List Season : : Books Read in 2011

1. Americana by Don DeLillo
2. Nothing to Envy by Barbara Demick
3. Mysterious Skin by Scott Heim
4. Lunar Park by Bret Easton Ellis
5. You Shall Know Our Velocity! by Dave Eggers
6. The Subterraneans by Jack Kerouac
7. Hot Water Music by Charles Bukowski
8. Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond
9. The Yiddish Policemen’s Union by Michael Chabon
10. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon
11. Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri
12. Laughter in the Dark by Vladimir Nobokov
13. When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris
14. The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet by David Mitchell
15. Dance Dance Dance by Haruki Murakami
16. Breakfast At Tiffany’s by Truman Capote
17. 1984 by George Orwell
18. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
19. The Girl Who Played With Fire by Stieg Larsson
20. Collapse by Jarrod Diamond
21. Between Parentheses by Roberto Bolaño
22. Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart
23. Miss Lonelyhearts/The Year of the Loccust by Nathaneal West
24. The Fortress of Solitude by Jonathan Lethem
25. A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
26. The Emperor of All Maladies by Siddhartha Mukherjee
27. The Pale King by David Foster Wallace
28. Amusing Ourselves to Death by Neil Postman
29. 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami
30. Point Omega by Don DeLillo
31. Parallel Worlds by Michio Kaku



In the midst of list season,  I deliver to you the first of far too many to come. Here is a tale told through images of places I traveled in 2011.


The Ho Chi Minh Memorial in Hanoi

A young boy properly suited for Tet festivities

Tran Quoc Pagoda


Local dwellings of the Bay

Giant vertical rock formations


Cathedral Notre-Dame

Soaking up the afternoon sun

Ho Chi Minh statue in front of the Peoples Committee Hall


A vessel of the Delta

Snake liquor for sale and a local curious fish

Coconut candy makers selling their product in the Delta


A fellow giant, me, greetings the Petronas Towers

One of oh so many delicious plates served up in Malaysia


On the water, island life

A monk giving alms at a Chinese temple for the Lunar New Year celebration

Botanical garden locals

A city of temples for ranging beliefs


Hongdae’s infamous makguelli man

Awaiting the sunrise near the sea

Fried goodness for sale near Seoul Station

Seoul Lantern Festival 2011


Gwanggali beach

Seafood stew successfully devoured

Bidding farewell to the sun over Gwanggali


Street art spotted in NW PDX

Sweet nectar from Mecca


Chicago Theatre

Skyscrapers and fields of grass

The Magnificent Mile

Meeting giant Marilyn


Iowa feels like home and these are some of the state’s finest folks and dear friends of mine.

Wall art at Big Tomato Pizza

The lovely lady Anna and I,  faces glowing in humidity


Exterior of the Seattle Art Museum

Roomies reuniting in Seattle


View of San Fran from Lombard Street

Annie Danger and I at the base of the windiest street in the world

Decor of China Town

Alcatraz sighting in the bay

Message of the Mission


Kaili and I playing with a sculpture park illusion

Minne’s Spoon and Cherry sculpture

Bridge wisdom


Sunny day at the seashore

My puppy dog, Sadie Hawkins, hiding out in the tall sea grass


Jackson Square

Intricate bead-work of a chief suit

Taking a shot at General Lee

Draping Oaks

NOLA pride: Abita beer and the Saints logo in the distance

Cafe Du Monde, possible location of heaven on Earth


South Korean guards standing in a kill stance in the Joint Security Area between North and South Korea

The flagpole carrying the weight of the heaviest flag in the world in North Korea

Peering into another world


For more photographs of my travels and Korean life, visit my Flickr page:

List season : : My Top 20 Albums of 2010

20. Gil Scott-Heron : : I’m New Here
Standout tracks: “Me and the Devil” and “New York is Killing Me”

19. Four Tet : : There is Love In You
Standout tracks: “Angel Echoes” and “She Just Likes to Fight”

18. Panthu Du Prince : : Black Noise
Standout tracks: “A Nomads Retreat” and “Stick to My Side”

17. Massive Attack : : Heligoland
Standout tracks: “Paradise Circus” and “Saturday Come Slow”

16. Das Racist : : Sit Down, Man
Standout tracks: “Return to Innocence” and “Rapping 2 U”

15. Crystal Castles : : Crystal Castles [2010]
Standout tracks: “Empathy” and “Not In Love”

14. Jonsi : : Go
Standout tracks: “Hengilas” and “Animal Arithmetic”

13. Foals : : Total Life Forever
Standout tracks: “Spanish Sahara” and “Blue Blood”

12. Nicki Minaj : : Pink Friday
Standout tracks: “Superbass” and “I’m the Best”

11. The National : : High Violet
Standout tracks: “Bloodbuzz Ohio,” “Lemonworld” and “Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks”

10. Sufjan Stevens : : The Age of Adz
Standout tracks: “Vesuvius,” “All For Myself” and “Impossible Soul”

9. Beach House : : Teen Dream
Standout tracks: “Walk In The Park” and “Silver Soul”

8. Sleigh Bells : : Treats
Standout tracks: this whole album, for real (my absolute favorite track, if I had to pick one, is probably “Crown on the Ground”)

7. Robyn : : Body Talk Pt. 1
Standout tracks: “Cry When You Get Older” and “Hang With Me (acoustic)”

6. The Black Keys : : Brothers
Standout tracks: These boys can basically do no wrong in my eyes, I unconditionally love them and every sound they produce, so I’d say just listen to the whole darn thing and everything else they’ve made for that matter.

5. The-Dream : : Love King
Standout tracks: LISTEN TO THIS ENTIRE ALBUM. NOWWW! The-Dream rocks my world in ways that few modern day hit-makers can and you know what, he has probably rocked your world too and you didn’t even realize it (see ‘Single Ladies’…composed by Terius Nash AKA The-Dream).

4. Big Boi : : Sir Lucious Left Foot

3. Deerhunter : : Halcyon Digest

2. The Arcade Fire : : The Suburbs

1. Kanye West : : My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
Standout tracks: If you haven’t listened to this album in its entirety on repeat then we probably aren’t friends and shouldn’t waste time trying to be. Basically everyone is voting it number one and for me, to be honest, any of my top 10 could have been my number one and definitely was at some point during the past year. With that said, MBDTF is an incredible piece of music that was clearly obsessively executed and is an absolute pleasure to listen to. This album really did hit me heavy and I’m sure I’ll continue to be excited about it in the years to come.

If I could tame all of my desires

I’ve always held a fondness for lists and perhaps because it’s been raining or perhaps because I’ve had ample time for self reflection or perhaps, perhaps, I’ve found myself carving a mighty list of what essentially boils down to my desires. If you don’t know me, or even if you do, you might not know that I’m a fairly anxious soul–constantly unsettled, thriving off of an insatiable need for change of scenery of pace of everything.

It wasn’t until recently that I realized that I’ve never really felt at home anywhere (the only possible exception to this is the great state of Iowa, Des Moines in particular). I’ve spent almost my entire life lusting after somewhere else, always taking the “wishing you were here” part far too seriously. Though my passions in life are numerous, traveling is above all else what thrills me, soothes me and makes me feel most alive. More than anything else, I want to see and experience the world (emphasis on experience) and it is my personal goal to have experienced every continent before I’m 30 (minus Antarctica).

Anyway, I’m getting off topic now. The point in bringing all of this up is that I legitimately fear that I will never settle down anywhere or select a place to finally call home, and thinking on thinking about this more than I already do led me all too naturally to making a list of wants. So, here’s what I want, what I really, really want (according to the last time I seriously spoke with myself):

I want to create beautiful artifacts out of words, images, cloth, ink and paper

I want to never stop learning, to speak many foreign tongues, to read and read and read and read

I want to be all right with staying put and find a somewhere to call home

I want to die before I’m old, my organs donated and my bones to be burned

I want my chalk scattered in the Vltava

I want to work with coffee again, possibly forever

I want to be in love again

I want to figure out what I want my life’s work to be

I want a hint as to what path to take, sometimes

I want to be leaner and to run without injury

I want to wear high heels more often

I want to be better at forgiveness, writing thank you cards and letting people in


wall copenhagen

Often times my desk/workspace is fairly representative of the state of my mind and the path taken by my thoughts; it is a chaotic mess, a sprawl of notes, memories, ideas, images and bits and pieces meant to inspire. Try as I might to clean it and put it together into some recognizably organized state, this attempt generally fails after a few cups of coffee and an idea surge. Post-its and note pads, ripped corners of paper scribbled with ink; these things all bring me back to where I started. A chaotic mess.

Looking at my desk now, it’s not so bad. I say this because I can already sense that things are bound to get messy. Being it near the end of the year, December brings with it not just the blustery cold, but also the beginnings of “list season”. I am a lover of lists, however this love is in no way special or unique because an overwhelming majority of the population enjoys being handed their information in a concise, perhaps numbered, form. It’s just easier that way.

Anyhow, with the onset of the so-called “list season,” I’ve begun the process of compiling and contracting lists of all sorts; the standard best albums list, favorite films list, goals list, places traveled list (you get the idea). Thinking on this I started to craft my yearly bad habits/addictions list. Although these lists are different, I tend to lump them together. My reasoning for this isn’t entirely known however. From year to year my addictions and bad habits rarely change all that greatly since, when it comes down to it, I really am a creature of habit. I still bite my nails, incessantly. I still procrastinate (although I will argue this as a good quality of my academic personality). I still drink too much coffee, still don’t sleep enough, still highly critical of myself and my work, still stress constantly over this, that and everything. Nothing all that shocking has changed in this arena. It’s when I consider my self-proclaimed addictions that I discover subtle, not incredibly unsettling changes.

I’m not addicted to drugs or alcohol or some strange danger seeking fad that should require an intervention. No, my addictions are quite innocent in comparison. When I look back at this year and consider the person I’ve grown into, two distinctly different obsessions are immediately brought to the forefront of my mind. First, I’m addicted to tattoos. You (speaking to the ink covered beings out there) may disagree with me because I still have but one, however my days are frequently filled with my daydreaming of where and what my next tattoo will be. Whoever warned me that getting inked can be addicting was all too correct because the feeling is incomparable and unable to found elsewhere. Trust me, I’ve searched.

My other, perhaps more understandable, obsession is writing. This isn’t particularly new seeing as I’ve been writing for years, but more than ever before, and perhaps more necessary than ever before, writing has been my solace and the only honest way I’ve been able to make sense of the world and the aspects of life and living that baffle my mind on a regular basis. My addiction, although I enjoy my frequent journaling, pertains specifically to creative writing and the characters within my stories that help me to make sense out of my confusion.

For some reason I’ve never fully considered myself a writer until this year and still, sometimes, I feel odd at the prospect of being deemed one. Sure, I’ve been writing for years and thus the label should be fitting, but, for some peculiar reason, I often feel strange saying to any extent “why yes, I am a writer.” That is, until recently. I can’t quite pinpoint with certainty what led me to embrace the title, but perhaps for the first time in my life I feel as though I can legitimately call myself a writer.
This may or may not be because I wrote the first draft of a novel, proving to myself that I am both capable of writing such a large body of text and that it can actually turn out to be fairly good (NOTE: although I’m going to the grand extent of calling my novel “good”, it still needs an all too literal ton of touching up and editing before I would even think to let another set of eyes read it).

Whatever the unknown logic is, I can say, decidedly so, that I am addicted to writing and I wouldn’t want it any other way. In the next few weeks (and hopefully I’m not lying as I did about posting my progress during NaNoWriMo on here) I intend to post lists of varying subjects as I prepare for my yearly “Expectations of the Upcoming Year” list. I hope you find these lists entertaining, enjoyable, offensive and entirely disagreeable. Happy December.

What It’s All About

The things that make me tick this week:

1. Music videos from Islandrecords artists Sam Sparro and Cut Copy. I’ve been in desperate need of some music to dance to and since my finger and toe tapping Girl Talk days are in need of a break, I feel that I’ve found a decent replacement.

2. The Wire. This show is badass. McNulty is perhaps one of the best alcoholic, hard headed, cops television has seen in a long while. Everything you hear about this show is true, it is addictive and awesome.

3. Missed connections. Craigslist has been a source of sheer amusement for me as of late with the multitude of “missed connections” posted daily. There’s a guy crushing on a girl in the red tube top driving a Mazda down I-20, a teen that frequently shops at Best Buy because of the cashier that rang him up on check-stand 3 and then, of course, the Marta train encounters. Endless entertainment.

4. Trivia Night Okay, so I can’t really count this since I only went once, but I’m all about winning free food and drinks for my varied pop-culture and worldly knowledge.

5. Frederico Erra’s photostream on Flickr, particularly “violet place”.

6. GOOD Magazine. It’s tag line “GOOD is for people who give a damn. It’s an entertaining magazine about things that matter.” With it’s stimulating commentary on important environmental, economic, and cultural issues as well as it’s unique coverage on unknown objects and quirky travel spots, this magazine is what it says.

7. The Black Keys and Sea Wolf. I already went through a Black Keys stage where they were all that was buzzing on my iPod for weeks, but now I’ve revisited Magic Potion and I can’t get enough of it. Leaves in the River is also some really swell stuff.

I’m in the process of writing another short story as well as expanding and editing a story I wrote for my short stories course. Expect something of the child’s tale type genre involving oranges someday soon. Farethewell.