Sunday, October 14, 2012

Born heartless

I haven't much time, but the need to write this outweighed the need to sleep and I feel the need to express my feelings at thought.

There was once a time, not too long ago, when I wished I was born heartless.  I pondered on how it would feel not to have a care in the world, to shrug off feelings like it was no one's business and to never know how true passion really felt.  This all came about because I realized I knew someone who was born this way and they actually made me think for five minutes my life would fair in my defense if I carried no emotion.

What was I thinking?

What is love without being hurt?  I rather feel pain than not.  I rather take chances, fall on my knees and struggle with unlimited feelings.  If I didn't know this then what would I be - inhuman?

These days I'm angry about lost chances and missed signals, but you know what - it is in all this craziness that I feel alive.  I feel that the person deep down inside feels this way because I care and because I'm not afraid to be expressive and act upon my emotions.

I feel sorry for the one who made me think for a mere five minutes that my life would be better if I acted as they did.  I know the truth lies in my artistic side - the one that allows me to speak through others, for others and share stories.  I love that I do this and even if my stories only touch one person and that person is me then I still accomplished what I set out to do.  I live for my emotions, I live through my emotions and I do these things because I never want to be heartless.

Maybe one day you'll see the million possibilities that exist from wearing your heart on your sleeve and maybe you never will, but as for me - I know passion supersedes me and sets me apart from lifeless bodies that will miss out on life simply because they choose to replace their heart with emptiness.

I prefer to keep my heart full, so just like my belly I feel content and the opportunities that exist for me to shuffle through my true emotions are priceless.

Monday, August 27, 2012


If there's one thing I've learned repeatedly is that you can't change people unless they want to change themselves.  You can't control the way they will act towards you and you cannot control the outcome of various decisions.  But you can control your own actions and that's just the beginning.

The biggest struggle I come up against daily is the "labeling game".  We all play it.  I am guilty of it myself and I've made a commitment to fight my unconscious inclination to do so.  The way I see it, it sucks being on the side of being labeled.  As a server, it's an addicting way of life.  As a sociology major, I am appalled to have realized that I did so often, but no more.  This nonsense and waste of energy stops now.

It's funny how a negative or absent reaction can change your perception of one person or a personal belief.  I have this thing about following up.  I worked in the corporate sector for a number of years and responding to emails and voice mails is a huge part of this field.  The reality is, you can apply this courtesy in any job or situation.  Quite honestly, nothing bugs me more than when I leave three messages for someone (personal or professional) and they fail to return my call.  My first reaction is disbelief, followed by anger.  Then it's up to me to decide to let it go.  You can't change these people and if they don't properly follow up then it's time to move on.  I could label you as I've done so in the past, but I choose instead to make more of an effort to ensure I always follow up.  It's called taking the negative and turning it into positive reinforcement.

So what is the moral of this blog post?  I'd given it the name "untitled" in honor of my stance from here on out to forgo my habit of labeling.  We are all set in our ways, maybe it has to do with how you fold your socks or how you hold your wine glass or how you respond to your server's greeting (in reference to the lady over the weekend who kept her eyes fixed on the menu the entire time I spoke to her).  For all I know she could have had a horrible week at work or felt intimated by the wine list which caused her and her companion to walk out.  Next time I'll make an extended effort to read such a guest and make the experience feel less pretentious.

I recently wrote a friend to tell her I wrote a blog post regarding a recent conversation we shared in mind.  It began as an inspiration and grew from there.  I was happy with its completion so I thought to share my joy with her.  I received no reply.  It left me stumped, but eventually I got over it.  I believe my post inspired or touched someone else, if not her.  We are owners of our time, moving forward you can decide how to delegate yours.  Don't dwell on past incidents when the present is much more valuable and invites new opportunities to grow.

Whatever is true and noble - think about such things.  If you fill your mind with positive thoughts, the need to label people or fret over uncontrollable situations will leave you.  Life's too short to think of such titles.  Look ahead, turn the corner and take a few steps...I feel confident when I say it will lead you to areas that attract the same mind sets and concerns.  You will find others that will respond and show interest in what you have to say.  Then suddenly this repeated lesson learned won't matter as much and you'll realize you've grown up.

We don't need a world of titles, we need a world that cares.  Make that change.  It'll bring on contagion - and in this day and age, we need it more now then ever.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

My true hue

It's been a while since I've realized who I really am.  I thought I knew myself best when I was a stoner, but once I kicked that habit, I realized it was just a masked calm version of a girl who's had nervous energy ever since she was a kid.  I thought I knew myself best when I started drinking more heavily these last five months, mostly alone.  When I thought alcohol was my best friend because all the girlfriends I previously had showed their deepened selfish side and I knew I was done with them for good.  Truth is, alcohol only numbed my pain, the hurt feelings I had been hiding.  So when it rained early this morning and I stood in my driveway, soaking up the drops and feeling as if all had been washed away, I realized only then my true hue was showing through.  I discovered that the only person who could make me happy, is me.  Not substance abuse, not a job I've always wanted, not a friend who's not really a true friend, nope - none of these entities could fill the position.  Only me.

Of course there's arguments to this point.  Most of which are purely subjective.  To name a few, doing yoga again has helped me feel better about myself physically and emotionally.  Eating more raw fruits and vegetables has caused me to feel stronger.  I also cut out coffee and espresso......whoa, that was huge for me and the transition has gone remarkably smooth.  Finally, I cut down on drinking drastically and as a result have developed a new found love for sobriety.  When I got in touch with my inner self, the one hundred percent completely sober person that represents my true hue started peeking out.  I felt as if I won my battle and was on the road to discovering happiness.  The journey will shock me, I have no doubt, but it'll also help me remember how to smile meaningly.

And not cause I'm posing for a picture.

So what is your "true hue" you may ask?  It's when the sense of calmness evolves and you listen to yourself rather than use other particles to filter your feelings.  Let yourself feel what you do, don't repress it, it'll only kill you slowly.  Let go and take control of what you know is truly of you.  You'll hear that voice, you'll remember it from way back and it'll say, "It's good to have you back."  And you'll smile and say, "It's good to be back."

Thursday, May 31, 2012

when the thrill is gone

I overheard someone explain to their friend how she compared the faded excitement of her year old job to falling in love only to have the sizzle die.  We've all been there.  However I, for one, am tired of people telling me when things should be rocking as opposed to rolling away or vice versa.  Why does the initial start of anything resort to a day-to-day regime that insinuates the thrill is gone? Why must that be?

Although I was never a daddy's girl, if there's something to be said about my relationship with my father is we are very much alike and we understand each other's artistic side.  He'd tell my mom things about me that he was always able to read and I'd jump back in shock of its validity.  Is it because I show my colors through or because I don't hide behind the lines?  As I remembered a dear friend today, I was reminded of how much I'd go out of my way for her, she whom I lost at a very young age.  She was compassionate beyond reason and she still, to this day, leaves an impression on me whenever I think of the way we should love and not deconstruct.

Don't give up on the grand finale.  Sure, the excitement of "brand new" dies (this is not meant to sound dramatic), but it can coincide with other great things that surface.  I relay this to my love for wine and its existence in its ever-growing community.  I never bore from it.  Every time I learn something new, or watch the look on a guest's face when they are trying a grape variety for the first time, or figure out the difference between day bright and starlight when blind tasting in a room with minimal natural light, or pick up slate over clay or chalk in its nose, or being able to pin point the vintage by its hue and the maturity of its flavor profile.  I get off on this shit and that is why this thrill is not gone for me.  It's called passion.  Once you have it, you can apply it wherever you choose and so desire and that magic you crave will never die.  This is truth.  Make that choice to live for each moment unconditionally and don't ever look back with regret.  It will only age you.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Could you please rewind that?

I began serving 13 years ago for a catering company up north as a second job to raise some extra cash.  Catering is a whole different ball game, but for what it's worth, I am thankful for having this prior experience before joining the restaurant ranks.  It taught me to hustle and keep quiet.  When you do catering, you don't talk much with the guests as you would in a restaurant environment and you move like your life depends on it.  This was a valuable lesson obtained because once I switched to one-on-one service, I learned how to hone the skill that makes a true server:  humble hospitality. I take serving very seriously.  I talk to my guests about food and wine like it lives within me.  I'm not saying I know everything because I don't, but as a server you are learning every minute you cover your station.  When dining out, I often think about the way the server had done this or that and I constantly use those experiences to improve my game.

Here's the deal.  I dread reading food reviews because so much focus is either lost or overplayed on the service aspect.  Just recently, there had been coverage on particular restaurants that actually did the latter - it offered rough criticism on the service.  And every time I read such reviews, I want to jump into that very moment, change the entire ambiance and ask them to "please rewind that" and give me a chance to prove you wrong.

The first time I was a part of a review was less than six years ago and I was nervous as hell.  It was rumored the critic would show up and I was picked by the executive chef to wait on her and I honestly felt he chose the wrong person.  But I stayed focused and went over all the details with the sous chef running the line and he assured me I would be fine.  I took a deep breathe and dived in and I never looked back. The review was a great success.  I can't recall the actual wording used to describe the service aspect, but it did exert positive feedback.  I was very happy with the results and since then, I made a pact to myself to strive to labor those experiences with great passion.

The truth is, every experience will always be different.  If a concept of a restaurant is one that fares differently than the norm, that should most definitely be taken into account.  The review I read recently mentioned something to the effect of the server setting up camp, well maybe this was true, but when the idea behind the theme is completely different (aka the road less traveled), servers will over prepare instead of neglect.  I feel I have a good sense of when to observe, when to chat and when to walk away.  I owe many thanks to my Sociology degree for teaching me the mechanics of human form and how to interpret the personality of each individual.  And that is the true secret to serving, knowing how to read your guest.  It is power and anyone who wants to make the service experience one the guest will never forget, you must master the art of social interaction.

Here is my final message to food critics, "be a fan, but don't pick sides" - each restaurant is its own creation.  I work with very passionate people, both front of the house and in the kitchen.  They don't mess around.  They show up because they love what they do and they do what they do with heart.  It's not easy to work the kitchen.  I'll be the first to admit it.  That's why my role as a server must counteract with their labor of love that is born amidst kitchen space of high heat indexes.  The guest doesn't get to hear what the line cook has to say, so the server must indirectly speak for them. They must show them the way.  The beauty of serving is having the ability of creating a two hour experience that showcases the efforts of the executive chef, kitchen staff and the restaurant theme as a whole.  I would like to invite anyone who's had a miss experience anywhere to come see me and show you how I roll.  After all, as my Twitter bio reads:  love food and wine, serving such, then devouring it myself.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

anger is served

I heeded a lot of advice this past year from breaking up with myself, letting go of disappointments and expecting less.  Each one born from an experience, a time and a place.  I won't repeat myself, but I have floated through reprises most recently that brought about a lot of anger.  A few weeks ago I saw someone, I thought a friend, for who they really were.  It blew me away, but in hindsight I believe this entire year prepared me for this because instead of crying, I became angry.  I felt my heart harden again and forced a smile on my face because I knew deep down inside it would make me stronger.  Then just yesterday, I heard from a common friend that an industry peer spoke bad words about me behind my back.  Right then, I wanted to land my fist on her face, but internally I knew my manners would make the best of me and I turned the other cheek.

For now.

I went to the movies the other day and watched the Avengers.  I was in awe of Bruce Banner's character.  I am not a comic book fan, but I watched the Incredible Hulk often as a child.  My favorite line in the movie was when Bruce replies to Captain America, "That's my secret, I'm always angry."  The timing of my seeing this movie and the most recent events in my life are not coincident, as I am a true believer of everything happens for a reason.  We may not want to admit it, but we need to get angry.  It's a healthy way of letting off steam.  Remember yourself as a child, how you never held back, how if you felt strongly about something, you didn't thinking twice before you said anything.  As a result, you didn't feel stress, your health didn't deteriorate and the next day you felt great.  Well, ladies and gentlemen, I want to feel great again.  Admit it, you do too.

The Incredible Hulk gets stronger the angrier he gets.  Granted, it's a fictional character, but one we must regard in times of need.  These days, there's lots of things I'm angry about.  Yet when I repress my feelings, I don't accomplish anything.  This produces a hidden box inside of me that grows and in turn, is never healed.  But if I take that box out and release my emotions, I am doing a greater service to myself.  It's not to say that I may never make someone or something a victim of anger, but don't be afraid to admit you're mad because you're the only one who defends you.  You're your own hero and if you never unleash your hero then life's not worth fighting or living for, is it?

I'll get back to the supposed colleague, and I'll have chosen words that will definitely make her reposition what she speaks of in the future.  I won't turn green or start throwing punches, but I'll serve her my anger and believe me when I'm won't be coming back to the kitchen.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Double identity: when the enemy becomes your best friend

The wine I'm drinking tonight was opened then corked about nine days ago.  I forgot about it, but it sat in my basement which maintains a constant temperature of about 60 degrees, give or take a few degrees so I ventured out to try it in hopes its longevity proved it viable stance.  A wine from Languedoc and consisting of four red varietals, it was a bit past its prime, but still somewhat drinkable.  I decided to put a chill on it so that any signs of oxidation would be masked by such and it proved to do just that.

My morning began as usual.  Scrambling up at half past seven - attempting to wake up children, one who responds easily and one who prefers to stay in bed all day.  After dropping them off for school, I started to take in my night's past.  I was elated to be off from work, yet painfully dumbfounded by news that I still did not know how to decipher.  I craved rap music that possessed nothing but swear words because my new year's resolution would then be tampered.  What the fuck, I thought.  Then I quickly decided a need for a bloody mary in my near future would sedate me and my thoughts would vanish.  The bloody mary appeared but my thoughts' vanishing never happened.

The afternoon rolled around and after attempting errands for over an hour, I rushed home to chug a beer.  Not good, especially considering I had an event to attend at my children's school four hours later and I didn't wish to feel bloated.  Didn't matter because the harm had been done, but I made up for it by making a kick-ass dinner in a matter of 30 minutes.  The highlight of my day.

Dinner came and went, so did the event at school which turned out to be very successful.  I was much impressed with the efforts my children had put forth in their presentations in their homeroom. And as you could imagine, feeling the joy as a mother of two children with honest hard work put forth, I was beyond proud.  We returned home to an after dinner snack and a bit of TV before I sent them off to bed and that brings me back to the bottle I rested in the fridge.

Wow - it's amazing what chill time does to a bottle that should have been consumed five days earlier.  It did its trick and continues to do so, but here I am writing this entry, without having gotten to my original point that spawned on the idea of my title.

In all honesty, it's about how I feel right now.  I feel like the enemy is closer to me than those I call my friends.  I am getting too tired of the bullshit of one-sided kindness, of passive aggressiveness (an overly used term that yet describes most people I meet), of no one taking the fucking time to put themselves in my shoes.  Really?  I feel closer to my enemies sometimes because there's no pressure to impress or devote - and in the end it's all the same.

It's all about expectations.  In an earlier post I extended the advice to "expect less".  In my human state, I forget to apply this tactic in a continuous fashion.  So here I go, once again - telling myself to let go, drink wine and turn to my enemies.  They don't expect much from me and vice versa.  The interaction is easy and I drink painlessly.  It sounds like a double identity issue, but let's be honest: we all have another side to our groove.  When I don't stress about life then life doesn't stress on me and when I add wine to the equation - it makes it all better.  Minus the emotion - wine is the only one who really gets me.

Blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Carignan and Grenache "Vintage" 2010

Friday, April 20, 2012

no limit to kindness

Two months ago, I did the unthinkable.  I dropped my car keys on a side street without my knowing and didn't notice until three hours had passed.  I freaked, quietly.  No really, I did.  If you know me - you'd know that I have a keen sense of calmness when things get crazy.  I have been complemented on my ability to digest situations rationally.  I don't know how I came to be this way considering I grew up in a family that did not teach me to do so.  Maybe it's the Sociology degree I acquired, or my being a parent - whichever the case, I'm here to tell you the story of my mishap.

I began by retracing my steps.  I crazily remembered my morning shot of whiskey and how my giddy presence overtook my sense of thinking straight.  I had ideas to write of and my biggest goal for the day was to submit a review for a local newspaper I was trying to land a gig with.  I remember walking to my car with feelings of content completion because I finished the article with good feelings inside.  That's when I noticed I didn't have my keys.  Okay, I will just check my coat pockets - nope, not there.  Maybe my laptop case side pocket - no, not there either.  Alright, I'll retrace my steps exactly as I remember.  Well, that's not gonna happen because I was buzzing just a bit and since I was feeling extremely gleeful in the morning - I didn't know one hundred percent sure where I crossed the street, when I thought I put my car keys in my purse and how I was gonna locate the keys in the mist of scattered snow and mud on the ground.  Good times, huh?

I finally came to a conclusion.  I reviewed my steps over and over again and yet the keys never resurfaced.  I called my brother who lived nearby.  He offered to assist me in my search, but I kept thinking it would be useless.  Then he made a suggestion that maybe someone picked them up and turned them in to the taco joint located nearby.  After considering the possibility, I asked him to join me so he could watch my car while I ventured out to taco land.  He set out to drive over.

As I waited, I tried a few more times to search the grounds.  I looked under cars parked, I asked a neighbor nearby if they noticed any keys on the ground.  I even dug my shoes into patches of mud that were layered in various spots just in case somehow they were buried within.  Nothing turned up.

I stopped in the middle of the street and took some deep breaths.  For one crazy moment I thought maybe, just maybe, there was a good Samaritan who found the keys and without knowing who I was or where I went, decided that he would turn in the keys where I could find them easily.  I looked up from where I stood and at that very moment I saw my car keys hanging on one of the fence bars right there in front of me.  All I had to do was walk a few steps to my left and soon they would be in my hands again.

I still can't over this act of kindness.  This stranger - someone whom I never met, put my keys on the fence bar and they sat there for three hours until I came back to claim them.  This is honestly the most sincere act of kindness that I have ever encountered.  I wish I knew their name so I may thank them graciously, but finding that out would probably be ten times harder than finding a needle in a haystack.

I shared my "story of goodness" with others because I wanted them to believe in hope .  There are good people out there.  This was a very positive occurrence that probably happens everyday in some way, shape or form yet goes unnoticed.  These stories need to be told - in conclusion:  don't give up.  Return kindness to others.  Offer help when someone needs a hand, hold doors open for everyone, say thank you and you're welcome, extend compliments, go out of your way to let others know you appreciate them.  There's no limit to kindness.  It exists within all of us - we just have to express it and I believe that the more we do this, the more random acts of kindness won't just be random anymore and this crazy world we live in will become a peaceful place.

Friday, April 6, 2012

The art of expecting less

When I was younger, I couldn't wait to grow up.  In time, I learned with age came increased responsibility, escalating bills and varied drama, but the best part of it was the wisdom I acquired along the way.  That certainly goes without saying; our life episodes are meant to build our character profile and determine future decisions we will make.  I'll be the first to admit, I was an idiot during my early 20s.  What I thought I knew, I didn't and it would still take me another ten years thereafter to comprehend what was real, valid or full of shit.  These days, I take advantage of speaking with those with wisdom beyond my years.  The simplest sentence they utter can easily solve a multitude of crazy in my world.

In light of surprise disappointments I faced in 2011, I knew that when 2012 arrived, I needed to make a major change in my outlook.  I took the years of experience I had accumulated thus far, reviewed their outcomes and came up with the best advice I had ever given myself.  And today, I would like to share it with my readers...

Expect Less.

That's it:  two words and I promise you they will change your life.

Now as 2012 began and I tackled the simple resolution, I learned very quickly that there is a science to this game.  I call it a game because like everything else in life, it involves instructions, rules and the players in your life.  You can basically apply it to everyone you come in contact with, but as rules exist, so do challenges.  In the case of committed relationships, let's be honest, we all create a predetermined list of requirements for the "perfect" partner.  Whatever the case, the first step in expecting less is this:  

Erase Your Chalkboard.

Don't make lists.  Don't carry any expectations whatsoever because every relationship, every situation, every degree of intimacy has its own story.  Just let go and let it happen.  Trust in what feels right and once your heart starts to doubt anything then you know which way to turn.  The truth is quite simple and obvious and you just have to go with it.

The workplace is another good example because chances are, we will spend most of our waking hours with our co-workers.  You can't chose your work colleagues as you would a significant other or a friend, just as you can't chose your family - so there's a lot of similarities there.  Sibling conflicts exist regardless, as will disagreements among those you work with because by nature - you won't always see eye to eye.  You may get irritated because one person doesn't pull his/her weight as much as others do, or because someone talks behind your back.  It's gonna happen, but if you expect less from them - those incidents will mean nothing and it'll go over your head.  Then the goal they aim to reach in making your life miserable (let's hope that's not the case but for the sake of argument) will never be achieved and in the end - you may end up earning their respect which most likely was unplanned.  In conclusion, the outcome will hopefully result in solid teamwork and a possible friendship.  Each example is its own.

Ironically enough, I gave my children a similar code of advice when I taught them the term:  One Way.  This translates to:  worry only about yourself and where you're going.  Do not concern yourself with others and what they are doing wrong or right - just focus on you.  You're the only one responsible for your actions and most likely that someone else isn't thinking about what's best for you.  Little did I know when I coined this term a couple of years back, it would become sound advice for me.  Yes of course, I instill the virtue of kindness and compassion in my children, but I am more or less referring to situations that do not concern them.  I believe that teaching them to avoid drama at an early age will secure their self-confidence and maintain feelings of peace and happiness throughout their lives.

Let's face it, life is stressful enough and I'm STILL growing up.  It's been a little over three months of following this motto and I have to say that my load feels much lighter and feelings of disappointment rarely enter my mind.  I feel more relaxed and have more time to focus on what I expect of me.  And the thought of using my energy selfishly doesn't sound wrong at all.  In fact, it sounds justifiably right.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Heartache is overrated

Of all my girlfriends, I have definitely had my share of bad boys.  But then again, I was never one to stick around.  My own mother would testify that she never saw me settling down, getting married and having kids - but being one who likes to prove anyone wrong, I did just that.

Heartache is imperative in life.  If your first love didn't break your heart and every relationship you had was perfect then you wouldn't know how to deal with strife or how to recover.  Learning to bounce back from heartache teaches you a valuable gift that is never bestowed upon you, or earned. It merely happens.  It teaches you to persevere, take on challenges, be head-strong, make solid decisions, tell right from wrong, know when to trust and when not to, and above all - it makes the experiences that are heartfelt versus brokenhearted, even more rewarding.  You can rest assure that you will endure those moments that seem to last forever or never go away because in the end, heartache is overrated.

Don't sell yourself short on those who are not worthy of your time.  It's a process, I contest to that, but you will survive.  Shortly after my four year on-again, off-again relationship with a guy in college, I told myself that I would never depose time and energy to anyone like I did to him.  He broke me in half in the end, but soon after our break-up I realized that I let him do it.  I toyed with our relationship, we dated others at certain periods than came back to each other, we confessed our love, professed our love then separated again - only to find out that when I thought it was just us, it was us and a third person.  I laugh about it now because I was sadder to part ways with his mom than I was with him.  He was in the end what I like to call, "good riddance".  It took me a bit of time to see it because I couldn't decipher what it was that made me sad, but in hindsight - I realized that I was more disappointed in myself, the person I had become, than I was with his cheating on me.  It was never what I wanted and once free, I learned to be myself again and explore what life had in store for me.

"In other news" the same goes for being turned away from prospect employers.  I've had interviews that I felt I rocked out 150 percent, only to be faced with a dead-end interim.  In all honesty, I am learning to deal with the rejection aka heartache in a different light.  The fact that so-called managers disregard the professional follow-up emails that job hunters send reminds me of a certain class of men we've all dated.  The lies that consist of, "We'll call you" which really translates to, "We won't call you because we don't have the guts to tell you the truth" (sound like a boyfriend you once had who strung you along?).  In the end, I wouldn't want to work for someone who can't be honest. I understand that most employers go by gut instinct or maybe they are looking for a specific criteria of work experience (I get the chemistry aspect), just don't lead people on.  Being straightforward when and however appropriate earns more respect upfront and one that is possibly long lasting ("perhaps we can become friends" - we've all heard that one before).

Overall, I am taking the way of interviewing in stride.  I am remembering my heartache memories and applying lessons learned in the same way.  I am exerting my energy to productive interests, keeping up with the latest news in the restaurant industry and studying my wine books again.  I truly believe everything happens for a reason.  Heartache is overrated - the job that is intended for me will turn up when the timing's right.  Just like the right guy or girl for those of you in the dating game.  Be patient, after all, it's a virtue.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Lagrein Haiku

Complex and untold
He asked me to spell it twice
One kind of Lagrein

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Play Review - Fulton Street Sessions

Fulton Street Sessions was born from both the collaboration of free form improv sessions and the aftermath of the infamous, horrific winter storm of February 2011.  It is a collection of various skits that carry music as its common denominator while expressing sporadic emotions from across the board.  As I watched the play evolve I floated between “wanting to be a singer” to feelings that ranged from “selfishness” to “free love” within a matter of ten minutes.  I was within a state of stupor in wanting to lay low but then getting the urge to get up and join the cast.  All in all, the play accomplished its goal in entertaining, and entertain it did.

TUTA members Kirk Anderson, Jaimelyn Gray, Stacie Beth Green, Trey Maclin and Jacqueline Stone engineered the play with director Zeljko Djukic leading the cast.  For 85 minutes, the actors took the audience on a ride that depicted every element of life in its own shape, way or form.  The opening scene reflected the bizarre blizzard of last winter by displaying an exaggeration of both ignorance and fear alike.  With ignorance because even after three winters here, people still act surprised when it snows profusely during winter months (go figure) and with fear because there is always an elite group of folks, pantries stocked, who dare not leave their homes in the dead of winter.

There were acts of no rhyme, no reason – things that happen in life that don’t serve a purpose.  Why do we pay bills again?  Paper shuffle – what’s that about?  They paint a picture of such nuisances.  Acts of verbal dialogue – where random subjects are discussed, usually at the most impertinent of times.  Harmonious performances of rock, hymn chords, folklore music and a truly classic tune, in addition to the incorporation of various instruments connected the play together magically.

Music is power.  It compels every soul; we merely share different appreciation for different sounds.  That is its gift and watching this play confirmed what I believe to be so true and that is music brings people together.  Whether you are young, old, black or white – if a song touches your soul, it represents the very part of you that stirs up a forgotten memory or an emotion that may have been buried inside.  That is not something that can be said for many forms of art.

Overall, the simplicity of its backdrop with its ever-changing dramatic flow of settings created a play so grand.  The actors intertwined in their craft graciously. Their performance brought out each intended emotion based on the audience’s state of mind at the very time of each act.  It was about being real and letting it all out. 

If there’s one message you should leave with after watching Fulton Street Sessions it’s this:  life is all about letting go and ad-libbing along the way.  Let art move you and bring people together.  It creates harmony and peace in ways we may never understand and conceive its full potential unless we fear not.

If your emotions need re-charging, this play will complete its mission.

Fulton Street Sessions
Through March 25
TUTA at Chicago Dramatists
1105 W. Chicago Ave.
Tickets:  $30-40
1-800-838-3006 or

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Flames blaring

I grew up in the northwest side of Chicago and had witnessed quite a bit as a result.  I am not talking about the usual suspects:  brutal teasing, delayed puberty, feeling like an outcast, etc.  No, these things made my life normal.  I am referring to the lower-to-mid income families that shifted around from apartment to apartment, and trouble that always lurked nearby.  By the time I was a freshman in high school, I was asked to join a gang.  Then luck would have it that my homeroom partner would be a "gang banger", which gave me a way out, and in turn made me feel safe.  I was cool with that.

Junior year came - I landed my first job as a shampoo girl at a neighborhood salon.  This was during a time when hair stylists were still referred to as beauticians.  Sounded like an innocent profession to be among, but I learned quickly that I had seen nothing yet.  I witnessed my first experience of back stabbing.  Boom!  Down my back the pain struck, up my spine the chills inflicted, I had been de-virginized of trust in the workplace.  Damn, talk about being heartbroken because of someone I worked with, not by a boy I liked.  I didn't want to know how the latter felt.

This became a viscous cycle.  It was do or die.  Every man or woman for themselves.

Here's my deal:  I am done with the cruelty of man.  I am tired of being abused for my dedication or having my generosity mistaken for control and deceit.  When will the madness end? The flames still blare inside.  I am angry that someone I trusted took advantage of my eagerness and my ability to stand up for myself.  If I don't - who will?  They could never answer that, no one can but me.

I have slammed many doors in the past week, most due to frustration and to let off steam.  I started my vigorous dance class again in hopes of toning my body in case I get attacked in the face versus at my spirit.  One's spirit:  the worst part of your body to have broken.  It's the backbone of every element of your life.  It gives you motivation, passion and positive energy.  It keeps you moving forward and not back.  It's the battery lifeline in our soul that keeps the heart ticking and tocking.  I will get it back, I know I will.  In the end, no one is ever worth the grief of disappointment.

I look back often and ponder on my choices.  Changing my life career was a risk.  One that continues to be supported by my family, even when the risk has its doubts or when the light doesn't shine at the end. Then what is life without risks?  A safe one, at that - no challenges means no gusto and it also means the ones who like to push others down will win.  Not on my time.  In the past year, I have written several entries regarding my determination to fight onward, to prove my identity, to establish the truth that it is possible to be a mother and a wine professional.  Regardless of my bank account and my inability to fucking drink Chassagne Montrachet Grand Cru, Château Cos d'Estournel or Aldo Conterno Barolo at my immediate disposal (never mind vintage access at this point).  If I have passion, if I have the will to try, I can fight this ugly battle in the industry I have chosen.  My motto moving forward:  I define myself by who I am and not by someone else's selfish and insecure actions.  This, ladies and gentlemen, is what I call integrity.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Third position

It's third position, the unknown character
the one without the rules and sans lyrical
a different space and free to roam about
no questions asked and never any doubts
secluded, eluded, no alcohol is required
it's all about sincerity and owning the fire
there are no games or any time to lose
decisions don't exist, no answers to choose
"why" dissipates, the scenery is safe
letting go means you have what it takes
get on the train, the ride is serene
you'll get the message once you have seen
no note needed, your faith is the truth
thus carefully carries the soul of your youth

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Rhone Rulers

Earlier this week, I had the most delightful pleasure of popping into a tasting that featured Rhone Valley selections from Importer Alain Junguenet.  I was on pins and needles in anticipation of great things that I've heard, yet not tasted...

"Less is More", or so the vintage 2010 is sited as.  I don't drink wines from Rhone Valley often, let alone Châteauneuf-du-Pape selections, but as a student of wine - I wanted to tag into the vintage that is being praised with much attention.  Here are some of my notes on the ones that left a lasting impression on me.

Domaine de la Chardonnière Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc 2010
(40% Grenache Blanc, 40% Roussane, 20% Clairette)
I call this a teaser wine.  Firstly due to its fleshy texture and juicy structure.  I enjoy floral notes on a wine and this one was bountiful.  Acacia upfront, with honeysuckle notes surrendering after swirling the wine in my glass for a while.  Apricot skin, yellow apple flesh and fresh picked asian pear - fruits are ripe without being obnoxious.  The spice was contributed from the wine spending time in 25% new oak barrels, yet the vanilla attributes were sexy instead of cloying, the icing on the cake - it rounded the wine nicely.  The mineral notes consisted of a layer of smooth stones which complimented the body and ample acid component in this wine.  Overall, it was a well balanced wine that I'd fancy trying in about two years.  The wine is bottled without filtration.

Château Fortia Châteauneuf-du-Pape Rouge "Reserve Speciale" 2010
(85% Syrah, 15% Grenache)
I am not crazy about Syrah unless it's from Tuscany where it carries an old world character of someone with tons of wisdom.  This bottling contained overripe black plums, sweet blackberries and lush boysenberries with a stern meaty note, subtle white pepper and playful limestone.  It was a nose that constantly changed on me.  High concentration and bold tannins to match, but they softened up just a touch after it lingered on my palate and that was when I was swooned.  This is a classy full bodied wine that knows its boundaries and will age ever so gracefully.  Everything was so well interweaved that I still couldn't believe that I found a Syrah that I didn't want to let go of.  The first vintage for this wine was in 2006 using 10 year old Syrah vines.  I am surprised, yet intrigued to see what potentials will develop for a wine that is destined to create history.

Domaine Olivier Hillaire Châteauneuf-du-Pape Rouge "Les Petits Pieds d'Armand" 2010
(100% Grenache)
First of all, this is story in itself.  Winemaker Olivier Hillaire purchased three hectares of CDP and five hectares of CDR in 2006 from his ex-father in law whom he previously worked for, at Domaine des Relagnes.  Smaller plots of land, yes - but to no dismay.  His previous wine knowledge led him to choose the best parcels that existed.  Among one of his plots, there grows Grenache grapevines that are 107 years old - contained in this special bottling which he named after his grandfather Armand.  Every jammy berry is packed into this lush wine that explodes with sandy minerality and an almost perfect structure foundation.  Baking spices such as clove and nutmeg are well-laced within.  Loads of mineral traces on the finish and so well balanced - another wine that proves to be age worthy.  In conclusion, this wine proved to me that anyone can fall in love with one wine and one wine only.  This is that wine.  Call me crazy.

I only chose three wines due to my limited time at the tasting, but all in all if I ever get invited to a Alain Junguenet Selection wine tasting again - I will be the first to arrive and the last to leave.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Be real

If you can't handle the fire then don't light the flame
I'm not into folks who play mind games
Project sincerity, in every move you make
If you don't like to give then don't try to take
Grow up - it's advice we need every day
Live for the moment but not in harm's way
Reach out, if you think you can conquer
Those who are real are those whom I honor
Listen up, we all learn from each other
In this world, we're all sisters and brothers
I live for harmony, call it the hippie way of life
Peace is the answer - no need for paid advice
Be true, not something to fear or avoid 
Imperfections build the character we learn to employ 
Accept individuality, we own special gifts within
The beauty is where we see it and use them to win
Don't rationalize, it'll put your mind in jail
Believe me when I say your soul can't cover its bail 
Let yourself go, breathe in and breathe out
Society is where it begins, of this there's no doubt
Life is layers - work, pleasure, family ties
If you choose to be real then you'll always survive