31 January 2006

self portrait tuesday #20

self portrait tuesday #21 (personal history)

"open it," he said.

we were out having dinner, celebrating my 22nd birthday. I tore open the envelope and pulled out the contents. in my hands, I held beautifully handwritten details for a trip to new york city, my first trip to new york city.

"it's all worked out," he said. "we drive up the last week of january. I talked to your friend kira and she said we can crash on the floor of her dorm room. I talked to everybody at moving in the spirit and got you the week off. it's a done deal."

I couldn't really speak and even worse, could not stop with all the wide and goofy grinning. I remember saying, really? really? but we have no money... no money... REALLY?... over and over and over. and I remember thinking, oh yes. this man-- he is what they call good. in the world of good and lovely men, I have scored monumentally. see, I'd been talking about wanting to see new york for so long, about wanting to take just ONE dance class there, see just ONE show, and walk and look and walk and look some more and see and see and see. I knew he was listening but never imagined that he would put something together like this for me. I had a hard time finishing my dinner that night and thus began the counting of the seconds til the last week of january 1993.

and then that cold magnificent week finally rolled around and I swear to you, we spent every possible waking moment squeezing the juiciest juice from every single day. no time was wasted, we were always doing/seeing something. I suppose I was afraid I'd never make my way back. each night, we passed out on the wood floor of kira's tiny dorm room. completely spent, deliriously happy. we took on all the usual suspects-- the metropolitan, walked through central park and down fifth avenue, rode the elevator to the top of the empire state building, bought rosewater and fresh bread at zabar's, oohed and aahhed over the guggenheim structure, shopped for shoes on 8th street in the village, bought used books from street vendors, listened to our voices echo in the gorgeous, cavernous grand central station, wandered all over the LES and soho, bought stringy sugary ginger candy and grapefruits as big as your head in chinatown and cheesy trinkets in little italy. we hit up brooklyn too, sampled the cheesecake at junior's, drooled over the brownstones, stumbled onto spike (lee's) joint. so many hours spent walking. I took a dunham technique class at the ailey school, observed a childrens' dance class at a PS on the lower east side (part of jaques d'amboise NDI program), and saw 'jelly's last jam' on broadway.

and so on the last day of the trip, I was somewhere beyond exhausted, trying to digest every fantastic thing I had done, seen, tasted and heard lest it fall through the cracks of my overwhelmed mind. unbelievably, still giddy and hungry for more. we decided to leave the last day to fate-- loose plans to do some shopping and eat lunch at a touristy joint in little italy and then perhaps chinatown... might they be having a parade for the chinese new year? we didn't know.

some moments adhere themselves eternally to that part of your brain devoted to vivid recall: we were finishing up a late lunch at luna's when we heard the drumming and (what sounded like) explosions. I remember we paid our check quickly and ran from the restaurant down canal street to check it out. we saw the chinese dragons, shaking and moving clumsily and they were headed towards us. before I knew it, we were caught up in a wild sea of people, voices shouting and hands pushing, firecrackers popping. the hissing and cracking, it felt like they were exploding right beneath our feet. in this unfathomable swarm of people (and bright colors and dragons and noise and flags and celebrating), I felt the kind of electricity that comes from feeling fully alive (and also consumed with fear). in that moment, my eyes were opened and an insatiable lust for travel was born. it was always in me, that lover of exploration and new things, that need to switch up my geography. I'd been to japan as a teenager but this was somehow different. maybe because I was there on my own, because I was a couple years older and starting to realize that nobody hands you anything. except when they really really love you and want to make you the happiest woman in the world.

we left the next morning to make the long drive back down south. every part of my body cried out for rest and everything sounded muffled but I felt good and lived-in and worn out. a couple of days and I'd be ready for more. thankfully, there have been many many more trips back and forth, south to north. my new york now is very different than the eyes-wide-open version of 1993. I'm so thankful-- thankful for travel and always thrilled to get up and go when the doors open wide and something calls out. ava's been talking about new york so much these days. uncle von lives there and she wants to see for herself what all the hubbub is about. she sounds just like me.

so, happy chinese new year to you. happy year of the dog, y'all. more photos of the chinese new year celebration for your viewing pleasure here.

(and more self portrait tuesday personal history greatness here and here)

27 January 2006

photobooth friday

city museum, st. louis, december 2004

"I want to get in the booth BY MYSELF," she said.

well, okay then. quite frankly, her request took me by surprise. ward and I were so caught up with figuring out who would get into the booth next and how we would mix it up and did we have enough one dollar bills to take all the strips we wanted and yada yada yada. I didn't even think she was paying any real attention to what we were doing. and so that girl of mine looked at us mysteriously, hopped into the booth, slid the curtain shut and did her thang. all we could see were two sweet feet dangling and the consecutive flashes of the booth. always melting my heart, that ava-girl.

more photobooth friday freshness:

ticky tacky: week one week two
my house is cuter than yours
cartoon curio
mad organica
cult of degan
a_bird (sewn with gold threads)
persnickety me
meegan blue
I'm channeling doris day
poppytalk (and also, her cool photobooth interpretation here)

26 January 2006

viva la photobooth revolution

hello, all you fellow photobooth lovers. this here is a reminder to dig up your beloved photobooth pics and choose one (or twenty!) to post tomorrow. whateveh you got: new, old, personal, found, single-style or by the strip. gimme a holler via email or here in the comments section so I can link your sweet little bloggedy-blogging self up (must give props to my brothers and sisters of the revolution).

zippity doo dah

each thursday morning, I head downtown to teach a creative movement class to three and four year-olds at the childrens shelter. I've been wanting to write about these mornings for so long. so many fantastic little things happen during the course of those sixty minutes. though every time I sit down to write, I am overwhelmed by all the goodness. it's not me, it's all them. I find it incredibly difficult to put into words the way they melt me and make me want to live a brighter life. each week, I come to the shelter and find them wide-eyed, circled up and ready to move. I say magic words that launch each child into glorious, perpetual motion and people, it is near impossible to resist this kind of whirlwind. always ALWAYS some shaking or wiggling going on. we make fake peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with our feet and jump over imaginary mountains. we take bows and applaud each other.

and just so, so much more. more words for another day.

24 January 2006

self portrait tuesday #19

I have a charm bracelet for each decade of my life. each little silver item marking a personal milestone, adventure, or achievement. some of them are attached to bracelets while others hang out in tiny plastic baggies, waiting to fulfill their destiny. I love how I am able to wear my life's personal history on my wrist (though I never do, ever since I lost one of my favorite charms while schlepping around at the mall). I get them all out from time to time, lay them all out on the floor. I line them up and re-tell the little stories of my life. I am my own audience.

now the ava-girl has charm bracelets, one for each year of her life. I know i won't be able to keep that up forever but I won't mind the trying.

23 January 2006


that if you stay in your pajamas all day long, then you totally rob yourself of that great moment at the end of the day when you get to shimmy out of your uncomfortable I've-been-working-so-hard-all-day-long-and-do-these-tights-really-need-to-be-so-TIGHT clothes and slip into your pajamas. you know this moment? just. so. good. this was what came to mind saturday evening after spending the day in my pajamas.

20 January 2006

photobooth friday

announcing: photobooth fridays.

because I love photobooths and I love fridays. I think the two should kiss and become like, the hot new couple on campus. if you haven't already figured it out, I am unnaturally obsessed with photobooths. am thinking that this weekly feature might be just the thing for my borderline kooky fixation. I'll be pulling goodies from my ever-growing collection of both personal and vintage found photobooth snapshots. will blissfully share with all who are willing to revel in 35 years of photobooth love.

you likies? you are my new best friend. though I am probably the only one who remembers this. and this. if you are feeling it, then lookie here and here. and here. and for the best little photobooth snapshot in the whole wide world, please, I am begging you. look at this. and if you need more, photobooth.net is the joint. and there's always the flickr photobooth group. am thinking I may occasionally post little beauties from one of my favorite books. too good not too share.

just tryna get my photobooth on yo. a girl needs to have some fun.

18 January 2006

guilty pleasures

my girls meridith and AJ tagged me with this here meme. I'm all about indulging (especially in these dreary january days) and so I intend to willingly bare all here. please refrain from pointing and laughing. my five guiltiest pleasures (in no particular order) are:

1. cheap make-up. and well, expensive make-up. 99-cent nail polish in mad crazy colors. lipstick, lip gloss, lip lacquer, lip balm, I am obsessed with all lip products. and products that make you look dewy or flushed, lotions that make your skin shimmery. while I am bananas over brands like stila and nars and MAC, I also love me some wet-n-wild and rimmel too. that being said, I rarely drop major cash on cosmetic goodness. oh, but I love to roam the beauty aisles of target and get lost in the likes of sephora. what's even crazier is that I tend toward the natural look so I really don't know why I'm so crazy about things like eyelash curlers and liquid bronzer and green eyeshadow. I know. it's a little nutty.

2. cherry-flavored blowpops. or really, cherry-favored anything. hey, just cherries. fresh CHERRIES. and cherry snowcones, cherry slushies, cherry coke, chocolate-covered cherries, cherry pie, dried cherries, frozen-fresh dark pitted cherries, maraschino cherries, the juice that you find in the jar of the maraschino cherries. however, due to my recent major cut down on refined sugar, I'm passing on all aforementioned cherry-flavored products. except for fresh, frozen and dried cherries, of course. and miss danette, I want to kiss your feet for introducing me to the cherry pie larabar (which is sort of like an energy bar but made with dates, almonds and unsweetened cherries and nothing else, no sugar, no artificial anything). I am currently having a love affair with cherry pie larabars. is that wrong? now, if I can just keep myself from inhaling several of them a day, I'll be okay. my massive love for all things cherry will remain intact and all will be lovely in AndreaLand.

3. television. as in project runway. as in arrested development, as in lost. and the office (both versions). and what not to wear. and best week ever. and I'm sorry, but I can't say no to america's next top model, either. because how can you resist tyra and her overly dramatic speeches at the end of the show? how can you not LOVE to make fun of jay's faux orange tan? why, WHY does he insist on making his skin look like that? why can't he see how wrong that is? I am also prone to repeated viewings of seinfeld and sex and the city. this thing about me watching old shows over and over, this makes ward NUTS. late night viewings of the cosby show and I love lucy, it's all good. people (and you know who you are MOM and yes, I know there are others and I know who you are too) like to question this guilty pleasure of mine but my thing is: I read. I read a lot, I write a lot, I make art, I dance, I teach, I've got my hands in a whole mess of things that aren't television-related so if I want to zone out and feast on some mindless television, well, I think that's okay. so BACK OFF. (it occurs to me that I will re-read this sometime tonight or tomorrow and have the urge to edit as I do believe I sound a tad defensive. but whatever).

4. magazines. holy smokes, I love magazines. my must-haves are jane (I'm a 'sassy' girl from way back in the day), bust, violet, relevant, readymade, budget living and martha stewart kids but I won't say no to a big fat issue of vogue or martha stewart living. glamour, self and marie claire will do in a pinch. I also enjoy hand-me-downs of in style (thank you so much, lulu). sometimes I like to thumb through ward's premiere or entertainment weekly or elemental issues. occasionally, I splurge on dance magazine (but only if there's something inside that I feel I must have for my dance files). I have also been known to drool over obscure art and design mags too. and I'm not too proud to thumb through people or the enquirer while standing in line at the grocery store.

5. dress-up shoes. shoes like this. I rarely rarely buy such girly sparkly shoes but I do so love them, love to try them on, love to think about where I might wear them and with what. in fact, I wrote a whole thing about this (here) and even have an idea for a project involving shoes that I may eventually share here in hula seventy world. the wheels are turning in my mind. I'm desperately looking for reasons to adorn my feet with such lovelies.

AND: my guiltiest pleasure of all: memes. I am the biggest meme dork of all time. and proud of it. if you want, you can feel a little sorry for me and all my dorkiness and leave me a sympathy comment. and you know, tell me what your guilty pleasures are.

17 January 2006

self portrait tuesday #18

I don't know when it happened. I started collecting vintage brown suitcases and couldn't stop. the old ones are lined with coarse satin and smell musty, like old cologne. they are square in shape, sometimes with stripes and I imagine them once being stuffed full with things like stockings and garter belts, blouses and tins of crusty rouge. I imagine they were most at home on trains and buses and in the roomy trunks of old cars, though the ones I have managed to snatch up in past years aren't going anywhere anytime soon.

they have been stacked on either side of the bed and lovingly filled with my history. one suitcase holds all the souvenirs we brought home from our trip to italy (including a little handful of dirt I swiped while we were standing in a field of sunflowers in tuscany). when I open this particular case, it smells like italy to me-- sweet and earthy. another suitcase holds all the love letters, notes, cards and mix tapes I have ever received from ward. I turn several shades of red just thinking about those steamy steamy words waiting to be discovered and wonder if we can bear the consequences of holding onto them. I cringe (and am sick to my stomach) when I think of ava and ezra reading those letters someday. though I could never ever actually bring myself to throw any of them out. another suitcase holds scrapbooks I made growing up, and another holds every journal and diary I ever kept. and the cutest little piece of luggage (that you'll ever lay eyes on) holds all my favorite random special things: a red paper dragon from a chinese new years celebration in new york, a birthday crown made of shells, a swatch of fabric from a costume of an african dance I was in, pearlized chopsticks and coins I brought back from japan, an antique black shawl ward bought me while we were on our honeymoon in new orleans, my college diploma, my photo ID card from the american dance festival, the earrings I wore on our wedding day, my grandpa's black leather watch, the metal tap off the shoe from the first musical I ever performed in... and the list goes on and on and on. anytime I am in the mood to look back (or in this case, examine personal history) I consult the suitcases.

and the suitcases said, "here. look at this one. tell us you don't see a huge chunk of your history right here." oh, yes they did. and the suitcases never lie, people. why would they? what would they have to gain? really, I don't think they're capable. this photo that I found stuck between the pages of an unfinished scrapbook was taken at a time that could be seen as the beginning of Adult Me. I had just moved away from home for the first time (here to atlanta), had just started school, had just begun to work with moving in the spirit. I had my own apartment and was paying my own bills. that day, ward and I were goofing, just driving around downtown atlanta when we discovered a stunning wall of graffiti infamously known as the civic yard. thinking back, I can't believe I got out of the car and posed barefoot for the camera there, all that broken glass and god knows what else. I'm sure I wasn't thinking or maybe I didn't care. years and years later (nine, to be exact) I would become a piece of that wall (look here). and I wonder what I would've thought, had I been able to see the history of my years laid plainly before me. my life in atlanta, my life with someone that would go on to become the father of my two children and a graffiti writer that would paint me as a new mother (only a few steps away from where I was spinning that hot sunny monday afternoon in september of 1992).

the civic yard is no more. for so long, it was a legal wall where graffiti writers were able to paint without fear of being arrested. and then crappy uncool people came in and destoyed the goodness and that's that. it's a boring story as old and predictable as every hollywood movie ever. I'm okay with it, though. landscapes change, people change. if I need a nostalgia fix, I go to the suitcases. the suitcases are always there.

(more gorgeous, fascinating SPTs here and here)

14 January 2006

the fog is lifting

this week, the most evil stomach virus in all of the land reduced me to stinky lifeless zombie mommy. it hasn't been the greatest way to start the new year but tonight there was a full moon and tomorrow is another day. not quite brimming with vitality just yet but the letters are beginning to form words and the words are well on their way to becoming thoughts and ideas. I'm hoping they'll all have a little 'welcome back' party in my head. you know, throw down, get loose. mix and mingle and dance on top of tables topless and do what they do best. nothing fancy. also hoping for: color back in my cheeks and the will to get back in the game.

11 January 2006

am sick

and tired.

06 January 2006



this is what we heard our mother scream from the downstairs bathroom on christmas morning thirty years ago. I was only five but knew something big was about to go down. I remember being scared but also a little concerned about the status of the christmas presents that lay waiting magically for us under the tree. this 'bleeding' that my mom claimed she was experiencing... did this mean we weren't going to get to open any presents? or would we just have to endure some sort of momentary delay? the details are fuzzy after that. there was the dramatic declaration of blood, the wondering about the presents and then a mad jumble of events. in no particular order: grandparents were called, you (dear baby brother von) were born (christmas day!), grandparents arrived, gifts were (tentatively) torn into, the end. a week later, my mother came home, weak and smiling. I remember that her face looked so shiny to me that day. and then finally, under mom and dad's watchful eyes, I held you in my lap. you were like a little giant, not at all like the delicate baby dolls I had been practicing on. pretty rad christmas present-- better even than the holly hobby colorforms, I promise.

sadly, my wishes are belated. and I suppose this is what it has been like to celebrate a birthday on christmas each year. I've been in the front row since the beginning, brother, so you think I would've known better. still, I can't help but celebrate you. welcome to a brand new age bracket. I remember thinking that I would be SO OLD when you turned thirty and now here we are.

oh yes, you were leaving trails of powdered sugar all around the house and always always stirring things up. you and your infamous parachute pants (weren't they really just BMX pants?), shocking and wowing the kin with your b-boy moves. funniest kid ever and so stinking bright.

though really- my words here can't even begin to compare with what you gave me on my 30th. do you recall? all of us sitting on the floor, barefoot around that big table at the imperial fez, eating moroccan food with our hands and watching belly dancers jiggle and gyrate. when all the drunk stupid people around us from all the sad little office christmas parties threatened to cheapen the vibe of the night, you got up in front of everyone, cleared your throat and silenced the room. you announced to the checked out crowd that it was your sister's 30th birthday and that you had a gift to present to me. you proceeded (in a loud and confident voice) to perform eric b. and rakim's classic rap 'paid in full'. it was at once the most awkward, most beautiful thing ever and one of the most memorable things about that night.

I wish I could reciprocate, I do. all the same, happy 30th. just look at you now.

03 January 2006

self portrait tuesday #17

after traveling in the car all day today (coming home from vacation), I really thought I would crash on the couch OR get caught up in a mad cleaning frenzy. you know, unpacking and vacuuming and muttering complaints under my breath. but alas, I sat down to check my email (just for a SECOND), and before I knew it, I was sucked in. a quick look at the clock (two hours until midnight!) and I was off to rummage through some albums and photo boxes to see what I could find for this month's self portrait tuesday challenge.

and so this is what I dug up: one of my favorite childhood snapshots. I loved that day. I loved that outfit, that hat, those white leather sandals. that's me, all right. I sort of think of this as quintessential andrea. always moving, on fire to play, to go, to see, to do.

each summer, my family piled into an enormous brown stationwagon (aka the chuckwagon) to make the two hour trek to st. louis to spend the day at six flags over mid-america. like christmas in july, folks. oh, the anticipation leading up to the big day, waking up early EARLY in the morning to pack up and go. my eyes grew big as the st. louis arch came into sight. I pressed my face against the window to take as much in as possible. the city was a mysterious place that I loved so much it hurt. small town living will do that to a little girl. when we finally arrived at the amusement park, the sight of all those bright-colored flags waving in the sky... the smell of the black-top pavement (a scent as intoxicating as old library books, fresh-cut christmas trees, my grandma irma's bread baking and the ocean)... all of it just too good for words. we ate an early lunch in the parking lot (picnic-style), gobbled down tunafish sandwiches and drank warm lemonade, though my brothers and I had absolutely no appetite. we just wanted to GET IN THERE. and once we did, what a whirlwind, what a blur of giddy activitiy: kiddie roller coasters, the antique cars, cotton candy and straw hats with red pompoms! the time tunnel, the log flume, the six flags dancers, the arcade! we always stayed until the park closed, until we were sweaty and sticky, tired and grouchy and whipping each other with those plastic glowing flourescent necklaces. sometimes, we would catch a late night concert on our way out of the park and I will never forget marilyn mcoo and billy davis jr. performing a cover of the eagles' 'heartache tonight' to an audience of about fourteen people. they were ridiculously excited, trying to get us to clap our hands above our heads. it was kind of a sad scene but I still thought they were so cool. (marilyn mcoo of solid gold fame, can I get a witness please). I remember wondering, where WAS everyone? this was FABULOUS, this place, this performance, this moment in time. yes, I was high on cherry slushee and ice cream and taffy candy but I was more right about that than I ever could've known. those yearly trips are such a sacred part of our family history. someone brings up the subject of six flags and it's so easy to get lost talking about it. in my mind, they were magic, magic times and I think my brothers would be quick to agree. I am forever grateful to my parents for this, for these trips. and I want this for ava and ezra. I want them to have old photographs like this to look back on and I want them to be able to sit around and laugh about family trips like we do.

(how about that rad yellow adidas teeshirt my dad is wearing in the photo? dang. where is that shirt now? I'd just about do anything to have that in my possesion. including-but not limited to-naked bowling outside in the dead of winter)