Prague is known as the “Paris of the East” and though I hear several other cities also lay claim to this title, it’s easy to see why Prague (known locally as “Praha“) is a serious contender.
As we walked toward the historic Old Town Square our first night in the city – also New Year’s Eve – scenes straight from the illustrated pages of a fairy tale dazzled our senses. Our double-socked, insulated boots tread on cobblestone roads and sidewalks slick from evaporating snow. We strode past vibrantly-colored edifices, red tiled-roofs and magnificent Gothic cathedrals – a city oozing with charm.
As I experienced in Paris, I wondered if city officials flooded the air with happy molecules. You can’t help but feel more buoyant; shielded from life’s little worries for a moment as you absorb it all.
When we reached the picturesque square, we knew we’d made the right decision to skip out on the rest of our Berlin trip and take a detour to Prague. Within minutes of integrating ourselves into the large crowd of merry faces – young, old and in between – the last of the gloomy essence of Berlin fled from our psyches.
A massive, beautifully-trimmed Christmas tree dominated the square; an enthusiastic Czech rock band on a stage with “2015” brandished in roman numerals on a bright yellow awning, entertained the gathered, some of whom blared noisemakers, others who relied on their own vocal cords to make noise; while others drank from cans of Pilsner Urquell because drinking on the street in Prague? No worries there.
Prague knows how to throw a New Year’s Eve party! Minutes before midnight, we filed out the Irish pub we’d settled in earlier, and with the rest of the new year celebrants converged on the town square for the countdown to midnight. The magical fireworks show began the second the clock struck “12” and seemed to continue for hours, never wavering in its power to delight. The party really didn’t stop ’til (at least) “6 in the morning.”
One good thing I got from Berlin: pre-party beverages in the form of Smirnoff mixed drinks in CANS. Yeah buddy!
Fireworks in Old Town Square
Prague’s French influence is also evident in its many brasseries, bistros and patisseries, a handful of which are Michelin-starred or Michelin-recommended. Just when we thought our Europe trip would be light on food memories. Z and I were brunch buddies when we both lived in Los Angeles, so it’s fitting that we welcomed 2015 with a late-morning meal at a darling French restaurant and patisserie, Au Gourmand, whose window display of pastries beckon the sweet-toothers and the savory-seekers alike.
I don’t usually order omelets because I prefer my eggs cooked otherwise, but I had a feeling Au Gourmand would make a great one and they did. This simple ham and cheese omelet was deliciously worth stepping out of my egg comfort zone.
Photo courtesy of Z
After a satisfying brunch we revisited the Old Town Square to take it in during the light of day.
Eating a Kielbasa in Prague
For someone like me who hates being among huge crowds of people wandering aimlessly, visiting the Charles Bridge – probably one of Prague’s most spectacular and most visited sites – should have been a nightmare. Everyone in Prague seemed to have descended upon the bridge that day. Yet, as we slowly traversed the bridge with the throng of others, noticing an over-abundance of selfie-sticks rising above the mass, I was so taken by the wondrous view all around me, I felt temporarily insulated from annoyance. Is this place for real?
The centuries old Charles Bridge connects Prague’s Old Town (or Stare Miasto) to Lesser Town (Malá Strana) across the Vltava River. Along the nearly 1/2 mile long bridge, in addition to stunning views of the city, you’ll find local artists and craftspeople selling their work as souvenirs, musicians entertaining for tips, striking religious imagery, as well as two imposing Gothic towers flanking each end of the pedestrian thoroughfare.
For the first dinner of 2015, we kept the French theme going and enjoyed a fantastic meal at Chez Marcel that had me happy dancing in my seat with each course.
They had menus in English as well as Czech
Interior – walls decorated with vintage posters and advertisements
This delicious dessert of fondant au chocolat oozed warm chocolate once punctured. It paired well with the cool ice cream.
Rack of lamb cooked medium, with gnocchi-like Czech dumplings and a sweet spinach
Wanting a view of Prague from above, we returned to the Charles Bridge the next day and to our delight, found the number of people greatly reduced from the New Year’s Day horde and much easier to navigate. Ascending the narrow steps to the top of the Lessor Town Bridge Tower – one of the two towers that stand on each end of the Charles Bridge – led us to views so magnificent, I know why the term “breathtaking” became such a writing cliché.
Old Town Bridge Tower leading to the Charles Bridge
On the other side of the tower exists the incongruously named Lessor Town, home of the grand and architecturally-striking Prague Castle, where the President of the Czech Republic resides.
The night landscape lit romantic views on the way back into Old Town.
Sculpture by famous Czech artist, David Černý. as seen in the courtyard of the Franz Kafka museum.
Dinner that night, our last in the city, delivered another solid dining experience courtesy of GamberoRosso serving up Italian cuisine like the black risotto with prawns I ordered.
Prague charmed me to the core and ranks highly on my mental list of favorite world cities. I couldn’t have asked for a better place to ring in the New Year!
I liked Berlin when my friend and I arrived in the sprawling German capital a week ago. Our hostel was in Friedrichshain, where our cab driver told us – in heavily German-accented English – is a “good area with lots of clubs. If you come to Berlin to party, you are in the right place!” In fact, the hostel is directly across the street from a club, as well as the S-Bahn – one of the two main railways in Berlin. Not only that, the infamous Berlin Wall that divided East and West Berlin for nearly 30 years until 1989, was just a five-minute walk away.
The East Side Gallery of what remains of the Berlin Wall displays the work of artists from across the world.
In search of breakfast one morning – I hadn’t seen an egg in almost two weeks; plenty of beef, pork and pastries though – we stumbled into the Kreuzberg neighborhood. A gritty enclave which, in appearance, reminds me of Queens, New York with the train rattling on rails up above, graffiti-painted apartment buildings and restaurants serving up cuisine from different nations. Sadly, we didn’t consume any eggs that day. December 26th is a holiday in Germany and as we discovered, many businesses closed up shop.
Spree River and the Oberbaum Bridge which connects Friedrichshain to Kreuzberg
Oberbaum Bridge connects Friedrichshain to Kreuzberg
Super long German word for health center
On a 2.5 hour walking tour our second day in Berlin – on the coldest day we experienced on our trip so far; Z worried her frozen pinky toes would die and fall off – we consumed what our New Zealander turned Berliner guide, Stephanie, told us amounted to “800 years of German history in one afternoon.”
Brandenburg Gate, the center of NYE festivities
Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe contains 2711 stone slabs. The slabs do not have particular meaning, the memorial is designed to make the viewer think.
Hitler and Eva Braun’s bunker until the end of the war before they killed themselves. It looks like a parking lot because the German’s want to be careful not to appear to be celebrating Hitler’s life.
Santa Claus at the mall in Berlin
Santa Claus at the mall in Berlin
One of the few structures to withstand the destruction of war
Memorial to Germans who were massacred as a result of standing up against communism.
This mural painted on a one of the walls of the former Mural on Outside the Former Headquarters of the Former Headquarters of the Luftwaffe HQ represents the ideals of what communism could be. It’s the same length as the pool that represents the deaths of those who died as a result of communism gone wrong.
This mural painted on a one of the walls of the former Mural on Outside the Former Headquarters of the Former Headquarters of the Luftwaffe HQ represents the ideals of what communism could be. It’s the same length as the pool that represents the deaths of those who died as a result of communism gone wrong.
The remains of the Berlin Wall across from the former HQ of the Luftwaffe. A number of employees in the building would try to scale the wall via multiple means, including zipline, to escape East Berlin, knowing they risked being shot by officers who were incented to shoot escapees.
Humboldt University, one of Berlin’s oldest unis
After the walking tour we sought warmth at the charming Christmas market, or Gendarmenmarkt, in a beautiful square between two impressive cathedrals.
This darling group sang german carols the crowd knew the words to, and though we didn’t, it was still fun to watch and glove-clap along.
My dinner: bratwurst, damn good sauerkraut and Hefeweizen in Germany!!
The next day, in search of an eggy breakfast once again, we ventured to the adorable Café im Literaturhaus near Kurfürstendamm (Ku’damm). If Kruezberg is Queens, Ku’damm, Berlin’s glitzy shopping avenue – like a Champs-Élysées sister – is the Upper East Side in Manhattan. Boutiques, shops, restaurants and cafes line the over two-mile long destination, along with seasonal Christmas pop-up stands shilling roasted chestnuts, crepes, Glühwein and sausage wursts, among other goodies. People packed the shops and the “queues” for dressing rooms and cash registers wound through doors and around corners.
On the train ride to Ku’daam we witnessed an old couple go off on young Arab woman because the old woman tripped over the woman’s foot.
The woman and her husband berated the bewildered young woman for minutes in harsh German tones. We have no idea what they were going on about, but that would not have been me sitting there. No sir. Not gonna yell at me with some nonsense. We shared sentimental looks with the woman. That couple was out of line.
Unfortunately, we arrived at Literaturhaus minutes too late for breakfast. Foiled again! As we were waiting for our server to clear the table she led us to, a tall dirty-blond haired man moved my friend with a slight push to her back and said tersely, “you have to get out of the way.” I looked askance at his back as he exited the restaurant, shocked at his rudeness.
People behaving like jackholes aside, we enjoyed lunch instead and followed it up with a bit of shopping on the avenue.
Serrano ham sandwich in a baguette with egg at Literaturhaus cafe
Organic rhubarb lemonade
i don’t pop Molly’s, I rock Christian Dior…or at least I pretend to in German malls.
Firecrackers for sale at the mall
Firecrackers for sale at the mall
I finally saw eggs of the scrambled form the day before we left Berlin when we returned to Literaturhaus the following day. Yippee!
Beautifully presented eggs and bacon on a bed of “hush” browns (as printed on the menu).
Berlin’s reputation as a party city, with one of the world’s largest New Year’s Eve celebrations, is why we chose it for NYE festivities. To get a taste of the Berlin nightlife in prep for the over-hyped holiday eve, one night we piled on our multiple layers of clothing – sexy – and headed out tor Clärchens Ballhaus in Mitte, because who doesn’t want to go dance it up with Germans in a ballhaus/biergarten/dance club/restaurant?
The clientele was a mix of people I couldn’t figure out: a tall white-haired couple knocked back Berliners (the local beer) like pros; a female couple dance seductively nearby; assertive to the point of nearly-aggressive men stared lasciviously at women whose gaze met theirs and tried to find ladies to bump and grind; other couples – both straight and gay – danced and sang to American songs sung by a fun German cover band. They performed “Hey Ya” by Outkast among other popular former American Top 40 hits.
The kitsch of the place made the evening fun, but if I lived in the area I am not sure it’d be a regular haunt.
Like Copenhagen, smoking in bars is legal, which for this non-smoking Californian is tough to endure for too long.
On another night we joined a pub crawl which Z and I both agree was a boring mess. I’ve had more fun at the dentist. At least my dentist tries to make conversation with me, unlike the surprisingly unfriendly Australians on the crawl with whom I attempted to make conversation. Also unlike the three crawl hosts who spent more time socializing with each other than the group. Two French women we talked to betrayed the French reputation for rudeness and were polite and conversational. Unfortunately between their somewhat limited English and our limited French (a few years of French as a kid only gets you so far), conversation grew stilted. We chatted up an American couple from Texas and New Jersey who commented multiple times about how unfriendly they found Germans.
As thankful as we were to meet the outgoing American couple, we were so put off by the group’s lack of cohesion or attempts to remedy it, along with the hosts’ subpar socializing job, we left the pub crawl at the second bar and set off on our own. I wasted a cute outfit and risked a hangover on a lame evening – I doubly resent the pub crawl.
We alternated between walking (an average of 4.5 miles a day), taxis and the U-Bahn and S-Bahn to get around. Buying tickets at the train station amounted to playing a live action “hurt as many people as possible” video game of which you are the main character. Your goal is to buy a train ticket without getting shoved, pushed, hovered over or yelled at. To be fair, whenever someone spoke to me in German I felt like I was being lectured even if they were saying “I like ponies.”
A woman shoved me out of the way at the train station one morning as I was waiting in line for the ticket machine. It left me feeling which left me feeling disrespected. After not quite five days in Berlin, during which both our moods drifted toward “blah,” we realized the overarching sense of misery and general sense of displeasure in the Berlin atmosphere was bringing us down. I tired of either being stared at or ignored. I even had nightmares every night!
A couple of hours later we agreed to a detour in our travel plans and decided to leave Berlin early and spend New Year’s Eve somewhere more pleasant. First though, we visited a place of historical importance, even though it certainly wouldn’t boost our spirits: Sachsenhausen concentration camp.
The train ride to Oranienburg, where the Sachsenhausen former concentration camp exists as a museum and memorial, is about 50 minutes from the center of Berlin. The number of passengers aboard dwindled the further north we traveled, with only a smattering of riders remaining at the train’s last stop. As Z commented to me, “they really did ship people out to the furthest place they could.” Every muscle in my body suddenly seemed to weigh double.
As sunlight gave way to moonlight, we arrived at the snow-covered entrance to one of the most depressing places my mind and body have ever been.
Sachsenhausen operated as a prison, work camp and extermination center from 1936 to 1945. The camp housed close to 200,000 prisoners including criminals (murderers, rapists), Jehovah’s Witnesses, gay people, Jewish people and communists.
Sachsenhausen former concentration camp
Sachsenhausen concentration camp
We didn’t stay long. I feel nauseated the deeper we trekked into the recesses of the grounds. The remaining empty barracks, lit from within, served as a spooky reminder of the purpose they once served. The invisible stench of human depravity leading to human misery hung in the already cold air. Z felt the hairs on the nape of her neck stand at attention. No amount of thought-wangling will make me understand how people can be so disgustingly cruel to each other.
And yet…some people still managed to take photos of themselves smiling in front of the memorials.
The next morning, we boarded a train for the 4.5 hour ride to Prague, Czech Republic in search of warmer people and lifted spirits.
Christmas is kind of a big deal in Denmark. In Copenhagen giant wreaths adorn formidable wooden doors, twinkly lights border shop and restaurant facades and add sparkle to trees and foliage; wishes of “God jul” (Merry Christmas) in ornamental fonts cover storefront windows, and the requisite Christmas fir trees dot the town. On Strøget, a man with an accordion plays melodies that would make the perfect musical backdrop to a romantic comedy.
Every Christmas season, Tivoli, the second oldest amusement park in the world, transform their grounds into a majestic Christmas wonderland making it a perfect destination for families, friends, dates and tourists alike.
Copenhagen begins to quiet down during the week of Christmas. We took advantage of the calm and boarded a train for a 45-minute ride to the city of Helsingør. The city’s most famous attraction is Kronberg Palace, known also as the setting for Shakespeare’s Hamlet. The expansive grounds are magnificent and the atmosphere serene (aside from the occasional piped-in recorded sounds of incoming Calvary). The surrounding town offered its own bright charm.
Had we done a bit more advanced planning we might have joined the ranks of the Danish and tourists filling the city’s restaurants for Christmas Eve dinner. Every restaurant we contacted was booked for the evening.
We stumbled around the nearly soulless streets of Indre By looking for signs of restaurant life. We found our oasis in the form of Sultan Palace and soon other hungry, reservation-less diners joined us for the Turkish buffet.
Christmas morning we awoke to a super gift: snow! A fun treat on our last full day in Copenhagen, especially after endless rain.
This city and its people showed us a great time and we’ll miss the more relaxed pace of life and sense of calm. Now it’s on to the next country’s adventures!
Despite the cloudy skies and ever-present rain, Copenhagen is still quite beautiful. We spent our third day in the city exploring stunning views of the city and some of the art culture it offers.
Just around the block from our hostel we found plenty of architecture and design to marvel over.
View of colorful apartment buildings from our room
We walked along Gothersgade on our way to many destinations.
On the grounds of Rosenborg Castle
Almost everywhere you look the scenery is beautiful.
Hans Christian Andersens Boulevard
What our guide told us he thinks is one of the most beautiful streets in Copenhagen
Seeing Copenhagen from above was a must-do, so we visited the 110ft+ high Rundetaarn (“round tower”) and climbed the unusual spiral passage to the observatory.
After seeing the magnificent Copenhagen cityscape we ambled over to the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, an impressive museum filled with paintings, sculptures and ancient artifacts.
Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek
NY Carlsberg Glyptotek
Inside the museum
The Laurentian Sow
Asklepios, God of Healing
The dimly-lit stairwell that led to the mummies and sarcophaguses.
Sarcophagus of a mummified cat
Inside the Museum
Often our excursions took us down Strøget – one of the longest pedestrian-only streets in Europe – the Fifth Avenue /
Champs-Élysées / Bond Street of Copenhagen with a splash of Melrose Place. Up and down Strøget are shops, restaurants and boutiques hailing from many countries ranging from the most upscale like Gucci to more wallet-friendly options like Zara: a shopper’s paradise. Side note: the Danish are really tall; at 5’1″, I feel like a toddler clumsily climbing onto stools that are too high and ducking the flailing hands of passers-by in conversation.
For dinner that evening, we opted for a Danish meal at a restaurant within the freetown of Christiania, Spiseloppen. To say that the restaurant’s location is sketchy would greatly understate the level of anxiety we felt as we climbed each narrowing step, rising higher and higher away from safer ground, bypassing a group of thuggish-ruggish looking twenty-something men I named the “Danish Get Fresh Crew,” one of whom whistled at us as we passed by. Happily, we avoided our own Law & Order: SVU-type tale when we opened a heavy-wooden door to a perfectly respectable-looking restaurant with an affable host/server and warm and comforting dishes.
Restaurants in the shabby building
Sketchy stairwell of impending doom
Inside the restaurant
Absolutely fantastic, could-eat-it-all-day, parsnip potato leek soup with sour cream and herbs
Fried leg of lamb with julienned creamed potatoes, spinach with feta cheese, corn chips with tzatziki in a lamb sauce with ginger, coriander and chili. Very filling; unique flavors.
Nøddeflorentine Dessert with vanilla, strawberry and chocolate ice cream, apple-blueberry compote and a mango . Dee-lih-cious!
Danish rice pudding with cherry sauce which we were told is a traditional Christmas dessert. I liked the rice pudding, but the cherry sauce was incredibly rich. Still free makes things taste better.
At the end of our meal, our server informed us that it was the last night the restaurant would be open until January 17th. “We’re taking a much-needed break for the holidays.” I told my friend I couldn’t imagine a restaurant in the United States closing for almost a month to give everyone time off. We’re opening up shops on Thanksgiving Day now for goodness’ sake!
In honor of the occasion he comped us free pints of the Danish seasonal holiday beer, Tuborg Julebryg, along with a traditional Danish Christmas dessert or rice pudding topped with a cherry sauce. Tuborg, isn’t my favorite. I must admit, I prefer German and Belgian ales and lagers, but the gesture was kind nonetheless and a lovely way to end a great day.
The Danish guide from the walking tour we took earlier in the day, Magnus, also led that evening’s four-bar pub crawl. The group of about 15 included a few familiar faces from the earlier tour and represented several nations including England, Australia, Columbia, Trinidad, Peru and, of course, Denmark.
Also in our group: two progressively drunker American dudebros. Later in the night, one of the dudebros stumbled in front of a politi (police) car and started to give them lip, which they didn’t find amusing; neither did I and neither did Magnus as he warned, “They don’t like that.” Sigh.
50DKK is a little over US $8.00
The Saloon Bar has free popcorn – one of my favorite bar treats!
Me & Z with (l to r): L from Peru & A & S from England. My fellow afro-haired new friend A made my night when he told me he thought I (and my friend) looked no older than 25. When 22-year olds think you’re in their peer group, it makes you feel good.
Most of the group at Saloon Bar in Copenhagen. We blended quite well and I think everyone had a good time given the smiles and laughter surrounding me.
With the sisters from Australia and _ from Trinidad. We had a fun-spirited debate over who was more talented between Iggy Azalea and Nicki Minaj. You can guess who the Aussies and the Trinidadian chose. I broke the tie with a vote for Nicki.
With two Columbians who told us they are over the jokes about cocaine which I can imagine is even more tiresome for the one woman who is from Medellin.
The next morning jet lag hit me hard. We gave in to the Danish spirit of “hygge” and slept in before starting the day. On the agenda for our afternoon: a free walking tour of the neighborhood Christianshavn and the very unique “freetown” Christiania.
Before the walking tour, we stopped for lunch at a fantastic indoor market, Torvehollerne, the largest food market in Copenhagen, where vendors sell food and goods from around the world.
Open-faced sandwiches, or Smørrebrød, are popular in Danish cuisine. It’s not just the taste that’s important with these buttered, rye-bread based sandwiches; presentation matters, as well.
One of the two buildings that make up Torvehollerne in Copenhagen
A Spanish tapas place next to a French gastronomy mini-restaurant.
Smørrebrød with smoked salmon with a tart cream sauce. Tasty.
I didn’t catch the name of this sandwich, but from what I gathered, it’s an egg salad on rye bread topped with pickled herring (I think). I liked the egg salad, the pickled meat on the other hand made my cheeks concave.
So much fish for sale in Torvehollerne
When we met up with the tour group, we noticed the Columbian girls from the previous night’s pub crawl and greeted them. Magnus, the wonder guide, led this tour too.
Scenes from Christianshavn
Børsen, the oldest stock exchange in Denmark
“Little Amsterdam” in Christianshavn, Copenhagen
Church of Our Saviour with it’s beautiful spiral has a carillon that plays songs each hour.
On our way to Christiania, a freetown within Christianshavn, Magnus explained some of its history. Christianiais like a hippie commune; the less than 900 residents live a bohemian lifestyle with few rules. One notable rule: no cars allowed. Magnus warned us that by appearance you’d think it’s the kind of place one might avoid: dilapidated buildings; people wearing disheveled, stained clothing; graffiti-covered facades; overgrown flora and an overall sketchy vibe. There are also shops, restaurants and an annual Christmas market within Christiania. Magnus assured us “it’s safe”; probably one of the safest areas in the city.
Within Christiania you’ll find the “Green Light District,” also known as “pusher street,” a small area where dealers openly sell marijuana and hash; no questions asked and no harassment or involvement from law enforcement. As long as no hard drugs are involved, everything is copacetic. Anyone caught with hard drugs has the option of either going to rehab or permanent banishment from the town.
I didn’t take very many photos in Christiania, partly out of respect for the culture and partly out of fear of being kicked out embarrassingly. Photos aren’t allowed within the Green Light District at all.
One of the entrances to Christiania
Seen in Christiania
We were still in Christiania by nightfall when we got caught up in sudden rainstorm that sent everyone scurrying for cover. Once the rain ended, we carefully found our way out of the sparsely-lit, creepy-in-the-dark, maze of Christiania.
Our evening concluded with a French-influenced dinner at Grill Royal.
We arrived in Denmark yesterday afternoon and took it easy our first evening, after a grueling 9 1/2 hour flight. I look forward to one day being able to fly first class on the regular; flying economy on long flights is the pits. Sleeping is more like a series of stiff, fitful and not quite satisfying naps.
For dinner, we dined on hand-crafted burgers at Halifax, a gastropub in Indre By. I once belonged to a burger club, so I’ve tried my fair share of burgers – Halifax makes a respectable burger. We noticed the Danes around us lingered for awhile after their last bites, enrapt in conversation. The staff appeared nonplussed by this. Tipping isn’t a custom at restaurants.
This afternoon, my friend and I took a free 3-hour walking tour of central Copenhagen. Our tour guide was Magnus, a true Dane with blonde hair, blue-eyes and a strong jawline (along with a slightly sarcastic sense of humor). He shared his knowledge of his home country and I learned the following:
1. For years Denmark has held the title “Happiest Country.” Magnus seemed pretty happy, I must say. Certainly proud of his country.
4. Taxes pay for things like college education, which is free for all citizens up through the PhD level. In fact, you get PAID to attend college. The money can be used for rent (you get more if you don’t live with mom and dad), books, food or even beer if you like.
Christiansborg Palace where the Parliament meets
Amalienborg Palace where the royal family lives.
At the Amalienborg Palace – check out the guard behind us.
5. The Danish greatly value the concept of “hygge” (hew-ge), which loosely translates to a feeling of being relaxed, satisfied and unhurried.
6. There is no minimum wage. The average hourly rate is US $50.
7. The standard workweek is 37 hours.
8. Danes get minimum five weeks of paid vacation!
9. Copenhagen is one of the world’s most livable cities with biking a popular mode of transportation.
10. Life in prison in Denmark means 25 years. Prisoners get rooms with beds and are allowed TVs. Once released, the government helps reintegrate former inmates into society.
11. Denmark is also one of the safest countries in the world.
12. It’s legal to drink on the street in Copenhagen.
Our tour guide, Magnus, mid-speech
13. The Danish like being on time, but not early.
14. The Prime Minister, Vice Prime Minister and Queen of Denmark are all female.
15. Denmark has a whole lotta pigs so pork is a very popular dish.
It was a girls night out: sisters and groups of friends; an adorable Girl Scout troop of mostly pre-tween and tween black girls and quite a few mother/daughter pairings attended. One little girl dressed like a little lady wearing pearls and donning an updo, accompanied by her very chic and sophisticated mother who wore an enviable black cape, melted my heart. I attend a lot of plays and as I snarked to my sister, “I don’t think I’ve ever seen this many black people at a play in my life” [Chitlin’ circuit excluded]. I’m so used to being one of few. Even when I saw Porgy and Bess recently, whose cast is majority black, my friend and I were two of a countable number of black people in attendance. I found the audience diversity refreshing.
Keke Palmer delighted as Cinderella. To think that she’s only 21 and has already accomplished so much in her life. Her talent seems boundless.
Sherri Shepherd starred as Cinderella’s mean stepmother. I have had mixed feelings for Sherri in the past. I attended the same acting school she did, years after she moved on, and as one of the school’s success stories, Sherri was often a topic of conversation. It was her stint on The View that soured me though (“I don’t know if the earth is flat” anyone?). I wasn’t sure what to expect from her performance. I’m happy to share that she played the hell out of her character – a hilariously wicked stepmother. I enjoyed ever minute she spent onstage.
The show itself was wonderfully produced, surprisingly funny, and even magical at times. They pulled off the fastest, most seamless costume changes I’ve ever witnessed. After the show, I hustled my sister to the side stage door to wait for the cast to come out and sign autographs.
Both Keke and Sherri braved the chill to take photos with and sign autographs for each and every fan waiting. Impressively, Sherri listened patiently as one fan tried to promote her singing talent to Sherri. Even though the woman had no demo, no videos of her performing or even business cards, Sherri gave her helpful tips for building a foundation for a singing career – even though as she said, “I can’t really do anything for you. I don’t have those connections.” That really endeared her to me.
After our successful celebrity encounters, we headed to Junior’s for a late post-show dinnerand to relive our fantastic evening over cheesecake.
While waiting for the stars to emerge, we had nothing much to do. I opted to ogle the cute security guard.
Playbill with autographs from Sherri Shepherd, Keke Palmer and a few other cast members.
Prince Charming also signed autographs. Yes, in this version Cinderella is about the swirl.
2. On Monday, November 24, after a grand jury in Ferguson, Missouri elected not to indict Officer Darren Wilson for the murder of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown, the mood on Twitter was tense and reactions mixed. #FergusonDecision
3. In response to the Ferguson Decision, many took the protest to their wallets and participated in the anti-Black Friday, national day of activism. #BlackoutBlackFriday calls for those who support the fight against racial injustice to boycott shopping on Black Friday.
Do old people just wait until #Thanksgiving to ask the younger generation of their family EVERY technology question they’ve ever had? — refinery29 (@Refinery29) November 27, 2014
Thanksgiving Dinner was drama-free until Uncle Floyd used gravy to write “Benghazi” in his mashed potatoes. That’s when all hell broke loose — dan mentos (@DanMentos) November 28, 2014
When ur at Thanksgiving dinner with ur girls family and she says “pass me the salt daddy?” And you and her dad reach for it at the same time — Josiah Carpenter (@J_Carp6) November 28, 2014
Aunt Jackie: Who made the Banana Pudding? *somebody in the room raises their hand*Aunt Jackie: Don’t Make It Again.#Thanksgiving — Sampson (@OfficialSampson) November 27, 2014
5. The day after Thanksgiving in the US marks Black Friday – a day when people go Hunger Games on their fellow citizen in the name of shopping. This year, it’s not just Americans going bananas for electronics at reduced prices. #BlackFriday
Just witnessed a woman have her trousers pulled down so another woman could beat her to a TV #BlackFriday — Emma Shackleton (@emmaaxlouise) November 28, 2014
“C’mon ladies, you can do this! 15 more seconds! Think about all the delicious Thanksgiving food you’ll get to have next week. I just made a butternut squash casserole last night to test out and it was so tasty. There’re sweet potatoes, macaroni and cheese, turkey – which I don’t even really like…Why do I have Thanksgiving food on my mind?”
My bubbly Pilates instructor gabbed on about Thanksgiving as we held our planks for what felt like the longest 15 seconds in history. A classmate chimed in: “You have one week and a day!”
What did she say? I cocked my head to the side as we moved on to triceps exercises on the tower.
“It’s next week?!” I asked, more with surprise than an actual need for confirmation.
She nodded and gave me a curious look, probably thinking “How do you not know it’s next week?” I bet she started prepping for it weeks ago. My class is often half-full of these super-stay-at-home moms and sometimes it’s like we speak different languages and live in two different universes. When they get to talking about mom stuff, like leaky post-pregnancy bladders that prevent them from joining in certain jumping exercises, I certainly understand the concept, but I can’t really add much, unless it’s to say, “Oh yeah, I have a few girlfriends that have that problem. My bladder is in tact though; no babies. So..there’s that. Yay, Pilates!”
Well crap, I don’t have plans yet. Where did the time go?
It’s again that time of year where I have to figure out where I’m spending the holidays, so I don’t spend them alone and marathon family- and romance-oriented holiday movies on Hallmark Channel that leave me a blithering mess buried in used tissues. Or log into Facebook, scroll through friends’ festive family photos and magnificent foodscapes of mouth-drooling Instagram-worthy meals, growing bitter and more self-pitying with each “like” of a photo. To top it off, a cheerful type will post,
“Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!!!! 🙂 🙂 I’m so thankful for my blessings and to be here with my loving family on this special day. Enjoy your time with your loved ones everyone!!!!!!! 🙂 !”
Sometimes Facebook is evil.
Most days I’m generally content with singlehood. A notable exception is when the holiday trio of Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Eve roll around. Instead of being filled with glee and anticipation, I feel anxiety: “What am I going to do with myself this year?” These three holidays are when I’m most vulnerable to loneliness and melancholy. It ain’t easy being alone on holidays that revolve around love and togetherness. When these holidays are good, they’re fantastic. If you’re single and your family (of origin) lives states away and other single friends fly off to reunite with their families, these holidays become a source of stress.
Thanksgiving is particularly more difficult to plan for because traditionally, I, like many others, don’t get much time off from work. Flying somewhere for a four-day weekend at Thanksgiving prices doesn’t seem smart. So, you’re alone. What to do?
The single folks aren’t the first thing that come to mind when most people are planning Thanksgiving and Christmas feasts. It’s nothing personal, I’m sure. They’re just focused on their families. I’ve done a few Friendsgivings with other single friends in the past. I could never find a consistent group though; people kept moving. I’ve spent a few Thanksgivings with other friends’ families. Though, I can’t help but feeling like “one of these people doesn’t belong.”
I’ve volunteered a couple of times. I don’t much like volunteering for holidays. It’s a lot like being a regular gym-goer on January 2nd. Suddenly the gym is packed with people who’ve vowed to get fit this year! By February 2nd, the gym is back to normal.
I’ve spent at least one Thanksgiving and one Christmas alone and I didn’t really care for it. Though, you can’t spend the holidays with just anybody.
Sometimes you get the pity invites. Where, for instance, a random coworker asks what your plans are for Thanksgiving and you panic because you don’t have plans yet, but you don’t want to say that and seem like a friendless loser. You also don’t want to lie, so you casually answer, “I don’t know yet…” Trailing off to allude to the million wonderful invitations you are sifting through. They reply, with an undercurrent of hesitance, “Well…you’re welcome to spend the holiday with my family. My grandma’s kind of racist, haha, but she’s harmless. I’m sure she’ll like you. I’ll have to check with my husband/sister/cousin/brother/mother/uncle’s wife’s dog first. I’m sure it’ll be fine though! The more the merrier, right?”
You know they’re just being polite and given you don’t even hang out outside of work, spending an intimate holiday together might be a little awkward.
Or you accept a friend’s invitation to dinner with her family who isn’t American, so Thanksgiving means something entirely different to them. Ordinarily you love to eat myriad cuisine, but on Thanksgiving you just want Thanksgiving food, there are 364 other days in the year to eat other stuff. You can’t complain though. Your friend invited you and that was very sweet of her, so shut up and eat the rice.
Also, why does everyone in California eat pumpkin pie? Has no one never heard of the far superior sweet potato pie?
Yes, I like marshmallows on my sweet potatoes; no I don’t think it’s too sweet. My family originated in the South – well, after Africa – I want my Thanksgiving food to taste like someone put their foot in it.
Why are their raisins in this dish?
Jokes aside, it’s a beautiful thing when other people invite you to be part of their family for the day and include you in their holiday memories. There are no rules for what makes up a family and I’m grateful to those who’ve included me.
I’ve got to figure out what I’m going to do this year. It’s a week away!
Thank goodness I’ve got a trip planned for Christmas and New Year’s Eve.
The last time I experienced unemployment was over 10 years ago. I was in my mid-20s, living in the heart of Hollywood, California. I don’t just mean living in Los Angeles, I actually lived in the Hollywood neighborhood. My roommate and I could see the Hollywood sign from her condo balcony. I came home one Friday evening to a message from my temp agency informing me that I’d been let go from my several months long temp assignment. Again? I thought. While this hadn’t been a permanent job, it still marked the third time I unexpectedly and abruptly found myself without employment in a 3 years.
Is this what it means to be in the working world? Absolutely no job stability? I had a feeling I knew what motivated the sudden booting: I think my temporary employers were concerned I’d caught wind of their shady financial reporting practices and might report them to the SEC. I did know. One of their long-term permanent employees gleefully spilled the tea. She despised them, but did a great job of pretending otherwise. I think she wanted me to do the snitching for her. Shady.
One of my new L.A. BF’s was also among the ranks of the unemployed. We shared a lot in common including our age and an aversion to the concept of working in an office and signing our lives away to the rat race. At that time, I hadn’t identified a new career path after parting ways with my attempt at an acting career, so I floundered a bit until I basically fell into my most recent career in tech. I took on a few temporary jobs here and there, but during that economic climate, even short-term temp jobs were drying up. So, my BF and I had a lot of free time on our hands, along with the excitement and Energizer-energy that accompanies early twenty-something youth. Unfortunately, we did not have a lot of cash.
We’d wake up late mornings and IM each other while we looked for jobs online and concurrently planned out our next bit of shenanigans. We went out most nights as there is always something to do in L.A.: always a party, an event or an opening. I also learned the Long Island Iced Tea, with its melange of liquors, is the best drink for your buck if you want to get drunk for the least amount of money. We found $1 bargain shopping bins at trendy thrift stores, figured out the best ways to score free food, drinks, and swag – free movie tickets are easy to come by in the “Entertainment Capital.”
We were aces at finding clubs giving away free drinks if you were willing to arrive unfashionably early; art gallery openings were a great way to appear cultured and score free wine and cheese. I’d also inherited the role of organizer & events planner for a woman’s social group that I’d joined when I first moved to L.A. two years earlier. I had plenty to keep me busy. I look back on the time fondly even though I was broke and being broke in Hollywood where money = power, influence and prestige, is not easy. It may not have been the most productive way to spend 10 months of unemployment, but I enjoyed it and don’t regret a bit of it.
Now that I am older and, I hope, wiser, my priorities are different. My situation is different. I am different. I also realize, having been laid off now four times, that with the ending of each job, something bigger and better always arose. Each layoff propelled me to something greater and more beneficial for me.
This time around, I recognized the opportunity in front of me. The layoff signaled to me, an opportunity to move on to something greater. Maya Angelou said, of an employer firing her and learning to be grateful: “So you fired me. Good on you and very good on me, ’cause what I’m going to get, darling, you would LONG for.” Yes!
I felt a duty to myself to make the best of the situation. After taking care of the basics one does after losing their job, like filing for unemployment, taking care of health insurance (thanks Obama!) and dealing with finances, I set to planning. Here are five things I did that helped me stay productive and kept me sane during unemployment.
1. TOLD MY FRIENDS, FAMILY AND NETWORK
I know some shy away from announcing their layoff to people they know. Maybe they feel embarrassed, ashamed or down. Whatever the reason, layoffs are a part of life. We no longer live in a society where employers keep people on for decades and happily wave you off at age 60 with a cushy pension. There is no loyalty in most workplaces – on either end of the relationship – and at any given time any of us can lose or leave our jobs.
I didn’t do anything wrong to warrant being released. I worked hard and have the performance evaluation to show it, so I let people know. As a result, I felt freer; I don’t like hiding things. Friends and family have been emotionally supportive in the aftermath. Additionally, friends and former co-workers from jobs past have referred me when jobs in my role crossed their paths. In many industries, getting the next job is about who you know. Tech is definitely no exception. I am grateful not just for their referrals, but their respect. Most people don’t refer someone for a job if they don’t respect their skills and work ethic.
Being open about the layoff has led to a few uncomfortable moments; but nothing I can’t handle. When you talk to someone who asks, “How’s the job search going?” before they even eek out a hello, that’s a little awkward. You wonder if you’re not looking hard enough and then you realize it’s only been three weeks and did this person forget what it’s like to look for a job? When a person you rarely hear from messages you from out of the blue, “How are you?” and you know what they really mean is, “Have you found a job yet?” because they’re just being nosy, you wish you’d excluded them from your Facebook post.
A recruiter who contacted me, shortly after I updated my LinkedIn profile to reflect the parting of ways between me and the old job, told me his company had their eye on the ex-employees of my former employer, “Fancy Startup”. Who knew? Tech companies compete for good talent here, he said. That knowledge made me feel that much more optimistic about the potential return on my job search investment.
2. MADE A “FREE TIME” WISHLIST
It’s not often that a 9 to 5-er gets the opportunity to have the entire daytime free. Not just a holiday Monday or Friday off when most everyone else is off too and banks are closed and so is the post office, so it may as well be a weekend. An actual free weekday when TV shows air that you’re never home to see live. When stay-at-home moms and dad entertain their kids who are on summer break. Free time during business hours when you can make the phone calls you need to make!
I recall during one particularly trying work day, walking down Market Street (a main thoroughfare in San Francisco) and wistfully envying a group of teenagers seated in a circle on a patch of grass laughing and talking. The sun shone brightly and I thought how nice it would be to lay in the grass in the sun in the middle of the day. I think the kids may have been doing drugs together, but still, the sentiment remains.
I set about making a list of everything I could conceive of doing that I could either only do during the day or that’s better done (e.g., less crowded) during the day. Whether I could get to it all, and how much of it was actually feasible mattered little. The list gave me a jumping off point, ideas for keeping busy, small achievements to aspire to, and activities I could look forward to doing.
The first thing I checked off my”free time” wishlist? Laying out in the grass in the middle of the day.
Eventually, I expanded the list to include lower priority items on my to-do list that I now I had plenty of time for. BLO (Before Layoff) so much of my life was either spent at work or recovering from the exhaustion of work. I never had enough time. PLO, I spent one luxurious afternoon cleaning up my junk email box. I unsubscribed from several newsletters (including “Fancy Startup’s”; it took them 3-months to remove me from the list, #fail), organized items into folders, and cleaned up my social media accounts. I know that doesn’t sound thrilling, but it was glorious to have the time.
3. CREATED GOALS AND ESTABLISHED A ROUTINE
As much as I detest the idea of having routines and schedules, I recognize that it’s helpful to give a sense of stability in my life, thus increasing my comfort level. I recall from my earlier unemployment experience how lost I felt some days without the schedule I’d grown accustomed as an office worker bee. I also quickly concluded that pressuring myself to look for jobs constantly would eventually drive me batty. I had to establish some boundaries. Modifying the typical US work week, I decided Mondays through Thursdays are for “work” and Fridays through Sunday are for play (with exceptions considered if I ask myself nicely and negotiate well). I created a loose routine that includes not sleeping in past a certain time (I hate feeling like I’ve wasted half the day), time for job searching & networking, therapy, fitness and a few other items.
It’s important to me to feel a sense of accomplishment or achievement. I imagine that even when I’m retired, I’ll want to feel like I’m having the best retirement I can. So, I do what do and I made goals for myself to keep motivated and active. Or as I titled it, “How to Not Become a Lazy Bum:”
Do something productive at least each weekday – e.g., exercise, read, apply for jobs, etc.
Look for things to consider as accomplishments – Sometimes we don’t give ourselves credit for the important things we do each day.
Leave the house at least four out of five weekdays – Perhaps this seems odd, but I’ve seen how easy it is to become a recluse over time
Keep a clean apartment – My nightmares include dying alone in a filthy apartment that the fire department has to bulldoze through to extract my feline–ravaged body. I also find it harder to think if there is chaos around me.
Keep a journal of the things I’m doing – I cannot tell you how much tracking my daily accomplishments has helped me from feeling like a useless layabout. I accomplishment quite a bit on an average day.
4. MAINTAINED HEALTHY HABITS
I’ve worked out in the mornings for at least the last 6 years. At first, it was to ward against the end of day workout killers of “I’m too tired,” or the “I’d rather go to happy hour,” and other distractions. Now, while I certainly enjoy that benefit, I also like that starting my day with something that’s good for me, mentally and physically.
I didn’t want unemployment to lead to my blowing up Sumo-size. So, I make it a point to continue to work out several times a week and not turn practice trash compactor-like eating. It’s so easy to graze on food when you’re at home. I work out at home and I also find ways to get active outside, to which San Francisco’s weather is usually conducive.
I try to walk as much as I can. When I worked, even though I took the bus, I still got in an extra mile a day just walking to and from bus stops. I didn’t want to lose that advantage, so I use the Moves app to make sure I’m walking enough.
I got into the habit of drinking water regularly in my twenties because of it’s health benefits. At work it was easy enough to keep up the practice with a large water bottle I’d keep on my desk. Now that I’m home, I make it a point to get in my regular intake of water each day. This is one of the ways I know I’ve grown up. I care about my daily water intake.
5. TOOK TIME TO REFLECT
Initially, I was antsy to return to work. After working continuously for over 10 years, it barely occurred to me to think of anything else. A few weeks of disinterestedly applying for jobs, bored senseless by the role descriptions, I realized that by jumping into yet another job, i might be wasting this opportunity to make a change. How many times have I complained that I don’t feel like the office life is for me? That I don’t like slaving away to make some faceless person wealthier. That I find it ridiculous how executives catastrophize situations and trickle down their stress to employees as though the cure for cancer is slipping through their fingers on a daily basis. My 25-year old self knew she didn’t much like working in an office, whether it’s in the confines of the corporate or a fast-paced fancy start-up. While I’ve managed to fake it well, it’s not who I am. The more time that goes by, the harder it is to survive in a world where I don’t fit in. I felt off-center after the mindwreckof my last job.
A friend told me I needed to take time for myself. “I live by myself and the only other creatures I take care of are two cats. Who else am I spending time on?” Upon reflection, I understood what she meant. The very nature of my career involved giving to and taking care of others’ needs. I spent the majority of my days solving other people’s problems. By the end of many workdays and work weeks, I was too spent for much else.
I needed to take this time to get back to WHO I AM. I’d lost myself.
I have savings (having learned from the first time around!) and I figured now is as good a time as any to invest in giving myself a break to step back, reassess and really consider my next steps.
I explored my natural interests and delved in to the activities I found interesting in hopes of leading myself toward my new path.
I made the rounds with my family and friends whom before I didn’t have as much time for. I reunited with several friends, including a few whom I hadn’t seen in over a decade. I knew these friends surfaced in my life at this time for a reason. I figured I had something to learn from them or maybe even something to share. I welcomed these opportunities not just as a chance to catch up with old friends and nurture those friendships, but to see what unfolds as a result. What doors will open for me? What new angles will I notice?
I also enlisted the help of my friends in my search for direction. My career counselor suggested asking friends and former co-workers for their thoughts on what career fit they envision for me, for their thoughts on my strengths. Not only do I think it touched them that I asked for their input, their feedback helped to gel a few ideas that had sloshed around in my head for a while.
Being laid off can rock your world, but it doesn’t have to be a negative experience. I’ve learned a lot about myself as a result of my layoff. I’ve been ready for a change. I’ve undergone a transformation and it hasn’t been the easiest. I got really depressed at one point, but I made it through. I feel like I’ve returned to center. I recognize myself again. For the first time in over a decade, if not longer, I have a true sense of direction, one about which I feel confident. I know what I want to do next. Now it’s just a matter of making it work and having faith that things will work out. I am excited to see how my life continues to unfold.
Have you gone through a layoff or experienced prolonged unemployment? How did you keep busy? How did you maintain your sanity and sense of self?
Here are five things you may have missed on Twitter this week.
Apologies that there wasn’t a Friday Five last week. I was eating my way around New York.
1. When the reality star with a big derriere and a child named after compass points released yet another photo of her naked body parts with the hashtag #breaktheinternet, Twitter responded with it’s own trending topic: #fixtheinternet.
Though I only lived in New York the first decade of my life, going back to visit always feels like returning home in a way that I can’t explain. It’s as though everything is the way it’s supposed to be. My parents are from New York as are my uncles, aunts, grandparents and fifty-eleven cousins. The New York runs deep in my clan and I try to visit as often as I can.
One of my favorite things to do in New York is eat. The food in New York is like none other. While I appreciate a fancy multi-course meal like the next fine dining fan or food snob-in-training, those meals often come at a snooty price and I’m on a tighter budget these days. Luckily, there is plenty to eat in New York at non-frightening, down-to-earth prices and I took advantage during my latest trip to New York.
I never leave New York without having a slice of pizza. Our first night in the city, my sister C__ and I headed to the West Village to chow down at John’s Pizzeria.
Booth at John’s Pizzeria where diners etch in initials and notes
A medium pizza at John’s, no topping needed
So happy. (And tired, this was taken after a 5.5 hour plane ride for which I had to wake up at 5:00am. Travel to the East Coast from the West Coast is exhausting.
When I ordered one scoop of dolce de leche and one of peanut butter caramel at Cones and pronounced caramel as “care-a-mel” and no one looked at me sideways, nor were their objections of “it’s “car-muhl!” It was like New York opened its arms to me and said, “You’re home.”
I love diners, especially if the food is good. We stumbled on a quaint one in Tribeca called The Kitchenetteand their menu full of comfort foods. The food wasn’t mind-blowing, but it was good and I dig the decor and ambiance.
My sister at The Kitchenette
Desserts at The Kitchenette include pies, cupcakes and creme brulee.
This is me before the waiter told me my breakfast didn’t come with grits, like he originally told me.
Meatloaf and mashed potatoes. The gravy was tasty.
The KMC – Kitchenette macaroni and cheese. My sister’s review, “They broke the cardinal rule of macaroni and cheese: Always include cheddar!”
The Kitchenette – Bacon, egg and cheese breakfast sandwich. The muffin fell apart pretty easily, I was expecting to be able to eat it as a sandwich, but it required a knife and fork. Not bad, but not great.
My parents are big fans of Junior’s Cheesecake and passed the love down to me. While the Times Square location isn’t a replacement for the original Brooklyn spot, it’s a good substitute. It’s situated smack in the center of the Broadway district and they’re open late, so it’s a great place to catch a post-show meal.
Local beer – Brookyn Brewery lager
I love that in New York I can get a hotdog with sauerkraut; add spicy mustard and it’s my favorite way to eat one.
Strawberry cheesecake at Juniors
I first visited Luke’s Lobster a few years ago after finding out about it from the show Food Feuds. It won the challenge against another Manhattan restaurant famous for it’s lobster rolls, Ed’s Lobster Bar. While I’m no lobster roll expert, Luke’s Lobster roll is the best I’ve had, so the small restaurant required a return visit!
Side note: I randomly met the owner of Luke’s a few summers ago in The Hamptons.
I love a tasty, juicy burger and Shake Shack’s burger is one of my faves. The crinkle-fries are a bonus. I never have enough room for the shakes or the frozen custard they are also known for. I’ve had a taste of both though and they are equally delectable.
As a giant Golden Girls fan, when I saw the “Bea Arthur” on the menu at the Big Gay Ice Cream shop, all the other options fell away. It was about me and Dorothy Zbornak. Me and Maude.
Menu at Big Gay Ice Cream Shop
Big Gay Ice Cream Shop
The Bea Arthur: Vanilla ice cream, dolce de leche and Nilla wafers
In a little less than five days, my sister and I walked nearly 15 miles all over New York City. This is a good thing considering how much we ate. Still, I didn’t get to hit every spot I wanted to. We did have to leave room for non-pigging out activities! I guess I’ll have to go back to New York soon!
Like what you read? Follow The Girl Next Door is Black on Twitter or Facebook.
San Francisco loves a good celebration and any excuse to dress in costume. Sunday’s Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) celebration proved no exception. The holiday, which originated in Mexico, honors both the dead and the living – an appreciation of the cycle of life. For a few hours last night, hundreds of people converged in the Mission district – the neighborhood often at the center of San Francisco’s gentrification tensions – for the festivities.
Celebrants erected elaborate altars in remembrance of deceased loved ones. Aztec dancers and musicians in ornate costumes and striking makeup led a procession through the streets. Bay Area residents lined sidewalks to watch the parade. Some enjoyed front row seats from the comfort of their apartments, while others opted to follow along with the roving entertainment.
A sea of bodies of various colors and ages, with faces painted like sugar skulls, wearing marigold headpieces, dressed as resurrected brides, carrying parasols and candles, many clothed in black and white, ambled down the streets to the sound of rhythmic percussion beats. A comment I overheard aptly sums up the evening: “This is definitely better than Halloween!”
2.Jesse Williams, of Grey’s Anatomy and “hot eyes” fame, is one of the more sociopolitically active celebrities on Twitter. This week, he went in on racial inequality, Ferguson and “you should really know better” Halloween costumes. (I’ve only posted a subset, check out his timeline for more.)
Human Decency (AKA Social Justice) Twitterganza coming in hot, in 5, 4, 3, 2… — jesseWilliams. (@iJesseWilliams) October 28, 2014
With the swell of black death at the hands of cops & vigilantes, I have some genuine questions for this specific segment of the population: — jesseWilliams. (@iJesseWilliams) October 28, 2014
When “men” violently assault women, your reaction is never “Well, girls hit girls all the time.” That would be repugnant. Consider why. — jesseWilliams. (@iJesseWilliams) October 28, 2014
Why do so many of you reflexively defend, identify w/, and antagonize on behalf of whiteness whenever blackness is involved? — jesseWilliams. (@iJesseWilliams) October 28, 2014
What about black pain is so fun to you? From where is that joy derived? — jesseWilliams. (@iJesseWilliams) October 28, 2014
When #Halloween comes around, how exactly does dressing as Trayvon and other illustrations of black pain, make you feel? Please be specific. — jesseWilliams. (@iJesseWilliams) October 28, 2014
Millions of you smile in awe of our music, comedy, inventions, athletics, fashion, etc. but when we’re not entertaining you, you hate us? — jesseWilliams. (@iJesseWilliams) October 28, 2014
From 2006-2012 a white police officer killed a black PERSON at least twice a week in this country. By saying so, I have not attacked you. — jesseWilliams. (@iJesseWilliams) October 28, 2014
White people have played a crucial role in nearly every social justice movement in this country. Indifference is not your duty or heritage. — jesseWilliams. (@iJesseWilliams) October 28, 2014
You need not carry the heavy, hollow burden of racism any longer. Leave it behind. Be for something, and not because it’s easy. — jesseWilliams. (@iJesseWilliams) October 28, 2014
3. A video of a woman getting catcalled on the streets of New York went viral, prompting a stream of comments on street harassment. #streetharassment
Whet @SandraRose ??? The problem is men think they are entitled to woman..
I'm Keisha ("Kee-shuh", not to be confused with Ke$ha). I am a (later) thirty-something, non-mommy, non-wife, who lives in San Francisco, California New York and has lots of opinions on lots of things.