Sunday, December 16, 2012

From the Firth of Fourth to the Atlantic: An Unfinished Under-Current

What do you do when you leave someone behind, and come back only to find him waiting?  Do you turn around and run again? 

I design landscapes, but I can't say I'm a landscape architect.  It's not for the core purpose of creating beautiful spaces, not for the sublime; I can't say I design because I feel obligated to my environment-  like I hold the power of God in my hands to change the world or it's realities.  My ego cannot span so far.  I will care to my capacity; but it will move forward without me, and I will sink into the ocean.  How does a speck of dirt tell God what to do? 

Whatever role I play in the design of landscapes, visualizing them is not satisfying enough; and to those who understand I am grateful.  It's like being led by cables into a scenario- so full of promise, not wanting to leave.  The micro and macro are all the same, it's easy to get lost, and it removes your wind so you have to chase it.  It's unfinished, and it will continue to grow without agency.  Therefore I will move with the larger forces of this world to find freedom. I can't feel this way practicing architecture.  How can a river flow when it's surrounded by walls?  What happens in the scenario of a river in an unchanged state?  Is it no longer a river?  Is it transformed, and to what chapter or purpose can it be appropriated?

I did leave you behind, and I loved you then.  I was hoping you'd be waiting, but how can a fish live with a bird?  What does a river call itself when it's encased?  I'm not running, I'm just caught in a current.

Lesley Ann

Friday, October 12, 2012

The Red Violin, and Without Want for Consolation

Dear Reader,

I know since my last post I've again dropped off the face of the planet.  I'm sorry, but you're probably used to that aren't you?  Thankfully though I have you to speak to, and I couldn't ask for anyone more patient and close.  Since you've last heard, life has led me on yet another road trip if you will- a new job, a new apartment, a new society, a new neighborhood.  I find myself keener than ever to excel in my career, and like many I feel like I'm getting there without a clue of what I'm doing; like walking around in the dark.  It's unsettling, but welcoming.  You're probably used to that too aren't you?  You've been there I'm certain, and you know it will never stop.  It is what it is and you knew this long before I met you.

These last few days I've been finding myself deep in introspection.  Proof of that is, humorously, through the films I've been watching on Netflix during my down-time:  The Red Violin, Mary and Max, Trainspotting....One theme they all have in common- "Process".  Trial, self-renaissance, absolution, centering.  Is this my subconscience trying to tell me to right myself?  After all, I have indeed moved to more than half a dozen accomodations since I've returned from Scotland.  No stability, just a constant test of will and flexibility.  The human brain needs stability doesn't it?  But how long can it last before it breaks down, and/or if it survives will it's younger innocence no longer exist?  A human needs a place where it can plant itself, strengthen his/her relationships, grow.  I feel this is what I need, and it's painful to think it'll never come no matter how much I struggle.  That is life though isn't it?  A constant struggle- a testing, fine-tuning, until finally there is rest. 

The Red Violin kept me awake in bed thinking about the idea of "struggle".  I used to play one when I was a child, maybe this is why I was drawn to the movie initially.  Surprisingly, it wasn't about a violin as an instrument, but as a person's spirit living on centuries after physical death, manifested in the violin and the person playing it.  Have you ever lingered on a note for so long that it triggered a memory or a need?  Through every note I heard her voice.  I felt like my life was living through her.  Glee, lust, falling in love with the devil, confusion, death, trial, hiding, and finally renewal.  At the end of the movie the Red Violin had centuries of weathering on it's resin, a broken neck, string replacements, it's colour fading.  It's original lustre had disappeared, it's innocence dissolved through a lazarus existence, and it's value neglected.  Somehow after being dormant for centuries, someone re-discovered her and protected her.  At the end of the movie, it was this process she had to go through before real love and appreciation could be found.

It is for this reason why I shrug at the darkness.  Groping for stability is all part of it, I learned.  By doing so, we heighten our senses, and accept failure when it comes.  I don't like it nearly as much as you think I do.  I feel it is human nature to want to work towards pleasure and comfort as opposed to strife.  I do wonder though, if we all had the patience to go through life without wanting to find solace in earthly consolation, in what way would that elevate us?  I in turn would like to think You already accepted me long before we met.  You understand why I continue moving forward so I could be last.  If You really do, thank You.

Lesley Ann

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Boston....and then what?

Dear Reader,

I've been in Boston working for Stoss Landscape Urbanism, and I believe it's been over 2 months since I've last written to you.  I know I promised to be around more often and I'm sorry for dropping out.  Life swept me under and carried me away into a mental void that I've just recently emerged from.  During that phase, every facet of my personal life stood still- from catching up with friends, family, even with myself.  The project I worked on- Harvard University ( pushed me to my limits, and I think my brain has been re-wired...if not, it's been flipped around and taken out of the water like a beached whale.  Now that the work is more or less complete, I'm now sweeping up the loose bits, catching up on sleep, and finding more time to re-think my career.  I'm only here on a short-term contract after all, and after Boston I really don't know where I'll end up.  Should I go back to California, or should I try my hand at another East Coast firm?

I've thought about the options- one would be to move back to California, maybe stay in San Francisco and try my luck at Fletcher Studio.  It would be nice to be close to my family in Los Angeles...and it would be nice to take care of my mom who has recently been diagnosed with breast cancer.  It would also be nice to be close to my sister who will soon to be out of her marriage; and yes it would be nice to take care of my younger brother who is struggling with a personal crisis.  I know I sound quite severe, but I find this year has been full of severity- so much unprecedented mental struggle in my family.  I find it my responsibility to support them by being close.

The kicker though, is I feel my career and life is here, on the East Coast.  I want to reach my personal goal-  to work for a design firm that merges architecture and landscape architecture-  so I could flex both of my design backgrounds and reconcile their differences.  There are such cutting edge firms here, adept in exploring this on practical and theoretical levels.  It's also close to Europe where I've yet to do more traveling and give myself the potential to meet up with friends and networks in the UK/ Continental Europe.  I feel my love life is here as well.  I can't explain it, it's rather intuitive really; but for some reason I don't think I'll meet the right one close to home.  I know it sounds ridiculous, though to be honest when has love and intuition ever been entirely rational?  I don't think Southern California has ever suited me well either...I love seasons, cold weather, and the type of "reality" the East Coast has to offer.  I'm not a masochist; I don't like running in a New York rat race, and I don't like trudging through miles of snow just to get to work every day.  Though, I do know that the East Coast provides the challenges I'm looking for, and if I give myself too much slack, I'll end up wasting the talents I've been given.  If I'm struggling for the right reasons, I'll feel stronger, more capable, and above all grateful to be alive.

Looking at both options, I feel completely undecided.  Would I be selfish for preferring to live my own life, away from a family that needs my support?....If I chose California, will I be happy to be close to my family, and not look back thinking about the "what ifs"?  How do I find a happy medium, and for what cause should I act upon?? 

I guess that's what I'll do- to pray for a cause and be proactive...I do hope it comes in time.  I only have a few days left.

Lesley Ann

Thursday, March 1, 2012

A Wanderer's Random Life: Malapit Residence, and the Inner Urge To Bike to Ithaca

Dear Reader,

I think it's been almost a week since I've last written to you hasn't it?  To bring you up to speed, progress has been somewhat slow in areas that need to go fast, and clearly too fast in areas that could be postponed for a few months more.  I'm rather pissed off, but I know I have to be patient and keep pushing on.  I believe I do have quite a bit of patience when it comes to getting a project done, or getting through to people.  This time, I might have reached my limit.  Maybe writing this post will help me.

Malapit Residence Garden- Progress

First and foremost, my parent's garden is not quite finished, but I've got more direction.  Concept is there, and I got some of the site issues sorted out- drainage is a pain in the retarded butt though.  One of the planting beds is adjacent to our 2-car garage, and to solve flooding problems, my Mom had a drainage channel cut into the concrete driveway edge that meets the garage door.  So now whenever it rains, the water drains right into the planting bed where there are Ilex Aquifoliums, Hydrangeas, and Aucuba Japonicas.  They're all plants that survive in well-drained, acid soil.  You could now figure they're not going to last long with all the flooding that's happening in that bed.  Poor things.  I don't want to take them out, especially the Ilexes.  They've been there since I was a child, and had taken great care of pruning them while I was growing up.  You could tell I have a love for them, so now I'm going to do the best to bring them back to good health.  The leaves at the lower sections of their stems are almost gone; no birds live in the branches anymore, and berries no longer grow on it.  The shrubs kind of have the look of a cat after it's been spayed, with the fur shaved off at their lower regions hahah!  Sheesh, poor things.

In any case, I got stuck at verifying some of the other plants that seem to grow randomly in the front and side yards of the house.  It's not a big house by the way- a typical 1970s cookie-cutter one-story home.  I know I shouldn't be worrying about plant types right now, I'm only in the schematic phase for goodness sake!  My parents don't even want me to go to town with the project....but I'm a perfectionist, and I want to put this in my website...and maaaybe get a few gigs from my relatives afterwards.  How's that for having an ulterior motive?  I'm so transparent, ha!

Moving forward, I've got to submit the schematic package by the end of this week.  Get it approved by the Parental Unit, then tweak it, fix it into the budget, then do yet another round of collaborations with the Parental Unit.  Sheesh, and I've yet to find a nursery that could meet the budget and has all the plants in stock.  Eff......Yea yeah, I know this is normal stuff, give me a break....I know I shouldn't be complaining.  After all, my parents DID say "don't overdo it".  I guess I could be overwhelming sometimes.........

The hardest part in this whole process, I'm finding, is getting myself to wake up on a regular schedule, get dressed, and force myself to the library to do the work.  I'm not a lazy @$$ mind you; I just work better when I have a structured schedule.  You do too, and don't lie about it.  Not to give myself excuses, but to be honest, I have been distracted with my finances (that's a given).  I've been doing a lot of clerical work- posting ads on Craigslist, searching for freelancing gigs, and keeping up to date with Archinect.  On the side, I've been building up my home office, by hitting up Freecycle to fetch things like a surge protector, carpet tiles, an external hard drive (300g woot!), and other random stuff that a room/office needs.  I feel rather proud of myself for being an anti-cosumerist.  Thanks Freecycle.  =)   

The Inner Urge To Do Something Reckless- Bike to Ithaca!

To top off the random $#it I've been up to, I've been researching on architectural/landscape design competitions, and graphic design competitions.  One is due in April, the other is due in the summer, but registration is March 5.  I know, I'm mental aren't I?  You are too, and again, don't lie.  Another reckless thing I've been contemplating is buying a bike and the proper gear to bike up to Ithaca.  I seriously was going to do something similar while I was up in Scotland, but I didn't have the time nor proper training to do, I have really bad luck with bikes.  Did I tell you that I've had 3 bikes stolen while I was at USC?  All were red by the way.  Go figure, next time I'll buy something NOT red, and maybe I'll get lucky. 

Back to my bike trip, I was thinking about bringing along a light sleeping bag, tent, and maybe pitch up camp whenever I need to.  Once I get to Ithaca, I have a contact there.  He's a rather unique person actually- an sculptor from one of the north mid-western states.  I met him through Craigslist, as he had posted an advertisement for a room to rent for a night.  I needed to head up there to see Cornelle University's agriculture program during 4th of July Weekend some 3 or so years ago.  When I first met him, he wasn't bad-looking, but I found out later that he had just gotten out of a divorce with a Portuguese woman (or was she Spanish?).  You could imagine he was probably in heat.  I don't blame him- I bet life is not easy once you're divorced.  Bummer...  Anyway, it turned out he didn't have a place to rent, so he instead offered me his room for half the price while he slept on the living room sofa.  That was fine with me, as long as he didn't get fresh, and he didn't.  Instead, he was one of the nicest guys I've ever met; and I bonded well with his two dogs- a golden retriever, and a rochester terrier.  There's more to this story, but I guess the point is it might be nice to see how Sean is doing for old times sake.....maybe the garden outside of his workshop is already fully grown.  Peppers and garlic galore!....and maybe his terrier has puppies.  =)

Do you think I'm being reckless?  I know I should be realistic about my expenses, and believe me, I usually am.  Maybe I'm on a high right now- I feel like running or taking Argentine Tango classes again.  Something needs to be done, but what??  Maybe it's the impatience I'm having to finally get my parent's project done.  Once it's out, there's going to be much reason to celebrate...and hopefully by then my finances will be better sorted out, and I could finally take that trip to Ithaca....oh how beautiful that place is!  Before I leave you, here are a few images from my last trip several years ago.  Enjoy!

Lesley Ann

ps:  Sorry, still don''t want to be bothered with html.  You'll just have to scroll to see my old pics from my last trip to Ithaca.  Can't wait to go back.  Thank you much, muahh! ♥

Something that's waiting for me when I go

Sheesh, what was Sean's dog's name??  This is going to linger in my head for a while.

4th of July picnic. =)

Epic day to be out biking!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

A Frivolous Nutmeg Fix- The Julie and Julia Movie (A Blog-Blast to the Past!)

Hi!  So this is a little something I stumbled upon when I was browsing through the archives of my Myspace weblog- written some 3 years ago when I was a ridiculous newbie in New York celebrating my mid 20s.  It was written in the lovely confines of my yellow studio apartment in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn.  My mini fridge was my companion, and a hot plate my secret weapon.  I lived like a monk (I think), but enjoyed the simple life nonetheless.  There was enough chaos trying to get used to the city as it was.  I must say I'm a little humored by the random $%it that went on in my head, and quite certainly nothing has changed (ha!).  Please forgive the past me, I didn't care about editing or flow back then.  Enjoy!   Xxx, LA

My Frivolous Nutmeg Fix- The Julie and Julia Movie
Current mood:hungry

Dear Reader,

Not too long ago, I saw the movie Julie and Julia with the girls, and that same night (by sheer coincidence of course) we entertained ourselves with an extremely sensational French dinner. "Julie and Julia" is about the life of Julia Child written in tandum by a chef-fan of hers, Julie (...I forgot her last name). Julie, one frustrated day after work, decides to start a project to cook at least one recipe from Julia Child's book, "Mastering the Art of French Cooking", for a year. That's roughly over 500 recipes for 365 days. That whole year, each day, she writes a blog about her adventures. It puts a strain on her diet, her marriage, her job, and mental stability. She also gets mis-understood by Julia Child herself over a midnight phone call. In the end she learns to bone a duck and is chased by magazine companies, publishers, and movie producers, all inspired by her blog. She realizes after a whole year of cooking, loving/hating her life, and eating, the Julia Child in her mind was the one who inspired her all along.

I don't consider myself a follower, and I've always written or mentally reflected on my cooking. It's one of my many passions. In fact, I think I spend more money on food and have more fun in grocery stores than I do in clothing stores. Why? Am I a normal female? Of course not, but then again, please my dear Reader, define "Normal"! I don't know if I'm good at it. I'm certainly not formally trained....that is, if you consider your mother and television a form of proper training...

This evening, with much respect to the culinary world, I'd like to write about a recipe I saw in the movie which I rendered into my own version. I "rendered (it) into my own version" because I didn't have butter (SHOCKER!!). =) In the movie, almost every recipe of Julia Child had butter. The recipe is Poached Eggs with Hollandaise Sauce over Toast paired with Asparagus.

The Experiment

The first thing I did the morning after watching that hilarious movie “Julie and Julia” was search my mini-fridge for eggs and bread. It was a craving. Two days prior, I had returned from a trip to the Philippines, so my mini had absolutely nothing except for eggs (thank goodness), moldy celery, parmesean cheese, a water filter/pitcher, a box of carrot soup, and no butter.....of all things! I also realized that my freezer tray was not only purged of its usual mountainous collection of frost, but all its contents, and anything perishable, was thrown away by my landlord. I was then reminded I DID have butter, but that along with a serious bunch of fruit and vegetables were tossed.....except for the celery!!

I started my task of making poached eggs with toast and hollandaise sauce.....rendered my own way...with no butter. It seemed that butter was the key ingredient for Hollandaise sauce. On the other hand, I had no desire to put on a pair of jeans, a bra, and flip-flops to the corner market to spend the Boerum Hill price of $7.00 on bread, butter, and the way, I think asparagus was out of season. I did, however, have a box of carrot soup which contained a small amount of butter; and I did also have a leftover roll of white bread from my flight back from the Philippines!

Here we go! I poached two eggs, which was easy-shmeezy. The salted water with egg whites was saved for a Chinese Velvet Egg Soup which would be made for dinner that evening. While all this was happening, I halved the roll, cut off the rounded end, and popped all three pieces in the toaster oven. I cracked another egg, poured the whites in the eggy-salty broth, and whisked the yolk in a small bowl. In another small bowl, I heated roughly 1/3 cup of the carrot soup and a teaspoon of rice vinegar (yes rice vinegar....that's all I had, sorry).....

*Side Note: I thought to myself as I was doing all this that a sauce was a sauce was a sauce....Salted butter is traditionally used in Hollandaise Sauce to provide moisture, fat, and an oily texture to carry the egg yolk. Vinegar was traditionally added to give the sauce a little zest, extra moisture, and a chemical-thickening agent for the butter and egg. Once the butter and vinegar are heated together under medium-low heat, the cream in the butter curdles and thickens. When the egg yolk (once whisked) is added gradually to the butter mixture under low heat, that also thickens, and PRESTO! You have Hollandaise sauce!

Now (with the "sauce is a sauce" concept), since I had no butter, I heated the carrot soup (which was already thick from the butter, cream, and carrot starch) together with vinegar. Once hot, I gradually stirred in the whisked egg yolk under low heat and removed it from the hot plate. At this point, the toast was done, so I spread out the toast, and placed the poached eggs. Next, I took the toasted round end, sliced it into four strips and saved them for later.

I checked the carrot-hollandaise sauce. It was thick, but tasted like it needed a kick. I added a little sage, thyme, oregano, rosemary, and parmesean cheese.....still it lacked that kick. Finally, took a sniff of the carrots in the bowl and thought of Christmas and nutmeg!! I usually added nutmeg to carrots to bring out the sweet root flavor. I added the spice, taste-checked it, and it was perfect!!

The (still hot) poached eggs were topped with the carrot-nutmeg hollandaise sauce. Two strips of toasted rounds were arranged on top of each for some architecture. Very satisfied, I dashed a little more parmesean and herbal seasoning for aesthetic, and....DONE!!!! Poached Eggs with Hollandaise Sauce (sans the asparagus)!


I normally eat every meal with some sort of vegetable. (What about the asparagus!?) I gave myself the excuse that I was still trying to get over the stomach flu, which was contracted from my trip to the Philippines....Ex-nay on the fiber-nay! However, I also was not supposed to be eating cream and butter....tisk tisk! To be even more evil, I had that very delicious French dinner the night before (Crimini Mushrooms in a cream sauce, served over a French puff-pastry....oh OH!)....Oh well! =)

Seated at my fold-out table, I sliced a piece and sampled the flavors and textures. The toasted bread crunched and moistened nicely with the warm creamy poached egg. The parmesean cheese was carried through by the egg sauce, then a kick of zesty herb, and finally finished with the carrot and nutmeg! At the end of everything, it was the nutmeg that saved the day! Who knew! It took me fifteen minutes to finish. I was thinking about the various ways I could have made this...perhaps leave out the herbs and just use nutmeg and cloves?.....

After having just two poached eggs and 8 ounces of water, I was full! That was curious....

*Side Note: I recalled a book I had read- "French Women Don't Get Fat" by Miriele Guiliano. I mentioned her in one of my previous blogs. Basically, she emphasizes that portion control is a great factor to keeping slim. Additionally, using quality ingredients and meditating on food helps maximize the impact of the meal. To be frank, it means slowing down, eating less (you'll feel 80% full, but you're actually 100%), and thinking about your food so you'll feel more satisfied. Having a conversation and some wine also helps. ;)

I'm sure you've also heard that it usually takes your stomach 20 minutes to realize it's full. With that in mind, I realized I did just that. I meditated on my food for 15 minutes, drank my water (with my vitamins- a contradiction on French gastronomy- but I won't tell if you don't!...I'll explain this in another blog), and washed my dishes. All together this took 25 minutes and I was not hungry.

In the End

In the end, I could have used better-quality ingredients. I also could have just put on some jeans, a bra, flip-flops, and spent that $7.00 to ensure a balanced meal. Then again, everyone has days like that right? It's not a crime to be lazy. It's also not a crime to prepare whatever is in your mini-fridge right?
I think I now have a frivolous nutmeg fix. My next experiment will include nutmeg in a Bolognese Ragu sauce. I got the inspiration from a book I'm currently reading called "Heat" by Bill Buford. I don't feel afraid of adding cloves and lime either! Read the book. You'll love it! If not, you'll at least feel a craving for authentic Italian food. I did.

To me, cooking means being adventurous- to try everything and anything to create an exciting meal or stick to budget. It means scientific experimentation and human guinea pigs. I suppose many have died from these excursions, but thankfully we have great masters to teach us the ways. In a sense, we're being humanitarians- we work hard to save people's lives! In Julie's case, it was her vision of Julia Child who helped her get past rough times. I hope I don't kill anyone in the future with my culinary experiments. If I had, I guess you wouldn't be able to tell me now would you?

As always, thanks for reading! It surely means a lot to me, and I hope I had entertained or lightened your day in one way or another. I'll write to you later!

Lesley Ann

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

New Work New York (Projects in Scope: Life-Drawing, Terreform ONE, Trudy Miller/Layers, Spectacle Theater, and the Malapit Residence Garden)

Dear Reader,

Last Thursday, as Izzy and I were waiting for the (evil) G Train to come by and truck us away from the Gowanus district in Brooklyn (we had just finished seeing Slow Club, Air Waves, and Chalk + Numbers at the Bell House), she asked me, "So why do you want to stay in New York?".  She had asked me this because I'm currently searching for employment, and to be honest I could easily pack my bags and go back to California.  I took a long sigh and thought to myself how loaded that question was.  The answer was a jumbled mess in my head, but I guess it all boiled down to, "Because I feel like I could grow here, and I need seasons; I feel like I was designed for cold weather, and things feel more real here.  I have friends and networks, and I'm not ready to leave just yet.". 

Quite certainly, I feel I could get the art and design scene back in California, but to be honest, I'm tired of moving.  I need to stay put, especially with all the traveling I've been doing in Europe.  Besides, there are some awesome design and research firms here that I'm elated to work with/for.  Please don't be confused- I'm not the stereotypical emmigrant who moved to New York to pursue her dreams and become masked by the limelight of admiration on every superficial level possible.  No, really, I don't care.  I just want to be busy, and happy with what I do; and if love and appreciation comes with the work, then GREAT!  I'll be humbled, and encouraged to push further. If not, I'll just shrug (maybe cry a little), and be humbled yet again.  As always, I'll be moving forward.

Now, speaking of moving forward, since I have the time, I've been filling my schedule with all sorts of personal and pro-bono projects.  I'm doing this because it keeps me focused on something positive, something productive; and who knows, maybe I'll land something next week.  I've probably sent out at least a dozen applications to corporate and boutique offices in New York, as well as freelance opportunties in both the US and the UK.  I've also signed up with an employment agency, and I've spread the word out to my friends and provided samples of my work, references, and a link to my webpage.  I suppose you can say I've done all I could for now, and will continue doing so until the time is right to stop.  In a way, I feel at peace knowing that despite all the twists life has given me, doing my best is enough, and I could let go of whatever it is that's holding me back.  Now, dear Reader, don't think I'm super-human for thinking this way.  I'm not.  I tell myself this, and to you, because I'm validating it both in my mind and on the screen.  It reminds me to keep going- and in a way you're helping me along.

With all the applications I've got rolling, here are the side projects I'm currently working on, and will be working on in the near future:

1)  Malapit Residence Garden 
I'll have to be honest and admit that this project is way past due.  You see, Mom assigned me this early last year, and I have postponed working on it for so many valid (and unvalid) reasons:  I was in graduate school, I was looking for employment and sorting out my student loans, it was the Holidays, I moved out to New York.  I have to admit, Mom doesn't deserve to be treated this way, so before April (and before her birthday), I'm aiming to get it designed and built.  Mom has even taken 3 weeks out of work to get it all done (which means the whole family will be her laborers hahaha!), so I can't faff around.  Now that I've got my job applications sent out, I've freed up enough time to hammer this out in a week.  No pressure eh?

2) Malapit Design Website
Seriously, I'm not at all too happy with the title "Malapit Design".  It sounds boring!  Yet, I can't wrap my head around it right now- got too much stuff to do.  Any suggestions dear Readers?  The stuff you see on is really just a site for samples and a quick profile.  I had a proper website going, but had to put it on hold when I started and stopped working full-time.  Now that there's a bit of time, I've been incrementally improving the new one.  I've been thinking about new ways I could boost my portfolio and market myself; though to be completely transparent, since this is something I'm trying to do on my own, I'm finding it difficult to step outside of my thoughts and see myself objectively.  I think I'll be needing some help in the future- someone I could brainstorm with.

3) Trudy Miller/ Layers
Trudy is a wonderful friend of mine who I did some volunteer work for before I moved to Scotland 2 years ago.  She is an architect, a zero-waste clothing designer, and more appropriately a "Solutionista".  You could say we share similar ideals when it comes to global consumerism, and quite honestly we're annoyed at how little people know about their responsibilities toward our environment.  Granted we are not saints ourselves, and I definitely don't want to sound preachy; but the book she is working on (and I will help her format) will discuss the social experiments she conducted using her zero-waste clothing line, as well as share new ideas about being a "solutionista".  I haven't started helping her yet, there are still many side projects to get out of the way.  Quite certainly though, this will help both of us compartmentalize our thoughts and values regarding the aforementioned topics. 

4) Spectacle Theater - Movie Posters Scoping
(Plus a brief story about Anti-Valentine's Day)
Last Valentine's Day, Jessica, Izzy, and I went to the Spectacle Theater to watch some Anti-Valentine's Day movies.  Maybe we were cynics about v-day that evening, or at least I was considering that Valentine's Day was formed to celebrate the lives of several early Christian martyrs, who died a few hundred years after Christ's death....And guess what?  Their names happened to be Valentine (or variations of it).  To go further into it, I was also crestfallen when I read that the romance associated with the holiday didn't come until circa Geoffrey Chauser's time in the High Middle Ages when courtly love (among members of the royal family and their associations) was all the rage.  It then evolved into the exchange of poetry, chocolates, and cards (like we know today) around the 15th century; and became a major industry in Europe and America centuries after.  Yes, I did read a book or two discussing the holiday (but not in depth, thank God), and I did fill a few gaps using Wikipedia (geek!).  To be honest, I've always been curious about the holiday, and I have much to owe to it- after all, I got 50% off my red bedsheets from Target during their V-Day sale.  The main point I'm trying to say is if I'm going to celebrate Valentine's Day, I might as well do it my own way since it's been altered so much already. 

Nonetheless, the movies were well-chosen for the Anti-V-Day theme, namingly "We Will Not Grow Old Together" (  .  I must have felt annoyed at times at Catherine for staying with Jean, and then did a 180 and felt simply righteous for her when she left him.  Goodness knows we've all been in relationships like that before.  I felt the film explored every aspect of love- lust, eros, compassion, abuse.  It felt raw, and that pretty much summed up what I was interested in seeing that night.  Troy, the curator of the Spectacle Theater, was more than accomodating with his mysterious and ginormous bag of the darkest chocolate you could ever sink your teeth into.  Scientifically speaking, the darker the chocolate is, the more phenylethylamine (or love chemical) you'll get.  And if you add how much caffeine is in dark chocolate, you could understand why it's such an awesome treat to have on Valentine's Day, hint hint.  I must say it didn't work for me- I went home that night and slept without even thinking.  I must have been tired from all the walking I was doing that day.  Quite certainly it helped others though.  I observed there was much flirting among friends in other groups that night. =)

Visiting the theater however did make an impression on me, and a week ago when I was having a chat with Izzy about the Spectacle, she suggested I volunteer as a movie poster designer.  Taking all of this in, I'm quite looking forward to stretching out my limbs and doing graphic design again.  It's been a while to be honest, but there's no hurt in trying....and I love PS and Illustrator.  Here's hoping I could make a profit for them if we get to sell any posters.  More to come on this one.

5) Terreform ONE - Internship
Website: (
Since I don't want my skills and brain to go rusty, I'll be interning for them part-time for the span of 6 months.  It will provide a great opportunity to explore new ideas and get the experience and technical skills that are lacking in my portfolio/resume.  After all, I've been wanting to work for them for ages....literally.  Before I moved to Scotland, I read an article of theirs in Metropolis Magazine about self-sufficient cities and knew almost immediately that this was something I wanted to know more about.  Maybe you can say they helped inpsire me to pursue landscape architecture.  I was working full-time in Manhattan at the time, so it was quite difficult to get out of my routine.  Now that things are different, I'm looking forward to getting my hands soaked in work, with the possibility of becoming a teaching assistant in the summer.  Here's to new adventures!

6) Life-Drawing Classes
Website: (
So this is something I've already mentioned in my previous weblogs, and as you can see, I'm still taking classes at Spring Studio whenever I can.  It's a nice way to run free from the apartment and catch up with my former co-workers- Izzy, Mariko, Hao-Hsin, and maybe Jessica will join one day.  I find life-drawing relaxing, wholesome, and perhaps even spiritual.  Yes, I said "spiritual", don't laugh.  Imagine drawing someone nude in a closed environment, you're more or less removed from the unemotional, mechanical things in life-  computers, subway trains, mobile phones, our televisions.  Really, it's just 2 to 20 minutes of intense focus on the subject in front of you.  Sometimes that "subject" turns into an "object", and in the end, you're not drawing a breast, or a penis, or an eyeball.  You're studying the human body, you're drawing softness, light/dark, forms;  you're thinking about the human body and what he/she means to you, and you represent that meaning on paper.  If being spiritual means having the desire to learn about ourselves and others in the context of compassion; then sure, why can't it be?  That's why I go to class.  I go because I'm interested in humanity, and what it really means to be one.

So what REALLY brought me to New York in the first place? Before I went to Scotland for graduate school two years ago, I moved here because of a burnt-out relationship which ended with definite closure, followed by a beautiful and painful short-term whirlwind romance. I guess that time was all about embracing the good and the bad (or what Rollo May would call- embracing the "Human Dilemma").  This time, the second time, I came out to New York for another type of relationship (business-oriented if you will), which ended suddenly but with no regrets.  Again, you can say I'm embracing the human dilemma, but you don't need a famous psychologist to tell you that's what life is all about.  And what's REALLY keeping me here in New York?  Life would be easier if I just went home and lived with my parents until I have a stable job.  But to be honest, I haven't left yet, and I'm a firm believer that if Someone upstairs knew going home was the best thing for me, I would already be there.  I'm not quite certain where I'll end up, and I'm guessing I'm having these little earthquakes so I'll finally end up with something stable.  Tomorrow, I will keep pushing to find a job, and stay productive with my list.

When In Rome is playing,
Lesley Ann

PS:  Should any of you Readers like to spread the word that I'm looking for a freelancing gig, please feel welcome to do so. You can find samples of my work here: Or, if you would like to Shout Me A Coffee for this post (donate button at the top of this page), I'd much appreciate it.  Cheers! XX

Monday, February 6, 2012

A Trip to Space: Nicholas Jaar in New York (Frog Legs and Ambient Electronica); AFI in Glasgow (there were Fainting Spells)

Event 1: Nicholas Jaar at the MOMA PS1. Long Island City, New York (05, February 2012)

Dear Reader,

I'm happy and proud to have been part of the Nicholas Jaar MOMA PS1 installation in Long Island City, New York (, which happened in the massive geodesic dome of the MOMA courtyard yesterday, Sunday, 06, February. Izzy introduced his music to me one work day while I was writing cover letters through a fervent text to Google him and the event. Being a big fan of hybrid electronic music, it was not too difficult to win me over. The show was to last from 1pm to 6pm, with non-stop turn-table, laptop, wires-all-over-the-place action. Mr. Jaar, 22 years old, was in the middle of the dome on a platform surrounded with swarms of people, and despite all this attention, was kind enough to mix live sound textures (aka Blue-Wave) through the entirety of that afternoon. The 1-2-hour wait in line (or queue, as some of my British friends would say) was pretty much well-worth it, especially if you're really into large crowds of curious hipster/designer/artistic folk, ambient techno awesomeness, modern dancing, and frog legs. Yes, I said frog legs!

A quick note about frog legs- so MOMA PS1 has two courtyards it seems: one with the geodesic dome, and the other with a grill fired up with another long queue, and a food menu of Quail, Frog Legs, and Chorizo. Exotic, eclectic, garlicy goodness. The drink menu, as far as I know (since I didn't bother to have a beverage) consisted of Bloody Marys, and I guess other stuff. Mariko (my former co-worker), and I ordered the Frog Legs and Chorizo Combo. It came in this nifty greasy-ghetto-yummy gingham boat (which you would see in carnivals traditionally packed with fish and chips, or corn dogs). On top of the frog legs and chorizo mess was a warm slice of buttery garlic bread.

As Mariko and I were waiting in the queue to get into the geodesic dome, a father and his toddler child were right in front of us; and of course I was too hungry to care who was around me, so I stuffed my face with frog; and not too long after sucking on a leg, with a dinky foot sticking out of my mouth, the father with his child in his arms turned around and said in awe, "Is that a hopper sticking out of your mouth?!". I looked up and met the eyes of a man half-grinning, half-disgusted, and the eyes of a child in horror and confusion. I managed to say in a muffled tone, "Yeah, but it's pretty good", and continued sucking on the bone. I thought it tasted like really tender chicken wings, and, being incredibly hungry, was not about to spit up what I've eaten just. I might have caused a child to cry (or an angel to fall, to that matter), and I'm so sorry, but it's not every day do I get to eat something so unexpected!

The show itself had some strengths- the marvelous, fluid, ambient electronica (reminiscent of Moby, Massive Attack, Thievery Corporation, the latest of BT, Fuck Buttons, and something I must have heard on a Cafe Del Mar album). Another positive aspect was the well-dressed artsy hipsterish crowd swarming around the dome with their iPhones, DSLRs, cons and/or weathered leather boots, and smartly draped scarves. There was also enough pot swirling around to give me a headache, along with the farts and burps that came with the elbow-to-elbow movement. I'm not saying I liked it, but it added to the memory of the event- the "atmosphere". There's beauty to the ugliness. I love large crowds, getting lost in one, watching their faces, how they move/dress, and their unified purpose of seeing a show, or moving in a specific direction. One primary weakness to the show was the seemingly small projection on the massive ceiling. To be honest, I was expecting MOMA to project the animation/film onto the dome like as if you were visiting an IMax theater. Yes, it was a one-day installation, but I thought MOMA had enough resources to achieve this effect. Nonetheless, being a free ticket and all (with a $5.00 donation), it was worth it. I have much to hand over to Izzy for suggesting this event, and introducing me to a new artist who I'll be following for years to come.

I would honestly try to describe the music further, but you just would have to be there to really "get it". In attempt to give you a hint, all I could do really is to place You-Tube links to the show. So here you go:, and here's a link to one of the tracks in his new album "Space is Only Noise",


Event 0.3: AFI at the ABC in Glasgow, Scotland UK (April 2010)

Hello Again,

I know I've been obsessing over Davey Havok for the last 10 years or so, but yesterday I was reminded of him and AFI again when Izzy and I were talking about seeing them at the ABC in Glasgow a few years ago. It was because of that, and I really can't help but appreciate Davey- this handsome, 36 year-old vegan who, despite his high status in the mainstream and indie/alternative music industry, still makes a conscious effort to remain humble and diplomatic. Therefore, after all this, I must write it. Shut up, I know.... I know this may be a superficial connection (obviously I don't know him personally) and for sure there's a boat load of others who can surpass him; but whenever I hear his music, read about him, and watch his clips online, it's like drawing in cables, coming home, or feeling the warmth of empathy after being disconnected for being too "unique". Honestly, I can't even begin to fathom how he came about to be so honest and express himself, seemingly unbridled and unmatched. I believe in his case, it's not easy growing up in Oakland, California, a place that's "something else", unlike the romantic visions of the coastal Californian lifestyle- the beach blond girls, the sunlight, Hollywood. It's not like that at all. Coming from Pomona, a sprawled suburb of Los Angeles, and of a similar demographic, I grew up with low-riders, rice-rockets, tatooed bikers, orange groves, over-exposed dusty freeways, and strawberry fields. It doesn't have the cosmopolitan feel like LA. Yes, it's easy to be creative in this type of landscape, but it's not easy to get away from it and become more than you thought you can be. He impresses me for fighting against the masses and becoming his own.

In any case, when I was still living in Edinburgh, Scotland, in April 2010 I saw Davey and AFI perform live in Glasgow at the ABC, show-casing their latest album Crash Love. It was like a mad rush- the crowd, the speakers in my ears causing temporary deafness, the girls crying at my side. It was a bit overwhelming, like having a case of fainting spells, caused by a conglomeration of too many people pushing hard against the hand-rails, moshing, and carbon-dioxide. Was someone smoking indoors? I can't tell. I wasn't crying, thank you, but heart palpatiations must have been heard, and please do not make fun of me for being able to sing to all the lyrics. I'm sure you all can relate, and don't lie.

The show was too short, way too short for my liking; but the band sang all of my favorites, and a few older songs from the 90s (those were difficult to follow, but I like punk too, so I was in the right place). I must have waited nearly 8 years to see AFI live, and gratefully I was able to see them in a small venue at a decent price that. In Los Angeles, it's difficult to get a ticket to one of their shows in small venues at an affordable price- they're usually either sold out or in ridiculously large arenas where can see the band, or rather the speck that resembles them from the nose-bleed section. Let's just say things were lined up perfectly that night.

Here are a few pictures of the event. Forgive the blurry, under-exposed, low-resolution photos. I desperately need to get a DSLR, but that will happen in good time. OH, and here's a clip from YouTube: ENJOY!

Hey You With The Hair!
Lesley Ann

ps: Sorry for the crazy layout. I've got lots of stuff to do and can't be bothered with html at the moment. In due time I'll fix the text and pictures. Thanks! ♥