Tourism of my body

(disclaimer: this whole blog seems a tad inappropriate for some reason, but I can´t quite put my finger on it to tell the stories differently so excuse any unintended raciness)

I´ve spent a lot of time in the last 2 months exploring my body, learning about all the ways it works and breaks. In January I had the New Year´s resolution to be more flexible and to learn how to do a handstand, so through yoga and other excercises I´ve been trying to accomplish both.

Going to India in February was inspiring for my yoga hobby, and I discovered ayurvedic massage.  Its supposed to do wonders for your body and well-being, and I´m sure it does when done correctly, but its also created the perfect tourist trap for any entrepreneur who has a massage table, some oil, and two hands. I woke up one morning after a 10-hour overnight train ride and discovered the hard way how uncomfortable third class beds are; my upper back was all out of wack so I paid the $9 it cost for a 30 minute “authentic massage,” but it ended up being a wooden table, laminated with that plasticy kitchen counter stuff, a moldy pillow, and cooking oil lathered all over me by a hefty little Indian woman in the back of her shop shack. Needless to say it didnt help much, but when I got to Canada a few weeks later I saw a massage therapist, a chriporactor, and a Chinese/Japanese homeopath all for the first time.

The homeopath walked me through a series of excercises I should do to correct my over-arched lower back (too many years of horse backriding makes me stick my ass out and chest up in a very latina way), said I may have mild scoliosis, and taught me my right leg is slightly crooked from my hip joint being “unsettled.” Then he stuck a bunch of needles in my back for my first acupuncture treatment, which wasn´t that painful except for the fact I had gotten both my left side wisdom teeth pulled that morning and I couldn´t think about anything else.

Then I saw a chiropractor who got me butt naked to look at my spine and said I didn´t have any abnormal curvature, but that I did have flat feet and would need orthodics for a cool $700. Then he cracked me all over, including my pelvis to make my right hip straight, before taking my feet prints for my new orthodics.

The massage therapist was a big English guy who taught me I had tight hamstrings since I couldn´t touch the back of my legs to the bed when laying on my back. He taught me excercies to fix that, and then suggested I sleep with my feet tied together to keep my pelvis straight. The massage he gave me was actually the most wonderful release of tension in my lower back and around my neck, and I felt noticeably better when leaving his office instead of bruised and battered.

I´ve got my new orthodics in my favourite shoes now and hopefully something good is going on in the inner workings of my ageing body… although I don´t notice any $700 differences. Getting an ergonomic desk set up was one thing they all told me to do, as well as have lumbar support when I´m sitting or driving for long periods. Sadly most of my sitting for long periods occurs infront of a piano or my laptop and I´m not sure how to make them more comfortable. I learned I shouldn´t sit cross legged since itll make my right leg crooked again, carry heavy bags on my back, or sit on horses or stand in dance posture because its bad for my lower back, but unfortunately, I dont think giving up my favourite yoga pose, backpacking, riding, or dancing is going to happen anytime soon… but I have learned a lot about my body and perhaps when I´m old and broken one day I´ll atleast know why and how to fix it 🙂

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Coachella

Coachella Main Stage, as it finally cools down on Saturday evening and people wait for Mumford & Sons to play

Coachella Valley is in the middle of the desert, a few hours east of Los Angeles, and hosts this amazing 3 day music festival every April. Its a pretty young festival, started in 1999, and was only 1 or 2 days long in years prior with headliners like Madonna, Prince and Björk. This year, it was the Chemical Brothers, Arcade Fire, and Kanye West, plus another 120 other bands/musicians playing 6 different stages from 11am til 1 am every day. It was so overwhelming and incredible, scrambling among 75,000 other spectators to try and watch everyone you wanted to see, but with 6 stages running consecutively and only 1 hr sets, it was impossible to see all your favourite artists.

On day 1, it was, like every other day, over 35°C, and exhausting to just be outside in the dry desert sun. But we started the day right, poolside at La Quinta resort, where 30 of us friends were staying together in 2 houses. There was dozens, hundreds maybe. of other Coachellers (I think I may have made up that word) in the same resort, drinking, tanning and dancing poolside as well, showing off their beautiful beach bodies and fashion savvy Hollywood bathingsuits and sunglasses. Everyone there was beautiful, between the ages of 20-30, so I couldn’t actually pick out the models and actors in attendance from everyone else.

pool party at La Quinta

It took over an hour to drive the 5 miles to the festival parking lot; moving an inch a minute with no air conditioning at 12 noon = not so pleasant. But, then we spent the day watching Cee Lo Green, Lauryn Hill, Arojack, Interpol, the Black Keys, Kings of Leon and the Chemical brothers, so an overall great day. Day 2 and 3 started the same way, with martinis for breakfast and some excellent DJ and sound system setting a great vibe around the pool. Trying to deal with the heat of the day knowing that sunset brought pretty chilly temperatures was a daily battle, but the strategy was to always be in the midst of a crowd, running between stages, or dancing your butt off to stay warm. Although, a few times a day, you had to stop for food, water, and just sit for a while to make sure you made it… On the second day, we watched Erykah Badu, Laidback Luke, Yelle, the New Pornigraphers, Broken Social Scene, Bright Eyes, the Kills, Mumford & Sons, Empire of the Sun, Paul van Dyk, Arcade Fire, the Scissor Sisters and finally Steve Angello. We only took a few minutes to park that day, but an hour to leave – I’m not sure how it was so difficult to get cars in an out of huge fields onto 60mph roads with no traffic lights.

There was one tent called the Do Lab between the main stage and the Sahara tent, so whenever I was walking between them I would stop into Do Lab to get water sprinkled. The music there was some of the best, all disc jockeyed, but the main highlight there was watching Lucent Dossier Vaudeville circus perform. Its hard to describe exactly what you were watching, but it was like Cirque du Soleil meets Stomp, with the wardrobe from Pirates of the Caribbean, directed by Tim Burton to dub step music. Absolutely sensational.

the Burning Man inspired tent, with water sprayers soaking the crowd and some great dubstep

We spent the least amount of time day 3, but still managed to see Nas & Damien Marley, Sven Vath, Duck Sauce, Death from Above 1979, Duran Duran, Chromeo, the Strokes, PJ Harvey, Bloody Beetroots, Axwell, the Presets and Kanye West in 6 hours. At the end of the festival, I had found $110 on the ground, so almost half of my $300 ticket was paid back to me just by attending. My list of highlights changes everytime I tell the story because I can’t actually remember who I saw or when or where, but it was an amazing three days of music and fun. Put it on your bucketlist if it’s not already.

See http://www.coachella.com/event/set-times for the complete lineup, it’ll blow your mind!

Classical Music is food for my soul

I love watching the symphony play because every time I see classical music performed live, I feel soul-fed. It´s like some inexplicable therapy session that totally destresses me, and as I enjoy all that alone time to think and digest my day, my life, the future, I actually feel calm inside instead of pressured or worried. Its probably one of the few times where I´m actually not daydreaming about travel, and instead totally infatuated with the lead violinist or the piano soloist.

In the last few weeks I´ve had some good soul food servings, and nicely varied with 3 different symphonies and one church choir. In March I watched the San Francisco Symphony play at Davies Hall in downtown San Fran and just the venue itself already creates a reverent atmosphere preparing you for the meditative experience you´re about to have. The soloist was a Swedish mezzo-soprano, Anne Sofie von Otter, who sang a Brahms serenade and a selection of Scandinavian songs. Taking in the view from the 3rd floor balcony over Civic Center and Van Ness Avenue during intermission is an important part of the Davies Hall experience, as is being the one of the youngest people there by 40 years.

A few weeks later I watched the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra play a Russian-themed concert matinee at the Orpheum. This is an extraordinary venue only from the inside since there´s almost no way to know which building the performance hall is actually in from busy Granville street. Indie musicians, rock bands and jazz artists all share this stage, and besides the symphony I´ve seen Nina Simone,  David Gray and Sigur Ros all play the Orpheum, but still the symphony best suits the building decor. A classy afternoon with my family listening to Rachmaninoff symphony no. 2 and some Prokofiev had me daydreaming about Rachmaninoff´s piano concerto that was meant to be played but somehow got switched.

Since being back in Iceland, I took advantage of one of the last symphonies to be plaid by the Icelandic Symphony Orchestra at the University of Iceland since they are going to be housed at the brand-new, world renound Harpa Concert Hall opening next month in the Reykjavik downtown. Its located in the harbour literally ontop of the ocean with beautiful views and an unbelievable performance hall. But, for now, they play at the movie theatre with mediocre acoustics and uncomfortable seats, but tickets are only 1700kr for students and an all-Tchaikovsky program still impressed. It was conducted by a very flamboyant, 50-something year old Swedish guy, famous for being a trombone virtuoso, but will forever be remembered as the conductor in way-too-tight pants and a purple satin, bamboo print, made-in-China blouse that he managed to totally sweat through as he jumped and danced his whole way through the program with more energy than everyone else in the house combined. The program opened with Capriccio Italien, followed by Tchaikovsky´s violin concerto performed by the very young, Armenian Mikhail Simonyan who later joined the 5th violinists to sight-read through Symphony number 5.

the organ at Hallgrimskirkja

The most spiritual soul food I´ve had lately is definitely listening to the Hallgrims Church Choir sing a Bach program for passover/easter. Hallgrimskirkja is a typical protestant church with no decorations and a hollow, concrete interior that gives the choir an even more angelic sound. The natural acoustics, the epic organ, and the sun rays shining in through the windows giving each choir member its own halo make everything come together for the sweetest sound, and the experience of listening to all this with a live orchestra and a few soloists singing the story of Jesus´death are bound to bring you either to peace, to tears, or a little chat with God.