Saturday, May 29, 2010


YK does both a running and a walking trail - the video is the running trail, so is a lot different than the one I did.

Thursday, May 27, 2010


Recent Reads

"I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It's when you know you're licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do."

Phenomenal. I read this back in 8th grade and do not remember even enjoying it, particularly. I'm not sure whether it's just because I'm a bit of a jerk and don't enjoy reading things that I'm told to or whether it takes adulthood and seeing injustices around the world over the past years of travelling, but this book moved me far beyond what I expected.

"I simply want to tell you that there are some men in this world who were born to do our unpleasant jobs for us. Your father's one of them." ... "We're so rarely called upon to be Christians, but when we are, we've got men like Atticus to go for us."

I was almost in tears reading parts of it on the subway. I was also highly impressed with the nine chapter lead up to the main event - not only does it foreshadow the action at the end, it slowly eases you into the life of a young child of the 30s in the South. It's such a materfully written novel.

"Well then, how do you explain why the Cunninghams are different? Mr. Walter can hardly sign his name, I've seen him. we've just been readin' and writin' longer'n they have."

"But his parents stayed together and it made you believe in the sanctity of divorce."

The Family Way, Tony Parsons

This was a reread - I didn't realise by the title, but I have read it before. When I first got into Tony Parsons as an author, I was with my ex and living in Scotland. I was pretty sure I was on my way to marriage and living there permanently.

This quote is about Hong Kong, but sort of expresses how I feel about Seoul - "There was something magical about this place, but what it was felt just beyond her reach. It was a city that was constantly being reinvented, where new dreams pushed aside the old dreams, and everywhere you looked there was land being reclaimed from the harbour, and shining skyscrapers being raised upon it while the soil was still wet."

Maybe that's why I recall liking all of his books quite a bit but I was so unimpressed with this book today. I found the characterization of all women as either baby crazy or cold really bloody annoying. And I wasn't very impressed with a lot of the male characters at all - I don't know that mnay assholes in life, but the book was fairly packed with them. This book really illustrated for me just how much the reader brings to the story, I suppose. but I wish I'd used my subway reading time on better material.

"I bet those Communists can't make a decent cappuccino." ... "A day should be enough, shouldn't it? I mean, how long does it take to see China?" ..."This country, thought Paulo. China. They have got cities of ten million people that we have never even heard of.

A Model World, Michael Chabon

"If you can still see how you could once have loved a person, you are still in love; an extinct love is always wholly incredible."

"Billiard ball trysts with models and waitresses, knocking into them and then spinning off into some other corner of the city."

"Friendship is different in another language; a foreign friend doesn't have to understand what you feel, and I don't expect it. It's enough if he understands what you just said."

Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert T. Kiyosaki

"To live a life dictated by the size of a paycheck is not really a life."

It's a different way to think about money, I suppose, but I can't say that I thought it was incredible. It was so obvious: that the fear of not having money controls you, that more money doesn't solve problems, intelligence does, that you will resent a luxury because of the debt it causes, or that laziness can involve staying busy to avoid something you don't want to do.

The Girls' Guide to Hunting and Fishing, Melissa Banks

"Sometimes you're loved because of your weaknesses. What you can't do is sometimes more compelling than what you can."

This is a reread, though it's been absolutely ages since I read it first. I recall when it first came out that it was billed as an American Bridget Jones and how startled I was last time that it wasn't chick lit.

"I tried to understand what Henry had told me. But I worried about that, too. Other people mght not try as hard as I did to understand him. I was always on his side, no matter what. My parents were, too. All he really had to do with us was show up. More had been expected of him as Julia's boyfriend and at that party. More would be expected of him everywhere."

I think it's a really good read - sure, it's mostly about relationships, but not just romantic ones. I liked the blunt narrative voice and the interplay between the narrator and her brother.

"Your mortality is at optimal distance, not up so close that it obscures everything else, but close enough to give you depth perception. Previously, it has taken you weeks, months, or years to discover the meaning of an experience. Now it's instantaneous."

While not a collection of short stories, it's also not exactly a novel, with one story in the middle only loosely related to the others. Worth a read.

"He will say that a modified radical sounds like a Black Panther who has moved to the suburbs and belongs to a food co-op."

"The only relationships I haven't wrecked right away were the ones that wrecked me later."

re buying self help novel "I take my copy up to the counter as furtitively as I would a girdle or vibrator."

"But advertising made my IQ go down; every night I had to work just to get it back up to regular."

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Reading, Slowly

Elbow Room, James Alan McPherson

"A black mama birthed you, let you suck her titty, cleaned your dirty drawers, and you still look at us through paper and movie plots."

I started reading this at the same time as The Color of Water and completely preferred it. I loved many of the narrative voices, the title story in particular. The long read time was simply a result of how easy it is to be distracted from any short story collection (for me, anyway.) I had to order it over the Internet from a used book dealer, as it was the Pulitzer Prize winner in the year of my birth and apparently not much read anymore, which I think is a real shame.

"I saw Virginia Frost losing control of her stories. As her belly grew, her recollections began to lose their structure. The richness was still there, but her accounts became more anecdotal than like stores. They lacked clarity and order. She still knew the names, the accents, the personal quirks of individual Indians, Asians, Israelis, but more and more they fragmented into pieces of memory. There was no longer the sense of a personal epic. She no longer existed inside her own stories. They began bordering dangerously on the exotic and nostalgic. At times, telling them, she almost became a performer - one capable of brilliant flashes of recollection that stunned briefly, lived and then were gone. She had inside her an epic adventure, multinational in scope, but the passion needed to give it permanent shape was obviously fading."

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, Jonathan Safran Foer

"The walls of the shed collapsed one autumn afternoon - "a leaf too many," her father joked - and the next day he made new walls of shelves, so that the books themselves would separate inside from outside. (The new, overhanging roof protected the books from rain, but during the winter the page would freeze together, come spring they let out a sigh.) He made a little salon of the space, carpets, two small couches, eh loved to go out there in the evenings with a glass of whiskey and a pipe, and take down books and look through the wall at the center of the city."

While I liked the book well enough, I was in no rush to finish it and in fact, stopped 40 pages from the end for over a week. The narrative voice reminded me strongly of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime.

"It's easy to be emotional. You can always make a scene. Remember me eight months ago? That was easy." "It didn't sound easy." "It was simple. Highs and lows make you feel that things matter, but they're nothing." "So what's something?" "Being reliable is something. Being good."

The Mysteries of Pittsburgh by Michael Chabon was greatly influenced by The Great Gatsby and Goodbye Columbus - in terms of using the outline of a single summer. Gatsby is better and I've yet to read Goodbye Columbus, but I assume it is too.

"I admit I have an ugly fondness for generalizations, so perhaps I may be forgiven when I declare that there is always something weird about a girl who majors in French. She has entered into her course of study, first of all, knowing full well that it can only lead to her becoming a French teacher, a very grim affair, the least of whose evils is poor pay, and the prospect of which should have been sufficient to sent her straight into business or public relations. She has been betrayed into the study of French, heedless of the terrible consequences, by her enchantment with this language, which has ruined more young American women than any other foreign tongue. Second, if her studies were confined simply to grammar and vocabulary, then perhaps the French major would develop no differently from those who study Spanish or German, but the unlucky girl who pursues her studies past the second year comes inevitably and headlong into contact with French literature, potentially one of the most destructive forces known to mankind."

It took me forever to finish this - it's never a good sign when you find the author interview at the end more interesting than the novel itself. I suspect I would have enjoyed it more if I had read it ten years ago.

Body Wars: Making Peace with Women's Bodies, Margo Maine, Ph.D.

While the book was interesting enough to keep me amused on the subway, it didn't introduce anything I hadn't read before. Go read The Beauty Myth instead. Also - don't bloody capitalize things you shouldn't. It's annoying. It talked a lot about how these days the self isn't viewed as a life force or a process, but a product to which we can add value. Most interesting new fact: the Barbie Liberation Organization switched GI Joe and Barbie voice boxes, "Vengeance is mine." "Let's go shopping."

The distorted Barbie

Monday, May 03, 2010

Go Read it Yourself!

Reading books that draw comments from those around you if often strange. I think the two I've gotten the most comments about are Cunt and Why I Hate Canadians. Cunt could not have been less subtle - yellow book, giant pink flower. And Canadians don't take too well to seeing a title about why you hate them. Lately I had an odd experience on a subway. I was reading Model World by Chabon and the oddest man starting talking to me. At first it was just about the book and where he could find "a book that will make me laugh." Then he oddly asked me why Americans drink such large coffees. Weird.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

So Mom...

... maybe you should just look at the pretty pictures and not read the post below, or frankly, most of the weekend ones from April.

I'm just saying, read at your own risk.

I Need to Get Out of the House

i'm watching house right now
or would be, but megavideo has been on a break

yeah, u can only get 72 minutes at a time.

bloody annoying

u could pay for it.

indeed, i could not
that's like paying for sex ;)


did you meet Jefe?

we made out once...

he did share his habit of making out with guys with me
which i find rather hot
which is odd, since in general, i prefer making out with girls myself


apparently he's also made out with WHAM
and who would have thought i'd have one degree of making out separation with WHAM

so how did you and jefe end up sleeping together?

i'm really bad at beer pong

best. answer. ever.


Two months of not being drunk. I still have a few drinks from time to time

Post-Korea cleansing?


By the time I finally leave, I'm going to need a month long stay in one of those places in Thailand where you get daily enemas and eat clay to clean out my system.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Words of Wisdom

Become an Expat By Bob Shacochis

When are you going to get out of school?

And I don’t mean finish the degree, get a job, a life. I mean turn your life upside down, expose it, raw, to the muddle. “Put out,” as the New Testament (Luke 5:4) would have it, “into deep water.” A headline in the New York Times on gardening delivers the same marching orders: IF A PLANT’S ROOTS ARE TOO TIGHT, REPOT. Go amongst strangers in strange lands. Learn to say clearly in an unpronounceable language, “Please, I very much need a toilet. A doctor. Change for a 500,000 note. I very much need a friend.”

If you want to know a man, the proverb goes, travel with him. If you want to know yourself, travel alone. If you want to know your own home, your own country, go make a home in another country (not Canada, England, or most of Western Europe). Stop at a crossroads where the light is surreal, nothing is familiar, the air smells like a nameless spice, and the vibes are just plain alien, and stay long enough to truly be there. Become an expat, a victim of self-inflicted exile for a year or two. Sink into an otherness that reflects a reverse image of yourself, wherein lies your identity or lack of one. Teach English is Japan, aquaculture in the South Pacific, accounting in Brazil. Join the Peace Corps, work in the oil fields of Saudi Arabia, set up a fishing camp on the beach of Uruguay, become a foreign correspondent, study architecture in Istanbul.

And here’s the point: Amid the fun, the risk, the discomfort, the seduction in a fog of miscommunication, the servants and thieves, the food, the disease, your new friends and enemies, the grand dance between romance and disillusionment, you’ll find out a few things you thought you knew but didn’t.

You’ll learn to engage the world, not fear it, or at least not to be paralyzed by your fear of it. You’ll find out to your surprise, how American you are – 100 percent, and you can never be anything but – and that is worth knowing. You’ll discover that going native is self-deluding, a type of perversion. Whatever gender or race you are, you’ll find out how much you are eternally hated and conditionally loved and thoroughly envied, based on the evidence of your passport.

You’ll find out what you need to know to be an honest citizen of your own country, patriotic or not, partisan or non-partisan, active or passive. And you’ll understand in your survivor’s heart that it’s best not to worry too much about making the world better. Worry about not making it worse.

When you come back home, it’s never quite all the way, and only your dog will recognize you.

Bad Blogger!

I was a really, really bad blogger last month. I posted on the first of April and then I had two pre-done posts that went up and that was it. I'd love to blame it on my one week houseguest, but he visited the week of my birthday. I'd love to blame it on Project 365m but I was just as crappy at updating my pictures (though I did keep on taking them.) In all honesty, I can blame it only on one thing and that's my obsession with the West Wing. I somehow stumbled across West Wing fan fiction and read. Quite a bit. I had never even heard of fan fiction before, really, and it's interesting to see what exactly it entails (I wasn't going to admit to this on the Internet and there I've gone and done it). Anyway, I'm over the obsession (mostly because I seem to have exhausted CJ-centric stories) and back to blogging - I hope, anyway. Since I have all those photos of what happened every single day of April, I am going back and adding them into my blog, some with fairly long write-ups on what I've been up to. Feel free to scroll down if you're interested.

I've been at home all day recouperating, so the sum total of my day was as follows: wake up, read. Make some hot chocolate. Read some more. Watch 27 Dresses (meh). Watch a bunch of TV online. Periodically check Facebook for entertainment. Convince Sharlene to come over to amuse me. Have drunken conversation with TOT and Jefe, who were down in Songtan at a hash that was actually a pub crawl. Make toast and tea. Taste test the Easy Cheese Samantha dropped off for me (along with wheat thins, really good cheese and dill pickle chips, because she is a rockstar!). Salty. Sharlene leaves, I start blogging while watching more TV. I had this idea that I could catch up on an entire month, but I'm sleepy and so I'll have to finish the rest of April tomorrow.