10 things on a Monday

Post format blatantly copied from one of my favorite Mormon family blogs, the aptly named Dripping with Passion.

un
Always eat what gets soggiest fastest first. I don’t know. I just woke up one day years ago with this sentence repeating in my mind. It has a nice sound to it. But also, it’s true. If you leave it for later then it gets… soggier than the other stuff that you did eat first! Okay.

deux
It will fit better if you lose weight. This wasn’t always true, but now that oversized things are an acceptable fashion concept (think of robe jackets, boyfriend jeans, loose shirts and hoodies), it’s true now. I remind myself of this whenever I decide I can’t live without some piece that looks awkward on me.

trois
I find things worth buying if and only if I haven’t picked up a basket/cart at the entrance.

quatre
(Corollary to 3) I find things worth photographing mainly when I don’t have anything to take pictures with.

cinq
A good reason I have found to reject solipsism is that I couldn’t possibly make up so many other people that cause a low level of annoyance everywhere I go. There’s at least one other mind that is out there trolling the hell out of me. Or, alas, all of these thoroughly objectionable others actually exist.

six
I recently discovered the following quote:

Imagination is the real and eternal world of which this vegetable universe is but a faint shadow.

— William Blake

The phrase “vegetable universe” made me laugh, but it’s probably unfair to vegetables. You know, the theme that they’re ineffectual, etc. Sort of related to (5), this view is similar to Kant’s objection to the ontological argument for the existence of God. Are real things really greater than imaginary things? My argument against isn’t fancy at all. I don’t bother to imagine the petty annoyances of everyday existence that would mar the perfection of an utterly perfect being.

sept
Exciting things pile up on top of each other. Most of the time my schedule is so empty that tumbleweeds roll through. Then, once in a while, I’ll get invited to 3 things I really want to do … all on the same evening. Not any special date, either. Just a random Friday in October.

huit
I may have agreed to cook for 20 people over a long weekend. Not from my own kitchen. This is giving me anxiety. I’ve never done this before, besides my failed audition to be a cook during co-op job assignment week. Wish me luck and send me recipes that little engineer hipsters would like.

neuf
I am that person who makes eye contact with your dog and breaks out in a manic smile. (And maybe produces some small excited squeak). I don’t care about babies and children, but dogs? Especially large dogs? Yes, please! I hope dog owners don’t find it too disturbing. My boyfriend said that I should stop because people think I want to eat their dogs. I guess this means I make the same face for “You are adorable, let me pet you!” and “You look delicious, let me devour you!”

dix
I have a teenaged half-sister who I’ve never met. But we’re friends on Facebook. She posted the following quote on her wall:

Love is so short, forgetting is so long.

— Pablo Neruda

I don’t know whether to be proud or to shake her and say “No, child. Don’t be like me.”

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Portland

I went to Portland a few weeks ago for no good reason. These are donuts from Blue Star: I only loved the lilikoi. The Mexican chocolate had spices that recalled Taiwanese beef noodle soup. Disturbing. I was going to share more food pictures, but what I ate wasn’t so much pretty as tasty. Fish sauce is popular on the food scene right now. Also, one ice cream place was having its yearly Halloween flavor specials. I sampled one with crickets and mealworms. It tasted okay, but left that gritty texture of bug bits in my mouth.

There was a theme of food windows. I saw a waffle window, a fish & chips window, and this man was performing his salesmanship out this bagel window around the corner from Voodoo Donuts. He told me about his giant 14 oz bagels. “Yeah me and my buddies were high and we thought, why not just make one BIG bagel? So we did.” Is there anything more Portland than that origin story?

We saw some art, but didn’t seek it.

We did drive an hour or so out of the way to see nature things. It mostly reminded me of Twilight though.

This was the view from Pittock Mansion on an inappropriately sunny Saturday.

Not pictured: the flight of local honey, 6 bars of chocolate, unbearably pretentious box of Earl Grey, 5 bottles of wine, artisan-hand-made blackberry sage soap, and bag of asiago black pepper puffs I got from the airport courtesy of my priority pass from CSR. Thank you Chase Bank, my closest friend*.

*by metric of frequency and volume of texts

I am another you

I went to see this film curious how it would compare to “Into the Wild.” You know the trite sayings like “Not all who wander are lost”? I have been looking for someone who chooses this life and also, well, isn’t lost. Hint: I still haven’t found that story.

Director Nanfu Wang is curious about the same, and follows Dylan, who she thinks may be that ideal. She discovers that the story is more complicated, and Dylan himself eventually admits that he didn’t really have a choice about his lifestyle.

Based on the trailer, I thought Dylan would be a criminal mastermind. There’s a snippet of a SWAT team breaking down a door. The mundane explanation is that Dylan’s father is a detective and the SWAT team had nothing to do with him.

Still, the director asks interesting questions. Like, “why are people so generous to Dylan, but not to other homeless people?” Is it because he’s attractive and personable? Or could it have something to do with his having chosen the life? She asks herself if she is exploiting him. She asks and answers whether his choice to live on the streets is a result of his family life.

In the end, this movie is about the romance of something that may not exist*: the person who truly chooses this life for themselves in a clear-eyed and thoughtful way. That person isn’t Dylan, at least.

* Yes, I still need to read Walden. It’s probably the closest I’ll find.

How to make the best of the friendzone

Personally, I am a proponent of the friendzone. This isn’t because (as one rant in my inbox once claimed) the friendzone is a place girls never find themselves. I’ve written an entire post about its delights. But first, we need to give it a more dignified name. Because calling it the “friendzone” denigrates friendship. It implies that person you want to be in a relationship with isn’t worth being friends with. In that case, what you’re looking for is more like a craigslist casual sex encounter.

I prefer to call it unrequited love. So, preliminaries complete, how do we make the most of it?

Ask Dante. Renowned Florentine poet Dante Alighieri credits his life’s work to being inspired by the one great unrequited love of his life: Beatrice Portinari. He passed her in the street when he was 8. Then several years later, it happened again, and that time she greeted him. That was it. That was the sum total of their interaction. Sure, if she loved you back you might get to have sex and post pics of your shared Sunday brunch to Instagram, but would you have time (and the emotional angst) to be one of history’s greatest poets? I think not.

Friendships last longer. Perhaps the object of your affection claims it would never work out romantically between you. But is he interesting? Isn’t it so terribly hard to find interesting people in your life? If you remain friends with him, you will have an interesting friend for (let’s face it) longer than your relationship would’ve lasted anyway.

See it from the other point of view. Maybe she doesn’t love you back. Maybe she can’t love because the past damage was too much. She’ll find your feelings exhausting, so spare her. Remember what Oscar Wilde said: “There is always something ridiculous about the emotions of people whom one has ceased to love.” It’s that much worse if they never loved you in the first place. Confess one time, if you must. After, assume your words would be abhorrent.

Do not try to push it. Please don’t read stories about people who made it out of the friend zone by being flirty. This is obnoxious, desperate behavior that tells the other person “I don’t care what you’ve told me about your own (lack of) feelings, I’m pushing my agenda anyway because it’s what I want.” Doing this will probably make them a little ill. It’s offensive. Where will you be then? Down one interesting friend, and requiring that craigslist casual encounters section to satisfy your other needs anyway.

Don’t think of it as a transaction. This is a common refrain from those who complain about the friendzone. They say it’s a place of “wasted energies, unmet expectation and disappointment.” Feelings like these are a result of transactional thinking. “I listened to him go on about his bad day, now he owes me sex.” No! If he’s not interesting enough that you would gladly listen to him go on about lying on the floor and listening to The Smiths “Unloveable” because he had such a rough day, then just don’t talk to him. Problem solved. If it is transactional in your mind, then be clear about your terms. You don’t go into a business transaction giving the other side what they want and hoping that they reciprocate by giving you what you want, do you? You negotiate. You draw up a contract. The terms are clear to both sides. If you don’t want to negotiate, then only do those things that you would do with pleasure either way, with no promise of anything in return.

There. I hope that helps. Feel free to ask any questions, and I’ll do my best to answer.

Aria, Bach’s Goldberg Variations

I have been told too many times that I should have goals. This started with a warning from a high school teacher who was convinced that I would never find a direction and I’d just “spin.” She wasn’t wrong.

I am not good at having goals because examples I have heard have made me unspeakably sad. Career goals, marriage? Having a house? Having X dollars in my retirement account? Is there really nothing more to life? Then there are contrived goals, like traveling to every single country. Those don’t appeal either. Again, the pointlessness is depressing. Who knew goals were so maudlin?

I’ve found an acceptable goal for now: learn how to play the Aria from Bach’s Goldberg Variations. Ideally, I’ll be able to play it more or less like Glenn Gould, minus the moaning.

Don’t let the tempo deceive you. This piece is not easy. I was trained in classical piano for nine years, and I’ve never played a song that felt this vulnerable. You can’t fudge a note, casually slide past in a hurry, speed up or slow down at will, use the pedal to hide. None of it. And the ending invites speeding because the climax is so exquisite you just want to get there faster.

I’m also reading Grit. Maybe that’s why I thought having a goal would be good. We’ll see.

The wrong way to blog

(hint: it’s how I blog)

I once read a helpful article by an established and successful blogger (I forget which one now) about how to blog. It was a list of advice for beginners. For whatever perverse reason, I didn’t take any of the advice. Whether from some misguided sense that I’m sui generis or just an inability to think of how to do some of it, I’ve pretty much failed.

This post will serve as a post-mortem of sorts. And maybe I’ll improve going forward. We’ll see. What did that article say? Here’s what I can remember:

Pick a theme. I don’t have a theme. Some people have cool DIY projects, or adorable kids, or some theme that attracts readers and keeps them. I honestly have nothing that I could write volumes about. Unless it’s trolling. But the internet needs an entire blog on trolling like I need an ass rash. (Which is not at all, in case that wasn’t clear.) If you’re a compelling writer or you have interesting random stories, it could work to have the theme be… your life. But then you have to be willing to share a lot about your life. Interesting stories, pictures, thoughts.

Update regularly. The blogs I like the most post 1-2 times a week. To be honest, my favorite blogs are Mormon family blogs. The regular updates make readers feel like they’re friends. A reader with an emotional attachment to your story is more likely to stay around. Plus, it’s more interesting if people comment, isn’t it? When I had a Livejournal, I remember looking at the world through a lens of “how can I tell this story on Livejournal?”

Know your audience. Me, I have no clue. I think my mom used to read. Now, it’s just people who find this through google searches on my more controversial posts. That’s fine, but I’ve had a hard time finding an appropriate voice or tone to use here. Which makes posts sporadic. If you can picture your audience (even if it’s just one person), you can pretend they’re sitting across from you and you’re telling them something. You can imagine them smiling as you tell them a story, or nodding along as you tell them something they didn’t know. It helps. Even if your audience is an imaginary person or a profile like “Older Englishmen who like to garden.”

The rest of the tips were about marketing and ways to boost viewership. Rest assured, I didn’t get involved with any of that. Monetizing a blog is a pipe dream unless you’re truly outstanding at something. Or unless you’re selling a pipe dream. Though I may be constantly judged for my lack of morality, even I have to draw the line somewhere. So I’m afraid I can’t tell you the 10 easy steps to replace your job with a blogging gig. Alas.

 

 

Longchamp and Gudetama

Some of my thrift store finds from the past week include these:

A Betsey Johnson dress that’s only slightly too small: $3.50 — I thought of wearing it to a wedding. But there are so many possible faux pas. I know about the “you may not wear a white dress” rule, but maybe black is also out because it’s too funeralesque?

It’s fun doing authentication on the fly. There are a dozen tiny ways to differentiate an authentic Longchamp Le Pliage from a knockoff, and here’s the super guide on all the ways. This bag was $6.99 and passed all the tests. Sadly, it has a bubbling problem, but maybe the local Longchamp store can help me.

I am a super fan of gudetama. I had considered subscribing to Ipsy for the one month they offered a gudetama bag even though I never use makeup (I don’t know how. Plus, I was traumatized as a child. Okay, I’ll tell that story at the end of this post). But I didn’t have to. I found all of these for $0.99-$1.99. The little notebook is an inspiration. It made me want to learn bookbinding — all of its pages are different kinds of paper. There are even stamps embedded in waxed envelopes. The Dodocase is for an iPad I don’t own, so it’s going on eBay.

Okay, story time. When I was 7 or so, my mom enrolled me in a Jesus summer camp. Mostly because it was the cheapest option available. It was run out of a Chinese church, so they had me doing a fan dance at the finale special of the summer. It was my introduction to makeup. They slathered it on so thick that I couldn’t move my face. Also, have you ever had eyeliner or mascara applied? It’s terrifying! There’s this thing they keep poking straight towards your eye. And they scream “DON’T MOVE OR I WILL POKE YOUR EYE OUT!” But it’s kind of hard not to move when a poking thing keeps coming at your eye… For what felt like hours after, I felt the makeup cracking whenever I moved my face. I thought it was my face cracking so I tried not to move my face at all. Terrifying, I tell you. Now I’m against. Not just for this reason, though I admit it’s a better reason.