Karen Rempel races in New York Road Runners 9 + 1

5th Ave Mile FinishSept. 10, 2017 – As many of you will recall, I ran in the New York Marathon in the fall of 2016, and it was truly one of the most amazing days of my life. People loved the Bowie costume, and I loved running for 5 hours straight through all 5 boroughs!

This year I am running in the New York Road Runners 9 + 1. It is a program for residents, or at least for people who are able to attend 10 races in the city throughout the year. If I run in 9 races in 2017 and volunteer at one race, I will qualify automatically for admission into the 2018 marathon.

One of the races I ran in this year is the Fifth Avenue Mile. I was super excited to be running down the middle of Fifth Avenue for this one! Though I thought the race would start at the south end of Central Park and go south from there, past Bergdorf Goodman, Tiffany’s, and all the other fabulous stores. But no, it started at 80th St and went to 60th. I was disappointed about this, so I decided to just keep running past the finish line, and I ran all the way to 10th St, where I live. I heard the name David Bowie mentioned several times as I ran down the avenue. I am glad to be keeping his memory alive.

A handsome German tourist took this picture of me (below) when I was finished. It was 3.5 miles in all. The timed mile of the race took 8:31–possibly my fastest mile since highschool! And then another 26 minutes to run 50 more blocks. What a great way to spend Sunday morning.

I arrived at the race about an hour early, so I had coffee and fruit salad at the counter at this delightful New York diner on W. 82 Street, called Nectar 82:

And then I spent 20 minutes looking at Egyptian mummies at the Metropolitan Museum before it was time to line up for my heat. Ah, New York!

Karen Rempel enjoys a rainy day in Chelsea

Sept. 7, 2017 – Yesterday I felt like a real New Yorker. A funny thing happened on the C train. This man sat down next to me, seemingly too close given the amount of space currently available in the car, and I was going to edge away, when he said “Cornelia St.” His face looked familiar, and it turned out it was Robin, the owner of the iconic Cornelia St. Café. He recognized me from when we met during a photo shoot I’d been in on Cornelia St. on Monday. He invited me to go with him to the wine tasting he was on the way to, but of course I was on my way somewhere too—to a much less glamorous osteopath appointment. So he invited me to an upcoming artists’ salon at his cafe instead. What a lovely coincidence to meet him on the train!

And then as I stepped off the train someone called my name, and it was my wonderful friend Sally Sommer, a leading expert on modern dance, who lives in my building, and her brilliant friend Suzanne Carbonneau, a visual arts professor and modern dance artist Paul Taylor‘s biographer.

I came out of the subway feeling very connected to the city, and then saw this wonderful sight:  New Yorkers helping each other!

Karen Rempel views magical eclipse

August 31, 2017 – My friend Mike Rosetta took me “down the shore” to watch the solar eclipse on August 21. We went to the beach in Ocean Grove, New Jersey, a short beat from Bruce Springsteen’s hometown of Asbury Park. Much to my surprise, we had to pay $8 to go onto the beach. Another friend, songwriter Michael Graetzer, took this amazing eclipse photo in Central Park:

August 21 Solar EclipseThe eclipse was very eerie and beautiful. Clouds kept going by, so I lay on the sand with eclipse glasses on for about 2 hours, waiting for glimpses of the eclipse to emerge. I saw the whole path of the moon across the sun and it was magnificent and made me think cosmic thoughts!

Eclipse down the shorePlus I think I finally understand that whole thing from grade 9 science, with the orange and the grapefruit and the pingpong ball.

Karen Rempel hears joy in the house with Donny McCaslin

April 2, 2017 – And I think the spirit of David Bowie was there too. Saturday night’s (April 1, 2017) scintillating performance at Carnegie’s Zankel Hall demonstrated that Donny McCaslin has developed into a world-class, big league band leader, composer, and sax player. I saw McCaslin perform in early 2016 at the Village Vanguard, shortly after David Bowie’s death, and the events of the past year seem to have transformed McCaslin from an angry young(ish) man into a joyful, seasoned artist who is streaming his creative gifts into the world.

Last night McCaslin opened with a discordant, in your face composition from his earlier repertoire of published music, and then the quartet took a leap into two new (as yet un-named) numbers that McCaslin wrote specifically for the performance at Zankel Hall. The band members were beaming, and so was I, as I heard the driving rhythm section (bassist Jonathan Maron and drummer Zach Danziger) provide counter-point to an astonishing fusion of McCaslin’s sax and keyboard wizard Jason Lindner’s never-before-heard arrangement of electronic noise. The sounds were so unexpected and new, a feeling of wonder filled the hall and penetrated into the minds and bodies of the audience like a magic dust, floating down, pinging off the earbones, and ringing bells of awakening in every cell of the collective body. This music was exciting! A fresh invocation of joyful wonder, and the band was fully enjoying the revelation as well, with smiles on their faces throughout the performance. They felt the rapture, and made us feel it too.

As you may know, McCaslin and Lindner played on David Bowie’s final musical gift to the world, Black Star, released two days before his death in Jan. 2016. Clearly some audience members were Bowie fans, and McCaslin did not disappoint. The band played “Lazarus,” bringing tears of remembrance and sorrow as we heard the song, perhaps for the first time, without the vocal track of Bowie’s achingly familiar, distinctive, age- and wisdom-tinged voice.

The song begins with the (now silent) vocals, “Look up here, I’m in heaven…” and expresses humor, Bowie’s love of New York, and further musings on the afterlife… “By the time I got to New York I was living like a king. Then I used up all my money, I was looking for your ass. This way or no way, you know I’ll be free. Just like that bluebird, now ain’t that just like me. Oh I’ll be free…”

This missing element struck home the loss to the world of our dear David Bowie, and perhaps by making the loss so real, helped to bring a year of deep mourning to a close. I am moved beyond words at Bowie’s generosity to write this music as his continuing creative contribution to the world, and help us prepare and come to terms with his death, and perhaps our own.

McCaslin generously shared an anecdote about accepting a Grammy award for Blackstar on Bowie’s behalf (the album garnered five in total), together with Lindner, at the ceremony in February. McCaslin outfitted himself for the awards ceremony at Agnes B. in Soho, a designer who had often created clothes for Bowie, and even designed wardrobes for Bowie tours. McCaslin had selected a black Euro-fit suit with a reverse-logo Blackstar t-shirt—very hipster and ringing that note of musical triumph of Bowie’s final work. McCaslin confided with the audience that this was the very suit he was wearing for our performance, and shared that Gail Ann Dorsey, Bowie’s long-time bass player, also gets some of her fantastic clothes at Agnes B. Check out the hard-core punk meets Buddhism dark green dress she wore during Bowie’s Oct. 2, 1999 performance on Saturday Night Live! I noticed that Lindner was also paying subtle homage to Bowie vis-à-vis tiny astronauts floating on the dark background of his socks, and silver denim high-tops.

The group played another shrieking, body-armor penetrating track from McCaslin’s 3rd and most recent CD, Beyond Now (released in Oct. 2016). And then another homage to Bowie, “Warzsawa,” a song he’d written with Brian Eno on 1977’s  Low, Bowie’s first album in his Berlin trilogy.

McCaslin has a  growing body of original music to draw on in his live performances, but his new work takes us to another level entirely. McCaslin’s generosity of spirit shines through this new creative font of joy, and he demonstrates it doubly with making space in the evening’s program for two Bowie songs. There was enough time and space for it all, and by drawing Bowie’s early and final work into the melange of his own oeuvre, McCaslin showed how these two streams are intertwined and that Bowie’s gifted soul continues to impact the world in the next generation of musicians and audiences—if the young man head-banging in the row in front of me was any indication!

It was an all-ages crowd, with older audience members sharing memories of seeing Bowie at Madison Square Garden in the 1990s, and a young child talking in the balcony, penetrating the silent spaces between Maron’s acid bass notes in his introduction to a song of further keyboard magic. McCaslin riffed on the child’s play, repeating the words “Uh-Oh” that floated down from the balcony and generating a ripple of laughter and repetition through the crowd. Then Lindner struck, with waves upon waves of overlapping repeating sequences of electronica notes, joined by tinkling ivories reminiscent of Bob Geldof’s “I don’t like Mondays.”

They received a standing ovation, and played an encore of two more pieces of splendor. Joy was in the house.

As you may have noticed, I had a lot of fun dressing in homage to Bowie.

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Karen Rempel is moving to New York

I went to Montreal for my US immigration interview on Dec. 19, and my application to immigrate was approved! This year has been amazing, with a whirlwind of trips and activities, all aimed at working towards this goal. I am so happy to have the chance to live in New York—it is truly a dream come true.

bay-montreal

Visiting Montreal was an unexpected boon along the way. Though it was very cold (down to minus twenty), this was okay as it gave me a great excuse to shop for some fabulous winter gear at the Baie Montreal, shown above in Christmas splendor.

montreal-statue

Here is another beautiful winter sight, a snow-draped statue in the Square Phillips, across from my hotel.

I am working on a technical writing contract for A&W, so I was pleased to visit this location on Rue Sainte-Catherine:

montreal-awI love the French signage!

And this is a picture of me in my interview suit, after I got the Yes from US Customs and Immigration.

montreal-headshot

Wish me luck, and drop me a line here now and then! I hope you will stop by this site occasionally to see my monthly updates on life in New York.

P.S. I am moving on New Year’s Day!

Karen Rempel is running in New York Marathon to raise funds for Harlem United

2008 HalfThis is so exciting! I will be running in the New York Marathon on November 6, 2016 to raise money for Harlem United. My goal is to raise $3,000 for this fantastic organization that helps Harlem community members by providing access to health care, resources, and education about AIDS and HIV. They provide quality HIV prevention, housing, and care services in a safe and nurturing environment to unite Harlem’s diverse communities and address the needs of all people living with and threatened by HIV/AIDS.

I’m asking all my friends, family, and colleagues to help support the amazing work that Harlem United does, and cheer me on in my dream of running the New York Marathon.

If you can help, please visit my donor page. You can sponsor me by:

  • Mile ($26 for the 26.2 miles of the marathon)
  • Kilometre ($42 for the 42 kilometres of the race)
  • Meal ($100 to buy a group lunch for LGBT youth at risk for contracting HIV)
  • Or pick your own amount!

Here is an inspirational video on YouTube about the impact Harlem United has made in helping people who had no hope.

Visit my donor page often for photos and updates on my race training progress.

I’ve been wanting to run in the New York Marathon for 20 years, since I first began running in 1996. It’s the largest marathon in the world (yikes!) and goes through all five boroughs of New York City. This will be my first full marathon, though I’ve run ten half marathons. I’m thrilled to finally run this race and to raise money for Harlem United. This is a celebration of my new life in New York and I am putting down roots by contributing to the well-being of my community there.

Karen Rempel is a New York-bound alien of extraordinary ability!

Visa 2

Hi everyone,

I have some very exciting news! My US visa application as an alien of extraordinary ability has been approved! This is a wonderful privilege, and many people helped me by writing letters on my behalf for the application. Thank you all!

From the US Citizenship and Immigration Services website, this is the requirement for the EB-1 employment-based immigration category:

“You must be able to demonstrate extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics through sustained national or international acclaim. Your achievements must be recognized in your field through extensive documentation. No offer of employment is required.

“You must meet 3 of 10 criteria* below, or provide evidence of a one-time achievement (i.e., Pulitzer, Oscar, Olympic Medal).”

With the Olympics just on, this makes my application success all the more special. It’s like I have won the Olympic Gold Medal for technical writing!

Visa 3And the letters you all provided helped me to establish most of the criteria in the list of 10:

You must meet 3 out of the 10 listed criteria below to prove extraordinary ability in your field:

  • Evidence of receipt of lesser nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence – Yes
  • Evidence of your membership in associations in the field which demand outstanding achievement of their members – Yes
  • Evidence of published material about you in professional or major trade publications or other major media – Yes
  • Evidence that you have been asked to judge the work of others, either individually or on a panel – Yes
  • Evidence of your original scientific, scholarly, artistic, athletic, or business-related contributions of major significance to the field – Yes
  • Evidence of your authorship of scholarly articles in professional or major trade publications or other major media – Yes
  • Evidence that your work has been displayed at artistic exhibitions or showcases (this is true – I had my first art exhibit at Havana last summer – but I didn’t submit evidence for this category)
  • Evidence of your performance of a leading or critical role in distinguished organizations – Yes
  • Evidence that you command a high salary or other significantly high remuneration in relation to others in the field – Yes
  • Evidence of your commercial successes in the performing arts (I provided equivalent evidence of the success of my book – a Canadian best-seller with over 40,000 copies sold – the number of sales for a quadruple-gold record!)

This achievement fills me with joy. The work of the first 50 years of my life has resulted in a wonderful foundation for the next 50 years! During the process of preparing the materials for the visa, I had the opportunity to reflect on everything I’ve done so far, to connect with many people I’ve worked with along the way, and to really appreciate the many opportunities I’ve enjoyed, to contribute my abilities to the world in many different capacities. It was almost like going on a vision quest, except that it involved consuming reams of paper and dozens of ink cartridges! 🙂

First submission (450 pages, 8 pounds!):

Visa 1
Second submission (350 pages, 5 pounds):

RFEThank you again, to everyone who has helped. It’s been wonderful connecting with you again, and I couldn’t have done this without you. Words can’t express my deep appreciation.

Karen Rempel launches CP6 Productions

CP6 Productions is a premier HD video production company in Vancouver specializing in art and music videos.

My inspiration for video production was born in Manhattan. In Washington Square Park, to be exact. When I took my first video I wanted to capture the sounds of competing musicians in the park, especially the completely unexpected piano player. I took out my iPhone 5s, and CP6 Productions was born. (See Washington Square Jazz.)

VIFF

I am very excited to be submitting my work to VIFF 2016. This is a new realm of artistic direction for me. For many years I have been inspired by the films of VIFF. I’ve loved movies since I was a little girl, and used to read the accounting production credits back when I was an accountant in the late 80s. I dreamed of having my name on the big screen even then, but had no idea that one day I would be creating my own films.

CP6 Productions

CP6 is a reference to Counter-Phobic Six, one of the nine positions in the Enneagram system of understanding human psychology and spirituality. The Counter-Phobic Six leaps in where others fear to tread. I’ve been skydiving, fasted alone in the desert for four days and nights, and lived alone in the wilderness for six years. I wear my CP6 badge with pride, and I am now sharing the In Joke with you. Making movies always requires taking a leap into the unknown. And like other dangerous ventures, it’s a helluva lot of fun!

Videos

These are the initial raw materials of the work I will be submitting to VIFF.

Karen Rempel publishes Another New York Love Affair #25

I am excited to share Another New York Love Affair #25 with you:

I took this footage of the “Sterling Cooper” building in my final week in New York, at the end of March. At the time I was midway through watching Mad Men on Netflix, and in love with the cast of characters. Also in love with New York, and the beautiful strangeness of Madison Avenue. Enjoy!

I am aiming for 100 over the next three years. I’ve got to get back to New York to do it, though!

Karen Rempel is in love–it’s springtime in New York

Financial Distric Ferry TerminalYesterday was the first day of spring, and it snowed in New York. I went for a run as glorious flakes skirled and floated through the air, stage-lit by the lights along the Hudson River walk. It’s a nice hour-long run from my place in the village along the Hudson to the Financial District Ferry Terminal and back.

Tennis players on the Hudson River courtsI passed tennis players on my way to the ferry terminal, enjoying the gentle snowfall, and caught a glimpse of One World, nestled between the legs of two other high rises.

One World TowerNew Yorkers still call this the World Trade Center.

ESBOn the way back, I could see the Empire State Building in the distance, over 70 blocks away (the lit tower in the center of the photo). I love seeing these two landmarks as I go about the city. They are orientation touchstones, helping people find their way, much like a striking tree or cliff formation would have guided our ancestors.