Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Stocking the Bar

With the holidays approaching, dinners and cocktail parties will be filling some of our social calendars. If you're the lucky one hosting one of these soirees, it's important to get the menu just right. Once that's done, it's cocktail time. Whether you're making signature cocktails or not, it's important to have a fully stocked bar for those who don't want to sip on your Tinsel-tini or Rudolph the Red Nosed Cosmo. Here's how:

Monday, November 25, 2013

Monday Quotable

Rather than posting the traditional Monday Quotable, I decided to post Kid President's most recent video: 20 Things We Should Say More Often. It's better than any quote I could post for its humor and truth. Enjoy and Happy Monday!


Friday, November 22, 2013

Friday Playlist

This week's playlist is a ramp up to Thanksgiving. With "turkey day" fast approaching, it's important to prepare for time with family and friends and remember what we are thankful for. The playlist ends with a nod to Christmas because, it already feels like a Winter Wonderland in NY and we've had a few flurries. Snow is in the forecast for the weekend. The holiday season is officially upon us. Happy Friday!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Love List

1. I love the convenience of the Dart Strip and thanks to the creator's successful campaign on Kickstarter, it could be in a store near you in a very short time.

2. The "Keep Calm" series of products spans the spectrum. I've seen everything from "Keep Calm and Kill Zombies" (shout out to The Walking Dead) to "Keep Calm and Be Fierce." Basically, we live in a Keep Calm and [insert phrase of the moment here] society. Well, now there are Keep Calm and Sip On shot glasses. Despite being slightly over the trend, I love these little reminders to sip...especially with the approaching holidays.

3. Lena Dunham interviewed Mindy Kaling for Rolling Stone. Check out the funny interview here

4. Love this idea for place cards. So appropriate for fall and so easy (and cheap) to do!

5. Found these Histagrams (Historical Moments as Instagrams) on Apartment Therapy. Can you imagine if social media was as pervasive as it is now back in the day?

6. Studmuffin Desserts!!! The cute name of this company isn't even the best part. The signature cookies and space-cakes make a great holiday gift. I recommend the chocolate peanut butter cup space-cakes.

7. Ever get those annoying deodorant lines on your shirt? For me, it seems to happen with every black shirt I own...when I'm in a rush. Wiping away the deodorant with a wet towel isn't always effective. Now, there's a solution. Add Wipe Out Deodorant Erasers to your shopping list if this is a problem for you.

8. I love my knee high boots in the winter. They're stylish but quite frankly, they add an extra layer of warmth to my legs. That said, they don't work for every outfit. Key Socks present the perfect alternative. You can wear them with heels and flats. They won't show but they still provide the same leg warmth.

9. St. Jude Children's Research Hospital does walks for hope all over the country (like the one across the Brooklyn Bridge on November 23). If you can't participate in one, please donate to this worthy cause.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Skill Set: Photography in Blogging

Some of Martha's Twit pics.
Like most of us involved in social media, Martha Stewart often instagrams or tweets her meals. The feedback she gets is usually pretty negative and it has nothing to do with her occasionally abrasive personality. It’s all about the quality of the photos.  (Read more at Buzzfeed).

For once, I have a bit of sympathy for Martha. Food porn has become such a thing on Instagram and Twitter. It’s all the visual glory of a food blog without the wordiness of the recipe. The images are supposed to make mouths water.  If you’re posting food pics, you’re saying, “Look at me. I’m out and I’m eating this bit of yummy deliciousness. Don’t you wish you were here?” Unfortunately, the “here” is usually some candlelit restaurant that isn’t photo friendly. Anyone whose ever set up a shot for a food blog gets that. Yet, the pressure to make quality food porn is always there. People don’t want to read your commentary about how yummy something is if the picture looks like an indistinguishable pile of brown, gray and yellow crap.

I know my photos are far from perfect. When I’m cooking, my photos are usually taken with my iPhone and right before Ash is grabbing the food because he’s starving and it’s getting cold. When we’re out, I’m constantly trying to find the right light to capture what I see and it rarely comes out right. Flash washes things out. Not using flash makes the photo too dark. Constantly traveling with Asher’s DSLR camera isn’t going to cut it. It’s not travel friendly when I want to move around the city plus he uses it for work. I can’t just chuck it into my bag and run off. I do get some help from the gabillion photo apps on my phone but sometimes, I either have to float a bad photo or let go of the sharable moment. 

All of this is to say, a brush up on photo skills is important for bloggers (unless you're the awesome photographer teaching the rest of us to do it). Whether you’re shooting your fashion choices, your food or your everyday life, good photos are important. Here (and here) are the tips that are helping me overcome my photo issues. What do you do to work on your photo skills? What tips and tricks do you use for better photos?

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Weekly Weigh In: See Jane Take a Break

You know how they say it takes 3 weeks to form a habit? Well, I feel like it only takes 5 minutes to break one…especially when you weren’t loving the new habit in the first place. What habit you ask? Exercising every day.  I was working hard but I realize now that it was because I had a goal. I didn’t do as well as I expected but I achieved the goal and since then, save for a couple of shining moments, I haven’t been working out. I know I’m wrong but I can’t shake it.

I talked in another post about joining a new gym opening in my area. The opening date was pushed to the end of December…right before Christmas. So, basically with family visits and travel, we’re talking next year. It’s freezing outside and I have to say, the treadmill and elliptical machine aren’t exactly calling my name.  If they are, clearly I’m not listening.

I’m disappointed in myself but I’m not quite sure how to break out of it. I do know I am tired of hearing myself whine and I KNOW you are tired of hearing me whine. So, I’m taking a break until I get focused. Robyn is back and did ask when we were going to start 10K training. I suggested the week after Thanksgiving. By then, I will have had my infusion and will (hopefully) be better prepared (mentally and physically) to start running towards another goal. 

Today's recipe is Baked Eggplant and Tomato Pasta

Monday, November 18, 2013

Monday Quotable

Photo Credit: Amir Zoghi
I heard this quote while watching Oprah's Next Chapter last night. She was interviewing Al Sharpton and he was talking about his mother, who invested/believed in him based purely on love. He talked about her never getting to see the payoff on her investment because she had Alzhiemer's Disease by the time he was successful. Despite that, her love and her belief in him meant everything and made him the man he is now.

It made me reflect on how lucky I am to have parents, a spouse and friends who invest in me everyday. They are there supporting no matter what. As Thanksgiving approaches, think about who invests in you. Tell them how much they mean to you and how blessed you feel to have them in your life. Happy Monday! 

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Time to Unplug

"How much of the day are you plugged in? Do you consciously set aside offline time, or does it happen whenever it happens?"

I came across this topic while scanning the NaBloPoMo writing prompts and decided to use it since I’d just talked about the subject over breakfast.

Ash and I went to breakfast with my aunt and uncle (who were visiting from North Carolina) this weekend. It was so nice to catch up in person. Generally, because of distance, everything is via e-mail.

The issue actually came up during breakfast. My aunt commented on how no one has time for phone calls anymore. Everyone just texts or e-mails. I agreed with her and offered a few examples of how the world has changed and made us both more and less social at the same time. For instance, I e-mail with most colleagues whether they are across the hall or in another state. One on one calls are rare (though conference calls are abundant). My parents and siblings are smart phone junkies like me. We will literally text while we’re in the same house. For holidays and vacations, the “Are you awake yet?” text is a regular occurrence. Love notes between me and Ash are little texts throughout the day.

Confession: The first thing I do in the morning is check my phone (usually after turning off the alarm, which is also on my phone). I check throughout the day. I also listen to music and books from my iPad while commuting. Then I get home and use it for recipes or media (TV or iHeartRadio) while cooking. Once I hit the bed, I’m using my phone of iPad to play Candy Crush or to read. My Bible, my music, my books, my calendar, my lifeline to my friends and family are ALL on my iPad. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. I literally live on that thing and find myself falling asleep more and more with my fingertips on the screen. Not. Good.

Recently, I suggested that Ash and I carve out some time each week where we are gadget free. It started because he made a comment that we were in bed together, both playing games on our iPads and texting with family/friends. We weren’t really spending time together despite being right next to each other. I noted that our best communication moments are in the car and during date night because we leave our electronic devices locked for the most part. Why not do that on a Monday during dinner?

Do you and your family/friends consciously “unplug” during specific times of the week or are you attached to some electronic device until you fall asleep each night? Do you think it’s important to unplug sometimes.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

My Little Storm

I've had my cat, Storm for 16 years. I rescued her from a shelter back in college. She's been with me through all sorts of changes and we've survived it all. Last week, my vet said it looks like she has developed liver cancer. There are various treatments we can try but he isn't sure any of it will prolong her life.

After I got that news, I had a bit of a breakdown (as much as one can break down at work...basically, tears welled up in my eyes, I took a deep breath and tucked the emotion back in). I finished the day with a lump in my throat. When I got home, Storm and Lola (our dog) were waiting for me at the top of the stairs. I gave them their usual head pats and belly rubs and they followed me into the living room...and the flood gates opened. As I cried, both Storm and Lola nuzzled close. After a good cry, I decided to get proactive about ways to help her. We've started a couple of treatments and she's doing really well.

My little fur babies are the closest thing I have to children at this point. I can't imagine life without either of them but I know they can't live forever. Yet, coming to terms with the possibility of Storm's death is really tough. For now, I'm cherishing every day. By cherishing, I mean I'm constantly in her face. For those of you who have a cat, you know that's code for I am getting on her nerves. I'm trying to work on that.

Have you lost a pet? How did you deal?

Friday, November 15, 2013

Friday Playlist

Today's playlist is about love...because we all need a little more of it. Simple right? Happy Friday!!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Love List

1. As you know, I love experimenting with my nails. These nail wraps by Jamberry are perfect (and perfectly priced) for making a quick job of my weekly manicure.

2. All of my keys look alike. Inevitably, I am trying each one in the various doors I unlock in a given day. What better way to distinguish my house key from my office key than with custom shaped keys. Love this Heart & Home key by Stat Key.

3. Sånd is the answer to the Playdough void I didn't realize I had until I saw Sånd. I haven't used Playdough in years but this stuff (kinetic sand) makes me want to dust off my sculpting skills! 

4. I love these coasters by Terrain. They scream fall and I love their simple, clean lines. They've even inspired a DIY project for my Thanksgiving table setting. Stay tuned.

5. I've been working hard not to buy every clothing item I like lately. This post from Who What Wear puts 12 rational questions between you and your next purchase so you want have buyer's remorse.

6. Love these cut maps by Dan Linden. It's a unique holiday gift that gives a shout out to your city in a chic way.

7. I admit I am a little obsessed with Candy Crush. And by little, I mean I play every night. Apparently, I am not the only one since Dylan's Candy Bar is now selling the actual candy from the game. Stocking stuffer anyone?

8. If you're from Brooklyn, married to someone from Brooklyn or live in Brooklyn, these cool little song lyric pillows should be right up your alley...since Brooklyn tends to meet you, shake your hand and then claim you and leave you shouting it's it is it's own country. With it's own get it. Brooklyn goes hard.

9. This Measure Equivalents poster is so charming. It's also perfect for me considering how much I Google measurement conversions while cooking. You'd think I'd have learned them by now but no matter! Lettered and Lined has the solution!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Thanksgiving is Just Around the Corner

Thanksgiving is just 15 days away. I'm already trying to narrow down my recipe wish list. Let's just say I binged on recipe clipping from Pinterest, Food Network, Martha Stewart and my favorite food blogs last month. I remember when recipe ideas only came from the Today Show...and (if you're a regular reader) you know how that turned out.

I realized over the weekend that I can only cook so much before people are knocking on the door ready to eat and enjoy family time. So, the narrowing begins. As of today, I'm set on the traditional elements we always have (turkey, ham, stuffing, mac and cheese, broccoli, rice and cheese casserole, deviled eggs, sweet potato pie) but everything else is up in the air. I'm sure you're like, good grief, isn't that enough? Well, there are some traditional Trinidadian favorites to incorporate, more side dishes to whip up, assorted breads to bloat the hell out of everyone and of course, an assortment of small desserts to push the food coma into overdrive. There's still a question of what I will eat as a main course (I am the lone vegetarian in my family) AND THEN there are the cocktails. I usually do at least one signature cocktail. Sigh. I can feel the weight of my to do list. How I'm going to do that with my aches and fatigue remains to be seen.

Anyway, Ash and I finalized our guest list over dinner last night. If everyone accepts, we could have 30 people. I know everyone won't be able to accept but I'm planning as if they will. I'm not shopping until we've heard from everyone. What I am doing is following this awesome planning checklist from Williams-Sonoma, at least for the things that are relevant to my meal plans. Just reading it makes me feel woefully unprepared yet, also like I will be prepared come Thanksgiving.

Tonight's goal: Buy non-perishable items. Don't be jealous! Happy Hump Day (or Wednesday for those of you who've had it with the Geico camel)! Make sure to look for my Thanksgiving meal recipes at Scalded Pot over the next two weeks! 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Weekly Weigh In: See Jane Face Limitations

I’ve been moving along feeling fairly great since the spring. It’s what got me running (and believing I could run) in the first place. Now, it seems I’ve hit a wall. It is not the laziness wall I was trying to hurdle last week. Honestly, in retrospect, the wall could be why I couldn’t muster the energy to work out last week. First, I thought I had too much going on but now that I am starting to see other symptoms (pain, fatigue, night sweats) I realize I am on the tail end of an infusion cycle (more about that here).  Why am I telling you all of this? Well, because it has lead to another week of laying in bed after work rather than exercising. And the eating? Well, it hasn’t been low cal enough to lose weight without exercise. So, this week’s weigh in is about dealing with limitations. I have to acknowledge I have them and not beat myself down mentally for listening to my pain and taking a break. Sure does suck to see the scale climb though (up 2.3 this week).

Meanwhile, Ash is turning into some fitness super human right before my eyes. Basketball at least twice a week, gym every day (including weekends), boxing three times a week. He hit his goal weight and is on another mission now. He’s even talking about crossfit. I don’t feel like I have to compete with him but sheesh! It’s hard to lay in bed until noon on a Saturday when your husband is up at 8 heading to the gym. Calling my doctor tomorrow. Fingers crossed that she will prescribe something to ease my symptoms until my infusion in three weeks.

This week’s recipe is one of my favorites from the last week. It’s not exactly low fat but it’s a good dose of protein, good fat and it’s filling. Total calories per serving (there are 2) is about 420. Check it out here.

Robyn is still on vacation and having a BLAST!! I'm sure she'll tell you all about it when she's back stateside. 

Monday, November 11, 2013

Monday Quotable

Today is Veteran’s Day in the states.  You may know someone who has served. You may have served. You may not fall into either category. No matter what category you are in, today is a day to show respect to those who have been on the front lines in defense of your freedom. I feel like we often get distracted with our political beliefs when it comes to war. I have certainly grappled with that. Somewhere along the way, however, I realized that whether I support a particular war or not, the soldiers fighting in it deserve my respect and my support. Today, let us remember those soldiers who have passed away as well as those who continue to stand…who struggle to find work, support, respect and gratitude from their fellow Americans. Let’s support them in any way we can.

For soldiers struggling to find work, check out Show Your Stripes

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Typhoon Haiyan: How You Can Help

On Friday, Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines impacting about 4 million people (1.7 million of whom are children). Today, there are reports that over 10,000 people are dead—most from Tacloban, the largest and hardest hit city on the island. Many of those who have survived have lost everything. The storm is being called one of the worst ever with winds gusting between 150 and 170 miles per hour. The storm is still raging (though it has weakened a bit) and is expected to hit Vietnam tomorrow.
Relief efforts have started but some areas are still cut off because of mudslides and blocked roads. Complicating the problem is the desperation of survivors. People are looting to gather supplies for survival. It is critical that relief agencies get the support they need to help in the Philippines and ultimately in Vietnam as well. If you want to help, donate to one of the agencies below.
World Food Program: The organization is providing emergency food assistance to families in the area. 
Philippine Red Cross: The organization has already deployed rescue and relief teams to assess damage in the area and provide needed supplies to families in the area. 
American Red Cross: The Red Cross is accepting donations to help people affected by Typhoon Haiyam. 
Americares: Americares will deliver medical and humanitarian aid to people in need. 
Salvation Army: This organization is accepting cash donations to allow responders to address needs of survivors. One hundred percent of all donations go to support relief operations. 
Mercy Corps: This organization is deploying emergency workers to the Philippines to meet urgent humanitarian needs of survivors. Donations will help survivors meet their basic needs and begin rebuilding. 

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Feel Good Saturday

I came across this note on Reddit and it made me smile. A teacher found it in a box of projects. It took me back to second grade and simple times when love was expressed in "Yes, No, Maybe" propositions. And her response...well, I love it though I feel bad for Kyle.

Happy Saturday! Hope you're enjoying the weekend. I'm going to ask Ash for a foot rub in a Yes, No, Maybe note. Lol.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Friday Playlist

Today's playlist contains a few emotional songs that strike a chord with me when I'm "in my feelings," whether good or bad. There are songs that say "I'm in love" right next to songs that say "I hate you. Kick Rocks." They all speak to moments in my life. I'm blessed to currently be in a Paramore-Into You/Beyonce 1+1 moment but I spent years (way too many) in an Adele-Melt My Heart to Stone/Maroon 5-Harder to Breathe kind of mood. This playlist has all of that. What songs get you in your feelings?

Happy Friday!!!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

On Being an Introvert

One of my first memories is meeting one of my mom’s friends and hiding behind her leg. When she told me to say hi, I peeked out from behind her thigh and said a very soft “Hi” and darted right back to my hiding place.

Someone should have thrown me into some sort of class aimed at murdering my shyness then. It persisted through middle school. Thank goodness high school bough more social opportunities and I broke out of my shell a bit. Today, I’m out from behind the thigh (mostly because I’m at least 5 inches taller than my mom) and I’ve gotten past crippling shyness BUT I am still not that girl at the party who is going to initiate conversations with strangers and float throughout the room leaving smiles and warm fuzzies in my wake. I’ve hosted events. I mentor teens. I’ve argued in court. I can chat up anyone (usually after a glass of wine) but I can’t necessarily take the first step unless I give myself a little pep talk first.

Why? Well, I’ve come to the conclusion that I am an introvert. No matter how much I get past the shyness, I will always be the quiet type. Thanks to books like Sophia Dembling’s The Introvert’s Way: Living a Quiet Life in a Noisy World, I ok with that. If networking makes you feel like a phony or you HATE small talk, you might be an introvert. If downtime feels like something you need/crave and you love to think and write, you might be an introvert. And there is nothing wrong with that unless you want to change it. If that’s the case, try an improv class or a meet up group with similar interests to your own.  If you’re fine with it, own it because at the end of the day, your opinion of yourself is most important.

Read more about signs you’re an introvert here.

Are you an introvert? Does it bother you? What are you doing to break out of your shell?

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Love List

1. Project Room's Metallic Leather Tangram Coasters serve a duel purpose at the table. Protect your surfaces from water spots and play games to see who can arrange the coasters into the most unique shape/animal.

2. Emily McDowell's Tiny Encouragement Cards put a fresh spin on the standard thank you card. Buy a pack or two and give them freely. Make someone's day.

3. I love the story behind A Peace Treaty's Jewelry and this lapis ring is EVERYTHING. It's definitely on my Christmas wish list.

4. The first time I saw one of the prints from Julie's Kitchen, I thought the ingredients were painted on. Then, I realized I was looking at real food and I geeked out. Each print showcases a bit of nature's harvested beauty. The Avocados print shown here is the perfect addition to our kitchen and may just inspire a new color scheme.

5. I love these useful little magnetic hooks for their versatility. I am thinking of using them as accessory hooks in my dressing room (that sounds a lot fancier than it is).

6. These Ninfee (water lily) bowls are almost too pretty to use. I'd use them for dips at parties, accessory holders, votive holders, etc. The colors remind me of spring and I am, of course, drawn to the green ones.

7. These custom return address stamps by Paper Pastries put every mailing label sticker I've ever had to shame. Must have.

8. These customizable wooden flash drives by mini-Fab add a little interest to a necessary tool.

9. Who knew a family tree could look like a cool, artistic sunburst. This is just the tip of the iceberg. Modern Trees offers several designs that allow you to honor you history in a way that suits your sense of style. 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Weekly Weigh In: See Jane Spend

I am 100 miles past excitement and jogging straight into boredom. I’m over treadmills and elliptical trainers. The air is quickly getting too crisp for outdoor walk/run intervals. Boxing is still fun but there are days when I’m tired of that too. What’s a girl to do? This week, the answer was nothing. I had a meeting every day except Friday when I had a black tie dinner. By Saturday, I was congested and run down so I clung to the bed like…well, like my former (in need of a fitness intervention) self. The only thing I did properly was stay within my weekly calorie allotment. Confession: That’s only because I was either too tired to have dinner at the end of each day and went for quick things. Carrots and hummus, 90 second Ready Rice with avocado, oatmeal…you get it. Luckily, that has helped maintain my weight loss.

So, what’s going to become of all the progress I made? I’m not willing to let it go and I still want to be at a certain place by the end of the year but I lack motivation. The solution for me is going to be a shake up to my dreary workout routine. NO MORE TREADMILL. Luckily, my desire need for something different lines up with a new gym opening in my area. It offers every class I can imagine (and even some I’d never have thought about) at great times for my busy schedule plus a pool, sauna, steam room, basketball court…you get it. It’s a nice gym.

The drawback is that it is about $50 to $60 more a month than what I currently spend on my gym membership. I’ve done the whole expensive gym membership thing before and I didn’t mind because I was one of those people who went to the gym AT LEAST 5 days a week. Now, with my schedule and my health, it’s hard for me to say I will absolutely go 3 times a week. I’m more of a “fitness is cheap and can be free” kind of girl at this point. Run outside, do aerobics DVDs/YouTube videos, lift light weights at home, punch the heavy bag in the garage/workout room. It can definitely be done.

That said, there is some extra money in the budget and I’m ready for a change. Secretly, I’m hoping the monthly cost will motivate me to get to the gym as often as possible. I don't want to—hell, I can't afford to—flush my money down the drain. I’m also hoping this move will infuse some excitement into my workout routine and take me out of what is becoming a very long slump save for a couple of workouts here and there.

Last week, I said I wanted to do another 5K to make up for how HoBOOken went. I still want to do that and plan on doing it next Sunday. Hopefully by the time my partner in crime returns from Australia, I will be back on track and won’t burst into tears when she suggests running a 10K.

What do you do to get back on track when you fall into a fitness slump?

This week's recipe is Spinach and Butternut Squash Stuffed Shells. Check it out here

Monday, November 4, 2013

Monday Quotable

Photo taken in NJ because I love a bright red tree. It glows with all the possibility in the world -like a girl on fire.   

This weekend, I was watching the annual Black Girls Rock awards show/celebration on BET. The organization itself is geared towards uplifting young girls of color through mentorship, scholarships and workshops. The awards show honors positive role models doing the work, whether through community work or use of celebrity status. In any event, the work the organization does is close to my heart because of my own work with girls in disadvantaged communities. Today's quotable came from the organization's founder (Beverly Bond)'s speech at the close of the show.

The quote reflects the sentiment (or is a short paraphrase of) a longer Mary Church Terrell quote:

"And so, lifting as we climb, onward and upward we go, struggling and striving, and hoping that the buds and blossoms of our desires will burst into glorious fruition ere long. With courage, born of success achieved in the past, with a keen sense of the responsibility which we shall continue to assume, we look forward to a future large with promise and hope. Seeking no favors because of our color, nor patronage because of our needs, we knock at the bar of justice, asking an equal chance."

This idea of lifting others up as we climb the ladder to success rather than leaving them burned in the wake of our blaze of glory has always been dear to me. It is why I volunteer and more importantly why I started my teen group. That said, lately, I've been debating whether to continue the work because of the time it takes and honestly, I sometimes wonder if my work with them makes a difference. But as I watched Black Girls Rock last night and saw all the little girls in the audience soaking up inspiration and positive reinforcement like hundreds of little sponges, I made up my mind to stick it out. After all, what is the purpose of getting to a good place in your life where you're happy and whole if you're not going to share it?

p/s This month is BlogHer's National Blog Posting Month or NaBloPoMo. If you're a blogger, consider joining! Here are a few great reasons why. 

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Rethinking Social Norms: Blackfish

When I was young, my family’s trip to Disney World was one of my favorite family vacations.  On that trip, we went Epcot, Magic Kingdom, Universal Studios and on the last day, we went to Sea World. I love animals so for me watching (and being splashed by) the orcas and dolphins was magical. I remember being particularly obsessed with Shamu and wished I was the kid they pulled from the audience to have a try at petting her. Alas, I wasn’t so I settled on a prized stuffed version of her for my toy collection. Shiny, happy memories.

At least that is how I looked back at that time until this yesterday. First, it turns out Shamu died in 1971 at Sea World’s San Diego Sea location—long before I was even born. The name just stuck and spread to the different parks. But that’s the smallest, most insignificant part of the lie I now feel like I was sold as a child. Why the change of heart? I saw Blackfish this weekend.  In short, I was horrified. HOR.RI.FIED.  
The documentary itself focuses on the death of Dawn Brancheau--a highly experienced senior trainer at Sea World--after an orca attack in 2010. I remember the news story at the time and the emphasis on it being her error that led to her death. There was no mention of the orca who killed her (Tilicum) killing before. There was no mention of the many other incidents leading to trainer injury that have happened at Sea World and similar parks over the last 39 years. There was certainly no mention of the cramped (relative to the size of these giant animals) living facilities, frustrated orca fights and separation of mother orcas from their calves.

Keeping the animals in captivity is bad enough but the danger they pose to the staff that work there is even worse. I don’t care what people say about spin or propaganda, one thing is absolutely clear: these animals should not be placed in captivity for the sake of a show…especially when their lives and the lives of their trainers are at stake. The danger seems to be clear for everyone but Sea World who maintains this is a safe setup. In fact, they are appealing a court decision requiring trainers to give commands from behind a partition rather than from the tank slide-ins or from the tank itself. I hate to judge but it seems like money has been awarded a more important seat at the table than human or animal life. 

I was truly emotional over this documentary (as if you can't tell). First, a part of my childhood died. It’s like I saw tiny man behind the curtain posing as the Wizard of Oz. Then, I was sad. Finally, I was incensed. I will never take my children to Sea World and honestly, I’m reconsidering zoos and circuses. Sure, it’s entertaining (except to children like my nephew who hasn’t been to the circus since he was 5 and saw the trainers hitting the horses with whips as a call to do tricks) but is it morally right? I’d never allow my dog or cat to be locked up all day until I needed them to come out to perform a couple of tricks. How can I support that kind of life for any animal?


Saturday, November 2, 2013

Movie to Watch: Bridegroom

A little over a year ago, I was one of the millions of people to view Shane Bitney Crone’s YouTube video entitled “It Could Happen To You.” In it, he talked about the love of his life, Tom Bridegroom, and his untimely death after he feel from a rooftop during a photo shoot. Sadly, the death is not the most tragic part of his story of love and loss. The ultimate tragedy is in Tom’s family robbing Shane of the opportunity to properly grieve in the moments and days following Tom’s death. Tom and Shane’s love story is now the focus of a documentary called Bridegroom. Their story transcends their relationship and serves as a statement in support of marriage equality.

We live in a country where we are allowed the freedom to worship as we please—to believe in whatever higher power we choose. Despite that, the laws of the nation often reflect the dogma of the majority. Ultimately, civil rights like the right to marry, the right to vote, the right to equal protection under the law shouldn’t be governed by religious beliefs. Those beliefs should govern who you pray to, how you govern your own life, how you keep hope for a new day. They do not give you the right to legislate someone else’s happiness—and more importantly someone else’s right to certain tax, estate, and parental rights.

I could stand on my soapbox about this issue all day but at the end of that day, there will be someone on another soap box calling me a sinner and condemning my LGBTQ family members and friends to hell. Ain’t nobody got time for that. Instead, I will leave you to watch the video below and encourage you to watch Bridegroom on Netflix. It has been changing the way people (gay, straight, religious or otherwise) think about marriage equality. If you’re not there yet, my hope is that after watching you will be. 


Friday, November 1, 2013

Friday Playlist

I've dubbed today's playlist as The Creepy Chronicles. The songs are dark and pull in tunes from some of my favorite scary/creepy TV shows (The Walking Dead, American Horror Story and True Blood). Halloween may be over but for today, the spirit remains. Happy Friday!! If you're having your Halloween Bash this weekend, check out last year's Halloween playlist for a more upbeat vibe.