Thursday, May 28, 2009

Post the 300th.

Just got back from Nekobukuro, Tokyu Hands store and the Ikebukuro shopping district. It was fun, but I really miss my kitties and my bed now.

More than anything I want Chaucer to lay down against my back and purr to wake me up in the morning. Petting community cats just isn't the same. :'(

And this is the first I have thought of work since leaving. Ugh. I could do without that for yet another week.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


I don't think I ever claimed to NOT be a hypochondriac, but we've had the AC cranked the whole time we're here to try and weed out the humidity in the air. It is pervasive and persistant.
Yesterday my throat was sore the entire day and didn't go away at all. This morning I woke up to sinuses packed with gunk and no sore throat. So it would appear that, as usually happens in a totally normal summer in the US, the AC gave me congestion.
It slowly occurred to me over the course of yesterday that this sort of thing has happened before, and this morning confirmed it.
I'm a dork. A hypochondrical dork.


Persistant but light sore throat. I would be lying if I didn't say I was a little bit worried about it. I'm hoping it's just the smog here in Tokyo and once we get out of here it'll clear up. I don't want to be sick, and I don't want to get Bob sick. I would never forgive myself.


...please don't let it be something much worse...

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Empty Space is the key.

In Taoism there is a saying that goes basically thus: "It is not the walls of the pot but the empty space within that makes it useful. It is not the walls or doors but the space inside that makes the room useful. And it is not the spokes or the rim but the center pin that makes the wheel useful."

I think I don't know where I'm going because I'm not empty. I don't feel like I have a point. Even a pot knows that it is supposed to be empty until it's filled with something. However long that is, it doesn't matter. That is what it is there for. When it is emptied, that is because it is done holding whatever it was meant to hold. Once again, that's what it's there for.

Being empty and being centered... things I understood conceptually up until now but didn't really know; the way you just know who's on the other end of the phone before you pick up, or that you managed to make the basket without seeing where the basketball went. I was lacking a certainty about the wisdom.

All this from staring at a raku-fired bowl with torn edges. Interesting where insights come from at times. :)

Monday, May 18, 2009

Actual Conversation #61

"All of this traveling has confused my beard." -Bob, on trying to figure out if it's been two days to shave after the time change to Tokyo

Friday, May 15, 2009

Final Preparations

Went shopping last night for travel-sized items to take with us on the trip while an immense thunderstorm pounded on the metal roof of the grocery store. It was wonderful, and watching the gentle flash of blanketing lightning on the way home was relaxing and mesmerizing.
We obtained our 50,000 yen from the bank and stared at the strange designs on them. A wooden bird, the portraits of late emperors and a shrine of some kind... these have meaning to the people of Japan the way and the Lincoln Memorial and Ben Franklin do for us on ours. I feel somewhat cheated not understanding what they did that earned them their spot there, but perhaps we'll learn.
Date night was dinner at Chili's and the new Star Trek movie. I thoroughly enjoyed both. The Star Trek movie I enjoyed much to my chagrin. I couldn't even say okay it was good but X had issues... no. IT was just a ~good movie~. I found that I didn't even give a damn that much that they'd completely wiped everything we know about the Universe and it's history. There may be no 1701-F. We might not encounter to Borg. Voyager and DS9 may never happen, and you know what? It's probably better for it!
I trust few people to carry on what I love well. It's good to see that at least this one was in good hands. I don't particularly care of Wesley Crusher ever dicks around at Farpoint Station or Q ever shows up again. As long as they understand that even space needs an awesome knock down drag-out fist-fight, I think we're safe.
By the way, I'd forgotten the singular joy of removing pork from bone and will probably discuss with Bob a way to secretly obtain a grill that we might barbecue at home and have such lovely things as BBQ chicken with the skin crisped to black. Ribs need to be around our house more often. Period.
This time tomorrow we'll be twiddling our thumbs in Dulles. Even that excites me. The reality of a 14 hour flight hasn't hit yet, I don't think.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

There are days when I seriously think I am too slow now, and forevermore, to talk to other human beings. Today is one of those days. Tomorrow probably will be too.
My secret wish for a superhero power? Impeccable social awareness and charisma.

I hate changes in body chemistry. Thanks to going back on BC pills I've been fighting crying since last night, occasionally balanced with moments of great euphoria. The hyper-sensitivity is not being aided by my usual lackluster ability to interact with others of my species, however
Perhaps I should just go to the bathroom, get it out of my system, and sally forth.

Well, crapola.

95.41 yen to the dollar? Really, economy? Just when I was starting to get my hopes up we had enough to be carefree whilst overseas, you go and do this to us?

You will not be receiving a Xmas card or a cash infusion from ~me~ in the near future. AT least, not in the US. >:P

In other news it's raining, I got a killer awesome massage last night, and Lost, per usual, answered all the incidental questions in the season finale without actually telling us what the hell is going on. But at least we know what happened to Vincent. And Rose and Bernard by extension. Good on them. :)
My favorite line from last night? When Miles walks up to the group and asks "Did anybody stop to think that maybe what Jack's about to do causes all of this to happen?" *pause as they look at each other as if a lightbulb just went on* "Oh good, as long as we thought this thing through..."
I love Miles. He is one of the greatest smartass characters ever. He is only eclipsed by Ben Linus in that show.
This gets me no points at all with anybody anywhere, but I feel happy to have picked up the maddeningly subtle clues. :D
Juliette is also the most badass woman on TV. To sit there and hammer on a nuke with a rock knowing it's going to kill you takes more balls than a stadium full of men have. I loved her character. I hope she's not gone.
According to weather underground, we leave PA in rain and arrive in Tokyo in rain. Extended forecast says it'll be cloudy the first week while we're there, with inconstant rain showers. I'd thought the rainy season held off until June, but honestly if it were that or blazing hot sun I will take the clouds and the rain.
2 days. I'm excited and yet really, really nervous.
Bob mentioned last night that he was worried about everything to come but for slightly different reasons. Going to Japan is the only goal we've really had. After that... what next? There's nothing long term on the horizon. And he's right. My whole life I've lived without a really solid, workable goal. I don't have an endgame planned, or even know of one that I would like. Last night I chuckled and said "welcome to existentialism" but really... that's it. If you don't blindly slip in to the track by all the carts ahead, you've got to forge your own road and there's no road-markers on it. You can't even tell where the waypoints are when you decide to trail blaze like that.
I guess I like it that way, because it means I can make stuff up as I go along. And if I get to a cliff, I get to enjoy the view before I decide if I want to climb down or dive off.
Diving off, just as an fyi, is the fastest and hardest of the learning curves available.
omg we're going to japan.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Google Maps Rawks!

I just discovered courtesy of Google Street View that the mystery temple behind our hotel is actually Sanjusangendo, the very famous temple that holds 124 1,000-armed Kannon statues.
I was staring at the attached graveyard from a satelite photo a month and a half ago and pondered briefly stopping by to see what it looked like inside, but was willing to let it slide if we had other things going on.
Now that it's 200 feet from the lobby and a well-known buddhist site... you bet your sweet bippy I'll be there.

Actual Conversation # 60 - Where Joss Whedon's Stockholm Syndrome is discussed.

gru: Btw, according to this rumor report The unusuals is a long shot to be renewed.
me: I figured.
In IMDB it listed "one other" show in the lineup and nothing else.
gru: I kinda liked it, myself
me: I did too!
me: Shit. Fox might dump the "Dollhouse"
Why does Whedon keep acting like the wife of a crack addict?
grudan523: *chuckles*
I don't know, baby
me: You'd think if someone kept hitting you like that, you would walk the hell away!
Especially if they killed your baby.
I am so not ready for this trip. I'm starting to have little panic attacks over it. But at least I got together the lists of stuff everybody asked me to bring back. That was a big thing, not wanting to let other folks down.
I'll probably be calmer after tonight, as I intend to get a chunk of the leftover stuff done, and tomorrow the other large portion of what remains.
I wish I'd thought to take Friday off so that any necessary running-around could be accomplished. For instance, I really need a haircut. There's no way we'll have time now. :(

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


Of great stress to me is watching the Yen dip down to 96.56 to the dollar. Gah. I hate wishing economic problems on a country, but even with the recent buffer of good luck coming in on the monetary front, it would be nice to have a 1 to 100 conversion on that.
Bob got a call from the bank that our Yen had arrived. With each passing step we take, it seems more and more real. To think we'll actually hold the coin (or paper, anyway) of the realm in our hands shortly sort of dumbfounds me.
It'll be weird not carrying a purse, or car keys, or a wallet or a cell phone or any of the mainstays of my normal outside-the-house travel. There will probably be some degree of adjustment and insecurity as that happens. Seeing as I go largely by touch when locating an item, having to stop and look down instead of sticking my hand in to the bag and feeling for plastic or metal or Wegman's bonus card tags or paper is going to be odd, at least for the first few days.
It's so unbelievable that this time next week we'll be crashed in a hotel in Shinjuku, having been in Tokyo 2 and a half days.

Monday, May 11, 2009


We have a request for yen currently being fulfilled at the bank for tomorrow's pickup. We have medications. We have signed and stashed passports, train tickets, plane info, and phone numbers. We have the website ready to go (2 Hopeless Gaijin for family reading this, but an email is forthcoming) and laundry is done.
Massage is planned for Wednesday night. Haircut probably tomorrow. Packing begins Wednesday, and we've located the charger for ~everything~.

Right now my immediate needs are gaffer's tape, travel sized shampoo, and some chamomile tea to help me calm the hell down. I'm bouncing off the walls. This shall be beyond epic. I may never duplicate something this awesome in my life again.

Also, we made sun pictures yesterday afternoon. They were awesome.

This week will go way too fast and rock way too much.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

I find myself utterly obsessed with 4 small facts as the trip to Japan grows closer. The daily wavering of the yen against the dollar make me nervous about exactly how much I'll have when we're in grand Nihon.
For instance, right now it's at 98.71 yen to the dollar. At some point on Friday it was 99.5. that might night seem like a lot, but that's the difference of a couple hundred dollars on this trip. I believe I've already expounded on that previously. I'm hoping it sticks up around 99-100 for the duration of the trip, but with my tax refund having just shown up, I think we'll be okay.
The other things? The temperature for Tokyo, Kyoto and Okinawa. I've watched in amusement as the weather in Kyoto and Tokyo have mirrored our own here, right down to the seeming 9 straight days of rain we just emerged from. Yesterday the temperature hit 80. Yikes. I guess I didn't think that it would be that hot already there, but I'm hoping that either that's just an odd heat spike, or else we'll be inside often enough that the heat won't be too bad. Perhaps I worry pre-emptively and without need. I imagine it wouldn't be any different than walking around New York in May, especially with their eerie tendency to mirror the northeast in climate.
My cat is chittering at golfers walking out on the golf course like she does with birds on the back porch.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

"I am a leaf on the wind"

I would be lying to you right now if I didn't admit that I was looking forward to the sound of the wind in the bamboo when we get to Kyoto. I'm listening to the leaves of the maples outside my back door here in the pre-storm breezes and just relishing that gentle rustle. Through bamboo it's a heavenly paper-thin whisper worthy of all the poetry granted it throughout the years.
A good thunderstorm in Tokyo to watch people scurry around in umbrellas in would be nice, too. Especially from the window of a nice restaurant one evening, when the lightning lights the streets up with violent blue-white brilliance.
Storms always bring out the more flowery language in me. They're only slightly less universal than the moon.

Friday, May 8, 2009


Bob and I had a most wonderful date night. From it I can make two recommendations.
The first, if you have the chance to see This American Life live (or the rebroadcast, as we went to) then by all means, GO DO IT. It's funny, and it's a throwback to the heyday of radio. He keeps his equipment on the desk with him, including his musical interludes and it's fascinating to watch him jump back and forth between them.
By him I mean Ira Glass, for those of you who aren't in to TAL.
It was a very funny show with some of their trademark poignant moments that, if listened to every week, grow to be more sappy than a point of connection. It's their trademark and I understand that's why they use it, but tragically funny irony can only be dealt with in small doses by most people. I'm most people.
The second recommendation is that should you find yourself near King of Prussia and hungry, or craving Italian, or really wanting some terribly awesome spumoni, then find a place to park near Maggiano's and GO. We had a wonderful meal with a great waitress and freshly made sauces. I had pesto that reminded me of what it tasted like 5 minutes out of the garden, in to a blender and on to freshly cooked pasta. I can also speak from tasting Bob's dinner that the lobster ravioli is good. So is the toasted pound cake and their spumoni. I was almost sad to leave it half-eaten, but I was stuffed at that point.
On our way home from these fantastic adventures, we were discussing the 6th season of the X-Files and I realized I couldn't remember the name of the actor who had taken over the male lead. I did remember that he was the T-1000 in T2. And since we decided to stop off and get a few items at the grocery store, there would be no rapid access to the internet for us to answer this question. I knew it would nag at me until this happened, so I decided to go with the latest in cell phone gimmickry, the KGB team.
First off, let me tell you that using the service is nowhere near as much fun as the commercials make it out to be. If you're near anything with an internet connection, a human input device and a screen, it is rendered obsolete. Smartphones destroy it's functionality as well. But for those of us plebians out on the town either too drunk or too poor to leap on the mobile internet on our phones (or who, god forbid, don't have web enabled phones at all) it's not a bad thing to have. But aside from that, before you use the service you must interact with two separate emails granting them permission to charge you a dollar every time you want to win a bet.
It could become potentially lucrative if you're knowledgeable, your friends are drunk often, and the bet is for more than one dollar barring unforeseen difficulties, which we are getting to.
Having had to delete two posts now about agreeing to hand over a dollar each time I had to admit I couldn't remember something, I waited for the answer as we walked in the parking lot to the door of Wegman's.
Now, the problem is that I wanted the name of the actor. Apparently KGB is told to take things very literally. Because what I typed was "Who the heck was the liquid metal terminator in Terminator 2?"
To me that would seem to say hey, who played him? But that's because I might've been a touch drunk from datenight complete with a mimosa and an Italian coffee with amaretto as a chaser.
what I got back was "The liquid metal terminator was the newer, more deadly T1000 model. kgb_team"
And I swore because we were now at the front door to the supermarket and the fuckers had taken my dollar and not actually answered my question.
I retyped it while we travelled through the fruit section, making sure to not just use the word actor, but also put it in all caps this time. "Who was the ACTOR who played T1000 in Terminator 2?"
I secretly prayed it went to the same person who got my prior question so they could see my irritation at having to clarify at the cost of another dollar.
About two minutes later as we were perusing Mom's day cards, I got a second answer. Robert Patrick. It vaguely echoed around in my mind and made sense.
Final verdict? It was momentarily amusing, but the driving necessity of expense to be painstakingly exact in detailing what information you're looking for ruined the novelty pretty quickly. I'd be lying if I didn't say I was really irritated at spending two dollars for an answer, but I'm guessing this is probably part of how they pay their crack team of knowledge-finders.
After that little interlude I have this mental image of rows and rows of converted Chinese gold farmers hitting Google for info, answering hundreds of thousands of questions every minute. They get a break every 4 hours to go take a drink of water and go to the restroom, combining the two to save time if necessary.
Anyway, I am amused by this thought.

Actual conversation # 59 - where a vowel movement is the difference between life or death.

me: I'm going to go drop off my Mom's package.
gru:I have a meeting at 2 for a little bit, fyi in case I'm not here when you return. Won't be long
me: Okay!
me: I can't go, Jay is by himself back there. *sigh*
gru: Damn, but it's for your mom. He can deal for 20 minutes!
me: No, he said he has Vlad Tepes back there.
Or a lot of tapes.
I'm not sure, he types poorly sometimes
gru: Huh, yeah, that might be an important distinction
me: He might not come back if it's Vlad Tepes.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Not that he's bragging...

Am I the only one that thinks these come off as just a touch self-congratulatory?

I saw a similar image on failblog with the caption "humility FAIL", and that sort of summed it up for me.
I am happy they are doing their part to save the environment. But even Jesus put the smack down on the guy who didn't give everything he owned while the woman did. I'm siding with Jesus on this one. You bought a car to save gas, then paid for a vanity plate..... what resources got saved in that transaction??

Anyway, was amused, wanted to share. :)

comfert fud

There is something ridiculously healing about the consumption of McDonald's french fries in their role as comfort food.
I think that with mac n' cheese and hot cocoa those are probably my big 3. Unfortunately, french fries were the only thing available when I pulled up to the drive-thru window so I went with it.

The odd thing was that when I pulled up this overly perky voice announced the drive thru was open 24 hours and did I want to try a McMocha or some sorry something... having heard it announced to the car in front of me, I waved it off, then heard a second voice cut in, deeper but still feminine.
In observing this in action after my order was put in, it reminded me of watching the cars go through the Hershey Chocolate World ride as a child. You could see the music and see the lights going off for the cars in front and behind you, but only vaguely here it. Once you were in it, though, you realized it was the exact same thing being played to everybody and while it certainly made sense, it removed some of the magic out of the ride. Kids always hope for an X factor in life to mark the surprise and uncertainty that lies ahead of them, and because they're natural optimists they want it to be something exciting and fun... like the Hershey kiss breaks out in to a round of "Row Row Row Your Boat!" instead of the approved songstrack. But trundling around on those spindles like that, hearing the same shaded refrain over and over such that your car was basically encased in a repeating moment, it lost the luster and excitement to an extent.
Pulling back from that memory I realized that I had just drawn a mental line between the drive-thru and an amusement park ride, I was laughing when I handed my card off to pay for the food. The young woman at the window just smiled with me, not sure what was so funny, then me and my car trundled along on the McRide to pick up the McFood.

Deth to teh XM

I fucking hate XM Radio. Why is it that when I think I'm done, they charge me again? This is crap. And I am very,very irritated.

Conversely, and more happily, it is date night! We're headed for King of Prussia to see This American Life, and prior to that we're eating dinner somewhere although we don't know where. We'll see! I'd far rather focus on that right now anyway.
Wish I wasn't so sleepy. Cat woke me up this morning dancing on my face for no reason. I almost punted him. Blah.
I bet the world handles a lot better when you've had a full 8 hours of sleep.
I bet it also doesn't have phantom biscuit smells like I'm smelling right now. Hmm...

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

So....somehow I went from reading about going to Japan and talking with Bob vaguely in regards to camping later this summer to booking campsites for us and some friends.

That being said, I haven't been to Gifford Pinchot since I was in middle school, and I wouldn't mind running around in the woods for a while. It's in August, so we have to wait a ways, but... you know, I'm looking forward to it.
If nothing else, we'll get to unfurl the beast of a tent we bought and make good use of it!
And s'mores. There shall be the unholy delight of s'mores. God, yesssssss....

Falling Off the Wagon

"Truly, the sun and moon wish to be light, but the floating clouds cover them."
--from Huai-nan-tzu, Book Eleven, 150 B.C.


Got a ticket. Not mad about it, I just plain forgot to renew my car registration. I accepted it happened. It's a good step.
I'm disappointed in myself. The entire duration of my XML class I let the actions of one individual upset me and ruin my evenings. I let the anticipation of dealing with that person sour my mood and follow me to bed to keep me awake. I let them give me a queasy stomach and I let his general asinine behavior within the group set my teeth on edge even when I wasn't dealing with schoolwork.
I want to punch this guy in the face. I really do. So much so that, as I told Bob last night, if I ever come across somebody with that same name, I ~might~ wait to confirm they went to the University of Phoenix before beating the fuck out of them.
I am just that tweaked by this person, and I can't escape it. I've tried to study it, I've tried to breathe. I couldn't even discuss what was going on with Bob without getting worked up as I was thinking about it to explain it. This individual was a HUGE cloud that I less pass in front of me. He's not the last, either, and my failure to ignore this "cloud" sits ill with me.
I am not self aware enough to know whether or not my temper is truly bad. I assume it is because I explode, and associate it with other people I have seen exploding. It seems bad, so in my mind it is. Either way, it has a rapid onset, it eats my brain, sets me on fire, and I became completely absorbed in the source of the anger. I become markedly dumber when I become angry.
And in an amusing twist, by beating myself up for not accepting the source of my anger, I am doubly removing myself from calm by not working to accept the fact that I got angry in the first place. I'm kicking myself in the head repeatedly because i failed. I've got no compassion for this person, and certainly none for myself!
It would be funny if I had the presence of mind to step back and watch it happen. As it is, I usually catch it a few minutes in and slow myself down.
It's just so damned hard to breathe, much less observe, when someone is staring you down insulting your intelligence and acting in a patronizing fashion. I'd really like to have nothing in common with such a rude control freak. But here I am, a day after I never have to see this guy again, dwelling on him.
I sigh heavily at myself in this moment.
Maybe I can forgive myself. That's probably the first step. I keep looking for something like "Buddha's Explicit Guide on How to Deal with Assholes" for moments like these, and there isn't one. At least, not one spelled out like that. But the guidance has already been given. You Breathe. You Observe. You Accept.
So... I'll get back around to breathing first and we'll work from there. This is going to be a looooong road.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Holga luv pt. 2

I did something a little different this birthday. Usually I grab the digital or my 35 mm and do my best to document birthday-ness. I got back 2 rolls from last year's birthday bash alone.
This year the entire 2 day event was documented on 2 rolls of 120 film run through my Holga. I went for the abstract, the off-kilter, the textured, the kinda misty, and the avant-garde. I'm dying to see how these rolls turn out and can't wait.
Yes, I've been going on and on about the Holga lately. But the fact of the matter is that I adore the product and what it can (and can't!) do for photography. I love the limitations and the vignetting.
At this point I'm just trying to figure out the fastest way to get this stuff processed and turned in to prints so I can see how my particular camera handles the film. I'm also very excited to see how the images look, since I'm not entirely sure the distance, focal length and so on turned out.
Trust me, once I have the images, the better ones will be posted and everyone will be sick of me spamming them.

My 31st.

To begin to describe this weekend would take far longer than possible to spell out, and also bore everyone to tears at it's length (including myself)
So I'm going to sum it up in a list of words to describe what went down, and you can form your own story around them of whatever length you decide.

Cloudy day
strawberry waffles
Happy Days Diner
Longwood Gardens
Wine and Jazz Festival
Chambourcin grapes!
Six Dwarves mint wine
cheese plate
Frog Hollow
piano jazz
Forest bench
Holga and Nikon cameras
Cherry Devyne wine
overflow parking lot
wine pickup
crumbling barn
sneaky photography
Portal:Still Alive - Level 18!
spaghetti and meatballs
raindrops on roof
dark clouds
Rte. 30
Waffle House brunch!
Holga photography!
Dutch windmill with shoefly Pies
Call from Mom
Cow statue and feedlot
Card from Mom
green grosgrain change purse
pedometer harness
magnetic travel-sized go! board
Spider Pride! >8<
olive colored tagine
stunt kite
cooking together
epic strawberry shortcake
calling Mom
more epic strawberry shortcake
callback from Dad on Skype
XML & DTD PPT homework

It was wonderful. I'm a lucky, lucky gal.

Actual Conversation # 58 - long passwords suck on Blackberries.

Amanda: hi helen. happy monday
Helen: Happy Monday!
Amanda: i just sent you an e-mail to inbox for a bb activation for scott
Amanda: just so you know...whenever you get time
Helen: Yup. Just got it.
Amanda: do you like it
Amanda: ?
(ticket reads "dog ate BB")
Helen: lol
Amanda: i thought i'd be creative this morning
Helen: Is it true?
Amanda: yes
Amanda: seriously
Helen: NICE. :-D
Amanda: there are teeth marks all the way through the device
Hele: Wow. What kind of Dog does he have??
Amanda: big
Amanda: it looks like maraduke
Amanda: its liek 110lbs
Helen: lol
Amanda: and his paws are the size of my hands
Helen: Jeebus!
Amanda: yeah - crazy
Amanda: he will be getting a brand new one,,,sometime this week
Helen: He's all set. Password is "onomatopoeia"
Amanda: what
Amanda: ha
Amanda: nice
Helen: ....actually, it's "go"

Friday, May 1, 2009

T Squared

Despite all outwards appearances, I'm not ~really~ a people person. I tend to find humanity confusing, contradictory, and hilarious at times in its hypocrisy. The single biggest flaw in observing the masses at work is the complete lack of self-awareness most have going through their day.
I often visit a blog called Stuff White People Like. It's funny, but it's also very ~true~, at least from a simplified perspective. Basically, white people like to be an expert in something, or be a bigger fan in something, or have done something ~more~ at some point than you have. And it must be immediately distinguishable and pointed out.
That irritates the shit out of me, to be honest. There are so many other things to talk about in the world... why do that? I remember in my younger days you actually got to know somebody by asking about what they did, where they came from, and went from there. You showed mutual interest, you didn't sit there and drown someone in how much you knew about a topic. Unless further information was requested, of course.
In a rather last-minute maneuver I discovered there was a tea tasting courtesy of the JASGP in downtown Philly. It was held at a lovely little place called the "Tbar", run by two sisters who are seriously in to tea.
Bob humored me and went along with the short notice and the drive in to Philly, and I think we're both really glad we did.
First off, this place has bubble tea. Bubble tea is the nectar of the gods. This was a huge drawing card, to be honest, as there really weren't any places out near us that had it.
Second, it has some amazing product in it. They have all kinds of teas and tissanes, and even have different grades. It isn't just flavored black. They have Japanese green and Chinese green. They have chai. They have matcha. They have chamomile... it was the most thorough tea selection I've seen since Market Spice in the Pike Place Market. And to boot, it was a very calm environment, trending towards hipster but still comfortable enough for us to walk off the street and not feel out of place.
The talk was given by one of the owners who is actually closer to us than Philly in terms of residence. She was highly knowledgeable, very animated, and made what could have been a very dry topic lots of fun.
Those in attendance were for the most part upwardly mobile professional types, skinny with good complexions and dressed in clothes that had never even contemplated leaving in anything but a boutique shopping bag. Being dudded up in the very best that Gap, Target and Old Navy had to offer, I initially felt a little lower on the economic ladder rungs, but decided I was comfy and screw it.
Throughout the course of the talk, wherein we sampled some of the wonderful offerings of the shop, it was revealed that about 60% of the table had already been to Japan. Why, then, go to a talk to learn about tea? Had they not been exposed to it? I immediately suspected it was a case of someone showing up somewhere they already had knowledge of for the purpose of gaining report with the speaker over the topic and "helping" others that had not had first hand experience. The rest of the group, all 4 of us, had NOT been, and listened as the other 7 went on at length about how they'd had each of the tea-types in Japan. I was amused.
I enjoyed the teas immensely. I now know that I will love genmaicha until the day I die -this being an accidental discovery on my part after searching for barley tea that I'd had at the Buddhist temple in Seattle near my college campus- and that kukicha, despite using parts of the twigs in with the tea, had a far milder taste than the astringent sencha most of Japan seemed to favor. And we discovered despite the tea ceremony previously, that matcha is actually completely palatable if mixed with steamed milk and sugar in a matcha latte. The bitter evaporated completely!
In truth, I was simply there for this kind of information. I knew some of what I liked, but was also aware that there are entire stores with wall upon wall of the stuff that I couldn't even pronounce and might never get to in my lifetime. Any toehold in the world of sublime and healthful beverages was appreciated and sought for.
But seeing as this was a tea talk, that meant there were people there. And those other people... well, you know, I'm polite. There's no reason not to be unless they break out some crazy behaviors or verbal abuse. I am generally pleasant to be around and pride myself on having figured out how this is done. But I swear to god, any time I go anywhere with yuppies, I end up being tested to the limits of my civility.
Yuppies are annoying. And I almost died laughing with how textbook their behaviors were vis-a-vis "Stuff White People Like" because the constant revisitation of the "I like this and know a lot about it, probably more than you do" theme came up.
I smiled and weaved among people as they dispersed, talking with the other couple who said they didn't know anything about tea -being without knowledge, we were mutually chatty and appreciative of things, there for the purpose of the experience- and enjoying all of the neat little accessories they had. Books on cooking with tea (ME WANT), proper chado/chanoyu (tea ceremony) sets, designer tea services, neato little devices for the proper brewing of them... it was gadgety about tea the way Starbucks was gadgety about coffee, but had not yet decided to slap its name on everything. I was thoroughly enjoying myself drifting in this world, learning with my eyes and passive ears.
Then I was cornered.
The gentleman who'd come in a suit jacket suddenly perked up talking to us and began at length to tell us about how he'd been to Japan and how there was a wall of tea in department stores with everything under the sun added to it. This was great, this was information we needed, what with the Impending Awesome Trip. Except that when we tried to thank him for the info because of it, he spoke over us. Or Bob, specifically. And kept going. Really it wasn't much of a conversation. It was more of him talking AT us, while we nodded. It was one of those worthless interactions I really hate to get in to because I know they won't remember it, and it only serves as a place for people to show off what they know. I'm old school. Don't tell me what you know. Tell me what you love, and why. Tell me who YOU are.
This guy couldn't, or had never learned, or was simply from a place where you did this sort of thing for interaction. I took it in stride for the most part and listened where I could to glean info from it. To be fair, he asked questions, but really he just wanted someone to say "yes" or "no" and talked over each response we attempted to give, not aware that we were multi-syllabic in our existence.
Not his fault. He didn't know and couldn't see. I can't fault a person for being who they are. But I don't have to humor them, either.
In a moment of what was probably misanthropy, I decided to talk so fast the guy had to stop and listen, and countered his stories with the only one I had... that I'd had barley tea at a Buddhist temple in Seattle and had been on the lookout for it ever since but unable to find it and we were hoping to find it in Japan when we go in a monthsohisinformationwasreallyvaluableandweappreciateditwewrttlygoing2chkitoutnao...
Yes. I spoke that fast. I sped up when I saw him open his mouth. I dunno what the hell was wrong with me, but for some reason I felt like if I was being forced to be in that type of interaction, I was getting equal floor time, damnit.
Blessings on Bob. Beautiful, sweet Bob who understands these things and was probably reading my mind and/or my body language and knew that we should get out of there because the situation was escalating to the point where I would be "accidentally" rude. (Hey, it happens, sometimes when I don't even mean for it to). He quickly pulled my shoulder and advised the man that we had to go and it was nice talking to us and... we were out!
These things are my fault, because I assume that people are going to act a certain way, then I'm disappointed when they don't. I jumped in to chatting with the guy and stayed around longer than I really wanted or needed to with the idea that it would be fun. TOTALLY my fault.
If I'd been able to just breathe and accept what was going on, it wouldn't have bothered me. All of that lovely assumption introduced stress in to an event that was otherwise really, really fun.
I would totally go back there again. I may be able to with a better attitude, as well. There's just something about people that want to tell you how much they know that sets my teeth on edge. I wish it were enough for them to realize that if we're at the same event, we have ~that~ in common and just go from there.
I don't mean to dwell, either. I loved the bubble tea we got there, and Bob liked his. We walked around center city a bit to give the shop space to clear out and to see what all was around the area. Some cute little shops, some neat restaurants, and a lot of life just happening. It felt really wonderful the way only a metropolis can with that many people on top of each other and moving past each other. It was a neat afternoon, good people watching, and some excellent city pizza.
For the record, there is no way to get awesome pizza if it isn't in a hole in the wall place in the middle of a major city.
It's going to take more work and more active meditation before I can do it without letting the wayward behvior of another person mess with me. That can be applied everywhere, after all. That, and my craving for items I don't have. Like right now, I could seriously go for another bubble tea. And I heavily desire more copic markers and stunt kites. This is all horribly un-Buddhist of me. :)
Funny that becoming a better Buddhist might circle back around to making me patient with the human race as well.


I have taken flash pictures of my cat Daisy so many times in the past week that any time I walk up to her with anything in my hands she automatically squints or closes her eyes and looks away. Wow. Talk about being told someone's got no faith in you!
Unfortunately with her lovely black and white coat she makes too much of a perfect target for the black and white film and filters I'm testing out on the Holgakins.
See? She barely puts up with me:

"Mooooooom... leave me alooooooone, I'm tryin' to take a nap heeeeere. Whimper-whine, semi-meow..."
Can't you just picture it looking at her?

Being May Day, Beltane, May 1st, and 2 days before my birthday, I brought cupcakes for the masses today. The masses seem to enjoy May Day baked goods. I plan to continue this tradition once more. People actually even wished me happy birthday this year, which almost never happens. Neat to share and have other human beings interact based on it.

I've started carrying the Holga around with me, just to see what images I can capture when I'm out and about. I keep thinking when I see things "oh, I need to come back and get a shot of this." A week passes, the flowers die, the dandelion fluff blows away, someone rakes their yard, and the image is changed. No more. I'm going to have documentation possibilities on my person!

Also, I just found all my old draft posts stashed in the back alley of Blogger. Umm... if you read regularly for any reason (Hi mom!) you may wanna go back and check April and March... and February....... ?? For some reason there's a ton of them in there that didn't post so I think I've got a different issue entirely now.

Still mildly irritating, but at least my words weren't lost. That was the big thing.

Actual conversation # 57 - In which retraining is addressed

me: Poor Waukesha... they're all out of practice.
They're not sure what to ask, or what things are when I ask for them.
gru: :-(
me: S'okay. I will educate them all.
gru: You will and they will thank you :-)
me: Yes. *eyes looking around shiftly as she rubs her hands together* Soon... soon they will all learn.... learn the PROPER way to address me, do my bidding. heh.. heheh... HEH MWA HAHAHAHAAAAA
....fuck me, that was out loud.
gru: *chuckles* You're cute when you're evil!