Monday, February 21, 2011

Intended Purpose

>I was going to do a post about a newly discovered site that I've been loving, but I thought rather than do that every time I discover something, why not just include a list of sites I like on my page. (So that's why every blog has that...) So, viola! In super-original alphabetical order, look to the right for I'm sure what will be an ever-growing list of fashion/photography/music/culture/travel/art sites I love.

But the site I want to talk about is worthy of discussion, so back to the matter at hand. Being faced with something so interesting and complex as another culture on a daily basis makes you want to talk about it all the time, which can be difficult, because people in other cultures talk about culture in different ways. Americans tend to ask direct questions and want direct answers. It turns out, this is not the only way to do things. (All those years of being brow-beaten with topic sentence, body, conclusion has affected my brain!) Individual personalities affect conversations more than culture in my experience, but I notice even the most outspoken of my Korean friends will eventually defer and agree on subjects I know they feel strongly about, in the expectation that I will understand, by body language and other cues that their culture has trained them to pick up, what they're really thinking. Unfortunately, I mostly don't and it can be confusing. So I used the internet for its intended purpose (no, not dirty pictures), instant access to information. I tried to look for insights into Asian culture written by Asians. There's plenty of whining out there written by other expats who are having culture clash problems, but that's not really going to help me. So, I stumbled on Disgrasian. It's great, loads of cultural discussion, written by some feisty Asian-Americans, with a good smattering of humor and bad language. (...and it's even helped me figure out a couple of things!) My thanks to the ladies holding down the fort back Stateside, and keep the good stuff coming.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Memory lane takes an unexpected Northern turn

Fan of the lovely New York Times? Hate that Lib news rag? Doesn't matter. Check out this travel story slideshow about little, traditional restaurants in Northern France. While the food and beer is definitely not-so-French, the atmosphere and decor of the buildings (right down to all the fake flowers hanging on the wall) and towns remind me so much of my time in the mountains of Southern France. I almost teared up! Even the people, often older and not terribly skinny, are well-groomed, yet relaxed in that specifically French way. I can just see them digging into that shared slab of pate and cracking jokes with the waiters. While I have never been to Paris, I can tell you French small town folks know how to live. The food I had there was not unexpected or really original, but it was exquisitely prepared. The mushroom omelette I had was the creamiest, best one ever. Enjoy!

Also, I leave for Tokyo next week for the show. I'll have about 48 hours in the city, ten of them solely dedicated to the concert. Any thoughts on what are the must-see-and-do things are that I can cram into the rest of my time?

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Orange pop

Yesterday, I commented on how I'm seeing this color (scroll down to picture 6) everywhere. It's lost somewhere between orange and red, but bright enough not to worry too much about its identity crisis. It's all things bright and garish, beautiful or painful depending on how it is used. It's the color that's literally on everyone's lips.

I have had a tricky relationship to orange my whole life. The color was verboten in my house growing up because of a stupid football rivalry. (Note: If a football rivalry brings value and joy to your life, good for you. I think they're stupid.) I was always attracted to its pop, and perhaps even a little to the controversy it stirs up at home. So now that I'm out on my own I've started adding it into my life, and now that it's the color of the moment there are a lot of ways it can be incorporated, which is good because I have one huge problem: my skin. I have a mix of Eastern European and Mediterranean heritage, so I have olive undertones, but I'm super pale, especially in winter, so big blocks of bright color tend to look terrible on me. The big, bold a-line coat on the trendy Japanese lady in my photo would probably make my face look like runny pistachio ice cream. So what's a girl to do? Accessorize!

My beloved laptop's happy sleeve, and a thermal vest that's perfect for adding warmth under a tight coat without the added bulk of a sweater.

A neckerchief is the perfect quick way to class up any rough outfit. (Plus the boyfriend totally has a thing for the flight attendant outfit so, everyone wins.)

An awesome-smelling candle from innisfree

While bright makeup is also usually a trap for me, this blush adds just the right amount of healthy color.

A detail from a sweater I picked up from a mall in Europe.

The gorgeous color is the perfect contrast to my favorite room freshener, lavender.

Will my fascination last? Maybe, maybe not. I am probably just appreciating the brightness it's bringing to the home stretch of the Korean winter. When spring rolls around, my preferences normally turn briefly to pastels, before looking forward to fall neutrals, but who knows? The hardest thing about spending a lot of money on clothes is not knowing how your tastes will change.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Fukuoka, Japan

A few shots from my recent trip to Fukuoka. My first experience with the city was during a layover last year. The airport is in the middle of downtown, which means you get a fantastic view of the coastal city cradled by mountains when landing. Unfortunately, this trip the weather was too hazy for good views of the surrounding landscape. It sounds shallow, but weather can really affect my opinion of a place. I definitely wouldn't have enjoyed Beijing as much if it had been hazy the whole time. Still, there was a lot worth seeing.

A swanky hotel called With the Style. We didn't have enough money to stay there, but we did enjoy a couple of drinks at the bar.


I'm starting to see this road-cone orange everywhere. It's definitely the in color for spring, and I couldn't be happier. I may do a post devoted solely to it soon. (Update: I actually did. Yay follow through!)

Hakata ramen from a sidewalk stand, which made my vegetarian stomach a little ill, but the boyfriend loved it.

The impressive exterior and interior of the Kyushu Museum. Unfortunately, you were not allowed to take photos in the Van Gogh exhibit.