Northern Ireland based geekery & nerdisms

Tag Archives: tourism

Ahhhh, I am so bad at keeping this blog up to date, I have just been so seriously busy. Sorry, sorry, sorry. Sorry.

I DO keep meaning to sit down and write movie reviews, but (a) I don’t like the ever present risk of spoilers and (b) that’s not really very specific to Northern Ireland now, is it? I realize I occasionally veer off this very strict path I’ve set myself, but I think it’s okay if I’m trying not to. At least. Maybe.

SO. Here are some marvelous Etsy finds for the month of July. And oh, it has been glorious! Have you been enjoying this seriously un-Northern-Irish weather? I decided to backtrack to July, since I will probably run out of things to talk about later in August and then I can pull out the Etsy Finds card again. Genius.

As per usual, all these AMAZING crafty treasures are made by buyers/Etsy stores based in and around Belfast. It never fails to surprise me what local people are capable of. Not because I think you’re all rubbish (I don’t!), I’m just that impressed by the handiwork.

First up:  look at how topical I can be. Since they have just revealed the new Doctor, here is a wall decal that every fan of Doctor Who should rush out and buy immediately. Except that you don’t even have to rush out, because you can get it on the internet, by clicking that picture right up there.

Speaking of mysterious creatures from other worlds…

My obsession with Adventure Time continues. I just think I would’ve been a much better adult if I had been able to watch that cartoon as a child. Or I would’ve turned out like Lumpy Space Princess and somehow taken over the world. If you are feeling particularly crafty, this is actually a PDF download for a crochet pattern. Click on the picture to pay and download.

If you DO make it, send me it. Or at least a picture, as proof.

I apologize, gentleman, but excuse me for just one moment.

OH, HOW CUTE ARE THESE SHORTS? I just realized I could have put an “eat my shorts” joke here, but I’m too lazy and hungry to think of one right now.

Welcome back, men folk. Don’t worry, I saved the very best for last.

How amazing! And also awful. I’m crying, but also impressed. These are hard emotions to understand. Again, you can click on this to find and buy it.

You’re welcome. I will try to be better with the blogging situation, but if the sun comes out again, I will make no promises…

S.

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I don’t know how it’s never occurred to me to do a blog on Bookends before, because it is truly one of my favourite shops in Northern Ireland; but I have been struggling to start (and more importantly finish) blogs these days, so I’ve been digging in the very hidden recesses of my brain for inspiration.

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Also, I was there today, so I am feeling super inspired and babbley. Shut up, it’s a word.

Anyway, Bookends is a very hidden treasure, tucked away down the side of Bangor train station. That’s Bangor, Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland…in case any of you are from Outer Mongolia and there happens to be a Bangor there, too. Or Wales. There’s a Bangor in Wales.

You’re welcome for the valuable trivia.

Back on topic; it’s a second hand book shop. The greatest second hand book shop I have ever been in, and trust me, I have been in many. I venture here about twice a year, but today was hands down the most successful visit I’ve ever been on. I GOT SO MUCH STUFF.

And then I made my wonderful other half carry my very heavy bag of books back to the car. I am a lady, I don’t do no carrying.

I can’t really tell you about their stock, because there are many, many, many books, in all imaginable genres, and I only ever really make a bee-line for the Fantasy section…also, it changes A LOT. I can tell you that the shop itself is like something off TV; Black Books really does come to mind, but the staff are much nicer and less likely to scream at you in a drunken rage. Much less likely, I’m sure. Both the owner and his bearded colleague were happy enough to help us dig through PILES of books and comics to find something that suited us, and oh, did I find stuff.

We stumbled in on a good day, too – 50% off loads of different genres (including Sci-Fi/Fantasy) and comics for 50p! 50-freakin’-pence!

Bearing that in mind…here’s what I came away with on this particular visit.

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I am a huge David Eddings fan (go read The Belgariad!) and this giant, GIANT book was only £5…minus the 50% from the sale. Wow, right? The teeny picture below is to give you some idea of just how big it actually is. Glorious, but maybe not one for reading on the train. Shoulder ache.

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As much as I love David Eddings, my heart will always truly belong to Raymond E. Feist. I quite own a lot of his books, but being the literary hoarder that I am, I figured I might as well start aiming for a full collection of magical and wonderful works.

 

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The eagle eyed among you may have glanced your eyes over the last picture there and noticed ‘Gosh, you have books one, two and four, how silly of you!’, but they didn’t have book three and I can’t turn down a bargain (£1.50 each, including discount, I think). If you happen to come across ‘Rage Of  A Demon King’, make a girl’s day and send it this way?

Oh, that rhymed. Neato.

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Similar situation here, book two of two, and I don’t own book one…but see that little sticker on the front there?

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OH YEAH! Now, I know it’s not actually worth any money, given it’s not a first edition and isn’t in marvellous condition, but it’s a sentimental thing, really. I’ll enjoy owning it and showing it off to people who appreciate my Feist collection.

Like, erm, my Dad.

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Finally, I got myself Hannibal Rising, but I reckon the boyf. will get in there before I do. I’m addicted to the Hannibal television series, although I was never a Thomas Harris fan before! Just finished Red Dragon, I couldn’t put it down. I did call in to find Silence Of The Lambs, but it wasn’t there. That’s my excuse for the giant book haul.

As well as books, I had a good rifle through the stacks of comic books that Bookends had to offer. The lovely gentleman working there had me pre-warned that these stacks have been rifled through a lot – but I wasn’t really looking for anything of real worth, just little things that would appeal to my odd collection.

If you are a Marvel fan, get yourself down there- they had boxes upon boxes of Avengers and Mighty Thor…but alas, I would not know where to start with any of these titles, and I’m trying (and failing) to devote myself and my budget to my love of Batgirl.

Oh, also Uncanny X-Men. So many mutants.

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These are the comics that I did get. IS THE PICTURE BIG ENOUGH? HUH? Two from the mid-Eighties and one from 2001. Again, nothing I really collect, but these were all the Detective Comics that they had, and for 50p each, I didn’t want to leave them there to gather dust and never know the love of a real home.

Side note: check out the chick on the top issue there…Nocturna. Apparently, her only real reason for becoming a villain was that her skin was slightly paler than that of your average human being. She’s still got nothing on me.

Before this starts to get too long and babbley (still a word), I’ll wrap this up. If you are looking for a nice little day trip, Bangor is well worth it. Some parts of the town look like they exist somewhere out of time and space (could do with a dab of modernization, is all I’m saying), but there’s this incredible little book cave, a brand new shiny CeX and the freakin’ Pickie Park.

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They’ve done the Pickie Park up loads since I was a kid. I had a go on a pedalo swan, but I think it’s maybe more for little children. That’s not to say it’s not a whole bunch of fun.

Off to settle down now to read one of my lovely new books…they have that great second-hand, pre-loved smell. Get to Bangor before the weather turns and freezes the marina into a giant iceberg of misery. It’s well worth your time.

S.

 


I am a huge, huge fan of London. I think I might live there someday, even just for a little while. Recently, I was lucky enough to get the chance to go to help a very lovely Aunt celebrate a very important birthday. A lady never tells, of course. Unfortunately, we were only there for two days and I was forewarned not to expect anyone to come to any museums with me (it’s okay – I’m going again JUST for the museums! Joy), so it was sort of a whistle-stop tour of London. Literally…”LOOK, THERE’S BUCKINGHAM PALACE. Now let’s sprint to Piccadilly!”

I think I dropped two dress sizes with all the walking we did.

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You may or may not be aware that London is, like, the greatest place to shop. I’m comparing this to Belfast and Lisburn, so obviously my scope is small and unimpressive, but oh, Camden. I want to live there, but it’s really expensive, so if you’re ever there and see someone living in a box and begging for change dressed as Batgirl…well. That might be me, chuck us a quid.

This is Camden Lock Market. Geekery was in abudance, and the people were all wonderfully odd. I am in love with this weird little bunch of sheds.

This is Camden Lock Market. Geekery was in abudance, and the people were all wonderfully odd. I am in love with this weird little bunch of sheds.

Cafe at Camden Lock Market...check out those seats! Absolute genius, I'm trying to figure out a way to steal this idea.

Cafe at Camden Lock Market…check out those seats! Absolute genius, I’m trying to figure out a way to steal this idea.

This is my new handbag. It's the best handbag in the world, don't you think? Purchased at Camden Lock Market, from a man who didn't know who Spiderman was! Seriously! One of the best things about the market is the opportunity to haggle - this bag was only £10 and worth every penny.

This is my new handbag. It’s the best handbag in the world, don’t you think? Purchased at Camden Lock Market, from a man who didn’t know who Spiderman is. Seriously! One of the best things about the market is the opportunity to haggle – this bag was only £10 and worth every penny.

Boba Fett ring - a very lovely gift for all my London planning. Chuffed! Also from the market, it's definitely worth digging around every stall, you really don't know what you might find.

Boba Fett ring – a very lovely gift for all my London planning. Chuffed! Also from the market, it’s definitely worth digging around every stall, you really don’t know what you might find.

If markets, stalls and haggling isn’t your thing, then you’re weird, but there’s also Oxford Street, home of, well, all the flagships stores of all the shops that have ever existed. I might be exaggerating, but Selfridges is there. I am a girl, and as such, I like to look at expensive handbags (and then buy comic book print ones, see above). Nice to look at, but if you are willing to spend that much money on something that isn’t a house or an island, you need psychological help. We went to Oxford Street for one main reason, and that reason was Primark. SUCH A PRIMARK. I’m pretty sure it has everything that Primark actually make. On the downside, it is absolutely packed. There is no room for movement or trying things on or basic human decency. You get in there, you find what you want, you grab it and you queue. I got a little pile of basics, and a Batman top.

Expertly photoshopped by moi.

Expertly photoshopped.

I took my derpy face out for your own good. It’s nice and long and not all black, so it’s a change from all my other Batman tops. This is my justification for buying another item of clothing with the bat symbol on it.

I also saw an amazing Star Wars tshirt, but they only had it in sizes 8 or 20. Typical. I am keeping my eyes peeled for it making its way to the Primark in Belfast, or, heaven forbid, Lisburn.

Finally, here is a £250 teddy bear in the Buckingham Palace gift shop.  ...I did not buy one.

Finally, here is a £250 teddy bear in the Buckingham Palace gift shop.
…I did not buy one.

There you have it, a brief summary of my weekend in London, illustrated through my few but beloved purchases. I will be back, and I will have a much emptier suitcase to fill with magical Camden junk.

S.

 

 


You may have noticed, if you notice such things, that I am not quite as prolific in my blogging as I have been in the past. I apologize, but the thing is, on any given day, I HAVE FOUR HUNDRED THINGS TO DO.

In fact, I am only doing this blog now because I’ve just done an hour and a half of uni work and I need a break before my brain explodes and redecorates my bedroom. With brain gunk.

On the plus side, for those of you that dabble in the reading of blogs, I shall be much, much easier to keep up with. Instead of, like, eight blogs a day about what I’ve just eaten or the episode of the Clone Wars I’ve just watched.

SO. I did, in a past blog, promise you that I would go to the Game Of Thrones Exhibition over the weekend and then tell you about how great it was. I assured you it would be face-melting (or something to that effect), so HOLD ONTO YOUR FACES.

First of all, I would  like to say that getting tickets for this free (that’s my favourite word) event was much, much more difficult that it should have been. I mean, the internet is all powerful, surely ‘click and possess’ is a fairly straightforward concept? Alas, the website was crashing all over the show and the phone lines were busy and I was starting to hyperventilate and stress. I did a mean, awful thing – don’t judge me. I was scared I would end up with no tickets at all, so I sent a nasty email to Titanic telling them to wind their neck in and make things work better.
I am a mean, bad person. I am ashamed.

To make the shame even worse, some lovely bloke from Titanic Customer Services emailed back immediately, with an apology, and then offered to book the tickets for me. Eek. I still feel bad about being a grump.

Good on you though, Titanic, your people are marvellous.

Ticket drama aside, I was so excited about this. The little clip advertising it was immense…and WordPress still won’t let me embed videos. I had forgotten that. Oh well,here’s the link.

I had never actually been inside the Titanic building before (I know, I know, I am a museum geek and a touch patriotic, so I really should go for a proper visit), but it’s pretty flippin’ cool. And busy, which is always nice to see. The guys at the coffee shop thing were dressed like ye olde times paper boys, and the toilets were ultra clean and shiny. What more can you ask from anywhere, really?

Wisely, when booking tickets for the exhibition, you had to choose a time slot – this sounds kind of like hassle and a bit odd, but it meant the displays weren’t too crowded and you didn’t have to queue for too long to get a good look at anything. AND OH, the things there were to look at.

The exhibition was divided up according to family – the Starks, Lannisters, Baratheons, Greyjoys and  Targareans all had their own little areas, as did the Nights Watch (although characters from North of the Wall were stuffed in that display too, which makes sense, I guess). There were videos playing all around the place too, and although they were really just behind the scenes videos from the DVDs, always worth a watch. Some of the main characters did little ‘Welcome to the Game Of Thrones Exhibition’ clips too, which was a nice feature.

I don’t want to trawl through every single item I saw, but highlights included some of the Starks’ costumes (all lined up beside each other, like in the first episode before they all shoot off in opposite directions all over Westeros), Ned Stark’s head on a spike (which I only noticed because I tipped my head back to yawn – it was pretty high up), Ice and Needle (among LOADS of other weapons) and the dragon eggs and scale models of Drogon. All in all, it took around 40 minutes to see everything.

So neat. Some of Emilia Clarke’s costumes were out on display along with said dragons, and man, that chick is TINY. The detail that does into all the costumes in mind blowing – small stitches and teeny details that a camera would never pick up, just proof that this show takes itself seriously! As well it should.

I think that’s more than enough of my talking, here are some blurry, dark, badly taken Iphone photos. You’re so welcome.

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You may notice that there are only two dragon eggs here; one of them hatched! Teehee, I kid, obviously – the third egg was given to George R.R. Martin as a wedding gift! I thought that was a nice gesture.

The exhibit is in Belfast until June 17th, but there are no tickets left now. If you are elsewhere in the world, see where it goes next on their site!

If you’re heading down to the exhibit, or if you have already been, nip over to Facebook and tell me if you liked it!

S.


So, you know that song? Yeah, that one. Apparently, it has started some sort of strange nationwide craze for charity shops and bargain findings; a craze that I fully approve of. While every other retail store in Northern Ireland is closing (Lisburn have lost Dorothy Perkins, Evans, NV and The Sony Centre this month), it seems we will always have our thrift stores.

And Primark. We will always have Primark.

I thought, for this ON TIME (woo!) Sunday Review, I would tell you about my recent jaunt up the Lisburn Road. My logic in visiting this weird inbetween-Belfast-and-Lisburn-land was centered around the fact that very few of the shops around there seem to be shutting down, and it’s pretty damn fancy, so fancy people and students alike probably donate to the charity shops around there. And there’s a Starbucks, that was a massive factor, I won’t lie.

Anyway, to the point. I had money burning a hole in my pocket, I Googled tips and tricks for thrifting (because I Google hints and tips for everything, like the sad little lady I am) and I had a bag for life. No 5p charge for me, not at all. Over the space of four hours and, like, twelve charity shops, I bought….*drum roll*…two books. Two books. I wanted bags and bags of marvellous, cheap and miraculous wonders, but no, it was not to be.

One of them was The Bunny Suicides for a quid though, so that was okay.

One of them was The Bunny Suicides for a quid though, so that was okay.

The second book was an encyclopedia of treasures from Ancient Rome; obviously highly essential. I had to spell check encyclopedia like, ten times there. That’s humiliating for an English graduate.

I think my expectations were too high. I won’t even pretend to be some sort of involved fashionista, because I dress like a hobo (or, if I make an effort, a fourteen year old goth), but I was sort of expecting to see, I don’t know, something? A battered old AC/DC t-shirt? Denim stuff? Anything that didn’t smell like moths?

I did see an £8 wedding dress, but I didn’t want to get it because, well. I’m not that mental. Or Miss. Havisham.

I digress, as I so frequently do, but the Lisburn Road has always been a favourite of mine. I would’ve liked to live there at some point during my student life, but I ran out of money and had to live with my parents for the majority of my undergraduate career. It’s a nice area to stroll around, plenty of food and coffee and bars and interesting shops (including that one that sells the giant expensive poofy formal dresses, and Arcadia, with all it’s joyful American candy) and before you know it, bam, you’re in Belfast. With more shops, and more bars.

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This is, apparently, meant to be art? I hate it, but that's okay, because everyone else does, too.

This is apparently meant to be art? I hate it, but that’s okay, because everyone else does too.

I did have a point to make, but it’s completely gone. Go for a dander up the Lisburn Road. If you find something amazing in a charity shop, send me a picture, so I can be jealous and cling to my two bargain books.

S.


I already had a rant about the airport and covered the Eiffel Tower in day one – you can go read that here, if you like.

While I had a plan for the weekend in mind before we set off, day two (Saturday) was meant to be a day of wandering and discovering. And oh, it was. I am not a healthy, sporty or fit person, but I think we might have walked about 5 miles. First thing in the morning I hopped out of bed (also something I don’t usually do, at home it’s more of a roll-and-splat motion), and we made a beeline for the Seine. If you are headed to Paris in the future, you really, really have to start your trip with a boat tour. It’s insanely beautiful, very informative and gives you an idea of where everything is in comparison to everything else.

We went with Bateaux Parisian, because it wasn’t raining and we could sit outside and take fifty million pictures.

Like this picture, of a university class, having a class beside the Seine. So jealous I could just hurl stuff at them.

Like this picture, of a university class, having a class beside the Seine. So jealous I could just hurl stuff at them.

After our very lovely boat trip, we WALKED from the Eiffel Tower to Notre Dame, via a whole bunch of bridges and museums and gardens and landmarks. Paris really does need to be done on foot, we would’ve missed so much if I had been more me-like and refused to walk. Notre Dame is spectacular, of course, but they’ve built a viewing platform-thingy for the 850th anniversary (yes! 850 years! That is one OLD, OLD building), which was packed, ruined the view from the ground and looked downright cheap and tacky. Especially when you put it beside on of the most recognizable cathedrals in the world.

This was in Notre Dame. I don't know what it was, but CREEPY, yes?

This was in Notre Dame. I don’t know what it was, but CREEPY, yes?

RIGHT. On to the real geekery. First up, after getting into Notre Dame and being silent and respectful, we got a little bit lost. Which would’ve been fun, if my legs weren’t about to drop off and if we weren’t literally going in circles. We did stumble across the world’s fanciest toilet, but I don’t think that’s really a feature of the city…

Eventually we found the Pantheon, one of the big tourist attractions that nobody seems to really go to. Except for the French. Good news is, if you are between 18 and 25 and from the EU, you get in for free! Same goes for the Louvre and the Arc De Triomphe. It pays to be from Northern Ireland. Sometimes.

Rarely.

This one time.

I highly recommend a visit to the Pantheon though, it’s really amazing. They have a wonderful exhibition on how the church building is actually crumbling and falling down, which was both interesting and terrifying. Maybe bring a hard hat? The real sights are underneath the church/mausoleum part (it’s changed purpose so many times, thanks to all those revolutions), where there are crypts where the French government bury citizens of note. Of which there are many! Voltaire, Rousseau, Marie and Pierre Curie, Victor Hugo, Alexander Dumas, Louis Braille…the list goes on and on. Humbling to visit and fascinating to look at (all the info. panels are in French, by the by, so you might want to get a book or an audio guide if you really want to know what’s going on).

Dome! Amazing. I took a video, but I look well rough, so it'll never see the light of day.

Dome! Amazing. I took a video, but I look well rough, so it’ll never see the light of day.

Marie & Pierre Curie, complete with little picture.

Marie & Pierre Curie, complete with little picture.

Hugo & Dumas.

Hugo & Dumas.

Voltaire's tomb.

Voltaire’s tomb.

After we went and visited some famous dead people (ah Paris, the city of love), we got lost a little bit more, but again, in the pursuit of something marvellous. If you have been to France/Paris and you are of a geeky persuasion, you really must’ve gone to Album.

Album is sort of like Forbidden Planet. Except, bigger. And better. With newer stock and older stock and displays that nearly put Disneyland to shame. It’s just…wow. They have an English section as well, so if you aren’t fluent in a foreign language (I got by okay, I’d like to point out), you won’t be completely lost.

PICTURES. ALL THE PICTURES.

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As we were heading back to the tourist-beaten-track, we stumbled across another store I’d been dying to see – Shakespeare & Company. An English bookstore opened in 1951, named after an even older English language bookshop (that closed during the Second World War), the place is pure, incredible chaos. There are books everywhere, each room leading on to another room, people crammed into every little space. Oh god, I really loved it. I want my house to look like that. So many books. Heavenly, it really was. The outside of the shop is just as lovely, with little benches and trees and tables of books. Everyone who works there seems to be American, which struck me as odd (HIRE ME?!), but at least you don’t have to try and ask for a specific book in broken French!

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All in all, a brilliant day of wandering and finding and shopping and romance. And now, I am sitting in Northern Ireland, wishing so badly I could just go back and stay there forever.

Don’t worry though, days three, four and five are on their way!

S.


So, you may or may not be aware that I am a girl. Of the female persuasion, if you will. Actually, that makes me sound like a lesbian, but I’m just trying to convey to you that I am a chick. Anyway, I can’t speak for all the other geeky lady folk out there, but from time to time, I do like to embrace my inner Barbie. I just like pink, is all. And glitter.

Only sometimes, mind you. Mostly, I like Batman and converse and cats.

With this in mind, here are some pink bits and bobs that I’ve seen around; don’t worry gentlemen, I’m sure you can pull off pink just as well as any lady. Smash the gender roles.

Ears!

Ears!

£4 in H&M! Such a bargain, and they still have them in the store in Belfast. They don’t appear to be on the website any more, but if you click the picture, there is an even cuter Iphone cover for under a fiver…it’s panda shaped! If, however, you are a crazy cat lady like myself, you can get something very similar on Amazon. I can personally recommend this one, because I went and ordered myself one when I needed cheering up recently. It has a little tail on the back, too! Bless.

This glittery number is in Primark at the minute, too. £4 and pretty cute if you're into diamondy things.

This glittery number is in Primark at the minute, too. £4 and pretty cute if you’re into diamondy things.

Darth Vader and pink go oddly well together.

Darth Vader and pink go oddly well together.

Cute, yesyes? Spotted in H&M in Belfast (the Royal Avenue one, I think). I can’t remember the exact price, because it was a while ago and I was skint and didn’t want to look too closely, lest I get depressed.

Also, I’m not actually a fashion blogger, go look and find the price yourself. Leave me alone.

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More Primark love now, in the form of Hello Kitty. The little slippers were £4, but when I went back after payday to buy a pair, they were nowhere to be found! Typical. The onesie is around £14, complete with Hello Kitty ears and bow.

I know I said earlier that this was a boy friendly blog…and I truly meant it. I would greatly like to see a picture of a man in that purple onesie. Not for any weird sexy reasons, just for a giggle. Honest.

I'm *A* genius.

I’m *A* genius.

Finally, another pink pick from Primark (Lisburn). I’m not entirely sure about this, because it doesn’t really make any sense, grammatically. I do so love a garment that lets everyone know that you’re smarter than them, though. It saves telling everyone you pass in the street, which is time consuming.

I think that’ll do nicely for girly moment, I am all pinked out. I might scrounge up the energy to do a ‘Feelin’ Blue’ for the male types out there…but only if you comment nice things.

My ego needs the boost.

S.