Thursday, December 20, 2007

Two foods to rule the world

There are 2 foods - if they can so be classified - that are supposed to be eaten with something, but that I prefer to eat solo. I have an unnatural obsession with both foods, which may explain why I feel the need for the unadulterated substance. Whenever I am on the cusp of giving into these cravings, I attempt to persuade myself in an unconvincing manner that it simply is not civilized to eat these foods without some sort of accompaniment. Almost without fail, my penchant for white-trash-eat-out-of-a-jar foods wins over, and I eat imprudently. Careful, I'm not saying that hummus and Nutella are trashy foods. I just think I might be trashy for eating them straight out of the jar. And the part that bothers me most is that I can't quite explain this intense craving that I get for these foods, and why I can't feel satisfied eating them on something. Well, Nutella I guess is pretty easy: I'm a girl, and it's in my blood, right? But, the hummus. Why, hummus? Could it be the pungent breath that outlasts the Energizer bunny? I think not. Or how 'bout that Tahini? That's a pretty unique ingredient. Or how about the fact that despite my desire to eat it alone, it goes with everything? There's really nothing you can't put hummus on. Now, really. Could it be that I was Greek in a past life? Maybe I'm pregnant? I'm not sure, and I am beginning to feel overwhelmed with the darting questions. All I know is that I love my hummus and my Nutella. And you can't take that away from me.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

A job! A job! I have got a job!

Ok, so maybe I’m not so skilled at the whole “introduction, build the plot, dénouement” thing. But, it bears repeating, so I’m sure you’ll hear the good news again at the proper dénouement point. I feel as though I am getting married and I must bid farewell to my bygone days. Farewell, days of youth, where I flitted from one temp job to the next! I bid adieu to the “full time job” of incessantly searching Idealist.org – in fact, I am unsubscribing myself from that woebegone listserv! Goodbye hours of boredom where I found myself beholden to check people’s blogs thrice daily! I hereby take leave of forgone evenings of fun due to lack of funds! Adios cover letters! Cheerio rigid interviewers! And hello, crouching, standing, and reaching. I have got a job!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Seasons Greetings


Ali and I had a good ol' time making this wreath.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Merry Christmas to me!

I must have been good this year because I got three, count ‘em – 3 – presents from my work. Nobody can say that the National Restaurants Association is niggardly. The first gift is a fire engine red fleece that says Colorado on it, but you know it was made in China. When I proudly sport this jacket with NRA emblazoned on the front, people might wonder if I’m a gun activist, and that will spur lively conversations, I’m sure. So, you can see why I value it as the gift that keeps giving. The second and third gifts of sound advice and comfort were haphazardly given I suppose, but are no lesser in value. Upon discovering that I had no children and was not dating anybody, the receptionist counseled me to throw back my head and arms and yell “God, Merry Christmas to me!” (apparently because there is nobody in my life who will wish me Merry Christmas besides yours truly). After this outbreak, I should without delay run to the store and buy myself that “something” I have always wanted. Upon rewarding myself with my own present, I should again break out in exultations, yelling “Merry Christmas to me, Merry Christmas to me!” She comforted me, assuring me that if she were single, it was most certainly what she would do. This seemingly simple advice proffered by my receptionist ensures that I will never spend a Christmas in a boring or lonely manner. The receptionist’s last gift was evoked, I believe, by her piteous feelings toward me due to my lack of marriage prospects. Mind you, this is a 50 year old non-Mormon woman who is baffled over my single status. She comforted me by telling me that she did not find her “special person” until she was 35. She reminded me that I don’t have to stand looking a boy over all day to tell if he was honorable; it only takes moments. Here’s the clincher: If you find that a boy is not honorable, NEVER look into his eyes. That’s how they get you, evidently. According to the receptionist, there are very few honorable boys out there, so it looks like I’m going to have to avoid a whole lot of boys’ eyes from here on out. But, one day, I will find my “special person.” I know because the receptionist told me so. What priceless gifts.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Getting and spending

In the unremitting getting of our hedonistic society, we rarely pause to question why we must go about acquiring without end. It is as though some force impels us toward an inevitable end. Even those who do stop to wonder often feel powerless against this great tide of “getting and spending.” As Wordsworth said, we “lay waste our powers” for something that I venture we do not comprehend nor even desire. As I watch Christmas shoppers, I am reminded of this senseless attitude of needing and wanting more. Have we lost control of ourselves and our situation such that we can no longer distinguish between need and want? Those two words have become almost inextricably linked, to our own detriment. In the end, I think that “want” and “need” are subjective terms, being defined individually and circumstantially. However, I think that if we all took time to examine our lives, we would find that we quite frequently confuse want with need and that, in reality, we have much more than we need. For about a year, I scrutinized all of my desires in an effort to determine whether they were things that I truly needed or things that I just wanted. I did not allow myself - or my generous mother - to buy me anything that fell within the “want” category. It was amazing how free and in control I felt simply because I was not laden and hedged up by my supposed needs.

Many people believe (whether consciously or subconsciously) that having more will bring more happiness. Yet I think that it is quite the opposite. I am not proposing that we all deprive ourselves of every material blessing; I think that God intends us to enjoy what He has given us. But I think that often we get so caught up in “getting and spending” that we have no time to be happy or to do things that will make us happy. The very things we hope will bring us happiness are the impediments to that end. In War and Peace, Pierre is taken captive by French soldiers. In this time of deprivation where he suffers filth, lice, lack of food, no home or fancy balls, no shoes, and sores all over his feet, he finds the “calmness and contentment that he had before vainly striven to attain.” Seeking for happiness and contentment, he had filled his life with vain and even nefarious endeavors. He did not realize that happiness is effected within, not without. “Pierre was made aware… that man is created for happiness, that happiness lies in himself, in the satisfaction of the simple needs of living, and that all unhappiness arises not from lack but from superfluity.”

Friday, December 7, 2007

You're a mean one, Mr. Grinch


For the aspiring grinch in all of us...

Our Grinch names are (from left to right):
Crabbygrouch Fussyshorts, Wretchedfrowned Fussyhead, and Crabbygrinch Selfishhead

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Pragmatic, not functional

I was asked: are most items in your house aesthetic or functional? I began to mull it over and concluded that there is quite a paucity of functionality in my life. I would like to bring a case for the jury's consideration. When I moved into my house, I was pleased – to say the least – with the overwhelming amount of bookshelf space in the front room. I vainly imagined the wonderful things we could decorate those shelves with, quite forgetting that I had brought nothing with me to DC. Well, no matter - my roommates had things we could use. To my dismay, however, we realized that the structure of the bookshelves was such that little but books could fit properly. (Now, that should be the first clue that I am not a "function first" type of person.) We did not have nearly enough books to fill the vast expanse of front room shelves, and consequently, the shelves have remained devastatingly bare and lonely… until last Saturday. Claire and Cammy knew of a book fair in Baltimore where they literally give away books every weekend. You can take as many as you like. And so, in a decisive victory for the aesthetic, we headed off to Baltimore to collect books to fill our shelves. Now, because we only wanted to "fill" our shelves, we were concerned with little but the beauty of the books. No matter that the book was in some unknown Cyrillic language, or that we never had any intentions of raising caribou. As an afterthought, we did remark that our lawyer friends would enjoy the variety of law books we picked up, because really, who doesn't want to read a treatise on international fence laws when they're hanging out at our house? I think that it is clear on which side of the fence I stand, but I would enjoy any votes to the contrary. Now, I may not have presented my case in the most non-biased manner, and for this I apologize. Either way, I will let the jury decide.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Glad my roommate's not a goat

I have, of late, found myself pondering over what life would be like for my roommate if she had myotonia congenita. To fully appreciate this consideration, you must understand that my roommate is one of the most easily startled people in existence. A careless snap of the fingers would certainly cause her to jump, and I don’t care to discuss here what would happen if an explosion were to occur in her presence. Which is why even a minor case of myotonia congenita could be devastating to my roommie. Can you imagine how many complete strangers would have to pick her up off the street? Or how awkward her date would feel after his sneeze caused her to plunge face first into her food? Or how Builder would be suddenly filled with an inexplicable yet inordinate number of “l’s” or whatever key she hit on her way down?
To better understand what life might be like for my roommate if she had myotonia congenita, please watch this movie, which chronicles the woes of goats that also happen to have this disease. True, goats do not have as much to lose as does my roommate; however, I think you may get a fair glance, and feel sorry for her should she ever contract said disease.

video

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Change

I always keep some spare change in my coat pocket, because as I listen to its jingle and its jangle, I am reminded that I am not totally broke... at least I have 4 cents.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Ode to Mac & Cheese

In a fit of felonious crave, my roommate rushed home from church on Sunday to make KRAFT ™ Macaroni and Cheese. She apparently liked it so much that she decided to make homemade mac & cheese the next night. Now, for whatever reason, I have never appreciated this specific combination of cheese and noodles. However, I am beginning to notice that I am, sadly, quite alone in this opinion. In USA Today (today) there was an article about the ever-increasing popularity of mac & cheese. Hundreds of restaurants now offer mac & cheese as an appetizer or entrée. In fact, 2 restaurants in NY specialize in serving nothing but mac & cheese. At these restaurants, you can indulge your cheese taste buds with styles of mac & cheese ranging from: Mexican, Brie, Cheeseburger, Manchego, Cajun, Gruyere, Jalapeno MacSticks, Chipotle shrimp, Primavera, to Mac Cheesesteak – to give you only a small sampling. Even KRAFT has gone organic.

And so, under conformist pressure, I laud the great invention and popular growth spurt of mac & cheese. Because really, what’s more American than (at least) 20 grams of fat, 1100 mg of sodium, and 400 calories per serving? If for no other reason, you should eat it just to show your patriotism.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Fasting in a time of feasting


"It is only when we silence the blaring sounds of our daily existence that we can finally hear the whispers of truth that life reveals to us, as it stands knocking on the doorsteps of our hearts." ~K.T. Jong

"Real action is done in moments of silence." ~ Emerson

These two quotes served as spurs to my Thanksgiving feast, of sorts. You see, this Thanksgiving feast witnessed a different fare than the usual turkey and pumpkin pie (and no, I did not go vegan...) Instead of a feast of food, I opted to feast on gratitude and solitude. And it was glorious. I spent Thanksgiving day fasting out of gratitude to the Lord. I went to the trails by my house, sat, and pondered my blessings. For hours I was able to write in my journal about all I am grateful for, pouring my heart out to God in gratitude for the many things He has provided me. I read my scriptures and mused over why I am grateful for specific things like eyesight or hot water. I was able to delve more deeply into the real reasons for gratitude, and it deepened my humility and feeling of awe over what I truly possess. Solitude was a perfect companion for gratitude. As I sat unencumbered by responsibility, acquaintances, and the daily rush, I was able to reflect on my life, my talents, and my blessings. The resultant feelings were ones of incomprehensible joy and indebtedness. As I sat down that night to eat my dinner, I was not only grateful for food to eat; I found a plethora of reasons for which to be thankful: arms and hands so that I could prepare the meal, a job so that I could earn money to buy food, energy and life so that I could obtain work, a mouth that allowed me to taste my food, cooking and eating utensils, and a warm home in which to eat my food. I feel humbled to again realize that I, of myself, am nothing, and can produce nothing. Every blessing and every good thing comes from God, and I have nothing of which to boast. I can claim nothing of my own. It all comes from God. Thanksgiving has taken on a new meaning for me, and I hope that I can always take time to sit and reflect on the blessed state of my life, no matter how difficult and devoid of blessings it may ever seem.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Of mice (or children) and men


Now, I fully realize that this is a dicey question to ask; furthermore, the question may not even need be asked since - as they say - the proof's in the puddin'. Regardless, vanity must be vanquished, and so, on with the question: Do I look old? There is (as you might imagine) a background that leads me to pose this question that so many avoid asking or answering. My complex all began one summer in Bolivia, when my favorite little girl guessed everyone's ages correctly (plus or minus one year) but mine. I, she guessed, was 37. Right... try subtracting 13 years. I chalked that up to "cultural differences," ignoring the fact that she had shrewdly guessed others' ages. Then, again this year in the Dominican Republic, all the kids consistently guessed that I was around 40... again, subtract that magical number 13. No need for concern, however; my 15-year-old lover assured me that age did not matter (to which I responded indignantly that it did, as though I really were 40 and he 15). In addition, countless times on the streets of Cabarete, I had random people stop and ask me if my friend was my daughter. Mind you, she was only 2 years younger than I.

The saga continues with my move to DC. I seem to have a propensity to attract older, foreign men. I have been hit on by men who are at least 45-50 years old (I know, it's ironic that I now am judging another's age) from Peru, Ghana, Turkey, and as recently as last night... Egypt. The Egyptian man from last night seemed compelled to extol all the virtues of freckles and red hair. I might add that these men are classy: I have found them in such high-ranking places as Costco, Target, Politics and Prose, and the metro. So, the question is: do I look old and that is why old men are hitting on me, and why kids of all ages think I am in my 40's, or is it something... je ne sais quoi?



You don't really have to answer the question, it is more a muddled musing on my part.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The Art of Praise

In a stray from status quo, this week has not been spent in hushed “thanks” and fervent petitions. Instead, my week has been a self-imposed period of pure praise, and nothing but praise. You may think that sounds quite Evangelical, and I might concede that it is. And, if you listen carefully, you just might hear me admit that I read a “how to praise” article that admonished me to “raise [my] hands in the air if compelled to do so.” Evangelical implications aside, my institute teacher last week talked about praising God, asking why we don’t do it more often. The byproduct of that class was my decision to spend every prayer for the next week praising God. I imposed a strict moratorium on all prayers of simple gratitude and petitions.

I must admit that at the beginning of the week I felt rather silly and awkward, primarily because I was not accustomed to such ways of speaking and expressing myself. Yet as the week progressed, I noted a sense of liberation coursing through my body. It was invigorating to be free from my usual desires, appeals, and rote expressions that I try to pretend are not rote. I began to realize that my wants and desires had been ruling my life to the point that I had no time to ponder God’s goodness and mercy. Even my spurts of gratitude had succumbed to hollowness and lack of real feeling. Praising revitalized not only my prayers but my feelings toward and understanding of God. This week I have again realized how perfect God’s plan is, how merciful and just He is, and how complete His love is for us. This understanding is something that must be captured over and over. Psalms 107 well sums up my feelings: “Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!” At first praises may be feeble; but, the very act of praising Him opens the soul to infinite reasons for which He is praiseworthy.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Serendipitous or simply ridiculous?



Guinness Book of World Records, 2007; Newest entry:

MOST EXPENSIVE DESSERT

Now, to get those taste buds revved up (because, seriously, this is not your every day dessert), think of the finest cocoa from 14 countries, shavings from the luxury La Madeline truffle, and... wait for it... 5 grams of 24-carat gold. (Why, yes, I eat gold every day. What else is there to do with it?) Shall I go on? Not only is there gold inside the goblet; the goblet itself is rimmed with gold and 1 carat of diamonds. Oh, and did I mention that the spoon is also gold, and you get to take it home with you?

All of this for a steal, really: a mere $25,000. Pocket change for people who happen to be CEO of Microsoft, a Saudi oil lord, or an Iraqi contractor. Meanwhile, people all over the world are starving, and I can't even afford to buy an umbrella. But, thanks, anyway, Serendipity.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Reasons a plenty

The reasons for my finally joining the world of blogdom are twofold: First, I had to declare to the world with all my humbled might that I finally understand. This understanding is so revelatory that I cannot simply limit it to my email lists – it must be widely dispersed. The Internet gods have finally revealed to me what I lack. I now understand why I have not been able to get a job all these months. It is quite a simple thing; I’m not sure why I did not realize it before. But, as with most things in life, it takes a vastly important institution to reveal truths. So it was that I discovered my life failings on Johns Hopkins’ website. As I was perusing the job qualifications for an unnamed job, it struck me: my days of internships, master’s, and work would prove futile; as I was whiling away at those supposedly vital tasks, I fell behind on what mattered the most. And, (crestfallen) Johns Hopkins helped me to realize that it is those simple skills that employers really are after. Forget research, management, and behavior change skills; forget even what you may currently define as “basic skills” such as typing, filing, and copying. No, we are talking even more basic than that: these days it’s all about sitting, standing, reaching, feeling, and stooping. And I quote: “While performing the duties of this Job [note the capital J], the employee is regularly required to sit and talk or hear. The employee is frequently required to use hands to finger, handle, or feel. The employee is occasionally required to stand; walk; reach with hands and arms and stoop, kneel, or crouch. Specific vision abilities required by this job include close vision.” I rest my case.

Secondly, the demographics of bloggers are becoming disconcerting. It seems that blogs are increasingly the medium of choice for married people to display their new and ever-so-cute children. In fact, the trend seems to be such that nobody these days starts a blog until they have some children to show off. Now, I’m not saying that people should not show off their children - I quite love seeing them; however, I think we need a little more balance in this world of blogging. Am I right?