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I read this book in particular for a writing project I'm doing. I've read one book on astrology, one on personality psychology, and this one. I still have -- wait for it -- NINE more books to read for research before I even start the writing project I have in mind. It's a fanfic, which I contend can be just as cool and meaningful as regular fiction books. I will keep you updated on which books I read for the fanfic I'm researching. See the "fem Naruto story" tag at the bottom.

Anyway, I'm reviewing this book on yokai. It's called "The Book of Yokai: Mysterious Creatures of Japanese Folklore" by Michael Dylan Foster. I read all 244 pages in less than two weeks. It's a really great read. I recommend it.

What is a yokai?

It's a Japanese demon of sorts -- more broadly, a Japanese mythical creature that can perform dark acts. I began my fascination with Japan through watching manga and anime as a kid. From there, I branched off into learning more about the culture behind these fictions I loved so much -- I read up on Japan and took on several Japanese pen pals at one point or another, read and watched blogs and vlogs on Japanese travel, tried cooking Japanese meals, researched various aspects of ancient Japanese culture, read interviews of famous Japanese artists, watched Japanese films and sampled Japanese music. I know at least something of typical Japanese religions and philosophies. I plan on starting Japanese language classes this summer. The more I learn about Japan, the more I love.

Especially given my love of fantasy in Japanese anime, it only made sense for me to buy a book on yokai.

It was a fascinating read. A lot of elements from modern Japanese stories that I had always thought were random or made up -- it turns out? They were actually deliberately referencing ancient Japanese folklore! And I've probably only just scratched the surface. Isn't that great?

Even for people who are skeptical of why ancient Japanese folklore is important should read this book, however. Foster really gets at the importance behind yokai -- their various meanings, their cultural relevance (both ancient and modern, national and international), and how they help us see the world differently. He talks about yokai history and philosophical categorization, and only then does he actually go on to discuss the yokai themselves. He gives you good background reading before diving into the various yokai there are. I really liked that part of the book.

I think this would be a good textbook for a class on Japanese culture. That was one thing that really struck me as I was reading. And it was written in 2012, so it's pretty recent. He references a lot of Japanese scholars and has a native Japanese artist render his yokai drawings, has lived and studied in Japan for a time, yet is Western himself and so can explain Japanese culture to us in a way we would understand it.

That ends the "personality research" section of my writing project. I know how this female Naruto is going to be and how being (spoiler alert) part kitsune fox demon would affect her. Now comes the "experiences research" section. More fun times ahead!
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Good recipe. Messy, but delicious, and as a plus, it's healthy! (The recipe is from "The Food Lovers: Make it Paleo" by Bill Staley and Hayley Mason, for those who are interested. There's some excellent explanations in there on what paleo eating is.) Here's what we made for Christmas dinner tonight:

- Rinse and slice 1 tomato into tiny slices and 1 onion into larger slices.

- Pull the stems off of 4 large portobello mushrooms. The recipe says to remove the gills, which we didn't understand at all. So I'm gonna modify: just keep the gills on. It's a lot easier. They won't kill ya. The main idea is to make sure the mushroom cap is flat.

- Put 1 pound of ground beef into a medium-sized bowl and combine it with 1 teaspoon each of garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper. Mix until spices are evenly distributed.

- Preheat the grill to high heat and spray so the food doesn't stick.

- Grill the mushroom caps first -- 3 minutes per side. The recipe says just to grill the mushroom for 3 minutes period, but we found a double-sided cooking made the mushroom all the more delicious.

- Form the meat into four patties and grill the patties second -- 4 minutes per side. The recipe says 5, but we found 4 didn't burn the burgers or overcook them. It also says to grill the patties first, but we didn't listen to that because hello, cross contamination?

- Now here's how to eat all this. Put the mushroom cap flat on a plate, gill side up. On top of that, put lettuce and a tomato slice. On top of that, put the burger. And on top of that, put some onion. And voila!

Some notes:

The recipe said to grill the onion, but you don't have to. Onion can be eaten raw, and you don't want to cook onion, trust me. I tried it once when I was making a recipe a Japanese pen pal recommended to me -- even the dog was crying. And he was in another room!

You may be wondering: Where's the ketchup and mustard? Where's the bun? I was dubious at first myself, eating a burger without these seemingly essential ingredients. But actually? The recipe doesn't need them. It's delicious all on its own.

And once again, Merry Christmas!
grimrose_eilwynn: (Default)
I went on a date today!

Not with the guy I mentioned in a previous post -- the one from American Lit class who seemed kind of like he was flirting with me? Yeah, it wasn't with him. It turns out he:

(A) Has a girlfriend


(B) Is a bit of an asshole, so I don't really envy her

No, this guy I met through feminist club. He's sweet, kind, and funny, with glasses and a long coat. He studied kendo (Japanese sword fighting) for several years. He studies business and environmental science. He has a learning disability but still manages to get As, and is currently interning as a Study Abroad Counselor after having spent some time himself in Thailand. He asked me out, and he also paid for our first date -- though politically liberal, he's pretty socially conservative. His Dad was a Mormon and his Mom was a Catholic.

We just went to a cafe downtown and had a casual coffee/lunch together. We wore fancy jackets and tried to look nice, but we also both just wore jeans. It was the perfect blend of "nice" and "casual."

We talked anime, because it turns out we're both really into that. (He shall henceforth be known as Cowboy Bebop Dude.) We also talked politics, religion, and family and life experiences. It was a really nicely intellectual and deep conversation. We even made future plans: to watch Cowboy Bebop together (I've never seen the whole thing) and to take swing dancing lessons in 2016.

We went to a bookshop afterward, and then we went back to his apartment briefly. It's a really nice apartment right in the middle of downtown. His roommate is a funny guy who drinks a lot and talks to his plants. We got helmets from his apartment and then he drove me home on his scooter/motorbike! I was nervous getting on, but it was so much fun!

We hugged and kissed briefly at my door, and then I went to go back inside. If I were a less awkward person, this would be the moment when I threw him a sly smile over my shoulder and walked smoothly in the door. As it is, it took me a full minute to find my keys and another two minutes to force my way in through the door. He thought it was kind of funny. He applauded when I finally managed to get in.

Just me being my usual, awkward self.

I called my Mom and dished with her over the phone after the date was all over. I also made sure to emphasize to said boy that I had a great time, we should do this again, and he should text me. I even texted him to let him know I had a good time.

So now soon I guess I'll know one way or the other if he was really into me. But either way, it was just nice -- to meet someone through normal social avenues (instead of online) and have a sweet, casual date with him.
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My sister had spent all afternoon doing homework on campus, so I met her there and we got dinner at Denny's. Burgers and fries, milkshakes, that sort of thing. All completely essential stuff.

Then my sister wanted to go to the football game, so we tried going to that. But they wouldn't let her backpack in through the door, so we couldn't go. Let me repeat that.

They wouldn't let a BACKPACK in.


So we hung out in the library for a while before going to my first international club meeting of the year. That was lots of fun! There was a formidable amount of people there, and they were all friendly and chatty. We played trivia games involving everything from naming countries to naming bands. There were chips and dip and cheese sauce, cookies, candy, banana bread... so many snacks!

The only down side was, the meeting was pretty late, so we had to walk home in the dark. But they said the meetings are only bi- or tri-weekly and times and locations change all the time, so hopefully that's not permanent. I'm on their email list, so I'll know one way or the other.

My sister didn't like the meeting. Again. She thought it was too loud.

EDIT: I decided not to go to these meetings, mostly due to lack of time.
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My sister and I are moving into a new apartment up near our college. To this end, we and our parents went on a road trip together up to the college town, towing a U-Haul trailer full of furniture behind us.

Here's how the trip went:

Day 1:

We drove through desert, flat sand, dust devils, and sage brush, vast mountains and hot blue skies. We stopped for snacks, and also at a cigarette smoke filled casino to see the Al Schultz and Bonnie and Clyde cars. The signs were saying the cars were just waiting for their next adventure, as if daring someone to steal them.

We drove through all the bright lights of Vegas before stopping in a small town to sleep in a hotel.

My friend, the one I went to the movies with, congratulated me in a Facebook post that night:

"This girl is off to another grand adventure! I'm glad to have known you for so long! Since 1st grade you have been talking about being a writer and I'm so proud to see you pursue your dreams! Get it gurrrl! Good luck!"

Day 2:

We had breakfast at a cute little 50s-style diner called Peggy Sue’s. We drove past walls of red rock, past Mormon Temple spires, past long fields and blue mountains.

We had a snack at Dairy Queen.

We hit a bird on the freeway going 80 miles an hour. It died on impact and then hung off the broken side mirror before falling away. So that was startling and traumatizing. We think it might have been a ferruginous hawk.

It was a long, weary drive to the next hotel.

Day 3:

We’ve started encountering a lot of really friendly small-town rural people, especially in the form of waiters.

We drove today past green forests and rivers, through tiny little dot-on-the-map towns. We arrived in the college town, and after unloading all the furniture into our new apartment, we had dinner and beer at a delicious wood fired pizza place strung with fairy lights. (There was one in particular with apple and creamy white cheese sauce. Mmm...)

The next few days are dedicated to getting situated in our new apartment.

I've never lived in my own place entirely before -- I've only ever lived on my own in the dorms. School starts in a few days. I'm kind of nervous.
grimrose_eilwynn: (Default)
Thought this was an interesting article:

It claims that most doctors, when they die, they don't die in a hospital undergoing aggressive treatment. Instead, they die peacefully at home.

This is definitely something I'd want for myself. Say I got cancer. Sure, I'd try to treat it at first. But if things seemed pretty terminal, and I wasn't going to make it, I'd stop undergoing treatment options. I would just let myself die, peaceful and feeling good, at home. I wouldn't want lots of pain that might prolong my life, and I wouldn't want to be kept alive by machines. And if I found out I was dying, I'd like to do some cool things before I went -- maybe go skydiving or take a trip to Europe. I'd like to see the world before I was gone.

I am not terribly afraid of death. Obviously, the idea makes me nervous, but it's the kind of nervous I felt before going onstage at my first choir concert. It's just a process. It's dying that's painful, death is inherently not. Death is peaceful.

And when I do die, I'd like my organs to stay in my body and I'd like to be cremated. Don't cut me open, don't let me rot in the ground. Just let me go quietly in a hail of fire. I'd like my ashes transferred to a little urn and I'd like to go on cool and interesting trips with beloved family members.

As for funerals, I don't have much use for them, to be honest. They make me uncomfortable. If I die, I'd like people to throw me a death party. With lots of music and dancing. Maybe a standup comedian. I'd like people to be happy and celebrate -- not be all gloomy and try to put out a bunch of false words about how great I was.
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I'm going to talk a little bit today about my main astrological signs and what they mean for me.

Let's start with my Sun Sign first. I'm a Sagittarius on the cusp of Scorpio. The Sun Sign represents the main core of one's personality.


Sagittarians are freedom-loving people. What they want foremost in life is independence; they also love travel. They are wandering souls and are quite happy with that. They wander mentally as well. They can be quite philosophical, and in fact run the risk of thinking they're more intelligent than everyone else. They jump from activity to activity, never staying in one place. They are good for taking in the realism of a situation, and then turning it into a positive message. Sagittarians are sunny optimists who never stay down for long. However, one characteristic thing they need is freedom; they will not stay for long in any place where they feel constrained or trapped, not even for the ones they love.


Scorpios are the sign of hidden depth. They don't express much, but this is all a facade, for they feel very deeply -- their emotions are much more tumultuous, deep, and chaotic than the average person's. They can be moody. They can also be jealous and vindictive. However, they are extremely intelligent and investigative, plumbing the depths of any topic they can get their hands on. They are attracted to the darkness in human psychology, perhaps because of the dark places their emotions can go themselves. They love just as passionately as they hate, and are very sensual, sexual people. They tend to be quite ambitious.

My Rising Sign is Aquarius. The Rising Sign reflects how one interacts with one's outer environment.

Aquarians are very detached people. They make friends better than loves or lovers; everyone, even their lover, is simply their best friend. They can come across as dispassionate. They are attracted to the unusual, unique, and avant garde; they can be very progressive, even well into old age. However, Aquarians possess a stubborn streak, and can have trouble seeing or accepting viewpoints other than their own.

My Moon sign is Aries. The Moon Sign reflects one's emotional reactions to events and people.

Aries people are impatient and full of energy. They can be extremely stubborn, but they also do well under stress. They can be charming and funny under difficult events that would be awful to anyone else. They are very blunt. Aries falls under the sign of a Ram, and this describes them well; think of a horned Ram bulldozing its way through a problem. This very accurately describes anyone with an Aries Moon Sign.


Jul. 12th, 2015 06:36 pm
grimrose_eilwynn: (Default)
I am going to talk today about the vacations and trips I've been through in my life.

When I was a little kid, I went with my parents, sister, uncle, and grandmother on a cruise. The cruise ship was pristine, with towels set on our beds folded into fancy bird shapes, and on-ship restaurants. We stopped off at Florida, where we went to Disneyworld, and we also went to the Bahamas.

At the Bahamas, we examined the native art at the market and swam in the warm, salty blue-green water at the sandy white beach. One pair of native Black women called us over, rather rudely by American standards, so we could pay to have our hair braided in the traditional style. They took us out back behind the market, in the residential section, make the braids.

I'll never forget it. Their houses amounted to a row of wooden huts. Six people were living in a one-room hut with a dirt floor, and one of them was this poor old woman. I felt so grateful, suddenly, for everything I had back in America.

I also went on a school trip to a remote American island in middle school. We took a ship out to a camp on the island, where the camp leaders told us fantastical stories and let us snorkel in wetsuits in the cold, murky waters. For the most part it was fun, and I even got a very nice, warm sweatshirt there (though me and my friend bedded in the same room and it was dubbed one of the Loser Rooms by the more popular girls).

Also in middle school, I took a school trip to Philadelphia and Washington DC. I got to see the Declaration and Constitution up close and personal, I stood outside the White House gates, I stood on a windy and freezing cold Gettysburg Field, and I walked around on a tour of the more historical parts of West Philly late at night. (One silent homeless Black man offered to sell us roses. Three drunk Black young men, shouting and running around, approached us and our bodyguard had to get all up in their faces.)

Additionally, I've been on road trips all over the West Coast. I've been to San Francisco several times, and it's one of my favorite cities. I've also driven through the redwood forest, I've been to Napa Valley, I've been on freezing cold pebble beaches in Oregon, I've visited the pier and been at the top of the Space Needle in Seattle, and I've driven through amazing, colorful stone canyons in Nevada and Utah, across vast open fields with only an endless stormy sky above.

I still want to travel more, though. There are so many places I want to see! Japan, China, Britain, France, Italy, Spain, Greece... I want to go everywhere, and do amazing things. I want to go on a Victorian graveyards tour. I want to see the world!


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Hopeless Dreamer

March 2016

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