June 28, 2011

2 DC haflas in 1 weekend

I have been taking a few workshops at the relaxing, organized, gorgeously thought-out Sahara Dance Studio when I get the chance. Lucky for me, there are some great tribal dance teachers there like Ebony & Na'la, and they hosted Mardi Love there last weekend too. But the studio is primarily cabaret/egyptian in background/taste/feel. Thus when I went to their hafla on Saturday night, it was not particularly surprising that I felt a little...out of my element. It was held at a dance club that they had rented out just for us dancers (Pasha Lounge). Unfortunately, the air conditioning was not functioning and the sound quality was pretty bad. Also, the DJ was not good at helping dancers dance (changing up rhythm constantly. Slow! Fast! Sl-ast!). Watching the beginner dancers show their stuff was sweet. I'm glad to support the new dancers--they're clearly having fun. But in all, there was a lot more pink and chincy coin hip scarves than I'm used to. Just not really...my scene...is all.
This was my favorite moment of the night: Na'la w/ her dance crew.

Sunday night, I ventured out to Adams Morgan, for DC Tribal Cafe's last event at Asylum. I was immediately greeted with hugs from Mavi and her husband Michael, Na'la, and friendly welcomes from everyone else. The bar itself is clearly in Goth (dungeon?) mode--dungeon stone painted on the wall, plastic skeleton parts ensconced in frames, draping blood red cloth and chandeliers...you get the picture. This backdrop didn't speak to me, persay, but the people did. There were a lot more piercings, dredlocks, tattoos, and, most importantly, wide-as-hell grins. These were the smiles of people 100% comfortable in their skin. Not the timid, polite smiles of many of the hafla-goers from the night before. THIS made me feel right at home. The evening followed: live sitar and whirling by Ever After (and some dancing on the bar!)
mesmerizing ATS (echoing in my head, Mardi saying, "the dance stands on its own, it's so lovely")
and Belladonna's raucous and intense renditions of Alien (?) and some Rage Against the Machine (FUCK YOU I WON'T DO WHAT YOU TELL ME!). Her swordwork was enviable and her costume perfect for the Extra-Terrestrial song.

I had an excellent time. It's so amazing to know I have people (these are my people!) wherever there are tribal dancers. Glee. And next month I'll be dancing at their new venue with Mavi and Na'la. Sweet.

[sorry for the crappy phone photos. I got my camera out so I wouldn't forget it, and then left it on the sink before I left the house.]


A song by the Toids, "Magnolia," matches the purity and loveliness of a large, simple, full magnolia bloom. I encourage you to listen. Free download here.

Mimosa & Bottlebrush

In Monterey there are bottle brush.
Here in the Southeast, we have the more delicate Mimosa.

June 26, 2011

Built-in Friends

Leah Severino (IEP), Me (IEP,with full mouth) and Jonathan's roommate

Adam Fullerton (IEP), Lisa Johnston (IEP), her husband Dodon Dimyati

Jonathan Souza (NTS)

It's nice there are so many other students from MIIS in DC. We've had several opportunities to hang out: a happy hour put together by Nelle Sacknoff (MBA), the DPMI happy hour put together by Jessy Bradish (IEP) (which the rest of us MIISers crashed), MIIS alumni happy hour put together by Leah Gowron. And one night we all went out to Lisa & Dodon's apartment to make some pizza and hang out.

Antiqueing and Ginger Root

Yesterday, I used the Capital Bikeshare bikes no less than three times. How freeing not to be hampered by the prescribed metro lines or the soreness of my feet. I love that I can bike DC.

I am on a quest to find some antique buttons to put on a jacket I have whose buttons fell off and were boring anyway. I visited a couple antique stores, like Ruff and Ready (this place is like going into a hoarder's house. But with antiques. If you truly wanted to find something here, it would take a loooong time to sift through everything)

and GoodWood (This place is beautiful! Treasures, all.)
and some other vintage stores in the neighborhood (U street corridor). I met up with Kaelan, one of my best friends from Powell County (high school), and we had fun making faces in the antique carnival mirror,
trying on shoes, and so on.
Then she took me down to her friend Erin's shop, Ginger Root Designs. I LOVED IT! TOTALLY MY STYLE! (Another super cute photo here).
Erin and Kristen take old clothes and jewelry and you-name-it, and upcycle it into super fashion-forward loveliness. Same ethos I have for Verdance--taking old things and giving them new life instead of throwing them away, and giving them a life that is current instead of outdated. For instance, check out this BEFORE:
and AFTER:
I bought an ascot, I just love it. Will wear it tonight....photos to come. In the meantime, a little video of them. I'm a little bit obsessed right now. I love finding like-minded people unexpectedly!

June 23, 2011

Exercising in DC

Without homework, without my boyfriend or my kitties, without much to do, really, I've been devoting much of my time to dance classes, kettlebell/TRX (weight training) classes, and other exercise regimens. This, in addition to all the walking that DC demands, means that I am constantly in a state of soreness. It's the good kind: the kind that says "body, thank you for your ability to re-form itself."
Usually when I carry heavy loads, I let my bones do all the work. Today, however, when I walked home with 2 full bags of groceries, I felt my rhomboids and other muscles in my shoulders and back in a major way. It made me think of my friend Rebeckah Berry's beautiful back.
I'm super wimpy in my upper body, so it's kinda neat to feel whispers of strength.

(Incidentally, one really cool thing is that when I googled Rebeckah to put a picture of her here, this image was the first that came up, and it was from an article written in 2006 by Abbie Beane, one of my current classmates at MIIS. Small world.)

June 22, 2011

Dolly Dearest

These incredible dolls have me very inspired. Like no dolls I've seen before, these are masterworks of art. Love them.
Not yet finished.

Finished. From the back.

Dolly dearest. Early 1900's "Boudoir doll"

June 16, 2011

Sir Robert Swan

Last night I went to hear Sir Robert Swan speak for the Resources for the Future lecture series. He was the 1st man to walk to both the South Pole (900 miles) AND the North Pole (700 miles). Due to global warming and the melting polar ice sheet up north, he may be only person ever to be able to accomplish this feat. (Click here for video) On the way to the South Pole, they had food for 80 days pulled on sledges. They had to cross 6000 crevasses, averaged 12 miles per day, and only had a sextant and a watch to guide them. On days that they didn't move at least a mile south, they didn't eat (he lost 67 lbs). The average temperature was negative 65 degrees farenheit. They made it in 70 days. The ozone hole was discovered during the same time they were traversing the continent, and thus they were not prepared for their faces blistering and eye colors changing permanently. "We hadn't read in Scott's diary (first man to walk to the South Pole), 'chaps face fell off today, all blind, rather tricky'--it wasn't something we were expecting," he joked. He asked how many people knew that the ozone hole was patching itself up nicely nowadays, and I was one of only 3 people in the room of 150 audience members who was aware of that fact (thank you, Jim Williams' Quant class). Next year he plans to reverse the trip, starting at the South Pole and heading north to Cape Evans. He hopes to do it using only renewable energies (no coal or gas this time!), and they plan to harness the wind (imagine parachute/kites pulling them on skies), to complete the trek in only 45 days!

Sir Swan was super, super inspiring. As someone who has recently begun to explore the nexus between storytelling/inspiration/performance and intellectual/environmental/lecture-based presentation, his lecture was just what I needed to see how it can be done well.

He goes to Antarctica every February with a group of determined, passionate people; to share the awe of the place, so they can take back their stories and inspire others to care about Antarctica too. (Pick me! Pick me! I have always wanted to go to Antarctica, and am seriously scheming about this.)

Other notes from the lecture:

I try to live by, "If you can do or dream you can, begin it now. For boldness has genius, power, and magic in it."

I keep hearing "save the planet!". The planet will look after itself, it's our involvement in it that may suffer. However, "the greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it"

4 things I have learned:
1) I hate walking

2) negative 89 degrees Farenheit is cold. I don't like sweat ice in my underpants.

3)no insurance agency dares insure my life

4) there are so many negative people. We MUST be positive because no one is inspired by negativity.

You never forget starving, I hope you never have, but it makes you grateful not to starve.

People ask me "Why did you do it?" I remembered my dreams. Don't lose yours!

Leadership is delivery agains the odds, with minimum resources. If you make a committment, follow through. Inspire others by showing it, living it, don't just send an email. Get out there and DO it! Leadership is about response to challenge. But it's also about being RELEVANT, not just honorable and good. STAY RELEVANT.

On a team, choose different and strong people. Tell eachother the truth. Laugh. On the way, look for champions (people who will support you!)

Sometimes leadership is supporting people to do their jobs.

He was in debt $1.2 million at age 28 (the boat he borrowed to get to Antarctica sunk), and it took him 10 yrs to pay off (there's hope for me yet!). Later, with $12 million and 8 yrs, he was able to remove 1500 tons of Soviet scrap metal from Antarctica and recycle it in Uruguay.

We are overloaded with information, we don't need information. We need inspiration. The best way to be inspiring is to engage people rather than talking at them. He invites young people, globally to join him on his ventures to achieve this. It's about Sustainable Inspiration, which is not difficult to achieve in a gloomy world, but it is important to revist the inspiration ourselves so we don't get bogged down as we do our jobs.

June 14, 2011

Apartment landed

My second day of work was spent looking for a place to live. I found a place, went to check it out, and though it was in a sketchy neighborhood, the inside of the apartment was very nice, each bedroom locked, and I would have shared the house with 4 or 5 other people who seemed very nice. One of their friends said, "yeah, we have parties here all the time"--which was a bit disconcerting for someone who doesn't really party. However, I figured I could just use my earplugs and lock my door if they were having too much fun without me. I agreed to the place and planned on moving in the next day.
Thank goodness I was offered a better deal the following morning! At $100 cheaper, 2 metro stops closer to work, in a much better neighborhood, with a single (excellent) roommate who is also a WWF intern (from France), only a block from the grocery and 2 blocks from the metro station: this place was a winner! It reminds me of the Lyndhurst apartment Ben and I lived in in Lexington: old building with beautiful original accents like a marble staircase in the entranceway and old glass 'exit' sconces, etc.
I snapped that one up, cancelled my other option, stayed one more night with Lisa & Dodon (thanks guys!) and moved into my new apartment the next day.
Time to unpack, finally!

All moved in. Cozy and organized.

All my special pretties in their own drawer. It's nice to be able to spread out.

Hostas in my neighborhood. Very southeast summer feel for me.

Sunlight on my ridiculous # of shoes.
The quality of light in this high-ceilinged apartment is wonderful.

Commuting. The Metro. Welcome to the rat race.

These metro stations always remind me of the inside of the pantheon

I am so impressed and pleased with my workplace, my colleagues, my apartment, the opportunities here in DC (free concerts, free lectures, ample dance/yoga/exercise classes). But the fact remains: I'm just not a Big City person. It's great for a summer. And I might be able to handle it for a year or so, but the daily commute sucks the life outta me. Public transportation is SO much more efficient (and therefore better for the environment) than individual cars, and cities are more efficient than sprawl. But I am very happy in Monterey where I can walk to work from my house in 20 minutes and enjoy the sky above, the lovely flowers
gratuitous flower picture from my walk to work in Monterey

and zero hustling and bustling. Here, I am only 2 metro stops from my destination, but it takes me 40 minutes (on a fast day) to get from door to door. The plus side of that is that I get plenty more walking in than I do normally. In fact, the first week here, Lisa and Leah (other MIIS students here for internships) and I commisserated about our poor feet. We all had blisters up the wazoo from the extra walking. The heat and my new collection of shoes didn't help (although they did spread the blisters all over my feet instead of concentrating them in one place).
Here you can see a blister ON another blister. No joke!

Thoughts while I'm commuting:

(on the escalator going down, standing, people passing me) "Why are they all passing me? Why are they in such a rush? Do they know something I don't know? Should I be rushing to catch the last train or somthing?"

(on the escaltor going down, walking, passing others) "These shoes are loud, the way the heel smacks the step everytime, I bet everyone is annoyed at me. Whoa, this escalator is so long I'm getting vertigo walking down it. Muscles, just keep doing what you're doing because my vision is spinning."

(on the escalator going up, escalator turned off) "It was 75 steps to walk up when it was ON, now it's almost 200 steps to walk up. Isn't already hot enough without having to hike up this escalator mountain with a bunch of shoving people?"

(on the metro, air conditioning broken) "In the belly of the earth, broiling, OMG I hope we don't break down before my stop"

June 12, 2011

Working at the World Wildlife Fund

Wow. Here I am. This childhood dream of mine, come true: working at the World Wildlife Fund. Yes, it's as an intern, and true, WWF is not paying me...but I am at WWF US headquarters, working on important documents and contributing to conservation in a measurable and meaningful way. Thirty-one years is a long time to wait for that dream to come true, and I have worked really hard to get here! Now that I'm here, I am trying my best to stay focused and produce high quality work as fast as possible, to help my team make all their deadlines preparedly. I feel welcome here with my own cubicle with a name tag. Sometimes, it's the little things.

I am impressed with how enormous the WWF building is (7 stories with 4 dedicated to WWF work), and how many people work here (I estimate between 400-1000 individuals). It's hard to tell, exactly, because so many people work from home or travel so often for work. Everyone is generous and friendly, and so far most people make a point of introducing themselves to the new people they don't recognize (me and the other interns). I spent a full day in orientation when I first arrived: some history of WWF, discussion of WWF ethos and projects, and nuts-and-bolts topics.
There's a Trader Joe's a block away, and a field out back where people play ultimate frisbee and soccer most days at lunchtime (phew, a bit too hot for me this week, though I did make it for one game). Mostly, I just work hard. More on what that entails later.