badness, goodness

Don’t be sad

her drawings are hilarious

Hyperbole and a Half might be the funniest blog on the internet, which is why I’m worried.  There’s a huge gap in the time between the most recent post and the one before it.  Plus, the most recent post was about depression, and it was posted in October of last year (that’s eight months now).  I sure hope she’s doing ok.

If you know someone who has problems with depression, show them this post.  They’ll be able to relate to it, and it will make them (and you) laugh.

Advertisements
Standard
goodness, life

Technicolor childhood crap

K-pop at its late-90’s finest

I grew up in Koreatown in Los Angeles.  All my elementary school crushes were on Korean boys, my middle school friends got me into a Korean boy band called H.O.T. (which stands for High-five Of Teenagers… yikes), my friends in high school taught me how to read (and haltingly write) Korean.  I can tell a Korean person with my eyes closed (it’s that familiar smell).  With so much Asian influence, I was pressured into the drama that surrounds comparing who had the biggest collection of glitter-ink pens, offered in a seemingly endless number of colors, stickers of Badtz-Maru and Kero Kero Keroppi, and the ultimate staple of a grade school girl’s desk accessories: the pencil case.  How many hidden pop-out compartments does yours have?  Oh, just two?  How sad for you.

trust me, the feeling’s mutual

I wasn’t Korean, however, and that bothered me because it meant that I was an outsider.  Somehow I got over it, but not before I discovered Lisa Frank.  Lisa Frank was the non-Asian kids’ version of Sanrio.  You could get Lisa Frank back packs, trapper keepers, pencils, pencil cases, erasers, coin purses… the list goes on.  You name it, Lisa Frank probably shit a rainbow all over it.  Finally I could keep up with my Korean friends; I had access to the ugly shit that resulted when rainbows vomited up cheerful animals, and got slapped on a binder.  Finally.

I definitely had something with these very bunnies on them. I remember staring that them, trying to decide which one I wanted to be. Bunny with the blue outfit won, of course. Who the fuck would want to dress like those other freaks?

I wonder why my parents let me buy this crap.  I remember visiting Thrifty (now known as CVS) to get school supplies, and picking up a folder with golden retriever puppies on it.  By the end of the year, I had added scars, fangs dripping blood, black eyes, Frankenstein-inspired neck bolts, and all other kinds of horrors to these adorable puppies.  And yet somehow, even after defacing the most lovable of animals, I felt compelled to pick up something like this, and say, “Mom, I want this one.”  More startlingly, my mom looked at said cheerful monstrosities and said, “Yes.”  Then mommy’s eyes started bleeding (I would imagine).

I’m trying to picture Lisa Frank’s art teachers’ response to her work.
“Wow, Lisa, that’s… interesting.  What is this?”
“It’s a unicorn.  It was force-fed skittles, and now it has rainbow-colored hair.  And diabetes.”

Later, in Pretentious Fucking Art Academy (PFAA):
“Lisa, don’t you want to try expressing yourself with other color palettes?  How about a still life?”
“…No.”
“…You’re expelled.”

I’m trying to picture a young woman with a strong vision facing discouragement and harsh criticism at every turn, and triumphantly fighting through it all to finally achieve success, only to discover that the only demographic with eyes sharp enough to catch all the horrifying detail of her creations, but brains dull enough to withstand the onslaught of tastelessness and technicolor animal abuse: grade schoolers, the portion of our population whose acceptable social activities include eating their own boogers, and throwing tantrums until they pass out.

Bravo, Lisa Frank.  Bravo.

I think this is an illustration of where art goes to die

In case you just can’t get enough Lisa Frank, you can visit this blog post about her by a similarly impressed female blogger, which I found while scouring the interwebz for the free laser surgery service more commonly known as Lisa Frank.

Standard
goodness, manfolk

He loves me

Last Sunday night as I arrived at Boyfriend’s house to spend the night, he was dancing in the doorway at me.  “What a clown, so cute,” I thought with a smile.  I went inside.  “I’m so happy to see you,” he said.
“Me too.” [hug]
As he closed the garage door behind me, he said, “I love you.”
“Oh yeah?” I said, a little surprised.  His random declarations of love don’t happen very often, but he’s been doing it more and more.  It makes me really happy.
“Yeah, everything’s better with you, my whole life is better.  I love you so much.”
“Wow, really?”
“Yeah.  I miss you when you’re not around.”
“Me too.  I wish you could be with me all the time.”
“Me too.”
“I love you.”
“I love you, too.”

So we’re doing ok, I guess.

Standard
goodness

Etsy photo of the day

a self portrait of Van Dyck. same hair!

I love Etsy.  It’s basically an online craft market, and who wouldn’t love that?

This crown (and its photo) caught my eye today.  At first I laughed and silently ridiculed it, but the fact is, this fantastic photo resembles Renaissance (especially Flemish) portraiture so closely (even her face type is typical of that era of portraiture), that I actually really enjoy it.  For just $30, this crown (Neptune’s Crown, as it’s called on the site) can be yours.  Lucky you.

MORE SEASHELLS FOR HER MAJESTY

Standard
goodness

Ayr to Dublin (to home)

Who in their right mind wants to get on a plane piloted by someone just as tired as you are at 5am?  I don’t understand the logic of early morning flights.  My body feels weird, and the pilots probably take turns taking naps.

zobo apocalypse practice grounds

The Preswick airport was completely empty.  I wandered around for a good half hour before I encountered anyone who didn’t work there.  The flight on Ryan Air was pretty bare-bones, but also cheap.  I landed in Dublin and wandered around trying to find where the free shuttle to my hotel was.  As I waited for my ride, a couple of  American tourists asked if I knew where the “paddy wagon” was picking up/dropping off.  I shot them a confused look.  “We were told to take the paddy wagon,” they explained with alarming detail.  “Isn’t that something that carts off criminals?” I asked.  Their sober exteriors melted instantly; “That’s what we thought!” the other one blurted out, laughing.

My shuttle came soon after.  I got the the hotel and paid ten Euros for an early check-in.  I rode up the elevator and saw horses in a neighboring field.  I dropped my stuff, sat on the couch in my very nice room, and began to mope.  I couldn’t find a bus into Dublin from the hotel.  I missed Scottish Friend.  I missed boyfriend.  I was ready to go home.  But it was 10am, and I would be ashamed of myself if I didn’t take full advantage of being abroad.  “What makes me happy?” I thought.  “What will put me in a good mood?”  The answer was, of course, animals.

I have a child-like love of animals, especially otters.  It’s a common source of jokes for Boyfriend.  I have to pet every dog I see.   My voice raises a full octave when I talk about any baby animal.  Luckily he finds it cute.  When I have trouble waking up, he has taken to asking me what an otter does, at which point I smile sleepily, grab an imaginary clam, and pat it against the (also imaginary) stone on my tummy with reckless abandon, at which point I am more or less awake.  That’s what I love about Boyfriend: he takes the weird parts of me, and makes them useful.

two beds, a couch, table, desk, chairs… i was ready to host a conference on napping

But where to find animals in Dublin?  Why, the Dublin Zoo, of course.  So I took the free shuttle back to the airport, caught a bus to the city center, then wandered around and got some bad directions from a couple of people, got on another bus, got off at the last stop, and wandered around Phoenix Park until I came up on some men tending to the grass.  I asked them where the zoo was.  “Here I’ll show ya,” one of them seemed to say, and got up and walked me back the way I’d come, across a street to another park, and pointed me in the right direction.  Despite his unintelligible accent, I managed to catch that he used to go to to the zoo as a kid, and has been living in the area more or less his whole life.  What a nice guy.

The zoo was expensive (€15!), but I had it almost all to myself.  The lionesses were dozing by a back wall, a tiger was hypnotizing to watch as it paced back and forth along a side wall, then perched itself up on its hind legs to get a better sniff of the food truck.  The snow lion was grooming its tail and taking refuge from the light rain in a small cave, the ring tailed lemurs were awesome and very agile, and there was a baby monkey with a red butt that was just bounding all over the enclosure (falling often and adorably).

no photo i took does it justice

The were oryxes (super long horns), elephants (very dexterous trunks can pick up bits of carrot from the ground), ostriches (fluffy and haughty), hippos (their fat bellies jiggle when they walk!), rhinos (one of them chased a smaller one away from the food), tapirs (they squeak!), penguins (so small!), sea lions (they played underwater), giraffes (so tall!), and they all improved my mood markedly.  I was sad to be there alone, though.  Zoos are perfect for sharing.

I grabbed a bus back to the city center, walked to a good fish and chip place, sat down and had a huge piece of fish, some fries, and tea.  Another bus took me to the airport, and the free shuttle took me to the hotel.  I took a bath, showered, played Draw Something, set out tea for the next morning, arranged for a wake up call, Skyped with Boyfriend (bragged profusely about all the cool animals I saw that day), and hit the sack.

ironically, he was irish

There’s not much else to tell.  I woke up too early the next morning, took the shuttle to the airport, flew to JFK where I met some really nice guys, one of whom just started playing ukulele like me.  When I sang, “My dog has fleas,” he came right back with “Goats can eat anything” to help remember the tuning (thanks!).  So we sat around and chatted for a while, and played songs and learned how to play Leaving on a Jetplane (makes me cry every time).  When I finally got home, Boyfriend picked me up, we got pho, and went to bed.  I woke up too early and had plenty of energy for work the next day (surprisingly).

I loved Ireland.  I loved Scotland.  I miss it already.  I can’t live in LA my whole life.  I have to get out.  But more of that later.  For now, I’m having fun passing out souvenirs to friends, and looking through photos.

Standard
goodness

Oban to Ayr

Breakfast was at 845 today: Canadian bacon, mushrooms and a poached egg with toast and tea, just like yesterday. I had about an hour to pull my things together and be out by 1015.

the man in the blue shirt and cap is the owner

My train to Glasgow wasn’t until 1, so I meandered down the hill and found a picnic table to sit and enjoy the view for the last time.  I pulled out my ukulele for he first time since JFK, tuned it up, and played just a couple of songs before some happa guy with glasses approached me and said he loved playing uke.  We started chatting and I invited him to sit down for a spell.  Turns out he has the same Lanikai ukulele back home in Atlanta (he was American), and an almost identical case (from this store on Etsy). We talked about what we liked about Oban, Edinburgh and Dublin (he loved Galway).  I asked where he’d eaten (food is an important topic while travelling), and he named a few fish and chips places, but he hadn’t been to the shack where I’d had oysters every day.  So we went and had half a dozen oysters each (his treat).  He was thoroughly impressed, of course.

We found a seat under the clock tower near the bus stop (his bus left at noon), and chatted some more until he left.  While we waited, an old man approached us with a smile and said, “I thought I should know your names since I took a photo of you!”  He had taken a photo of the clock tower, and since we occupied its base, we ended up in the shot.  I offered him a seat next to me, and he proceeded to monologue with pride about his Panasonic digital camera (similar to mine, but nicer), how he didn’t need to add extra lenses (so cumbersome) because of the excellent optical zoom on his camera.  And so on until he abruptly stood, blurted a friendly good-bye, and walked away.

fish stew and “crusty bread”

My American buddy and I exchanged emails; he lives in Atlanta and travels a good amount, so we’ll have to keep in touch.  After he left I went back to my picnic table and had some fish stew from a stand on the bay, so delicious.  I grabbed a good seat on the train, and started reading A Walk in the Woods, a hilarious and fascinating book by Bill Bryson about walking the Appalachian Trail.  I got bit by the hiking bug during my walk around Kerrera.  I’ll have to do some hiking when I get back.

After a transfer at Glasgow I was on my way to Irvine to see Scottish friend, whom I haven’t set eyes on since the 2004 trip to Romania where we met.  She met me at the train station with a hug, and laughed when I tried to get into the driver’s side of the car.  We picked up her cat from the vet, and chatted during the rather scenic drive to her house, where she lives with three very friendly and playful cats, and her boyfriend of several years.  He had food poisoning, and couldn’t come to dinner with us (which I was happy about, actually), poor guy.  Scottish Friend took me to a restaurant called Scott’s (I think?), where I immediately ordered the haggis as a starter, and an enormous seafood platter for the main dish.  The haggis was… amazing.  So delicious.  It was put together with some mashed potatoes on top and a cream sauce over the whole thing (which is typical, apparently) in a somewhat cylindrical fashion.  I was extremely impressed.  I asked Scottish Friend if people there really eat haggis all that often, and she said eats it about twice a week.  I’ll have to find a good place here in LA for it (although it’s such a volatile dish, that should be an adventure).

OHAI I DIDN’T SEE YOU THERE

We went home and looked through her photos of the Romania trip.  She remembered almost everyone’s names (I couldn’t remember hardly any).  She and her boyfriend and I stayed up and chatted about accents (apparently it’s commonly known that Scottish Friend is universally difficult to understand, since she has somehow managed to create an accent all her own), and their burning desire to visit America, bolstered by the boyfriend’s current obsession with Man v. Food, a show on the Travel Channel where some American man with inevitably high cholesterol eats ridiculous portions of enormous foods at diners and the like all over the country.  I told him I would be sure to show him all the best places too eat around Los Angeles: Korean food, sushi, pho (which they had never heard of!), burgers, pasta, sandwiches, etc.  This fanned the flames a good amount until it was time to go to bed.

I slept in their guest bed, which was the softest, warmest, fluffiest cloud-of-a-bed I had slept in during the whole trip.  I was devastated to get up at 5am to catch a flight in Prestwick to Dublin.  Scottish Friend was nice enough to wake up early and take me to the airport.  How do we get along so well after all these years?  Strange how a connection between two people can be so easy.  She is such a blast.  I can’t wait to see her again, soon I hope.

Standard
goodness

Oban: Day 3

I realized this afternoon that this is one of those vacations that where I’m so interested in experiencing the area I’m visiting and seeing the sights that I haven’t slept in once. I reminded myself today that I was in a land of mystery and faeries, a land I’ve dreamed of visiting since I was little, and that I should worry less about when the ferry would be leaving, and whether I would miss the next bus (or catch it in time and be sick during the long ride), etc., and try to relax and enjoy myself a little.

My first day here, I booked a day trip out through the Isle of Mull to Iona, where I tried in vain to find a place to stay the night. In the end it was better this way; all the moving around every other night to sleep in a different bed would hardly allow me to relax.

miles and miles of this stuff

I woke up early around 730, got dressed and sat down for breakfast by 8: bacon, mushrooms and a poached egg with tea.  I packed up everything I might need into my ugly green bag (umbrella, mittens, Kindle, purse, camera), and headed down the hill toward the dock, enjoying the view of the bay and the moss and flower covered stone walls on either side of the road.  This day trip really solidified how out of place I feel here. Everyone else on the ferry was at least twenty years my senior with the exception of one Asian tourist. How did all of the info I read about this fail to mention that I would be surrounded by a bunch of what my dad used to teasingly call “blue-hairs?”  It was a little depressing.  I felt like there was someplace else I should be, where all the other young people were spending their vacation.

The ferry to Mull looked like a small yacht on the outside, but had a modest interior with large windows for watching misty islands glide until we arrived at our bus on the Isle of Mull.  About 80 minutes of funny and informative bus driving later, we arrived at the port where we boarded a ferry to Iona.

The only stuff to see on this very small, but enchanted island was the ruins of the nunnery, which are beautifully kept in a state between overgrown and manicured.  It gave the sense of something abandoned but still loved, like parents while their kids are at college.

The monk’s abbey, while obviously very old, was decidedly not in ruins, and something to behold. You can feel its age as you enter the too-small front door into its dark grey interior. A few of the stones in the floor had crosses carved into them to mark where restorers had discovered the graves of previous monks. There’s a strange little face on an arch that appears to be howling in pain, which people call the face of punishment, or something like that, and is said to possibly a self-portrait of the architect.  There are some of the earliest depictions of Adam and Eve (both before and after their expulsion)  at the top of some pilasters.  Quite unexpectedly, there are also two sarcophagi covered with supine burial sculptures of the Duke and Duchess of Argyle, who did a great deal to help restore the church, and paid people in food to build walls along the only road in Iona to help keep people from starving to death during the potato blight of 1846-7.  For their generosity they are, to this day, very well-loved across the country.  I was shocked to find that their sculptures are carved out of Carrara marble, the most sought-after sculpture marble in the world, both ancient and present. Both sculptures are expertly carved, with fine detail on the clothing; the Duke’s collar is so thin that it’s translucent. The art historian in me was desperate to get a closer look, but keeping people out of arms reach had perfectly preserved them thus far; I had to be satisfied with their pristine condition, and hope to find a book on the sarcophagi with lots of pictures.

The adjoining courtyard had secured to its inner walls the tombstone coverings of various old “Mc” families, all decorated with a relief carving of an intricate pattern in the Gaelic style.  My favorite ones had swords.

fluffy, friendly, filthy

The gift shop held nothing of interest except a few books and post cards with local wildlife on them.  I’m pretty bummed I didn’t get to see an otter today, but we did get to see a white tipped (tailed?) eagle circling way above us, and a red deer stopped in a field not far away, listening for something in the opposite direction, expertly ignoring us.  On the way back to the ferry from Iona to Mull, I saw a woman talking to a sheep and petting it through a fence while her husband chuckled and her son looked mortified.  I said, “Making friends?”  She told me about her love for sheep, while her teenage son chimed in here and there: “Yeah, she’s got a thing for sheep.  It’s weird.”  I asked if she wanted a photo with one, since it was so friendly, and instead she got her son to take a photo of me with the sheep. Score!

he looked like a sleepy little fox

On the ferry back home, I intentionally sat next to a couple with a very cute dog with a fondness for potato chips, who played with me by pretending to attack my hand, then made a real effort of jumping up onto the seat next to me and promptly fell asleep.

Finally back home, I forced myself to walk past the fish and chip place that I’d eaten at both days before, and went to a neighboring pub for dinner instead.  I nearly choked on the steak pie, mashed potatoes and peas; they were so tasty and I was starved (I’d only nibbled on half a scone on Iona for fear it would come right back up on the bus).  I washed it all down with an unremarkable half-pint of the local amber, and started a leisurely walk around the bay and up the hill towards home.

my favorite one-pound coin, and my favorite French detective

And here I sit, exhausted and full of meat and potatoes with a half-eaten cheese scone and a pair of sadly unused mittens in my bag.  I’ve put in another DVD, this time it’s Hercule Poirot, a favorite of Boyfriend’s and mine, and something I used to watch with my mom all the time. I can’t wait to finish writing this and start watching, then go to sleep in my soft, warm bed.

I can already feel myself starting to pointlessly stress about tomorrow’s travel arrangements.  But I have my train ticket to Glasgow, and it doesn’t leave until 1215, which gives me plenty of time to grab some oysters at that little green shack, enjoy the view for the last time, and grab a good seat next to a window.  I can’t believe I’m going to see Scottish Friend tomorrow!  So exciting!  And then I’m back to Dublin for a day (maybe I’ll go visit that castle in Swords), sleep at the hotel near the airport, and then home.  I’m getting excited to go home, to see my roommates, to sleep in on the weekend, to stop worrying about how I’ll get from here to there.  Traveling is fun but mentally and physically exhausting.  And then grad school starts Monday!  Gah!

Standard