipity, or if you’d like to call it HGS, is what happens when we work on helping others in ways that most of the times they don’t even know, by doing even the smallest things that could cause this amazing catharsis of great happenings. HGS should be more present on the day to day life, I believe it actually is happening more than ever, but even more so I would like to believe that other people can feel as inspired to do good as I do when I see Amelie, or Pay it Forward, or Mic Macs or simply by watching the news and filtering all the positive things into their souls instead of the negative. What could be more inspiring than seeing human beings helping other human beings? Or even human beings helping nature, actually, doing anything that’s good!?

See, the thing with me is that whenever i have the opportunity to do something good for someone else i will, whether i know them really well or not, i want to be able to see everyone around me being happy and successful, sometimes it’s not easy, but i will still try harder and make sure i get things done. I had this friend of a friend that wanted to make a career in the fashion industry, she came to me with a simple question and i saw a lot of talent in her work. What started as a simple conversation turned into job recommendations and eventually actual jobs started happening and every time i talk to her now she thanks me for that simple conversation we had two years ago. That is one of the things i did that inspired me to do more, all the time, I’ve done it as i was growing up, I’ve done it last week, by bringing a guy i had just met through friends to meet a girlfriend of mine, neither of them knew my intentions, but it worked beautifully and they are now in this “thing”, still not a relationship, but i can tell it’s really helping and inspiring for them both, and even if it doesn’t turn into anything more than a friendship, it will still have been very positive for their lives, i mean we can always use a good friend can’t we?

I believe that by doing good we are also fueling our own life and spirit with all that energy, we are fueling ourselves towards greater things, we become more patient, more peaceful and focused, our tolerance level goes higher and we can manage to put up with the worst of days with the calm of a Buddhist.

The point here is, that we should all try harder to keep the wheel of good moving, we should in fact push people around us to do so! It’s easy to see negativity, but we should not be blinded by it, never, we must keep digging until we find what really matters, because with positivity we can extinct all that’s bad.

They Rocked the Ball

Vogue follows two top models to the Met Ball 2010 and reveals the backstage of the party; the biggest night of the fashion industry. By Gabriel Ruas

In the two weeks before the Costume Institute Gala – also known as Met Ball, for the intimates – New York sizzles. The ball which takes place annually at The Metropolitan Museum of Art is co-produced by American Vogue, and is to the fashion world what the Oscar is for Hollywood – when it comes to red carpet, of course. The difference is that, instead of actors and directors, the target here are models and designers. Before anything, being invited is no easy feat. You’re either very influential and was invited by someone who bought a table, or you have deep pockets. The coveted tickets sell at an average of $7500 for a personal, single invitation or $250k for a table, all in order to preserve the museum’s collection. A bargain if you consider that multi-million dollar deals can be sealed in this party and that the “who is who” of fashion will be there. They all want to walk down the most fashionable red carpet on the planet.

I am an agent in the division of top models at Elite Model Management in New York, and among our clients are Alessandra Ambrosio and Charlotte Kemp Muhl, engaged to the musician Sean Lennon. Therefore, I follow all of this fashion meltdown from very close. The models who are invited by designers to sit with them at their tables are the luckiest: they are dressed by the designers themselves and don’t have to put out a single penny. The phone at the agency won’t stop ringing with calls from couturiers, hair stylists and makeup artists offering their services. Once the partnership between model and designer is defined, the team gets together for briefing. Everything is decided based on the theme of each years event. This year, the theme was “American Woman – Fashioning an Identity”, name of the exhibition that stays open until August 15th. Looks are compiled, shown and analyzed according with the body type of the girl to wear them, with the colors of the season, as well as influences of the current or upcoming season. This is not an evening to exercise creativity, but to exude elegance.

A week prior to the ball, photos of dresses, shoes, jewelry and make up colors are exchanged via hundreds of emails between the team. Many replies later the amount of wardrobe pieces is reduced to about ten dresses and twenty pairs of shoes. The weekend before the party arrives and with it also arrive the models, back from their endless work trips, tired, with only a few ours of sleep and with no time to lose. Saturday morning (the event takes place on Monday evenings), there are three looks left – most likely the guest will pick the one that’s too big or too long, as it happened with Michelle Alves last year (the model was pregnant and we had to make adjustments all over), and it’s an enormous challenge to deal with the issue on a sunday, even in New York! Dramas aside, it’s time to coordinate jewelry and shoes.

On the D day, the pressure is immense, the publicists of the models know it better than anyone: they are the ones who define times for hair and makeup, schedule car pick ups and coordinate the exact arrival time of the models at the red carpet, where they will work their magic to attract the attention of the media to their clients. The amount of flashes however will depend on endless variables. To arrive at the same time as that hot Hollywood couple is not a good choice. However, to pose with other colleagues of the industry is a guarantee of success: those are the pictures that will be bought by newspapers and magazines around the globe. As for the rest, it’s important to stay connected to every smile, every hug, and every glance. Everything there is captured and turns into news. The perfect look with the right attitude automatically elevates the hype of a model. A spot in the best dressed list is incomparable. At the very least it will guarantee an invitation to next year’s party.

Article originally featured in Vogue Brazil, June 2010

Life as an Adult

There’s an aspect about the adult life that no one told you about, it’s a detail that was overlooked during those days and nights when you longed for independence and becoming a “grown up”, and that is having responsibilities. What most of us seem to forget while we’re teenagers is that there are in fact responsibilities in life, and eventually one will catch up with the other, and in the beginning responsibility usually comes to bite you in the ass.

It starts with getting a job, even a part time, than maybe you will have to start thinking about paying a couple of bills and still have some money left for having fun with your friends, but eventually you won’t have any, and will have to stay at home watching the re-run of pretty woman and eating last night’s pop corn. Being an adult is fun, but only sometimes, there is a lot of pain, some of the people you’ve known your whole life will start leaving you, they age too and time is ruthless, you will also have failed careers, some people will get abortions, other will have to come into realization of their addictions and will have to face them in order to save their lives, but some won’t realize that on time, and will stop living at the beginning.

Being an adult is not comfortable, you have to constantly battle the world, save your position at work, fight for that item on sale at KMart, fight for the apartment you need to rent, but not the one you wish you could rent, and even though it’s a dump, it’s good for now, at least you have a roof over your head right? With being fully grown up you also have people who will start relying on you, and depending on your judgment for some big decisions in their lives, and that is totally uncomfortable.

As an adult you will also find that there is no getting away from certain things, no matter how painful or boring they are, and with time you will start being a more patient and resilient person. As an adult you will find true love and also true heart break, and that sucks… Big time! It is what it is, life has its ways of sneaking things upon us, and the next thing you’ll know is that you’re going to find yourself sitting in the subway going to work wishing you could now be going to school or summer camp, in those days when you were innocent and thought life was hard.

This is a note to self, it’s a note to remember how life is complex and rich, how even with all the downsides of becoming an adult there are still so many great things about it that you will simply forget the bad times, growing up and living one day after the other, learning one thing on top of the other, that is the true richness in life, but understanding these things is the true richness about being an adult.

Grow From Love

In the process of growth you go through adolescence, think you have it all figured out, go through what seems to be love, but it’s nothing more than infatuation, than you grow up, or what represents the beginning of being an actual grown up, and it finally hits you: you are in love.

No one prepares you for romantic love, it’s the one thing that no one can explain or understand, it’s the kind of experience that will fill your heart with joy and than crush you down into a million pieces, over and over again. The reality of being in love and what no one seems to accept, is that disappointment is included in the package deal, you get the looks, the personality, the companionship, the nights of winter by the fire, and the summer days sitting in the front porch watching the waves crash against the sand, but you also get the tiny little downsides too, and your partner gets the same, after all honey, we are all human beings subject to flaws. Sometimes there are so many little annoying things in there, adding up to a mountain of error, that it makes you wanna scream, it drives you mad, it gets you to say things that should remain unsaid, and sometimes gets you to do things that should never be done, because they will cause so much pain that you feel like your heart is being torn apart by a dinosaur.

How you overcome or balance those little problems in order to maintain a healthy relationship is the key, dialogue, item that’s in lack of these days, is the key, right next to a lot of patience, understanding and tolerance. If you are able to see problems ahead of you and deal with them, and also realize that your lover is also putting up with many little things and being very understanding, than you’re off to a keeper.

The beginning though, is the key, because in the beginning there is only so much you can do with the very little information you have about this other person. You don`t know if this is someone who likes text messages during the day, or if maybe it’s someone that prefers to talk on the phone for hours, or maybe someone that will tell you to go out with your friends and they can join you too, as it would be great to meet the people who surround you in order to get to know you better, it’s complicated, these things you can only figure out with time, and these days, time seems to be the problem.

More and more i feel like people don’t give enough time for the relationships to mature into something consistent, people just jump off the boat at the first sign it’s rocking; and the problem is that like boats need stability in order to stop rocking, so do the relationships. If a person is late or takes what seems to be forever to answer your missed phone call, what does it mean? Well, probably nothing, but it’s simply the fact that everyone responds differently or that everyone is different and lead extremely different lives; so, being suspicious or anxious will not help, it makes what should be a joyful period become a nerve wracking process, actually, it turns a natural relationship curve into a process, almost mechanical, and it shouldn’t be.

The little ups and downs of the beginning are defining and essential, they will tell which direction the relationship will take, they will show how compatible the couple is, how in tune they are with each other, and they will be the base of a solid and long term relationship. How you handle your problems in the beginning of the relationship is probably the same way you’ll do it throughout the whole experience, and not only that, but those moments of discovery will show the real personality and interaction of the couple.

So, the reality is that sometimes you need to mature, not only the relationship, but yourself, after all, you may be 25, 45 or 65, but you will always have something new to learn and add up into your life. As long as you’re open to experiment with yourself before anything else, you should be able to enjoy the ride and grow alongside your relationship… Try it, it should be fun.

The Logic in Flying

So, here i am again, in one of the many airports of the world, luggage in hand, everything in place, ready for yet another journey. To me, the process of going through a trip is very logical and organized, like many things in my life, but this is by far the epitome of all logical processes.

It starts with booking the ticket, i know what’s good and not in each different kind of airplane, i know that aisle seats are always more comfortable for my long legs and desire to have extra room to move around, i also know that depending on where i am flying to, the time of the flight is crucial, especially if i am traveling for work. Booking the last flight of the day is usually the stupidest thing to do, and booking flights with connections in famous tourist spots is also the worst nightmare you can ever have.

Once the ticket is done comes the logistics of the ride to the airport, depending where you’ll be or the time of the departure it makes a huge difference to take a private car, a taxi or the subway. The process of the trip for me begins on the morning of the departure, after my bags are packed, because i may have to go to work and from there to the airport, or not, it’s all craziness, even when I’m packing the bag there needs to be some logic, and to me it’s so logic now, that it never takes me more than fifteen minutes to get it done.

So, here i am, outside the airport, probably already checked in via the internet, because i know that it’ll save me time, since I’ll be able to skip all those first time travelers or families with their children and 20 bags spread out all over the place and taking the time of five different airline representatives to be able to check in. So, i skip all that, i print my luggage tag, drop the bag into what i like to call the black hole – because even though i never had any lost luggage, you never know when it could be your first time, and it’s quite amusing to me how a bag can get lost in a direct flight between New York and Miami, i can never wrap my head around it, how is it possible to loose someone`s luggage on such an easy direct flight? Anyways, as long as it`s not mine or of any of my travel companions it’s none of my business. – After i`m done with the black hole thing, it`s time to cut to the chase.

After all my travelings i realized that it’s always better to simply get to the airport in advance, and get to the gate as early as possible, not only you know you definitely are boarding your flight, but you’re also there to seize any sort of opportunity that might appear, to either get upgraded, or move seats, or if you’re on vacation, get your hands on that exquisite credit voucher and board the next flight in first class! So, passport and ticket out in hands opened on the correct page and ready for inspection. While waiting for security check, since it’s an unavoidable pain, i observe the x-ray lines, searching for the one with the usual businessman, the occasional student or the ones that are packing lighter, as these are always faster and ready for the process. I mean, what`s so difficult about the x-ray? All you have to do is take your shoes off, jacket, belt if any, and get that laptop out of it`s casing and into a separate tray. The process is extremely basic and all over the posters, all over the airport, a five year old could do it in a heart beat, but apparently some people can`t seem to understand that you need to leave your metals in the tray and they keep trying, once, twice, even four times… well, God apparently wasn’t fair with everyone when it comes to brains! I, personally, have my system: shoes that are easy to take in and out, never wearing any belt or metals, and all my electronics are in my jacket`s pockets, therefore, once i take the jacket off and place it in the tray, i don`t have to think about anything else, and that will leave me with two trays, one for the laptop and the other one for my shoes and jacket, and of course my bags; three items that will be easily reorganized after they go through the eyes of security.

From than on, it’s all a piece of cake until you’re boarded, because nobody deserves to be stuck in an airplane’s aisle while Mr. 75 year old fisherman decides clumsily how he’s going to fit his large sized materials and bags in such limited space, or even those truly selfish ones that see 50 people behind them holding heavy bags waiting to find their seats while this person decides what to do with the insanely over sized “carry-on” bags, that shouldn’t even have been allowed on board to begin with. The flight attendants though, will only rush for assistance once the first passenger waiting in line speaks up, than it`s like the gates of hell are open, everyone has an opinion, even the ones that are sitting down with their luggage properly accommodated. There is a logic to these things, and it is so deeply obvious, that`s why these sizing rules were made, so that everyone could have enough room for their bags, so that everyone can simply walk into the airplane, throw their luggage in the overhead bins and sit down to watch a movie.

Isn’t it a delight when one can simply get things done like that? When you can simply sit and observe the craziness of the illogical people? To me it`s unnerving, i sometimes just want to get up, grab one of those illogical by the arm and shake them up to see if i can put their brains back in order – “lady! what part of placing your roller bag wheels out don`t you understand? Wheels out is not sideways, it’s WHEELS OUT, which means the frigging wheels are going to be facing you, so that the other passenger has enough room to place his bag next to yours, get it??!!?”. And that`s not the only thing; everyone knows, that until you depart it`s so much easier and faster for the crew if you keep your seat-belt fastened, your seat in the upright position and your electronic devices turned off, because that will speed things up, and you know for a fact that you do not have enough time to watch a movie or calmly listen to some music and take a nap anyways – The flight attendant will wake you up for departure if your seat is reclined sir, isn’t that obvious? don’t you know it’s the most ancient requirement for departures and landings?? And why haven’t you still turned your ipod and blackberry off? Why do you have to wait until the flight attendant screams at you to turn it off otherwise you’re going to crash down the airplane??? If you wanna die why don’t you just jump off the Empire State Building? It`s easier, faster, cheaper and if you kill someone else it won`t be more than one person, as opposed to an entire airplane… cool? – i mean, i wish the flight attendants could be more rude or sarcastic sometimes, I’m pretty sure that that kind of people really need to get a clue, not a flight!
Anyways, there’s logic pretty much in everything we do in our day to day lives, of course i don’t really pay attention to it most of the times, but if there is one thing that needs to follow a very logical process, that one thing is traveling, after all, you just want to get from point A to B as fast and painless as possible and be able to enjoy every minute of it.
So, once i start my airline you will surely be able to sit back and fly safe, and if anyone is annoying you, they are sure to get their piece of clue coming their way!

A Sea of Love

How good would it be to feel like you actually are in a sea of love? Not the infatuation kind of sea of love, an actual sea of love, where families stick together, lovers hardly ever fight, and when they do it’s silly and usually ends in more love. In the sea of love we lso love all that surrounds us, the birds, and the trees, and we don’t really need to fight, because in the sea of love there’s room for everyone, for everything, for all colors, religions and political beliefs, in the sea of love there’s an understanding that love equals respect and acceptance.

Our world is too fast paced, we don’t allow ourselves to love anymore, many have even forgotten to love themselves, which to me is a shame. Who will be able to give you as much love, support and attention as yourself? Really, the lack of self-love and respect has reached crazy heights. We now have anti-depressants, all sorts of drugs, virtual sex, sugar and fat (lots of sugar) and alcoohol; all of those are now replacement for self-love, because people forget that in order to find love in someone else you must first accept and love yourself.

Isn’t that basic? Why does anyone need affirmation from others? I don’t know and it scares me to think that someday even i may fall on that trap. I’ve been pretty good for most of my life, but what do i know, i’ve only been around for twenty five years or so, so it is as they say: never say never… right?

Enough with negativities, lets go back to the sea of love, after all, love attracts love. What i want to say here is very basic: love as much as you can, love everything around you, even the bad things that come your way, because those are the things that are teaching you and making you grow stronger, i am proof of that theory, it is NOT bullshit or words out of a self-help book – they could be but i wouldn’t know because i never read any – it’s the most intelligent thing anyone can do; love, love, love!

So instead of going all mushy and thinking: “oh, he probably got lucky on a date or something and got carried away”; think twice: i have always believed in it, and never been shy to voice it out, through songs, my writings or silly movies i watch over and over; love is in fact the sweetest thing, love is king, love is all we need; so come with me, into the sea, the sea of love, because i wanna tell you how much i love you too !

PS.: Thanks Cat Power for the inspiration through one of the most gorgeous songs ever recorded.

What a Difference a Day Makes

Dinah Washington once sang “What a difference a day Made”, probably her most popular recording ever, but those little words, squeezed in a few blissfully melodic minutes meant a lot, and to this day, those words still have the same impact and maybe even more meaning.

As i was walking back home during a lazy morning i realized how life goes by so quickly that we hardly ever stop to pay attention to the little things that could make a big difference in our days, our perspectives and ultimately in our lives. As i was walking through the noisy streets of chinatown, trying to find some sense in the path i was taking, i realized that maybe i shouldn’t even have a path to take, after all, this was a lazy day, a day i had off, during the week, something so rare and that could be so valuable, something that we all long for almost everyday while we’re sitting inside an office, something that at that moment i had, for one day, i had that kind of freedom. If i wanted to i could choose not to go home, i could wander around, not take a shower, not make any sense at all, for that one particular day, i could do whatever i wanted, i could even not answer the phone at all, pretend i had vanished into a black hole, and no one would ever know my whereabouts.

To me, that day was a beautiful revelation, to me, that particular day changed many things. For the first time in a long time i realized how i could take advantage of a day, how i could do my favorite things, walk around, observe, pay attention to the little happenings that take place in life all the time, all around us. At first i felt like i had to suck it all in, i stood there, in the corner of Hester and Canal, took a deep breath, listened to the children running behind their moms, the old ladies pulling their carts, watched as the florists arranged the window for a new day that was about to begin, paid attention to the hectic movement of the people that were actually busy going to work and staring at me as if i was a crazy person standing there with nothing to do. I watched the cab drivers shouting out to the air their useless complaints about how bad the traffic was – as if it would change anything – and also saw at the same time, accross the street, way past the crazy noises, an EMO couple saying their goodbyes, parting ways and staring back at each other as they walked away, in the most romantic and passionate gesture that only exists between true lovers. The birds were all aligned outside the buildings, going on in their conversations about probably where to fly to for their next meal or on who to take that nasty dump that will really send that person off the edge and will probably be really funny for them to watch. I wondered what could be going through the head of the guy that just threw some paper in the already disgusting pavement instead of just disposing of it in the trash can that stood a step away from him; i wondered if maybe he felt that his act was some sort of help for the sanitation worker’s to keep their jobs in a time of crisis, but than, three miliseconds later i decided that it was a crappy theory and discarded it in that very trash can that the passer by disregarded.

As i decided to make my way up Elizabeth Street, i brushed against a chinese lady who cursed at me in something that could only be chinese but wouldn’t really make a difference as she kept on going without ever even looking back, after all, to her i was only another person blocking her way, and it seemed like she had lots of errands to run with her little cart – off she went! I smiled and turned away only to realize that a kid across the street was staring at me, and as i was looking straight into her eyes, we connected for a second, acknowledged each other, giggled and kept on going. Those little connections are to me the most priceless things in a day, what took that particular person to share that fraction of a moment with me, that moment that didn’t really mean anything, but filled my heart with joy.

As my day went by and i sat in every square that was once overlooked, walked into every shop that once caught my eye as i was on my hurried way to work or somewhere else, talked to every single human being i could and even some canine and feline subjects too, observed and listened to everyone around me and fell in love with every little aspect of life all over again, i realized that this is what it’s all about, this is the true experience of life, feeling and being open to everything is a true blessing and i was blessed to have that day.

As the day progressed, so did i, i made notes, i had thoughts, i felt like i was filled with life, i realized that taking an hour off to wander around during luch time could now be a new and refreshing project, i realized that being with yourself can be the best quality time available, being with yourself will probably always be the most revealing experience you will ever have, an epiphany from the neuro gods that live within you.

So, my advice here – not that you care – is pretty obvious: enjoy your life in the rythm of a caterpillar, move slowly and patiently, not only it will bring you enlightenment but it will also give you an extra boost of energy.

As the song said, a day truly made a huge difference, twenty four little hours come a long way when you allow yourself to be truly alive, when you allow yourself to live the unexpected experiences, when you share a random conversation while standing in line at the bank or riding in the subway, when you get lost and you discover a new empire of possibilities that never even crossed your mind, or even when you’re there, just standing in the corner, minding your own business and you’re hit by that nasty and unexpected bird poop, it is as the saying says: shit happens!

Begin Again

Married to a Haitian and responsible for an orphanage-school for more than 400 children in the island, the model Carolina Bittencourt will never forget January 12: while she was giving birth to her daughter, her husband’s homeland crumbled to pieces.

By Gabriel Ruas Santos Rocha

Carolina Bittencourt knew that January 12, 2010 would not be a day like any other, since at 2pm she would enter the delivery room at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York to give birth to little Olivia, fruit of her union of two years with Haitian businessman Cedrick Roche. What Carolina couldn’t imagine was that this day would be twice unforgettable. When she was taken back to her room, finally awaken and split between the joy of her newborn daughter and the postpartum pain, she started receiving a series of unexpected text messages. These messages congratulated her on the birth of her child but ended with well wishes to Haiti and often inquired whether Cedrick’s family was safe, which at that moment made absolutely no sense. Carolina, who had founded an NGO which maintains an orphanage-school and a dental clinic in the small Caribbean island three years ago, thought this sudden interest was strange. When she turned on the television, it was all made clear. She stared at Cedric perplex, and happiness gave room to despair facing the images of devastation and chaos.

The country was in ruins, thousands of lives were lost, not to mention the anguish of not knowing what was the real situation of their family. Journalists still weren’t able to properly report the extent of the damages, Cedrick relentlessly called his parents, with no luck. Until connection was finally established with an uncle. The relief of knowing that at least one of his family members was alive and safe was indescribable, and the news his uncle brought were even better: Cedrick’s parents were also alive and well. Cedrick, who comes from a privileged family, owners of a chain of supermarkets and resident of an area with better infra-structure, could breathe only partially relieved, since now the main concern of this couple was to find out the whereabouts of the children of the orphanage and what was the current condition of the NGO Lakay Pam. Cedrick made hundreds of calls, but didn’t get anywhere. The brief phone connection he had with his uncle before was lost, and the sun set with no possibility of new communications. Now more than ever, it was necessary to pray and hope for the best.

The television in the bedroom remained turned on, non-stop. Olivia, the new member of the family, seemed just as nervous as her parents and didn’t sleep for more than an hour. Carolina could not set aside the happiness about her daughter, but the possibility that all those children in Haiti, not just the 400 of her orphanage, could be dead, hurt or without shelter, repeatedly broke her heart. Even today she finds it hard to put into words what was going through her head in those first few hours. The Brazilian model had always been very close with the children of the orphanage, saw the arrival of many of them still very young, at that institution, she saw up close how they grew and developed, and she was also very close with some of the parents of the children who attended school at Lakay Pam.

On the morning following the earthquake, phone connections were reestablished for a few minutes. Cedrick was able to speak to his family, and they still had no news about the orphanage, since all access was blocked by rumble and despair. The supermarkets had been partially destroyed, but luckily his brother in law was spared with only some bruises underneath the building. After a brief bulletin, the connection was once again lost, and for several hours would not be re-established. At this point North American news outlets had already set up camp in order to bring more precise information about the conditions of the country – after all, New York has the largest Haitian community outside of Haiti – and several nations started deploying help. Seeing the global mobilization, Cedrick and Carolina felt a certain relief. Even knowing that the human and material support would have immense difficulty getting to its destination, they had an intuition that it had finally come the time for Haiti to receive the attention it had needed for so long. Three hours away from New York city by plane, that is the poorest country in the Americas, for years with no potable water and four daily hours of electric power. It also holds one of the highest rates of HIV infection in the world. These are not data to be proud of, and Carolina started her work exactly because of that. The few NGO’s that extensively work daily to bring change faced enormous difficulties – from corruption and government bureaucracy to gang related violence and threats. Haiti has been in a state of civil war and continues to suffer the consequences.

Exhausted for the lack of sleep and long hours of crying, Carolina and Cedrick knew that there was no time to rest. They pondered that the earthquake might have been a way of Mother Nature to show the world that this is the time for action, not in five minutes, not tomorrow. Therefore, still in the hospital, they began to work. Between a nap and some time with their daughter, Carolina sent off emails to her friends in fashion. The answers poured in like a flood. Top models Raquel Zimmerman, Coco Rocha, Natasha Poly and Alessandra Ambrosio were the first ones to offer help, as were the fashion designers Narciso Rodriguez and Richard Chai. This was the beginning of another journey, of reconstruction. For Carolina, it’s an opportunity to help this country grow the right way, of replanting trees and irrigating the land so that it’s fertile. It is necessary to rebuild the headquarters of their NGO, reestablish lost connections with the orphans and families of their students, reassemble the dental clinic, which was put together with the help of the Brazilian NGO Turma do Bem. The efforts were elevated to the highest potency, and actions which were delayed with the birth of Olivia were now back to being a priority. On the 12th of last month, a fund raising event organized by the couple in an art gallery in the Meatpacking District in New York gathered the elite of the fashion industry to benefit Haiti. Olivia was a month old. Carolina hopes that the birth of her daughter is also a sign for Haiti’s rebirth.

Originally featured as a cover story in Vogue Brazil #379 – March 2010

Wonder Woman

Top model Alessandra Ambrosio splits her time between motherhood and a modeling career. On her time off, she takes care of her body with outdoor workouts. by Gabriel Ruas

Even though she has three homes – in Los Angeles, New York and Florianopolis – Alessandra Ambrosio spends most of her time at location shoots and photography studios. The 5’9 top model has perfect curves and is one of the most important models in the world. Alessandra has been appointed several times by renowned news outlets as the sexiest or more desired woman in the planet. All that fame didn’t happen overnight.

When she started modeling, Alessandra heard repeatedly that she wasn’t tall enough for the runway but, determined, she worked hard until she stepped on the catwalk of heavy weights like Ralph Lauren, Christian Dior, Kenzo and Vivienne Westwood. Currently, she is one of the ‘Angels‘ under contract with the brand Victoria’s Secret, holding the longest running contract and one of the fattest pay checks of the industry, a fact evidenced by Forbes Magazine.

Known for her great personality, the girl from Erechim, Brazil is not only the face of hyped brands. She is currently developing a bikini line, stars in TV commercials and still finds time to dedicate to philanthropy. Not only that: she completely changed her routine in order to adjust to the biggest and more audacious life project, her daughter Anja. Since the birth of the little girl Ale, as she’s known by close friends, prioritizes jobs with her favorite clients in order to make more time for her family.

Victoria’s Secret, Next UK and Giorgio Armani are some of the lucky brands for which the top model will always make time for. As she likes to put it, they’re friends, almost part of the family. So much so that during those bookings she has freedom to control the music selection – Led Zeppelin, Faith No More, INXS, Pearl Jam and Nirvana are always among her choices – and during the break, between a click and another, she ties in a lively chat with the crew.

This lightness, Alessandra cultivates and cares for with special attention. She knows that the career she chose is tough and it’s necessary to believe in herself to accomplish and manage her success. That’s why, whenever she has the chance to chat with new faces, she doesn’t hesitate in sharing her recipe: Patience and always remaining professional.

Passionate about sports, Alessandra Ambrosio maintains her curvy body through practicing surfing, windsurf, running and playing volleyball. Last year, three months after giving birth to Anja, she walked down the Victoria’s Secret catwalk exhibiting perfect shape, leaving the fashion world in astonishment. What’s her secret for getting back in shape so quickly? The new routine with the baby is responsible for a great portion of these results, but the model confesses that combining healthy eating habits and workouts was the main factor that brought her perfect body back.

From here on, Alessandra intends to live every moment to its fullest. The focal point remains her family and work and, with the certainty that only a few successful people have, she is not afraid of what the future holds. Her modeling career is what fascinates her and what she desires to do for many more years to come. Even though she has considered adding acting to her resume, she gave up when she realized that she would be type-cast in that industry. After all, an ‘Angel’ knows perfectly well the mechanisms which maintain her life in motion and can manage the explosive combination of fame + power + beauty with tranquility. She is not someone who walks within pre-determined standards; she prefers to create her own paths.

Article originally featured as a cover story on L’Officiel Brazil # 33 July 2009