Wednesday, January 30, 2013

You Know You're Lonely...

...when you're shopping for clothes and the salesman who is obviously gay touches your leg in two places to try to explain why the knee of the jean isn't hitting your knee in the right spot (because your legs are way too short), and his hand lingers on your calf muscle and the electricity shoots up from his hand on your leg straight to your empty womb. And then you buy four pairs of pants.

Why I'm even shopping I don't know. This outfit has served me well every day for the past five weeks.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

I stumbled upon a commercial for a new dating website during an intense TV watching session I had upon reentry to the UNITED STATES. It's called Supposedly for young men to date older, more mature women. I resent the fact that all of the women in the profiles featured were younger than me. 32, 34, etc. Cougars? Come on!

A quick search of YouTube did not produce the commercial that I saw, but below you can sample a few that I did find. Are we really going to call these late-twenty-somethings "cougars?"

And the songs! Hilarious! These lyrics crack me up.

"I'm a cougar. She's a cougar. We're all cougars. Men love cougars. Don't you want to date a cougar too? (Date a cougar!) I'm a cougar. She's a cougar. We're all cougars. Men love cougars. Don't you want to date a cougar too? (Date a cougar!) At (Date a cougar!) at (Date a cougar!) Don't you wanna date a cougar too?"

There's another one with a different song that goes: "Cougars wanna please. We don't like to tease and were waitin' for you."

Check this one out:

"Boys! It's easy to date a woman like me."

Monday, January 28, 2013

The Red Gates in Kyoto

...or in Japanese: the Fushimi Inari. I was excited to visit this shrine not only to see the thousands of Red Gates, but also because it included a 4k round trip hike to the top of a mountain made up almost entirely of stairs. I was still 47 pounds short of my weight loss goal for the wedding I would be attending as soon as I got back home to Minneapolis, and I figured with this and a bike ride around Kyoto, I should have that covered.

I was told to expect 2.5 hours to make the loop all the way to the top of the mountain and back. But I didn't have that much time so I moved quickly. Much like most responsible Everest Summit groups before me (which I learned by recently reading Into Thin Air by John Krakauer), I established a drop dead turn around point. If I hadn't made it to the top by a certain time, I would have to start my descent, no matter how close I was to my goal. Fortunately, I made it to the top with time to spare. On my way back I came across many tired tourists on their way up as I ran, ran, ran down the mountain.

With a renewed surge of energy, I would taunt them (never even knowing if they spoke English) with such heckles as "What's the matter? No energy?" or "Tired already?" As I Sally-O'Malley-one-two punched the air next to them! and then kicked!

One kid laughed and laughed and then said, "you look hung-a-ree!"

A few photos:

Spectacular views of the city are not done justice with this photo.

Of course I had to do a #hexumhat

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Sunday Favorites: Mom and Dad

New to A Lady Reveals Nothing? You've missed SO MUCH. Not to worry. Every Sunday, I dig through the archives to repost an old favorite. Mostly because I'm too lazy to come up with new content every single day. Enjoy! Today, I'm wildly excited to see my parents in just a few days, and so I'm waxing nostalgic. I posted this one on October 15, 2011, in honor of their 45th anniversary:

It seems like only yesterday I was wishing them a Happy 44th, but I'm sure to them it seems like only yesterday that I was born. 34 years, four months and five days ago.

I think it's kind of gross that I was born when they were only 28 and 30, because my whole life they just seemed. so. OLD.

But really, they weren't. They were young. If I were my mom, by this time I would have had 9 pregnancies and given birth seven times. My oldest daughter would be getting ready to graduate high school and my youngest would be secretly going to kindergarten on the bus with her older sister without my knowledge. My husband would have left me alone for weeks at a time -- with my six surviving ingrates children in the three-bedroom/one-bathroom townhome where we all lived together -- to trap wolves, coyotes and fox for the government for a cool $7,000 per year. I would have taken that $7,000 and turned it into 1,095 meals per year and provided clothes, boots, coats, hats, mittens and scarves for my six jags delightful growing angels. There would be time to teach everybody how to read and write before they entered kindergarden. We would sew our own clothes and for special events everybody would wear something fresh and new. We would meet uptown once a week to learn how to square dance with old people and all of us girls would have a cute ruffly slip and bloomers to wear under our adorable square dancing outfits. Everybody would be bathed and teeth brushed and in pajamas at bedtime OR ELSE. I wouldn't have a cell phone or a TV or a minute to myself and if I decided to take up oil painting, one of my brats daughters would decide she didn't like the size of the moon in one of my landscapes and take it upon herself to make it just a little bigger with her fingertip. My son would mortify me by bringing my non disposable douche to the dinner table when company was over, refusing to wait for me to "tell him later" what it was, and completely redeem himself afterward by taking the blame when I farted loudly.

[Being that I can't even get out of bed in time for work most mornings, I cannot imagine being responsible for the life of even one other person.]

And Dad, I love ya. You worked hard every day and taught us kids to work hard too. My heart broke a little today when I picked up my new iPhone and in order to connect it the Verizon people had to delete all the voicemails I had been saving from you. Like the one about the lady's slippers. ...and the one last summer when I left for a week and you said: "Just come home now. This isn't working out." ...and another when I left for Central America: "My heart is broken." ...and the adorable loving one from last week: "I think if I had it to do over, I would skip having kids and just get myself four-five answering machines so I could just call up and leave a message every couple days..."

Relish this time, you guys! You're childless! Responsibility-free! And yah, sometimes old age might creep up and you'll have to survive horrible things like prostate cancer and receiving promotional literature from Lark about their mobility scooters. You might even be targeted by those pesky texting companies who like to charge $9.99 per month to poor unsuspecting elderly people who don't know that the text service they're agreeing to is NOT a photo of one of their grandkids. But don't worry! You've got each other, and if that's not enough, you've always got fishing.






And I'll be back before you can say "ungrateful jag brat".





Congratulations and Thank You for sticking it out for the last 45 years!

(I don't even want to think about how much nuttier I would be if I were a child of divorce.)

Friday, January 25, 2013

Fashionista She Ain't.

I have never been "good at fashion". I come from the very northern part of Minnesota, from a very poor family and nobody taught me. I had clothes of course. (You know, "BOXES of Esprit clothes under the steps".) And my mom always dressed us pretty cute when we were little. But like, fashion. It's never been my strong point.

I'm also not very "good at packing". So you can imagine how my outfits come together when traveling. In fact, they don't. When I left for my first extended travel trip, what I shoved in my backpack ended up being essentially what didn't sell at my garage sale. So it was a mish mosh of items that made no sense. Tops that didn't go with any bottoms. Three pairs of jeans, but traveling exclusively in tropical climates. That kind of thing.

I ended up wearing things like this in public: (I guess you never know when you'll need to start running.)

Exhibit A.

A few weeks after the above photo was taken I arrived to Singapore, where it was incredibly hot and sweaty. I went shopping at a store in Little India and ended up buying several new shirts and dresses. "Burn this," I told the shopkeep, throwing my yellowed-armpit white t-shirt at him as I strutted out of his store, head held high. I loved everything! I was amazed that just $100 could make me feel so good about myself. I met up with Summer a few days later in Thailand and she made so much fun of everything I bought. When I looked at my new clothes through her eyes, I was humiliated. It was true that I purchased everything because I thought their fabrics looked 'cool' ('cool' as in 'less sweaty'), and didn't really realize that everything was pretty ugly. See exhibits B and C:


Exhibit B.
Exhibit C.


To prepare for my current trip and determined not to make the same mistakes, I enlisted the help of a friend who manages a J. Crew to help me pick out some stuff so I wouldnt look so dorky. And I think she did a great job. For the most part in Europe, I felt OK. Cute, even.


When I left for hot, hot India, I sent all my cute cold-weather clothes home with my cousin Ross, but then it got cold and I regretted the decision almost immediately. I only had one pair of pants and two sweaters and ended up wearing them for three weeks in northern India and Nepal:


I resolved to spend my first day in Japan to buy at least one cute outfit. I picked up some really cute checkered pants. I saw an orange down coat that looked very attractive to me at the time because I was so cold. I couldn't tell if I liked it or hated it, but I put it on and it was so warm. I left the store and decided I hated it. It was cute, but wasn't the coat of a 35-year-old woman, and certainly not the coat I wanted to leave Japan with.

I walked around Tokyo feeling embarrassed, but toasty warm. And then this happened:






I give up.




Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Evidentiary Proof We Got Off Our Lazy Butts and Did Something in Nepal

I had mentioned that Summer and I really lazied out and slept a lot upon arrival to Nepal. I tried to justify it by whining about how we had just spent fourteen consecutive nights in different places. Blah blah blah, poor us.

We knew we had to get up. And do something. Finally one day we did. We marched right across the road to a canoe rental place, paddled for 30 minutes to the other side of Lake Phewa, did some more marching up, up, up the stairs to the Peace Pagoda at the top of the mountain and then hiked right back down (1.5 hours round trip) and paddled back to our hostel in the dark. It should be noted that we still slept until 1pm that day, slowly had breakfast for two hours, and THEN rented the boat and went hiking.


Gorgeous hike. Just gorgeous.
And by gorgeous I mean WE were gorgeous.


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Misdirected Cynicism

In India, it was nothing for me to put my Nicaraguan finger wave right in people's faces, and even less to look someone in the eye and say, "DON'T LOOK AT ME". It's been a little strange to come to Japan, the land of polite. I've been marveling at the marked contrast between the two countries.

While at the Hiroshima museum, for example, I was looking at a display case in which a pocket watch and belt buckle were kept. I was cornered by a man in an official green vest who approached and asked me in very broken English if I was from Australia. I shook my head and said "America." I was annoyed and skeptical and so I didnt really make eye contact. I kept waiting for the proverbial other shoe to drop, however I had no choice but to let him hand me the headphones attached to an ancient FF-only cassette tape player. I should have finger waved him and marched past. But it was too late and I waited forever as he pressed Play, then waited some more as he realized the tape needed to be flipped and then flipped the tape over and adjusted the volume and then pressed Play again.

"Hello." it began, in an American voice. "I am [so-and-so], and I am helping to tell the story of Minoru Hataguchi".

Oh, Brother.

The tape continued. Minoru donated the pocket watch and belt buckle to the museum. They belonged to his father, who was just 31 on August 6, 1945 at 8:15am when the bomb hit. When his mother, 29 didn't hear from her husband for four days, she travelled into the city to the train station where his father worked. She rifled through the ashes and found the pocket watch and belt buckle under an overturned safe. She gathered a few bones and some ashes she found nearby and brought them home with her. She was pregnant at the time, and so Minoru is a confirmed Hiroshima survivor.

I still didn't look at him. Was he going to ask for money?

The tape concluded. Minoru removed a laser pointer from his pocket and showed me on the map how far his mother had to walk to the train station, and also how far the train station was from the epicenter (1.7 kilometers). I finally looked him in the eye. He smiled. I smiled. He just wanted to share his story. Embarrassed, all I could muster up was to quietly say "thank you" to Minoru and walk away.

I started crying and didn't stop until I left the museum. Thanks a lot, India. You've really made a wonderful person out of me.

The box contains the names of all of the victims. In the background, an eternal flame burns. It will continue to burn until all nuclear arms are destroyed.


140,000 people died by Year's end 1945. People just like you and me. Three days after Hiroshima, the US dropped a second nuclear bomb on Nagasaki and killed an additional 150,000, half of which died immediately and the other half later from injuries sustained. The US, France, Russia, and The UK are still testing nuclear arms on a regular basis. The mayors of Hiroshima since 1968 have sent letters of protest each and every time they are made aware of a nuclear arms test, a copy of each hangs in the Peace Memorial Museum. 559 letters have been sent to date.

Oh, and a google search informed me that Minoru Hataguchi is the director of the Peace Memorial Museum.


Monday, January 21, 2013


This is just the most yum thing. It's a Japanese pancake called Okonomiyaki. It's got noodles, cabbage, mince (no idea), egg and sweet onions and sauce and yum.

Here's a recipe.

You cook the pancake a little and then add all the stuff on top. It's TALL, but it cooks down.
Egg on top.
Green onions on top. They flame broil those.


Sunday, January 20, 2013

Sunday Favorites: Teenage Tampons

New to A Lady Reveals Nothing? You've missed SO MUCH. Not to worry. Every Sunday, I dig through the archives to repost an old favorite. Mostly because I'm too lazy to come up with new content every single day. Enjoy! This story originally appeared on December 30, 2009:


When I was 15, my friends Krista and Maija and I went to the beach. On the way home, Krista got a little over-zealous on one of the gravel road curves. She lost control and we ended up in a swamp. Fortunately, we didn't roll; I have no idea how we did not. Water slowly seeped into the car. We were screaming like teenage girls as it covered our feet, then our ankles, our knees and so on. Scary! Maija had trouble getting her seat belt off. If we had been upside down in a roll situation, she may have died. But -- all's well that ends well, am I right? (Too soon?)


I don't know if I've ever told anybody this (who am I kidding?), but since I was already wet, and waist deep in the swamp while we were escaping the wreckage of the sinking car... I peed.


Krista had a box of tampons in the back pocket of one of the front seats. Somehow, in the confusion, the tampons escaped and we found them floating near the car on the surface of the murky water. We had to get help. But, we couldn't just leave the tampons. So, naturally, we found the best plan was to shove them -- one by one -- under the car. Perfect solution, huh?


Krista's mom would tell us later that when the tow truck came and pulled the car out of the swamp there were one thousand million tampons floating EVERYWHERE.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Nose-pick Combed Over

I was just trying to get a shot of this amazing comb-over when the bonus nose-pick happened. My Japanese fortune is already coming true! It said I would be very lucky or something like that.



Thursday, January 17, 2013


Last thing I did before leaving Kathmandu, Nepal? I got my shoes shined!

I asked the shoe shine man on the way to lunch what he would charge me and he said 100 rupees. (85 rupees = 1 dollar) At lunch I asked an American expat living in Kathmandu how much a shoe-shine should cost. He said around 50. My waiter said he pays 20. So after lunch I told the shoe-shine man I would pay him 50. He counter-offered with 75. I said, "I know you charge everybody else 20. I will pay you 50."

Lucky shoe-shine man got a 100% tip, too, since he did such a nice job, it took forever and I was feeling generous and cash-rich. (It's this thing that happens every 'last day in a country' where you're suddenly forced to spend your money because you miscalculated how much you'll need.) I pranced, tiptoed the half-mile back to my hostel, where a cab was waiting for me and whisked me off to the airport to catch a plane bound for Tokyo. And btw, my shoes are still nice and clean and shiny, four days later. Japan! It's so clean!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Summer-isms, Vol. 47

"I'm not even embarrassed."

"Can you imagine how drunk I'm gonna be at your funeral?"

"You know so much about ham."

"Lately I'm a one meal Sally. That is totally something you would say."

"I'm gonna miss those Hungarian boys. Their bodies were SO warm. I was like, can you just make a sandwich out of me?"



Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Passport Stamps 101

Passport stamps are like my favorite thing in the whole world—I think this comes from the movie While You Were Sleeping, in which Sandra Bullock's character gets a passport and her life's dream is to get a stamp in that passport. I saw that as a teenager and I guess it left an impression. (Also, I'm very easily amused.) I swear if I ever lose my passport I will cry and cry.


In the beginning days of me having a passport, I was hard pressed to get a stamp. When I took a ferry from Northern Ireland to Scotland I discovered there was no border to deal with and there would be no stamp. I begged the ferry employees to give me a stamp. Anything. That's where I got my sheep shearing company stamp. In Prague, when I flew in, the man at the counter forgot to stamp me. I begged him until a soldier with a gun shooed me away disappointed. Majorly. Mexico never stamps. (When Hanna and I went in 2010 I practically forced border patrol agents to stamp her passport so she could get her first stamp. They poo-pooed me but I would not take no for an answer.) If there's ever a chance for a souvenir stamp such as at Machu Picchu, or Checkpoint Charlie in Berlin, I take it. One of my life's greatest excitements was when I was in Buenos Aires and had to get extender pages in my passport because I had too many stamps!


But: did you know? They aren't just for souvenirs? I'm about to admit something very embarrassing: I just figured out, like sort of recently, that a stamp is a Visa, granting the bearer a certain amount of days in a country. Usually it's 30 - 90 days, but it depends on that country's relationship with your own. Sometimes, you have to pay for your Visa. For example, in most Southeast Asian countries, I paid $15-$40 at the border for my Visa, which came with a dated entry stamp. Sometimes they want your photo, so I always travel with 5 or 6 printed 2x2" photos of myself*. In addition, you have to be stamped out of one country and into the next. And that's how they know if you overstayed your Visa and are subject to a daily fine. And that's why they look through your pages. (I always thought they were admiring my stamps.)


All these years and I've just been handing over my passport to border agents, praying for a stamp because I'm a NERD, but never knowing why. That there was no border patrol at the ferry in Scotland because you were already coming from the UK. That the guy in Prague didn't stamp me because I had just come from Germany.


Sometimes I'm amazed at how dumb I am.



Monday, January 14, 2013

Walking Across Borders

For whatever reason, you can't travel overland across some of our world's borders. Sometimes the bus will only take you so far, and dump you to walk across and catch another form of transportation on the other side. As a result, I have walked from Thailand to Malaysia, from Nicaragua to Costa Rica and the reverse, from Peru to Bolivia (due to a protest and the border being shut down), and now from India to Nepal. Summer and I got lucky on the train from Varanasi headed north for the border of Nepal, in that we met two Argentinians and five Hungarians. We nine were a perfect group to rent a jeep together to take us the additional three hours past the last train station to the border. In fact, we filled the jeep so full that the driver's helper had to sit on his lap. All for the same price as a gross bus ticket.
This jeep ride cost us just $2.50 per person.
I swear one pushed the pedals and the other steered.
Welcome to Nepal!
First Nepali beers.


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