This was my favorite day in “Bangkok”, though Ayutthaya itself is a bit of a hike north.  We woke up super early to grab pastries on our way to catch a shuttle van that would take us to Ayutthaya. Deciding to go with this (instead of a train) because it was cheaper was a bit of a nightmare. We got to Victory Monument before the protest that lived there woke up too much, and then spent about 15 minutes trying to figure out which van we were supposed to get in. Eventually we crammed into the back of one and hoped for the best. Fortunately the driver spoke enough English and remembered where we were going, so he told us when to get off, which was at a gas station.

Knowing we were going to need to haggle a driver for the day, I had insisted we get coffee and food immediately on our arrival so that we’d have time to reset from the drive out and get our heads on straight. Frank and I both HATE haggling. So we drank our coffee while drivers lurked outside. When finally it was time to go, I had my “good” price. First a driver approached us, agreed to our price, and then led us to his shiny black car with air condition. I said no, I wanted one of the open air tuk-tuks. Experience, you know? He was SO confused, and then all the drivers were dying laughing but I didn’t care, I wanted my open air tuk-tuk! And it worked out nicely because our driver was very kind and very helpful and smiled at us, which meant a lot at the time because despite what the guide books say the people of Bangkok are not “always smiling and happy to see you.”

We visited so many places that day, it’d be an epic long blog, but I’ll post some pictures and talk about my absolute favorites.

Me in our tuk-tuk, heading onto the highway.

First stop in Ayutthaya, Wat Yai Chaiyamongkhon. The yellow drapers are symbolic.

I’ll use this cheesy photo-op to explain that Ayutthaya was the capital of Thailand until the Burmese razed it to the ground in… the early 1700s I believe?

Lounging Buddha of Wat Yai Chaiyamongkhon.

Still at Wat Yai Chaiyamongkhon. We actually climbed up and went into this Chedi.


Gigantic sitting Buddha of Wat Phananchoeng, our second stop in Ayutthaya.

Stop #3, Way Mahatha. I liked this place a lot. As someone who loves ancient ruins, it was right up my alley.

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Wat Mahatha’s most famous area is this Buddha head in the tree.

Wat Rathaburana. Wide grounds again and then we climbed up that and went inside.

Inside the giant tower in Wat Ratchaburana, in the middle room down a narrow stairwell were these faded drawings on the wall.IMG_7749
If you climbed further down still and then stuck your head up an opening, you were suddenly inside an old king’s tomb! It’s empty now, of course, but the paintings on the wall are beautiful.IMG_7758 IMG_7769
Stop #5, Wihan Phra Mongkhon Bophit. There was some sort of festival going on.

We peaked inside and there sat another gigantic Sitting Buddha.

Next door, Wat Phra Si Sanphet.

Wandering around Wat Phra Si Sanphet. I love these parts of the ruins, that remind me so much of Rome.

By this point of the day, the sun was scorching overhead and we were exhausted. We had one more stop, and it turned out to be an awesome one! It was fun trying to imagine when this place had been in its prime, hundreds of years ago, surrounded by jungle and in sight of the river. Now it’s a crumbling brick construction site with sentinels of headless Buddha statues. The final stop and maybe my favorite of the day in Ayutthaya, Wat Chaiwatthanaram. You couldn’t go wander around the middle, but even just walking around the outside was really incredible.

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Frank is exhausted and ready to go home but humors my need to explore history.



We bought a coconut to drink as our driver took us to the train station, where the man selling the tickets were horrifically unhelpful and refused to let us buy tickets with anything but the absolute smallest bills. This would be like Amtrak not letting you buy a train ticket with a $100 even though your ticket is $83. Come ooooon.

The wait for our train was fun –train stations are the same wherever you go, really, except that this one had monks. The train ride back was nice, and our first experience with Bangkok’s subway system was nothing like I’d feared. We made it back to the hotel in time to eat dinner and then collapse from the heat and the walking. But I, for one, was thrilled with the day. I checked off another UNESCO World Heritage Site, and I got to see old ruins, which is a successful day of travel in my book!


Happy Easter from Nellie

Happy Easter from Nellie

My brother asked why she didn’t have bunny ears on. She naturally does!

Neeeeeeeeeew Sewing Machine

Previously I had been using a crummy machine my mom purchased from Wal-Mart for a grad school project and had no need of anymore. It was a lightweight, basic Brother machine that served its purpose well in teaching me the basics of working a machine, and also helped me get a feel for whether sewing was something I might actually enjoy before investing a ton of money into it.

Some 15 projects later, I can for sure say I greatly enjoy sewing. And not just sewing, and not just admiring historical fashions (which has always been an interest; I used to have FLOPPY DISKS full of period gown photos), but I’m also interested in designing my own projects, drafting patterns, the whole shebang. And just as I began a course on pattern drafting, the old machine broke.

We took a quick trip to a machine shop to see if I might be able to quickly buy a new one, but machines tend to run $400-$1800. And while someday spending $800 on a REALLY cool machine may not be a huge deal, right now that’s a bit beyond our budget.

But Frank found this great and affordable machine on Amazon. I haven’t had a chance to start it up yet, and for maybe the first time in my life I will carefully read the manual before plunging in, because this machine is my new baby. But it does fancy stitches! And it’s got an interface! And he even got me a package of bobbins, which pushed me into a fit of glee, because I only had one bobbin for the old machine, which meant lots of wasted thread.

Of course, I get this beautiful gift right before a giant video game convention where I’ll be working for days on end, but Monday I’ll have the day off for recovery and then? Then, we sew.



A Dumb Thing I Signed Up For

I have never been a distance runner. I distinctly remember not making the basketball team in junior high, because my coach didn’t think I could be a team player, and realizing quite clearly how that completely would impact my junior high and high school career. And it did, aside from the social stuff, because it basically steered me away from getting involved with athletics. Which meant I got my “athletic” education from that point on in the general athletics class, which meant putting on mesh shorts and an over-sized T-shirt every morning and going for a run through the local neighborhoods. Without water or music, painfully aware of how unattractive this outfit was, how greasy I would be afterwards since we weren’t left with much time to shower. Athletics was one of several things that left me with a desperately low self esteem, a painfully clear understanding of the difference between me and the cute, sporty, pretty girls. Ugh. Running seemed to embody everything I hated about myself.

Fast-forward to college. I loved to just meander around the city and would go walking for hours at a time. Over time, the walking turned to running, because I’d be listening to great music and felt like running, so why not? There wasn’t any point to the running, I didn’t really push myself to reach any distance or time goals. And despite how obsessed I was with weight and exercise the first few years of college, running somehow didn’t get roped into that. Going for a run was completely separate from going to the gym and biking or elliptical-ling for hours on end. Despite that it was exercise, and despite that I wound up purchasing all sorts of cold-weather running gear, it started off and largely remained a more thoughtful activity than really as a work out. When I’d go home to Texas, I’d still go running, sometimes so I could guilt-free eat that donut, but also just because I had an excess of energy and a desire to be outside.

Maybe I’m misremembering a bit. Maybe it was more weight-targeted than I give it credit for being. Because I do remember focusing on running even more that time my dad suggested I get a gym membership because college was making me fat (not his exact words, of course, but clearly what he was implying), and being happy to tell him I’d call him ‘after my run’. Maybe the fact that I actually enjoyed running a great deal saved it from the bad memories of weight obsession that I link with a lot of activities of that time period.

When I started dating Frank, running wasn’t as much of a focus anymore. I’d go through periods of time where, for a few weeks or months, I’d start running again, but then other activities would rear up and it’d fall by the wayside. Being with Frank has by and large made me a much more social creature, which relegates long solo thinking excursions less relevant. I also did a lot of my writing planning and thinking while I ran, and since I don’t write as much anymore… well, you get it.

So I’m not sure what combination of restlessness, excitement that the weather is getting better, frustration that my winter weight is pretty high, and desire to get back into working out did it, but when Christine mentioned she’s going to Vegas in November to run a half-marathon as a belated birthday celebration, I joined. I signed up! I’ve already paid my race fee, and now just need to find cheap flights.

I think there’s an element of missing new experiences. The past year I was so focused on wedding and honeymoon, that my constant drive to learn new skills and set new personal goals sort of fell by the way side. And, for sure, I am frustrated with my current weight, though not from a self-conscious point but more because I am above the weight now at which my body functions the healthiest (and ok, sure, a bit of the self-consciousness as we go into shorts and tank top season).
But a great deal of it is because when she first mentioned it I scoffed and thought, “Haha, I couldn’t do that. I can’t run a half-marathon.” And that is what I will never accept of myself. It’s been a driving motivation of so, so many things in my life. It’s why I went to school in Boston, why I’m here, why I’ve traveled so much, why I’ve done so many of the quirky things. Because the world is full of people who will tell you all the things you can’t do, and it doesn’t matter until you start telling yourself the same bullshit.
So I signed up. And last Saturday went for my first run -1 mile straight of running, after which I thought I might die, but was able to pull it together and combo run/walk the next two miles. Sunday I ran again, and it was a bit easier. Tuesday, when I ran in the rain on my birthday, was a bit easier still.
I start my official training on Tuesday, through RunKeeper. I’ve broken in my beautiful orange Nike Free Run shoes I bought myself for my birthday by running several times in the past week already. I’ve got two weeks of stats tracked with my FitBit. And at some point in the new few months, I’m going to be able to run for miles at a time, something I never thought I’d be able to do.

Sibling Day?

Apparently Sibling Day is a real thing, and it occurred to me that though Thomas and I practiced wearing veils so long ago, only I followed through and wore one at my wedding.



Past the Quarter

It was my birthday on Tuesday, and it was probably the birthday I have looked forward to the least in my whole life. This was the first time I didn’t feel like there was any impending magical day in celebration of me. Largely I felt excited about getting some presents, excited about eating some cake, and excited about knowing I could go to sleep at the end of it, because I am really digging sleeping lately.

The morning started off with a 3 mile run in the rain (MORE ON THAT IN ANOTHER POST). Frank had bought me flowers the night before, and then woke up during my run to have an omelet waiting for me when I got home, so that was lovely.

At work, I did normal work stuff except that a friend bought me a cupcake for lunch, and another friend gave me an armful of presents at the end of the day. And then several of my friends and Frank surprised me with a dinner at Koreana, the Korean BBQ restaurant Frank and I have been going to since our first date. And I was actually surprised! Suspicious, but ultimately surprised that it was more than Frank and my friend Christine, who is always game for anything.

We ate and yelled inappropriate things, as you do, and then I went home and opened way more birthday presents than a 26th birthday warranted. We’re talking toys, sewing machines, Easter decorations, books, wine. And that’s not including the running shoes and Fitbit I bought myself in the guise of birthdayness. Frank cut me a piece of cake he made –yellow cake with chocolate frosting and a giant glass of milk because it’s the best.

It wasn’t until the next morning I realized I didn’t blow out candles and no one sang Happy Birthday. Does it matter? It may mean I’m going to have a really shitty year until my 27th birthday, or it may mean I’ve just grown enough to realize that humans place a great deal of importance on superstitions and traditions because they give an apparent meaning to our otherwise chaotic and meandering existences. OR MAYBE I AM A JADED OLD PERSON NOW.

I have some funny old person jokes I want to make but I’ll wait… and then I’ll make them and you’ll know. You’ll be on the inside.

Here’s the only photo of me from my birthday. I guess I”m at that weird in-between age where, until I have kids that want to make a big fuss, it feels like my birthday isn’t much of a special thing. I mean, everyone’s got one.


Yesterday was my birthday!

And I got a new sewing machine! It does fancy stitches and stuff! I cannot wait to show it off in an upcoming post, along with all the things I am going to start rapidly making the second PAX East is over this weekend. :D :D :D

Gone Again

I was gone in the past week for GDC (Game Developers Conference) in San Francisco. I’m home now, after being pretty lazy for a couple of days, so blogs to commence shortly. I think our day in Ayutthaya is up next, and some random nonsense posts about my pets because of course.

Finished baby dress!

I started this aaaages ago, seriously, like probably two years ago. Then I finished it last fall but it’s been sitting in my knitting basket waiting for the final closures. I got lazy enough that I’ve just tied temporary ribbon on it. Someday when this is going to a real baby, I’ll put forth the effort to add some actual buttons and button loops on the neck closure. But look! Done!

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In looking at the picture, I just noticed I still need to lace a ribbon through the center. But done enough for now. Why do I hate the finishing touches on projects so much? You’d think that would be the most fun part!


I’m in Austin

So all blogs are on hold for now! It’s good to be back in my homestate, and I’m excited for my brother’s wedding. Fun times ahead!


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