Monday, July 19, 2010

Go Confidently in the Direction of your Dreams

Confidence is a funny thing. It has the ability to change a situation and to differ among cultures. It can improve your spanish or sales abilities and can also make you look like a total jackass. Anyway, I have recently noticed that confidence is really something that some professions must require.

One such profession would be a waitress. Now, I'm most definitely NOT claiming to have been a fabulous waitress, previously in my life, yet I can recognize the need to own what you are selling/serving. On my recent trip back to the D (metro Detroit area really), I went to check out 'South' a new, LA/poshy restaurant, bar in downtown Birmingham. I'll give them the fact that they just opened, but the waitress was so unconfident it was awkward. First with the Michelada... which was exciting to see on a menu in Birmingham. For those of you who haven't had the pleasure, a Michelada is a kind of bloody mary beer drink from the latin lands. The waitress pronounced it Mi-kela... lines the rim with sugar (not salt) and then asked if it tasted good after she served it. She then proceeded to ask us how the rest of our food and beverages were because she 'hasn't had them and always wondered, I mean they look good but she just didn't know'. I mean come on, at one point she was interrupting our conversation, a long awaited international catchup session.

Another profession that should really add confidence to it's needed skills is a yoga instructor. I know that yoga is for everyone and that it is about much more than just the asnas, yet the person leading the group must go confidently and with direction through the class. A recent class, with a rather new teacher brought this to my attention when I found myself thinking I'd rather be doing yoga alone.

Of course it's always easy to criticize. I know that I frequently lack confidence, living in a world where I am a bit of a fish out of water. But I will continue making speculations from my view here on the beach.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Hiatus Over! ...and weird American hugging

I have neglected to blog for far too long. As life has been busy, with lots to blog about, it hasn't made it to the top of my to-do list, until now that is. Not until I awkwardly met some fellow Americans down here in Anitgua, did I feel the need to express myself here on 'It's a Beautiful Life'.

In Guatemala, and most of Latin American I assume, there are some things that are just different... personal space distances, lunch hour, driving norms, etc... The customs of meeting new people and introducing yourself are no exception. It's most common that when you meet someone you kind of half hug/embrace them with a slight cheek kiss or just cheek kiss motion. In Guatemala most times that is accompanied by a quick 'Que Tal?' (what's up), which is not intended really to be answered and signifies that you speak spanish, I've noticed.

I've gotten used to this introduction and don't generally think much of it, until I met the three Americans in the bike shop* the other day. When saying good bye and nice to meet you, I went for my usually half hug, cheek motion bit and each of them was more awkward than the next. The first one gave me a back pat from a distance, the second tried to read my body movement while leaning in and out and the third gave me a full hug around the waist... umm. I almost laughed out loud, but I didn't want to be rude. I'm not sure if I like that general American hand shake or the full latin intro, but each has it's time and place I guess.

In other news, since previous posting... the 'bike shop' DON QUIJOTE CRUISERS is really taking off. Chino and I opened the shop in January and after trial and errors and lots of learning along the way, we are fully open, operating and renting bicycles all over the place. Antigua is a funny place to do business, a very particular little town full of very particular people, brought here for one reason or the next and then stayed. With that mix, there is a lot of international influence, great food and lots of bars. The cruiser bikes fit right into the picture perfect scene and provide an alternative way to spend your sightseeing day in our colonial town.

Until next time... cruise on!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

What's My Name?

Rappers’ Real Names
Vanilla Ice – Robert Van Winkle
Snoop Doggy Dogg – Calvin Broadus
Shaggy – Orville Richard Burrell
Tupac Shakur – Lesane Crooks
Guru – Keith Elam
Queen Latifah – Dana Owens
Shabba Ranks – Rexton Rawlston Gordon
Notorious Big – Christopher Wallace
LL Cool J – James Todd Smith
Foxy Brown – Inga Marchand
Chuck D – Carlton Douglas Ridenhour
Coolio – Artis Ivey
Flavor Flav – William Dreyton
Krs One – Kris Parker
Eric B – Eric Barrier
Rakim – William Griffin
Timbaland – Tim Mosely
Missy Elliot – Melissa Elliot
Slick Rick – Ricky Walters
Redman – Reggie Noble
MC Hammer – Stanley Kirk Burrell
Ice T – Tracy Marrow
Grandmaster Flash – Joseph Sadler
Doug E Fresh – Douglas Davies

...Ladies Love Cool James, right?

Friday, September 25, 2009

Testies and Rural Flavor at the Blues & Brews

I know I already mentioned how much I enjoyed the Telluride Blues & Brews this year and I think it deserves a bit more insight really. The Sunday day-time shows provided us the opportunity to lay down a blanket and just take in the scene. After a short time in our new "spot" we had a pretty good understanding of the people surrounding the right we had the rural flavor, to the left some adult reunion group dancing their pants off and in front of us were the "testies", techie festies.

We became aware of the surrounding community when the unhappy campers, that were the rural flavor, kicked some people out of their area and we happily agreed to squeeze them and their chairs in. The she of the couple preceded to talk loudly about how we were all stealing the space and give her husband an eye massage from behind. She has apparently been waiting in line before the festival opened to secure her tarp's location.
The "testies"in front of us acquired their newly trademarked name by being overly prepared right down to the bagged fig bar snacks. They were a young couple fully sporting danskos, prana, rei and whole food swag while sitting in folding chairs and using their binoculars to watch the performers. With these two in my line of sight I couldn't help but be continually reminded of the "Stuff White People Like" list. The couple were violating at least half of the list, which is a blog and also book, featuring...standing still at concerts, tea, not having tv, etc...

The best part really is the outcome of this diverse group of concert growers. As the music went on and the sun went down, tarp lines and mud all start to blend together as more and more people take to dancing. The rural flavor couple didn't budge, they did a little jig from their seated position. The dancing group to the other side really took it to a whole new level with the mud, working it into their fun. As people flocked to the area the male of the testie couple went to run all their chairs, portable thermos and bag to the car. In the short time that he was gone his area/tarp was completely taken over by dancers and mud as his significant other was slowly pushed further and further into the corner. In the end, I think everyone had a good time and I was fully entertained just observing.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Telluride Blues & Brews

Beautiful Telluride + Blues + Beer...what could be better?

As a tightly packed weekend getaway, Telluride delivered all I had expected and more. Buddy Guy put on a great headliner show Saturday night, accompanied by Umphree's. The after-festival entertainment lived up to expectations as well, with free live blues at the New Sheridan bar all night long.

Sunday was more low-key, minus the free micro-brewery tasting, so we decided to make camp and have a picnic during the day-time shows. The weather quickly turned from warm sunshine to a quick hail storm, but Bonnie Raitt was not phased...she just took a few minute break to take shelter. year, same old Blues & Brews, love you Telluride.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Great, Social Networking, Divide

Somewhere along the way society, at least among my 20-something recently graduated crowd, has become divided into the haves and have-nots. I'm not referring to monetary status, I'm referring to those who have embraced online socially networking and those who are blind to it. There is a huge difference between someone at a Kings of Leon show who is tweeting via their iPhone and the person who has left their phone and camera in the car...between reading Kanye's blog post apology and hearing it on the morning radio show. Not that one is superior to the other, but the social networking virgins seem to be overwhelmed on where to begin. Here are some great places to start:

Set up a twitter can start by adding status updates and finding some friends who might already be signed up. You can also use twitter to follow conversation trends, ask questions and get quick answers. Tons of fun!

From here you can explore other sites and articles that might interest you through StubleUpon , Digg, Delicious and Mixx. These sites allow you to submit articles you love, make a network of other similar users and get info that might interest you.

If you are still looking for more, you can swing by topics you love most...and check out some of the top blogs in the arena.

Cheers, Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Say YES to Michigan

Although it is not a common traveler destination, Michigan has a lot to offer. From Detroit's ethnic food options to the Great Lakes, Michigan is a well kept secret. I have to say it takes a bit of an effort. I have called Michigan home for the past 20 years or so, and until recent visitors came I was completely unaware of all the mitten has to explore.

Let's start in Detroit. I have always regarded downtown Detroit as a scary place, only worthy of providing sports games and concerts. Yet, La Petit Zinc café is a perfect of example of my error. This cute little café serves up sweet and savory crepes alongside Izze beverages. After eating, you can head to Riverside Drive and rent cruiser bikes for some shoreline pedaling at Wheelhouse Detroit. If all the biking tires you out, The Old Miami, a spunky bar, has a lovely backyard garden and old beer to offer. If you want to venture a little bit further, Hamtramic is famous for it's Polish food and ethnic restaurants.
After exploring the city life, Grand Haven, Port Austin and Harsen's Island all offer relaxing waterside destinations. Grand Haven is a typical Lake Michigan "Up North" town offering a sandy beach and great architecture in it's homes. It is also conveniently located near to some sand dunes, where varying companies will rent you a Jeep or dune buggy to whip around on.

Port Austin, located on the tip of the thumb of Michigan, is a very quiet town with kayaking, biking and put-put galore. The local farmer's market sells everything from Michigan cherry's to handcrafts and kittens. Then there is Harsen's Island, which is the closest to the Metro-Detroit area, offering a huge bay and shallow water, perfect conditions for some kiteboarding sessions. Guilty plug; don't forget you kiteboarding PUMP. Arriving on the car ferry to Harsen's instantly removes you from your day-to-day life and transports you to the small town summer atmosphere, where stress in really unnecessary. This picture below is of an amphibian car that we watched drive right into the water, which a small plane was also water landing nearby, pretty cool toys.

So, I say YES to MI!