#WesAndresonArtShow – let the emotion flow

Last week I had a chance to see the Wes Andreson Art Show, a collection of frames., scenes from Wes’ films, all nicely displayed on eight walls, crammed into the Joseph Gross gallery.

It’s pretty rare that someone can put one’s inner most thoughts and feelings into extremely precise words. Wes, somehow, does it.
Perhaps that’s why I avoided his films for such a long time, because they are spot on. In a friendly way, however, still, go-to-gut kind of scripts.

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His movies talk of real life, those that happen to you when you discover adolescence, when you fall from heaven into adulthood. It’s no wonder Gwyneth Paltro won such a place of honor with him. Vulnerable, fragile, accepting the broken reality of her life.

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The 9 walls were too crammed to contain the emotion of Wes Andresen.
Every wall was shouting of broken perceptions, inconceivable understanding of reality, the impossible bearing of realized reality.
It was one of the best I’ve seen.

It’s up to me now, turn on the bright lights

Interpol, one of my top favorite bands, released their 5th album “El Pintor” about 2 months ago. I loved their first and second albums. they had that distant, unique, somewhat nostalgic sound. Then in their third album, “Our love to admire” they kinda lost that unique sound into something that can be labeled as ‘Nice’. Yeah, that banal. But they survived it and continued forward.

Interpol’s last album is them coming back to their original lost NY sound, with something more mature and defined in it. They haven’t changed but they ‘sound’ more sure of themselves. I mean, hey, they survived 5 albums and 10 years as a successful band, why won’t they be sure of their sound and great music?
I was looking at them on stage tonight at Terminal5. They were confident, they were having fun.
It reminded me the place where I am in life. Sometimes you lose yourself, not sure WHAT is your voice anymore. I did, I lost my self trying to match expectations of me and what I thought others think I should be like. When my mom passed I broke and it took a lot of time for me to rebuild myself. When my dad passed, I HAD to make sure I don’t lose myself again, to stay sane.
Ever since then, I have been much more successful with any project I have taken, whether professional or personal. And specifically with Social Media, I found the honest, direct, non formal voice, is a winning one. If you believe in your product. If you believe in yourself. Others will too.

 

Death Becomes Her – A Tribute to Mourning at the Metropolitan Museum of Arts

Death Becomes Her.

Sometime I was thinking just that about myself, that I sort of became a messenger of death, losing two parents in such a short time. And it wasn’t just that, both of my parents grow their cancer on the same year I was growing life inside me, in 2010. And so Death Becomes Her, the new exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum, seemed very appropriate for me to experience right now, in a sorta of a weird, dark way. So what day is more suitable to experience the exhibit than Halloween? On Saturday 1st Nov, I left Princess Elsa and Buzz Lightyear with their dad after dinner, and headed to the Museum .

The slight trembling in my gut started as I was walking past the Egyptian tombs. Let me remind you again – this is Halloween. The feeling of creepy ghosts is e-v-e-r-y-w-h-e-r-e! I past the tombs and got to the exhibition, which is, as one would expect from any Met curated exhibition, beautifully displayed. The Exhibition, I was told, is a little disappointing on the fashion side. To me, it was less on the style, and more about what I was and am going through. Is the way one dresses, a part of the mourning process?

In Jewish tradition it is custom to tear the shirt a little when one mourns the loss of a loved one. When I lost my mom I couldn’t care less on what I looked like. When I lost my dad, feelings were a little different. I did see myself as a person not to be neglected. I made a point of not letting myself be neglected a cause du mourning.

And in that sense, the exhibition covers style, dressing and cultural codes of behavior for mourning of a parent, a partner, etc. A European women in the 19th century was expected to wear mourning dresses for 2 years for the loss of a loved husband. One year only for a loss of a parent. Mourning dressing, as a nod of a women to becoming available:

“When we see ladies persist in wearing sable, we are reminded of the reply a young widow made to her mother: “Don’t you see” said she “it saves me the expense of advertising for a husband”,

And I was thinking less of the look – though naturally this kind of exhibition it is impossible to ignore the heavy layers, the fine and heavy embellishment, the quiet black, lusterless, a symbol of simplicity as well as elegance. There is a whole story in the exhibition around how style and culture “got approved” morally and behaviorally, for mourning cloths, in the 19th and 20th centuries in the western world of England and US. I will not get into it with your permission. I was thinking that wearing attire puts the mourner in a certain mood. Not that any of us needs to be reminded of the pain of loss. It is possible for one to maintain a certain air and style, as well as mourn and suffer. The stiff, rigid, hard, darkness of the cloth. It closes on someone just like the mood they are probably in – hard, restrained, holding lava inside.

Alin Wagner-Lahmy on Death Becomes Her

Death Becomes Her

Alin Wagner-Lahmy on Death Becomes Her

Death Becomes Her

 

Life and Death, hand in hand

My mom passed in early summer of 2012 from terminal cancer. My dad passed 2 years later, in late summer 2014 from the same disease. Yes, that’s a couple of months ago. The mourning process I went – and am still going – through with each was different. It’s hard to describe how. The death of both of my parents has been a painful experience, leaving me broken and wounded in ways I was not able to deal with at the beginning. The death of my mom was the first time I experienced loss. I was shocked and broken and for very long months, was not really myself. I functioned and filled my role as a parent, a mother, a wife, bringing my career back to life, all in a very automated way. At the end of each day when my duties were all done, I would sit and look at my mom’s pictures, and I, I just could not believe she wasn’t here anymore. My dad’s loss was – and still is – digested differently. On one hand I am more “experienced”, I knew where and what was going to happen and was more prepared – if one can be – to that moment. I was prepared. But then again, no one can be “prepared” for loss of someone is not only so dear, but has always been a guiding light in my life. In between my day to day duties, I sometimes stop and think about him and I still cannot believe he left us, that he left me. And if someone ever wondered if a broken person (from one death) can be broken again (from another death) well then the answer is “unfortunately, absolutely yes”.

Klimt, Hope, The National Gallery of Canada

Klimt, Hope, The National Gallery of Canada

The grief over my dad is still with me. Actually, the grief over my mom too, but I guess I got used to it. Someone once told me a loss of a dear person is like losing an arm or a leg, it’s a part of you which is no longer there, but you just get used to it with time. The hole my dad left in me is still bleeding. I started looking at different pieces of art and music that talk about Death, Mourning. Loss. Unfathomable loss. A dear friend of mine reminded me of Klimt, an artist I adored as a younger self. Klimt’s paintings were a lot about the beautiful things in life, they are all very beautiful and erotic. There is a pseudo air of calmness, joyfulness, happiness. However in a lot of his paintings, evil, darkness, loneliness are laying beneath the surface, or sometimes even stand face to face with life.
‘Death and Life’ and ‘Hope’ are two such great examples of Klimt’s dealing with the eternal dialog between life and death. ‘Hope’ – displayed at the National Gallery of Canada – painted in 1903, is one I feel particularly close to as it shows a pregnant women, death and sorrow surround her. The women stares right at us. There is some worry about her, but also a lot of confidence in the life in her. She knows. Both my mom and my dad started developing cancer in the same year I became pregnant – 2010. I grew life, they grew death. My mom passed 2 months after I have delivered my second child. Throughout her illness I was growing life in me. It gave her Hope. It gave me Hope. Something to cling onto.I wish I had that calmness and strong sense of ‘knowing’ the girl in the painting has. In the National Gallery’s page about Hope, the following is mentioned:

“In preliminary sketches for this painting the tone is more positive: the sketches show a couple within a landscape reflecting upon their happiness. Klimt’s decision to change the composition may have stemmed from his reaction to the death of his second son during infancy in 1902.”

Dealing with a known scenario of Death, such as Terminal Cancer, the question I found myself fighting most is, when is going to happen? Facing the concept of death for the first time, I used to go to bed every night and try and get a sense whether tonight Death is close by or not. Is he in the stairs leading to my mom’s apartment? Is he here with us? Or has chemo helped and he has left us for a while? It might be of a simplistic way to express a deep fear of handling the worst scenario of all. Klimt’s “Death and Life” – his most crucial piece which is displayed at the Leopold Museum in Vienna – encapsulates that feeling exactly: death is constantly lurking behind the corner. Life is portrayed on the right as a dreamy moment, in constant movement. Death is always there, Life is always there. People in the “life stage” are with their eyes closed, they don’t see death, but death definitely sees us. It is mentioned that at first the background to the painting was the known Klimt printed gold, but that then Klimt covered it in the dark gray cloud that is there now. This painting, which took 5 years to paint (1910 – 1915) was completed very close to Klimt’s death in 1918 and I assume his dealing with the topic became grimmer as years went by. Very similarly to Hope, the composition and coloring of the painting changes as Klimt himself experienced notions of Death.

I cannot leave this post without sealing it with one of last songs my dad played for me in his last visit, tears in his eyes, tears in my eyes.

“And you who had the honor of her evening,
And by the honor had your own restored
Say goodbye to Alexandra leaving
Alexandra leaving with her lord.”

 

Back to life

it’s been 4 years since I wrote something and I decided now is a good time to start writing back. 4 years and I have lost two parents and gained 2 kids. 4 years I have experienced the deepest lost and alongside that, the greatest joy of loving a child. I have learned that nothing matters more than health, especially that of your own kid. I have learned that money and work come and go, but family and friends are the most important thing one can have. I have self destructed and was self built in the process, and as parts of me died, I had to rebuild myself. This blog is now about the small joys as well as the darker corners in life. It’s all part of the package.

Aunt Miriam’s (baked) Cheesecake

one of my favorite cakes to make on a Saturday are baked cheesecakes. this recipe was given to me by my Aunt, who is a fabulous and talented baker. This is a very light cake, airy and not too sweet like some of the heavy American Cheesecakes can be.

You will need:

3 eggs

1 cup sugar

1/2 kg cream cheese

200ml sour cream

3 cups self rising flour

for topping:

400 ml sour cream

2-3 TBSP sugar

separate eggs whites and blend them with most of the sugar til the mix is solid foam that doesnt move. make sure you add sugar slowly and not in one go. save a little sugar on the side for later.

Mix rest of the sugar with egg yellows to a creamy texture.Then add the sour cream, cream cheese and flour. Mix to a unified mixture.

Fold egg whites mixture to the cream cheese mixture.

Spray a round pan with PAM Butter and pour the mixture in. Put in an oven that was pre heated to 360 and bake until top is golden-brown, which is about 40-60 min.

For the topping, mix the sour cream and sugar to a solid cream and layer over the warm cake when the cake is done. Then bring back to the turned-off oven for 3-4 minutes in when the oven is turned on but still hot.

Very important to bake slowly in very low heat.

 

 

 

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Ultramarinos – Mexican flavors delight in Hoboken

Yesterday I discovered a treasure of a place in Hoboken – Ultramarionos “the marketplace for Latin Kitchen magic”. In this little gem of a place, hidden in 260 3rd street in Hoboken, one is welcomed by white walls of a small cafe, decorated with warm cocoa, red and green colors.  Ultramarinos is named after the old  19th century stores  “Cuban sugar, Colombian coffee, Venezuelan chocolate and myriad other foods, often considered exotic, were sold in Spain by specialty stores called Ultramarinos (OOL-TRAH-MAH-REE-NOS), a beautiful word which literally means “from beyond the sea.”” and indeed the smell of freshly ground coffee and hot baked bread that was seeded with chocolate are in the air. Beside various baking goods and warm unique truffles

Other Latin America treats include a wide selection of cheeses such as  ‘queso blanco’, Manchego and Torta del Casar; freshly made bread with olives and wild hot spices, or with warm cocoa; and other interesting local dishes you can discover in the menu, a menu that chances and updates daily.

Irish Bread to Warm Up a Cold Winter Morning

Oats, barley, and some food products made from...

Image via Wikipedia

This is a recipe originally given to me by a great writer and en even greater cook whom I have yet convinced to participate in writing this blog post, and so unfortunately you will have to get it second hand from me. This is the easiest recipe, perfect for cold wintry Saturday morning. It is bread disguised as cake, or cake disguised as bread… it melts in your mouth with a handful of butter and comforts a any tummy – hungover from a friday night out or dead tired from a long and exhausting week at work. or both. or neither.

What you will need:

3 cups of all purpose flour

1 cup whole wheat flour (gives the bread its yummy crunchyness)

6 TBSP brown suger

2 TBSP white sugar

1 TBSP baking powder

1 TSP baking soda

1.5 TSP SALT

0.5 TBSP cinammon

6 TBSP cold butter

2 cups buttermilk

1 cup raisins that were soaked in hot water/brandy

My friend also insists on using Caraway seeds – she swears by it and claims one doesnt even notice it and it really gives a boost – up to you!

Here’s what you need to do:

Mix all dry ingredients: both flours, both sugars, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. With your hands, cut and mush the cold butter into the mixture, very important to have the butter cold and to not overdo the mixing of the dry ingredients with the cold butter – the less the better, this gives us the nice density in texture.The end result should be a crumbier version of the dry mixture.

Add buttermilk and raisins and mix together for a nice wet mixture.

Message the dough on a floured surface for 8-10 times – my friend the recipe originator insists on counting 8-10 times and claims more than that will ruin it. And I believe her – so 8-10 times and that’s it. Now let it rest for 10 minutes and then throw it into a nice round baking pan and draw and X on it with a knife.

Put into a pre heated oven of 375 degrees for 40 min and voila – your warm fudgy moist bread is here.

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Pregnancy Stories – How Yoga Can Help

I am not a physician or a pregnancy expert in any mean or way, and my tips and stories are a result of my private experience and reflect my own personal experience, they are by no means a professional advice. You should consult your doctor before making any decision around your pregnancy.

As I am progressing towards my 9th month of pregnancy, one of the things I found helps me tremendously, is Prenatal Yoga. I have had a very bad back injury a few months prior to getting pregnant, and am not your average slim person – I like to eat and play coach potato. I did always have a tendency to enjoy Yoga, from a very early age, so when looking a good exercise that wont hurt my back but will keep me in good form. I researched a little and landed with Jennifer Wolfe’s Prenatal Yoga DVD. I started with the 15 min session.

Looking back on my 8 months, Prenatal Yoga helped me with:

– Feeling physically and mentally calmer.

– Reduced my the swollen ankles and feet.

– Released tension in muscles which I believe prevented the night cramps.

I still have one month to go, and seems like everything has started bursting now, so who knows… wish me luck!

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An Easy Banana Bread Recipe

Banana bread.
Image via Wikipedia

Banana bread can be painted in two ways: One is a romantic picture, where one of life’s greatest pleasures, as cliche as it sounds, is a nice cup of coffee served with a moist, sweet, banana bread. The other one, perhaps a more realistic one, is when you buy loads of bananas, which ripe in speed of light before anyone in the house gets a chance for a bite, you can take one and  half hours of your time to make this delicious treat. Here’s what you’ll need:

1 stick of butter

2 large eggs

1 cup sugar

4 ripe bananas – mashed

2 cups all purpose flour

1 TBSP milk

1 TBSP ground cinnamon

1 Tsp baking powder

1 Tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Cream the sugar and butter to an airy fluffy mix. the more you mix the better as air will go into the mix. add eggs one by one, again,mix them into a cream one by one, so that each egg is well embedded into the mix.

Mash the bananas and add milk and cinnamon.

Mix all dry ingredients.

Slowly add the banana mix to the Butter and Eggs mix and stir until the two are one. Add the flour mix. Mix well until batter is one and pour into a well oiled loaf pan (9x5x3).

Bake for one hour in 325 degrees.

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