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katsuninken (かつにんけん)

魂の蔵 (storehouse for the soul)

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January 2nd, 2016




Akemashite omedeto gozaimasu (Happy New Year), and welcome to the Year of the Monkey! What. A. Year! It has been one crazy ride. So settle in and let me tell you a story - one filled with hope, redemption, betrayal, adventure, and much, much more!



Exposition, exposition...Collapse )


RohatsuCollapse )


Omisoka and OshogatsuCollapse )


Here is to a year of growth and expanding the mind! May your 2016 be like a cruise ship buffet - everything you could ever hope for and more, with the influence of the monkey guiding your way. Happy New Year!


January 2nd, 2015

Oshogatsu in Review 2014

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Akemashite omedeto gozaimasu (Happy New Year), and welcome to the Year of the Sheep! Yes, it is that hallowed time once again for me to share with you all the pomp and circumstance of my holiday observance. And let's just say this year was pretty different. Why? Well this is the first time since I started sharing my holiday routine that it was not in the Treehouse. Or even Louisville. Or even Kentucky. Or EVEN THE UNITED STATES! Yes, it is true. I kept my promise of leaving the States behind and have become an Americanadian. And going for my PhD.

I live in the Capitol Regional District (CRD) of British Columbia on the lovely Vancouver Island in the city of Victoria. It has been my experience that there is just something about island living, and it doesn't seem to matter what island it is. Island time is a thing, where things just seem to go at a more relaxed pace and things just aren't as hectic.







not-sure-if-actually-have-free-time-fry






You would think living on an island with a huge Asian population and the oldest Chinatown in Canada, being able to celebrate Oshogatsu would be much easier than back in Kentucky where most people can't even pronounce your holiday, have no idea what Shinto even is, and think you need to get right with Jesus. Well, you'd be fairly mistaken about that. Many foods that I took for granted back home, that were so common as to be background, don't exist here. The food is generally better, but there are fewer options. Like, for example, mochi. Giant traditional mochi exist here, but the boxed minimochi that has the peanut butter flavor - nope. NO PEANUT BUTTER MOCHI! Seriously? Maybe it's for the best. Or something.

But anyway, on with the show!

Omisoka

Omisoka (New Year's Eve) started on an odd note. I was sitting here at my new stupidly powerful desktop computer (that was a four year long New Year's Resolution), attempting to plan a trip across the water to the Mainland. I look down to the bottom right corner of the screen to check the time, and I noticed the date. December 31st? How did I lose a whole day?! I leapt out of my comfy leather office chair and got to finishing up osoji (ritual cleaning) and threw together toshikoshi soba (the traditional buckwheat noodles served on New Year's Eve) that I call Triple Threat, ate it in a hurry and then got on my orange juice ritual bath. While in the tub, I was informed by my former partner that the day was, in fact, the 30th. I was so confused! Turns out somehow the computer's date was set wrong. That has since been fixed. >.>


screenshot
Incidentally, the time was quite wrong too.


I was actually glad the day was wrong, because I don't like doing a rush job on my important religious activities. I chalked it up as a dress rehearsal, and made sure everything was in order for the REAL Omisoka.

But first, let me step back a moment. Under normal circumstances, leading up to Oshogatsu, I go through a pretty much month long ritual cleaning process called osoji. There are many reasons for osoji - to purify the space and make it ready for the biggest holiday on the Shinto calendar, to clean out anything that may have become a malevolent Tsukumugami, or object that has become a spirit (more on all that here), to make room for new influences by removing objects representing old attachments, and to give new life to old things by repurposing them or giving them new homes. It typically lasts right up until the close of Omisoka, which I close every year with me burning my regrets and then a purification bath in orange juice. For those of you that still think the orange juice bath is crazy, it's a modification of a real thing. See for yourself!
osojicollage
A collage of the result of osoji in my new home. You can even see my two cats, Fuzzbat (upper left) and Big Bada Bruce (middle left).


nengajo2014
This year's nengajo (New Year's card), that I spent fake Omisoka crafting.



This year I did not spend anywhere as long going through my ritual cleaning, because my partner was in the process of moving out. I did not want to start sorting and rearranging and stowing while packing had to be done. After all that was over with and my partner was gone, I began my cleaning in earnest. As a result, I had a lot of things to send away or repurpose, but I could not afford to because international shipping is heinously expensive. So as much as I would have liked to completely purify the house, there are still a few items left in storage, waiting for the moment I can send them where they need to go. Most of them are things my former partner left behind when returning to the US that will get sent back to the Homeland to their rightful owner.

Omisoka has plenty of traditions of its own. It is the day that you officially put the old year and its affairs behind you, but you also prepare that which you are carrying with you to journey with you into the coming year. This year it was a fairly pared down affair: I made a modification on my yearly spin on the traditional Omisoka meal and took my purification bath (again). Soba, or buckwheat noodles, is the traditional food, made into toshikoshi soba (roughly translated as crossing over or year end/year beginning noodles). My spin on this dish is called Triple Threat, because the number 3 is sacred and has a special importance to me. This year's Triple Threat had extremely tender filet of beef, chicken, and shrimp tossed with the soba in a homemade citrus teriyaki made with pineapple, golden kiwi, and mangosteen juices. You remember earlier when I said there are things you just can't find over here on the island? Well, my usual "sun juice" (aka Dole's orange-pineapple-banana blend) was nowhere to be found. I tried three different supermaket chains at various locations, and even tried Walmart, but no dice. Oh well, new country, new home, new traditions, I guess.
Part of the Omisoka tradition is the burning of regrets. For the first time, this is something I actually didn't do. Despite all that has transpired since I moved to Canada, I actually had no regrets to be free of. Yes I have been through much and lost much to come here, but I am still glad I came, and I still feel enriched and blessed by the journey. I suppose I could have burned my feelings of sadness and loneliness, but those need to work themselves out on their own. I deeply miss my adoptive family and all my friends from back home, but I am optimistic that as I have more time to devote to such endeavors, I will make new friends here.


toshokoshi
Toshikoshi soba, Take 1 and Take 2.
I'm actually glad I got to make it again because the first one was... not okay. It was overly salty. I mean it tasted exactly like ponzu, but then again I find ponzu excessively salty to begin with. It was a new recipe that I decided to try. I mean hey, if you are going to start out with new ingredients, in for a penny, in for a pound, right? Well, lesson learned. Some things are tradition for a reason. That's not to say I will NEVER change the way I celebrate my holiday EVER, because I certainly have added bits here and there along the way. But with something as important as this, at least rehearse it first. Oh wait! I did! Right! Nevermind! And for the record, the second batch was delicious. I went back to my tried and true method, and it worked just fine, even with the new ingredients. I just love how looks can be deceiving. Those bowls look almost identical, but taste nothing alike.


Something else about living here - waiting to do things after sunset (when you are supposed to do your Omisoka thing) is incredibly easy because it is full on nighttime by 4:30.
I was watching birds going to roost at 4pm. By 5pm you would swear it is 10pm. It even FEELS like 10pm. Harsh. That might only be an hour difference from the Homeland, but believe me, it matters. It's crazy how just one little hour, 60 measly minutes, can make such an impact. It is taking some adjusting.

Another interesting feature about this year's Omisoka was getting all the Happy New Year texts at 9pm on New Year's Eve. I had to stop and think about the fact that at that very moment when I was piled on the couch with my laptop writing stuff, people back home were already popping the bubbly and ringing in the New Year. It's still so weird to me that they live in the future. Oh and speaking of popping the bubbly, enjoy this year's Oshogatsu anthem!

Oshogatsu


I suppose I should take a moment here to say a bit about what Oshogatsu is. Sure it is the celebration of the New Year, but it is also a festival of firsts. We believe that the events of the first day of the year and the impacts those firsts have on us set the tone for how the year will unfold. The whole purpose behind celebrating all of these firsts is to simply pay closer attention to the ordinary things that happen in your life. Even something as mundane as sighting the first sparrow of the year is important, because it was the first time you saw a sparrow. And yes, that really is a thing.

Hatsuyume
The festival of firsts kicked off with hatsuyume - the first dream. And it was really weird! I was in some kind of office building, and someone was with me. I had an appointment on the 4th floor, so I decided to take this enormous black collapsible metal staircase. In order to do so, I had to check in with the secretary who had me put all of my belongings in tiny zip lock bags. A group of the secretaries then left and went to lunch. Most of it was pocket money that I ended up lining up along the secretary's desk. I took the bulls (American dollars), rolled them up into tiny rolls, and stuffed them into the tiny bags. And then apparently some of my pocket stuff were baby things that I proceeded to plug in. A kid on the floor playing video games on giant TV asked me to turn the music the baby things were playing down, so I did using an absurdly large white remote. As I was leaving the office, the secretary ladies were returning from lunch, so I held the door for them. The last thing I remember was me trying to get the collapsible staircase into place and turning a crank to elevate it to the correct floor. I don't even know what that was supposed to mean.

Hatsuhinode
I set the alarm for 30 minutes before sunrise so I could trek out to a good spot to see the hatsuhindode (first sunrise). See, my old place was an attic apartment with a porch that allowed me to look out over everything in all directions. Now I live in a basement completely surrounded by trees. Oh, and there's Mount Douglas at my back, too. So I bundled up (it was unusually cold! It really doesn't get that cold on the island), slung my camera and my backpack containing my newfangled sun juice onto my shoulder, and off I went. I hiked around the edge of Mount Doug Park, and along the way I listened to the stillness. It was so quiet I could hear the powerlines hum. As time went on I listened to the sounds of the birds waking up and the gentles waves lapping against the rocks at the bottom of the cliff below. Seagulls bobbed on the water close to the shore, not yet called awake by the sun. And then, the sunrise came.
hatsuhinode
Hatsuhinode - the first sunrise, looking out over Haro Srait and Sydney Passage

As is my personal tradition, I toasted the sun with the sun juice I brought in the backpack. Usually I do something fancy, like toast the sun in frosted stemware, but I didn't want to risk my wine glass breaking along the way, so I just raised the carton in salute and upended it. I felt the cold sweetness wick through me, took a few minutes to absorb the scene around me and watch the seagullswake up and take to the sky, and when the cold ground began to seep through my clothes, I packed up and went back.


Hatsudayori
Hatsudayori (first exchange of letters) was a bank statement from TD. Which is weird because mail isn't delivered on New Year's Day unlike back home. Still, I had a dream about money, and my first piece of mail is from my bank. I wonder if I should be concerned about money this year. Nah... I'm a grad student! I'll be fine! /sarcasm

Hatsushinmotsu
Hatsushinmotsu, the first exchange of gifts, is all about what you wish for the person receiving the gift in the coming year. They are often symbolic, or practical things to help them achieve some goal. I did not have anyone to exchange gifts with this year, so this tradition did not take place.

Hatsusuzume
The first sparrow (hatsusuzume), was sighted on my return from hatsuhinode. I got a photo of her, but it is a pretty rough one. I also saw lots of other birds along the way, including an Anna's Hummingbird calling in my back yard. It was the first time I have ever seen an Anna's Hummingbird.


hatsusuzume
Hatsusuzume - first sparrow.

birdsofoshogatsu
Other birds of Oshogatsu - A. Anna's Hummingbird. B. Cedar Waxwing. C. Gold Crowned Sparrow. D. Pacific Wren. E. Red Breasted Nuthatch.
F. Varied Thrush. G. Dark Eyed/Oregon Junco. H. Gold Crowned Kinglet. Please note that none of these photos are mine, except for the Anna's Hummingbird.
I also failed to include that I saw black capped chickadees, crows, and seagulls.

I consider seeing the chickadee, kinglet, and cedar waxing especially auspicious. Chickadees I call "Buddha birds" because their call always sounds like they are laughing. And they have a nest in a hole in a tree very close to my home! I hope this means that happiness in my life will grow. Kinglets just bring me joy. They always have, ever since the first time I saw one working on Mount Pisgah in North Carolina. I once saw one die, and joy pretty much died in my life that year, so they have been associated with joy ever since. Happily, this one was very much alive and well. Cedar waxingwings have come to represent me - for a lot of reasons that are hard to explain. But I love them, and seeing them always makes me over the moon. Seeing one gave me hope that everything is going to be okay. And then there was the gold crowned sparrow. I had never seen one before, so I got to celebrate a first first!


Waraizome
Waraizome (first laughter) was brought about by an unusual source this year. It came from my facebook friend Trystan, whose reaction to a meme I made cracked me up. It should also be noted that this was the first time I made a meme, so yay for another first first!


fwy2v
Hey, this is something I feel very strongly about.



Kakizome
And here we have another first first. I realized I had no ink to do first calligraphy (kakizome), so I came up with a brilliant idea to break open a couple of pens. But then I realized the only brush I had was my basting brush, and I wasn't willing to sacrifice it. So what was I to do? Then it came to me. I will do digital calligraphy! I found an online tutorial on how to set up and use calligraphy brushes in Photoshop, so I gave it a go. Um, no. That was an experiment I do not care to repeat. Every slip the mouse made was accentuated, and it looked like someone with palsy trying to draw. So that isn't going to get posted this year. I did, however, spend on the order of two hours trying to get the calligraphy to look good, so I got good practice. My character set this year was "fudoshin," which translates to something along the lines of "immovable spirit" or "immovable heart." I chose it as part of my pledge that I refuse to be changed by whatever hardship or injury I endure. I made a promise to myself and the Universe(tm) that should another person come into my life, they will not see my changed by those who have come before. And along those lines, I made a very hard decision. I have decided to try and deal with the great gash in my very being left by the one person who did manage to change me. It's high time I drove that venom from my heart.
fudoshin
What the kaji for "fudoshin" should look like. Not my calligraphy, obviously.



Kigo
Kigo is seasonal poetry. It can come in a variety of forms, but typically it is haiku. I actually wrote several this year, but they were all pretty depressing and pathetic, so I scrapped them. It wasn't until the very end of the day that a kigo came to me that didn't make me look pathetically emo. I actually quite like it. It represents the best of the old year and my highest hopes for the new:
Entwined fingers
Contented sighs
Memories



Hatsubanshyo
Hatsubanshyo (first sunset) arrived in short order. I trekked out to the same spot as hatsuhinode to watch the sun go down, but oh yeah, there's that whole mountain in the way thing. Not the best choice of locales. But I am actually glad I went, because the sunset gave me a very special present - a mountain of fire!

hatsubanshyou
Hatsubanshyo - first sunset

mtbaker
Facing east at the same location, Mount Baker stateside over in Washington, was set on fire from all the
snow on the peak reflecting the red rays of the setting sun. It was a pretty amazing sight!



Hatsutsuki
Hatsutsuki, or first moon, was spotted on the way back. Moonrise was just before the sun set this year, so for a brief moment the sun and moon were at opposite ends of the sky. This is typically a sign of balance and harmony in the New Year. I guess we shall see! Also, the moon was waxing gibbous at 80% full, so I guess I am starting out the year on an upswing. That would be a wonderfully welcome change.
hatsutsuki
Hatsutsuki - first moon.



Osechi Ryori
Osechi ryori are traditional Oshogatsu dishes, each with its own meaning, made from symbolic foods. And my cooking osechi this year is going to have to count as hatsuki (first fire) because I have a gas stove and that was as close to making a fire as I could get. Since it was just me this year, the osechi feast was pretty tame and I left a few of the usual suspects off the menu. After all, there's only so much one guy can eat, regardless of how tasty it is.


osechi2015
Osechi ryori. Upper left is iridori (translated as "chicken in it," and this year actually has chicken in it) - a root vegetable stew root vegetable stew made with chicken breast, daikon (prosperity), renkon (lotus root - wisdom, enlightenment), gobo (burdock root - stability), carrot (auspicious color), onion, satsumaimo (sweet potato), satoimo (taro), and konbu (seaweed - joy) in broth. The broth is red this year because, well, red miso paste is what I had. Plate upper left - My Tai. Tai is sea bream, but it is impossible to find even here on the island. It is also traditionally preserved in salt, and I just can't tolerate salt crusted anything. So I went with barramundi and I poached it in a traditional sake based marinade with black and white sesame seeds. Sake is a symbol of wealth and celebration. Steamed right alongside are some mixed Asian vegetables like bok choi, carrots, and squashes. I poached/steamed everything in a tightly sealed foil packet. Plate right - Lobster (ise ebi) and shrimp (ebi) with yam noodles (shirataki), stirfried in leftover Triple Threat sauce as a symbol of carrying over some of the old and combining it with the new. Both shrimp and lobster are traditional osechi foods because of their bent backs. They represent the old year, so eating them is symbolically taking into to you that which you want to nourish you from the year before. This is possibly my favorite osechi dish. Not made this year (but featured in other dishes): kohaku namasu (red and white salad, made with daikon, renkon (lotus root), carrot, red cabbage and shredded broccoli. The red and white combination is considered lucky and auspicious), and tataki gobo (burdock root in soy with sesame seeds. Burdock's long taproot represents longevity and stability). Dessert was one lone traditional black bean mochi.



Hatsumode
As previously mentioned, I spent much of "fake Omisoka" trying to figure out a way to get over to the States to have my very first official, real, in an actual shrine with an actual priest hatsumode (first shrine visit). This proved to be bloody impossible, and it was REALLY FRUSTRATING! I can see pretty much where the shrine is from here AND I CAN'T GET THERE! I no longer have a car, ferry travel is limited over the holidays, and every car rental place in both countries were closed up tight for New Year's. *sigh* Well, now that I know what it takes, I know how to make it happen for next year. So after I put away dinner and cleaned up the kitchen, I prepared for the hatsumode I usually do, which is an arduous journey all the way to my bedroom. But this year was a bit different. I finally got myself a shinki set, so I have all the proper vessels that are supposed to go on a kamidana! I was so happy to get them. I have wanted them for YEARS! I set up the altar, lit the candles and the incense, kicked out the bats, went through ablution, then turned off all the lights and folded myself into full seiza to pray. And as I did so, something really weird happened.

The shinki set I got has a porcelain lid on the water vessel that you are supposed to either remove or rest on its side to expose the water underneath. Well, I forgot to, and as soon as I entered full seiza, the cap on the water jar rattled with a little tinkling sound. No, I am not making that up. I laughed and apologized, and moved the lid. After I did so, I did the usual clap twice, bow, clap twice again, and before I bent into full seiza again, I caught my reflection in the okagami (sacred mirror). And in it I saw me. Like, the real me. The me I see me as. And I thanked the Kamisamsa for showing that to me, and gave thanks for an amzing adventure and the opportunity to go to grad school, and, well, lots of things.
hatsumode
Hatsumode, with new altar elements! The white vessels are the shinki set, the wooden serving tray is called oden, the wooden structure elevated from everything else is the kamidama itself and the disc in front of it is the okagami. The lotus tea light lanterns are there to represent the Zen influence of my path. My path is called Kaigen, which means "opening of the eye" and incorporates a great deal of Shingon Buddhist mysticism (mikkyo) and Shugendo, ascetic Shinto mysticism.



And then I cleaned up the kamidana, blew out the candles, let the bats in, bundled up with them in bed, and went to sleep.

The end.

Rules for the coming year:

  • I will not allow myself to use any form of electronic diversion (tv, movies, computer games, PS4, phone, facebook, etc) until I have meditated and exercised for one hour each.

  • I will take the medication I need to fix my vitamin D deficiency after every meal.

  • I will not listen to my mp3 player on the bus, unless I am avoiding people begging for something (which has yet to happen)

  • I will not answer texts or fb messages at work

December 31st, 2014

The End is Near

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Happy Omisoka (New Year's Eve)! So let's talk a bit about 2014, shall we? My, what a year it was. Unlike Lord of the Rings, if you had made it into a movie it could have easily been split up into three parts.


An Unexpected JourneyCollapse )

December 29th, 2014

The Life List 2014

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So much has happened this year - even more than usual!




[X]Traveled out of the country.
[X]Traveled off the continent.
[X]Traveled the east coast.
[X]Traveled the west coast. (I live there now, baby!)
[X]Been to Hawaii.
[ ]Been to Alaska.
[ ]Been to all 50 states.(But I've now been to a lot more of them!)
[X]Been to Canada.
[ ]Been to Mexico.


[X]Seen a thunderstorm from above.
[X]Seen a thunderstorm from above while standing on the ground.
[X]Seen the ocean from a mountain.
[X]Been on a volcano. (long dead, eroded away ones count)
[X]Been on an active volcano.
[X]Been in a hot spring.
[X]Seen a geyser. (YELLOWSTONE!)
[X]Felt an earthquake.
[X]Been inside a major hurricane. (I think four of the hurricanes I experienced were cat 3 or better)
[X]Seen the eye wall of a hurricane from the inside.
[X]Seen (first person) a tornado. (sustained damage from a couple, in fact)
[X]Been in a major flood. (comes with the territory when hurricanes are involved)
[ ]Been in a blizzard.


[ ]Been to Dazaifu Tenmangu.
[ ]Been to Chusonji (Benkei's grave) and Shirahata Shrine (Yoshitusne's grave)
[X]Been to Petra.
[ ]Been to the Pyramids.
[ ]Seen the ruins of Greece and Italy.


[X]Been caving.
[ ]Been to Ruby Falls.
[X]Seen canyon country from the air.
[X]Seen canyon country from the ground.
[X]Been to the Grand Canyon. (FINALLY!)
[X]Been to Yellowstone. (FINALLY!)
[ ]Been to Mt. Rushmore.
[X]Physically crossed the Mississippi River (not by plane).
[X]Been to the Great Confluence.
[X]Been to the Great Lakes.


[X]Traveled the Nantahala River. (though now I'd actually like to raft it!)
[ ]Traveled the Colorado River.
[ ]Traveled the Snake River.
[ ]Traveled the Missouri River.
[ ]Traveled the Columbia River.
[X]Traveled the Ohio River.
[ ]Traveled the Mississippi River. (the ferry across it doesn't count)
[ ]Lived in another country. (Oh Canada...)


[X]Been in the Atlantic Ocean.
[X]Been in the Atlantic Ocean from a foreign shore.(Yay Ghana!)
[X]Been in the Pacific Ocean.
[X]Been to the Pacific Ocean from a foreign shore. (I think Canada counts.)
[X]Been to Europe. (AMSTERDAM!)
[X]Been to the Middle East.
[ ]Been to Asia.
[X]Been to Africa.
[ ]Been to South America.
[ ]Been to Australia.
[ ]Been to Japan.


[X]Snorkled the Pacific. (but there's much more to do! Like Fiji!)
[ ]Scuba-ed the Pacific.
[ ]Snorkled the Great Barrier Reef.
[ ]Scuba-ed the Great Barrier Reef.
[ ]Snorkled the Carribean.
[ ]Scuba-ed the Carribean.
[X]Snorkled the Red Sea.
[ ]Scuba-ed the Red Sea.


[X]Been on a plane.
[X]Been on a flight over 8 hours.
[X]Been on an international flight.
[ ]Been on a double decker plane.
[X]Been on a double decker bus.
[X]Flown over 40,000 ft.
[X]Flown faster than 500 mph.
[ ]Been on a train (other than a metrorail/mass transit, monorail or amusement)
[X]Been on a lightrail.
[X]Been on a subway.
[ ]Been on the Great Smokey Mountain Railroad.
[X]Been on a cruise.
[X]Been on a barge. (though not the barge I want to be on!)


[ ]Obtained a full Bachelor's degree. (Two and a half, in fact.)
[ ]Obtained a PhD. (Working on it!)
[ ]Bought a house.
[X]Got engaged.
[ ]Got married.

2014 In Review

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2014 Meme

01. What did you do in 2014 that you'd never done before?
Drove a RV cross country, saw the Painted Desert, Petrified Forest, Meteor Crater, Gila National Forest, Sunset Crater, Grand Canyon, Death Valley, Las Vegas, Great Basin, Bonneville Salt Flats, Great Salt Lake, the Rockies, the Grand Tetons, Snake River Canyon, Yellowstone, The Oregon Trail, Puget Sound, Juan de Fuca islands, moved to a new country, went to grad school.

02. Did you keep your New Years’ resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
Get a real job I even made lab manager!
Get into grad school
Move out of Kentucky
Learn new research skills
Retire Onyx
Stupidly powerful desktop computer
Build my office It's not in The Round, but at least I have one now.

Hm. A pretty successful year, methinks.

Resolutions to add:
Go into physical training
Save money
Meet more people
Face my past

03. Did anyone close to you give birth?
I don't think so...?

04. Did anyone close to you die?
Again, I don't think so.

05. What countries did you visit?
Canadia!

06. What would you like to have in 2014 that you lacked in 2013?
More deep, meaningful conversations and connections.

07. What date(s) from 2014 will remain etched upon your memory?
All of June and July - the great westward expansion! And September, when I started grad school.

08. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Grad school, moving to Canada.

09. What was your biggest failure?
Losing my partner.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
For once, nothing significant.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
A PS4.

12. Whose behaviour merited celebration?
My former boss and his generosity.

13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?
Many in US politics. That whole ISIS and ebola thing...

14. Where did most of your money go?
Travel and moving!

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Travel and moving!

16. What song/album will always remind you of 2014?
Peter Hollens – Brave

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
- Happier or sadder? Much sadder.
- Thinner or fatter? Much fatter.
- Richer or poorer? Much poorer.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Kayaking. It will be deeply missed.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Making excuses.

20. How did you spend Christmas?
I don't celebrate Christmas. I spent the day taking part in osoji (house cleaning for Oshogatsu).

21. Who did you spend the most time on the phone with?
Oddly enough, banks. I called them A LOT.

22. Did you fall in love in 2014?
I was already in love.

23. How many one night stands in this last year?
None.

24. What was your favourite TV programme?
Game of Thrones.

25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
No.

26. What was the best book(s) you read?
A bunch of Neal Stephenson novels.

27. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Electroswing Channel on DI.fm

28. What did you want and get?
I got almost everything I wanted. Got rid of my Onyx (my car) finally, got out of Kentucky, got into my first choice grad school, got to see most of the US and landmarks I've always wanted to see.

29. What did you want and not get?
All I wanted was my relationship to last.

30. What were your favourite films of this year?
Guardians of the Galaxy, Big Hero 6, Corner Gas Movie

31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I don't think anything happened for my birthday.

32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
See #29

33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2014?
More nerd shirts!

34. What kept you sane?
Travel and the excitement of change.

35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
I don't even know who most of them are. I don't follow that kind of stuff.

36. What political issue stirred you the most?
The midterm elections, ebola, ISIS, immigration, the push to roll back equality laws...

37. Who did you miss?
I miss the Barton clan. A lot. And my partner. And my friends back in Kentucky.

38. Who was the best new person you met?
My coworker Austin.

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2014.
Everything has a price. Only you can decide if the price was worth it.

40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year?
It's been a long road
Get'n from there to here
It's been a long time
But my time is finally near
I will see my dreams come alive at last
I will touch the sky
And they're not gonna hold me down no more
No they're not gonna change my mind
'Cause I've got faith of the heart
I'm going where my heart will take me
I've got faith to believe
I can do anything
I've got strength of the soul
No one's going to bend nor break me
I can reach any star
I've got faith
I've got faith
Faith of the heart


February 2nd, 2014



Merry 2014 and welcome to the Year of the Horse! MY year! I can't believe it has almost been a full year since I have posted here. But you know what they say: life happens to the best of us. And let's just say that a LOT of life has happened to me this year.


Prepare yourself for epic readage!Collapse )

February 18th, 2013

A Valentine's Adventure

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When it is your responsibility to introduce someone to something as important as Valentine's Day, that's a lot of responsibility on your shoulders! Here I was with a boyfriend that had never had a Valentine's Day experience, and it was up to me to show him how it should be done. So this couldn't be any typical Valentine's. It had to be the Valentine's benchmark!

I plotted and schemed and called in favors and got input from people about how to go about this and make a fairy tale fantasy Valentine's on a nonexistent budget. I started squirreling away money as soon as I was able, but about midway through my planning, things changed. I realized that my initial romance bomb was not going to have the impact factor I was hoping for. So I took a sharp right turn away from all I know and went way out of my zone of expertise - I booked a spa weekend.

Yeah. I know what you're thinking. Actually, you're not thinking. You are laughing so hard you have tea coming out of your nose. Yeah, well, you have every right to laugh. You should have seen me bungling through making spa appointments over the phone, having no bloody clue what the very nice appointment setter on the other end was telling me.

I ultimately decided on the legendary West Baden Springs Hotel for a number of reasons. Sure the cost was a factor, and believe me, for what I got with the package I booked, this vacation was an absolute steal. But that wasn't the whole story. The story actually began two years ago almost exactly, when two good friends of mine asked me to be a part of their wedding in nearby French Lick, Indiana. I had such a great time and met so many great people that I was determined to go back and have my own romantic experience there one day. When I was there, I passed the West Baden, only I thought it was a great church. They informed me otherwise, and told me about the hotel's rich history as a luxury retreat for Chicagans back in the 20s. People believed the sulfur springs the hotel is built on to have healing properties, so they would come down to get rejuvenated. Legen has it that Al Capone frequented the area as well.
The West Baden Springs Hotel and Resort
I did my best to keep it all a surprise. It was SO HARD! But finally Valentine's came, and because I could not be with him on Valentine's proper, I had flowers and a red velvet cake sent to his work. Red velvet is his favorite, so I thought it would be a nice surprise. And then Friday morning we left for the long, winding drive into the hills of southern Indiana. I actually got lost after taking a wrong turn, but eventually I figured it out. I enjoyed the detour because that is some pretty country up there in the Knobs.

When we got to West Baden, I passed up the hotel, playing tour guide along the way. He spotted the grand dome of the resort and thought the same thing I dud at first - that it was some kind of cathedral. I told him what it was and a little history about it. I then proceeded to point out other points of interest along the way to make it seem like I wasn't singling out the hotel. I still wanted it to be a surprise. I stopped into a grocery store to get a gallon of orange juice, and then I headed back the way we came. It wasn't until we passed under the great arches that he realized where we were going.

His jaw dropped.
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They don't call it a grand hotel for nothin'. Just sayin.
So I took him inside, and it was like something from a movie. The double doors parted and he found himself surrounded by majesty. He couldn't even speak. And that was just the atrium!
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Not only is it majestic, it is also the largest freestanding dome in the world.


The Grand Rosette in the ceiling of the dome has skylights, but at night when it is dark,
the kaleidoscope of colors the rosette cycles through is incredibly dramatic.
So we went up to our room, and the staff had prepared it exactly as I had requested - and for no extra charge, I might add. I wanted rose petals on the bed, and they took it a step further and even arranged them in the shape of a heart! I was impressed.
The room had a hallway leading to an incredibly elegant bath. It was beautiful.
I festooned the room with romantic goodies - sparkling grape juice on ice, baskets of chocolates and gourmet treats, and the presents I got him to make his Valentine's just that much more memorable. It's not a Valentine's Day without a stuffed animal of some sorts and jewelry. I gave him a pair of earrings, but in truth I had more that I was supposed to give him but they didn't arrive in time. That's okay. There's always his birthday!

I har arranged for some chocolate dipped strawberries to be sent up to the room after we settled in. When room service arrived, the plate was oddly hot. After opening it, we discovered there was a pizza inside! Jake was all like, "Why would you come to a plate like this and order pizza?!" only to peruse the menu later and coo over the pizzas listed there. I'm still harassing him about that, even now. The waiter figured out his mistake a few minutes later and brought us the correct plate. And they. Were. Delicious!


What's better than chocolate dipped strawberries?
Chocolate dipped strawberries made by someone else and brought to on a tray!
I also had a spot of dinner brought up to the room and then we promptly passed out. The next day, I had lots in store for Jake, none of which he knew was coming. But first, I woke him up with breakfast catered to our room.


Yep, they even brought the table. I was aiming for breakfast in bed, but this was close enough!

You know you are in a very special place when even the hallway outside your room is worthy of a photo or two. It made the trek down to the spa where the day's appoints were going to take place that much more enjoyable.


Though, according to the compass rose in the carpet, I ended up committing a
religious taboo by sleeping with my head facing north. It was worth it.


On the way down, Jake paused to look down on the atrium from our third floor hallway. It was a hell of a view.

At noon, I checked Jake in to his first spa appointment - a 50 minute full body hot stone massage. This spa won 2011 luxury spa of the year award, and the fact that the facility is beautiful is only part of the equation. You know you are at a quality place when you can have whatever you want done in whatever way you want it done, regardless of who you are, and the service from the staff never misses a beat. But more on that later. First, a photo tour of the spa:

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A long, elegant marble mosaic hallway led down to the spa wing.
The floors were so amazing I was not the only one taking pictures of them.

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The Olympic sized pool with leather lounge chairs.There was a massive jacuzzi at the other end,
but we did not get to make use of it.

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This was the men's bathroom in the spa...

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...and the sauna suite located inside.

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The door to the tranquility room, where you waited for your next spa appointment.
They kept you plied with teas and water with sliced up citrus inside. I spent a large amount
of time here while Jake was getting pampered.

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Jake helping himself to a pitcher of citrus water.

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Jake lounging in the tranquility room.

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One of the massage suites.

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The finely appointed hallway outside the massage suites.


The salon where Jake had his manicure done.

There was a two hour gap between Jake's other spa appointments, so he decided he wanted to go out and do a bit of shopping. We went to downtown French Lick and went antiquing at a few of the antique malls. We found a few items of interest, but I was most excited about a pretty complete set of geology sieves. Unfortunately I couldn't afford to buy them, but it was still pretty cool to come across them.

Two of the multi-booth antique malls we visited in French Lick.


Yay geology sieves!

Upon returning to the hotel, it was back to the spa where Jake enjoyed a milk bath followed by a manicure. While he waited for his appointment, he ordered lunch from the tranquility room and had it delivered right to him. He was both excited and awkward to be waited on so. I kept trying to tell him that's what you go to a place like that, but he was still weirded out by it. He was also awkward about getting his nails painted, but no one there so much as batted an eyelash. They honestly couldn't care less. They treated him with the utmost respect and courtesy and made him feel as though every guy coming and going got their nails painted too. THAT to me is the hallmark of excellent service - not the number of stars or diamonds or critic reviews, but how well you make even the atypical guest feel right at home. And they did a superior job of that - so much so that Jake went from completely freaked out to laughing and chatting. They get the Cameron gold star of excellence.

After his spa experience and a little bit of down time in the room, it was time for the Valentine's dinner in the resort's flagship restaurant, Sinclair's. I started off with a scallop bisque with salmon roe caviar and he had a arugula salad. I ordered him a specialty riesling wine, and we both opted for the Chilean sea bass as out entree. For desert he had a white chocolate creme brulee and I had a slice of red velvet cheesecake. To be honest, Sinclair's was the weakest link. They messed up his wine order, and the food was painfully average. I'm willing to chalk it up to the fact that they were incredibly busy due to it being Valentine's weekend, but still, I was disappointed. But that mas a minor blemish on an otherwise amazing stay.

I've seen and done a lot of things, but this was easily the most incredible hotel experience I've ever had. The important thing though is that the boy was blown away by it. He very nearly came to tears when he saw the dome for the first time. I got to let him be pampered and spoiled for a weekend, because honestly he deserved it. He's good to me and makes me happy, and I wanted to do a little something to return the favor. I just wish I could have afforded to do more.

January 2nd, 2013

Oshogatsu in Review 2013

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Akemashite omedeto gozaimasu! Happy New Year and welcome to the Japanese Year of the Snake! This particular Oshogatsu was special for a variety of reasons, but the most interesting of which is the fact that my boyfriend is a snake, so this will be an auspicious year for him. There were a few other interesting serpentine coincidences, but we'll get to that in a minute.


My particular tradition of Shinto is called Kaigen, which means "opening of the eye." It is a Shingon Buddhist syncretist path, and because of that it is just chock full of Zen Buddhist influences and mysticism. So as a lead in to my biggest holiday of the year, I begin with an observance of Rohatsu, or the day the Buddha attained enlightenment. I make a dish called oryoki in huge batches, and I eat it throughout the month leading up to Oshogatsu. The purpose of the dish is to be a meditative practice, both in making it and in eating it. Every day that you have it, you are to be so mindful of the eating that you experience new flavors and textures. Also, because it is a vegetarian dish, it is also a means of purification.




Oryoki, make with 7 kinds of rice, 16 kinds of beans, millet, pearl barley and mushrooms. Though this year I did not include the mushrooms because my boyfriend wanted to join in my observance but rather dislikes mushrooms.



Well that sounds all nice and spiritual, doesn't it? Unfortunately it didn't quite go down that way this year. And it wasn't for a wont of trying, either. Every time I turned around, I was being gifted with food or having to attend some kind of dinner or holiday function. So I didn't end up becoming quite as pure as I would have liked. But I would rather be sociable and thankful for gifts than be a rigid jerk that keeps turning people down because of my obscure practices. I don't really think that is in the spirit of my faith anyway. Who knows. Maybe all of that was a test to see if I would choose to be holier than thou and high handed, or be with my peoples and be grateful for their thinking of me this holiday season. Maybe I'm making excuses, but I think there's a certain purity to be attained by spreading and sharing joy and happiness.


One of the many seasonal get togethers I had to attend was a Christmas dinner with Jacob's family, who do not exactly approve of the whole gay thing. They had met me once before at Thanksgiving, and I just kept a low profile. This time, I made my move. I was then and still am determined to win them over and be accepted by them. So I offered to cook. I made walnut and cranberry rice pilaf stuffed roasted Cornish hens, whipped sweet potatoes, and a vegetable medley tossed in herbed oil and garlic. Now Jake's stepdad, who is a sheriff, is also a pretty decent cook and is generally underwhelmed with other people's culinary skills. But during dinner, all he kept saying was, "Man this X is good!" My face was impassive but I was grinning ear to ear on the inside. The next day as we were preparing to leave for home, a stunning moment happened: the sheriff hugged me goodbye.


VICTORY!!!


Um, I mean... I think I might have made progress... ;)


Leading up to Oshogatsu, I go through a pretty much month long ritual cleaning process called osoji. There are many reaasons for osoji - to purify the space and make it ready for the biggest holiday on the Shinto calendar, to clean out anything that may have become a malevolent Tsukumugami, or object that has become a spirit, to make room for new influences by removing objects representing old attachments, and to give new life to old things by repurposing them or giving them new homes. I did this with a bread machine I had but never used. Osoji lasts right up until the close of Omisoka, or New Year's Eve.




Some scenes from osoji this year. The upper left is my bedroom. Since this is where my kamidana, or altar, is kept and is essentially my shrine, it gets cleaned the most intensely. I took out the bed and all the furniture and cleaned all of it.




But I am especially proud of how clean and orderly and usable my pantry became! Not that I like to cook or anything... especially since this is spice pantry #2.



I had a helper this year! Despite how cold it had been, this brown shield bug (aka stink bug) landed on my arm and kept me company through a large part of my cleaning.



OMISOKA


Omisoka is New Year's Eve, and has plenty of traditions of its own. It is the day that you officially put the old year and its affairs behind you, but you also prepare that which you are carrying with you to journey with you into the coming year. This year I had to do things a little differently. Typically I do all of my year ending observances after sunset in that time between the days, but since Jake had to go to work that night, we decided to have our observances early. There was a small ceremonylette where his guardian officially released Jake to my care and gave us his blessing. I then served the three of us my yearly spin on the traditional Omisoka meal. Soba, or buckwheat noodles, are the traditional food, made into toshikoshi (roughly translated as crossing over or year end/year beginning noodles). My spin on this dish is called Triple Threat, because the number 3 is sacred and has a special importance to me. This year's Triple Threat had extremely tender filet of beef, chicken and shrimp tossed with the soba in a homemade citrus teriyaki made with orange-banana-pineapple juice. In addition to the juice this year, I added cranberry peach balsamic vinaigrette that Jake and I bought on one of our farmer's market trips earlier in the year. This was my way of adding an element of us to the crossing over noodles.

After the meal was finished and Jake and his guardian left for work, I finished the very last of osoji. With some of the house debris I swept up, I also wrote up and burned my regrets in the for the year in the fireplace to prevent them from following me into the new year. Once the ashes cooled, I swept out the fireplace and removed the ashes from the apartment. Usually I scatter them in the little garden behind my house, but the ground was somewhere between wet and frozen and would not have been a good idea. So they just went in the trash bins in the alley out back. The very last acts of the day were to open up all the windows (despite the bitter cold!) to let the New Year in, and to begin making osechi ryori, which is the traditional Oshogatsu feast.





This year's toshikoshi soba.




And a photo of last year's burning of regrets, because I forgot to take a picture this year.



OSHOGATSU


Officially Oshogatsu began at a few minutes after midnight with a few "happy New Year" and even a couple of "happy Oshogatsu" texts. Even though they woke me up, I did not stay awake so I don't really consider that the start of the day. However that does go down as both first texts and first wish of happy New Year. I guess it also counts as first sleep too, since I went back to sleep.


I suppose I should take a moment here to say a bit about what Oshogatsu is. Sure it is the celebration of the New Year, but it is also a festival of firsts. We believe that the events of the first day of the year and the impacts those firsts have on us set the tone for how the year will unfold. The whole purpose behind celebrating all of these firsts is to simply pay closer attention to the ordinary things that happen in your life. Even something as mundane as sighting the first sparrow of the year is important, because it was the first time you saw a sparrow. And yes, that really is a thing.


The first texts not withstanding, the first first was hatsuyume.


Hatsuyume - first dream
The first dream was pretty hilarious, and probably brought about by my friend who hung out with me while performing osoji. It went something like this: I was asleep, and Jake came home and hung out to read for a little while in the living room before coming to bed (which is a pretty common practice, actually). In my dream, I was awakened by a blood curdling scream from him, followed by him bellowing, "CAMERON HELP ME!!!" So in my dream, I leap out of bed, bull rush my bedroom doors and reduce them to toothpicks as I smash through them, run into the living room and pick up the couch fully prepared to bludgeon Jake's attackers with it. However when I get there, there are no ninjas, pirates, ninja pirates, Tea Party-ers, Westboro zombies or even Jehovah's Witnesses. It's just Jake with his face turned as far to the left as he can manage, his eyes squinted shut as though he were in pain, and his right arm extended and waving frantically at me with him chanting, "GETITOFFGETITOFFGETITOFF!!!" So I put down the couch, calmly walk over to him, pluck off the brown stink bug that dared to invade his person, toss it out the window, then return to bed.


Hatsuhinode - first sunrise
The first sunrise is pretty important, because it is officially the beginning of the first day of the New Year. I celebrate this by toasting the sun with a juice cocktail I call "sun juice." It is the same orange-banana-pineapple blend I use in Triple Threat, only this year I ran out! So I simply used orange juice instead. The sky was completely overcast, so there really wasn't a sunrise to see. But I know where the sun comes up this time of year, and I checked the almanac for the time, so I knew when and where to be.



Hatsuhinode - first sunrise



Myself and Jake, respectively, with our toasting goblets.



Hatsuki - first fire

The lighting of the first fire has lots of obvious symbolism - bringing light into the new year, purification, banishing - all that happy Pagany goodness. This year, unlike the previous couple of years, it was actually warranted because it was COLD! So it also had the symbolism of bringing warmth and comfort and was practical as well as ceremonial.




Hatsuki, the first fire, with Jake's Yule tree lit up in the background and my cat Bruce looking on in approval.



Hatsushinmotsu - first exchange of gifts
Jake was so excited about hatsushinmotsu that we did that next. He got me an amazingly ornate kamidana (altar, residence of my household deities), and I was blown away by it. But as he got a good look at it, he realized it was not the one he ordered and it broke his heart. I felt so bad for him because he was so very excited to give it to me! He got me a design with three doors, which I have longed for forever, but the one that was sent only had the one door. I still love it. It was the first time anyone had really done anything to honor my faith and show their support for me. So with hatsushinmotsu, I got some unexpected firsts: first sadness, first joy, first heartache (both good and bad), first surprise and first first display of support for my religion.




Look how beautiful this thing is! And that look on my face is one of concern, because Jake was just so crestfallen.



Gifts on Oshogatsu are all about your wish for them for the new year. So all of my gifts to Jake were aimed along these lines. He wants to go back to school for meteorology and he has a great love and fascination with weather. So to encourage his dreams as well as his imagination, I got him a meteorology textbook and his favorite weather movie ever - Twister. I also got him Tornado! just because it has Bruce Campbell in it. I also wanted to encourage his sense of play and just give him something nice for being so good to me, so I gave him Final Fantasy 8 - a game he has been pining for since I've known him. I threw in FF Anthology just because. I do almost everything in threes, so my last set of gifts were items for his altar that I have collected from around the world in my many adventures to show my support for his faith and to encourage his continued practice.




Jake proudly clutching his weather related goodies.



Waraizome - first laughter
The first laughter was brought about by both Jake and the cats, who were in a very playful mood. Here is Fuzzbat playing Ambush the String from under the couch:





Hatsudayori - first exchange of letters
In the past this is done through nengajo, or New Year cards. However, Jake opened his the day it came in the mail and I found myself with no letter to exchange. So this prompted an impromptu trip to the store. Along the way came many more firsts! This was the first walk, first trip to the store, first art photography, first meal, first donut, and first purchase! Though I didn't make the purchase because I somehow forgot my wallet.




First photography!



First meal, which also happened to be the first donut! And it wasn't just any dount either. It was the Holey Donut!



First robins! There were first squirrels too, but for whatever reason I did not feel like taking pictures of them. I am still holding a grudge against them for destroying my feeders that I use for hatsusuzume.


Which reminds me! Hatsusuzume, or first sparrow, has eluded me ever since I started documenting my Oshogatsu observances. Every year I would hear them, but I never saw them. This year, I finally broke that trend. I give to you, with much fanfare, HATSUSUZUME - the FIRST SPARROW!





Sparrows are lucky, and a sign of good fortune. There are lots of tales about sparrows, and are so important to Shinto that you even get to visit the Sparrow Clan when you pass through a torii gate in the game Okami. But even if they weren't auspicious, I would still take their picture because I like them.


After we got back, poor Jake was so tired he promptyly passed out. So I filled out his card that we got while out, and began making osechi ryori.

Osechi Ryori - New Year feast


There are a host of traditional foods that are made for Oshogatsu, but some I can't make simply because I can't get the ingredients. Others I have tried to make but never got it right, like ozoni. Also, I typically take a personal spin on the osechi classics, but since I had guests this year (another double first!) that were looking forward to traditional Japanese fare, I kept it by the book for the most part.




Kohaku Namasu - red and white salad, made with daikon, renkon (lotus root), carrot, red cabbage and shredded broccoli. The red and white combination is considered lucky and auspicious.



Homemade sesame ginger dressing for the kohaku namasu.



Tataki Gobo - burdock root in soy with sesame seeds. Burdock's long taproot represents longevity and stability.



Iridori - chicken and root vegetable stew, made with chicken thighs, daikon (prosperity), renkon (wisdom, enlightenment), gobo (stability), carrot(auspicious color), onion, satsumaimo (sweet potato), satoimo (taro), and seaweed in broth.



Lobster (ise ebi) and Shrimp (ebi) with Yam Noodles (shirataki), stirfried in leftover Triple Threat sauce as a symbol of carrying over some of the old and combining it with the new. Both shrimp and lobster are traditional osechi foods because of their bent backs. They represent the old year, so eating them is symbolically taking into to you that which you want to nourish you from the year before.



My Tai. Tai is sea bream, but it is impossible to find here. It is also traditionally preserved in salt, and I just can't tolerate salt crusted anything. So I went with mahi and I poached it in a traditional sake based marinade. Sake is a symbol of wealth and celebration. Steamed right along side are some mixed Asian vegetables like bok choi, carrots, and squashes. I poached/steamed everything in a tightly sealed foil packet.



For dessert I served up the usual assorted mochi tray. It comes with three flavors - red bean, black bean and peanut butter.




First house guests, over to enjoy the osechi feast. I swear they were enjoying themselves. I swear.



Before the guests arrived and dinner was served, Jake and I did hatsudayori.




Hatsudayori - first exchange of letters. In this case, a card given to me by Jake.

While dinner was cooking, I accomplished a few other firsts. I attempted Kakizome, the first calligraphy. Something had gone wrong with my ink, though. It kept clotting up on me and was very difficult to use. So this year's calligraphy isn't all that great. I also did the year's first craft, a tradition started by accident last year. This year I made new spice stocks for the year. I also wrote my kigo haiku.


New hope dawns
With the setting
Of old fears.



Kakizome - first calligraphy. It is the kanji for the name Katsumi, which means "self-control." This is the name I chose for Jake when he decides to officially become part of my house. Interestingly and completely unknown to me until I looked it up, the second kanji is the kanji for snake. Auspicious choice, considering it is the Year of the Snake and he is a snake sign!




First craft - the making of spice rubs. This one happens to be tandoori.



Even though there was still heavy cloud cover, I attempted to capture hatsubanshyoo using the same method as hatsuhinode. I had no idea where in the sky the moon would be, so could not attempt to capture hatsusuki, or first moon. I know it was out there, because it set around 10:30 in the morning.




Hatsubanshyoo - first sunset.



This year, I also got to enjoy the first visit to a friend's house, as well as my first good deed. And I cannot confirm it, but I could have sworn I saw the spitting of snow at some point during the day, so there was the potential of hatsuyuki (first snow). That would have been highly auspicious indeed! As always, I closed out the celebration with hatsumode, or first shrine visit. I prayed at my kamidana while Jake observed. He had never seen me at my kamidana before, so he absorbed and learned my customs. After that, I cuddled with him and closed out the best (and longest!) Oshogatsu I have ever had.


Even though the weather was grey and cold, the entire day was filled with good feeling, excitement, anticipation and hope. There was much love and camaraderie and friendship, and I can't think of a better way to kick off the new year. I certainly hope that this is the foreshadowing of the coming year, because if it is it is going to be a great one.


December 27th, 2012




For anyone that has ever looked into the mythology of Shinto, or has a love of anime, you have probably encountered terms like Yo(u)kai, obake and bakemono, and found them to be quite confusing. Shinto has an absolute plethora of beings, all of which have no direct correlation to western systems of thought, and therefore make describing them quite difficult.

Most people are familiar with the idea of kami, and equate them with gods which is a close enough approximation. Kami are embodiment of various forces and phenomena, and take all manner of forms. The Yokai are another class of being that are below the kami, but still have influence on the manifest world. Yokai literally means "weird/strange otherworldly/supernatural (being)" and they range from what the West would think of as ghosts and demons to inanimate objects that possess a spirit. Almost all of these beings are henge, or shapeshifters. Bakemono is also used to describe beings that are shapeshifters, with obake being the honorific form.

There are numerous subclasses of Yokai (this is not an exhaustive list):



  • Animals - typically spirits of a place or a natural feature, though sometimes they are avatars or servants of a kami. Common examples of these are tanuki (raccoon dogs), o(o)kami (wolves), bakeneko (cats; note the bake prefix indicating a shapeshifting creature), hebi (snakes) and the most popular of all thanks to amime and video games, the kitsune (fox). Kitsune are often associated with the kami Inari who is a nine tailed fox, but not all foxes are affiliated with the fox god.



  • The Oni - often simply translated as "demon," the Oni are actually more like giants or ogres. There are tribes of Oni, and each has a different skin color. The most common is red, but blue and brown also exist. Oni are often thought of as evil, but not necessarily. There are Oni that protect, are servants of kami or help keep malevolent yokai in check.



  • Hanyo - a being that is half yokai and half human. Probably the most famous example of this in media is Inuyasha.


  • The Tengu - often translated as "goblin," the Tengu are a complicated race of shapeshifting bird-like humanoid beings. They are usually thought of as pranksters or tricksters, but this is often because they are meting out some manner of justice. The Tengu punish errant behaviors through humiliation. The Tengu are also somewhat famous because it is said that they are masters of the art of the sword, and the great hero Minamoto no Yoshitsune was said to have been taught his extraordinary swordsmanship from the king of the Tengu, Sojobo. The Tengo are also keepers of ancient forest and mountain magic.



  • Mononoke - these are specifically nature spirits, the manifestations of the living energy of trees, forests, rivers, mountains and other natural features. Generally the older it is, the more spirits it has.



  • Tsukumugami - These yokai are one of the most important during osoji, which is ritual cleaning for Oshogatsu, the Shinto New Year. Shinto is an animist faith, and part of that is believing that ordinary objects around you can absorb your energy or can become the residence of a yokai making the object a yokai in and of itself. For example, if you frequently yell at and hit your computer, you might find that it tends to act strangely around you. We believe that you have instilled that computer with your anger, making it an angry tsukumugami. Likewise if you lovingly care for a collection of knickknacks and you find you always feel good around them, then perhaps you have created a healing tsukumugami through your efforts. Osoji is all about removing bad influences and energy from your life to make room for new and positive influences. So during osoji, we clean out everything that we don't need or has a negative feel to it. When at all possible, we rehome the things we clean out because we believe very strongly in reforming and giving new life to old things.



  • Gaki - these are hungry ghosts, tortured souls that are trapped between the mortal plane and the otherworld. They are unilaterally malevolent, but unintentionally so. They are pitiable entities because they ended up this way through no fault of their own. Their lives ended abruptly and they wander the world driven by their hunger - be it for revenge, to complete some task or to find something. One of the things I do for Oshogatsu is to attempt to ease the suffering of the gaki by leaving them offerings. Typically this is don during Bon, the Festival of the Dead, but I do it as part of keeping bad influences away for the coming year.



This is by far not every kind of entity that Shinto recognizes, but hopefully it will help clear up some of the confusion surrounding these beings and the terms used to describe them. So the next time you watch Mushi-Shi, Inuyasha or Princess Mononoke, see if you can distinguish the who's who of Shinto yokai and impress all of your fellow anime nerds. ;)

July 29th, 2012




RecipesCollapse )


June 16th, 2012

The Life List

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Well, now that I've traveled, it's time to mark off more items.





[X]Traveled out of the country.
[X]Traveled off the continent.
[X]Traveled the east coast.
[ ]Traveled the west coast.
[X]Been to Hawaii.
[ ]Been to Alaska.
[ ]Been to all 50 states.
[X]Been to Canada.
[]Been to Mexico. (I've decided to remove this one, because I haven't seen what I want to see in Mexico)

[X]Seen a thunderstorm from above.
[X]Seen a thunderstorm from above while standing on the ground.
[X]Seen the ocean from a mountain.
[X]Been on a volcano. (long dead, eroded away ones count)
[X]Been on an active volcano.
[X]Been in a hot spring.
[ ]Seen a geyser.
[ ]Been in a hotspring.
[X]Felt an earthquake.
[X]Been inside a major hurricane. (I think four of the hurricanes I experienced were cat 3 or better)
[X]Seen the eye wall of a hurricane from the inside.
[X]Seen (first person) a tornado. (sustained damage from a couple, in fact)
[X]Been in a major flood. (comes with the territory when hurricanes are involved)
[ ]Been in a blizzard.

[ ]Been to Dazaifu Tenmangu.
[ ]Been to Chusonji (Benkei's grave) and Shirahata Shrine (Yoshitusne's grave)
[X]Been to Petra.
[ ]Been to the Pyramids.
[ ]Seen the ruins of Greece and Rome.

[X]Been caving.
[ ]Been to Ruby Falls.
[X]Seen canyon country from the air.
[X]Seen canyon country from the ground. (Waimea)
[ ]Been to the Grand Canyon.
[ ]Been to Mt. Rushmore.
[X]Physically crossed the Mississippi River (not by plane).
[X]Been to the Great Confluence.
[X]Been to the Great Lakes.

[X]Traveled the Nantahala River. (though now I'd actually like to raft it!)
[ ]Traveled the Colorado River.
[ ]Traveled the Snake River.
[ ]Traveled the Missouri River.
[ ]Traveled the Columbia River.
[X]Traveled the Ohio River.
[ ]Traveled the Mississippi River. (the ferry across it doesn't count)
[ ]Paddled the Apostle Islands.

[X]Been in the Atlantic Ocean.
[X]Been in the Atlantic Ocean from a foreign shore.
[X]Been in the Pacific Ocean.
[ ]Been to the Pacific Ocean from a foreign shore.
[X]Been to Europe. (AMSTERDAM!!!)
[X]Been to the Middle East.
[ ]Been to Asia.
[X]Been to Africa. (Ghana, baby!)
[ ]Been to South America.
[ ]Been to Australia.
[ ]Been to Japan.

[X]Snorkled the Pacific. (but there's much more to do! Like Fiji!)
[ ]Scuba-ed the Pacific.
[ ]Snorkled the Great Barrier Reef.
[ ]Scuba-ed the Great Barrier Reef.
[ ]Snorkled the Carribean.
[ ]Scuba-ed the Carribean.
[X]Snorkled the Red Sea.
[ ]Scuba-ed the Red Sea.

[X]Been on a plane.
[X]Been on a flight over 8 hours.
[X]Been on an international flight.
[ ]Been on a double decker plane.
[X]Flown over 40,000 ft.
[X]Flown faster than 500 mph.
[ ]Been on a train (other than a metrorail/mass transit, monorail or amusement)
[X]Been on a lightrail.
[X]Been on a subway.
[ ]Been on the Great Smokey Mountain Railroad.
[X]Been on a cruise.
[X]Been on a barge. (though not the barge I want to be on!)




So it would appear I'm a tidge behind on my life events these days...


Ghana tell you all about it!Collapse )


January 3rd, 2012

(no subject)

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Akemashite omedeto gozaimasu (happy New Year)! This year's Oshogatsu in Review is going to be, well, different, because it was, well, different. For past Oshogatsu posts, go here or here.


So this year for Oshogatsu, I began as I always do at Rohatsu (which is the 8th of December) where I observe the day the Buddha obtained his enlightenment. As I practice a syncretic form of Shinto, I can say about half my practice is Zen Buddhism. Every year for Rohatsu, I make a stock of a porridge like dish called oryoki and I eat on that once a day every day until Omisoka (New Year's Eve). I also begin osoji (ritual cleaning) around that time, because it is good meditative practice.







Oryoki, made from 3 kinds of millet, pearl barley, 15 types of beans and 7 kinds of rice with 3 varieties of mushrooms. The purpose of making this dish is to have the cooking itself be an exercise in mindfulness and meditation, as well as the actual eating of it. The idea behind it is that despite the fact that you are eating the same dish every day, you are so mindful of the food that you are able to parse out new flavors and textures every time you eat it.




Well, that was the plan, anyway. Let's just say things didn't go to plan.

To explain, first, a story:


One convoluted story, coming up!Collapse )


And now, Oshogatsu in ReviewCollapse )


August 20th, 2011




Hey, there's pics of me actually doing stuff in here!


The media blitzCollapse )


August 7th, 2011

For previous editions, go here and here

The Induction CeremonyCollapse )

May 15th, 2011

The Life List

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[X]Traveled out of the country.
[X]Traveled off the continent.
[X]Traveled the east coast.
[ ]Traveled the west coast.
[X]Been to Hawaii.
[ ]Been to Alaska.
[ ]Been to all 50 states.
[X]Been to Canada.
[X]Been to Mexico. (though that was very early in my life, maybe that shouldn't count)

[X]Seen a thunderstorm from above.
[X]Seen a thunderstorm from above while standing on the ground.
[X]Seen the ocean from a mountain.
[X]Been on a volcano. (long dead, eroded away ones count)
[X]Been on an active volcano.
[X]Been in a hot spring.
[ ]Seen a geyser.
[X]Felt an earthquake.
[X]Been inside a major hurricane. (I think four of the hurricanes I experienced were cat 3 or better)
[X]Seen the eye wall of a hurricane from the inside.
[X]Seen (first person) a tornado. (sustained damage from a couple, in fact)
[X]Been in a major flood. (comes with the territory when hurricanes are involved)
[ ]Been in a blizzard.

[ ]Been to Dazaifu Tenmangu.
[ ]Been to Chusonji (Benkei's grave) and Shirahata Shrine (Yoshitusne's grave)
[X]Been to Petra.
[ ]Been to the Pyramids.
[ ]Seen the ruins of Greece and Rome.

[X]Been caving.
[ ]Been to Ruby Falls.
[X]Seen canyon country from the air.
[X]Seen canyon country from the ground. (Waimea)
[ ]Been to the Grand Canyon.
[ ]Been to Mt. Rushmore.
[X]Physically crossed the Mississippi River (not by plane).
[X]Been to the Great Confluence.
[X]Been to the Great Lakes.

[X ]Traveled the Nantahala River. (though now I'd actually like to raft it!)
[ ]Traveled the Colorado River.
[ ]Traveled the Snake River.
[ ]Traveled the Missouri River.
[ ]Traveled the Columbia River.
[X]Traveled the Ohio River.
[ ]Traveled the Mississippi River. (the ferry across it doesn't count)

[X]Been in the Atlantic Ocean.
[ ]Been in the Atlantic Ocean from a foreign shore.
[X]Been in the Pacific Ocean.
[ ]Been to the Pacific Ocean from a foreign shore.
[ ]Been to Europe.
[X]Been to the Middle East.
[ ]Been to Asia.
[ ]Been to Africa.
[ ]Been to South America.
[ ]Been to Australia.
[ ]Been to Japan.

[X]Snorkled the Pacific. (but there's much more to do! Like Fiji!)
[ ]Scuba-ed the Pacific.
[ ]Snorkled the Great Barrier Reef.
[ ]Scuba-ed the Great Barrier Reef.
[ ]Snorkled the Carribean.
[ ]Scuba-ed the Carribean.
[X]Snorkled the Red Sea.
[ ]Scuba-ed the Red Sea.

[X]Been on a plane.
[X]Been on a flight over 8 hours.
[X]Been on an international flight.
[ ]Been on a double decker plane.
[X]Flown over 40,000 ft.
[X]Flown faster than 500 mph.
[ ]Been on a train (other than a metrorail/mass transit, monorail or amusement)
[X]Been on a lightrail.
[X]Been on a subway.
[ ]Been on the Great Smokey Mountain Railroad.
[X]Been on a cruise.
[X]Been on a barge. (though not the barge I want to be on!)

Once in a Lifetime... Twice

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I don't know what it is about me. Maybe I just put myself out there more, or maybe I just feel things differently than other people, or perhaps it's a combination of factors, but I seem to have a wealth of transformative experiences finding their way into my life. And how do you do justice to things so profound and life altering that you have no choice but to retreat into solitude just to process them? The best I can offer is meager platitudes meant to vainly convey the depth and breadth of what I have known.

Despite all the drama that even now I am still feeling the repercussions of here two years later, Hawaii was one of those moments that left me without a voice and so full of sensation and experience that I was paralyzed by sensory overload. I left there feeling as though I was being torn by force from a place I have always lived, that was my home. I cried. I was homesick. I still long to return. It was the first place where I felt a sense of belonging. It was the first place I did not feel like an alien. It was like your first love - it impacts you forever and you never truly forget it.

And now I have come home once again from yet another one of those journeys into transformation, though this one not quite in the same way.

As a young child, I had a fascination with antique maps. I used to sneak into the restricted portion of the public library in my hometown where they kept the archived copies of old magazines and periodicals. I would take old National Geographics from that dark, dusty archive and mix them into a stack of current National Geographics the library sold for a quarter apiece. If memory serves, my oldest copy was from 1914, and I had many from the 20s and 30s. I collected them for the historic value, plus the map supplements that came with them. I could lay out all the maps and watch how the world changed - how countries changed shape, grew, shrank or ceased to be altogether.



I should state for the record that neither of these are mine. My beloved collection of classic NatGeos is long, long gone. And I don't know if you can read it or not, but the second one has an article on Petra.



One of the more modern editions that I purchased to hide the archived copies had a full color spread on the Nabateans, and thus I was introduced to Petra for the first time. I vowed, even then when I was maybe 8 years old, if that much, that one day I would see this place. As the years went on, it became the second most important goal on my Life List.

I am now proud to say that I can mark that objective off my list now, as well as other prominent To-Dos.

My trip to Jordan was nothing short of spectacular. My only complaint with it was that it was far too short. I went there as a geologist amongst a troupe of biologists, and since I am 1/3 biologist, I of course participated in the biology portions of the trip as much as time and physical limitations would allow. But more on that later.


There"s pictures in here! Go see them!Collapse )


May 12th, 2011

Reflecting

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I remember this time last year. It was not a pleasant time for me. It was one of the rare times in my life that I did not make myself and my life completely transparent. It was not my intent to deceive or withhold, and it never is. For me, it was what it is always about: protecting people. I saw the fallout coming; I knew everyone around me would get caught up in the blast.

But that was then.

Today, I was lying on my couch, thinking about how literally everything has changed. And that got me to thinking about how rapidly I tend to change compared to everyone around me. Mine is a life experiencing growing pains, torn between wanting to push the envelope of what I can experience and attempting to slow down enough to settle in and delve into that predictable monotony that so many people fear but I crave.

I'm not one to try to engineer my life. I know what happens when I try, so I'm just sitting back and seeing where this wild ride is going to take me. It might have been the scenic route so far, but the views have been spectacular. I've always got stories to entertain people with and enough memories to make my life feel pretty full.

It's funny to me how you always seem to get what you really need. I was about to go completely stir crazy insane earlier in the year, dying to go somewhere - anywhere - even if it was wrong, and what happens? Trips start falling from the sky. I've been on so many adventures, and there are more still coming down the pipe.

I was beginning to feel like my research was never going to get off the ground, with it getting derailed last semester. Now it's fully underway. There's just so much going on, and it all seems to be falling into place. I'm ready to get past where I am now, exit the log phase, or at least shallow out my growth curve to a slower pace, and ease into the stationary phase. This isn't to say that I am no longer interested in experiencing and exploring and adventure and whatnot. I just want a little more stability in my life.

I expect my last great adventure will be my graduation present, which will be coming sooner than even I realized. I say that, but my life never tends to go where one might expect it to. If I am still to be ever into the fray and riding the wave of high adventure, I won't complain. I just want to have enough time to dedicate to my family and be a part of that which is really important to me. Yes science is important, but my homelife is far more so.

I like being optimistic about the future. I'm not sure I ever have been before, at least not consistently. Just around the bend is a whole new world and a whole new range of experiences, and I can't wait to meet them head on. This brave new world will be richer in depth and color for me, because I have the ability to share all I see and do and learn. Everything is more meaningful to me when I have someone to share it with.

So here's to the final chapter of book one. There's still quite a lot to be written, but when it is done, I can close the book on this phase of my life. I can't wait for the sequel.


March 10th, 2011




So after being assigned to read A Genetic Switch for my biochem class, we had to discuss said book. I have included some of the dialog for your reading amusement:

Dr. S: So what did you think of the book?

Me: After I read the bit about having demons in your DNA, it was pretty much over for me. I couldn't read it with a straight face anymore.

Dr. S: What page was that on?

Me: 32. I even have it bookmarked.

:::class turns to page 32:::

Me: So is there a chromatography technique to isolate the DNA demons?

SOS (some other student): Well, they are evil, so I guess ion chromatography would work.

Me: That makes sense. So if the demons mutate, do they become gremlins?

Dr. S: Only if you add water.

Me: So hydrated DNA demons tautomerize into gremlins!

SOS: I think that might be what's wrong with my son.

Me: Now I get it! This book is covering Creationist genetics! I guess that means your son can be traced back to The Fall.

SOS: I guess that means the demon extraction chromatography should be buffered with holy water.

SOS2: ...and will require a priest.

Dr. S: (later in the discussion) So what this regulatory factor means is that you will have varying expression of demons.

SOS: Does that mean they will speak in tongues?

Me: No, that's Pentecostals.

SOS2: So does that mean the alpha helix structure would be a pentagram?

Did I mention I love being a nerd?


March 8th, 2011

The Visitation

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It is fairly common knowledge at this point that I am having the second worst semester of my long and serpentine academic career. I've seen people around me buckling under the strain, jumping ship and pursuing greener pastures. I find myself in that very same place, questioning if I am doing what I really should be doing.

And I have come to a conclusion.

The truth is I am right where I belong, difficulty or not. I've never been happier than where I am now, and I find it really hard to believe that some other profession could possibly make me feel this complete. I am in a place that even when it squeezes me dry physically and mentally I still have enough to be me at the end of the day. I can honestly say I don't know anyone else who is in that position. Everyone else has to put on masks for the different parts of their lives. I am Cameron from start to finish. I always have it in me to make someone laugh, help someone when they need it and enjoy life - even when I am exhausted and broken.

/but that's only part of the story.

Last night I was lectured long by the kami about my life. Some of what they said I did not understand, but much of it was not telling me that I am doing it wrong, but I am doing it stupidly. That I can accept. I even remember at some point saying that I did not understand the message, and as the kami are wont to do, they gave me a visual aid.

As I drove to work this morning, I passed under the old stone L&N train trestle. Something darted in front of my car as I did so, and it turned out to be the avatar of Tenjin-Okami in his customary form of a red tailed hawk. And he was doing something different - something that was designed to open my mind and think about things in a different way, also as Tenjin-Okami is wont to do. He was hunting pigeons not by wheeling through the sky or darting between skyscrapers. No, he was going to where the pigeons sleep, before they had awakened for the day, and taking them right in their nests under the train trestle.

And in what was quite possibly the most poetic and elegant way I've ever seen it said, the Lord Kami decreed, "work smarter, not harder. And reserve your resources." The lesson here is not to hold up the effort, especially if it is failed effort, and attempt to hold that up as proof of how hard you tried. Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades. If what you are doing doesn't work, use those engineering instincts and streamline the process to make it more efficient. A true engineer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.

Though admittedly a large part of me is in love with the excessive excesses of Rube Golderbergian devices, but that's aside from the point.

For whatever reason, the appearance of Tenjin-Okami helped me to understand my dreams. The whole point of my dream was that I can make anything true that I want to. If I want to believe that I do not belong in science, I can make that as true as believing I do belong in science. There is no difference between deception and truth, for if you believe the deception, then it is truth. I do not believe my happiness is a deception, and thus I choose to believe that my truth is true. But I do confess something is missing, and it was this that was the topic of my long and convoluted dreams.

I love art. I need art. But I myself have no art. My art is science. And cooking if one considers that an art. My soul starves for art. And in my dreams, the kami spoke to me about how selfish I am for getting bogged down in my own despair, because other people depend on me. The entire purpose of these grand pursuits is the future, and I have much stored in the future. I have a family there, and a farm, and a peaceful quiet comfortable life where I live on my own terms. But I apparently have more stored there. I have purpose stored there. I have the ability to support art stored there.

And this is what I want to do with my life.

I want to support art.

I want to use my resources to allow artists to create and add beauty and craft to the world. I want people who are put on this earth to create art to create art. Real, mind-capturing art that is both beautiful and exquisite displays of unparalleled skill. I honestly believe that the art we have now is the pale moonshadow of true art because we do not support artists to actually create. They are driven to make what sells so they can survive. If the pressure of making ends meet is lifted, then perhaps real creativity can flourish and real talent be nourished. Just as I want to nourish new creative minds that will be the future of science and research, so too do I want to nourish the creative soul. Art and science rely on each other. They both require a vision not commonly possessed.


February 25th, 2011

Cameron Gets a Clue

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This is truly something new!Collapse )

February 13th, 2011

The Journey

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I stood looking westward, toward the hills in the distance that were my destination. A cold wind tousled my hair and flapped my long overcoat like a slack sail. Ahead, the sun was sinking behind those silhouetted hills, the day's last light retreating from the oncoming dark. I kissed the medallion around my neck and prayed to Dosojin that I might return from this journey to my friends and loved ones. I steeled myself for the long ride ahead, took a deep breath, and set out.

Night on the wilderness trail was deep, unbroken darkness. I traveled alone, heading further and further away from civilization and deeper into the hinterland. With each mile I traveled, the sky revealed more and more stars, as they were no longer obscured by the eternal lights of the city that stain the night sky pink. I had forgotten the wonder and awe I experience when I gaze up at the stars. For a moment my heart was lifted, but I could not look long upon the diamond dust sky. I had to press on.

Strange shapes loomed half formed on the marge of the darkness, then melted away again into the formless dark as my lights passed them by. I wondered what might lie out there beyond the small orb of light around me, pressing back the night, and then decided it was best not to think on such things. I kept my focus on the path stretching on forever, unseen, before me.

The Blue River snaked black and silent through the small town clustered around the river's ford, with only the occasional glint of light from streetlights belying its presence. It was here at the riverside that I met up with a small caravan also heading west. It is an unspoken rule among travelers that one should always move in groups, especially at night, and even more so on road as remote as this. We set out, slowly at first, crossing the bridge one by one, but our destination was yet far, and we could not keep such a glacial pace for long. Once the town had been swallowed by the night far behind us, the caravan picked up speed and I struggled to keep pace.

Up over ridgelines, down through valleys, around hills and bends in rivers we raced, the route as wild as the lands it traversed. I was grateful for the experience of the caravan before me, as they knew each sharp turn and each treacherous dip beyond each abrupt rise. They served as my eyes, as mine were blinded by the impenetrable night. My eyes had grown soft, accustomed to the bright city nights. Out there, my eyes were good as blind.

Through tunnels of trees, across unseen waters and past fallow fields we traveled, rising ever higher into the upcountry. The caravan and I crested yet another ridge, this one higher than the last, and the caravan suddenly slowed. There up ahead, just beyond the hills before us, white light beamed into the sky, bright and unearthly. Could that be at long last our destination? The caravan made for the light, traveling as fast as they dared on such a dangerous path.

The pace proved too much for some. I watched as they pulled off to the side, unable to continue. I took pity on them, but we could not stop. We pressed on. Fatigue forced others to abandon the journey and seek shelter to rest. I secretly longed to do the same, as weariness made my body heavy and dulled my wits. In the end, my will won out and I stayed the course. Aside from myself, only four others remained in the caravan. We were a serpent of light snaking through the darkness, driven on by the promise of the light that beckoned from beyond the black hills. Not even the remains of caravans found on the side of the road, ruined by time and tragedy, did not deter us. The light called to us. We felt compelled to answer.

As we wound down the side of a hill into a rolling valley, the light came into view. We sped toward it, eager with anticipation. I felt an overwhelming desire to touch the light, become one with it. I wondered in the others in the caravan felt the same. And suddenly, the light was before us, bright, almost blinding. The caravan drove into it, and then they were gone. I tried in vain to tell them to turn back, that this light a false promise. It was not home. It was not our destination. But it was too late. There was nothing more I could do. I tore my eyes away from the warm light, resisted its siren song, and fled into the night.

I saw others, coming toward me on the path, drawn in by the light. I could not dissuade them from being lost to the light. I felt weak and powerless as they brushed past me, determined to reach the light. With great sadness I turned away from them and continued on. Their fate was sealed, but mine was yet unfolding. I continued on into the dark, alone.

Minutes seemed like hours, but at long last I found myself in the City of Temples. I passed the Temple of the Springs, and found myself in awe of the mighty structure. Far up on a hill I saw the glass-domed Temple of the Waters, and in a shallow valley off the road I saw the Temple of the Rivers sprawling and towering. It's white facade seems to glow as it reflected the city light. I was not prepared for the majesty that awaited me in this obscure place. I felt a sense of history here, and that despite its location deep in the outlands, that this place held great importance.

As much as I wanted to explore the fascinating structures around me, the temples were not my reason for this daunting journey. I made my way beyond them to a small, unassuming temple dedicated to the god of the Christians, where I stood with pride beside my friend in his betrothal ceremony as honor guard. I feasted at his side, celebrated and congratulated him, and then made my way home. I was sad to leave behind old friends and new, but my bed awaited me in a distant land.

With the City of Temples at my back, I set out once again into the night. As I neared the site where the white light had led other travelers astray, I laughed at seeing that the lights shone no more. No more caravans would be lost to false hope. At the town by the river ford, I was forced to pause briefly as fatigue threatened to undo me. I had hoped to perhaps join another caravan heading east, but at that late hour even the caravans were not to be found. So I continued on alone, meandering through the darkness.

I rounded a bend in the road, and before my the sky burned. Above me only the brightest stars could be seen. I was nearing my home. As a man born of the hinters, whose heart longs to be among the forests and the fields, I felt a pang of sadness to be returning to the city. Standing beside the road, illuminated by my light briefly as I passed, was a lone deer, as though a jigami had come to bid me farewell and see me off. I smiled and bowed, and just as it appeared, the deer was gone. And with that I crossed the border from one world to another. I was delivered from the dark into the glaring light of the city. Where before the light seemed ambient, it was now harsh against my eyes. I found myself longing to return to the darkness from whence I came, but instead I settled for the darkness found behind my eyes as I settled myself and drifted to sleep, exhausted from the long day.


February 4th, 2011

3 For the Price of One

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Yes another dream post...Collapse )


February 2nd, 2011

Wayward

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And a little child shall lead themCollapse )


January 23rd, 2011




Oh, the dreams I have...Collapse )


January 9th, 2011

6 Hours Later

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I woke up from a very interesting dream, the details of which are not important. No, it was not a sex dream, but it was intense enough that it woke me up before my alarm went off at 6:30. Then I:

  • Took a shower.
  • Got out of the shower realizing I hadn't bothered to lay out any clothes.
  • Wandered around the house dripping wet and freezing in the dark trying to find what I thought I had laid out the night before.
  • Got online to print out a coupon for my passport photos, and found a message from my boyfriend's best friend telling me that he WAS IN IMMANENT DANGER AND WILL DIE AT ANY MOMENT!!! Oh, and police, and bloodshed and other shock-inducing things.
  • Panic.
  • Panic more.
  • Found out said best friend is a huge drama queen. Refrain from killing him. Somehow.
  • Left the neighborhood, slid sideways down a hill from all the ice on the road. Come to rest in the middle of an intersection. Fortunately there was no traffic in the area.
  • Got to the passport photo location of my choice (CVS Pharmacy, because I had a coupon), got my passport photos taken, proceed to pay for them and discover I forgot my wallet.
  • Left with many apologies and much embarrassment.
  • Drove all the way back home to retrieve my wallet, attempting to avoid the icy spots I found earlier, only to encounter new ones.
  • Slid to a diagonal stop in front of my house. Ran up snow-covered stairs, retrieved my wallet and drove back to the pharmacy where my passport photos were patiently waiting.
  • Nearly hit two joggers when I tried to stop for them and slid on ice. Watched helplessly as they froze in front of me, unable to move. They just stared at me, transfixed with eyes wide and mouth open, as my car advanced upon them out of control. I coasted to a stop close enough that I just barely made contact. They were uninjured. I was incredulous.
  • Got to the pharmacy after dealing with people creeping along perfectly clear roads and paid for my passport photos, only to discover my license, social security card and student ID are not in my wallet.  I left them in the printer when I made copies of them last night.
  • Returned home. Again. Collected my much needed forms of ID and returned them to my wallet.
  • Somehow made it to the Post Office at the airport by my appointment time of 9am. And I JUST BARELY made it.
  • Went through my passport interview, which was painless. I was thanked by the postal clerk, who wished everyone who came to apply for passports was as prepared and organized as I was (if only he knew...). He had to do nothing but verify, sign, staple, and ship my documents. I paid the fee, got my receipt, and was on my way. Oh, and he promised me it should be in my hands by the end of February at the latest. He said organized, prepared, well documented cases like mine rarely take longer than 6 weeks.
  • Decided to take the interstate (specifically I-65 and I-264) to my next destination. Quickly discovered this WAS A REALLY BAD IDEA.
Here's what I saw on my trip through town on the expressway - carnage everywhere (no pun intended). There were car wrecks every couple of miles. 3 and 4 car pileups, sometimes more. Twisted, demolished vehicles were scattered everywhere, most facing the wrong direction. It was like something from a post-apocalyptic movie. It was chilling to drive by it all - even more chilling than the snow, ice and the -11C temperature combined. Though the roads were mostly cleared of ice, wrecks kept happening. I was very nearly taken out by a salt truck that came careening toward me from an exit ramp. I don't know if it hit ice and lost control or what. I very nearly lost control when I ended up sliding trying to avoid being hit by the blade of the snow plow on the salt truck. I was smart and let the car tell me what was going on. I didn't stomp the breaks (which would have likely thrown the car into a spin or sent me into the median wall), nor did I jerk the steering wheel. I felt me turn sideways, and I gently turned into the slide, straightening me out. I avoided the other cars and the salt truck, and got myself back underway.

The exit that I wanted to take was blocked by another wreck, this one that involved three cars all turned in a Z shape on the road, and all of the cars having spun so that they were all either perpendicular to the road or facing the wrong way. Police and ambulances were still on the scene, and traffic was backed up for miles. I decided to go another way. The exit I took had two spinouts, one of the drivers was still in her car. You could see her crying through the windows. I understood how she felt. Losing control of your car is really scary. Losing it in heavy traffic is scarier, especially when you are trying to get back on the road and you keep sliding with everything you do.

I finally got to the Asian market, and got my supplies for making my week's worth of stew. I decided to make meals in batches so I would never have to worry about having time to cook when I get home at night. The vegetables are simmering as we speak. Anyway, the market trip was uneventful. It was leaving that wasn't.

I decided to take a different way home, but a couple of events changed my mind. The first was encountering a wreck that had just happened. The people were standing outside their cars, waving to me to go around. I suddenly found I couldn't. I was trapped on the same ice that got them, and I'm sliding on a diagonal, well on my way to becoming part of this car wreck. I'm trying to tease the out of control car away from the other cars as the people that were waving me off realize I was sliding and run away, and I just barely miss their cars. All I can say was that was some serious luck on my side. But that wasn't enough to convince me. When I saw the ambulance that was responding to the wreck slide also, that's when I decided that my way was not going to work. So I got back up on the interstate (I-264), passed yet more post-apocalyptic scenery, with cars halfway up the median wall, or turned backwards on the roadside with most of their front ends missing. One was on its side. It looked like some dead beast lying like that on the side of the road, a thin layer of snow covering its side. I had had enough. I made no effort to go see the movies I was planning on seeing. I just went home. And there I stayed. I just hope I get to do something fun before school swallows me whole on Monday and doesn't spit me back out again until May.

January 2nd, 2011

Oshogatsu 2011

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Akemashite omedeto gozaimasu! (Happy New Year) Welcome to the (Japanese) Year of the Rabbit! May your life in 2011 be like a cruise ship buffet - everything you could ever hope to want and then some.


WARNING: PICTURE CONTENT


Happy New Year!Collapse )





Since I haven't been available to post things of late, I'm going to bury you in a culinary onslaught. Welcome to 6 months of kitchen creations. We'll begin with Oshogatsu and work our way backwards.


WARNING: DO NOT VIEW ON EMPTY STOMACHCollapse )


The rest of this is just me showing off various things I've made that have nothing to do with Oshogatsu. In fact, if you follow me on facebook, you have probably seen these before.


Yet More FoodzCollapse )


December 28th, 2010

2010 In Review

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2010 Meme

01. What did you do in 2010 that you'd never done before?
Went to Chicago, the Shedd Aquarium, saw the Great Lakes, rode a REAL train, visited the Everglades and Miami.

02. Did you keep your New Years’ resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
Sail the Cutty Sark
Get a boyfriend
Improve my GPA
Get going on my research
Retire Onyx - still pending
Stupidly powerful desktop computer - still pending, and I have to add laptop to that now too.
Build my office in The Round - still pending

Hm. Just over half. Not quite as good as the previous year's track record.

Resolutions to add:
Go into physical training
Save money
Expand the Native Habitats of Southern Indiana Project
Install a hideaway bathtub (I am determined to figure out how to do this!)

03. Did anyone close to you give birth?
I don't think so...?

04. Did anyone close to you die?
My Aunt Marion died. It was a great loss to me. Also, my tiny baby snapping turtle.

05. What countries did you visit?
Please. I barely left Kentuckiana.

06. What would you like to have in 2011 that you lacked in 2010?
Down time! I was always on the go.

07. What date from 2010 will remain etched upon your memory?
My birthday because it was epic, and August. August was just a yay overload. I got a boyfriend and my Florida expedition was awesome.

08. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Getting a boyfriend and finally getting my research proposal accepted.

09. What was your biggest failure?
Allowing myself to get caught in a trap of deceit and manipulation.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
When do I not? I'm sitting here right now with a cracked rib and a torn back muscle. Before that it was a dislocated thumb. And then there were surgeries...

11. What was the best thing you bought?
Clothes. I actually broke down and went clothes shopping, which I hate. Also, a phone and a webcam. Go Skype!

12. Whose behaviour merited celebration?
The list here is too long. So many people came to my rescue this year that I am still astounded. But the greatest surprise is that I can finally add my own name to this list. I'm pretty proud of how I handled everything that happened to me and all I accomplished.

13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?
I think we all know who wins that award.

14. Where did most of your money go?
Travel, surgery, oh and that whole getting duped and robbed and deceived thing.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
My birthday (how's that for a switch), my boyfriend, research.

16. What song/album will always remind you of 2010?
Feeltz – Don't Hold Me Back (Eric Shaw Remix)

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
- Happier or sadder? Much happier.
- Thinner or fatter? Much thinner.
- Richer or poorer? Much poorer, but working on fixing that.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
I had a pretty well-rounded year. I think if I had done more of anything I would have spontaneously combusted.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Letting other people distract me from my goals and taking advantage of my generosity.

20. How did you spend Christmas?
I don't celebrate Christmas. I spent the day taking part in osoji (house cleaning for Oshogatsu).

21. Who did you spend the most time on the phone with?
I'm rarely on the phone, but when I was it was with my boyfriend for the vast majority of the time. Though with the new phone, I text like crazy - something I would have never guessed would happen.

22. Did you fall in love in 2010?
That's an understatement.

23. How many one night stands in this last year?
A couple. Not proud of giving in to my needs.

24. What was your favourite TV programme?
Mythbusters, Eureka, Merlin.

25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
Yes. But as I consider it a weakness to hate, I'm working on that.

26. What was the best book(s) you read?
Still reading those MtG books that I sought so desperately to find.

27. What was your greatest musical discovery?
DangerBox and Coriphaeus Radio on last.fm

28. What did you want and get?
I got almost everything I wanted. Those that I didn't are now Oshogatsu resolutions.

29. What did you want and not get?
The only thing I really wanted that I didn't get was the ability to retire Onyx (my car).

30. What were your favourite films of this year?
Harry Potter, Inception

31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
My birthday was so awesome! This and this is what I did!

32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Getting to go with the bio troupe to Egypt would be the only way this year could have gotten any better.

33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2010?
Same as its always been, except I took to wearing button downs more.

34. What kept you sane?
Support from others, and the sheer variety of experiences I... um... experienced.

35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
I don't even know who most of them are. I don't follow that kind of stuff.

36. What political issue stirred you the most?
Still not able to get married or adopt, healthcare, and the whole getting molested at airports thing.

37. Who did you miss?
I miss the Barton clan. Alot.

38. Who was the best new person you met?
My boyfriend and Jessie Martinez.

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2010.
You are more likely to get help if you actually ask for it, and sometimes you have to hang politeness and make the first move.

40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year?
If I lay here
If I just lay here
Would you lie with me
And just forget the world

Forget what we're told
Before we get too old
Show me a garden that's bursting into life

All that I am
All that I ever was
Is here in your perfect eyes
All for you to see


December 24th, 2010

The Rest of the Story

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If you had told me four months ago that my life would look like it does now, I would have laughed at you so hard that I would need portable oxygen, and things I ate yesterday would be spewing from my nose. Okay, probably a word image you really didn't need. Sorry.

So much has happened in the span of this semester that my meager brain hasn't even been able to retain it all. It could have been a New York Times best seller turned milquetoast Hollywood chick flick, though not quite melodramatic enough to wind up on WE or Lifetime, and while adequately rife with gay drama, not lame enough to end up on LOGO (thank the Hosts of Heaven for small miracles).

It began with me recovering from surgery. My jagged Harry Potter scar remains, but is healing nicely. And apparently it has done an admirable job of repelling the dark forces, because my life is all but devoid of them at this point. In fact, this semester has been nigh short of science fiction impossible all the way around. It amazes me how once you get rid of one kind of influence in your world, others start taking its place. The void filled by those expelled has been filled with people that actually care about me, and that I am quite fond of.

People, when pushed to their limits, will show you the truth of themselves. Let's just say I learned some pretty ugly truths in these past few months - truths that very nearly cost me everything. I was betrayed, manipulated, robbed, blackmailed, coerced, and a few other unpleasant things, but this series of unfortunate events are not even the point. For every action that was taken against me, I had at least five others come in to offset the damage. I very nearly lost my home and my ability to go to school because of all that happened to me, but once word got out of my distress, in came the cavalry and saved the day. I stand here today in the place I am solely through the consolidated actions of others that deemed me worthy of saving.

And that's not all.

This semester saw the unthinkable, also thanks to the few people that believed in my caliber as a scientist. Biochemistry was just filled to the brim with math. Not just math, but thermodynamics, enzyme kinetics, Michaelis-Menton statistics and graphs out the wazoo. I at one point sat in the back of the class is a kind of living rigor, overwhelmed by it all. And instead of just pitying me or dismissing me, the professor literally came to my desk, knelt down in front of me and said to me, "we'll get through this together." And you know what? I did.

I. DID. MATH! ME! And not just on a homework assignment or some in class practice problems. I did it on the exams. On my own. And I made an A on a chemistry exam for the first time in three semesters. Not only that, I MADE AN A IN THE CLASS! I also made an A in the lab, which is unfathomable. But this could not have happened without people choosing to believe in me. That's all it took.

Well, okay, it also took a great deal of extra help, but more importantly it took me dropping some balls and asking for that help. If there was an overlying theme to this semester, it would definitely have to be that people can't help you unless they know you need it.

Something transformative has happened to me in the past few months. Somewhere I developed confidence again. I honestly have been a different person, one that I think has changed for the better. I have stopped assuming that no one would ever want to talk to pathetic little me and I talk to them anyway. This has resulted in great new friendships, and much to my amazement, a new romance. It has also lead to me being approached for projects, research opportunities and additional responsibilities around the university. For example, I was asked to help with the lab compliance inspections this year, and I was offered to assist in some bioremediation research on Alcanivorax borkumensis, an organism used to break down hydrocarbons and thus used in oil spill cleanup. I'm also finally starting my work on Thiobacillus ferrooxidans. A spine is good for lots of things other than perambulation, apparently.

I guess what they say is true. There are no endings, only new beginnings. I really thought for a good long time that I had run my course, and I wasn't thinking that in my usual, "I suck! I give up" kind of way. The worst part of it all was the parts of me that make me me came close to breaking. My inherent sense of trust was threatened to the point of extinction. Hatred found its way into me and began to turn me dark. I'm still working on these things, but I am for the most part back to my smiling, serene self.

Am I sorry that things turned out the way they did? Yes and no. Yes in that I can never take satisfaction in someone else's downfall, regardless of what transpires between us. No, because without the meltdown that went down, I would not have seen and done all that I have. It has been a wild and amazing ride. So much has happened in three months that the entire semester seemed about two weeks long. I barely even remember the first part of the year at all. That seems like about three years ago!

I've learned a lot in these past few months, and much of it from unexpected sources. Anything and anyone can be a teacher if you let it. I'm just glad I was open to the experience, because it has changed my mind and my life.


November 22nd, 2010




Aight, ya'll, I need some help. If you, or anyone you know, just happens to be a jewelery maker, I'm looking to commission a work in either pewter or silver. I have the cash if you have the goods. This work is pretty important to me, so I'll want to see a portfolio. Send me a private message or comment here if you are interested or you have a lead for me. I'd much rather support the hobbies of my peoples, and have something handmade and truly unique. Hit me up, and let's make a deal!


October 23rd, 2010

Um, So... Hi

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I iz tahrd, y'all. Fo serious. I was lying around this morning thinking to myself how completely amazing it is that I'm actually not bolting out of bed at 6am on a Saturday morning to go do... whatever. Sedstrat trips, hydrology trips, work, something else entirely. Whatever. I'm just glad to be flar-ing for a bit.

I can't remember the last time I took a Saturday for myself. But then again I'm so burned out at this point in the semester that I just can't remember. Period. My fatigue is starting to bleed into all aspects of my life, which is a cardinal sin in my universe. I hate it when other people take out their frustrations on the people around them, and I have less than zero interest in being that guy. I'm doing what I can to preserve myself until the Thanksgiving break, where I can then at least get a few minutes rest. And then the semester ends! Spring, though. Oh. Let's not even think about spring and the chemistry class stacking I'll have to do to keep my graduation date on track. Curse you, inorganic! Why must you be on a 2 year cycle!

So, um, yeah, it's been since September that I've actually written something here. Picposts don't count. I know some people enjoy them, but I value them far less than actually reading about people's goings on. You get much more of a feel for what's really going on that way. So I'm writing. Maybe you can hear the fatigue and the anxiety coming through in the words I type.

So much is going on right now. I really bit off more than I can chew, and as a result I can't ever seem to give enough attention to everything that needs my attention. I feel like I neglect the boy, I feel like I neglect school, I feel like I neglect friends. I feel like I neglect myself, which wow is that epic. I NEVER feel that way! I keep looking for a place to hide for a little while, a safe harbor where I can relax and let everything I'm holding back go. I can't seem to find it. There is no port in the storm. I am storm tossed out at sea.

These past two weeks have been abysmally bad, and the wear is starting to show. I try my best to keep myself as the smiling, dorky, funny guy that everyone goes to when they need to wheeze from laughing so hard, but I can't keep this up. I am mortal. My resources are limited, and right now they are taxed beyond my means. I need some inputs to replenish the output. I need some manner of nourishment. I am starving to death.

Still, I am happy, despite it all. It's really hard for me to not be, really. But then again I am one that finds happiness in being sad, tortured, depressed, angry - or just about anything else you can think of. It's weird, I know, but I immerse myself in these things to better understand them. You know what they say: knowing is half the battle.

Speaking of deep philosophical stuff, I've been thinking a lot about my relationship with the boy lately. His world and mine are so strikingly dissimilar that I sometimes wonder if what we have can survive the shear stress of these two masses of culture colliding. It's tectonic in its scale, and there will be buckling and subducting, and probably some orogeny along the way.

To give you an idea, his entire universe is based on gain. Everything people do in his culture is about acquisition. They want more money, more land, more prestige, more stuff. They want things to be able to hold up and say, "See! This is mine! I have PROOF of my success!" They are absolutely bent on being successful, and are all highly competitive with each jockeying to be better than the other. This way of thinking breaks my brain. Because here I am trying to have LESS stuff. I'm trying to live smaller, and I couldn't care less about how much money I have as long as I can pay the bills. I measure success in how happy I am. I measure wealth in experiences. I just want to be cozy, content and comfortable. He doesn't get this. It does not compute. He went into plastic surgery for the cash. I went into science for the science. You don't go into the sciences to make money.

I consider such conflicts superficial. To me they lay on the surface and can be pushed past to get to what really matters underneath. And what we have underneath is really quite nice. The only question about whether we will survive or not must be answered by him. Is he willing to put aside the drive for material gain to live simply with a simple man? That's for him to decide. I know I am pretty much asking him to pretty much implode his universe and start over, but to be honest it needs to happen. Ultimately, his way lies destruction anyway.

As for me, I am doing the best I can considering the circumstances. This time of year it always goes this way. It's nothing new. Come March it will happen all over again. It's Midterm Madness. Sure, I have a few extra stressors on my plate this go round, but I will endure.

Hope everyone out there is fairing well, and I'm sorry I'm not around very much. I would say I'd work to remedy that, but we all know it won't get better til finals. ;)


October 1st, 2010




No, I'm not dead. I'm a triple major entering midterms.

I'm posting this for zombie_records because a promise is a promise. Enjoy.







I promise I'll try to post something... sometime.


September 7th, 2010

Workaholic

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These are posted mainly because I promised zombie_records that I would:


Cameron in his lab coat, and showing off his hairCollapse )


And some terrible camera phone pics that make me look like Jesus, apparently...Collapse )


September 6th, 2010

Musings of the Heart

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So I dropped some balls and told him I am madly in love with him. Who's the coward now? I risked it all and went all out.

And it paid off.

So I guess this means I have a boyfriend again. It feels like forever since I last had someone in my life.

I think he is simply amazing, and for whatever reason he thinks he is a toad. He thinks like me on a level that everyone I know finds frightening. He's a surgical candidate in med school, and when I had my surgery, I offered him a suture that came out of my incision site and he thought that charming. I tried to sequester a surgical drain for him, and he thought that was the most romantic gesture anyone had ever done.

He gets it. He understands.

IT'S A FRIGGIN MIRACLE!

He tries so hard. He practically folds himself into a pretzel trying to impress me. I can't convince him he's done his part. He had me at surgical suture. It's my turn to do the earning and impressing now. But he just keeps on trying. I wish I knew why. I find it adorable, but he breaks my heart thinking he has to work so hard to feel worthy of me. Frankly, it should be the other way around. That's kind of my job, to earn the affections of a tender, young uke like him.

And wow is he pretty. He looks like he walked right off the set of a Thai action flick and into my life. And somehow he's the unworthy one. Really? I'm thanking every Kami that will hear me that he didn't give me a swift patella to the hereditary storehouse for even talking to him.

He's so epically nerdy. No one at work believes he is real because he practically outnerds me, and they believe this is not physically possible in this reality or this universe. In fact, one of my coworkers called me "the king of nerds in a world of nerds." So I guess that would make him, what, prince of nerddom?

To give you an idea, I can tell him how much I love him in terms of the lambda max of tryptophan. He gets it. HE GETS IT! I can't really believe he is real, he gets it so well. I'm still waiting for Ashton Kutcher to show up and inform me that I've been punk'd.

I feel so silly. And saptastic. I haven't felt this way about anything in years upon years. I'm not even sure I know how to be a boyfriend anymore it's been so long.

Please, please, please don't let me screw this one up. Please.


August 15th, 2010

A Food Post!

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If you are hungry, or you have come to know my food posts for what they are, look away now before it's too late!


Summer GrillinzCollapse )


August 13th, 2010




I'm not going to lie to you. I was fairly sure this trip was going to suck major donkey balls and was, in fact, dreading it. Ain't it nice to be proven wrong.


There is moonlight and moss in the trees...Collapse )


August 12th, 2010

The Everglades Are Awesome

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This is for pixiepanic, just cuz.

Oh, and at some point when I'm feeling more motivated I will actually write words regarding my trip.


Everglades PicsCollapse )


Also, my map turtleCollapse )


Image Is Everything

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If you have ever found yourself staring up into the black void of your darkened ceiling in the deep of the night, wondering to yourself, "...if only I knew what that Cameron guy looked like!" your long, tormented, sleepless nights are at last over.


Actual Pictures of CameronCollapse )


Oh, and if you didn't actually think I was joking with my little intro, please slap yourself for me. kthxbai. ;)


August 1st, 2010

Yay Pictures

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Since I have to go far, far away (all the way to Florida to do bug research), I thought I would leave you something to remember me by while I'm gone.

I'll be back on the 12th, hopefully with many exciting tales to regale you with.

But until then...

peekshars!Collapse )


July 30th, 2010

(no subject)

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July 29th, 2010

Berries or Bust

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A great number of you that read this now participate in the Get Random Stuff For No Reason From Cameron Club, which makes me happy. I love sending mail as much as I love receiving it. I say this as a preface to my story.


Berry Unlikely!Collapse )


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