November 18, 2015

I Got Married! And I Moved to Norway!

OMG WE DID IT U GUYZ. Photograph by Amber Marlow.

I had a dream. Then I googled "custom talking pull string toy" and my dream deflated with a thin, pitiful squeal ending with a blubbering balloon fart. The dream isn't completely dead—somewhere in China there's a factory with my dream inside of it, as long as I order a minimum of 3,000 pieces of that dream. But I was thinking something easier, a single digit commitment more along the lines of those creepy custom 3D-printed figurines mixed with Build-A-Bear Workshop, plus a plastic ring tied to a string. (I know I'm not the only person who wants custom talking pull-string toy. This random person of Internet's past knows what I'm talking about.)

So there will never be a pull-string toy based on me on my wedding day. And thus I have preemptively made landfills less filled. But if there were, this is the list of phrases the toy would have stored in its plastic voice box:











I yelled a lot at my wedding. Not in the bridezilla "DO MY BIDDING" sense, but in the "I'm trying to convey information to a bunch of people at once and I don't know how else to do it because I don't have a bullhorn" sense. Considering loads of people were eating cotton candy, all the pork and marshmallows were consumed, there were no leftover glow sticks, and no one keeled over from dehydratio, the yelling worked. Also, I think all that collective activity means people had fun.

» Continue reading "I Got Married! And I Moved to Norway!"...

Posted by roboppy at 10:12 AM |

August 18, 2015

My 70-Something Favorite Places to Eat in New York City

Check out the full Google map here! Red = restaurants, food trucks. Blue = bakeries, ice cream, desserts. Green = shops, markets, food halls.

Whenever people ask me for food recommendations in New York City, I think, "Arrrggghhfffwwgguh I wish I had a post that listed all my favorite places, but that would take a bajillion hours to write and I am too lazy, so I guess I'll just inefficiently repeat the same information to people for the rest of my life until I die."

UNTIL NOW. Right beyond these metaphorical doors.

[Attempts to dramatically open a set of French doors to unveil the post beyond, but the doors are kind of stuck and wobble open most gracelessly, revealing a small pile of dirt-dusted poop nubs supporting a neon green plastic clothespin. You know, much like this.]


My choices in this post do not necessarily represent the best of NYC. Many of my favorite restaurants and other food destinations are steeped in nostalgia or picked due to close proximity to work/friends/home. Sometimes I don't have any particularly strong reason for picking something as my favorite. None of these places are new. At some point I became less interested in trying new things, preferring to stick with what I already knew I liked. I mean, it's not like food can get any better, so why bother, amirite? Just kidding, I'm probably missing out on a bajillion awesome brain-altering delicious things because I am lazy and am rapidly approaching "get off my lawn" age.

Here's my full list of favorites minus the dumb words and photos. For dumb words and photos, keep reading!

» Continue reading "My 70-Something Favorite Places to Eat in New York City"...

Posted by roboppy at 12:39 AM |

July 7, 2015

30-Something Things You Might Want to Know About Taipei Before Moving There

I'll believe you when I die of natural causes in my old age, sound of mind, supported by loving family and friends, but YOU CAN'T PROMISE ME THAT, CAN YOU, NOTEBOOK? Didn't think so.
Taiwan, land of the most blindly reassuring stationery.

As a foreign student, I found adapting to life in Taipei to be fairly easy. Oh, hello, reliable metro system with clear announcements and signage in English. Hey there, endless supply of cheap eats. Wattup, low crime rates. Thank you, 7-Eleven on every other block, open 24 hours every day, instantly fulfilling my every wish and desire, our eternal bond sealed with a blood oath that I shall chant while dragging you with me into the afterlife.

Easy pease!

Yes, Cat, sleep wherever you damn well please.
Yes, Cat, sleep wherever you damn well please.

But there are plenty of things I wouldn't have minded knowing before moving there. Where do I put the toilet paper? How do I garbage? Wait, I don't have to tip anyone? What's up with all these cafe cats? OMG STAMPS EVERYWHERE, OMG OMGGGGUUHH.

So to help out those of you who plan to travel to or live in Taipei, and to give non-visitors a little glimpse of the fabulous* Taipei life you're not living, here are some random tips from a total non-expert's point of view about living in Taipei—local customs, habits, and resources you might not be familiar with, written from the perspective of an American who lived most of her adult life in New York City. People moving to other parts of Taiwan may also find useful information here, although I don't know how local regulations differ in other cities. If you have corrections or more suggestions, please let me know!

* During my last few months in Taipei, I got into the habit of pointing at things and passionately exclaiming, "FABULOUS TAIWAN," a hyperbolic sentiment I stole from a student photo exhibit of the same name. Sometimes the things were truly fabulous. Sometimes the things were mundane. Perhaps through my unbridled enthusiasm and/or penchant for yelling dumb shit, I degraded the word to a wisp of its former self, but I'd rather say everything in Taipei could be deemed fabulous.

» Continue reading "30-Something Things You Might Want to Know About Taipei Before Moving There"...

Posted by roboppy at 6:47 PM |

June 20, 2015

Bye, Taipei, and Thanks for the Despair Juice

Night view of Taipei 101 from Xiangshan
The view of Taipei 101 from Xiangshan.

Last Monday night, as soon as I stepped off the airplane into the jetway at JFK Airport, a cloud of pressure swelled behind my eyes, driblets of despair juice threatening to spill out. It's over. You don't live in Taipei anymore. Sorry, America. I don't step foot on your soil for over nine months—the longest I've ever spared you of my presence—and this is the loving embrace you get.

I also felt like crying just after I boarded the plane in Taipei 16 hours earlier. And before then, while waiting in the security checkpoint line at the airport. And before then, when I was alone in my apartment, luggages fully packed to the point of hm-these-might-explode-on-the-plane-well-that's-a-risk-I'm-willing-to-take, with me sitting at the edge of the living room couch (green, fairly cushiony, standard IKEA) while staring blankly at the opposite wall (beige, flat, standard wall). I still had an hour before I had to leave for the airport, but I may as well have left then and there—the minutes drained away like seconds. All of that happened just in the afternoon before my flight back to the US. I won't delve into the week leading up to that flight. There was a good amount of stifled weepage, plus some real tears, most of which I sloppily wiped onto the clavicular region of my friends' shirts.

» Continue reading "Bye, Taipei, and Thanks for the Despair Juice"...

Posted by roboppy at 6:34 AM |

November 17, 2014

Visiting Seoul from November 23 to 30

Nighttime in Seoul, from my first visit in 2009.

File under "things I forgot to mention earlier because Mandarin is chipping away at my brain meats": I'm going on a trip to Seoul with Kåre in a week, from November 23 to 30. I haven't done much planning because of the aforementioned loss of brain meats, but at the very least we have a place to stay (near Samgakji station). If anybody out there wants to grab a bite with Kåre and me while we're in Seoul, please let me know! Surely you want to experience our awkwardness in real life!!! :D And if anybody has recommendations for what we should eat or do in Seoul, I'd love to hear 'em. Please leave a comment below or email me at

One important note: I can't eat spicy food. I like spicy food, but my immune system does not. It's like how one special toy can send a puppy into spastic fits of excitement. Spicy food is the special toy that sends my immune system into spastic fits of trying to kill me.

Thank you!

Posted by roboppy at 3:14 AM |

November 10, 2014

Thank You, Cafe Kuroshio, For Pulling Me Out of "I Don't Know How to Chinese" Dumpsville

[Pops out from behind wall]...hi. It's been an embarrassingly long time. Thank you for sticking around even though I appear to have died for the last few months that I've been settling into Taipei. ;_;

Latte, tea, hot chocolate = a happy family
Happy lil' drink family at Cafe Kuroshio.

Last week I hit the "Feeling Demoralized Because I Can't Speak More Mandarin Despite Learning It For the Last Two Months" stage of being a beginner at MTC in Taipei. On one hand, it's only been two months. If I had actually reached a modicum of fluency after two months, you would have to assume that someone killed Real Robyn and for reasons unknown went through the trouble to replace her with Impossibly Lifelike and Smarter Robot Robyn (aka Boppy-Bot), because that's the only reasonable explanation. On the other hand, I go to class for three hours every weekday and study for three to four hours almost every day ( theory), I'm immersed in a Mandarin-speaking environment, and I don't have a job. My main responsibilities are feeding myself, maintaining an acceptable level of hygiene, taking out the garbage, and not failing class. You know, my single class. So I probably should be better at speaking Mandarin by now. Excuse me...[gathers jug of gasoline, a bag of bricks, and twine]

JUUUUST KIDDDING I wasn't about to burn all my belongings or throw myself into the river to rid the world of my failure, hahaaa, never! I'll just hurl myself through the air.

...By biking. I do that now. Very minimally. Slicing through the air helps clear my mind and give me respite from the subject of "HOW TO CHINESE???" I attribute biking's restorative powers of distraction to my ever-present fear that I'll collide with someone/something and spill a significant amount of blood, all while being hugged by a pleasantly cool breeze. So last Wednesday I made a lap around Da'an Park (you can't bike in the park, fffffuuu) before heading down to Picnic for a solitary study session.

The following night, I settled in at my favorite cafe, Cafe Kuroshio, for another solitary study night. I was still feeling a bit dumpy, even though I have no reason to feel dumpy, the realization of which only adds to the dumpy feelings. Remember, I have hardly any responsibilities—I just have to not die, pretty much. After two and a half hours of doing homework, the cafe's owner, Jing, comes by and places a dessert on my table.

» Continue reading "Thank You, Cafe Kuroshio, For Pulling Me Out of "I Don't Know How to Chinese" Dumpsville"...

Posted by roboppy at 5:15 AM |

August 27, 2014

How to Throw a Surprise Birthday Party (From Someone Who Has Been Surprised Too Many Times)

Hello, smattering of readers! It's been a while. :( Since my last post, I moved out of New York City back to my mom's place in New Jersey, then moved to Taipei. Today's post has absolutely nothing to do with those recent events. Or food. Instead, I'm recapping all the surprise birthday parties I've received over the last five years is my birthday. A meh birthday—the big 2-9, which basically means I'm 30, which basically means I'm 50, which basically means OH NO I AM DEAD NOW. So join me as I focus on the good times, when adulthood was distant and I didn't live thousands of miles away from my closest friends.

It's not a birthday cake until you set a bunch of tiny fires on it.

I'm not one to demand recognition for my accomplishments, but there is one prize I deserve with utmost fanfare (a nice horn quartet ought to do it). That prize is an oversized gold chalice engraved with "Most Easily Surprised by Surprise Birthday Parties." Under that in a smaller font, "It's Crazy, She Just Never Sees Them Coming!" Under that in a smaller font, "How Did She Make It This Far in Life?"

Here's what I've learned over the last five years of being surprised/fooled by friends in New York City. This isn't a handy-dandy universal guide that lists all the steps by any means; there are other resources for that. It's not rocket science, nor a less impressive science. I'm just sharing my experiences to give people ideas. Use this knowledge wisely on your most unsuspecting friend who enjoys being surprised. You might make her feel like the luckiest person on earth to be blessed with such a thoughtful circle of friends...and after a few years, fill her with self doubt about her ability to think critically about anything.

In this post I refer to the surprisee as a woman because I have lady parts. But you can also surprise guys. It works on them too, probably.

Hijack the Birthday Plans Your Friend Has Already Made

manatee had one too many
It's not a party until PARTY MANATEE ARRIVES.

Instead of planning a surprise party from square one, it might be easier and less suspicious to tack the surprise onto plans the birthday girl already made, if her plans are easily malleable. I've been that girl multiple times. I LEARN NOTHING.

» Continue reading "How to Throw a Surprise Birthday Party (From Someone Who Has Been Surprised Too Many Times)"...

Posted by roboppy at 2:24 AM |

July 10, 2014

Everything I Ate During Istanbul Eats' Six-Hour Food Tour

I visited Istanbul with Diana (friend) and Kåre (boyfriend) from March 25 to April 1...2013. Yup, last year. I'm only 16 months behind; that ain't too bad. TRYIN' TO STAY POSITIVE, GUYS.

CANDY CANDY CANDY Gaziantepli Baklavacı Bilgeoğlu Turkish coffee Tantuni Dough ball babies Kokoretto
Snapshots from the food tour.

When I visit a new city, I like to glom onto a good, local friend (like a human lamprey but without the jawless mouth hole full of pointy teeth and nightmares) who can take me around the city and show me the best places to eat, shop, and look at important historical stuff, all while filling me in on interesting facts and details about what we're eating and looking at, all while having fun, all while retaining positive feelings about me and the future of our friendship after the day is over even though I drained them of all their energy and they're sick of looking at my face.

Going on an Istanbul Eats or Gourmet Holidays culinary tour is as close as you can get to that if you're visiting Istanbul and lack local friends to take advantage of.

» Continue reading "Everything I Ate During Istanbul Eats' Six-Hour Food Tour"...

Posted by roboppy at 1:52 AM |

stuff here


previous entries

» 11/18/15: I Got Married! And I Moved to Norway!

» 08/18/15: My 70-Something Favorite Places to Eat in New York City

» 07/07/15: 30-Something Things You Might Want to Know About Taipei Before Moving There

» 06/20/15: Bye, Taipei, and Thanks for the Despair Juice

» 11/17/14: Visiting Seoul from November 23 to 30

» 11/10/14: Thank You, Cafe Kuroshio, For Pulling Me Out of "I Don't Know How to Chinese" Dumpsville

» 08/27/14: How to Throw a Surprise Birthday Party (From Someone Who Has Been Surprised Too Many Times)

» 07/10/14: Everything I Ate During Istanbul Eats' Six-Hour Food Tour

» 06/07/14: Good-Bye, Serious Eats and NYC; Hello, Unemployment and Taipei!

» 05/19/14: Curry-Ya's Baked Curry Is a Most Beautiful Egg-Topped, Cheese-Crusted Thing

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