Autumn update to Sally Eyeballs

My poor blog, I’ve neglected you for so long. I feel like I spend half my time apologizing to you. It just takes a lot of effort and persistence to keep writing, and writing something worthwhile for it to be published online for all to see. Hats off to all you persistent bloggers with interesting content!

Anyway, back to the subject at hand: Sally Eyeballs is now in store! Right now it’s just the dancing silhouette paper cuts with the Japanese paper dresses, but I’m hoping to expand on Etsy. Before I start selling online though, I have to have stock and… a couple dozens of business decisions to make. I want to hit the ground running. So, be patient those of you not in Toronto.

Stopped by the store the other day to look at the display and change a frame (not pictured).


Products are selling at Wise Daughters in the Junction, beside Crema Cafe.
3079 Dundas Street West

(416) 761-1555


On another note, I just got back from a friend’s wedding in Vancouver. Their actual ceremony was in Maui, after a cruise around the island! The pictures were fantastic. Did you know that touching sea turtles was prohibited in Hawaii because it’s considered as an endangered specie? Well, on my trip, my dad got me a linoleum block printing set so I could experiment with making my paper cut designs into block prints. I really like using sharp tools to make art… just cutting away at something to produce a completely different form. All I’ve got is a seahorse at the moment, but it would be fun to try to make the Vampire Squid or the Mermaid paper cut. Now that I’m only working part-time, I should really play around with that instead of parking myself in front of the TV.

How many brands can you spot?

This was my best try.



So I started my design internship on Monday. A lot of people have been wondering how it’s been going. It is too early to say, I think. There are lots to learn and to familiarize myself with, that’s for sure.

The weather has been murder here in Toronto, which makes being in the concrete jungle of downtown absolutely stifling. The studio I’m working at is snugly between the rancid Chinatown, and the bustling fashion district. Every morning, I join the ranks of the rest of the workforce, packing ourselves in the subway, careful not to make eye contact, and line up for the streetcar, praying that it will not stall, detour, or breakdown.

Before I started interning, and after I knew I was going to at this particular location, I was on my way to print something at the Kinko’s downtown around nine in the morning and had to get off at a popular transfer station. The lineups for the streetcar wounded around pillars, with no end in sight. My first thought was, glad I’m not one of them. Well.

A bit of background about myself, I have a fear of crowds. I guess no one LIKES standing on a crowded bus, but it affects me a bit more. I’m always afraid of running out of air and fainting. I would rather risk being late than stepping aboard an overcrowded bus. What happens when you have no choice but to make something you hate doing an everyday routine? My choice is to somehow make it bearable, and to my surprise, it came naturally. Even in the dead of summer when being still brings on buckets of sweat in an air-conditioned vehicle, people do not forget their common courtesy. Sure, there are those who still believe in rushing on board before people have a chance to step off, and it annoys me to no end. But I have seen many more scenes of human kindness than unkindness. During rush hour, people still give up their seats. We line up orderly, and no one tries to cut in. On my first day, a man walked a stranger to the front of the bus so he could help her carry her stroller of the streetcar. This morning, a young girl (maybe 18) leaned on two older women, looking very sick. One of the women asked a person on the bench if she could let this girl sit instead. This was immediately met with public concern, and not only did the person give up her seat, other people took notice and a TTC staff came to aid with water. In the stressful hours of the busy morning while people are hurrying to their destinations, many still had time for sympathy and lending a helpful hand. That, I can get used to.


Recent happenings in Japan

You know when you watch a natural disaster happening in another country there’s a sense of shock, sympathy, and suspicion of it travelling and affecting you and your loved ones? For me, it’s usually followed by a state of numbness. 9/11 was pretty close to home. I still remember talking about it in the car, trying to envision one of Vancouver’s buildings crashing and sinking into the ground. It just feels so surreal. I’ve lived in Japan for 2.5 years, and still have relationships with people who live there (one of who is working in Tokyo). Like anyone else who has ties in Japan, I contacted about everyone I knew to make sure they and their families are alright. To see that repeated footage of waste flooding an entire village was unsettling. I’m sure with the Japanese economy and their hard-working nature, restoration is a matter of time. I have faith that the earth has its own way of healing itself, like it usually does. What is scary for me, are the casualties. When I e-mail people back in Japan, what I want to hear is that everyone is alright. If the tsunami had hit Tokyo, where the population is exponentially bigger than the villages in Miyagi Prefecture, there wouldn’t be enough sympathy to go around. Anyway, it’s hard for me to comment on the situation as a bystander. Here are some recent photos by Tokyobling:

emptied convenience store

squished masses relying on buses instead of the electricity-runned subways

Drop by at his blog for more details, as well as old photos of the recently-hit Miyagi.


I’ve had an inspiring couple of weeks. First, I found fantastic fossils from the Cambrian Period, which is about 400-500 billion years ago. Below are my photos, each followed by what they might’ve looked like alive. Scroll over with your mouse to learn their names.

I’m also taking a philosophy class right now on the notion of success: its definition, and what people are willing to do to obtain it. The professor is very good, and the in-class activities are relevant and thought-provoking. Nuit Blanche was on this past weekend, which is an all-night arts event around the city. My boyfriend’s sister, Elly, was part of an exhibition at the Gladstone Hotel, where she presented a paper diorama complete with a large girl, layers of waves, and sailboats. I’m definitely part of her target audience.

Things at school are going well. It’s been a busy week so far, as a few meaty projects are wrapping up. My favourite assignment at the moment is doing promotional posters, programs, logos, and merchandise for a gardening event in Toronto called, Canada Blooms.

Here is a little end-of-the-post treat, for all you jazzy typography fiends:

Missing Japan

A few years ago, I had the good fortune of going on the JET Program to teach English in Japan. I lived in a small town in Shiga (滋賀) called Takatsuki (高月). After about a year, I decided to leave the gorgeous little town with its empty streets ideal for bike riding through peaceful rice fields, and move to a city where the last train was much later than 9PM, Kyoto. That year and-a-half was not what I expected. It was still full of exciting adventures and each day offered new challenges, but my first year in Japan in the country-side was still the most vivid, much like a first love, unshakably hard to forget. Perhaps because it contained memories of a lot of “firsts”, the most prominent being the first time living on my own which I tried to take full advantage of.

I had a dream last night about the first junior high school I worked at in Japan. In my dream, all the second-year teachers were crowded around me, gossiping about something I can’t remember. One of them was Mr. Soga, a guy a year younger than me whom I taught with the most frequently and had a desk right beside mine. Single, quiet, and an older brother to two, his superior English and age inevitably made him my confidant. He was a typically reserved Japanese man who spent his weekends in pachinko parlours, which were gaudy and noisy places businessmen, and women, frequented to play metal ball machines (aka Plinko?) for money, much like the mind-numbing effects of a slot machine.

image taken from Wikimedia

Our relationship was on a strong foundation that could be explained by how we addressed each other: him, by last name, and me, by my first. I had no qualms in sharing practically every detail of my life, which he would respond to most genuinely, but never shared much about himself outside of the office.

Soga was taller than most Japanese men, and had handsome features: large eyes, prominent nose, dark skin, the works. He was nice to look at, but beneath what would’ve been the window to his soul was emptiness. His stare was always a little placid, and made him an interesting subject for psychoanalysis and set a framework on understanding all other Japanese men I encountered thereon.

I moved to Japan in the fall of ’06. I remember receiving the phone call that changed the course of my life when I was shopping with my dad at Rona, a hardware store. I had a month to pack up my bags and say good-bye to my family, friends and my then-boyfriend, who was suspicious of the survival rate of a long-distance relationship. I didn’t feel unprepared, after all, I thought I knew all that I could about its culture through the language I had invested four years majoring in. I was so wrong. It was as if all this time I had been reading a fairy-tale version of this foreign country, and at other times, the reality of Japan was more surreal than anything I had ever imagined.


Loneliness & the Adventure List

So. I had a bunch of ideas for a post but hadn’t exactly felt like sitting in front of a computer when the sunny, gorgeous outside world is mocking me for being indoors. For that, I am putting all preconceived content I still remember into one, meaty post.

In news, our friend Mike visited us for a week a little while back. We met in Japan, and has been fortunate enough to still be in touch. Mike drove all the way from New Orleans to see us. We went to all the usual hot spots in the city: Chinatown, Eaton Centre, Vaughn Mills Outlet, etc. He had visited us last summer, so we were excited to bring him to new restaurants we’ve tested and loved. If you’re into perogies, and are in the neighbourhood, there is a great little pub in Roncesvalles that I highly recommend called, Intersteer. And while you’re there, get the nacho perogies and potato wedges because they will blow you away.

Our friend left in the wee hours of a Thursday morning, when the sun, and myself, were barely up yet. It wasn’t a tearful good-bye because we know we’d be seeing him soon for another visit, but the apartment did feel a lot emptier when I got up again and Seth had also left for work. It’s a strange feeling after guests leave. One minute the apartment feels overcrowded and stuffy with extra voices and laughter bouncing off the walls, the next minute there’s impermeable silence and I’m left to my own thoughts; external to internal. As an only child, I’m especially sensitive to good-byes. I have been practicing being alone my whole life, so I know how to entertain myself. But, when the party is over and people go back to their respective homes, then there’s the complication of once having, to not, and the impact comes much stronger to me. That is why in middle school my dream vacation was to go on a road trip with a bunch of my friends, ten at least, and all sleep squished up in one room.

What was your most memorable vacation? Mine was going on a road trip with my parents and some family friends. There were four families in total, and, besides mine, each had two children. We drove down the west coast.. or was it east along the border… ? Doesn’t matter, it was a long time ago. I do remember that all the kids slept in the same room, six on two beds and one on a cot. Another highlight was a pit stop we made along the way by a stream. I had so much fun running around, and climbing the giant boulders in the stream. Another memorable trip was when I went to Cambodia. Coincidentally, there was also a lot of climbing involved, up and down the ancient pagodas with their narrow and steep steps. Hm. Maybe that says something about my travel preferences.

All this travel talk brings me to my next topic of discussion: adventures to go on before I die. A co-worker of mine in her early 40s has been limping on her ankle lately when she hurt it by wind-surfing over the weekend. How cool is that? I would love to brag about a sprain or even, a broken limb, by some awesome activity like PARAGLIDING. I’ve always dreamed about soaring through the sky like that girl in Nausicaa. By the way, did you know that they’ve made an actual prototype of her aircraft? Sadly, it has to be pulled by another vehicle and doesn’t get too far off the ground.

My co-worker told me that I should try all the dangerous things while I’m young before I’m old enough to break a hip just by tripping, which gives me… hardly enough years to do everything cool. So when I went home after that shift, I sat on the couch and started writing a list of adventures I’d like to go on before it’s too late. Here is a glimpse of what was on it:

  • horse-back riding in Mongolia
  • stay at a resort I have to swim to get to
  • sleep on a beach
  • visit an ancient library
  • climb a mountain
  • visit a pyramid
  • stay in a mountain village in Japan
  • publish book cover art for Penguin
  • see Earth from Space (if I’m going to dream, I’m going to dream big)