Fixation Friday 2/26/10

Five things I'm obsessed with this week:

1. SANDWICHES. Hot pot of coffee, I am mooning over sandwiches. I'm going on a sandwich hunt this weekend, in fact, probably to Ike's in SF. And then I'm going to be making sandwiches all week, drawing from this blog as my inspiration.

2. Affirmative responses to what people say. My favorites at the moment include the following: "FACT," "true Hollywood story," and "no kidding."

3. Polyvore. I resisted joining (for no good reason). But check it out! It's a bit addicting. Polyvore is basically online collaging with fashion, music, design, etc. Here's a couple of sets inspired by the show I went to last Thursday (see #4):



4. Alkaline Trio and Cursive. I saw them at the Regency Ballroom last Thursday, and my exhaustion the following day kept me from posting FF last week. They were absolutely awesome. Their opening band, The Dear and Departed, was all right as well. After those guys, Cursive came on, and watching the lead singer perform really gets you into the music and the emotion behind it. It is intense! And he's a cutie for certain. Then Alkaline Trio came on, and I totally fangirled. It was almost embarrassing. But I had a great time!

I would totally have pictures if my phone hadn't fallen from my pocket into the toilet there, rendering it useless. Which leads me to...

5. My phone. I was able to get it working again and didn't have to drop a cool three to five bennies on a new one or revert to a phone that doesn't tell me where to go when I get lost. Once you've been to the future, you just can't go back.


Style Stimulation: Miss Connie

Connie Mitchell of Sneaky Sound System (formerly of Primary)! Miss Connie is an Australian pop star with a rich, smooth voice, and she has worked with Kanye West, Snoop Dogg, and Machine Gun Fellatio.

Totally hot, amirite?

How I would style her look:
1. Work your natural hair texture. OMG I love it, wild and natural and bouncy and fun. That's exactly how I would let my hair grow if I had that kind of texture.

2. Work them legs! Girrrrrl, legs are nice; show them off as much as you're comfortable with!

3. Wear white. It's really a classy color, unless it's got stains.

4. Don't be afraid of patterns and contrasting colors!

5. Try out a fresh shape, like a circle skirt, a dress with pockets, or a bolero.


N.B. This was my first Polyvore experiment, and I've fallen in love.


'Tron Tuesday 2/23/10

Presenting your weekly dose of five things to see around the Intertron! It builds bones better than milk, fights cancer better than broccoli, and makes you laugh and/or scratch your head better than... um, other stuff that is funny or confusing.

1. Chatroulette! Not for the faint of heart, and NSFW. You need a webcam to participate. You go onto the site, and it randomly finds someone else logged on, and you can chat and see each other. Or you can hit the Next button for someone else if the person on the other end is being a jerk (or just jerking). I talked to people in France, Germany, and Boston. I was told I looked "pretty cute" by some people and like a "gurke" (which I learned is German for "cucumber") by another and nexted a whole bunch of times. But it was fun and interesting for sure! I recommend it if you ever have more than half an hour to kill.

2. Straight-up irreverence, my favorite thing! I'd like to see something like this on my tombstone, except maybe with "ride unicorns" replacing "play bingo."

3. Interesting take on Mormonism... from the inside.

4. Like to creep people out? Shorten your URLs with this site.

5. Huge list of things you should have seen on the Internet. I haven't seen most of them. I'm going to work my way through the list little by little. With lists like these, you won't even need to read my posts.

Seen anything good on your confangled machine boxes lately?


The Ones That Got Away (Thankfully)

via http://thebreakupdiet.wordpress.com

Valentine's Day is over, but that's no reason to stop hatin' on love. MyVeryWorstDate.com got me thinking about all the bad dates I've encountered over the years, so I decided to start sharing, hoping you'll be inspired to do the same. Here are my top three worst dates of all time (OF ALL TIME). I abbreviated or changed names to protect the people who have given me these stories and made my life that much more interesting. Thank you, good sirs, and best of luck to you in the future.


Worst Tea Party Ever

P and I lived on the same floor. We were merely acquaintances when he comes over and asks "if I wanted to go have tea sometime." What a fresh date idea, I think, and he's cute, so I accept.

He comes by my room to pick me up on the planned day and time. I just finished making up my face and arranging my hair when he says, "We're taking the mo-ped."

We are taking the what?! And I have to wear the only helmet you own?

Blindsided and terrified, I cling to P's torso on the back of a Vespa, the wind making my hair and makeup jobs irrelevant. As we are having tea, he starts reading to me from a binder full of love poetry he wrote for one of his professors, who is beautiful, smart, older, cultured, and European; I obviously cannot compete. And after an hour of listening to this drivel, he's obsessing over Ireland (there is a whole subset of humans who have this illogical, irrational love for Ireland, and I've met many of them) and soccer (or "real football"). We have nothing in common, P is being rude, and he makes me ride on a mo-ped without any advanced notice.

Finally I convince P that I have to be up early (crafty, you might think, but I actually do for marching band practice), we drive back on the mo-ped with my heart fluttering in the most unromantic context, and he follows me to my place. He spies my roommate's first-season DVDs from The O.C. and says, "We. Have. To. Watch. This." I manage to avoid standing up for myself and kicking him out, and we watch three mind-numbing episodes. After each one, P asks, "So, have I converted you yet?"

I was a convert neither to The O.C. nor to P's creepy, projected romantic stylings and dubious methods of transportation, so I decline his request for a second date a week later, instead recommending that he check his sexy professor's availability.


Vampires Will Never Hurt You (But Will Totally Creep You Out)

I met B through a job I had at a large retail chain. He's one of the security people, so he wears a uniform, and he's cute, older, and has a car and his own apartment, which are major improvements over some past relationships. We seem to have some things in common, and he really digs my joke that vampires are sexy (this was years before Twilight, so IN YOUR FACE). So when he asks me to hang out, I accept.

He picks me up one night after work dressed in head-to-toe black with zipper and fishnet accoutrements. Not that out-of-the-ordinary, I think. Plans are loose at best, so he suggests we go to Starbucks, where a bunch of his friends work.

He is driving with sunglasses on. It is blackest night out there, but "it's the only way I can see the road," he says. We get to Starbucks after hours, and his friends are creepy, delinquent, rude, and really, really loud. So loud, in fact, that a neighbor knocks on the window and threatens to call the police for noise violations. I am able to convince B that we should leave and NOT bring anyone with us, so we go to his apartment.

The apartment walls are covered with red and black abstract paintings, pentagrams, and vaguely sociopathic poetry. He tries to corner me into his "recording studio," where he apparently records and mixes local music, but I evade. He pours red wine into an enormous goblet fit for royalty (just any ol' glass won't do) and asks me to select a movie from his collection. It's getting really late, and I'm getting a little scared, so I look at the backs of all the movies and pick the shortest one. It was probably a documentary.

We're all of five minutes into the movie when B starts rubbing my neck and asks if he can have some of my energy. In response to my "confused" (read: horrified) expression, he explains that he is a vampire -- an energy vampire, "so don't be scared." Apparently that's why he wears sunglasses at night. He says that it's not so bad because he doesn't usually take energy from anyone without asking or unless they really deserve it. He never needs to eat anything because he can just get energy from people and animals. And he dresses in all black because it is the most absorbent color, so he gets energy that way. "Luckily you told me vampires are sexy," he reminds me.

I hightail it out of there and catch a cab home. B never shows up to work again. I wonder if someone staked him.


The Contestant from Ukraine Wins Mr. Douche-iality

I was swimming one summer and met Mr. Ukraine at the pool. We race and otherwise play around in the water a little bit. When I get out of the pool, he asks for my number. His Eastern European accent is charming, and he is drop-dead sexy, so I give it.

He calls me some days later and asks me to meet him next to the fireplace in a certain cafe in a few hours. I get ready and go, and I'm waiting by the fireplace for 15 minutes before he calls me and asks me why I'm not where he is (a hidden room in the cafe).

The entire evening from that point forward is full of miscommunications because dude does not stop talking. He's talking about his muscles, how he started programs at his high school and college and his business and whatever, and how he knows Enrique Iglesias. He talks about the Holocaust. He does somewhat racist impressions and says all Irish girls like the color pink. He says he is such a health nut that all he eats is chicken and rice. Every so often, he stops for a breath and says, "Why are we talking about this?" as though it were my fault. Then he asks me periodically to "tell me something about yourself." I'm like, "Like what? Ask me a question." He says, "I don't ask questions." Okay. He goes on to tell me that my glasses look bad and that American girls are terrible kissers.

I give some leeway for nerves and for someone whose first language isn't English, but this is ridiculous. Luckily I am drinking wine (he is not because he is too health-conscious), so I suggest we go eat something.

At dinner, I commit a mortal transgression: I look at my phone for one second to see what time it is. Mr. Ukraine rips me a new one for it. "If I was looking at my messages and clicking around on my phone while you were talking, you would think you were boring," he says. I wasn't looking at my messages or clicking around on my phone, and I wasn't talking because he is not giving me a chance, but yes, I do think he is boring.

Mr. Ukraine insists on walking me home and pesters me the whole way for a kiss to see, I guess, how bad I am. I give in on my doorstep. And he tells me I am a bad kisser! "Odd, I've never had anyone complain," I want to say. "Quite the opposite, in fact." But I don't have time to say it because I am shutting my door in his face. As though he has no inkling of how abysmally the date has gone, he says "I'll be in touch." Yeah, I bet you will.


So tell me, dear readers, about your worst dates ever. And then be glad that either things got better or you escaped.


'Tron Tuesday 2/16/10

Five things to see on the Intertron:

1. Will those fools over at Cheezburger Network ever quit pumping out the hilarity and cuteness and cularity?

2. Word nerds unite! Peep this article of really obscure words. I, for one, am going to start referring to all my vacations as villeggiaturas.

3. Thank you, The Bloggess, for being the most relevant cultural figure of our time.


4. Emails from an A-hole. I stumbled across this a long time ago but forgot about it. Some guy responds to online classifieds. It all seems normal... until he brings in the ridiculousness. And then it is hilarious.

5. Dogs howling along to the Law & Order theme song:

This was the best I could find. I feel like the Intertron kind of let me down this week. Can you redeem it?


How To Smoke Hookah and Not Get Sick

 via marleycarroll.com

Last night was my first time smoking hookah. I went with CM and P to the Nile Cafe. Also known as "shisha," hookah has a long, storied, proud history. Originally from India, hookah smoking is now a common practice in the Middle East (most frequently associated with Turkey and Morocco) and is gaining popularity in many other countries, including the U.S.

Hookah is a huge water pipe with a bowl that holds flavored tobacco. They cover it with some kind of screen and place lit coals on top, which allows the tasty stuff to get hot enough to smoke. Then you take the loose end of the long hose, insert the personal, disposable plastic mouthpiece they give you (safety first!), bring it to your lips, and enjoy.

via hookahchamp.com

Hookah is not exactly good for you, but it's not something you do all the time. The water moisture makes the smoke irritate you less, but a 40-minute hookah session consists allows you to consume about 100 to 200 times the smoke and about 70 times the nicotine as you would in one cigarette (peep this WHO report). But if you've been known to enjoy the occasional cigarette, martini, Twinkie, or skydive, you're encountering a similar kind of occasional risk. It definitely gives you a nice buzz, and it tastes delicious, so don't be afraid to do it every so often if you're interested.

However, a wide range of ill physical effects can happen pretty quickly if you don't know what you're doing, including dizziness, coughing, and nausea. I would like to pass on some tips I learned last night:

1. Research hookah bars first. Ain't nothing worse than trying to get all the supplies you will need (about $100 for a small pipe, tobacco, charcoal, etc.) and then having no clue what you're doing. A reputable hookah place will do most of it for you, and it's more social that way. Pay close attention if you want to try this at home.

2. Eat something beforehand, preferably something substantial.

3. Have something to drink while you are smoking. It will help keep your mouth from drying out, and it will soothe your throat if you smoke too much at once.

4. Choose the right tobacco flavor. Less nauseating flavors are, well, more like flavors, things that flavor foods, such as rose, jasmine, anise, lemon, etc. I would stay away from flavors that resemble standalone foods, like pomegranate, chocolate fudge, or *gasp* cola.

5. You don't have to inhale. You can still get all the fun flavor from your hookah if you merely pull. What is pulling? Imagine you are sucking on something, like a lollipop; you wouldn't try to breathe that in, would you? So try the same approach to smoking hookah, especially if you start feeling ill. Suck the smoke in with the suction of your mouth muscles, but don't inhale it. When you blow it out, you'll taste it (especially if you also blow out your nose).

If you try hookah, I hope you have a great time. I did!


Fixation Friday 2/12/10

Five things I'm in love with this week:

1. Candy making! Peep this article on how to make a box of chocolates. I went with date truffles, chocolate-orange sweeties, and chocolate-covered strawberries. I found little candy cups (or "miniature baking cups"), tissue paper, and cute Asian food takeout boxes to put the chocolates in at Cost Plus World Market. V-Day is a great excuse to make candy and chocolate-covered anything. Also check out aphrodisiacs... if you're into that.

2. Garlic. A natural antibiotic and antifungal, it also has been reported to hinder the growth of cancer cells, blood clots, and bad cholesterol levels. It is also an aphrodisiac, fittingly for this week. Most important, it is delicious. Garlic is my favorite smell. If they made garlic perfume, I would buy it, wear it, and force my loved ones and the kitty to wear it.

3. Somewhat sad male indie rock, such as Voxtrot, Maritime, and Okkervil River. This is not a new genre, but suddenly it is all I want to listen to this week.

4. Heart of the City Farmers' Market. I just started going and buying stuff. IT IS SO CHEAP. I'm going to start eating mostly veggies and see how much money I save.

5. Living by the Unicorn Code:

Well, there it is. I said it. What do you love?


'Tron Tuesday 2/9/10 (late)

I totally spaced on doing this yesterday. I was so, so tired. My sleep has been really awful since the weekend due to overheating. Last night, though, I kept the windows open all day and slept with a fan on me and minimal blankets, and it sort of worked. So now I am back in action with five things on the Intertron worth noting. Enjoy!

1. HIPSTER PUPPIES! Cutest and most hilarious thing I've seen this week.

2. Go here to have your last will and testament (or really just a short sentence) honored and memorialized forever -- the Internet way!

3. I stumbled across this the other day. It's a very well-done blog made by a lovely lady who was a couple of years behind me at college. It's full of interesting odds and ends, anecdotes, and more.

4. My Very Worst Date will make you feel better if you have a crap Valentine's Day.

5. "Running of the Brides." This makes me ill.

I once worked in a bridal shop for a year or two in college, and unfortunately this kind of behavior is the norm. It is one day of your life. It is by no means the most important or significant day of your life (compare it to, oh, I don't know, the day you were born, your kids' birthdays, the day you graduated high school, the day you stood up to that bully and realized you would never again allow yourself to be treated like a doormat), and the union that you're celebrating (assuming that you're not just celebrating yourself) statistically has bad odds anyway. If your spouse, friends, and family are worth a darn, they'll agree that your wedding was gorgeous no matter how much money the dress, the ring, the cake, the flowers, and the space rental cost. Plus if you behave like a self-centered train wreck in the time prior to your wedding, you risk alienating them all. Why not just relax and enjoy yourself rather than spending so much time planning the most minute details for a year or more in advance?
I can understand being a little nervous as the date draws near and wanting everything to be just so, but one needs to accept that life is never just so. Am I in the minority here?

Off my soapbox now. What have you discovered online this week?


Fixation Friday 2/5/10

Sorry, I skipped last week. Work was crazy. And I was having the Worst Week Ever, so I didn't feel like doing anything but sleeping and crying into a pint of Trumer. But back to liking things...

Five objects of my obsession this week:

1. This Play-Doh ad campaign ran in Singapore last fall:

For mommy's little psychopath. I think it's clever and hilarious. I'm really getting interested in advertising recently and considering taking an ad class through my work.

2. Budgeting. I'm always overly ambitious when it comes to budgets, and then when I screw up, I totally abandon the whole thing that month. But I think I finally made a workable one. It involves using mostly cash and slowly chipping away at my massive credit card debt.

3. Swimming and my apartment and new hair. I'll try to shut up about them.

4. Sushi and sake. I've been eating a lot of it already lately, and I had M and V over for a sushi dinner last night. Despite planning and prepping ahead, I was still running behind, so I didn't get to make as many rolls as I had planned. I had maki of yam-mushroom, spicy tempeh-avocado-scallion, sesame-spinach-tofu, and cucumber as well as miso soup, sake, and chocolate-wasabi cupcakes. I forgot to take pictures, but it was delish. Also, it was so nice to see them. They've decided to move but not as far away as originally planned, which means we can still visit. Hooray!

5. My dream house. It looks like this:

A two-story, two-bedroom, two-bathroom brick house in San Francisco with white trim, big windows, and a porch.

A kitchen with loads of counter space, a dishwasher, an island, two ovens, and stainless-steel appliances.


A hot tub on a rooftop deck overlooking the Pacific Ocean (hey, I'm dreaming here).


A fenced-in yard for dogz.


What does your dream house look like? 
What's blowing your mind this week? 


Trying Something Old

I was born a Pisces; I always loved water. Bath time was my favorite time of day (aside from dinnertime and bedtime, of course). We rarely went to the beach or to swimming pools when I was quite young, so to swim in a hotel pool, to go to the beach in Delaware on an excursion from my grandma's house near D.C., to go to the Riviera Swim Club with my piano teacher, or to spend a few days at Dad's friend's lake house riding the pontoon boat was a treat. I loved sliding, sandcastling, sailing, snorkeling, and especially swimming. I motored around underwater looking for treasure, underwater civilizations, lost puppies, China, etc.

I started swimming competitively in fourth grade during summertime at my parents' swim club, which incidentally also had a few tennis courts. I first swam year-round my eighth-grade year, and this continued throughout high school.

I quit swimming when the coach started making us run during dry-land practice. After all, I thought that the reason I had stuck with swim team for so long after I abandoned all other sports was because I didn't have to run. In the pool, I never got side stitches, never felt my inner organs jostling about, never came down funny on my foot and embarrassed myself in a faceplant.

I did not manage to get very good. I was at about the median skill and speed level on whatever team I joined. I'm not sure if it was a lack of commitment, an inability to build muscle (nutrition and weightlifting were not exactly pursuits of mine at that age), or just not starting early enough. But I liked the feeling of propelling my body through the water. I enjoyed the sudden grace I would acquire in the pool. I was grateful that the water rinsed away my sweat before I could feel it. I appreciated our symbiotic relationship in which we both wanted to get past each other as quickly and smoothly as possible.

When I went to college, I wanted to stave off that freshman 15. So I tried varied exercise approaches: cardio salsa, elliptical machine, bicycling to work and to class. Little did I remember that swimming was where it's at. Sure, I tried the lap pools every once in a while, but the crowds, restrictive open lap swim times, and my general annoyance with amateurs (just because I wasn't Olympics material doesn't mean I wasn't a snob) did not exactly excite me.

Nearly five years and dozens of exercise plans and programs that didn't stick later, I'm back in the water, and I realize how much I've missed it. Sure, I'm a shadow of my former self as far as speed in most strokes, but my technique is still okay, and it's still an excellent workout if I remember to plan a routine and push myself instead of complacently roboting through 50 laps. I also discovered that in all my off time from the dreaded butterfly, what used to be my slowest and most embarrassing stroke is now suddenly -- miraculously -- a breeze and even a little bit fun!

And fun is the key to sticking with anything.


'Tron Tuesday 2/2/10

Five things I think you should see on the ol' Intertron:

1. Hate V-Day? Send an anti-valentine.

2. Why are you so terribly disappointing? SFGate wants to know.

3. I'll be interested to see what this Super Bowl ad is like and how many raging Tim Tebowners (tm) result in the immediate aftermath. Choosing against doctors' recommendations not to abort a pregnancy and then having a multiple Heisman-winning son seems to me (and this writer) less a matter of courage and more one of luck.

4. Thinking about a second job? Or a first one if you lost yours recently? Here's a handy list of suggestions.

5. Gala Darling's Radical Self-Love challenge! Click below. I'm gonna do it.

Holla if you've seen anything good on the tubes recently.


Requested Photos

So you've been wanting to see pictures of my apartment for months? And pictures of my haircut for... hours? Ask and receive:

Sorry about the focus on the hair pictures. And the goofy faces. But now you can't say I didn't show you.