The Mood Wall

It’s so dark and horribly lit in my bedroom. Left the color balance to be “accurate” to what you’d see here in person.  Right to left: Smokey Embers, Stormy Monday, Pigeon Grey (all Benjamin Moore).

There’s innumerable blog posts online, from professional to amateur sites, that tell you how to pick wall paint color and offer inspiration. What’s frustrating for me is how everything seems to be about rooms in ideal situations. They have lots of wall space, square footage, and tons of daylight. Daylight makes everything and everyone look good!

Then there’s my bedroom, which has a lot of challenges to it. It’s the middle room of a railroad apartment. Two doors, a Victorian style built-in almost-closet, a drab window, and an exposed radiator limit where I can put furniture. There’s just one spot for the bed, and a full sized mattress frame is too big for the alcove by half an inch. There is no, repeat, NO daylight in this room. The one window opens to an airshaft.

Layout of my bedroom, the middle room of a railroad apartment built at the turn of the 20th century. It’s nearly 100 years old and shows its age.  I forgot to place another closet/cabinet thing on the right-hand wall in this picture, near the window.

There’s very little decor info on railroad apartments, and the ones I find online are not rentals. I don’t have the freedom to knock down walls to let in more light, or expand the room.

Little by little, I’m trying to make things nicer. A pretty, vibrant curtain over the hideous airshaft window helps a lot. A bright red dresser. Loud bedding that almost emits a light of its own. And soon….a fresh coat of paint!

Grey sounded like a good choice since I already have loud, red furniture in the bedroom. But who knew picking a grey was so hard?! The swatches, which look pale and varied at the hardware store, are suddenly 3 shades darker with a green tinge at home. Swatches that were barely blue become totally blue. We painted patches on all four walls and each one looks different, even though it was the same paint!

After another week of deliberation, we finally chose one…Stormy Monday!  Partially it’s because of the cool name.  But mostly, it looks beautiful :)  Next post will have some bedroom pics, it’s 99% complete now.

Stormy Monday (Benjamin Moore) is the swatch in the middle of the picture at the top of the post, which looks slightly red.  The one to the right was Benjamin Moore’s Smokey Embers, which looked way too green once it was in my bedroom, but looked like a very pale, neutral grey at the store (in daylight).  The swatch to the left is Benjamin Moore’s Pigeon Grey, which has the same “value” as Stormy but its hue went way too blue in my room.  Again, it totally looked like a nice normal grey at the store.  Even the paper sample looked fine, everything was different once the actual paint got on the wall.

Atom Eve Fan-art

Drawn & Colored in Photoshop

After burning myself out with work since March, it feels good to draw something again :) I’ve also been reading a lot of comics on my commute, so here’s those two hobbies together…some fanart of Atom Eve, a character from Invincible. Right now, it’s my favorite comic. At its core, it’s a satire, a spoof of classic superhero comics…but takes things seriously at the same time. Side characters always return and death is very real. I noticed there isn’t much fandom/merch out there for Invincible, so it felt good to throw my own fanart out there!

It’s Official! Japan Trip 2015!

A takoyaki stand near my hostel, Osaka, 2006

It’s actually happening!! This September will be the first time I’ve been back to Japan in ~8 years, and the FIRST time my boyfriend is leaving North America! It’s gonna be fun…aside from the pain of traveling across the world in Economy class.  I do wish we could stay for a whole month, but we can’t leave Jasper for that long. That just means we’ll have to take MORE trips to Asia… :)

This week, the two of us got the itinerary together.  The flights are BOOKED, the lodging is BOOKED, I’ve generally researched train timetables and routes.  There’s still some holes, like I want to have a list of yummy restaurants to try out while there so I don’t have to look while on vacation.  But overall, I feel good – the things that need to be locked down are now locked down!  Come July, I’ll purchase a couple JR Passes and everything should be good to go.

BASIC TRIP ITINERARY:

Sept. 17: Depart U.S.
Sept. 18: Arrive in Narita Airport.
Stay one night in Tokyo.
Sept. 19: Shinkansen to Osaka, settle in.
Sept. 19-25: Explore Osaka, Kyoto, and Nara
Sept. 26~28: Two nights of strict relaxation at a traditional ryokan in Hakone, enjoy the hotsprings.  The both of us are REALLY looking forward to this one!

Sept. 28~30: Explore Tokyo.

Oct. 1: Return to the U.S.  :(

I’m pretty excited about everything.  It’s leaning more towards sightseeing and touristy things overall, but in a way I haven’t done that much of that in Japan.  I’ve never been to Nara or Hakone, I haven’t tried coffee in Kyoto, I haven’t been to a rabbit cafe (!!), and…..I get to see my boyfriend react to the new foods and new sights!  Maybe it will make him more concerned about taking his shoes off at home, at the door :D!  With only 12ish days to explore several cities, there may not be much time for shopping, like I’ve wanted for years.  But at least there’s good food.

You know what’s crazy…8 years is a really long time. The last time I was in Japan, smart phones weren’t a thing yet.  I would run in to the Apple Store to get some internet time, or wait to use the communal computer at the hostels.  You had to plan things out way in advance “or else”, and expect to get lost a lot…which I did….if you messed up following your printed map.  Also, I was 10lb lighter, haha!  But I’m not any taller, so I think Japanese clothes will still fit ^_~  There’s this thing called Pocket Wifi now, which we’re getting from our Air BnBs for free…OH, and there’s a thing called Air BnB.  And I didn’t know anything about cameras, I just had this chunky plastic point and shoot.  Man.  I was still a part time worker in 2006!!  And not heavily in to VFX.  I feel so old because of the awe that modern technology and entrepreneurship has inspired.  Anyway, I’m really excited to see how else Japan has changed.  There’s at least 2 old friends in Japan that I haven’t seen for a decade and will likely meet up with too for some food.  And maybe an even older friend, although that’s iffy because he moved to Okinawa.  What sucks is none of them really talk to me anymore – I’ve sent messages and only 1/5 of the time they get replied to.  But, eh, at least they sound excited to meet up again!  Perhaps this will restart our friendships.

One thing that hasn’t changed, from what I can tell online, is that Cash is still King.  Is it weird that this is kind of comforting to me?  At any rate, it makes it easier for me to budget on the go.  I’m estimating that the entire trip will cost somewhere around $3500 ~ $4000 per person, depending on how much we spend on shopping and eating.  Our lodging wasn’t bad, since Air BnB really does have great deals, and our plane tickets were just about as cheap as I could hope – $812/person.

My Japanese is a bit rusty after a decade.  It’s time to find some more live action dramas to practice with!

Be Smart, Play Dumb

Dead Rabbit, an awesome bar on Stone St. that dates back to 1818.

Sometimes, I think being a generalist is a curse. Sometimes, it’s smart to play dumb.

If my employers didn’t know I could do both 2D and 3D work, I would have half as much work to do. And by that, I mean I would be over-worked instead of drowning in work. With a project as large in scale as the one we’re working on, with over 300 deliverables to give the client, and with such specific, name dependent parameters to this….it really sucks doing both the 2D and 3D side. I was hired to do 2D and I haven’t had the months of time with our custom 3D asset system to know my way around it. So I’m slower in 3D work than the dedicated 3D guys. No one seems to mind that I ask a million questions a day, and on the bright side I’m learning a lot. But then my 2D assignments fall behind in schedule. They really just need to hire another human body – another pair of hands and eyes. It isn’t going to happen, though. While I’m wishing, we could hire like 3 more people.  And the funny thing is, big clients have small budgets so we can’t afford it.  Multimillion dollar companies have small budgets.  It’s weird.

I’m at work 9:30am to 8:30pm on a good day, and stay to midnight routinely. I hear the sun sets late in the evening now, but my body hasn’t witnessed it, except on the weekends.

Still, this could’ve been my last week of work. I didn’t have to agree to extending my booking on this crazy, over-achieving job. But I did and I might do it again. I’m not sure yet. The money is good and I have international vacations planned this Fall. On the other hand, I miss having dinner at home and spending time with my boyfriend.

We’ve collectively started drinking once 6PM hits, to get through the rest of the day.  I have my 2nd espresso.  At lunch this week, we started drinking our sorrows away there as well.  Morale is low but we won’t mutiny, we still want the money.  Maybe that’s just destiny when you’re on Wall St.?

A good friend of mine has been a great connection for the past couple of years, getting me jobs with him around the city. But a pattern has emerged. It was there all along but I kept making excuses. He was bragging about this other place we worked at where he would routinely leave at 6:30PM on the dot, and how great it was.  A flash of anger hit me, and I said, “You leave at 6:30.  I was staying to 10PM at least, every night.”  Kinda wish I pushed that issue more because he brushed it off.  I stayed late because no one else would, so the work wasn’t going to get done unless I did.  Man.  Next time, I’m not staying later than this guy anymore.  I gotta put my foot down.

Figure Drawing Weekend #2


Forgot to post these!  I went to another figure drawing session a week or so ago.  It was fun, but this time the model wasn’t as pro as they usually are.  Ah well, still got some great practice out of it :)  I pretty much stuck with an H pencil for the whole 3 hours.  I was a little sad that everyone who said they’d come with me, and even RSVP’d, ended up not coming.  It was quiet and a little lonely, but that’s alright.  Here’s my favorite 3 of the batch!

House Envy

ABJ Terrarium “Linea”, by ABJ Glassworks

It took them 3 weeks to make a beautiful home. There were house plants, fresh cut flowers, framed wall art everywhere, bright splash colors, a walk in closet, and rich, warm grey bedsheets. Little tea candles flickered on every surface. I walked through the rooms, taking it all in. It felt like a showroom for IKEA.  Every room had at least 2 Pinterest decorating trends in play. 

Now contrast that with my place. The only wall art I have are old nail holes and mysterious black (wheel??) streaks. There’s a decade of dust that previous occupants never cleaned, and that I can’t reach without real effort. Things are starting to come together, furniture-wise (I no longer use a stepping stool covered in paint as a nightstand), but I gotta say it makes me feel pretty inadequate. I been here for almost one year and the apartment doesn’t look cozy or personal yet. 

“We need to make our place look this nice!” I said to my boyfriend. 

He said, “You’re the girl, shouldn’t you know how to do this?”

“But you’re dating me because I’m not a girly girl!”

The true tragedy is, I actually love girly girl things! Neon nails, fashion blogs, home decor, I love it all…I just have no idea how to execute it in real life. I’m an artist but not that kind of artist, and in a way that’s also what makes it sad. It’s a different skill set, a different mindset. Maybe it’s easy for a Graphic Designer to see their house as a canvas, but I’m a CG artist! 

So for the past few weeks, I’ve dedicated my last waking hours of each day to reading decor blogs like Apartment Therapy, Pinterest, and Refinery29. 90% of what I see is trash, clutter, and useless sensationalism.  But that 10% has been motivating, and I’m identifying how I have been holding myself back. 

One big thing keeping me from decorating is how cheap I am. It’s been a huge effort for me to change myself from being cheap to frugal. I realized when I look at nice things in [online] stores, my first thought is, “Pretty!” My second and immediate thought is inevitably, “But how much does it cost? What else does it DO to make my life better? Will I regret this later?”  Everything, to me, has to be utilitarian. It has to be multifunctional, or be irreplaceably essential for my life to function. But why? Why can’t something’s sole purpose be “eye candy?”

That cheap, practical side of me would say, “Because you live in an apartment and not a house. Because you don’t have a basement/garage/, or deep/multiple closets to hide useless clutter. Or barely used items. 

And have you seen the prices of home goods? They get PRICY.  Like these awesome geometric terrariums – $210+ each!

Obviously I’m not going to do that.  But I do have a list of things to do and buy for my home.

  • Give the bedroom a fresh coat of paint. Est. ~$65
  • Get a vacuum that can handle pet fur!  Est. ~$450 (Miele?)
  • PLANTS!!!!  I’m limited by the low-light stipulation… $??
  • Candles!  Candles EVERYWHERE!! $8~15 each.

Figure Drawing Weekend!

This weekend was extra fun, partly because I finished working at a hellhole, and partly because it was social!  Saturday, I went to the movies with my boyfriend and some college friends that he hasn’t seen in a long time.  They were all really friendly and easy to talk to.  We had drinks, saw the movie, and ate wayyy too much Thai food.

Sunday, I did a bunch of boring errands and then my boyfriend, a couple friends, and I went to Midtown to attend a figure drawing meetup.  It was great!  It’s the second we’ve (all) done this year.  Most of us are out of practice by years, so everyone is struggling, haha!  It feels good though, and I’m happy to see improvement already.  The guy who runs the Meetup runs it like a traditional figure drawing class, so we started with ten 30-second poses, 10 one minute poses, and then switched to 20 minute poses for the rest of the 3 hours.

The model was absolutely BEAUTIFUL…she had almost no fat except in her butt and boobs, so her shoulders and back showed off these muscles I didn’t really know about till now.  My own back is uh, too soft to learn anatomy off of :P

It’s easy to get carried away when you’re in an art store and try buying everything…and blaming your personal lack of skill on the tools.  I hear people say that in the room.  But as long as you have something sharp and something to shade with, that’s all you need.  Sometimes, like in the case of a graphite pencil, you get both in the same tool.  It’s a pet peeve of mine to hear people blame their tools when there is no shame is simply saying, “I need more practice,” or “I’m pretty rusty”.

Inappropriate At Work #9: Your Halitosis

This isn’t my usual little post about sexual harassment or some other offending comment. This is about an offending smell that no one wants surrounding them at work. Probably not even the perpetrator.

It’s a weird kind of torture. For the past two days, a guy has been sitting at the station to my right with terrible halitosis. It doesn’t matter what time of day it is or what he eats, it’s just always sprouting from him when his mouth opens. He sits over a yard away from me and I can smell it, it’s that bad. The air is a minefield; sometimes it’s clear breathing for a few minutes, then suddenly the stench assails your face. Invisible. Stealthy. Lunch is my reprieve, because he’ll leave the area and then I can work in peace. Evening has more frequent bombings, because he gets talkative with coworkers.

Podcasts For Foodies!

I’m one of those people who likes to talk about food, learn about food, and eat a lot of food.  When I’m preparing dinners at home, it gets a little boring without a little noise…so I turn on a food-related podcast to keep me company :)  Here’s a few of my favorites so far, in alphabetical order.

America’s Test Kitchen

[Link]

This is probably one of the most popular food podcasts out there, and for good reason.  I learn a lot by listening to their Q&A section in the beginning and the interviews in to current and historical food methods are pretty interesting. There’s a ton of back episodes too, so they’ll keep you busy for a long time.  They’re part of the Cook’s Illustrated network, and consequently have all the experience and technique you’d expect from a CI book.  There’s also a section in the show for equipment reviews, which are pretty great since you have to pay to access the text versions online, and a wine tasting and taste testing section….both of which I don’t care much about!

Gastropod

[Link]

This podcast is pretty new, so there aren’t many episodes yet…but they’re all really good! If you like food AND it’s history and science, listen to Gastropod!  The first ep especially was really interesting – about how the material your utensils are made of change the taste of food.  It made me really want to eat ice cream with a gold spoon :)

KCRW Good Food

[Link]

This one was a new discovery for me, recommended by a fellow foodie coworker.  They’re based in San Francisco, so expect a lot of chat about local SF restaurants.  I haven’t listened to many episodes yet, but I did hear them go over the history of edible underwear in their latest episode, and talk about the gentrification of SF’s Chinatown.  A lot of the topics look really interesting so I recommend checking them out too.

The Sporkful

[Link]

Another new-ish podcast, based in NY this time!  The host has interesting discussions about food, but instead of just focusing on the past (eps on bagels and the origin of Belgian waffles), he also highlights and discusses new and more interesting ways to enjoy food.

Hope you guys enjoy these podcasts as much as I do!  They keep me motivated to keep cooking nearly every weeknight.

My Experience With HSIL And The LEEP Procedure

A needle, over a foot long, to administer anaesthetics. Took a pic while waiting for the doctor to come in to the exam room.


Note: I wrote this on my phone about 3 weeks ago, on my commute home from my LEEP procedure.  It took me some time to revisit this entry, since a big part of me wanted to forget about it.

As I ride the subway home from the hospital, feet apart to manage the sway, I wonder to myself. Do I feel weak from being nervous, or from having an electrical current shooting through me?

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