Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Writers Block

I've been looking at my notes and photos in the last few days in an effort to get myself out of that slump I've been going through. I figured that by looking at the obvious -I have things that I want to share- I'll start doing it.

But no go. It's not working.

Maybe it has to do a little bit with the death of my grandmother, school, work, and just life in general. Other than one blog post and a couple of work events, I can't seem to get myself out of the house. There's a bit of guilt that is tugging at my heartstrings, and an overall feeling of sheer exhaustion.

I'm trying very hard to avoid more medication, although I know that taking my ADD meds will help jumpstart my energy levels. But, with all the blood sugar and thyroid meds I'm already taking, I just don't want to.

So, I need your suggestions: what do you do to get yourself back on track and get yourself out of slumps?

Friday, November 14, 2014

Join me at the 10th Annual Cinema Italian Style in Los Angeles

It's no secret that I'm a huge film buff. 

I'm especially fond of movies that have a great story to tell. Something heartfelt, emotional, purposeful, and that teaches me something at the end of the film. Whether it's a message or reminder about a moral.
Add beautiful scenery, and it goes without saying, great acting, and I am bound to be lost in the screen for the duration of the film and transported to a different time and place. Films that give me all of the above tend to be independent or foreign. Especially Italian.
Sophia Loren at Cinema Italian Style
Photo Courtesy of CIS

I'm not sure when I saw my first Italian film, but I do remember being drawn to Sophia Loren's deep eyes and intense dialogue. Even if in Italian and trying to keep-up with the subtitles, I was hooked.

In the words of Oscar-winning Italian Director Giuseppe Tornatore of Cinema Paradiso fame, "Italian films include love" as part of their storytelling formula; and who doesn't love, love?
Watching Cinema Paradiso sometime after graduating high school was just amazing and further connected me with the Italian-way of telling a story. Other noteworthy films that have touched my heart include Il Divo, and of course, who hasn't been in tears after watching Life is Beautiful
Little did I know, until now, that the Italian Ministry of Culture-Film Department, under the auspices of the Consulate General of Italy in Los Angeles, are bringing us the 10th Annual Cinema Italian Style (CIS), an annual celebration of Italian Films, from November 13-18, 2014 at both the Aero Theatre in Santa Monica and Hollywood's Egyptian Theatre.

The 2014 edition of Cinema Italian Style (CIS), the Los Angeles glamorous showcase for Italian contemporary cinema, will be dedicated to the producer Franco Cristaldi and his masterpiece Cinema Paradiso, on the twenty-fifth anniversary of its theatrical release. 

Guiseppe Tornatore (center), writer and director, known for Cinema Paradiso (1988), Malèna (2000) and The Best Offer (2013). Eros Ramazottie, singer songwriter (left). Photo Courtesy of CIS,
In addition, a rich and talented cast of actors, directors and producers will be in town to introduce the movies and meet with the audience in occasion of the screenings, and the Italian Cultural Institute in Los Angeles will showcase Cinema Paradiso's images, posters, memorabilia, and props, including the film’s original script from November 12th until November 21st.

During CIS, the Italian Cultural Institute will be presenting a selection of documentaries and film bios of some of cinema’s most important figures (Franco Cristaldi, Sophia Loren, Quentin Tarantino, etc.), in a special program dedicated to the 90th anniversary of Istituto Luce. 
CIS Press Conference.
Photo Credit: Ana Lydia Ochoa-Monaco

The Festival will also be screening Italy's Official Oscar submission, Caeser Must Die, about a director staging Shakespeare's Julius Caesar in Rome's maximum security Rebibbia prison. Fans of classic Italian cinema will enjoy films featuring two of cinema's most celebrated actresses, Ingrid Bergman and Sophia Loren.

Visit the following link to view the schedule of the documentaries shown at the Italian Cultural Institute, November 12th - 21stICI-DOCUMENTARIES and download the full schedule and synopsis of the movies shown at Cinema Italian Style, hereCINEMA ITALIAN STYLE

Learn more about the “25 Years in Cinema Paradiso” at the Italian Cultural Institute, here: ITALIAN CULTURAL INSTITUTE

For more information and to purchase tickets, visit: AmericanCinematheque, to view press conference photos, click here.

Friday, October 31, 2014

My Ode to Bicha

Life is so surreal.

Sometimes its amazing and everything is perfect. Other times, life occurrences shake you out of your core.

This week happens to be one of those weeks.

I started with great news on the work and school front; and my married life is on an upswing right now. Overall, things are good.

One thing you might not know is that I also have a family. Besides my hubby, I also have two younger brothers and a sister. Like myself, they are all married. My father, as you may have figured out through my musings, died a few years back - suddenly.

I also have a mom, who survived through Stage Three breast cancer, and that currently lives in one of my childhood homes.

But one person that I have failed to share anything about is my maternal grandmother, who I lovingly named Bicha. (more to that later).

It's because of her sudden, but expected, passing this week, that my life has turned upside down.

Like my father who was my rock, my Bicha also had a significant role in my life. She was my soul and second mom.

She was the woman that held me first, bathed me first, had the challenge of defending me among those that were not happy with my birth, and the woman that believed in my creative talent. So much so, that we continuously discover small scraps of paper that had my drawings on them - because one day they would be "fashion designs" - that my grandma kept in her drawers.  She believed in my that much.

She was also the woman that would stay behind with me in the house or kitchen, when everyone else was playing outside, because I was either too sick, too weak or too allergic to the sun (grass or anything else) to be outside with others. It's because of this that I learned to cook and experiment in the kitchen.

She was the woman that wouldn't push me to play, but instead commended my passion in reading, understood my need for space and selective introversion.

When I worked at Kmart, she was known to go to mass and walk over to the store - only to spend the entire day there and watch me work. That gave her great pleasure.

When I started attending college, she would turn the door knob late at night to check-in on me while I was studying. The "click-click" of the door knob was an annoyance at the time, but is now a sweet story of how much she cared and how proud she was that I was focused on my education.

While few people outside of my family met her, I did make it a point to have her come to a work event one time. I was proud to show her off and was giddy that for once, she could see my professional workspace instead of the retail environment she remembered.

She was unique and many might call outspoken to the point of having sometimes little to no filter, but classy and proud. Traits that I have picked-up unknowingly.

Separated from her abusive husband before her marriage hit the ten year mark, she and my mom made their way through life and eventually immigrated to the US in the early 60s. Other than a couple of years in the 90s, my grandmother has lived with us her whole life until her Alzhiemer's was too severe to live at home. My father, who was like her son, had the biggest problem with her going into hospice. He felt that we were giving up on her. But he never did. Until his death in 2005, he would visit my grandmother two, sometimes up to four times a day. More so that my mom.  They were that close.

So when my dad died, my grandmother took a turn for the worse. Although she far outlived every prediction by most doctors, she was still my grandma, my Bicha, and it hurts so much to have to say bye to her body although her mind has been gone for so long.

My husband never had the fortune of tasting her amazing food, watching her belly laughs over some out-of-sorts jokes, and her her stories about Mexico in the early 19th century and how much Southern California had changed since her arrival.

My friends have only heard my stories about my amazing Bicha traveling to France, Spain, Rome and Israel, by herself, and having the fortune of meeting Pope John Paul II - but will never look into her beautiful blue eyes as they opened in wonderment when talking about those moments.

My colleagues will never hear from her lips the reason to be grateful and always give back to those in need, while I proudly share how my grandmother was involved in not one, but several charity organizations.

My girlfriends will never have the fortune of walking through a store with my grandmother and be educated on the (lost) fine art of couture dress making or watch Bicha's nimble hands create beautiful fashion.

I didn't the fortune of having my Bicha make my wedding dress or blessing my marriage. Seeing my home or sharing, in conversation, what my life is now like. I haven't felt the touch of her hands rubbing my legs or forehead in years, and her amazing recipes are all but a distant memory.

Truth be told, her mind has been gone for so long, that I had avoided bringing much attention to her not being part of important life milestone because I selfishly didn't want to be reminded of how much I missed her.

It pains to hear anyone call her by the name given to her in my infant giberish as if they knew her like I did. Like my siblings did. Or even understand what the significance of Bicha was to me. To us.

Bicha, as odd as it may seem, was meant to be Mama Luisa. But to an infant learning to speak, the letters melded together and came out as Bicha. I was never corrected, or if I was, in my headstrong way, I kept it. My siblings adopted it, and there you have it.

It was a term of endearment, a name that most people didn't understand or cared to learn how it came to be. And now that others use it, it bothers me. It was like a secret society name for the four grandchildren that were more than that. We were, in essence, her children.

It's because of this that it was so hard for me to see her slowly deteriorate by Alzheimers. Not ready to see her go down that dark abyss that is Alzheimers, I continuously challenged her to be the person she always was. Some may call it cruel, but I was being as tough with her because the moment I gave in, I saw it as giving up on her. She didn't deserve that.

So while others, family even, avoided the subject or pretended it wasn't happening, it was. I saw it. I lived through it..and it wasn't pretty. Alzheimer's a horrid way to go.

As a grandchild, I lived with her the longest out of anyone. No one deserves to forget their life. No one deserves to be a shell of who they were...and I was mad. I am mad.

Although she left in the middle of a dream, the last ten years were robbed from all of us...and void from her time on this earth.  I am also hurt and feel slighted...and I am still mad. Very.

I wish I had better words to describe this incredible loss...but all I can muster is thinking back to the moments when my Bicha was alive and as spunky as ever. All I can do, right now, is cry about the woman she was when alive and well...not the shell of the body that has now left us.

I'm going through her words and trying to remember what it felt like to lay next to her as a child and feel her beautiful skin warm my body. I repeat the songs, that she composed for each of the four of us, to help us sleep and that we later tried to sing-along as a way to recreate the childhood moments.

I now weep, both loudly and in silence, trying to trace back every important moment as if to register them on a list - trying not to forget anything. Trying not to forget the Bicha that was well, and not the body that has now left us.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Sue Wong Spring 2015 Collection

Tiers, sparkles, and headpieces OH MY!  

The Sue Wong Spring 2015 collection channeled vintage frocks from prohibition with the swag of the Victorian era. Intricate appliqué’s, swinging fringe, delicate tiers, and glitzy head pieces adorned swan-like models as they glided down the runway last Wednesday at LA’s The Reef for Style Fashion Week. Paparazzi and the red carpet, celebrities including rocker Dave Navarro, and the Queen of Contrast herself, Sue Wong were all a part of the 900+ people who were there to swoon over her latest collection. 
Having come to LA right out of college to make my own name in the fashion world, I have never been on the media side of a runway show nor have I been fortunate enough to have worked on a production at this level so even I was bright-eyed and bushy tailed getting my Media pass and being escorted into the tent. Swarming with productive worker bees, I was placed in the photographers area and quickly made friends with other bloggers and professionals, all of whom knew that this show was the show to see during Style Week. Bonding over our love of good food, Hank West offered to share the beautiful photos he captured from the professional platform that little ol’ bloggers like myself could not inhabit, so we have Hank to thank for these striking images, thank you Hank!

Fairies & Sirens was the name of the collection but nothing about the looks said mystical woodland creatures and singing temptress’s BUT it was a stunning collection of elegant gowns and dramatic headpieces. Tiers were huge on this runway. Tiers of ruffles, tiers of fringe, tiers of  flowing fabric, tiers of applique, tiers, tiers, tiers! Reminiscent of the 1920’s, the tiers created great movement in each garment that was slightly mesmerizing to watch. fringe, delicate tiers, and glitzy head pieces adorned swan-like models as they glided down the runway last Wednesday at LA’s The Reef for Style Fashion Week. Paparazzi and the red carpet, celebrities including rocker Dave Navarro, and the Queen of Contrast herself, Sue Wong were all a part of the 900+ people who were there to swoon over her latest collection. 

Having come to LA right out of college to make my own name in the fashion world, I have never been on the media side of a runway show nor have I been fortunate enough to have worked on a production at this level so even I was bright-eyed and bushy tailed getting my Media pass and being escorted into the tent. Swarming with productive worker bees, I was placed in the photographers area and quickly made friends with other bloggers and professionals, all of whom knew that this show was the show to see during Style Week. Bonding over our love of good food, Hank West offered to share the beautiful photos he captured from the professional platform that little ol’ bloggers like myself could not inhabit, so we have Hank to thank for these striking images, thank you Hank!

Fairies & Sirens was the name of the collection but nothing about the looks said mystical woodland creatures and singing temptress’s BUT it was a stunning collection of elegant gowns and dramatic headpieces. Tiers were huge on this runway. Tiers of ruffles, tiers of fringe, tiers of  flowing fabric, tiers of appliqué, tiers, tiers, tiers! Reminiscent of the 1920’s, the tiers created great movement in each garment that was slightly mesmerizing to watch. fringe, delicate tiers, and glitzy head pieces adorned swan-like models as they glided down the runway last Wednesday at LA’s The Reef for Style Fashion Week. Paparazzi and the red carpet, celebrities including rocker Dave Navarro, and the Queen of Contrast herself, Sue Wong were all a part of the 900+ people who were there to swoon over her latest collection.


The dropped waist was also a huge trend that these slender models wore beautifully. The silhouette a dropped waist creates is classic and elegant.  And the headdresses! Absolutely stunning! I am actively looking or a job where I can rock these dramatic headpieces on a regular basis. The detailed Victorian-esq fabrics in muted shades of peach and caramels were a direct contrast to the hard rock music the models bounced down the runway to. Sue Wong is a proclaimed ‘study in contrasts’ so this juxtaposition was received well by the varied audience members. She breaks up the collection with a serious of colorful, whimsey gowns that scream spring but it was the opulent and ornate gowns that the collection was all about. Breathtaking to watch come down the runway and even more so up close where you could really see the hours and hours of work that went into each piece. Another contrasting moment was when Dave Navarro, known for his music and tattoos joined Sue Wong on stage. I am not sure the connection these two have but I am sure of one thing ladies; Dave Navarro is the new black. 


One of the most creative and passionate designers in the industry, Sue Wong shows who and what she is with each collection. She is an inspiration not only to fashionistas but to every women in need of letting their inner goddess shine. An amazing and unforgettable experience, Sue Wong floored not only me but everyone in her presence that night. 

Contributed by Candice Sola

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Join me at MOLAA's Noche de Ofrendas, a Dia de los Muertos Celebration in Long Beach

This is a Sponsored Post. All Opinions my Own.


















Dia de los Muertos was not a holiday that I celebrated as a child, or was even aware of...until I lived in Guadalajara, Mexico.

The beautiful marigolds, colorful altars, and special foods, all to honor the deceased, were something that fascinated me. Instead of the dark and somber ways to mourn those that left us, three days at the end of October, which coincide with Halloween, are recognized by many Latinos as a celebration of the life of those gone.

When we returned to the US, this cultural and religious celebration was long forgotten until a college friend told me about the Day of the Dead traditions in East LA.

I have since attended a few Day of the Dead events throughout Los Angeles. Some are focused on the religious aspect of the holiday, while others steer far from it and highlight the cultural and artistic elements of Day of the Dead. Some, much larger Day of the Dead celebrations, tend to attract a younger crowd - mostly in lieu of Halloween (Which Day of the Dead has nothing to do with). But, as beautiful and culturally significant these events are and have been, what has been missing, until now, is an upscale Day of the Dead celebration that both honors its religious and cultural past, while embracing the holiday it has now become in the US.

As an icon of Latino culture in Southern California, the Museum of Latin American Art (MOLAA) in Long Beach, is planning to do just that and created a Noche de Ofrendas, a Dia de los Muertos Celebration.

Planned for Saturday, October 25, from 7 p.m. - 12 a.m., the (adult-only) Day of the Dead celebration at MOLAA includes artwork and celebrity-inspired altars designed by the event’s honorary curator, Tony Dominguez, recognized as one of the greatest papier-mâché artists, and altars inspired by other celebrities including Hector Elizondo, star of the film The Book of Life, filmmaker Sergio Arau (A Day Without a Mexican), lifestyle reporter and Good Day LA host Mar Yvette, and television star Valente Rodriguez (The George Lopez Show). 

A special live theatrical performance of La Muerte Vive—Where Rock Opera Meets Cabaret, produced by Dominguez, in addition to musical performances from Rocio Libertad Mendoza with Trio Alma y Alma, Casa de Calacas, Macondo y su Sonora, and DJ Brazilia, will all provide entertainment.

The evening will also include a silent auction, Calavera (skull) face painting, an array of traditional Mexican cuisine, and tequila-based libations created by Herradura’s star mixologist, Damian Diaz.

Limited event tickets which benefit MOLAA’s exhibition and art education initiatives are available by calling 562.437.1689 or click here. For additional event information, contact 562.437.1689. 


You can also learn more about MOLAA by following their social media handles:


Twitter handle: https://twitter.com/molaa

See you on Saturday! I'll be the tall Latina dressed in black :)

This Sponsored Post was Brought to you by MOLAA, The Museum of Latin American Art.
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