Out of Print tees review

So a little while ago we went to this wine expo in Taipei and it was amazing! We had so much fun!

But the point is that while we were there, this guy rocked up wearing a Great Gatsby t-shirt and everyone freaked out and wanted to talk to him about books. I got really jealous–I love books! I want strangers to know I love books and initiate conversations with me about books! So after drinking an obscene amount of wine, I went home and did some drunk shopping on Out of Print.

At that time, I got a The Sun Also Rises t-shirt and a Breakfast of Champions t-shirt. They were $28 apiece, which to me is expensive for a t-shirt. (They say with every purchase they give a free book to a library in need…but I think I could buy a t-shirt and donate some books to some schools for less than $28.)

I got a notebook, too, to get free shipping, which was cool. Also I love composition books, and they’re college-ruled, and the stationery here is so different and I have never gotten totally used to it…

This picture was taken by a third-grader, which is no excuse for my hair.
This picture was taken by a third-grader, which is no excuse for my hair.


I was kinda sweaty in this pic, but you can tell how the shirt fits.
I was kinda sweaty in this pic, but you can tell how the shirt fits.

So those shirts were on the way and then I get an e-mail from Out of Print saying now they’re having a BOGO offer. Ugh, I tried to hold off but…in the final hour (literally), I bought four more t-shirts: Mind of My Mind, The Great Gatsby, Animal Farm, and Metamorphosis.

My rule was that I couldn’t buy a t-shirt for a book I hadn’t read or didn’t like, and I didn’t want to to get more than one shirt of a certain color. That’s how I ended up with this white The Great Gatsby t-shirt because I really wanted to the Animal Farm tee in blue because it had a scoop neck. It took a long time to decide. I could have bought more if I didn’t already feel slightly sick about spending so much on t-shirts.

Overall, I was really pleased with all these shirts. I went with a large instead of medium, and I thought the fit was flattering. The cotton felt quality and I was happy with what I got. But this Gatsby shirt, man, it’s a large, too, but it fits like it’s a size smaller than the others, and it’s literally so thin that it’s transparent. I definitely considered returning it, but I’d gotten it on sale, and it was shipping from the U.S., and that seemed like a lot of work. So I have to wear a tank top under this one, and maybe lose another ten pounds. Honestly, it’s like a joke. I’m annoyed that I even paid $14 for this shirt.

This is the tightest of all the shirts. And it's super thin!
This is the tightest of all the shirts. And it’s super thin! They cheaped out on this one for sure.

I like the way the Animal Farm shirt fits, but then like because it’s based on the cover of the Japanese edition, and so there are kanji characters, which are traditional Chinese characters, so that I am just wearing this shirt with a pig on it that says Animal Farm in Chinese. I’d bet you like a pretty substantial sum that zero of my co-workers have read Animal Farm–why would they have? I wonder if they think I’m just weird. They probably think the pigs are cute, or aspiring to be cute…

amateur vagrant out of print tee review animal farm orwell

I also like the way my Mind of My Mind shirt fits. Actually, I really like Octavia E. Butler, but this wasn’t my favorite book of hers. But I think wearing like A Parable of the Sower t-shirt would be depressing, and wearing a Kindred t-shirt as a white woman might be kind of tone-deaf. Both of those books I preferred, though.

amateur vagrant out of print tee review mind of my mind octavia butler

I wore this Metamorphosis t-shirt, and J was like, I’m not sure if you realize that there are kind of like eyes, you know, right there…Which I did realize when I bought the shirt and I thought that would be hilarious. Also it says F. Kafka across my bellybutton when I wear it. I think that’s funny.

amateur vagrant out of print tees review kafka the metamorphosis
I did not realize these pants were reflective until the picture was taken. It’s all about the shirt, though…

Also, like more than a year ago, I bought two sweatshirts from this same company: Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen is a perennial favorite and I’m really into the peacock motif lately) and the stamped library card. They are both larges. They didn’t fit me the way I expected when I bought them, but then I lost some weight and I think they are a bit baggier now, which I like. Anyway, I often wear them over collared shirts in the winter.

And after all that…nobody even notices. If I’m not with my husband, I’m with Taiwanese co-workers and elementary school kids, and none of them are reading English novels. I taught a class of third-grade girls for two hours the other day, and it wasn’t until they were getting ready to go home that one of them noticed that my Mind of My Mind shirt “had a face on it.”

Who’s cool now? Still not me.

None of these links are affiliate links and this post is not at all sponsored. I had trouble finding reviews and helpful information before I bought these shirts, so I was just trying to give others a fighting chance to make good decisions. For me, I’d buy anything else there in the future except another white-white shirt like the Gatsby shirt.


  1. How are you?
  2. How old are you?
  3. Are you married?
  4. Is your husband Taiwanese?
  5. Do you have any kids?
  6. Why not?
  7. Are you pregnant?
  8. Why are you so fat?
  9. Why you here is so big?
  10. What did you eat for dinner?
  11. Who cooked it for you?
  12. You can cook?
  13. Do you have a sticky ball?
  14. Can we have some gum?
  15. Can we have stickers?
  16. Why do you live in Taiwan?
  17. What do you like, Taiwan or America?
  18. Do you know Stephen Curry?
  19. What is “fuckboy” mean?
  20. May I go to the bathroom?
  21. May I take out my trash?
  22. May I borrow a tissue?
  23. May I get some water?
  24. May I get some trash?
  25. May I wash you hand?
  26. You eat is what?
  27. May I have one?
  28. What you drink?
  29. Do you know Taylor Swift?
  30. Do you want some chocolate?
  31. You phone all is English. Can you read?
  32. All?
  33. You husband is handsome or ugly?
  34. Where is you mom?
  35. You every day go back America?
  36. May I borrow a pencil?
  37. May I borrow an eraser?
  38. You shoes is how many money?
  39. You have FB?
  40. What is your FB name?
  41. Do you have Line?
  42. How do you know Chinese?
  43. Do you know what is “turtle head”?
  44. Do you know what is “make love”?
  45. Do you think Taiwan children is so cute?

Sloopy, my horned frog

Sloopy the ladykiller
Sloopy the ladykiller

I really want a dog, but not a pet shop dog, and also my husband doesn’t want a dog, and we live in an apartment so sometimes I think it would be downright wrong to have a dog, so all I’ve done so far is whispered, “Okay, universe, I am open to getting a pet.”

So far, the universe has given me two hamsters and an albino horned frog.

For some reason, these frogs are kind of popular in Taiwan. I think it might be like a feng shui thing because they eat a lot and get very fat without expending much energy. Maybe it’s a metaphor for earning and saving money? I think that because I see these frogs in homes and businesses the way you might expect to see a fish tank here, and I know the fish are for feng shui.

Also, one of my students used to have this little statute of what she said was a mythical Chinese creature that ate but didn’t poop, and it was supposed to help bring the family good luck in earning money. That doesn’t seem incredibly different from what my boring frog does.

Little fatty
Little fatty
This is his "action" shot
This is his “action” shot

In Taiwan, I see these frogs living in tiny little tanks, usually in water like they are aquatic. But they are not aquatic and I don’t think anything should be living in a tiny tank. I don’t really get it. I’ve set my buddy up in a little terrarium with a layer of soil (from the pet shop) and a layer of terrarium moss (from the pet shop).

[Update: For the summer, he is hanging out in a tank with water and a slope of gravel that allows him to move in and out of the water. He doesn’t move much, but the soil was getting moldy in the heat and this was my compromise to try to keep him moist, comfortable, and healthy.]

I called him Sloopy because that sounds like the name of something that isn’t very active. Also, my husband is an OSU fan, and that includes the marching band, and their signature song is Hang On Sloopy.

I don’t know why.

These frogs are only opportunistic eaters. They sit and wait for something to walk in front of them, and then they eat it if they can. Otherwise, they don’t move.

It’s about the same as having a houseplant that needs to have the soil changed every so often, and also needs crickets for food. So I have another little tank with crickets in it, and the crickets have a little food try where I put their fruit, and so on.

Maybe the universe is testing me. If I can take good care of this frog that doesn’t do anything and is in no way adorable, maybe I’ll get my puppy.

Okay, actually, sometimes, I think he’s so ugly, he’s cute.


Eating his dinner: the biggest fish in the tiny feeding tank
Eating his dinner: the biggest fish in the tiny feeding tank
His face looks like Kermit, trying to swallow that big fish
His face looks like Kermit, trying to swallow that big fish

9 things I can’t handle

  1. The sticky flypaper in my house. We live on a tropical island, so fruit flies and mosquitoes are ubiquitous. My adorable husband is really diligent in trying to minimize the number of little pests we have to deal with. His latest idea is posting sticky fly paper on the wall above our little kitchen trash can. I never notice it except when I am scraping something into the trash can, and only when THE STICKY FLY PAPER COVERED IN DEAD FRUIT FLIES GETS STUCK IN MY HAIR. Last time it happened, I burst into tears like a toddler. So gross.
  2. Things with tendrils. I’m not sure how to explain this. I can eat things with tentacles. Tentacles don’t bother me. But like when a bean sprout gets caught in the mesh covering our sink drain and I have to pull it out and there are maybe little roots (it grows fast here, give me a break), then I feel nauseous. I imagine this stuff growing into my skin and I want to die. People who are scared of holes are trypophobic, but what are people who are afraid of tentacles/tendrils called?
  3. Bugs. Beyond the fruit flies and the mosquitoes, I don’t have to deal with a lot of insects, but I have a horned frog and he eats crickets. I have to pick them up every now and then and they kind of stick to me and kind of crawl and it makes me go cold.
  4. Coughing without covering your mouth. It’s nuts how often you can see people walking around with their mouths WIDE OPEN LIKE AN AIRPLANE HANGAR and just make terrible noises and letting whatever is in their mouth fly out. This is how the world ends.
  5. Spitting. The sight of somebody’s wad of sputum on the ground makes me nauseous, but also, c’mon guys: GERMS. If you have something you gotta get rid of, get a tissue or get thee to a toilet and expectorate. Don’t just put all your nastiness outside for everyone to share.
  6. Leftover Chinese food. I LOVE CHINESE FOOD. But most of it is stir-fried and very oily. Most of the meat is very fatty. The vegetables are boiled, steam, or sauteed, and very wet. There is nothing better when it’s hot out of the wok, and nothing less appetizing when it’s gotten cold. People disagree with me, but I don’t think you can reheat Chinese food, either. It’s just never edible again. That’s why I eat it all right away.
  7. Thick drinking glasses. Okay, obviously, I can if I have to. But I really like drinking out of the “right” cups–thin, crystal glasses for wine, mason jars for iced tea, little juice glasses, highball class, beer bottles or cans, my Nalgene…but some people have these thick glass or plastic cups and they just use them for whatever and they are bulky and uncomfortable and poorly made and I just would rather not have anything to drink than drink my tea out of some weird heavy glass.
  8. Loose hairs. I have fairly long hair and I shed a lot, so I am always finding hairs on me, hairs on the floor, hairs in the bathroom…but every time, it makes me feel a little sick. And other people’s hair makes me feel doubly unwell. Also, loose fingernails. For a while, one of my sibs was collecting their fingernails in a little glass jar just to be a weirdo, and they showed it to me, and I almost puked. Ugh. If it’s supposed to be attached to your/my person, and it’s not, it makes me ill.
  9. Other people’s beds or laundry. This all kind of falls under the same umbrella because I feel like it’s all gross. Of course I have slept in other people’s beds before, but I am usually at least a little uncomfortable. Other people sleeping in my bed tends to put me right over the edge if I think about it too much. I don’t even like to mix other people’s laundry in with mine, except for my husband. All those dirty underwear rubbing around together in that germy water…

…I die.

22 Things I Have Tried to Substitute for Writing

Here are the things I do to substitute for the sense of accomplishment I want to get from writing:

  1. Try to do headstands
  2. Try to do the splits, side or front
  3. Read 100 books a year
  4. Blog (technically it’s writing, but would it kill me to finish and submit one short story in a decade?)
  5. Cut my hair
  6. Improve my beauty regimen (in ten years, it’s shifted from avoiding pimples to disguising wrinkles)
  7. Run (I’ve participated in three half-marathons, walked at least part of all of them, and now I get shin splints and knee pain as soon as I think about taking a jog)
  8. Build a cooking website with my husband
  9. Shop around for a piebald ball python
  10. Consider going back to school full-time to become a winemaker
  11. Take in two abandoned hamsters and a horned frog
  12. Take surfing lessons; discussed buying a surfboard and renting a beach house
  13. Drink
  14. Eat
  15. Cook
  16. Become very invested in Game of Thrones
  17. Post just like so much on Facebook
  18. Pray
  19. Cry
  20. Argue
  21. Work jobs I hate to afford luxuries that numb the pain and my sense of purpose
  22. Hula-hoop

My 10 worst habits

  1. I’m a social smoker. I hate smoking, I get it. It’s gross. But I smoked regularly for a while and then I quit. Pretty much. But once I have a few drinks, I really want a cigarette. Fortunately, I don’t drink nearly as much as I did in my twenties, so it’s only a couple cigarettes on Saturday nights. I know I’d be better off going cold turkey, though.
  2. I peel my fingernails off. I don’t know how else to describe it. I have really soft fingernails, and when they get a little bit long and I get a little bit anxious, I bite the corners and peel off the tops. I’ve tried to take supplements, etc, to get harder nails, but nothing has worked for me.
  3. I pop my pimples. OMG SO GROSS. I totally blame my mom. I’m 35 and I still blame her. She used to chase me around when I got my first zits and pop them against my will. (SO GROSS, MOM.) Then when I had bad skin all through my teens, that was like how I dealt with my anxiety about my face: by making big, ugly, scabby sores all over. I still get zits and I still pop ’em. So gross.
  4. I play with my hair. All the time. I stop when I realize what I am doing, but I don’t even realize it most of the time.
  5. I interrupt people. I am so sorry, everyone. I am just like an obnoxious fourth-grader sometimes. You say something and it reminds me of something I HAVE TO TELL YOU RIGHT NOW and I jump in, then I catch myself and I started apologizing and it’s so awkward because we’re all adults and we all know I’m the asshole.
  6. I hate brushing my teeth before bed. I don’t know why. I am much better about it now that I’m married. J always brushes his teeth like an adult and I can usually talk myself into it by telling myself how gross it would be for him to share a bed with someone who has morning breath all night.
  7. I shop when I’m anxious. I don’t really run up my credit cards or anything, so that’s good. Just going to a thrift store or buying some new school supplies will do the trick. Even getting my hands on some free books is fine. But when I get all worked up about something, it seems like getting some new stuff distracts me and makes me feel better for a while. It’s stupid, though, because I would really rather try to stick with trying to have a simple life and not being so dependent on stuff.
  8. Sometimes I pick my nose. Sorry, world. I wash my hands…
  9. If I forget to take my disposable contacts out before I get into bed, then I take them out and drop them on the floor. I have to sweep them all up every couple of weeks.
  10. I shed. That’s not my fault, really, though. But I shed and there are always long brown hairs everywhere on everything a though we owned a lhasa apso.

This chick gives me hope.

Qallunaat! Why white people are funny

Here is an unexpected jewel from Facebook:

Qallunaat! Why White People Are Funny

This is a documentary about white people done in the same style as the documentaries white people do about “exotic” Eskimos and everybody else who isn’t white. Some of it was funny, but sometimes I was cringing: Like, God, do we really say shit like that? Do we really tell people with a thousand-year-old (guesstimate) culture that they should shower and take care of their babies?

We are embarrassing.


100 things that make me happy

In no particular order (except J is number 1 because I wouldn’t have the life I do now without him):

  1. J
  2. Quiet days at home
  3. A good book and time to read it
  4. Pouring my heart out on paper
  5. Business time
  6. Any time spent near the ocean
  7. Starry skies
  8. Driving mountain roads
  9. Big, friendly dogs
  10. Outdoor showers/baths (in hot weather; I’m not a masochist)
  11. The octopus who escaped from his tank at the aquarium and made it back to the ocean
  12. Recess
  13. A chilled, crisp, dry rosé
  14. Broad City
  15. This t-shirt
  16. High heels
  17. Cheese fondue
  18. Not wearing pants
  19. Back rubs
  20. Wagon Wheel
  21. Fresh mint
  22. Dinosaur Kisses
  23. Super-smart kids
  24. IKEA meatballs
  25. Puns
  26. Showing off scratches I got being outdoorsy
  27. 4th of July barbecues back home
  28. Christmas
  29. Magic Mike
  30. Dinner parties
  31. Cards Against Humanity
  32. imgur
  33. Getting packages
  34. Fitting back into my old jeans
  35. Patio bars
  36. A cool breeze through my hair on a sticky day
  37. This music video
  38. Making people laugh (Total rush!)
  39. Hot pot
  40. Lists of inspiring quotes
  41. Street food
  42. Pretty journals
  43. Gudetama
  44. All varieties of curry (and stew)
  45. Typhoon days
  46. Vineyard picnics
  47. Bold lipsticks
  48. Dancing like our parents (it was a genetic inevitability)
  49. A good cup of hot, black coffee
  50. Treasure-hunting at thrift shops
  51. The Paper Bag Princess
  52. Game of Thrones
  53. Old friends
  54. New restaurants & bars
  55. Jeans that fit right
  56. Chips and salsa
  57. Margaritas
  58. Long walks alone (in safe, quiet places)
  59. Sleeping in
  60. Koi ponds
  61. Snorkeling
  62. My gramma’s house
  63. J’s biceps
  64. Skyping with my niece
  65. Puffer fish
  66. Butterflies
  67. Eating watermelon or mangoes in my swimsuit
  68. Saying what I meant to say in Chinese
  69. Stories of the Lost Generation in Paris
  70. Gypsy Vanners
  71. When all my clothes are clean.
  72. Cutoff jean shorts
  73. Camping
  74. Cuddling
  75. Dangly earrings
  76. Seeing people be thoughtful to strangers in public
  77. Ham salad
  78. My Aunt Clare’s pretzel salad
  79. Swearing
  80. Taiwanese breakfast shops
  81. Opportunities to be proud of my friends
  82. Costco trips
  83. Meeting people who read
  84. Amelie
  85. The Kiss by Gustav Klimt
  86. Kielbasa
  87. Beyonce
  88. P!nk
  89. Iced matcha-coffee (from Louisa Coffee…so good!)
  90. White PGO Bubus
  91. Getting my hair washed at the salon
  92. Music boxes
  93. Down comforters
  94. A cigarette after a big meal
  95. Duchesse de Bourgogne
  96. Pilot G2 gel pens (black, .05)
  97. Crocheting
  98. New whiteboard markers
  99. Lady Brett Ashley
  100. Dark chocolate

Are we best friends or what??

The things I got in trouble for when I was in school

As a teacher, sometimes I feel like my most challenging students come to me as karmic retribution.

I was mostly a good kid. I talked way too much, but I always got good grades. But every once in a while, I did something out of character. Or every once in a while, my teacher made a bad call. Whatever.

Here’s the complete list, to the best of my memory.

In first grade, me and some other girls got sent to the office for drawing smiling faces inside our letters and putting crayons in our shirts like boobies. I don’t remember getting in much trouble, but I remember being scared. I also remember thinking my teacher was a bitch. My mom never found out because after that I realized pretending that crayons were boobies was very shameful and I didn’t want her to know. (Massive eye roll.)

In fifth grade…well, in fifth grade, I was hormonal. I was a tomboy, so I wanted to play tag with the boys, but I wanted to play kissing tag. I got in trouble for that.

Then there was the time that me and some boys were rough-housing all morning. We went to art class and made paper-mache masks, and while Peter was lying prone on the ground, I stepped on his junk. Not all the way! I knew better than that! But I got sent to the office. Rightfully so. The principal told me about the grasshopper and the ants by way of telling me I needed to start storing up food for winter. He and his wife left after that year; he was kind of phoning it in.

In sixth grade, some of us were throwing paper balls when we had a substitute teacher. He told me to pick up a ball that wasn’t mine, and somewhere in my juvenile head I decided this was my moment to prove myself to my peers who never thought I was cool. “I ain’t your dog and I ain’t picking it up!” I said. He wrote me up on an official yellow form and sent me down to the principal’s office. The principal said she was surprised to see me there and told me to act right.

In eighth grade, a girl on my bus threw a banana peel out the window and it landed on the lap of a kid in the other bus. Funniest thing ever. The bus monitor didn’t think so. He didn’t know who did it, so he sent a bunch of us to the principal’s office. She asked us all who did it like four times before the culprit burst into teenager tears. The rest of us were allowed to leave.

(I would like to say here that at that time (c. 1994) and place (Abidjan) our bus monitor was an ARMED Ivorian man and we still couldn’t not act like brats. I don’t have a gun–no wonder no one listens to me.)

In twelfth grade, I got to school early to finish an art project that was due. The bell for homeroom rang and I ran upstairs to ask my homeroom teacher if I could stay in the art room. She said no. I said “fuck” under my breath. She thought I said “fuck you” (I really didn’t) and sent me to the principal’s office. He scheduled a meeting with my mom and told her I had an attitude problem. My mom told him unapologetically that it was genetic. My philosophy teacher was the guidance counselor at the time and he also met with me and my mom. He said he was shocked at me: he was up all night, unable to sleep, wondering how I could have been so disrespectful. (I really wasn’t.)

I had to meet with my teacher, the principal, and the guidance counselor for saying “fuck” under my breath. This is why I don’t seize days, y’all. This is why I always try to think twice before I tell a female student she needs to calm down because I do not want to be responsible for creating girls who are afraid to be bold.

In college, my then-boyfriend and I got suspended when I was caught in his room after visiting hours (Christian college). Ironically, we didn’t even sleep together that night. We were just hanging out. I had to call my mom in Taiwan and confess what I had done with the director of student affairs watching me. She got on the line to reassure my mom that I was taking responsibility for my behavior like an adult. My mom, who by my age had already left the Navy, had a kid, and been married twice, laughed at her.

I wish her attitude was genetic.

I’ve gotten speeding tickets, but the only time I’ve gotten out of one was when I was behind another car going even faster.

I do miss those West Virginia country roads…