lydamorehouse: (yaoi)
One of the reasons I love living where I do is that Saint Paul has a lot of strong ethnic neighborhoods, and thus has a lot of nifty local celebrations--many of them accessible by a short light rail ride from my house.

Little Mekong District is a neighborhood just up (east on) University Avenue from me. It was heavily settled in the 1970s by Vietnamese, Hmong, Lao, Cambodians, and Thai (and, I suspect Karen speakers, too, since I saw at least one cultural organization for them there.)  For the past four years, the neighborhood has been running a night market.  I stumbled across a listing for the neighborhood night market by chance, on Facebook, I think.  

I've been intrigued by night markets ever since I read the book Ghost Month: A Taipei Night Market Novel by Ed Lin, which I read in order to get a better sense of Taiwan and specifically Taipei, ever since my friend [personal profile] jiawen moved there.  She's posted pictures of the "real thing" on her journal, and so when the chance came to go to one locally, I thought: I MUST DO THIS THING.

The problem is, of course, Shawn is not big on crowds. There is literally nothing about a night market that sounds fun to her. Shuffling through heavy crowds in the heat? Strongly spiced food? Going anywhere after 6 pm? None of these are Shawn's favorite things.  But, Saturday night happened to be a night we were hosting Mason's friend Rosemary for movie night.  So, when she and her mom showed up for drop-off, I floated the idea of checking out the night market.  Luckily, Rosemary and Mason were game. So after we had a quick dinner here, I bundled the kids onto the light rail and off we went.

Street scene of the Little Mekong Night Market

 You can see from this picture that there are booths set up along the street, like at a block party or an art fair.  This particular stretch featured local artists selling prints and cards and the sort of typical stuff you might see at a craft/art fair.  The overcast sky does not do justice to how HOT it was. The temperatures on Saturday, even as the sun was setting were near 95 F / 35 C. Also, this does not really accurately give a sense of the crowds. In places, we were shoulder to shoulder.  I ended up buying a greeting card with a funky demon-woman image on it to send to one of my pen pals (now I have to decide who gets it, Keri or Anna. I think they'd both appreciate it. I should have bought two!)  We chatted with another vender because he had a picture of Grimmjow from Bleach and we had to do the nerd salute of people who are embarrassed/not embarrassed to be fans of that show/manga.

The vendors were interesting, but the real draw was the food. The first thing Mason and I had were dumplings, one of which Mason accidentally dropped into the hot sauce. The sauce was HOT, but we ate them anyway.  Right after that we went looking for something cold and found shaved ice:

mango shaved ice

We saw someone doing the hand-rolled ice-cream thing, but the line to get any of that was far too long.  If I had any complaint, it was the lines. The people who were smart were handing out numbers so people didn't end up blocking traffic with their queues.  The place where we got the amazing dumplings did that. 

There were street performers on stilts walking through the closed off streets, too. Even though we were there when it was still light out, I noticed that the performers all had lights as part of their costumes, since the night market was open until midnight. One of the performers was taking a rest against the closed street sign and I asked if I could take her photograph:

street performer at the Little Mekong Night Market

The array of food choices were staggering. There were lots of different Asian cultures on display.  I even managed to find the one Japanese stall that had "walking ramen" which used dried noodles as a base (and included pineapple kimchi, which I was initially leery of, but quite enjoyed.) Mason got a park-stuffed bun (which he did not like much) and Rosemary got a chocolate-stuffed bun (pictured below), which was mucho nom-nom.  Mason also tried green tea flavored hand-spun cotton candy, which he devoured:

Mason tries great tea flavored cotton candy

stuffed bun with cute creature face

I would totally go back again for the food.  We didn't even try everything, partly because the lines for some things were unreasonably long and slow-moving. We stood in line at one place and eventually gave up because it didn't seem to be going forward at ALL. That was disappointing.  

Mason also ended up bringing home a piece of carved, orange soap made to look like a koi. There were people selling clothing and the quilted bags that you often see at Hmong booths at farmer's markets, and just all sorts of fun stuff.  I think, if we go next year, we'll go later in the evening. I really wanted to see what it looked like at night. It was clear that a lot of people had lights strung up, ready for dusk/evening. I bet it looked spectacular--and maybe it would have been a little less hot (though I suspect the crowds remained the same all night long.)

If I ever write Saint Paul-centric urban fantasy again, it would be fun to set a scene at the night market. People from other parts of the country tend to think of Minnesota as so very "white bread" and the Twin Cities really, really aren't.  Apparently, near Fasika, also just up University from us, there was a concurrent Little Africa Night Market, which would have been a lot of fun to check out, too.  We were STUFFED and hot and exhausted, though.  Maybe next year.

10/10 would again, as the kids say.
lydamorehouse: (ichigo being adorbs)
 Saint Paul did not close its schools.  So guess who was up at o'f*ck o'clock shoveling the sidewalk and unburying the car?  That's right. THIS GIRL.

I was so irritated by St. Paul that my chiropractor literally pulled me aside to talk to me about my shoulder tension.  I resisted screaming into his face, "BLAME THE ST. PAUL SCHOOL SYSTEM!" Because, okay, yeah, I'm probably unreasonably irritated about having to get up early and shovel, but what made my shoulders that high was having to drive on half-plowed street with my family in the car.  Myself, alone, maybe I wouldn't be so tense.  But, with Shawn AND Mason along?  Yeah, no, that's a lot of responsibility and I really don't want to be responsible for having killed them, a pedestrian, or another driver and/or their family.  Yeah my shoulders were up over my ears. I was lucky they weren't higher.

Now the sun has come out to mock me.

I kind of wish that the skies had dumped an extra fifteen pounds of snow on St. Paul's head so I could self-righteously shout: "HA!"

On the other hand, because I was up and about early, I stopped by Whole Foods and picked something for the crock pot for dinner tonight and made myself a very early lunch (technically brunch? Maybe breakfast with lunch-related food?)

When Shawn was recovering from gallbladder surgery, a friend of ours, George, brought over his guaranteed vegan, all-the-fiber stew, which was basically: garbanzo beans, tomato chunks, and various veggies all simmered together.  It was super simple and he kept apologizing for it not even being a particularly tasty batch, but I LOVED it and now make a version of my own on a regular basis--mostly for myself, because my family is a bunch of unrepentant carnivores.  So somewhere around ten am, I stuffed my face with bean/tomato/potato/mushroom/okra/carrot stew.

Being irritable takes a lot of fuel, apparently.  




lydamorehouse: (more renji art)
Today's commute was brought to you by the letters, "O," "M," and "G"

Right, so I'm feeling pretty clever and confident, despite watching everyone slip and slide on the iced-over hardpacked roads because I've got this system where I switch into low geer just at each intersection and very, very carefully apply pressure to the gas. Works like a charm.

Until it doesn't.

There we are, my entire family in the car, at the busy intersection of Summit and Victoria and the car just ain't movin'. I'm spinning my wheels no matter how slow I go, and I can't try to back-up because there's a line of people behind me. So, Shawn tries to get out to give the car a push, but, sensibly, she's in high heels. Besides, her foot slides on the glare ice and she wisely gets back in the car because not only is it stupid-slippery, but THE IDIOTS ARE GOING AROUND ME ON THE PASSANGER SIDE.

She crawls into my seat and I get out. I have womanly boots on, so I'm getting slightly better traction, but Holy Ice Age, Batman, if I don't have to hold on to the car to keep from sliding under it. I finally get behind the car and I have to spend three minutes directing traffic because ALL THE IDIOTS ARE IN SUCH A HURRY TO DIE AND POSSIBLY KILL US ALL IN THEIR MAD RUSH TO GET TO A JOB THEY PROBABLY HATE.

Then, the light turns green again and I put my hand on the bumper...and immediatly slide back. It's such a sheet of ice that it's almost impossible to get a reaction without an immediate equal and opposite one. Finally, the guy in the truck behind me is not a mindlessly hurrying idiot and he hops out of his vehicle asks in the friendly Minnesotan way, "Do you need help?" I'm about to say yes, when his foot goes out from under him and he collides into me and the car. Luckily, he doesn't go under it, and weridly, having his body right there I'm able to give our car enough of a push that Shawn slowly sides through the intersection without colliding with anything. I see her steering over to the curb, and I'm about to offer the guy a hand, but he's already up and, of course APOLOGIZING. I tell him not to worry about it because OMG he's lucky no idiot had decided to go around us both and run over him, and then, being the classly lady I am, I swore up a storm like a sailor as I tried to walk across the f*cking iced-over street to get back to my car.

What the heck, Saint Paul? Do we not remember this thing called SAND?? Anakin Skywalker does not like sand, in fact he says, "I don't like sand. It's coarse and rough and irritating and it gets everywhere. Not like here. Here everything is soft and smooth." But, he's Darth Vader, killer of millions, and 'soft and smooth' makes for crap-ass driving conditions. Let's get some sand out there, people!

/rant.

I am, however, most grateful to be home. Ironically, yesterday, the day after twelve inches of snow, I made it home only 15 minutes behind schedule. Today, it's almost 45 mintues. That cuts into my bon-bon eating time, folks. I am not happy.

Although, to be fair, I am also late coming home because I stopped in to talk to the librarian at Mason's school. Talk about another depressing conversation. Did you know that there are only twelve full-time librarians in the Saint Paul School District? Ms. Fry, the librarian at Crossroads, is the _only_ elementary school librarian, and she's technically part-time because, in order to save her job, she got a Pre-K teaching licence and does that part-time at Crossroads as well. There is something seriously wrong with this picture. We chose Crossroads over all other schools partly because there was a librarian on staff. What, I ask you, is the point of having a media center/library at your school when it's shuttered half the time or run by volunteers?

The good news is that she and I worked out a plan for Mason, his AR tests, and schedule.

The bad news is that I found out that St. Paul schools no longer support AR tests and Crossroads is footing the entire bill to keep the program running at their school. Ai, ai, ai.

So much ranting.
lydamorehouse: (Default)
I will be on KARE-11 on Tuesday, August 3rd for a live appearance on "Showcase Minnesota," which I think airs at 10:00 am. All I know is that I'm supposed to be at the studio by 9:45 am. It's confirmed. In fact, I just scheduled the hair and make-up person. hork-hork.*

Thank you to the one or two people who jumped in to tell me that I'm plenty cute for TV. I happen to agree with them. However, the reason I think of myself as having the perfect face for radio is because you just don't see a lot of people who look like me on TV, period.

I think about this a lot when people crow to me about how FAR we've come in terms of GLBT visiblity in television programming. Willow was gay, you know. I _know_, but her girlfriend was possibly the one person in the Buffyverse MORE GIRLY than she was. The women of the "L Word"? They wear more lipstick in one episode than I've worn in my entire life. You might get the ocassional hot-chick-on-hot-chick relationship surprise (or very special episode) on other shows, but I just don't see a lot of pleasantly plump butch women on TV on a regular basis.

I'm sure it will go fine. I got some pointers of a friend who's business it is to BE the media, and he reminded me to have a talking point, repeat it, and smile a LOT. Oh, yeah, and to keep my expectations low. He said that the host will probably spend most of *my* five minutes of fame explaining me to the audience and making it all about him or her (instead of me). It'll be over in a flash at any rate.

I did decide to go ahead an buy the professional hair and make-up person. She costs a couple of hundred dollars, but the last time I put on make-up I was in high school... or maybe the last play I performed in in college. And, frankly, I was never very good at it. This person's speciality is high definition TV and that makes her ten times worth it. I'm sure my sad attempts would look even worse under the magnifying glass of HDTV.

Things are just hopping, because I got a call from the Pioneer Press too. We scheduled my interview with them for Monday morning. That means I've got TV, radio, and newspaper covered.

I was standing in line here at the coffee shop talking to my writer friends about all this, and it suddenly HIT ME why I was getting all this attention. The book takes place in Saint Paul. And it's about vampires. That's a cute little story for a lot of local media. D'uh.

Speaking of which, though, I need to go off and get started on the proposal for ALMOST #3 and a few other writing related things.

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