Monday, July 25, 2011


here is an other


heres a little watercolor painting

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


This list is a compilation of lies about work :

the more time you spend at work the better worker you are
more work is best
give your life to your work
life is secondary to work
more money means better life
working as a bartender,repair person makes you a lesser person
if you fail at work, your life is a failure
your a loser if you work only 3 days a week
you are failing at work if you are not working at least 60 hours a week
you are a failure if you don't make gobs of cash
you are a failure if you don't have quality things
success is having expensive things
not being there for your family is an excusable side effect of working a lot
making more money for your family is more valuable than emotionally supporting your family
downing gobs of alcohol after a work day is normal
using your work as an excuse to ignore your children is fine
people care more about your financial success than your personality
if you don't have an interesting job, you are not interesting
if you don't work until you are exhausted, you are not working hard enough
life isn't fair
giving more attention to your coworkers is more important than giving it to your friends and family
your coworkers opinion of you matters more than anything
kissing your bosses ass is dignified
if you aren't perfect at work, you are a failure
skipping a day or two of work is failure
if you aren't making enough money, you aren't trying hard enough
if not enough work is coming in, you must have done something to deserve it
women aren't as hard working and are complainers
a woman in the workplace is to be a hard ass to be respected
a softer personality woman is not as intelligent
your ranking at work directly reflects your intelligence
if you aren't making a lot of money, you are not as intelligent as people who are
whomever is the top ranking person at a company is the most intelligent
if you are not working you are failing
if you have financial distress, its your fault
donating to charity makes up for being an asshole
being an asshole to your coworkers is how you get shit done
being an asshole means power
being an asshole to people means you will gain respect from them
being an asshole to your coworkers is excusable, in fact commendable
if you are not better than your competitor, you are a failure
you need to be better than everyone
if you are number two, you are a failure
having friends is unnecessary if you have work
friends don't get you higher up on the ladder of success, neither does your family
your family should be physically perfect to show your success
burying yourself in your work is a dignified way of living and dying
work is what defines you as a person
your personality is your work

Wednesday, July 6, 2011


Get your fish sauce, get your pho, get your baked bean buns!! Rebecca Wheelers food tours get you immersed into certain cultures of different cChicago neighborhoods. Last weekend was Argyle street, not only was I stuffed with deliciousness, but we learned about the history of the neighborhood and its shifts and turns through the last fifty or so years.We also perused the local grocery stores stocking up on vietnamese staples, feasting our eyes on strange fruit. My mission on ending fruit racism has become a little more complicated now :)

Tuesday, July 5, 2011


I shot this right before I left for my meditation excursion (stand by for super long post)
worked with the fabulous women (Brandon Frein, Arlene Matthews) from, some fantastic hair n makeup by Chrisondra Boyd (ford), and the intelligent, funny and fun model Kel (factor women)

The concept came to fruition because I had to go out of town and didnt have much time to fart around with retouching and studio setup and niceties (yep, the lazy approach works sometimes). so we decided, shoot it raw, punk rock, black and white, gritty, put a little "fuckit" in it, et voila!!


Monday, July 4, 2011


In usual Erika manner, I hurled myself into a petri dish of experiment of self-determination and exploration, a thing in which I now call... meditation boot camp. It seems like life, or at least mine, is a culmination of experiences quantifying to a now 38 year portfolio of experiments defining who I am.

Last month I decided to sign myself up for a doozie of venture , which I now call, meditation boot camp, formally known as Vipassana meditation.

Heres the deal ... 10 days - no technology whatsoever (cell phone, computer, ipod, etc. etc) no journals, no books, nothing whatsoever, on top of this, no exercise, no skipping, no running, no yoga. and the cherry on top is NO TALKING. yep, thats right, no speaking in any way shape or form the entire time, no gestures, no eye contact, no sign language, just plain no interacting with any other human being on any level. This actually felt refreshing to me. no need for social graces, no apologies, no excuse mes, no listening to someone babble on, no listening to myself babble on etc etc. fuckin silence!!

In my trusting manner, I said OK. I didn’t really think really hard about the schedule that was presented on the website that I would be meditating for about 11 hours a day and getting about 5-6 hours sleep. This rigorous schedule didn’t hit home until day 3 when I was transforming into a walking zombie.

Upon the first sitting at 4:30am, I settled myself on my little pillowed spot I was assigned to and thus the meditation began. We were given instruction on where to direct our mind for a few minutes and one of the directives encourages you to move as little as possible, as moving distracts the mind and also is a sign that you are succumbing to your inner chatter.

It is quite an eerie feeling to be in a dimly lit room with about 40 people sitting in silence. It becomes a little less eerie when you start hearing the sounds of humanness. Burps (a guy burped every ten minutes) , farts (less sound, more smell), swallowing (I couldn’t stop swallowing), coughs, knees cracking, ankles popping, shifting fabric, nails scratching skin became the soundtrack of my 10 day enlightenment. Partnering these sounds was the visual representation of peoples pain created with piles of carefully arrange pillows in order to support knees, back, hips, etc etc. After day 3 I decided to scan the room after a sitting to see what each persons stations looked like, as mine looked like a mini nest. Amongst the little pods of pillows peol had towered a 3 foot sculpture of pillows stacked to look like a sort of demented couch, this poor woman was suffering indeed!

Like a good little girl, I didn’t budge for an hour and a half for my first sitting, then a recording of a froglike chanting man came on, chanting incomprehensible croaks, which seemed like an eternity, not stopping going on and on and on. I forgot to mention the side effects of sitting still for that long. It is the most excruciating pain I have ever experienced in my entire life. My knees were going to explode, the muscles in my back to pop out and that I was carrying a cannon on each shoulder.

The culmination of the croaking and the searing pain in my body lead to a building noxious feeling. i thought OH SHIT! IM GONNA VOMIT, then the black curtain of passing out was creeping in,I thought JESUS! IM ABOUT TO FAINT! An intense sound filled my head, sounding like waves crashing with the volume cranked to maximum, and suddenly my body was covered with clammy sweat from head to toe, I was drenched, an finally my innards started to turn, I thought, OH FUCK! IM GONNA SHIT ALL OVER THIS MEDITATION HALL! then everything stopped and I felt and heard nothing and sat there in a complete and still void.

WHAT THE FUCK WAS THAT?!!?!! I immediately signed up to talk to the teacher where you have a mere 10 minutes a day for a private talk. I was ushered into a tiny room where the frail and nun-like teachers assistant sat cross legged on her pedestal. In my most polite and held back way as possible I asked WTF just happened she said "ah, it is working already" I thought, uh what’s "it". Well, It turns out that this wasn’t “it” working, it was actually a panic attack.

Like a clan of drones, we would silently convene 3 times a day in the cafeteria room which was the highest form of entertainment, EATING!!! Like a bunch of mutes, we sat at our table ignoring each other as the cacophony of utensils clinking on plates and crunching sounds of teeth moshing on apples filled the room. I felt like I was in an insane asylum as I folded my lipton tea wrapper into random origami shapes observing the eating habits of the woman sitting across from me, watching how she made piles of rice, and sections of veggies, and how she would get a second helping of rice and then use her spoon like a knife to push the food onto her fork and dip it into her concoction for soy sauce and cayenne pepper.

In the evenings was an hour discourse from Mr S.N. Goenka was played to us on two screens at the front of the room explaining the Buddhas philosophies and how this particular meditation is the technique that the Buddha taught himself. Many great positive life lessons about being in the moment were talked about, but every now and again I would hear messages discerning that if we didn’t practice this particular meditation, wed most likely die in misery. Or messages like, “if you leave now, you may suffer the consequences” or “the more you move, the more you are succumbing to the negative parts of your life” or “you must practice this two hours a day at home or you will not be on the path” or “ you should donate your time to the vipassana meditation center and volunteer to serv on others retreats” these little tidbits were fed to us with more frequency as we became weaker and more vulnerable due to the lack of sleep and interaction with the outside world and sitting still for 11 hours a day. These little nuggets stood out to me and I became defiant and angry. I realized OH SHIT!!! THIS IS A CULT!! Just like other very successful cult of Landmark Forums, Scientology, and basically religion itself, laced with nuggets of fear and threats about having a life of misery... Sigh, I JUST wanted to learn how to meditate goddamnit!!

BUT… the meditation technique rocked. Basically, your mind becomes more and more sharpened to sensations and you begin scanning your piece by piece, part by part, creating these vibrations of sensation wherever your mind is focusing. These body scans felt very relaxing and soothing. Most of the times though, the mind became so loud with thoughts, repeating, growing , going down dark roads, pornographic roads, creative roads, creating scenarios, reverting back to your childhood, propelling forward to the future, and theses thoughts became more and more exaggerated as the days went on. I realized how loud our minds are when we shut up.

On the morning of the last day, the veil finally lifted, and we were able to speak, but yet we weren’t allowed to touch anyone. I found this to be a tease and absolutely silly. We all chatted for hours about our experienced, some people were bleary eyed and had drunk the koolaid fully having a haunting smile that looked like they were brainwashed, some were more realistic like myself and had a sense of humor about the whole thing. I formed some close bonds with certain people and I am proud to say that I gravitate towards healthy minded people. (at least I think so).

I did come away with a great epiphany form this entire adventure. I saw in the entirety of my life as a series of extreme tests of pain and difficulty, ranging from being a dancer, to choosing one of the more intense yoga practices for 5 years, to attempting to be a kung fu artist for 7 years, and them pushing myself to perfection in my work then signing myself up for this intense meditation seminar, fearing failure, fearing inferiority, fearing myself as I am.

I come away with a new compassion and tenderness for myself, I don’t have to put myself through this kind of extremeness. I am fine, I am good just right now as I am. I can exercise and meditate and dance and kung fu, but but I don’t have to ACHIEVE, I can just be.

Friday, July 1, 2011


A few weeks back I went to my friend Sonias house and she made me a fennel salad and it was the bombdiggity. She marinated a red onion in lemon juice and shave a ton of fennel in there with cracked pepper and salt , was that it Sonia???

I forgot about this ignored veggie, at least I was ignoring it. I must be a veggie racist as well.

Apparently it is great for the intestinal tract, it reduces bloating and intestinal problems and intestinal stress. It is also said to help eyesight and it an effective diuretic. WOW!!

And guess what?? Its delicious!

I made this salad yesterday and had it with sauteed scallops breaded with roasted seaweed and breadcrumbs.

1/2 - fennel bulb
2 celery stalks
1 apple
1 green onion
the juice of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon of lemon rind
1 tbspn olive oil

Cut the fennel into thin shavings - if you have a mandoline, even better!!!
Do the same with the celery and apple and green onion.
Put in a bowl. Add the lemon juice and lemon rind, oil, salt pepper.

Thats it!!!

I imagine this would be delicious on a pork sammich too!! wooo. or serve with fish, or whatever man.