Monday, January 30, 2006

Joy is a green backdrop.

There is a Vietnamese restaurant in Westport called Sung Son. It's a lovely little place, with contemporary, yet soft decor, delicious and inexpensive food, and friendly wait staff. It is worth a trip to Sung Son to view the artwork alone. The detailed portraits and embroidered scenes of rural life that adorn the walls are stunning. I've been in the restaurant many times, and each time I see something in the artwork that I missed before.

There is one painting that is particularly beautiful. My husband and I take turns facing it when we eat lunch at Sung Son, because we both find it captivating. It's a portrait of a Vietnamese woman sitting on a woven mat, the background is a vivid green, as is her shirt, her suit shell is a striking red, as are her lips. She is thinking deeply of something, or someone, and one feels as they look at this painting like an intruder on some private moment.

Last week as we sat enjoying Bun and chicken with lemongrass, I overheard a conversation between a group of 5 customers at another table and the owner of the restaurant. One of the customers asked if he could buy one of the paintings in the restaurant - another portrait, this one of a Vietnamese woman washing her feet by candlelight, with rich pink and brown tones. The customer wanted to buy the painting right then and wanted to know how much it cost. The owner didn't know what to charge the man, and said he needed to contact he father in Vietnam to see how much the painting cost. The owner told the customer to call the restaurant in a day or so and he would have a price then.

This is a classic example of us being in the right place at the right time. We always wondered if the paintings were for sale - I was going to ask myself several times, but never got up enough nerve - and now here was someone asking for us. As we left the restaurant, we were both excited, and discussed how much we would be willing to spend on the painting we both so enjoyed.

A few days pass and I forget to call the restaurant. I finally remembered to call them last Friday. I spoke with the owner, who asked if I was a member of the party he spoke with the other day and I told him that I was not, but I overheard his conversation with them and wanted to purchase a painting as well. He told me that the other customers were interested in buying "the pink one and the green one" and when he said "green" my stomach dropped. Then he told me the price of the painting, and it was the EXACT number my husband and I had decided we would be willing to pay. I told the owner I would give him that price for the painting and I would come in and pick it up this weekend.

So I did. And now, the painting that gives us so much joy is hanging on our kitchen wall. My husband said he feels kind of guilty, hording it away from the world like that. "It's like keeping a panda in our spare bedroom," he said this morning as we ate Lucky Charms and stared at this museum work hanging in our house.

For everyone who has ever eaten at Sung Son and enjoyed this painting and will now miss it (like we would have if the other customers had remembered to call the restaurant back) please know that this painting has an excellent home. I'm sorry we took it from your view, but we could not let some anonymous stranger take it away.

A few details we learned from the owner when we picked it up: It was painted by a man in north Vietnam named Mr. Din or Mr. Dinh. The owner's father contacts Mr. Din(h) and asks for a painting, which Mr. Din(h) then completes. The father then retrieves the painting from Mr. Din(h) and ships it to the United States.

As you can see, Mr. Din(h)'s work is incredible. I wish I knew more about him and his art. If you know anything about this painting or the artist, please please please contact me.

Monday, January 23, 2006

WoW Update

Persia - 60
Prufrock - 60

They both kick ass in their own special ways. Persia is a split between Discipline and Holy, while Prufrock is a standard Shadow Mastery/Ruin build. I've been using Pru more for PvP than anything else, and he's progressing through the honor system quite nicely, thank you.

What to level next? I have a 38 hunter, a 25 mage, an 18 druid and a 7 paladin. Maybe I'll work on the hunter, although he's a really ugly dwarf with a mullet so it's hard to look at him for more than a few minutes before freaking out about how hideous he is.

The best video I’ve ever seen.

If you don't agree, don't come back to this site, okay?

The Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny


Honestly - the best flash animation every created in the whole universe. Click the "watch this movie" link near the right side of the page.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

A Drinking Song by W. B. Yeats

Wine comes in at the mouth
And love comes in at the eye;
That’s all we shall know for truth
Before we grow old and die.
I lift the glass to my mouth,
I look at you, and I sigh.

On Religion

"A myth is a religion in which no one any longer believes."

James Feibleman

"To do good is my religion"

Thomas Paine

The Emerald Isle

This poem is what I imagine Ireland to be... it must be so beautiful.

The Lake Isle of Innisfree
by W. B. Yeats

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made:
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honeybee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight's all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evenings full of the linnet's wings.

I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear the lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements gray,
I hear it in the deep heart's core.

Monday, January 9, 2006

By the numbers.

"Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted."

Albert Einstein

Not so unreasonable…

"The heart has reasons that reason knows nothing of."

Blaise Pascal

I, Too, Sing America by Langston Hughes

I, too, sing America.

I am the darker brother.
They send me to eat in the kitchen
When company comes,
But I laugh,
And eat well,
And grow strong.

Tomorrow,
I'll be at the table
When company comes.
Nobody'll dare
Say to me,
"Eat in the kitchen,"
Then.

Besides,
They'll see how beautiful I am
And be ashamed--

I, too, am America.

The pain of Fredrick Douglass

This was in my book, too, written while I was taking a class on African American literature:

Fredrick douglass writes about the unfortunate and sad situation of his grandmother, who is "put out to die" and spends her remaining days in loneliness. He describes how he imagines she must have felt through a poem by John Greenleaf Whittier, the "slave's poet":

From The Farewell
Gone, gone, sold and gone
To the rice swamp dank and lone,
Where the slave-whip ceaseless swings,
Where the noisome insect stings,
Where the fever-demon strews
Poison with the falling dews,
Where the sickly sunbeams glare
Through the hot and misty air:--

Gone, gone, sold and gone
To the rice swamp dank and lone,
From Virginia hills and waters--
Woe is me, my stolen daughters!

Good advice.

"If you want to look young and thin, hang around old fat people."

Jim Eason

More to be happy about!

On February 19th, 2002 these were the things that made me happy:

Helly Kitty
KCUR
Paradise Grill spinach salad (fresh spinach, red onions, strawberries, sliced almonds, poppyseed dressing)
Squirrels
Keyless entry
Flavored lip gloss
"Exotic" oil from The Body Shop
February crocouses
Chocolate croissants
Shopping with mom
Big, juicy oranges
The feel of a smile
Ball-point pens
Kleenex with lotion
Clear, high-gloss fingernail polish
Rubber duckys
Freshly sharpened pencils
Peppermint essential oil
Palindromes - Like today at 8:02pm - 20:02, 20/02/2002
I am getting married on April 2nd, 2002!

The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth.

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same.

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Flex your muscles.

"“And now here is my secret, a very simple secret; it is only with the heart that one can see rightly, what is essential is invisible to the eye.”

Catch a wave.

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

Mark Twain

Wisdom.

"If you can spend a perfectly useless afternoon in a perfectly useless manner, you have learned how to live."

Lin Yutang

The Best Medicine

"Among those whom I like or admire, I can find no common denominator, but among those who I love I can: all of them make me laugh."

W. H. Auden

Friday, January 6, 2006

The Happy Book

When I was in 8th grade, someone gave me a small book, maybe 5 inches tall, covered in a blue silk Oriental pattern. I didn't know what to use this book for - it was lined, but it wasn't really big enough for addresses or the like.

At some point during 9th grade I started using this book as a "happy book" in which I recorded items, incidents, people, places, and things that made me happy at that moment. For 4 years I recorded, line by line, these momentos of happiness. In 1998, someone broke into my car and stole my backpack, and with it my happy book. Those fuckers.

I didn't intend to record the things that make me happy in my current book, it just sort of happened. So every few pages, in the white space not occupied by a poem or quote or sticker are a couple of happy notes. Here is the first batch:

Soy chai
Muddy's Chocolate Chip Muffins
My wedding dress - WOW!
Springtime in February
Advair inhaler - I'm asthma free! (and I still am 3 years later - thanks, Advair!)

Love Not Me by John Wilbye

Love not me for comely grace,
For my pleasing eye or face,

Nor for any outward part:
No, nor for a constant heart!
For these may fail or turn to ill:
Should thou and I sever.

Keep, therefore, a true woman's eye,
And love me still, but know not why!
So hast thou the same reason still
To dote upon me ever.

What are you waiting for?

"Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time; for that's the stuff life is made of."

Benjamin Franklin

How Do I Love Thee? by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of everyday's
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love thee with a passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints, --- I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life! --- and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.

Hope for Normal

I don't remember where I first read this paragraph, but I wrote it in my book several months before my grandma died. I know how the speaker feels. Right now I am going through a patch of normal that won't be normal forever.

"Normal day, let me be aware of the treasure you are. Let me learn from you, love you, bless you before you depart. Let me not pass you by in quest of some rare and perfect tomorrow. Let me hold you while I may, for it may not always be so. One day I shall dig my nails into the earth, or bury my face in the pillow, or stretch myself taut, or raise my hands to the sky and want, more than all the world, your return."

Mary Jean Iron

Thursday, January 5, 2006

Meet Virginia.

I wrote the following in my book:

"Grandma died this week. On Friday the 13th of September, 2002. Her funeral was held on September 17th. She wore a purple fuzzy soft warm robe. I read the following poem for her:

Turn Again to Life

Mary Lee Hall

If I should die and leave you here a while,
be not like others sore undone,
who keep long vigil by the silent dust.
For my sake turn again to life and smile,
nerving thy heart and trembling hand
to do something to comfort other hearts than thine.
Complete these dear unfinished tasks of mine
and I perchance may therein comfort you.

"My grandmother always took care of others. I will miss her very much. Also... I made Grandma's carrot cake for the gahtering after the funeral. It turned out PERFECTLY!"

It did, you know - turn out perfectly. That cake was incredible, just like my grandma Virginia (Ginny) used to make. Not a day has gone by since September of 2002 that I have not thought about my grandma. I miss her so much. It is a living thing, grief. It's physical and riles up at the oddest moments. The other day I was taking a break from shopping at a department store. I sat on one of the oversized chairs in the furniture department, and heard the voice of an older woman coming from the purchase desk. I turned, and there was my grandma - for about 5 seconds it was really her. Then I snapped back to reality and was awash in sadness that was hard to shake for the rest of the afternoon. The sadness was worth the 5 seconds though.

What made my grandma so special? I don't know... she was kind, and she took care of people who couldn't take care of themselves. She was a great cook - the old-fashioned kind of cook who made pie crust from scratch and served wilted lettuce salad as a healthy option. She embriodered beautiful tablecloths and pillowcases and tea towels that I still cherish and use. She smoked unfiltered Chesterfield Kings cigarettes that she would leave burning all over the house. She drank alot of coffee and Coke. She read incessantly. She loved to fish. She would sing these silly songs to me as she bounced and danced around her kitchen. She loved me, and I love her. And I would give a lifetime of sadness for 5 seconds more.

I wrote the following quotes on this same page in my book:

"When the eye wakes up to see again, it suddenly stops taking anything for granted."

Frederick Franck

and

"This must be my birthday there in paradise."

Joseki's death poem

The Female Form

Edna St. Vincent Miillay

Isn't she lovely? So is her poetry. Ladies and gentlemen, a selection of poems by Edna St. Vincent Millay. Please read every word, breathe them in, let them soak into your being - you will not be the same.

First Fig
My candle burns at both ends;
It will not last the night;
But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends
It gives a lovely light!

Sonnet XLIII
What lips my lips have kissed, and where, and why,
I have forgotten, and what arms have lain
Under my head till morning; but the rain
Is full of ghosts tonight, that tap and sigh
Upon the glass and listen for reply,
And in my heart there stirs a quiet pain
For unremembered lads that not again
Will turn to me at midnight with a cry.
Thus in winter stands the lonely tree,
Nor knows what birds have vanished one by one,
Yet knows its boughs more silent than before:
I cannot say what loves have come and gone,
I only know that summer sang in me
A little while, that in me sings no more.

Second Fig
Safe upon the solid rock the ugly houses stand:
Come and see my shining palace built upon the sand!

The Plaid Dress
Strong sun, that bleach
The curtains of my room, can you not render
Colourless this dress I wear?--
This violent plaid
Of purple angers and red shames; the yellow stripe
Of thin but valid treacheries; the flashy green of kind deeds done
Through indolence high judgments given here in haste;
The recurring checker of the serious breach of taste?

No more uncoloured than unmade,
I fear, can be this garment that I may not doff;
Confession does not strip it off,
To send me homeward eased and bare;

All through the formal, unoffending evening, under the clean
Bright hair,
Lining the subtle gown. . .it is not seen,
But it is there.

Sonnet V
Once more into my arid days like dew,
Like wind from an oasis, or the sound
Of cold sweet water bubbling underground,
A treacherous messenger, the thought of you
Comes to destroy me; once more I renew
Firm faith in your abundance, whom I found
Long since to be but just one other mound
Of sand, whereon no green thing ever grew.
And once again, and wiser in no wise,
I chase your colored phantom on the air,
And sob and curse and fall and weep and rise
And stumble pitifully on to where,
Miserable and lost, with stinging eyes,
Once more I clasp,–and there is nothing there

Enough.

"So many Gods, so many creeds, so many paths that wind and wind, while just the art of being kind is all the sad world needs."

Ella Wheeler Wilcox

The Power of Love

As you travel south coming off the Broadway Bridge, just before you make that ridiculous turn onto I35, there is a highway sign, or exit sign or some sort of green road sign with graffiti on it. This graffiti is always a joy for me - it makes me smile, laugh, think, dream - it is inspiring in its way. What message does this humble, tagged sign impart unto passersby? Only these simple words: "Happy birthday, whore."

What emotions drive someone, man or woman (for we know nothing about this undiscovered Shakespeare) to write such a thing in such a public place? Rage? Lust? Joy? Envy? The spirit of friendship? Nay, I believe the author was fueled by love. The author wishes his subject to see that he/she is being wished a happy birthday by thousands of people. Perhaps "whore" is a pet name by which the subject may itentify that the message is for them. This author has done the closest thing in their power to erecting a statue in their love' s honor, and I applaud their audacity.

Along these same lines is a poem I recently discovered by Thomas Lux. It, too, is about the expression of love through graffiti.

I Love You Sweatheart

Thomas Lux

A man risked his life to write the words.
A man hung upside down (an idiot friend
holding his legs?) with spray paint
to write the words on a girder fifty feet above
a highway. And his beloved,
the next morning driving to work. . .?
His words are not (meant to be) so unique.
Does she recognize his handwriting?
Did he hint to her at her doorstep the night before
of "something special, darling, tomorrow"?
And did he call her at work
expecting her to faint with delight
at his celebration of her, his passion, his risk?
She will know I love her now,
the world will know my love for her!
A man risked his life to write the words.
Love is like this at the bone, we hope, love
is like this, Sweatheart, all sore and dumb
and dangerous, ignited, blessed -- always,
regardless, no exceptions,
always in blazing matters like these: blessed.

Wednesday, January 4, 2006

Get Your Kicks in 2006

Happy New Year, everybodee! I would make some resolutions, but I know I won't keep them. I suppose if I kept my resolutions small, then I could follow through... okay - I resolve to pay my tuition by the end of the semester. I think this is an attainable goal.

I'm taking a class this semester - English 403WI - that's Writing Intensive for all you n00bs out there. I'm really excited about it, because a. I love English classes, and b. Heather and Aaron are taking the class, too. I'm a little miffed at Heather atm, though (I know - even after I wrote such glowing things about her!). She hasn't called or emailed me all break long. I left a message for her on Christmas, and emailed her before that, but have heard nothing. Good thing I didn't buy her a present :) I am sure there is a perfectly reasonable explaination...

Anyway, I got some fantastic Christmas presents - some CDs, some books, some clothes, some bath and body stuff - all my favorite everything. The gifts we picked out for our families went over really well, too.

New Year's eve was a blast - good food, friends, Scattergories, drunken mayhem - all the ingredients for a great time and a lazy and quiet New Year's Day were there. New Year's Day was spent playing WoW and leveling Prufrock (who is at this moment halfway through level 57).

And today I am back to work after 12 days of fabulous vacation. I miss being on vacation already - staying up later, getting up later, no commitments, no schedules - I can totally get used to that.

I hope by next year, though, that someone releases a coffeemaker that makes an excellent cup of coffee and is easy to clean. I LOVE coffee, but can't stand cleaning the coffeemaker. I'd consider one of those pod-type contraptions, but I need at least 4 cups (thats 2 large mugs) or it isn't worth the trouble.