Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Japan and Vietnamese Sandwiches

Yes, I realize the only thing that relates those two items is the continent of Asia, which is pretty freakin' large and barely a connecting force.

Japan and Globe-Crossing Girls.

Hello! It's Tuesday, and I leave for Japan in eight days. I have been freaking out about this trip, at least until I found some blogs about Round The World (RTW) trips, especially this amazing girl's blog, and realized that comparatively, my trip is pretty small potatoes. We're going to Japan for twelve days, all the hotels and airfare are booked, I'm traveling with two people AND I have a few contacts in the region. This is a walk in the park compared to, say, an overland trip through Mongolia.

Luxury, Discomfort, and Buckminster Fuller.
I'm reading Tim Ferriss' book The Four-Hour Work Week, which I'm not even going to bother linking to because its everywhere, and it's fascinating--not just for Tim Ferriss' unique point of view and his language structure, which at times reminds me of R. Buckminster Fuller--but also for its use of quotes. Either Mr. Ferriss has done some extensive reading or his editor has, because there are some amazing quotes in there that I have never heard before. A key one is attributed to Jean Cocteau, which I can't find online and can't remember word for word, but it's about how luxury is only within the reach of those who are not afraid of discomfort. I need to print this quote out and glue it on the insides of my eyelids, so I can read it every time I blink. I need to remind myself that a little food and water is all a body really needs. If I'm cold, or damp, or annoyed, or poorer than I'd like, a little discomfort is surely not going to break me. I can refrain from whining or taking it out on those around me, I'm an adult and a citizen of the world. I can do better.

Hopefully I can remember this lofty goal during my trip to Japan with a couple who lives quite frugally and seems to have completely eliminated their tendency to whine. I've never seen the house less than sparkling clean--floors polished and everything--and they are both Serious Career People. It's not like they just sit on their butts at home. On the weekends they clean out their garage and basement--and they enjoy it. Much like the LT, who rushes home and fixes my microwave, saws out my lampshades so they fit non-standard 1940s-style light fixtures, and eagerly tackles bike maintenance, they have the innate ability to LOVE the chores they do, instead of only doing what they think they will love. This has been my big resolution for 2008--to convince myself to LOVE CHORES. So far I can bring myself to enjoy cleaning my kitchen. Still on the list: laundry, sweeping, vacuuming, and purging. Still some ways to go.

Speaking of Purging
Up until now I've collected socks. I can never remember to bring them places, so I end up stealing socks from my roommates, (Hi Noey! Still have a pair of your frog socks!), friends, relatives, and even boyfriends.) I had two plastic bins taking up the bottom of some wire shelving, one for white socks and one for colors, and they were both filled to the brim with mismatched socks, most of them not in pairs. It was seriously becoming an issue. And yet I couldn't throw them out, even the ratty ones. I thought, "Those socks aren't mine to throw out", or "That's a waste of good socks." Yesterday I finally thought, "Why the hell am I treating about five dollars worth of mismatched socks with such reverence?" and performed a sock purge! I now have ONLY pairs of sock that I will USE, no mismatches, no extra socks. It's hard to convey how exciting this is.

Titan Update
Titan has a new girlfriend. She lives across the hall, her parents and I are sharing dog-sitting duties, and they treat the dogs so much better than I do that Titan PULLS on the leash, trying to get to their apartment, every time we go for a walk. I would be way more hurt if I wasn't so happy that he's getting emotional support and stimulation from all different places. When I go to Japan, for those who are curious, he'll be at The Hotel Fory, aka my grandmother's house. Two weeks of dog sitting would be a lot to ask from a couple I barely know, and my grandmother likes having him over.

Final Japan Note

I bought several things for my Japan trip, in the midst of the freaking out (note that I haven't actually cracked a single Japan GUIDE yet, because buying things is easier than reading). Things I've bought include: two pairs of easy-wash, easy dry underwear, two sports bras and two tanks of the same material, and a water-proof, wind-proof, breathable jacket that can fold up tiny. I plan to wear my jeans, take a few light pairs of pants and a skirt or two, and maybe a nice shirt--and that's it. A few toiletries, including the special face cream, but I've managed to wean my hair down to weekly washings with the help of dry shampoo, which I plan to take.

A word on shoes: I'm not sure what kinds of shoes I'll take. I have a pair of nice round-toe flats that I plan on wearing, and of course a pair of slick tennis shoes. (This, however, requires socks.) Should I take a dress pair? Discuss.

Friday, April 25, 2008


Dear Blog, I hate nosebleeds. Not the occasional bloody snot--that happens--but the huge, fire-hose type nosebleeds, the kind that tie you to a sink or tub, anywhere that can be cleaned easily, You sit there, holding your nose, as your life force drips out of you, huge drip by huge drip. You count drips. You count sheep. Your fingers begin to cramp. You pray for time to pass more quickly.

Nosebleeds, whenever they happen, are always at the MOST inconvenient time ever. Your nose never starts to bleed when you're sitting in front of your computer, bored. They start when you're in the shower, late for a date already, and then forced to stand in your bathroom for an hour while your nose takes its sweet time clotting. I once got one in a very dark bar with black napkins, which means that no one noticed, not even me--I just assumed my nose was running--as I was dabbing my nose, until I happened to look at T-Town and her eyes were the size of saucers. "You have blood all over your face," she said quietly. Making a discreet exit to the bathroom is difficult under these circumstances. More difficult, though, is stopping a nosebleed when your blood is as thin as water after a couple of drinks. Forty-five minutes later, T-Town came to check on me and as she opened the door, another patron walked by and turned to look at the blood-soaked bathroom in horror. "I'm not a coke whore," I said, trying to allay suspicion. Shockingly, though, mentioning the words "coke whore" to a random stranger is NOT the way to reassure them.

I got a monster one while I was moving two years ago, and I just had one today. I sat at the sink and hoped I wouldn't run out of toilet paper, because I wouldn't be able to go to the linen closet and get more. My mother is susceptible to them as well, although it's different for her--lighter, more frequent. Me, I have no idea why they happen. Stress? I'm not really under stress, and I had an easy, if weird, day. My bank teller hit on me and gave me his card, and the guy at the diner gave me free breakfast. Not a difficult day. And yet, the nosebleed.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


Everyone, oh my god, oh my god. In a burst of creativity, I submitted my house to Apartment Therapy's Small, Cool House contest, and they have decided to accept my submission! CHECK ME OUT! No, seriously, check me out RIGHT HERE, and vote for me, early and often!! (Although I'm pretty sure their voting procedures discourage repeat voting.) But seriously, do it NOW, because I only have THREE DAYS TO WIN THE CONTEST. NOW. Go vote NOW. Even Titan will be voting! Run!

Monday, April 14, 2008

A Reminder of Why it's Good to Tread Lightly Upon the Earth

Everyone who is trying to better their behavior in some way needs some reminders, from time to time, as to why in the hell they are torturing themselves in this godforsaken way. In my case, the long and never-ending battle between me and my money received a nice shot in the arm when I learned that my credit score is 714. I was happy I'd spent all that time running when I learned that my blood pressure is now 110/70. Things like that.

Another one of these things happened to me today as I was walking back from the local Starbucks with my reusable mug filled with coffee. When I had first walked out the door, I realized I had forgotten it, and then I made myself go back and get it. And I walked to Starbucks with the pooch and what have you. And then as I was circling around the block, avoiding the construction so I could have more of a Zen moment as I walked, I realized that something else was circling above me. Hmmm, my thoughts ran. That noisy flock of birds is sure upset about something HOLY CRAP THERE IS A BALD EAGLE ABOVE MY APARTMENT.

And indeed there was. He (or possibly she) was rising higher and higher on the thermals as I caught sight of her, and I just caught glimpses of the white tail and head before she got WAY too far up for me to see much of anything. Once she did that, of course, the smaller birds dive-bombing her dropped away and she was left to soar in peace. I gaped after her, awestruck. Birds of prey are relatively common in this area--it's not unusual to see a hawk or two, and I hear we have peregrine falcons as well. And there's quite a few large birds on our bodies of water--my favorite is the great blue heron, which is so huge that if one sits on a bank with its head under its wing, you mistake them for a very large boulder until they move.

Still, a bald eagle! Awesome!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Starbucks: Love.

Okay, small coffeeshops, blah blah, Starbucks burns their coffee beans, blah blah. I get it. But they have this amazing DEAL happening. (And Starbucks almost NEVER has deals.)

You're going to Starbucks. You're getting your fancy latte. And then the nice lady behind the counter informs you that you can get a free flavor and milk option on your fancy latte. Yes, you can have all flavors and milk options FOR FREE. If you buy a Starbucks card. And THEN, if you go register said Starbucks card, and you buy coffee with it from now on, you'll ALWAYS get free flavors and milk options, FOREVER.

My soy cinnamon dolce latte cost me 3.34. I can't remember the last time any drink at Starbucks has cost me less than five dollars. I can't believe they are doing this, and as a side note, they've gone back to their classic brown siren cups, with the totally sexy 70's siren, and what I am trying to say is that Starbucks has totally gone off its meds and you must take advantage of them, right now.

Friday, April 04, 2008

I Spent Three Hours Without A Cell Phone And SURVIVED.

Yes, I know. I can't believe it either.

Happy Friday to everyone! I think I've learned the art of going to salsa without ruining my entire Friday: Stick to one glass of wine. (You think I would have learned this in the five sessions I've had. But no.) Previous Fridays, I have woken up feeling run over by a truck. Today, I woke up cheerfully at 7 o'clock, attended a teleconference, went to two doctor's appointments, bought a piroshky, went to the bank, bought some bus tickets, got quarters for bus and laundry, and walked home. Hooray! (Actually, I hoofed it TO the doctor's appointments, too--I was about three minutes late. Dammit.)

Somewhere in there, though--a combination of coming home at 1 am last night and waking up early this morning and packing my bag for my Day Of Medicine--I forgot to charge either phone. And right as I arrived at my first appointment and tried to check the time, they...died. I spent the next three hours with just my book and myself, no way to call people or know what time it was, hence why I showed up an hour early for my NEXT doctor's appointment after refreshing myself with Starbucks.

Regardless, it was an enjoyable experience, made much more enjoyable by the fact that I don't have to do it again for another year, hallelujah. (For those who care, I'm finally seeing a dermatologist, and I had the Annual Thing coming up, so I scheduled them on the same day since both places are on Pill Hill, within about twenty feet of each other.)

And the most exciting news of the day: my blood pressure is way down, 110/70! Woo! Who knew regular exercise was good for you?

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Google: Love.

Who can't love a company that write such elaborate April Fool's Jokes?


Custom Time! I LOVE IT!

Splendid Debaucherous Nonsense

I really thought I was too old for this, but I have since changed this opinion: you’re never too old to make a fool of yourself on a night of debauchery.

You’re CERTAINLY never too old to make a fool of yourself, but you are also never too old to party like a rockstar; it’s just that you eventually get too old to look good while doing it. In fact, you begin to look ridiculous. But if that doesn’t bother you, then who cares?

On a recent night—and thank Blog these are becoming few and far between—a birthday party that started out tame ended up with a huge dramatic fight between the birthday boy and his fiancĂ©. I got hit on by a pair of quite successful looking lesbians in a Farhenheit GTI, T-Town (an ever-present help in times of trouble) and I bought bottles of champagne at a 7-11, and the Fiance, T-Town, and I successfully ditched some old high school friends by jumping secretly into a cab. At which point we went to my house and drank terrible champagne until 4:30 in the morning. (The next day, the LT said to me, “Didn’t you learn your lesson at the PREVIOUS champagne party?”)

In an amazing sequence of events, I turned out the best for wear and T-Town and I collaborated on breakfast on a fairly reasonable hour (pre-noon), meaning that we didn’t have the added guilt of ruining the whole NEXT day, something I hate. After getting a few things done around the house, I went to VegFest (which I forgot to go to last year when I was ACTUALLY vegan) and joined the Vegetarians of Washington, striking fear into the heart of the LT but to make up for it, receiving a huge bag of goodies from PCC Natural Market and others. At the end of the day, LT and I caught a showing of Stop-Loss, an excellent movie that everyone should see eventually, although you’re allowed to wait until it comes out on video. Powerful, but not too heavy, and well-paced; slow enough to allow the characters to develop like older movies, not like a typical MTV movie. It reminded me of some of the movies shot at the time of the Vietnam War, both about that war and about previous wars, although the pace wasn’t quite as slow as theirs.

A problem about debaucherous nights, though: They’re EXPENSIVE! My goal was to fund Japan entirely with ready cash, and I budgeted about $2400 for this. I may be a little short.

UPDATE: I have a personal fund progress bar up for my Japan Fund. And a little more money talk coming soon.