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These are the random things that are flowing through my mind right now while I’m sitting at the big box coffee shop. 

  1. There was a woman who just walked past me, dressed in upscale threads, smugly carrying her designer handbag. She was obviously wearing too much cake-y makeup.
  2. I can’t actually believe I’m going back to wearing hair clips & headbands. A part of me feels like I’m becoming more aware of the way I dress & building my personal sense of style. Another part of me feels like I’m reverting to my days of being 14 years old & in high school, where I dressed awkwardly. I feel like I’m going to look childish & immature.
  3. When did I start to listen to ambient electronic music (i.e. Ukiyo) & dirty rap music (i.e. Big Sean)? I am trying to expand my taste & knowledge in music. I am still a creature of habit, but I want to grow in certain aspects & areas. Music is an extremely important part of my life, & I don’t know how I could get through a day without music. But… I feel like I’m listening to more & more weird stuff.
  4. I completely forgot how good a toasted bagel with cream cheese spread tastes. It is such a plain combination, but it truly hits the spot. I ordered a bagel with cream cheese today. I was debating whether I should choose butter instead of cream cheese, but I was so satisfied with my end decision. Oh man, add a few slices of lox (smoked salmon) & thinly sliced red onion & you’ve elevated your plain bagel to a whole new level. Then, add dill on top of that, & your tastebuds will rocket into outer space!
  5. Is it weird that I’m looking forward to washing my bed sheets? Jian has been very ill recently, & he’s only recently begun his recovery. I can’t wait to wash the stink, germs, & overall sick from the sheets. Then I can breath a sigh of relief. No matter how many showers you take, or what fresh laundry you put on, if your sheets are dingy/nasty/worn out, then you will always feel that icky unclean feeling all over your body. At least I will.

Ok, I now need to run off to the bank, then Target, then home to happily wash my gross bed sheets. Until then, cheers.

Today’s song of the day

“Champions” by Kanye West, 2-Chainz, Big Sean, Desiigner, Gucci Mane, Quavo, Travis Scott, & Yo Gotti

There is a common saying of, “Old habits die hard.” I think about this quote sometimes when I’m sitting at my local big box coffee shop. I go to the same coffee shop at least twice a week. Sometimes, I go there to escape the confines of my house, & to get away from my everyday chores & away from all the people in the house. I just want to be alone for a while. Other times, I go to the coffee shop in order to motivate myself to write more of my blog. I like the feeling of being unrecognized, & I really enjoy the hustle & bustle. If I haven’t told you before, I am a people watcher. Jian says I blatantly stare/gawk sometimes in public places, but I believe in wanting to be fully aware of  my surroundings (in case something bad might happen). I DO NOT stare uncomfortably at people. Merely observe. 

Ok, let’s get back on the original topic. Every time I go to my local big box coffee shop, I sit at the same seat (or next to it if it’s already being occupied). I rotate my purchases between the same three coffee drinks & the same three food items. I have a certain way that I always prepare my coffee drinks at the condiments cart. I only take no more than two napkins (It annoys me when people grab a handful of napkins just for one cup of coffee or for one small pastry. It’s so wasteful!) Then, there is a specific way I like to set up my seating arrangement. I like to sit at the counter at the back end of the coffee shop. It feels quiet & a little secluded, even though it’s right next to the restroom. The counter is just the right height for my short frame, & the stools are great for my short legs. My feet can actually comfortably reach the foot bar on the stool. I place my food & drink on the right side of the counter, my tablet sits directly in the middle, & my smartphone is always placed on the counter’s left side.   

My most commonly ordered drink at this coffee shop is a dark roasted coffee. I usually order a kids menu size & ask the barista to put it in a small (one-size up) cup. I like to have lots of room in my cup so I can load up my coffee with a lot of cream. (Sometimes Jian will say that I drown my coffee in cream. That is a slight exaggeration.) It’s also fifty cents cheaper to order my coffee this way than to just order a small cup with lots of room for cream. This is my little coffee shop trick to save some money here & there. Food-wise, I tend to order the easy stuff like croissants & danishes. I don’t really like to order the breakfast sandwiches; they’re too greasy & they  sell out often anyway. Sometimes, when I’m feeling extravagant, I will get a pre-packaged fruit & cheese box.

After all that is said & done I will find my spot, sit down, & immerse myself in my tablet for a couple of hours with the music flowing from my MP3 player. It really was a shame that my BOSE noise-cancelling headphones crapped out on me. Mechanically, the headphones work perfectly well. It’s the fabric & the padding of the headphones that are tearing, coming out, & giving me trouble. These headphones are the really, really expensive kind, & one would expect them to have a little more durability in the wear-and-tear department, but that just was not the case here. Well, at least I didn’t have to pay for these headphones myself. They were a free company gift.

I recently (approximately 2months ago) got myself a better pair of Audio Technica noise-cancelling earbuds. I have been using them for about two months already, & I am loving these earbuds more than the headphones. 

Ok, I am trying to find a way to tie off this blog post, but can’t think of anything witty or clever, so I’m just going to stop writing. Cheers.

Today’s songof the day:

“Southbound” by Ben Barnes & The Stay All Night Rounders

 


I am probably going to go to the bookstore and buy a book about the meaning of dreams after writing this blog post. I would really like to understand my dreams & find out if they have any meaning behind them at all, or if they’re just a load of crap thoughts floating through my mind while I’m sleeping.

My latest strange dream begins with me in the kitchen. For some unknown reason I am either thinking about or craving coffee. So I open up the main food cupboard in the kitchen & reach up to the top shelf to grab the electric coffee grinder.

At this time I should note that: 1. The cupboard’s top shelf in my dream is much higher than it is in real life because I had to stand on my tiptoes to reach it, AND 2. I don’t keep the coffee grinder in the food cupboard, or even in a high place.

As I’m standing up on my tiptoes to reach & grab the electric coffee grinder, the empty box I usually store the coffee grinder in falls down & gently hits the top of my head before landing on the ground. I momentarily look down at the box on the kitchen floor & think to myself, “Huh! Why is the box empty? I don’t keep that in this cupboard.” Then, I look up again to get the coffee grinder itself, but as I reach up, a box of cereal mysteriously appears behind the coffee grinder & also falls onto the kitchen floor.

Now I’m fully looking down at the kitchen floor, completely ignoring the coffee grinder I was intending to get in the first place. There is a huge mess of frosted corn flakes all over the floor, in the area right next to my small eat-in dining table. At this point I don’t even wonder how the cereal mess traveled all the way over there when the cupboard the cereal box fell out of is clearly ten-plus feet away, & there is no cereal trail leading from the cupboard to the table. (I am reading too much into these random details. Am I deviating from the main story? I call that the ‘Shiny Nickel’ effect.)

I absentmindedly start cleaning up the cereal by brushing the frosted corn flakes with my cupped hands into small piles on the floor. I also use my forearms to make sweeping motions across the floor. Next thing I can remember is that I’m scooping the piles of corn flakes & depositing them into random Tupperware containers, not even checking if the containers already have leftover food in them or not. As I’m scooping up the cereal, I look down at the mess & think to myself, “This mess never gets any smaller, no matter how much I clean it up!” Immediately following that thought I get an extremely strong urge to use the bathroom. I can no longer concentrate & only think of urinating. Why am I now debating with myself over cleaning up the cereal mess or taking a piss? I am actually mulling this over in my mind in my dream.

To pee, or not to pee. A very important discussion topic. Especially while cleaning up a cereal shit show.

Why am I making things worse for myself in my dream? I continue to debate whether or not I should just go to the bathroom & clean up the kitchen afterwards, or if I should wait to take a piss. I decide to get up from sitting on the kitchen floor & get the vacuum cleaner. I feel a sense of disappointment that I’m wasting the cereal, but I hate having a dirty kitchen. Suddenly, for no reason whatsoever, I take the time to notice that there are empty sunflower seed shells strewn about underneath the eat-in dining table. I shake my head & question who has been sloppily eating sunflower seeds again & not properly cleaning up after themselves. I know who the culprit is, but all I can do is grow increasingly frustrated with the filthy state of the kitchen.

Is it that time already? Can I hold back any longer? Should I prolong this agony even more? NO!

Finally, I tell myself out loud that I should go to the bathroom. I am now repeatedly telling myself that I need to take a piss, & I should not deviate from making a liquid deposit into the porcelain bowl. I tell myself so loudly that I need to piss, that I end up waking myself out of a sound sleep. I immediately, mechanically get out of bed & tell myself aloud that I am going to use the bathroom. I don’t know why I have to announce to myself what I’m going to do. There is nobody else in the bedroom with me. Why would my warm & soft bed care what I’m about to do? I’ve never wet the bed ever in my life, & I’m not about to start now.

Is it strange or ironic that I’m sitting in a big box coffee shop writing this blog post & the air conditioning is so extremely strong that it’s not only making me shiver from head-to-toe, but it’s also making me want to pee real bad? I don’t know, but I’m now going to hastily end this post so I can get the hell out of here & soak up the warm sunshine outside. Perhaps thaw myself out a bit. Cheers! Brrrrr……

Today’s song of the day:

“Sleep Now In the Fire” by Rage Against The Machine

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This is one of my secret guilty pleasures. I like to spend time alone at my local cafe/coffee shop. When I say “guilty pleasure” I know I make it sound like I’m hiding some illicit activity, but sitting in the coffee shop is not even the slightest bit naughty. In fact, it may even sound vanilla &/or mundane. Hey! This is MY pleasure, guilty or not. I call this a “guilty pleasure” because I do in fact feel slightly naughty/guilty for taking this time out of my day to sneak out of the house (I work from home) for a few short hours.

There is a big box coffee shop a few streets down from my house. A few times a week, I like to bring my noise-canceling headphones, my mobile phone (a.k.a. Alphonse), & my iPad (a.k.a. Richard) & just sit in a corner sipping my coffee drink & eat a pastry while listening to music &/or surf the Internet. Yeah, sure. I can do the exact same thing at home. I can brew my own pot of fresh coffee. I can sit in front of a larger computer & even surf the Internet in my slippers & house clothes. However, the coffee shop provides an escape, leaving the confines of an overly familiar place.

When I’m sitting in the coffee shop I feel like I’ve actually “gone out” even though I’m not that far away from home. I get the feeling as though I’m out of the house. I also like the feeling of being around an ever-changing environment full of strangers without having to interact with any of them. I love the smell of coffee & warm pastries, the dull buzzing sounds of machines, conversation, & cars passing through the bustling parking lot. From time-to-time a random stranger will approach me & ask a question or offer an unsolicited piece of advice (usually I get these advice from much older gentlemen), but mostly I am ignored. I don’t mind. I like being cocooned in my tiny little bubble, nestled in my “usual spot”, sipping my now lukewarm caffeinated beverage.

If the seats weren’t so uncomfortable, I could probably while away a couple of hours here at this coffee shop. I usually spend only 1 hour (at most 2 hours) here, then I pack up my belongings & head home to finish my work & chores. (I must say that I am extremely fortunate to be able to work from home.) Spending this private time at the coffee shop brings a little piece of relaxation in my daily routine of working at my desk job, doing household chores, & care taking for my shattered-and-put-back-together family. Then, when I get home I am refreshed & ready to get back to work. I don’t do this every day, just once or twice a week. It is my little escape.

Well, it’s time for me to go home. My time is up. Cheers.

Today’s song of the day:
“I Think We’re Alone Now” by Tommy James & The Shondells
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PDX is magic

As promised, here is the blog post about my recent vacation to Portland, Oregon. (I am typing this while I am snacking on my Glico「サラパスタ -トマトサラダ」’Sala Pasta’ tomato salad flavored cocktail crackers.)

  • DATES: August 1-5, 2014
  • CITY: SFO to PDX
  • HOTEL: Residence Inn by Marriott, Pearl District
  • ROOM: #415
  • TRANSPORTATION: Public Transit (We mostly did not rent a car.)

Almost every time we travel together, my travel buddy & I try to stay at a Marriott (or Marriott-affiliated) hotel.  My buddy is a gold-status rewards card member at Marriott, so we are usually able to get free nights at our hotel with all of the points we save up.  On this trip, we were able to score one free night of stay.  That’s surely a nice way to start off our vacation.  We didn’t check-in to our hotel until around 11:30 at night, & we were starving from a lack of dinner.  Most of the nearby restaurants & bars were already closed (& had no idea there was a 24hr Subway deli just 1 block down the street from us), so we ended up eating 2 crappy Lean Cuisine microwave dinners from the hotel snack shop.

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The next morning we woke up, bright & semi-early, ready to take on PDX by foot.  Yes, we were brave foolish enough to trek the fair city of Portland just by walking, & it was the best decision we ever made.  It really forced us to look at the city in ways we never could if we were merely gazing out of a car window.  Sure, we can travel farther by car, but everything we wanted to see & do was within reach from our hotel by public transportation.

We took the bus & street car/tram only once during our entire trip; the rest of the time we walked.  Only on our second-to-last day did we actually cave in & rent a car.  We were planning on exploring East Portland & knew we couldn’t cross the bridge & explore that part of town in one day alone, so we rented a car for one & a half days.  We had originally planned on using the car rental service Car2Go, but had no way of signing up + retrieving our membership card within the duration of our stay, so we rented a car the traditional way through Dollar Rental.  For those who don’t know what Car2Go is, the easiest way to describe it is like a hybrid between a car share & a car rental.  Check out their website for a video & the complete rundown of how this all works (They might be in a city near you!).  Car2Go only uses Smart ForTwo cars, which I can understand because Car2Go is owned by Daimler AG, which is the parent of Mercedes-Benz, which is the parent of Smart.

Our Car2Go membership card arrived in the post after we came back from PDX.

Our Car2Go membership card arrived in the post after we came back from PDX.

Just as I had predicted (& planned), my travel buddy & I mostly ate, drank & spent time at the parks.  I was hoping to go shopping (possibly for some Danner &/or Pendleton goods straight from the source), but the most shopping we did was for coffee beans.  We also bought 2 coffee mugs, one from Barista Fine Roasting & one from Heart Coffee Roasters, to match our exisiting Stumptown Coffee mugs.  We visited a different coffee roaster everyday & definitely got our caffeine fix, but we didn’t visit as many beer breweries as we had originally planned.  However, we did indulge in quite a bit of beer during our PDX stay.

Places we visted for coffee:

  • Sisters Coffee Company
  • BARISTA: Fine Coffee Purveyors
  • Stumptown Coffee Roasters
  • Sterling Coffee Roasters
  • Heart Coffee Roasters
  • Ristretto Coffee Roasters

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Places we visited for beer:

  • The Mash Tun Brewpub
  • Pints Brewing
  • Hair of the Dog Brewing Company
  • Deschutes Brewery

 

Eating in Portland is a very exciting experience, especially for foodies & food lovers.  No matter where you turn, there will be at least 5 restaurants within 1 city block at all times.  Trust me when I say YOU WILL NOT GO HUNGRY IN PDX. I could not believe how many restaurants, breweries, cafes & coffee roasters I passed by; I felt as though there were more eateries, roasters & breweries than there were retail shops & each place offered a different variety of food or drink.  The popular trend in PDX: locally sourced, made-from-scratch & farm-to-table ingredients.  We’ve got the same foodie trend happening here in San Francisco, but PDX really took it to another level making the food feel really homey & comforting…not upscale hipster & uppity like in SF.  Even if it’s craft, or small batch, or hand-made, in PDX the food feels like small hometown cooking & the cocktails are anything but pretentious.

Places we visited for food:

  • Clyde Common
  • Piattino
  • Grassa
  • Salt N’ Straw Ice Creamery
  • Boxer Ramen
  • Ruby Jewel Scoops
  • Lardo
  • Le Pigeon
  • Lovejoy Bakery
  • Blue Star Donut & Coffee

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Places we visited for alcohol:

  • Clyde Common
  • Kask
  • Pepe Le Moko
  • Living Room Theater
  • The Heathman Restaurant & Bar
  • Multnomah Whiskey Library

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So, we didn’t just hang around the downtown city areas & stuffed ourselves silly.  We also, as I had planned, visited many of PDX’s illustrious parks.  I didn’t just want to sit around & drink coffee/beer all day.  I wanted to do as the locals do & just chill at the park on a hot day, & boy were the days H-O-T!!! We hung out around a few of the smaller parks, but spent a majority of time at the Lan Su Chinese GardenInternational Rose Test Garden, & Japanese Garden (& took the most photos there).  The Japanese GardenInternational Rose Test Garden were a bit far from our hotel, so we walked to Providence Park Stadium (home of the Portland Timbers MLS team), & took the free bus to the gardens.  On the way back, we took the bus back to Providence Park Stadium, & from there, slowly walked back to our hotel’s neighborhood.

Parks we visited:

  • North Park Blocks
  • Japanese Gardens
  • International Rose Test Garden
  • District Park
  • Tanner Springs Park
  • Jamison Square Park
  • The Fields Neighborhood Park
  • South Park Blocks

INTERNATIONAL ROSE TEST GARDEN

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JAPANESE GARDENS

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LAN SU CHINESE GARDEN

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Today’s song of the day:
“Hot Tonight” by Tokyo Police Club
hot tonight

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