Have We Met Before?

For those familiar with the British comedian Miranda Hart, tuning in to Call Me Kat this season (Fox) felt a little bit like déja-vu. That’s in great part because Call me Kat is executive-produced by Hart and inspired by the comedy show named after its creator, Miranda (all seasons available on Hulu). “Inspired” is not exactly the best word to describe it. From the opening to the closing credits, the show makes ample use of every successful joke and quirk of one of Britain’s biggest cult hits. From set design, to character development, show running, catch phrases, no stone was left unturned, which for fans of Miranda, can be a tad… disheartening (pun intended).

The biggest flaw this show has is possibly that of not utilizing Miranda Hart as one of the characters, if not as Kat herself. I don’t mean any disrespect towards Mayim Bialik, who’s a terrific actress, but there’s a certain je ne sais quais that only Ms. Hart can offer to her characters. The physicality, facial expressions, quick wit, pitch in voice and height, are to me some of the main points. As good as Bialik is, she cannot carry this show, which ends up relying heavily on the quirks of Leslie Jordan and the banal jokes that come along with most of everything that he does, including his Instagram account.

Bialik I feel, is capable of so much more, but is stuck in a rut. Perhaps it’s time for someone to whisk her out of this genre that is so comfortable to her and place her into something a little more intriguing and dramatic, that will display other challenges that she is surely capable of tackling.

As for Kat, well, it seems she will have a short life on-screen. If this show continues to rely so heavily on its pastiche jokes and fantastic content that appears nothing like reality, it will really not go very far. Call Me Kat doesn’t work, at least not in the way it’s being presented. That oversized cat cafe? Give me a break. The notion that Kat is a manly spinster? Just doesn’t fly. The relationship between mother and daughter? Not believable. The fourth wall? It’s feeling more like a plexiglass divider. This show needs to pick its lane and stick to it, right now it lacks identity and confidence and teeters on the edge of cataclysm.

If a reprise of Miranda is what they wanted to bring to America, then why not just go ahead and do it right? Don’t ever underestimate the wits of the American audience, or you may fall flat.


Beverly Hills, December 31, 2018; 10PM.

To those who belong in my heart and who helped me build my soul.

I am not particularly fond of big celebrations, especially birthdays, Christmases, and above all, New Year’s Eve; those who know me well know that about me. The entire month of December is an intense struggle for me, it begins with my birthday on the 6th, and then it’s just full throttle until about mid-January when people finally stop sending well-wishes and all that good stuff that we are all happy to hear. It’s not that I am not pleased to get them, it’s that it makes me feel uncomfortable, insecure and awkward. Why? No clue; nor am I interested in finding out. I have grown accustomed to this part of myself, of all things that could be strange about me, I believe this is the least problematic. I have chosen in recent years that these special times are for me an opportunity to look within and reflect on the things I should improve on, and also congratulate myself on. I decided that meditation and space are necessary for me not to fall into the traps of the mind, which historically have taken control of me during these times.

With this note, I would like to take a moment to share with you my gratitude and eternal appreciation. I would like to share that none of the gestures went unnoticed. I would like to state for the record that if I failed to respond to a note or nudge in a timely manner, it’s because I am profoundly insecure in this moment of my life. Every little thing sets off the panic buttons inside me, and then I retreat. This is a lousy flaw to have, especially in a time when I need so much to get me off the ground, and especially when so many of you have shown up and riled up around me with love and support. I would probably not be writing this note right now if it wasn’t for you.

If I didn’t answer any birthday messages, its not you, it’s me. Don’t take it personally, I have not answered ANYBODY’s notes, because I am an equal opportunity non-answerer and because I made a conscious decision to write this letter, on this day. Please understand, I have a real irk about answering in a hurry to people and messages that should be answered with time, care and attention because they are supposed to be meaningful, honest and from the heart, not from obligation. I have birthday cards sitting on my desk that I haven’t even read, only because I don’t feel I would be doing them justice if I wasn’t to be entirely dedicated to their message.

I hope that this new year will bring me atonement, clarity, peace of mind and strength to keep going on. I hope that I am able to keep the things I learned at the top of my mind and that I am able to learn from the many mistakes I made. I wish, for those I’ve hurt, that they have nothing but joy, peace of mind, and good fortune; I hope they can be patient just a little more and trust that I will repair the mistakes that I have made.

I wish that this new year brings me back to me, I hope that I can understand myself a little bit better and treat myself with more respect and dignity. I have raped my soul and torn it apart in the hopes of finding who I really am, and I am still at a loss. Perhaps this is what it was meant to be like all along, and the next chapter will unfold in a less copacetic manner, but a much more purposeful and rewarding one? I leave this question to the air so that the Gods and Goddesses can answer at their convenience.

I love you, believe me, and we will meet again soon.

With much admiration and gratitude, yours,

Gabriel, Mano, Rocha, Pai, Gabe, Gabby, Gabri, Marlene, Pirua, Seu Piru, Guri, Gabi, Puta, Bil, Bee, Gurl, G.

“The best is yet to come.”

Coffee and TV

This version of me smokes cigarettes with the depth of a film noir diva. This person drinks coffee as if it was a rare elixir, a fountain of youth. This version of me is a beautiful and perfectly calculated woman. She is sultry and her sex is a lethal weapon. She is Gigi from Casino, Cookie from Empire, Gloria from Gloria, Lauren Bacall and Jennifer Lawrence all rolled into one.

The truth is that this woman has been emulated over the years through my actions, my decision making, my diatribes and my behavior towards work, life and particularly sex. The power that she has is almighty but her heart is shattered. She maintains an approachable aura that in fact prevents her from being touched by anyone. Inside she’s frail, she is alone. The struggle between self-sufficiency and loneliness is ever present.

This woman is who I wish I was or could become. She is what I wish I had as a role model. I will never forget the first time I saw Sharon Stone on the screen, a bewitching being unlike any other I had seen before. In person, Stone is even more fascinating. She is loud, tall, has an arresting smile, and a contagious laughter. Her body is like a statue, even at the height of her fifties, she is still one of the most gorgeous women I have ever met.

As a kid I wanted to be Sharon Stone, or what I believed Sharon Stone was like. In Basic Instinct she had more power than any of the other characters – she dominated them with a look. When the doors to the world shut down and she found herself alone, she had the same effect on herself, drowning in her own seduction.

I always worshiped women. Women to me are untouchable. Growing up I listened to female singers pretty much 95% of the time, my friends were all girls, I spent most of my family time with my aunts, and my TV idols were also all women. I always envisioned myself as one of them, sashaying across a stage, dancing and trading energy with the crowd. I could see what the cover art of my CD would look like. I could hear the sound of my music. None of those things ever happened, perhaps because I am not a woman, or anything like the woman I believed I should be like. What could have prevented me from pursuing my goals? Could it have been fear of having to deal with the results of whatever endeavor I’d throw myself into? Could it have been fear of unraveling, like many of my idols have when they accomplished their dreams?

Inherently I feel that I am my happiest as a man, I love my body and the life I have created for myself. My life inspires me too. Still, when I close my eyes and daydream, my constant lady reappears, her who takes no shit from anyone and is adored by most. My hope for this girl however, is that she realizes she doesn’t need anyone else to feel less alone, no walls to protect her, she has herself and her dreams, that is the poetry she is meant to be living. The idea is to accept this woman as another part of myself. Having this other side protected within me is important because that is also what protects me. I will keep Cookie, Ginger, Gloria, and Lauren tucked away. I will continue to bring them out, as sometimes I do, for opportune appearances in my day to day life. I will incorporate Cookie when I need to serve a cold dish of revenge, or Gloria when I need to protect my people. Nothing defeats me, nobody messes with me, not even myself.

The Race

mind racing

too many faces and places

where I’ve been and where I don’t belong

the mind churning, the year’s turning

Life doesn’t play on like a song

mind scattered

thoughts shattered

memories lost

paths that have been crossed

Never to go back again

drugs to calm the pain

to alleviate the brain

time for restraint is time for complaints

time for complaints no time to feel vain

there is no measure

the extent of damage

far beyond the pleasure

held as a treasure

the drug is the drug is the drug

the weapon of choice is louder than my voice

The weapon  of our time is stronger than our minds

Will power

Maybe only to take a shower

Won’t cower

Not even when my life goes sour

Wasted 20 lbs of lazy

On a hazy daisy

Winning at being lazy

Try to fight

Make things right

But shit is stronger than my might

Racing but not facing

This is gonna be your last game.

C Train

9 am on the C train
Holding on, squeezing in

Trying to fit in
Grab the bag, hold the pole, take control
Holding on to what’s left
Holding on to the dream

Living the delusion
Feelings and confusion
It’s never what it once was
It’s never what it will be

Found a place for myself
In your arms no one else
How have I done wrong
How was I so wrong

Alone in my head
The chill in my bed
And my heart feeling sad
Once again


Your shoes in the rack
Nothing but a token
Words unspoken
Left me with a wound open

Trying to face my feelings
Facing the ultimate rest
Facing the test

It’s all about you and none of the rest
It’s all for you for my life to relax
To keep actions in check
To stop words from causing distress

Silent All These Years

In the careful decision to peacefully sit in his living room with no music, no phone, no books or television, he hoped for the sweet comfort of silence. He listened to the white sounds in the background, like the hum from the neighbor’s air conditioners, the airplanes flying in and out of JFK, or the cars driving down Flatbush Avenue, at a safe distance. He carefully examined the brown sounds of the blue jays, hawks, canaries and a myriad of other birds he couldn’t name, but wish he did. He did not hear any pigeons and found that to be rather amusing. There were occasional dogs barking, a giggle from a child, or a door to a patio opening up. How lucky must these people be, to live in New York and be able to afford the outdoor space?

In this mix of delight and anxiety produced by the sounds of early morning he hoped to find clarity and direction. He hoped these moments of stillness would bring him closer to a solution to the many dilemmas that haunted him. He felt elated by the ability to be still and alone without wanting to rush to the left or the right. Sometimes he wondered if his life would’ve been easier had he been born an idiot, a complete clunk. He thought of those people who only own one sheet and one shoe and yet cherish them like gold, without desiring for anything other than what they have. Who are these people? Do they understand the world they live in? Have they always been this way or did life condition them into passiveness?

These are thoughts that go through his head. Certain times these thoughts can be perversive, and their simple occurrence frightens him. Would he really be able to act on any of them? Do other people also carry darkness within their bright spectrum?

In the silence he sat, trying to block out the white noises until he accepted them for lack of choice. He really did believe he was listening to the silence, but the silence was listening to him all along. Like a sponge, the muggy air of the late summer soaked in the thoughts that seeped through his soul, the air was drenched. Perhaps all that humidity he was feeling was in fact a product of his own thoughts?

The silence is quiet and pensive, it pushes you to arrive at your own conclusions. That’s how he felt then, as if he was making progress in his interval for sanity. The truth is that the silence fed the thoughts back to him, filtered, unscrambled, clear of pollution. He suddenly had the answers he needed. Only the ones he needed, not the ones he wanted.

Faces and gestures remained in the membrane that separates the body from the soul. He was pulled towards these faces of people he had known and not spoken to for more than ten years. At college, some of these people seemed as if they would last for an eternity, but they vanished faster than a sunset.

He thought of his friend who lived alone in an island and wondered about her well-being. He decided it was time to check in. He felt guilty but warm too, for having her in his thoughts was like having his old pal sitting next to him talking trivial talks, like the maintenance of a swimming pool or the life of a circus freak. He missed those talks and wondered how was it possible that they had now gone over three months without even exchanging a single text message. He pondered whether he had done her wrong in any way but decided none of that had anything to do with anything anyway.

He pushed the thought away to return to the silence but her face kept coming back as if it was magnetized and being pulled by his aura. Finally, a new thought came and the moment became a new minuscule obsession about interest rates on credit cards. He made an immediate financial decision and then realized he still hadn’t changed the mailing address for the cable bill. In the busying of his head he was still in silence.

This occupied silence spoke to him in intense waves. He shed a tear first, then two more, for no particular reason. His chest felt swollen and the only solution was an unconscious physical reaction. He took a deep breath and shed a laugh instead. He now felt blissful, in ecstasy. He felt ignorant. He felt irrelevant. How beautiful it is to be irrelevant, a human among humans, without titles or borders. He cursed on technology and then apologized for it. He realized how lucky he was. He realized how real he was. He felt valued, not by others, but himself. This was a novel thought, perhaps even an epiphany. The silence was talking to him, the silence was telling him things he never knew, things no friend, mentor or therapist had ever said. The silence told him to push through and be strong. The silence told him to come back, every day, and more would be revealed. It was now up to him, only up to him.


“My mom said that I can’t sing and I was like: I can’t sing good, but I can sing mom, anyone can sing!” concluded the girl behind the counter at Starbucks.

For the first time that perspective had crossed my mind: anyone can do anything. How often do I hear singers who can barely carry a tune and somehow have huge careers? I don’t suppose it’s always only about the quality of the singing voice, it is also about having the balls to face the music.

I sat at Starbucks sipping my overpriced coffee and thinking about this girl, working hard behind the counter and still with great sense of humor and an interesting outlook on things. I was led down a path of wonderment: how many people prevent themselves from living their dreams for fear of not being accepted or talented? Furthermore, how many people with very little talent but huge balls and charisma follow through with their passion and to a fault, succeed? Could this woman have been a singer or a pop star had she had the proper encouragement and means to do so? Probably.

For me it happened like that, I had a dream and I pushed through against all odds. My parents didn’t seem to believe it was possible, in fact those all around me were skeptical. I dealt with rejection and disappointment but the more I struggled the harder I worked for my goals and dreams. I succeeded. I don’t know whether I am the talented one or the fraud who got away with murder, but I’m doing things today that I had dreamed about in childhood and never thought were possible.

There seems to be an ordinance in place that tells us that to do certain things in life we need to take pre-determined steps, as if we inhabited a board game. Got a raise? Advance five steps and buy a house. Bought a house? Advance three steps and get married. Got married? advance two steps and have a baby. Had twins? Go back two steps and borrow money from the bank for student loans.

But life is not “The Game of Life”. Life is fluid and full of surprises and new ways. I have always been a believer in the philosophy that everything works out if you put your mind to it and pair it with hard work and dedication. You wanna have a baby? Go for it! Who cares if your house doesn’t have enough rooms? There will be a solution and if this is what will bring happiness to your life, why not just do it? Now, do I think that some people who are having babies should actually have babies? No, absolutely not, but that’s none of my business; at least they’re not telling lies to themselves but instead simply living life.

I suppose the central factor here is the question of destiny. Can we be reapers of life, ceasing control of things that aren’t ours to begin with and make them our own? Can we bend destiny?

My experience tells me so. My experience tells me that even though the heavy weight pressuring my chest and generating anxiety is hard to overcome; it is not impossible. We put on our big boy shoes and go to the mattresses.

I’ve had my awards acceptance speech ready to go since I was about ten years old. I carry that speech in my wallet and update it from time to time. I keep it as a reminder to never stop pursuing my dreams and to work hard with focus and patience. Soon enough the day to actually use it might come.

I Am Not Writing Today

I didn’t write today. Not a word on the paper, not a tap for the keyboard. I woke up early as I always do, I reached for the phone and that was the kiss of death. The sexual drive of the early morning took over my mind and I scrolled through a few inappropriate pages on tumblr. I thought of a cute guy who poked me on Facebook and went on to check out his page. On Facebook the notifications overwhelmed me, so I took care of those first, so I forgot to look at that page. 

I moved on to Instagram: Jordan had a birthday party and didn’t invite me. Bianca got married and her dress was horrible. The other agency got the model that I thought I was getting. The picture of a vegan quiche makes my mouth water, I take a screenshot of the recipe but I know I’m never going to cook it. 

I remember I have to do groceries so I send myself an email as a reminder. I quickly look through my inbox and see there’s an update for snapchat so I do that. I am now officially sucked into the universe of newly released filters. My neck hurts, my back hurts; shouldn’t I feel refreshed after a full night of sleep? I stare at the phone screen for solid five minutes without moving a finger, in what can only be described as a near-catatonic state. An hour has passed and I haven’t even gotten to Twitter yet. My life is so sad right now. 

I finally get up, feed my (very) patient cat, prepare my super strange green shake and start getting organized for the day ahead. The time that was allocated for writing and meditation is gone. Maybe I’ll do 10 minutes of writing on my lunch break. I’ll meditate tomorrow (next month).

The morning goes by and suddenly it’s 2pm. There was no time for a lunch break, I’m moody, starving and pissed off at myself for not taking care of the things that truly matter to me. The phone rings again and I’m sucked back into the mess that my life has become. I lose my temper, I scream at people I should not be screaming at and I get lost in my self-pity all over again.

The day is done and I still have a full schedule ahead, so I cancel the coffee, the dinner and the drinks; I decide that my evening will be better spent writing and catching up on my finances. I visualize myself as the top executive in that movie from the 70’s, walking out the door carrying his briefcase, shouting at his secretary:

“clear my schedule for the rest of the day!”


I’m gone before she can utter another word. She is left with my mess to take care of. That  thought makes me smile. 

On my way home I run a list of all the things I still need to do. I stop by CVS, Pet Central, the laundromat, the deli, and the grocery store. I spent way more money than I should’ve and I haven’t even been to the Vitamin Shop yet. 

At home I unpack, organize, feed the cat, play with the cat, look through the mail, remember that I forgot to pay the credit card bill, notice I need to take out the trash, and so I do it because it stinks. Another hour has gone by and I haven’t written a word. My brain is fried and I have to catch up on Game of Thrones, so I decide I’m too tired to produce anything relevant. I make up my mind: I’m not writing today.

500 Answers – Purpose in Life

What do you believe is your purpose in life?

When I turned 15 my stepmom’s gift was an astrological birth map. There were beautifully drawn charts filled with codes and symbols I could not understand. The package included two cassette tapes. We sat together on her bed and put the tapes on, carefully listening to the soothing voice of the astrologer, who along with my stepmom explained every piece of that delicate puzzle. This recording revealed, bit by bit, my entire life’s plan and journey according to the stars. I was impressed.

A lot of it rang true and sounded like I was on my way to making my dreams come true. There was one thing however that sounded odd. The astrologer told me I would have a successful career taking care of people and/or managing businesses.

    “This makes no sense, I would never do something like that, I wanna make movies

Well, making movies might have been what I wanted, but it wasn’t my path. At age 17 I was approached by a modeling agency to join their staff and hired on the spot. Lo and behold, I ended up managing careers, making them into businesses and looking after people for a living.

Truth be told, I had been doing that all my life, I just didn’t know it. I looked out for my friends in school and helped out anyone who needed assistance. That is still true for me today. Whether I am at work or not, I’m always looking out for my people. To me, there is no greater pleasure than lending someone a hand. Friends and strangers benefit from this quality – to different degrees, but they all do.

Michelle Alves for Vogue Italia shot by Steven Meisel

I will never forget when Michelle Alves, one of the first models I ever worked with, sent me a note right before Christmas. She thanked me for what I had done for her, and that was it. All I had done was to send her flight details via fax and pick her up at a fashion show. I was a young assistant then and this was the first time any model had ever thanked me for my work. That day I felt for the first time that I had a purpose; I felt for the first time that I could make a difference in someone else’s life.

500 Answers – Message in a Bottle

While at the beach you decide to write a message in a bottle. What would it say? Who would you like to find it?

Dear Gabriel,

You were once young, much younger than you are now, which was far younger than I am today. You didn’t know, no one knew. We launch into life empty, some hopeful (as you were), some not. Some are barely alive, they can hardly be called vessels; but you were.

A shining example of endurance, fueled by dreams and passion. You lacked in pedigree but made up for it in the way you made those around you feel important. You made friends and brought them along with you. For every new victory you looked back to hug and acknowledge all those in your path. You would not have won without them: the nay-sayers, the cheerleaders, the silent companions; they were all there for you. You knew it and you shared it.

You inherently knew it, joy when shared multiplies. Through your suffering you gave joy, through your malaise you gave joy, through your losses you gave joy. You gave joy when there was none left. Where did you find it? I tell you, some questions go unanswered. Certain troubles not even God can reconcile, but that doesn’t stop him from inquiring, as it never stopped you from seeking.

Don’t stop now, don’t stop ever, that’s what makes you who you are. Believe in yourself, hold on to your friends and never stop asking the questions. This will make you a winner.

With love,


Coffee Shop Ghosts

Who are these lonely crusaders of the keyboard? Who are these people who venture out into the unknown epicenter of words and numbers, in the middle of the afternoon, at quirky cafes or massive chains? Where did these beings come from and where do they belong? Do they not feel perturbed by the clinks and clanks of espresso machines and registers? Are they not phased by the screech of the milk frothers and the baby sitters shoving their strollers in whatever way they please?

Perhaps Benjamin woke up angry at his wife. He decided he needed to go write a letter to his high school sweetheart, the only person who ever really understood him, even in the silence. Gloria’s internet connection, on the other hand, was disrupted by the latest UFO to fly into town for the alien convention and she really could not wait another minute to wrap up her thesis on cloud anomalies. Actual clouds, not digital clouds. Could it be that Daniel has no place to call an office now that he is unemployed (staying at home creates an aura of depression and purposelessness)?

These people are magical beings, they populate areas which would likely go unused. These are creatures resented by some of the coffee enthusiasts, who would like to think they would go coffee tasting, if they had the space and the peace of mind to do so. What about the lovers who would like to sit at a table for a date and cannot, because there are ten computer rats crowding the environment? More intriguing are those who sit at the coffee shops and restaurants to watch movies or play video games. Is there really no better place to do it at than a crowded coffee shop? What is it about a busy restaurant that inspires someone to tune out the world and jump into the universe of Zelda?

I remember when I waited tables at a little cafe in Soho, a few moons ago, there was a girl who would always come in, order a regular coffee (which cost no more than two dollars) and sit there, on her laptop, working for hours. At the time I depended on tips and she never left any. She also took the space away from the good tippers, I thought. I couldn’t stand her, but at the same time I envied her. That woman had a purpose, she had things she needed done. For whatever reason, the non-tipper felt that our little cafe was welcoming enough that she could sit there for hours, entire afternoons! The owners of the cafe didn’t seem to mind, they probably felt she was good advertising, making the place look busy. The entire time I worked there I never saw her order anything other than her regular coffee. Not even a cookie! I bet that if I were to ask her, she would probably say she didn’t even like our coffee. I also bet she has a big career in astrophysics today, or something important like that. That girl had places to get to in life, she was tireless.

Cafes provide, perhaps, a sheltering environment away from loneliness but protected from interruptions. People most likely feel less inclined to talking to someone who’s on their computer, working. Nothing upsets me more than the person who feels comfortable enough to chit-chat with a perfect stranger. Call it social awkwardness but it’s at that moment when I really wish I’d have a computer to protect me.

A conclusion to this matter is still miles away but the endless amount of possibilities hidden behind each and everyone of these people is a thrill. The stories that run through my head during each trip to the local cafe are fabulous. The simple fact that they’re there, focused, makes me feel like they’re ten steps ahead of me. They’re the brave ones, facing the crowds, unafraid to explore their creative and professional needs, from full caf to decaf.

Originally published on MEDIUM.


Saudade is a word without translation, not without meaning. Nothing prepares you for it. It sweeps you off your feet and lands you flat on the ground. It’s a theory and a paradox, it hurts so much, but oh, it feels so good! It washes you like a tall wave, it tackles you to only then lift you up again, out to fresh air where your lungs feel free and your heart relief. 

Saudade misses homes and pets, fast friends and long term partners. Saudade takes care of all, above and below. This is a feeling that reminds you of who you wanted to be when you grew up and who you were, just a week ago. Saudade craves food and green pastures, it craves smells and flowers. It inhabits your childhood bedroom, your baseball cards, your knick knacks and mementos.

Saudade feels like the first kiss – stolen. Saudade hums tunes in your ears, recites lines from old movies, and plays long forgotten. This feeling longs for attention, this feeling longs for your heart. Saudade makes you tight and then it expands you all over again. A sensation which awakens you to your truths, it’s not dark nor is it light, it just is – magic.

Love that remains, happiness that stays, long after it’s gone. Saudade. 

Temporary Rooms

I observe with the human lens. I watch them from the dimly lit corner of a room. They parade around with importance, tidying it all up for the honorable guests. They believe this is important. They believe this matters. I observe as the mechanical lenses line up at the edge of the room, always ecstatic and a bit hectic. They take position, a square each. A square, denoted by the neon tape that feels nothing, that says nothing, that breathes nothing. This tape somehow, the unliving tape, holds more power than some of the living things.

I observe in silence, as the lights briefly dim up bringing to center stage an army of long-limbed tall exquisite creatures. They walk in poetic march, built to inspire, built to promote, built for desire. 

I track the movement of guests as the doors bust open. I track them as they observe their ticket, longing for better seating. I observe as the better-seated glance at other better-seated, in awe and admiration, in anger and envy. I glance as they smile and hug and laugh and throw their hair back. They never stop. This is the cafeteria of high school and everyone has their place. Except for me, I am displaced.

I look, I point my humanity, I shoot. Heavenly creatures reappear on the suddenly bright room. I record moments, I share them with the world, I document it, in the way I’m told. Told by my lenses, the human lenses, creating unique perspectives, developing plots, but never deciding on an end. This story has no end, but the room does.

This room has an end, the room has a time. The room will live in glory, every once in a while. The room will be light and dark, the room will be structure and de-structure. The room will come, the room will go, but I’ll stay. I’ll stay. I’ll stay.

Hat Hair

The waiter will not leave us alone, it’s like he wants us to keep ordering shit. I mean, really? What more could we order – appetizers, main courses beverages and desserts have all been pushed down our throats (basically). Does he expect us to start from the beginning again? And why would we do that? It’s not like things aren’t already bad enough. What is the deal with this silence? The staring… oy! What else can I do? He is good in the eyes, but not a lot of content behind them. 

Conversations remain in the air, floating in space, like those three bouncing balls in the text-message field when someone is allegedly typing an answer…except the answer never comes. By the way, why is that? What happened to my answer? Did it mistakenly end up in someone else’s phone and now they’re really confused wondering if they had dinner plans at 8pm that they completely forgot about? Let’s hope they didn’t, because they’re NOT in for a treat. Anyway. Back to this thing… where to go from here? 

This is that turning point, where I basically know what’s gonna happen, and there are only two options, with one outcome. Option A is that I will go home with the boy, screw his eyeballs out and then never see him again, or option B; in which he plays the prude, goes home and I never see him again. Either way, the ultimate outcome is: I never see him again. That’s totally fine, after all, can you imagine raising kids with a non-talking being? That would be complicated. “Honey, did you feed the baby?”. Text-message bouncing balls. The horror! 

He is good to look at though. Those eyes just won’t stop staring, they’re big and translucent and bright, and I really wish they could talk to me. Those eyes actually feel very much alive, they feel as if they have so much to say. They could fill two slots of the David Letterman show. Not just one of those tiny in-between interviews he does with boring physicists who are releasing some boring book about saving the planet. No one cares about saving the planet, Al Gore knows all about that. Ask him! I mean, I care about saving the planet, but I just try not to be too scandalous about it. 

Oh my God, I just realized I think I left the stove on this morning! Shit I hope the cat didn’t burn to death! Oh my God, what does that mean in terms of killing the planet? Wait… gas doesn’t kill the planet… does it? Oh I should bail on this botched date and go turn the stove off, can you imagine the electric bill? I mean gas bill. Oh, who cares it’s al the same, it comes in a bundle and no one looks at that damn thing, it’s all in auto-pay. “oh, put it in auto-pay and we will give you a discount.”. Bullshit! I don’t think anyone has ever gotten anything from putting anything in auto-pay. I certainly didn’t. I haven’t checked either, but I am sure I haven’t. 

This is one of those cases, like when I go to the supermarket and I buy plums that look really pretty and purple and shiny and big. I imagine they’ll taste like a little piece of heaven, and I don’t check the price because, well, they’re plums! How expensive can fruit be, right? And then I get to the register and the lady rings up the plums and my six purple pieces of heaven add up to somewhere north of 40 dollars. For plums! I go crazy on her, it’s absurd! “Are these plums made of Gold?” I say – she just stares at me and says “I don’t know, you’re the one who put the plums in a bag and then in your shopping cart” all while raising those big fat eyebrows in a uniform motion with the shrug. Oh these people! And who reads signs anyways? Also, you should be able to just throw shit in a bag, scan everything with your phone and walk away, check out lines are the worst!

Oh my Godddd – he’s staring at me again. And the waiter is waiting. For WHAT? Oh, thank God, it’s the check, he is waiting for my signature! Somehow the check had magically been filled out with tip and everything, God bless. He went with option B, I can’t blame him, I had a bad case of hat hair tonight anyway, that’s what happens in the winter, you get hat hair and your dates are ruined by it. No one gets lucky in the winter, because of hat hair.


wake up and it feels strange
on the wrong side of the bed
coffee spill denotes nothing will change

time to try something different
wear clothes inside out

work sucks

time to try something different
put a smile on that frown

lunch is cold
scream for silence
turn the table 
make a fuss

time to try something different
burn the past
open the door to the future

time to try something different
forget insecurity

the clown is pursuing drama
that train left the station

time to try something different
time to make it new

fire the boss
yell at a deaf man
just to make sure

time to try something different
pack the bags with air
go on a mission

cat’s out the window
let him go

time to try something different
wake up
shake up the world

8 Teenage Films Inspired by Literature Classics

If you’re a film buff like me and an enthusiast of your teenage decade (like most people are), what do you do on a rainy weekend? Do you pull out a Shakespeare classic for a light read or do you dust off that old DVD from your collection for an afternoon on the couch with some snacks? If you went with the latter, you’re probably part of the 85% (totally made this percentage up, but seems about right) who would do the same. Here’s your perfect excuse (if you needed one) for some guilty-pleasure teen movie watching: films inspired by literature classics. This is a great way to get the best of both worlds. I took the liberty to expand a bit and included not only films from the 90’s – my decade – but some other gems that spilled out into the early 2000’s. Enjoy!


1. “Cruel Intentions” (Roger Kumble, 1999)

Inspired by: Dangerous Liaisons, Pierre Choderlos de Laclos


By far, my favorite film in this list. Sarah Michelle Gellar – a.k.a. “Buffy” (to me, at least), stars in this adaptation of the French classic alongside Reese Witherspoon, Ryan Phillippe (swoon) and Selma Blair. The plot of the movie revolves around two stepsiblings who get a kick out of manipulating people and toying with their feelings. In the original piece, it’s a couple of ex-lovers who heat up the French aristocracy. If you want to take a step further, also watch the 1988 film “Dangerous Liaisons” which remains one of my favorite films of all time.


Side note: The soundtrack of “Cruel Intentions” also remains a staple in my music library, definitely worth a trip to iTunes in case you never listened to it. In my opinion, it’s a landmark of that time.


2. “She’s All That” (Robert Iscove, 1999)

Inspired by: Pygmalion, George Bernard Shaw


There was a time in which the definitive teen heartthrob was Freddie Prinze Jr. Girls wanted to date him and boys wanted to copycat him (to get the girls). The plot here is simple: Zack, your average jock, places a bet with his friends that he can turn Loney – the school nerd – into a hot dateable chick. Of course he ends up falling victim to his own tricks, much like Henry Higgins, in ‘Pygmalion’. This play was also the inspiration for the movie “My Fair Lady”, starring Audrey Hepburn


3. “Easy A” (Will Gluck, 2010)

Inspired by: The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne


Not only is this awesome movie inspired by The Scarlet Letter, but it also makes use of it in the plot: the book is part of the school’s syllabus. In the movie, as in the book, our lead character is humiliated and accused of being too… open minded.


4. “10 Things I Hate About You” (Gil Junger, 1999)

Inspired by: The Taming of the Shrew, William Shakespeare


This movie single handedly elevated Heath Ledger to superstardom. Here, Ledger brings life to Patrick, the rebellious school kid who’s every girl’s crush. In this loose interpretation of “The Taming of the Shrew” the heart of the story remains the same. Bianca is in love and wants to start dating, but is not allowed until her temperamental older sister kicks her love life into gear. A fun film to watch on any lazy day, and it never gets old.


5. “Clueless” (Amy Heckerling, 1995)

Inspired by: Emma, Jane Austen


I bet you didn’t see this one coming. Believe it or not, “Clueless” came straight from the pages of a Jane Austen book into the streets of Beverly Hills. There were some serious adaptations to make the story fit the 90’s, but the basic plot remains the same: a rich spoiled girl who loves to get involved in match making. Many names of the original Jane Austen book were used in this classic 90’s movie.


6. “She’s The Man” (Andy Fickman, 2006)

Inspired by: Twelfth Night, William Shakespeare


When Sebastian goes to London, his twin sister Viola takes the opportunity to dress like her brother and replace him in their new school, all of that in order to fulfill her dream of playing soccer with the boys. In Shakespeare’s original story, Viola loses her brother when their ship sinks and pretends to be a man in order to get help. The Duke asks for her (his) assistance to confess his love to Olivia, but it all goes wrong. Olivia falls in love with Viola (dressed as a man, obviously), and Viola falls in love with the Duke. Sounds like something I’d get myself into.


7. “Romeo + Juliet” (Baz Luhrmann, 1996)

Inspired by: Romeo & Juliet, William Shakespeare


This is the most literal adaptation in this list. The only difference is that even though the film retains the original dialogs and a lot of the poetic language, here the story is given a much more vibrant setting, in the streets of the 90’s; ridden with gangs, guns, drugs and wild parties. The chemistry between Leo DiCaprio and Claire Danes is effervescent and remarkable and made us all dream of having a love affair as intense theirs was.


8. “Get Over It” (Tommy O’Haver, 2001)

Inspired by: A Midsummer Night’s Dream, William Shakespeare


In the classic Shakespeare play, four teenagers get wrapped up in a love ‘square’, thanks to the magical works of faeries and elves. Here the magical beings are set aside and the film focuses on one of the parallel plots from the original play. The reference becomes more evident when all four leads, including Kirsten Dunst’s character, take part in their school’s play, which is, roll drums… “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”.


Unusual Names and Number One Hits

Madonna and Lady Gaga occupy colossal space in the cultural spectrum.  One is named after a saint, the other after a Queens song.  Few would question the impact these artists have had on pop music and, frankly, like Prince and others before them, their high-octane names can’t hurt their evolutionary power.  So, why can’t these women get along?   

Both of them have been the topic of a much discussed feud.  The first one, a staple in pop culture for over 30 years.  The second one, a more ambiguous but equally explosive presence in the pop scene.  But let’s face it: Madonna is a tough act to follow.  While Madge is the reigning Queen of Pop, there seems to be a general consensus that Lady Gaga is after her throne.  Whether a dethroning is underway or not is not the point. Their unique and explosive impact on our lives makes them kindred artistic spirits.

Madonna is a tough act to follow because she ignited conversations many moons ago, and has continued to do so year after year. Raising awareness to hot topics like women’s rights, gay rights, political and religious freedom, and among many other things, above all, freedom to express yourself, in any way you’d like; Madonna pushed buttons.  From the start, Madonna climbed to the top of pop culture’s Pantheon and there was no argument, she was a phenomenon, she was the Queen of Pop.

Decades later, when Lady Gaga came on the scene, she was too admittedly greatly influenced by the works of the pop diva.  But there hadn’t been anything as fresh and groundbreaking as Madonna in all that time. There hadn’t been anyone willing to expose their creative insanity in order to ignite controversy, bust open taboos, and once again challenge tired social mores. 

And even though Madonna’s fan base is huge, there are new kids on the block (no pun intended) who have no concept of what the material girl has done for them, kids who don’t understand the difficult fights she was instigating.  Somehow, she made it unscathed.  But she was the first one, and perhaps that is why she was able to push the envelope every time and still come out a winner on the other side.  She was selling records and concerts, but she was also changing lives along the way.

Like Madonna, Lady Gaga aims to reach a wider audience, even though it doesn’t seem like her work translates as well.  Her approach at times too far out and on the verge of desperation, she seems to be stuck within her “monsters”, the majority of them members of the LGBT community, like me.  But she is, unquestionably, breaking new ground, blowing apart boundaries and educating an entirely new generation.  Let’s hope her monster base expands along with her message.  

Elton John greatly criticized Madonna, instigating brawls in the media.  But why?  What is the goal of this man, who did too, revolutionized thoughts and invited discussions.  Shouldn’t he know better and just let artists do what they do best, and let them continue to create thought provoking work in whatever way they please?  And I will go even further now.  If there is a feud between Madonna and Lady Gaga, shouldn’t the two of them also know better?  It’s not about who came first or who is the Queen of Pop, but it’s about their work and the message they are trying to convey.

Even though many will argue that we should not have to deal with a “message” and just be able to enjoy the music and have fun, there is still a message. The goal of these women is in great part to affect change, to make people think in a broader spectrum and to open their minds to different possibilities; each of these women in essence have proclaimed these same goals.  They talk about inclusion and acceptance of others, so why aren’t they more accepting of each other, since they are both working towards the same objectives?

Madonna will not lose her throne. Lady Gaga will eventually have to refresh and find new ways, because the regurgitation of ideas passed will get tired. Madonna has remained a staple in the cultural consciousness because she so cleverly reinvented herself and addressed topics from different perspectives.  She has kept it fresh.  Along the way, she made it possible for me and many other people I know to be who we are and to be proud and vocal about it, with no fear of consequences.  Lady Gaga’s staying power remains to be seen.  Each generation needs its muse and it is in this spirit of cultural evolution that I sincerely hope Lady Gaga has the same lasting impact on the new kids that Madonna has had on me.

There is still a long way to go in this world, but it’s greatly because of people like Madonna and Lady Gaga that we are able to evolve openly and accept each other as beautiful and flawed human beings that we are.

Master Class

It is pure delight to listen to someone very accomplished share their life experiences. That is why an old episode of Oprah’s Master Class really interests me. The other night I was struck by something that was said on that show. It was not a novel idea or something that I didn’t already know, but something I hadn’t really heard so clearly said by someone so successful, like Goldie Hawn. The main point was that we should always pay it forward, no matter how much or how little we have in life. We each have our blessings, in different shapes and forms. That was it. Simple concept, right?

What went on to be discussed, and what I pondered extensively, was that most people in the world today are obsessed with their own lives. It’s all about “will I get a promotion? Where can I park my car? How can I cross the street faster? How can I make more money?” So on, and so forth. People spend a great deal of time obsessing about how to get ahead, rather then actually doing something that’s good for the person standing next to them or to the world as a whole.

In the movie Pay It Forward (Warner Bros. 2000), a young boy comes up with a concept that for every generous act done to him, he must pay forward with three generous acts to three different people, and tell each one of them, to do the same for three others. A simple concept that could make peoples lives that much better and as a ripple effect create a psychic change in entire communities and then possibly in the world. Somehow that concept did not catch on.

Most people make lame excuses instead of paying forward. “I don’t make enough money to make donations, why should I give money to this cause when it’s the government’s job to take care of this issue?” And it goes on, one after the next. But the point here is not how much money can you give back, or how much time you have to dedicate to doing volunteer work; it’s how do you behave in society, in your daily life? How do your daily actions affect the world that surrounds you? And then maybe, depending on who you are, what job you have and how much money you make, what type of bigger contributions can you make to the betterment of the world?

I have worked with many successful models and artists in the entertainment industry. Over the years I have come across many generous souls who have contributed to a plethora of causes. I have also met many who simply go through life as if it was a party, with no consequences and no interest in doing anything for anyone else. One of my most inspiring muses is one of my most loyal clients, a successful model who has always worked extremely hard for obtaining success. Proportionally at the same time, this girl has always taken a portion of her time (and her earnings) to apply towards charity, volunteer work and political lobbying to change the roots of the problems. Her goal, from the very start, when nobody knew her name, was to achieve fame so that she could leverage change. She had made a conscious decision that if she was going to give up university to a life of globetrotting under the spotlight, then it better be worth it. She has, to some extent, accomplished all that.

The story illustrates that we must always give back. We must always pay it forward, in any scale that we can. It’s from those little acts, of holding the elevator to the person who is running a little behind to making a five dollar donation to a homeless shelter (or whatever else interests you) or giving a lecture on what you’re an expert on to those who wish to learn. A little help goes a long way in our world today. 

People who give something back and share their fortunes with the world, generally live a much happier and fuller life. What I didn’t know when I was younger and I know now, is that by giving myself to others I find real fortune. Happiness lives in honest altruism. The idea that I could go through life not giving anything in return for all the good that came to me is daunting. 

My dreams truly blossomed and concretized after I started giving myself away to others and also discovered I could learn and let my life be enriched by each and every one of these encounters. There is so much we can learn from day to day life, but it takes an open mind to see it and an open heart to understand it.

The real master class is not on Oprah Winfrey’s network, it is all around us.

Deviled Eggs with Heather Graham

Perhaps it was the abundant steak tartare or the ever-flowing Grey Goose; regardless, the scene at the Clarkson in the West Village was very fun and social, sheer joy and camaraderie abounded. The crowd gathered to celebrate the New York premiere for the gut-wrenching film At Any Price, directed by the talented Ramin Bahrani.    

As intense as this film is however, after the credits rolled in there was no somberness to these celebrants. The model Leigh Hoby walked in to a swarm of photographers who treated her like this film’s featured star; which she is not. The real star in this picture is the unforgettable Heather Graham. Even though one was wearing white and the other one black, the similarities were rather compelling. Without skipping a beat, a group of photographers made sure to put the two together for a portrait. Perhaps a friendship will blossom? Zac Efron, Adrian Grenier and Dennis Quaid observed from a safe distance and chuckled cheerfully with delight. Nat Wolff was the life of the party, flanked by his pals Heather Matarazzo and Josh Radnor. Andie Arthur exuded sweetness in her long black gown and leather jacket, a look that seemed effortless but not many could pull off.  

The night resumed smoothly and soon enough a dance-floor was requested – no Cinderellas in sight here! An expert was called into action. Amy Sacco gathered a crew in a swift wave of her nocturnal magic wand and in two heartbeats they were all at No. 8. The heat in the mezzanine went up as the group could not stop the dancing. From disco to rock n’ roll, it all seemed to fit in the impeccable repertoire.  

Peter Beard surfaced from a dark corner escorted by a tall and impressive man. “Where is Amy!?” – he interrogated. “I’m alive, and look at who I have with me!”. Amy appears with the statuesque Native American model Jade Tenholder – a rarity in this world – who just broke into the scene. After much back and forth on whether Peter could take pictures of his new muse upstairs, it was finally decided: “I wanna shoot you in Mozambique, you are the best thing that happened to me this year!”.  

On that note the night came to a closing, after all, who needs any more than that?

Follow the Yellow Brick Road

Oz may be great and powerful, but does this Disney remix of the classic really need four premieres in one city!? Probably not. But perhaps when you have a variety of sponsors ranging from luxury fashion labels to shopping networks, you should. Since in New York anything is a good reason to party, I decided to follow the yellow brick road leading to one of these gatherings to see what the fuss was all about.  

It was another cold winter night and what I found was a very warm and friendly room. Among beautiful Sports Illustrated swimsuit models of every height and ethnicity, I made my way through the crowd. And what a cheerful, star-studded crowd this was. Emmy Rossum seemed to have drawn most of the attention to herself, and that’s understandable. The actress looked ravishing in a floral Oscar de la Renta number, which will hopefully be good omen for an early spring. Our leading man – and every person’s favorite Swiss Army knife – James Franco, had to make a quick appearance as he dashed from one screening to another..  

Some of the attendees made of this a family affair and brought along their children to witness all the magic that only3Dseems to bring to the screen these days. Richard Kind couldn’t hide his excitement when leaving the venue with his girls; it was all very endearing to look at. Cynthia Rowley followed suit and was just another one in a group of fashion designers which also included John Varvatos.    Now, this is not just another Disney affair, for when Salman Rushdie and Marina Abramovic show up, you know it is serious business. Disney delivered a great prologue to the fable we all came to know since we were children. They have updated a literature classic and still did justice to the unforgettable movie from 1939. This seemed to make Dick Cavett confused as he wondered if Judy Garland would also be making an appearance on-screen that evening. The comment was nothing but a good ol’ joke, I’m sure.  

But who needs one leading lady, when you can have three of the most ravishing Hollywood stars of our time? Rachel Weiss, Michelle Williams and Mila Kunis not only look great on screen, but they know exactly how to deliver entertaining performances. And that’s what this movie is all about, an entertaining piece to be watched with a lot of pop corn on a Saturday afternoon. No need to over analyze it.   If you ask me, however, whether this digital extravaganza will stand the test of time, I would be inclined to say it will not. I doubt anyone will ever be able to produce another Oz movie that is as timeless as The Wizard of Oz.  

Stayin’ Alive with John Travolta

Every once in a while this humble writer is invited to join in on the fun with the Hollywood big league. “why?” you may ask, and the answer to that is very simple. My mother always said: “Honey, it’s not about how much money you make but the friends you have”. So, with some very important friends under my belt I move into the Hollywood party scene during awards season for some networking and some fun. But let’s be honest, mostly for the fun.

In a place in which orange trees grow out of living rooms and diamonds are as big as a baby’s head no excess is considered excessive. So what if I stepped on Penelope Cruz’s vitage Balmain dress and it ripped? It will most likely be in the trash bin tomorrow morning, along with the gift bags filled with all sorts of things you don’t really need.

The scene when you walk into this room is of camaraderie, there are no cameras in sight, some of the actresses aren’t even wearing their shoes anymore, they’re lounging in big white couches with their dates or their managers, always on the lookout for the funnest crowd to dance with. Could it be the comedy crowd, spearheaded by Amy Poehler and Paul Rudd, along with Aziz Ansari, Elizabeth Banks, Judd Apatow and Mindy Kalling? Or perhaps it’s the fashion crowd, in which old glam Valentino mixes in with nuveau luminaires Daniella Helayel and Zac Posen, who seem to love being sandwiched between Madonna, Ellen DeGeneres and Portia De Rossi. Madonna by the way has her make up artist within reach, a luxury that only the very top echelon can afford.  Every now and then she rushes to the edge of the dance floor where this handsome and happy latin man awaits with pads to dry her skin and retouch her lips. Now, that’s what I call luxury!

On the other side of the room things are getting interesting as Donna Karan walks in with Kelly Preston and John Travolta. They join in the fun with Bono and that heavenly creature that is Victoria’s Secret Angel Alessandra Ambrosio, now in a completely different outfit than she was wearing just a couple of hours ago. Her costume changes would put Cher to shame. With Bono and Alessandra deep in conversation, John does what he knows best and takes on the dance floor. Kelly and Donna, who seem to be best buds, follow suit. Laura Dern and Kate Walsh occasionally pop in but don’t linger, instead gliding  from one group to the next,  looking lovely with  curls which never seem to be out of place.

John and Kelly are like a young teenage couple, never losing sight of one another, until… “Stayin’ Alive” begins to blast from the speakers. Now, you may ask yourself, “was this arranged just because John Travolta was there?”. The verdict is still out per that issue but as if on cue, John and Kelly took center stage, repeating the dance that defined the disco era. I, along with the rest of the crowd, turned as fast as I could and copied the moves, the entire mass a perfect line of incredulous denizens. John seemed a bit bashful at the response, but was clearly loving every minute of it. Octavia Spencer was beside herself, was she really witnessing this? Selena Gomez, Taylor Lautner and some other teenage star which will go unnamed (At thirty I am far too old in Hollywood years to keep up with all these kids names)  seemed befuddled by the entire affair, disco is clearly a memory too distant for their young minds–“what is the commotion all about?” They took in a second or two and went back to chatting about their Instagram feeds — of course. Homework is in order for these kids. 

The temperature rose and I needed to take a break for air, out through the orange trees and the piano and on to the patio, to join in the laughter of Ryan Seacrest and surprisingly, Macauly Culkin. Yes, remember him? That kid from “Home Alone” who went through all that stuff that no one cares about anymore? Yes, he was there too, along with Juliette Lewis and Jennifer Jason Leigh, which if you ask me, are pretty bad ass. A couple of Oscars walk by me heading towards the buffet, which reminds me: I haven’t eaten in hours!

 I took a seat at the communal table next to Princess Mia Thermopolis Herself, Anne Hathaway. Congratulations are in order, for her, and the stunning Natalie Portman, who sat beside her. Unsure of why I was congratulating Natalie so late in the game I just went with it, I’m pretty sure she did something of merit just that morning. She gets me.

 It’s nearly 4 AM and people have been dancing all night long;  cute couples — both that came together and those that found each other on the dance floor — are beginning to make  their fashionable exits one by one. Naomi Watts remains effortlessly chic, even when barefoot, accompanied by her gentleman of a husband Liev Shreiber who politely carries her shoes in one hand as the other proudly holds the hand of his wife. Another Naomi heads to the exit, this time Campbell, who remains very supermodel looking, without many smiles, perhaps only a few grins. No one cares, she’s Naomi Campbell.

People wait patiently in line for cars,  already laughing over the ghosts of dance-floor’s past underneath heaters and sipping hot cocoa. It is just as lively out here as it is on the dance floor and  as I look around I realize: this evening was the ultimate episode of “Dancing with the Stars” except in this short instance of my life, they are all real stars.

The King of the United States

From a very young age I remember being around documentaries, both my parents watched it constantly. To me, it was white noise, I could never pay attention, it was the most boring thing in the world and yet the best way of falling asleep. Nowadays, I find myself fascinated by them, I understand their purpose and am always intrigued by which subjects will be brought up for discussion.

Like with any movie, documentaries can either be really good or really bad, it’s all in the ability of its creator to tell the story and catch the attention of its audience. In “Bully” we take a ride with Lee Hirsch as he boards school buses and walks the hallways of schools in America. For the first time, the quality of the movie is not what matters, because it’s the message that counts and here it is delivered with brilliance.

Bullying is not just a subject that takes me back to my own school years, but it’s a subject that has become more and more present in our day to day lives, as we see children hurting themselves and others and accessing a level of violence that many grown ups will never in their entire lives live to witness or experience (hopefully). It’s baffling to think we have come to this point, in which our children are now becoming the villains of the story.

Awareness is for me one of the most important tools to solve the world’s problems, and that is why I believe documentary movies are so important, because they show life as it really is, and in “Bully” if you can’t identify with the victim, you will somehow identify with the bullies and see that your attitudes need to be revised. “Bully” is a necessary movie, and it is actually quite surprising that this subject was only made into a movie this late, when this has been such a pressing matter for so long.

It is 2012, we live in times in which trips to the moon are a thing of the past, and texting is practically a dialect, yet we continue to see the same type of discrimination that we used to see 20 or 40 years ago. We have to sit and watch as a fourteen year old african american girl is sent to prison because she got to such a breaking point of desperation that she had to pull a gun on other kids to try and earn some respect. She didn’t mean to hurt anyone, she just wanted to be heard, she was desperately looking for help.

We have to watch one kid after the other being called names, punched, strangled and stabbed. It is by far the most painful and gut wrenching experience I had ever been through in the movies, yet at the same time it was the most inspiring one too. At the end we see it is our responsibility to stand up and fight for change. 

It is 2012, and we still live in a world in which the school system, politicians and the police, sit and watch these things happen from the distance. Hillary Clinton reminded us last year in a very important speech at the United Nations, that we are all created equal and should be treated with respect. At that time she was addressing marriage equality, which in our times brought up bullying amongst grown ups (which quite frankly is even more terrifying). Hillary’s point then was very simple: we need to broaden our perspectives, we need to educate ourselves and be accepting of people for who they are. This is why “Bully” is a necessary movie, this is why this movie should be shown in every school accross the globe, because it is so real, and it causes so much pain and discomfort, that you feel compelled to be a better person.

One of the kids in the movie, an eight year-old who’s best friend was bullied so badly that he took his own life, says “if I was the king of the United States there would be no popularity, everyone would be made equal.”. And there it is, without even having a notion of politics or Human rights he found the key to the solution. Deep down this boy knows that we are in fact all equal, but it’s the popularity contest and the silliness in the world that gets in the way. 

This kid didn’t need a movie to figure out the problem. No one should need a movie to figure that out, but unfortunately these are not our times. As long as there is injustice and these violent acts continue to take place, we should continue to make movies and campaign for what’s right. It’s our responsibility to improve our world as much as we can, so that one day people can look back at these times with relief and curiosity, without understanding how it was ever even imaginable that a child would consider hurting another child.

The Simple Life

This morning as I woke up and stared out of the window a great feeling of peace washed over me. It’s a feeling I notice that I only get when I am close to nature, when I am in a different environment other than my own. To walk outside of my comfort zone and into uncharted territory is one of the most exciting yet peaceful things to experience. To look outside and see nothing but the green fields and trees changing their colors is a big change of scenery for a person who usually wakes up staring at other buildings and pavement. Not to mention the sounds; in the country, nothing but the crisp breeze of the morning rustling through the trees and the birds; blue birds, woodpeckers and so many others that will go unnamed, because that’s as far as my knowledge takes me. In the city, I would have been awakened about five or six times by cars, delivery trucks, sirens and drunks. Nothing wrong with that, however.  It’s the life I chose to live. But for me, to be in the country is to be able to unwind, and it is the best feeling in the world.

Usually with a lot in my head, I find myself taking the time to stare at the squirrels playing in the trees, the rabbits hopping from one side to the other of the lawn, which turns into 40 acres of land covered by trees, creeks and peace of mind. Here, and pretty much anywhere else I go that is similar to this, I am driven to reflect upon life and the choices I made (and am yet to make) and look at what a life in the country would be like. I am a man of the city – always have been – born and raised.  Life in the country is a foreign concept to me. What do you do out here all day? What do you do here all year?

In this village where I am staying there is only a restaurant, a pub and a post office. That’s it.   The church is thirty minutes away, in the other village. If you don’t know your way around here, your GPS navigation system will definitely not be of much help and, instead of the church, you will probably end up in Michelle’s Hair Parlor – which is, around here, just as sacred.

Being in the country is like adjusting the focus in a camera:  everything is blurry and then all of a sudden things begin to clear up. All those ideas and projects that didn’t seem possible, or perhaps terribly difficult, are now only a couple of tasks away from completion.  Nothing seems impossible out here, because the most unattainable idea right now would be to spend an entire year in the country.
I drive around making up stories for every house I see:  the one with the dog and the nicer car is probably the family that only comes here on the weekends to visit.  The one with the barn and the hay probably has the family that never left, as so many around here do. I try to imagine  what they think about, what kind of shops they go to, what would be a night out in the “town”?  Do they date? Who do they date?  I mean, the population is minus fifteen. I wonder if they are entertained by all the visitors who come and go? Or,  perhaps they are deeply bothered and would much rather be left alone? I wonder if they lock their doors or if a neighbor just stops by for a visit. In the city, showing up unannounced is as close as you can get to a crime.  And yet, I would love nothing more than for someone to show up unannounced.  It would make me feel more like a small town, apple pie kind of guy, if you know what I mean.

But this is not my life. This is part of my life.  This is part of the comings and goings that my life has become, and the thrills that are brought from exploring new places and possibilities. As much as I would love to join the simple life of the country, I don’t think I would ever be able to let go of my life in the city, because that is when I am truly in my element.

Everything in life has a purpose, and we all have our tuning methods. For me, tuning is going back to the peace an quiet of the country or the beach; for others, it’s therapy; and for some, it’s shopping; go figure. I know people who have never been to the country and aren’t curious at all about it. For me, it’s a fascinating and mind expanding experience that i cannot live without. For me, to be in the country is to be with myself.

Reading the Signs

Jeff, who lives at home, is a stoner, a lazy ass, a failure in many different senses of the word, a sci-fi geek and also a grown up. Jeff, however, is also passionate, kind-hearted, a dreamer and a believer. Jeff believes in destiny, he believes life has something special in store for him. He just doesn’t know what it is yet.

Driven by his ideals and beliefs, Jeff picks up a random sign given to him by “destiny” and chooses to follow it. He knows in his heart that the clue he was given will lead him to his purpose in life. There are no half measures with Jeff, he will not stop until he has achieved his goal.

From the less than average life that our anti-hero lives, in a household in which his mom (played by the ever so brilliant Susan Sarandon) could not be less supportive and understanding, Jeff finds himself in a less than fortunate situation. To make matters worse, Jeff’s path crosses with his prick of a brother, here embodied to perfection by none other than Ed Helms. From here on, the two brothers embark upon an unexpected adventure filled with inexplicable accidents and coincidences, each searching for his own unique goal. Their mother, oblivious to her boys’ shenanigans, sits at work dealing with her own mystery: a secret admirer that appears in her instant messaging service in the midst of a terrible personal crisis.

And so our characters go on their search for something; something that is not yet immediately clear to them, or the audience, but one that certainly becomes more and more intriguing, like in a good mystery that yearns to be solved.

I had the opportunity – via the kind invitation of Gen Art, to meet with one half of the Duplass brothers, Mark Duplass, who brilliantly co-wrote and co-directed the screenplay with his brother Jay.

Mark displayed nothing but fascination for Jeff’s unique way of embracing destiny and awe for the actors with which he and his brother were working. Mark explains: “This movie is more heavily plotted than our previous ones, it has many ins and outs, like a good detective story, but it still maintains a sense of improvisation, because the way the actors say their lines is totally their own, they recreate the lines, the script here works merely as a guideline to what is happening in their story, but the way they say it comes from their heads, and this is what keeps the movie exciting and fresh, and this is why we needed to have the help of these guys, Ed, Jason and Susan, who are so brilliant in what they do.”. Taking from cinema verite influences, the Duplass brothers continued to create freedom even in the way their scenes were shot, allowing their actors to perform without boundaries, much like a documentary, where a camera follows the subject and not the subject following the camera.

But the movie, which at times can take a few steps too far into its own charade, takes flight in its quiet metaphors for life that become more and more compelling towards the end – the metaphors that show us that there is after all a method to this whole madness, and that life has beauty in its system of working things out. The plan is often unclear, but the ability to enjoy the ride and appreciate the ups and downs is what makes the difference. To learn from our own mistakes, to grow and to graduate from them is the great accomplishment and, in some cases, the better-diploma.

Ed Helms, also at the event, had similar feelings about this movie. “At first I did not like this character, I thought he was a dick and I did not want to do it (the movie), but towards the end of the script I realized that Pat (his character) didn’t like Pat either and that he wanted to become a better person, that he saw where he needed improvement, and that made me want to be a part of this movie.”.

“Jeff, Who Lives at Home” is one of those movies that makes you feel, even at the worst of times, like there is always room for improvement, and that the possibilities in life are endless. As long as you trust fate and read the signs (whatever you think they may be), it is never too late to allow yourself to learn and pursue your own destiny. You still have, at any given time, a chance to make it in life.

Jeff, Who Lives at Home opens nationwide in the United States on March 16th, 2012

Not as happy as it sounds

If you haven’t yet watched Another Happy Day, then don’t be fooled by the title, it’s one of those sarcastic little things that you need to be able to pick up on. Like that movie Happiness; remember?

Well, don’t get me wrong, Another Happy Day is one damn good movie; written and directed by a very talented Mr. Sam Levinson and with a cast that will take your breath away. From Ezra Miller and Ellen Barkin, to Ellen Burstyn and Demi Moore, this is a flawless movie, hissy fits included and all. It’s not just a movie about a family falling apart, it’s a movie about real families, and how real families have all kinds of craziness but all kinds of beauty within them too. This is a movie about the woman who wants her family to get along, about the boy who wants to be a part of, about the girl who needs a father, about the ex husband who has gone so far and grown so cold that he barely knows how to communicate with his loved ones. This is a movie about what happens with a family when honesty, tenderness and understanding walk out the door, because love is still there, but it’s nothing more than an old idea or a dusty memory.

Don’t be discouraged though – this is a movie that still manages to maintain its good spirits, for the most part. There is sense of humour within all the madness, there is irony too, just like our lives. Well, raise your hand if you never experienced one of those “well ain’t this perfect!?!?” moments? As i thought, no hands went up.

Another Happy Day is a great movie because it hits the right chords for the right issues. Yes, not all families are that dysfunctional, but this is not the point. The point is, that there are people like that around us, constantly, we go through situations just as bad throughout several occasions in our lives. If we haven’t yet, we surely will soon, so why not open our eyes and minds and examine something that is given to us by fictional characters, is entertaining, causes no pain and could very well prepare us for those not so happy moments?

This movie is all about reaction, it’s an episode in the life of a family, and within that episode we are shown  a lifelong history of bad reactions. Separations, conversations, addiction, mental disorder, lies that come out and truths that are hidden, all of those bring out emotional and erratic reactions from each of the characters. Ellen Barkin‘s Lynn even tries to keep it together, but because of the way she reacted to things in the past, there is no way of fixing it anymore, she has set precedents and taken wrong decisions and now it’s too late. It’s too late for her and for all of them, this so called family hasn’t been an actual family in a long time.

See, all our lives are based on how we carry ourselves and the actions we take. Every bad action will generate a bad reaction. In theory. As human beings equipped with brains that we are, we are capable of making decisions and controlling our emotions, however, some of us forget about that and allow for our emotions to take over and react on situations that could have had a much brighter outcome had we taken the time to ponder and make the right decision.

If this movie doesn’t make you think about life and how you behave in your family and in society, than I don’t know what will, and hopefully this was the goal here, because it’s more than time for us all to pick up that long awaited wake up call. The phone is ringing, what will you do?

And the Winner Is…

In times when all we hear in the media and among our friends too is the buzz about who’s wining which award or who’s wearing what in which red carpet or what the host will say that will make people uncomfortable or how will the acceptance speech be; i can’t help but wonder, what do these awards really mean and who are these awards important to anyway?

Awards are like great compliments, given to us by people that – hopefully – know and have excelled in the same craft as those who receive it, awards are the recognition of a job well done; much like a star to the child who cleans up their bed room or the treat to the dog who sits quietly upon request. But awards don’t change us, awards don’t all of a sudden make us into something special or different, or at least they shouldn’t. Just because an actor receives an Oscar it doesn’t mean they will only do masterpieces from there on, right Charlize Theron? Of course it is expected of them to only do better from then on, but why should they only then go for those dramatic roles that make you cry for 45 minutes when they can also have some fun while working and do a high energy action movie or a laughable comedy? They are actors after all, they should be open to playing whatever character makes them happy, wether we, the Academy or the critics like it or not.

I was watching a show on Oprah Winfrey’s Network the other night called Master Class, in this show Oprah had Goldie Hawn talking about her life and career, and Ms. Hawn, a very accomplished and established actress – and and Oscar winner for that matter – had something very interesting to say. Goldie Hawn went on to say exactly what i’ve always been thinking, that it’s great to get an award, that it’s really cool to be recognized for the work you did and it’s good to know that your peers admire you enough that they would give you something like an Oscar, but this accolade is like a pat in the back, and it doesn’t make us any more special than we already were before, we need to be glad for it and move on, continue to do our jobs, carry on with our lives, because an award doesn’t define who we are, they give us confidence, even boost up our egos for a moment, but it should not be for more than a moment.

You see, this is where it gets tricky, it’s when the boosted ego lingers for more than a moment, and we believe that we in fact deserve something more than we’ve been getting, that we are in fact different. We are not. We should learn to take those little moments as a guide in our lives, maybe they exist to show us we are in the right path, that we are doing something that is good and admired, and it shows us which qualities we have, and that could be the lesson to be taken from an award or from that “job well done” we got from our boss, that we are in the right path and should continue to work hard, and that we should continue to give the best of ourselves in whatever it is that we are doing, otherwise, what’s the point of doing it anyway?

What is the point of doing something if it’s not done with love and passion? No point at all. So there you have it, regardless of getting an award or not, you should be happy you’ve done it and know in your heart, with or without the award, that you’ve done a great job. Other people’s opinion will not make it more special, they may validate your own, but your opinion will still be the same, much like yourself as a person, and all of us should learn to award ourselves for the hard work we do, we should learn to identify our strengths and weaknesses as human beings and work on them to improve ourselves, and we should be able to admit to ourselves and the world what they are; there is nothing wrong with that, it shows character.

Modesty, actually, false modesty, is a bitch; and i only say this because i used to be big in false modesty. Why would you discredit yourself of something you did that was very well done? No, you should take the credit and run with it, but keep in mind that it doesn’t change a thing about yourself. It is important to know what you’re worth and to keep that in check constantly, because by doing that you will always remember that even though you may have many qualities, you also have many flaws, and they are just as visible, and that no one depends on another person’s opinion to be happy, because by knowing your qualities and flaws you can be happy about yourself as a person and the feeling of being happy is extraordinary.

I recently lost a job, and all i heard from friends and people i know was how good i am and how i would turn this around because of these amazing talents and skills i have and so on and so forth. It wasn’t very long until i started wearing a cloak of wisdom and all you would hear was me talking about myself and how great i was and how i would turn things around because i was really great and no one else could be greater than me and that anyone would be a fool not to hire me because i would add so much value to a company and so on and so forth.

What a bore of a human being i had become. For over a week the world revolved around me and i could not see past myself. Finally one night, i was having dinner with a great friend, someone who knows me inside and out, and halfway through it i see a look in her face, and i know i had seen that look once before, and it scared me. I had to ask her what was wrong, but she would NOT say it, for the life of her, i could see how uncomfortable she was, and that was driving me crazy, because i knew right there that i must have done or said something absolutely awful. Finally, after much insistence she revealed the reason of her discontentment towards me: I was acting like a selfish prick. And there it was, the cloak of wisdom fell off my shoulders and i realized how ridiculous i was, riding on my high horse like i was worth a million bucks when in fact i was probably worth no more than a penny.

So here it is my friends, the true story of how a good person, which i admittedly am, can turn into an absolute douche bag, to say the least. This is again, proof that compliments and awards don’t change who we are. Those people saying how good i was when i lost my job were doing what they were supposed to be doing, they were pointing out my qualities so that i would have enough confidence to carry on and feel good about myself, they were being good friends, and after a while i became a ball of ego rolling down a mountain and destroying everything that crossed my path, even the ones who i loved the most.

We should always, always remember to stay true to ourselves and in our paths be kind and generous to others, because the award of today may be the doom of tomorrow.

The Curse

Every year is the same story, as the holiday season approaches, millions, or dare i say, billions of people accross the globe enter a state of utter anxiety that culminates with the new year’s eve celebration. Oh the new year, this emblematic turn of the page of a calendar, or even the start of a brand new one, where projects will be launched, ideas will be developed, dreams will be chased, relationships will begin and promotions will be earned. Or not.

I remember from a very young age of being involved in fancy celebrations for the turn of the year and the hugs and kisses exchanged between friends and family wishing for a happy new year, followed by wishes of joy, happiness and success. What i also remember is that could not understand what difference did any of it make? I mean, was something going to dramatically change from today to tomorrow? I clearly remember not feeling any difference whatsoever, i mean, apart from the holiday everyone seemed to have, everything else remained the same. Everything.
After i gained some age and freedom, the celebration of the new year also meant being free from the shackles of the family festivities and venturing out with my friends in our own adventures through creative or exotic locations; or sometimes merely someone else’s living room, with no grown up presence to say what we should or shouldn’t do. In reality, what that was, was another opportunity to drink all night long until the morning came or someone passed out flat on the floor. Either way, that meant we were growing up, and we were in charge and independent, we didn’t need anyone to tell us what and how to do anything, we knew better. Or so we thought.
Over the years i’ve grown to dislike the new year’s eve celebrations just as much as everything else that surrounded the holiday season. That one night carried so much anxiety and expectations that at the end it seemed more like a task rather than a fun night out with friends. Most of the times it meant having some grand party plan or a very interesting travel destination combined with a mind-blowing party night. Well, needless to say that none of that EVER turned out as planned, hence the title above mentioned, and what i have been recently calling the curse of the new year’s eve.
It is always a mess, you end up stranded at some weirdo’s party in a distant location, or the party you spent a fortune on turns out to be hilariously disappointing – and i mean hilarious because you can’t help but laugh at your own foolishness – or you start the evening in love to only finish heart-broken, or – which in my case is usually what happens and is far worse – everything seems to be going smoothly and you’re heading towards a very successful evening in an incredible location with great company and then something really unexpected and fucked up happens.
Crap, don’t you just hate that? Isn’t that just a downer? Not in a simplistic perspective, but in fact in a disastrous, Donald Duck kind of proportion. I mean, you’re in the zone, working the party, everything in harmony, you are finally making all the right connections that could contribute to something in the year ahead of you and then someone taps you in the shoulder: “have you seen Daniel?” and you go blank for a second – “no, i thought he was with you?!?”. Well, dear friends, there you have it, the beginning of the end, you know that from that moment on your night will turn into hell.
Daniel, for that matter ends up resurfacing four hours later out of a ditch four blocks down the road where he went to look for “entertainment” – whatever the hell that means.
Well, the curse is very simple, because it never fails me, it always turns up at some point on my new year’s eve and ruins my night, even if i decide to lock myself at home and watch movies, something WILL happen. The good side though is that this curse is the one thing that i can solemnly count on every single year. I know that for some part of that day i will be having a blast and i know that all of that will come crashing down on me as if the skies were falling on my head like in an Asterix comic book.
The thing is, who cares anyway? New year’s eve is after all just another pointless holiday night that people use as an excuse to get sloshed and act irresponsibly, and there is nothing wrong with that, i mean i would have absolutely NOTHING against it if people didn’t put so much expectation in it and on top of that added all that cheering and fake emotions and commotion that everyone knows is bullshit. I mean, what’s the deal with all the hugging and the kissing just because a number is changing in the calendar? And why do we have a need for the year to change to only then start that long awaited diet or stop acting like a douche? Why not take action right now and get back the control of your life instead of just waiting for other people and holidays to dictate your future? I have nothing against new year`s eve, as long as it doesn’t cause me traumas.
It seems pretty odd to me that we would have the discernment to decide to change things because the year is changing digits and not do anything about it throughout the year anyway!!?! Come on people, get off those fashionable bony asses and start acting on it NOW, before it’s too late; and i know i sound a bit harsh, but it is what it is – i’d rather spend my energy on having a great birthday celebration rather then waiting for the clock to turn midnight, if you ask me where i was when the clocks turned, i will probably tell you: asleep.

Manifesto of the Broken-Hearted

“How come you never go there? How come i’m so alone there?” – with those words Leslie Feist kicks off her latest single, recently released as a part of the album “Metals” – another beautifully crafted work of art by the Canadian musician who has brought us so much joy and heart-break before, and it is in the heart break that i want to focus here, because it is so easy for us to take it for granted.

You see, a heart break can be a beautiful thing, a weapon of mass construction, it can build songs, paintings, installations, books, journeys and even careers. It is not by chance that we are put to test like that, it is not by chance that we are compelled to feel our heart ache so much that it feels like we don’t want to feel anything at all. Just like we need to fall, in order to learn to get back up, maybe it’s getting our hearts broken that will teach us how to master the art of falling in love and dealing with every heart break, minor or major.

It is so easy for us to feel like the other one is at fault, or that we did it all wrong, and then to turn ourselves in martyrs; but why, i ask? Why should we put ourselves through so much pain and misery? It is ok to feel the pain, but living through it is the best part, let’s look at it from another angle, maybe this pain that comes from a heart-break is like a rare delicacy, it’s like that flower that blossoms only once in every few years, and we need to enjoy it as much as we can instead of trying to smash it down, for there is beauty even in the ugly; didn’t someone once say that “the beauty is in the eye of the beholder”?

Well, what i would like to propose here is an exercise, it’s a new way to look at our pain, whatever that is and wherever it comes from, and to turn it into something beautiful; like songwriters compose songs that sweep our hearts away, we can transform our pain in something that will make us happy. Through our pain we may discover a new passion, we may find a new friend, we may come to terms with older issues that were put to the side, because a heart break puts us in a place of fear and unease, it also puts us in anger and frustration, and those are all feelings that are great fuel in life, especially for our creativity.

So lets look at our heart break and gracefully learn from it, let’s look at what we did that could have gone wrong and at the end did. We are only human, we are not in control of life, we can’t decide how other people think, feel or react, we can’t control other people’s actions and emotions, so what we are left with is our own stuff to deal with. Let’s look back at our previous heart breaks and think about how much of it was really just because we projected much further than we in fact were living. Let’s look at our expectations and our romantic ideas, and then try to see if the other part involved shared those same ideas and expectations,or if maybe we had allowed ourselves to interpret further and make up reasons for our actions based on our own feelings, not in facts.

Even though it sounds awfully mechanical, it is also truly reasonable, because if you put things in perspective like that, it also helps to alleviate the pain, because it’s like science, you can’t argue with it.

Now, even after much rationalization, there will still be pain, because a broken heart is a broken heart, you can mend the pieces but parts of it will never be the same, and isn’t that a great thing? Because your feelings can change, evolve and grow; you can learn to turn those amended pieces in a great friendship, or you may turn them into a work of art that will blow the world away in lovely inspiration, or it may also be the last drop you needed to really focus in that career you never pursued because your mind was too distracted with other things.

You see, a broken heart is a beautiful thing, because it changes you, because it makes you look at yourself and the world around you in a different way, it makes you reflect on yourself and your life, it makes you put things in check, and it will always be a great reminder of your capacity to love; and if you really give your broken heart all the love and attention it deserves what you may encounter at the end is even more glorious than what you started with.

Below is a video of Feist performing “How come you never go there” on David Letterman. Enjoy! 😉

In the Land of Jolie

Whenever i sit to write in this blog there is fuel that drives me. Many times the source is one particular matter that raises a certain question in my head that pushes me to sit and write and share my ideas with the world. Every now and then it’s not one, but the clash of several different matters that push me to write, in this case the clash of ideas that brought me to my knees is not an easy one.

I live in New York City, a half a block away from the United Nations, i meditate on that building constantly as a way of trying to find peace, i look to it as a source of inspiration, because i would like to think of it as a place where politics, religions, beliefs and economy are all neutral and in perfect harmony, even though i know it isn’t. Many nights on my way home I stop and stare at that building and wonder what thoughts and prayers are going on in there, what matters are being brought to the surface for discussion, and which of those matters are in fact being addressed and which ones aren’t. I always try to think of the United Nations as a place of peace, i try to look at it as a place of reflection on life in this tiny world we live in and for a second my heart gets filled with hope.

Well, last night i went to a different building in the city, the Hearst Tower, symbol of money and power of the american empire, but a place where thoughts come to life in print and websites and media in general; and also the place that houses Marie Claire magazine, which had invited me for a private screening followed by a Q&A of Angelina Jolie’s “In the Land of Blood and Honey” the movie she wrote, directed and produced, about the war in Bosnia; a very controversial movie but also a brilliantly made movie; a movie that raises all the right questions, that stirs all the right feelings, that throws you to the ground and shakes you to look for your human soul.

Angelina Jolie has always been a very mysterious woman to me, a very layered gorgeous woman; she is the bombshell, the actress, the mother, the humanitarian, whatever it is you want to label her as, she can be, i see her as a Swiss army knife, actually, i don’t, because a Swiss army knife has limitations, and Angelina doesn’t. Mrs. Jolie is a powerful woman and she uses the power she has been given very wisely.

In her directorial debut, Mrs. Jolie told a story that many people don’t want to tell, she told the story of something that the world didn’t even want to look at as it was happening, in Bosnia; ugly things done by human beings to other human beings, she told the stories of the war, she managed to brilliantly place the viewer inside the war, next to the soldiers and the victims, she made you feel all they felt, and you could not pick a side, you could not decide who the villain was, because they all had their part in it, they all came in with their beliefs and they all turned into something else as soon as the war began.

Angelina Jolie showed us what it feels like to be in war, to see horrific things on a daily basis, year after year, after year, she made us understand that there is no sense to any of it, that friends and neighbors can turn into enemies in the click of an Uzi, just because. That is frightening, and we don’t want to look at it, it is in our nature to look away, we don’t want to know what happens there, we don’t like to be put in that position, because we don’t want to question ourselves what would we do if we were put in that situation.

Before the movie started, Angelina came out with a message; “Over the next two hours, you will feel uncomfortable and you will want to stop the movie and leave, but these people, they had to live through these things for three years, they couldn’t leave, and many of the actors in this movie were there when it happened, so please don’t leave.”

Well, no one left, and we all wore those Bosnian shoes, and that is exactly what will happen to you too upon watching “In the Land of Blood and Honey”, because Angelina Jolie will not settle for less then the absolute truth, she will not settle for less than the reality, and if the film doesn’t end the way you expect it to end, well, you will have to suck it up, because in war, things don’t necessarily end the way we want them to end.

Mrs. Jolie is a serious woman who takes her job very seriously, and when given the opportunity to tell this horrific story she decided to do the best job she could to show the world how things really happened, not how we hoped for them to turn out in the end, because in war there is no romantic ending, there is just the end. And then some other war begins somewhere else.

If the story was taken from a book of a certain gentleman or not, that doesn’t mater, controversies aside, Angelina Jolie was the right person to tell this story, Mrs. Jolie has the means and expertise to make it work, she made sure that the movie reflected what really happened during the conflict in Bosnia, and because this movie has Mrs. Jolie as its creator people will pay attention to it and they will buy tickets and they will go watch it, even though the theme is tough to digest, so it doesn’t matter where the story came from, but the story was told the best way it could be told, the story reached it’s full potential for the screen and hopefully will help raise awareness of millions of people around the world, because that’s why i write and that’s why movie makers make movies, because we want to send a message, that’s how we know how to help, we inform people through our craft and hope that the message sticks.

So what i took from my encounter with Mrs. Jolie was that if more people in Hollywood were rolling up their sleeves like she is, and Mr. Sean Penn is, and Mr. Steven Spielberg is, then we would have a much better chance of changing the world, because we still live in a celebrity driven world, and if more actors and directors used their celebrity status to give us the truth then we would have a much more educated young generation.

Angelina Jolie is a much bigger person than you would think of, and i feel profoundly honored and privileged to have been able to meet with her and share thoughts and ideas on some of the most difficult world issues, issues that we both care and fight for; in different levels, but still, we are both doing the best we can in our capacities, we are both being the best human beings that we can be.

On Forgiveness

“Time will tell” is a saying people use a lot, but this morning I actually saw the saying coming into life, so I will tell you what time told me about “The Descendants”, the movie brilliantly directed by Alexander Payne that is currently in theaters.
Last night when I left the theater I knew I liked the movie, I wasn’t sure what was about it I liked the most; maybe it was the perfect portrayal of what normal life is like in Hawaii, maybe it was that feeling of pain, grief and redemption that ripped the movie screen and jumped inside me, maybe it was George Clooney and Shailene Woodley’s brilliant acting, or a very well crafted and sensible screenplay; but whatever it was, something was set in motion inside me and I couldn’t put my finger on it right away.
This morning, after some time had passed, I was minding my own business and then it hit me: “Forgiveness! That’s it! Being forgiving, they were forgiving to themselves and each other above all!”. It was almost as if lightning was striking and I could see it coming down and up thru me, that was what had touched me so much in that movie, that was what the whole movie was about, or perhaps it wasn’t, but it portrayed forgiveness in a beautiful and natural way.
It starts with George Clooney’s character, he may be a flawed man, but he acknowledges it and he finally has a chance to do something about it, he knows this is the moment, the window of opportunity to make things right for himself and his entire family. Every character, one by one starts an exercise of soul searching and understanding, and they go through every tiny bit of feeling inside themselves and they forgive, even if they don’t want to, they work on forgiving, honestly forgiving, because it is the right thing to do. Alexander Payne shows us in this crafty movie that forgiveness is necessary in order to go on living.
These characters go through so much pain and destruction in their lives and yet they find a way to be together and show support for each other and give the word family a real meaning. We may not forget certain things in life, but we can definitely forgive them and move on, and grow from it, learn from it, use those things to make us better human beings, and I believe the most important message in this movie is that before being forgiving with others, we have to be forgiving on ourselves to only then be able to spread forgiveness even further.
You see, the beauty about forgiveness is that no one else needs to know about it, it’s a very internal movement we make that helps to create balance and puts everything back in order, it helps us to reconnect with other people, it enables us to live in society without judgments and hurt and so many other negative feelings that normally surround us on a daily basis. Forgiveness doesn’t have to be out loud for society to see, it’s not an award on the kindest human being on earth, but in fact it’s quite the opposite, it serves to remind us to be gentle with ourselves and others, it serves to show us that all human beings are delicate and feel just as much as we do and have pain just as much as we do.
My pain is not greater than yours, “The Descendants” showed me that too, in fact, my pain is irrelevant in most matters in my life, as long as I am aware of how my pain affects me and that I address it from time to time, then I got it covered, no one else needs to be pulled into my madness. It’s all very simple, because we all as human beings have issues going through life, and we can ask for help, we can scream for salvation, but we have to remind ourselves to not take advantage of our pain to get something out of someone else. Pity is an ugly feeling, why would anyone want anything to do with it anyway? Our pains are our own, and that’s the same with forgiveness, it’s our own and it serves to bring relief from the pain, the anger, the jealousy, the narrow-mindedness, you name it, there are so many feelings we can be forgiving about, but no matter what the issue is, we must always forgive and with time we may even forget.
We may forget the smaller things in life, the tiny feelings that come and go, we may be reminded of them from time to time too and they will serve to show us how silly we once thought of something, or someone, or as it is in most cases, ourselves.

Role Model

During the seven years in which Carrie Bradshaw inhabited the TV screen on HBO she became a part of our lives, men, like women, were also drawn to her, even if just for the sake of knowing what the hoopla was all about. We learned many things with Carrie, good and bad, she was our therapist and also the person we wanted to distance ourselves the most at certain times, but none the less, she was always there, like a good friend whose shoulder we can always rely on.
After Carrie and the “Sex and the City” gang were gone from the small screen we were left with a void, we had all of a sudden no one to look to when we turned our TV’s on, there was no shiny Park Avenue mirror for us to look into, no pink tutus or classic Manolo Blahniks to keep us comfort, we were left orphans, an entire generation or two that lived their lives inspired by Carrie Bradshaw, her loyal friends and their lavish lifestyle was all of a sudden at a loss.
Television networks were quick to look for replacements, there was Lipstick Jungle, but that was a huge fluke, poor Brooke Shields, it seems she had much bigger shoes to fill than they expected. But in fact what did they expect? It was like introducing the new wife to your children and expecting them to all of a sudden call this strange woman their “mommy” – it just doesn’t work like that! With the failure of the show that was meant to be the next step and salvation for women everywhere – or at least they marketed it to be seen that way – studios and networks had to find a solution. Sex and the City reruns on several networks were still making higher ratings than many of the brand new shows, so why not make a movie and expand the brand even further?
Sex and the City – the movie – was made, another smash hit produced and headlined by the unforgettable Sarah Jessica Parker and all of a sudden solace was found by millions of people across the globe. Since the early gossips until the premiere of the film, people felt comfort once again, but as soon as Sarah Jessica hung that pink tutu and put the Manolos to rest yet again, the void was back, and this time in full force. And so, have we ever accepted that the whole “Sex and the City” dream is in fact over? That there won’t be any more breakfasts with the girls? Will we face the fact that maybe we need to get out there and build our very own Park Avenue dream?
As I walked down the stairs from the movie theater recently, Sarah Jessica Parker’s most recent movie “I Don’t Know How She Does It” in fact, I realized how similar Sarah’s recent roles had been, how they had these carachteristics that did not distance from one another, like for instance, they were all mostly powerful or somewhat successful women, well, working women none the less, in their thirties or early forties, juggling their professional and personal lives in the big city, wherever that may be, and facing very common issues, like relationships, family, friends and work, but always in control of their own lives.
All of a sudden it dawned on me: Are we on a quest to find the next Carrie Bradshaw? And is Sarah Jessica Parker ever going to be able to step out of this gigantic persona that Carrie Bradshaw has become? Will Sarah Jessica Parker ever be able to leave her Manolo Blahnik’s behind for something more comfortable?
The answer is a little more complicated than that, Carrie Bradshaw and Sarah Jessica Parker have molded into one in the mind of the audience, they in fact do live very similar lives if you don’t look too much into the details, and the press is quick to never show too much detail. Sarah Jessica Parker will forever be remembered as Carrie Bradshaw, an independent woman in the big apple, who dreamed big and made it happen in her own terms, she is the Mary Tyler Moore of our generation, but much more, she is a style icon, both in and outside the screens, she defines what women in our era should be like. But not only women, as some issues flow in the same direction for both men and women. The approach to life for Carrie is so current and in fact timeless, that anyone can identify, all those dreams and aspirations are splattered in the screen for anyone who cares to identify with them, and we all did.
See, Sarah Jessica Parker has a family of her own, a successful career not only as an actress, but also as a producer and a business woman; she has her own fragrance, she makes endorsements and works on charity around the clock – or at least we are told so; Ms. Parker is a role model to all women, even if she isn’t, and on top of it, she embraces her age and speaks proudly of it, she shows that women shouldn’t necessarily be afraid of that ticking biological clock, they should in fact work with it and make the best of their time while roaming the sidewalks of earth – and still, do it in style.
So yes, in fact we are all looking for the next Carrie Bradshaw, we want to feel inspired, we want to see that in television, as in real life, mistakes are common and have to be dealt with, we want to know that behind the glamour there can also be sorrow and imperfection, because that makes us believe that it is all attainable to anyone, as long as we work really hard for it. 
But while we wait for our next screen-sized hero, why not keep an eye out for the real life Carrie Bradshaws out there and feel just as inspired? Because Ms. Parker for instance, has truly made it little more possible to all of us, men and women, and in her latest movie she could not be more appropriate and lovely, a woman at the top of her game, like herself; and so the question that remains is: how does she do it after all?

Will I end up in a Flea Market?

In my home, wherever that may be, as I change addresses and even cities and countries every so often, I have a tradition, and that is to fill it with objects that have a story to tell. Of course, like any other human being, I can’t shy from the brand new store bought objects, a nice couch is paramount to the life of any good living room, it’s that place where you can throw yourself among friends for a good talk over night or where you find the embrace of your lover to doze off in the middle of watching a movie in a rainy Saturday afternoon. But aside from the couch, the bed and maybe a bookshelf or a chair here and there, most of my belongings will come from flea markets and vintage shops.
In my home I like to incorporate to my books and art on the walls, objects that come from special places, pieces that were inherited from my family and tell part of my own background, as well as items I found while making my own story.
In one of my recent trips to London, while walking down Portobello Road amongst old door knobs, tea cups, rugs, porcelain dogs, boxes full of keys to mysterious doors, beautiful and questionable paintings and the occasional raw fish stand sided by pig ears and a man who carried his dog on his shoulders, I found a weird shaped vase, it was, as a matter of fact, a bottle, and there really wouldn’t be much use for it, especially because its lid was missing, but I fell in love with it, I saw potential in that poor orphaned object, so I bought it.
With the bottle in hand, a feeling of accomplishment washed over me, I had made that entire trip worthwhile, I had just acquired a “token” from Notting Hill, the neighborhood that was the lead character in the movie that goes by the same name and that for years inhabited my subconscious as this magical little village hidden in a corner of London.
On my walk back from the depths of that street fair I observed with less attention to the objects but more focus on the bigger picture; listening to the dialogues of the neighborhood woman complaining about her health to the newspaper man while taking a drag from her cigarette, the little kid strolling around while eating her morning croissant with the importance of a 35 year-old walking to her office, the policemen fighting with the unloading trucks that blocked the roads.
 This was part of what made that bottle so special, I pictured in which of those houses it used to live in, where it was originally bought, maybe in a street fair in Morocco or a glass store in Venice?  Was it a gift to newlyweds or maybe something passed along from mother to son, to daughter? That walk made me remember what makes my home a home to me, and that is just that, the reunion of all those moments into one place, memories that live in objects that are carefully placed in shelves and corners of my apartments.
The apartment in itself is unimportant, it’s just a box, but what I make with it is what makes all the difference. Most of the objects I add to my home will probably never leave it, they will move with me, from, address to address, adding to their own history and to theirs my own, but what happens after I die? Will I end up in a flea market?
That feeling of abandonment and loneliness came over and for once I put myself in the place of all those objects left to the roadside in London and so many of the flea markets and junk yards around the world, but I quickly had to come back, because that is not my place to be, I will be in a junk yard of my own and that won’t matter, like the objects left behind by previous owners, I will go on to seek solace elsewhere and history will continue to unfold around me, in this never ending tale that is life.
Now, that bottle, remember? The one with no lid bought in Notting Hill? For now it sits next to my television holding a beautiful dried white rose, and I was right, it made perfect sense to buy it and every time I look at it my heart fills up with joy.

Art to be Lived

I was having a conversation with a friend of mine,
a fashion editor for an Italian magazine; it was one of those conversations
that happen very unexpectedly in the middle of a hectic week of work somewhere
in Europe. We were talking about our lives, how fortunate we are to be able to
be globetrotting across the planet with our jobs and getting in touch with
different cultures and experiencing so many different lives in one lifetime, to
be seeing things that we used to see in text books in school or in our parents
art books. We spoke of our different backgrounds and the places we now live in
and the places we see ourselves living in, in the future; we decided we are in
did searching for a feeling of a well lived life, which in fact we already
have, given our young age.

But this talk was more in terms of where would we
establish ourselves, where we saw ourselves spending our old age, how our life
would be, what we would become from here on? Well, of course no precise answer
could come out of this conversation, but we do know what we are looking for.

For anyone who has seen the movie “I Am
Love” I am sure the house in which the characters lived in was in fact a
character on its own, possible the most impressive character of the movie. The
house where they lived in, in Milan, had its own character, which was a
combination of years of experience, years of traveling, years of knowledge
accumulated in those rooms. The appreciation for art and architecture that
breathes through the walls, the knowledge of fashion present in its
inhabitants, the admiration for food and the impact of its flavors and also how
they could change a mood with a single bite.

The house in that movie is a character on its own
because it has been lived in, it has felt the love, the laughter and the sorrow
of one or many families, it has seen birthdays and funerals, it has seen
engagement parties and celebrations of all sorts; it looks perfect from the
distance but from up close you can see the floorboards are scratched, the
curtains have stains and the windows may have cracks. Like a person, a house is
allowed to live and accumulate treasures, like we accumulate shoes, watches,
stamps or even a rose from a lover that we keep in secrecy. The house in “I Am
Love” is a character on its own because it is in fact a well lived house, it’s
quite possibly one of Milan’s most famous properties, called Villa Necchi
Campiglio, at Via Mozart, today a cultural institution open for visitors and
kept as it was when their owners lived there.

During this conversation with my friend it then
hit me, through something she said, that art is not meant to be hanging from
the cold walls of museums, but in houses and apartments, where it can be shared
with friends and family, where it can be admired and treated with love, like we
would a plant or animal. Art was made to live with people and witness their
lives, and be accumulated by their homes, not to be left alone in a cold room
alongside other abandoned and marketed pieces of art.

 Even though I am thankful for the museums and
galleries, for their existence and for allowing me to see some of the most
beautiful and enticing works created by men, I would adore if more of these
museums could be like Villa Necchi or The Frick Collection are, houses that
have been lived in and were left untouched for the appreciation of the people.
Every time I visit one of these stunning places I ask myself how their lives
must have been and I can’t help but wonder what it feels like to be able to
work there every day. The Pierpont Morgan Library in New York for example is to
me one of the most remarkable places I ever visited in my life, there it is,
the house and life’s work of a man completely devoted to collecting art, books
and obviously money, but that last bit is irrelevant in this case.

Really impressive, and on another side of the
spectrum, was visiting the Frida Khalo museum in Mexico City, because that’s
the place where she loved, bled, and created some of the most beautiful and
relevant works of art seen by men. In that house, Frida and Diego accumulated
art by other artists, their own art, books, animals and all sorts of memories, The
Frida Khalo Museum was to me the epitome of the museum home, every room spoke
to me, it’s almost as if she was there, walking around in her beautiful garden
or flipping through one of her many art books; to be able to see with my own
eyes how that amazing artist lived her life and which books she read and how
she kept her house was a phenomenal and unique experience.

While in Milan I had the opportunity to also visit
the Boschi Di Stefano apartment as well, and these two were very affluent Milanese
artists who acquired more than two thousand pieces of art during their life
together, and by art I mean all types; from paintings to sculpture, from
furniture to chandeliers, it’s all in there for the curious visitor to see, for

It warms my heart to know that someone would leave
their entire patrimony to the city, to the memory of the world, to improve the
lives of those who follow them. To visit a place like this, that always existed
for the love of art, is a blessing, and even though museums were created and exist
to preserve art and were born precisely from the love for art, they haven’t
been lived in, they haven’t had a chance in life, they are these boxes, time
capsules, in which we keep our memories related to art and can access them
whenever possible. It doesn’t seem fair to me, but it sure is great to have
them in such an organized manner.

I have
always had this fear in life, of where I would end up, what would become of me,
then that turned into a fear of what would be done with my belongings, who, of
the people I know, would appreciate having some of the paintings I now own and
would care for it as much as I do? Well, that all is gone now, it is not
important what happens to my belongings after I pass, I will not be around to
see it, but I still definitely hope for the best and that the art I own feels
just as proud and happy for the life they were able to live while they were
living with me as I am proud to have them around me.

Why I Cry Today

I was sitting in a class of physics when someone received a text message saying that the World Trade Center had been attacked. I remember i was planning a trip to Los Angeles with one of my best friends instead of paying attention to class; we couldn’t believe it, all of us rushed down to the tv at the cafeteria in a state of shock, absolute shock, what was going on? How was that possible? What was happening in the world? Still to this day i can’t make any sense of it, i don’t think anyone ever will.

I remember the feelings i felt, i remember having a classmate whos father worked in one of the towers, i remember his despair staring at the tv screen without understanding; i remember the common feeling we all had for him and his family, we wanted them to be well. His father was there, but he survived. I have never seen that kid again, but my heart was with him then and is with him now, because to go through the agony he must have gone through is unimaginable.

It’s unimaginable for me to think that one human being is capable of willingly do a thing such as flying an airplane into a building. We are human beings, not animals; or are we? What is this desire to kill and destroy that some of us have? Where does it come from? Why is it necessary to fight over differences?

Today is the tenth anniversary of september eleven, a day that will never be forgotten, a day that will enter history books and a day that i witnessed and still can’t understand. At all. Every year my thoughts wander away into the void left by those who died, i try to piece it together and today, since the moment i woke up, i cried, because i can’t understand, because the fear is tangible, because the feeling of abandonment from reason is real. To me it feels like a wound that is constantly open and band-aided, and even though i wasn’t in that situation i witnessed with the entire world, and feelings sometimes travel faster than light and sound, and this feeling lives in my heart, there is no denying.

Every year i think of why would any person chose to kill over their beliefs? Can’t things be solved peacefuly? It’s even scarier to think that people celebrated the deaths of thousands somewhere in the world, that other human beings were gloating over something so unhuman, so animal. Just like World War II, September eleven to me is irrationality to the extreme, it’s madness, sheer brutality; and my heart aches for that, my tears roll down because i feel embarrassed as a human being, because i feel that with years and years of evolution we haven’t been able to overcome our irrationalities and act like the geniuses i know we can be, instead, some of us choose to use this genius for destruction of our own selves.

Humans have massacred millions of other humans, enslaved other humans, destroyed the very ground they live in, it’s total self-sabotaging, and that to me is uncomprehensible, because to me it’s such a simple equation, it’s as simple as 1+1=2. 

We don’t think the same, we don’t feel the same, we don’t believe in the same Gods, we don’t love the same, we don’t pray the same, but we all want to live, we all want to be able to have peace of mind, we all want to be able to have a place to come to at night, a place to call home, and we want our homes to be safe and free of fear. It baffles me to think that human beings are capable of such violent acts against each other, it disappoints me profoundly to know that we can’t live in peace, that we can’t be trusted, that we have to keep looking over our shoulders or interpreting situations.

I felt the same way when i was in Berlin, that is one powerful place to be if you wanna feel floored by emotions, because the kind of prolonged pain those people had to be put through is beyond me, i have no words, and that to me is rare. We may be intelectual humans, but sometimes we act like savages.

Living in New York, a city filled and built by different cultures and beliefs, my feelings are amplified, because i know it can still work out for us all, look at this city, it’s an example of resilience and survival, it is a multi cultural epicenter, it’s a city that has all cultures, religions, languages, sounds, sexual orientations, everything and anything you can imagine is in here, and we all have learned to live together in respect, we have learned to listen to each other, we have learned to dialogue, we have learned to live in peace.

Now more than ever, my heart cries harder, because i wish the whole world could feel and experience what i feel and experience here everyday, i wish the whole world could have the kind of freedom i have living in New York city, a world of its own, a place where you are accepted for who you are, regardless of anything else. Someone did something right here at some point, and it works, because we understand each other, there is a sense of community like nowhere else, and we come together for each other and we make it work, because we believe it is possible to coexist with all our differences in one city, in peace.

New York did not cause the disaster of  9/11 but the disaster was brought upon this city, and what New York did was beautiful, because New York gathered its strength and rebuilt itself and its spirit, New York and its citizens, people from all around the globe, gathered as one and showed the world that it is possible to live together and make something better, and this is why i cry, because New York, one of the most important cities on earth is to me the clearest example of strength, freedom and peace, and that is what i cry for today.

Back in the day

I was at a deli getting something to eat and all of a sudden i heard Paula Cole’s “I don’t want to wait” playing in the radio. I swear to you, it sent me shivers, good ones; and it sent me straight back to my high school years, it sent me back to my feelings of awkwardness and discoveries, it sent me back, with some shame, to “Dawson’s Creek”. There were entire afternoons spent with my friends at handball or volleyball games, in some others we would gather at someone’s house to talk sex and smoke cigarettes hidden from this someone’s parents; it was super exciting and we were beyond cool in our silly little minds. I hadn’t thought of those days for a long time, i hadn’t reconnected to that feeling in years, and it felt so right and so good to be able to feel all of that without having to live that anxiety that i know filled all our hearts.

I don’t wish i knew then what i know now, everything happened as it should and we had a ball. We laughed and cried with the same intensity and never blinked in front of an adventure, even if it meant suspension from school, because we knew that we had each other to fake our parents signatures and would be able to get away with almost anything. I am pretty sure our parents knew that too, but we were straight A students, so i guess it didn’t matter too much. That feeling was so good, really remarkable, i couldn’t stop thinking of the shows we used to watch, the gossip that used to flow through the halls of school, the principal that we absolutely could NOT stand and the little parties, called “The Best Party for Teenagers”, which we thought was a real grown up thing to do; tens of thousands of kids would go and then come back home at midnight or so, it was a huge deal to all of us and we adored it, i guess no one was really paying ANY attention to the name of the party, really, i am positive we weren’t, because we used to call it “The Best”. Period.

I could not give up that feeling, immediately i snapped back to 2011 and turned to my Pandora Radio to create my very own “Paula Cole Radio”. Oh gosh, “Where have all the cowboys gone” started playing and i could remember a series of other things connected to around that same time. I remembered that was the year Eric Clapton wanted to “Change the World” in the soundtrack of “Phenomenon”, a not so great movie with John Travolta but a damn good song that got him a couple of Grammy’s. Along the same lines, Jewel wanted to know who was going to save your soul in one of her biggest hits and Sheryl Crow i guess made everyone happy and nailed a bunch of awards too with her then current album.

1996 was a great year, Robert Redford and Michelle Pfeiffer got together for the sappy “Up Close & Personal”, one of my all time favorite romantic movies, because it had a great love story intertwined with the career of the small town girl Tally Atwater who dreamed big and made it big as she always dreamt. Stockard Channing had a great role in that movie and the soundtrack threw Celine Dion to super stardom with the hit “Because you loved Me”, we all remember that one, even if we don’t want to. On tv we saw “Beverly Hills 90210” hit their very last season, but by that point no one really cared anymore, it was all about “Friends”, “Ally McBeal”, “That 70’s Show”, “Everybody Loves Raymond”, “Mad About You”, the ever classic “Married with Children” and the unforgettable “3rd Rock from the Sun”. Now, that was a fun year for TV  and also the year we got to know many of the kids who are now Hollywood’s biggest movie stars. Oh, let’s not forget that in 1996 the show “Suddenly Susan” was on, and i know that was quite forgettable, but come on guys, the impeccable Kathy Griffin got to enter our homes every week and crack us up; and we can never thank that show enough for pushing Kathy to stardom.

In that year we were still reminiscing over the amazing gangsta-type-movies “Bad Boys” and “Dangerous Minds” and it was the year when the amazing The Fugees took home some awards and the world fell madly in love with Lauryn Hill; “Gangsta’s Paradise” was going strong on the Billboard’s charts, Tupac Shakur had two huge hits out but also took four in the chest in Las Vegas and left this earth to entertain some dudes in heaven; and us, well, we were all left with his great music in our memories. In 1996 we were also reminded of the death of another great one: Kurt Cobain; that was the year when Nirvana’s Unplugged album won a Grammy for best alternative music and at that point that album had sold more than five million copies across the globe. It was definitely a good time for rock n’ roll; Alanis Morisette released her “Jagged Little Pill” to the sound waves and became an instant hit, who could EVER forget her hits “Ironic” or “You Oughta Know” ? I also remember going crazy over Oasis and The Cranberries; not to mention the brand new No Doubt with their colorful videoclip in the height of the Mtv era, followed by Smashing Pumpkin’s “1979”… Oh wow!

I also remember, around that same time, a very nasty and hard to forget hit song that could not stop being played anywhere, it was even in little stuffed animals when you pressed their paw, that nasty song would play, poor children, it was wherever you turned to: Macarena! What were those dance moves? And what were we thinking? We clearly had no filter. Well, obviously, that was also the year in which Shaquille O’Neal was allowed to make a movie, the stupid “Kazaam”, and also the year when Demi Moore released the bombs “The Juror” and “Striptease”, which to this day is still one of my favorite guilty pleasures. Speaking of which, remember how Ellen DeGeneres had her peak right around that time? She came out of the closet and her ratings came tumbling down while her public exposure went off the roof, the world wasn’t ready for her genius but she surely saved my life; but not before joining Bill Pullman in the disastrous “Mr. Wrong”. If Ellen wasn’t such an amazing person and comedian we would not be able to forgive her for that slip! But hey, we all make mistakes, Mr. Pullman, who had just come from a series of big hits, including “Independence Day” in 1994 and “While you were sleeping” in 1995 will tell you, and so will his former co-star Sandra Bullock, who in that year joined america’s heart throb Chris o’Donnell in the also disastrous “In Love and War”; i mean, did any of us really need such a piece of crap? I think not. We also didn’t need “Two if by Sea” Mrs. Bullock, but whatever, i guess you can’t always win right? Right! Because in that year there was enough room left in people’s attention for the brilliant movie “Fargo” which was one of that year’s favorites, alongside “The English Patient”, which I NEVER get tired of watching with a trifecta of great acting: Ralph Fiennes, Juliette Binoche and Kristin Scott Thomas, well, Mr. Minghella, you made my year. That was also the awakening of a Hollywood icon: Leonardo DiCaprio had two huge hits, and was laureled by critics and audience in both “Romeo + Juliet” and “Marvin’s Room”, will we ever forget that? I think not.

Us teens had a great year, and so did the teen stars; Neve Campbell had her strongest year with “The Craft” and “Scream” and saw her career explode, for five minutes, but i bet it was great while it lasted, right Neve? Liv Tyler got cast in Tom Hanks’s brilliant “That thing you do!” and stole our hearts yet again. You know who else stole our hearts? Barbra Streisand and Jeff Bridges in the ever so cute “The Mirror has two faces”, that was quite the productive year for Mrs. Streisand who also had a hit song for this very movie with the also then top charter Bryan Adams. But for me, it was really Ed Burns who got all the attention, his movie “She’s the One” will remain one of the all time classics in my movie library, i mean, that was sheer perfection, from cast to soundtrack, what an impeccable movie! Us teens also had the guilty pleasure of enjoying the iconic Spice Girls, oh boy, and we did! We performed Spice Girls songs in school plays and pretty much wherever we could, boys and girls were all in love with those english chicks, i mean, obsessively in love; no joke! What we weren’t so in love though was Madonna’s “Evita”, oh gosh, what a bore! I mean, nowadays i really appreciate it, especially the outstanding costumes, but i guess it was too much controversy to our silly little brains, “Wannabe” was all we could handle!

Me on the other hand, i loved some brainiac movies, and my friends could absolutely NOT get me: “Basquiat”? what was that? “Sling Blade”? ugh, no! That was a few steps too far, and even movies like “Swingers” and “From Dusk til Dawn” were not for them, so i kept it to myself inside my darkened room in any given boring afternoon. With them i would watch “Twister” or “Daylight”, and don’t get me wrong, o LOVED those too, oh, completely and madly, i mean, i had a crush on Helen Hunt, how could i not?

We also laughed a lot, i mean a whole lot: “The First Wives Club” anyone? Another trifecta, a great punch line: “don’t get mad, get everything!” and that scene with Diane Keaton having a nervous breakdown while they try to find incriminating papers in Brenda’s ex husband’s office was flawless, and so was Hugh Wilson’s direction, oh my God, i can watch that movie over and over and over again and never get tired; in fact, i watched it last night! We also had the remake of “The Nutty Professor”, and that was Eddie Murphy at his very best, i mean, very, very best! Thank you so much for that craziness Mr. Murphy! And even though this next one was only released a year later i will dare to include it in my memoir: “My Best Friend’s Wedding” was being filmed in 1996 and then in the following year made us laugh and cry and caused quite a big scandal with its ending; we will never forget that!

Ninety six was a good year, but it’s surrounding years were really good too, it was a time of discovery and enchantment, songs made us hurt but also filled us with joy, we thought that we would never be able to get over ourselves, we thought life would not reach the year 2000, the 90’s seemed infinite, and we loved every second of it.

So, listening to “Paula Cole Radio” is like traveling in time and going back to a space where everything was possible, time went by very, very slow and we had the biggest hearts in the world, we definitely lived in the moment, in our little universe and i am pretty sure we were completely aware of it, with no regrets, at all, and now that i am able to look back and feel this happy about my teens, i can also relate to my mother and my father when they would blast the stereo listening to Janis Joplin, Led Zeppelin, John Lee Hooker, Rolling Stones or Supertramp and go on and on telling stories from the years when they would ride their motorcycles carelessly and free and hang out in the neighborhood with their friends all day, having one crazy adventure after the other. I can totally relate, it used to sound so far and weird to me, but at the same time quite fascinating and also somewhat brilliant, to see my mom crying as she listened to Janis and Zeppelin, there must have been something very intense going on right there in those songs, but that’s for her to keep in her heart i guess, those stories were never shared, but i feel touched to have been able to witness moments like that and to have also had the privilege of growing up in such an eclectic environment.

This is what life is all about to me; live in the moment and make sure to store all your special times deep down in memory lane, you will never ever need a picture to go back to those places and feelings, because it all lies within yourself.

Life Gives You Lemons

Lately i have been caught in this feeling of powerlessness. Don’t ask me why or how, i can’t explain it, it is not a negative feeling, it is a very endearing one, where i feel that i have no power over life and that is fine. Lately i have been caught in talks of God, and don’t ask me why, but i feel very much inclined to dive deep into those talks and examine what that means. Lately i have been caught in this feeling of gratefulness towards whatever comes to me, good or bad, if it is given to me i will take it; why not? My father always used to joke around about this concept: “if it’s offered to you for free, even an injection on your forehead is OK.” he said. Well, maybe i won’t go that far, that sounds rather painful, but i would maybe have a look at all the factors surrounding that offer, for sure.

The reason for all these thoughts is quite unsure, in fact, there aren’t any reasons,  these are overwhelming feelings that have been taking over me without asking for permission, and what i have decided to do, in a very smart move, is to let them all in, keep the ones that are of use and let the other ones go.

The talks of God have lead to great debates, with other people and myself; i have discovered that even though i have always welcomed the idea of God as a higher power that manages everything in the universe, i had never really put a lot of thought into it. Detach from the religious God and think about a power the  surrounds us, think about the energy that guides you every day; that to me is a representation of God. I myself don’t necessarily call it God, i have been calling it higher power, “the force”, destiny, fate, light, guide and ultimately, i have chosen to very broadly name it life.

This brings me back to powerlessness, because if God is the great manager of life, and in my broad concept is life itself, then really there is no point on trying to tame it. I have many mixed feelings towards God and life, but the general idea is the same, and that is that things will always sort themselves out as long as you allow yourself to be open and accept what is offered to you. Of course it is you who will make decisions to buy milk, start subscribing to a newspaper, go to the beach or stay inside and away from the sun, but what about those bigger things that come to you? What about the rain that falls unadvised, soaks you wet and gives you pneumonia? What about the train that was late today, of all days, and made you miss the most important meeting of your year and quite possibly your job? There is no answer or sense in any of these questions, these things just happen because they have to, and they happen to you because there must be some secret to be unveiled in your life, for life is a great mystery unfolding right before your eyes. Maybe you will lose your job because you have to find a new and greater one, or maybe you don’t need a new one because you will discover that this is the golden opportunity to start painting and welcome a new path into your life.

I can choose to be healthy, go to the gym, eat the right food, be good to other people and pay my bills on time, but i cannot choose to be struck by lightning. Not that i want to. Think about this other concept: you are in a boat, seating alone, nothing around you, no instruments to guide or help you, and the boat just floats away. The boat is life. I know, it sounds stupid, but it is very basic and paints a good picture, because as you navigate through clear skies or the mists of Avalon you will continuously encounter new wonders, storms, fishes, birds and quite possibly other vessels, and that is just how life is; isn’t that cool?

So, life gives you lemons and you make lemonade. What do you do if life gives you cancer? You treat it. It is very simple, the surrounding complications in most situations are created by ourselves, we can choose to bitch and moan, we can choose to be sad and depressed, but we can also choose to navigate through this heavy weight that is cancer with serenity and grace, we can choose to be positive and believe that we are strong enough to beat it. Most importantly we can choose to be grateful to have this opportunity to show strength to ourselves and learn to fight even harder. Of course there will be difficult days, days you question yourself and your strength, but if you keep that positive energy then those doubtful and negative days will be less frequent than in most cases.

All things that cross our path have a meaning and a reason to exist and all we should do is be grateful for another opportunity to learn and connect to something new, or maybe even something that is old and buried deep in the past.

This brings me back to the top; if God is life and life is the great manager, than just learn to gracefully accept life as it unfolds before your soul, enjoy the ride and remember to thank life for your day before you go to sleep and everything will be OK, it always is.


Hey dearests,
i will take some room in my blog to share words that aren’t mine, but were originated from the brilliant mind of Baz Luhrman, who i deeply admire.

I share his words and have this to say to you dear reader: wear sunscreen.

Ladies and Gentlemen of the class of ’99

If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be
it. The long term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by
scientists whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable
than my own meandering
experience…I will dispense this advice now.

Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth; oh nevermind; you will not
understand the power and beauty of your youth until they have faded.
But trust me, in 20 years you’ll look back at photos of yourself and
recall in a way you can’t grasp now how much possibility lay before
you and how fabulous you really looked….You’re not as fat as you

Don’t worry about the future; or worry, but know that worrying is as
effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing
bubblegum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that
never crossed your worried mind; the kind that blindside you at 4pm
on some idle Tuesday.
Do one thing everyday that scares you


Don’t be reckless with other people’s hearts, don’t put up with
people who are reckless with yours.


Don’t waste your time on jealousy; sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes
you’re behind…the race is long, and in the end, it’s only with

Remember the compliments you receive, forget the insults; if you
succeed in doing this, tell me how.

Keep your old love letters, throw away your old bank statements.


Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what you want to do with your
life…the most interesting people I know didn’t know at 22 what they
wanted to do with their lives, some of the most interesting 40 year
olds I know still don’t.

Get plenty of calcium.

Be kind to your knees, you’ll miss them when they’re gone.
Maybe you’ll marry, maybe you won’t, maybe you’ll have children,maybe
you won’t, maybe you’ll divorce at 40, maybe you’ll dance the funky
chicken on your 75th wedding anniversary…what ever you do, don’t
congratulate yourself too much or berate yourself either – your
choices are half chance, so are everybody else’s. Enjoy your body,
use it every way you can…don’t be afraid of it, or what other people
think of it, it’s the greatest instrument you’ll ever

Dance…even if you have nowhere to do it but in your own living room.

Read the directions, even if you don’t follow them.

Do NOT read beauty magazines, they will only make you feel ugly.
Get to know your parents, you never know when they’ll be gone for

Be nice to your siblings; they are the best link to your past and the
people most likely to stick with you in the future.

Understand that friends come and go, but for the precious few you
should hold on. Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and
lifestyle because the older you get, the more you need the people you
knew when you were young.

Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard; live
in Northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft.


Accept certain inalienable truths, prices will rise, politicians will
philander, you too will get old, and when you do you’ll fantasize
that when you were young prices were reasonable, politicians were
noble and children respected their elders.

Respect your elders.

Don’t expect anyone else to support you. Maybe you have a trust fund,
maybe you have a wealthy spouse; but you never know when either one
might run out.

Don’t mess too much with your hair, or by the time you’re 40, it will
look 85.

Be careful whose advice you buy, but, be patient with those who
supply it. Advice is a form of nostalgia, dispensing it is a way of
fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the
ugly parts and recycling it for more than
it’s worth.

But trust me on the sunscreen…

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.


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!

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.

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.

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!