Red lips pressed up against a ribbon mike and a waxed mustache puffing on a harmonica against a white tile wall. At first I hear drums, tap, tap, tapping to the jazz band’s tune, but an opening in the crowd reveals the tell-tale silver flashes from dancing soles shoes A girl with checked accordion pleats and a feathered cap spins a crescent moon around a man with fiery red hair and a Windsor-knotted necktie.
I’ve only just stumbled off the train, onto the crowed subway platform at 96th street and into the swinging big-band age of the 1940’s.
There's a reason New York City is one of the most popular tourist destinations during the holidays. It's simply a magical place to be this time of year. The snow-softened streets are illuminated by thousands of twinkling lights strung up on every tree and rooftop. Curiousities from bow-sporting paper mache giraffes to thimble-sized vilages call out from the store windows, and everyone seems to be in their best moods.
Christmas is magical. What about Christmas shopping?
It's hard to feel alone when you're constantly bombarded with reminders that you are not. The challenge is in recognizing those reminders and acknowledging where they come from.
A traditional Latvian wedding: Flowers, trolls, ribbon tree-climbing, and dicovering Peiter Bruegel the Elder's muse...
Since I was working an internship in London this summer, I took an extra week and hopped over to Latvia to visit my uncle Dan and his family who live there. Serendipitously, it just happened to be the week of the now-grown Jolanta’s wedding, where I sit now, watching people dance.
New York Fashion Week has come and gone, and my Youth With A Mission (YWAM) friends have all dispersed back to their various corners of the globe. They let me tag along with them again this year, working backstage dressing models with their Beauty Arise team.
You know how when you’re in love, your perception of things tend to be slightly skewed?
The sun shines a little brighter, for instance. You don’t know what day it is or what you ate for breakfast. Did you, in fact, eat breakfast? It doesn’t matter. You’re in love. You spill your coffee in your lap? No worries. You’re in love.
I've made it back to the USA after spending two months in London, where once again I was blessed with a native surrogate family to teach me the ropes. I shared a bunkbed with Fanny’s (my New York roomie) fifteen-year-old niece, Britney, at her home in East Ham.
Fairytales. How we love to dream about these idealistic worlds where glass slippers fit and straw can be spun into gold. According to anthropologist Joseph Campbell's monomyth, "The Hero's Journey," virtually every story is made up of fairytale ingredients — a call to adventure, a wizard mentor, a hero prince, a daunting dragon.
The hardboiled egg that hatched a college degree, a trip to Europe, and a mind stretched.
Liepāja, Latvia -- When I have pretty friends, there's a good chance I'll talk them into playing dress up for me. When I have pretty cousins, they really don't have a choice.
Lucky for me, Anna is both a beautiful young lady annnnnd perfectly content to be my model. In fact, my cousin, Anna, has was my very first human mannequin. When she was no more than a toddler, I remember dressing her in little green fairy skirts and medieval gowns with long flowing sleeves.
Kūldīga, Latvia — I can hear soldiers in the tree line. The deep rumbling of Russian syllables carve into the sandy hillside, as empty and cool as the stone fortresses that lay in ruins along the shore. Salt water covers the traces of gunpowder that haunt the ghostly cement walls, deeply saturating the clear cerulean sea.
Liepāja, Latvia — I got another stamp on my passport last night! I have also been properly introduced to eating pickled herring for breakfast.
My mother's oldest brother, Dan, and his family have been settled in the Baltic country of Latvia for nearly 20 years now,running a summer camp and sheep farm in Ergli.
Dan's oldest kids, Jonathan, 15, and Anna, 13, go to school in Bath, England, and invited me to come home with them for the week as schools and some businesses take their May bank holiday. I had time off from my internship and it was only a 2.5 hour flight from London to Riga, so I thought I might as well!
British Museum, London -- I hear waves lapping against intricate ships that sail in glass bottles. Waves of excitement surge through my mind upon entrance to the great room of the British Museum. Books of every hue clothe oak walls with flavorful tales, intricate drawings, and a sense of raw knowledge. Metal domes made for charting the heavens nest alongside telescopes, wax seals, and scattered gold coins.
Today marked the sixth day of my London adventure and I’ll assure you I was the one asking for directions; camera and tennis shoes and all. I am a tourist after all, no matter what my pride tells me, so I have the right to go all out if I want to, right?
oday, 10 a.m., London — After a ten-month hiatus, I was finally able to sit down in a proper sewing studio with my beloved Juki’s long lost British cousin. I bathed in the silky glow that the ivory in-work wedding gown left on my hungry fingers and delighted in every tiny stitch.
My new friends, Appa, Nyleeta, and Tina and I took turns sharing our Harrods research with Lucy Tammam (our boss), with wide eyes and enthusiastic hand motions.
But the excitement did not stop there.
I must be in England.
Why am I in England? I hadn’t thought much about it until I woke up this morning. As the airplane wheels hit British soil it finally hit me: Holy crap I’m in England.