Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Camilla goes to J Tree or They broke me like a wild horse.

So, I became a bit of a gear head. Looking for the lightest first aid kit, the most compact layering pieces, a comfy sleeping pad, a micro fiber towel, I resisted the convertible pants, I just can’t sacrifice fashion to that extent. But I got a rad week-long back pack and some really cool space saving vacuuming travel bags, all in an effort to be a well-prepared traveler for my Outward Bound Climbing trip in Joshua Tree.

I was all packed up, dressed in dorky outdoor garb (being raised in London, I have no style when it comes to outdoor wear, I always look like a weirdo, I’m okay with that now, I’ve given in to it), in the car on the way to the airport. So, I realize I’m pretty nervous; the thought of spending a week, summer camp style, with a bunch of strangers is intimidating to me. I’m a reluctant loner -struggle to be social but can do a good job of it most of the time, but it exhausts me and I need a daily dose of solitude, quiet and respite, and the thought of probably not having it freaked me out. So, of course, I knew it was exactly what I needed to do.

I make it to JFK on time, check in, buy some mags, and am ready to settle into some air laziness. Halfway through the flight the pilot asks for a medical specialist then a stewardess runs down the aisle with an oxygen tank. We all become a bit agitated, no announcements or explanations are being made. Then the pilot says we’re making an emergency landing in Wichita. Now I see lifeless legs hanging out into the aisle, way down in business class. Occasionally they shudder, either a seizure or CPR, I can’t tell which, but it’s clearly involuntary. It’s creepy, I’m sure I’m looking at a dead man. They tell us to sit down, rubber neckers have filled the aisles, hardly anyone sits, people can be so bleedin’ unhelpful.

Turns out the guy was in a diabetic coma. His wife was with him. It was sad, scary and surreal.

I end up at the hotel 4 hours later than expected, tired, nervous and excited.

Up early the next morning to meet the group. I WANT to do this trip, have been looking forward to it for ages, the physical challenge is the least of my worries, it’s the social aspect that has me totally apprehensive. I can only really put words to this all now in retrospect, at the time I was just kind of smiley and awkward, but now I realise that I was facing a new personal quandary: pander to my habit of wanting to be liked at the cost of my energy, boundaries and such, or balls out be myself, moody baby and all and risk not being well liked. I went with the latter. And though it does sort of suck to not be loved by all, it feels brilliant to know I took care of myself and my needs and wants and still finished the trip with some incredible experiences and very good friends. But I’m jumping forward.

I’m not good at chitchat. I understand that initially, with a bunch of strangers, you have to just do it. It was an interesting crowd. Most of the group comprised of outdoor activity leaders who work with at risk youth. There was one other New Yorker; she worked for Avon, and a Latin teacher, making up my 10 climb-mates, plus three instructors.

We drove up to Joshua Tree National Park, and after a quick orientation went straight into climbing. The rock there is way different to the rock I first climbed in Utah. It’s granite, super crystally with big sharp grains. It’s also very slabby, not too many holds; mostly you’re sticking your finger in a crack (naughty) and hoping your shoes stick well. It was also really cold and I was realising I probably didn’t have enough clothes.

That evening we set up camp, putting up midi tents and throwing most of our belongings into individual rough neck crates. I would get pangs of “what did I get myself into”. People were so gregarious, which is lovely, but I felt as though I was coming off as rude when I really just liked to listen and watch.

There were a lot of the expected, prescribed OB rituals, such as:

Potpourri: at 6:30 we’d put our sleeping mats in a circle and share stretches or work out moves together.

Open Forum: After dinner we’d sit around a lantern and “speak freely”. If we agreed with something someone said we were told we could put a hand into the circle and jiggle it –sign language for “me too”. If there was a lull in the speaking, a leader would put there hands into the circle like a crocodile mouth and slowly close the gap –indicating, “this is your last chance to add something”.

Nuts and Bolts: Lingo for “this is what we’re doing tomorrow”

Mindfulness: this word was used A LOT in relation to most things.

Service: I’ll go more into this later, but OB includes service activities with their trips. Ours was to go play bingo at an assisted living community –it was INTENSE.

Super hero/heroine night: Yes, even out in the desert, stank from no bath, greasy hair and dirty clothes, we had to devise a costume for the final night. More on that later too.

Badge ceremony: We had to circle up and explain why we deserved to sport one of the coveted OB badges at the end of the trip –also a rather intense experience.

Before dinner we’d have to circle up and someone would read a quote to which we’d give a moment of silence, often holding hands. Then after piling our plates, no one could eat until the night’s cooks said “peace and chow”.

Circling up was a frequent practice. As was unmitigated, unfiltered, monologuing about all things mundane. This is when my mood took a turn for the worse. I just don’t feel comfortable blabbing on to just anyone about ‘stuff and things’, and even though it was nice at first to hear people be so chatty and open, it quickly started to feel like an onslaught of “ME” shows. I could hear one guy’s monotone drone of a voice garble on for hours into the night. This is when I had the first inexorable realisation that I'm a freaking, full on, loner and that I have a big problem with not being able to do as I please. I started to feel as though I was in prison. Having to ask permission to go anywhere, having to eat and sleep only when told. Not even have the control to find peace and quiet when I needed it. This brought up the whole idea of “the greater good”. Are we supposed to suppress our individual urges for the group? Am I supposed to squelch my need for silence, thinking time, and solitude in order to satisfy rules I had no part in forming and in order to keep the group cohesive and functioning? Hmm. I’ll be mulling on that one for a bit.

Happy Halloween! Spinal Tap reunites!


Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Travelogue Part 1


Wow, what a crazy few weeks.

I bought a new camera after my trip to London, so I only have pics from Joshua Tree to accompany the posts.

Allow me to backtrack

London was perfect.

Saw Ionesco’s Rhinoceros, which I had read and not understood as a kid in French class but is actually a wonderfully surreal play about resisting conformity. It had me on the edge of my seat, the set was so bare and sparse so when a life sized rhino busted through a wall I totally jumped out of my skin. I’m a little too ready to suspend my disbelief, but it makes theatre and movie going extra fun.

Saw the Terracotta Warriors at the British Museum. I’ve never seen them in person before and they are utterly stunning. I’m amazed that they are free standing and I think it’s utterly insano that anyone would want to transport them -I’d be terrified something would break. Unlike the various tombs of the Pharaohs, no one is willing to open the tomb of
Emperor Qinshihuang. Which I think is cool and spooky.

Went to the Victoria and Albert and saw both the Lee Miller exhibition and the Golden Age of Couture Exhibition. Lee Miller was a gorgeous woman with a subtle and wonderful talent for photo. She ranged from full on fashion to searing documentation of World War 2, to ruthlessly tongue in cheek portraits of herself bathing in Hitler’s bath and generally hanging loose in his private apartments.

The couture exhibition was lush, lots of House of Worth, Balenciaga and Givenchy, plenty of the New Look from Dior, with the nipped waists and plentiful, post war-ration skirts. People seriously don’t dress like that anymore -beautifully structured under garments made specifically to enhance the particular dress or suit, precise cutting and beading or pleating and tailoring. The figure of a woman was treated very differently back then. It’s a shame, few physiques are capable of wearing today’s standards well, once upon a time all of women’s shapes were considered, flattered and enhanced. Ah well, this is why I wear vintage.

Took my bro and Baba on a helicopter ride over London for their birthdays. It was hilarious and wonderful. I amazingly managed to keep it a secret -just told them to show up at Victoria station with their passports and sunglasses (security required passport identification, but it was a good red herring, they couldn’t figure out where I was taking them). The weather was glorious and clear and we saw everything from the singed Cutty Sark to Parliament to our house.

Had lots of quality time with the fam. Ate wonderful Arabic, Indian, French, Chinese and Italian. Drank it up at my old haunt Trader Vics with La Carolina, saw my London pals, ran a lot and still managed to sleep a good amount.

They overbooked my flight back to NY so they paid me $400 to take a later flight. Yey!

S’all fo now.


Saturday, October 27, 2007


So, In my search for the perfect apartment, I saw so many places that I actually started ending up in Craigslist postings...



Friday, October 26, 2007

"This is New York...

it takes a lot outta ya and then ya drop dead" - Overheard at the bank today. Believe it!

Happiness is a struggle and it's easy to forget what you're fighting for.

Happy Weekending!


Oh Yeah...
Here is something I've been working on this week. BooHoo! More to come!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Little Videos by Kate

I recommend watching them all at once :)



Wednesday, October 17, 2007



O.K. so, this is terrifying and enchanting. Watch and be amazed!



Thursday, October 11, 2007

Sunshower and Sunset

Sorry to be so lax about the posting the past few weeks...I've been looking for an apartment...MURDER!!!! and, most days have been interrupted by long ventures into bad neighborhoods only to be ripped off, dicked around, beat to the chase, and generally given the runaround. I have given my precious social security number to people you wouldn't want to shake hands with. I've ridden around in cars with prople you wouldn't want to pass on a street at night and, alas, nothing...until today. I don't even want to speak of it as, I can't and won't be sure the thing is mine until my name is on that lease and I am sitting in my lack of a kitchen eating a hardboiled egg! So, until I have time to think about anything other than this rat race, these images taken on my travels (and other's like them) will have to suffice...
With Love,

Sunday, October 7, 2007

I've got no camera so I can take no pics.

I’m in London, not too badly jetlagged and quite happy about the change of scene.

First things first, went for a run in nearby Hyde Park. This place holds a TON of memories for me. It’s where I first learned to ride a bike, it’s where I would bond and hang out with my father, I would roller blade with my friends, smoke cigs, row boats, all sorts.

The history goes that about 900 years ago monks from Westminster Abbey owned the wild, expansive meadow full of deer, boar and bulls. In 1536, King Henry VIII seized the land to create a hunting playground for himself. Various proceeding Kings and Queens gardened and altered and built and shaped the land until it became the Hyde Park of today.

I love the moment when I set foot on it. I cross the orange sand of the bridle trail and run along the tree lined path past the Royal barracks and the grand Hyde Park Hotel to the Rose Garden, then double back along Ladies Row to the Serpentine Gallery (one of the best galleries in London). Then onward past the Peter Pan statue and over to the Albert Memorial (one of the grandest love tokens ever made). Back over again to the statue Physical Energy (a good reminder of what I’m even doing in there!) And onward ho to the path just beside the Serpentine Lake, then over the bridge and back on home.

The air always burns my nostrils a bit; it’s cold and surprisingly clean for the centre of the city. The icy breath in makes me think of being 11 and riding my bike in the rain because I wanted to be tough like my brother. Or of being 9 and sitting on a bench listening to Janet Jackson on my white walkman with pink buttons, wishing I could dance a little better. Or of the time I was speed skating so freaking fast that when I wiped out in front of the frisbee players, I had two huge, deep scrapes where my hip bones grated along the path for a good few meters.

I love the horse chesnuts, shiny and oily. The stinky geese and the lido swimmers. My nanny pushing me on the swings cuz I was a dork ass kid who couldn't figure out how to do it myself.

The white sunbathers in the Summer, the weird Amerian tourists jogging in the Winter, the Euro tourists meandering all year round, the Queen's mounted guards with their red jackets and metal and horse hair helmuts, the incredible planning that finishes each path with an extraordinary vista. It’s stunning, often moving me to tears, I’m so filled with memories and emotions and struck with the beauty of this city. It’s just so different from NY, certainly regal, but also the age of it, makes it feel remarkable, NY is about newness, forward spinning energy, London is a swirling cloud of history and gravity.

Right now the weather is amazing, my nephews are adorable, my parents are so sweet, it’s good to be home.



P.S. Yes, that was Elijah Wood... Not much more to say other than: he's sweet, has gorgeous eyes, and is doing a very lovely job producing Heloise's new album.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Will you take my picture?

The other day on a shoot; a particularly prop-heavy shoot, the make-up artists tapped me on the shoulder between shots and handed me her camera while donning a chef's hat that happened to have been discarded from the production and asked "Will you take my picture?"

She passed over her little digital camera and, without mugging or eliciting the presence of anyone else in the room - without even really smiling, she sat up a little taller, looked at me in a way that said "alright, go ahead" and, I took her picture. I handed the camera back, she inspected the shot, nodded in approval and the interaction was over.

I'm always struck when someone asks me to take their picture. Maybe it's because it has been so long since I asked anyone to take my picture. Maybe it's because I remember a time when I used to make this request rather frequently.

It has something to do with record keeping. It has something to do with self-love. It has something to do with youth. It has something to do with acceptance. But, the impulse in it's entirety defies categorization. Human, I guess. Photo graphic.

Anyway, it gets me every time. Like a tiny heart attack.



Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Just a little Heloise shot

Um, I got nada mucho to say today.

Life's just good and busy and I'm leaving for London in a few days, which excites me.