First, a quick update on Lickety, who is sitting on my lap as I type this.

He’s slowing down a bit these days but his heart is still pure Lickety.

He still loves to eat his breakfast and dinner, loves to sit on laps, and loves to announce when it’s time for his favorite snack of cream cheese.

So yes, his cancer is making him weaker by the day, but he’s still able to jump up on his favorite couch cushion and still able to be annoying. So he’s still 100% Lickety.

In other cat news, I was cat-sitting my neighbor’s herd of three kitten siblings who are UNBEARABLY CUTE. The all love water, so when I was filling up their water bowl and they heard the kitchen faucet go on, they all did this:

 

 

YOU ARE WELCOME.

Now, back to our regular programming.

I have not listened or watched much of the impeachment trial in the Senate because although the Democrats have put on a brilliant and water-tight case, we all know that the Republican fucks will vote Not Guilty. So it’s just too demoralizing to get involved, and my morale is in too precarious a condition to hear GOP voice.

Thank you, everyone for your feedback re: facelifts last week. I haven’t gotten one yet, but I haven’t decided NOT to get one yet, either. I was too busy being miserable.

After I blogged last week about how shitty it feels to be 64, I laid down on the couch and had a good cry, the kind where you sob as if your dog died and, in fact, I haven’t cried like that since my dog died. Also I was having a really bad hair day, letting a short ‘do’ grow out and it’s at an in-between frowzy stage so basically I look a lot like The Duchess of Cornwall these days…

She’s probably a nice lady and is good at talking dirty to Prince Charles and we support that but I’d rather look like Diana.

… which would make anyone feel suicidal so I stayed on the couch feeling dog-less and Cornwallish for the rest of the afternoon. When Top Cat came home from work I burst into tears again and for a man who has never seen me cry like that, he was a real champ. He gave me a big long hug and a huge martini, and I sat in the kitchen and watched while he made me a homemade pizza, my go-to cure for whatever ails me. I tried to help, but while chopping onions I cut myself very badly and since then, I have changed the bandaids on the wound without looking at it because it makes me sick to see blood so that has given me another good think about whether I’m woman enough for a facelift.

Dear Reader Pat commented last week that I should be grateful to get old because it’s a condition denied to many, but when your parents told you to eat your damn broccoli because there were starving people in Africa, did that make you suddenly love broccoli?

Dear Reader Leslie had some good words about owning your face, with a shout-out to Georgia Okeefe, who went au natural ’til her death at the age of 200. Wait. She was only 98. She justy looked 200. No sunscreen back then. Georgia Okeefe was 64 in 1951 and I tried to find a photo of her, but all I could come up with is this one, taken when she was 44:

Well, she can get away with that because she’s Georgia Okeefe, but I’m a lowly watercolorist** (see asterisk below) and I like lipstick and tamed eyebrows and will probably wear makeup until I drop dead.

BUT, while I might get a facelift, I can be like like Georgia in that I will never dye my hair. I’m a stickler about that. How can we make gray hair chic and cool if many of us still cover it up? So let’s Stay the Gray!! Who’s with me?!

Me with my dog that died in 2013. I’m 57. Boogie Girl was not a cuddler. I want to wear my hair long again, no matter how many months I have to look like the Duchess of Cornwall to get there.

Next item on the agenda: I’m all for a stint in the local rehab (Thanks, Dear Reader Penny! I could use a 30-day vacation!). However, my BFF has lung cancer and when she’s having a bad day and she calls me up and says Get over here, I’m opening a bottle of pinot and we’re binge watching Grace and Frankie, I gotta be there for my girl. But I’ll keep the rehab suggestion in my back pocket, in case I decide not to get a facelift and want to look years younger by being BORING.

Dear Reader Alex reminded me that a possible side effect of getting a facelift is dying on the operating table and I like a girl who can bring on the morbid. Alex, You Are My People, and I thank you.

Alex reminds me that I could also bite the dust from falling down the stairs in my house. I could hand in my lunch bucket while picking out produce at the Piggly Wiggly.  The next time I drink a huge martini and chop onions and slice open a blood vessel, it might be a carotid and BOOM I’m on the wrong side of the grass. You never know.

But the odds are good that I’ll survive a facelift.

Besides, I can’t die because I’m with Dear Reader Marilyn: We aren’t hopping on the last rattler until we see Trump hounded out of office and all the Trump waste product children shamed, jailed, and destitute. Including Barron.

Dear Reader Melissa goes further and seeks for divine intervention that will get rid of Mike Pence to boot and make Nancy Pelosi, the great Speaker of the House and next in line of succession, the President of the United States, and you know who’s had a facelift and is no weak-willed conformist to soul-destroying standards of  beauty?

NANCY FUCKING PELOSI.

I rest my case.

**Dear Readers Adrienne and Jeanie wonder when I will paint again. To tell the truth, I only started painting because I had books to illustrate. I’m not the kind of painter who does it for my own enjoyment because unless I’m illustrating something, I can’t think of things to paint. So here’s what: if you, Adrienne, and you, Jeanie, and anyone else, has a request for something they would like to challenge me to paint, I will be happy to consider it. Those old watercolor tutorials were fun to do and I’m looking to add more fun into my life.

Lastly, my Dryanuary lasted all last year’s week and I would have been totally miserable if I had not taken the excellent suggestion of Dear Readers Jeanie and Mae and read Pachinko. What a fabulous book! It’2 485 pages and it kept me busy all week! Who knew that I, Vivian Hater-of-Novels Swift, would devour 485 pages and wish for 485 pages more? Of a novel??? I am grateful to you, ladies, for bringing that sweet misery to me. It was a gloriously terrible reading experience and if you’ve read the book, you know what I mean. Thank you.

Well, it’s Friday and Top Cat needs company for his end-of-the-work-week cocktail hour and I love Top Cat and it’s sad to drink alone**, so I’ll be on the verge of rehab again tonight. Don’t hate me because I’m a good wife.

** It’s actually not sad to drink alone. I’ve done it plenty and every time, I’ve wondered why everyone thinks it’s sad. But I’m also very OK eating alone in restaurants and going to the movies alone so, there’s a pattern there. I can’t stand people.

I hope all of you readers will ignore the impeachment, take a break from the wildfires, push all thoughts of Megxit or Brexit out of your minds, and enjoy your Friday evening — and this, the funniest thing that I found on the internet this week:

Still makes me laugh.

Have a great weekend, Dear Ones.

XXOO

And, oh yeah. Fuck Trump. (Dedicated to Kate, who left a long and heartfelt comment about the lifting of faces last week. Thank you.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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So this is how my Dryanuary is going:

Last Saturday was so mild here on the north shore of Long Island that Top Cat and I took his convertible with the top down to our favorite beach and we did our belated Winter Solstice Happiness ceremony. That’s not ginger ale in my glass. You can’t toast the Winter Solstice with ginger ale. Duh.

Yesterday was my birthday and I was for sure NOT going to spend the day sober so, again, my cup did not runneth over with ginger ale.

Two out of seven ain’t bad. Although I could use me some of this today:

The famous Korean Hangover Soup, which everyone in Korea has their own special recipe for. The fact that they have such a thing is, to me, more proof that it must be a shit load of fun being Korean.

Lately, it has not been a ton of fun being me. I do not like getting old, nope, not one bit, and I don’t have a single good thing to say about it. Even if Trump were to die tomorrow, the fact is that the future would still look bleak for yours truly. In a mere six years I will be 70 and that’s if I’m LUCKY. I mean, what can suck worse than that? It’s a wonder that I’m not mainlining vodka 24/7.

But I’m not going to whine about it here. I’m here today to tell you a story.

I have a friend who for the last five years has been complaining about her weight. She’s about 70 – 100 pounds too heavy for her height and when we get together she usually complains about how everything makes her feel terrible about her body and she’ll say to me, It must be so nice to  be skinny.

Some of you readers might remember that six years ago I changed my diet (I stopped eating cake and potato chips for dinner) and started going to the gym and I lost 30 pounds. This is a picture of Fat Me:

This is me, 30 pounds lighter:

I prefer 30-pounds-lighter me.

Well, this time when my friend said something to me about being thin, I said to her, I have to admit, it’s awesome. She wasn’t expecting that.

I told her that if she really wants to get rid of the extra weight, she deserves to experience for herself the difference it would make in her life. I said that we’re all going to die but nobody should die never knowing what it would feel like to be her best self. (I’m not saying that say friend is not her best self now; in fact, she has a great career that I envy. But she is ALWAYS talking about her weight and I know it’s an issue that makes her unhappy.)

I told her that if she can’t diet, for god’s sake get the gastric bypass surgery. I always say that if you have a problem that money will solve, SPEND THE MONEY.

She made an appointment with a gastroenterologist the next day.

I listened to my own advise about solving the best-self problems that money will solve and I made an appointment with a plastic surgeon to talk about getting a facelift.

Yes, I did.

The hardest part about talking with a plastic surgeon about getting a facelift is when he makes you hold a mirror up to your face and you have to tell him what don’t like. These days, I don’t look at myself in the mirror much, and I keep the drapes drawn in my house because light is not my friend. In the plastic surgeon’s office, the lights were really bright, and the mirror was really big.

Turns out that my brow line is still pretty good and he’ll leave that alone, but he will lift my eyes and the bottom half of my face and tighten my neck. It will cost $19,000.

Saying you’re going to get a face lift, and getting a face lift require two different mind sets and I’m still working on the latter. It’s also a lot of money, but do you really want to bargain-shop a face lift? (The answer is No.)

I would look a while lot better with a tighter face, but it’s surgery, with cutting and stitches and recovery time, and I am a huge coward when it comes to pain, although I was told that the pain will be minimal. Minimal compared to what, I don’t know. But then I think about turning 70, and how much better I will look at 70 if I get a face lift now (have you seen Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda in Grace & Frankie???) and I feel like getting it done tomorrow, which makes me a bit queasy because of the cutting and the stitches.

And then I think about turning 70 and things get ugly. Entropy, our sun going all red giant, the end of all life, the pointlessness of it all. The usual.

Since the universe is going to deny me ever having a Korean husband (on account of the one that I already have who I like quite a lot), the least it can do is let me have a face lift, right?

Please let me know if you have had work done, and your advise.

On a related topic (the topic being Stuff That I Think About When I’m Not Thinking About Dying or Koreans), there’s this:

 

 

International climate change activist Greta Thunberg has a new, affectionate honor. The charismatic activist has had a “gritting” truck named after her in Scotland: “Gritter Thunberg.”

Naming trucks that clear snow and spread abrasives in Scotland is popular, with contests for the most clever name, and Greta’s was chosen by school kids. Some previous winners include “Spreaddy Mercury,” “Gritney Spears,” “Sir Salter Scott,” “Brad Grit,” and “Gritty Gritty Bang Bang.”

Awwwwwww, that’s really cute. Thumbs up, Scotland.

And now for the regularly scheduled Fuck Trump and All Republicans programming:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks to everyone who sent birthday wishes. I might loathe getting another year older, but it means a lot to know that you’re rooting for me to have a few minutes of joy on a dark, dark day.

Have a great weekend, everyone.

 

 

 

 

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This is dedicated to Dear Readers Thea and John, who took The Rock for a spin in Southern California last month. You can read all about their adventures and the latest fascinating incidents in my molehill life in a post that immediately follows.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Australia is a big-ass country:

This is how much of Australia is on fire (as of the morning of Thursday, Jan 9):

OK, you probably know that these maps are a bit misleading. The fires are not drawn to scale and the Mercator projection has never been accurate since it was invited in 1569. But still, a LOT of Australia is on fire.

For the record, the USA is 3.797 million square miles and Australia is 2.97 million square miles. The area that has been burned Down Under is 32,4000 square miles, about one-third the size of the American state of Oregon, which is a big-ass state.

These fires are 80% larger than the devastating 2019 California fires and 5,000 sure miles larger than the sickening Amazon fires.

A billion animals have been destroyed. This means that some insects, plants, and animals found only in teeny little bits of Australia may go extinct.

These six babies were rescued in South Australia, and brought into a home in Cudlee Creek, near Adelaide, for safekeeping while their habitat burned:

Koalas are not endangered as a species, but how can you, now that you’ve seen this photo, not want to do something to help all our dear Australian furry, feathered, horned, scaled, and slime-covered fellow creatures?

I recommend donating to fire companies, many of which are 100% staffed by volunteers. The only one that I have found that is easy to navigate for Americans is for the New South Wales Rural Fire Service (Sydney is located in NSW), here. $100 Australian is a mere $68 American.

We love you, Australia.

Now for something completely different.

So I go to my gym, as usual, last Monday. WOW! The parking lot is PACKED with cars, and its a traffic jam with people heading into the Hot Yoga studio on one side of my gym and the kick-boxing workout room on the other side. I go into my gym. I have never seen the place so full of people as it was on that day. PACKED.

And then I remember, oh yeah, it’s the first regular get-back-to-normal day of 2020 and everyone who made a resolution to get fit and lose weight is showing up.

The next day, Tuesday,  I go back to my gym, as usual. I find a parking spot near the door — lucky me. I go inside.  AND THE PLACE IS NEARLY EMPTY.

To all you who did a day at the gym and said Fuck it, I’m kinda cute when I’m fluffy, You Are My People.

I get it. Top Cat and I made a pledge to do the Dryanuary this month, when you’re supposed to go the whole month of January without drinking alcohol. Why? Because:

I did Thursday, Jan 2 dry as a bone. Then it was the weekend with long-standing social obligations and I love my drinking buddies yadda yadda yadda so I put off starting Dryanuary in earnest on Monday, Jan 6.

I lasted until Tuesday, Jan 7.

 

Me and alcohol, we’re in a rut. A loving, fun, exciting rut but still, a rut.

I just realized that “rut” is one of those words the starts to sound weird the more you hear yourself say it.

It all started in 2016.

Since my last book was published, Spring of 2016, I haven’t done much writing. I’ve been farting around. Here’s the list:

I got a dog.

I took two college semesters of American Sign Language. Turns out that I don’t really like Deaf Culture so that’s why I never blogged about it.

I got a part-time job at my favorite store, Home Goods, for the holiday season. I thought it would be fun. Nope. I forget; did I blog about that?

I volunteered to run a used book store to benefit the local library here on the north shore of Long Island for two years.

I organized a huge fund-raiser to benefit the local library here on the north shore of Long Island.  Eight months of torture.

I redecorated the house.

I rescued stray cats.

I traveled.

I made castles.

I haven’t been in a good mood for about three years.

I started drinking martinis again.

I had stopped drinking martinis in 2003 for a good reason. And then, in 2018 Top Cat’s kids started having babies and I woke up one day and realized that I’m married to a grandfather.

Well, that took me by surprise.

So I started drinking more martinis.

Anyway, now I’m back on the Dryanuary bandwagon — 2 days so far. Wish me luck

I will need all the strength I have to get through January because I’m going to have my Beatles birthday next week. I turn 64 on the 16th and friends, I am pissed. But let’s discuss this next week, when I have more room to rant.

One of the reasons I had to postpone my Dryanuary this past weekend was because I had to celebrate the return of The Rock to the north shore of Long Island!

Quick recap: The Rock comes from the town of Stromness on the main island of Orkney. I found it there last May when Top Cat and I were in Scotland and if you remember, Top Cat and I pretty much hated the sight of each other the whole time but especially on Orkney.

The Rock is part of a community-wide game being played in Stromness, where painted rocks are hidden around the village and when found, the finders log it in on a Facebook page before re-hiding them. I was given permission to take The Rock home with me to photograph in Times Square and then the darling readers of this blog volunteered to take The Rock around the country.

So far it’s been to Lexington, MA; Southern New Jersey; Lansing, MI; Ann Arbor, MI; Coopersville, MI; Milwaukee, WI; Richland in eastern WA; Portland, OR; and SOCAL (Coronado, CA).

Due to my sending incorrect shipping instructions to The Rock’s wonderful host in SOCAL, Dear Reader Thea sent The Rock back to me and after this hunk of mineral from the Northern Isles and I got through all the Fàilte dhachaidh’s, we had soaked ourselves in scotch and woke up the next morning with matching tattoos and no idea how they got there.

The Rock had a great time in southern California, specifically in Coronado.

Coronado is a California resort city on a peninsula in San Diego Bay.

Hang glider? Para sail? In the talons of a ferruginous hawk making its annual migration from Canada for the Winter?

Coronado is beautiful, the surrounding area is beautiful, the weather is year-round beautiful, so The Rock got the  idea that one can become beautiful simply by being in Coronado.

Give up, Rock. You’ll never be a gem stone no matter how hard you try.

The Rock is Night Owl Rock and Coronado suited him fine..

The Rock was excited to be part of the 48th Annual Parade of Lights:

 

The grand Victorian Hotel del Coronado opened in 1888. The hotel was also home to the first outdoor electric Christmas tree in 1904.

The hotel and the hotel’s beach is where Billy Wilder filmed Some Like It Hot in 1958.

The Rock takes a selfie with Marilyn Monroe.

The Rock does a full-body squeeeeeee in the same sand!:

Balboa Park is a 1,200-acre urban cultural park in San Diego, California, United States. In addition to open space areas, natural vegetation zones, green belts, gardens, and walking paths, it contains museums, several theaters, and the world-famous San Diego Zoo.

I think The Rock is mocking me because I wrote a book about nine of the most thought-provoking greens in the world and I forgot to include the Botanical Garden in Balboa Park:

I think The Rock is taking notes for a book tentatively titled, I Am My Own Rock Garden.

The Rock contemplates the rockness of life:

The Rock is trying to be an enoghtengd Rock, so (somehow) The Rock convinced these nice people to do a seven-person Uttanasana:

The Rock would have taken a photo of the rare seven-person uttanasana, but The Rock doesn’t have fingers and could not work the iPhone camera. Sad!

Thank you, Dear Readers Thea and John in Coronado, California, for hosting The Rock:

You bring us. . .

Have a great weekend, everyone.

Australia, we love you.

P.S. BTS is releasing a new album on Feb. 21 after a seven-week rollout that includes yet-to-be-announced events in London, Berlin, Buenos Aires, Seoul, and New York. If you know a BTS fan, they are losing their minds right now. Be warned.

 

 

 

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Here’s my first great life lesson of 2020 that I want to share with you: you and your best friend can’t drink three bottles of champagne by yourselves.

Well, you can, but you shouldn’t. Also, you can’t. Because what you’ll end up with the next morning is one empty champagne bottle under the living room couch, one half-empty bottle left behind in the cat food bin when you were scooping out kibble for the kitties at some point in the evening, and another bottle that was half-full when you put it in the freezer to keep cold but forgot about so it exploded overnight and now it’s pretty much empty, but your freezer is full of champagne slurpee. It’s a waste of decent champagne, is what I’m saying.

The truth is, you can’t throw back like it’s 1993, and that’s OK.

That was Sunday when my BFF and I conducted our experiment with the bubbly time-travel juice. New Year’s Eve was Tuesday, which necessitated a follow-up investigation into the psycho-temporal effects of blanc-de-blancs fermentation, and Wednesday was New Year’s Day when we said Fuck it, let’s do bourbon shots.

Yesterday I woke up bright-eyed and full of reverence for the miracle of a morning-after without consequences and was good to go, but then our side of the street lost internet. In addition, it was raining. So I sat around and wondered if life was worth living.

In despair, I tried to read a book.

My BFF knows I’m hot for pretty much anyone anything Korean these days so she got us a novel about Korea to read together:

It begins with a 6-page prelude in the third person, then the real story begins in a first-person narration which I presume will carry us to the end of the book. By the third sentence the first-person narrator is taking a crap in a latrine in 1938. Her bowl movement goes on for seven sentences.

At that point, I wanted to personally shit on the book.

But I soldiered on for 36 more pages, and then I called my BFF and asked, Are we really going to read about turds?

She has a theory that the disgusting crapping sequence will be shown to be artistically necessary later in the plot (she has faith in literary fiction) and we agreed to keep reading, but not today. I’d had enough.

So I picked up the other book in my life:

This is a wonderful story about a woman who went to art school at age 64, eventually getting a master’s degree at the prestigious Rhode Island School of Design when she was, I guess, 70. Before I continue, I want to assure you that Nell Painter is a thoughtful and deep-thinking writer and her book is a pleasure…sort of…to read.

What I dislike about her story is the stuff about art. If you ever wondered why artists have to go to art school, this book explains why; it seems that, these days, artists have to spend years in art school in order to un-learn an inherent instinct for beauty because, these days, beauty is the death of “art”.

Once you understand that beauty is banal, you then spend years learning that only wimps make figurative art, and only illustrators *sneer* care about making a gorgeous surface. If you can make something ugly, and do it poorly, then you have what it takes to make it in the Art World.

I don’t get it, but it’s instructive to have all that explained by such a smart and dedicated lady. I appreciate her sincerity and her quest to rage against the dying of the light…but her work stinks. It’s very art-schooly. Don’t tell her I said that because I’m probably wrong, and she does have an MFA.

The good thing is that I’m on page 155 and no one has taken a dump yet, so yeah, that’s a +.

Speaking of me sounding off about art, a Dear Reader emailed me last week because she remembered that, once upon a time, I did a blog post about Illustration v. Art, and could I find it for her and I said yeah, I kind of remember that. This is all I’ve found so far, and I think it’s lame, but I’ll keep looking, Vicki.

I do hope you were all able to watch my Korean husbands on New Year’s Eve and for Dear Reader Penny, to whom  BTS look like “children”, I have to say. . .

. . . all these guys are in their 40s. It’s just that skin care is very important to Korean men and they know how to moisturize really well.

For Steve and everyone else who is in dire need of help in understanding K-Pop, picture this:

You’ve been on your treadmill for 25 minutes, you’ve hit the two-mile mark, but your legs are getting tired and you’re losing your breath and  you want to quit because you’re over 40 and are the boss of you, but you are still one mile away from your goal which is to look as good in skinny jeans as a hot Korean pop star. What do you do?

You put My Beautiful Hangover on the ear buds and crank it. This will give you a second wind. P.S., it helps to know that although Big Bang is a very famous Korean group, this is them in Japanese.

Monster by EXO will get you over the finish line.

Have a great weekend, my fierce Dear Ones.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Han River runs through Seoul in South Korea:

This river is as beloved and integral a feature of South Korean identity as the Seine is to the French.

In June this year, various bridges and other landmarks in the city were illuminated in purple:

This is a big deal. They don’t color-code Seoul every day.

So why did they turn on the purple lights? Because purple is the signature color of Korea’s own pop stars BTS, and the seven-member singing group had just completed a 13-coutry tour and were returning home.

By the way, in case you don’t know, it’s a BTS world we are living in.

I’ll explain.

You might have heard of the term, K-Pop, short for Korean popular music. You might have heard snatches of a K-Pop song on a soundtrack of that hip Netflix show you watch. This might have led you to check out a few K-Pop groups on YouTube and you kind of liked its catchy mix of pop, old R&B, rap, and EDM. You might have had Korean food for lunch in LA and bought a few CDs in Koreatown and thought, Well, I’m pretty much a  K-Pop connoisseur now, look how cool I am.

That was all me, before I found out about BTS.

Then I found out about BTS.

Trust me. Nothing prepares you for BTS.

NOTHING.

BTS is/are the single most powerful addictive substance out there, and I can personally compare them to tobacco, wine, Lay’s potato chips, various recreational products that are not, strictly speaking, “legal”, and the occasional off-label use of prescription drugs.

BTS are much, much worse than oxycontin.

BTS have made me an addict. Like, bad. Real bad. I am obsessed.

BTS have been churning out content (music, music videos, social media, TV shows, special internet movies, etc) since 2013 and are finally this year becoming the biggest thing in America, selling out stadiums in LA, Chicago, and New York [NJ Giant Stadium] on their recent tour and it kills me that I have wasted SIX YEARS not knowing about them.

When friends spot the Korean newspaper in my living room, I mention that I’m learning Korean because two of my books have been published in Korea. . . but it’s really because I want to be able to sing along with BTS songs.

When my husband asks what I am watching for hours in the den with my headphones on the computer, I tell him it’s Korean horror movies because that makes me sound really cool. . . but I’m really watching BTS videos. For hours.

When I quit my volunteer job at the used book store and the library staff asks me what I’m going to be doing instead, I say I’m going to spend a few months in Korea because I love the food and culture. . . but it’s really because I want to shop at the Mother Ship for BTS merch.

But Vivian, you ask, Why should I care about BTS?

Because BTS matters to about a3 billion people in 79 countries, and 2020 is going to a BTS year and you can’t be cool if you don’t know that.

Because in South Korea, a country which depends of exporting 53% of its goods, BTS is worth approx.  US$3.6 billion to the national economy every year — on par with the contribution of 26 other well-known mid-sized companies.

Because BTS is mentioned an average of 600,000 times on Twitter per day,(reports Brand Watch).

Because BTS has built a reputation as one of the most socially conscious groups in Korea. Their lyrics have touched on subjects like mental illness, consumerism and issues in the school system. On September 24, 2018, BTS became the first K-pop group to speak at the United Nations for the launch of Generation Unlimited, a campaign to ensure every young person is in education, training or employment by 2030.

Because here at home, BTS is the first group since the Beatles to have three number one albums in the United States in less than a year.

You all remember how important The Beatles were, right?

This is bigger.

In 2020 BTS will go back on tour and America will light up the Empire State building. . .

. . . the Golden Gate Bridge. . .

. . . and the Grand Canyon:

I know this because I know Girl Power.

Girls and women are 85% of the fan base of BTS, the majority of them old enough to already have had their starter marriages under their belt, and they are united in a single co-hesive force that they call A. R. M. Y..

Where A. R. M. Y. marches, it conquers.

For example, this is what the Baidu V Bar division of A. R. M. Y. is doing in Seoul this week:

Note the purple lights, again, and the “V”, not for “Vivian” but in mind, it kinda is.

Baidu V Bar did this for a BTS member named Kim Tae-hyung, known as V, who is celebrating his 24th birthday on December 30. In an amazing feat of fore-thought, Baidu V Bar liaised with the city government to become an official part of the 2019 Seoul Christmas Festival and created this  Purple V Zone homage in downtown Seoul.

By the way, this is V:

It’s hard to believe that this face is not computer generated.

Yeah, he’s really beautiful.

But wait, there’s more.

In addition to this Purple V Zone in downtown Seoul, Baidu V Bar announced that they will be printing a full-page birthday celebratory ad on December 30 in 25 different print newspapers in Korea, producing 13 million copies of his “birthday card” in total.

But wait, there’s more.

You have to understand that Baidu V Bar is not a Korean A. R. M. Y. division. Baidu V Bar is based in China, a country where BTS has never even toured, a country where BTS is not even the most popular K-Pop, or Mandarin-speaking, group. But BTS has A. R. M. Y.

So, in addition to the display in downtown Seoul and the 13 million newspaper ads, Baidu V Bar raised 2M yuan — $286,000 — in just 15 days so they could mount a spectacular event in honor of called “Starry, Starry Night” , and it will be the world’s first light show at the foot of The Great Wall of China.

(Baidu V bar teamed up with DAMODA Intelligent Control Technology Company, the executive cooperative partner of the 2019 China Central Television Spring Festival Gala, to design an aerial show that will be performed by 300 Kongming lanterns and autonomous drones, and it will spell out V in purple lights as well as several other images associated with his solo music.)

Are you getting that A. R. M. Y. is, like, the most fearsome special ops corps in the world?

Remember, A. R. M. Y. is 85% female, and they pull off things like this for BTS all the time. Ask RM about that forest that got planted for his birthday on September 12. A forest.

That, my Dear Readers, is what Girl Power can accomplish. It is creative, life-affirmative, and good for the planet.

You know what else Girl Power can do?

This:

And this:

And so on.

So, after hiding my obsession and feeling kind of icky for my virtual stalking and wondering if I’d had a stroke or something, I am admitting that I am powerless when it comes to BTS and I am confessing right here and now that I am A.R. M. Y., and I’m honored to be enlisted.

I hope you will google BTS blood sweat tears, or BTS boy with luv, or BTS V singularity, and that you will find yourself several hours later still googling all the A. R. M. Y. videos, the BTS Tv shows, the BTS movie, etc.

I know what you will be going through, because I’ve been there. It’s scary, and weird, and a little bit embarrassing. You are not alone.

You can save yourself a lot of self-loathing by reading this first from Mandarin Mama.

 

Just read her anyway because she’s hilarious and she gets YOU. You’re welcome.

Before I go, here’s some reminders of how twisted your inner self is already. If any one of these makes you l laugh, you’re ready to become A. R. M. Y. Let’s you and me make martinis and stan BTS together.

 

 

 

 

And this is for der Drumpf:

 

Have a great weekend, Dear Readers.

 

 

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I left the house this week. In fact, I left Long Island altogether and ventured into Manhattan (the island that is to the leftof the Isle of Long, likewise adrift off the east coast of the United States).

I know. So unlike me. I would happily never leave the house, and have the world would come to me, which by the way it already does because: Internet. But I had a problem that the internet couldn’t solve within the necessary time frame, so I had to go to the city. To Koreatown.

In Koreatown, all the signs are in Korean. Also, it was a misty, dark afternoon, and with the neon lights flickering in Hangul and the cold fog, I felt as if I had become a Blade Runner. Only, instead of tracking down and killing Nexus-6 replicants, I was hunting down Korean chopsticks.

I needed Korean chopsticks, and I needed them ASAP.

Korean chopsticks are very different from Chinese or Japanese chopsticks in that they are shorter, and flat, and made of metal. They are harder to use than Chinese or Japanese chopsticks, the rumor being that this kind of chopstick is better suited to eating Korean food. But I think the real reason Korean chopsticks are so very different from anything you would be more comfortable with is because everything has to be just slightly weirder in Korea.

 

 

Korean chopsticks are usually sold along with a long-handled metal spoon, because Koreans do not use chopsticks to eat rice. They use a spoon. OK, that spoon does make life a bit easier, but it still proves my point that Koreans are the Tiggers (Winnie-the-Pooh reference) of Asia.

So I got my Korean chopsticks (수저) and then I walked half a block to meet Top Cat for the start of our date night.

We went to New York City’s only vegetarian Korean restaurant, where we had to take off our shoes and pad to our table in our socks and sit on the floor.

Then our handsome young Korean waiter knelt at my side and asked me if I wanted a soju cocktail.

The last time a man knelt to ask me a question was when Top Cat asked me to marry him, so I did what I always do when a man kneels to interrogate me: I said Hell, yes.

I ordered the spiciest Korean vegetarian dish  the menu (rice and kimchi with other plant stuff) and it came to the table sizzling in a stone bowl set inside a block of wood that served as a tray of sorts,  so not to burn the diner. The handsome waiter knelt and cautiously took one and half spoonfuls of pepper sauce from the side dish and stirred it into my stone bowl before he placed it in front of me.

When the handsome waiter left, I dumped the rest of the pepper sauce into the bowl and it was still not as spicy as I would have liked it. But it was very good, and I used my new Korean utensil the whole time (I had an alcohol wipe in my pocket to sanitize it) and yes, I did get a cramp from how tightly I had to clutch the slippery and thin chopsticks. I need to develop my 수저 muscles.

We left the restaurant and headed uptown via Herald Square and ran into a huge anti-Trump march! It was several city blocks long and it was noisy and exciting and stopped traffic, and was one of 600 protest marches from Hawaii to Maine organized by MoveOn on the eve of impeachment. Top Cat and I marched with them for a few minutes, but we had theater tickets and had to bustle to Broadway.

We proceeded to walk across town on 34th Street and came upon a throng of people on the sidewalk, taking cell phone pictures of a woman standing inside a big shop window. She was wearing a glittery gold evening gown and throwing kisses.

“Who’s that?” I shouted to one of the thongers.

“Mariah Carey”, the guy said.

And then I realized that oh yeah, she did look a lot like Mariah Carey. Her song from 1994, All I Want For Christmas Is You, is No. 1 this week and she was celebrating. Some people can’t stand that song, but I like it.

We got to the Nederlander Theater with ten minutes to spare until curtain time. I watched Bob Costas pick up his tickets at the Will Call guichet.

Harry Connick Jr. is a wonderful performer: smart and charming, and from New Orleans, our favorite American city. But this wasn’t a simple concert show — he had a solid, two-hour concept with very clever staging, and he did a “class” on Cole Porter’s compositional genius (projected onto the back wall of the stage) that made me grateful that I was only learning Korean, and not musical notation.

We took the 9:42 home and were tucked into bed by 11.

And that was our Date Night in New York City. The evening was a lot for me to process, since my life is more about crappy used books and cat care than cross-cultural experiences, political street marches, Mariah Carey, and Harry Connick Jr. taking his shirt off (Harry Connick Jr. takes his shirt off on stage). I forget how many other people there are in the world, tucked up as I am in my own little.

Maybe because of this radical departure from routine, I have been in an extremely good mood this past week and to top it all off, the merriest Winter event of the year is approaching, so I want to wish everyone a Happy ChrisHanuKwanSoltice!

ChrisHanuKwanSolstice is the holiday that I made up so us atheist could join in all the fun of the most pagan holiday of all, but I also want to send traditional greetings to all you who are more observant of the time-honored practices of the season:

 

 

And enjoy:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

She must have been a goddess to get cats to work?!

Have a happy weekend, all you badass goddesses. Note to Australia — it gets hot here in summer on the north shore of Long Island, but not that hot. Still, here’s my tip: take a cold shower with all your clothes on, then walk around until they are dry; repeat as often as necessary.

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It’s a very slow Saturday in the used book store that I resentfully manage out of the goodness of my heart to raise money for my local library here on the north shore of Long Island. REALLY slow. I opened at noon and the first customer didn’t show up until 1:27.

So it’s a good thing that I’ve brought my flash cards with me, and I am sitting in the corner muttering to myself:

“Ah. Ew. Yeh. Heh.  Shit! Ha. Yuh. We. Huh. Yee. Yoo. Shit! YO! Ee. Yeh.”

There was one lone browser in the store at the time and he is slowly looking through the history books but after a few minutes he walks over to me and says, “OK. I have to ask. What are you doing?

“Korean vowels,” I say.

I cleverly cut the notches into the top of my flash cards, otherwise I would not know if they were upside down or not. Some of these are regular vowels, and some of these are “down” vowels, and for the life of me, the “down” vowels are really hard to differentiate. Korean consonants are much more distinctive and it only took me a day (OK, two) to memorize them…but after a week, these vowels are still too subtle for me.

The Korean Cultural Center in Manhattan offers Korean language classes but I read the Yelp reviews and everyone who has taken the class advises that you get more out of it if you go in with a solid knowledge of Hangul (the Korean alphabet), so that’s what I’m doing with my flash cards, training my eye to “see” these lines as letters, each with a personality all their own and as easily identifiable  as A, E, I, O, U, and sometimes Y. Only, in Korean, there’s 21 of them, and half of them are some version of “Y”.

Are you surprised that Korean has an alphabet? Me too. Before 1443, the Korean language was written in classical Chinese characters, which are almost impossible to learn. But then King Sejong the Great freed the Korean language from its centuries’ long imprisonment in ideograms, and had the scholars of his nation invent an alphabet and a writing system that is read from left to right. Easy! Once you learn the alphabet, you, too,  can “read” Korean.

My Korean notebook. I marked it “K” for “Korean”, because I’m that obvious. That’s my name below, but that “down” vowel at the end is not supposed to be wavy, just so you know. My Korean handwriting is crap. P. S. In Korean, my last name is two syllables long.

Although it may be rather easy to learn to read Korean, it’s no day at the beach to learn to speak Korean. The US Department of State’s Foreign Service Institute says that an adult native English speaker needs 600 classroom hours to achieve a level 3 in DLPT (a Defense Dept. scale for officer training)  for languages like Spanish or French. But it takes 2,200 hours to acquire the same level of skill in Korean.

DLPT level 3 is:

Able to speak the language with sufficient structural accuracy and vocabulary to participate effectively in most formal and informal conversations in practical, social, and professional topics. Pronunciation may be obviously foreign. The individual uses the language acceptably, but with some noticeable imperfections; yet, errors virtually never interfere with understanding and rarely disturb the native speaker. In face-to-face conversation with natives speaking the standard dialect at a normal rate of speech, comprehension is quite complete.

As of today, I can “read” Korean, but if it’s not “Vivian Swift” or the name of a K-Pop group (such as 방탄소년단) I am what they call (in America) SOL.

Also, the Hangul has to be in a very clear font, like what is used in the Korean newspaper that I “read” at the library. WordPress’s Korean font (see above) is too hard for me to read.

So the sooner I can divest myself of my book store duties, the sooner I can put in those 2,200 classroom hours that I’ll need in order to speak the language like the half-bright foreign dip shit that I am.

Remember last week? When I showed you those books about bears with all the book marks in them and I speculated that someone must have found something profound in the lives of polar bears? Some of you Dear Readers hypothesized that those book marks were left by a schoolkid doing research for a report.

Well, I didn’t tell you the whole story behind that donation. It was brought in by an older guy who told me that his wife had died the previous year and he is just now going through her things, and these are her books.

So, that’s who liked polar bears. And, as you will see, she also like Kermit the Frog. This is her book, too:

I chose some pages at random, to see what was so interesting about being green:

And once, when she ran out of stickies, she had to Macgyver a book mark:

I think this woman was definitely searching for something in the books she read. Now, if you ask me, I wouldn’t think that books about polar bears or Kermit would be the best place to find life-changing insights, but I’m the idiot who is learning Korean in order to sing along with BTS so what do I know about going (or being) “deep”?

I do have some deep thoughts I want to share today, but first let’s do the Lickety update.

I got a new rug for our front hall, and didn’t immediately remove it from its box, so Lickety colonized it?

After seeing him curled up there for a few days, I added his pink blankie to make his ew favorite napping spot more comfy.

After I had to take possession of the rug, Lickety settled onto the packing paper, so we left it on the middle of the living room floor because CATS are the MOST IMPORTANT PEOPLE IN OUR HOUSE:

I inserted his pink blankie again for the same reason as (above).

Yesterday morning there was a very fine sunbeam streaming into the living room and I noticed that Lickety had company:

That’ Lickety’s brother, Taffy. Before he got cancer, Lickety used to be much fatter than Taffy.

Five minutes later, Bibs got in on the sun bath:

Here’s the “deep” part of today’s blog post.

I think we can all agree that TIME got it 100% right this year. Let us all hail the future president of the world:

And you all probably know, the TIME cover came out the same day in which North Korea issued a fresh threat and a House committee set the stage for Trump’s impeachment, yet the shit stain that is the current US president found time to insult the 6-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg for being named Time’s Person of the Year, an honor he has coveted for years.

In a tweet that he sent to his 67 million followers Trump wrote:

“So ridiculous. Greta must work on her Anger Management problem, then go to a good old fashioned movie with a friend! Chill Greta, Chill!”

Classy, huh? Makes you proud to be American, huh?

Now, cast your minds back a week, to the testimony of Stanford Law School Professor Pamela Karlan to the House Judiciary Committee’s impeachment hearing, when she made a stupid little joke : “Contrary to what President Trump has said, Article 2 [of the Constitution] does not give him the power to do anything he wants. The Constitution says there can be no titles of nobility, so while the president can name his son Barron, he can’t make him a baron.”

And the Republicans lost their minds, with Melanoma tweeting that: “A minor child deserves privacy and should be kept out of politics. Pamela Karlan, you should be ashamed of your very angry and obviously biased public pandering, and using a child to do it.”

But those same people haven’t said a WORD about Trump trolling Greta Thunberg and I wonder why?

Because common decency would dictate that, as a society, we don’t condone an adult bullying a 16-year-old girl online. Because we know it’s wrong. Because we know if we had a daughter, we wouldn’t want her to be bullied by an adult. Much less an adult man. Much less one who is the President of the United States. (These are the words of Chris Cillizza, CNN Editor at Large)

Well, it’s just another Thursday in Trump’s America.

 

 

So let’s get to today’s deep thoughts (courtesy of YellowDogGranny and Hackwhakcers and every other website I randomly steal from):

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Have a great weekend, everyone. And remember, we’re approaching the solstice of light and love, so let’s open our hearts to each other this holiday season:

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I’m not asking about Life in Trump’s America, I’m asking about in your own, private, non-headline-news life. Because I have the least demanding life I know of (I, *cough* write for a living, at home with cats and plenty of tea, and I have zero kids so, really, I should have nothing to stress about ever) and still, I have to deal with bullshit on a daily basis.

One morning last week I stumbled into the kitchen at dawn for my wake-up cup of tea. While the water was heating up I checked my phone, which I usually leave on my desk in the den.  I discovered that someone had called and left a message the night before.

At 11:20 PM.

The message was from a woman I don’t know, calling about volunteering at the used book store that I manage out of the goodness of my heart for our local library.

I’m trying to be a better person these days. I’m trying to meditate and be compassionate and give people dignity (like it says in the book I’m reading) and to not assume everyone is an asshole whose purpose in life is to piss me off (like I do because I’m me). But who calls up a stranger at 11:20 PM to talk about becoming a volunteer bookseller?

An asshole, right?

So that pissed me off, and I hadn’t even heard the morning news about the latest Trump atrocity yet. And I hadn’t had my morning tea either. I don’t like to start the day like this, and it seems that I start a lot of days like this.

But I didn’t call this lady back and fill her in on how much I hate her, for two reasons: It takes too much effort, and I’m trying not to be a fight or flight kind of person who confronts every single instance of assholery in my life. I’m trying to send love from my heart to all those who annoy the crap out of me and thus become a more evolved and self-actualized person. Well, that’s what this meditation book promises. We’ll see.

But speaking of books, here’s this month’s most useless book that came in as a donation to the used book store that I manage for our local library here on the north shore of Long Island:

If you need a book in order to think of a name for your horse, maybe you aren’t smart enough to have a horse. I hear they are very intelligent animals and they require a lot of care. Naming a horse is the easiest part of having a horse.

It’s been a while since you’ve seen what a typical few days’ worth of book donations looks like. This is what I deal with every four or five days:

This pile of books was weirder than most because it contained some very specific tastes in reading. Such as:

Also, this:

Including this:

I don’t know. That seems like an awful lot of bookmarks for a book about polar bears.

In fact, all the bear books had little book marks stuck inside them, something I’ve only seen before in self-help books. Seems to me that these books about bears, mostly ones about polar bears, must have meant a lot to someone, obviously at some challenging phase in their life.

But no matter how lost you are, desperately grasping for meaning via polar bears, it would have been polite to remove those stickies before you made them my problem donated them to the library’s used book store.

Here’s a book that we in the used book store have absolutely no use for:

Not because sailboat racing rules are not a fascinating subject. It’s because, maybe as you can see in the photo, the book is, literally, filthy.

We can’t use this book (below) either (this time because the subject happens to be boring, sorry, Canada) but it had a killer cover and it made me happy, so I have to show it to you:

That’s enough of about books I can’t wait to throw out. Here’s the book about meditation that I hope will make me a better person:

This book comes highly recommended (by the Dali Lama, among others), and I’m determined to learn from it because in the near future I’m going to have a lot of free time on my hands and I can’t spend it being constantly pissed off. I need to find a way to have a spectacular Third Act, and I don’t want to read a lot of books about polar bears to find out how. I hope this one book will do it.

At this week’s board meeting of the Friends of the Library I turned in my notice. I’m closing the book store for the ChrisHanuKwanSolstice/New Year’s holiday on December 21, but I’m not coming back in January. I quit.

And it feels FANTASTIC.

In other news, our old cat, Lickety, is still with us, bless his darling little heart. I don’t know how he does it, since his cancer has made him skin and bones, but he is enjoying left over Thanksgiving turkey and, now and then, a sunbath in the back yard:
It’s hard for me, now,  to remember him as the cat he’d been for the 12 years before cancer:

Lickety is on my lap as I type this:

As weak and cancer-ridden as he is, Lickety is still as gentle and loving as he was when he was  fat and healthy . I think there is definitely something deep and meaningful about his life, and we could all learn from him.

But then, we all know that cats are deep and meaningful creatures:

Here are some more life thoughts to get you through the day”

 

Have a great weekend, everyone. And if telling us about an recent incident of bullshittery in your life helps you get the ball rolling on a joyful TGIF, please feel free to share in the Comments.

Here’s you political righteousness for the day:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I miss Obama more every single damn day.

 

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Just when you think he can’t bring any more shame to the office of the President of the United States, Trump tweets a photoshopped image of his head air-brushed onto Sylvester Stallone/Rocky Balboa’s body:

So let’s see how that went over.

And then there’s this for the mic drop:

I won’t blog today because we had a big Thanksgiving holiday here in the USA and Top Cat and I had people over and I am all talked out. But I’ve been saving stuff for you.

Enjoy:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dog it up this weekend, Dear Readers. See you next week.

 

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