Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Four years later...


When my niece started high school four years ago, I told her that for her graduation gift, I would take her to London. She then asked if we could also visit Paris. Without blinking an eye, I said yes. Four years later, we are two days away from heading to my favorite city in the world, London, and the fantastic city of Paris. This will be my 12th or 13th trip (I need to count my passport stamps) to London, and my second to Paris. We're all packed and just waiting for the countdown clock to chime. I will make a pitstop in Toronto to have lunch with my dearest Canadian friend Glenn, and then fly to London from Toronto, where on Friday evening we'll have dinner with my dearest English friend Lucinda, and then on Saturday, meet up with a dear Fassinator friend, Anna - she will join us on the Jack the Ripper tour!

However financially straining this trip planning has been, it's been worth it because it's something that is a once in a lifetime trip for my niece, my mother, and me. I'll be the tour guide this time and watching them ooh and ahh over how brilliant both these beautiful and fun cities are.

Follow my Instagram account for holiday photo adventure updates between June 23 through July 2!


Friday, June 10, 2016

A Commentary from Socrates at the NYTimes

This is the second time this week I wanted to share an opinion posted online at the New York Times. The comment below was written by a poster appropriately named Socrates in response to Jack Klugman's editorial on Hillary Clinton's Democratic Party nomination, Hillary and the Horizontals.

What Socrates wrote was so informative, educational, and sensible, that I have to share it with my readers:

Socrates

 is a trusted commenter Downtown Verona, NJ 1 hour ago
The Republican Party platform has not changed since 1964 when Democratic President Lyndon Johnson perfectly articulated it to his aide Bill Moyers:

"I'll tell you what's at the bottom of it. If you can convince the lowest white man he's better than the best colored man, he won't notice you're picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he'll empty his pockets for you."

Make The 0.1% Richer By Duping The White Supremacists Again

As for those interested in good government, sensible regulation, alternative energy, civil rights, a living wage, the separation of church and state, justice, voting rights, women's rights, democracy, diplomacy and the common good, those people vote Democratic...be they white, black, Hispanic or purple.

This election, as usual, is about right-wing 'free-dumb' for 0.1% profit vs. actual freedom from right-wing tyranny.

This election, as usual, is about putting the Confederate States of America in their proper place and back in a permanent state of Reconstruction from their moral, intellectual and fiscal bankruptcy.

The Civil War never ends in America.

The Confederates simply need to be continuously reminded that they lost the Civil War.

Monday, June 6, 2016

My response to NYTimes Charles Blow commentary - The Madness of America

I have an electronic subscription to the New York Times, the one newspaper that I feel is a mandatory read for national and worldwide news. So when I read their editorials online, I often write an intelligent, compassionate, and professional response. One of my opinions was even printed in the paper edition a few days later back in April.

However today, a very interesting and well thought out editorial, written by Charles Blow, titled, The Madness of America, demanded me to respond in support of what he wrote. Basically he is calling out the anti-Trump demonstrators who interlope at Trump supporter rallies. These anti-Trump people, while their hearts are in the right place - not supporting such an unqualified and uncouth person to be POTUS, they have lost their minds in aiding in causing extremely violent eruptions at an otherwise legal rally of foolish Trump supporters.

Apparently I took too much time in reading the article between eating my lunch, and just as I pressed 'submit' to share my thoughts below, the comment section froze and up popped 'Comments Closed' at 689 comments. Gee, were comments getting too hot for NYTimes to handle? I have witnessed comments going well over 2000 for some articles. If you're going to write about Trump ad nauseum, then be prepared for heated comments from supporters and those who don't like Trump. My comment wasn't mean spirited, but I really wanted to get out there in cyberland, my opinion, so, I want to use my blog to publish my one time opinion on this pathetic Republican nominee (is this the best y'all can do?).

Trump cannot be elected!
I think both sides of the Trump debate, the supporters and the misguided protestors, are making matters worse. Just like how the KKK relies on the protestors to get valuable media coverage, so do the Trump gatherings attract the loudest and sadly, the craziest of the anti-Trump protestors, like a moth to a flame. Both sides are irrational, and the rest of us are looking at them while shaking our heads in disgust. 
 
I cannot stand Trump and I question anyone's rationality who would vote for him, but I would never, ever invade their space with violence while they gather to support him. Vote on election day inside the privacy of the voting booth, and that's the best way to protest against someone who would do irreparable harm to this country. Vote against Trump, don't waste your time inciting violence in attacking the very people are are prone to reacting to said violence. Don't fight fire with fire, it just gets hotter and out of control.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Working at Cinetopia Int'l Film Festival 2016


Although this is the 5th year of the Ann Arbor/Detroit Cinetopia International Film Festival, this is my third and sadly, final year in being a theater supervisor at the event. Due to my move to Los Angeles later this year, I went into this year's volunteer stint with great enthusiasm and interest. I worked four shifts this Saturday and Sunday (Day 2 and 3 of the festival) at the Center for Creative Studies in Detroit. I had a great crew of volunteers, all the equipment worked, there were no projector fiascoes, and there were good crowds at the venue. There were some nice improvements this year, and I know that as each year develops, there will be newer upgrades to make things even more efficient, and more perks for volunteers and patrons.

Because I work an 11-12 hour day, M-F, I cannot participate in any additional Cinetopia festivities until next Saturday, June 11. On that day, I plan to watch four movies. Of the films I was able to watch during my work shift, Parched is an Indian film about three sisters on three different life paths, but all doomed under the archaic patriarchal society of rural India. And the second film I saw was Trapped, a new documentary about the current HB2 laws in the Southern states, especially in Texas, that is trying to make abortion providers and those seeking abortions, to constantly jump over the newest obstacles designed to restrict abortion. Both films were very good. Next weekend, I plan to watch, Sonita, This Changes Everything, Hunky Dory, and Lo and Behold - Reveries of the Connected World.

Here are some images I took during my shifts at Cinetopia this weekend:



People having their tickets and passes scanned for the Parched screening

Me and Cinetopia Director Russ Collins


A line of people going to see the Maya Angelou film

Everyone one in red are the volunteers working with me


Two views of the audience for the popular Maya Angelou screening


I'm grateful for being able to volunteer my time to such a great and steadily growing film festival. This opportunity gives me valuable experience to work at other film festivals in the future in California.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Full Steam Ahead


Just as I get the inspiration to write a blog post, oftentimes a quote or phrase comes to my mind which will be the theme of the blog post. As I'm starting to take some significant strides towards my move to California, the phrase, 'Full steam ahead' came to mind. I Googled the phrase for an image (see above), and the Google translation of this phrase reads: Used to indicate that one should proceed with as much speed or energy as possible.

Yup, that sums up my actions at the moment. I have started to apply to some jobs, and I even spoke with an HR rep at a local university in Los Angeles about how best to present my resume. I asked her this question specifically since I'm not in California now, but still in Michigan. I asked if I should use a local address and she said that would be wise. But she also told me to explain my relocation plans clearly in the cover letter. After a review of some ideal apartment communities around Culver City (my targeted area of future domicile), I am using a Culver City address on my cover letter and resume, but making it clear in my cover letter that it is my future residence. This serves several purposes: 1) It's a viable address of a place near the university that is my targeted employer, 2) having this address helps prevent my application from being tossed into the 'not local' bin,  and 3) it demonstrates my sincere intent to move to that area, it shows I'm committed, have done my housing research, and that I will be close to that employer.

As I'm applying to various other organizations, I'm using the same address. In all likelihood, I will live somewhere else, and hopefully very close by to this address I'm using, but I will be flexible in moving to several other areas where other targeted employers are based. Although I know some people in the LA area, contact with them has fallen into radio silence. I don't expect or want anyone to hold my hand in this big move, but it would be great to have some sort of emotional support and encouragement, or tips/advice in moving to the area. In an ideal situation, it would be good to use a local friend's address just on paper. But I don't have that luxury. I'm prepared to move to LA and start from scratch in building up a local network of friends. It will all work out in the end, I've got a lot of karma in queue and it's all good.

So if anyone happens to come upon this article in their search for ideas to plan for a relocation, especially to Southern California, it is ok to use a local address for your resume and cover letter. Just be sure that it's at least an address that is someplace you would definitely like to live at, and which is in a location near the company you are applying for. The address of the apartment I'm using is something I hope is available when I move, but if not, I will find something similar close by.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Spring update post

Cheryl Fernandez Versini - Cannes best dressed

I haven't updated in a bit, so I should just get everything mentioned in here that I need to mention. Firstly, I'm glad it's spring here in Michigan, even though by Michigan typical standards, that means low 30 degrees, flurries, and serious allergy flare ups. This spring also marks my final active spring here in Michigan, because as each day inches closer towards September and October, my days are numbered here and I'm California bound.

Two weeks ago, I had a very short road trip to Philadelphia to see Pearl Jam. It was a 10 hour drive one way, and at one point, I wondered if Philadelphia existed because I didn't see any signs that referenced Philly up ahead. Literally as I was on the expensive PA turnpike, only as I was within 100 miles of Philly did I see reference to it. So it's good to know that my GPS wasn't leading me into the Atlantic ocean. However, many landscape scenes were familiar driving along this road trip because in the late 90s, I lived in Maryland and took this drive half a dozen times when visiting family. Anyway, my trip to Philly to see Pearl Jam was fun and fantastic. However, when I met up with my PJ concert buddy Jim, he bragged that this was his 39th time seeing Pearl Jam. I know he has seen the band well over a dozen times more than I have, so with his self confidence in declaring that he had seen PJ 39 times, sadly, my claim to seeing them "approximately 25" times is a make believe ass lie to myself.

In actuality, it's apparent that my seeing Pearl Jam live is between the 17-20 count. Still, that's not bad and to some people, that's still obsessive. But after Jim sees PJ again for six more shows this summer, he'll be at 45 shows, and another person we both know has seen PJ 153 times. So, while I'm crazy about Pearl Jam, and will drive 20 hours round trip all by myself and spend $600 that I don't really have... there are crazier fans with a lot more time and money on their hands.

The 2016 Cannes Film Festival is going on right now, and Andrea Arnold's American Honey is getting a lot of praise. I will definitely have to see that when it's available in the US. And when it comes to the best dressed, I just love, love Cheryl Fernandez-Versini's beautiful Naeem Kahn gown. Her lipstick even perfectly match the primary fushia color theme. Perfection! Now that I am a TIFF regular, I volunteer at Cinetopia Film Festival, and have been to the LA film festival and Palm Springs film festival, I will attend Cannes one day... one day I will, I promise me! Speaking of the film festivals, I'm slated to volunteer for the Cinetopia film festival for my third year in a row in a few weeks, and it will be my final time volunteering as I'll be in Los Angeles soon. And as you know, each September since 2004, I have attended the Toronto film festival, but this year, I will not be able to attend. I'll be busy planning my move to LA, and I'll need to be very deliberate in making traveling arrangements to LA to coincide with job interviews and looking for a place to live. This move to LA is going to take everything out of me, but oddly enough, I feel an internal peace and calmness about it all. At least at the moment.

Yes, I'm scared about the move, but very excited too. I know how hard it is to make it out in LA, but I have put too much mental and emotional power into this move. I even went back to college to get my Masters degree to prepare for this move. If that's not motivation, I don't know what is. Also, my drive to Philly was a great experience to see how my car handles on long drives and I figure that as long as I drive in 10-12 hour shifts, I will make it to LA safely and comfortably.

I have started my job search and have been making a lot of good new connections via LinkedIn. But after my London/Paris trip is over, the real job search will go into full swing. I will start getting rid of stuff I'm not taking to California, and depending on what happens, I will have to put my larger stuff into storage. Whatever can't fit into my car, I cannot take with me just yet. I'll ship out probably a half dozen boxes to my new home. I did this when I moved from Maryland to New Jersey and it was a smart thing to do. Moving across town is stressful and expensive, so I want to plan, and plan, and pre-plan this move to CA to the most minute detail so I get it all right and have all that I need, when and where I need it.

Now more than ever, as I get closer to the dates of my Euro trip and then my CA move, I need to remember this:


Wednesday, April 20, 2016

So much has been Happening!

It's been a month since my last update and a lot of things have been happening, in fact, I've been quite the busy bee! Firstly, I had to quit my part-time job at Lush because I wasn't getting enough hours. In a two week period, I would work maybe 14 hours and that's just not going to cut it for my savings goals for my Euro trip in June and my move to California in October. So, I found another part-time evening job that fits perfectly into my schedule, gives me 20 hours a week, it pays a dollar more than the store, and best of all, I have my weekends FREE again! Sure, this means I'm working 60 hours a week. I do have 1.5 hours between each job, and my primary job is a desk sitting one in my office. I wish I didn't have to work another job, but this is for the short term to help me earn enough money to accomplish both of these important events.

Speaking of such, I'm well into the pre-planning stages of the London/Paris trip. Within a few weeks, I'll start buying advance tickets for some of the activities we'll be doing in London/Paris. I'm excited about meeting up with two friends in London and doing some things that I've never done before in the dozen times I've been to London. And realizing how much money I will need for this trip is evidence that I need this part-time job in order to make this trip 110% fun and stress free. I hate going on trips and watching what I spend. I've been on many trips on a budget before, but it's much more enjoyable going on a trip and not giving a damn about what I buy.

That's how my trip to Philly just next week will be. I'm driving 10 hours to go see Pearl Jam on April 29th. Pearl Jam has been in the news this week due to them canceling the Raleigh, North Carolina concert, which was scheduled for today, 4/20, in protest against that state's ridiculous and discriminatory HB2 law that targets transgendered people's access to public restrooms based on their current gender status. There are other unfair discriminatory laws currently on the books against the LGBT community and enough is enough! A lot of fans are pissed off that the show was canceled, and those fans obviously are clueless or indifferent to the band's progressive liberal leanings, so this really should come as no shock. The fans should direct their anger at the governor of NC for passing this law without a public vote. Anyway, I'm all the more excited to see my favorite band in the world, and I totally support their decision to cancel the Raleigh show. If you're interested in signing a petition to repeal HB2, go here - http://equalitync.org/action/repeal_HB2/.

In preparation for my move to California, I have purchased a premium membership at LinkedIn so that I can get in direct contact with people who make the hiring decisions at companies I would like to work for. Also, in the past month, I have increased my connections by about 30 people, so that's good. I currently have 170 connections and I would like at least 30 more to hit that nice 200 connections milestone.

As it stands, for the first time since 2004, I may not be able to attend TIFF in September. I may use that time to visit Los Angeles instead to a) hopefully have an interview(s), and b) find an apartment. It would be easier to find a place to live by actually visiting the place and putting down a deposit in person. My current goal is to be in Los Angeles the last week of October. Perfect planning would have me start a new job on Monday, October 31st. My current lease ends on October 31st, but I am planning to be on the road to LA by October 19th so that I can take a carefully planned solo road trip drive from Michigan to California, and arrive sometime on Saturday, October 22. I will have a week to get settled in LA before getting into the thick of things that following week. Doesn't that sound like a Type A personality plan? I'm flexible of course, so this time table could be in place for a September move if the opportunity presents itself.

I have created a Go Fund Me page to seek any additional financial assistance for my big relocation plans. I have no idea how people will respond to it, but if it helps in raising some much needed extra funds for this big change in my life, I will be eternally grateful for that. Thanks!

Go Fund Simone :)


Tuesday, March 15, 2016

London and Paris via Toronto

Flying friendlier and cheaper skies via Air Canada to London
I have mentioned for the past couple of years about how I planned to take my niece to London and Paris for her high school graduation gift in June 2016. Well that time is quickly approaching, like just 100 days from now. So this past weekend, I finally bought our transatlantic airfare and I'm sighing a huge relief. I was getting nervous when I started to check on flight prices last November. About that same time, I went ahead and purchased our British Airways tickets from London to Paris because those seats sell out very fast - especially due to the disruptions the Eurostar has experienced recently due to the migrant problems in Calais, we decided to fly to Paris instead of taking the train (which we really wanted to do). Consequently, I started to research the prices for London from Detroit and it was migraine inducing.

I'm used to paying north of $1500 to fly to London these days. But that's for me. Now that I'm buying my niece's ticket and covering her hotel, I have to be on the lookout for more reasonable prices. My mother invited herself, so I have to purchase all three of our tickets now, so that I can select seats for us to sit together. Well, long story short, the non-stop Delta flight from Detroit to London was close to $1900 each, down from $2300 last fall. The comfort and convenience of just driving 20 minutes to Detroit Metro airport for this direct flight, at $1900 a pop, was not worth it. Thankfully, I had an epiphany, and I research flights departing from Pearson airport in Toronto. Low and behold, Air Canada has direct flights to London for $850 each. Sure, I would have to drive almost 5 hours to get to that airport, but it will only cost $40 in gas, and we can make a fun road trip out of it. And this is on top of the fact that I have driven to Toronto half a dozen times. Sold! I literally saved us $3000 in airfare by driving to Toronto in five hours, than dealing with a mere 20 minute drive to Detroit Metro and being ripped off.

American airliners are screwing Americans left and right, and those airports w/in driving distance of Toronto, will continue to lose a lot of American customers because we are saving so much money by going to another country to fly to, another country. I'm not asking for airfare to be dirt cheap, but reasonable. If Air Canada in Toronto can charge customers at their flex fare rate of $850, surely Delta could offer the same. But nope, they won't do it because unlike Pearson, at DTW, Delta has a monopoly on direct flights to London and there are people, who like me in the past, coughed up the money for the convenience of flying from their home airport of Detroit. I'm traveling to the UK with family for the first time and we have to be budget minded. In the end, we will be flying the friendlier and more economical skies from Toronto! I'm so excited about my Euro trip with my niece and mother before I take off for my new life in California later this year.