Monday, February 28, 2011


Today my brother and I had a delicious Vietnamese lunch with a Thai Princess.  Her political views, informed by her childhood in England, made it evident she was a rebel.  At 19 she rejected the prince her family arranged for her to marry and at 20 feel in love with a British Ambassador who was ten years her senior.   She raised her children in England, Thailand and the Middle East conforming and resisting when necessary.  The prior evening at our hotel's roof top bar I was curious about the interaction between the higher end Thai prostitutes and the waitresses who served them and their western male clients.  I wondered how the all female wait staff,  beautifully dressed in black silk tops and long pants with thigh high slits, felt about bringing cocktails, night after night, to the escorts.  I asked the princess if they were connected by their desire to be independent and make a living, or in discord by their choices.  "They hate each other."  I learned harsh judgment is rampant among Thai women even though they need each other.  The sex trade is big business in Bangkok, and it was evident that many guests in our classy boutique hotel were not in the city to see The Grand Palace.   The hotel did not employee waiters to serve the customers.  There was a reason all the waitresses were beautiful, and although their uniforms were tasteful, they were sexy.  They were not employed to offer sex, yet I'm sure night after night they had to endure subtle innuendos.  The complicated relationship between sex and class in Thailand is apparent everywhere. Earlier in the week the princess had to attend a funeral for a cousin.  She was disconcerted that even in this setting her privledge was on display.  Her seat at the service was in the front row indicating she was a direct descendent of his wife.  Whereas, his mistresses and their families were relegated to the back of the temple.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

High End, Low End

Bangkok is about extremes.  In the shadow of the grand Wats the impoverished and maimed beg for baht.  On the Chao Praya luxury hotels share riverfront views with neighboring rusted corrugated shacks.  My two favorite culinary experiences reside on opposite sides of the spectrum.  My friends and I refer to the the nameless, street restaurant near the Asok sky train station as the purple place after the canvas covering providing shelter from the sweltering heat.  Three woman work long hours blending juices, stir frying noodles, and infusing broths with galanga and chili.  The green curry's semi translucent stock literally garners moans of delight from those who sip it.  And then there is Bo.lan.  A dining experience unlike any other.  Literally the best meal of my life, singularly worth the eighteen hour plane ride.  Chefs Duangporn Songvisava and Dylan Jones met while working in Nahm, David Thompson's Michelin-starred restaurant in London.  Their belief that the best Thai restaurant should be found in Thailand came to fruition when they opened Bo.lan two years ago.  Based on The Slow Food philosophy, fresh, seasonal, sustainable produce is at the core of the menu.  Living in Southern California this movement is behind many of the restaurants I frequent, but what sets Bo.lan apart  is the artful, layering of flavors and unexpected combination of tastings.  From the very first sip of an iced gingery, lime chamomile concoction my taste buds were awakened and taken on a journey of textures, spices, pure beauty and delight.  At the end of the meal Dylan Jones came to our table.  We gushed, expressing our gratitude and appreciation with exuberant questions and finally applause.


Traveling in a pack of seven isn't easy even in the best of circumstances.  Factor in jet lag, a chaotic foreign city, no wireless communication, sticky heat and one could have a recipe for disaster.  Fortunately, our adventure to The Grand Palace was anything but, even though we were denied admission immediately upon walking through the gates by a militant woman in khaki standing guard of the ticket booth.  "Madam, listen to me," she began her angry tirade.  Seemingly, bare arms and naked knees were on par with Catholic school girls smoking cigarettes during recess.  Her attitude and the long, slow line to rent the appropriate attire caused us to come up with plan B.  We decided to take a chance on Wat Pho, a temple located down two lengthy, steamy roads, hoping off the beaten path would equate to less stringent rules.  With ease we were admitted into the cool courtyard surrounded by  towers decorated with multi-colored glass and enamel.  Sitting, standing, relaxing, kneeling Buddhas watched over our actions.  Architectural detail varied from section to section, yet all the pathways were filled with quiet awe.  After several sweaty hours of meandering among the ancient artifacts we made our way back to the pier and hailed a long tail water taxi down the Chao Praya river back to our hotel.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Spirit House

In front of every 7 Eleven, bank, Wat, private residence or hotel sits a miniature structure whose architectural style is as varied as the buildings in Thailand.  The purpose -- to provide shelter for the guardian spirits of the land. According to Buddhist culture these finicky and mischievous celestial beings are capable of disastrous interference if they aren't respected and honored.  Construction is a specialized field and must be executed by an expert who is familiar with the necessary rituals so the invited spirit will deem it an acceptable earthly abode.  The houses are often furnished with statues, small figures, symbols and furniture.  Daily offerings in the form of incense, wreathes of marigolds, clementines and Fanta are placed on exterior balconies and porches.   They remind me of elaborate dollhouses where life is acted out in fantastic, miniature style.

Friday, February 25, 2011


Within the first two hours in Bangkok we wandered into an outdoor cafe, purple canvas covering five wooden tables, two burners in the corner.  It wasn't even 9am, but the tables were full of locals enjoying steaming plates of curry, pork, papaya and broths infused with lemongrass.  Our dishes were smooth concoctions of local flavors. We moaned in delight.  Rain moistened the Sukhumvit as food vendors set up stalls.  After paying for our meal, which cost less than $4 per person we strolled into a store front offering massage.  The best antidote to an 18 hour flight is being pummeled by a petite Thai girl.  We're about to embark on an afternoon of humid sightseeing. My head is a little foggy, but I'm up for the adventure.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


The days are whizzing by as I prepare for my imminent departure.  Tying up loose ends while being in the moment is, admittedly, making me a little weary especially since I'm not interested in forgoing late night dinner parties or mid morning hikes.  I rationalize that I can sleep on the plane for the entire 18 hours if need be.  Regardless of how rested I am prior to taking off, jet lag will most certainly greet me when I arrive.  I'll be elated if it doesn't, but I'm not counting on it.

I'm embarking on this adventure during a time of transformation and change.  I'm ready to leap, take a chance, bet on stars.   At this particular time there's not a lot for me to do for this is the waiting stage.  I'm normally stalled by the wait, too distracted to focus on any one particular thing.  But this time is different, I've planned my adventure right smack in the middle of the pause.  Mentally I'm still planning, anticipating the journey that will occur when I return, but in the interim I have a big adventure ahead me.

Saturday, February 19, 2011


Perhaps Mother Nature was jealous of yesterday's post, or maybe she didn't need a motive to put on such a spectacular show.  Torrential downpours, shining rays of sun, masses of clouds, snow drenched mountains, heart pulsing thunder -- all within the last 24 hours.  The sky has been a never ending slide show.  So happy to be home, warm in my bed, listening to the patter of rain drops on the leaves outside my window. 

Friday, February 18, 2011


I skidded along The Milky Way, soared towards Orion's Belt and sailed through it into the Nebula's brightly colored gasses.  I smiled, giggled and gasped on this ride, one of the best journeys of my life.  Yes, I was sitting in an IMAX movie theater the entire time, watching 3D images from the Hubble Telescope, but the experience felt as real as if I was an astronaut in space.  Trillions of galaxies, planets and stars.  The universe more vast and brilliant than one can imagine, sparkling like gems on a black velvet cloth.  And yet it was the familiar that made me weep.  From the Hubble Telescope the image below was immediately recognizable.  Glittering green islands in a sea of blue, wisps of clouds overhead  -- Hawaii.   The earth looked stunning from this vantage point, pure and radiant.   Pollution, traffic, corruption, disease indistinguishable from this depth.  So much to discover beyond what the eye can see, beyond what we already know.  Seems impossible to emphatically believe we are the only beings in this immense cosmos.

Thursday, February 17, 2011


My father called me this morning with panic in his voice.  "What's wrong?" I inquired.  Last week when I asked my mother the same question I learned he had fallen down a few steps and fractured his arm, the one he depends on for driving, eating and painting.  "Two tourists were shot and killed on a boat in Vietnam.  I don't want to have to miss you," he said holding back tears.  I asked for details, what caused the incident, where did it occur.  He didn't know, but he expressed his acute worry about my safety.  I reassured him I'd be fine on my upcoming trip to the region, although he would have preferred for me to say I was canceling my vacation.  A Google search -- tourists, boat, Vietnam -- provided me with the accurate details.  A tourist boat on Ha Long Bay mysteriously sunk, twelve of the twenty nine on board drowned.  Of course, a junk on Ha Long Bay is part of my rough itinerary.   I immediately thought of the kids at the park this weekend swinging from monkey bars suspended high over the sand, and skidding down bumps of the slide.  Peril looms at every corner of the playground, every corner of the globe, but parents must silence their fears and allow their children to navigate life's sharp edges with confidence.  Standing on the sidelines, riddled with anxiety, protecting myself from "what if" isn't how I live my life.  I know my father's alarm for my well being is an expression of love, but as a result I have to reassure him and myself that I will be fine.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


After reading a post on GOOP about Dr. Alejandro Junger's Clean Program I was immediately sold on the concept.  While in residency in NYC, Dr. Junger encountered health issues for which specialists prescribed antidepressants, a route he wasn't interested in pursuing.  Seeking a different solution, he began to integrate his western education with eastern philosophy, healing and mediation.  He also studied the impact of lifestyle and diet on chronic illnesses, allergies, inflammation, insomnia and diseases associated with modern life.  The result is the cornerstone of his program which focuses on removing toxic buildup within and restoring the body's natural ability to heal itself.

I initially went on the program for two reasons: to rid my intestines of candida and to improve my overall health.  As a teenager I was diagnosed with lactose intolerance and hypoglycemia, conditions which can result in cravings, imbalance, and IBS.  As a result, I'm hyper aware of food's ability to heal and to exhaust.  I thrive when I'm eating right for my body, and nutrients are being properly absorbed,  yet I don't always have the willpower to do what is best for me.  I didn't feel restricted on this program and within the first few days I felt balanced, energized, and clearer.   There were bouts of lethargy and irritability, but for the most part I was able to hike or practice yoga every day.   Importantly, I didn't feel disconnected from the world while detoxing.  In fact, I had friends over for dinner and ate a few meals out.  Almost daily, I blogged on Clean's website sharing my discoveries, inquiries and recipes with the active online community.  Entries from fellow detoxers were riveting -- chronic illnesses dissipating over night,  coffee, sugar and fast food addicts swearing they'd never go back to their old ways.  After 21 days, my eyes are brighter, my skin more radiant and my clothes loser.  I can only imagine what transformation happened on the inside to create these exterior results.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Secrets of the Heart

On the first day of the year in 2005 Frank Warren created a blog featuring anonymous secrets mailed to him on homemade postcards.  The popularity of this social experiment suggests the cathartic need for one to reveal undisclosed truths as well as for one to read them.  Today, a day dedicated to matters of the heart, the following secrets were set free.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Park

When the late afternoon sun dipped behind the mountain, the air became increasingly cooler, but not cold.  It was the perfect hour for a romp in the park with friends and giggling children who unabashedly yelled "higher" as they sailed towards the moon.  Uproarious laughter could be heard from every quadrant of the playground.  To see the world through a child's eyes is to be carefree with an expansive imagination, enthusiastic curiousity, and the the ability to laugh uncontrollably. 

Friday, February 11, 2011

The Power of the People

I have goosebumps watching the celebration in Tahrir Square on Al Jazeera English.  The people of Egypt wanted change.  They demanded it, peacefully mobilizing using modern technology and protesting for the end of an oppressive and brutal regime.  During the past eighteen days, The White House appeared caught off guard, the sentiment of official statements changed every few days signifying chaos behind the scenes in strategic cabinet meetings.  It was disheartening to watch the US tiptoe around the very freedom we cherish and spend trillions of dollars trying to enforce globally, all because we didn't want to upset our strongest ally in the Middle East.  Yes, politics is complicated and dirty, but I wish it wasn't so.  In the midst of so much war and terror it is refreshing to witness a dictator overthrown without tanks, guns or bloodshed.  The impossible is indeed possible.  Only time will tell the true impact of these events, but I'm a believer in democracy.  Authentic democracy.  Let freedom ring.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

By Nightfall

Some books have me at hello, others woo me slowly, page by page, chapter by chapter.   I was only on page three of Michael Cunningham's BY NIGHTFALL when I was smitten by the following sentence, "If he dies before she does, will she be able to sense his disembodied presence in a room?"  The beauty of words, and a writer's ability to express nano thoughts elegantly, effortlessly, seamlessly as if they were my own. 

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Almond Milk

I made my first batch of almond milk today!  I know, I live a very exciting life, but this is something I've been wanting to do for months.  The task always seemed too daunting and one that couldn't be accomplished on the fly given the need to soak the nuts for at least four hours.  Last night when I realized I was low on the beverage I mentally added it to my shopping list, but then I saw the bag of almonds in my cupboard, poured them into a bowl, and covered them with water.  This afternoon I put a half cup of peeled almonds in the blender with 3 cups water and 2 dates.  Easy, easy, easy.  Yummy, yummy, yummy.  As the blender whirled I thought, yep, this is my life and flashed on a conversation I had eons ago, in my 20s, with my then boyfriend.  We had both recently moved to Hollywood, consumed with ambition and dreams.  I was already working at one of the major studios developing sitcoms for the networks.  We pondered our futures, where would it all lead, and he said half jokingly, "In twenty years you'll probably be churning butter."

Monday, February 7, 2011

Art Project

During my recent art tour in London, Paris and New York I was struck by how many museum goers were digitizing the experience on their smart phones.  Masterpieces reduced to pixelated images have become the perfect souvenir, infinitely better than a postcard or refrigerator magnet.  Until now.  Google's newly unveiled Art Project offers easy web access to some of the best art and museum interiors in the United States and Europe.  To date, more than 1000 works have been painstakingly photographed for super-high, mega-pixel resolution.  A zoom feature allows one to observe details and brushstrokes that gallery visits, and the human eye can not always provide.  How cool to be living in the boom of digital innovation.  After my coffee meeting tomorrow morning I'm going to wander around The Hermitage.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

I Heart The Library

Yesterday's trip to the library had a specific agenda; travel guides of Southeast Asia.  The selection was limited and outdated, perhaps the result of budget cuts or the popularity of the region.  I didn't resist the pull of the aisles, something I've enjoyed my entire life.  When I was eight, a new library in my neighborhood opened.  The prevalent new carpet smell was powerful as I lingered amongst the shelved, procession of books, selecting the ones which would come home with me.  When I lived in Manhattan the libraries were well-endowed. I indulged weekly in the overabundant offering of recently published novels.  Yesterday I scored when I extracted "On The Art of Fixing a Shadow - One Hundred and Fifty Years in Photography" from the racks of the library in Los Feliz.  Published in collaboration with an exhibit at The National Gallery of Art in 1989 the book is a wealth of information about photography's cultural impact and technical evolution.  Cocktail party tidbit of the week:  At the turn of the 20th century, the introduction of The Brownie camera made photography available to the masses and forever changed the photographer's relationship to the subject. These "newer images were called "snapshots," after the hunting term for a hurried shot taken without deliberate aim at a rapidly moving animal."

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Why It's Easier to Find a Couch Online Than a Man

Perhaps I should rephrase that, why IS it easier to find a couch online than a man?  I’ve often pondered this question on long hikes or in the last few waking minutes before my eyelids are laden with sleep.   Friends who have been in relationships since before the internet dating boom often express their desire to experience this modern portal to romance. I agree, in theory it sounds too good to be true.  A virtual catalog of men, available twenty-four seven, sorted by preferences and ranked by similarities. And yet the more I partake in online dating, the more I feel like I’m looking for a needle in a haystack.  It's crossed my mind I may be looking in the wrong haystack, but haystack jumping is exhausting and costly.   I know a man isn’t a headboard, car or dining room table, all things I’ve found online, and therefore encountering one is much more complicated.  Chemistry, timing, geography, compatibility, proclivities, and attraction need to be factored into the equation, things difficult to accurately ascertain from an advertisement.  Perhaps I’m destined to meet him the old fashioned way, across the room at a party, on a bar stool, or in the produce aisle at Trader Joe’s. 

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Food Manifesto

Now that we know the truth about how foods are manufactured, we need to change.   Information is power, same as it was when we learned about the chemicals in cigarettes and the consequences of smoking in the 1950s.  Government needs to play a proper role and people need to vote with their dollar.  Mark Bittman's Food Manifesto in the New York Times this week offers attainable solutions to these massive problems.   The health of our population, and the sustainability of the earth is at stake.  Read the article here.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


I posted my two hundred and fiftieth self portrait today on Flickr!  Taken in my backyard, post bike ride and pre-loading up the car (and shower) for the drive to LA.  I spontaneously joined the group on an afternoon in May without truly considering the 365 Days commitment.  My tripod has now been to Paris, London, NJ, Manhattan, Palm Springs, San Francisco and the foothills of many mountains.  The snapshots document the passage of time and a particularly unique year in my life.  The unstructured freedom of my days is noted in my casual attire, tasseled hair and makeup less face.  I hope to experiment more in the next four months with light and composition.  Perhaps I'll even remember to reach for a tube of mascara before I set out.


I love my bountiful citrus trees, but unfortunately no matter how much I juice, eat or give away there is still more fruit weighing down the branches.  In need of a new plan I started scouring blogs and cookbooks for marmalade recipes.  I was prepared to buy preserve jars and a candy thermometer when I happened upon a fortuitous sign, Citrus Donations.  I noticed a dozen blue bins in the parking lot of the community center dedicated to collecting unwanted fruit.  I applaud whoever created this wonderful program to collect excess citrus and distribute it to residents and organizations in need of food.  I immediately went home, harvested my crop and happily returned with my donation.