Insatiable Wanderlust

A silly photo Sebastián took of me at Gladstones in LA. I'm ready to sail off and conquer the world!

I laugh at myself. On the move yet again. Back to Mexico and Guatemala. Just about an hour until I take off from LAX…

I could no longer bear how much I missed my friends, so Riveria Maya and La Antigua here I come! I’ll spend about two weeks on the Yucatan Peninsula before I head back to Guatemala. I can’t believe it has been more than a year and half since I last lived in the “land of eternal spring.” Memories from both Mexico and Guatemala have been flooding my consciousness lately. I have begun dreaming in Spanish again. I woke up just the other morning in mid-sentence… speaking Spanish. Again, I laugh. I remember how it took a couple weeks for me to adjust to speaking English again when I arrived in LA. It looks like the transition back to Spanish will go more smoothly. Of course, I’ve been using my Spanish at every possible opportunity…

Ah, such is the life of the restless wanderer – the nomad, the gypsy, the “mystic” as the Italian-American puts it. And I love it. I love living with the fluidity of the wind and the beloved sea…

You can read more about my goals for my trip back to Mexico on my new website fotofatal.com. Please see fotofatál: Mobilized for Mexico. No, I am not replacing this website. Giramonda.com will still represent my personal blog. However, as I have previously alluded, I have been working extremely hard on launching a proper professional website for my photography. The site is now up and I feel quite proud. I will still be uploading many more images to add to my photo galleries, but I already have enough images uploaded to accurately showcase my work. I’ll also be offering the sales of prints and digital downloads through fotofatal.com very soon. I’ve developed the concept to match my lifestyle. I am developing a virtual brand of photography that I can take with me anywhere. I envision fotofatal becoming a centralized source online for commissioning and deploying photographers for projects, events, etc… anywhere around the world:

We envision fotofatál as a worldwide photography force poised to meet any photographic endeavor anywhere around the globe. Wedding or war, family or fashion, community or commercial, humanity or nature – no assignment is too great or too small for fotofatál.

Work with us and become a part of something bigger…

For now, it starts with me. 🙂

I used Moo for my custom business cards. I’m very excited about how they turned out. I’ve been getting great responses. Now, I’m just kicking myself for not printing more. I have a hunch I’ll have to replenish the pack quite soon.

So, just to claim it and own it: World, I am so ready to for my commissioned photography assignments located around the world. Travel, wedding, editorial, commercial, lifestlye… bring it on! It’s time for fotofatál!

I’m also working on revamping this website. Please bear with me as I give giramonda.com a face lift.

Also, I’ll be launching another website very soon. This business concept will be an extension of my photography, but it will also be heavily committed to giving back to charities and aid organizations. I plan to invite other photographers to participate in the project. Stay tuned…

So yes, I’ve been a busy little worker bee. That fact is reflected in my bland writing. My sincerest apologies. As I get all these concepts organized and running I will be committing to writing more regularly again. I sorely miss writing for myself. I loved blogging about my adventures through Europe and SE Asia. My travels through Latin America and LA were chronicled less due to constantly writing for everyone else and, now, all this work in setting up my business concepts. Soon I will be sharing my heart and soul again through both the written word and the lens…

I have already lived an extremely rich and blessed life – a life overstuffed with the experiences of ten lives. And yet, I have an exciting feeling that the best is only just beginning.

I want to give a special thanks to Clara, Gabriel, Dustin, Sebastian, Kristelle, Perla and Jen. Each of these beautiful souls truly enriched my experience in LA and I’m extremely grateful to have their invaluable friendship and support. I love each and every one of you very much.

Time to let life work its wily magic…

Ala ¡¡Que Rico!!

The Language of Dance

I’m totally having an attitude adjustment about LA. I realize now that my experience was being contaminated by a toxic friendship. Someone I had believed to be generous and enchanting turned out to be manipulative and ill-spirited. But, now that I’ve removed that person from my life and I’ve let go of problems and injustices associated with her, life is really starting to blossom here in this “labirinto di pazzia” – as the Italian-American and I fondly refer to this city. And, I have other amazing friends to thank for guiding me through the negativity and helping me embrace what Los Angeles does have to offer. Clara Berta, the “Italian-American” and my longtime friend Dustin are true blessings in my life here. I’m meeting more everyday, like my new biz partner (more about that soon!), Kristelle and David, a young gentleman Dustin introduced me to who has a stunning, Frank Sinatra-era voice. (David helped co-found Artful Edutainment though is no longer working with the non-profit.)

So, as I sit here at Coupa Cafe, a delightful little Beverly Hills oasis I just discovered today, I share my latest LA adventure:

Last night was an absolute trip. I gotta hand it to LA for being the epicenter of all things “hot and happening.” One finds themselves stumbling into all kinds of surreal experiences. So After playing phone tag for a few days with another quality friend I’ve met here, we finally connected yesterday evening on the phone as I was jamming out to David Guetta, walking home from an evening yoga class.

“I’m headed to a bar for a friends birthday in NOHO, want to join?” he offered.

“You know, I’ve been so focused on work… I do need to get out,” I reasoned. “I’d love to come. Just gimme a couple hours to get there since I gotta do the whole bus thang. Cool?”

All I knew was that I’d be going to visit a friend I hadn’t seen in a few weeks… by the time I arrived I got wind of the plan to work our way into the private party located on the second floor of the new, hip NOHO joint The Federal. I’m not one to get too worked up about “getting in” to the “exclusive” events of LA but I’m not opposed to giving it a shot either. Apparently my friend had been working the relations with the bouncer before I even got there and we wound up strolling right on up. The buzz was that the event was full of professional dancers…

Now THAT is probably the closest thing I could get to becoming starstruck in LA. I LOVE to dance. As a child, I begged my mom to sign me up for dance lessons. We even bought a little dance outfit and I had a studio photo shoot in that little outfit. But, I never got to take lessons! I don’t blame my mom. I wanted the dance lessons on top of the rec soccer, select soccer, basketball, volleyball, track and traveling singing group I was already involved with. I didn’t want to give up any of the other activities, so dance (and music lessons for that matter) never happened. (I still cringe about missing out on both though.) So yeah, the whole “me always trying to literally do everything at once” is definitely a syndrome I was born with… lol. Despite the lack of dance lessons, I’ve managed to pick up a fair amount of salsa and I love to simply get down in the club. Inhibition is for the birds. I could care less of how it might look, my spirit is simply lit with joy when let loose and dance. But, feedback has suggested that I’m not so much the disaster on the dance floor… great to know I’m not the crazy dance floor freak at least. 😉

Right, back to The Federal. Turns out some of the nation’s best dancers were there, all celebrating the birthday of Roman Vasquez. Here’s a quick bio of this badass:

Coming from Phoenix, Arizona, Roman began his career as a hip-hop dancer. As his desire for dance grew, he received his technical training in his hometown and progressed while attending dance conventions and performing locally. Moving to Las Vegas he performed in EFX with David Cassidy at the MGM Grand Hotel, Splash at the Rivera and became a member of the Culture Shock Hip-hop Dance Troupe. Now residing in Los Angeles, Roman has had the opportunity to work with artists such as Eva Longoria, Roselyn Sanchez, Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Jennifer Lopez, Jessica Simpson, Celine Dion, Anastacia, just to name a few. Other television and video credits include Dance with Jerry Springer, Pepsi, Sprite, EL Pollo Loco, Days of Our Lives and Tina Landons Instructional video.

Awesome. So yeah, many of these kings and queens of dance began busting out their impromptu moves in the dance circle. Couple this with the fact that I haven’t gotten out to dance in months and I was on a complete natural, dance high. Watching these pros bust their moves made me long to be one of them. Okay, amidst all these amazing professionals, I was starting to feel a bit inhibited. Nonetheless, I let it all out once the dance circle dissolved. Then the best compliment of the night: one of these pros, Sid from Australia, started dancing with me.

“I like your style,” he acknowledged.

“I’ve got no style,” I laughed back.

“Nah, you’ve definitely got your own style.” After busting some moves together, I clued him in to how thrilled I was to see all this talent right here, in my face.

“But you’re a dancer right?” He asked. I laughed again.

“I’ve never had a dance lesson in my life,” I confessed. “But, I LOVE to dance. I just go with what I feel.” (I have had a few salsa lessons… but no hip hop, jazz, etc…)

“You’ve got to be kidding me,” he prompted. “Are you serious??” I nodded sheepishly and admitted, “I don’t really know what I’m doing, but the moves just come. I would love to learn.”

“You know the language,” he asserted. “Now, it’s just about learning the words.” Exactly!!

After that entire exchange I was beyond giddy. A pro dancer thought I had some promise! Absolutely made my night!!

So, as I do commit myself more to LA, I’m making dance class a priority. At 25, I know it’s too late to think of any career out of it. But, that’s not what I want from it. I just want to finesse what my body already can’t help but to express. I just want to DANCE!!

¡¡Que rrrrrriiiccccooo!!

And speaking of surreal LA moments, I will just recap on a few I have yet to mention. They were cool but not nearly as cool as the dance experience…

  1. A wave of hello to/from Adam Sandler… as he filmed on the street I was living on at the time.
  2. Approaching Zoe Dechanel and annoying her with my pitch to get involved with a project… oh well.
  3. Neve Campbell… eating sushi at the next table.

Then, there are the restaurants. The Italian-American has really given me a divine sampling of LA:

The Bazaar

Probably my favorite restaurant I’ve thus encountered… ever. Here’s a bit about it:

The Bazaar is chef José Andrés’s masterpiece. At least so far. With designer Philippe Starck, he has fashioned a vast, shadowy space that includes a swanky bar, a patisserie with acres of sweet-filled glass cases, a chef’s tasting room, a shopping emporium by Moss, the Manhattan design mecca, and two glamorous flanking dining areas where Andrés has poured everything he knows about tapas into a menu that marries regional culinary traditions with his formidable creativity…

There’s an even wider selection of fresh inventions that elevates the honored tradition of bar snacks to new heights. Like: liquefied mozzarella with brussels-sprout leaves and the most intensely sweet cherry tomato you’ve ever popped in your mouth — perfect as the milky cheese flows over your tongue. A Philly cheesesteak made with wagyu beef in “air bread” like a tiny calzone, a crisp crust around a pocket of air and melted cheddar — the coolest-ever sublimation of an American sandwich.

Read more from Esquire

The liquid olives, dry ice caipirinha and the cotton candy margarita are fun too…

Il Pastaio

Just as good as anything I’ve ever enjoyed in Italy…

At Il Pastaio, brothers Celestino and Giacomino Drago spin the sort of culinary magic that’s made their whole family famous in Southern California. Working with the freshest pastas and produce, the chefs prepare antipasti, duck ragout, and penne with swordfish to please even the most discerning palates. Risottos are abundant and always unique, and truffle-cheese fondue is an excellent choice for polishing off the evening.

Read more…

Beverly Hills Farmer’s Market

Midnight Muse

A late night visit turned into an impromptu photo shoot. My new business partner captured these images using a single Chinese ball lantern from Ikea:

[portfolio_slideshow size=medium nav=middle trans=fade]

The Breath of a Hummingbird

Sauntering down the walk of fame
weaving through the tourist’s game
I reminisce about a lovers’ frolic
relived amidst last night’s twilight revelry

the whisper of the hummingbird’s wings
pulsating at 90 beats per second
remind me of a magical encounter
that until now I have left forgotten

The day before Valentine’s day I took my bike out for a Sunday jaunt from Westwood to Santa Monica. My plan was to go explore YogaWorks, a yoga studio from which I had recently purchased a Groupon deal. After touring the yoga haven, I lingered… asking the attendant questions; enjoying a relaxing Sunday.

Tap tap tap…

The light beat came from the adjacent sun room. We peeked inside to discover a humming bird confused by the glass, frantically charging the clear panes in its desperate attempt to escape. “Oh no!” I lamented. “The poor thing looks like it’s going to have a heart attack. We have to help it escape!” Eying it’s sharp beak charging the window, I grabbed a soft pillow for protection and gently attempted to coax the little fluster of a hummingbird toward he open doorway in the opposite corner. Little by little I inched the little bird closer, but with each second he flew more frantically than the last, charging the panes with growing furor. Fearful he would die of fright, I dropped the pillow and, for the first time in this life, I witnessed a hummingbird stop. He landed on the sill and rested.

“Have you ever seen a hummingbird not flying?” I marveled in surprise.

Tap tap tap…

In the blink of an eye, the hummingbird was back to its frantic charge. Poised to lose ground we had already accomplished, I jumped up again with the pillow to keep coaxing the little guy toward his escape. Throughout the ordeal, he rested three more times before we could finally reveal to him his way out. The last time, he was so exhausted that his little head rested, tilted upon the glass; a tiny fog rising from it’s beak, clouding the window pane. A foggy cloud of hummingbird’s breath on the window pane. Alarmed… but enchanted! I had witnessed the breath of a tiny little hummingbird! To our delight, he escaped shortly thereafter. We watched him streak across the street and land in a tree… free at last.

Whimsical Weekend

The location of the wedding I shot Saturday (03.12.11). It looks like a cottage out of a fairytale. © Laura McNamara

This past Saturday I shot a cute little wedding at a lovely little house with my new business partner. I’m eager to share the news about “business partner” but still not quite ready to yet. So more wedding photos and more news to come!!

I spent Sunday afternoon in Shirley Temple‘s former house. The house is now home to Joe Bologna and Renée Taylor and the family was celebrating Renée’s birthday. One of my closest friends here in LA is their son. I really can’t say enough about his spirit for life and his open generosity to share that spirit with others. As with all Italian gatherings, the house was full and the food was delicious: anitpasiti of prosciutto and melon, Parmesan with truffles, tomato, mozzarella and basil, and more. We also had a delicious salad with chocolate orange vinaigrette along with homemade stone oven pizzas… my tummy was happy.

So between the wedding at the fairytale cottage and the old Hollywood celebrity birthday party I had quite the surreal and enchanting weekend!

The Itch, The Fever Call It What You May But I’ve Got to Go Far and Away & The Truth About L.A.

Yesterday marked my 6th month anniversary in Los Angeles… already? That was fast…

I woke today with a familiar energy; eyes popping wide open. I’ve been logging deep sleep but not long hours. Too much buzz coursing through my body. In fact, the past three mornings have been the same. Getting to bed around 1 a.m. Flashing awake by 7 a.m.

The last time I felt so much energy was while I was living in Playa del Carmen, MX…

Huh. A good sign, I mused to myself… noting the new boost. Exited, I thought: Okay, perhaps LA is really going to come together for me. Perhaps this IS where I’m supposed to be.

HA!

Okay. Prepare yourself now. I’ll be pouring the “wine” for the next few paragraphs. So do yourself a favor and go grab some cheese.

I’ve already mentioned my dissatisfaction with L.A. My nickname for the “city of angels” is “the slum of smoke and mirrors.” In all honesty, there are gems here. But you really have to dig to find them. At least, that’s my experience. And, I certainly love digging up the treasure buried amidst the trash, but the absolute truth is… I’m negligibly inspired here. That’s a far cry from my norm. Usually, I’m brimming over with inspiration, adventure, discovery, joy, love… the list of sappy, fairytale wonderland adjectives goes on. But here? There’s something here… beyond the surface even… that, more alarming than leaving me uninspired, downright disturbs me. I can’t quite put into words what it is, but if I did I would have to borrow the lyrics from the Big Yellow Taxi from the Counting Crow Hard Candy album (and really they borrowed the lyrics from Joni Mitchell):

“They paved paradise and put up a parking lot. With a pink hotel, a boutique and a swinging hot spot… They paved paradise and put up a parking lot. They took all the trees and put em up in a tree museum. And they charged the people a dollar and a half just to see them.”

[youtube][/youtube]

What’s worse… it seems like everyone believes it’s paradise. The black top of tar is what everyone exclaims is paradise. “They” all squabble over the slightest centimeter of it… charging a millionaire’s salary for one little sq cm. You, ahem, may think I’m exaggerating… I’m not. I just passed a complex on my walk home from the semi-ritzy neighborhood of Brentwood to the partially-ritzy, partially student, partially Asian neighborhood of Westwood, where I now “live” (getting to why I was walking not biking in a minute). A two-bedroom loft in an ‘eh decent enough’ building choked by cement blocks on all sides goes for… drum roll please… not $300,000, not $400,000… can we get a $550,000 dollars please!! Oh yes, centimeters here are damn expensive. Please, pardon my French…
Continue reading “The Itch, The Fever Call It What You May But I’ve Got to Go Far and Away & The Truth About L.A.”

Inspiration at the Pasadena Art Center

Above: My third completed art piece under the direction of Clara Berta!

****

I always said to myself that I would go back to school once I found myself perched in one spot again. A quick little visit to the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena stirred those sentiments. I was tagging along with Clara to pick up a few supplies. While there we gushed at the student art on display. I managed to snap a few shots with my camera phone before being instructed that photography wasn’t allowed… oops!

Mindscraps: The Dizzy Donkey Dance

Lately, I feel as if I’m caught up in a never-ending game of pin the tail on the donkey…

The nearly non-existent trickle of income is my blindfold. Short on funds, the hunt for a decent wage is a constant distraction from my true goals. I can’t seem to see past the “no cash” dilemma. So I focus on trying to make ends meet, instead of focusing on what my heart calls me to do. And that’s the irony. The more I allow myself to stray away from my true heart’s desires… the less success I find. The more I give away my time, energy and talents to outside aims, the more I find them used, abused and under-valued. I’m so eager to help. But in my eagerness, I’m learning, that “take advantage” seems to be the law of the land. I must be more wary of where I decide to invest. Lately, it feels as if my “investments” have only been sucking me dry.

It is the mysterious adventure of life that is constantly spinning me, whirling me, sending me in somersaults. I LOVE it. I LOVE the commotion. I LOVE the thrill. I LOVE her, life. But, at times, when I come up for air, I end up dizzy and confused. I know what’s written upon my heart… but which way was it that I needed to go? Which way is forward and which way is backward again? What step is the right step toward achieving my goals?

The hope? Despite the blindfold and the dizzy dance, the donkey – representative of the longings of my heart – is still there, whether I see her or not. Grasping at capital can momentarily obscure my vision. Life and her wondrous, thrilling adventure can disorient me. Yet, nothing can rob me of what lies upon my heart.

So, with the naivety of a child, I still believe and I will still try… to pin that tail on the donkey!

A quiet moment with myself: Let the dizziness clear. Realize the blindfold is a blessing in disguise. Use not the eyes of illusion to make out the way, but the inner eye of faith, wisdom and intuition.
Continue reading “Mindscraps: The Dizzy Donkey Dance”

MindScraps: From Backpacking to Flashpacking

“Transition” has been the word on my lips for the past several months. “I’m ready for a transition,” I say. “I DO NOT want to stop traveling but I’m ready to graduate to the next level. I loved my five years of budget backpacking – the experiences I’ve had, the people I’ve encountered, the life changing things I’ve learned – but I’m ready for the next level. I’m ready for a little more comfort.”

Then, oddly enough, thanks to Halogen‘s write up on it’s show Alive! With Adventure Aaron, I eventually stumble upon the term “flashpacker.” Apparently, as How To Travel The World describes the term, it’s the backpacker of the 21st century:

No longer about a few clothes, hitch hiking, or hoping you have enough money for the day, flashpacking is about travel with means. The flashpacker contains the backpacking ethos but wants to do it with a little more style and a lot more technology. Just because we are traveling doesn’t mean we can’t have some comforts.

I LOVE the concept. It’s exactly what I’ve been trying to describe as what I want next out of life.

To read more about it click here.