Yeezus Tour

Half Marathon Training: Week 4 Wrap Up

My friends and I have attempted several times to sign up for a half marathon together, but our schedules have always been out of sync. In fact, I intended on running the Santa Barbara Half Marathon last year with a few friends but was out of town working right up until the day before the race. I ended up going as a cheerleader:


It was especially exciting, then, when about a month ago we all agreed on and signed up for a half marathon together. On January 19, 2014, I along with a handful of close friends will attempt the Carlsbad Half Marathon.

I'm following a simple training schedule that I found online:

And even though we are on the road and traveling about every single day, I haven't found it at all challenging to keep up with this schedule. On the contrary, I find comfort in having a fixed activity to look forward to in the mornings. It is also a unique and efficient way to explore the city in which we are performing. Here are a few sights I've seen while on my runs:

Vancouver, Canada
Vancouver, Canada
Philadelphia, Pennyslvania

Boston, Massachusetts 
Washington D.C. 
Kansas City, Missouri
Rice University 
Rice University
Houston, Texas
Surprisingly, one of the more challenging aspects of training has not been the lengths of the runs, but rather having to adjust to the different climates and temperatures of each city. I made sure to bring a variety of running attire with me (with a heavy emphasis on winter training clothes); but nothing could really prepare me for the weather in Nasvhille, Tennessee. At 21 degrees Fahrenheit, I could almost feel my sweat turning instantaneously into icicles.

The big day is still about 6 weeks away, but I already know for certain that no matter how cold Carlsbad will be that weekend, I'll be prepared. 

New Things in Nashville and a Thanksgiving in Miami

Nashville, Tennessee: Probably close to the bottom of my list of places that I would see myself exploring and enjoying.

But despite my initial reservations surrounding the "coolness" of this southern city, I ended up really liking the parts of Nashville that I saw.

We arrived to the city of music on the evening of the 25th after a long 14 hour bus ride from NYC. I was so happy to be off the bus, and darted to the first food spot I could find. Lucie and I stumbled on Merchants on Broadway. It had a cool upscale yet hipster vibe, and the food was delicious. After that we headed to Beer Sellar, where in true dive bar fashion we played pool and drank beers.

The next morning I decided to venture out on my own. I purchased an all day bus pass for an easy $5.25 and took the Nashville MTA a few stops from downtown to East Nashville. I grabbed a light snack at Turnip Truck, and picked up a cool vintage sweater at The Hip Zipper. I even took the bus into West End to snoop around Vanderbilt:

A quaint health foods store
Back entrance to The Hip Zipper 
Rainy views from the bus
That evening Erin and I stopped by Corsair Distillery and experienced a tasting of their finest spirits:

My delicious cocktail
Quinoa whiskey? Wish I had bought a bottle!
After our show the next night we endured another long bus ride. Miami is about 14 and a half hours away from Nashville, and with the time difference it felt even longer:

View from the bus en route to Miami
Though we spent the better part of our Thanksgiving Day on the bus, the entire crew gathered together for a lovely meal provided by our production team:
The ladies
My twin for the evening
A veggie Thanksgiving meal
Though I didn't spend my Thanksgiving in a traditional manner, it was spent with a group of people whom I would now consider my family on the road. Spending Thanksgiving in Miami also reminded me to be grateful for the people who, despite not being with them physically, are always with me in my thoughts. 

NYC for a Week, Salesperson for a Day

The Yeezus tour has slowly been winding up and down the east coast since our first post-hiatus show in Philly. We spent a week in NYC, with two shows at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, one show at the Verizon Center in DC, and two more shows at Madison Square Garden in Manhattan. During this time I made sure to do all the regular New York-y things I usually do:

Saw Darby in D.C. 
Danced with Cindy Salgado 
Clubbed in NYC
Hung out with Reed and Robbie
Watched Fuerza Bruta

Met up with an old friend from LA, Kyle Hanagami

But in addition to my usual adventures I also had another task to accomplish: to talk to local businesses about cln.li:



Clnli is a brilliant new idea that partners with businesses in an area to provide people with a network of clean public bathrooms. For a nominal fee, clnli users have exclusive access to this network. You can read a mommy blog's interpretation of the service here.

I wanted to survey a handful of business in the area, and my questions included:

1) Do you have a public restroom?
2) Do you allow non-customers to use your restroom?
3) Have you considered charging non-customers to use your restroom?
4) Do you think clnli is something your business would be interested in?

I thought being a salesperson was an easy job; on the contrary, it was incredibly challenging. Of the 6 businesses I talked to, only 1 was willing to answer my questions. Many of the businesses did not have managers on site or were very rude and waved me off.

Normally, I love talking to people. But during my short stint as a salesperson I felt like people thought I was annoying, and the feeling of rejection was exhausting. After a while I just stopped trying.

The irony of it all was that throughout my stay in NY I was in dire need of a service like clnli. There were few businesses willing to open up their bathrooms to a non-customer like myself, and I ended up sneaking into a few Starbucks bathrooms a few times.

While I'm not completely opposed to the idea of pitching clnli to more businesses in the future, I think I'll have to rethink my strategy. NY was a bit of a bust, but then again I have 14 more cities for me to practice being a salesperson.

Check out cln.li, and sign up if you're interested! I'm definitely signing up to take advantage of a special promotion they are having during which the first wave of participants receive 4 additional months free (instead of 2 months for $20, I'll receive 6 months for $20). 

Willing A Way

There is nothing truer than the age old idiom that says, "Where there is a will, there is a way."

As I noted in my last post, the "Yeezus" Tour was put on an indefinite hiatus after the show's 60-foot screen was damaged en route to Vancouver. With all the uncertainties surrounding the tour postponement I immediately phoned my agent to discuss potential work opportunities in Los Angeles, emphasizing my desire to dance on X Factor. Even though it seemed highly improbable that the tour schedule and the television show schedule would align in such a way to allow me to experience both, I was hoping with all my might that it somehow would all fall into place.

And lo and behold, it did. 

What made me so hungry for this particular opportunity was the desire to work with the artistic forces behind the show. The creative team for X Factor is like something out of a dream: 

Creative Director: Jamie King - An artistic mastermind known for his work with pop superstars like Britney Spears and Madonna.

Choreographer: Galen Hooks - A visionary, industry veteran, and true artist whose resume reads like a thorough chronology of major commercial and entertainment industry projects. Incredibly talented, unique, and a college graduate (woo!). 

Associate Choreographer: Jae Blaze - A funky choreographer who is "synonymous with unparalleled creativity, exceptional work ethic, and... a commitment to the well being of her dancers." 

Associate Choreographers: Keone & Mariel Madrid - Dance God and Goddess from the hip-hop community whose talents are unexplainable:


I first met Mari nearly 6 years ago when I took my first hip hop classes with Funkanometry SF. Begin watching this video of Mari's class from 2007 at around 1:30 and you might recognize a little squirt in black sweats and a white t-shirt on the left:


And our paths continued to cross in the years thereafter. When I was involved with NSU Modern at UCLA, I remember seeing Mari and Keone at hip hop events like Vibe Dance Competition and Fusion. I have always deeply respected the duo's work with Choreo Cookies, or Cookies as they are known as now: 


Over the years, my admiration for these two as individuals and as a pair has grown immensely. 

The whole audition process for X Factor about a month ago solidified my feelings about the project. It was well organized, the dancing was challenging yet fun, and the dancers were treated respectfully throughout it all. I voiced my thoughts to my agent following the audition, letting them know just how much I wanted to work with the X Factor team. I repeated my desires to them again once I returned to LA.

The stars somehow aligned this past week, and I was very fortunate to be a part of Ellona Santiago and Lillie Mcloud's performances:


Jamie stood at the helm of the creative ship, steering and orchestrating concepts while each choreographer turned these concepts into reality. I worked mostly with Galen and Keone & Mari; working with them in the professional setting and being in the creative process with them was, for lack of a better word, magical.

The whole group
Me with Keone & Mari

Galen!

Marina: the sweetest and most talented wardrobe lady
So whether it was mere happenstance or my strong will, the improbable happened. This special project was a reminder that even when the odds are stacked heavily against me, with a little push and a lot of luck, I can turn a desire into reality.