31 March, 2007

Anyone want a tuchis massage?

Maybe it's because I'm full of sugar-on-snow (a local specialty, which for some reason come with a donut and pickles), but this website for the Russian and Turkish Baths in NYC just left me giggling for minutes on end. Here are some of my favorite passages (with spelling and punctuation precisely as I found it):

Here the Russian strongman or woman, will pound, squeeze, unwind and de-tense muscles you didn't even know you had.

Lie down while in the Russian steam room and a platza specialist will scrub you (actually beat you) with a broom made of fresh oak leaves, sopping with olive oil soap.

Select from the fragrant smelling soaps, such as lavender, eucalyptus, peppermint, or hemp and our professional will wash you like you haven’t been bathed in months.

Slough off the dead skin with the exfoliating pleasures that is countless millenniums old. [countless millenniums??]

No one seems self-conscious, lounging or walking in almost naked bliss, whether their body resembles Jackie Gleason or an Olympic Russian Gymnast.

Another ten people are hanging out in the Russian Room, filling up buckets-and before passing out-dumping it over their heads. "Feels. Good", says a lady named Paula, who barbecues herself once a week here.

When the heat starts to get unbearable, take one of the dozens of buckets around the room, fill it with ice cold water, and like the Russians hundreds of years before you have done, dump it over your head. Now don't be self-conscious because as you will soon notice, everyone is dousing themselves with buckets of water. In that sheer moment as the ice-cold water pours over you, comes one of the most enjoyable moments you will ever experience. It is sheer delight.

So just kick off your shoes and take-off your clothes and we'll give you a robe, some slippers and all the towels you want. You'll be in for a new old-world pleasure of being totally relaxed and spanking clean.

30 March, 2007


The snow is melting and revealing things, funny things. Today on my walk I discovered a place where there were dozens and dozens of piles of dog poop. What made all the dogs want to poop there? And now that the snow has given them back their sacred ground, will they continue to add to the collection?

Also, I just reread over the past few entries and it seems like Blogger is doing some wack things with my formatting, as you can see below. Pieces of sentances are missing, some spaces are taken out, making the wordslook likethis, and there are times when in the middle of a column, the sentance will jump down and continue on the next line (not sure what this is called, but I know it has a symbol like pi with a twirly top).

In this house there are two cats. One is LOUD and mrows constantly. The other one is silent and hugely fat, and likes to lie on the floor on his back with his legs poking out of his massive hairy body, like fuzzy popsicle sticks askew. When you pass by, he will make little jabs at your ankle with his paws, trying to grab you. The best thing is when you're downstairs and he is upstairs and the house is quiet, you can feel the house shake as he jumps down from whatever perch he's just abandoned. Boom! Scamper scamper scamper.

I discovered the other day the logic behind why my knitting looks different from every one else's. It turns out I've been doing something called "twisting my stitches," inserting the right hand needle into the back of the loop instead of through the front and out the back. I always wondered how everyone else was knitting so much faster than I was, and I thought there was just something wrong with the muscles in my fingers that was keeping me from holding the yarn around my right index finger and making it fly onto the needles, a tazmanian clickity-clack tornado of needles and string like you see in the cartoons. Sooo, I sat myself down with a bowl of yesterday's veggie chili and the first Lord of the Rings movie, and taught myself how to knit the 'right' way. And you know what? It's damn fast. I am so proud of myself. The only problem is, I'm knitting a sock, and as we all know, you pretty much have to make both socks the same. So when it's time for me to make sock #2, I'll have to knit 'wrong' (with the twisting stitches) until the same point where I switched today. Ah, well. Such is the price of education.

Speaking of education... when will I hear from Prescott?? They said by the end of the month at the latest. Well, it's here! So did I get it? Argh!

Last night I went to Burlington to see the adorable and vivacious Sweetback Sisters play their early country/honky-tonk set. It was such a sweet little show. They manage the perfect blend of polished and thrown togetherness.

Today is sunny and cold. I have dark chocolate covered almonds and fresh carrot ginger juice. Later, when I'm stressed out, will someone remind me how happy I am right now? Thanks.

Oh yeah, the one bad thing about keeping an online journal is that the 'real life' journal gets forgotten about and sits gathering dust. Here is a picture of my real life journal, just so I can invoke its presence here and hopefully motivate myself to get it out and shake the dust away.

And it's not even 10 am yet

This morning, I walked four miles, saw wild turkeys and deer crossing the road, and saved the neighbor's dog from drowning (seriously). It's gonna be a good day.

29 March, 2007

Oh, dear. How do people make decisions? When you have these big, real life, affecting-other-people kind of decisions to make, what do you do besides make mental lists of pros and cons, talk to other people about how each choice might make you feel, and do countless hours of informal internet research? I'm not sure how other people do it. I'm sort of fascinated right now with reading blogs (of friends or strangers) that deal with important decisions in the writers' own lives. Really? You decided to move there? How did you do it? What did you think about? Really? You decided? How?

News From the Frontlines!


For over twenty-four hours now, the CC has been demonstrating what can only be called monumental self-control over the urge to change time. This morning at precisely 0745 the oven and microwave clocks were unveiled in celebration, amidst high-fives, toothy grins, and bagel sandwiches.

It was over all too soon, however, when it was discovered that yesterday while I was in Montpelier, not one but two lowfat ice cream sandwiches went missing from the freezer, leaving all present to wonder if what we have here was a kryptonic force or mere premature celebration on behalf of the triumphant clock resistance.

In any case, stay tuned for tonight's drama, called Jessica Goes to Burlington until at least Ten o'Clock, or, the CC Versus the Kitchen Clock Army, Part Deux.

27 March, 2007

Fighting the war against time


I find myself reluctantly taking part in a Battle of the Clocks. My nemesis: the omnipotent Clock Changer (CC). The CC creates his special brand of chaos by sneaking around the house, resetting all the clocks to some strange new timezone (sometimes eighteen minutes fast, sometimes exactly one hour slow) and then promising me that he didn't and wouldn't and won't ever again. It's like he can't help himself. A few mornings ago, I woke up at 6:30 am to the sound of sly fingers making the oven clock go beep beep beep. At night, I listen through the walls to him trying to talk himself out of taking the clock off the wall.

"CC," I said this afternoon, "why does the oven clock say the wrong time?" This after a morning pep talk on the subject of Don't! Please! There'll be trouble! Resist!! To no avail.

"Uh. What?" says the CC, eyes all doey, the very picture of beffudled innocence.

"This clock. Did you change it?" I try to keep a happy, just-curious tone.

"Uh, no. Mom says not s'posed to do that."

"That's right." And then we repeat the previous conversation. And them we have it again in the evening, when I come back from a short walk, its purpose being not exersize for me but for the CC, to see if he can resist while I'm gone. He couldn't.

So tonight, after finding the CC's alarm clock wrong (and turned off) (a major offense, seeing as it results in either dinging way early or worse, late) I have resorted to sneaky tactics. I've taped a bookmark over the oven clock. I taped two post-it notes (blue) over the microwave clock. And the wall clocks? I hid them. I'm not telling you where.

So now there will be no obsessing over time. It's not permanent, but I think I'll try to establish a sort of "you mess with them, they go away" system. We'll see what happens.

So here are the new rules. From now on, we are each allotted a watch. The CC can change his all he wants, ditto to the clock on his bedroom wall (trying to keep a sense of personal property as the reason for not changing clocks), but I will always have my watch on, and that shall be the official Time of the House. That and NPR. I have my own alarm clock, which will tell us when it's really 7:00 am.

I mean, I'd know if he changed my watch, right?


[to shed a different light, the CC was *awesome* today during nail-clipping time. And I got a spontaneous hug during our evening Buffy episode. Hoorah!]

26 March, 2007

Sittin in the office not doin no harm

There was a popular underground video making its way around Boone, NC when I was there for college, called "Jesco The Dancing Outlaw." It feels like a home movie made by Jesco himself (but in fact is a documentary made by an Emmy Award-winner) documenting several facts:

1. Jesco, who was born and raised in Boone County, West Virginia, is indeed a dancing (flatfooting on a board) outlaw (I think he was violent or drunk or both, and he did some time).
2. He likes Elvis a lot, and can even impersonate him, especially when he (Jesco) huffs gas fumes from a rag.
3. He loves his wife. And Jesus.

My roomate's and my moment from the movie shot from afar, and the editor put
subtitles on the screen so the viewers could understand what was being said over
there on the sidewalk, across the street. Someone asksJesco what he's doing, and Jesco says (or so we read): "I'm just sittin' on the corner not doin' no harm."

This line has such a lyrical quality, such a rhythm, that it became our catchphrase. And I just now thought of it for the first time in years.

This weekend we drove the big blue van down to Boston (you know you're up
North when you can say down to Boston) to drop the Northern Harmony teachers off for their flights to Europe. YesterdayKei and I drove (well, just me) the van back up. I can't believe we're just three hours from Boston. Unbelievable. This morning at the bus stop I was trying to explain to our neighbor how strange this is for me when I remembered that she's from NC as well, so she understands how that from down south, Boston is a whole 'nother world. And that's how we'd say it down there. Does anyone else say 'nother? Write in if you do. I'm curious.

My knitting class last Wednesday was a big success. My teacher is very cool, my classmates are funny and warm, and I can now knit socks on two circular needles at once. It's easy! I love it. I had almost four inches of the leg part done when I discovered that (surprise) it didn't fit my ginormous calf. I'm not being unnecessarily harsh here; it's true. I have big calves, but notcankles . They taper down nicely. Which means that my socks wouldn't pull up as far as they were designed to, so I had to take out the whole 4 inches and start again. Using my finely tuned (like a run-over trombone) math skills, I developed a tapering pattern for the sock that starts off as big as I need it to and gently comes back to the prescribed number of stitches for the ankle part, all while staying true to the K2 P2 rib. I am a knitting master. Fear me and my warm feet.

So, this morning was my first morning handling all the office stuff my myself. I really want to do a good job. I must say, it's not exactly easy learning QuickBooks and a new address filing system and remembering the steps to take when we get checks in the mail and filling PayPal orders (ok, that part's easy) and the myriad of other small tasks that make up my job. Once I get a little more practice in, it should get smoother. Right now I'm commenting aloud to myself often and trying to remember all the stuff that I need to do. But so far, so good. No major screw-ups. I feel quite competent.

It's also pretty satisfying being able to control what groceries come in and out of the house. I have sworn that Kei and I will have the most vegetable-laden, made from scratch, low fat high fiber wholesome Spring that either of us have ever seen.

In other news, I'm officially one of the arts n' crafts leaders at camp this summer. I could not be more elated about this. Those who know me through camp will know that I have mostly done fine arts (music/drama/dance) in the past but that I've really wanted to be switched to crafts (pottery/candlemaking/batik/tie-dye/beads/etc). I
understand my Directors' hesitation about this, because if you have a competent staff member working in area A, why switch them to area B? You have to get a replacement for area A plus you know there are like a dozen salivating counselors just dying (no pun) to be in area B. So, finally, finally. Hooray for 2007! I'm going to try to do an awesome job of it.

Well, better keep filing. Brrr.

21 March, 2007

Inspired by Winter:

It no longer makes any sense to be insanely colorful, surrounded as I am by muted eggshells and greys. So, away with the neon greens of the past. Let my blog now reflect the snowy hush.

18 March, 2007

In the past week:

I have completed two pairs of mittens. I have edited samples of songs to go on the website. I have eaten lots of sharp cheddar cheese made a few miles down the road, plus a little bit of bacon from right down the road, and have helped to finish what was supposed to be a year's supply of tamarind candy. I have shoveled snow. I have slept in. I have rubbed anti-fungal lotion into a teenager's feet. I have said "bless you" three dozen times a day to my allergic boyfriend.

I have watched Buffy. I have carried wood.

I have been happy.

10 March, 2007

Just being here

Just been hanging out in Charlotte. I've been:

-walking/jogging every morning, because it's such nice weather (i.e., not as hot as Saigon) and you can go at any point in the day
-getting extremely sleepy at about 9pm every night. Like, druggedly so. Eyelids with a mind of their own. It feels weird.
-marvelling at lack of motorbikes, lack of men peeing on sidewalks
-marvelling at automobile super army: all huge, all shiny, all almost empty
-eating Vietnamese food, that although made by Vietnamese people, is not anywhere near as good as it is, obviously, in Vietnam. Been eating banh xeo every chance I get. The fish sauce here is sadly watered down, and hardly fishy. Never thought that'd be a problem, eh?
-Finally ordered my flameworking equipment, and am now officially without any savings at all (which is ok, since the savings account will refill itself shortly due to house sitting/office work and summer camp, thank god)
-Started a facebook page, due to so much free time and internet availability
-Am flying to Vermont on Monday!
-and today Cara, Liam, and Julia are all driving from their starting points all over NC to come hang out with me, hooray.

Oh yeah, I've also been taking full advantage of my parents' mini hot tub thing that sits on our back porch. Ahhhh.

07 March, 2007

Drive me crazy

What used to be common has become an adventure... I'm taking my Mom's car on a big square trip around the inner outskirts of Charlotte.

I'm a little nervous about driving, cause it's been awhile, and I also have to have this lengthy mantra on repeat in my head:

"go down to 51, drop off stuff at Goodwill trailer, take Right onto Carmel, take Left onto Sharon View, then I'll remember how to get to the mall, find the bank, go opposite direction to get to movies, after movie take a right, then right again on Colony, go past our neighborhood, get on the highway but go EAST, don't get off until Lawyer's road, they're next to the grocery store."

This will rock.

06 March, 2007

home again, home again...

Jiggity jig!

After a long and slightly confusing series of plane rides, I have arrived on the other side of the world, the side I started on. Here is a list of the noteworthy things that happened to me on the trip:

1. I was forced to give up the four mosquito bats that I had bought as presents, which was very sad, but it could have been worse. The reason they're not allowed in luggage is because they hold a charge (since they plug into the wall). I was thinking that my computer also holds a charge, but didn't say it out loud, for fear of having to leave behind the computer. I am mourning the loss of the mosquito bats. But it could have been worse.

2. One of my sneakers refused to come home. It launched itself out of my pack and into the netherworld of baggage, leaving only it's pair, now worthless as a single shoe, to be spat up into the bright claims area and tucked back into my backpack. Oh well.

3. I sat next to a guy from the Dominican Republic who was very nice. We shared plantain chips and tamarind with our free ginger ales, a real international picnic. We were joined by an old lady named Velma from Florida, who was afraid of the punk rocker in the seat in front of us, and Eladio and I spent a considerable amount of time trying to convince poor Velma that the guy's hair was deliberately mussed, and had not become all spiky like that from natural evilness. Welcome back to America!

4. China Airlines is amazing. They feed you terrific meals with surprising frequency. Compared to the stark "you'll eat if you pay for it" USAirways, it was not a bad way to fly at all. Also, China Airlines employs those little personal TVs in the back of the seat in front of you, which play movies and the like, but also do a special program called iXplore which links you to the cameras mounted on the front and underbelly of the plane you're in, so that you can see what the pilot is seeing. This was fascinating and I spent a long time watching the videofeed, even when it was dark, hoping to see Superman or a meteor or something.

When I got to the airport I remembered that I no longer have a cell phone which works in America (no big deal) and I used the payphones to call my Dad, who was just getting out of the shower. Thirty minutes later there he was, My Dad! Wow! It's so good to see my parents again. We loaded all my stuff into the car and from that point until almost noon, I didn't stop talking. I was sleep deprived and dirty and sort of woozy from being in a metal box for 30 hours, and feeling buzzy from being suddenly back in the land of Very Familiar Sights, and I just kept talking. He took me to my Mom and step-Dad's house, where I will live this week, and they allowed me to disembowel my suitcase all over the living room floor so that I could find everyone's presents. It was great to finally match up the slippers, the chopsticks, the various carvings and pearls and robes, with their intended owners. I told the stories, I showed a few pictures, I distributed durian candy and coconut candy. Finally, everyone had to go to work and I was left alone, happy and exhausted. I spent the rest of the day unpacking and knitting a mitten.

The best part of the day was when my younger brother came home. Things are pretty casual amongst my siblings, and we don't really mind not seeing each other for great periods of time, but I was really glad that A came home last night, because... he has a girlfriend! Not just a person he's seeing (which have been many) but a real, long-term, serious Girlfriend. As a brother with a penchant for beautiful over brainy, A had not really impressed me with his choices in the past, and I had never refrained from telling him so, but over the past year or so my Mom has been telling me little snippets about this girlfriend, O., who sounded like a decent catch. It was O's birthday this weekend and she and A had been skiing up in West Virginia, and when they walked in the door I felt proud like only a big sister can when she realizes that her little brother is loved by someone very worthwhile. O is blonde, sure, but she is smart and kind and has lovely manners and tells funny stories and is just so present, not vacant, that I cannot help but want her to stick around for ever. She works as a clinician in a mental hospital a few hours from here so A only gets to see her on the weekends, but looking at them talk at the dinner table you see how much time they've had together. My brother finally found a beauty with brains! Somebody great loves my brother! It's a very new feeling for me, and I am enjoying it very much. It was her 23rd birthday so my Mom got a cake with numbers on it and we celebrated after dinner. I must say, I've had a great example of how a big sister should act when meeting her little brother's girlfriend, so K, thanks for teaching me how to behave. I can honestly say I didn't embarrass him (or her!) or anything. It was a real turning point in our history of being siblings. So, hooray for little brothers growing up.

And now I'm off to brave the frozen air. It's walking time.

02 March, 2007

The no-face guy

There's a lot of things that I wanted to do "one last time" before I leave Saigon, but one of the most important things was to make some sort of peace with the no-face guy.

One day Kenny and I were walking down Le Loi where there are many beggars. Kenny says, "that is one of the saddest looking human beings I've ever seen" and as I turn around I get a glimpse of a man sitting on the curb behind us, with a hat in the hand... and no skin on his face. I wasn't expecting this, and I turned away quickly with shock. I felt scared. The sight of his face (well, teeth and eyeballs and scar tissue) made me feel, and I am not proud of this, like getting out of there as fast as I could. I walked away, shuddering.

A few meters away, I started feeling like I could have handled that better. I turned around to look at the guy again and it wasn't as bad this time.

Over the past few months, I passed the guy every once in awhile and tried to be less afraid. I tried to imagine what might have happened to his face, and my guess is that he was involved in a fire, because what little skin he has left is mottled pink and white.

Anyway, today I saw the guy from across the street, and I decided to assuage my guilt by giving him money. It might have only helped him a little bit, but it helped me a lot. I walked right up, looked him in the eye, smiled, and put some money in his hat. And I felt better.

I'm on Flickr a lot.

Jessica K.. Get yours at bighugelabs.com/flickr