Hello Brooklyn 2.0

No matter what changes it undergoes, I will always think New York is the greatest city in the world. I’m too soft to live there (raised Upstate, an entirely different beast from the Boroughs) but I have eternal affection and respect for it. More than anything, a lot of my friends from college live there. January last year, I flew up for the first time in eight years. I’ve known most of these faces for well over a decade!ny01

ny02Kristine and I were randomly selected roommates our freshman year at Stony Brook. What luck! We’ve laughed, we’ve cried, we’ve done deeply stupid things together. She serenaded me in the practice rooms with Chopin and took me home for holidays: Filipino Easter and karaoke. She and Travis picked me up at LaGuardia and we had the best time in pretty Port Washington. Marvellous Marvin’s dazzling jazz, dinner at Organica (too delicious to be that healthy), board games, caramel coffee, and all the craft beer. Kriss and Travis are engaged now and I can’t wait for their wedding next year!

ny03Off to Jowy’s in Bushwick! He’s had the same great apartment since I’d last visited. The look may have changed but his building used to be a three-tiered layer cake of different graffiti styles. The roof is perfect. As long as I’ve known him, he’s had a knack for spotting unique details. His Subculture zines are fantastic. We walked through Bed-Stuy, looking at all the beautiful old buildings then hit Milk Bar where the crack pie was so rich, we couldn’t finish our shared slice. Onto Fool’s Gold and Desert Island where we met up with Rusty, Alex, and Juliet.ny04

ny05Union peeps! I think this was taken right after lunch at Jimmy’s Diner and right before a beautiful sunset. Juliet, one of the coolest women alive. And I will never get rid of Facebook as long as Rusty is on there. His posts make me laugh-cry. Alex moved to Pittsburgh shortly after this; Dean and I plan to visit!

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ny10Bree and Joe got to Jowy’s around this time and we all headed out to Roberta’s for pizza. Dan met up with us while we waited in a very long line. Ended up having a pizza picnic. Joe is one of a band of great friends who road tripped me from New York to Seattle for my job interview at Fantagraphics (I didn’t drive then). I always thought his generous nature was a good mix with all the metal music. Dan is one of the reasons I wanted to join The Press (his face was a cover advertisement for Beerfest) but I didn’t talk to him much until maybe my junior year when he moved to Japan. Incidentally, it was over there that he met one of my future close friends, Nate. Small, awesome world!

ny07Desert Island deer!

ny08Met David and Jeremy at Spectacle Theatre (an absolute gem of a cinema that I would be going to every week if I could!). We watched Ferat Vampire, a Czech movie about a race car that feeds on the blood of its drivers. David is the brother I always wanted. I spent holidays with his family and we’ve had intense arguments about pop culture. He’s broken through a dead bolt with a plastic dildo wrapper and created Secret Cinema at Stony Brook. Jeremy’s actually not connected to Stony Brook; I met him in Seattle. What’s crazy about him is his extreme focus and ability to follow-through on all his pursuits. He said he was going to Ghana and there he was. He said he was moving to New York and he did it. Conquered grad school. Zero anxiety. Anyway, wild to see both of these cool dudes at the same time.

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ny11It’s always worth looking down. Wish I’d seen the “Protect Yo Heart” where someone crossed it out and wrote “Neck.” New York! The splatter face man is my favorite. I’d love to see more of that guy’s work.

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ny13Brunch with the last bunch at Cafe Colette. We were seated in a beautiful sun room in the back. Emma changed my life by telling me how to poach fruit and I am obvs envious that she’s met my favorite celebrity chef David Chang. Mitch who I’ve also known since freshman year and his stunning girlfriend Melissa. Sam, my favorite journalist to hug. The only sliver of Manhattan I saw this trip was walking from Jowy’s job to Penn Station with Sam. Selfie take 1, take 2!

ny14That skyline at sunset! A million clouds couldn’t detract. 

Winter on Black Rock Mountain

Last-LAST November, Dean and I took a day trip to Black Rock Mountain State Park for some jaw-drapping vistas of the Appalachian mountains. I’m sure this place is unreal during peak leaf season since it’s incredible even at the tail end of fall. The scenery was still dotted with color amidst the barren brown and we made it through our first “moderately” rated hike. Then we ended with mini golf. Nature and Not Nature at its finest!black rock mountain

black rock mountainThe markings of other lycanthrope hikers. There was also a “Your Mom” scrawling further down.

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black rock mountainStone steps taking us up to The Top of the World.

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black rock mountainWowwowwow.

black rock mountain

black rock mountainWinter waterfalls!

black rock mountainCute cows on our drive back.

black rock mountainAnd mini golf halfway home. Dean won as usual but, believe me, there’ll be a rematch. 

Hello 2017!

Cracking into a fresh planner is like my second Christmas. Love it. I’m bullet journaling this year which has me even more obsessed and hyped-up for the year ahead of us. We all know better but right now, the coming months have only been shaped by possibility and it’s like an annual holiday to dream. Loved ones: no matter where you are or what you’re up to, I’m glad you’re part of my life. I’m here for you and I believe in you. Cheers!

(My goals as a 30-something adult could easily be mistaken for those of a kawaii teenager. Totally cool with that.)
2017 new year goals
Learn to Sew on a Sewing Machine: Any valuable skills learned through Girl Scouts and Home Ec class have faded to irrelevance. Big ambitions for modified thrift finds, wild dresses, and quilts.

Volunteer: We dipped our toe into volunteering by fostering kittens and running food on Thanksgiving. I’m ready to make time and commit to something more. My mom’s been volunteering long-term in India and while I lack her skill-set (healthcare), she stands as an inspiration. No idea what to do but my town has plenty of amazing opportunities.

Practice Piano 3x a Week: Took lessons as a kid and hated it. Ready to give it another shot now.

Desert Road Trip: Dean and I are visiting my favorite Phoenician, Ted, in a few weeks! We’re also planning to hike part-way down the Grand Canyon and explore some interesting spots in the area. Can’t wait to see this alien landscape in real life.

Pasaquan: Its psychedelic colors have been fully restored and I’ve still never been.

Learn Rudimentary Spanish: My most difficult goal for sure as my tone-deaf mispronunciation is near-offensive. It’s a high priority though and Dean’s learning too.

Tag Time at the Tracks: *Hypothetically* I’ll be tagging some cool shit at the tracks. *Hypothetically, police friends, hypothetically*

Inktober: Attempting this challenge alongside my partner-in-crime, Erin.

Blog More: Still wanna document everything. Gotta be less lazy about it.

Re-read the Hernandez brothers’ Love & Rockets: My all-time favorite comic book series, yet there are still some bits I haven’t read. Taking it all in from the top.

Write a Rap Song: “My name is Steph and I’m here to say…” Just kidding. But, um, not kidding?

Watch Star Trek: Dean and I started watching the original series with Natalie and Eli last year. How the heck have we never seen this?! Exploring strange new worlds of sixties futurism. And hopefully Next Generation after that.

Paint the House Pink, Magic Mosaic Patio, Plan Dream Yard: The exterior of our house, the patio, and the yard are in terrible disrepair. Here’s hoping I can invoke the spirit of Howard Finster and make something beautiful.

Athens Music: Mostly, I feel like a butt for living here and not knowing a ton about the music scene.

TMI Zine Trio: I’m making itty-bitty diary comics about my dad, my erstwhile best friend, and my body’s continued grossness (still havin’ issues). I figured putting these issues out there in a tiny way, softened with bad jokes, would help me cope. Yes, they’ll be free for trade.


“We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year’s Day.” — Edith Lovejoy Pierce

2016 in a Nutshell

Scrolling through social media, there are posts about how 2016 is the worst year ever… then other posts about how you can’t “blame a year,” “there are worse years in history,” “worse days ahead,” etc. etc. I guess we all have to reflect and unpack in our own way. I DO think 2016 was a markedly painful year. It was grindingly sad– with violence, hatred, loss, unrest, and actual fires. On nearly every level, tragedy struck and there wasn’t adequate time to deal before tragedy struck again. Family/fiances/friends of friends died, my Aunt Julie died, Prince died.

Personally speaking, I’ve had a more even mix of highs and lows. My body started randomly blowing up in hives and I lost my longest, closest friendship. There’ve definitely been times where it’s been hard to push forward and not feel sorry for myself. BUT. I have a lot to be thankful for. Dean and I celebrated nine years together! I cuddled cats, went on road trips, rekindled a love of zines, laughed with old friends around the country, met new friends in town. I’m also thankful to live in Athens. From first sight, I knew it was special but after months of going out every night with Erin, the town unfolded to reveal a hidden layer of awesomeness. It’s been a transformative year for me. I’m lucky to know so many rich souls with enthusiasm, irreverent humor, and guts. People you can talk to comfortably about uncomfortable things and laugh until it hurts. The world may be garbage but it’s still inspiring and worthwhile too. ❤

Of course, I didn’t post much here. Too mired in self-pity the first half of the year and too busy the second half. My usual lazy mish-mash of photos:
2016 snapshots

Raekwon the Sheph

Yesterday was my last shift at the library. It. was. fabulous. I loved the work, patrons, and co-workers (many of whom, I’m proud to say have become great pals). I got this job a couple weeks after we moved to Georgia and here we are, two and a half years later! I’m a huge Wu-Tang fan and have had this corny joke in mind since I first got my typo-d name tag. It was hard for me to draw this tiny so it’s not a perfect likeness but I’m still tickled. Raekwon the Sheph, signing off. Peace ‘n’ Love ‘n’ Books!
raekwon

Foster Kitties!

One good thing this year was ALL THE CATS. We had our resident cool cats, Matilda Cackle and Agent Cooper, then we had guest kittens via the Athens Humane Society! Taking home these fluffy balls of cuteness with official instructions to “love them and fatten them up,” was a dream (granted, one that involved a lot of poop scoopin’ but a dream nonetheless!).

The Slate Grey Gang: grey foster kittens grey foster kittens grey foster kittensTwo shy girls, inseparable and near-impossible to tell apart, then their one wild brother. So sweet with fat, kitten tummies! The little brother was constantly waging guerrilla warfare on his sisters. One day, the girls ganged up on him and kicked his butt- hawhaw! Claude, the boy, was already adopted before he’d left our house and I believe the two sisters were adopted within the week they went back to the shelter.


The Tabby Trio: tabby kittentabby kitten brotherstabby kitten brothersI’m no expert on kitten ages but if the grey gang were roly-poly toddlers, these guys were like hyper kindergartners. They were sick and cuddly the first week we had them then BAM! Zooming around like crack cats, literally running up the walls then sliding their claws all the way down again. Georgia’s the smallest and shyest with an orange dot on his head; Oklahoma is the the most curious and playful; Vermont (aka Vermonster) is the chubbiest and laziest. By chance, they were all adopted together by my urgent care doctor and his partner! A stroke of serendipity if ever there was one!! We just cat-sat these three so I’ll have to post an update soon.


Kelly’s Kitten Haus: kitten houseIggy Pop kitten
Last, my ultimate co-worker (and one of my favorite Athens ladies) fostered two litters of FIVE and SIX, then she adopted one of the kittens and named him Iggy Pop. Paw Power. She is the cat lady I aspire to be. <3

Seattle: Friends, Fanta, Mangchi

Or a long-ass post about my tiny trip (50 hours total). Right after I got back from Seattle, the election happened… So, it feels a little insensitive to post about goofing off when America has hit a new low of sadness and disunity. At the same time, it matters more than ever to hold onto hope and celebrate the good stuff, like far-away friends and far-left cities. Small consolation: unless something happened reeeeally recently, the INDECLINE micro-penis Trump statue is still on display at No Parking on Pike. I love you, Seattle.


Pre-trip: The Atlanta airport is a sprawling hell-beast but I like it anyway. They fly everywhere, offer ample vegetarian options, and fill the space with surprisingly dope art. Walking into Steve Waldeck’s light and forest installation is like entering LED heaven– trippy and soothing. Six hours later, the plane landed in Seatac and I full-on sprinted to catch the last light rail Downtown (MADE IT!). Enjoyed a brisk, post-midnight walk to the hotel and marveled at how different Downtown/Belltown looked from when we lived there. Pike Place Market is a bad example… but, seriously, a lot of things have closed. I’m officially a tourist.

Friday: I couldn’t sleep after my flight but luckily, the Ace Hotel is a beautiful place for insomnia. I’m a total sucker for the hip stylings and being there alone felt luxurious. The sun came up; chatted to the desk clerk about our mutual friend, Janice; loaded up on free Stumptown coffee; and window-shopped the kawaii goodness at Downtown Daiso before catching the bus to Fantagraphics.
Hit up the Fanta office for a classic Chiang’s lunch (the pan-fried noodles of my dreams!). Seeing everyone, especially my basement peeps and best gal Kristy, was wonderful. Martin’s cozy clown office (once my office too), Steph O. on football and trap rap, Kristy on books and boys. Jason and the violent cattails. Gary, Jacob, Anna, Keeli. It’s a shame to see Ruth’s junk art house has been scaled back even further but it’s still standing and that’s something. Afterwards, Dave Holmes and I visited Dean W. at Virginia Mason. His situation is no laughing matter but LOL at Dave Holmes when we learned Dean W. only recently started watching TV out of boredom. “I’ve got your diagnosis; it’s a lack of TV.” Haw haw!

I bought my Mangchi ticket back in August and am still dying over having seen them live with Arabella. I lost my gd mind. They’re the motherfucking best and a daily inspiration. A variety of highs: Kid Koala’s Yo Gabba Gabba, David Choe’s claws caressing Steve Lee, Steve in the tiniest underwear (and his legit rap skillz), Heather Leather, Money Mark, MoMo, and Dylan! The moshing, dancing, and mountain of free merch (posters, stickers, pins, patches, the coolest zine)! SteBee WeeBee fan photo (preternaturally youthful Asians!). Also, psyched to meet other DVDASA fans in the wild. Maybe this is how juggalos feel when they get together… I’d sweat off my makeup and the cool night felt divine. We headed over to Speckled and Drake (“the duck bar”) and Dave G. materialized out of thin air to get in on our traditional black and white photostrip. Loose conversation ranging from comics, movies, immigration, acid trip birthdays, parks, insurance woes, New Orleans, London, James Jean.

Saturday: Took my gracious host, Kristy, out to breakfast at Cactus. Horror movie talk, free flan talk. I miss her so much! Met up with Gavin and Dave G. then blew my budget at Short Run on a bunch of rad mini comics. D’oh! I kinda hate myself for spending so much but I’ll get over it. There are worse ways to spend $$. I wish I coulda teleported back for Gavin’s Short Run Reading Party.
The International Fountain was still rigged for Halloween. We were drawn to the sounds of Bauhaus and stayed while Dave G. danced in the rain to Kraftwerk’s “Senor Coconut.” Dropped our comics haul off and headed over to La Marzocco, the cafe inside of KEXP, for fancy espresso. I got to meet Beth, fellow WordPresser and cat lady, in real life! She came straight from the ballet and is just as sweet as I thought she’d be. Bonus Keeli run-in.
Gavin introduced me to my new favorite shop: Nevertold Casket Company, a lavender-walled room with Twin Peaks floors and haunted oddities. There’s a taxidermy cat with a piano inside, drawers of antique photos, and a coffin bursting with balloons. Met the core crew up the block for hot soup at Lemongrass. We’d recently had the pleasure of hosting Mike and Jen in Athens for Popfest. It was great seeing them so soon back in the PNW (and the cat cam!). Hadn’t seen Ian and Annelie since they got engaged (yay!) and I squealed a little when he told me about recording at the former Lusty Lady (Seattle’s greatest fallen landmark).
I was pretty beat by this point but I’ve embraced the mantra, “Never save anything for the swim back,” so we went to the Short Run After-Party. Arabella bartending; Nail Polish and DoNormaal performing; Tony, the most huggable guy in the PNW; superstar dancer Alyssa; Dave G. busting out moves Usher would be proud of. ♡

Sunday: Walked under an overcast sunrise to meet Eric at the Five Point Cafe for early breakfast then walked him to work at the Smith Tower. The tower was built with the glamor of another time and the view at the top is incredible. I’d recommend their observation deck 100x over the Space Needle. Eric is one of my most fearless and ambitious friends. I hope some of his confidence rubbed off on me this trip.
Exchanged sad goodbyes with Kristy who I still can’t believe I only see once every two years now. :( Hopped on the C to Nate’s new digs in West Seattle (the nicest, newest apartment building I’ve ever been in- wow). We hit up a cool florist, Easy Street, Cupcake Royale. Mostly, I laughed so much it hurt about ba-ba-ba-ba-ba-ba-ba-basketball, Castle Freak, and Family Feud. Can’t wait til we both get Murakami’s Absolutely on Music.And that was it. Nate dropped me off at the airport and we listened to The 13th Floor Elevators. This weekend was a quickie, distinctly more about seeing favorite people over favorite places (tho I fit in some great places too). I got home feeling tired, exhilerated, heartened, and inspired. Happy to be home to my husband and cats. Ready to face our rattled world.

Halloween: A Jumbled Recap

To borrow the words of my co-worker, Halloween is essentially a month-long holiday in Athens. It’s one of the many things that makes this town so special. (I started this post right after Halloween but here I am at the airport, rushing to finish before my flight. I’ll fix any glaring typos or misses at home.)
The Wild Rumpus Parade: Erin, me ‘n’ Dean flailing through life in our DIY wacky waving inflatable tube men costumes. Wacky wavers are a borderline obsession of mine. I talk about them regularly, randomly bust out arm moves, and may or may not be writing a rap song about them. Other parade revelers (happy to say mooostly friends of ours):hw02

Little King’s: My husband does NOT dance so we dropped him back home, changed, and went BACK downtown to sweat on the patio dance floor at Little Kings Shuffle Club. It’s the first time I’ve gotten to see Robert outside of our work places. I forgot to snap a picture of the horror movie crew so I’m glad I snapped some of Alex P. and Dave C. at Little Kings. (We recently watched Evil Dead Trap at Carey’s. Highly recommended to fans of bizarre, brutal, and mordantly funny low budgets)

Evan and Neil’s Halloween Housewarming: My ‘berry coworkers are wonderful people and those dapper skeletons know how to throw a party. Eddie as proctologist Dr. Ben Dover and Josh as a Basic Witch made me laugh. We also learned our wacky waver costumes are not indoor friendly. We brought the clumsy, that’s for sure.

Flicker Bar’s “I Want Your Skull” Art Show: Cocktails, spooky art, and Bucky the handsome spaniel. Couldn’t have asked for a better date night.

Joker Joker Gallery: The house venue collects supplies for travelling artists and homeless residents so Dean and I saw LYR and Harlot Party for a donation of new socks. (We’re really sad to have missed the other bands that night.) The house was used for a horror movie which is why the ceiling is splattered in fake blood. Eternal Halloween decor. This was also the only night of the year I was around a bonfire. So cozy, so gooood.

Cat Day at the library: The annual dress-up day! Cat Library Ladies for life.

Halloween Night on Boulevard: This has to be the ultimate neighborhood for trick-or-treating. It looks like my childhood fantasy of Halloween. So happy Alicia and Matt graciously let us crash and snack at their beautiful home. Other highlights: The Ghosties porch show (performing ghosts with a dancing ghost puppet) and The Haunted Shed (a porch transformed into an animatronic spooky story diorama. We loved seeing behind-the-scenes afterwards too).

Preserve’s Halloween Hop: Outersea, Island of Misfit Toys, Dead Bars, Vacation, Cancers, Floor. So… the last show I went to in Seattle was Cancers and Iron Chic at The Black Lodge. I was supposed to go with Dean but he got sick. I went solo, sad and uncomfortable, until this cool punk rock dog came up and kept me company. I ended up having a great time. I was psyched for the chance to see Cancers and Iron Chic again- on the other side of the country- with Dean- but life is funny and poor Dean got sick again. Me n Erin ended up in Boulevard during what I think was the Iron Chic set. Apparently, it wasn’t meant to be but I ended up having a great time again. (Eep! The tiniest, cutest Harley Quinn!)

Flagpole: I’m lucky to work in the perfect possibly-haunted office. It’s a former funeral parlor and populated with creepy mannequins year round. This year Larry (he’s the non-mannequin) set up a murder clown in the upstairs window. 😂

Phew, it was a full holiday. Last of the photo dump, our little witch and warlock:

Arabia Mountain

Back in August, Erin and I woke up in the pitch black of an early morning to watch the sun rise over Arabia Mountain. Seeing everything quietly light up in such a geographically unique spot was nothing short of spellbinding. The rocky surface of the mountain is swirled like marble cake and the cairns look like martian traffic signs. I’ve gotta go back next year to see the red moss!







Flag(pole) Football

Eep- I can’t wait for football to start again! Made some tiny fan portraits at this week’s drawing club:It’s crazy to think that until kinda recently, my opinion of football landed between indifference and dislike. And it’s not because I didn’t grow up with it: I was adopted into an exceptionally athletic family of football fans and players; I filmed Stony Brook University’s home games for college TV; my British husband rooted for the Seahawks before they were champs (to be fair, he follows ALL the sports). Plus, I’ve distractedly watched a bunch of Super Bowls. I’m just a non-sporty weirdo who had to come around to football in my own time. (And for the record, I don’t think it’s without serious issues. It’s one of several problematic things I’m a fan of… like Lars von Trier movies or shopping on Amazon… but it’s also a great game.)

So last year, I joined the Flagpole Fantasy Football league and it was like “bloaw!” Practically out of nowhere, I got really into the NFL. At first, I didn’t have a firm grasp on the rules of the game (like, football itself but also fantasy sports) and totally bombed the draft. Yahoo gave my picks a D-, ranked me dead last, and predicted I’d only win one match. I picked Aaron Rodgers first because he was the only available player I’d heard of, then muddled through the rest with a list I’d compiled of players who looked friendly, hadn’t been charged with anything horrific, and weren’t Washington Redskins. It didn’t look promising but then I won my first match! I was at work on a quiet night, refreshing my phone 10000000x to see what was going on (answer: Carlos Hyde, tearing it up!). Every week, I was sure I was going to lose but I ended up winning the next 7 games, beating every team in the league once. The third week in, I was distracted by an IKEA breakfast and didn’t realize until kickoff that despite being on my team DeMarco Murray wouldn’t be playing. I stopped in the middle of the store to curse the football gods but, amazingly, I still won! The nerd-rush that hit after my odds-crushing streak was nuts. In the end, I lost reeeally bad in the playoffs but I was so invested by that point, it was ok. LOL LOL LOL, Yahoo!

And truly, football’s appeal goes beyond the thrill of winning. I used to think it was boring (??) but now I see it’s like a giant, brutal chess game. Way more exciting and interesting than I’d thought. Second, fantasy football taps into my love of superstition. Carlos Hyde was injured early in the season but I kept him in every possible lineup as good luck. Conversely, I blamed my losing streak at the end on DeMarco Murray who was a “can’t cut” player even though he was abysmal with the Eagles. Finally, I became a fan of specific players. My favorite right now is RB Doug Martin. Apparently, he hates the nick-name “The Muscle Hamster” but, c’mon, that’s adorable. Also, Tampa Bay runs a lot so he’s got plenty of opportunities to shine. This is my second drawing of him- I mailed the first to One Buccaneer Place (my second fan letter ever). Devonta Freeman was one of my last draft picks which was stupidly lucky cuz he ended up being a superstar. So impressive and unstoppable that I realized- yeah, the Falcons are pretty cool. Finally, phew! It turns out, Aaron Rodgers is famous cuz he’s a solid QB. Even on a bad week, when he’s running for his life and nothing’s going right, you can tell he’s awesome. Haha. Now I know… Anyway, it’s highly doubtful I’ll be half as lucky this year but I’m getting super psyched in the pre-season. Life is funny and I guess I love football now!