A painting is like it

Sometimes, as you live your life, you find yourself waiting, standing around or in the car/on the bus and you drink in your suroundings- sweet and tangy like a malt beverage you would never admit to having tried, much less enjoyed. And then you notice the surreal depth of sunset painted clourds, or the way a tall beige skyscraper washes living, dimensional things in siepia tones. You are striken with the beauty of the moment and think it’s like a painting. But in reality, a painting is like it.

Sunglasses: A Love Story

Some People claim that Seattleites go so far as to wear sunglasses when the skies are overcast, but I’ve only seen the Californians posing as Seattleites do this. You know a real Seattleite because we’ve become accustomed to the glare from overcast skies. Ask any native to Western Washington if they have ever thought of wearing sunglasses when it’s overcast and they’ll laugh harder than if you asked why they weren’t carrying an umbrella on any given day.

For thirteen years of my life, I never owned a pair of sunglasses. Having grown up in Western Washington (Eastern Wa is far different), I understand the seasons “Spring”, “Summer”, “Autumn” and “Winter” to really mean “nine months of gray skies” and “three months of sun”. So, given that I would have only worn a pair of sunglasses every now and then during the three months known as “The Not-Rainy Season”, owning them was less important than a cheap and expendable coat. They were nice to have around if one wanted to look cool in a scrawny
nymphet way, but I was never a nymphet nor cool and had found that squinting against the sun on the rare times it appeared worked out well.

My first pair of sunglasses were BluBlockers. I still have them laying around, but I rarely wear them as the world turns into a saccharine Technicolor land aged with shades of brown. The lenses have a circumference larger than coke bottle glasses and the frame was coated with a cheap gold foil that has recently started to chip off at a rate faster than the paint on my moss-covered Oldsmobile. But when I first acquired my sunglasses, I thought I was really cool and nothing could take me down from my pedestal. For the next two summers, anytime I left the house I would pull my glasses out of their soft maroon case and coyly cover my eyes. Sometimes, I even lowered my face and pulled my glasses down my nose slightly to give someone that “I’m cooler than you” look. I even mastered the art of walking in shopping centers with my glasses on. My friends humored me, saying nothing to dash my image of coolness. But then, maybe even they felt cool in the presence of my “As Seen On TV” BluBlockers. This was long before Men In Black hit the theaters and I learned that one had to have sleek black sunglasses to look cool, not a pair of brown BluBlockers with gold foil rims.

After my two summers of disillusioned cool, I moved out of the world of Junior High and into High School. With the instantaneous wisdom of a high school student, I knew that my sunglasses weren’t cool, but I continued to wear them when the need arose. After all, they were supposed to block harmful UV rays from my eyes. It wasn’t until I graduated high school and was visiting LA with some friends for our graduation hurrah when I rediscovered that sunglasses could be more than just a tool to keep the glare of sun out of my face.

The three of us were walking along Venice Beach when I pulled out my trusty BluBlockers to block the brilliant glare of sun off white sands. “Oh fuck, those are ugly,” J, my pink, black and leopard print-wearing fashionista friend informed me. “We really need to get you a pair of glasses that compliment your face more,” K, my other friend, agreed. They hurried me into a sunglass booth tucked amidst artisans and palm readers. My friends immediately began selecting pairs of cheap glasses that would highlight or refine various features of my face, handing one pair after another and having me examine each one carefully in a small, hanging mirror tacked to a pole. “Here, this pair belongs to you,” J told me, triumphantly holding it out after only ten minutes of arguing with K about whether a pair of small rectangle lenses would be better for my face or a pair of elongated ovals. I tentatively tried on my pair of trusty BluBlockers and looked in the mirror, examining how they dwarfed me eyes and somehow managed to make my nose appear more angular and beak-like than it really was. I then tried on J’s pair of rectangular glasses, and followed it with K’s pair of oval glasses. I put J’s pair back on, and then removed it and tried on K’s once more. Sometime during my indecisive period, I had the sudden thought that the girl whose glasses were rejected might become offended. It would have been rather silly, should this have happened, but both J and K were equally dear friends and the glasses were so cheap that I managed to buy both pairs for under $12 without having to haggle with the vendor.

WOW Bubble Tea

4553 University Way NE (the Ave)
Seattle, WA 98105

1PM-12AM Daily

$3.01 for basic iced tea with tapioca (Like Pochi’s, they didn’t charge me for the penny)

Hotlink this image, and your soul is mine, bitch

First off, let me try and explain to you the concept of WOW. This is rather hard to explain, mind you, as numerous web searches turned up miniscule information. However, some of my devote Christian sources have explained to me that WOW stands for Wonder of Worship. Unfortunately, my sources both said they were unfamiliar with WOW and had only heard mention of it. All of my web searches returned information about music cds and concerts for WOW, but there was nothing about the organizations mission. So, until I find their mission statement, I am going to describe them as capitalistic Christians who want to take over the world with their music. So how, exactly, does bubble tea fit into this?

I’m not quite sure, other than a bubble tea café on the Ave attracts more attention than a new generic café that must compete with the plethora of much more established haunts like Solstice or Perkengrüven. Having a bigger consumer draw and less competition also means that one can install a massive collection of TVs stacked atop one another with brilliant decorative skill and play a constant barrage of Christian soft rock music videos at a noise level where the sound of shitty music isn�t grating, but can still brainwash customers.

But really, the overall ambience of WOW is nicer than most of the gritty restaurants on the Ave. The interior design consists of simple, stark modern lines without sacrificing comfort. Everything is white, clean, and uncluttered with fancy glass tables set between large over-stuffed booth-style chairs. With the whiteness and cleanliness of everything, I couldn’t help but think they were going for the standard “purity” motif, which I found to be unsettling. The TVs bothered me as they were the focal point of the café and incredibly hard to ignore. I also didn’t see the requisite board games anywhere, but they could have been hiding behind the TVs. The staff was friendly- as Christians should be- and the music was at a soft level that my Muzak trained ears could ignore.

As for the actual drink I ordered, they did offer my control flavor (lemon iced tea with a jasmine base). However, the jasmine base wasn’t really jasmine tea, but more a blend of jasmine and black tea. It wasn’t terrible, but it certainly wasn’t what I was expecting when I chose jasmine instead of green tea or black tea. The flavoring was rather strong, as well as the tea, so the overall drink had a funky taste since the tea and powder competed rather than complimented each other. WOW also cooked their tapioca balls almost too long so that they had a deteriorative squish and were almost too big to be sucked up the straw.

The Rating
Ambience: 8 out of 10 (the TVs and music were a little too much)
Tapioca Texture: 9 out of 10
Drink Quality: 8 out of 10
Recommendation: If Christians, capitalistic Christians or Christian soft-rock scare you, stay away.

This is an ongoing series of bubble tea reviews in Seattle. The control tea for each review is a basic lemon iced tea with a jasmine base (when available). Clearly, the ideas expressed here are my personal opinions and thus are not the end of your world should you disagree.

Iconolatric Cookies

A couple of days ago, Tyler and I spotted a pair of pudgy Girl Scouts sagely set-up near the coffee/WiFi lounge at the U-Village QFC. I approached them with purpose, knowing that I was going to buy one box of Tagalongs and one box of Thin Mints and hand them exactly six dollars and no change. As we reached the table, the girls wrung their hands anxiously like pygmy flea marketeers. “Would you like some Girl Scout cookies?” the pudgiest one asked when I had already pulled my wallet out and was leafing through my one dollar bills.

Would I like some Girl Scout cookies? It’s been so many years since I’ve last had Girl Scout cookies. Since I can remember, I’ve had an internal Girl Scout Cookie Clock. But I suppose it was broken for the first three years of college as the alarm would sound mere weeks after the sale. I would be left with the insatiable and unfulfilled craving for Thin Mints and Tagalongs that nothing else could appease (not even the Grasshoppers). Trembling from desire, my stomach would churn and growl for days on end, leaving me to gaze mournfully at the silken chocolaty portraits of my yearnings on www.girlscoutcookiesabc.com until classes got the better of me and I reset my gimp cookie alarm for next year.

An hour after securing my first Thin Mints and Tagalongs in years, I was reclining in my “executive leather” computer chair, relishing the superior peanut-buttery goodness of ecstasy.

“Would you want your kids to be in Girl Scouts?” Tyler randomly asked from his throne of pillows piled at the head of the bed.

“Sure. If they want to be Girl Scouts, why not? Wouldn’t you?”

“Nah, I’d encourage them to play at least one sport, like soccer. They wouldn’t really benefit from Girl Scouts.”

Horrified, I exclaimed, “It’s fuckin’ Girl Scouts! They gain valuable social skills by being able to interact with other girls who won’t pick on them or make fun of them. Besides, I was never in Girl Scouts and to this day I wonder what it was all about. It’s a national icon, you know?”

“Isn’t that Boy Scouts?” he inquired.

“No-oo,” I answered rather indignantly. “Who gives a shit about them? They don’t sell cookies every year.”

Pochi Tea Station

5014 University Way (the Ave)
Seattle, WA 98105

1PM-12AM Daily

$3.01 for basic iced tea with tapioca (they didn’t charge me for the penny, though)

Pochi Bubble Tea: the outside looks like shit, but the interior is better

Good ol’ Pochi’s is an established business that’s been around for years as far as commerce on the Ave is concerned (hardly any of the businesses make it past a year). In fact, I owe my first brush with bubble tea and my subsequent crazed bubble tea neurosis to Pochi’s.

The first time I had tried bubble tea was when a group of friends and I were hanging out at the Mix, and another friend joined us with an opaque plastic cup full of brightly colored liquid in tow. Curious about this strange concoction (the bubble tea craze was to come a year later), we inquired about what he had. He explained to us that while he was living in Hong Kong for a year, he had encountered this popular drink and used to drink it every day after school. He was quite enthusiastic about bubble teas debut in the U-District and encouraged those brave enough (and stupid enough to swap germs with five other people) to try his drink. I was one of those brave and stupid people- in fact, I was the only one, so I guess my stupid level isn’t so high since I only swapped germs with one other person. The others opted out, claiming they couldn’t stand tapioca and that seeing it the size of marbles was quite distressing. I, having led a sheltered childhood, had never had tapioca and to this day still have not had it in its intended form. Perhaps this contributed to my ability to try the drink unhindered, or perhaps I’m just strange enough that I’ll try about anything food related. Whatever the case, I tried it and was shocked by the sheer size of the tapioca. It’s one thing to see thin outlines of the tea-infused balls through a thick fruity liquid, it’s yet another to actually have one of those things invade your mouth and flee into your stomach byway of the throat without your permission. I remember the drink, on the other hand, having a wonderful combination of tea and sweet flavoring. But even so, I was disturbed by the tapioca flotsam one was meant to suck through with extra wide straws. It wasn’t for another year until- with a different friend- I tried bubble tea again. I knew to expect the silken texture of nuclear lambasted tapioca balls (or can one just say “tapioci”?) and to go easy on the straw as not to accidentally swallow and choke on un-chewed balls.

So, Dear Reader who e-mailed me asking what the hell bubble tea is, does that answer your question? Sorry if it doesn’t, I suppose you’ll have to read this article or this one and perhaps search the internet for some pictures.

Now, as far as the general performance review is concerned, Pochi’s earned mixed results. I tried them much earlier this week, receiving a rather watery sinking-in-the-pit-of-your-stomach saccharine concoction. Having the advantage of purchasing quality tea from them on a number of prior occasions, I decided to grace them with a repeat taste test. The second time I ordered, someone different made my drink and it was much better. The drink I ordered was a lemon iced tea with a jasmine base and it was less on the sweet side, more on the tea side. Unlike Yunnie’s, who makes consistent drinks, it seems that with Pochi’s you’re depending on the luck of the straw with which employee serves you. Both trials found the tapioca to have just the right consistency; the balls were smaller than most, which made them more on the chewy side. I personally enjoy this more than the larger ones that have a deteriorative squish to them.

Not only do they offer tea, but they also offer WiFi, vibrant green walls, a vibrant orange counter, the usual selection of games to be used by customers, and uncluttered windows with lots of daylight- something particularly important in Seattle. Oh, and the staff is really friendly- a refreshing change after the bitchy Gingko Tea lady who tapped her foot and got pissy because I didn’t know they only offer lemon-lime flavoring, not lemon. The general layout is rather oblong, so it would be to your advantage to hang out there with only one other person as seating for large groups is limited. The furniture is uniform black mission-style chairs with small matching tables. It looked rather uncomfortable, and the tables were much too small for a board game with ample room left for your drink and elbows. As far as comfy lounge seating is concerned, it’s limited. I believe there were only two relaxed chairs and a padded window seat in the entire place. My first trial taste found the café to be jammed up the walls with rambunctious Greeks (the college kind, not the cultural kind). The noise levels were incredibly high- without the TVs and Asian pop music turned on- and the place felt like a sweltering tropical jungle. My second trial taste found nary a customer and the temperature levels at a comfortable 65 F. Again, the TVs weren’t on, but the Asian pop was at a low and tolerable level.

Pochi’s, you were a balm that soothed and healed my puss-filled broil. Thank you for guiding me to the light that is bubble tea.

The Rating
Ambience: 8 out of 10
Tapioca Texture: 10 out of 10
Drink Quality: 7 out of 10
Recommendation: Try it out. Pochi’s iced tea has more tea and less sweetener than that of others I’ve had, so if you like your bubble tea sweet it might not be the place for you.

This is an ongoing series of bubble tea reviews in Seattle. The control tea for each review is a basic lemon iced tea with a jasmine base (when available). Clearly, the ideas expressed here are my personal opinions and thus are not the end of your world should you disagree.


And once again, German kept me off the Dean’s List. Two more Germanless quarters to go! They should both fly by quite smoothly. I love the language, but I feel there’s something inherently sinister about being expected to comprehend the logic behind anything when I’m not a logic person. To make things harder, the German department at the UW was lacking in quality. Towards the end, I gave up on getting help from my instructors as they were always impatient with my inability to understand the concepts behind the language. One in particular made me want to slap her and scream. Her hard-to-understand Bulgarian accent didn’t help, as one can imagine. Looking back, I feel like I gave up too early. My final German professor seemed like she actually cared about whether anyone learned or not. Perhaps she would have showed me that the mysterious Germanic logic isn’t that complicated.

I had hoped to review Pochi’s Bubble Tea today, but work led to more work which led to even more work which was in turn followed by hanging out with Peter the sexy beer guzzling mandolin playin’ pimp (if any ladies are lookin’ for a real man, he’s single). After a couple of hours of hanging out with Peter, I returned home to spend many more hours fixing my blog comments. Soon I realized that it was gettin’ pretty late and I should work on completing my summer study abroad application that’s due in a little more than a day. Don’t know why it took me five months to finish that application, nor why it took even longer to fix my comments, but I finally completed both.

It’s times like this that make me wish I kept a to-do list so that I can triumphantly cross both tasks off with a fat black sharpie. I would probably add German to the list and cross the hell out of it until ink spread thickly into the paper grain, tearing through in pungent black blood.

Gingko Tea


4343 University Way Northeast (the Ave)

Seattle, Washington 98105


Um… where did my notes go?

Exterior of Gingko Tea

This was the first time I had stepped into Gingko Tea since the spring of 2001. Given how cluttered the windows became one random day a year or so ago, the shop is clearly under a different management than when I last visited. I’m not really sure on the details of all of that as I never paid much attention to the place after I last visited (bad associations due to no fault of the employees/owners of the shop).

Back in the good ol’ days, Gingko Tea had a clear and easy to read menu and a wonderful ambience. The atmosphere was relaxed and had a large wall full of magazines and books for one to browse at their leisure. Games were neatly stacked near the magazines and books and the caf� layout was inviting and warm. The menu is no longer clear and easy to read and the ambience is but a former shade of what it once was. Granted, bubble tea has been added to their menu, their magazines and games are still present, and they now offer free WiFi, but the overall tone of the place has shifted. I believe this was mostly due to the bad vibes that having cluttered café windows induce (never clutter your windows, café owners!) and the overall bitchiness of the woman I ordered from. I also couldn’t help but notice the noise levels were incredibly high. Part of this is due to the fact that the café is solely counter-based and thus the noise of bubble tea preparation invades the general seating, but the majority of blame can be pointed at poor acoustics. It seemed impossible for anyone sitting next to each other to hear one another, so they had to raise their voices rather high.

To get this review series off to a rough start, my control tea (basic lemon iced tea) was not available. Instead, I opted for the only relative in the lemon flavor species they had available and ordered a lemon-lime iced tea. Once I had my drink in hand, I gratefully exited into the bustling (but less irritating) world of the Ave and took my first savoring sip. And…

It had to have been the most disgusting bubble tea (much less food product) I have ever had! The tapioca was cooked too fast so that it had a molted rock-hard and biodegraded texture that reminded me of things one would never want in their mouth. I could have forgiven the woman behind the counter if only the tapioca was disgusting, but the actual tea was far worse. The taste was so saccharine and sharp that I’m convinced it was straight-up artificial fruit flavoring without tea- it certainly left that sinking-in-the-pit-of-your-stomach feel that a cup of pure saccharine syrup would. Of course, my stomach was not the only part of my body adversely affected; the back of my tongue and throat were plagued by the sharp sting of nastiness until I was able to cleanse my palate with a good dousing of two full glasses of water and Listerine.

Gingko Tea, you were a puss-filled broil in my side. Shame on you for violating my love for bubble tea.

The Rating:

Ambience: 7 out of 10

Tapioca Texture: 0 out of 10

Drink Quality: 5 out of 10 (as cat piss would have been worse)

Recommendation: Flee!

This is an ongoing series of bubble tea reviews in Seattle. The control tea for each review is a basic lemon iced tea with a jasmine base (when available). Clearly, the ideas expressed here are my personal opinions and thus are not the end of your world should you disagree.

Bubble Tea Break

Instead of traveling somewhere new and exciting and dancing around in a bikini this spring break, I’m staying in Seattle and working. Oh, and the boyfriend left to visit his folks (and dentist) and it looks as if all of my friends are traveling around Europe or working. But who needs that dumb MTV Spring Break beach party crap anyway? I certainly don’t when I’m so fortunate to have a myriad of bubble tea places to fill the void!

So why bubble tea of all the things to obsess over in Seattle? Because the moment I first discovered the wonders of Bubble Tea, I quickly dubbed it my “liquid sunshine”. There’s nothing more soothing on a cold, rainy, depressing day in Seattle than one of those perky bubble tea cups and their vibrant colored straws- half the fun is choosing which colored straw looks best with your tea. Also, I’m quite addicted to the lemon with the fragrant jasmine tea base flavor that the best of the best offer. And of course, the flexibility of drink types is quite handy; if it’s too cold outside for you, then get a hot tea. If it’s too hot outside, then get the iced tea or milkshake or smoothie. There’s also something quite satisfying and soothing about chewing those tapioca balls- the number one turnoff for most people who try bubble tea for the first time (me included). It seems that no matter how high the stress level is when I walk into Yunnie’s (my favorite place of all) the stress melts entirely away after a couple of chews on those tasty tapioca balls of strangeness.

So, this week is my official Bubble Tea Break! Are all five of my readers out there ready to have a rockin’ good time? Yeah? Well let’s go party with the BT! Woohoo!

I Eat Screaming Little Girls

Last night, my sleep was plagued with a continuous chorus of screaming girls. The perspective of time is next to impossible to gauge while sleeping, but it seemed like every half an hour or so the chorus would shriek, an image of non-descript girls clustered together and holding their faces in the fashion of “Banging in the Nails”, which I have subconsciously attributed to these neighbors, started ringing through my head. After a couple of “I’m bang bang bang bang banging in the nails,” I found myself overtaken with an inexplicable urge to fiddle with their cross and turn it upside down. At about the moment my fingers started to twitch uncontrollably with the desire of such an un-neighborly deed, The Elephant opened the door.

She peered from behind the door, not moving past the threshold of her home to talk with me. I tried as politely as possible to explain that the noise her daughter and her friends made was rather loud last night and this morning.

“Oh, well we had a sleep-over,” she explained.

“Yes, I could tell. I’m just letting you know that we could hear them screaming all night long and I have to work today. I’m really tired and cranky because of it.”

“Girls. Girls, you need to hear this. This lady lives downstairs and could hear the noise you made last night,” she said, turning to her oldest daughter and her friends. All I could see was the back of the oldest daughter who was lounging on the couch. The girl turned slightly to look at me with a dulled look and then turned back to the TV.

“Hmm� Well, I should be going to work now,” I told The Elephant.

Clearly distressed, she repeatedly opened and closed her mouth, stepped onto the porch and then jumped back to the other side of the door. It looked like she wanted to say something, so I stopped and waited. She fumbled with her words for a moment and then muttered something awkward that I couldn’t hear. I started to turn again, but she stepped back onto the porch, jumping immediately back to the other side of the door. I stopped again, waiting for her to say something, at which point she fumbled with her words for a moment and then muttered something I couldn’t make out. I decided that my presence troubled her and that this hopping from the porch back to the protective barrier of her apartments threshold was something that would continue unless I left. So, I said my goodbyes and told her that the noise wasn’t a huge deal but that I wanted them to know we could hear it. I stole one last glance at the oldest daughter who continued to stare ahead at the TV. As my footsteps reverberated off the metal porch steps, I started to sing “I eat scream-ing little gir-ls.” I doubt they heard me, but perhaps I should swing by their apartment to see if there’s another cross hanging on their door to ward against me.

Kiss Me

Happy St. Patty�s Day!


Time to get me 1/8th of an Irish arse to a local pub and commence in the festivities.