Thursday, November 29, 2007


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 entrĂ©e. 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:


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?