Saturday, December 13, 2014

Viva New Orleans

This post is coming way too late! I am just finishing my semester at school, though, and the workload is starting to slow down (but not for long!). 

So, late last month, I went with my boyfriend to New Orleans.  I've been dreaming of visiting this city for years, and I finally took the chance to go. When we arrived from our bus, we went to go eat some tasty beignets at Café du Monde and then proceeded to walk all around the French Quarter, stopping at shops as we went along. While we were there, we got to stop in old Catholic churches and pray, we had some delicious New Orleans food and drinks (Ramos Gin Fizz at Bar Tonique being my favorite), we got to see a great down and dirty blues band on Frenchman street, and we met some really cool locals who told us their stories. One of the ladies, who had thirteen cats who lived in her shop, told us her Hurricane Katrina story. Another guy, an Oi! punk working at a hat shop, talked with us and gave us free beer. It's no wonder so many people fall in love with this city. I'm waiting for the day I can go back...

Jackson Square and St. Louis Cathedral
Also, we went and explored a couple of the cemeteries. The three pictures below are from St. Louis Cemetery No. 1. We took a tour of this cemetery to learn about the history, and they walked us by Marie Laveau's (the famous voodoo queen) tomb and told us about the rituals that people do, like leaving food and cigarettes and drawing x's on the tomb in order to get her to do favors for them in the afterlife. Another of the tombs  was a giant pyramid built by Nicholas Cage, who had two houses in New Orleans at one time.

Marie Laveau's cleaned up tomb

the "faux Laveau"

We also took the trolley out to the Garden District to walk around Tulane and Loyola, go see Anne Rice's old house, and visit Lafayette Cemetery No. 1, where both the Mayfair Witches and Vampire Lestat had tombs. We also stopped for a little at Audubon park, at which I summoned a squirrel with my impressive squirrel clicks.

Anne Rice's old house

Our Lady of Perpetual Help

Lafayette Cemetery No. 1
On our last night, after we made it back to the French Quarter, we searched diligently for for a place that would serve us bread pudding and hot cocoa with Bailey's. We found such a place, warmed ourselves up, and toddled back to where we were staying. It was a nice way to wrap up our last evening.

If you ever get the chance to go to New Orleans, do it, but just know that the city will keep calling you back to her.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Halloween 2014

This post is coming pretty late, but I've had a lot going on recently and not much time. Better late than never, I suppose!

As I just mentioned, I did not have much time this year. Halloween was fast approaching, and before I knew it, it was the eve of Halloween, and I had no costume. Thankfully, I already had some ghoulish pieces in my wardrobe. This year, I incorporated my stitched tights, a babydoll dress, and some doll-like accessories for the haunted doll look. After that, I topped it off with white powder foundation, rosy cheeks, creative eyeliner, and black lipstick. 

With my boyfriend- I gave him fight makeup
Also, I just had my 21st birthday yesterday! It was a wonderful weekend.

Friday, October 3, 2014

DIY Moon Patch

Sometimes, I get the inexplicable desire to paint patches. This time, I had an image of the moon phases in my head. The next thing I knew, I was pinning the patch on to the back of my jean vest. I was very pleased with how it turned out. What do you think?

In progress

The finished product

Monday, August 18, 2014

New Haircut Once Again

There's something special about a good haircut. For me, having a fresh haircut, especially if it is an interesting style, gives me a spring in my step. I gain a little more confidence, and I get just a bit more excited about getting dressed and ready in the morning (or in many cases, afternoon). I had previously been wanting to grow out my hair after having much of it buzzed close to my scalp, so for a while, I grew it almost to my shoulders in my natural color. All the while, I craved something different. After I got tired of the color, I dyed it purple. Then, I was somewhat happy with it for a short while. Now, I am back to a short, punky haircut. I don't think I'll be cutting it anymore for the time being.

Rooster comb hair next to a rooster bell.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Peter Murphy's Lion Tour

As soon as Lion was released in June, I went to various stores to get my hands on a copy. It was after having little luck that I turned to amazon, receiving a copy of the deluxe version in the mail (which comes with the album + a live Bauhaus set). I put the CD in my car's player and subsequently jammed out for about a week straight including on the way to an observatory trip with my lovely and handsome astronomer. With great care, Ryan had planned out our evening for when Peter Murphy was to roll up into town (7 August, 2014). I got all dolled up in a white dress, since Peter Murphy commented about no one wearing white on his Ninth tour, and I did my hair up in a braided turban wrap with a flower headband. 

Ryan took me out to dinner at a place called Bone Garden Cantina (link), which is a Day of the Dead themed restaurant filled with beautiful paintings and sculptures. Ryan had a nice looking margarita with a taco and enchilada, and I had a couple of hibiscus (flores de jamaica) tacos with horchata to drink.

The concert was held at a smaller venue that used to be a foundry on the outskirts of the city. Before the concert started, Ryan and I found the roof-deck to watch distant lightning and a very large hawk flying around the rail-yard out back (oh, how very southern Gothic). We made our way back to the stage in time to see the opening act and finally Peter Murphy.
standing behind a very tall gorey-esque type goth
I was very excited, because to me, Lion seemed to be picking up where Bauhaus left off. It was dark, hypnotic, and very dance-able. As always, witnessing music live is a completely different experience. There were moments in which the music rendered me in a trance-like state. I was dancing and bopping around most of the time, and there were plenty of others doing the same. If you haven't listened to the new album, do. Get a pair of headphones, dial up the volume, and dance or do whatever you do to your little heart's content.

Here, take a listen:

Friday, August 1, 2014

A Brief Rant on Intolerance

Most of you don't know that I have started doing private English as a second Language tutoring in addition to my other work. I just had my last session with a female student around my age who is from Saudi Arabia. Over the course of time that she's been here,  I had the fortune of spending Ramadan with this student, her sister, and her aunt. We got to break her fast together after sunset during our lessons (they make such wonderful food). I have gotten to know this student and her family, and they are some of the kindest, most welcoming people I have ever met. This is why when we went to a restaurant before one of our last lessons, I was especially upset at and personally offended by the manager who was so obviously discriminatory. 

My student was just ending her Ramadan fast, and since I once had mentioned my appreciation of Mexican food during a conversation, she told me that she wanted to go out to eat with me at a Mexican restaurant. I looked up a restaurant close to her area, and the only one was in a very posh, homogeneous part of town. This part of town happens to have a lot of old money, and from what I've encountered there, many of the people are entitled and intolerant of others from different backgrounds. I usually steer clear of this area since there's nothing but malls, traffic, and overpriced restaurants (and assholes). If you are familiar with Atlanta, you probably know where I'm talking about...But, I took her to this restaurant anyway (which turned out to be whitewashed, inauthentic Mexican-ish cuisine). 

It was close to dinner time when we got there, and there weren't many people. As soon as we walk in, the manager (I assume this was the manager) had that kind of disingenuous smile that people give when they're uncomfortable. My student was dressed modestly wearing hijab, and I also had my hair covered in a bandanna that day.  He approached us and hesitated to show us to our table. Before he did, he said something like, "Oh, the kebab place is next door. You might like that better." I then told him, "No thank you, we wanted to eat at this restaurant." He was pretty pushy and even came back after we were seated to tell us more about the kebab restaurant! I had to tell him a couple of times, "No, we want to eat here." and "We're here for the tacos." By that point, the manager had already determined that I was foreign too, so he spoke like I was confused or had trouble understanding English (although he may have been subtle, it was obvious to me). Good God!, I thought, Are you kidding me? To add insult to injury, the service was unjustifiably slow even though there were no more than ten people in the entire place, my student's food came out under-cooked, and the restaurant was way overpriced. 

I was really upset at what had happened, but I was also shocked at such intolerance. Sure, there have been people who have looked at me differently or have made comments about my appearance (especially when I used to dress exclusively "Goth"), but it was different than this kind of discrimination. I had just a glimpse of Islamophobia and xenophobia directed at both of us, and it made me incredibly sad for people who have to experience this on a daily basis. Needless to say, the restaurant will be getting a bad review since that's probably the extent of what I can do. 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

On My (Fairly) Recent Vegetarianism

It has dawned on me that I have been a vegetarian for almost five whole months! I made the decision originally because I was experiencing some major GI issues, for which I had to go on horrible medication, and I thought that cutting meat out of my diet would be the best decision for my health. What really put my heart into it, however, was an experience I had on the long drive home from school. That evening, a chicken truck slowly pulled into the lane beside me during bumper-to-bumper traffic. I saw a myriad of large, half-deplumed chickens stuffed into stacks of unreasonably small metal cages. None of them were moving at first, so part of me wondered if they were stunned or already dead. That was until I saw a few of them blinking and barely moving their heads. Seeing that brought tears to my eyes. I felt a choke in my throat as I wondered why the meat industry had to be so cruel and unnatural. Witnessing this was the impetus to becoming vegetarian, which has had many positive impacts on my health and cooking skills.

For starters, my symptoms have improved a great deal. Not only is my digestion more like that of a normal person, but the rosacea-looking rash on my face has disappeared, and my complexion looks much healthier! I also have more energy throughout the day, which is a definite plus. Another perk is that I am able to maintain a healthy weight with little effort. This is great, since I don't always have make time to exercise. Although I assumed there would be health benefits, one thing I didn't realize was how easy it would be.
Trader Joe's Soy Chorizo is the best thing ever, especially if you are craving meat.

I thought that not eating meat would be a huge obstacle (and sacrifice) because I am a lover of good food, so my solution was learning to cook more of a variety. Since vegetarian food is harder to come by where I come from, it's much cheaper and easier for me to make my own. I have tried so many recipes that I would not have tried before, and my cooking technique keeps getting better. The funny thing is that I don't hardly crave meat anymore, which was unexpected. Cooking more has also forced me to become more nutrition-minded, meaning that I am more conscious of the kinds of foods I should be eating to get the most nutrients.

So far, it's been a great ride, and I don't have any desire to stop this diet. I encourage everyone to try a vegetarian diet. It may seem tough, but it is well worth the health benefits. Perhaps in a future post, I will post some go-to recipes of mine.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Festival of Chariots

from Festival of Chariot's gallery
My boyfriend and I were driving , and along the road we see colorful tents not yet set up. We saw a sign that said, "Festival of Chariots." He looked over and said, "Oh, that's the Hare Krishna festival. They had one when I lived in D.C." I looked over with a smile, and subliminally he got my message...I had already decided that we would be going. For those of you who don't know, Hare Krishna of International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) is a small religion (some say cult) that is an offshoot of Hinduism that was formed in the 1960's. It's often associated with people with shaved heads and saffron robes.

White is a funeral color in India, but also practical to stave off the heat.

We went yesterday with my mother, and it was a pleasant surprise. I wanted to go mainly for the delicious vegetarian food, but also for the cultural value. We were surprised to have only received one pamphlet about Krishna and "the Reservoir of Pleasure." To which I remarked, "Reservoir of pleasure my ass! They're celibate and vegetarian." Well, I got half right. They are vegetarian, but they are not required to be celibate. Although, any sexual activity must be for purposes of procreation only. Anyway, returning to the festival, there wasn't as much music or dancing as I thought, and it ended up being somewhat low-key. It was enjoyable nevertheless. I got to go through and read their information on reincarnation and other beliefs, and I delightfully flocked over to the vegetarian propaganda tent where I pointed at information to my mom and boyfriend, grumbling, "This is very true," because it was the one aspect of the culture/lifestyle for which I felt included.

The excitement came to a boil when we made our way over to the strip of food trucks and caterer's tents. We went over to the Bollywood Zing truck for Samosa Chaat and Chaat Papdi, and we stopped off at the Bubble Tea Truck for iced kiwi basil seed teas. The drinks were splendid on such a hot day and a nice compliment to the Indian street food.
Samosa Chaat and Chaat Papdi

Kiwi Basil Seed Tea
As the day started to wind down, so did we. We decided to leave, but not before I took a picture with a girl dressed as Krishna. I hope to go again next year.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Williamsburg, Virginia (and Cemetery Pictures)

Last week, I returned from a vacation to Williamsburg, Virginia. For those of you who don't know, Williamsburg has a whole section of the city (Colonial Williamsburg) that was restored to look like it did in the colonial days complete with "interpreters" and tours. Williamsburg is also home to the beautiful College of William and Mary, the second oldest college in the United States. I will share my pictures, so without further ado:
Governor's Palace
Marquis de Lafayette

 The College of William and Mary was founded in 1693. Although I love my school, I considered applying to W&M, and I know I would have loved the old buildings with all the legends and tradition at this school. We were able to take a ghost tour of Williamsburg, and there were a few stops at William and Mary.

One of the Haunted Buildings, because of suicides.
 The building above, home to the English Department, had some interesting stories that I remember. One of the students here was overwhelmed during exam time and wanted to take a hardship withdraw. She was not able to, and she took her own life on the top floor. According to legend, this girl will appear to other students asking how exams are going. If the student says their exams are going fine, the ghost will scream. Another story in the building revolves around a second student who took her own life in the same area, with a note reading, "She made me do it." I believe there might have even been a third, but my memory is a little fuzzy.
The Crim Dell
 The Crim Dell, which is actually the name of the pond but commonly refers to the bridge, is a bit mythical as well. If you kiss your sweetheart at the top of the bridge, you will stay together forever. But, if the couple breaks up, the two are doomed to loneliness until one throws the other off the bridge and into the grimy pond.
I see your vision of a free America too, Mr. Jefferson.

Colonel George Washington

Bruton Parish Church
This is Bruton Parish Church, established in 1711. It is still a functioning Episcopal church (formerly Anglican). It was really interesting to explore in and around the building. The cemetery was filled with old, lichen covered stones inscribed with obvious death imagery (much like Salem, Ma). 

This grave dates back to 1726, the oldest inscription I could make out.
For someone like me who isn't used to being around areas older than the mid-nineteenth century at the oldest, there is something so mysterious and enticing about walking upon the same stones and entering the same buildings as people who lived hundreds of years before me. I hope to return at some point.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

100 Readers of Solitude

The first time I read One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez, I was mesmerized. I stumbled at first when trying to tell the characters' similar names apart, but each one was so colorful that I found even stumbling through the names, constantly referring back to the family tree in the front of the book, irresistible. Márquez had a way of exploring humanity with his words. He captured love, failures, struggles, beauty, and ugliness, and he wove it into magic.

I found out about an event in my area called "100 Readers of Solitude." It was an event at which 100 volunteers would read from Márquez's pages in a tribute to his life and body of work. I decided to go on a day that rained in torrents. One of the readers quoted a passage about rain, saying "The air was so damp that fish could have come in through the doors and swum out the windows, floating through the atmosphere in the rooms." My favorite reading was about Remedios the Beauty, the character who makes men go mad (literally), pays no attention to "manners" or other norms for females, sews herself a cassock, shaves her head, and ascends into heaven. I myself even got up to read. I left my book and had no idea what I was doing, but I got on the small stage and let fate decide which passage I should read out of a stranger's copy. I think it turned out pretty well.
from the reading (source)
I am currently making my way through Love in the Time of Cholera, and I have a challenge for those of you who have either never read Márquez or who need an excuse to read more (I know, why would you ever need an excuse?). I want One Hundred readers to pledge to read something written by Gabriel García Márquez. It can be a novel or a short story. Now, I know that I do not have even 100 followers, but I am still hoping to get 100 pledges (even if they're silent pledges and I never hear from you). Even if I can't quite make that number, I know it was worth the effort to get even one new reader to honor this author.

Let me know what you think in the comments. Please tell me of your experiences reading Márquez.