It was hard not to italicize that whole second paragraph. Or use caps lock.

We were walking around the Palazzo this morning looking for the creepy vines [1] and wandered into the fountain courtyard. It was still early– about 11 a.m.– and only a meager handful of people were milling past (and even fewer into and out of) the shops.

So I'm standing in the middle of a wide open space, looking up and around at the architecture since the creepy vines were nowhere to be found (the shows don't start until noon) and I figured I may as well marvel over *something*, when suddenly I get plowed into (and stepped on) by a guy like three times my size. He looks at me, startled, and speechless, I look back at him, equally startled, and as this exchange of startled looks is taking place, he's demonstrating Newton's First Law by continuing on in his original direction of motion, and what's even better, the woman walking by his side's first and only words are: "Oh honey, look out."

No "I'm sorry" from the guy. No "excuse us" from the woman to make up for the guy's lack of apology. Just a concerned admonishment FOR THE OFFENDING PARTY to be careful.

Fellow tourists, take heed: when in Vegas, look out! Those little Orientals, they're just underfoot and everywhere. Could break your neck tripping over one, doncha know.

[1] I told my mom she should play the fobby English card when asking where the vine people were and call them the viney creeps.

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Tokens from a pre-Mac existence

"The hardest of all is learning to be a well of affection and not a fountain, to show them that we love them, not when we feel like it, but when they do." ~Nan Fairbrother

*****
[early 2006]

7. What is your favorite thing about photography? Or, in other words, what is it about photography that interests or draws you to it?  It's a way of capturing the otherwise fleeting essence of beauty in this world; the human memory is a wonderful canvas, but it's also flimsy and unreliable in terms of long-term accuracy.

11. Lastly, in your own words, please give me your personal definition of the term “Creative.” Define what it means to you personally. Define how you express yourself creatively. Tell me why expressing yourself in a creative manner is something you enjoy –what makes it enjoyable for you? What does it bring to your life/How does it enhance your life? 

Creativity is… finding little ways of making this world, which is everyone's, uniquely yours. My outlets for creativity (or attempts at being creative) include: my daily website entries, e-mails, cooking, baking, drawing, photographing, dancing– I'd really like to think that there's some creativity behind the way I look at the world. Little details mean so much to me and despite the sadness and disappointment and harsh realities that pervade, there's still so much beauty, everywhere, and it seems a shame to miss that. Everything has a story behind it, everything has some sort of purity, some essence of clarity, and "expressing myself in a creative manner," or at least trying to live in a creative manner, keeps me aware of, connected to, immersed in that beauty, that purity, that essence.

*****

I can't remember how many years I've loved this comic. At least seven.

And then, on New Year's Eve last year, in a 7-Eleven in San Jose, I finally found it: a $40 candy bar.

Sucker was crazy heavy. Woodstock must have been feeling pretty ambitious.

*****

And I found a saved transcript of the first conversation Noah and I ever had, three years ago, after he'd read my linked entry on del.icio.us pants and taken it upon himself to IM me hello. A random and unexpected find– I had no idea I'd saved this– and completely, wonderfully wonderful.

I should probably find out what happened to the mail, too.

Yesterday– or the latter half of it– slowly drifted off-axis and the inside of my head became attacked by something resembling a sturzstrom. It's spilling over to today, so I've spent most of my Friday thus far nitpicking over labs, putzing around outside half-heartedly attempting to do errands, and scouring my kitchen clean and freeing it from weeks of grease and residue and other crap.

So, disjointed items:

1. When I lived in San Diego, I used to listen to FM 94.9 almost every night for their Big Sonic Chill program, and since having moved away, I've tried to find similar music on my own (including acquisitions of The Chillout Sessions and Ultra Chilled Vols. 1-4) to little avail– until now.

Port Blue is a non-vocal side project of Adam Young (a.k.a. Owl City) and is more or less just that: the more mellow tracks of Owl City minus the lyrics. It's all synthy and Brian-Eno-ish-Sigur-Ros-y awesome, just like The Album Leaf, and I've been listening to the discographies of both. Pretty much anywhere you start with The Album Leaf will tell you whether or not you'll like them, but for Port Blue I would recommend starting with Butterflies or Glider (just hold out for 30 seconds, trust me), or even Mr. Chen, Sailmaker, which to my great disappointment isn't to be found anywhere outside of Songza.

2. We watched "Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist" earlier this week and I was surprised at how much I liked it. I knew I recognized Kat Dennings from somewhere, but couldn't place the source until I looked her up on IMDb and realized it was from "Raise Your Voice" (which is slightly embarrassing, but whatever; I like Hilary Duff sometimes, okay?). Just– really cute dialogue:

Norah: It reminds me of this part of Judaism that I really like, it's called tikkun olam. It says that, um, the world's been broken into pieces and it's everybody's job to find them and put them back together again.
Nick: Well, maybe we're the pieces, you know? Maybe we're not supposed to find the pieces, maybe we are the pieces.

and

Norah: Are you sad we missed it?
Nick: We didn't miss it. This is it.

Makes me think of the bottom part of an old xkcd drawing, and also that great quote from "Contact":

In all our searching, the only thing we found that makes the emptiness bearable… is each other.

3. When I was in second (or maybe third) grade, I started ballet lessons. A few weeks into it, the teacher announced that our class would be participating in a studio-wide recital and all of us would be performing for all the parents and so-on.

Despite having exhibited a love for performing in regards to theatre for a few years by then, the news of this recital overwhelmed me with stage fright, and in response, I stopped going to ballet.

In other words, because I didn't want to do a recital, I abandoned ballet (and have regretted that since).

Funny how 18 years doesn't do a whole lot to stamp out childhood proclivities.

4. Self-cleaning ovens are AMAZING.

One man’s unused shipping container is another man’s home

On kottke.org yesterday, there was a photo of some of the "hundreds of thousands of unused [shipping] containers" that have been piling up in Hong Kong due to slow global export demands. Following the link was a comment:

Perhaps people will be living in those stacks of containers before too long.

which reminded me of some really interesting houses I'd seen on WebUrbanist last year:

12

which received so much attention and praise that they quickly followed it up with more:

Modular-shipping-container

There's also a project called "12 container house" (the page additionally contains a video tour):

12con02

12con06

as well as another project called "Container City", which describes itself as "an innovative modular system that creates affordable accommodation for a range of uses."

Containers are an extremely flexible method of construction, being both
modular in shape, extremely strong structurally and readily available.
Container Cities offer an alternative solution to traditional space
provision. They are ideal for office and workspace, live-work and
key-worker housing.

Img_0397

Container_city_1_livework_unit_mark_doman_2

And for the DIY-minded, WebUrbanist has a post on "Buying, Designing and Building Cargo Container Homes".

Future's gonna be an interesting place.

Quizzical

So either:

a) I am actually smarter than I give myself credit for and somehow understood the material far better than I ever realized
b) I am monumentally deluded in thinking that my midterms today weren't even half as terrifying as I was expecting them to be, which might be proved upon upcoming receipt of my graded exams
c) My professors dumbed down the midterm questions in the hopes of producing a better class average
d) both "a" and "c"
e) "c" but still also "b"

I'm pretty sure the correct answer in this case is going to be "d" or "e" (and, oho, how them odds are lookin' for "e")– either way, "c" is a likely contender (with strong evidence coming from the fact that before handing out the midterms, both professors addressed the class– almost resignedly– "This is a very easy exam"), and this bothers me. Or it bothers my principles. Or it would bother my principles if I cared more today. My mind's just been elsewhere this past week, dwelling on and churning over everything other than my classes.

And last night, I finally put into words something that I've always felt:

noah: you love studying, i know babe
me: no, I don't love studying, really. I just love going to lectures and getting out of it what interests me. studying means having to really learn all the stuff that doesn't interest me but that is supposedly "good for me" in terms of knowledge.

Or in other words, to this day, all I really want is the SYOAGIGFT.

Happy birthday, Noah

I mentioned before that for my birthday last year, I received this alligator.

His name is Giuseppe (ju-SEP-ee) and he's an Italian alligator, both of which facts distressed my mother quite a bit when I first started bringing him over to her house. For one, she didn't understand why he was Italian ("That's like asking you why you're Korean", I replied somewhat indignantly); for another, she couldn't get his name right.

"Igor?"
"Giuseppe, Mom. He's Italian."
"Frappucino? Frappaluci?"

To the point where it made me wish I'd saved "Giuseppe" for my first son's name, because it would never cease to amuse me, hearing my mom try to remember her grandson's name and going through her convoluted list of possible alternatives in the process.

She's got it by now, I think. She sees him often enough– if I'm over at her house, it's a near-guarantee that he's with me, or at least waiting in the car. It's like I've reverted to those childhood days of yore; I take this alligator everywhere with me (except to class; but he comes to school with me and keeps guard in the car while I'm in class): he runs errands with me, comes to lunch with my mom, hangs out at Phil'z in SF, joins us for dinner at a fancy Thai restaurant in SOMA, chills at the bar and occasionally, even DJs. And obviously, too, if he's kicking it in San Francisco– yeah, I carry him on-board airplanes (he's my "one personal item").

On the one hand, I feel ridiculous about this. I'm 25 and carting around this enormous, slippery (read: not-easy-to-cart-around) stuffed alligator, everywhere. Granted, most people find him adorable (the ladies especially seem to love him– flight attendants and waitresses can't get enough of him), but all the same, I suspect his omnipresence in my day-to-day duties makes a lot of other people cock an eyebrow.

On the other hand: I've grown to become surprisingly– what's the word? Not codependent. I don't die or writhe in agony if I don't have him around, though there have been a few instances where I've been tempted to turn the car back to retrieve him (but didn't give in). But I've become accustomed to his presence next to, or relatively near by, me. He comforts me, in that same simple way that our stuffed animals and dolls and other blankets comforted us when we were little kids. When the sting of loneliness comes while I'm away from Noah– when my arms are aching with the emptiness of longing to hold him– when my hands are desperately missing the feel of his hair and face beneath them– Giuseppe placates me. He's the bullet between my teeth when the pain of missing Noah becomes near-unbearable.

And even when I'm with Noah, I still like to have my jolly rotund companion around. I like to think that in this way, Giuseppe soaks up the images of what's going on, recording all our times together and transmitting them back to me later when I'm hugging him to death and trying not to be sad. And plus, he's just always so exquisitely happy. How can life not be bettered by a fat, sassy, ladies-lovin' alligator? How can the world?

At least he's not a love fern. Be grateful for that much, Internet.

And speaking of PB, antibiotics > salmonella, right?

The thing about being on antibiotics is you suddenly feel invincible.
Which I'm sure from a medical standpoint holds no legitimacy
whatsoever, but come on. Antibiotics! Antibiotics are to infectious
illnesses as OxiClean is to stains– what *can't* this stuff eliminate?

So
on the one hand, me being on antibiotics is a great thing because being
sick for three weeks straight, uh, sucked (to put it mildly).

On
the other hand, this self-inflated delusion of protection is bound to
get me in trouble. Hey! Who's down for a road trip to Rosarito for a
tall glass of lukewarm tap water?

*****

In other news, I
was in Solvang for a wedding on Saturday. Cute town. We didn't have
enough time to patronize any of the countless wine bars (etc.) that
lined the main road, which I was perfectly fine with, being as I don't
like wine. Also, Solvang doesn't seem to be too hip with this crazy
hippie bleeding-heart liberal neo-paganistic nude camp lifestyle that I
call vegetarianism (though there is a Subway)… so aside from the
quaint loveliness of its rural surroundings (and its proximity to my first hometown),
I'm not too sure that Solvang holds much appeal for me (whereas Solvang
is one of his favorite places of all time). Though they do have
bakeries, everwhere, and no ma'am I am not opposed to Danish bakeries.
Remarkably, however, I managed to not step foot inside a single one
while we were there (my heart said yes, my ass said no), but all the
same: there's hope for Solvang and me. We'll go back one day, and he
can indulge himself to excess on wine and I can indulge myself to
near-excess on danish, and we'll leave town both singing the praises of
and bemoaning Solvang's plenitude of vice-friendly offerings, and oh,
won't it be grand.

*****

Speaking of food: The Grilled Cheese Invitational (2/21 in SF, 3/14 in
Austin, 4/25 in LA). Wondering if there's such a thing as a PBJ
Invitational?

Notice of Public Outing

I was going to wait until I had a more monumental/shock-value post to submit, but last night, I guess in an attempt to distract me from my slow and miserable descent into Feverish Ew, we decided to finally make our relationship public to the Internets.

And by "we" I mean "he", and by "he" I mean "Noah Kagan".

So, yeah. We've plastered our status everywhere and it's vaguely tempting to be more obnoxious about it. It's ironic; he's been telling everyone (in person) we've been dating pretty much since Day One, referencing this site and sending them over here– when logistically, *I* should have been the one name-dropping and bragging. Because, holy crap, it's Noah Kagan.

But understandably, not everyone is fanatical about All Things Online, so not everyone sees the immediate significance attributed to being with someone like him. Like my mom. My mom kept asking me about Noah, what he does and who he is, and the only thing I could think of in reply was, "He's kind of a big deal on the Internet." I could have sent her his resume, sure, but what good is that to someone who has never heard of Facebook or Mint?

Actually, he's kind of a big deal *off* the Internet, too, but probably 90% of everyone he knows, he's met through the Internet (uh, like me (due to this post)). But either way– some items of interest about Noah, just for your inquiring eyes:

  1. Andrew Chen referred to Noah as "the golden child of Silicon Valley".
  2. You could think of Noah as the Tila Tequila of Facebook. Except Noah's a dude, he's not bisexual, and he's not a slut or publicity whore.
  3. He was mentioned in Rolling Stone for having put together Entrepreneur27 (the article was about Internet-based "baby billionaires").
  4. His company made, then sold, the Facebook revival of "Oregon Trail".
  5. Everyone who knows Noah knows, at the very least, this: he is passionate about burritos.
  6. Actually, the only reason I have a Facebook account to begin with is because Noah made me one. I was two years out of college and Facebook had yet to open membership to non-college students (and I had no interest in Facebook anyway), so he created my account for me. I have never changed the password, which means if his memory doesn't fail him, he could, at any time, log in to my account.
  7. He bought me this alligator for my birthday, and– with the exception of in class– you'll be hard-pressed to find me without it these days.
  8. He is implacably outraged that Two Buck Chuck actually costs $3 here in Vegas. I never hear the end of it.
  9. He despises Twitter, and it's a sore point for him that Twitter is how we reconnected after something like two years.
  10. Noah once impulsively decided to drive from Austin to Vegas (in the middle of the night) just to see me. He made it as far as El Paso before realizing that flying would get him here faster.

And we're together. It still boggles my mind, but don't think I'm not grateful for it, for him, every single day. He's awesome, and he thinks *I'm* awesome (which is awesome), and I finally have someone to whom I could appropriately give this card.

Love: it's sappy and eye-rolling, true, but with the dismal state of so much else in the world, a good heaping dose of love added to the mix could hardly hurt. And that's all I've got.