Treasures

I’ve been geocaching lately, and to be honest, I’ve been a little disappointed in the items I’ve found. I had always imagined geocaching to be like this scene from Amelie when she discovers the treasures a little boy had hidden in her apartment 40 years previous, and decides to return them to him.

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In reality, most people leave things that I doubt ever had an real emotional significance, such as mardi gras beads and stickers.

To me, geocaching should be about making a connection to a stranger and sharing with them something that really could be treasured, something with meaning.

As I’ve been pondering this and creating my first item to be geocached, I was inspired to go through some inherited treasures of my own. Over the years, I’ve collected a small trove of clip-on earrings, bracelets, broaches and necklaces from relatives who have passed, and while many are beautiful and interesting, I don’t know what to do with them.

Here are some photos, suggestions most welcome!

This is a jewelery box from my great aunt. I love the hand-painted scene, and it’s filled with the same little keepsakes many of us have — coins, stamps, odd beads, safety pins and so on. It’s sort of profound to see an entire life of tiny treasures left in the world without explanation. After we’re gone the strangest things stay behind as our testimony.

Assorted clip-on earrings.

Unique broaches — there are a few you can’t see of other types of animals.

I love the little suitcase charm, I wonder why she had it.

Clip-on earrings shaped like clocks!

Anyway, I haven’t decided how to best use and honor these little keepsakes. I’m toying with the idea of using some of them to embellish picture frames, but I just can’t decide. If anyone has neat button and bead ideas, send them along!

Dreaming of boytoys and rappers

People who know me well know that I have bizarre and entertaining dreams almost every night, but this one was too funny not to share with the general public. It goes like this:

I was at some sort of large party that my family was throwing, and had a boy problem. I was with my current boyfriend in the dream, and an old flame of mine came to the party. Long story short, they argued over me quite viciously, and I eventually ran outside to cry rather than choose between them. While outside, rapper Lil Wayne and his whole crew came over to me. Lil Wayne gave me a hug, and told me to just cry it out. Then they stuck around while I attempted to do handstands backwards.

Um…. what does THAT mean? In my humble opinion, it just good for the lolz. That, or foul-mouthed, prison-sentenced Lil Wayne is my fairy godmother.

On Dandies

As a lion hunter would study his lioness quarry, I have recently been pondering the fascinating creature of the dandy. To my surprise, there are several websites and articles attempting to dissect, discuss and celebrate (with the appropriate distance and dignity requisite of a dandy) this unique form of masculinity.

I thought I’d share some snippets from an article on dandyism.net, the definitive blog on dandies. They have explained and analyzed dandyism to a degree I couldn’t hope to do myself. And so, I give you their abridged definition of the dandy:

We agree with Barbey d’Aurevilly that dandyism is as difficult to describe as to define. We can opine about effortless elegance and sparkling wit, but dandyism is ultimately characterized by the nearly indescribable effect of the dandy’s appearance and demeanor on the spectator. The French call such effect a je ne sais quoi; in Hollywood it’s called having “it.”

The magic of dandyism resides in the interplay between the dandy’s temperament and his appearance. Yet it is not a question of simple harmony, for one dandy may combine severe dress with a jocular demeanor, while another meshes cold aloofness with colorful and audacious dress.

The common characteristics dandyism.net identifies among dandies are the following: physical distinction, elegance, self-mastery, aplomb, independence — ideally financial independence; wit, a skeptical, world-weary, sophisticated, bored or blasé demeanor; self-mocking and endearing egotism; dignity/reserve; discriminating taste; renaissance man; caprice. However they add the following caveat:

Because dandies are an enigma wrapped in a labyrinth, and because dandyism makes its own rules, the final quality is the ability to negate all the others.

For in the end there is not a code of dandyism, as Barbey writes. “If there were, anybody could be a dandy.”

These definitions and criteria certainly put the plume in the hat when it comes to the outward effects and affectations of a dandy, but I found these comments from another article on wikipedia quite interesting as well.

Charles Baudelaire, in the later, “metaphysical” phase of dandyism defined the dandy as one who elevates æsthetics to a living religion that the dandy’s mere existence reproaches the responsible citizen of the middle class: “Dandyism in certain respects comes close to spirituality and to stoicism” and “These beings have no other status, but that of cultivating the idea of beauty in their own persons, of satisfying their passions, of feeling and thinking …. Contrary to what many thoughtless people seem to believe, dandyism is not even an excessive delight in clothes and material elegance. For the perfect dandy, these things are no more than the symbol of the aristocratic superiority of his mind.”

What I find so fascinating about this commentary on the dandy is that it elevates dandyism above the material manifestations and ways that the world perceives a dandy and gets straight to the heart of why dandies are the way they are. They love to think, to feel, to pursue their passions — all other manifestations of sophistication are mere reflections of their desire to cultivate their minds and talents.

I’m still marinading about dandies, and would like to continue expounding, but I’m almost too interested in another idea — the definition and inner workings of a female dandy, should she exist.

Linus the bandit

These two photos make me happy, because they remind me that even the meekest of creatures can still have his share of wily tricks.

This one is from one of my preferred random photo sites, thisisphotobomb.com. That dog is totally scoping out eats to steal from the table.

And this is a photo of the Lee family dog Linus, who had in fact stolen a cookie and was reluctant to give it up even after being apprehended.

Hide and Seek

This weekend I indulged finally in an activity I’ve been dreaming about for years — geocaching. Geocaching is basically a treasure hunt game played by geeks with GPS devices, the internet, and a healthy inner child. What you do is go onto a geocaching website and get the coordinates of a treasure someone else had previously hidden. Then, as inconspicuously as possible, you find the treasure using GPS, and log your find online.

Previously, I had dismissed my chances of playing this marvelous game because I don’t have a GPS device, and they are quite expensive. But it suddenly occurred to me that the newer iPhones have GPS, so I commandeered Jeff and his phone for a little trial run on Friday.

To tell the truth, we were quite terrible at finding the treasures, and failed miserably. I think perhaps it works better with a more accurate GPS device, and you also have to consider when the treasures were hidden. But despite my epic fail, I am still irreparably in love with geocaching.

If anyone wants to donate a GPS device/new iPhone to me, I’m totally open to it.

Short skirts

Those who know me well know that one of my absolute favorite activities is scoping out the ladies — yes, seriously. And the other day while people watching I saw the most amazing, nature-defying spectacle.

There was this girl wearing a really short dress, which was impressive for several reasons. The first was that the girl was what artists like to call rotund, and I mean really rotund. Secondly, judging from the length of leg showing, the hem of the dress could logically only extend an inch past her bottom, at most. But, though I watched her at length, the bottom never came out of the dress. It. was. a-mazing. Statistically speaking, it seems like if you have a large amount of butt waiting to be exposed, and a very small amount of fabric preventing that exposure, it’s sure to happen. I was sort of holding my breath, not because I really wanted to see her chones — it was like the thrill of watching the Jenga tower teeter after someone else pulled out their Jenga piece. But the dress never came up, even when she demonstrated a booty dance for her friends — no small miracle that I never saw the goods.

It really got me thinking, at any rate, about the universe’s mysterious tricks. It’s like a million possible and even likely calamities are waiting to happen, but sometimes, they just don’t.

Kotohira

After leaving Matsuyama, we took a train to Kotohira, a small town famed for its temples. We got in in the morning, dropped our bags and headed out for sightseeing.

The first thing on our list was the oldest surviving Kabuki playhouse in Japan. The theater was built in 1835, and the entire backstage, trapdoors and all, is open for tourists to explore.

The entryway was lined with lanterns, and the doorway was about three feet tall, not sure why…

The interior of the theater is beautiful and really interesting. The in-house guide didn’t speak much English, but he quite bravely pointed out the theaters features for Jeff and I as best he could. The theater had tracks on the ceiling to make actors fly, several trapdoors, and a rotating stage — pretty high-tech for the 1800s! The runway was also made to accentuate the actors’ footsteps, and there were slats across the theater floor so that actors could run through the audience.

Jeff tried out his acting skills… zexy! —random complaint: Jeff packed only one pair of shorts on the trip. The pair that doesn’t go with ANYTHING! sigh —

We toured the backstage, including the basement, where we saw how the various trapdoors worked. The rotating stage was pushed by six men, while various lifts for actors were powered by others. There were several passages around the stage as well, allowing for a variety of ways for actors to have dramatic entrances into the play.

After playing in the theater, we headed to the main attraction in town, a mountaintop temple. The temple was up 876 stairs, but that was nothing after hiking down 8,000 steps a few times in mountains in China.

The temple complex was spread across the mountaintop, so we got to take short breaks by looking at the various shops and shrines on the way up.

The temple was dedicated to the god of the sea, for protection for sailors. The roof was decorated with designs of dragons and waves, really unique! In the past, many people who wanted to make pilgrimages to the temple couldn’t afford to, so they tied an offering around a dog’s neck and through it into the ocean, hoping that passing sailors would find the dog and take it to the temple. I’m not really sure why they could put the money on a raft, instead of killing the family dog, but I guess that’s just my compassion for animals talking.

At the mountaintop there was this cool statue of a fan, for no apparent reason. Too bad it didn’t work though!

After our temple tours, we hiked back down and got a much-needed snack since we’d only had elevensies and no lunch. Ice cream with puffed rice on it seemed to be a town specialty, so that’s what we had.

Then, we did what should be the town’s biggest tourist attraction: fish pedicures!!!! I’d heard about these in the news about a year ago, and have been curious ever since. At $10 for 10 minutes, they were a bit pricey, but how could we resist? If you haven’t heard of these before, you basically put your feet in a fish tank, and fish eat your callouses off. And yes, it was amazing!

My feet are pretty calloused, and the fish loved them.

It really tickles! There were two Korean girls next to us who kept screaming and laughing and carrying on. I managed to keep it mostly together.

The results of the fish pedi weren’t amazing or anything, but it was quite the experience. I’d say I got my money’s worth.

After our pedicures, we still had time to kill before our hostel opened, so we went to the nearby sake museum. It had life-sized models of each step of the sake-making process as well as a lot of sake cups and a sake shop. It didn’t have any English so we cruised through pretty fast.

The museum was supposed to have sake samples, but it was near closing time so we didn’t get to booze it up. Oh well, fun day anyway!

He swept me off my feet…

Today, while I was in the kitchen, Jeff filled up a bowl with water and without a word took it into my bedroom. Following him in bewilderment, I said, “What are you doing?”

He proceeded to dump out the bowl in several places on my floor, each time loudly yelling “Ah-hooooh! Aw-huh! Agh-uaaaah!” with great flourish.

As I stared at my wet floor, I wondered where I ever found such a weird boyfriend who’s so prone to inconveniencing me.

Then, from the corner of the room, he pulled out a Swiffer he had secretly acquired from a friend who’s moving out of Beijing, and began to sweep it grandly about the room, meanwhile still making his “aha!” noises.

I think he may need more socialization and stimuli.

Caitlinpedia Brown and the case of….

In this thrilling second installment of Caitlinpedia Brown and the Case of the Apparating Bugs, Caitlinpedia Brown gets to the bottom of the mysterious flies and dead cockroach — but will the answer to her bug riddle come too late?

It had been over a month since Caitlinpedia Brown first opened the case over a dead cockroach on her floor, and clues had been few and far between. She had left the cockroach body on the bathroom floor, carefully avoiding sweeping it up so that nothing would appear disturbed. Every day she pondered its fate, and her own, during her morning routine. Where had it come from? How did it get there? What did it mean?

Midterms came, and the cockroach became little more than a passing afterthought. There were more important games afoot.

While she had been distracted by tests and papers, a far more sinister yet seemingly innocuous threat had gained the upper hand in Caitlinpedia Brown’s apartment. In a bout of business, dishes had piled in the sink. After days, Caitlinpedia Brown put down the books and set to washing the dishes. It was then, that she solved part of the mystery that had plagued her all month. Those little fly suckers were breeding in the sink drain.

Annoyed but not disgusted, Caitlinpedia Brown grabbed her bleach and kitchen spray cleaner, and set to drowning the small colony of flies. She thought back to her earlier act of kindness toward the flies on her bathroom sink, and decided that their backstabbing breeding deserved the cruelty of chemical warfare. Then, she dumped bleach, cleaner and boiling water down the drain. For the rest of the week, she kept the dishes clean, and kept a watchful eye on the sink drain.

By the next week, however, the flies were back. This time, she scrubbed out the drain as best she could, added more bleach, and vigorously dumped chemicals down the drain for 15 minutes. It smelled lovely, and she was satisfied they wouldn’t be back.

Another week passed, and hardly any food crumbs were put in the sink. But the flies had returned. Now she wondered if she had been too late in declaring war on the fly population. There were little dead flies in her clean cups, little dead flies in the sink, little flies in the drain, and they just wouldn’t leave.

Defeated, she went to the bathroom and sat down.

The cockroach — it was gone! She hadn’t swept, and she hadn’t moved it. It had been there earlier in the day, now it was gone. She got down on her knees and searched the bathroom floor, but the little roach body was gone without a trace.

Suddenly, she felt a keen sense of loss, confusion and paranoia. Had someone moved the little cockroach, who against all odds had become a comforting friend and source of stability during the duress of midterms? Had the flies colluded to distract her with their breeding? What was the meaning of this? Where had the body been taken, and for what purpose. She was plagued with doubt.

Days passed, without a sign from her cockroach. She checked the bathroom floor every day, eagerly hoping it had just been pushed by a gust of wind, and she hadn’t noticed it. But it wasn’t there.

Then, like the sun bursting forth over the rocky mountains at dawn, she found her dead cockroach’s body behind her shower slipper, at the foot of the bathroom step. She still didn’t know how it had gotten there, but she carefully preserved the roach’s new resting place and decided not to move it lest she miss some important clue.

Midterms finally ended, and in a sudden burst of clarity, Caitlinpedia Brown solved her mystery—

The cockroach had died, because that’s just what bugs do. The flies had bred, because that’s just what flies do. They had all colluded to annoy her, because that’s their purpose on Earth. And, as for why the cockroach body had moved, she decided she’d likely never know. But what was more important was why she had become so dependent on a dead insect not moving as a source of comfort and stability. Resolving to lessen her eccentricity and become less pathetic, Caitlinpedia Brown swept up the cockroach, threw it out, and with no small pang of sadness, vigorously cleaned the floor where it had laid for so long.

Having solved her biggest case yet, Caitlinpedia Brown wondered whether, despite the pain it had brought her, solving the case had allowed her to grow. Perhaps, just maybe, her next case would take outside her own apartment, and into the dizzying and overwhelming confusion of the bustling city below. Stay tuned…

Radio rapture

I hope I don’t get NPR blocked if the government reads this.

I never tried using my iTunes stream to KQED before this week, but suddenly it occurred to me that this might not be blocked. Thank goodness I can have my morning cup of NPR! With the time difference it’s a little weird to wake up to a random show instead of All Things Considered. It’s also oddly comforting to hear about the weather (fog) and the phrases “backed up through the 680 interchange,” “gridlocked through the maze” and “fender bender off to the side on the bridge.”