Sparkly Silver Salsa Shoes

20 01 2010

The gold stilettos are pouting. There is a new addition to the shoe rack, and they are getting a lot of attention these days—a lot more than the stilettos are (especially in light of the frigid weather of late). For some months now I have been meaning to properly introduce these snazzy new (and highly alliterative) shoes, so here they are…

I’ve been enamored of salsa for a long time, officially since I first took lessons in Spain during my summer abroad in Granada. Since then, I’ve tried to no avail to convert countless friends, until finally I met Liz in Buenos Aires. As regular readers know, we bonded instantly over our mutual love of travel (specifically Latin culture) and sweets (specifically alfajores), but even more fun—and perhaps a little surprising—was the discovery that we both loved salsa. This led to the infamous night early in my Argentina trip where I (and my poor feet) learned painful lesson that dancing shoes should not be purchased in a hurry (cue silly Arthur Murray song, which really has no relevance, but I like it).

On Liz’s visit to New York, we of course went dancing, but it was a major struggle to find a place. I searched Salsa New York until my head hurt, but it was simply too overwhelming to figure out where to go. We ended up at a club called Latin Quarter, but only managed to get a few dances in. She left, and I continued to say I was going to find places to dance (shouldn’t be hard in the city that is said to have coined the name, right?), and continued to fail in my pursuit.

Finally, this past September, I gave up on trying to cajole friends into coming with, and started taking classes at Salsa International. Fascination quickly turned into obsessed, and soon I was shopping for my very own salsa shoes, which have now been in the family for a couple months and are already very well loved. Their suede bottoms slide easily on the dance floor (though require that I periodically brush the soles to maintain the suede) and they’ve been getting so much use they’ve started to feel a bit like a second skin. I’ve also made a whole new set of friends as equally obsessed with salsa as I, so I’m no longer strapped for people to go dancing with.

The lesson learned here is twofold: 1) don’t wait around for friends to develop the same interests; if you want to do something, go out and do it; and 2) the shoes make all the difference. (Just don’t tell the stilettos that.)





Elda, Spain Shoe Outlets – Take Me There

4 06 2009

It’s come to my attention that Avenida Camila Jose Cela in Elda, Spain (just a few hours outside Madrid) is also known as the Spanish Shoe Outlet Route. Hello. Someone sign me up.

It is here that several designers, including Paco Gil and now Chie Mihara, have outposts, and sell their shoes at a discount. I loved Spain before, but our love affair just got a little deeper. Sure, outlet prices are still probably pretty steep, but it never hurt a girl to look, right?

Also in Elda? Museo del Calzado, also known as the Museum of Footware. It’s sounding like I need to take the stilettos on a little field trip…





Flying High

6 05 2009

Last weekend I got to go home to California, and it was perhaps the best travel experience ever. I flew, for the very first time Virgin America (I guess you could say I was a Virgin virgin—pardon me, I had to go there), and it was a flight experience like no other.

For one, the flight attendants were actually nice. I know they are generally supposed to be nice. It is, after all, their job to be nice, but in my most recent travels I’ve encountered some of the rudest people, and they’ve all been those strolling up and down the aisle and bumping folks with their carts.

Which brings me to another plus about Virgin: no carts. No, this does not mean you don’t get to eat or drink anything while flying. It simply means you get to eat or drink when you’re ready, namely that you can sleep if you like without worrying that you’ll miss the drinks, or you can drink when thirsty without having to wait for drink service. Everything is automated, and you order on the screen in front of you which, incidentally, is also the source of endless entertainment, from movies and television to a vast music selection.

Movies, alas, have to be purchased, as do some premium television, but music is free, and instead of being relegated to whatever’s playing on the radio, you can create your own play list (I must admit that I played a few Rhianna songs on repeat throughout much of the flight). There are also some great comedy shows created especially for Virgin, which compile hilarious snippets of various comedians talking around a given theme (travel, relationships, politics…), though these were inexplicably free going one way and not going the other. Go figure.

The seats themselves were rather on the plush side, for airline seats. Though they didn’t seem to recline very far, they were leather and comfortable with seemingly more legroom than your average plane. And even the mandatory safety video before takeoff was a little easier to bear, since it came with a few jokes and amusing cartoon illustrations. The bottom line: Virgin America really goes the extra mile (again, please pardon pathetic pun). All things considered, if I could have it my way, it would certainly be my airline of choice for all flights moving forward.





I’m Obesessed With: The Daily Green

16 04 2009

Since April is Earth Month, it’s only fitting that I’m feeling more focused than ever on eco-everything. With that in mind, I’ve been spending a lot of time on The Daily Green lately. Not only do the color scheme (a soft blue and green “globe” palette) and design have a relaxing “Zen-ish” quality, but the site is packed with easy tips and great newsy items that are not only easy to read but to put into action. A few of my recent favorites:

  • Obama’s High Speed Light Rail Plan: Just when you think the man couldn’t get any better, he comes up with this energy-efficient (and all-around efficient) way to boost the economy, save fuel, and travel. It’s about time we caught up with Eurail.
  • Earth Month Diet Tips: Easy tips to greenify your diet (and life).
  • Spring Recipes: Easy, healthy, and tasty recipes that make use of spring produce.

I could go on all day. It’s one of those sites that you get sucked into, and then suddenly realize you’ve spent far longer there than was your original intent. For that reason, perhaps, I should hate it. But I simply can’t.





Musings on Memory

24 03 2009

In my last post I mentioned my obsession with memory and history. While I have, it seems, and ever-growing list of  obsessions, I realize I neglected to explain this particular one. It’s a relatively recent one—more recent, at least, than my obsession with books or my obsession with travel. And yet it’s really not all that recent.

Though my obsession with memory as an entity larger than myself is a more recent development, I’ve realized recently that memory has always been important to me personally. Since I was a tiny child, I’ve always been overcome with this urge to remember something, if not, that is, everything. Whether I was urged on by the fact that my brothers took such pride in the fact that their 5-year-old sister could recite the theory of relativity or simply that I wanted to forget nothing, I felt an irrepressible need to record every single thing I experienced or learned.

And record I did. In second grade it was the song we sang at First Communion (which, incidentally, to this day still plays in my head every time the priest gives Communion to the Eucharistic ministers). Later it was the minutest details of every interaction, good or bad, in journals and scrapbooks (which still reside on a closet shelf in my room in California, bursting with the most simplistic and mundane of mementos). Cards, stickers, dolls, newspaper clippings and sundry other trinkets have been stored away for heaven knows what purpose, and though I’ve taken the liberty of purging over the years, much, admittedly, still remains.

My obsession with remembering everything has waned somewhat with age, though I still take copious notes on random events and even more copious mental notes on pretty much anything and everything. And to add to all that, I can still recite all those formulas drilled into me by my brothers, along with assorted poems, the introductory paragraphs to a chapter of Annie Dillard‘s Pilgrim at Tinker Creek and one rather long children’s book called Miss Twiggley’s Tree.

Until recently, I’d never really given my past with memory much thought. I chalked it up to having a strong one, along with some sentimental (and sometimes ridiculous) inclination to recall life details. In graduate school, however, this obsession came to the forefront, and I found that most of my projects and papers somehow revolved around the concept. If I could work it in, it was there. And of late it’s been cropping up again and again, and so, I’m devoting all posts this week to musings on the subject.





I Want to Go There: Crosby Beach, Liverpool

17 03 2009
theage.com

theage.com

This isn’t by any means breaking news, but I randomly came upon this blog post the other day and it inspired a new obsession: Antony Gormley. The British artist is known for his work with the human form, often studying and casting his own body. His “radical investigation of the body as a place of memory and transformation” is (not surprisingly, given my obsession with memory) a fascinating concept to me, and many of his works appear to have a quality that is at once eerily haunting and serenely calming, which makes them all the more appealing.

Take, for example, “Another Place,” a July 2005 exhibition on Crosby Beach, Liverpool that has become a permanent installation there. Here, flanked on one side by industrial Liverpool with its electricity windmills and on the other by a long expanse of empty beach, 100 cast-iron figures stand looking out to sea. The figures, molded from the artist’s own body, are rather ghostly in aspect, and their rusty, corroded facade gives the sense that they may just as easily be some ancient monument as a modern, incredible work of art.

They are spread out along the beach at random intervals, many up to waist deep in water when the tide comes in, and have the odd effect of looking realistcally human or inhumanly alien, depending on the angle and distance of viewing. There is something wistful in the way that they all look out in the same direction at the sea. (All this, of course, only from the photos I’ve seen.)

In an article written back at the installation’s inception, Gormley describes the work as “a whispering communication with forgotten levels of history” as well as “a kind of acupuncture of the landscape, but also acupuncture of people’s dreamworld.” But the even more fascinating aspect of the exhibition (and presumably the reason it’s staying) is that it creates a sort of dialogue between artist and audience: Gormley says, “Each person is making it again… for some it might be about human evolution, for others it will be about death and where we go…I think that’s what’s amazing about in a way the work of now – contemporary art, it’s no longer representing the ideology of a dominant class it’s actually an open space that people can make their own.” Death of the Author indeed.

See the work for yourself with this video about the fight to keep the statues.





Latest Obsession: Sosauce

2 03 2009

I’ll confess I’m not really big on the social networking revolution. I have the obligatory Facebook and MySpace accounts but rather obstinately refrain from using them unless someone contacts me first. I’m behind the times, I know (my older sister, on the other hand, has been on Facebook all of a month and has 300+ friends—go figure).

That’s to say nothing of the many social networking sites devoted to travel alone. I’m not sure if there are other industries that merit their own litany of social networking sites, but travelers, not surprisingly, love to connect and share stories (and pictures and tips) with other travelers. And so this is one type of social networking I can definitely get behind, especially when it’s as cool a site as my latest discovery: Social Sauce.

Last week I had the pleasure of meeting a few of the masterminds behind Sosauce when they hosted a cocktail party with the EuroCheapo crew. Buoyed by Tom’s delicious sangria, I went straight home and, admittedly, stayed up far too long creating a Sosauce profile. Too bad I’ve only since recruited one friend (who, it just so happens, is one of the few people I know who is not on Facebook). Looks like I’m going to have convince my sister to come on board.

Anyhow, Sosauce is the social networking site to end all social networking sites, for travel at least. First, they call themselves “travel geeks” (note: any time you can be an “anything geek,” do it!). Second, there is a cool interactive guide section, as well as a great personal area where you can share videos, photos, journal entries, map your trips and much more. But my favorite part is the socially conscious aspect. The standard profile page gives travel geeks, in addition to the usual name, interests, etc. spaces, a place to choose their endangered species of choice as well as the social and environmental causes they most care about. And it must be noted that the business cards of Sosauce employees each feature a different endangered species with a bottle of sauce. Now if my adoring their business cards isn’t geeky, I don’t know what is!





Current Obsession: Flip, the Universal Color

23 02 2009

I’ll admit it. There was a time when I was a bit of a Mac rat. While living in San Francisco I developed a bit of an addiction to the makeup products and my roommate Megan and I frequented the nearby store on our beloved Union Street, partly to visit David, the fantastic artist there, whom we adopted as a good friend, and partly just because we liked to play with makeup.

Over the course of a year or so in the height of my addiction I amassed what we’ll just call a good quantity of makeup. Enough that I really don’t have to purchase anything but the essentials (foundation, which is the only thing that runs out in any rapidity) now. I have a train case full of colors I wear all the time and colors that I had no business buying (think Aquadisiac, good for nothing save that one never-going-to-come day when I decide to be a mermaid for Halloween).

Anyhow, after being a student and now a struggling artist, my lack of dispensable income and my overflow of product keeps me from entering a Mac store with any regularity. I did, however, visit one the other day to replace the aforementioned foundation, and there in the front was a color that was simply singing to me. I had to stop, ogle it, do the requisite sample on the hand, and after several minutes (a good 15, at least), turning it over and giving it as much affection as possible, I had to treat myself and purchase.

The color, Flip, is my latest obsession and, quite possibly, the best $14.50 ever spent. It’s sort a bronze tone with flecks of sheen that bounce off the eye in the prettiest of ways. The mix of golden/brownish/pinkish hues means it goes well with just about anything in my massive train case of shadows (save, perhaps for the confounded Aquadisiac), but it is also great just on its own.

It’s easy and universal and oh-so-pretty, which is why I’m naming it numero uno travel color. It’s perfect for the girl on the go who can’t pack too much. Simply bring along Flip, or better yet, pick up a palette and fill it with Flip and some complementary colors (I recommend something in a brown, a purple, or even something with a bit of orange). They sell empty palettes to fill on your own and they are flat, light weight and make it easy to pack all your makeup needs in one spot. Leave it to Mac to make it easy. Now if only someone would explain what possessed me to put bright turquoise on my eyes…