goodness, life

International friendships

Remember that Japanese woman I befriended, who came to the pumpkin carving with her husband and friend?  Well.  She brought me a little gift (box of weird Japanese candy, lol so sweet), and just sent me an email that I have to put up here.

Hi Ms. Tigerlilytoph,

How are you? 
I’m sorry for late thank you. 
We had so much fun at Halloween Carving Party. Especially my friend enjoyed a lot. When she left here, I asked her ” what was the most enjoyable event for you?” she said ” I enjoyed Pumpkin Carving  the best.”
She was so satisfied with the memorable experience. Of course, my husband and I enjoyed a lot. 
On Oct. 30th, my family came to LA and they were so surprised to see pumpkins we carved. That was the first time in their life to see it.
I was so glad I could show them one aspect of the American Halloween.
Thank you so much for giving us a great memory.

Thank you.

Such kindness.  I wish I could have spent more time with her at the party.
Naturally I asked her what she was doing for Thanksgiving.  The pumpkin carving was crowded but otherwise pretty chill.  I’m trying to picture this woman and her husband surrounded by my giant Italian family.  We shall see…

P.S. This is my third (fourth?) post about friendship in the last week.  I can’t begin to say how pleased I am that this is what my life looks like right now.  I just have a good feeling all the time.

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goodness, life, martial arts, school

The rapid-fire beauty of October

This past October was insanely busy.  I wanted so badly to write a post about the pumpkin carving and all the pumpkin-themed food and drink I’ve been making and enjoying, and all the awesome friendships that have been developing for me lately.  October was amazing, actually.

I invited a ton of people to the pumpkin carving and got about 50 people, including a bunch of foreign students who had never experienced Halloween pumpkin carving shenanigans of any kind.  Success!  Their pumpkins were awesome!  There was one Japanese woman who I befriended when she got lost on campus looking for her husband’s law school orientation who came to carve with her husband and a friend in tow.  They were amazed by the others’ pumpkins, and when I mentioned that I knew what sugoi means (amazing) due to watching so much anime, that’s all they could say, lol.  There were a bunch of different circles of friends there, and they all mingled well (although whenever my family comes, they tend to sequester themselves in the kitchen, which they did this time too… *sigh*).

the results of a successful visit to the pumpkin patch

the results of a successful visit to the pumpkin patch

The party was fantastic.  I made a huge pot of pumpkin drink and left it on the stove for people to enjoy.  It was empty by the end of the night.  There were two dozen carved pumpkins in all, I can’t believe I didn’t get any photos!  I was sick and too busy hosting and enjoying everyone’s company.  Of course there were a couple board games going on at once (Zombicide and Betrayal at House on the Hill).  A bunch of my friends from the dojo came and played Betrayal (and beat the haunt by cheating, lol).  It’s so great to hang out with them outside of the dojo, and apparently this is a new development.  Once most of them had left, Dojo Happa and I stood around chatting by the front door while a large group played Cards Against Humanity on the floor next to the piano.  We were chatting about how nice it is to see everyone outside the dojo, and he said, “Yeah, it’s awesome, we didn’t use to do that.  It’s because of you.  Oppa Sensei didn’t used to come out like this, now he comes to everything.  He was at the pumpkin patch, he came out tonight, he comes out to eat with us.  He’s not doing that to see me, it’s you!”  We laughed about my tendency to bring people together and make people laugh.  He seemed really appreciative, and it’s so nice to hear in so many words what I try so hard to do.  I really enjoy their company.  One of them (Senior Ecuador) invited a group of us to his parents’ house in the valley after the pumpkin patch to have a late lunch/early dinner of mostly Ecuadorian food with his folks, who could not have been nicer.  Earlier in the month, I had him over to get drunk and watch Hansel & Gretel, which wasn’t actually as bad as we expected.  He and Boyfriend actually kinda liked it, but they’re idiots, it was total trash 🙂

The founder of the martial arts style I’m studying now (Kaiso) had his 65th birthday party mid-month, and although it was expensive, it was a really fun time to see everyone dressed up and happy.  We had sushi and really good shabu shabu, and some amazing cake and green tea ice cream (which I got totally busted for scarfing down before we all had to leave in a rush to walk Kaiso to the valet and see him safely off).

I had a bunch of presentations and projects due within the last two weeks of the month, which coincided perfectly with the huge event my office hosts every year where thousands of people visit campus to participate in our programming, so that was pretty stressful, but I’m either getting awesome at handling stress, or getting better at handling my work load because October wasn’t nearly as emotionally/mentally draining as I thought it would be (though it felt super rushed all the time).  Also I was sick for the first time since I quit Karate Job.  Worst.  Timing.  Ever.

So... something to shoot for at next year's pumpkin carving

So… something to shoot for at next year’s pumpkin carving

A couple days after the pumpkin carving party, I went to a Danny Elfman Concert with Diminutive Friend and German Friend, which was amazing.  Although I’m not a huge fan of concerts, since there’s not much to come away with other than the music, which I already have access to and enjoy whenever I want.  Still, it was Danny Elfman’s first concert in something like two decades, so it was very exciting.  Loads of people in the crowd dressed up in what can only be described as a hodgepodge of steampunk, goth, circus, Halloween gear, and they all looked great.  And I kinda lost my shit when Danny Elfman came out and sang, “There are few who deny at what I do I am the best, for my talents are renowned far and wide…”  I knew he would sing that first!  And not just because it’s Jack’s first song in Nightmare Before Christmas, but because those lyrics are perfect for a comeback concert!

Then a couple days after that was Halloween!  I gave a presentation for one of my classes (in full costume, of course-Ren Faire gear this year), then zoomed downtown to an old professor’s class to defend my work (which he loved so much, he’s been using it as an example for current and future classes) and ended up giving my final presentation from his class all over again.  The students asked some really good questions, and I even managed to quote from the article he drew from most and essentially based the class upon, and I cited the page number of the quote.  So yeah, I’m a fucking amazing academic, thanks for asking.

Afterward he and I went out for a drink and chatted for a couple hours about my life, what I’ve been doing, what I will do, and why I’m not staying in academia (he wants me to so badly).  Midway through our time at the bar, I thought, “This is what it must be like to have a mentor.  Someone who knows the framework of your life, and what you’re capable of, and then looks you in the eye and demands that you go further and continue to challenge your self.  This is amazing.”  It was also super intimidating, but he was satisfied at the end of the conversation that I was getting enough stimulation (I convinced him my friends are all geniuses who don’t get drunk for fun, and that Boyfriend has a great sense of humor and is fully capable of keeping up with me), and that my selflessness might not be such a crutch after all (“So explain this to me: You have this sense of giving, this selfless streak coursing through you, but your’e American, and Americans are selfish, so how does that work?  Where did that come from?”  We had a good laugh about that, but he was mostly serious).  I invited him to come see the beehive some time soon, and he seemed enthused.  He’s also stoked to write me a letter of recommendation, and he’s super fun to hang out with, so overall I’m feeling pretty lucky to have encountered him in my life.  We walked by the Mayan on the way back from the bar, and he seemed particularly tickled when I fist-bumped some guy dressed as Deadpool (and Deadpool enjoyed being recognized, of course).  Overall an amazing evening.

And now it’s November and I can finally relax.  I’m feeling less sick every day, I only have a couple more projects to do for school, there’s nothing crazy going on at work (aside from the non-existent job security, bleh), and Boyfriend’s three closest friends are randomly flying into town for four days toward the end of the month for no reason other than to bug him and have fun together.  They’re great people, I can’t wait to see them and watch Boyfriend disappear for a few days into that tight circle of friendship and love.

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goodness

Halloween time!

what a cutie

It’s almost October (the best month), which means it’s almost Halloween (the best holiday)!  I’m pretty excited.  I’m hosting a pumpkin carving and game night at my place, the house where I’m living in sin with Boyfriend (it’s been awesome so far).  Speaking of whom, Boyfriend never dresses up for Halloween.  What a jerk.  Honestly.  So this year I thought of a great costume idea for him, and he’s on board!  He’s going to be a hipster.

We live in Silverlake, and we go to this great pho place nearby that’s like hipster flypaper.  It’s really fun to people-watch.  So he’s gonna wear his tightest pants, a loose v-neck shirt, pointless large-rimmed glasses, and one of my scarves.  I’m going to draw some ironic wolf/YOLO tattos on his arms, and maybe a feather on his neck or behind his ear.  Should be an easy, hilarious costume that he’ll be comfortable in, and our friends will enjoy.  He’ll probably change out of half of it before the end of the night, but who cares!  It’s still progress.

Meanwhile, I’ll be dressing as a lady!!  I’m wearing my Renaissance Faire costume, which I love, and I bet my Ren Faire buddies will wear theirs, too.  I’m wearing it to work too, and if my boss doesn’t like it she can just suck it.  Halloween is for dressing up.  So there.

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badness, goodness

I’m turning ingredients into food!

how could it possibly be that bright orange color? did i forget to add the unicorn shit?

I’ve never really tried to cook anything ambitious, so imagine my surprise when I made a soup from scratch the other day and it turned out crazy delicious.  It’s a butternut squash, corn and lemongrass soup, and it’s not difficult (assuming you have something that can puree soft vegetables).  Sister’s really big on healthy food right now, and she loves vegetables (apparently, who knew?), so she went nuts on this soup, which pleased me to no end.  It’s also really pretty, and super healthy.  My first soup made from scratch: Win!

After this one success, I thought to myself, “Self, you can cook anything!  Let’s make something else!”  At which point I started to fail.

Goal: make a delicious pumpkin-themed drink for my pumpkin carving Halloween party next month.  I landed on something called Pumpkin Cider. (see picture)

Actual outcome: brown, slimy, over-flavored, alcoholic muck I was reticent to pour down the drain for fear of angering it. (see picture)

I got all the ingredients together, and read the comments on the website (one person actually complained about it being too thick, but didn’t seem to follow the recipe).  I followed all the instructions, except for the one that said to add the spiced rum after the whole concoction had simmered on the stove for 20 minutes.  That batch quickly turned the consistency of snot, and was unceremoniously thrown out.  I added everything in the right order the second time, and the result was… totally overwhelmingly unpleasant.  It was a combination of things I love (pumpkin flavor, spiced rum, home made whipped cream, pumpkin pie spice, apple cider) that combined to create some kind of diarrhea-colored dream-killer.

Naturally I had boyfriend try it first.  He said something very kind and diplomatic like, “…I wasn’t expecting that flavor.  Let me try it again.”  Then he stopped trying it and said, “It doesn’t know what it wants to be.”  I could not agree more.  Epic Halloween drink fail.

win!

Then I got kinda depressed.  I really wanted this to work out.  I really want a cute little treat for my friends when they come to carve pumpkins and play spooky games!  The pouting went on for a good 24 hours, but I wasn’t about to give up because FUCK THAT.  I LOVE Halloween.  I was going to create something delicious for my friends for my favorite holiday, and they were going to love it, dammit.

So I tried again, this time with something called Liquid Pumpkin Pie.  It used a milk base and significantly less canned pumpkin, which was already a good sign that my ineptitude as a cook would not be manifested a second time in the form of some kind of brown sludge and disappointment.

To my utter surprise, it turned out fantastic. (see picture)  Boyfriend tried it, and nodded furiously with huge eyes, then asked for a mug of it to drink while playing WoW (pandas, ugh).  It even remotely resembled the recipe photo.  Success!

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goodness, humor

Quest complete

I’m hosting a game night tomorrow night with my two roommates (Diminutive Roommate and Teacher Roommate), Treehouse Friend and Artist Friend (who have been dating for a couple of years, and would have very pretty children if they were so inclined), Office Job Friend, Stunt Sensei Friend, and White Boy Kung Fu Friend.  We decided to also include pumpkin carving!  To the pumpkin patch!

success!

Actually, we couldn’t go to a pumpkin patch because Diminutive Roommate and I couldn’t get off work in time to go to one, but the local super markets did not disappoint.  Diminutive Roommate has a very distinct idea of what she wants, and requires a tall, long pumpkin for her vision, which took some sweaty digging, but omg worth it.

In case you hadn’t heard, I love pumpkins.  Frankly, I’m having trouble picturing a better-stocked shopping cart.  Perhaps if there was a kitten.

disembodied and ADORABLE

There we are.

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goodness, uncategorized

I <3 pumpkins

look at 'em all, just waiting for a hug

Of the few things that have my undying (if inexplicable) love, pumpkins are near the top.  They’re just the best.  I love picking them up and feeling how surprisingly heavy they are.  I love putting my ear against them and knocking to hear that deep, hollow donk donk.  I love feeling the little bumps and imperfections on their skin, and examining them for inconsistencies of color so I know which side sat on the ground while the rest took on sunlight to turn that warm, sometimes dusty, sometimes vibrant shade of orange.  No two are exactly alike.  Pumpkins might be the friendliest squash/plant/food/inanimate object on the planet.  I want to hug them all.  I want to touch them and make faces.  Want to live on a pumpkin patch, eat pumpkin pie, and name all the pumpkins everywhere for the rest of my life.  October is my favorite month, Halloween is my favorite holiday, pumpkins are my favorite everything else (sorry Boyfriend).

you can hear the pumpkins smiling

So HOW DID I NOT KNOW ABOUT PUMPKIN PANCAKES?!!  I’ve completely dropped the ball here.  There are so many ways to enjoy pumpkins (mostly by eating them).  Time to investigate!

INVESTIGATION SUCCESSFUL!!  Holy shit, look at all the pumpkin recipes out there!  I might actually have to learn how to cook shit, because some of these sound amazing:

Pumpkin Cheesecake– I don’t see how this could possibly go wrong.

Pumpkin Chili– This might be for believers only.

Creamy Pumpkin Soup– This is a no-brainer.  If butternut squash can be made into soup…

Pumpkin Stew– Get this: you put the soup ingredients in the hollowed-out pumpkin, and bake the whole thing for two hours.  Then you serve it in the pumpkin, which would presumably then smile at you throughout the meal for being such a mad genius, and turning its body into an edible cauldron.  WIN.

hey look, it's me!

Grilled Pumpkin– So simple!  Why didn’t I think of this?!

Pumpkin Beer– Ok, so I’ve tried this, and it was gross, but I have faith that out there somewhere is a delicious version of the funk-in-a-bottle I experienced.

Fried Pumpkin Blossoms– Eating the flowers before they get a chance to become pumpkins?  Ludicrous!  (but now I want to try it)

Pumpkin Cornbread– Ok well no shit this would be fucking delicious.  It would just be a happier version of scrumptious cornbread.

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