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Earlier this week I was feeling desperate to find some new music for listening.  That all changed when my forever friend Jo introduced me to Cambodian rock n’ roll oldies; I’ve been hooked ever since.  Jo has been living in Cambodia for the last a year and half.  Today she kicks off a new column about life abroad as told, in this case, through music.  Enjoy!

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This week I left Phnom Penh for a long holiday weekend trip with friends to beach-y Sihanoukville. Right away we got a proper hang going on the beach with a bottle of wine, crabs and squid perfect in a Kampot pepper sauce (haggled over at the market!), and a gorgeous sunset over the Gulf of Thailand.

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For the finishing touch to get our beach hang jammin’, my friend started playing a soundtrack of Cambodian rock n’ roll oldies that knocked my socks off. At first I thought I knew the music – at times, it sounds like surf rock, Motown or even psychedelic – it sounds so familiar to the rock n’ roll I grew up with and yet completely foreign. It also sounds much more original than the conservative and sappy Khmer pop music being made today.

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I found out this mesmerizing music is from a creative burst during the 1960s & 70s between Cambodian independence from French colonial rule and the rise of the genocidal Khmer Rouge, in which there was a flourishing and unlikely Cambodian rock n’ roll scene. This music was influenced by the incredible rock music happening in the US and the UK filtered through a French lens, but decidedly Cambodian.

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The music from this time was mostly lost due to persecution of the artists by the Khmer Rouge and has been widely forgotten. When I pressed my friend for the name of the bands he said nobody knows and just to google “Khmer Rock n’ Roll.”  However, there have been some efforts to preserve and resurrect this musical moment, including a documentary released this year: “Don’t Think I’ve Forgotten: Cambodia’s Lost Rock and Roll.”

Living in Cambodia for the past year and a half has been a kaleidoscope of perspective-altering friendships and work, charming culture, remnants of a dark history, converging Asian and Western influences, and nearly constant sensory input. It often feels hard to make sense of it all and write home about how it has been to live here. So, to know about Cambodia and what I can’t articulate with words, please listen to this haunting and oh-so-cool music.

*Revisit Jo’s previous post on Sister Disco looking at portrayals of women in art through the unlikely combination of Karen O + Kandinsky

Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce you to one of my favorite souls, Kaya! Kaya is not only my co-worker, but one of my best friends. She is always the person I turn to when I want to talk about anything. Her heart is so deep and thoughtful and I love having her as a friend. Without further ado, here is Kaya.

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“Getting Deep”

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Hello Sister Disco family!

I saw this funny and interesting article about how to turn small talk into deep conversation on TED.com. As an introvert with a desire to only connect deeply this completely intrigued me.

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There is value in small talk. It makes some people feel comfortable, it can create a foundation for building a relationship, and it’s not exhausting. The challenge is that some of us want to be whole heartedly invested in every encounter that we have. I personally love to walk away from a conversation feeling like I’m in the cosmos, thinking about the bigger picture of life, and even feeling more inspired to live passionately in each moment. I hate to coast; it’s not my style.

Since moving to L.A. I’ve had some of the most meaningful conversations in my life as well as some of the most painful/awkward/get me the heck out of here conversations. The dichotomy has been fascinating.

But, I am finally learning that people are willing to go deep, and if I want that from them, then I have to take that proverbial ball in my court and aim for connection (Yikes!).

I used to believe that some people were incapable of breaking surface talk and others were born to philosophize. I ran with the philosophers, so the others could take a hike. That is simply untrue (for the most part).

Human beings love to connect. We love to tell stories. Storytelling separates us from other animals. People want you to care about their story and vice versa — note to myself!

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So the article includes tips like ask for stories, not answers, and strays from expected responses.

I hope this article gives you something to think about. I certainly felt inspired to change and strengthen day-to-day conversations. And while I may not always succeed at creating connection with every human being I encounter, at least I can say I gave it a shot.

“Go ahead, be bold. Upend the dinner table conversation! Turn small talk into big ideas at the next summer wedding reception you’re forced to attend! You never know which ideas will be worth spreading next.” — Chris Colin and Rob Baedeker

Here’s to connection and getting deep!

P.S. A full blown shout out to the queen of connection aka Farrell Feighan. The girl has a gift, and I’m honored to be her friend.

Today’s post comes to us courtesy of our very own mama!  This lady knows what’s up so read on.

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Essential

Lately I’ve come to the realization that everyone is absolutely essential. It is one of those realizations that you know in your bones/heart is true. How or why I came to this conclusion I’m not sure, part of the journey I guess.

Everyone is an essential piece of the whole, irreplaceable. We bring our own unique makeup, gifts, skills, personality, potential; a perfect fit into the jigsaw puzzle of life. This jigsaw puzzle is multi-dimensional, universal, infinite and alive. Like all puzzles it’s not complete without all of the pieces. And since this puzzle is a living organism, what we individually bring is not only necessary but invaluable to the whole.

This realization also points out the ridiculous and time wasting practice of comparing ourselves to others, wanting to be something we are not. If we are not ourselves then who will be? Not only that, but if we are unique and essential to all of life, then isn’t it our job, purpose and meaning in life to be our best selves, fully, all out, beautifully ourselves?

Like our cells, the more healthy we are, the more functional the body, the more the body can do amazing things. Imagine what it would be like if everyone in humanity was living a full healthy expression of themselves. You are a vast universe, go exploring!
Infinite love and gratitude for being you.
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You may remember that I met Celina Paiz, creator of La Selva clothing, at a recent Taking It Offline event that I co-hosted.  Afterwards, I visited the La Selva studio and Celina shared with us, as a Homie of the Daythe story of how her vintage Guatemalan clothing line came to be .  All of La Selva’s pieces are one-of-a-kind.  “It took me years to collect the fabrics,” Paiz says.  “They’re my memories and my connection to Guatemalan weavers.  I don’t want to crank out products.  I want to create clothing that people treasure.”  

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photo by Ryan Barger

LaSelva1This coming weekend La Selva is partnering with Williamsburg vintage shop Antoinette to launch its very first POP-UP shop.  The La Selva POP-UP at Antoinette (119 Grand Street, Williamsburg) will take place on Saturday & Sunday, October 26th & 27th.

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Additionally, we are inviting the NYC-based women among you to come to Antoinette on Sunday, October 27th from 5-7 p.m. for a super casual Taking It Offline + Celina Paiz event!  Please join us for a cocktail.  Event details here.

*Limited edition garments will be available for purchase at a 25% discount.

I met Celina Paiz at the Taking It Offline event I co-hosted a few weeks ago.  We immediately hit it off and I was completely inspired to learn about the clothing collection she recently completed which consists of one-of-a-kind pieces made from vintage Guatemalan textiles.  Earlier this week I had the chance to visit Celina in her studio and see the gorgeous collection for myself.  The colors and patterns of the textiles Celina uses are stunning and it was so fun to talk to her about the Guatemalan textile traditions that live in every piece in the collection.  Today Celina shares the backstory to how La Selva came to be.

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Funny enough La Selva started in my sleep. The day an earthquake shook New York, I woke up from a full blown lucid dream. I dreamt an entire film, a melodrama about a young immigrant girl who works for a sample maker in New York. Half the movie was in Filipino, a language I don’t speak. In the dream, she has drawers filled with designs but is stuck working as a seamstress. Throughout the movie, her clothing signifies her transformation.

A little back story. I had originally embarked on a self-imposed dream study as part for my screenwriting process. My husband and I have collaborated on film projects since college and I was searching for a way to tap into my vivid dream life to bring it to the screen. So I read Exploring the World of Lucid Dreaming and The Tibetan Yogas of Dream and Sleep. I spent months staring at a blank page and suddenly, overnight, I had my dream movie.

The more I researched the character, the more I realized I was looking at myself in a mirror. I’m an immigrant, born in Guatemala, raised in Miami. Like her, I have a connection to the fashion industry since I own a boutique in Guatemala City with my mom and sisters. While the character had suitcases under her bed crammed with clothing and trinkets from the Philippines, I had a closet of fabrics from Guate that I had spent years collecting. I started to think if the girl in the dream had drawers full of designs, then somewhere in my unconscious, I did too.

I decided to take the leap. I used my vintage fabrics to create my first collection for La Selva. It’s strange to look back on how it all went down but to me the creative process is always like that. As if behind the scenes, inspiration works itself through you until, eventually, you wake up to it.

Check out the full La Selva collection here

Guess who’s back?!  It’s our favorite wine aficionado and fellow blogger, Catherine, with her latest seasonal wine selections!  We just love these creative guides that she prepares exclusively for Sister Disco.  Can you guess the inspiration for this installment??

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I get excited about asparagus season.  For real!  Like fresh, in-season, not-supermarket asparagus.

It’s nice in risotto…  Wrapped in pancetta…  Roasted and sprinkled with parmeggiano-reggiano…  Grilled and salted and dripped with lemon juice…  Blended into a soup…or crunched on raw.

It’s a segue-into-spring veggie.  I may still be wearing tights and boots, but when I bite into some fresh asparagus, I know I have made it through the winter.

I’ve never fully understood the obsession with wine and food pairings.  Going crazy over the perfect match-up seems like a waste of energy.  Perfection is relative anyway.  I believe there is an interchangeable spectrum of wines that can go with a particular dish.  The creative journey of finding all the ways they pair up is part of the fun.   Food and wine can have many soul mates…whatever works…free love!

Drink a wine that is delicious to you along with simple food that is tasty and real.  Do so with people and spaces that make you feel good…and there you have it.

That being said, there are some exceptions, such as asparagus (and a few other vegetables like artichokes), that are notoriously finicky as far as wine match-ups go.  Drink the wrong wine and you may find a chemical, too grassy, kind of gross taste in your mouth.  Not nice.

So, in celebration of a spring that has finally come and the harvest of those awesomely weird, stringy, bitter green stalks with their pretty bushy heads, here are 8 wines to help your asparagus experience be all that it should.

1)  Frascati Superiore DOC by Principe Pallavicini.  Approx: $10

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Frascati was the first thing that came to mind when I thought of wine for asparagus.  So here it is to start the list.  An ages-old blend of grapes local to the rolling hills surrounding the eternal city is the perfect suitor.  This particular blend includes Malvasia di Candia, Malvasia del Lazio, and Trebbiano Toscano.

2) Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Vigna di Gino by Fattoria San Lorenzo.  Approx $15

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Verdicchio is a native grape to the region of Marche, located in Central Italy on the Adriatic coast.  Verdicchio makes a white wine rich in saline minerality and sweet yet savory grassiness.  It is a grape that can turn out a fairly complex white of medium body.

3)  Erbaluce di Caluso La Rustia by Orsolani.  Approx: $22

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Erbaluce is another indigenous Italian grape.  This one being native to the Canavese Valley Piemonte, located in the northwest corner of the country.  Erbaluce makes bright whites with citrus, sunshine, and heady herbal qualities.  This one is made by a generations old producer from their version of a “roasted slope.”  Luscious.

4)  Malvasia “Emiliana” Colli Piacentini DOC by Lusenti.  Approx $22

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This wine is so fun.  It is made from Malvasia di Candia Aromatica, a local clone of a grape that grows all around Central Italy.  This particular take on malvasia is a straw-like shade and a little cloudy.  It is made completely naturally and has brilliant acidity.  The texture is frizzante – perfect for cleansing the palate.  Go ahead, try something different, get crazy!

5)  Salento IGT Le Vigne Rare by Pirro Varone.  Approx: $16

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If you ask anyone from Puglia, fiano minutolo is something completely unrelated to Fiano di Avellino…or any other fiano for that matter.  Whether or not this is true, this varietal expression of the fiano minutolo grape produced by Pirro Varone, an organic winery with a beautiful history, is something distinct.  Zingy, lean, and bright – the epitome of spring.

6) Vouvray Spring Sec by Vincent Careme – Approx $14

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100% Chenin Blanc produced organically and aged on its lees for a bit of time. Chenin Blanc is one of the most capable little grapes and can make a wine that is luxuriously rich in body and flavor.

7)  Rias Baixas by Santiago Ruiz.  Approx $17

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Here is a traditional blend of grapes native to the O Rosal sub-zone of Rias Baixas – albarino, loureiro, and treixadura.  Like licking a salty, rainy rock…in the most delicious way, of course.

8)  Sauvignon Blanc by St. Supery.  Approx $16

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100% Sauvignon blanc grown and made in the good ‘ole Napa Valley.  In classic Cali fashion, this is a pleasantly bold and sun-kissed expression of a well-known variety.

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Past guides from Catherine:

12 Wines to Keep You Cozy in Winter / Guide to Rosé / Guide to Bubbly

Today I’m so excited to introduce you to one of my oldest & closest friends, and new blogger, Katie of Suburbling.  Katie has always been a natural when it comes to writing and her genuine, thoughtful and down-to-earth personality shines through in all of her posts.  I can’t wait to see how her blog continues to develop and I’m certain you’ll find it worth returning to again and again!  Thanks, Katie!

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Blogging Advice from an Internet Wallflower

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I’ve been blogging for approximately two weeks now, so when Lauren and Farrell invited me to be the Homie of the Day, I decided it was high-time I dispensed some advice on blogging.

Really. I’m going to give some advice on blogging.

Fear not, I don’t purport to be an expert just yet. But I do have a little advice from my two weeks as a blogger, and the weeks before when I was thinking about blogging and thinking some more about blogging.

See, the decision to start a blog was a tough one for me because I suffer from a severe case of internet shyness. I was a late-comer to Facebook and rarely update my status. My Pinterest pages are woefully empty. I prefer to reply instead of reply-all. But, mostly thanks to Lauren, I took a deep breath and got out there. And I’m having fun with it.

So, here’s my advice for other internet wallflowers:

1. Just start writing. Write what interests you. Write what’s in your head.
2. Imagine you’re writing for a good friend. Don’t worry about appealing to a certain audience, or what others might think. Don’t wonder if someone will find you interesting.
3. Use blogs you love as models. (The first few posts I did felt like I was pretending to blog.)
4. Decide how often you want to post and stick to it. The best way to be interesting is to keep saying new and different things.
5. Enjoy it. The blog should be an outpouring of things you’d want to read and talk about — therefore, lots of fun to put together.

And now, here’s some great advice from an experienced blogger on how to blog for the long haul. And some on blogging as a career. And a compilation of blogging advice from bloggers much more experienced than I.

So, thanks, Lauren, for making me get off my chair and join the conversation. And thanks to Lauren and Farrell for inviting me to Sister Disco, clearly one of my favorite blogs.

Now, other internet wallflowers, if I can do it, anyone can. Your blog is calling you. Get started.

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