Simple Market

I love my year in Taiwan. It has just all around been the best year I could have had after graduation, and I’ve loved exploring Taipei especially. Taipei has changed so much—the most visible sign is the abundance of cafes and restaurants sprouting up, all of them with an emphasis on design, which I really appreciate. Displays of handmade art and crafts are prominently featured in many places.

One of my favorite new discoveries is the Simple Market, located at the Xinyi Public Assembly Hall. It’s like Etsy come to life. Small local artisans display their work every Sunday afternoon in the center square of what used to be military family barracks. There’s usually live music accompanying the beautiful vendor displays: paper products, jewelry and other accessories, ceramics, baked treats, flora arrangements. The emphasis is on all things local and made with love in Taiwan.

Right beside the Simple Market is Good Cho’s, a coffee shop that sells amazing bagels and Taiwan-made goods, ranging from bags to decorative miniature Asian doors to wooden cookware. But my favorite is the ice cream parlor Midori, nestled inside Good Cho’s. Pass on the chocolate ice cream—Midori is the tops at the more unique flavors, like kumquat and chocolate-chip vanilla ice cream (pictured above) or the dragonfruit (which is more of a snow cone texture).

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Current Desktop: Rifle Paper Co.

Last two weeks of April. Current desktop is the Botanical Chart card by Rifle Paper Co., my favorite paper goods company. I love artist Anna Bond’s style of illustration. I have the “Uh Oh” print and a host of cards that I’ve mailed to a bunch of people over the past two years. I especially love the Christmas card artwork.

I’ve been using Scrivener more and more—to lay out the TGK issue and my own novel and now short stories. So what usually happens is I’ll write the first draft in Ommwriter because it’s blank and completely distraction-free and I focus great on it. No over-thinking, no editing. Once I’ve written a good chunk there, I’ll move it into Microsoft Word and continue tinkering with it (also spellchecking everything). I work over the revision in Scrivener. The change in scene/display helps me look over things, and I’ve got things I’ve missed from app to app.

In other news, Verse Kraken has accepted two of my short pieces, “To Those Who Ask” and “Her Companions,” for their first issue to be released this June! I loved their call for submissions and am glad to be able to contribute something.

I Know It’s Been Forever, But Let’s Pretend It Was Just Yesterday

So, months have passed and I’ve cycled back around to using another piece by artist Becca Stadtlander for my current desktop in October. I’ve added a couple more writing apps since then—I bought the full version of Ommwriter, because I love it so, and since Scrivener was on sale, I thought WHAT THE HELL, HELLO IMPULSE BUY. I haven’t actually used it yet, but of course people have been saying good things about it for years. The yellow old-fashioned radio is Radium, and it’s basically a cute little internet radio player.

And like the subject of this entry reads, I’m just going to jump into summing up the things on my mind at the moment.

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Current Desktop: Becca Stadtlander

It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these. In fact, this is the first current desktop post I’ve done since I switched from a PC to a Mac. As you can see, I still favor minimalist desktops—I try to keep folder and document clutter to a minimum. (The Seagram’s Seven Crown folder, incidentally, contains my most current writing projects. I name my writing folders after drinks.) The dock is loaded with only my most frequently used apps/programs: Firefox, Word, Ommwriter, iTunes.

The background image is a pattern by one of my favorite illustrators, Becca Stadtlander. (And because I love tracing roots, how I found her: Libby, the illustrator for The Golden Key, introduced me to Becca Stadtlander when we swapped favorite illustrators/designers.) I can’t tell you how much I love her work. There are a lot of peaceful scenes: buffalo, ghost horses at night, family playing on a farm scenes, landscapes, etc. But they’re never boring to look at. I’m currently alternating between this flower pattern and the buffalo print as my desktop.

Ghoulish Tinies, New and Old

Does anyone remember Edward Gorey’s The Gashlycrumb Tinies: Or, After the Outing? That morbid little abecedarium, in rhyming couplets, with each letter being a child who was knocked off in some macabre way? I hadn’t come across it in a while—I remember it in conjunction with In a Dark, Dark Room and Other Scary Stories. (Incidentally, does anyone remember the short story from that book, “The Green Ribbon”? “Once there was a girl named Jenny. She was like all the other girls, except for one thing. She always wore a green ribbon around her neck…”) Anyway, I stumbled across it again and decided to look up the entire series. In the course of my search, I found something awesome.

Someone (Catriona Mackay, “author, alchemist & arranger of syllables”, and Chronographia von Strangehours, “one-woman illustrative deathsquad”/Jennifer Fabian, designer) created The Hogwarts Tinies, or, After the Rowling. Oh. Yes.

This just further convinces me that Harry Potter readers are some of the most creative people ever. This homage to Edward Gorey not only follows his black and white style of illustration, but the Hogwarts set makes a faithful attempt with the rhymes, too. See the complete series here.

First Week, Done!

School has started, and it’s great being back. There’s always been some degree of homesickness wherever I travel or move to, but there’s never any of that when I fly back here. Which I credit to being lucky enough to have ended up in a program with people who I love hanging out with and whose writing I look forward to reading.

I went to a Kellie Wells reading yesterday, and the informal sit-down chat in the afternoon. I didn’t plan to because I thought I’d be too nervous about my first class (went fine), but I woke up at 6 and was getting antsy killing time in the apartment. So I went to the reading, and I loved it so much that I stayed for the talk, too. She read “The Girl, The Wolf, The Crone”, a retelling of little red riding hood from the My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me anthology, and a chapter from her forthcoming novel, Fat Girl, Terrestrial. And I can’t even describe how excellent the reading was. I thought I’d be nervously eyeballing my watch to make sure I wasn’t late for class, but I was totally transported. I’m really looking forward to her novel. The voice of the novel’s main character, Wallace, is addictive.

She said something interesting in the reading, too, which is that she didn’t hit upon the idea of writing a fairy tale first. Instead, she was playing around with a comic, cartoonish voice and asked herself what kind of form could let her do that. And then the fairy tale genre followed as a way to accommodate that voice, what with the “flatness of characters” (the huntsman, the girl, etc. need no explanation; they can just stand as who they are).

I also really like her sensibility and approach to workshop. Wish I could get the chance to work with her.

For my own reference, the jet lag wake-up tally rolls in at: 4:30 AM, 5:00 AM, 2:00 AM, 6:15 AM, 12:00 AM/7:00 AM (double wake-up on the same day). Bedtimes typically range from 6 PM to 10 PM. 10:30 was really pushing it.

In other news, I love these illustrations by Bluefooted. See: harpy, Cat-Skin, Queen Titania, Alice and the Gryphon, and the goddess Nyx.

A Barrel of Random: See, Read, Listen Edition

New layout! I’m calling this a seafoam/mint scheme. I could be getting those colors totally wrong, but they sound nice. The header “features” my handwriting. Sadly, I lack Jenn’s typographic skills.

So I stumbled across this illustration of the man who walks his dog down 6th and Houston—not that he’s a particularly famous man, but just that this is an actual man is quite awesome. And browsing the illustrator Monaux’s FAQ, I saw he is represented by the Jacky Winter Group. Who represents another one of my favorite artists, Kat MacLeod! I like little connections like that. Meanwhile, my brother Leon has been playing with the Bamboo tablet. Here’s hoping he can illustrate stuff for me in the near future.

Writing I have been working on: a story about graves, a story about a prince with his heart locked in a pocket-watch, a story about a boy and his father, recently retired with nothing to do at home. Yes, I thrill even myself. I am not even going to bother tagging this into the “Writing” category.

Anyway, I recently read “The Porcelain Man” by Richard Kennedy, a neat little fairy tale from 1987 about a girl who glues together some porcelain fragments into the shape of a suitor. Her overprotective father destroys the porcelain man, but the daughter reglues it into something else…at the end, her dinner plate still whispers “I still love you.” No real spoilers there. ETA: Almost forgot! Another little fairy tale I read is one Kim pointed me in the direction of, and I was super engrossed in: “The Princess Who Stood On Her Own Two Feet” by Jeanne Desy.

Also, “Punching In A Dream” by The Naked and Famous is the fun song I can’t stop listening to. ETA: This song too: “About Today” by The National. God I love this guy’s voice.

And that concludes my random post. A little art, a little story, a little song.