Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Am I an old lady?

Recently I've been thinking about perfumes. I shower, I use rather inoffensive lotions (unscented if possible), and I wear deodorant that doesn't invoke a flowery paste applied directly to the eyes. So generally, I try to smell like a human. I find that people - especially in the US - have a huge problem with smelling like things you ate (heaven forbid I should detect that you sustained your life with food), sweat (I'm glad that you smell like a laboratory that studies the indolent), and natural body oils. Basically, smelling like a living creature.

In fact, one thing that annoys me about my last two significant others is their propensity to shower and scrub all their scent away, often twice a day. This is not ancient Rome in the summertime, people. You didn't do anything at that office you work at to smell bad enough to warrant a hose-down. No. No, I can't smell anything. No, I'm not lying, you don't smell like anything. You are a fawn in tall grass. No predators can detect you. No, I'm not being sarcastic. Yes, I am mocking you.

Nobody wants to make peoples' eyes water with their stench, but I have only experienced truly stinky people in two situations:
- Really, really, supremely sweaty people (and not even all supremely sweaty people. just some)
- Homeless guys who smell like years of dried sweat and urine.

I promise, if you jogged to meet me in front of the metro station, and you have a light sheen of perspiration, you probably don't smell like either of those two. Nor do you smell like a pile of burning, used, adult diapers. You don't even smell remotely of rotting flesh. Really!

Oh, you ate some garlic earlier? What a coincidence! Almost every culture on earth eats dishes with garlic in them! Oh and here's another new fact: I like garlic too. Now, if you ate garlic five days ago and have consumed nothing but the dew gathered from virgin spring leaves of mint and you still smell like garlic? Maybe there's a problem with your digestion, but that has nothing to do with you scrubbing yourself with exfoliants, using shampoo to strip your hair of scent and luster, and stopping up every pore in and around your armpits.

Of course, I have nothing against good, solid hygiene and the maintenance of appearance. I just find it excessive to be showering before you go out because you "feel gross," even though all you did all day was sit at a computer, move a mouse, and maybe walk to go get lunch. I mean, if it's a stress-relieving technique, then go for it, I guess. But if you feel stinky, then I fully expect to open the bathroom door and see you in the shower stall, water hot enough to sterilize the toilet brush, scouring your armpits with a piece of soaped-up sandpaper and muttering, "Unclean, unclean, I must get the sin off..." All things in moderation people.

Wow, how about that ranting, huh? That was a pretty good one. Anyway, I associate perfume with old ladies most of the time, and/or covering up some other scent/trying not to be a human. It seems simultaneously classy and wasteful. Romantic and inconsequential. Reminds me of walking through the cosmetics department of a department store and being attacked by women in skirt suits with spray bottles and tabs of paper. But then I went into a perfume store on a whim, and found some scents that smelled really good. I think something instinctual triggered; something basic that warned me I must be appealing in all ways all the time in order to propagate the species with my genetic combination. And also a desire to collect all things aesthetically pleasing. I've been so focused on the visual, the tasty, and the eloquent, that I had forgotten there are several other senses that can be delighted. But do I need to delight them all? And for like $100 for a tiny bottle of liquid? So I guess I put it to you, readers. Should I dive into the world of perfume, and enhance my self-aesthetic, or should I not waste my money?

For your enjoyment, here are some pretty sweet sites to check out if you a.) don't want to spend money on a full bottle and just want some samples and b.) don't want to smell like everybody who has a household name fragrance (I mean how many people are wearing that exact same Calvin Klein scent, anyway) and would like some more independent, unique, and specialized perfume houses to choose from.

The Perfumed Court

Here are some perfumes I am considering purchasing samples of (I know, "maybe perhaps considering thinking about trying etc.").

Le Temps D'Une Fete - because "green floral" seems like a fun description

Helianthe - Because I like ylang ylang and sandalwood and names that sound all steampunk.

Lastly, here's the rule: Stop showering so much, it's ok, really.

I hope real writing will come out of me soon for the next blog post. We shall see! Feel free to beseech any deities or make offerings unto muses on my behalf for some creative juices.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Similies, metaphors, and analogies.

I'm sorry about the similes, etc. I start writing them when I am angry, usually. This time, I'm angry about this:


Can somebody please tell me what is going on here?

A whooshing Flash interface, loud colors, strange text blocks, blog format, and content that sounds like a sarcastic, inarticulate, bore of a tween trying to impress some college students. It looks like Food Network (its parent/family company, which is also a hot mess of web design) got too drunk with MTV at a party, and had this... this... thing.

Or maybe it's more like Food Network noticed her sagging breasts and crow's feet and decided she could squeeze into her daughter's clubbing clothes. People are averting their eyes and whispering behind her back.

Or maybe it's Food Network completely missing the mark in making its web content - which is openly recycled and credits its own kitchens instead of trying to hide it behind a blog-face - more accessible and hip to America's youth. The sans-serif type, the clashing colors, the raw layout...

Oh Food Network, did you eat Look At This Fucking Hipster with your dinner of internet marketing keywords and then throw it up onto the internet?

I'm sorry, I think you meant to do this:

See how the crazy colors are limited to just two? See how it's confined to only the most important information? The drop down menus go horizontally to preserve visibility of content. The text is easy to read. The text is enjoyable to read because they have contributing writers, not regurgitating monkeys. The spacing of the paragraphs is easy to scroll through. Images do not interrupt important flow of information (as in recipe instructions). If you're going to have images/illustrations, please integrate them at the side of the text; it's more clear that way anyway. Images for punctuation are okay, but you haven't done that.

You don't even have very much web-exclusive content.

There are about 10 sentences per blog post and the rest of it is clunky photos and solicitations for comments. Who's going to comment on your post when you haven't even said anything!? The recipes are straight recycling, and they haven't been edited for more accessibility (e.g., more detailed instruction, diagrams, definitions).

So let's recap. Food2 website: It's ugly. It's annoying to navigate/look at. There's not much original content. The content is bad. The content is not really any more fun or hip than original Food Network content. The content is not at all geared toward beginners. I'm sorry, Food2. Your attempts at being hip and accessible have failed with me. You are not hip, you are a giant eyesore. You are not accessible, because I do not desire to access whatever bad content you have hidden in those stripey, neon lines. I guess I could watch one of the videos, but... that's what your tv channel is for.

Rule: Please, people. When you re-brand to appeal to a younger or newer audience, do your research into the demographic. Then spend a lot of money on good design. The web is your new medium. Please do not poop on it.
- Make it visually-stimulating, not messy.
- It can be raw, but not unpolished.
- Keep the content original, not lingo-heavy.
- Be witty and endearing, not goofy and disconcerting.

It's hard, but it looks like you have wads of cash to spend. Feel free to toss some of that my way.

Thursday, December 17, 2009


I'm Asian, for those of you who don't know. I try very hard to downplay this fact because of crazy emotional baggage (Asians, right?). Anyway, I am. So there. Make all the math/violin/angry parents jokes you want. I'm not really in tune with Asian culture except for when it comes to food. And then I'm all bear-on-a-rampage. There was some study done on... [immigrants or something?] where they found that of all the cultural things that eventually get sapped or shamed out of a person from a different culture, food-related culture is the last thing to go. That's why, even when I was an American Eagle-wearing, top 40-listening, dance team-participating Midwestern girl, I really also just liked chomping on whole boiled baby octopods and slurping sweet peanut and silken tofu soup.

I've been out of high school for a while now, and I've also moved far from my parents. I visit them rarely. So today, when I received two boxes worth of Asian snacks that my dad brought back from his trip to Taiwan (yeah that's where I'm from), I positively flipped out and started tearing through the beautiful (and excessively wasteful) packaging. Here is a sampling of my thoughts:

- i have had two pineapple cakes already and I'm feeling like a fatty. but i will forge on to puffed rice thingies.

- i am going to be a sphere tomorrow from all the fat, sugar, and salt


- i should save that package.

- should i save that package?

- i should save that package

- i'll open this one instead

- do i want to hoard this, or give it away or something?

- i should really hide these from myself

- what is this one?

- oh yeah i LOVE this one!!

- ok i should pace myself so i have some later on

- i don't think anybody but me would like this kind so i can eat one more

- what if my boyfriend gets home and sees me covered in crumbs?


from that point on i turn into a hissing, clawing thing if approached.

Are there foods you associate with your identity? Are any of them shameful? (If so, you may want to come to my guilty pleasures potluck during which all foodie presumptions are tossed aside for some cheesy hotdish and maybe like shrimp chips or something)

Monday, December 7, 2009

Yeah I skipped a week

Yeah I know it's bad. I didn't have anything and it was a rough week. I am sorry, tiny, but important readership.

Just so you're not left dangling, here are some blogs I have just discovered that are also fun.

Ancient Industries - http://ancientindustries.blogspot.com/ Um, this is just beautiful things.

How to Write Badly Well - http://writebadlywell.blogspot.com/ Exactly what it sounds like. Hilarity all the time.

Please Sir - http://pleasesirblog.blogspot.com/ So this is all sorts of eye candy. Photos, objects, etc.

Rule: Distract your readership with other peoples' content and pass it off as a post! (Blogs do this all the time. Best of, sale, featuring, etc.)

Don't do it too many times or else your blog gets boring. Also, don't put down too many links and things because it makes your readership feel lazy or overwhelmed. Lastly, only the readers that actually feel like you understand them will actually clickthrough.

Time to pass out as this week will undoubtedly also be crazy. Maybe it's Clontarf hot toddy time. Does anybody want to buy me some black tea for Christmas?

Also, I visited my bestest friend ever this weekend and we had delicious foods. I will be dreaming about thiiiiiiiiiiiiis for the rest of my life:

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Baking. I mean come on, ladies! Amirite? Amirite?

So, it's like... 11:28p as I'm starting to write this. I've just put a bunch of thumbprint cookies in the oven. Let me make a confession: as much as I love cooking, I am pretty balls at baking. I'm being modest, you say? Ok. I am only passable at baking. Really, I'm nothing short of terrified of it. I mean, think about it. You can waste entire cups of staple goods: butter, sugar, flour, etc. if something goes wrong. And sometimes, you don't know if it's gone wrong until it comes out of the oven and you've cut or bitten into it.

How many times have I bitten into an underdone muffin, a burnt cake? How many times have I pulled something out of the oven, eying it suspiciously, then turning it over to cool on a rack only to find that the cake has split in half and the other half is still stuck in the pan? I know what to do when stuff goes wrong in a saute pan, but if this cookie dough is crumbly and sticking to my fingers, I have no idea what to do. I mean, how is that even possible?! There are crumbly things and there are sticky things. How can this be both at the same time?

I can just buy pre-made cookie dough. I can purchase baked goods at a bakery. I can hold my friends at gunpoint and make them bake for me. Then why, oh why, do I feel the urge to bake when the weather turns cool? Admittedly, I have a rather poorly-insulated house; it holds heat about as well as a person holds an angry badger with diarrhea. But an alternative form of heat is not a good enough reason to get your hands all goopy, go out of your mind washing measuring spoons and cups, and have giant bowls crusted with flour to be scrubbed angrily later.

I think it might be the wonder of taking these raw ingredients and turning them into something pretty and edible. Flour, water, egg, sugar, butter in a lump in a bowl isn't very appetizing (though the smell is, kinda), but putting it into dry heat firms it, makes it toothsome and golden. My whole house is now filled with sweet smells. When I pull out the cookies, each of them will have a little distilled gem of summertime embedded inside.

I think also two sticks of butter might have something to do with my desire to bake.

Rule: Somebody teach me how to bake. Also, never use "amirite" un-ironically. Also, the jam inside the thumbprint will always be way too hot to eat right out of the oven. Just sayin'.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Short and sweet

rule: your automated phone system should never just hang up on a customer. they should always have the option to go back to the main menu, talk to a real person, or hang up themselves.

Countless times, ineffectual automated phone systems have tried to tell me information that I didn't need, then hang up on me. I have always called them back and pressed lots of buttons until I talked to a real person. I do not need to know all your hours and return policy and what your cat ate for lunch for the past five days BEFORE I press any buttons.

Monday, November 9, 2009

I grew up in Minnesota

photo not mine.

I grew up in Minnesota. I am an only child. Winter was about 5 months long. Life was often very quiet during the long, dark, cold. There was a lot of snow.

Snow on the ground, snow on the trees, snow on the houses, snow on the streetlights, snow on the cars, snow on the school, snow on your face, and snow floating in the air. Sound gets very muffled.

In the navy darkness, lights are always on. Botanical shapes start to become outlined with gleaming pinpricks. Bright storefronts seem more inviting. People turn into moths, drawn to any flame. Everything is a star, and there are galaxies in galaxies.

Glasses clink everywhere and silverware makes sharp music on plates. Ornaments - religious or otherwise - make rustling and tinkling noises. Everything is delicate: the cookies, the sounds, the glances. People speak in low, soothing tones, and laughter glitters in conversation. Soft, fuzzy things abound in sweaters, stuffed animals, and blankets. Drinks are hot and radiating. Food is most often roasted: a crisp bite, then a tender flood in the mouth.

There is lots of time to stare out the darkened window into the night, and let the snowfall blur everything in front of your eyes. Small fingers caress frost patterns lightly, feeling the fern-like ridges on chilled car windows on the way to a glowing party.

Some of the best moments were spent lying in bed, feeling the warmth finally spread under the comforter, but knowing the chill was just inches beyond it. I could stick my fingers out and touch the dark, which was now familiar, smooth, rich, and cold. Bringing my fingers back in, I could feel them warm back up. With all sounds dampened by snow, I could almost hear my own pulse.

I felt like an entire heart, beating in the chest of some mute, primordial being made of darkness, temporary death, gray clouds, and crushed ice. In my cocoon, listening to the soft sound of nothing, I felt like I alone was the heart of winter.

Rule: Think about the quieter moments in your life. Also, there is nothing wrong with snow.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Brains spill out

Rule: Make time for yourself and the things you value.

Remember that long list of stuff to do?

So far I have only done:
- buy an effing comforter and duvet cover (just bought a comforter that was attractive)
- find hippie deodorant that works well (actually just decided I'm not hippie enough for hippie deodorant and instead bought some awesome Nivea deodorant on the internet)
- save more money (just a little, but hooray!)
- read more

Which, I mean, crossing stuff off the list is cool, but this is not a lot compared to the original list. My comforter effing rocks though, especially in the chilly weather we're having. Anyway, what I'm trying to say is that I really don't have a post for you guys, so I'm going to dig up some old poetry and post it here as a placeholder. It's NaNoWriMo and Movember, y'all, and while I hate one and love the other, I don't have the temerity or hormones to do either (I'll let you guess which is a requirement of which). But maybe you'll see some better attempts at writing.

So I guess my rule really is:

Rule: Gee, Sandy should've planned ahead for this week, huh? Instead of pigging out on Kouign Amann and having crazy butter-induced dreams.

Anyway, at least this poem is fall-themed.

How I wanted to lecture my daughter

Don’t you feel kind of bad for them?
The saplings, so smooth and round and skinny
twigtips – outstretched - to feel - the sun?
Any old breeze can brush by
and bruise their ego, their limbs
trembling with rage and passion to grow upward
like they’re ready to get
outta this town.
Older trees creak – whisper – hushhh
in the night while the
saplings twist – breathe – ahhhh
so pliable. And then

The fall comes.

The chlorophyll withdraws.
Stately maples blush while the juveniles
burn so hot in the autumn light they
are on fire – they are on fire – they
are on fire – they
have so few of those leaves to drop,
you can see between each one
but they toss them on the ground until


A melancholy pool of red at their feet. And
later, when the ice comes,
I wonder:
Do they regret?

Monday, October 26, 2009

Oh geez wat did i do last week u guyz

Remember at the beginning of this blog, I posted erratically, and when I did post, the posts were of varying lengths and sometimes really short?

Rule: Don't give me the swine flu.

Also: somewhere near you, there is a takeout menu with number/letter combinations on it. Is there an H1 and an N1?

Somewhere in Michigan, they are serving N1 up as chicken pad thai.

Monday, October 19, 2009

I'm very good at lying.

Wow! I really didn't post 1.5 times last week, did I? It was more like .5 times. HAHAHAAAA... yeah. sry guyz. ANYWAY. Here's what I submitted for your judging eye and analytical reading. Feel free to point and laugh in the comments.

The ribs were already pre-braised and I was tasting the sauce as Amy walked in the door. I poured it into the Bar-B-Q Sauce jar, most of it blorping onto the counter. Amy nagged about the mess. I drew the letters "BBQ" into the sauce on the counter and set the jar squarely in it. I wanted to infuse the whole house, actually. I pretended to be careless and swiped my hand on the counter reaching for a paper towel, spattering the stove. I glanced at Amy for a second, but she was already staring at me and met my eyes. She shook her head and evaluated the kitchen while chewing on a hangnail.

I dipped the brush into the jar and painted her arm. She frowned, scraped a bit off the counter and threw it at my pant leg. I did the same, but with my eyes closed in case of spatter; the vinegar could potentially sting. She yelped as it hit her head: a drippy hat. I tasted the sauce again now that it wasn't blisteringly hot, and asked Amy to try it. She took an entire spoonful of the spicy tonic, grimaced, and nodded.

We started slathering the ribs, Amy with the brush, and me with a spoon. We ended up just using our hands and rubbing it in. I dug my hand into the jar and squeegeed the last of it onto the tender meat. I had sauce in my eyelashes; Amy’s eyebrows were slick with the stuff. I could hear my hair crackle as the sauce dried into it. We sat on the floor. We looked into that metal box and watched the meat accept the sauce. When it was done, we opened the oven and felt the hot air whooshing out and stood there with our eyes closed, feeling it billow our clothes.

My eyelashes curled as the sauce dried and my eyes watered. I opened my eyes, and saw Amy's hair start singeing as it floated in the swirling heat, so I slopped on it the dregs of the sauce from the pot. Goosebumps pricked our arms and our faces were flushed. It had been a long time since anything had breathed on our faces, even pork ribs in an oven.

Rule: Try your best not to lie to your readership.

Monday, October 12, 2009

On things. Stuff. Objects.

Sorry about the missing post last week, 1.5 posts this week to make up. Going back to stories + objects, Slate recently put out an article featuring a project by Joshua Glenn and Rob Walker to pair writers up with random things and write stories about them (sound familiar to a previous blog post?). They also have issued a challenge to readers to create a story about a BBQ Sauce brush with holder that will be sold on eBay, the cash moneys going to the author.

Honestly, thinking about doing it. Will post story if I do.

Those who want to get in on it:
From Slate: You'll write a short story (500 words or fewer) in which this object plays an important role. (Please do not make reference to the fact that the object is being sold on eBay, and do not mention the penny that appears in the photo for scale—the story's plot should be independent of the project's context.) The stories must be e-mailed to slatesignificantobjects@gmail.com by Oct. 16 at 5 p.m. Please also tell us your full name and the city and state you're writing from. All submissions may be quoted—and attributed to their author—in a follow-up article on Slate announcing the winning entry.

Rule: Seriously consider this contest, and post thoughts in the comments. I'm interested to see what people come up with.

The Slate bit

The Significant Objects Project

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Packaging design: missing the point

images from TheDieline.com

I love TheDieline.com because I love packaging. Sometimes they show the most AMAZING packaging, and sometimes stuff that's just well-done. Yet other times, they feature something that I disagree with (not that I disagree with the site, but rather the concept of the packaging).

More images of the line here.

I see what they're going for here, but I don't think this is the appropriate feel for cheese. I agree with making it more accessible, but I think most people want to feel sophisticated, rather than stylish when (specifically) consuming cheese. They want to feel like it's accessible, not convenient. They want it to feel timeless/aged, not new and trendy.

I'm cool with the awesome type on the inside of the package, and accessibility is handled well with the brief descriptions, but the tone is all wrong. Plus, do we really need more packaging that does the ubiquitous isolated product shot floating on a mystery, reflective, white surface with giant sans serif behind it to be hip and edgy? Also, what the hell is with that handwritten script?! Where does that even come from? Doesn't fit the theme at all. Boooo, cheese. You make me not want to buy you. Which says a lot, because I love to buy cheese.

Look forward to more gripes about packaging soon.

Rule: Do research into your market AND your demographic. Just because you're pitching to ego-centric yuppies doesn't mean that you want to design their cheese packaging like their perfume packaging.

Monday, September 21, 2009

o hai

...too lazy for a real blog post, but industrious enough to take several shots of myself and post-process and add a caption to the photo.

Next week: either a post on words/vocabulary, a post with more Photoshop work, or a post about valuing procrastination. Up to you.

Rule: Get rid of the two-second timer, cameras. It is never long enough.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Just so you guys don't think I'm a big punk.

I post a lot of things on this blog, and I don't want people to think I just put it out there and don't take my own medicine.

I started with an easy goal, as they tell you to do.

I'm cooking more.

This is pan-grilled tempeh with a "chutney" of onions, fire-roasted poblanos, garlic, turmeric, white pepper, and coriander. Slices of seared tomatoes on top, a couple of dollops of creme fraiche, and a blob of raspberry sorbet to temper the heat of the poblanos and the acidity of the tomatoes. Best part? All this was locally-grown except for the tempeh (trader joe's) and the creme fraiche (leftover from a tea party).

Rule: Practice what you preach. Also, have a tea party. My last one was awesome.

(side effect of me cooking more: more photos! woo, multitasking!)

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

To do list.

It's list time.

Things that just overwhelmed me recently:

- bought a ring from a vintage store. will imbue with meaning. somehow.
- get better at dancing
- get back out to Eastern Market before it gets cold
- get better at writing
- design my Halloween costume of Cthulu
- respond thoughtfully to others' emails (sorry, you know who you are!)
- be a good listener
- post a draft blog post I've been saving for a while
- attend more cultural/art events in the city (Arts on Foot, Crafty Bastards, Pilobolus, augh!)
- visit all the museums that are free
- go camping/cook stuff outdoors
- figure out if being in a relationship with no real plan is ok
- find hippie deodorant that works well (trying this out)
- participate more actively in my community-supported agriculture program
- travel more
- save more money (not sure how I will make this and previous work together)
- learn to cook better
- take more photos
- wear that scarf my boyfriend bought me
- become more fit
- dress like a French lady
- read more
- listen to more TED talks
- paint some ceramic
- use my ampersand printers blocks
- decorate my house like a European cafe
- reinvent wheel
- buy an effing comforter and duvet cover
- buy a pocketwatch
- decide what i want to do with life??
- start an etsy store?
- question marks
- try more restaurants
- move where my friends are/make my friends move where i am
- become better at making conversation
- be as smart as i was in high school
- go to the club with DVS and dance till i drop

I have no idea when I will have time to do all of these things.

Rule: Occasionally smack yourself in the face with all of your current goals. It will help you re-prioritize. Then figure out concrete ways to take the first step in achieving these goals. Any helpful tips welcome.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009


Dear all you *clever* companies out there,

You have found just the cutest little phone number for yourself and the letters spell out exactly your company's mission statement, or your best weekly deal, or your dog's last name. You were so happy it was available! You've listed it on all your collateral and web material. Thing is, you've forgotten to also list what numbers those letters correspond to, and I now hate you because I can't remember whether jkl is 5 or 6 because I'm on a Blackberry. Oops and I forgot 1 is not abc but rather no letters so I've accidentally dialed a moving company. Also, when I'm on a phone that does list the letters, I'd rather not play word hunt while dialing. Please list your cutesy mnemonic phone number WITH your numeric phone number. Thank you, and I apologize for the stabbings, but they were necessary.



Rule: Make it ludicrously easy for people to dial your phone number and reach a representative.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Porn for Wendell Berry

This is what I got in my inbox over the weekend. I feel like this might make Mr. Berry quite aroused.

Vegetable Love

by Barbara Crooker

Feel a tomato, heft its weight in your palm,
think of buttocks, breasts, this plump pulp.
And carrots, mud clinging to the root,
gold mined from the earth's tight purse.
And asparagus, that push their heads up,
rise to meet the returning sun,
and zucchini, green torpedoes
lurking in the Sargasso depths
of their raspy stalks and scratchy leaves.
And peppers, thick walls of cool jade, a green hush.
Secret caves. Sanctuary.
And beets, the dark blood of the earth.
And all the lettuces: bibb, flame, oak leaf, butter-
crunch, black-seeded Simpson, chicory, cos.
Elizabethan ruffs, crisp verbiage.
And spinach, the dark green
of northern forests, savoyed, ruffled,
hidden folds and clefts.
And basil, sweet basil, nuzzled
by fumbling bees drunk on the sun.
And cucumbers, crisp, cool white ice
in the heart of August, month of fire.
And peas in their delicate slippers,
little green boats, a string of beads,
repeating, repeating.
And sunflowers, nodding at night,
then rising to shout hallelujah! at noon.

All over the garden, the whisper of leaves
passing secrets and gossip, making assignations.
All of the vegetables bask in the sun,
languorous as lizards.
Quick, before the frost puts out
its green light, praise these vegetables,
earth's voluptuaries,
praise what comes from the dirt.

"Vegetable Love" by Barbara Crooker, from Radiance. © Word Press, 2005. Reprinted without permission.

Rule: Do these things. And then film yourself eating the vegetables. Then send copies to me.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


I was looking at vintage rings on etsy (no I was not leaving hints for my boyfriend), and admiring the craftsmanship and beauty of yesteryear. Today, lots of our jewelry is described as "architectural," "modern," and "sleek," where before they just wanted flowers made out of gems on their hands.

From Etsy, seller thesecretKohola

Seriously, look at that frickin' thing. Beautiful. As I was looking at them, I was wondering why I was looking at them, and why, even though some pieces were very reasonably priced, I wasn't inclined to buy most of them (I hungered after this one for a while).

I realized that almost all of the objects I own don't have any meaning attached to them. The few gifts I've received from previous boyfriends were nice, but rarely did any of them have a story. Those that did, ended up staying with me. My parents never gave my any physical objects of significant meaning, other than my car (read: escape from anything, guaranteed [add unconscious question mark]). I feel that maybe this is because I have lost any semblance of a real connection to them since I was a little kid. Many of my friends have family heirlooms, and I won't deny there is a bit of jealousy when I think of those objects, hallowed by time and inheritance, made into a passive participant and observer of the lives and stories of each new owner.

Looking at these vintage objects, I feel like I'd be borrowing other peoples' stories, that I would be putting them on my body, wearing them, sweating on them, using them, cooking them. Is that false? Or is it just adding another dimension to the overall tale of the object? I wonder if it varies between types of objects. Inherited engagement rings mean one thing, does an inherited set of turntables mean something different? Things pass from one person to another through friendship, bloodlines, love, necessity, birth, sale... One man's trash is another man's treasure. When he is done treasuring it, and gives it to someone else, what is the cumulative value of the object? Is it trash, or treasure? What about good luck charms? Do they really work passed on from person to person? Or is there one good luck charm meant for one person?

What happens to buried objects? Objects that never pass to another living being other than the worms and the insects? They live their own quiet life, dispersing into the world. Do they still have a value? Are they valued by the bugs?

I want to leave a legacy. I want to start an heirloom. What if I pass stuff on and tack on false stories? Stories that never happened? If I buy a beautiful necklace and tell a friend of mine my grandmother gave it to me, and I have always treasured it, and that I want her to have it, will there be some menacing green aura of lies surrounding it? Will it be a bad luck charm, something that haunts the person with confused dreams of an imaginary heritage?

But maybe if whoever I pass my object along to would understand that my purchase of it was simply to celebrate it's beauty, or perhaps to attach my own story and emotion to it in passing, like a Tibetan prayer flag (perhaps a presumptuous simile), spreading its blessing to the next person willing to receive it. I think also the passing from hand to hand, the muttering of awkward and heartfelt words, the stress of importance or meaning, the giving and taking are an act of consecration in themselves.

Rule: Identify an object that has significant meaning to you. Alternately, imbue an object with significant meaning.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

And now, a brief word about self-created holidays

I'm feeling very romantic at the moment, so forgive me. My feelings come at a strange time, seeing as how the boyfriend is away on a vacation without me (all-guy nerding out annual beach retreat).

Tonight those with a clear view of the night sky will be able to participate in seeing the Perseid meteor shower. To quote Wikipedia (because who quotes other encyclopedias while writing a blog?), "Meteor showers occur when Earth moves through a meteor stream. The stream in this case is called the Perseid cloud and it stretches along the orbit of the Comet Swift-Tuttle."

Lots of things are going to hurtle through our atmosphere and be face-meltingly hot. We will see tiny, bright streaks across the sky for brief moments after minutes of searching. People will point, make wishes, talk about Perseus, eat a sandwich, drink cold drinks, talk about Swift-Tuttle, make oohing noises, hold hands, look through telescopes, fart to disrupt the peace of star-gazing, forget there's a meteor shower, ignore the meteor shower, or be mad there's too much ambient light to see the shower properly.

A few years ago, I lay on the ground with aforementioned boyfriend, pre-relationship, and watched in the muted, buzzing dark with some of my closest friends. I lay there completely immobile as I felt every hair on my arm bristle and burn while lying there next to him, so close, but not touching. The earth was still and hot where we were, but debris was whooshing through the sky, making shining gashes. Turmoil and stillness on the terrestrial and celestial planes. The tall, prairie grass made a living, waving window.

But to my real point. Our anniversary (which non-married couples usually count as when they first started dating) is in October. We celebrate it happily and dutifully. But I was considering tonight as I'm awaiting this year's Perseids, why we celebrate it then. It's self-created and rather arbitrary. We have both discussed those infamous Perseids and how we felt about each other at the time (answer: mutual). Why not change it to the Perseids shower every year? Why not reflect on and rejoice the passion in our relationship when it crackled and compressed first so intensely under a romantic, flaring sky?

Whoosh, whoosh... wish, wish... hush, hush...

That was what the Perseids were and that is how and when I would like to celebrate each year.

Rule: Re-examine self-created holidays. Ancillary: Make them real holidays.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Do what the Axe-Man says and nobody will get hurt

"Esteemed Mortal:

They have never caught me and they never will. They have never seen me, for I am invisible, even as the ether that surrounds your earth. I am not a human being, but a spirit and a fell demon from the hottest hell. I am what you Orleanians and your foolish police call the Axeman. When I see fit, I shall come again and claim other victims. I alone know who they shall be. I shall leave no clue except my bloody axe, besmeared with the blood and brains of him whom I have sent below to keep me company.
If you wish you may tell the police not to rile me. Of course I am a reasonable spirit. I take no offense at the way they have conducted their investigation in the past. In fact, they have been so utterly stupid as to amuse not only me but His Satanic Majesty, Francis Josef, etc. But tell them to beware. Let them not try to discover what I am, for it were better that they were never born than to incur the wrath of the Axeman. I don't think there is any need of such a warning, for I feel sure the police will always dodge me, as they have in the past. They are wise and know how to keep away from all harm.

Undoubtedly, you Orleanians think of me as a most horrible murderer, which I am, but I could be much worse if I wanted to. If I wished, I could pay a visit to your city every night. At will I could slay thousands of your best citizens, for I am in close relationship to the Angel of Death. Now, to be exact, at 12:15 (earthly time) on next Tuesday night, I am going to visit New Orleans again. In my infinite mercy, I am going to make a proposition to you people. Here it is: I am very fond of jazz music, and I swear by all the devils in the nether regions that every person shall be spared in whose home a jazz band is in full swing at the time I have mentioned. If everyone has a jazz band going, well, then, so much the better for you people. One thing is certain and that is that some of those people who do not jazz it on Tuesday night (if there be any) will get the axe.

Well, as I am cold and crave the warmth of my native Tartarus, and as it is about time that I leave your earthly home, I will cease my discourse. Hoping that thou wilt publish this, and that it may go well with thee, I have been, am and will be the worst spirit that ever existed either in fact or realm of fantasy.
The Axeman"

- A letter printed by the Times-Picayune on March 14th, 1919

I trust you can infer the rule on your own. Posts of my own creation will come soon when I am not jazzing it.

Monday, July 27, 2009

I'm going to tell you a story

In the new year, I went to Alexandria, Va down near the water in Old Town to go buy tea. I like tea. Being from Taiwan, I have a certain tea affinity. The shop was in an old building. Lots of dark wood everywhere, most prominent being the richly-stained, giant, cavernous shelves that held beautiful apothecary jars of every size flecked with coffee and tea.

The shelves opposite the tea were packed full of beverage accoutrements. Infusers of all kinds, teapots, coffee mugs, tea mugs with built-in infusers, spoons to stir tea, spoons to measure tea, decorative pots, travel mugs, coasters, complete tea sets, serving trays, biscuits, cookies, chocolate, honey, and then there were other food items like fruit preserves, olive oil and vinegar, and food accessories like salt and pepper mills, egg-poaching cups, and placemats. Everything nestled something else.

There was a wonderful young man at the counter who had been working there for two and a half years. He knew the stock of tea very well, and was very excited about it. He made fabulous recommendations despite the fact that I was only making a small purchase. I ended up only buying three ounces of tea. Of course, together, me and my companion also ended up buying a ceramic mug, a tea-measuring spoon, some hot Hungarian paprika, and an oil mister (a veritable bounty of kitchen treasures) but we did spend a good deal of time with the young man.

That's how you know when a store really cares and is excited about its product - when no matter what you buy or even if you buy nothing, staff is willing to help you smell the product. I smelled a lot of teas.

That's when he walked in. He was an older gentleman, with little wisps of white hair on his head. Clouds mildly obscuring a mountain. He had a curved nose, wide, round eyes, and some age spots. The young man who had helped me make selections of tea previously asked him if he was looking for anything in particular.

"Do you have any verbena?"

"Oh you mean verveine?"

"Verveine, verbena, whatever you call it," he smiled as the young man reached up on the shelf to grab a mid-sized jar filled with large, brownish leaves.

"Would you like to smell it, sir?" the clerk opened the jar.

"I can recognize it just by the shape of the leaves, but sure!" He seemed thankful for the opportunity. He breathed in and sighed, "Ah, the sweet smell of verbena!"

The young man took the jar to the area where they portion the tea into small brown paper bags.

"How much would you like?" He grinned, everyone in the store was loving this man more and more every second.

"You wouldn't happen to have a pound of that, would you?" He asked.

"No, sorry," the clerk chuckled softly, "There's not even half a pound here," pulling out the long, whole leaves.

"I'll take what you've got!" He was adorable, gleeful extravagance.

"Ok," the clerk smiled, pulling out more leaves. They rustled deliciously. I wondered what distinguished verbena tea, never having tasted it myself. He ambled away with his purchase, clearly going straight home to enjoy. I envied the tea shop high-roller, buying the entire stock with innocent and unpretentious panache.

Rule: Become a delightful old person and clean out a store of some sort of indulgent item.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Farmers Markets

Rule: Go to your local farmers market and eat something ripe and in season.

Do this because it will taste amazing. Do this to support farmers. Do this to support some heirloom variety. Do this because you love food. Do this because maybe you'll like something you never thought you liked before (probably because it wasn't ripe or in season).

The end.

Monday, July 13, 2009

This is what ladies like me want to do on vacation

This is what could happen:

Grab a few of your best best friends. One you love and could live with forever, one you could be attracted to maybe, one who's a little awkward, very honest, and sweet. They all love to laugh. Go somewhere with cool mornings, balmy days, and nights without too much light pollution. Somewhere with a beach, preferably, but failing that, excellent rows of tiny, independent shops and fabulous sidewalks.

This is what you pack: underwear, socks, flip flops, curling/straightening iron, blouses, t-shirts, jeans, skirts, a bikini or two, contact lens solution, glasses, brush or comb, sunblock, sunglasses, lotion, some nice shoes, toothbrush, toothpaste, nail clippers, a small bit of jewelry, makeup, and q-tips. Fortunately for you, the friend who is always prepared has packed a camera (which you always lament forgetting), aloe (because none of you remembers to wear sunblock), mouthwash (because sometimes you don't feel like brushing your teeth), and q-tips (because you thought you packed yours, but you really just dropped it beside your bag).

There is lots of sun. There is lots of sunkissing. Possibly sunmaking-out. Your shoulders are a touch burnt, but that's ok. You spend all of your time in a bikini. You buy a bunch of cheese while giggling at the grocery store (still in bikinis). A chevre, a nice manchego, a St. Andre, a Gruyere, some random semi-soft cheese, and somebody splurges on some sort of fruit conserve. There are about a million different types of crackers in the snack aisle and you pick the one with the funny name. There is a decent amount of cooking (apron over bikini). There are lots of late-night greasy food runs. You make lots of cocktails and drink them and share them and it's ok to fart because a.) it's always been ok to fart b.) fart noises are funny and c.) we're spending a lot of time together and you just can't hold it in the whole time, ok? It's picture time and you all make your best fart faces.

Boys hold a lot of possibility and excitement and they holler like they don't know any better but it turns out they're all boring know-it-alls and you go find an excellent local jewelry shop and each end up buying some earrings. They sparkle and glint and are a great deal. Every morning you wake up and slowly sip tea or coffee or mimosas or belinis. You see squirrels or geese or some other animal that congregates on the ground and everybody decides to chase them. You start out slowly walking toward them and they edge away. Then the chase moves faster and they start to run and make a bunch of noise as they get all flustered. They honk and chatter.

You all reveal something sad about your lives. You make scrambled eggs with Gruyere and everybody is quiet and contemplative but by the time the eggs are gone everybody has put the feeling somewhere else. Maybe it is in your stomach with the eggs.

The last morning everybody wakes up and has breakfast together for the last time for a long time. It's quiet because you've been together this whole time and you're thinking of the parts of your life the others can't relate to because they live so far away. Packing is slow-going. Everyone talks in soothing tones. You touch each others shoulders or backs a lot. Everyone's hands are soft and cool. In your throat are memories. In your chest is a hollow. You swallow the memories into this hollow. It is a bittersweet pill that makes your thighs sluggish and your brain unable to draw up words to say to everyone, so all you say is, "See you soon! Have a safe trip!" You get home and are glad for your own bed. You hope she stops dating that guy. You hope the other can find a new job. You dream that they are all nesting dolls. You dream you are the biggest one. You dream they can all fit inside. You dream that you crack open and they all roll out. You wake up and go back to your life.

EDIT: Totally forgot to put down a rule.

Rule: When you're on vacation, you should be able to wear whatever you want and eat whatever you want.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Read this

Rule: Read this.

If cooking means anything to you, you should like it.

I'm not sure how I feel about her writing (I've only read this, and obviously it's a short work), but she seems like she might be worth checking out. Anyone out there know anything about her?

Monday, June 29, 2009

Gotta Catch 'Em All

I've found that most of the people I know have their own way of capturing the world around them. Every day I see people take photos, write, paint, sew, play music, etc.

I feel like these are ways to hold close the beautiful and interesting things around you. It turns the moments, the light, the texture of the world and makes it physical. Archive-able. Sharable. You could say that it's a legacy of things you think about and notice. The part of your personality and aesthetic you wish to pass along, or at least record.

Walking around with something that I can capture the world around me with helps too. I feel like it sometimes it makes me more observant. It's like a little voice in my bag saying, "Look at that! Look at this!" I look for the things that inspire me. On a bad day, having that reminder to look for things I admire or that fiddle with my brain helps to reaffirm my satisfaction with my life and the world.

And at other times, it's handy for wonderful (and I mean that most literally) things I happen upon purely by accident.

And sometimes it's good for being selfish. Capturing to have for always. This piece of the world and of time to hold and think about. Sometimes something has texture that makes me want to rub my eyeballs on it. Sometimes a moment feels like a sound, or a set of words. Sometimes I want to wrap myself in soft things, pretty things, turn myself into a shape. Sometimes I want to put things that have survived human history under a glass jar to ogle, to appreciate, to mock.

I personally do this for vanity and selfishness and hedonism. I like reading the things that I write (sometimes) and looking at the photos I take, because (if I'm successful) they evoke in me the emotions I had when I wrote or photographed. Maybe it's because I'm a control freak and I like setting up my own stimuli.

Others might want to send a message straight into the retina. Make pupils contract. Make sphincters tighten. Make hearts beat and neck hairs stand on end. Sometimes they want people to be outraged, to be sympathetic, to be sad, to be joyful. Essentially sometimes they want people to care about something. These are worthy causes, especially if there's something important to say with these snippets of the world.

I don't really do that yet. Gotta work my way up to it, i guess.

Rule: Capture something of the world at least once for yourself or others.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

World Peace

...if everyone took a bite at the same time.

I'm utterly convinced that if all people took a bite of one of the following foods at the same time, we could end all wars. (All foods would adjust for allergies/meat/egg substitution, of course)

- Peanut butter + nilla wafer + banana

- Hollandaise sauce on english muffin

- Popcorn, then a sip of Coca Cola

- Sprinkles (seriously, have you ever just bitten into a spoonful of colorful sprinkles?)

- Garlic mashed potatoes

- Lava cake

- Risotto with lots of parmesan and/or fontina

I'm just happy thinking about these.

Rule: Come up with a list of world peace foods. Try to keep components/ingredients on hand at all times. Toss into the mouths of any grumpy people or unwelcome intruders.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Take sexy photos

...of stuff you love.

Today, a package arrive for my boss, and inside it was some stuff for him, and a little green-gold gem for me. Olive oil! A lovely present. I took it home and immediately admired it's clean, perfume-inspired labeling, but rustic, shapely packaging. I imagined the silky goodness inside. Putting it in my cupboard, I realized that the other olive oils I had were packaged beautifully and looked scrumptious as well! I decided to have a sexy photo shoot with them!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Forcin' it.

Yeah, they say you shouldn't force it. You can blow a gasket and whatnot. However, in the case of writing, to make a habit of writing helps, and to make a habit, sometimes you have to force it. So this is me, writing for the sake of writing. Squirting it out, for me and for you: my loving and loyal audience. Hunkering down and pushing out a few words. Squatting on the internet and bombing some prose onto this blog. Yeah you wanted that image in your head, I know it.

Rule: Force yourself to form those habits you know will be good for you or make you happy in the long run.

Next week, hopefully I will be posting on my new strange decorating/entertaining style. It doesn't have anything to do with forcing pellets, I promise.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

My favorite indulgence will save the world

It's brunch. I won't keep you in suspense, like some people. My favorite indulgence is brunch. Lots of people like brunch. What's not to like? I mean, everybody likes breakfast food already, except for those few heathens that hate eggs.

But why do people really like brunch? Let's look at the facts: tasty breakfast food, waking up late, drinking about one million different types of beverages, having a large selection of types of food you can eat, and HOLLANDAISE SAUCE. I probably could've truncated that list to just hollandaise sauce and about 80% of the population would be nodding in emphatic agreement. There are also other great things about brunch besides being buzzed at 11am.

Brunch is a time when you choose to wake up (almost) whenever you want, and whoever you have brunch with, you are saying to them, "I choose to dedicate the genesis of my day to you." This time when the sun is flaring off of everything and you're content to be awake and fuzzy-headed and every cell wakes up with the sensation of bubbles from your mimosa pricking your tastebuds, that is the time you're choosing to share with yourself and others. You're awake enough not to act too dumb, but asleep enough to still share the nonsense of your last dream. You don't have to give up the salty for the sweet. You can share food or hoarde it all for yourself. In front of you, you might have a water, a coffee, a bellini and an orange juice. It's ok to have dessert even if your main course was a ridiculously loaded waffle. Excess is ok. The amount of food you eat at brunch is directly proportionate to how much of your soul is available to you. It's ok to laugh at brunch. It's ok to talk with your mouth full at brunch, but don't spit on anybody. It's ok to cry at brunch, you will feel better by the end of it. Don't be selfish; allow yourself to be kissed by someone who's just had a bloody mary. If you are in a place without windows, it is not a good place for brunch. Light filtering through the different glasses on the table summon the image of stained glass windows. Your table is a church, a holy place where all thoughts are of praise and joy.

Every time I gather with friends, I end up going to brunch with them. We walk to brunch, we drive to brunch, we shuffle to brunch. We eat brunch, we devour brunch, we savor brunch. We wake up, we dream, we float in between. We are happy, we are elated, we are bittersweet. We enjoy the fresh warm air, we enjoy the fuzzy applause of rain, we enjoy coming out of the cold. We drink to refresh, we drink to wake up, we drink to mellow out. We feel whole, we feel infinite, we feel like puzzle pieces. We wear soft shirts, we wear flowy dresses, we wear fluffy mittens. We share memories, we share food, we share plans for the future. We save photos, we save each other, we save the world.

We do not save cake for later.

Rule: Have brunch.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

It's everywhere, but it's still hard to find.

Just this weekend, when I was helping a friend do some yardwork, she pointed out to me the ingenious design of a jug of grass seed/growing material. The idea was to pour the seed mixture all over to grow new grass. On the flip-top lid were three pegs that scattered the seed mixture (which reminded us both of those plinko games) instead of emitting one long grass seed snake. Which, in retrospect, might've been kind of cool. There are lots of things around us that have good design, and I happen to respect thos things. Of course, it could've been a prettier jug, with a more ergonomic handle, but cost is a factor as always. In the same afternoon, the boy and I had just bought a hoe to help with turning the soil. I was pulling at a root when the whole top of it snapped off because it was made from aluminum (demerit number one... it's a gardening tool!) and the joint where the actual head met the handle was not reinforced (demerit number two). Dumb, dumb, dumb! I was incredulous. I'm not tiny, but I'm not supposed to be able to break the head off of a hoe.

Anyway, for me, nothing matches the satisfaction of really taking a look at the things around me and see good design (my budget doesn't allow my entire life's physical inventory to be this way, but still nice). Aesthetic, function, satisfaction of the tactile interaction - I guess it's part of aesthetic, but I just really like textured surfaces and sturdy buttons, ok - are subtle things that people are just now starting to place more consumer value upon. It's great, because this means now we will have more products that are better-designed and affordable, but it's also sad because we can take them for granted... And also I don't get to feel like a special hipster for appreciating good design. Opportunities to self-aggrandize aside (this is a blog, isn't it?), I'd like everyone to take a moment and find something that they really admire the design of. Feel free to post a comment, I'd love to read about it!

Also: appreciate this sexiness:


Monday, May 11, 2009

Dear website: why do you suck?

Some websites have an excuse. Websites I design and create, for example, have no choice but to suck kinda hardcore, because I know nothing about back-end website design (tee hee, back-end). Similarly, I don't really expect anything created on geocities or associated in a "web ring" (remember those? old school.) to be all that good. No offense. There might be some out there that are good, but I don't expect them to be.

However, if you're a large company that everyone knows, I expect that you have at least enough cash to create a functional website. Nay, a *usable* website. EGADS WHAT A CONCEPT. Let me start by saying that I may be a bit too retarded to use websites and maybe I'm just completely blind to the ease of their use. However, I'd consider myself to be at least mildly technologically-literate, so let's pretend that most people might make the same mistakes I did if I'm just missing something. Or we can pretend everybody should be able to use websites even if they have a hangover. Just sayin'.

To the point: let's say you're a company that sells insurance. Your goal: to get everybody to insure their everything with you. You want them to have different policies for their home, boat, car, motorcycle, anatomical monstrosity, compost heap all with you. That's great! Let's say I've signed up. Let's say also that I want to use the internet to keep track of them all and make changes. That's great for you too; you have a record that doesn't require a lot of gross filing and paper cuts etc. as well as the ability to back it up real easy-like. GUESS WHAT NOW I HATE YOU. Why? Because you've forced me to create a new login/pass combination for EACH policy. (And your site also has cookie/login/logout problems, I might add)


Yeah not only am I not creative to come up with that many distinct login/pass combinations, but I'm not nearly awesome enough to remember them all (Which letters did I capitalize in aZNinvAzN2002n00bsluLZ567?). Why on earth would you do that to your customers? Do you want to drive them away? But that's not enough; no, most certainly not. That's an easy problem to solve. Here are some suggestions: Forgot your password? Send it to me. Too much of a security risk? Send me a randomly-generated temporary password that expires in 4 hours with a captcha required before submission. Still too much of a security risk? Force me to go through an awful voice-activated/touch-tone system only to have it assess after 10 minutes that I need to talk to an operator to reset my password. Oh... you... want me to reset my password by mail?

...Yeah f*** you.

No joke. This website - as its first suggestion after my unsuccessful attempt to answer security questions (another story altogether) - suggested only I reset this password by mail. No other suggestions. That's a problem. You're basically suggesting to me that not only does your website suck, but that you don't trust your phone system to solve my problem and so you want me to WRITE IN to reset my password. Now I understand somewhat, because it seems given this tribulation that the folks who work at your company are ILLITERATE, but see the reason why I was using the internet as opposed to, say, smoke signals, was not because it had just rained and there was no dry tinder. Interestingly enough, i just wanted things to move a bit faster than that.

Now maybe I'm entirely in the wrong here. Maybe there is a way to have one online account at your website for all these policies. And maybe I could've figured out my obscure reminder as to what my other passwords are. But I don't see a way to do it on the site. Seriously, the link should be able to slap me in the face somewhere in my account management section or whatever it is. As should the "login/logout" section. Not only is the login/logout placed in different places depending on what page you're looking at, sometimes I really can't find it. But hey, maybe I'm retarded, and I'll just have to write you a letter and then you can laugh at me and call me an idiot, but somehow I get the feeling that

"Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!"

isn't quite so effective through the mail, especially after it takes two weeks to arrive and I've already replaced you.

Rule: Have people test your site for usability.

Monday, May 4, 2009

You're cordially invited to share your thoughts

Rule: Share with me a moment. Leave your moment in the comments, or, if you're shy, email it to me at thatgirl [dot] sandy [@] gmail [dot you-know-the-rest].

Here's mine. This is from January.

I am in the kitchen snapping string beans under the ugly fluorescent light. All beautiful things and ugly things are visible under this light. There is soft music playing in the living room, and I can hear artists talk about tools and technique. Over this, there is the rhythmic sound of the string beans popping their green, wet noise in the harsh light. I am going to put the beans in a pan with salt, pepper, and olive oil. I'm going to roast them in the oven, and I will savor their exquisite crunch in my mouth. This is a clean, honest, and pure dish. This is a clean, honest, and pure moment.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Thoughts on Mr. Frankie Manning

Today, even before I attained consciousness, Frankie Manning died at age 94. Just yesterday, I had been discussing attending his upcoming 95th birthday celebration in his "home" state of New York. I'd only met him once; during his widespread world travels teaching lindy hop, he had come to Michigan, where I was living at the time. Even at his advanced age, he was still lively and powerful: doing what you love to do is a potent tonic. I'm not entirely sure where my sadness at his passing comes from, whether the loss of a living font of style and knowledge, the knowledge that there is a limited amount of literally extraordinary people in the world and one of them is gone, perhaps simply the loss of a personal hero. To be honest, I am surprised at the amount I am affected.

I feel I'm now looking at the room of an older brother who's gone away to college; it's big, it's empty. I worry about stepping into it and committing sacrilege, or at the very least, breaking something precious. Then, more urgently, I worry nobody will step in it again, that it'll become gray and forgotten. I console myself with the thought now that when I listen to jazz and begin to move, I am entering that room, dusting off an old trinket, and holding it close to my heart.

Frankie, wherever you may have graduated to, we are now and forever looking up to you.

Rule: Celebrate a personal hero.

Frankie Manning: May 26, 1914 - April 27, 2009
Photo: Ryan Swift

Monday, April 20, 2009

Just one simple rule for today.

Rule: Say the word "crepuscular."

Sunday, April 5, 2009

And we're back

4.) Working for [adult swim]/a marketing company. I was hired by adult swim to be an event planner, basically. My job was to work with a partner (who I found to be utterly unhelpful, and thus ended up costing my school's campus to have it's adult swim college rep program to shut down in its first year) to create awareness of adult swim programming. We chalked sidewalks, we threw parties, we had trivia nights, pub crawls, etc. Met a lot of people. It was a lot of fun. Things I learned: independent store/restaurant owners are actually more willing to help you out than you think. Managers on duty forget a lot of things. Organizing events is a lot of fun, and large groups ultimately want the event to succeed and people enjoy helping. Monte Cristo sandwiches are so delicious. I like event planning, but only one event at a time. Never count on a partner you don't trust. Just go ahead and do everything. If you have a partner that you trust, examine your trust with unbiased, excruciating detail, because that partner might not be so helpful either. School buildings have a lot of chalkboards. If you spray hairspray (non aerosol, that will just blow the chalk away) on sidewalk chalk, it will stay days longer than everybody else's. BWAHAHA. There are a lot of people who don't care if someone is married, they will try to sleep with that person.

5.) I was an intern-type at Michigan Radio in Ann Arbor for a while through work-study. It was excellent. I transcribed things, learned a bit of Peak DV (audio software), edited grammar, sent radio programs to the broadcasting station, designed marketing material, found related links and news stories to the ones being produced by us. Things I learned: being inside a recording studio is terrifying. There are so many buttons and things that could potentially go wrong. I am bad at staying focused on a job. I really like designing things. I learned lots of stuff about the environment and water (totally awesome). I learned where a really awesome market used to be but it closed down not too long after I left Michigan (very sad).

6.) Account manager. I worked for a company that helped reconcile financial records of health insurance companies and hospitals. It was the most boring job of my life, but they paid for a lot of training, and shipped me to Nashville, where I had a wonderful time. But seriously, poke-your-eye-out boring. The on-the-job training gave me a false impression of how well I'd do in my assigned region because their filing system was more advanced technologically. Things I learned: I never want to do this again. Do not settle for a job just because you are getting desperate. Only settle if you really truly are desperate. Hospitals and health insurance companies keep terrible records and they don't talk to each other. Hospitals don't seem to receive a lot of money from any source. Some really nice people work in administrative positions. cube farms are terrifying, but they have the best snacks available/for sale. Nashville is a fun city. Having a personal bodyguard who is also your friend is pretty much the most fun a person can have while going out. Don't be afraid of spending money on spur-of-the-moment things; it's ok to indulge sometimes, especially if it enriches your life. If you start dancing, other people will start dancing too. Coyote Ugly is a silly place, and any modicum of dancing skill is cheered like a masterpiece. Also, if you are a girl of a certain build, they basically don't give you the option of not going on the bar.

7.) Marketing coordinator. (Everybody by now has basically seen my cv) Handled the marketing initiatives of a tech company. Designed promotional material, website aesthetics, rebranded, worked on SEO, monitored advertising, did interior decorating. Things I learned: I am very slow at designing. I do not like douchebags at all. I do really like tech guys. I do not like being in a position with all responsibility and no control. Some people have no imagination and I don't really know how to communicate with them. When my personal life changes radically, I have a hard time keeping it out of my professional life. This was also the first time I have ever cried in front of an employer (also not the last). People who read a lot of advice-type books can have a strange outlook on life, and tend to believe in them fiercely. I do not know if these books work. I don't mind having things explained to me, but if someone is condescending, I absolutely will not listen. People have hidden talents. Employers rarely believe in listening to problems despite professing it. They will listen to solutions though, so sometimes you can disguise problems as such.

Today: I work as an executive assistant. Things I have learned so far: how to book flights last minute. How to check to see if seats are good on those flights. How to negotiate. The Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration is a terrible organization that does not wish to help anybody. Learned a bit about how to be in a managerial position. The Lebanese know how to party. Only rarely can you get 100% attendance at a meeting. Where all the good inexpensive restaurants are in Dupont Circle. Where some of the best Caribbean food is in DC. How to apply for visas and several other government-related forms. How to slow down. How to force people to give you information. How to buy a motorcycle. What are good questions for an interview. I'm sure there's more, but that's it for now.

I feel like I've learned a lot. You can learn just as much working at one job vs. a million, but it's quite a bit faster this way, and I highly recommend it. The bad economy currently gives people an excuse to hop around now, and when questioned about it later, they have a wonderful scapegoat to blame it on! Furthermore, now I know what types of people I'd like to work with, how I would like to see a business run, and what makes it valuable. So when I finally figure out what I want to do permanently, I'll know what to look for. Any ideas as to what I should do permanently?

Saturday, March 28, 2009

More interlud'n

I promise I'll get back to posting about how fulfilling it is to have lots and lots of jobs. For now, let's say: really fulfilling.


Tyler Florence, I'll forgive you for preparing recipes for a chain restaurant, but I will never forgive you for these latte bowls:

They are so ugly. I know you wanted to modernize them, but no. You made them suck. Okay maybe they're not the worst things ever but can you please not call them latte bowls? Because these are cafe au lait bowls (which is what people are calling latte bowls but my preference for French aside...):

I know, your bowls are also fluted and footed, which to me, is like the ultimate in bowl technology right now, but yours look like a weird, malnourished hoof or a non-earthquake safe modern building. Not a bowl. It appears you have eaten the first blue bowl, processed, then extruded a little bit of it from your anus. Sorry.

Rule: Tyler Florence please stop designing bowls.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

A brief interlude...

Here's Spoka, my new work desk lamp I just got from IKEA. I love IKEA, but why on earth would you have a ghost child's nightlight? Sure it's cute, but it's still a ghost. Anyway, it's totally awesome. Not actually spooky though the concept is strange. He's a lot more green in real life than I could capture with my camera or edit through Photoshop. Wheee!!!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Rule: If appropriate, buck tradition*

So what I originally wanted to say was, "Have approximately a million jobs," but I realized that advice might not be for everyone, so I thought maybe I should say, "Don't be afraid to change jobs," but then that sounded lame and what I really meant was that things change and sometimes the way other people (like your parents) have done it is not always the best or most fulfilling way or even the safest way (though a lot of the time parents successful enough to have raised a child who reads awesome blogs like mine have pretty good advice, so I'm also not saying don't take their advice), and of course, most people of my approximate socioeconomic status and education know this is true BUT LOTS OF THEM STILL BECOME DOCTORS, LAWYERS, BUSINESS GRADS, DOUCHEBAGS MASQUERADING AS HIPSTERS (which are just yuppies with theatrical dirt applied to them trying really hard not to be yuppies) AT THEIR PARENTS' BEHEST AND THEN THEY BURN OUT AND LOOK BACK ON THEIR LIVES AND GO, "I GUESS THAT WAS NICE," "WHERE DID MY YOUTH GO," "I THINK I GET DRUNK TOO OFTEN, " OR SOMETIMES JUST "WELL, SHIT."

So I decided to condense that to the aforementioned rule. Also, for those crazies like me who always look for the footnotey asterisk:

*Appropriateness is determined by the amount of lasting happiness and education that will be accrued over the course of a lifetime without hurting others in a direct or deliberate fashion.

Anyway, I've had about a job a year since I graduated university, and the longest I've ever had a job in my life is two years (though there were long and significant breaks between the years and I will illuminate later). Of course, this makes me look like a flakey mess and people look at my resume and think, "Well that's a waste of training dollars," but I feel like an improved and robust person for it. And now I will go through them all. Yes, this will be a long post.

1.) Babysitting - Not on my resume, really, but this was just a continuation of my "hanging out with kids" streak that was going on when I was young. I didn't have very many friends my own age, partially because my parents were friends with couples who had kids who were much younger so it'd be my job to entertain them when we all got together for dinner. As I got older, it became the natural thing to do. My affinity and empathy toward children starts here. My love of Disney and make-believe doesn't hurt, either. I credit myself with teaching one of them to read, and I swear on my life that I saw another's first steps. Things I learned: I love kids. Kids will emulate everything you do or say. Kids will listen if you talk to them. There is no better way to convince a kid to do something than to tell them/demonstrate that you like it. I am not ready to have kids.

2.) Tutoring at the Chinese Language School of Minnesota - I was a Chinese School dropout, so it was funny that when my mom became a teacher that I became her teaching assistant. The one thing I retained was how to read the Chinese alphabet: a phonic alphabet that is used to teach kids what characters sound like that usually only appears in really young childrens' books and disappears in literature for youth. Most adults have forgotten the alphabet, but I still know how to read this and sound things out. To be honest, this was a volunteer thing I did in high school to enhance my college applications. Totally mom's idea. Fun regardless because I got to draw helpful illustrations on the whiteboard. Things I learned: class clowns who are also teaching assistants are sometimes the best for memorizing things. It's easier to remember things that are unexpected or funny or unexpectedly funny. Chinese is a really hard language. I have yet to be truly regretful that I do not know how to read it though.

3.) Camp counselor(ing?) and volunteering at the Science Museum of Minnesota - I did this for two summers in a row during high school. My mom was terrified that I would become a teacher (because, you know, that would be horrible. now that I'm not a teacher - or any of the other things she envisioned - she thinks maybe I should become a teacher). I loved this. I grew up with the SMM, having previously been in the summer camp program myself. I didn't automatically think I wanted to be a camp counselor, but when I needed some extra cash, this was an easy job to apply for, considering my previous history with children. I bonded with the kids over Digimon (yes, I watched Digimon on afternoon TV after school in highschool), and loved interacting with them, did not like disciplining them (though I had to sometimes), and loved watching them learn. For a perspective on the capacity in which I volunteered, check this. Things I learned: My current favorite child demographic is the 6 to 8-year-olds. They're old enough to understand a lot of things, but young enough to accept most reason and authority. Kids are way more smart and forgiving than you will ever know. I had a group of kids clamoring for my individual attention and yelling my name and they all, without communicating, became aware of what they were doing, and started mocking themselves by saying my name over and over in annoying voices. I lowered my clipboard (an SMM staff ubiquity), and all I could say was, "You guys are so awesome." Teaching is best done through love and through display of love and fascination. Digimon is a terrible show. Siblings will cover for each other even when the infraction is against the other. There are some weird allergies out there.

*Phew* That was a lot for only my first three jobs. I guess we can call this the "children edition" or something. I'll post more jobs later.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Rule: Have Internet in the kitchen

This is just a must. Found a recipe on the internet? Eco-conscious and not wanting to print things out unnecessarily? Bring your laptop into the kitchen. Jam out on tunes on Pandora or Seeqpod while having the recipe and your friends at your fingertips.

Other rule: Wash your hands before touching your computer if you have internet in the kitchen. This way, your keyboard won't turn into a dinner roll and your touchpad won't be a hotbed of salmone. colococcus.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Not sure how you'll feel about this...

I've decided to start saying as a retort, "More like crack-a-lackin' in flavor." When describing some mediocre food.