Febrewary.

_dsc2287

Welcome To “Febrewary”
     Today is officially the first day of the second month of the new year. I feel like we as a culture have finally simmered down from the first month frenzy and have come equipped with some sort of routine for ourselves.
As for myself I’ve finally come out of the trenches of being sporadically ill for almost a month and have finally slowed to a pace of life I can manage right now. My sleeping schedule has finally aligned with my goals. My meal prepping is no longer a task that I had become anxious/scrupulous about and I am a month into the new fangled world of Bullet Journaling.
Needless to say the month of January was a readjustment month.
February however is just beginning and I am exclaiming that for this month, I will be writing with a focus on coffee. I’ve written about coffee before and my cathartic  relationship with it, but now I’m going to take that enthusiasm and expand it a bit.
I need to write about different coffeeshops and how each one I step into has a variable vibe.
This will further push my goal to write more and harness my writing skills that I have been in distant contact with (really need to do my English minor justice). Hopefully you enjoy the forthcoming posts featuring Instagram worthy images.
Indelible Gratitude,
-Kat
Advertisements

In Love With The La La

lalaland-copy

On a cold Friday night in the hazy winter light. 
I had seen a film ever so magical, so wonderful. A delight. 
The colors that graced the screen so vibrant and vivid. 
The music so variant. It was both bold and timid 
The dancing had captured my heart in an instant 
My own memories of tap dancing, jazz piano, and musicals had been so distant 
This film I’m describing in none other than La La Land 

Please watch it if you love Los Angeles, fleeting dreams, or swing & big band.


**I couldn’t help myself but make a rhyme scheme introduction on quite possibly one of my favourite movies of all time.
I know I know I know guys, this is a big statement to make! Have no fear, I fully support this film from within my bones.
Before I gush on about the Top 10 Reasons why I’m in love with La La Land, I have to preface that I have a long running background in dance, piano, & musical theater. I’m also a classic film enthusiast so every single easter egg was a slice of intense joy for me. My perspective is completely bias, but after seeing this movie with various audiences (ranging from having no musical background to die-hard fans of overtures and 4 chord minors) there are overall themes that run through this film that are universal to anyone whose ever had a dream they wanted to pursue.
xcinemascope55logob-pagespeed-ic-rxs4hbmwpl
( image via Google)
10. The Opening Sequence featuring CinemaScope 
If you aren’t familiar with 1950’s classic films by MGM, the widescreen lenses they utilized during that era were CinemaScope lenses. These lenses were integral for motion pictures at the time to capture everything in frame. From panoramic views to sweeping perspectives capturing long sequences of choreography, the fact that La La Land was shot with these infamous industry lenses is a simply sweet homage to the classics.
whiplash-damien-chazelle-_v1__sx1233_sy583_-1
(image via Summit Pictures)
9. Damien Chazelle and his personal story
There are directors that self impose their narratives in the work they do, but often do so in a way that is glorifying and centralized, Chazelle however inserts his personal experiences through struggle. He loves jazz music and musicals, but his cumbersome fear of stage fright kept him from the spotlight. I had rewatched his film Whiplash prior to seeing La La Land. The film Whiplash is Chazelle’s exploration of when he was a jazz drummer in high school and in contrast to La La Land, both films portray the process of achieving one’s dreams. One situation that is isolating and self-centered (Whiplash) and another that is communal and almost altruistic (La La Land).
161212130537-03-la-la-land-los-angeles-locations-super-169
(image via Summit Pictures)
7. The Non-Cliche Iconic Landscapes of Los Angeles
Having seen this movie with company from both LA and far from LA (London, in fact) there are variable differences on what people would like to see about Los Angeles in the movies. My British friend complained that they didn’t see the Hollywood sign; my Los Angeles friend loved that there was a scene at Watts Towers. Overall, I’m quite enamored at the fact that Chazelle didn’t choose the road most taken when it comes to filming in Los Angeles, his implicit direction to show some “uncommon but familiar” landmarks that ground the nature of this city is to my liking.
la-la-land-film-movie-cars-lionsgate-2016-scene-dance
(image via Summit Pictures)
6.  The Subtle Jokes About Los Angeles 
I went to college in Los Angeles county and became acquainted with all the Los Angeles stereotypes. This film captures these seemingly real stereotypes and situations in such a light-hearted humorous way; from Prius popularity to gluten free galore it also portrays that although this city is filled with dreamers where everyone is trying to make it, there is room to find your “tribe” or “squad” in the immense demographic that is the people of Los Angeles. In a city full of people playing professional make-believe, I’ve  made an immense amount of authentic friendships that last a lifetime.
la-la-land-title-11
(image via Summit Entertainment) 
5. The Title’s Double Meaning
Not only is LA known for its moniker “La La Land” but La La Land is defined as “a fanciful state of mind” in which the cinematography captures so effortlessly in many frame by frame moments. It toggles the boundaries of reality and disillusion through dream like sequences. I’m a sucker for things with depth and the movie title’s double meaning adds another layer.
2d45e19300000578-3267674-image-m-25_1444499380118
(image via Miguel Aguilar) 
4. The Production Collaboration + Minimal Post Production Editing 
Due to the nature of making this film in the 1950’s technique, Chazelle’s objective to take elongated one camera shots with minimal takes was an operation of meticulous proportions. In addition, I’m appreciative of the use of the actual landmarks and the minimal use of a soundstage/ set. It is rare nowadays to see a film without some sort of CGI, multiple takes and multiple cameras used, so this film felt like a visual breathe of fresh air. It is relaxing to the eyes; you’ll experience it once you see it.
 
la-la-land
(image via Summit Entertainment)
3. Ryan Gosling + Emma Stone’s Chemistry 
Originally, Miles Teller and Emma Watson were cast to play the roles of the two lovebirds.  Due to conflicting filming schedules, Chazelle went with Gosling and Stone instead. Prior to this film, the pair starred in two roles together. If you have ever seen the 2011 movie  Crazy Stupid Love their chemistry was very natural. Both of these actors’ dynamic emotional range is versatile as well. During the filming process, Chazelle, the screenwriter, and both of the actors were integral in the development of Mia and Sebastian. The result? Absolute chemistry. If you pay attention closely, the behaviors/dialogue of one transfers onto the other in the same fashion as a real relationship.
2. The Music 
The composer of the musical score is James Hurtwitz. He also has worked with Chazelle on his two prior films Whiplash and Guy And Madeleine On A Park Bench. The thematic musical score has five main melodies from it’s five main songs. If you listen to the film’s soundtrack closely you can hear each one of the five songs transposed in a different key and tempo throughout the film to convey the emotional atmosphere. The film’s soundtrack is really meant to be listened as a whole, each song advancing the narrative. Creating together an amalgamation of scenarios that define the human condition when it comes to trying to achieve your dreams.   In the process of composing the musical score for La La Land, Hurwitz compiled roughly around 1900 piano demos to show to Chazelle as well as the lyricists Justin Paul and Benj Pasek. Paul and Pasek also wrote original music for one of my favourite shows, Smash.
image
(gif via Summit Entertainment)
1. The Dancing + Rehearsal Process
All strengths put aside, if there could be one reason and one reason only for me to love this film, it has to be the dancing. I’m a sucker for dance movies, but lately the movies that have come out in recent years didn’t have a narrative I was fully invested in. The plots were predictable and the choreography (or lack thereof) was inundated with tricks and gimmicks. La La Land however heavily pays homage to cult film dance classics such as Sweet Charity, Singing In The Rain, Umbrellas of Cherbourg and many others. Iconic sequences of choreography recorded in beautiful one camera one take constraints (like the Old Hollywood movies did) effectively hones in on the beauty that happens when dancers, dancing, and a compelling musical score converge together. Mandy Moore, the choreographer also created these pieces to be accessible due to the capabilities of the actors. She wanted the choreography to to be approachable and realistically anchored in everyday movement that (when shot on camera) would blur the dreamlike dance sequences and dialogue seamlessly.
Prior to the four month filming process, Gosling and Stone had a three month rehearsal for both the dance choreography and the learning of the piano. Although the rehearsing schedule was rigorous, it was beneficial in the long run.
In addition, if I could shamelessly plug in another aspect as to why I love this film so much, a couple of my favourite dancer friends from the YouTube community also make an appearance in the opening number (ahem,Jilly Meyers, Dana Wilson, and Galen Hooks to name a few) and it’s rewarding to see other dancers that I’ve watched on YouTube/had taken workshops with for  years, finally get the recognition they so well deserve.
If you have read this far, I applaud and appreciate you. Leave comments if you have other reasons as to why you love La La Land too!
Indelible Gratitude,
-Kat

Thanks For Giving

Processed with VSCO with hb2 preset

Brunch Club Movement 

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset
Appreciation 
noun  |ap·pre·ci·a·tion \ə-ˌprē-shē-ˈā-shən,|
an ability to understand the worth, quality, or importance of something

This word, Appreciation, is the unsung hero of modern sentiments. Growing up in the ever evolving contemporaries of “quick and fast” service, things that take time are often unforeseen. Things and acts that take time are labeled as “inefficient” or “unproductive” and if you’re not going as fast as a sports car, you may be marginalized in society as lesser than.
Although I label myself as Type “A” and I’m very much living a mobile lifestyle, this weekend I took all the time in the world in  appreciation of humanity. To be removed from the vortex of the digital and live in the present, the physical. To sit down and have a cup of coffee with someone and hear their story. Eyes wide open and ears at the ready for listening.

Too much? Probably. Too heavy in emotion. Definitely.

Let’s start at the beginning shall we? Okay.

 

The beginning of this year I sought out to better myself as one does, but  I decided to be implicit with my intentions. In my typical “Type A” fashion, I laid out a plan and a time-line of when those intentions would occur. The biggest “Action Item” on my aspirations was “Love the way you want to be loved” and “volunteer  frequently.” And for awhile, those goals remained as such.. goals. Just arbitrary thoughts in my ever-so-scattered mindspace and was always a constant reminder of something I NEEDED to do. Months went by before I even took notice of this aspiration of mine and before I could even negotiate with myself how much time it takes to volunteer, I got off my lazy excuse-filled ass and signed up for events that I took a personal interest in. That is for me, food. 

I found the Brunch Club Movement through means of social media and I’m fervently thankful that I did. This nonprofit organization’s mission is to not only feed the homeless veterans, women, and children of San Diego, but help them with the transition out of it. It follows the mantra of “If you teach a man how to fish” principle and has built an immense audience of volunteers over the years, myself included.

This past weekend at the Annual Thanksgiving Dinner for Brunch Club was the pinnacle event for the organization with a goal to feed 300 people and hand out 300 holiday care package bags. The minute I stepped into that commercial kitchen to help out with the dinner prep was the minute I felt that nostalgia of magnanimity that comes with doing purposeful work, and I haven’t felt that way in two and a half years. The rush of working with a group as one cohesive unit with a common objective that is bigger than yourself is nothing short of magical in the best sense. There are many things that bring me pure joy, but doing something I love (cooking) for a purpose that I love (nonprofit work) puts me over the edge with elation. In quick ten minute intervals I went from carving turkey to dicing sweet potatoes to blanching green beans.. and I relished every moment of it. 

Once the intense rush of prepping a massive meal was over, the real special part began. I stood out there in the twinkling lighted courtyard of the church and welcomed our honored guests with the most genuine smile on my face. Three particulars that I met that evening stood out to me. Their stories resonated with me in such a deep personal matter; the whole experience felt very much like The Five People You Meet In Heaven. Here are their stories, I hope they strike a chord with you like they have with me.

 

 

Mac: A man about 70-73 years old stood in line to get his complementary haircut. He had served in the U.S Marine Corps during the Vietnam War and when he came back he was drowning in debt. With a struggling search of employment in combination of PTSD his wife left him and took the kids because she believed he was an unproductive member of their family. Four years ago was when he started to experience homelessness and four years ago was when he last had a haircut. He came up to me and asked me where he should sit and I directed him to a chair with my friend Jess. As Jess began cutting his hair I couldn’t leave him. His sheer positive energy was something I wanted to engage more with so I stuck around and talked to him for awhile. He spoke about his buddies in the war, how much he loved pho, and how guilty he felt for “infiltrating” a country with such beautiful landscapes. When Jess was done cutting his hair he had the largest grin plastered on his face as he looked at himself in the mirror. With eyes sparkling, he exclaimed “Watch out George Clooney!” Mac’s spirit was pure magic, the kind you don’t forget. 

 

Spencer: I stood in the entry archway of the church and saw a man with clean clothes and a backpack. I automatically assumed he was a volunteer and so I directed him inside where he would check-in. He said to me “Oh, no I’m here for a haircut and a hot meal and a sports coat if they might have any.” I’ll admit, I was befuddled in my own bias because off the bat he didn’t “look” homeless. He had a certain inflection of anxiety in his voice so I decided to accompany him with whatever he needed for the time being. Spencer didn’t look me directly in the eye, he spoke to everyone in this manner and I learned early on that he has Asperger’s Syndrome. Standing in line with him to enter the meeting hall he spoke about the clouds. He ranted on and on about the temperature change and how temperature change causes barometric pressure change and when that happens that causes different types of rain to fall. He spoke of so many numerical variants that I got lost in translation, but he kept saying that numbers are absolute, they tell the truth, they’re objective, they do not lie and if we follow the numbers there would be less accidents. He looked up at the sky once more and said that these clouds resembled the ones in Portland. I asked him if he was from there and he said candidly “Yeah, that’s where my wife and kids died. In an accident.” He said it with no emotion but as if he was stating another numerical fact to me, he then proclaimed “After that happened I researched a place that could hardly have clouds and San Diego came up.” All I could muster up to say was “On behalf of San Diego, we’re glad to have you here.” I spoke more with him about what he likes about San Diego and he spoke immediately of his work as a Physics professor and his keen interest in Geotechnical Studies. I took notice of all his other stories and the menagerie of factual trivia he kept in his conversational arsenal. I felt like I was with Rain Man in flesh and blood. He thanked me for my time and I thanked him for his knowledge.

 

Maggie:  After escorting Spencer inside for his sports coat I heard a higher pitched voice loaded with inquiry. I heard “Excuse me ma’am, but do they have hot coffee inside?” Elated at this question (because I’m an enthusiastic person for coffee) I assuredly answered back “They most certainly do.” Jubilant at this answer, she smiled a magnetizing grin and said “Oh good. That’s all I really want, a comforting cup of coffee.” I told her I really love coffee as well and she reminisced about her own tradition that surrounded coffee. Maggie told me that her grandmother was from Ethiopia and that the coffee she grew up drinking was called “kahawa” and it has notes of cardamom and ginger in it and that on cold days it was the thing that brought her the most joy. Seeing the purest of happiness transcribed upon Maggie’s face was really something special. It reminded me of how incredibly significant the simple things are. I wished I had spoken with Maggie more, but it was time for me to go as my source of transportation arrived. I told her it was a pleasure meeting her and she looked straight into my eyes and said “God bless you and your beautiful soul.” She said it in the most earnest manner that I couldn’t help but cry. We engaged in an embrace and it was something I never knew I really needed up until now. 

I met three people that night. Three individuals with their own compelling stories to tell. Stories that taught me about Triumph, Trauma, and Exultance; stories about the insatiable hardiness of the human spirit and how important it is to live vicariously in the physical and in the now.

So, if you’ve read this far.. this is my thanks. My Thanks For Giving.

Indelible Gratitude,
-Kat

 

Let’s Not Over Engineer This

cropped-reonator_banner1.jpg
I’m at a place of contentment right now. A place where I feel overwhelmingly joyous to be alive; Although these past two weeks I’ve been working thirteen hours a day-four days a week, putting in overtime in order to attend my favourite convention EVER (San Diego Comic Con), go to a Blink 182 concert, AND spend a week in Hawai’i with the people I love most, I kinda love the chaos of it all.
Although I am in a state of internal equilibrium, I do feel that I am ready to start exploring my options and delve my personal feelings into the shark infested shady waters that is dating. Dating in the modern era is so diluted with these “unsaid rules” that I just can’t seem to keep relevant.  Like my friend Kels, I am truly an old lady at heart, with side desires of a normal 20-something young adult. My favourite past time is waking up at 6:45 am on Saturday mornings and going to the farmers market. Meeting the people that have been growing my food for the past five years, there’s a strong air of mutual respect and love that I feel when I get there. I’m really not sure if there’s a soul out there that would enjoy these super simple activities as much as I do. As I digress from my tangent I need to revisit this topic of dating.
You see, like my old lady tendencies seem to permit, I also like dating old school. The ideal of “courtship” and really knowing someone for all their idiosyncrasies appeals to me. I’m committed to this whole “slow movement” that the world is now getting back into. I’m committed to knowing all aspects of a person, their desires, their fears, the things that make them laugh, the bizarre things they think about when their mind is at a standstill. You see, I’m committed to knowing all these things about a person, but I’m not so sure anyone would want to commit to the idea of getting to know me.
I know I am a complicatedly cognitive person AND I know I have more mental energy than most. I can switch up topics ranging from quantum theory to breakfast food. I am just curious about whether someone out there has the breadth to progressively comprehend the workings of my cognitive process.
Lest be known, my personality is strong and I don’t intend on changing my whole self to fit anyone else’s expectations, but if we were to look at this thing under Biblical implications, I would surely drown in the flood if I don’t find the complement to my onesome.
Just a little diddy that I needed to expel from my conscious. Really no rhyme or reason, I just HAD to update my blog because the lack of entries is ghastly for me to look at.
Indelible Gratitude, 
-Kat

My Life In Coffeeshops

_DSC1954With the proliferation of popularity amongst social media, the respite of coffee shops and their appeal to customers far and wide is something I can always support.
The relationship I have with coffee shops has been transformative over the years; from stealing wi-fi at Starbucks on a regular basis to engaging with the elderly at my neighborhood Pannikin to now embracing the craft coffee culture and it’s widespread viral presence in today’s public domain, these spaces have always remained a place of this idea of “home-base” for me.
I was introduced to this idea of a home-base in my 6th grade English class. My English teacher at the time had giant letters scripted upon the white board of the classroom that just read “HOME BASE.” She then explained that her classroom, this space we share, is a safe place of ideas and conversation. In this space we do not degrade one another because our opinions are different, we seek to find similarities between ideas and talk about their common space. From that moment on, this arbitrary but philosophical idea of a “home-base” was something I was always seeking.
I found that feeling of a “home-base” in one of two places: a studio environment and a coffee shop.
My life in coffee shops thus far has always been one of connection, collaboration, and creation. I’ve spent my formative educational years spending my weekends in coffee shops, studiously plugged in and tuned out or gathering together amongst my cohort delving deep into the politics and study of design.
Nowadays, post-grad life, I spend my life in coffee shops unplugged and tuned in to the people that inhabit this space. I’ve read a lot of design articles from various parts of the interwebs about the rapid spread of coffee houses and their picturesque atmosphere and how much design thought goes both into the physical space and the business model when it comes to the creation of these environments. I’ve siphoned through the literature but at the end of the day the cathartics  I get when I step into a coffee shop (third wave, obviously) is second place to how I feel when I’m dancing.
I was first really initially introduced to this craft coffee culture around four years ago when I would spend my days in East County San Diego at this coffeehouse called Kaffee Meister. I grew fond of the space because it was quiet and the open window interface that was adjacent to the neighboring park always eased my mind in the greatest of fashion.
Fast forward two more years in 2014 and my caffeine journey became elevated when I decided to spend a couple weeks in Auckland to become reacquainted with who I really am (but that’s another story). I spent a majority of my alone time as one would predict, in coffee shops. The space I frequented was Atomic Coffee Roasters and I would just spend hours, watching people interact and having incredibly personal and intimate conversations with the baristas that worked there. I’ve met some great people in the walls of this establishment and although it will be ages until I meet with them over a cup of coffee, their impressions are clear and distinct in my mind. I’ve also fallen deeply in love with flat whites and pour overs in the land of the Kiwis.
Accelerate that timeline of 2014 two more years again and in 2016 I’ve re-fallen back in love with coffee shops. Although my hometown scene surrounding coffee is still in its progressing stages, the dynamic landscape of all these coffee shops with a unifying but diverse mission to offer a great cup of caffeine and perhaps conversation is something I only hope aims towards longevity. In trying times where all we ever do is live vicariously through our phones, it’s nice to have some real face time, in person, with a hot steaming cup of black fuel to reawaken your senses.
I actually had a more concise outline for this blog post, but I decided to throw that wayward and just go with my gut in the composition of it. I hope you all don’t mind the random stream of consciousness, I guess you can pen me down as a regular Holden Caulfield.
Indelible Gratitude,
-Kat