Wednesday, August 5, 2009

From D.C. Back to N.C.

Whew. I would love to say that I have time for lots of updates, but I'm really just too tired. Not to mention that I have a new book waiting for me. (Fast Food Nation. More depressing food journalism--my future awaits.)

I am now back in Cary after a whirlwind adventure. I packed up most of my stuff on Friday, moved out Saturday, then drove to Nags Head the following afternoon.

Rosie took me hang gliding and kayaking on Monday, from which I am still recovering. I had so much fun learning to fly, but I could have done without the whiplash.

Now, I'm back here until Friday. I cannot wait to move into my Chapel Hill house. My own room, my own bathroom, a kitchen with an island...

Speaking of islands, I'm leaving for St. Thomas on Sunday. I don't know when I became so good at traveling around eastern North America, but I really can't complain. And that's all for now.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Too Simple a Measurement

While I stopped talking much about economics long before my class this summer, the book I'm reading has a compelling point I feel the need to write down.

I think it explains why I've had such an adverse reaction to this class. I hate that all we do is measured in terms of money.

The GDP as a measure of progress emerged during an era when natural resources still seemed unlimited and "quality of life" meant high economic standards of living. But if prosperity is judged only by increased economic activity, then car accidents, hospital visits, illnesses (such as cancer), and toxic spills are all signs of prosperity. Loss of resources, cultural depletion, negative social and environmental effects, reduction of quality of life--these ills can all be taking place, an entire region can be in decline, yet they are negated by a simplistic economic figure that says economic life is good. Countries all over the world are trying to boost their level of economic activity so they, too, can grab a share of the "progress" that measurements like the GDP propound. But in the race for economic progress, social activity, ecological impact, cultural activity, and long-term effects can be overlooked.
- Cradle to Cradle

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Bee and A-Mae

Came to visit. I love them. Many, many thoughts to write down but no time.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Oversatiation (of activities and food)

Whew. Why do I never have time to write? I don’t even know what I’m doing with my life. (As stated in the entry below.)

So, it’s past time for a rundown of my last week.

I saw Spring Awakening last Tuesday. Jake Epstein was the star, which came as a complete shock. For those of you who don’t know, he is truly my only television star obsession. (I admit it. He is on Degrassi. Oh, trashy Canadian shows.) The musical was equally amazing--a true bildungsroman set to rock music and with all the expected emo digressions of hormonal teenagers.

Then, of course, there was our LeaderShape reunion! Andrea and Wes both arrived on Friday. The three of us, plus a few of Andrea's friends, went to Jazz in the Gardens where we inevitably drank too much sangria. Then Wes and I embarked on an epic journey to Good Stuff Eatery, and though it was worth the trip, it was way too far for two starving, stumbling carnivores. We followed that meal up with Thomas Sweet. Shockingly, we ate an awful lot the entire weekend.

Saturday marked my second trip to Eastern Market, where we ate delectable crepes and I acquired a lovely sunburn. No touristy day is complete without a visit to The Mall, so we bussed it over to the Air & Space Museum. Then another journey to Adams Morgan for the National Zoo and Ethiopian Food. Then back to Dupont Circle for Hello Cupcake. (Just in time! They closed right after we ordered.) Looking back, it's amazing that we survived the weekend. So much to do with only a few days in D.C.!

Of course, then I came home and attempted to make cookies, because cupcakes were not enough. Not an easy feat with no brown sugar. Turns out it works, but it's not an ideal situation. Kind of like that time I used a banana as a substitute for two eggs. The cookies were more of a muffin top-cookie blend.

I had my best brunch thus far on Sunday at the News Café. The only thing better than French toast is French toast stacked with cream and fruit. Sinful.

To continue with our tourist theme, we visited The White House, the Washington Monument and the American History Museum. I would highly recommend a visit to The Old Post Office, where we saw some gorgeous views of the downtown D.C. skyline. Following that, we visited the WWII Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, and The Guards restaurant for filet mignon. So much food.

The boys and I saw Bruno Sunday night. While I couldn't stop laughing during the movie, the residual after-effects are far more disturbing--a penis on screen for an awkwardly long time that also talks. No more words necessary.

Wes left Monday (so sad), and our program went to The State Department. I learned about a job in foreign policy, which I don't believe I want. At least I know. It sounds really exciting, but at this point I'm so wrapped up in domestic policy issues that I would feel like I'm cheating on the United States. (My American Studies major does not help with the guilt trip either.)

Obviously, Tuesday night was reserved for the Harry Potter premiere. Where I saw Jake Epstein again. In an embarrassing display of fanaticism, I panicked, lost control of my voice, and didn't ask for a picture. I'm quite ashamed of myself. Instead of dressing up in HP garb, I only wore Slytherin colors to commemorate the night, but I'm afraid I still looked far too friendly.

The rest of this week has moved far too rapidly. Only two more weeks with all these lovely people. Although I look forward to a human-sized bed and kitchen, I will truly miss all the bonding opportunities. But then I remember the impending semester of bonding I have with my new housemates in the fall!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Goodbye Yellow Brick Road

This song seemed appropriate when it came on my iTunes shuffle this evening. If anything, this summer has caused me to question the decisions I’ve made about my future rather than reaffirmed them.

I'm grateful, if not a little irritated that the hyper-analytic side of my personality is making a comeback. (Specifically, I am recalling these three weeks in high school where I cut off nearly all means of communication. AIM, Myspace--gone. I even canceled my magazine subscriptions to further eradicate superficiality from my life.) I can tell this sort of situation is going to be a cyclical aspect of my life.

Anyway, I relate so much to Elton John's words, wishing that I could go back to a simpler time before I became an "illustrious" D.C. intern, before I sought a life outside of my hometown, before I even thought about college or a future beyond playtime.

I'm no longer certain of what I am trying to attain, to prove, to achieve.

When our program began our economics class last week, I became immediately infuriated with my professor for repeating the phrase "greedy, greedy, greedy" whenever speaking about the human race. I'm angry because he's right. More so, I am angry at myself for being a part of the system--trying to climb the ladder of success, giving in to superficial desires (such as shopping), protecting myself from appearing vulnerable.

By no means am I complaining about my life, at least not intentionally. I just wonder why I continue to chase after opportunities for wealth and glory when I would be happier just to be a homebody, though where home is, I am not certain.

I know people think I'm lazy for not working diligently at my classes here, or even some classes I've taken back at school. In fact, I think I am increasingly being perceived as a lazy person in general. If only you'd known me in high school. Now that I look back at how unhappy I was in pursuit of what I considered a greater happiness--college--I regret not taking the time to enjoy that moment rather than the promise of a "better" future moment.

I feel bombarded by these conflicting messages: always do your best, yet do what you love. I cannot seem to reconcile one with the other, because doing my best at something I hate seems counter intuitive, not to mention wasteful. By focusing more on the latter, I receive criticism for not doing the former. But I suppose living up to my own expectations is all that matters.

I quite simply do not know what I want, not that any of us do. I love the culture and the excitement of D.C., but it's the small places where I feel most comfortable (And that goes beyond knowing I don't have to clutch my purse when walking through N.C. towns). I love cooking, but it's an activity I want to share with those closest to me, not a career opportunity. I love writing, but there's that nagging voice telling me I cannot ever do it on my terms.

Thus, I am questioning everything. My major, my study abroad choice, my decision to be in college, even my friendships. It's so hard to do, yet infinitely easier than losing any more time on what I don't want. At least I know that.

So goodbye yellow brick road
Where the dogs of society howl
You can't plant me in your penthouse
I'm going back to my plough

Back to the howling old owl in the woods
Hunting the horny back toad
Oh I've finally decided my future lies
Beyond the yellow brick road

Metaphorically, of course. I haven't operated a plough in my entire life.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Sigh of Contentment

Reasons to be happy:

1) I have half a chocolate buttermilk cake sitting upstairs (with chocolate hazelnut buttercream frosting). I'm calling it the "Death by Chocolate & Cholesterol" cake. Probably not the greatest name from a marketing point of view.

2) I saw The Jersey Boys, Aretha Franklin and Barry Manilow in concert for the 4th of July. And most importantly, many of the Sesame Street characters made an appearance. I knew their songs best of all.

3) I saw every member of my family at some point or another this week. I'm not particularly homesick, but spending Friday with my dad in Annapolis and Georgetown made me epically happy. He's oh-so good to me.

4) I ate brunch with Katie today. She is most lovely to be around, especially when accompanied by French toast and Welsh rarebit.

5) My life practically revolves around food these days (clearly), which could be a reason to be depressed rather than happy. After all, cooking with so much butter isn't exactly the best way to avoid my genetic predisposition for high blood pressure. Then again, food brings people together, and I'd like to think I do a lot of that.

6) In further disregard of the selfishly-worded parallel structure I had going (I, I, I, I), the people here are amazing. Inspiring and motivating. And good with flattery. But really, I miss them already.

7) Seems like an appropriate number to end on, for some reason. I think you know this one. LEADERSHAPE REUNION THIS WEEKEND!

Monday, June 29, 2009

The Real WALL-E

I NEED one. He just melts my heart.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Summer cookin' (and eatin')

I have finally done what I've always wanted to do (well, since college): make a meal schedule and stick to it. So far this week, I've only made tacos, mac 'n' cheese, and buttermilk biscuits to serve as the starch in strawberry shortcake, but I'm feeling quite good about my progress.

This week also calls for sloppy joes, homemade pizza, chocolate chip cookies, and french toast. And next on the more ambitious agenda is chicken parmesan. Cooking/baking is the one activity I consistently look forward to... I wonder if I'm pursuing the right profession?

As I failed to mention before, I saw Food, Inc. this weekend. Nothing too life-changing, as I'd already read Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma and was familiar with many of the issues addressed. Oh food classes, how I adore thee.

One thing I was not aware of was that companies are beginning to spray their beef with ammonia to remove potential E. Coli bacteria. Yummy.

In any case, I sincerely hope that Food, Inc. receives the hype that An Inconvenient Truth did. Every American should see the documentary. Only when consumers begin demanding change will any of us receive it. And boy, do I want that change.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Another week in pictures

No time for extensive updates, but here's another picture synopsis of my week:

I admired Julie Childs' kitchen for hours at the American History Smithsonian. I'm definitely going to have pegboard to hang up all my pans someday, ya hear?

I enjoyed trivia night with my district friends. We did not win the game, but we were the happiest team, which counts for more anyway. In trivia and in life.

The program went to Mount Vernon today. So gorgeous inside, and a lovely day to boot. My kitchen with the pegboard storage will be inside my own lovingly restored historic home, ideally.

I also tried Ethiopian food on Saturday. Amazing. Will elaborate on the experience further at a later date since there is clearly no sense in me promising next-day updates when I consistently fail at them.

Tomorrow, I intend to bike along the Potomac for as long as physically possible. Walking in high heels is not a sufficient workout.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Gaining some culture, getting acculturated

Despite the sunburn I received after hours spent at the Capital Pride Festival, I'm feeling quite pleased with how this weekend went. The weather was beautiful and I saw so much in such a short time. I feel like I've lived nearly an entire semester in the one week I have been here.

We explored the museum of natural science on Friday and took so many pictures for the photo contest. (I desperately need that prize money to feed myself.) In fact, I bring my Fund shirt everywhere, just in case. Double the reward!

That evening, we had a dance party. In fact, we seem to be having/attending an awful lot of parties. In this pictorial example, I was the straight in the middle of a gay sandwich. I'm a lucky girl. Having now attended seven parties in the last eight days, I can honestly say that this summer will be crazier than my freshman year of college. Whew.

On Saturday, I met Alice Waters. I still cannot get over it. I purchased her cookbook The Art of Simple Cooking for myself and my mom, and she signed the book and took a picture with me. Sigh. I achieved supreme bliss in that moment.

In a similar foodie event, I tried Persian food for the first time and adored it. Then again, I have yet to taste a new cultural cuisine that I haven't liked. I also found the most divine Greek restaurant this weekend, but I'm sure I'll have more on that later.

More importantly, Saturday marks the day I visited the Church of Scientology. We actually went inside and learned about the religion, meeting with Scientologists and watching a video. The experience was incredibly surreal. It deserves its own post, which will hopefully be happening tomorrow. I need the time to gather my thoughts.

To add to the gay fun from Friday, we went to the festival on Sunday. I saw some of the most bizarre outfits and witnessed some incredibly strange behavior, and I'm so glad I went. There were under-dressed men everywhere, as illustrated. Pretty to look at, at least.

Basically, this weekend marked an excellent beginning to my D.C. summer. I can't wait to spend all of tomorrow in the American history museum. They'll probably have to drag me out.

Now that I think about it, when it's time to leave this place, my family may have to drag me out of this city, too.