Monday, June 25, 2007

tips from a mani-pedi junkie

When I lived in NYC, I was pretty much a "mani-pedi" junkie. I've cut back to just a couple a month, but still... I LOVE GETTING MY TOES DONE! I'm a glutton for all the pampering, the whole atmosphere, and most of all, for the way my toes look so much hotter in strappy sandals. As a result of my addiction, I've had my share of good, bad, and ugly pedicures. Also, I can make my way around almost any nail salon, anywhere.

I've found that it's most important to focus on maximizing three things: relaxation, sanitation, and preservation. So here is part one of the 4-part series on getting the most out of your next pedicure.
Find a nail salon with "spa thrones."
These are big comfy lounge chairs with sinks attached. I particularly enjoy the chairs that vibrate and massage you while you get your pedicure. The throne makes you feel like a queen. Otherwise, you're sitting in a regular chair with a woman on the floor in front of you with a big bowl full of water. That's not as glamorous.

Leave more than enough time for the whole experience.

You don't want to rush the pampering. Give yourself about an hour so you don't have to feel stressed about getting out of the nail salon.

This is a great time to catch up on celebrity gossip, update your journal, or close your eyes and chill out! If you feel a little uncomfortable about it all, take a friend or three. I love to make pedicure dates with my friends to enhance the "girliness" of the experience.

Get the foot massage.
Even if you have to pay extra for it, treat yourself because it's worth it.
Don't shave your legs.
Okay, this sounds crazy, but the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery says that you could be exposed to bacteria, if the equipment hasn't been cleaned properly, through tiny nicks or cuts you may have gotten from shaving. Leave shaving for after the pedicure.

Buy your own tools.
Infections can spread through certain tools like emery boards, which can't be sterilized. Instead of having to worry, just bring your own. While it's not common in Korea, many salons in the states have shelves for regular clients to store boxes of their own personal emery boards, cuticle cutters, heel scrapers, etc.

Ask questions.

Ask the salon about their sanitation practices. Do they sterilize after each use? How often do they change the spa throne filters?

Push, don't cut.

Getting your cuticles cut can be not only painful but if they aren't cut properly you can get an infection. Paula Abdul, got a nasty fungal infection that required surgery just before the new season of American Idol. OMG!! To reduce the possibility of something like that happening, just ask to have your cuticles pushed.
Wear flip-flops.
Duh. I've had a couple winter pedicures that went bad when my little piggies were squeezed back into boots. Even though the aesthetician sprayed my nails with quick dry, put a few drops of oil on each nail, and even wrapped my feet in plastic wrap, I still had a couple smudged toes when I got home. What a waste! Wear open toed shoes and put them on before they start painting your nails and you should be safe.
Pedicures last much longer than manicures, but the polish may lose that fresh shine. You can keep that look if you put on another coat of clear nail polish every week or so.

I can't urge this point enough. One way to make your feet look instantly better and to preserve all the work done in your pedicure is to simply use lotion.

Basically, you want to protect your polish, maintain good health, and prolong the relaxation. More on foot health, shoes, and miss koco's take on Korean street fashion can be found at Happy pedicures!

Pedicure Tips - Part 2 (The Foot Model)Pedicure Tips - Part 3 (The Pedicure)

**Thanks to j9 for the pics!

Saturday, June 23, 2007

travel log

Seoul --> (Narita --> Chicago -->) Philadelphia --> New York --> Philly --> New York --> (Miami -->) Grand Cayman --> (Miami-->) New York --> Boston --> Toronto --> New York --> Philly --> (Chicago --> Narita -->) Seoul

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help, lists, a recipe

Big news, I got part time help. She's not an intern, or a maid, but I can make lists for her. I like lists.

Here's a list of things I love that start with C, D, and E
Candy, chocolate, chopsticks, clean laundry, cocoa butter, coconuts, comfy sneakers, concoctions, creating creative thoughts, curry, dancing, daydreaming, deee-lite, eating with spoons, empanadas.

Here's a list of three things I love from certain places, in alphabetical order.

kisses from people I like
paper from Insadong
raspberry meltaways from my dreams

And lastly, here's a recipe for raspberry meltaways

1 stick of butter
1 stick of margarine
3/4 c. powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups flour
raspberry jam

Combine all but the jam. Mix the dough until creamy. Roll into balls and put them on an ungreased cookie sheet. Put a thumb print in each and jam into each thumbprint. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.

Friday, June 22, 2007

hood nuts

One thing I truly miss about living in New York is the fact that it's a city with some spectacular neighborhood characters. Yes, there are random drunken ajossis on the subway, but they aren't regulars in my life like there used to be. Overall, Seoul has nothing on the crazy people in New York.

I remember there was a woman in NYC I'd often see around 2nd Avenue and 11th Street, across from where the 2nd Ave. Deli once existed--it had a sign that could be misread as Zndavedeli. If you've ever seen this woman, you'd never forget her because she always had her old school walkman and her little headphones on--and she would just be dancing. I will admit that I'm guilty of getting into my music in public. You might catch me waiting at the corner tapping my foot to the beat or even humming a bit, but her case was never anything like that. This middle-aged street crazy would get down like it was her birthday, like no one was watching, like she was in the basement with the door locked, LIKE SHE WASN'T IN PUBLIC! She'd twirl around, close her eyes and mouth the words, extend her arms to the sky, while bopping her head to the groove. This wasn't just that one point in a song that just required a bit of a booty shake. I watched this woman do this for extended periods of time. She'd go through a couple songs. Then she'd start to walk along down the street like nothing happened--THEN she'd be right back at it!
Then there was Hotdog. Hotdog was kinda like a crack-head/hooker neighborhood nut that could often be found hanging around Tompkins Square Park. But she was lovable and always good for a laugh. Once Hotdog called me "Skinnybitch." One word. Well, actually... she screamed it at me, then mumbled a bunch of other stuff I now can't recall. On another occasion she tried to sell me hair in the JMZ (or more fondly, the JiZM) station on the Lower East Side.

NYC also had a guy who always asked for a quarter. The thing about him was that he didn't look like a "person in need". Quarter Guy had pretty well-kept dreads that he pulled into ponytails. He walked around with headphones on (but no dancing from him). He'd ask you, "Do you have a quarter?" If you refused he'd just go right on to the next person without skipping a beat. If you tried to tell him that he had already asked you earlier that day, or just two minutes ago, or tried to ask if it was some sort of social experiment, or performance art, or what... he'd ignore you and go on with his thing. I often wondered how much money he made in a day. I wondered if he's put himself through grad school that way or if he was doing this so he could write a book about it. It just seemed so... crazy. There was a point where Quarter Guy switched it up to a dollar. Then a couple months later I saw him again asking for quarters. I guess he wasn't smelly or scary, so maybe he just needed a quarter to make a phone call, so people gave him one; however, a whole dollar, that was asking a bit much.

The only regular nut I have in my hood is a lady who stands at the main intersection across from the Burger King droning on all day (and into the night) with a megaphone. Of course, I don't understand what she's talking about, but I imagine she's preaching about how I'm going to hell. I always think at those times that hell might not be so bad-- I mean if I don't have to hang out with the megaphone lady for eternity, AND I get to hang out with all the people who drink, have sex, are gay, etc. It might be like Vegas or the Pride Parade.

God... if you really exist, I'm sorry, but you hear what I'm saying, right? And God, could you please send me some more regular crazy, but harmless, hood nut people to watch on a regular basis? I don't own a television. I mean, I don't want one. Like, I don't think that would be a solution to the lack of interesting people to watch problem. Instead, you could send me a trip to Thailand, or a Mercedes-Benz, or some more gay boyfriends, or all of the above--your choice! Thanks God.

Okay, I've lost it. Time for a nap.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

recent eats

pizza with shells
Pizza with shellfish IN THE SHELL. Why?
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Out of this world salad @ Lisa's place & Mussels with sour cream and salmon and fries at La Cigale/Montmarte Brasserie
salmon sandwish
Salmon sandwich with grilled veggies on olive bread
Mango and banana waffles at Habitat topped with ice cream, whipped cream, and a cherry!

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More breakfast at the Flying Pan: Banana waffles and walnut banana pancakes with ice cream

For more on brunch: go here and here.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

life without dirty dishes

dishesI love baking. I hate dirty dishes. I'd do a lot more in my life if I had magical powers to make things like dust bunnies disappear. I make to-do lists... for the intern. I've been doing this for years. I often think about all the things I would be if I were simply independently wealthy. I feel that if someone were to invest in me--like back in the day where people just decided to become someone's benefactor so that they could just be fabulous--that I'd do extraordinary things and it wouldn't be a waste of any of the funds. Of course, I don't have an intern, or a maid, or a personal assistant, or special powers, BUT IF I DID... the world might just be a better place. For you, and for me.

Traditional Music

Monday, June 18, 2007

say what?

from a blog of poetry... I liked this, because I can kinda relate.

i have always wanted to work in a korean nail salon

i have always wanted to work
in a korean nail salon
painting nails and airbrushing tips
while chattering softly
in an unknowable language
doing pedicures and filing feet
and mentioning to each other
that that white person’s foot
was like a loaf of wonderbread.

when i was thirteen
i went to get my nails done
and i listened to the women
speak to each other in a complicated tongue
and laugh
and i thought they were laughing at me.
poor little twinkie,
she doesn’t even know we’re talking about her!
this may have just been paranoia
but my inability to grasp my own language
makes me feel paranoid,
makes me feel
like i have a small penis.

how many times have you
stepped into an elevator
and thought someone was talking about you
in a musical language, in a gutteral language
and then the doors slide open
and you go about your day
but you still keep those sideways glances
in the back of your mind?

i listened to those women speak
and strained to hear inflections,
tried to discerne tone and rhythm
a soft clucking of the tongue
and words followed by a titter.

in all my twenty two years
i have never sensed
the way i did when i heard those women laugh
mouths hidden behind surgical masks
as they applied chemicals to some woman
with big hair and a layer of fat around her waist
i never never felt that kind of commonality

i am at times ashamed of my whiteness
of my pathetically limited knowledge of korean food language culture
how i know hamburgers better than i know the types of kimchi
how that woman in the library
started speaking to me in korean
and i couldn’t answer her
because i didn’t know what the hell she was saying
how self-teaching language programs
only serve to confuse me more
how i can’t wrap my mouth around the words
even with korean-english dictionaries
how cute that boy with the spikey black hair was,
and how he’d never even look twice at me
because my parents are white.
because all of my friends are white.
because i was born at a bad time.
because my birth mother abandoned me.
because i have never been to seoul.
because that soft-spoken korean girl in my english class
stopped talking to me
because her friends told her to.
i would sit at the lunch table on one side,
they on the other,
and they would talk and laugh
and i would read my books
as though my eyes could burn holes in them.

as the nail salon closes,
i’m on a bench across the street
watching them rinse out the pedicure tubs,
spinning the tops of the nail polish bottles closed.
they leave together.
one of them sees me
and waves.
i wave back.
it needs no translation.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

world making

I do something secret at night before I go to sleep. No, it's not masturbating or having sex--that's not a secret. It's a bit of world-making. It's like writing fan-fiction in my head, where the characters are real people in my life. These are my secret stories. I remember quite clearly why I started doing this. I asked my sister one night how she falls asleep so quickly. I might have asked, "Like, do you count sheep?" She told me that she made up her dreams in her head while she was still awake, and that helped her fall asleep. So, I gave it a go, and I haven't stopped. I think this has been going on for more than twenty years.

Most of the time it actually doesn't help me go to sleep.  There have been periods in my life when I'd get so into a story it would keep me up for hours. There were times in high school, or when I've been really sad or stressed, that I've spent a lot of time in my day making up amazingly complex stories. When I came to a part I really liked, I'd rewind that bit, go over it again and again making subtle changes in the story until things worked out just right. At times, they've played out more dramatically than soap operas.

I've experimented with my world-making. I've tried a couple times to write down these elaborate tales, but I find it really painful and once it's on paper the stories are no fun anymore. I've realized just how twisted a mind can be sometimes, and, of course, I always fear that the people involved will find the stories.

I used to have a couple characters that weren't real. For example, Toshi, my often M.I.A. Japanese fiance who supported my fashion design endeavors, but wished I didn't work so much, and that I would just find a good assistant--since I was 7 months pregnant. I end up hiring an old flame. The assistant/ex-lover is trustworthy, and always around helping, so I lose interest in Toshi, but stick with him since he's a much better option than my personal assistant. This is when I realized that more often that not I use these stories to create tension between myself and a lost love, or a crush, so that they can see me "truly happy," desirable, successful, and, mostly, NOT with them, to make them wish that things were different. This is disturbing to me, but I still find comfort in making these kinds of stories.

I've tried to give up habitually constructing a fantastical universe, to let go of making up stories, but it makes me feel bad. I miss it and always allow myself to go back to it. They put me to sleep, they get me through a day, or a rough time.

My current one involves missing a plane, on purpose, to say some things that must be said, and those words being overheard, the phrase "Bad timing," and me vomiting--but recovering gracefully.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Friday, June 08, 2007

hilariously late

I meant to post about the things I knit this past winter months ago. Now it's t-shirt weather and finally I'm getting it all together, but here we go. Here is Emiel's chunky eggplant hat, hilariously late.

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Emiel wanted a hat that covered his ears because they get cold when he goes snowboarding. He wanted a chunky yarn that would go well with his outfit. I had the perfect yarn in mind. I had one ball left at home, but I was pretty sure I'd need another ball of it to make a full hat. When I went to the store, they only had it in hot pink. In the end it came together with just enough yarn and I think Emiel liked it. This is his intense snowboarder look.



Ethan came to visit for a week. It was fun to show him around and introduce him to a place that has now lost all of it's novelty and is, well, home to me. Here he is enjoying some dduk manduguk, or rice cake and dumpling soup. We went for everything from Korean BBQ to cocktails at Bungalow. I took him to my acupuncturist, and we even saw that epic new pirate movie (it was too long). I don't know if he's back in Mongolia in his little tent yet, but where ever you may be Mr. E, it was good to have you. It got me really excited for the next guest: GIA!

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