How I Can Afford To Travel!

My most REVEALING post to date! If you've been wondering how the hell I've been able to last traveling this long, well here it is! All secrets are out in the open! This post tells you how I do it, and how YOU can do it too!

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Working On A Cruise Ship

I somehow managed to get myself a job working at a Cruise Ship. This post is an inside look on what it's really like to live and work below deck. You never know... You might be enticed to work for one too, and travel the whole world like me! Read on to find out more...

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Scotland: My Favorite Country In The World

I've been to many places in several different continents, and have seen spectacular beauty... But every time I visit Scotland, every other country pales in comparison. Read this post to find out why at this point, Scotland was and still is, in my opinion, the most beautiful place on Earth...

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On Finding My Bliss In Italy

When you go on big trips like this, however cheesy it sounds, you always do end up 'finding yourself'. And there are moments... difinitive moments when you achieve clarity, contentment, and pure happiness. This all happened to me in Italy. Read my most soulful post to date, inspired by the full moon in Italia...

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On Being Featured In A Documentary

I somehow managed to get myself featured in an upcoming documentary about "Voluntourism". This may be the big break I've been waiting for! The trailer is out - and I'm in it! It looks so good, I'm so excited! See for yourself... watch it here!

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An Epiphany At Cinque Terre

The Cinque Terre is one of my favorite places in Italy. We hiked 5 villages in one day, and it was breathtaking! But something completely unexpected happened on the hike... An encounter with a complete stranger made me realize possibly one of the most important things I need to do with my life...

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My Ayahuasca Experience

Ayahuasca, is by far, the most INTENSE thing I have ever experienced in my life. I died and was reborn. It is both horrific and beautiful at the same time... I can't explain it in a few words. You HAVE to read my story to believe... I promise it will be worth your while...

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Thursday, March 8, 2012

23 of 30: Modeling - My Failed Attempt to be ANTM

Let me just say off the bat that I have a new found respect for models.
I used to think they all had it easy, posing and being pretty all the time and getting paid loads of money for it. But man, because of my little stint – I realized there’s a lot more to it than that.

But then again, I don’t have a model’s face or figure… So those skinny mini’s still have that advantage.

OK. Let’s backtrack a little.

I asked a friend of mine, B, who is starting out as a photographer if she could take some nice professional photos of me. I get em cheap, and she gets to build her portfolio. Win-win.

I’ve always wanted my photo taken, basically topless with my hair covering my breasts. I dunno… it’s my long hair. I always thought it would be kinda cute and fun to do something like that… Kind of a tease? Sexy – but tasteful?
But the problem is that I can’t do serious sexy. I can do funny sexy, and maybe even cute sexy… but not serious sultry sexy. Does that make sense?

Anyway, the plan and logistics all worked out. I had my make up done at the MAC cosmetics counter (if you purchase 50 dollars worth of make up, you get the makeover for free) and did my hair myself. I curled it for more volume, and, er, “coverage”.

B doesn’t have a studio of her own yet so we had to improvise. My old neighbor’s apartment is still vacant (he just moved out) and I have his spare key (I’m not a stalker. We’re actually friends). The size is perfect, it’s empty, and when I asked my landlord’s permission to use it, he gave me his blessing. PERFECT!

I have to admit, I was a little nervous about it at first. I wanted the photos to turn out well, but like I said – I don’t have a model’s chiseled features, nor do I have a slim hard rock body.  I can be photogenic, but only in the right angles. My profile is horrible, and I cannot – by the hammer of Thor – smile properly without showing my teeth… all of them! Oh – and did I mention this was a topless shoot? Gaaaah!

I had one of those skintone nipple cover things that made it look like I didn’t have an arreola, so THAT took the edge off at least. And B is a friend and I was comfortable around her--- which was good too!
I gotta hand it to her… she was really good at making me feel at ease. We had some music, she showed no amount of bashfulness when I emerged from the bathroom topless and hairy, and she occasionally yelled out encouraging words like – “That’s nice!” or “Hahaha!”

After the first 20 minutes, the nerves have subsided and I was fine. But as I had predicted, I had SUCH a difficult time doing a sexy smile. I just couldn’t do it. WHY would anyone want to smile without showing teeth anyway???
I think out of 20 shots, I’d managed ONE smile that didn’t look constipated. And I DON’T even want to discuss the difficulties in angling myself, arching my body so as not to show any belly, rib or back fat in the photos. It was a lost cause. I had to rely heavily on B’s photoshopping skills.

We shot for about 2 hours, and all in all, I have to say I had a fantastic time! Don’t mind the bitching and moaning above… That’s just me being a girl. We’ve all got our insecurities, right?
B made it fun… we were basically cracking up the whole time. My face is really elastic and I unknowingly make really weird (and apparently funny) expressions on my face, and I think it had B in stitches.
All the LOL’s eased my tension and we just ended up having a blast! It was so much fun! Difficult, exhausting, but fun! :)

After we finished packing up, she said she’d like to do it again with me for free. She knew I had a trip coming up, and she said if I wanted to, we could shoot again no charge. I didn’t even think twice – heck yeah I’ll do it again! Why not? I was actually touched, even flattered! Maybe it wasn’t as bad as I thought! Maybe she had so much fun with me, she just wanted to put more photos of me in her portfolio!

I couldn’t be more wrong.

Last night, she sent me some sample photos from the shoot.

OH. EM. Gee.

I was mortified!

I thought I looked HORRIBLE!

And this isn’t a criticism to B’s photography skills --- it’s my FACE! Just as I had suspected! It’s the smiling without teeth thing! Or even the funny faces I made. I thought they’d come out cute – but they literally did come out FUNNY! As in pointing straight at you, laughing my ass off FUNNY! AND – I looked like a freaking AMAZON! I had no idea I was (or am) that HUGE! Seriously! I look in the mirror and I think – yeah, I’m buff… But not AMAZONIAN!

And then it all made sense! This is why she wanted a re-shoot! She was doing it for my benefit! She didn’t want me to come out of the whole experience empty handed… Aww, B, Bless your heart!

Oh well… It wasn’t all bad though. I DID manage to pull off a few nice shots. And those are the only ones I’m sharing here. These, are pretty decent… Cute even! At least I think so!! :)

YES. Pulled a no-teeth smile one off!
Then it turned into this.

No Teeth Again! YAY!
I was trying to be cheeky, not petrified. Sigh.

This one might be my fave -- but my no teeth thing needs a lotta work!

I’m looking forward to the reshoot. I’m definitely gonna bring my A game next time! Oh, and I’ll be bringing a big mirror! That way I can see my face when I do my poses, to make sure I don’t look as constipated as I did the last time. 

I don’t think I’ll ever be in the running for America’s Next Top Model, unfortunately. I’m in a weird awkward position between an average built and a plus size, and I don’t think they’re in the market for laxative ads much these days…

But the next time I come across a skinny latte model, instead of rolling my eyes out of spite, I will run up to them and give them a round of applause and say “You… It’s YOU already… Brava…”

Thursday, March 1, 2012

22 of 30: Writing - My Short Stint At UCLA

I enrolled in a writing class at UCLA. I’m not really sure what the stronger motive is… To learn how to write better – or to be able to say that I actually went to UCLA.
Either way, win-win, right?

It was a beginners creative writing class and we met once a week for three hours. I really wanted to just be able to see if I had what it takes to write – not for a living, but at least on the side. Maybe have an online column, or have a popular blog like Julie from Julie and Julia that I could eventually earn money from --- OR turn into a movie!

I needed fundamentals. Or advanced fundamentals? I was expecting to learn about format, punctuations, point of view, etc. I wanted to be better as a ‘memoir’ writer… or even just a blogger. U know? Well, after the first meeting, I realized that wasn’t going to happen.

My teacher, let’s call her – Professor Trelawney, is everyone’s English teacher in high school. She has her hair up in a messy bun, wears cat-eye spectacles which she could never find, even if they’re literally being used as her headband, uses LAYERS of scarves in 80 degree weather, has post-it notes all over her books, and speaks in an airy tone… like Luna Lovegood from Harry Potter. Now, Professor Trelawney is a Novelist, and was under the impression that my classmates and I were in search of the inspiration to write our first novels. In fact, if I hadn’t said anything to her about wanting to focus on memoirs, she would have gone and taught the whole class how to be just like her. Luckily, a few other people in my class felt the same way as I did. Sooo thanks to my big mouth (this is actually one of the few instances where it came in pretty handy) the curriculum changed to suit everyone’s needs. YAY!


Unfortunately, you can’t really teach an old dog new tricks… so even if she tried, it still felt like we were being groomed to be the next Jane Austen or Dan Brown.

Nevertheless, I did have fun, and I enjoyed the class immensely. We had exercises every week that allowed us to explore what kind of style we had as writers. We were asked to read our work out loud for everyone to critique – which would normally petrify me, especially since I never really felt like writing is my strong suit (hence the writing class) – but they turned out to be really fun AND helpful. Everyone had a tendency to be really positive in their comments, and Professor Trelawny knew how to give constructive criticism without making us feel bad, which is really good. Plus, it was really interesting to hear and distinguish the differences between me and my classmates. After about the second or third class, I was already able to identify the sci-fi dudes who wrote mostly about aliens and x-file-esque plots, the tearjerker types who wrote mostly about their mothers who had cancer or some other sad disease, and the weird, dark and twisted types who wrote about pain, anguish, anger and death (seriously, there was this girl who wrote GRAPHICALLY about her grandfather’s death through her 7 year old eyes that included words like ‘gaping mouth’ and ‘stench of the dead” – freaking insane.)

Through that class, I discovered that my style is sort of like a comedic memoir. On almost all of the exercises, instead of making up a story like most of my classmates did, I wrote about experiences I’ve had that are apparently really funny (every time I read my assignment – they all laughed out loud). It was nice! I mean I suppose I did write with that intention, and I chuckle to myself while writing… But to have others actually appreciate the humor --- that was really cool. They were particularly fond of my celebrity-stalking encounters.

Our final project was to write a five page story, and we were to read it out loud in class, printing out copies for everyone so we could all follow along and make comments on the margin. We were asked to underline passages we liked, or underline words or sentences we didn’t think belonged, or make remarks and stuff… Pretty intimidating.
And as predicted, Sci Fi Guy wrote about an alien encounter of the nth kind, Tear Jerker Lady wrote about a mother daughter relationship dealing with Alzheimers, and Dark Twisted Daria wrote a 5 page version of what she has already written about her grandfather’s death through her 7 year old eyes. It was painful.

I wrote about my encounter with Gary Oldman at the Guitar Center on Sunset Boulevard. My story is about 80% factual. Other minor details were modified to make the story more entertaining. ;)
(Read my final project HERE. But only if you want to. It’s not mandatory. )

Anyway, reading it out loud was a lot of fun because of all the giggles and the laughter coming from my audience. They seemed to have really enjoyed it, and they wrote the BEST comments. They said stuff like – “You’re really funny,” or “This cracked me up!” and “I love your style!”
Even Professor Trelawney cracked up a few times. I noticed her chuckling and covering her mouth with one of her scarves.

So yeah, I guess you could say I had a really good experience in that class. I mean experiencing it is one thing --- but being in UCLA… in that campus ---  is just – WOW.
It’s completely insane how beautiful that University is. I don’t know if those kids who go there know how lucky and privileged they really are to be going there. In my opinion, it’s prettier than Harvard.
I’d go back there just to eat a bagel under a tree. Seriously beautiful… 

But anyway… after this project is over, I fully intend to take another writing class there. This time, I’m picking a class that focuses more on memoir writing. :)
I can’t wait!