Six Lighthouses in One Day!

Fun fact: Maine is one of the top states in the U.S. when it comes to the number of lighthouses located there! I have a personal history with lighthouses as well, or at least one particular one down in Cape May, New Jersey that I’ve climbed on a series of vacations throughout my life. (A scan of my post history tells me I have somehow never blogged about Cape May — note to self: fix this oversight!)

Early into my trip to Portland with my friend Kristen in September 2018 we found a particular guide on a Portland tourism website that detailed a driving plan for visiting six lighthouses located close to the city all in one day. Being a pair of overachievers, on the last full day of our trip we decided to make the journey. Since we weren’t local, we weren’t really sure what the most efficient route would be for visiting all the lighthouses and decided to just follow the guide from top to bottom.

So we started at Two Lights State Park, a place where it is impossible to take photos of both lighthouses at the same time and also a place where you can climb neither lighthouse because they are both on private property. If I’m being honest, in reviewing my vacation photos for this post I wasn’t even sure if I photographed both lighthouses, because one of them was further off and harder to photograph.

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But that doesn’t matter. What matters is that this location was freaking BEAUTIFUL. The small peninsula that made up the park is made of rocks worn away in surprisingly geometric formations. It looks craggly and intimidating, but is easier to get around on than it looks. I loved it so much! If I was local, I could totally see myself stopping over here on a regular basis to decompress. (Also, the shape of the rocks totally gives off Dragon Age: Inquisition Storm Coast vibes if you’re a nerd about the same things that I am.)IMG_2465.JPG

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I always take way too many pictures when I am confronted with crashing waves, and this place was no exception. I honestly could fill a whole blog post with just pictures from this location and feel satisfied with the results.

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I found it! The second lighthouse! …Waaaay off behind that big house in the center.

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After a good chunk of time spent here while we both took way too many pictures, we set off for the next location, Portland Head Light. This lighthouse is located in a big state park area that had a lot of people walking around on trails, picnicking, etc. Used to money grubbing New Jersey, I was pleasantly surprised when they didn’t ask for money for parking.

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Portland Head Light is not only the oldest lighthouse in Maine, it is also still operational. Please note that speck on the horizon near the middle of this picture — that is Ram Island Light out in the middle of the water. It’s a very picturesque area. The travel guide we were using described it as one of the most photographed lighthouses in the country. I can see why!

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However, I was very disappointed that we could not climb this lighthouse either. There was a little museum on the ground floor, but they wanted money to enter, which is totally fair, but we decided it didn’t seem worth it as from the outside it looked like it was just one smallish room.

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We spent some time trekking around the grounds even as the sun came out. This was a bit of a pleasant surprise, because sun is nice! But it was also an unpleasant one, as we had not brought sunscreen in the car (and might not have brought water either, but my memory is not 100% sure of that). Somehow we avoided getting seriously sunburnt, thank goodness!

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Here’s a slightly closer view of Ram Island Light, the best we were able to get since it was way out there in the water alone.

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Once we’d had our fill, we got back in my car and drove off to what was probably the weirdest location on the list, Spring Point Ledge Light. This location is only weird because you literally have to drive through a community college to get to it. There were only a couple of parking spots set aside for the lighthouse, which were all occupied when we arrived. So we briefly illegally parked in a nearby college lot where we could still see the lighthouse and snapped a photo, just so we could say we saw it and check it off the list. I was kind of disappointed that we couldn’t get closer to this one because the guide we were following specifically noted that some days people are allowed inside, and our “lighthouses entered” count was still zero.

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The final lighthouse we visited was Bug Light and it was a very short drive from Spring Point Ledge Light. It wasn’t very tall but made up for that by being very scenic!

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Once you got up near the lighthouse there was an excellent view of the Old Port area of Downtown Portland. (If you read my previous Portland post, you will already realize that this is “you cannot escape the Old Port” in action, lol.)

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Kristen is about 5’6″ish, I think? Bug Light is not nearly as many Kristens high as you think a lighthouse would usually be!

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It me!

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Near the parking area of Bug Light is this neato giant ship sculpture that we checked out on the way back to the car. It houses an exhibit about shipbuilding in the Portland area that was pretty interesting!

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And that was it! By visiting Bug Light we checked the sixth lighthouse off of our list!

There was one thing I was slightly disappointed about as we drove away from the last lighthouse– we had not been allowed to climb up to the top of any of the lighthouses we viewed! We do have to take Spring Point Ledge Light out of the picture because we couldn’t actually walk up to it and see if it was open, but it didn’t seem like this situation was matter of not being at the lighthouses on the right day. They were all either inaccessible due to being on private land or didn’t allow visitors inside.

You might say, “Hey, but should you really be going up inside lighthouses that are still operational and serving their purpose?” To which I reply, Cape May Lighthouse is still operational and you can go up to the top. And also

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Jokes and slight disappointment aside, I had fun visiting all of the lighthouses. They were all located in beautiful places and it was a fun little adventure! It also doesn’t take too long, depending on how long you spend at each location, of course. We started off probably around 10 am and were finished by a reasonable lunchtime. It was a lovely day to cap off a lovely trip!

But of the lighthouses in this post, I really would only suggest visiting Two Lights State Park and Portland Head Light as they have the most to walk around and look at on the grounds as well as the loveliest scenery. But as I said at the top of this post, Maine has SO MANY lighthouses and if you research a little more than we did I’m sure you can find some other cool ones worth visiting!

This post is companion to my Portland, Maine trip overview post which you can check out HERE!

I hope you’re all having a good week! I’ll try to post again soon.

Portland, Maine 2018

Hello! It’s me! I’m back again with a blog post! I’ve quite missed writing, but over the past months I’ve found myself to have quite a lack of focus for pretty much anything, which has been troubling in more ways than one. I thought I would ease myself back into blogging by chatting about the trip to Portland, Maine I went on nearly a year ago with my buddy Kristen (aka @kristen_m_young over on ye olde Twitter). I’ve been feeling antsy and wanting to travel with no real opportunities to do so for a little while, and I’m hoping that writing this trip up will ease my restlessness at least a little.

This trip came about when my boss let me schedule a week off of work in September. I considered just doing a staycation, but decided instead to try actually going somewhere. So I hit up my college buddy Kristen and asked if I could come visit her in Massachusetts during that time. I thought I’d maybe explore the area where she lives during times she was at work and then we could hang while she was free — I never want to be a burden and didn’t want her to feel obligated to entertain me. I was pleasantly surprised when she responded by basically saying, “I can take time off that week too! Do you want to travel somewhere? Maybe Portland?” She had been there very briefly a couple of years before and while I had been to Maine on a family trip when I was in high school we skipped over Portland to visit relatives further north. It was set to be a fresh fun adventure for both of us!  

When September rolled around I first spent the better part of a day driving up to Kristen’s town and then the next day we set off for Maine. We stayed at the Portland Ramada. Not #spon, obviously, but I’m mentioning it by name because it turned out to actually be a nice place to stay. It’s a small drive from the actual downtown area and is surrounded by strip malls (some of which contain some…questionable…businesses, see picture below), but it was in our price range, it was clean, the staff we interacted with were nice, the attached restaurants were surprisingly decent, and it has a large pool and a gym. (Kristen used the gym every day, so the quality of it must have been fine.)

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Yes, that is a strip club sign that says “midget wrestling.” And yes, it -was- the first thing I noticed after parking the car at the hotel, lol.

Neither of us had done very much research about the area before we set out, so after checking in we rested for a little bit and looked up local hotspots on our phones before heading into the Old Port section of downtown Portland. Several websites had recommended this area as one with a ton of little shops to poke through and restaurants to choose from. This is an area that we would accidentally keep returning to on our little walking adventures in the city throughout the weekend, but we liked it there so that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. 

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I fell in love outside of a tourist trap store full of nautical stuff (aka, my jam).

 

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There’s some cobblestone roads and a lot of old exposed brick all over the Old Port area.

But something that excited me a lot was the actual port itself because, as I like to put it, this bitch loves a water feature. 

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We almost had dinner at the restaurant on this big boat, but decided it was too expensive.

We had dinner at a restaurant called J’s Oyster that was very small and tucked away near the end of the pier area, but it was absolutely packed so we knew it had to be good. It had a local dive kind of feel, but not in a shady way. I had lobster because, well, not having lobster in Maine would be like not getting a bagel from a mom and pop shop if you visited New Jersey! The food was pretty good — we were overall pleased with our dinner choice.

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Having looked up more tourism stuff when we got back to the hotel, we decided that our big goal on our second day would be to go on a tour of a famous old house called Victoria Mansion. We couldn’t take pictures inside, but it was fascinating to get a look inside such an old home. Much of the house still needs restoring, but a lot of the trompe l’oeil painting on the walls was still very impressive and I loved the library.

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Kind of bland on the outside, but fascinating inside, I promise!

After that we strolled through downtown for awhile. Kristen is a book lover, so she made sure we popped into a few different independent bookstores along the way. I don’t know any of their names, but we went to several. It’s definitely a good town for supporting local business! We also stopped for some excellent potato doughnuts along the way when we accidentally wound up at the Old Port. They were more dense than regular doughnuts, but still very nice. There was quite a line in the store too — I’m not sure if they’re locally popular or popular with tourists or both, but this place is apparently a popular choice.

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Kristen in front of the doughnut shop!

We eventually found a comic shop that Kristen knew about called Coast City Comics. I don’t really feel comfortable in comic shops because I don’t know shit about comics and I feel self-conscious that the (usually all male) employees can somehow tell and are judging me. (Why should I care? I don’t know, but I do, oops.) When I found a bunch of pinball machines in the back, I was instantly at ease while Kristen browsed the comics.

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I love pinball even though I’m usually terrible at it. I loved this machine based on one of my favorite bad movies (and actually had some good luck with it)!

 

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“I love me a good theater marquee,” said the blogger who chose her college largely because of a very old neon theater marquee in the downtown area.

For dinner that night we tried the restaurant inside our hotel, partly because we had been given coupons at check in, partly because we were curious about it. It wasn’t bad, despite this weird ominous sign on the way there!

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On day three we pursued a crazy ambitious plan from a guide we found on a Portland tourism website. Maine has tons of lighthouses and apparently Portland has six(!) within easy driving distance of the city/each other. This is a separate post, because six lighthouses would be a lot to cover in this already super long write up! But here is a preview picture of Kristen looking at one of those lighthouses from afar to whet your whistle for nautical adventure. 

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After this big adventure we popped into downtown to grab lunch (in, you guessed it, the Old Port area) and then went back to the hotel to try out the pool and hot tub. I’d never been in a hot tub before and it was so hot it felt like my skin/blood were tingling! Between swimming in the pool and relaxing in the hot tub I found nearly a dozen lost hotel room keycards, lol. Dinner was lowkey — we went to the Chipotle near the hotel and picked out ice cream at the nearby grocery store.

On the way back down to Kristen’s house the next day, we stopped off in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, another waterfront New England town full of old looking brick and cute little shops. I’m probably wrong about this, but I have this general impression of New Jersey as a place that really doesn’t give a crap about most of its cool old buildings and just wants to tear them down to build luxury apartment complexes for people who work in NYC (or maybe that’s just my area?) so I’m super jealous of New England’s respect for its old stuff.

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It’s also home to a kitschy looking little diner Kristen loves called The Friendly Toast. I don’t remember what I ate and I’m a terrible millenial for not memorializing it with a photo, but I remember the food was good! 

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Photo taken by Kristen because all this cool stuff was hanging out behind me.

Once we arrived in Massachusetts I spent one final night on Kristen’s sofa. This last night of my trip is actually one of the overall highlights for me because Kristen and I went to dinner with Kristen’s sibling and another local friend that Kristen and I went to college with. I rarely get to see or talk to either of them, so hanging out with them was a real treat! We drove out to this tiny beach area nearby and had a pretty good dinner in a bar before walking across the street to get ice cream. There was fog coming in off the sea and the area was basically deserted apart from the people at the bar. We spent a good chunk of time just chatting outside, catching up and having a laugh, and I dunno, it was just really nice! It really made me wish I could see them more and hang out like that all the time. But, alas, geography. (Why do we not yet have the power of teleportation? Or at least an equivalent of the Japanese Shinkansen for the United States so I can see all the people I love more often?)

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A car that I guess just lives outside the ice cream place forever.

And that was sadly the end of my trip. The next day I had to get up and make the long drive home. As if to rub in the fact how much of a bummer it was to return to my daily life, and in contrast to my smooth ride north, I got caught in a major traffic snafu near NYC just an hour or so from home and added a whole extra hour to my trip because of it. 

Someday I will get to have fun travels again, but until then I will always have my memories of this trip to Maine with Kristen.

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When I parked in the driveway at home, I took a picture of my odometer, which I hadn’t reset for the whole trip — in all, my travel to, from, and in New England on this trip put just over 800 miles on my car!

If you want to read about our visit to six lighthouses in one day on the last full day of our trip, you can click here!

I hope you’re all doing well.

 

My Convention Essentials

Another Anime Boston has come and gone, and seeing as how this is about the point where I really started to fall off of blogging last year, I thought it might be a good time to make an attempt at starting things up here again! I do want to do a general overview post about my experiences at the convention, but first I wanted do a bit of a “What’s in my Bag?” kind of thing. I did this as a video a long time ago on my now-defunct YouTube channel, but this year was my sixth Anime Boston (I attended 2011-12, 2015, and 2017-19), and as such I’ve really distilled down what I like to have on me during a day of running around at the convention.

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This is the bag that I bring. I bought it in the Dealers’ Room on the first day of Anime Boston 2017 when the massive cross-body purse I’d brought was causing me a lot of pain and this was the most functional thing available that didn’t have Naruto or Goku’s face on it, lol. This has been a go to day trip bag for me ever since because it’s a pretty good size and is pretty sturdy, although the back is maybe not as stiff as I would like.

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This looks like a mess, but it’s organized I swear. Firstly, there’s two small pockets at the top of the back that are the perfect size for my travel wallet and my phone or iPod to slip into for quick access. I don’t like to use the outer zipper pocket for valuables because I am paranoid about getting robbed and not being able to feel it happen. Everything else in here is either big enough to sort through easily or organized into a series of pouches.

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If the weather forecast is calling for rain, I always make sure to bring an umbrella, with a plastic bag to put it into when I go inside so I can put it back in my backpack without making everything wet. The scarf in the middle is large, blanket-like, and absolutely necessary — many of the panel rooms in the Hynes Convention Center are very cold for some reason. When I start to freeze, I can whip it out, but it’s easily put away when I start walking around in the main halls again. On the right is my refillable Brita filter bottle and the plastic bag that I keep it in if I carry it in a bag because it leaks if the water tilts up to the level of the cap.

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On the left here we have my Kindle, with stickers of some of my favorite ghost Pokemon on the front that were drawn by Miski (but aren’t available anymore, sorry!). My Kindle is indispensable to me in my life, whether or not I’m traveling. I can’t read on the long bus ride to Boston because I’ll get sick, but it’s great to have around for reading while waiting for the bus, during downtime between panels, or when you’re the grandma of the group who goes back to the room early to rest and waits up for all of your friends to come back so you can spend time with them. The notebook on the right was designed by Maya Kern and has stickers on it from inki-Drop’s Starwhal Kickstarter. Honestly, I only bring it to stiffen up the inside of the backpack, but it’s also proven useful for keeping my bus tickets tidy and for holding small prints, like this one that I got from Milkbun this year. (Oh how I wish I could get away with hanging this in my cubicle at work!)

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And now finally pouches! This pouch has a bunch of miscellaneous yet important things, like aspirin, hair ties and pins (in a reused orange pill bottle!), tissues, pens, a little mirror, etc.!

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This is my technology pouch. I’ve got two portable batteries in here, the wires to connect them to my phone and iPod, and three pairs of headphones. In hindsight this is an excessive amount of headphones, especially considering I had a fourth pair hooked up to my iPod all weekend. All I can say is, one time on the bus on my way to the con I realized one of my earbuds wasn’t working. I had a spare pair with me, but they were in my suitcase in the bottom of the bus. I can only imagine that in my packing frenzy this year I went “what if that happens again, but more times?” I also don’t tend to use these batteries at all because I’m not a super phone crazy person when I have things to occupy me. So maybe next year I’ll keep one battery in this pouch and only two extra pairs of earbuds, lol.

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This pouch fits both my phone and iPod, but my phone mainly lived in the upper inner pocket of my backpack or the pocket of my skirt because I don’t use my iPod when I walk around the con. It mainly stays with me just so I don’t run the risk of losing it in the hotel room somehow. I always know where it is, and I absolutely need it for the bus because, as mentioned above, I can’t read on the bus so I need music to help me drown out the noises and sleep to pass the time, lol.

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I don’t typically play my 3DS during AB, but I do collect Streetpasses. I don’t tend to try Streetpassing in my daily life because I never go anywhere, but thanks to AB over the years I’ve got a nearly complete puzzle collection and have nearly completely beaten the free Streetpass games. This year I noticed I was getting repeat Streetpasses, which was kind of exciting and interesting to me because it means those people were also at past ABs. It’s a nice little connection to other people!

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And now for the front zipper pocket of the backpack! Which actually -is- as much of a mess as it looks, lol.

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This pocket is for things I want close at hand that aren’t particularly valuable. The only thing I would really be upset about losing is that pen because it’s a really good pen! The little white pot is full of hand cream because I’ve been having a really awful dry hands problem all winter. The fan was actually a $5 impulse purchase I made on Saturday this year when I was starting to get really sweaty walking around the Dealers’ Hall, and I’d say it was well worth it — I’ll probably bring it back again next year. This pocket is where I keep my convention badge at night so I don’t misplace it, otherwise that badge is around my neck. The badge lanyards at AB are usually an advertisement for some anime company or other, but for the past few years I’ve been swapping it out for this YuGiOh one that my friend Kristen surprised me with from New York Comic Con in 2016 right before the anniversary movie came out in English because I will forever be YuGiOh trash and I want the world to know it, lol.

The only thing not in any of these pictures that I have with me every day is related to those granola bars and it is lunch. To save money on food I buy supplies for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and make them every morning before I head out. I also get a couple of other small snacks that don’t need refrigeration, like those granola bars or little individual applesauces. When it’s time for lunch, I find a spot to sit that has good people watching (so I can admire people’s cosplays) and chow down.

So that’s all! I’ll follow this post up soon with one about things I actually did at Anime Boston, but I thought my convention survival supplies might be interesting to share in the meantime.

Until next time!
–Krys

 

An Evening in NYC!

Last Thursday night, as I was preparing for bed, a text from my friend Kristen popped up on my phone. She’s one of my friends from college, and one of the people I always stay in a hotel with when I go to Anime Boston. I knew she was coming down from the Boston area to NYC for an event that weekend called Bookcon. Kristen’s text said that the friend who was going to Bookcon with her wasn’t going to be getting in until very early Saturday morning, so would I like to come into the city for dinner on Friday? I usually only see Kris once a year (at AB) so of course I immediately said yes!

I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned it before, but despite the fact that I live only a 30-ish minute train ride outside of NYC, I only make the trip in a few times per year. There’s just not a whole lot there that feels like it’s worth making a frequent hassle. And when it’s as hot as it was on Friday, that desire drops even more. NYC (or at least Manhattan) is kind of gross in the best weather, but in the summer it immediately turns me into a disgusting, sweaty, sticky mess, and I hate that. But getting to see a friend that I very rarely get to see makes everything worth it.

My office has special summer hours that allow us to leave at 3pm on Fridays. I wound up leaving half an hour late because of some urgent work that came up, so after rushing home to change out of my work clothes, I wound up arriving at Penn Station at around 5:30. Kristen and I met by the TGIFridays in the big main area — she’s not as familiar with Penn as I am, so I figured it was a landmark that would be easy for her to find.

Her bus had gotten into the city around 1pm. She’d checked into her hotel and then gone to lunch with a friend from the area that she’d met at NYCC. He’d recommended some interesting bookshops for her check out, which is what she’d been doing until it was time to come meet me. He’d also suggested a few restaurants, and the first one she mentioned sounded intriguing to both of us, so we set off for Turntable Chicken Jazz, which is located in walking distance from Penn, in an area known as Koreatown.

We picked Turntable Chicken because they supposedly have really good Korean-style fried chicken (which is supposed to be awesome), but when we got there and looked at the menu we both decided to eat other things. Kristen got seafood fried rice, which she said was really good, and I got the seafood pancake, which was very greasy, but very worth it. But the best thing we ate was an appetizer we shared that’s called Corn Cheese. It’s a simple dish of yellow corn cooked with cheese, butter, mayo, and onion and it. was. AMAZING! And prices were actually pretty reasonable for the area of the city we were in, which is always a plus.

To top it all off, the decor inside Turntable Chicken is really neat! It was too dark to get a good picture, so I’ve borrowed this one from their website.

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From here, Kristen and I took a little stroll through the rest of Koreatown, ducking into a bookstore where they also happen to have a lot of KPop CDs and merchandise. I’m not sure of what it’s called, but I do know it’s just a few stores down from a bakery called Tous les Jours, which I just found out when I pulled up their website is a decently sized chain! They have a lot of cute little pastries, and beautifully decorated cakes.

After all this wandering, we wanted to go someplace that had air conditioning, so we decided to explore the flagship Macys at Herald Square, since we were right near it. This is the Macys that the annual Thanksgiving parade passes by, and I had never been inside before. There’s really not much to say — it’s a department store, but super massive. There’s a lot of different merchandise to look at (there was a whole large area just full of nice furniture!), and there’s multiple places to grab food (including a small, but proper, McDonald’s).

I became fixated on finding out just how many floors there were, seeing just how many escalators up there were, and Kristen (bless her heart) was game to answer that question with me. Not only did we discover that the Macys has nine floors, but the upper four or five of them were unexpectedly connected by these old wooden escalators! You can’t tell from this picture, but even the side walls of the escalator were wood.

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After Macys we made our way over to Times Square, even though we both know it’s awful tourist bait. We popped into the LINE store, which is full of merch based on the characters from a popular messaging app. There were a lot of cute things in there! I wanted to include a picture of my favorite character in this post, but I can’t remember its name and Google is not being helpful at the moment. So instead, have this nice picture of the sunset! Not quite Manhattanhenge, but still quite lovely. (Evidently we missed it by just a couple of days, bummer!)

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Kristen’s picture was much better than this, because it wasn’t taken on a 2 year old phone, lol.

After this, we walked over to Kristen’s hotel to continue our chit-chatting. We were just longing for a bit of quiet and air conditioning — even though it was starting to get dark, it was still quite hot. Along the way we stumbled across the theater where Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is happening.

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I haven’t actually read the play, but I did read a plot summary online when it first came out, and I utterly reject it, lol. I can’t believe they took over the outsides of three different buildings for that awful black spiky mass. And if we zoom in just a little closer…

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What the fuck is this trashfire? It somehow makes me view this play even more negatively than I already did.

Anyway, I didn’t want to stay in the city for too much longer, but Kristen had told me her hotel had a really neat lobby. She was not wrong! This photo is also borrowed from the hotel’s website and makes it look brighter than it really was — the lighting was actually a little darker and more moody which is why I didn’t try to take a photo myself.

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Kristen’s actual room was a little lacking interior design wise, but it was a basic room in a big city hotel that’s not part of a chain, so it was kind of to be expected. At least it had air conditioning! We sat and talked for a little while before I headed back to Penn to grab a train home. I was pulling into my driveway by 10:30.

So all in all it was a quick little trip, but I got to go to a few places around the city that I hadn’t been before, eat some good food, and spend some time with a good friend that I rarely get to see. Definitely a very good use of a Friday night!

 

My Cosplay History!

Ever since I got back from Anime Boston, I’ve been wanting to do a post about the cosplays I’ve done so far. (Well, actually, fun fact, this is the post I wanted to write the week of the con, but I didn’t have time due to travel prep, etc.) I’m not nearly so prolific or skilled as any of my friends who cosplay, but I’ve done some good work over the years (and, in all honesty, some really, really bad) and I want to share it with all of you!

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A babby, with the Staryu that still hangs on her wall.

2009 — Misty (Pokemon): I didn’t call this Misty costume a cosplay at the time (not sure I even knew the word then?), but thinking back, it really was my first one. For years my high school held an event for seniors at the local bowling alley called “Midnight Bowling” (actually held from 10pm to midnight). The tradition was for each lane to dress up in costumes around whatever theme they wanted, with costume prizes awarded at the end of the night. My friends and I dressed up as the gym trainers from the first Generation of Pokemon. No one seemed to understand who we were; a fellow student asked me if I was Ash, and I wasn’t sure if they were being sarcastic. (If you’ve watched my YouTube at all, you may recognize Staryu from my art wall! We cut our characters’ distinctive Pokemon out of cardboard for props.)

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All of the pictures from this night are blurry and dark, because bowling alleys are blurry and dark.

Most of this costume was borrowed — my shirt was a friend’s graphic tee turned inside out and I borrowed the suspenders from my older brother’s girlfriend even though they were the wrong color because I didn’t have the means to get red ones. My hair was the wrong color and way too short to do a proper ponytail. At least my bag was red! And we had a fun night bowling together, as I recall. (If you’re curious, no, we did not place in the costume contest and the group that took first place was a group of boys where one dressed as a pimp and the rest dressed in drag. Tells you a lot about my high school, doesn’t it?)

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Oh no.

AnimeNext 2009 — Lucas (Mother 3 / Smash Bros.): This Lucas cosplay was a travesty. My friends and I decided to cosplay characters from Super Smash Bros. Brawl, but their alternate color versions. I don’t know why I went along with this instead of doing my own thing, since my friends were cosplaying characters recognizable regardless of color palette (Fox and Pit), whereas without his red and yellow shirt, Lucas is just a random small blond child. I had never worn a wig before, and we styled it the morning of the con. Instead of, I dunno, buying a striped shirt, I painted stripes on a white shirt, using masking tape to mark them off. Except, surprise, the blue fabric paint bled under the tape, so I tried to fix it with white paint, and it was just a huge mess. The only thing I like about this is my Rope Snake! I sewed him by hand out of an old t-shirt, and I think I still have him in the attic.

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Me with two Dark Magician cosplayers, because I have always been, and will always be, YuGiOh trash.

AnimeNext 2010 (Female Trainer from FireRed/LeafGreen): This is probably my favorite work! I did a lot of sewing work on this one, hemming a skirt I bought on eBay, making the blue shirt, altering a t-shirt into the black undershirt, attaching the red parts to a borrowed hat, and making the bag entirely from scratch. I bought some fabric, decided what dimensions I wanted, and went from there.

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I don’t do “angry face” very well, lol.

I wasn’t satisfied with the shirt though, so when I eventually brought this costume to Anime Boston in 2011 and 2012, I just wore a blue tanktop. By the time I brought it to AB I’d also resewn the felt onto a properly white hat, and I might’ve just worn red Converse with my leg warmers too, because I remember at one point the fabric top of the shoes mysteriously shrank and became very uncomfortable to wear (I don’t think it’s that my feet got swollen, because even though I’m fat, none of that fat is in my feet).

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Hauled this bad boy out of storage for its closeup, since it’s not properly shown in any of my pics!

The bag held up remarkably well through the three different cons I brought it to, although it’d need patching/remaking to put it to heavy, all-day convention use again. The skirt also no longer fits, and I want another try at doing the top properly. And I guess if I was gonna do this costume thoroughly, I’d have to get a really long brown wig, but I don’t like wearing them, so probably I won’t. Maybe I should get my act together and try and revive this for AB next year?

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Spooooky.

AnimeNext 2011 — Bosses from Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker: This is the most impressive cosplay I’ve done by far, and getting to do it with a group of friends made it super fun! It definitely wouldn’t have been possible if I didn’t have friends that were waaaay more artistic than I am. One or two of them (or three? my memories have faded) did up the designs, we acquired our individual materials, and then worked together to get the costumes done. It was a very collaborative effort; most of the costumes were worked on by more than one person, at least a little. For instance, I vividly remember painting that lantern brown. Someone was usually playing Wind Waker in the background while others worked on costumes — this summer is definitely when I fell in love with this game.

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Another friend of ours dressed as Link.

I portrayed the boss of the Forbidden Woods, Kalle Demos. We used an old dress of mine as the base, and the sleeves are from a high school graduation gown that someone still had. The flower around the neck, is actually just a collar, so the whole outfit is relatively easy to put on, although I remember having trouble with the hat slipping around. I still have this one in the back of my closet, and last I checked it still fits! I’d wear it again, but doesn’t really make sense out of context. (If you want a look at the official art of the rest of the bosses, I’ve got a link for you here.)

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“And then I said, ‘OATMEAL? Are you CRAZY?'”

AnimeNext 2012 — Pinkie Pie (MLP): I had a very brief My Little Pony phase between 2011 and 2012. I originally tried to have this costume together for Anime Boston 2012, I even brought it to the con, but when I started putting it on, it just didn’t feel right, so I decided to revise it before wearing it. Part of that was restyling the twintailed wig I’d bought into a single ponytail, which was a mistake because it was incredibly uncomfortable to have all that weight in the back and the wig kept slipping back on my head.

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Ta-da!

I honestly wasn’t too crazy about this costume overall, except for the bag, which I sewed by hand again. This one worked out a little better than the Pokemon bag, because I made the strap wider and the bag smaller. I really felt that my costume was kind of mediocre, especially because my friends did AMAZING cosplays for this con. It made me not want to cosplay anymore, because I just felt that my crafting skills just weren’t up to snuff, and I didn’t feel invested enough in cosplaying/going to cons to put the money/effort/time into improving. After Pinkie Pie, I didn’t cosplay for six years. Which brings me to….

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2018 — Ariel (The Little Mermaid): This was a dream costume of mine. I’d even researched how I could do it back when I was more seriously into cosplaying. But this year for Halloween I was hosting a costume party at my house, and I saw Torrid carrying this dress, and the rest was history. I brought this to Anime Boston 2018 as well, and it was a big hit! If you want to read more about this costume, check out my post about the Halloween party, since I’ve already blathered on long enough in this post.

So there’s my cosplay history! I have some cosplays I’d maybe like to do in the future, but, again, it’s a matter of having the energy/skill/creativity to pull them off. Plus, I’ve kind of gotten too accustomed to just wearing comfortable clothes at cons (aka, the one con I go to annually) to feel much desire to go fussing about with cosplay again. So we’ll see what happens in the future!

–Krys

Thawing

When the long winter ends, and the first really nice warm day arrives, you ache to be outside. So when you’re finally released from your day of work, you acquire provisions and drive to your favorite field.

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It’s a simple pleasure to sit in a sun-filled field on a warm evening, a breeze caressing shoulders that have finally been able to shed their cardigan exoskeleton. The sun slowly sinks toward sleep behind the trees as the air is filled with the scents of warm grass and the cigar that a stranger is smoking a ways away from you. You’re not even sure if your grandfather smoked cigars, but somehow the scent reminds you of him, which in turn reminds you of how he loved taking you on your childhood Disney trip so much that he talked about it until he died. But the bittersweet sadness of this memory is whisked away on the wind before it can properly take root and ruin everything, thank god.

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You lie on the old soft blanket you keep in the trunk of your car, reading a good book, and feel real deep peace steal over you for the first time since the long season of storms began. There is sweet music around you — someone calling their dog, the breeze shaking the still leafless tree limbs, and yes, actual music, Latin rhythms softly coming from the radio of the stranger with the cigar.

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You’ve experienced all of these individual sensations before, but somehow taken as a whole, all at once, it feels lovely and new. You can’t remember the last time your heart felt so light, but as your skin warms up, you feel part of yourself blossoming like the yellow flowers on the bushes by your office. The cold times have passed, and it feels like this is actually the proper start of the year, that enchanted time when everything feels possible.

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The world is coming alive around you, and it perks you up to no end.

(I hope you all are getting to enjoy nice weather too, where ever you are!
— Krys)

 

 

Anime Boston 2018!

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This year I spent my Easter weekend up in New England, at a very special event — Anime Boston (hereafter referred to as AB). This is a convention held in Boston that is devoted to the appreciation of Japanese media and pop culture. It’s run by the New England Anime Society, and has been held annually since 2003 and it. is. HUGE. It’s not quite big enough to fill the massive convention center where the famous PAX East is held, but in 2017 there were nearly 26,000 attendees throughout the whole weekend.

It’s crazy to think that it’s been eight years since my first AB in 2011. I missed a few years between then and now, but this year was my fifth time attending. Some people, like some of my friends, go to multiple conventions in a year, but AB is the only one I go to. There are other conventions that look cool (like MAGFest!), but they’re either super far away and have hotels that get booked up super fast, or are waaaay larger than I’m comfortable with (coughNYComicConcough).

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The view from our hotel room!

AB is large enough that there’s almost always something interesting going on, or cool things to go look at. I really enjoy going to panels and getting my education on. They always schedule a wide variety of topics, and as soon as I get the convention schedule I fill it up with circles to highlight the panels that have caught my eye. I keep an eye out for panels about things I already really love. For instance, Revolutionary Girl Utena is my favorite anime, and Froborr’s panel about it this year was FANTASTIC. I’ve been to other panels of hers in past years, and her analysis is always really good and enlightening!

I also always circle panels about things that I know nothing, or only a little about, but which sound interesting. This year in this area of things, I went to a panel talking about the different types of visual kei bands, one about various Japanese composers (beyond just anime composers), and one about the history of ninjas and how media gets them wrong. This panel was a major highlight for me — the presenter was really animated and entertaining, on top of really knowing their shit!

I’d also marked up my schedule with panels about Japanese folklore, history, and culture; panels about famous creators like Studio Ghibli and Osamu Tezuka (one of my favorite guys); and panels hosted by voice actors. And also a panel on Japanese professional wrestling leagues, which I was super intrigued by when I saw it on the schedule. But I obviously didn’t get to go to all of these panels — sometimes multiple cool things are scheduled at the same time (or at weirdly early or late times), and also in the last couple of years I’ve found that something that really helps my happiness and energy level over the course of the weekend is making sure to take plenty of breaks.

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As Ariel on Friday, sitting on the floor to rest and eat my lunch.

These breaks were most often in the form of sitting on the floor in some corner to scroll Twitter on my phone, but this year I also found myself going back to my room every day at around 3pm to have a rest from all the crowds and noise. This is one of the two big things that made me feel super elderly during the weekend. The other one was overhearing two girls talk about my first anime like it was one of the oldest things ever; I originally watched it around 13 years ago. I have rarely felt so ancient in all of my 27 years, lol.

 

When I go to AB, I also spend a good chunk of time wandering around the Dealer’s Hall and Artist Alley to fritter my spending money away. If you’re unfamiliar with the terms — the Dealer’s Hall is where vendors sell various official merchandise, while the Artist Alley is filled with fan artists and other small scale craftspeople. I didn’t buy too many things for myself this year, mostly just birthday presents for my friends. But I did get this nice notebook from Maya Kern, and this gorgeous Utena print from Etherelle. I also splurged just a tiny bit on this Rise figure because my love for Persona 4: Dancing All Night knows no bounds.

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Sorry the lighting is bad — I don’t plan ahead and took this picture at 9pm when I was writing this post, lol.

But more important than what I get to learn or see at AB is who I get to experience it with. AB is the one guaranteed time of year that I get to see my New England friends! I met some of these friends in college, while others are convention friends that I made through my college friends. We all chip in money to get a hotel room together. All things considered we don’t really spend that much time together during the weekend because we all have different interests when it comes to panels, but it’s nice to have friendly faces to go to dinner with at the end of the day and talk about the things we’ve seen and done at the con in between catching up on our lives at home like we’ve spent no time apart. They’re all very good people. ❤

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The only picture I took with a friend all weekend. She looks cute cosplaying a casual, grungy Keith from Voltron! I look a slightly less cute tired mess, lol.

There are a couple of other convention-related things that I’d like to talk about, like my history with cosplay, or what I consider to be convention essentials, but this post is already starting to get a little long, so I’ll mark those down as post ideas for later!

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I absolutely -had- to take a selfie with this adorable giant plush in the Dealer’s Hall.

 

Do you have any events like this that you enjoy going to? Or would you be interested in going to a convention like this? (I bet a lot of you would say you’d want to go to NYCC or SDCC, but I have the opposite of interest in those just based on their size, lol.)

–Krys

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(PS: These didn’t really fit in anywhere else in the post, but I just really wanted to share these hilarious Gakuen Handsome keychains I found in the Dealer’s Hall. It’s a media property where the characters are intentionally drawn horribly, lmao. Here’s a trailer!)