Sunday, December 7, 2008

Bike Urban, Eat Local: The Austin Urban Bike Tour

Originally uploaded by gr8wendini

When Jodie Smith put out feelers for who wanted to join her on the Austin Urban Bike Tour “10 miles, $25, 25 kisses” how can I say no? I find that every time I say “yes” I’m blissfully rewarded. This was one of those memorable days where I felt alive-- like I had really savored the nectar of life—start to finish.

Waking to a ccccold Austin morning (yes, it’s true) wasn’t quite the incentive I was looking for—Austin’s bark is bigger than it’s bite in terms of the cold—sure it was freezing at 8 AM, still quite cold at 10 AM, then suddenly around 11 AM the layers start peeling off, and the crispy morning weather surrenders to the southern sun—with a high of 70. Yum! December in Austin feels like October in NY—and that’s winter. Temperatures don’t go much below 32—even on a cold night.

Eat Local Week is a fundraiser for Urban Roots, a youth development program that uses sustainable agriculture as a means to transform the lives of young people and to increase the access of healthy food in Austin.

Jodie has a convenient double bike rack-so, after a migas breakfast at chez moi, the bikes were on and off we went to the Farmer Market downtown. The only bike I have is my Flipside “playa” bike—which was a $30 Goodwill purchase decorated with plastic flowers. I like it always makes people smile when they see it. The bike did just fine—although my butt and thighs are achy today! The first stop was Boggy Creek Farm in East Austin, followed by a back yard Tea Party hosted by Zhi Tea and culminating for us at Rain Lily Farm.

Jodie pointed out how exciting it feels to experience a ride like we did collectively in a large group—seeing and meeting new friends along the way.

Later that night I went to a couple “Progressive Potluck” parties with Jenny, continuing the eco-conscious theme of the day.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Planetary convergences

Originally uploaded by gr8wendini
“Skywatchers across the world are in for a celestial treat as two of the brightest naked-eye planets, Venus and Jupiter, slowly converge in the evening skies for a celestial summit on November 30.” While I did get a glimspe and I was aware of the planetary happening (like any good inter-galactic pixie), but simultaneously a not so harmonious summit was happening in my stomach. In fact just 24 hrs ago. Perhaps that’s why they call it the 24 hour flu. It was enough to have knock me out and have me stay home today. Here’s what I see outside my front door, the only time I’ve gone outside today. It’s pretty magical, like Austin.

What it’s December? Already? Wasn’t it just that my parents came in for their Austin tour on Halloween? Since then I suppose November had it’s own highlights—Sorry a blog entry hasn’t one of them ☹ With the advent of Facebook I feel like I’m updating and updated all the time with people. Facebook is better than Google-ing to find someone, and to think just a year ago, I poo poo’d Facebook saying it was just for college kids, and now it’s spread like wild fire—like the trend of people bringing their own bags to the super market-- I’m not sure when it tipped, but I’m glad it did. I have my friends, relatives and even my High School classmates now are re-connecting using Facebook.
I first learned of Twitter a year ago, but I haven’t warmed up to it as much as I get invitations to Twit and Tweet, my every thought and move-- I see that can change to in time.

I’ve been pretty sentimental lately—having just celebrated my first Thanksgiving in Austin, with people I consider dear friends, whom I didn’t even know a year ago--and now, just a few days away from when I left with Cheryl for Bali which started the beginning of ‘the year of infinite possibilities’…

Ed and I are going to New York for the holi-daze, we’re excited for the adventure (NYC, Upstate, New England) but not the cold. I’ve become a real pussy with cold weather. How did I ever live in New York anyway?

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Check it in

Originally uploaded by gr8wendini

Something about keeping up a blog—is that one must make time for it—like anything—friendships, reading or practicing yoga it is after all, a tool for checking in. I remember Dana Flynn (Laughing Lotus), one of my all time favorite Yoginis always said ”Don’t check it out, check it in” motioning with her hands pointing to herself.

So I’m sitting outside my front door of my little South Austin bungalow in the sun, drinking my black coffee and listening to Krishna Das as I check it in. There’s been a lot of re-evaluation since October has been the unofficial “Jew month” –holidays, New Year, life & relationship assessment etc.

It’s been exactly a year since I first visited Austin for Cheryl’s birthday and from that the Bali journey was hatched which in retrospect I know was the cosmic appetizer for moving to Austin. It’s Fall, my first not living in or being in New York—I miss the colors and smell of Autumn—that said it has cool in the morning (low 50’s) and at night—it does get nice and toasty during the day though. There are leaves changing and falling so I have the sense that yes, we have this season—not as marked as the Northeast. I found a pumpkin patch through with some flock of flamingos thrown in to “Keep it Weird” and whimsical.

I realize that I live in a bubble, one that I’ve blown surrounded by yoginis, filmmakers, artists and now Jews! I had a similar bubble in New York. I think we all choose our “bubbles” that comfortable place to bask and be protected in. The older I get the more aware of time I am and how I want to spend it and with whom—it’s good to be discriminating.

On the other side of the bubble is the real world –you know the news, the plunging stock market, the national (and personal) Debt, The general optimism for the Obama campaign here in the blue oasis of Austin and hopes for an election with no electronic data corruption.

I hear about it all on NPR. I’m addicted to public radio in order to expand out of the bubble. I just joined KUT, the NPR affiliate here, and it feels satisfying to have made my humble contribution. I received a button: “Carl Kassel is my Press Secretary”.

Monday, September 29, 2008

ACL: Austin City Limits or is it limitless

Originally uploaded by gr8wendini
Now I feel officially broken in as an Austinite. I've experienced SXSW back in March and ACL in Zilker Park walking distance (w/a hill) from home.
I bought a legitimate bracelet after a scalper tried to pull a scam on me by selling me one that had been worn the night before. Even Austin has the seedy element. So, I wore this used bracelet and security checked it and the little plastic holder slid right off--which it shouldn't. No, I didn't pay this guy any $--and I knew something was fishy when he said "After today you give the bracelet back to me"--and so it goes.
Three adjectives to describe ACL: hot, dusty and loud--not in a bad way, just one that reminds me that I'm older than I once was and my tolerance for crowds has diminished. The dust was less than recent years I'm told, but a fashion statement was the bandana-bandit look. I get it--I had dirt in my nostrils by the end of each night.
Rebecca shared the logical rule of 3's as advised from Brain Beck on KGSR. See three songs and move on. It was the only way to solve the choices dilemma like Robert Plant/Alison Karuss vs. Beck for example--positioned on opposite side of the park. I caught the beginning of Plant/Krauss and cut out at when T-Bone Burnett (who paired up Krauss and Plant) came out as a guest and caught the last part of Beck. Beck is a revolutionary I love him--the album Sea Change is one of my all time favorites.
Then there's technology--finding friends though the power of text! There were lots of flags and balloons up everywhere int he crowd as landmarks. I found Tony by the helium hamburger balloon.
Here in the picture is a band I hadn't heard of called Okkervil River which had a sentimental 80's sound like The Cure meets the Replacements. Good Times. On some level ACL is like New Year's since 5769 begins tonight. L'shanah Tovah.I'm running to catch up from a month of non-stop go go go as we ramped up for our Fall Fusion event at work and now settling into the beginning of the holidays. Tonight marks the Jewish New Year (5769). I video taped an adorable 3 yr. old blowing the shofar last week (on YouTube) who then says "Shanah Tovah". Who knew a year ago I'd be living in Austin when the next New Year rolled in? (hint: not me).

Friday, August 8, 2008

8-8-8 The most auspicious day ever!

Originally uploaded by gr8wendini
As an attempt to have more substantive and more frequent blog entries, in order to catch up, I will start with 8 Highlights of the last month. Obviously today is brought to you by the #8.

1. Rainbow's B-Rushless Karma Wash
bought to you by His Phoolishness the Jolly Llama and the rest of us Phools including freshscence, undercourage-ckr & flufee. My name? Wiper-clean. We brought our mobile karma wash unit to the The Gathering of the Vibes in Bridgeport, CT. Lots of muddy hippy kids to clean. Mobile karma wash units available:

7. A quick trip to NY blip in time to see my Niece Ari in with friends from the U.K., my parents, and Cosmic Casbah Karma Wash tribe. Also, to bring back Ms. Lulu, my cat, who seems to feel quite at home in her new Austin digs.

6. Royers Round Top Cafe ( In yup, Round Top, TX.: Population 77 (no shit!). We befriended Bud "the pie man". Their restaurant is a mecca for friendship, stories and community. I love this family & the food! I will be back there to film...This is 1.5 hrs. east of Austin where Ed and I ended up after seeing

5. a production of Antony and Cleopatra at the Shakespeare at Winedale. I won tickets on KUT, the NPR affiliate. Oh we loved the local Llamas too.

4. KGSR summer music at the lake --hearing while wading in an infinity pool & there was a hot tub too all over-looking Lake Travis--what a setting. Austin just rocks. Period.

5. The inter-galactic pixie found her Mother ship! The spaceship is resting at the quintiscential Oasis, a great sunset restaurant bar. A must see experience. Don't worry I'll take you once you get here!The gorgeous setting reminded me of Bali!

4. I was interviewed on a radio internet channel about my documentary "Praise HA!" and the healing power of humor. We spoke about audience participation and the humor, phoolish troupe The
Phurst Church of Phun of which the Karma Wash is a relative of, the East Coast tribe is the Be Team.

3. The Bats exodus every dusk at the Congress Street Bridge--"Keep Austin Batty!"

2. Save Our Springs (S.O.S) Yoga at Barton Springs every Saturday morning.
BYOM (bring your our mat!) August is Yogagroove month at the Springs--just a short bike ride away.

1. I'm starting to Carpool with Rebecca Jordan (Yogagroove Manager and pal) from South Austin to North Austin Yogagroove and JCAA respectively--we are just blocks from each other. I love saving gas $, and traveling to work with a friend. What a great & environmentally conscious way to start the day.

As long as I'm in this life appreciation mode--here's the latest from Chris Chandler--who really knows how to love up the #8:
Today is 8-8-8!

Sorry to bother you but as I have every year since January second of 2002, I must write to you this year on 8-8-8 to celebrate the number 8.

As a kid I knew that I would live through these dates. I thought about it back on July 4, 1976- that I would live through dates like 8-8-88 and even 01-02-03. So I HAVE TO acknowledge this mile stone. The passing of 08-08-08 is particularly important because as a kid I knew why 6 was afraid of 7. Well because seven ate nine.

SOOOOO. This year's missive is brought to you by the number 8.

There are 8 planets after all (sorry Pluto I had nothing to do with it)

When we count -- we count in base 10 because we have ten fingers. (The Myans, they counted in base 2 because they didnt wear any shoes.)

As for me, I learned to count from Sesame Street only it was confusing because the count in Sesame street only had four fingers. I thought he should be counting in base 8.

Most cartoon characters have 8 fingers.

This has left me confused I learned to count in base 11 because I had my hands in my pockets.

In the end there are ten types of people in this world.

Those that know Binary and those that don't.

By the way, in binary 8 is 1000. A grand number indeed.

It is two cubed how bout that? It is the atomic number of Oxygen.

Ooops, I could have had a V-8. hows that for an advertising slogan?

I have an idea lets make a health drink and name it after a muscle car engine. "That thing got a hemi?"

The real reason we need to celebrate the number 8 is that after 8 years we are finally getting rid of the little "W"easel.

As I look into my majik 8 ball and see that he finishes without impeachment he will be only the 12th full 8 (in a row) year presidents.

Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, Jackson, Grant, Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, Ike, Reagan, and Clinton. (Grover Cleveland served 8 years but not in a row)

The number 8 sideways is the symbol if infinity. Perhaps because the number 8 represents what is beyond time for there are 7 days in a week.

I always thought that was funny when I played 8-ball. Depending on how the ball is sitting you say "infinity in the corner pocket."

In Christianity, Jesus speaks in The Sermon on the Mount of the eight Beatitudes.

The poor shall have lodging in the kingdom of heaven.

The Mourners shall laugh.

The hungry fed.

Those persecuted for seeking righteousness shall inherit the kingdom of heaven.

The meek shall inherit the earth (perhaps because they won't complain about what everyone else did to it.)

The merciful will themselves obtain mercy.

The pure of heart will see God

The peacemakers will be known as the children of God.

In Buddhism The Dharma Wheel has 8 spokes. The Buddha's principal teaching -- the Four Noble Truths expands to The Noble Eightfold Path. The branches of the Eightfold Path are embodied by the Eight Great Bodhisattvas (Manjushri, Vajrapani, Avalokiteshvara, Maitreya, Kshitigarbha, Nivaranavishkambhi, Akashagarbha, and Samantabhadra)

The Jewish religious rite of brit milah is held on a baby boy's eighth day of life
Hanukkah is an eight-day Jewish holiday that starts on the 25th day of Kislev.

In Hinduism, The Goddess Lakshmi has eightfold forms for it is the number of abundance and the eight seats of wealth.

In Daoist mythology there are eight immortals that can assign a tool to give life or destroy evil. The tools are known as "Covert Eight Immortals."
Perhaps this is why the Olympics are starting in Bejing on 8-8-8. Only thats the date on OUR calendar so much for that theory. So maybe it has to do with the fact that they had a bloody civil war in around 300 AD known as the War of Eight Princes.

In Islam, there are eight Angels carrying The Holy Throne of Allah.

There are 88 keys on a piano. There are 8 strings on a mandolin. And a Bazooki, and A Quatro, and ummmm. A twelve string guitar with four broken strings.

On the musical scale two notes that are 8 whole notes apart -- or an octave - are known as the same note.

I first learned this while listening to "Eight Days a Week" on 8 -Track.

There are "eight maids a milkin."

A stop sign has 8 sides well 10 if you count the front and back.

A figure skater skates in a figure 8.

Steve Young wore #8 for the San Francisco 49ers (4 being of 8 and 9 being one more than 8 hmmm coincidence? I think not.)

My hero, Archie Manning wore number 8 for my beloved New Orleans Saints. His two sons both won super bowls because of it. Archie however, never gave the Saints a winning season. Neither did anyone else though, for a long time.

Cal Ripken, Jr., Joe Morgan, Willie Stargell, Carl Yastrzemski, and Yogi Berra all wore number 8. Dale Earnhardt JR drives car # 8.

My personal favorite is in a festive production when the follow-spot "Ballyhoos" through the audience it follows a figure 8 pattern. Therefore 8 is the number of "Fabulous."

There are 8 ounces in a cup, 8 pints in a gallon and 8 furlongs in a mile.

"Section 8" refers to crazy and I have always loved the game crazy 8s.

8 legs on a spider, 8 arms on an Octopus. I wonder if they are related.

"Oct" ober is the 10th month which never made any since to me but I think it had to do with the vanity of some Roman Cesar or another I bet it wasn't "OCT" avia.

Oh by the way, I am writing this while staying in a super 8 motel right now in Eureka, CA.
Thank you Chris Chandler!

Also, of recent inspiration, I'm sharing something my sweet friend, Nancy Hitzig sent my way from a woman she met at a fire walking (amongst other things) Fall retreat in Western MA., She is writer, Courtney Walsh:

Dear Universe:

Help me to see the 'yes' in everything
Help me to open my eyes, mind and heart to all life's colors Help me to move forward moment by moment

Keep me in the vibration of peace
Keep me connected to the earth
Keep me enfolded in the warmth of your light

Give me the chance to walk my truth gracefully Give me the strength to speak my heart compassionately Give me the words to help others be their best selves

Teach me to remember that it does not need take a birth, an illness or a death to pause to celebrate, acknowledge or fully feel the beauty of life.
Teach me to trust the messages I receive, to pass on the hope for true change and to ignite or rekindle the dream in all I encounter.
Teach me that all that I am is more than enough.

Thank you. Amen. Alleluia. Namaste. Gracias. Merci. Danke. Grazie.
~CAW 8.7.08

Courtney A. Walsh

Saturday, July 5, 2008

May the Fourth Be With You...

Originally uploaded by gr8wendini
OK now I think I've officially retired this phrase --it has been my on-going giggle with Chris Chandler for years--as we try and call each other on the 4th of every month. We saw Wall-E-the latest from Pixar at the Alamo Drafthouse. It was really quite sweet--a robotic love story with a sentimental send-up to older films (Hello Dolly), musical genres, pre-talkies, older technology, and I found myself quite sentimental about the junk we rid ourselves of--down to the Rubik's cube.

The fireworks showcase was lovely. Everything is easy and accessible here, even the sea of humanity post-fireworks is way more manageable than say, er, say downtown Manhattan. The Austin Symphony Orchestra performed Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture amongst other patriotic offerings. I've never seen fireworks choreographed before. If I had to choose just one word to encapsulate Independence Day here in Austin, it's...wholesome. Granted, we did follow the mainstream path.

I finally saw the bats (from afar), thousands of them flying off as they do every night at dusk from the Congress Ave. Bridge. I haven't had the full up-close 'bat experience' yet. (stay tuned for the next video upload). I love that there are still so many firsts for me. Radical life change is a great thing. I highly recommend it!

In my next mystical musing entry you'll see pictures of my new digs--oh yes, life is just humming right along. Car, job, man and I now have a sweet place. I've been here for a week thanks to Ed and Hugh helping to move me! Once that "For Rent" sign went up, I dug my heels in and made my stake. It was the first time I'd seen a space here in Austin and said, "Yes, this is where I want to live". It's a competitive scene here--desirable neighborhood, decent rent--but hey I'm from NY.

For this year, the holiday weekend is about unpacking, unearthing memories and things like my favorite orange coffee mug, a rubber chicken, and a Tiffany knock-off stained glass lamp. I'm re-introducing myself to my belongings and finding space for them all in this humble abode. My first New Yorker arrived to this new address--the double July issue. Hee haw--and for the record 'ya'll' is now in my permanent vernacular...

Thursday, June 19, 2008

What? A month since last entry?

Originally uploaded by gr8wendini
That is ashame. I oughtta be out-lawed for saying I keep up a blog and then neglecting it like a chinese food container sitting in the back of my fridge...
This picture is of me filming on the back of a pick up truck with Chris Chandler at the wheel as we traversed the back roads of west Texas getting some beautiful Hill Country footage for Chandler's up coming one-man show. I've been lucky enough to hear a bit of it and I'm loving it! (

Well, In the last month I went to the Burning Man regional event, Flipside, had a birthday, started a new relationship (gasp!) and just a few days ago I signed a lease!--not sure what this whole 'slaker' thing is about here in Austin--but when that sign went up for lease on Ford St., which Ed found, I turned into the competitive, tenacious NY'er I have in me--knowing what a plumb neighborhood (Zilker) and rent it is. Zip code 78704 is comparable to 3rd Street in Park Slope (11215)--the creme de la creme. I was the first one to call and see the space--and remained on the situtation like a chiuaua nipping on this woman's ankle not letting go for second knowing her phone was ringing off the hook with other intersted folk. Phew. It's mine! I get the keys this Summer Solstice weekend.

Now entering my first Summer, having been here for a few months now, here are some observations of life in Texas vs. life in NY.

Texas New York
"I'm gonna go visit with her" vs. "We're gonna hang out"
Howdy vs. Yo
Take your time vs. Hurry up and wait
Armadillo road kill :( (sad) vs. Skunk " " :( (sad)
Migas for breakfast or Bagel w/ a schmear

...I'll continue this list

More soon, promise

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Yes, try this at home!

Originally uploaded by gr8wendini
I have gotten to the place where Austin FEELS like home in my bones (and my boots), I love the sunshine on my face and the friendly welcoming people everyplace I go. Shall I go on? Don't stop me--I'm taking in and adapting to the laid-back culture, the alternative, progressive conscious-living vibe. I think I really made a great choice for myself. There's a big NY-Austin and more specifically Brooklyn-Austin synergy lots of people coming and going to and 'fro.

I got a car which means I'm driving everyday and paying the outrageous gas prices--which is all I've known as a car owner. I just started a new position in the Marketing dept. with a wonderful organization--the Jewish Community Association of Austin (JCAA).
I'm looking at an apartments--seems like the pieces are coming together. The most remarkable thing is that it has been seamless--Remember, I didn't choose Austin--Austin chose me. Austin is an energy vortex, and yes I drank the kool-aid, --I'm here for awhile--but that's all I'm drinking--I've been doing a cleanse (including no alcohol) which feels great. Part of my daily regimen (or at least 5x/wk) is Bikram Yoga at Yogagroove--I simply could not live without it. It is the most purifying thing to be addicted to.

The Tibetan Monks ( are in town now. They've made and dispersed a sand mandala in front of City Hall, they've blessed Barton Springs and I had an opportunity to dine with them at a lovely Indian restaurant, The Clay Pit. Such lovely people, it's great that Austin has opened their doors for this group (surprise, surprise)

I'm going to Flipside, the regional Burning Man event--camping with Burning Glam ( which promises to be epic (why bother with Black Rock City) and then to Kerrville with to link up with Chandler.

I'll be working on a film project with Chris Chandler ( at the end of the month--I'll be shooting from the back of a pick up truck for a one man show with projections/storytelling speaking to a non-existant hitch-hiker in the passenger seat. I love this concept.

Then back in the saddle to ground into my new job. Life is incredibly different from 1 year ago. I'm also reflecting that it was 10 years ago that I was at the Cannes Film Festival--it was the year Frank Sinatra died. Then living in Avignon working on the Avignon/New York FF-what an exceptional Summer that was.
I'm bracing myself for another special Summer--although I've been told that Summer is basically the only season--well here's the four seasons: Almost Summer, Summer, Still Summer and Deer Season.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Fuse Box Austin 2008

Originally uploaded by gr8wendini

FUSE BOX, created by Ron Berry, is a multi-disciplinary arts festival, celebrating performance art, installations, music, film, dance in an synergy conducive to getting artists to collaborate with each other--in a fringe fest multi venue Edinburgh feeling. Do visit

London's Rotozaza (www. the fest. Founding directors: Ant Hampton and Silvia Mercuriali who performed opening night with their performance "Five in The Morning". I had the pleasure (along with Rebecca) of driving (yes, with that new car-my first passengers) these guys around to Bikram Yoga, Barton Springs, the Salvage Vanguard theater venue, Homestead Hotel & late night at Magnolia's.

There are more highlights of course like meeting all the wonderful artists participating from all over in this festival. Some are from NYC (Reggie Watts, Witness Relocation, The Debate Society) There are a lot of similarities in the respective art scenes. I'm already looking forward next year's installment which will be the landmark the 5th year...

Most of all what I take away from the Fuse Box festival is that I feel like I've found my 'tribe' of creatives--who work hard, play hard, and have a vision. Lucky me! I look forward to participating on a creative level--as well as programming and marketing.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Her name is Nellie. As in Whoa Nellie!

Originally uploaded by gr8wendini

6 months ago today was Cheryl Smith’s birthday and it marks the ½ year anniversary of me stepping foot in Austin, TX. The idea of moving to Austin wasn’t even in my purview. Two days ago (4/21) I bought my first car. It was one of the most thrilling days of my life—I thought she’d be a Toyota or Honda—but here she is-- a white, 2006 Chevy Cobalt—sporty two door car with 53.7 K miles. I drove right from Jarnagin’s Car Dealership ( to Yogagroove and forgot to turn off my lights—so I came out of class sweaty with a dead battery. Some of my Yoga pals (Lydia, Rosie and Wayne) were on hand to loan the jumper cable, use their car and guide the grounding of the black jumper connection—never a dull moment. Lydia gave both Rosie and I a car blessing—the three of us, standing by each car, eyes closed, envisioning safety for all who are in the vehicles and affirming protection from our spirit guides since we both have new vehicles—no license plates yet. I have to go to the Texas DMV and get a new driver’s license—which means I’ll have to relinquish my New York I.D. –the only thing I’m holding onto is my mobile # as NY it is a part of me.

Perhaps buying a car happens everyday for most people—but coming from NY and getting in the driver’s seat as daily habit is indeed a novelty—and I’ve been driving quite a lot as I’m helping drive Brits around for the Fuse Box Festival. More on that later…

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Damn Yankee!

Originally uploaded by gr8wendini
Everyone has their own particular story of how they landed in Austin—it’s usually they visited, got seduced (like I did) and moved a couple weeks or months later. Austin has that effect on people. I feel like I didn’t even chose it—actually, Austin chose me.
At the Austin Arts Fair last weekend, I filled out this chalk board “I AM _________”. I love this concept and have done this before in NY, so seeing this installation traveling art message resonated anew since I had some thing fresh to fill in the blank with.

I started this blog 5 months ago on a full moon and here I am, on a full moon, post Bali and now post NY embarking on this new beginning-although I wasn’t running from anyone or anything per se—I think it’s that I’m running from the running, or I choose not to run anymore—the hamster in a habi-trail NY-lifestyle is fine for awhile—but it’s nice to slow down and embrace a whole new way of being. One is not better than the other—I realize changing mid-life course is what has me feel fulfilled, alive and brimming with possibility.

Tonight I was invited to a Passover Sedar at the home of Mark Salmanson. It was a lovely evening considering I wasn’t with my parents and Harry Hahn et. al. I’ve learned that I’m a Damn Yankee-while Yankees can come and visit, a Damn Yankee is one that comes here and stays. Driving a UHaul in the deep south to a life yet still unknown, I learned so much going through the literal and emotional attics of my life in the ultimate uprooting. It's fascinating how one act leads to another and creates a new destiny—if I had never gone to Cheryl’s birthday hootinanny back in October, then the Bali trip wouldn’t have been hatched, which I now know was the cosmic appetizer for this radical move.

Monday, April 7, 2008

My entire life fits in a 14" Ft. U-Haul

Originally uploaded by gr8wendini
Memories in the dust bunnies under my dresser and bed.
This is the end of an era. An emotional NY Whirlwind. In the interim I can be found in a small room in Cheryl Smith's home-whom I have known for 15+ years though another troupe called The Phurst Church of Phun.
I'm strapping in for my inter-state (if not inter-galactic) travels spreading pixie dust from NY to Austin by way of Maryland/Atlanta/Mississippi, visiting friends en-route.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

A Day in the life can be a triple feature

Originally uploaded by gr8wendini
Updating a blog happens, “When the spirit moves me” says Agnes Varnum who has an excellent blog covering documentary film amongst other film related pop culture topics, Doc it Out! Now the spirit is moving me—this sunshine-y day helps. It’s 75 here—everyone warns me—oh you haven’t been here for Summer yet—it’s HOT. Well bring it on baby because I’m just thawing out

I’m running to catch up processing the whole SX experience. SXSW is like travel time where the amount that happens in one day is equal to a week—it’s been a swirl. It’s as if there were two different festivals (I’m lumping interactive and film into one here) and then there’s music. So what started as geeks waiting in line, texting and twittering, waiting for their badge, was soon replaced by Manic Panic® primary colored hair people wearing black, many with instruments.

One of my thrills of the week was doing event photography--so I was right in the thick of it. Pictured above is Ingrid Michaelson of "Take Me the Way I Am" fame. Let's hear it for the home-town girl. Also Sara Bareilles and many talented singer-song writers from L.A.

More magic, I reunited with an old friend Marianne Hayden and found other people in common of whom we did not know each other knew in that small world kind of synchronicity that happens at South By. 6th Street was transformed from the usual college kids in bars (Who were on Spring Break), to the South by participants performing in these venues. It was beyond Bourbin Street on a Saturday night. Local veterans of SX will tell you the only time they go to 6th Street is during SXSW, otherwise it belongs to the UT students for the most part.

One doesn’t need a badge per se for SXSW, three’s lots free music and parties and general excitement. In the end, I have a modest mound of business cards and had great connections over the week with music and film peeps. I have this idea of making a film –sorta a Supersize Me concept, where everyone that gives me a business card will have some role in a short mock doc –theme and script TBD.

I have frequented the Alamo—and I would say that The Alamo Drafthouse Movie chain is one of the bonuses of moving here. This week I went in for the triple feature seeing Bud Cort and his films (Brewster McCloud, Harold & Maude, and his directorial debut, “Love and Venus” on the big screen, with him there in person introducing them. What a kitschy night.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

SXSW: Options Paraylsis

100_7610.JPG Originally uploaded by gr8wendini
SXSW:Interactive-Film-Music takes over Austin, there is so much going on--such over stimulation --films, panels, parties oh my! I made up this phrase a long time ago: Options Paralysis: of or pertaining to too much going on with too many choices to make while curbing the stress of wanting to do it all. Where is the Zen balance in this? There are film screenings that overlap, parties to attend where the decision making factor is which will have the best food? When Morgan Spurlock or Matt Dillon are at the event--we know we made a good choice. Oh that's so shallow to say--it's the people of course. AT SXSW everyone you meet is someone you'd like to know, and mostly people are very happy to be here and everyone loves Austin.
Some good films I've seen are Joe Maggio's Paper Covers Rock a sweet story done on a shoe string budget filmed in Park Slope--yes, it made me sentimental to see the heroin ride her bike past my street. Also, Jay and Mark Duplasses' Baghead and a quirky, a-dork-able film "Nerdcore Rising" about nerd hip hop movement and tour.
Last night Trish, Jesse and Kevin hopped on the RVIP karoke van and rode from the Plutopia party to the Austin Chronicle party at Zona Rosa. So much fun, and in bed by 1:00.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Neither Here Nor There…

Originally uploaded by gr8wendini
Visiting to New York was like visiting an ex-boyfriend—you know, those relationships that ended on amicable terms. This New York life, formerly known as mine…I’ve never visited New York with a round-trip ticket to return elsewhere.

Yes, I’m still trying to get myself wrapped around the idea of moving. I know people do it all the time-- even live in multiple cities in their lifetime, but not this New Yorker. I’ve been living in Park Slope for almost 15 years. Pre- “Park Stroller” and Starbucks on 7th Avenue.

It was a rough landing arriving to JFK, the most ugly, dirty unwelcoming airport in the World. It can say that, having been to 9 airports in the last couple months. I can’t believe that JFK (and LaGuardia for that matter) actually are the first impression of, and the Ambassador to New York City. Well, I can believe it-- I just don’t get it. The Austin airport by contrast, has live music everyday and I just may eat from the floor.

Good ‘ol Continental Car Service got me right to the Brooklyn Museum where I worked for a few days. Luckily, when I landed I got a call to work at BAM Friday night, and sat in the front row to see Brooklyn’s “The National” a popular indie band. I ran into a friend, Ramona Clifton, who by chance bought a last minute front row ticket, so there we were together. (thanks for the image above, Ramona!)

A highlight of the week was The Alt Oscars party ( on Sunday night when all the overwhelming feelings that I had visiting were gone for just one silly send up to the Oscars night, and it was fun. I dressed as Cate Blanchett as Bob Dylan, and was awarded the best female impersonator Alt.Oscar Award! What a thrill an Alty! Weee! I also won the Oscar pool, but I now I need to play catch up on all those films I haven’t seen.

I’ve been getting in habit of unsubscribing to my New York life (Film groups, yoga E-news etc.) that I’ve worked so hard to create. I reply with relocating-unsubscribe. Now, I’m joining new groups…and noticed that the ratio of (area code) 512 phone #’s in my cell phone is catching up to the 212/917/646 and 347s. It’s interesting how our cell phones carry our history. My 917 will always be with me.

I heard on NPR a new campaign called “ I Live New York” targeting young New Yorkers to stay in the city, but they aren’t the people buying up all these new condos. Who are these people? Hedge and Trust funders? They are for sure no one I know.

I’m neither living in New York nor settled in Austin, and so, this is my life at the moment.

Friday, February 15, 2008

A Love Surreal

Originally uploaded by gr8wendini
Right now I’m listening to the Anti-Valentine’s Day after show on NPR. “My Love for You has Turned to Hate” A little Hank Williams to start my day. All this pink and red heart-shaped candy, decor and mass marketed crap will be ½ price today, only to be replaced by shamrocks and lephrecon and a sea of green on the shelves of your local CVS, Walgreen’s, or now, in my case, H-E-B (which I fondly call “Heb” for the Jew in you).

Before I get back to my love affair, Austin, first a commercial break-- grab a down coat – because I visited Winter in Chicago last weekend for a big family Bar Mitzvah, and that was surreal. Surreal is neither good nor bad—it is a state of experience. I say surreal only to illustrate how different my life feels by comparison, and what it is to literally visit another’s ‘world’. Although we all share the same calendar, the way we spend our days are markedly different.

My family in Chicago and their lifestyle is the path not taken. What would my life look like if my Father never got that job in New York 40+ years ago?

I saw snow for the first time this year, so I guess I spoke too soon when I said I escaped Winter—I got the hit of sub below, but visiting Winter is better than living through it. Another part of the surreal was going ‘home’ to Austin. My state of transition is mysterious to everyone including myself. “So where are you now?” “What’s happening?” “When do you come back to NY?”

Well, I’m in the, and present to, my flow, which feels like my days as a NY resident are over, at least for now—I feel everything that has unfolded thus far is a series of lucky breaks. Joseph Campbell calls these breaks “A thousand unseen helping hands” Not that I don’t struggle and have uncertainty, but I trust that I’m in the right place, and it’s outside my comfort zone.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Super Fat Tuesday

Originally uploaded by gr8wendini

It’s 2 months since I left New York. I’m still on a trip although it doesn’t look like Bali. I suppose it’s the trip that is my life.

Is this the Twilight Zone or is it just Austin, TX.? I’m continually reminded that I’m not from ‘round here, yet I’m bask in the everyday novelty. When you are born and raised in New York, Texas is indeed like another country and College Station is a case in point. It’s “Aggieland” where Cows and tumbleweeds have the right of way, and suddenly I found myself in the in the red part of the red state. Yes, Priscilla and I took a 2 hr. road trip there to see “A Ride With Bob”, the story of Bob Wills’ life with Ray Benson and Asleep at the Wheel performing. Of course Bob Wills is a big deal down here. He was the songwriter, band leader and maverick of country-swing. Of course I just went “Who”? Oh, “Take Me Back to Tulsa”, yeah, I think I heard that one…I’m such a Yankee. Sigh. At least I have Cowboy boots.

Learning a new city, groking the map, finding new favorite restaurants—even the Mexican food is authentic—as in, “Oh you want Mexican food tonight?” What type of Mexican? Interior or Exterior, Tex Mex or California Mex, and, oh there’s more...

Full disclosure: I haven’t taken the public bus or free ‘Dillo (as in Armadillo) yet. NO I’m not afraid, I just haven’t had to…rides and other small world coincidences have had a way of falling into place that confirms for me that indeed the universe is conspiring for me to be here, and it feels magical. Who’s my new boyfriend? It’s Austin. The Texas welcome mat here is big and it’s clean, freshly vacuumed and smells good too.

Every step I take has had a story attached to it—making new friends, and establishing community here through Yoga, film and music.

I’ve been to the Austin Film Society Mixer, where CK MacFarland (co-creator of A Ride With Bob) spoke last week, as well as Reel Woman, another indie film support network. I’m now a work-study at Yogagroove Bikram Yoga Studio and slowly but surely I’m mapping out my scene.

Last week I saw the SAG awards-where at the end montage of all who have passed this year, there’s the young Heath Ledger. What a sad and sudden loss. We now know it was accidental OD from prescription meds. The Writer’s Strike is near a close yet, there's 21 TV shows on hiatus now--which means 21 sets of actors, crews, catering and cleaning services out of work—It’s detrimental because even when it is said and done, it’s like starting from scratch to ramp up again on all fronts.

Today is Super Tuesday (and Mom’s Birthday) I received this email:
TO: Family, friends, friends of family, professional colleagues and others
FROM: Ted Sorensen
SUBJECT: To Urge Voting for OBAMA on Tuesday, February 5 (Super Tuesday)

I truly believe that February 5th will choose the next President of the United States, and that this choice is more important for our country's future than any presidential election since 1932. After almost eight years of Bush incompetence, indifference and disasters, Senator Obama is the one candidate who can restore America's moral authority and regain the respect essential to our security.

…yet I would vote for Hillary over Obama. She has the best built in Advisor (Bill). I registered to vote here in the blue marble of Travis County.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Austin: So close yet so far out...

Originally uploaded by gr8wendini

I’m writing this while sitting in a fun coffee house, Ruta Maya. I’ve just returned from 5 weeks traveling abroad seeing some of the most beautiful and interesting places in the world, yet Austin blows me away. The energy and the attitude feels a lot like Portland, Oregon (another love affair) but with (eventually) better weather and cowboy boots…it's cold here now. Unseasonably cold. Everyone assures me that the Winter snap only lasts for a couple weeks, and that's that. Well, I have a post-travel cold due to the weather change OR it's Cedar Fever--an allergy down here--either way, I'm going through some tissues.

There’s bumper stickers that reads: “Keep Austin Weird”, and for South Austin "78704, it's not just a zip code, it's a way of life". 78704-EVER!
This is definitely a blue oasis in a red state. Oh, and everyone is so gosh darn nice--Cheryl says the contest around here is who can out-polite each other. I found the Bikram yoga ( and went to a class, and can’t wait to go for more. Austin has definitely opened its door wide for me, and while my Brooklyn apartment is sublet, I’m entertaining what it would be like to actually (gasp) live here…We’ll see.

Re-entry was relatively easy for me (Cheryl was more affected). The day after arriving back we went and got our film fix and saw Sweeny Todd at a very groovy theater, The Alamo, where they serve food and drinks while you watch your film. The timing worked out to dovetail into to the promotional screening of Teeth (, an indie B-horror/comedy—kitschy, based on the vagina dentata myth . (It just opened in NYC at Cinema Village). The Director, Mitchell Lichtenstein, was there for a Q&A afterwards, with much of the crew in the audience. The promo schwag were toothbrushes, toothpaste and floss. Austin does have a vibrant film scene.

We went to a “Come as your favorite God/Goddess party” on Saturday night, so I had an opportunity the wear my Lagong dance costume from Bali and dressed as Saraswati, the Goddess of music, the arts and knowledge.

South by Southwest ( is coming up soon. This is the penultimate event of the year. I went to the Volunteer call (as did the rest of Austin's KGSR listeners) and got myself signed up to be a photographer. Locals call the festival simply “South by”. This film/interactive/music festival does take over the town, so people here have mixed thoughts about it.

We went to the premiere of John Sayles' latest film, Honeydripper, with Danny Glover and Lisa Gay Hamilton. Another star was Austin's own Gary Clark Jr., a 24 yr. old prodigy who whales on the guitar and can sing the blues. The after-party was at The Continental Club, where he is a sweetheart, cradled to success. I've been seeing lots of music, because that's what you do here. People appreciate and support musicians. I love it! The radio station, KGSR is really great. Unlike any radio station I've ever heard. I feel like the DJ''s are choosing the program from my personal collection.

Even at the airport there’s live music in the public areas. So far, I’m really enjoying the “live music capital of the world…

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

A 48-hour day, Mirror Reflection

Originally uploaded by gr8wendini

Aloha from Honolulu (although this picture is in Guam)—where we gain a day--two Ides of January-as we re-group on Waikiki Beach for 12 hours. The most bizarre part of our 3-day journey home is the 24 hr. visit to the US territory of Guam where it was literally visiting America for a day—instant English speaking people, drinking water, cable TV, US dollars, driving with the wheel on the left side. It is a sizeable US Navy and Air Force base, so the “Support Our Troops” sentiment reigns. The water is a beautiful turquoise and we snorkeled and said hello to some tropical fish while making our way out to a small island. The hermetically sealed resort beach was clean and pristine—unlike the Bali beaches, which have a lot of residue and garbage from the rainy season (and the cyclone from Australia). Arriving in Nagoya, Japan we were back in a foreign land—and loved it. We rocked the airport, which was modern and clean, and had shops, good food and the most excellent soft serve green tea ice-cream…

One thing most people who have spent any time in Bali will tell you is that the island has a sacred way (even if you’re not spiritual) of reflecting back to you exactly what you put out or think. I would venture to say Bali is the dwelling place of the cosmic mirror, which is why it is an intense place for many, and why people have a need for repeat visits or decide live there.

“This is the end of an era”, Carrie said as we walked out to a waiting Widodo (our driver) ready to whisk us off to the airport. We had become such fixtures in Carrie’s home, and to her community at large. The new friends, drivers and helpers that became ours—the newly pregnant Kombantu (house helper), Putu, Cheryl’s tailor, Rai Pasti in Ubud, and for me, I was teary-eyed saying so long to both the owner of the motor bike (23 yr. old Ketut—good kid) and the rental shop owner (Wayan of “Rudy’s Rental Bikes”)—What started as an adversarial who-done-it thorn-in-my-side of my holiday, transformed into friendship and trust, and ultimately an opportunity to dig my heels in deeper into an understanding of how the Balinese, the system and the people, work. I will miss these faces woven into the tapestry of this island tour.
Ah, time. There were days when I thought our time in Bali would never end. We had the luxury of time. Time was on our side. Time for sunset, time for yoga, and now, time to go back to the US. One thing I definitely carry away is another relationship with time, and I’m taking my time with developing it. Much gained, so much. I’ll be processing the pearls that were chucked open in these wisdom oysters over the next weeks. Cheryl and I have said: “ If we knew then, what we know now…” a bunch. Of course, you must go through the experience to have one.
And for now I “Begin Every Day as if it’s on Purpose” just stealing a line Will Smith says from our in-flight movie, “Hitch”.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

The Stairway to Heaven is made of rice paddies

Originally uploaded by gr8wendini
Surely this is what Robert Plant was speaking of...and at the bottom of these terraced cliffs is a small Balinese mountain town known for the exquisite rice paddies, called Jituluweh.
Bali (population 3 million) --not just Ubud or Seminyak, but the entire island is really just a small town. Whomever you are meant to meet or see again--not to worry, you will. I mention this because it doesn't take much to tap into the nucleus here. I even have a juicy job opportunity if I wanted to stay for a Balinese salary, suffice to say, synergy abounds. But alas, my airline ticket says I leave Sunday, and for now I must be open and ready for the next chapter (this Blog will continue). Between "this your first time to Bali?", there's an assumption that there will be more trips, and I can see this is a place that warrants more journeys..."When she gets there she knows, if the stores are all closed, with a word she can get what she came for..."

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Flip it Good!

Originally uploaded by gr8wendini

2008 is the “Year of Infinite Possibilities” to quote my friend Jim Glaser a.k.a Costume Jim (, I spoke to him yesterday to get my hit of NY.
Today’s headline from The New York Times is: “Obama and Huckabee Triumph in Iowa”. And for me, Twee Merrigan ( was just what the Doctor ordered to start my day. Well, and the rainbow on the ride over to Desa Seni ( Originally a yoga teacher from NY, I had to come across the world to Bali to meet Twee and other Manhattan gems. I was literally moved to tears. This class marked the end of a week-long retreat she was leading. Carrie and I scooped up the last tasty morsel of it—and it was a good dose of life affirming heart language. The class was reminiscent of my Laughing Lotus Yoga training. We are all magnificent creatures who have boundless power to uplift ourselves, each other, and to change the world. I was reminded there is always a choice--we can choose to flip our observation in any given moment. Of course it is human nature to get caught in the dark places, even yesterday I found myself homesick, even bored—but now, again reminded, I’m in Bali, it’s beautiful, and people don’t come here because it’s not pleasant…if I don’t like a particular circumstance (i.e my stolen motorbike), than it’s up to me to create a new one—or at least a new perception. Afterall, we write the script and direct the film that is our life—whether we are conscious of it (law of attraction, The Secret) or not…

Of the rags that are available around Bali, my favorite is Positive News ( It reminds me of The Onion except that it’s real news, not a send up, from around the world—talk about Pronoia!

I’m developing a new relationship to rain. One of total surrender and appreciation for the sound and the tranquility it makes me feel, the excuse to curl up with a book, or the bonding we all have navigating the weather in our blue rain jackets. The are many micro climates here, so if you look up the weather for Bali during rainy season you will get a wet forecast even if it’s sunny where you are—it’s raining somewhere.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy YOU Year!

Originally uploaded by gr8wendini
I send you a happy, abundant, prosperous New Year from “the morning of the world”. We are 13 hours ahead of EST, so I raise a virtual Happy New Year toast in every time zone. The last day of the year always feels sentimental and contemplative for me. I resonate with the New Year that is Rosh Hashanah and the Pagan observance on Halloween—but ultimately writing 2008 as a date and featuring a new wall calendar and date book, really drives the ‘new’ home. Reviewing 2007 in my mind’s eye, I’m ready so say so long, and welcome the opportunity to begin anew, mindful with integrity and intention.

The New Year was lots of fun and wet! It's pretty humorous riding a moped in the pouring rain. We started at a French restaurant, where it poured down before midnight and we all got shelter under the bar area. At midnight the French owner and his brother started playing with spoons on pots and it didn't take long to tire of that, so our night continued at Hu'u Bar where we danced and met up with other friends--Alfred and Johanna, A.K. and Matoez.

I am somewhere between being a tourist and living the routine of a typical expatriate being stationed in Seminyak-using the internet at The Corner Store, bringing laundry in, establishing a relationship with a tailor (Cheryl's job) and becoming a familiar face to the locals. The additional layer is the motorbike incident which is still in process...
I haven't given up on the "Bali Magic", that perhaps the bike will be found and returned before leaving. Certainly I'm living something that is real and that fills this experience with an understanding of 'the system'. Everything is sold to the highest bidder--manipulation and lies abound. There is no regard for women etc. There is a distinct firmness I need to maintain, like continuously applying pressure to a bleeding cut.

If you are a believer that everything happens for a reason--you'd say that if my bike wasn't taken away from me, there may have been a more grave outcome.

...and so it goes