Quarantine Day 62

I realized today that it’s been three months to the day since my quarantine began. That would explain why I no longer know what year it is.

I’ve been watching a lot of Try Guys and GoT lately and it does things to your brain, which is why I decided I needed to draw Margaery wearing Blake Lively’s 2018 Met Gala dress at like 2:30 a.m. Overall I’m pretty pleased with how she turned out, even if I did get lazy with the details. Mostly I’m pleased that I actually can draw something other than fat little people in onesies. Maybe I’ll clean her up later, though to be perfectly honest I probably won’t.

I also suffered a rather rude shock when Rusalka referred to my duck as a goose, which led to some rather hysterical googling on my part, during which I (1) concluded that the duck was a duck and (2) ran across an article about a blind, bisexual, and polyamorous goose. Go figure.

But I digress.

Lately I’ve been rolling around between numbness and irritability, which I mostly figure is the quarantine’s fault, though this hasn’t exactly been a cheerful year. At the same time, it worries me when people talk about reopening because I really don’t want us rushing into the projected second wave. On top of everything else, Maryland got hit hard by The Pollening right after the May polar vortex (???), which means itchy eyes and marathon sneezing. I hate spring.

On the slightly brighter side, things have evened out a lot work-wise since my last quarantine update, which is good because four of my projects ganged up on me and decided they all wanted to be shipped this coming week. I also finished Empress Dowager Cixi, so I finally got to start on some new books!

May has been pretty slumpy so far, but I got my second wind after finishing Cixi and celebrated by jumping into three books I’ve never read before. I haven’t gotten too far in any of them, but omg The Book of Longings is so good!!! I peeked at the first page when it arrived and liked what I saw, and later found it really hard to put down. The writing is gorgeous and I love Ana, and I can’t wait to see where this goes.

The Map of Salt and Stars is another one I’ve been looking forward to – I put it on hold at the library but then we went into quarantine, and I finally lost patience and ordered it from BN. I’m not really sure how I feel about this one yet, but I’m only 25 pages in and it’s very promising so far. I also started To Helvetica and Back, which has been sitting untouched on my shelf for years. Helvetica is my first foray into cozy mysteries, which is a genre I’m fairly certain I’ll love, and I’ve mostly been enjoying it, but I also keep getting distracted by the plethora of typos. Are cozy mysteries not usually proofread? The mistakes I keep finding in Helvetica are things that should’ve been caught, and they’re making me seriously wonder if I need to read the rest of the Dangerous Type mysteries. I really really really wanted to love Dangerous Type, but if this is a typical sample of the author’s writing I may have to pass on the rest of the series. Either way, I’m at the stage where I’m trying to finish Helvetica quickly so I can get back to the more promising books. I’m currently four books short of my goal of reading 15 books by the end of May, so I really need to get my ass in gear.

In food-related news, I’ve been eating extremely well, which is one of the bright spots amid the general quarantine gloom. This helps both me and the local restaurants, so I don’t feel too bad about going out because I want these places to still be around when we reopen.

Taiwanese popcorn chicken was one of the first things on my list:

THIS CHICKEN IS SO GOOD and now that I’m looking at this picture I’m legit thinking about hotfooting it down to the Taiwanese joint tomorrow and picking up some chicken and maybe a mango ice smoothie oh no oh no 😭 Now that I’ve said that it’s probably going to happen because I have the self-control of a five-year-old.

Mother’s Day weekend was a particularly good time, because we finally had an excuse to visit the new(ish) Choong Man Chicken in Germantown. The curry snow onion chicken was exactly as amazing as I remembered, and the nice people at CM threw in a couple of tubs of pickled daikon. I have a severe weakness for pickled daikon, and this one was particularly good. If you ever want to bribe me, feed me pickled daikon. I wish I were joking.

Not pictured: maguro sashimi from our favorite Japanese place, fried chicken wings, rice, curly fries, Japanese potato salad, and EVEN MOAR DAIKON PICKLES. It was a really good Saturday. Then on Mother’s Day proper we had homemade chili burgers and the leftover CM curly fries, because my mom happened to find a recipe for a copycat Tommy’s chili. We’re not actually sure if this is an accurate copy because Tommy’s is in LA and we don’t exactly have access to LA, but we’ve all agreed it’s amazing anyway.

Celebrations in quarantine have been pretty good so far because we can still pick up nice treats, like these cakes I got for my dad’s birthday:

And the Lindt chocolates I grabbed while I was at CVS, because I’d just read that damn Chocolat book and it really made me want chocolate:

And these adzuki donuts and mini stroopwafels, which I picked up by chance because that’s just who I am as a person. I didn’t even know stroopwafels could be that small but they’re really good so you sure as fuck won’t see me complaining 🤣

Rounding out the post with more pics of the Senior Nap Manager, because obviously I don’t photograph her enough.

Good night, world. x___x

Karo Dreams of Noodles

It’s been a bizarre couple of weeks. First there was the week before last, which produced the worst Wednesday I’ve ever had. Then there was last week, which was generally all right but contained an unpleasant surprise. Then there was this week, which actually was fairly normal but also made me dream about two equally delicious bowls of noodle soup with two different kinds of noodles sitting right in front of me omg why did I have to wake up from that WHYYYYY WHYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY 😭😭😭

Also I was sitting at my desk this afternoon completely minding my own business when I was suddenly ambushed by the realization that I don’t always remember to draw my tail? Like I thought about it for like five seconds and then completely forgot about it in the pic right above this paragraph? I have literally no idea what’s wrong with my brain sometimes #headdesk (On a brighter note, I’ve been reading about a mythical thing called a Milk Tray for years because it pops up every few months in Bridget Jones’s Diary and today I finally got to actually try a Milk Tray because my boss brought one to work to share with the design team and I am now a fan because chocolate is LIFE. And also I think I might’ve just definitively outed myself as an American, in case that wasn’t obvious already.)

Anyway. I could dwell all day on the many many dream noodle soup bowls I haven’t been allowed to eat but I don’t want to talk about it, so I thought I’d do a quick(ish) post on something happier:

I got a new car! (Translation: I am leasing a new car because I can’t buy one outright.) About three months ago I drove my ailing first car to Williamsburg instead of asking one of my friends to drive because, I don’t know, I’m crazy. She started smelling like gas on the way down, she smelled like gas while we were putt-putting around Williamsburg, and she smelled like gas the whole way back. She spent some time with my mechanic when we finally got home, and after about a week he told me I was looking at a bill of at least $1,500 – $1,800 to fix everything that was wrong with her, and that she was so old that it wasn’t worth the cost of repairing her. In the end he made her drivable again for a much lower cost and warned me not to take her on the highway, and she limped along for another month before I finally got over the whole I WILL NEVER ABANDON MY PRECIOUS BABY thing and realized I didn’t actually feel safe driving her.

Rest in peace, Veloce. You were the best little car I could ever have asked for. You stuck with me through two years of college, three years of grad school, four apartments, fourteen jobs, and a lot of violin lessons, and ferried me and my friends to all kinds of places both in and out of Maryland. I don’t know what Honda has done with you, but I’d like to think they fixed you up and placed you with a nice owner who’ll be less demanding than I was. I knew I couldn’t keep you forever, but I still miss you. 💔

On that note, it wasn’t exactly a straight path to the new car, (1) because I historically don’t do well with big changes, (2) because Veloce was the first car and quite frankly the only one I ever wanted to drive, and (3) because I was 99.99999999% convinced that I didn’t have the money to get another car. It also didn’t help that I was so accustomed to Veloce that there always seemed to be something wrong with the other cars I’ve driven over the years: The pedals were too loose. The cars felt too heavy. (Yes, that is literally A Thing with me.) The dashboard bulked weirdly behind the steering wheel and blocked my view. (That one felt slightly more legit. I am not a large person.) Between the time I took my little car to the mechanic and the time I finally said goodbye to her forever, there was a brief adventure with a rented Hyundai named Samwise, who was heavy but worked well, and about a month of window-shopping, procrastination, and denial. During the window-shopping phase I visited CarMax and FitzMall and drove a few of their cars around, but balked at both the expense and the strangeness of the different cars and ended up ghosting the sales reps because me and my little car were going to be together forever and ever and EVER. By the time I finally stumbled into the Honda dealership at the end of August, I knew I was never going to find another car I liked and I was going to be driving Veloce until her floor dropped out and she turned into a four-wheel land raft.

Then the salesman brought out Hector.

I was looking for either a Civic or a Fit, so we test drove both. In the end the Civic won because it was small enough to suit me (albeit not as small as Veloce, but nobody’s perfect) but still more powerful than the Fit, which felt like a golf cart. For anybody wondering why he’s named Hector, it’s because of this handsome SOB:

Full disclosure: I asked for a blue car because I was already thinking I wanted a blue Civic so I could name him Hector the Honda and I already knew the color was called Aegean Blue and Eric Bana is, like, the perfect Hector and the car matches the blue dresses the Trojans wear in the movie and it seemed like fate so yeah I’ve been driving Prince Hector of Troy around for almost two months now and oh gawd I know you’re judging me.

Even fuller disclosure: I usually call him Hector. Or Heck. He only gets the full title when he’s doing something naughty, like letting the rubber lining on his back passenger door flap loose. Ahem, Prince Hector.

I somehow got paired with an incredibly patient salesman, which was very lucky because I’m pretty sure I came across as borderline neurotic (read: basket case). I wasn’t originally planning to lease a car that day, given that I was still pretty stuck on my old car, but they kept lowering the price so after a few rounds I caved, handed over Veloce, and drove home with Hector. The only thing is that the change from Veloce to Hector was very abrupt, and I wish I could’ve had more time to process everything and say goodbye. If I’d known that the trip to the Honda dealer was going to be the last time I’d ever drive Veloce, I would’ve paid more attention. I was about five seconds away from becoming that weirdo who hugs their car in a public parking lot.

Some good things about Prince Hector because I’m still not sure that I did the right thing:

  • He’s goooooorgeous. I’m used to a very neutral-colored car, but I looooove the Aegean Blue. He also has little white racing stripes, which are pretty cute.
  • He has four doors!!! This is actually huge because I’m the self-proclaimed designated driver in my group, and, while I haven’t taken full advantage of these yet, it’ll be lovely to drive my friends around without having to stuff them into the backseat through the passenger’s door.
  • He’s got a huge trunk. I kinda wanna go on another road trip.
  • He doesn’t smell like gas. I’m also not constantly wondering if his bottom is going to drop out or if I should turn off his AC before he, you know, explodes or something.
  • HE HAS A STRAIGHT-UP USB PORT. I CAN LITERALLY PLUG MY IPOD STRAIGHT INTO HIM AND HE’LL CHARGE IT FOR ME WHILE PLAYING LOVELY MUSIC.
  • His parking brake is funny. I’m actually not sure how I feel about this one because his parking brake is this little switch instead of a lever but I’ve gotten used to it, so I guess we’re good?

The Not-So-Good Things

I wasn’t joking about that passenger door rubber liner thing and I’m going to have to take him back to the Honda dealer TRAGEDYYYYYYYY but I keep forgetting to set up an appointment 🙁 If I don’t come back in a week with photographic evidence that I’ve gotten my door fixed, leave me a comment telling me I’m bringing shame on my ancestors.

Karo is a Peasant

It all started with Getty Images. I was shopping through Colonial Williamsburg stock photos for a work project and completely minding my own business when I started to think, These are really nice photos. Never mind that the last time I went to Williamsburg I was in fifth grade and Completely UninterestedTM in American history. I hope the Williamsburg marketing team is happy, because their photos work. Fast-forward a few minutes and These are really nice photos turned into I want to go to Williamsburg, which turned into I bet I can drag my friends to Williamsburg. Four months later, I packed my friends and their suitcases into my little car and drove us down to Williamsburg during a weekend so hot that the weather people were literally telling everyone to barricade themselves in their houses. This turned out to be the last straw for my poor little car, which had been ailing for some time and started smelling like gas on the way down. That’s what I get for dragging a 17-year-old car on a road trip in 115° weather I’m sorry babyyyyyyy 😭

Anyway, my friends have better sense than I do, so instead of the two-day Williamsburg tour we’d planned we spent most of our time at our resort. Full disclosure: until July, I’d never set foot in a resort and in fact kind of assumed that resorts were built for snooty people who hung around pools all day and could afford to pay $10000000 per night and oh gawd I was wrong it was delightful and I have literally no idea what I’ve been doing with my life and also I probably drank way more pink lemonade than was good for me 😬

Yes, I really did buy one of those pretty straw hats. Picspam and full(ish) itinerary behind the cut, because I do have some decency.

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Pad See Ew

Two weeks ago I said The Handmaid’s Tale had gone off the rails. Today I’m saying I’ve gotten back on the train.

I have no idea how long this’ll last given the general bumpiness of the season BUT AFTER EPISODE 10 I’M BACK ONBOARD AT LEAST TEMPORARILY CUS MUFFINS MEAN YES BITCHESSSSSSSS

I cried. 😭😂 (also why did they stop putting up sneak peek videos HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO JUDGE THE NEXT EPISODE WITHOUT A TRAILER HULU ASD;JKFIHDGPFGH /flails)

Anyway.

All of this is tangential to the point of the post, which is that I’ve finally conquered rice noodles. The first time I tried to cook dried rice noodles I was very very new to the noodle game, which means that what eventually came out of my wok was a solid mass of noodle-shaped objects. It was like chewing a carpet. Cue three- to five-year montage of me rolling around on the floor feeling sorry for myself and refusing to touch dried noodles nope never again not ever.

Welp, this year I discovered Rasa Malaysia’s pad see ew recipe and the S.S. “I’M NEVER COOKING RICE NOODLES AGAIN I AM NOT DESTINED FOR GREATNESS” sprang a massive leak, and now I’m sitting here telling you that if you’re in a little pity party boat of your own there is still hope because if I can learn to cook dried rice noodles without turning them into the world’s cheapest carpet then so can you. And now, if you’ve made it to the end of that run-on sentence without getting lost, here’s a couple of pics.

Obviously I had a lot of faith in myself. In this case I didn’t need to worry because it finally occurred to me to, you know, maybe watch a YouTube tutorial instead of relying on the comical English on the back of the noodles package. The package claimed the noodles would be ready to cook after soaking for 30 minutes, but therein lay my downfall three to five years ago. Here’s what actually worked:

  1. Soak the noodles for 30 minutes.
  2. Bring a pot of water to a boil. You’ll want enough water to submerge your noodles. When the water is boiling, add a little cooking oil to keep the noodles from sticking to each other.
  3. When the noodles are done soaking, boil them for one to two minutes, then drain them and zap them with cold water. This keeps the sneaky bastards from overcooking themselves.
  4. Add the noodles to whatever you’re cooking. INSTANT PROFIT.
  5. New tip that I just learned three hours ago: Boil the noodles literally one or two minutes before you need them. If they sit in the colander too long they clump together and are very hard to separate.
  6. If you’re like me and you leave them in the colander too long, add more oil while you’re stir-frying them and try to loosen them up with whatever utensils you have on hand (preferably cooking chopsticks). Yes, this works. Sort of. Look, the noodles were still edible, okay?
  7. Extra credit: Try Rasa Malaysia’s recipe with pork belly instead of chicken.

Moral of the story: YouTube knows everything.

Aftermath

Or: It’s been a little over a week since we woke up to a Jennicorn-shaped hole in the wall, and I suddenly remembered I promised journal comics.

On Jennicorn’s last night, I decided it would be nice to stalk find her and say goodbye before I went home.

Fortunately everyone else on her floor had gone home, so there was nobody around to wonder why a dragon was scaling her cube. Unfortunately the cube was empty, so I said goodbye to her coat and then went off to my car.

Epilogue

There actually was a happy ending to this because (1) I decided this would make a good journal comic, (2) I realized I had no idea how to draw a cubicle, and (3) I’ve watched too many movies. Jennicorn turned out to be in a nearby conference room while I was saying goodbye to her coat, and she came out in time to catch me taking pictures of her cube because I’m ridiculous. Whatever works…