Sunday, January 25, 2015

A 2015 Resolution, a Few Weeks Late

My to-do list in life is quite long. My to-not-do list is quite short and only includes things that I'm terrified of (like jumping out of planes or spending the entire night alone in a haunted house).

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you may be familiar with the lists I made from when I was ages 24 to 28 - "25 Things to Do Before 25," etc. It was my 28 Things List that stopped this tradition. In prior years, I'd just made the list and however many I accomplished was sufficient. But my 28 List was strict. I had to do all 28. I became stressed out about completing it, even though I was definitely the only person who cared.

#28 - Go on a bird-watching tour

I haven't held myself to many deadlines in my personal life since then. This has overall been a good thing because I am certainly less stressed out, but I also *do* like holding myself to these types of goals, as it means things actually happen.

Therefore, in 2015, I have resolved to explore 15 areas of the world where I've never been. Unfortunately, this can't mean 15 different countries since I still have a career and limited vacation days. The goal to me means 15 different cities, towns, countrysides, and planets, to name a few options.

One thing I like about this goal is that it is 100% doable. Over MLK weekend, I explored Charleston, South Carolina, with some of my favorite frousins. I've also just booked flights for a trip in March with my family - which will definitely include Lisbon and Porto in Portugal and Madrid, Granada, and Barcelona in Spain. It has the potential to include additional day trips to Sintra, Portugal and Toledo, Spain. I'll essentially be halfway to my goal by the end of Q1.

#1 - Charleston, South Carolina - check!

This goal will get me out there in this gigantic world, exploring even more than I have in the past few years. It will help me obtain more stamps on my passport, which is another promise I've made to myself, although without a specific number of stamps in mind.

The questions now are where to travel to for the rest of the year? To where should I first travel as I enter my thirties? Should I consider making two Eurotrips within a few months of each other? Should I finally go to Africa or Australia?

Even though I have given myself a deadline of December 31st, there is zero stress here. This is pure excitement.

xo

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Cut it Out! Matisse at the MoMA

A few weeks ago, Christie and I decided to pause our Friends on Netflix marathons, peel ourselves off our couches, and make our way to the MoMA. The MoMA is one of my favorite museums and until February 10, it is home to an exhibit of Henri Matisse's cut-outs. It's important to me that when you're reading this post, you are saying the French "ahn-REE" and not the boring English "Henry" in your head. This gent deserves it.

While I've been to Henri Matisse exhibits before, including one at the Met a few years ago with my dad, I hadn't known (or maybe I hadn't remembered) much about his life. Matisse used cut-outs in many of his paintings in his early years to help him with perspective and lighting, but he turned to it exclusively when he found himself in a wheelchair and sometimes bedridden later in life. Henri had his assistants paint white paper in different colors and hold the paper while he did his magic with the scissors. He then had them pin the pieces in different places on his walls until he was happy with how everything looked. Henri called what he did with his cut-outs "painting with scissors" and found much joy in it. I understand this - I mean, who among us doesn't have fun when wrapping Christmas presents when the scissors just glide through the paper effortlessly? I know I'm not alone here.

Christie and I loved this exhibit. We enjoyed looking at the pieces without reading the names and guessing what they were. As much as Matisse was completely literal at some times, he was just as often much more abstract. His "pomegranates" looked like kidneys, but sometimes a fern is just a fern. At first glance, you can tell the following piece is a person, and there's fire and starbursts, but when you look at the title and see it's Icarus, flying too close to the sun, you see the whole story.

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Thinking a little more abstractly, Christie and I both agreed that the below cut-out was a person screaming, but this one turned out to be more literal and was a Sword-Swallower.

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Christie got the biggest props from me for her close guess of Ninja Turtle for the below, which is actually called, "Japanese Mask."

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As the exhibit goes through time, the crowds disburse as the pieces become larger and more impressive. There is one piece that basically turns a small side room into a swimming pool with abstract divers, and others that fill large walls completely - this is during his intense pomegranate phase. Matisse also was commissioned to create stained-glass window specs with his cut-outs. The exhibit has one of the actual stained-glass windows on display as well.

Our friend Henri had already had a great career as an artist when he fell ill, but he didn't let anything stop him from what he loved. He created a whole new art form and kept doing what he enjoyed in the last years of his life. If you're faced with people telling you that you can't do something you want to do, be like Henri and tell them to "Cut It Out!"

For more on the exhibit, check out this recent CBS Sunday Morning piece.

xo

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Hawaii: Here Comes the Sun

As the weather becomes more miserable and TriBeCa turns more into TriBeria, I have been thinking a lot lately of my travels to the island paradise of Hawaii earlier this year. Katie and I had some amazing adventures on that trip - a boat trip with dolphins, a helicopter ride along the Na Pali coast, my first attempt at hiking, tons of tuna, and a casual sunrise on top of a volcano.

I'm no stranger to *staying* up until 3 am, but I am definitely not used to *waking* up at 3 am. But when you travel, you're supposed to do things that you normally don't do, and I don't normally get to say, "Good Morning," to the sun while standing on top of a volcano. 

If you find yourself on the island of Maui and don't make this trek up Mount Haleakala for the most beautiful morning of your life, you are making a mistake, point blank. Haleakala means "House of the Sun" and, at a height of 10,023 feet, it is the largest dormant volcanic crater in the world. As in so large that the entire island of Manhattan can fit inside of the crater, which is pretty unfathomable.

Katie and I hopped in the car to ride to Mount Haleakala and she drove the two hours up the mountain, which was mainly switchbacks, so I'm sure it was pretty stressful, but I accidentally took a nap while we ascended. I have only driven once in the last four years so there was no way she was trusting me to help out and drive part of the way, let alone with the turns and drop-off points this mountain had.

When we arrived to the summit, there were maybe two hundred people already there, but as the landing is so large, it did not seem crowded at all. We got in position, threw our elbows out so no one could cut in (seriously), and waited. It was definitely cold up there since it was so early and so high up, oh, and since my sneakers were still damp from my fall in the river earlier in the trip. I don't know exactly how long we waited, but eventually we started to see some pinks and oranges, all still with Venus in view. When the actual sun popped up from the horizon, the people in charge started a Hawaiian chant to welcome the sun into the day, which I found this translation of via about.com.

Awaken/Arise
The sun in the east
From the ocean
The ocean deep
Climbing (to) the heaven
The heaven highest
In the east
There is the sun
Awaken!

Mark Twain once called the sunrise at Haleakala, "the sublimest spectacle I ever witnessed." I'm not one to argue with Mr. Twain and he obviously writes a lot better than I can. It's difficult to put words together for such a magnificent view and experience. Pictures can speak way louder than my words and of course they don't do the actual sight any justice, but maybe they will help, even if they're just from an iPhone camera.












Something that I found the most special about this experience was that this event happens every single day on top of Mount Haleakala. The sun rises every day, and yet, this celebration as if it's the first time it's ever risen also happens every day. This brings me to one of my favorite Betty Smith quotes from one of my favorite books, "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn".


This is all a great reminder that each and every day should be welcomed and treasured. It seems like a perfect way to start thinking in 2015. Maybe I will even try to become a morning person so that I can see more sunrises.

xo
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