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.

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Yeah, you should quit your job

Disclaimer: I don’t have a degree in life coaching and no, you shouldn’t be taking advice from a stranger on the internet who doesn’t know you or your situation at all.

Lately several friends have asked “should I just quit my job?” They tell me they’re unfulfilled, bored, frustrated with management. I always tell them “If you can afford to, then do it.” Note: I don’t ask them if they have plans. I don’t ask what they would do instead and whether they’d make the same money. I’m just an enabler. Here’s why.

There’s a guy I knew, let’s call him Ol’ Mac. He’s the father of one of my exes. Ol’ Mac was a responsible family man with two kids, so he stayed for years at a job he hated. He woke up every morning at 5am to drive about an hour to work and would get home pretty late most nights. He hated his job so much that his wife would sometimes find him staring at his socks in the morning. When asked what he was doing he’d miserably say “I’m thinking about which one goes on which foot.” He stuck it out until his official retirement day so he could get a full pension. (Yeah, I know this isn’t sounding like a story about quitting your job. Just wait for it.)

So, you’d think he’d be delighted with retirement, right? Well, after watching golf on tv and snoozing most days for a while, Ol’ Mac began to feel bored and restless. He took on odd jobs to get him out of the house. Then word got around that he was looking to come out of retirement, and he was offered a job doing the things he liked about his old job (hands on technical stuff) with none of the parts he didn’t (bureaucratic managers who didn’t know what they were talking about). It was a more relaxed schedule: one week on, one week off. It even paid better than his old job.

What can we learn from this one anecdote? We all know that the plural of anecdote is not “evidence” but that being said, I’ve heard variations of Ol’ Mac’s story repeatedly. People quit their jobs without knowing exactly what comes next, but they figure it out. And in all cases, they’re happier than before they quit. So if you’re miserable or frustrated at your job and you live for the weekends, save money until you can live without a job for a few months, then quit. You’ll figure it out too.

Sand dollars and silly laws

There is a law on MUNI busses. I think it’s a California law. That certain seats at the front of the bus have to be surrendered to the elderly or people with disabilities. I don’t think there should be designated seats or a law.

People should just be considerate of others without legislation. The other side of it is that people who have taken seats that aren’t designated as special feel like they should be able to just ignore the people who are standing, no matter how much they need to sit down. It’s an abdication of any consideration towards one another.

One day I had a seat on the bus during rush hour. A man got on with a large, heavy box. He had a hard time balancing it in one hand and trying to hold onto the railing with another, so I offered him my seat. He was grateful and relieved, but asked me if I was sure. Of course I was. Here’s the strange part. He must have found my act so unusual that he felt the need to somehow repay me for it. He dug in his box and handed me this sand dollar:

I thanked him for it. I don’t think I’ve ever found a whole one. “Where did you .. is the whole box full of them?” I asked. “Yeah! They were all over Baker Beach… and another beach further south of here.”

Instead of the law we have, why not encourage people to just use their judgement? The man with the sand dollars wasn’t elderly or disabled, but he was clearly having a harder time than most of the people with seats. It’s sad that it wouldn’t even occur to most people to get up for him. It’s sad that some elderly people who are able to stand just fine demand seats (sometimes from students with heavy backpacks) simply because they can. It’s sad that we need a law to tell us when someone might need our seat more than we do.

New Orleans

On my second night, we went to a bar called Snake & Jake’s Christmas Bar Lounge. It appeared to be a shipping container strung with red lights. I felt as if I were in the opening credits of True Blood.

It was good! There, a bright eyed young girl who had met me only hours previously told me dark things about her past and her last relationship. It fit perfectly.

One of the mansions along St. Charles hired a movie production company to decorate their property for Halloween. Here are the results:

One lazy Sunday, we tried a new dessert place. Dessert counters fill my heart with delight.

My friend had a salted caramel cupcake, and I tried the Earl Grey truffle. Both were heaven.

My friends have become foodies of sorts and this is a breakfast-in-bed that one of them made for me.

I spent some time wandering the French Quarter because I was a tourist. You’ll be proud of me, though. The most egregious souvenir I purchased was a magnet with little crawfish for my mom. This is a hotel famous for its cornstalk fence

It was quite common for streets to be closed to cars. Instead, they would fill with people: musicians, homeless-looking artist kids, and yeah, other tourists.

I didn’t think it was much like old Orleans at all, but it did have alleys and outside dining, so it felt vaguely European.

The St. Louis Cathedral interior

The exterior

A few years ago at Cafe Beignet, I made the acquaintance of a friendly boy-cat. (Pictured on the right). He made his rounds in the garden seating area, collecting pets and ear-rubs from any willing patron. This time, he was well hidden with a new lover. Congratulations to him!

Here’s the famous beignet place. I can’t really tell the difference though. Fried dough is always good.

It is a wedding tradition here to march through the quarter with all your guests and a portable band known as a “second line” — I was lucky enough to see one

It was also fairly common for wrought-iron enclosed balconies in the quarter to be overrun with jungle plants

A few more from the quarter

Joan of Arc’s horse’s ass

Crest of (old) Orleans

Lazy river. I’m told it’s not fit for swimming though. Sadly.

They had these drains at the palace in Blois. But in New Orleans, vagabonds would paint them at night. The original was black like the rest of the pipe.

City Park has a creepy statue garden for children called Storyland, but I don’t know why they bothered. The rest of it already looks like something from a fairytale. “Meet me on the bridge. Don’t tell anyone.”

I have never known what these are for, so I call them wedding pavilions. Stand in the center, kiss the bride. Look into each other’s eyes and think about forever. In that moment, it shouldn’t seem like such a long time.

Maybe I’m right about them. After all, this one’s interior is Tiffany Blue

I went to see Lafayette Cemetery No. 1, and found a surprising number of Germans entombed there

This may have been a garden shed (I saw no names). But if not, forgive me for being rude

Not sure what the tree trunk was for. I think the red was firemen.

Even in death, this person had a space bubble

She seems like the sort of statue that would cry blood sometimes.

On the wrong side of St. Charles avenue, many houses are abandoned to moulder. Sometimes, it was haunting, beautiful. This is my dream house.

And this is farewell.

Don’t think I didn’t do many debaucherous things with many old and new friends. I did, oh I did. It’s only just that those things are about the feelings and can’t possibly be well captured at my skill level of photography. One day.

Pretty Puff’s key

Right. So. If you’ve ever been to my room, you’ve seen this pony. Yes, I’m too old for this, but I’ve had it since I was little, so that counts for something, right? She’s magic. The saddle opens up if you twist a key in her chest. But… I lost the key.

How could I have lost the key!

This is the basest fear of a hoarder’s heart. This is why we have such a hard time giving anything away without staring at each item, paralyzed, for 10 minutes. What if we feel the regret that we feel every time we look at our keyless Pretty Puff. Here’s the key:

If you ever find this key anywhere, I would mean the world to me if you’d buy it for me. I’ll pay you back. You’ll have my undying affection. You’ll probably never see one unless you’re in the habit of digging through baby toys at second hand stores.

It’s sort of sad that when  you ask me about my treasures, Pretty Puff makes the list, and I’m despondent all over again about her lost key. It’s just one of the worst feelings, losing something like that. At least I have a notion of heaven. It’s where I’ll be reunited with all of my lost things.

Prague

I studied abroad in Hungary as an undergraduate, but never visited Prague. Until I remedied that earlier in the year, it was my biggest regret. Prague is located on the Vltava river, and I’ve decided that every decent city has either a river or an ocean coast. This is from the Charles Bridge

Don’t these buildings make you think of confectionery?

I’m reminded of a “your mama” joke. This church is so big it wouldn’t fit in my viewfinder.

From the church tower, these spires reminded me a bit of Oxford

And this fog made me think of home

I thought this boy was cute, but maybe I just liked his giant golden sword

I was lucky enough to have been there near Easter. Which meant there were special Easter markets, and I got to try seasonal specialties like “prosciutto di Praha” (spit-roasted ham) and “trdlo” (spit-roasted dough cylinders with cinnamon sugar and sesame seeds). I also got to watch a bunny race. What will I do now that I’ve remedied my life’s greatest regret? Promote my next biggest regret: I didn’t buy the pretzel-shaped magnet that said “Germany Deutschland” that I saw in Regensburg.

Firenze

First glimpse of the Duomo again after years. Exciting!

One of my favorite statues

It’s a griffin, a griffin. Griffin!

Oh Duomo, you are so tall. I accidentally marched in a Catholic midnight mass because it was right before Easter. I held a candle and we followed a priest with a stereo system on wheels, pretending to sing in Italian.

Loving mothering and a missing arm

Across the river, there was a little bar serving 5 euro homemade lasagne. At the counter, they had a basket of free sausage chunks. Also homemade. Afterwards, we found a gelateria with a long line of locals. Beautiful and quiet on that side.

These views were, after all, from the Piazzale Michelangelo. Wouldn’t be right not to have a picture of his statue.

Dante. I’m still meaning to read his Inferno…

Sunsets are better enjoyed with a nice lion