Archive for the ‘lighter musings’ Category

It’s no secret that I like to shop.  A lot.  It’s partly the lure of new and shiny things, but it’s also about the satisfaction I get from sniffing out and taking advantage of a good deal.  My weakness for a bargain can certainly get me into trouble (in Shane’s words, ‘you still have to spend money to save money…’), and I will admit to being suckered into plenty of stuff I don’t need, but I’m slowly getting better with the virtue of restraint.  That said, I’ve come across a few pretty little steals that I am just too proud of not to share.

These cute little flats caught my eye at DSW a few months ago, but at $60, I passed.  Then I popped into the store a couple of weeks ago (just to browse, of course), and saw them on the clearance rack.  For $50.  With a 70% off sticker.  Plus I had a coupon for $10 off any item.  Bringing the grand total to…five whoppin’ dollars.  Try to beat that.

Fast forward to last weekend, when my mom and dad were in town for a visit.  My mom is a self-declared thrift store maven, so when I mentioned that I needed to run over to Goodwill to drop off a donation, she readily volunteered to ride along with me.  I knew we were in store for more than just a drop-off, and I was in the mood to do a little digging, so we made a shopping excursion out of it.  I spent most of my time in the book section, perusing the paperbacks, when I saw the sign for art books.  I didn’t expect to find much, since the good art books in most used book stores are often pretty picked over, but I decided to check it out, and the clean, crisp cover of this contemporary art compilation called my name.  479 large glossy pages of arty goodness.  The book wasn’t marked with a price, other than the $45 retail price printed on the jacket, but I hoped I might be able to walk out of the store with it for less than $10.  I brought it the counter, the cashier looked for a price tag, didn’t find one, raised her eyebrows at me, and asked, $2.99?  Ummmm, yes, please!

The value of my last good find is debatable, since I’m still waiting to reap the benefits of my deal, but today we got a good chunk of our vegetable garden started, planted with seeds that I picked up from Lowe’s for roughly $1 per packet.  In roughly two months, we could have a planter full of beets, carrots, lettuce, and kale.  And do you know how expensive produce can be?  Let alone organic, locally grown veggies.  So if even half of my seeds result in anything edible, we’ll have scored the deal of the season.  Keeping my fingers crossed on this one…

Call me frugal, call me cheap, call me whatever you want – I find no shame in being the girl with the $5 shoes eating food picked from her own backyard!

Shane has this saying that he uses when he hears a song or watches a show that really gets to him – he brings his fist to his chest, squints his eyes, and says, with much emotion, ‘awwww, yeah – this speaks to my soul!’.  It happened the other night when ‘Babe I’m Gonna Leave You’ by Led Zeppelin came on the radio, then again when we watched a particularly poignant episode of Wonder Years.  I love his ability to be deeply affected by music (and I especially love the air guitar solo that usually accompanies such affected-ness), and I often laugh at the way that he can so intensely relate his own experiences to those seen on television (apparently Shane’s growing-up years are reminiscent of Kevin Arnold’s adolescent struggles)…  And so I started thinking: what speaks to my soul?

My first answer for television is easy – we have been rewatching the final season of Six Feet Under, and nearly every single episode has brought me to tears.  And I’m not talking just one glistening drop – the last episode we watched had me doing the full-on heaving, sobbing, uncontrollable ‘ugly cry’.  The writing on this show is brilliant – to the point that I have actually convinced myself that I know the Fisher family and just might run into them next time I’m in L.A.  I wouldn’t say that I really identify with any of the characters (which is probably a good thing, since they are all a little bit (or a lot) crazy), and yet, I am so invested in all of them.  So soul-speakingly good.  Some good friends of ours are also avid fans and we have a date tonight to watch the show’s finale together.  I have been looking forward to it all week – and I will be arriving at their house with my pockets full of Kleenex.

My second choice is slightly less sophisticated, but for the sake of full disclosure, I will admit that I loved Felicity.  It’s true.  I never really watched the show when it was airing on TV, but I rented all of the seasons a few years ago and devoted many hours to following the Felicity-Ben/Felicity-Noel/Felicity-Ben/Felicity-Noel saga.  I’m not going to try to justify my affection for this cheesy adolescent drama, I will just say that for some reason that I’m unable to pinpoint, I adored Felicity, in all her fickleness, and often found myself wanting to be a part of her New York City college experience.  There, I said it.

Now, for music: the first artist that pops into my head is Damien Rice – his album O in particular.  The music is beautiful, but the memories I have associated with it are what really get to me.  I can so clearly remember listening to this album on my iPod as I was riding the Metro to and from French class during my first month in Paris.  Makes me smile, in a longing-for-past-days kind of way.  Proof that sometimes the memories associated with a song are just as moving as the music itself.

Ryan Adams is another favorite – his talent for song-writing is beyond amazing, and his voice is so wonderfully wrought with emotion.  When I’m at work and ‘The Sun Also Sets’ or ‘Oh My Sweet Carolina’ come on my iPod, it’s all I can do to keep from embarrassing myself by belting out the bluesy lyrics.  We saw him at the Paramount a couple of years ago, and it goes down as one of the best shows I’ve ever seen.  I have a hard time picking out a favorite album, but Heartbreaker is the one I’m most recently putting on repeat.

Finally, I can’t complete this list without paying tribute to Smashing Pumpkins.  Turn off your lights, lay on your bed, crank up ‘Disarm’, and you will know what I’m talking about.  When I got my braces off in 8th grade and was asked what color/pattern I wanted my retainer to be, I chose blue plastic with glittery starts and moons, because it reminded me of the album cover of Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness.  How’s that for a fan story?  I played Siamese Dream over and over and over during my freshman year of high school.  Then again during my last year of college.  And now it’s found it’s way onto my playlist once again.  Timeless.

This is the top of my list – what’s at the top of yours?

It’s true.  I want a puppy.  What began as a fun idea has turned into a bit of an obsession lately, as I’ve been browsing the Internet, looking at pictures of all these furry little bundles of joy.  I’ve narrowed my search to non-shedding or low-shedding breeds and am really drawn to Schnauzers and certain types of Terriers (check out this adorable Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier – image courtesy of here).


Shane is resistant to the idea, to say the least, and I really can’t argue when he says that it isn’t fair to expect a dog to be cooped up alone for 10 hours a day while we’re at work, but, selfish as it sounds, I WANT A PUPPY!  I’ve looked at other pet alternatives, but cats are out of the question, since Shane and several of our friends are allergic, and I’ve never been cut out for cat lady-hood anyhow.  Goldfish are no fun, hamsters are too rodent-like, and those robot-dogs have lost their novelty.  I love the thought of having a little tail-wagging pup waiting for us when we get home in the evenings.  I even don’t mind the thought of having to walk him daily, rain or shine.  I’ve always envied all of those proud dog-owners that do their regular loops around Seward Park.  Now, the thought of dog poop on the carpet or chewed-up furniture scares me a little, but I’m hopeful that with the right training, we can avoid too many of those disasters.  Yes, I’ve got it all figured out, minus the whole working 40+ hours a week thing…  So, what to do?  Be patient, I guess.  Wait until we have a house with a fenced-in yard or until one of us isn’t working full-time.  In the meantime, I’ll have to content myself with my pathetic bouts of Internet puppy-stalking.  *Sigh.*

Saturday night I tore myself away from my study materials (sweet relief!) and Shane and I headed over to Capitol Hill to enjoy an evening of live music.  We bought tickets a few weeks ago for the “Hotel Cafe Tour” solely because we are both big fans of Rachel Yamagata, but we were pleasantly surprised to find that the four other artists on tour with her were extremely (though not equally) talented.  Meiko opened the show and was charming and beautiful, with her incredibly sweet voice.  She makes strumming the guitar look deceivingly effortless.  Emily Wells has this very cool hip-hop/violin/live-mixing-chamber thing going on.  With the use of a recorder and some fancy equipment, she layers her vocals over her violin over a deep hip-hop beat to create this fascinating “one person symphony”.  I was entranced.  Lenka was good, though quite bubbly, and possibly a little too Feist-like.  I like Feist, but I also like originality.  Thao Nguyen was so much fun to watch, with the way she bopped around stage with her guitar.  She reminded me a little of Bjork, but still had her own thing gong on.  She’s one of those singers that can “scream” and still make it sound musical.  And then there was Rachel Yamagata.  This woman blows me away.  She can sit at a piano and woo you with her deep, bluesy voice, and then stand up and rock out on her guitar like the bad-ass that she is.  All in all, a very good show.  And it was nice to see something in a small venue like Chop Suey – we weren’t more than 15 feet from the stage.  The performer-audience interaction that comes with such a small space adds a lot to the experience.

All of that said, I have a confession: I am not perfectly cut out for this whole hip live music scene.  After two hours of standing in the middle of the crowd on the beer-splashed concrete floor, my feet began to hurt, my back began to ache, and I became increasingly irritated by all of the concert-goers around me.  I was annoyed by the guy standing next to me who keep swaying to the music and bumping into my shoulder.  This dude in front of me with the biggest hair ever kept blocking my view of the stage.  I started to wish that I’d worn shoes that were more orthopedically supportive, rather than my cute little ballet flats.  And I was hot, desperately wanting some fresh air, but not wanting to give up my spot so close to the stage.  Tiredness set in around 11:30, and I was trying to hide the fact that I couldn’t help yawning every 10 minutes.  Is it possible that at the young age of 27, I have become so un-hip that I can’t thoroughly enjoy a two and a half-hour set?  Are Shane and I resigned to a lifetime of spending Saturday nights at home, eating ice cream in our pj’s?  Hopefully not (though I do love our weekend pajama parties…).  I’ll pretend I’m cool for at least another couple of years.

For the first time in months, I opened all the windows today and enjoyed the feeling of a fresh breeze flowing throughout the house. Heaven! The joys of spring can officially begin: walks along the lake after work, barbecues in the backyard, tending to my new little herb garden… Days like today make the months of gray drizzle all worth it. I hate to let my mood be dictated by the weather, but my God, this sunshine is making my happy! Is there such a thing as a Vitamin D high?

For me, an ideal afternoon is one spent in a cozy cafe, sipping a latte and reading or writing or sketching. This pleasure harks back to my time in Paris, where I found that cafe-hopping is a reasonably affordable way to really experience the vibe of a street or neighborhood (I couldn’t afford to eat out very often, but for the bargain price of 2 euros, I could get a cup of espresso and a chance to sit and soak in a cafe’s ambiance for a couple of hours). And so when I moved to Seattle, coffee capitol, USA, I immediately started asking around about where to find the city’s best cafes. I was living in Capitol Hill at the time and frequented Bauhaus, Espresso Vivace, Cafe Vita, and Joe Bar. Then I did a bad thing. I started taking all this urban, espresso-filled goodness for granted. I started filling up my Saturday and Sunday afternoons with errands and house-cleaning and tv-watching and naps. But I’m back on the wagon and am sitting in Stumptown Coffee on Pine Street as I type. And I like it. It’s nice here – warmly lit with comfy seating and clean, modern decor. Fellow Seattle-ites: any suggestions on where to spend next Sunday afternoon?


The beauty of God’s creation astounds me sometimes. I was ecstatic to wake up to a sunshiny day this morning and so I jetted straight over to Seward Park for a jog. Is it really possible that we live just two miles away from all this? Glistening water, dense green forests, a view of snow-capped mountains in the distance, and lots of happy, happy people. Nothing unites Seattle-ites like a little sunshine. I saw 70-year-old couples strolling hand-in-hand, young families playing on the beach, people walking their dogs, people pushing strollers, people riding bikes… I even saw a couple of elderly gentlemen sweeping for valuables together along one of the trails with their matching metal detectors. And everyone was smiling, basking in the beauty around them (a stark contrast to way that people tend to retreat into themselves on rainy and windy days, putting their heads down and just focusing on getting from point A to B as quickly as possible). What a glorious day… Spring is so close I can smell it.


Tonight was the night of the Ryan Adams concert at the Paramount (wanted to jot down my thoughts while I’m still on this post-concert high). I knew the show was going to be good when Ryan lit a cigarette and sat down at the piano to play “Rescue Blues”. But I had no idea it was going to be sooooo good. Whenever Shane and I are in the car and Led Zeppelin comes on the radio, Shane starts drumming on the steering wheel and says that he can “feel the music in his bones”. I usually just laugh at him for being silly, but when Ryan busted out the harmonica for “Oh My Sweet Carolina”, I knew exactly what Shane was talking about. I felt the music in my bones, my gut, my head, everywhere. Sooooo good. There were several times during the night where I caught myself grinning stupidly (the sure sign of a good show). And I hate to be one of those people that goes “Woooo!!!” at the beginning of every song, but tonight I just couldn’t help myself… It’s rare that I sit down and just listen to music; music is something I listen to while I’m cleaning the house or reading on the bus.  It was such a treat tonight to sit back for 2 1/2 hours and do nothing but soak up the songs. The concert was a reminder that listening to music can be an action in and of itself – I should pop in an album once in awhile and commit to doing nothing but closing my eyes and opening my ears.

2008 New Year’s Resolution #1: Start a blog. Check.

I’ve been delaying my blog debut for months now, arguing that typing on a laptop just doesn’t compete with the feeling of putting to pen to paper in my little black Moleskine journal. But alas, in an effort to increase my readership, I have jumped aboard the technological train. This website is a glimpse into what I’m working on, what I’m pondering, what I’m learning. I hope it will be followed by family, friends, maybe even the occasional stranger. But it’s not meant to be a substitute for phone calls or coffee dates – clearly, ear-to-ear or face-to-face contact still takes priority over “virtual” communication. Like I said, this is only a glimpse…

Blog-tastic features of “little black journal”:

  • I call myself a “wanna-be artist” because, honestly, I seem to only pick up a paintbrush a few times a year. But check out what I’m currently working on in the “now painting” page. I will update you as progress is made. If you don’t see progress being made, bug me about it. I often need a kick in the pants.
  • In the past year, my passion for reading has really taken flight. You’ll see quite a variety of a books fly through the “now reading” log. I made a resolution in 2007 to read at least one book a month and covered stuff ranging from The Secret Life of Bees (a touching story about the joys of female bonding) to Lolita (creepy). I welcome recommendations.
  • I love making stuff, and that passion has recently taken the form of knitting and sewing. There are few things I enjoy more than saying “Oh, you like my scarf? Thanks, I made it.” So keep an eye on the “now stitching” page and make sure to compliment me when you see me wearing my creations.

Signing off – check back soon for more bloggy goodness.