Wednesday, December 21, 2011

MY MOMMAZ DONUTZ - ITS TIME TO MAKE EM


Every Christmas, my mother and uncle Charles gear up for their favorite holiday activity, making doughnuts.  or "les beignes" as they say in French.   Just the making of the doughnuts is not where it ends.  During my holiday stay, I noticed that every conversation somehow made its rounds and eventually circled back to the doughnuts.  Im not sure exactly how this happens, but it is engrained into the subconscious of my family.  

I remember as a kid knowing nothing but my mothers doughnut, which is more like the traditional french doughnut, and tasting an american doughnut for the first time.  In my young mind I remember thinking, "eh?  this isnt a doughnut! I dont get it", what a food snob from the get go ;)  I do actually like the american doughnuts now, but these little gems are a real treat.

this recipe makes about 50

3-4 c all (unbleached) purpose flour
4 tspn baking powder
1 tspn salt
5 tbspn butter
1 c sugar
4 eggs well beaten
1/2 c milk
1/2 c cream (15% fat)
1 tspn vanilla
1 1/2 liter veggie, canola, or grapeseed oil
powdered sugar

sift 3 c of flour, baking powder, and salt.

in a separate bowl whip the butter well until creamy, add 1/2 of the sugar (1/2c) to the butter.

in a separate bowl, whip the eggs with the remaining sugar (1/2 c)

blend the egg mixture into the butter mixture and whip really well.

slowly incorporate increments of flour into the butter/sugar/egg mixture.  after approx 1 cup of flour has been incorporated, add the 1/2 cup of milk...blend.

then begin incorporating increments of flour again.  after an other cup has been incorporated, add the 1/2 c cream and vanilla...blend.

then begin incorporating increments of flour again (approx 1 more cup).
the dough should not be sticky to the touch.  if it is, add more flour in small increments.

wrap the the dough in plastic wrap, set in the fridge and let sit for 1 hour.

before you begin rolling out the dough, in a large pot (a big stew pot)  add the 1 1/2 liter of vegetable oil or canola oil or if our fancy and have cash to spare, grape seed oil (this oil has a higher burning point which is great).  If you have a deep fryer, thats even better.

roll out the dough to about 1 inch thick (incorporate more flower if things start to get too sticky)

cut out your doughnut shapes these work best at about a 3 inch diameter, I have recently seen a recipe for square doughnuts (thanks sonia), which I though was clever because there is less wasted dough.

to test the oil if it is hot enough drop a teensy amount of dough in, if it starts fizzing and frying right away, its ready, if not, wait a little longer, n try again.

when its ready drop your doughnuts in the oil, they will sink to the bottom of the pot, in a matter of seconds they will rise up again.   The bottom should be done, by that time its about a minute..  flip the guy, and fry until golden brown. It takes aprox two minutes total of frying time.  You can gauge what color brown tastes best for you, that sounds weird...  scoop em out with a slotted spoon or one of those big ole flat spoons scoopers with holes in em, and place the doughnuts on a paper towel or brown paper bag.

on a side note: you can also fry the doughnut holes and whatever scrap of dough you have.  we must not waste any scrap of goodness.

when ready to eat, dust with powdered sugar.  WOOOOP!






Friday, December 9, 2011

MAJOR LAZER FAMILY PORTRAIT

MAJOR  LAZER  FAMILY  PORTRAIT

Wes likes to read, hes an intellect at heart.  He makes great sammiches and likes to play us his record collection.  He likes dinosaurs.

Kyle is the story teller and comedian of the fam.  We all gather round the kitchen table to hear about Kyles anecdotes and funnies.  his short movies are hilarity.  He likes cheese n crackers.

The cornerstone of the lazer family, Erika is our level headed kung fu queen.   She makes a mean cup o coffee, and a badass oatmeal.  She likes cheese puffs.




Aunt Carol, zen master, teacher of all cool moves. Like all great masters, she doesn't say much, but when she does, we're listening.  She likes church.




Reggie likes carrots.



WE ALL LOVE THE MUSIC AND DANCE



Thank you Uncle Schilling for the fab photo, where would the family be without you?  He likes his eggs poached.  

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

BABBLEOGRAPHY

Yesterday I shot a casting,  and made sure that some stand out remarks that I say would be notated, I found this to be a crucial part of the shoot.

As you read along, I will sound like an asshole, which is totally understandable out of context, but you must believe me when I tell you that we all were laughing our asses off, including the talent (that is my prime goal at a casting, actually, all of the time).  If you've done a casting with me before, I know you can vouch for me.

I was told by the client to not have the talent look at the camera.

This is a running log of the things that just poured out of my mouth....brace yourself

Fantasticles 
Smile with your brain 
Flirt with your butt 
The rule is, you’re not allowed to look at me anymore 
Say hi to all the corners of my studio 
can you speak irish with an irani twist? 
we’re doing the photo model dance, you and me. 
do that model dance that models tend to do 
smile with your left clavicle, see how that works out. 
who’s that over there? He’s handsome. Oops, my mistake that’s a woman. 
who’s that over there? he’s cute. but why’s his mom with him? Oh, she’s wearing a clown outfit. 
flirt with the left shoulder 
You’re going to look everywhere except at my big black eye 
Don’t look at me. I’m like hot lava. 
Are you breathing? 
I’ll say big black blob all day long 
If you look at this, you’ll get shot with a beam of light 
I caught you! you keep looking at me. I’m so fucking beautiful you can’t help it. 
I want you to get some fucking action on that shit. 
ya’ll bitches in the house ya’ll. 
Is that right hip smiling? 
Stand on Stanley 
Whats the O for? It’s like infinity without a belt 
Is that your right nostril flirting with me? 
My big black eye be looking at you. 
Some machine vomited on my floor and now you’re standing on it. 
Hey Carl. Say what’s up carlbrella
A little more excitement, but with less teeth. 
Give me your grown up eyes 
We’re going to pretend we’re on a cloud having a good time 
I love it when you’re smiling with my face (Japanese accent) 
Flirt, but around me. 
Tortillini, Mostacholi 
You’re like a phone, but in a human shape 
Girl with the blue dress...Mmmhm 
I’ve got sass and I mean it. Let’s go. 
Happy Sass on your ass 
I want to make sure you’re still living with me 
Don’t be a bitch camera 
Is that a lovely man looking at you or me or whoever?
Show me all your shit. Right here. 
Show me that big mouth talent. 
Less smile but more sneaky smile 
you can put your hands on your hip. up down, all around. 
More internal enjoyment 
We can do that photo passing dance we do everyday. 
I can tell you can dance. I believe in it. 
Spin around a little more. Go away. 
Never never look at me. That’s the big ol rule.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

I HUMAN WANT

A line from a movie: "Desire makes humans smarter" My addition: "Desire makes humans motivated"

Sunday, November 27, 2011

I MOTION

My buddy Cathy Sunu has been an awesome inspiration and has let me tag along at her wedding shoots to shoot some fancy pants motion with my iphone. I must say, its fun to zoom around, it feels like I am a human scanner buzzing around collecting data. Here are examples of my adventures in iphone motion:

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thursday, November 17, 2011

NOUVEAU RETRO FILING SYSTEM

I never knew that a dishwasher could have so many more uses other than washing dishes!  This new filing system makes sense.   The rack separates your letters and junk mail with ease, keeping things organized and out of the way!  Just be sure not to press "on".

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

FROM FILM TO LEAD

ok, heres an update n more fun stuff!  I was doing some motion capture work today, and the fellas saw the video and decided to make this little gem :)

http://h4.abload.de/img/animation1k3o4d.gif

so you remember the little post of my buddy Kyle and I dancing with weaponage ? It seems as if someone got inspired to make a drawing of the awesomeness that they saw! Apparently the video is being aired on Fox news tonight as well...EH?




link of blogpost



heres the original video in case you missed it :) Video by : Kyle Frere

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

MONK

Tai Chi - The strength and intent of every movement is a powerful thing.

This is Zhou Xuan Yun, a taoist monk I met in China in 2006, teaching me kung fu in the mountains.

I shot this video as a little taste n sampling of Xuan Yuns focus and determination.

Untitled from erika@erikadufour.com on Vimeo.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

WANT TO SEE MY UNDERWEAR?

Last Sunday, my bud Sonia, my pup Ninja and I were chillaxing in Wicker Park soaking in the unusually warm sun for an October day, observing people tossing footballs, people walking their dogs, dudes doing pushups, and little kids having sad moments as well as moments of sheer joy.

A little little girl, couldn't be taller than 3 feet scampered over to us and asked if Ninja (my dog) was friendly and happily started petting her and having a good time doing so. A few minutes later, a little blonde fellow, about a foot taller than the little girls sauntered over and with a serious pontificating look set in his brow said to us "she can be so annoying sometimes, she just goes up to people to get attention." this kind of sentence made me think, wow, this little fellow heard some of this kind of talk from a parent.

the little girl danced and twirled and was having a joy of a time while the little boy started up a conversation with Sonia and I about this little girls behaviour. I then noticed that he was wearing the same kung fu shoes that i was wearing which is pretty rare, I proclaimed "hey! your wearing the same kung fu shoes as me, do you do kung fu??" he had a stunned and pleased look in his eyes and said, "no, I do Karate!" I asked him if he took lessons and with all seriousness and earnestness in his eyes he said "no...I just happen to know it", this made me smile on the inside because I could see him glowing with esteem. he started showing us his moves flinging around kick punching, chopping and twirling, making psshhh and pppkkrrckrrr noises while he let loose on his super karate moves. we applauded and told him how awesome he was (cause he was).

The little girl with a juicy smile looked at me and told me she had invisible shoes on, I looked at her cute dirty toes and said, well yeah!!!! the boy said in a tone "shes not wearing invisible shoes, shes barefoot" the girl ignored him and kept dancing and twirling with joy.
She then ran up to my face and in all innocent earnestness said "do you want to see my underwear?" Before I could answer, she did a cool handstand in the splits and her underwear was smack right in my face, i said, well, there it is! she must have loved her underwear to want to show me.

meanwhile this boy continued in his dialogue and demonstrations of karate/kungfu and explanations of what the power rangers do. before the parents wisked the kids off the little boy asked Sonia and I if we were Ninjas, we told him yes and that we met at Ninja school (which is true) and he asked us if we had a teacher, we told him we did, he once again put his serious look on his face and sid "well, you can show your teacher this move and teach it to him" he then went in to precise demonstration on the hand positions and the options of hand positions to use. He said "you can show your teacher that and teach it to him" We both agreed that we would definitely do so.

His mother then came over and put his little red suspenders on and he wandered off to play and show the world his moves.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

IM SORRY

For about a year and a half now I have eliminated the word "sorry" out of my vocabulary. In this word elimination diet, I have noticed more and more how and when I used the word and realized that it was just a filler to say what I really meant.

Every time I would say "Im sorry" , it felt like I was apologizing for myself repeatedly, leaving a feeling of inadequacy inside me. During the beginning stages of this word elimination, there was a pause when I was about to utter "sorry" and not know what to do instead.

I noticed a shift inside me more and more and felt less sorry for myself, less sorry for my actions, and more of a realist of my actions and behavior.

The challenge is, what words fill in the void left from this word removal? Acknowledgement and ownership. below are examples of what it looks like.



-I totally blew you off by not calling you back which is disrespectful to you.

-of course you would be mad! I changed plans at the last minute without telling you which is so unfair.

- I totally bumped into to you and made a huge frikkin mess!

-of course your mad! I hit your car and made a huge dent in it which is frustrating and maddening because its expensive.

-of course you'd be pissed, makes total sense, my dog just took a shit on your property and I didn't pick it up, how disrespectful of me.

-It makes sense why you would feel ignored becasue I am totally ignoring your emails and not responding to you which is disrespectful to you.

-I said mean and hurtful things which makes sense why you wouldnt trust me or want to talk to me

-WOW! I totally messed that up!!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

FUR FLESH AND FLOWERS


Model - Erica Miramonte - Ford
Hair/Makeup by Beth Follert - Timothy Priano

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

SECRET PONG


Today a friend told me about a place on Chicago Avenue near my house that is a dollar store in the front and in the back, a ping pong court filled with tables to play on until 10pm. So... tonight I investigated and its true! This dollar store is run by this thai couple and in the back is what you see in this photo.

The city is such so filled with gems like this. My mind is blown!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

CLICK N CLACK

About a month ago I went to get my tires fixed at a new auto repair place highly recommended by a friend. As we all know, finding a car repair place is like finding a needle in a haystack. So I walked in and told em about my tire woes, and they told me to sit while I wait. I looked across the room and I saw these fellas sitting there. Admittedly I shot this without asking them (I couldnt resist), but later emailed to see if it was OK to post on my blog.
Meet Todd and Craig

I had the great pleasure of chatting with these fellas for at least an hour and half. The conversation started about how women should have long hair and shouldn't cut it short, to a disagreement (between craig and todd) that heath is better than any hair style, to theories on how to make women happy (I think an expensive purse is part of the equation). The the conversation migrated to their love of cars. Craig recounted how he rebuilt a Corvette from a burnt up wreckage and gave it to his wife, painting it yellow way before yellow was a fashionable color in sports cars. These guys have a long history of relationships with cars and they mean business. Talking to them felt a bit like the NPR talkshow "Car talk".

This was one of my most pleasurable experiences at a car place, as I listened to these two friends converse about life, their love of cars, and pontificating on theories about the world and people.



THIS NEEDS NO EXPLANATION





Videos By : Kyle Frere

Sunday, September 11, 2011

HAND CANON

A little weekend adventure to get over a cold. I think it worked! This last Friday I had a hankering to learn the proper way to shoot a gun, and the opportunity presented itself to me, so...continuing on with the fuckit philosophy, I embarked on an other Erika adventure.

I learned that you have to keep your shit together when your handling this chunk o metal, I am not a huge proponent of just any Tom DICK and Harry, or should I say Harry Dick Tom owning one of these things, because I am sure not everyone who ones one keeps their shit together. I am frightened of hot tempered douchebags owning guns, I am frightened of angry people owning guns, I am frightened of people who believe the solution to getting things done is to point a gun at stuff. This aint no toy for sure.

I am glad to have experienced holding and shooting this thing as I now know what it feels like. It is definitely an addictive feeling of power, combined with a "dont fuck with me, and I mean it" feeling, with a big helping of different flavors of fear, with short doses of adrenaline pumping through the veins. Kind of a stew of conflicting emotions that I cant quite put into words.








Wednesday, September 7, 2011

MY NEW HOBBY WED NIGHT


here is my advanced studio lighting class at columbia college!! we had a lovely ice breaker learning about each others preferences and hobbies. what I learned the most is that most people dont think shit is a bad word and that Christmas is not peoples favorite holiday.


Wednesday, August 31, 2011

EEE EYE EEE EYE OOH


And on that farm there was some cows, eee eye eee eye oooh!

Last weekend I had the great fortune to open my door to a fundraiser for raising the awareness of our innate human right to consume what is good for our bodies, RAW UNPASTEURIZED MILK!! This stuff is illegal, and farmers are being violated by the government and law enforcement raiding their farms without warrant and being held at gunpoint for producing raw milk and distributing it to people who are in need of this life saving nectar.
How this event came to be was a fascinating fluke. 5 years ago I was researching and becoming aware of the great health benefits of raw milk and how our intake of store bought milk skims the levels of health benefits raw milk has. In my research I plopped my name down on an email list and moved on with my life. I was forgotten and never hear any updates since. Two months ago I began receiving emails about a movie that would be aired at the Gene Siskel film center.


Farmageddon - Movie Trailer from Kristin Canty on Vimeo.
I payed attention but in moderation. I then glanced at an email and it read as follows

"Hello Chicago Farmageddon (Raw Milk Movie) promotional Team,

We are in desperate need of a venue for an "after the movie" event. If you have a connection for a venu anywhere in Chicago, please email us with your phone number so that we may call you to ask further questions. In your response please give the address of the venue. After movie event with be from 5:30pm - 8:30pm on Saturday, August 27th.

We are seeking a Venue to accommodate 70-150 people with ample parking.

Please respond asap with your venue connection.

Thanks!

Max Kane

My left eyebrow raised and there was a twinkle in my eye. I wrote back immediately without further thinking that I had a 2500 square foot empty space and that I would be glad to donate my space to such an event.

As you now probably know, if you read my blog at all, I am an advocate of the "fuckit" philosophy, sometimes it pans out well, sometimes, not so much. this time, it exceeded my expectations.

Before people started arriving, my stomach was hiccuping a bit wondering WTF have I gotten myself into, but yet also thinking that this would at least a great study of human behavior. The amish farmers showed up, the dietitians showed up, the politicians showed up, the filmmakers showed up, all people from different walks of life showed up, with a common thread of frustration and passion for what they believed in. I was overwhelmed with joy as I am a great admirer of people who have conviction, passion and love of life and will do anything to retain their integrity.
The lecture started off with Max Kane who delivers raw milk from the farmer to the customers who already have paid for this product. He is in battle with the supreme court of Wisconsin for not divulging the names of farmers who are producing raw milk for the customers who demand it. This was the complete lineup and there was more on top of that.



I met fascinating people I wouldn't have ever dreamt of meeting, I am now an even bigger advocate of the "fuckit" philosophy.

I cant help but wonder what will arise next on the docket, BRINGIT !

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

THE ANTIDOTE TO THE BULLSHIT

This list is the truths about work, revealing why the prior list about work is false (SEE BLOGPOST - "A BIG FAT LIST OF BULLSHIT")

-the amount of time you spend in work doesn't equate to the quality of your work
-give your life to your life
-work is secondary to life
-money amounts do not reflect the quality of your life
-working as a bartender, repair person makes you an equal to anyone
-having a hard time at work does not reflect your quality of life
-you are a winner if you work only 3 days a week
-you are a winner at work if you are not working 60 hours a week
-you are wonderful no matter how much cash you make
-you are wonderful no matter what kinds of things you have or don't have
-success is having valuable friends
-it is inexcusable to use work as an excuse for not being there for your family
-emotionally supporting your family is by far more valuable than any amount of money you make
-downing gobs of alcohol after work to decompress is dysfunctional
-ignoring your children because you have "too much work" is inexcusable
-people care more about who you are more than what you do
-you are interesting no matter what your job is
-working until you are exhausted is abuse to yourself
-life can be fair if you choose to make it so
-giving your respect and attention to people who respect you is important
-your own opinion of yourself is more valuable than anything else
-kissing your bosses ass is undignified and sad
-if you aren't perfect at work, you are human
-skipping a day or two of work is fun and well deserved
-if you aren't making enough money, you are trying hard but just need a bit more time
-if not enough work is coming in, it is doubtful that it is your fault
-women are very hard workers just like men
-a woman in the workplace showing boundaries and clean communication will be respected
-a softer personality woman is as intelligent as any other kind of woman
-your ranking at work has no relevance to your intelligence
-your financial gain has nothing to do with your intelligence
-you being the top dog in your company doesn't mean that you are smarter than others
-if you are not working, you are working on other things
-if you have financial distress, it is normal
-no matter what you do or who you donate to, being an asshole means being an asshole
-being an asshole to your coworkers is just being an asshole
-being an asshole means low self esteem
-being an asshole to other people means you will gain distrust from them
-being an asshole to your coworkers is inexcusable and is abusive
-if you are not better than your competitor, who cares
-you need to be whomever you are and that is enough
-being number two doesn't exist
-having friends, family and support is as crucial to life than work
f-riends and family support you in your life and help support you to achieve your goals
-your families love for you shows your success
-burying yourself in your work is lonely, sad, and isolating
-your soul and being is what defines you as a person
-your personality is your passion

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

BIG FAT LIST OF BULLSHIT

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

Monday, July 4, 2011

MEDITATION BOOT CAMP

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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.



* This part is added a year after this experience -
after I returned form this "retreat, i proceeded to go into a deep depression for 3 months, this sounds dramatic, but it is true.  I have handles some gigantic blows in my life, blows that last years, but this meditation thing rewired my brain so much that it took drugs to pull me out.  this may no be everyones experience of course, we all have out own trauma points, but I just had to point out that this may be what you come away with as well.