LAZY FOX - Tote Bags Finally in Store

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Memorial Weekend was beyond splendid. I made a visit upstate with a dear friend to get away from city life, find peace and rearrange furniture. During our stay, she took me for the second time to a lovely boutique, THE LAZY FOX NEW YORK, in Callicoon, NY. The store owner is a magnetic woman with the same name as my mother, Susan. We have been talking for awhile about whimsy(nest)® novelties finding home in her store. Delivered in person, this past weekend the bags were hung in the center of the store. I am very excited to say that my birds, vaginas and designs have found a nest with a fox. 

Cheers to endeavors getting off the ground and offline. Granted, I am still online and happy for business in its various forms. Yet, what lady wouldn't be over the moon finding her designs in the hands of such a delightful store near the Delaware River. 

For you IG folks . . . follow @lazyfoxnewyork

Much love,

Lady Deryn

WHISICAL III : JON

I met Jon Lampley through his shows with Sammy Miller and the Congregation, a band I have watched grow since its early days of forming an identity, brotherhood and clarity of mission towards joyful jazz musicianship. All these guys seemed to have the grandest smiles and Jon, with his big ole tuba, which I learned to call a sousaphone, was particularly shiny amongst them. I imagine my first time experiencing Jon’s exuberance with Sammy Miller’s band to be at Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola, a music venue at Jazz at Lincoln Center where many of the younger jazz musicians in town sharpen their tools late in the night when the club allows fresher ideas to have the stage, framed by a nocturnal Central Park. Or perhaps it was catching them at the Woods in south Williamsburg, a kitschy bar that transformed every Sunday with their generous and experimental approach to jazz performance. There were lots of laughs and camaraderie between the members and their growing fan base. 

With more joy, Jon and I became friends. He even partook in a photography project of mine while I was working for a fashion tie designer in the Union Square Holiday Market. One of the images we created together, to the right, shows Jon fronting a sanguine mustache tie blowing in the wind somewhere in the sky above Theater Row. Upon contemplating peers of mine who exhibit a strong sense of wonderment and internal momentum, Jon immediately surfaced in mind. After I summoned the courage to ask him to interview alongside what I foresee to be quite a list of incredible humans, he agreed to take a seat as one of my early Whimsicals.

 

Story of Gathering (in third person)

Rising from her abode in Crown Heights, likely in a flurry, remembering that she had to meet Jon in the city, Natalie makes her way to the A or 4/5 2/3 to travel to the agreed destination for the interview. I imagine she took the 4/5 2/3 since Natalie is a sucker for her matcha lattes at a cafe called Little Zelda, and no matter how much travel time she has allotted, there is always time to grab this golden green elixir. After a pit stop at Zelda, she traverses the grid underground to Gregory’s on 8th Ave and claims a cozy corner table for a conversation to be. She impressively arrives, although few minutes behind, earlier than Jon, which gives her a moment to compose herself, her bags and her interview persona. Then, computer out for notes and phone ready to record if Jon gives permission, she awaits for Jon to walk in from his morning activities. Boxing? He arrives, grabs his coffee of choice and settles in. With a nod, Natalie presses record (as she’s learning this might be more helpful than just the scribbles of attention that strive for verbatim). She then invites Jon to begin at the beginning of his relationship with music . . . “I know you play the sousaphone and trumpet, but I don’t know why you chose those instruments or when or what your childhood was like.” He colors in his history and then they finish with the discovery that they are neighbors and could have slept in and met closer to home. Next time. Oh next time. 

 

A Portrait of a Musician

What I have gathered is the story of an impeccably positive person on a trajectory towards uplifting music that has been in motion since Jon was a youngster. From learning the piano at the age of four to playing weekly with Jon Batiste on The Late Show, touring and recording with OAR, and maintaining his own band, the Huntertones, as a trumpet and tuba player, Jon has made a life of music and inspiration. 

His mother ignited the practice before Jon made it to grade school by enrolling him in classical piano lessons. This was only natural considering her whole family always sang or played instruments, most of whom would share their talents in the gospel every Sunday at the church where Jon would later grow up to play by ear with his trumpet. The habit of playing the trumpet in church would follow him through college. The “soulful, uplifting, powerful music” of the black Pentecostal Church his family attended has stayed with him through the years. 

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Jon grew up in Tallmadge, a small suburb of Akron, Ohio. One of his earliest passions was traveling with his dad on game weekends to Columbus, Ohio to partake in the football culture and watch the 225 member, all brass and percussion marching band of Ohio State, which for him would become an obsession and aspiration. During these trips, little Jon first witnessed the Buckeye marching band display “Script Ohio,” an iconic formation where the band transforms into an inky pen spelling out “Ohio” in cursive across the entirety of the field. Each game, one of the senior sousaphone players makes a crazy strut to the top of the ‘i’ to complete the formation. Already by this time, as a mere second grader, Jon had his eye on “dotting the i” one day. 

In the trajectory towards this first dream, Jon entered band at school when he was ten. “Trumpet sounds good, feels good.” That was the beginning of his journey with brass. 

Fifth grade through middle school, Jon played the trumpet in band without outside private instruction. “My musical existence was church by ear and school band.” In seventh grade he learned how to play concert tuba, which put him one step closer to dotting that “i”. He then carried the tuba into high school marching band, reserving the trumpet for jazz band and church. By eighth grade, he stopped taking formal piano lessons and mostly played when he found a song he liked, whether from church or some Ben Folds record. His serious training was put into the trumpet and tuba. 

When it came time for college, he felt this unconscious pressure to go to school to be a lawyer or doctor. He had good grades and could make any life for himself he chose. “The only person to encourage a musical life was my high school band director, the only one.” Jon’s singular application was sent out to Ohio State where he spent his first year studying Psychology and Pre-Med while marching in the band he had set his eyes on since he was six or seven. “The first year was incredible. We marched in President Obama’s first inaugural parade in DC.” That initial year, he lived in arts housing, which drew him closer to the question of what he really wanted to do in life. “I feel like i’m not studying what my ultimate purpose is,” Jon found himself saying. He knew deep down that he wanted to make music his life. “It is hard when your family is trying to talk you out of it,” he tells me, but he had faith enough in what he loved to apply for the music program, which was an entirely separate endeavor from the marching band. 

Behind in music theory, Jon’s second year at Ohio State was spent playing catch up as Music Major.  His trumpet had only come out for church once a week and the tuba was strictly played in marching band. And until this time, “65 to 70 percent” of his playing was by ear. While playing catch up, Jon found his second wind of inspiration.  Two musicians on campus caught his attention: Dan White, an RA in his building whom he met in first year, and a fellow musician named Chris Ott.  “They were amazing musicians trying to do stuff . . . write things and do stuff other than just just get a degree.” 

Jon’s first chance to play with Dan and Chris came when he was placed in the Art Blankey Combo group, a music group in the School of Music. Soon enough, Jon entered their friend circle and the three of them started playing music together. The band was the Dan White Sextet. Dan wrote the music in the first year. Chris and Jon began contributing tunes in the second year. As the group began to grow a following, they recorded three projects together as a band.  

Jon continued marching band while pursuing his Music Degree. When he made it to his senior year as a Buckeye, he finally got his chance to dot the ‘i’ at halftime . . .  twice. That’s a satisfying dream come true. 

Returning to the dynamic trio behind the Dan White Sextet . . . Chris graduated from Ohio State first, attending grad school. Dan graduated the following year, becoming a middle school band teacher while performing and composing for Ohio shows. When Jon graduated, the three of them moved in together for six or seven months into a house in Columbus. Eventually, each came to the separate conclusion that there was necessity to leave Ohio in order to make a grander life of music. “New York was the move we all wanted to make.” Upon moving to the Big Apple, the band realized they could use a name change, an accessible brand reflecting the dynamics of what had become the shared responsibilities of composing, booking, promoting, and logistics. Hunter Avenue sparked inspiration, the location of the house each lived in during their college days. “This is where the band cut its teeth, grew its following. That house has a lot of meaning.” And thus they became the Huntertones, recording two albums under the new name, touring internationally through the US State Department and maintaining a New York City presence. 

Going back in time, as a Junior in college, Jon’s name was getting out as a young trumpet player through his gigs with Dan White.  That’s when the call came from an OAR saxophonist. OAR wanted to add a horn section. Would Jon like to play some shows for them? “A call from a band that has sold out Madison Square Garden numerous times . . . totally!” The first stint with OAR was a month and a half summer tour. “It was fun and amazing, but I didn’t know if it was going to lead to staying with them.” Fast forward to now, Jon has played with OAR for six years and has recorded on two or three of their albums. “They are like family to me now.” 

Playing with OAR opened career doors for Jon that allowed him a little grease during his early days gigging in New York. Since then, Jon has toured with Red Boraat, a party brass band with Indian, hiphop and go-go music reflections. Two years were spent touring with Allen Stone, who Jon says has a “soulful voice of an angel.” A year into moving into New York City, Jon began playing with jazz percussionist Sammy Miller. Through Sammy and the Juilliard scene, he was introduced to Jon Baptiste of Stay Human. That his how he began playing with the housebound of the Late Show. 

If we slow the picture down, one sees Jon saying “yes” to every gig upon moving to New York City. He played with OAR only two months of the year. The Huntertones were just trying to make their way, pay rent and make connections. Then, the Huntertones became busier and more lucrative. His responsibilities with OAR grew. He began singing with the band and contributing parts. His time was becoming an entity to balance and manage among the influx of desirable music invitations. When Jon Batiste asked him to play on The Late Show, he felt he had to take advantage of the the opportunity, especially as a New York musician. 

Zooming to the current moment, Jon is now balancing his time between the Huntertones, OAR and The Late Show. “Everything else is if I have time or if I have the mental capacity to do it.” If he’s randomly available between gigs with his three main squeezes, he likes to join in with Sammy and other beloved bands. “Part of me is bummed about that, because I love playing in those settings.” However, he finds himself happy with the musicianship, responsibilities and bands that compose his sphere of musical existence. 

The essence of family and levitation is a pervasive theme amongst Jon’s bands. The Huntertones, a band brought together by a shared Jazz tradition, takes the lens of their personal or communal narratives to digest gospel, country, 80’s rock and so on. “It’s the story of a bunch of guys that have been friends for a long time. It’s about relationship. It’s not just about showing up and playing music. That vibe is conveyed.” The warm reception audiences in Africa, South America, and Eastern Europe have given the Huntertones encourages Jon to write more in the coming years and maintain his dedication to a band that he has been with since its early days. 

With Stay Human on The Late Show, Jon plays to a theater of 300 to 400 people and a televised audience of three million people a night. “The vibe of that band is so energetic. Incredible musicianship. Jon Lampley on Jon Batiste says that, “Jon is the most interesting person you’ve ever met! Jon’s whole thing is uplifting people with music. The core of Stay Human is similar. They have been playing together for almost ten years. I was absorbed into that family. To feel that chemistry is a really special thing.”  Watching all the guests Steven Colbert interviews on the show while playing in the house band is a pleasure, he tells me, but the real joy is playing with all the musical guests. Having the chance to jam with extraordinaries like Stevie Wonder, Punch Brothers, Chris Thealy, Yo-Yo Ma and Furgie makes his job that much more incredible. 

When referring to OAR, Jon talks about a family that has been around for a long time. The twentieth anniversary is approaching of what started as eight graders in a basement. Jon is thankful to be a member for six of those years. “To get to go on tour and play in front of thousands of fans each night and to do it with good people, I feel fortunate to feel like my commitments are not to just go out and make money. What I’m paid to do is awesome. But, I enjoy playing with good people. The crowds reflect the honesty of the guys putting out the music.” 

The personal ambition and the group mission aligns for each band Jon has taken root. “My goal is to move people. The goal of the band is to move people. All the music that is being played comes from an honest place. The music is never just about technical virtuosity. If you put good stuff out there. If you put time into your craft. Once you put it out there. People will listen. I feel fortunate to be a part of that kind of situation.”

And the situation is one to navigate. “My brain is always in a different place.” Though, he recognizes the beautiful affordance he has to play with the musicians and bands he wants whenever he is in town, as well as the flexibility to fluidly tour without losing connections. Sacrifice may be more of mind than music, and more of personal relations than personal exploration. “My life is essentially not conducive to being unselfish.” It isn’t easy to be the partner one would like while maintaining the heavy schedule of a sought after musician. “I was in a really long relationship with a lady from college. It was amazing.” Like many ladies fated to fall for musicians, I have compassion to those dating someone with music in their heart and the talent and drive to see it through. I also have compassion for the the necessity of an artist to continue one’s trajectory while maintaining positivity, something Jon does well despite the confrontation of a heavy work load and lifestyle choices. 

Whether you define yourself as artist or not, balancing professional and personal endeavors can be difficult. It can and most of the time just plainly is. Life is an accumulation of choices. Forks in the roads are part of the package. Yet,  each choice gives way to the possibility of a grander fulfillment of authenticity. Grand or subtle in nature, the dedication to one’s work has its own return, giving heartfelt perspective to each hardship and transformative milestone. 

Jon approaches hardship and celebration alike with a carriage of optimism, a buoyancy he credits to his parents. “I’ve been a positive person since childhood. My Mom was always positive. My parents lead by example. I naturally wanted to be that.” His story is one of “hard work meeting opportunity,” Jon says, having spent hours practicing and putting in the time to be where he is at this stage in his life. Between the hard work and good fortune is an incredibly considerate mindset fueling his momentum. “The whole point of being here is to make other people’s situation better. Pursue! Live your dream, but for the sake of uplifting the lives of people around you. Your longest impact is on the people and generations after you, the people around you.” With an attitude like this, he sounds of such heart. Plus, he has surrounded himself with other positive and producing individuals in the process. 

Jon admits, too, that his life can be distressing. “It is overwhelming. I’m going to move where I don’t know anybody and make it as a musician. Woah! If you can approach everything with a positive outlook, it helps the actual situation immediately. I’m of the mindset, ‘How can this turn out to be the best possible thing?’” The stamina of a beaming perspective is something to glean from Jon when the road holds such uncertainty or difficulty. When one goes from saying “yes” to any and every gig to becoming a regular on The Late Show, surely there is something to it. 

“If one hundred percent of the time you have a positive outlook on the situation, good or bad, it is going to get better and turn into something that helps you grow instead of just something that is going to make you jaded.” It’s a pitfall, especially for artists, to let disappointment or limited vision for the future steal away one’s heart and thunder.  Watching individuals like Jon, so strong in their joyful persistence, shining through and through, is a vibrant reminder that positivity and a great commitment goes a long way. “There will be amazing moments and not so amazing moments. The only thing you control is your spin on those things.”

To be in the audience of a Jon Lampley performance is to witness a zeal and certitude for all of life. He takes on the waves of every situation and creates encompassing presence. This is just a fraction of what makes him so whimsical and joyful to be around. 

 

And now . . . on to smaller bites and themes with Jon Lampley. 

POLITICS not so usual

Most the music Jon has written to date for the Huntertones has been instrumental. The music is charged with life experience rather than political agenda.  The political climate, however, does give one a lot to think about. “Almost now, more than ever, people feel like they need to make a statement, bring to light what is happening, what people need to know, make a stance. Lots of artists pursue that route. What I feel now more than ever is a sense of putting uplifting music into the world.” Jon uses his music to elevate the spirits of the audience and his band mates. “People are in a dark place,” he says.“It is not my job to write songs that call out how bad he is,” referring to our new president, “or trying to make people angry. And it’s not just Trump. We are in a world where people are divided. There is tax, religion, animosity, groups of people against other groups of people.” He finds it is more important now, than before the election, to put his audience into a state of positivity. Which, brings us to his most recent composition.

Jon may not have the intention of infusing his work with specific political undertones, but his recent score for the Huntertones is an act for social betterment. “Hope,” a song that played for the first time the night of this interview, is a work confronting the darkness of the world today with lightness of approach. It’s his sense of positivity again. “We have the ability to continue to make our own lives better and other lives better. It’ll be okay. We can still be decent human beings. As an artist, my responsibility is to continue to do and not let the darkness discourage, to put on my best performance for people in any setting.”

KISS COULD MAKE A DIFFERENCE

People kiss. Obviously romantically. That is how we express that towards each other.  Sometimes a kiss on the cheek makes your day.

 

INTIMACY 

Jon’s reflection on affection is deeply influenced by his travels over seas. 

“In South America people hug all the time. It isn’t weird to give a really deep hug. People look at your face. It’s the same in Africa.” He shares his observations of friends expressing their happiness to see one another again. “The sentiment ‘I love you as a friend’ invites a feeling of welcomeness.” Here at home, he finds that such intimacy is not so warmly embraced.  “There is a sense of it not being cool. I wish we would drop it.” There is an essence of familial ties among friendships that has inspired Jon and leaves me further wishing for a more intimate America.

Jon didn’t experience a lot of vocal expression of love with his father. “I love you Dad.” “I love you Son.” The sense of love between them was an unspoken form of affection. He noticed that some of his friends had more expressive relationships with their fathers. Jon never found himself jealous of his peers, though, figuring that their way of loving one another was different. 

We live in a culture where it isn’t so overtly normal for father’s to kiss their sons, Jon tells me. “It shouldn’t be taboo to display that form of affection.” There is the hope that it would grow to be more widely accepted. Although, he muses, it may just be an individual preference.

We both agree that social media is an outlet for nearly everything, even expressing feelings towards friends. Jon appreciations the shout outs friends give on Facebook or other social sites these days. However, striving to connect with people in real life situations is important. Social media should not be the sole staple of communication.

 

FEMALE ROLE MODEL

I asked Jon about strong women in his life. This is a transcription of thoughts on his mother.

"My mom is the strongest woman I know in every aspect of her life.  She couldn’t have a kid. She adopted. She was the best mom to me that any mom could be to anyone. She set an example. She taught for 38 years. Passionate about all she did. She taught every one of her students to be the most successful kid in the world. Every class was like that. She’s a breast cancer survivor. Diagnosed in high school. She continued to teach. Went to basketball games. When dad got sick, for three years she was essentially taking care of him before he passed away. To watch her deal with that and keep her sanity and faith. To continue to be a positive person. Even now, even life after dad, she remains positive and busy. She is retired. She treats people with so much love. She is the ultimate example of a human being. She’s the best woman."

 

FEMALE RELATIONS

Jon’s examples of how to be a man in relation to women came from observing his father and Mother’s brothers. His dad, he mentions, didn’t have a lot of people skills and could be rough at times, but was always very respectful. “We never had to worry about anything.” Jon then goes on to express his great appreciation for his past girlfriend of five years, a strong individual with feminist beliefs. She introduced him to a deeper understanding of sexism. “It opened my eyes. I was always respectful in a basic sense, but the sexist situation is similar to racism. It’s basic respect that everyone should be cognizant of.”

 

FAVORITE BIRD?

I don’t think I do. I was at Prospect Park the other day. There were swans on the water. That was cool. I love hiking, but honestly that is only a development in the last two or three of years. I didn’t really grow up into discovering or appreciating nature. I’m getting more into that now, which I think is really nice. But because of that, I don’t think I have a favorite. 

 

FAVORITE TREE?

Probably the Buckeye tree, only because it is representative of Ohio State, The Buckeyes, where I went to school. The mascot is the Buckeye Nut. It’s a poisonous nut, but it is a tree that grows in Ohio. That or my mom has this tree, a cherry blossom tree, in our front yard. Every spring it explodes. It’s beautiful. Whenever I go home to Tawnage, that’s the first thing you can see from the front yard, this big beautiful tree.

 

DO YOU HAVE A POSTAGE PRACTICE?

Man! No! But I want to get into it because when you get a handwritten note its the best thing ever. This past year on some of my trips I wrote a couple postcards to people and it was cool. I want to get into a habit of doing that because it’s a token people really appreciate . . . just for Christmas or just randomly to send people cards to say “Hey man, I’m thinking of you.” When I’ve gotten a card like that, it is way more impactful than an email or “thank you” text. 

 

BOOKS

I love fiction. It’s my favorite. Right now I’m reading Mericami’s “Kafka On The Shore.” I’m into compelling stories, biographies. They are powerful. I enjoy reading really engaging stories that are relatable, realistic. I love Harry Potter, all that kind of stuff, it’s awesome, but to read something where the author is creating a realistic situation that is relatable makes you think about the human situation. Historical fiction, too. I read “All the Light We Cannot See,” a WW2 story. It’s beautiful.

 

AWAY FROM MUSIC

I’m really into fitness. Running, Boxing, circuit weight training. Not necessarily just going to gym and lifting, but mixing it up. Always having a workout be something that is keeping me in shape that is engaging and competitive for myself as well. That is one of the biggest things to counter balance music life is staying in shape, having something i’m focused and passionated about, but also betters my physical state that’s not music. Keeps you from going crazy. 

TOTE BAG

Random musical things like valve oil for a trumpet that I always need never have.

Some sort of meal because I’m always on the go. I find here in New York I end up just stopping places and buying food. If I had a tote, I could make food and carry it around. Headphones, a book, and workout shoes and clothes. 

 

MUSIC BEYOND YOUR OWN

When Jon isn’t rehearsing, performing or touring for his bands, he listens to music like Snarky Puppy, which he says he’s been a fan of since college, long before their rise to international acclaim. His pop culture guilty pleasure of the moment is the new Bruno Mars album. As far as New York City is concerned, he loves Pitch Black Brass Band. One of his favorite concerts he ever attended featured Roots, Jon Mayer, and Deangelo. Jon Mayer and Deangelo are two of his musical influences. Voodoo is the album he has listened to most out of everything. When he has time to see shows in New York, he finds himself at Rockwood Music hall. There are shows everyday of the week, featuring different bands. “I’ll show up every once in awhile and get surprised.” Of late, though, he has been listening a lot to Emily King, a singer song writer. But most of the time, when he has a moment to decompress, he finds repose outside of music with friends or something physical.

 

 

And that concludes this portrait of Jon Lampley. Cue in to The Late Show or catch his tour schedule to witness the gusto and candor of this musical man. 

www.JonLampleyMusic.com

www.Huntertones.com

Cheers to staying the course, Staying Human, ha, and taking on life with a bit more hope!

- Lady Deryn

 

WHIMSICAL II : MARISSA

Lady Deryn Photography  

Lady Deryn Photography  

Marissa Brown was a peer of mine at UC Irvine. We went through the Choreography BFA program together. She is bright and strong. Her clarity of body and emotion has always been evident and her choreographic works are spacious and volumed statements. My outside perspective has always been that she is a poised, reserved, lone wolf (or perhaps a LoneKing, the name of her project company). And she is! She is an independent artist that puts her questions and sensations of life into her self study and choreography. Curiosity getting the best of me, I had to reach out to her to explore the unspoken of what I see as a female artist of such conviction and vulnerability. I wanted to converse more deeply with a friend that usually lets the body do all the talking. With such luck, she was willing to sit down and divulge a little with me over tea. 

Story of Gathering

Lady Deryn Photography 

Lady Deryn Photography 

It’s December 5th, my sister’s Birthday.  Marissa comes over to my apartment on Nostrand. We sit at a soda table for two that used to exist out back on the patio of my childhood home. The wiry black chairs with floral cushions and glass of the table always make me feel like I’m at a cafe in Paris. There is a memory of Marissa’s choreography from college performed to the sound of French vocals. It seems appropriate to be sitting in Paris for the interview. I offer her tea. She takes green tea with muscle relaxant qualities. It’s Yogi tea, which is also perfect, considering she mentions being sore from taking yoga the day before. Then, I get on about prompting an inquiry into something we both know quite well:  how to go from dreaming of dancing in a company to committing to one’s own choreography and artistry. 

 

And then, through a round of giggles and sips, it begins. 

. . . A PORTRAIT OF A MOVING ARTIST . . . 

Like a lot of women, Marissa graduated college with the idea of joining a contemporary dance company only to realize that opportunities are greatly dependent on physical appearance. The development of Marissa’s artistry post-graduation has been a partial reaction to these aesthetic limitations in the field. “I don’t have the typical look. It’s great if you have the ‘dancer look,’ but I don’t have that. I gave up on a lot of things because of this. Right now, it is important to just find what I am interested in. That is more important and fruitful to me than being what someone else wants or being a standard for people who can’t see more. There is more in everyone, in everything.” Marissa has a wider gaze than many of the choreographers that have lead the past leading paradigms of the industry. Furthermore, she finds difficulty with the differing realities for men and women dancers. “There are so many women in the dance world and I have often felt frustrated with my male friends. It is much easier for them to get work. There is a higher demand for them.”

Despite the harsh realities many female dancers face, whether high competition or body type, Marissa knew that the importance of dancing and creating in her life was never going to be jeopardized by exterior circumstances or old world beliefs. These barriers to success actually sparked her change of focus to personal practice, diving deeper into self knowledge and creation in place of continuing to audition for companies that look past her instead of into her. This shift has given her the foundation to choreograph work that is meaningful to her and the circle of dancers she entrusts with her vision. 

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“As a dancer, you are giving yourself up for someone else’s vision. If the person’s vision is not of interest to me, it is not worth my time.” This statement is blunt, but self-respecting. I cannot relate enough to the difficulty of being a dancer stuck in situations that lack nourishment, alignment or future security. She used to audition for companies frequently until she realized that her concept and dreams of being a dancer had shifted. Marissa is currently working towards establishing a group of dedicated dancers in New York City while traveling for artistic residencies as a freelance choreographer. In the progression towards these dreams she has created LoneKing Projects, releasing videos and presenting work in various settings in the city. Her most recent performance was at Judson Church this March. 

The reassurance she feels about her artistic contributions and LoneKing is only made more clear when she goes to open classes to only be surrounded by younger dancers that are still narrow in their concept of dance or beauty. There is this air of desperation and competition in the room that screams “I must reach my dance dreams!” The youth dances from a place of wanting to please someone else rather than please themselves a lot of the time. Despite straying from the rigid dreams of most dancers, whether self-taught or absorbed by pervasive ideologies of success, Marissa does not put herself down for making choices that resonate beyond what a dancer is supposed to achieve. “I’m still going for my dance dreams. I’m more aware of the world than I used to be.” This global and internal awareness fuels her sense of confidence.  

Marissa relayed to me a recent audition scenario. She couldn’t find any sense of humanity amongst many of the dancers in the room. They moved beautifully, she told me, but lacked emotional depth. She didn’t get a callback and was left with a feeling of dejection.“I felt everything I was and maintained the choreography at the same time, but walked away feeling like it was too much.” It was upsetting to her because the dancers in the company were incredible movers, but did not have a lot of emotional energy moving through them while performing the steps. Different choreographers and companies have varied priorities, legs and figure sometimes trump performance quality and heart. Ideally, artistry coexists with technical prowess, but some days the pretty face or long legs win over physical alchemy and storytelling. “Maybe I should have been more of nothing,” she tells me. It can be discouraging to continually be turned away when the dancers chosen are sophisticated bodies devoid of embodiment.

 As someone so emotionally driven and talented, situations like these only signal to Marissa the increased importance of exploring her own interests while creating work that allows qualities of life to be truly expressed within the form. 

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The quality she hasn’t found in the audition room or classroom is the expression of life experience. This is what she has gifted herself in making time for self-reflection and the personalization of her performance pursuits. It also finds itself in her casting. “There has to be a certain availability in order to connect. There needs to be some sort of presence.” When she calls in people to do her work, it is important that they show up as themselves. “I need to understand them as a human or animal, a being thing.” Marissa isn’t looking for just aesthetic. She asks of herself and her dancers to be giving in ways that have made her and other talented movers feel insecure and confused in other places. Emotional and energetic intelligence is a language that permeates her undertakings. 

Dancing and Choreographing are Marissa’s vessel of connection. The art is a means to move emotion and digest her experiences. Opening up to people outside of the frame of performance in “normal situations,” as she calls them, is not her go-to means of human relation. “Others can talk to a friend, get all their emotions out and then feel better. My choreography is a way of moving through it. The things I don’t talk about with anyone become inspiration for my work. That is where I talk about it.”

The transition from dancer to self-producer can be hard to navigate because it strays from the normative of dance perceptions or accomplishments. There is an idea that one must be in a certain company for a dancer’s life to have meaning and validity. Yet, she has embarked on life as an artist, not just a dancer. In this way, her devotion to her own choreographic, art and life processes are not a rejection to the dance world at large or failure. These are ideas that occasionally creep into the minds of dancers that do not make the cut. Marissa is making her own cuts these days while making effort to stay in the loop with the progression of the field. She still wishes to learn from other creators, see shows and take workshops from inspiring choreographers. Right now, however, she is working towards putting on her own show. The commitment to self has lead her out of the dance studio and into art galleries, parks, and diverse environments. In listening to her intuition, she is allowing to get to know herself and others beyond the confines of dance politics. She’s rad. It’s apparent. She’s LoneKing. 

FEMALE GAZE : Confronting womanhood is a process that seems to be continual since the time a girl is cognizant that her body was designed for more than just climbing trees. It is socially pressured and individual by nature. “I’m just starting to actually think about these things. I don’t have the answers.” To make contact with her conceptualization and embodiment of being a woman in today’s world, Marissa listens to a few podcasts of women leaders like the Ladies Who Lead Podcast. This is her way of better understanding how she can show up in the world. It is important to separate the difference between how society wants a woman to show up in the world and how to be genuine in one’s presence as the feminine. “I show up with a lot of masculine qualities in the sense of being very strong headed or stubborn. I’m not very submissive. If I’m always showing up with masculine qualities, what am I missing out on? How can I listen to my own femininity more and use it as a positive thing to help better connect with people or find things I’m looking for.” The exploration of balancing the masculine and feminine continues. Like Marissa, we don’t always have the answers, but just having a question is enough to begin to work towards a great awareness of self and evolution. Making a choice to listen, seeing what is out there, and forming personal relevance is as pro-active as it gets. 

POLITICAL CLIMATE : Marissa mentioned to me that the political climate is causing a lot of people to question what it is that they should be doing to contribute positively and responsibly. “What can I do now?” There is a sense of desperation. Yet, she does not feel completely threatened or deterred by the climate. If anything, she conveyed feeling more connected to her artistic purpose. “I need to do what I do.” As an artist and dancer, she knows that it is her duty to continue her dedication to her craft and not be swayed away from her work by the chaos. “A lot of my work is about bringing people together, getting people to be more present. That is how I can help the world right now.” Her perspective is a good reminder that, although there is a lot of turmoil in the world at present, sometimes our best contribution is to continue our efforts and practices. We make the world a better place by being ourselves and being our best selves. Marissa reminds me that our job as artists is to be artist. This calls for discipline, focus and a strong sense of mission. Finding myself more terrified than not by the political climate, it was good to hear that the continuing of one’s path is a form of inspiration and a way to move through the storm. There are many ways to respond to the political upheaval, of course. Marissa’s way is her art, as is mine.

 

WHAT'S YOUR RELATIONSHIP TO BLACKNESS?

“You don’t seem to be that black.” I get that comment a lot because of the way that I act. I’m mixed, half black and half white. For me, I just am the way that I am. I don't have a very strong connection to my African roots, but I’m very aware of the color of my skin and proud of that. I’m happy that I am doing what I am doing. I’ve been fortunate because it has never had to be that present on my mind. I just feel like I’m allowed to be myself in the places I have been. I lived in the Bay Area and New York. Those places are diverse. I don’t feel like people are looking at me. I’ve been fortunate in that way. It’s never been something I’ve felt bad about. If anything, I feel glad that I am different.

AFFECTION : Marissa emphasized to me the importance of listening as a means of showing care and affection. “If someone had a hard day coming up and you remembered and wished them luck, that shows you are thinking about the other person even when they aren’t there.” Listening is a form of “showing up” in her book. It may entail gift giving something someone mentioned wanting months prior or simply taking a mental note of someone’s schedule. The attention to detail and the ability to just be there to hear someone out really speaks volumes. It reminds me to be a little more silent and a lot more mindful of loved ones near and far. As she says, you don’t have to be there in person to show that you are there for someone else. 

KISS COULD MAKE A DIFFERENCE : She was pretty scientific when I asked her about the impact of a kiss. Based on the nerve endings that cause chemical shifts in the brain, she nods that “yes, there is a difference.” Clearly. 

 

INTIMACY : Intimacy is a word that keeps coming up for her. “I’ll do something about that at some point,” she tells me, noting that she hasn’t really experienced what she would call a successful relationship to date. She relayed that she doesn’t have much to contribute on the topic, despite having what seems to me to be a strong relationship to maturation. She’s at ease with herself, feeling okay with the course of her life and relationship history. Her focus is on learning intimacy with the self, which is a form of bravery and patience. “I try looking at it through a dance practice lens, self-intimacy. It’s literally an idea and nothing further.” Marissa’s openness about her freshness of exploration and uncertainty of contribution is refreshing. I find respect in the honesty of which she communicates not knowing how she feels about the subject as she develops more depth of understanding. What she does know is that she doesn’t let people in easily, so she doesn’t want to be touched unless it is by someone she cares about. Proximity is earned.

Lavender White Chocolate Chip Cookies!

Lavender White Chocolate Chip Cookies!

BAKING “I should have lavender white chocolate cookies written on my grave. I love cooking, cooking for other people, and its something that makes me very happy. There is so much reward in eating good food at the end, especially after you do all the work of making it.”

Lady Deryn Photography

Lady Deryn Photography

I have these memories of Marissa throughout college bringing the most wonderful smelling baked goods to rehearsals and to dance class.  It was just known that she had a knack for creating the most delightful and creative goodies. The tupperware and aluminum was always a clear sign that there were treats awaiting someone lucky, probably the dancers in her next choreographic work. Rehearsals days were long and I can imagine the baking definitely made the BFA performance schedule a bit more bearable, if not tasty. 

WHAT DO YOU CELEBRATE?

I celebrate the color of my skin. I celebrate being an artist. I enjoy a good smelling candle and like the temperature cool so that I can have a lot of sheets. I’m into essential oils lately and epsom salt baths. There is a strong focus on self care recently. 

 

TOTE BAG

water

food - dried mango

couple of different journals - dance note book, regular journal

phone

chapstick

change of clothes

headphones

no banana in any bag  . . . (that's pretty sound advise!)

WHAT MIGHT NOT BE VISIBLE ABOUT YOU? 

A lot about me is not put out there because I am good at putting up walls about myself, but I think I wish people to know that I am very passionate and very trustworthy.

DO YOU HAVE A POSTAGE PRACTICE

I’m all about postcards. I send a lot of post cards. 

ART PRACTICE : Marissa enriches her dance practice by seeing other forms of art. She enjoys music and photography. She has been doing more film work than photography of late, but still likes to shoot 35mm or polaroids. Aside from the visual arts, she refuels and finds inspiration by being by the water. 

TELL ME MORE ABOUT LONEKING.

I don’t know how to say it in words. I think I’m getting rid of it, but I still feel connected to it. I don’t write it on everything I produce, but it is there a lot. (And then she started her LoneKing Instagram @lonekingprojects, so I assume she’s keeping the name). 

FAVORITE BIRD?

Bird? (She giggles delightfully.) I was just a bird the other day for this show I was in. I was a swallow. It’s funny because I don’t relate to birds at all. I’m not a bird in any way.

WHAT ADVISE WOULD YOU OFFER SOMEONE?

I’d tell someone to take yoga. To be honest, moving my body is so important to me. Other people should move their bodies somehow because otherwise things get stuck and then they cannot be as clear or as open as the world could use them.

Lady Deryn Photography

Lady Deryn Photography

In Summary . . . There is a dedication to artistic alignment, moving emotion and the peace of process towards self-discovery. Marissa inspires me to mobilize the stagnancy that accumulates daily by confronting my psyche through motion. It can be so easy to make the choice to let another day go by without the celebration of having a body to use for digesting the passing of time, whether that be yoga or grooving down the street. She also pushes me to be the most available and of service to the world through my own creative means or as life calls for it. The world can shut a person down, but we have to keep moving in dance and thought. Aside from the acknowledging of individual needs and the varied stages of process, she makes me want to sneak over to her kitchen window (if there is one in little ole Brooklyn) and snatch some of those lavender white chocolate cookies! Yum Yum Yum! 

                  To further check this gal out . . . visit her vimeo!  vimeo.com/marissabrown

 

Cheers Birds of a feather and flesh,

- Lady Deryn of whimsy(nest)

Valentine's Day

And this was a beginning of sorts . . . oops . . . Was it ever all that intentional to develop feelings?  We can't seem to control who we like or when or if they will like us back or who actually likes us in the end. We like a lot of what we can't have and we like a lot by surprise . . . the heart just does its best to navigate from the inside of our chest as our brains criticize the whole darn thing. And whether we planned on it or are in to it at all . . . love happens. What kind? We don't know . . . but there is lots of it to go around. HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY! 

WHIMSICAL I : GRACE

Hello Birds + Human Beings,

I am writing to wish you all a wonderful new year. Perhaps it is the best of times and the worst of times, this 2017. With that in mind, this "blog" is here to inspire, make funny and inform. On top of random drawings and witticisms, this small space of the world is to be used in the coming months to feature and celebrate multi-ferocious individuals: the whimsicals. It shall be a magical sampling of beings with integrity and commitment to process. There is much to learn from the whimsicals and our neighbors alike. This space shall be a disclosure of their beliefs and practices of art, intimacy, self-love, and femininity. It is a time to speak the unspoken and ask questions. Through the exploration of these topics, we can all invite new ideas, celebrate our quirks and soar a little higher both individually and collectively. It is my belief that we are all magical and you can create the world you want to live in, we can create the world we want to live in, through small gestures and stronger connections. We can’t change everything, but “a kiss can make a difference.”

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 I will be kicking this series off by celebrating Grace E Courvoisier. She's a real gem ladies and gents!

Grace is a choreographer and dancer raised in Sin City. We became friends in the dance trenches of NYC in our early twenties. Her choreography does not always reflect her jovial disposition, but it is always reflects her refined, sensuous and cinematic presence. Plus, there is this fine focus on the feminine that always pulls my attention. Like a jewel aflame, my memory is stained with the sight of her red locks and emerald costume flipping upward after some guttural movement in a solo piece a few years back. To see her perform is to witness the elegance of ravishing being.

The last time we met in person, a few months ago it seems, we grabbed tea at the cafe in the back of a SoHo bookstore. It was a scene from Beauty and the Beast. Weathered and new books alike lined the walls of a dimly lit, two story interior. Her classiness and intellect was the Beauty while our gripe and gossip was the Beast. The questions of the time concerned our choreographic process, boys (oh boys), and whether to live or not to live in New York City as artists with undying love for the art of dance. Although the conversation continues today, we no longer meet in the dingy and romantic cityscape where our friendship was forged. Since Grace has recently moved to the West Coast, we now must gather over video chat. 

The Story of Gathering 

It was nearing our scheduled meeting. It was afternoon time in the desert, where Grace has moved, and 7 PM in my new apartment above the Chinese Restaurant. I quickly set up my laptop for note taking and positioned my phone for the FaceTime call. When it seemed like my background was clean enough to share with Grace through the small window of my phone, I called her up. I was greeted with the giggling smile of Grace. She’s intoxicating. The talk was intended to last an hour.  Three hours later, I was prying myself off the phone so that she could make dinner with her sisters and Natalie could move on to her bedtime rituals. (That’s me in third person).

Below are the treasures from the conversation. These insights have become a portrait and doodling of Grace. 

Let’s Celebrate!

"curtain open in 5!" . . . "thank you 5!"

PERFORMANCE : Grace does not like to display the female form in a typical way. It is common for more skin to be visible in the expression and exhibition of the body, but Grace believes the audience “sees more if one is clothed more.” She finds provocation in her Victorian aesthetic. Her women tend to be dressed up to the neck, noting that it is more poignant to unbutton the collar of a shirt than to rip off the entire shirt. There is seduction in simply taking down one’s hair. She is decisive about the pacing and portions of the body exposed in performance, wielding such suspense and romance. “Vulgarity and vulnerability, women possess both and women only want to express one of them at a time, but we are both.” Subtlety and sex are just two traits that Grace crafts. Many of her works highlight multi-dimensional women and concepts of sisterhood. 

It is not Grace’s aim to be known as a feminist choreographer despite her female narratives. The emphasis comes naturally to her since she grew up in an estrogen-heavy family and walks this life as a female. Plus, as she says, “the female body is gorgeous, so why not?”  She went to a performing arts high school on top of growing up with two sisters and having only aunts. The boy perspective was never around outside of a strong father figure that she says might as well be Jesus. She admires how he has never parented through yelling, serves the under-privileged through volunteer work, goes beyond being a voice over talent as an author on the artistry in the field, and spotlights the lives of foster children through his TV special Wednesday’s Child. “I’m definitely a daddy’s girl, minus the credit card,” she giggles. The closeness and strength of devotion she feels towards her familial and chosen sisters, the impressions and values of both womanhood and sisterhood from her upbringing, flow directly into her work. “The celebration of these sisterhood bonds have been muted. I want to un-mute them.” These are significant bonds between girls that are “more important than any romance.” Her girlfriends are everything. She never lets these friendships go by the wayside. “They can’t,” she exclaims, “especially as friends are getting married and serious with men, starting families.” She describes being heavily impacted by overhearing her mom confide over the phone with what was clearly a lifelong girlfriend, affirming to her how important these bonds of sisterhood are to a woman’s wellbeing through the years. The sense of trust and longevity found in these bonds provides strength of heart and dignity to the female spirit. 

Here is how she “breaks” down her choreographic and performance interests . . . 

“Owning the sensuality, owning the sexuality, finding a balance between them, and then putting it on a china plate, and then watching it break.” 

When asked to comment about the unspoken intimidation and shaming that occurs between girls and the insecurities of being a female . . . 

Women communicate approval and disapproval to one another tacitly. It shocks Grace to witness women pitted against one another in this fashion. Due to perpetual shaming, many women are eager to alter their bodies at great length for ever shifting beauty standards. Women are both aggressors and victims in this cycle. Grace does not seem to be caught in this loop having overcome her insecurities in face of the extreme body standards of the ballet world. Like so many dancers, it took time for her to love her full figure. With self-love and sisterhood in her blood, it is not her nature to slander or be slandered by other women. “If a woman walked into a restaurant and I thought she was beautiful, obviously this has to do with her confidence. Would I ever want or crave what she is? Never. I would’t let myself be demeaned by another person. She’s celebrating, and so am I.” It’s a healthy attitude. Now, more than ever, we need to celebrate our individual and shared sense of female pride. We are not to be threatened or be made less by one another. We should only make each other stronger. Energy is wasted on the insecure sparks of woman on woman warfare at a time when our energy should be used to support one another in the midst of a threatening atmosphere at large.

Alright, so Grace holds her sisters close, isn’t afraid to shine, and is a complete fashionista. “My mom told me I could never be too dressed up. If you are over dressed, you’re just more fabulous.” This one is easy. Grace tends to be more fabulous. 

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A KISS COULD MAKE A DIFFERENCE : The kiss is everything. You can be like, i don’t know about this person. You kiss them . . . I’m going to marry you!!!  It can be that small intimate lip touch that could change the whole world. How does it do that?!”

A kiss is a powerful gesture of connection, love and healing. I’m a fan of a good smooch, of course, and Grace seemed to know exactly what keeps a girl on the edge of her seat during the suspense of dating. “Girls live for the kiss at the end of the night. We want our minds to change. If you kiss and there is nothing there, there is an end.” It’s all so tragic, but true. Kisses are chemistry fortune tellers and emotional glue. 

Grace pointed out that it isn’t just about the drama of whether or not our minds will change.“Kissing is the best part of being intimate. It is more intimate than sex. In Pretty Woman, she can’t kiss. Why? It is too sacred. You get too attached.” She’s absolutely right. A kiss is not just a silly or empty gesture. “Julia Roberts taught us a long time ago that kissing is the most important part of being with another human being.” Cheers to such intimacy.

 

AFFECTION : Everyone has their own love language. Grace communicates through gift giving. She shows affection through physical objects that are purchased or made with personal intent. “It can be confused with materialism, but it could honestly be a photograph. Enlarge it. Frame it. Wrap it and you can open it.” She loves giving gifts and loves being surprised with these signs of affection as well. The consideration of thought and sense of surprise light her up. If she sees something that a loved one might like, then she is inspired to bring the item to her beloved. 

INTIMACY : Grace recalls back to a contact improvisation class at the University of Illinois where she studied dance. Her professor Kirstie Simpson left a strong impression on her when she said that, “pressure is food for the bones.” Contact improvisation is all about the sensitivity and trust between two bodies. So much can be learned about the self and human relationships from this practice. Grace started experiencing hugs and touch completely differently after taking class with Simpson and hearing such a profound insight. “If I hug somebody, it will go deeper into their skeleton. I feel like I”m giving them nutrients.” I hope we all give each other a little more nutrients moving onward.

Touch is a normal experience for dancers, however, where as it can be more intense for the common Jane or Joe.  “I wish touch was more apparent in social norms. I wish it wasn’t so weighted.” As someone comfortable with tactile intimacy, she knows that if someone she doesn’t know so well decides to hug her she will feel much more at ease. Aside from the intimacy of skin, whether platonic or romantic, she says there is also intimacy in small acts like braiding a girl’s hair. She says that girls love having their hair braided or brushed because it always feels good. “If you’re not close with a girl, you’re about to be!” However, she shares that it can be a tricky situation because not everyone is comfortable with this form of proximity. Especially in America, where touch and displays of affection are not as widespread social practices, navigating intimacy can be tough. However, we all wish for love even if we speak different languages and have different comfort levels with the expression of those needs. 

(gentle) MEN : Grace has such a gracious and loving perspective on men. “Exquisite mountains,” she tells me. “I love them in bed, out of bed, at the movies,” and the list goes on. In her experience, men want to help so much, rarely know how to start, and just have to know how to fix it. “What can I do?” they ask, needing action for the ailments of womenkind. “I don’t want you to do anything. I just want you to listen. You can’t fix it.” She takes them as they are. It’s an honest appreciation for their existence. When a man makes a gesture to be of service, pull out a chair, or something chivalrous like opening a door, it is this “glimpse” into his consideration that makes her head over heels. “It’s the thought that counts,” she glows. These moments fascinate because they give her insight into how and where a man was raised, how he aspires to treat women, and the kind of women that were around him in his life. She reports only having one fight with a man ever, to which she says “he was completely lovely.”  Grace identifies certain pain and difficulty that comes with her relationships with men, but warmly accepts these experiences because men also balance and bring light to her feminine energy. In this way, she acknowledges that she needs them and finds absolute adoration for their contribution to her sense of self. 

Romanticism is Grace’s language, so she really enjoys what she calls “the preparation of falling in love.” She loves the bridal, dating, and birthing process and the roles of both women and partners in those rituals. “Falling in love is a deep and important process. Becoming a bride takes like a whole year.”

When I asked her about her dream man, she quickly brought up what would be a younger version of Carry Grant from “It’s a Wonderful Life.” In actuality, however, she falls for “homeless Jesus.” He is all hair, sarcasm and smarts. Beards and intelligence are her weakness. Despite a differences of looks between her dreams and her pursuits, she admits that there is still an old hollywood feel to the gentlemen, they just happen to be contemporary in their humor and dishevelment. “Broken men, they are my weakness. I always go for them. Broken Boys are dangerous, but they are also a lot of fun.” There is a pull towards these fellas that are magical in their destruction. It’s all so poetic. “We want to go in and help them. It’s subconscious.” It feels so mysterious why one would put themselves in that situation. Yet, Grace finds the adventure is also a form of procrastination and comfort. By focusing on the broken spirit, one is distracted from personal tragedy. “It’s a smarter idea to choose the guy who isn’t broken, who isn’t a total asshole. Smarter, but not safer. So stunning, I can’t even look away. They will always let you down, but sometimes the angel glow is too much!” We giggle, commiserate and celebrate these lads, realizing how hard it is to turn away or turn around. Somehow, even with all the havoc that can possible ensue, perhaps the pleasure of the plot is too much to eradicate the broken boy habit, although we know it could be a helpful one to conquer . . . eventually. 

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PERFUME : Grace first went perfume shopping at the age of 13 or 14 with her mom. It was a coming of age ritual of sorts. “I was old enough to have a signature sent, to carry myself on my own.” It is a belief that one “should be remembered by smell,” remarking on how powerful scent is for sparking nostalgia. Her dad bought her Channel #5 for Valentines when she was younger. “Very Romantic,” she commented. When discussing the perfume shopping process, she said that “it should be a day.” Grace means this with delight and not labor, of course. Although, she adds, “not all florals and oils mix with everyone’s body oils,” so “it should take whole day to find.” Apparently perfume shopping is a very serious thing, to which I had no idea. One should “keep a scent for as long as possible.” But, considering she just moved, “new city, new scent.” The joy for her on this topic is palpable, as is my curiosity. She likes to leave a mist of spray on the pillow of a lover so that “when they come from a whole day of work, they miss you already.” You use perfume “to remind people that you are still living, still around.” For a girl that seems unforgettable, she still has tricks up her sleeves . . . or the essence of florals and wisely chosen aroma. 

TELL ME MORE ABOUT YOUR DAD'S SHOW. 

Yes, to clarify my dad's television spot. It's called Wednesday's Child - and for 30 minutes they feature a foster child in the Southwest region (I actually forget all the southwest states/cities involved but...it expands outside of Nevada). Wednesday's Child brings awareness to how hard foster kids have it! Being passed around to multiple parents can be even worse than having no parent at all. Usually after being featured, the kid is adopted permanently!

http://www.lasvegasnow.com/community/wednesdays-child

WHAT DO YOU CELEBRATE?

“We hold landscape in our body. We hold earth history in our bodies. The only thing you need to have a magical afternoon is environment. I had the privilege of growing up around a lot of different landscape. All the dreamy, all the whimsical, all the wonderful that life is in the land, is in the silence of the land. The quiet sounds of Earth, that is where everything that magical is. That’s Neverland for us! it’s right outside. If one could quiet themselves long enough, one would hear more than they’ve heard in their life time. That is my celebration. Oh, and feeling like you are human, in it is important, too. You are a part of it, but different from it as well. That’s what makes you special

POSTAGE + LETTER WRITING

Who doesn’t love getting letters? Everybody loves it. If you get a letter in the mail, you feel so loved, every single time. Everyone wants a letter. Everyone wants a package.

Receiving and writing letters is very important. I still love fountain pens. Letter writing is more true or real because you can’t just back up and delete it. I love the process of writing a letter. First you put down your phone, turn off external devices. Then you think about what you are going to write. Sign, seal, deliver. It’s a whole thing. It reminds you of who you are. It’s a romantic gesture, even if it isn’t a romantic letter. I still love buying stamps. Collecting stamps is a precious American thing to do. 

TOTE BAG . . . WHAT GOES IN IT? 

Perfume. (DUH) You should have a little bottle of your bigger bottle version. Travel size perfume, not body spray. A Bottle of water, a fountain pen, my wallet (because, unfortunately, I might want to buy a gift if I come across it), jewelry - at least two spare rings in case one breaks or I feel like changing them, and red lipstick.

TELL ME YOUR TAKE ON NESTING. 

Life is happier when you nest!" First thing I do is paint. Tone coordination is important.  I do one room at a time. You have to understand the architecture of room and it has to understand you back. More is more. Less is not more. Never enough hangers or candles . . . ever! Always more. I want everything framed or in shadow boxes, the little trinkets of life. Those are the cool little memorabilia of how awesome life is. I save movie tickets, parking tickets, lip prints. Frame them, put them up. Everything is very precious. Everything is in frames and displayed. I’ll take it down and replace it with something else. The room breathes this way. Nesting is not about attachment. I collect and display to remind me how lucky I am. I appreciate minimalism, that chic atmosphere, but my environment at home is not chic or sleek. It’s Victorian Mexico, bright colors and patterns, but formal.”

WHAT ELSE DO YOU COLLECT?

I like taking fine dining napkins and doing a lip print. Then I take the whole napkin home with me and write down where I was - Santa Monica or restaurant name August 2016 - and cut out a square piece. I’ve been keeping these for months and months now. I have about 12 or 13 lip prints from different places i’ve been. It’s very feminine to leave a lip print. It feels so old Hollywood. 

TEA OR DRINK OF PREFERENCE?

Earl Grey. Afternoon only, never morning or night. One sugar lump and always with milk. Earl grey should be with milk. I’m also a huge believer in alcohol whenever you want it. It should be after twelve, but if you want a glass of wine at twelve you should do it!

WHAT'S YOUR RELATIONSHIP TO GRIEF?

People think i’m naive, that I’ve never had dilemmas or problems. I don’t showcase it. I would rather people assume everything is fine. So much of the time I’m not. A lot of girls do that. All about hiding. People think that i’m fine all the time, and warm. But we all know that usually the people like that all the time, there has to be something else going on. People who are comedians, if they do get to portray dramatic, serious rolls, they are usually the bomb at it because the basis of comedy is tragedy.

FAVORITE COLOR?  

deep blood plum red and turquoise. 

FAVORITE BIRD?

The cardinal because I lived in Missouri. Also, if you see a cardinal in the winter, it’s good luck. I always loved searching for them when it snowed. 

FAVORITE DESSERT?

There are so many desserts! Banana pudding? I’m a decadent girl, never going to choose something light. We order pizza and champagne. Eat Pray Love, no carb left behind.

FAVORITE FLOWER?

“Lilies. ‘We are really beautiful and going to die like everything else.’ They are the most morbid, oracle flowers. They are used in death ceremonies.”

FAVORITE DANCE STYLE(S)? 

National dance in Belize. It’s sexual. Everyone is doing it all the time. Kids, teens, grownups. Also, Vaganova Ballet technique. I don’t practice every day. I do a blending of modern contemporary performance. But, I never turn down a Vaganova Ballet performance. It’s my weakness.

FAVORITE HOLIDAY?

Halloween! I love the that we celebrate the dead versus the living, that we really believe that we can communicate with afterlife on this one day. It’s the coolest concept. I’m really into the celebration of the dead. I love everything revolving around the death process. It comes from my mom. She works for Hospice, a big organization of nurses that help one die more comfortably.  People that have lost someone close to them, there is a huge difference. It’s significant when you lose someone close to you. It’s an important moment and it will happen to everybody at some point. I do love celebrating death. Don’t know how else to say it.  Have you ever been to the Morbid Anatomy Museum in Brooklyn? It’s a little small, but still big. I don’t think death is talked about enough in this country, or miscarriages, which is a form of death. 

AFTERTHOUGHTS . . . 

It is difficult for women to forget the last century of social norms because it is in our anatomy, so fighting for social change and thinking differently can combat with the history of the feminine. Grace shared her concern for the issue of girls faking orgasm. She wonders if girls fake it and it works. She knows it boosts men's egos. The sex talk came on earlier for her than with her friends. This stems from growing up in Sin City where sex, drugs and rock and roll are the norm. She understood very young how powerful a woman’s image is to getting what she wants. She has always been skeptical about women in the porn industry, but admires Jenna Jameson for being unapologetic about her career. It took awhile for her to love her boobs, but found that sex allowed her to love her body in a way that ballet never did. 

. . . and she is priceless! That's the majestic Grace for you all! Cheers to her West Coast dreams and calling of sisterhood!

Keep on celebrating, shining and hugging bone deep. 

- Lady Deryn of whimsy(nest)