Thursday, March 31, 2011


Okay I know by this point you have probably already been passed along this video by seventeen friends, two aunts, and a fifth cousin twice removed. My point is everyone and their mom has seen it. I know, because I showed it to my mom.

But I still have to re-post, because IT. IS. THAT. AWESOME.

Here's how I imagine a little of their conversation goes:

"Dude! What happened to my sock?"

"Your sock? Why am I supposed to know where your sock is? Does it look like it is my sole duty in life to keep track of your socks. You probably ate it. Or stuck it underneath the tall person's bed."


"You are tiny and delusional. Where's the last place you saw it?"

"On my foot. See this foot, this foot I am raising in the air."

"Maybe it's in the ceramic bowl of drinking water? I myself find that a great place to store things. I found one of the tall people's shiny toys that beeps and stuck it in there just this morning."

(Gleefully laughing) "I love doing that. The tall people get red in the face and start babbling in their incomprehensible language. By the way, don't look now, but one of the tall people is standing right over there, pointing one of her toys at us."


"I told you not to look you imbecile!"

"I still think you stole my sock."

"I can't talk to you. I am going to wave my hand back in the air, because I am so frustrated there is nothing else I can do."

"I just pooped."

"Awesome. Let's go smear it on the tall person's pillows."

Wednesday, March 30, 2011


I've been writing a series for about my 10k training. It's late and this has been an exhausting three days, so I have nothing else to add except links to the 4 articles I've written.

Oh, and the 10k is this Saturday (eek!), so this is really a cliff-hanger. Think of it as one of those old-timey novels that came out in installments, and every week a baby was about to be eaten by a hyena or grandma dangled off of a cliff (hence the origin of the phrase "cliff-hanger"-sorry, English nerd moment). My cliffhanger is nowhere near as exciting (I did think about working in a baby/hyena scenario but surprisingly it didn't really fit), but still, there is suspense!

My Road to Monument: Part One

My Road to Monument Avenue: Part Two

My Road to Monument Avenue: Part Three

My Road to Monument Avenue: Part Four


You may not have gathered, but I am currently enrolled in five community college classes. I wish I could say I was talking Flute 101 or Swahili as a part of a personal enrichment plan. But in reality I am taking these courses to fill general education requirements for my BSN from Bon Secours. 

I had absolutely no idea what community college would be like. I went to the College of Charleston, and luckily never had to take summer courses from community college or anything like that. The only frame of reference I had was the show, Community. As a result I was sure my experiences at J. Sarge would be wacky and mad-cap, with a dash of zany. I would be surrounded by colorful but lovable characters, and each week we would learn a valuable life lesson, while having plenty of FUN along the way.

I'm sorry, but that's the way my mind works. However, as it turns out, that's not the way community college works. I have yet to learn a valuable life lesson within the frame of a week (although to be fair there are still five weeks left in the semester). There's sadly no theme song (other than the one I sing in my head), but community college has provided its share of entertaining moments, alongside hours and hours and hours of my life spent trying not to fall asleep in various science classrooms. 

-The administration thinks we're all dirty thieves (including the professors). I have reached this conclusion based on the fact that the doors are always locked, and every single day I, and the rest of my class, will wait anywhere from 1 to 15 minutes for a security guide to amble on up to the sixth floor and let us in. Usually the professor waits with us too. Now I get being secure. Lord only knows in this world, it's good for colleges to focus on security. But there has to be a better system than the professor calling the security office and then waiting for who knows how long for an officer to actually show up. If there was a fire, would the response time be similar? This is the lab floor, so a fire is not exactly out of the realm of possibility. What if one of us pours acid into water instead of the proper route of water into acid (or is it the other way around, oops! I should probably have tried to remember it) and the room explodes (they never told us what dire consequences happened, only to NEVER do it, so my logical assumption is room explosion) What if there are chemical burns? Eye injuries? What if someone spills a sample of some horribly contagious disease? Do we just hang out then and wait for the security to take it's damn time responding, and hope we don't catch the plague in the meantime (you didn't know they store samples of the plague at community colleges?). This is worrying to me.

Also what are they really worried about us stealing? I mean this is a lab, but it's a community college lab. Sure we have things like microscopes (from 1956 judging on their appearance), but is someone really going to break into a lab, steal a bunch of (very heavy) 50s era microscopes and make a quick escape? And even if they did, is there really a black market for mid-century microscopes that I'm not aware of? Are people buying these things illegally to do illegal and rudimentary science experiments in their basements? Again, this is a mystery. But besides the microscopes, the only other things to steal are plastic models of innards and bottles of sugar water. So can't we just leave the rooms unlocked?

-Another strange thing. Apparently the "start" times of community college classes are not only flexible, but pretty much meaningless. I take a two hour Biology class, and people will show up literally an hour and a half late. There's never any sense of urgency. These people don't look the way I used to look when I would get late to class, (think-backward sweat pants, rats nest hair and no bra). They walk in like they have all the time in the world. Maybe they stopped for a leisurely breakfast or took a nice walk to enjoy the spring morning. And since they were already out, they thought, "hey, my class started an hour ago, maybe I should head over there." And so they take their sweet time and show up and loudly open the door and loudly put their stuff down and loudly open up their notebooks and click their little clicky pens. And that's great for them, that they are so footloose and fancy free. But because I am a notorious rule follower and have to prevent myself from hurling produce and obscenities at people who cut lines in grocery stores, I squirm in my seat and try not to shoot dirty looks. I keep waiting for a professor to say something, anything. But they don't even blink. It's actually incredibly depressing, because the only explanation I can think is that there's a certain point where as a community college professor you accept defeat. My professors are clearly past this point. 

-There is a secret, hidden, but vibrant world that exists somewhere, the world I imagine to be very much like an episode of Community. I do not witness this world. The only reason I think it may exist is that there are little signs and clues I run into. For example, outside of the elevator this week there has been a sign for a J. Sarge Medieval/Renaissance Fair. Now this is what I'm talking about! These are the shenanigans I crave. But who knows where this mystical event takes place (fine, I realize it probably says it on the poster, but there's no fun in that). And more importantly who goes to such a thing? It's like the newsletter taped to the inside of the bathroom stalls. This month there is an advertised three on three basketball tournament. There's also a showing of the Social Network with a discussion to follow (a discussion!) I want to know who these people are, who see signs like those, or the Medieval Fair sign, and think, YEAH, that's my jam. I'm going to take time out of my life, and go to an event that is advertised on the inside of a toilet stall. 

I legitimately want to go to one of these events, if only because I'm certain that the colorful and lovable characters from my imagination would be there. But I'm too scared that I will walk into a room full of toothless yokels and twitchy, unwashed weirdos, there for the free food, and all of my hopes and dreams will come crashing down. 

-Lastly, I think whoever controls the school-wide thermostat is a sadist. You would think there wouldn't be a school-wide thermostat, just individual room or floor ones, but NO. This is not the case. I know this is not the case, because a few weeks ago, when it was in the 20s outside, and the AC in our BIO class was on full blast, our professor told us with a sigh of resignation there was nothing she could do. It was so sad in a way, like maybe once, years ago, she may have thought she could really shake things up in a place like J. Sarge, change things, things like the thermostat. She would have been young and bright and full of optimism. And then day after day, she walked into her classroom and found it intolerably hot or hypothermia inducing cold. She tried to complain, to ask someone to fix it, but time and time again she got the same answer from everyone she asked-it was out of their hands. No one in the entire building could answer how to fix the thermostat. They just shrugged and suggested she ask someone else. And my poor professor tried to fight it, but eventually it wore her down. If it was cold outside, the AC would be on. If it was a warm day, the heat would be cranked up. It made no sense. It was awful, but no one could answer how to fix it. And so she eventually gave up, and shivered or sweated her way through each class, dreaming of better days.

Or something like that. All I know is somewhere, there is someone who can control this. And that person gleefully cackles as he or she adjusts the thermostat to the opposite of what reason or logic would dictate it be set at. That person is evil.

Monday, March 28, 2011


So you may have noticed, but I have been making some tweaks on this blog as of late. The biggest thing I've wanted to change is the header. I loved my old one on a sentimental level, but it seemed a little messy. So I wanted to come up with a banner that was unique and me, but also pleasant to look at it. I am NOT in any way or shape or form a graphic designer. That is why I did not even try to attempt something graphic. I can get as far as making a college of pictures in Photoshop using the filters. So that is what I did, but I'm hoping this time it looks a little nicer and more professional.

So what I really need right now is feedback. Please, please, please, if you are one of the twelve people who read this blog (Hi mom!), let me know if you like the new banner. If you hate it feel free to tell me. Just know that I may cry and fart in your general direction.


Really though, be honest.

I'll try not to cry.

Or fart.

But I make no guarantees.

Sunday, March 27, 2011


This was a question on my last Nutrition quiz...

How can you incorporate exercise while traveling to work?
Question 4 answers

I am in love.

If it were legally permissible for woman and furniture to marry, I would propose to Todd Manring Designs. If furniture were spreadable, I would eat these items on toast.

I am hopelessly smitten. I stumbled across Mr. Manring's Etsy page by chance. And well I cannot stop thinking about these reclaimed wood pieces. In a few months, as soon as I've saved up enough, I will own this desk.

There is nothing I have missed more than having a giant desk. I had a giant desk once, from Ikea, a big, sturdy (and also very cheap) black desk. I moved that desk from one apartment in Charleston to another, only to discover that my new apartment did not have doorways big enough to accommodate such an enormous desk. And despite what you may think of Ikea furniture, this sucker was NOT easy to dismantle. In fact it was impossible to dismantle short of sawing it apart (which would have sort of defeated the purpose). And so I did what anyone would do in such a situation and stuck the desk underneath our back porch. Where I'm sure it has very slowly deteriorated, possibly provided a nice little home for some marsh creatures (our townhouse was on a marsh), and eventually returned to the soil from whence it came. But I digress.

I have been without a giant desk for a while now. And as a writer I'm kind of ashamed of that. A desk is the most important piece of furniture in a writer's life. Okay that was a lie. The most important piece of furniture is a bed. But a desk is a very, very close second!

And oh how I want this Todd Manring one. I fall in love a little more every time I look at it. It almost makes me a little weepy, that's how beautiful it is. I know I could find something identical (and seven times as expensive) at Pottery Barn. But that wouldn't enamor me nearly as much. The fact that this is made from old, reclaimed wood is just the nail in the coffin of my love. I have lived in old houses my entire life. Not like mid-20th century old, but in a couple of cases, mid-19th century old. At my parent's house, I am surrounded by furniture from antique and consignment stores. Aside from my admitted love of Ikea (how could you not love furniture with names like Splerg?) I know that when it comes time for me to decorate my own apartment (or house, wishful thinking), I will mainly stick to all things old. Because they just seem more solid. Not simply in the literal sense, although they seem more solid that way too. But more solid in the sense that they have layers and layers of history holding the structure together. They're alive and breathing and so, so beautiful.

My goal is to save up for the desk. But I may also try and save up for this mirror.

And this headboard.

And maybe these trunks/end tables.

Okay and definitely some of these frames.

Okay fine! I want literally everything Todd Manring has ever made. I think this stuff is art. It tugs at my heart. It's just something about barn wood.

Maybe because for seven wonderful years of my childhood, I had a barn. An old red barn that smelled like dust and rust and grass. We didn't use this barn to keep animals or farm equipment (although a good bit of antique farm equipment was leftover from previous owners). But it was still such a barn, big and airy, shady and cool, even in the hottest months of summer. It was creaky and peeling, and I spent so much of my time in it or on its tin roof, where I could see every inch of my surroundings, from the tidy, white main house to my grandparent's red house to the lily pad covered pond at the bottom of the hill. My siblings, friends, cousins and I played ping pong and hide and seek inside of it. We created a "family store" and sold candy out one of its windows.

It sounds absurdly idyllic. And it was. For a child with a big imagination, living somewhere with a barn could not have been cooler. I loved that barn.

And it's gone now. The new owners tore it down. I'm sure they had a good reason. It easily could have been about to fall down. They built a new one; a shiny, white barn in the middle of our field (and yes even though it's been 12 long years, it's still our field). But our barn, my barn- the old, red barn, is gone.

And so I think the reason this furniture gets to me is that it's such a nice thought, to think that old barns don't just disappear, that they reappear as desks or tables or frames, in new homes, with new owners. They have a new life, in new places, and become instrumental in creating entirely new memories.

It's so silly and sentimental. But that's what the thought of an old barn given a second chance to be useful again will do to me. And it's why I know I will own some of these pieces one day. To me they are priceless.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Manzanita jewelry tree.

So I decided to get really domestic over spring break. And one of my "projects"(wow, I really am getting old right?) was to make a jewelry tree.

I am constantly dealing with tangled necklace syndrome. I used to keep all my necklaces in this little, multi-shelf jewelry box, and every time I would pull out a favorite necklace to wear there would be knots on top of knots. Because I lack dexterity and don't know someone with tiny, tiny little hands to help me out-I've accumulated a lot of tangled and thus unwearable necklaces. Which is silly. Because there are so many ways to store necklaces without tangling them.

Over Christmas I went on Etsy (a website that will literally suck hours at a time of my life away) to look for a cute, distinct little necklace holder. And I came across this insanely cute little tree. I can't find the actual one on Etsy anymore, but it looked a little like this.

Except it was even cuter and sticking out of an antique tea pot. It cost about $60, and I almost ordered it. But then I thought, "I could make that." Okay, so normally that sentence ends in disaster for me. I am sooo not crafty. I cannot tell you the number of craft related disasters that have occurred under my watch. I don't do glue guns or drills or stencils or any other crafty method. I usually prefer to buy cute, crafty things and then just pretend I made them.

But this seemed do-able. I went online and found a few how-to guides for similar trees. The constant in most of them was to use a manzanita branch, which I had never heard of, but which are apparently very big in interior design. I looked around Richmond for one but did not find any. Yet they are super available and easy to order online. Some are fairly pricey (they range in size a lot) but I found smallish, 18-24' manzanita branches online for $9 a pop on the website 

I was going to do this little project over my spring break, but the branches took a little while to arrive. Save on crafts is cheap but they are not so speedy with the shipping. I finally got them this past week, and they were gorgeous. My original plan was to paint the branches white ala the Etsy tree I found. But the wood itself was too gorgeous to cover up. It's laced with all of these deep red and gold hues, and so I decided to go natural. Plus that cut down on my work time by like five hours.

I went to an antique store off of Lakeside to find a tea-pot or large mug to put the branch in. I thought it might be difficult to find one of these, but clearly I have not spent enough time in antique stores. My goodness are there are a lot of old tea-pots out there. Some were incredibly fugly and decorated with cartoon pigs, but there were a ton of really cute, farm looking ones, which is the look I was going for. I found one for $15 that looks like this.

I managed to get out of the antique store without buying anything else. I have a weird obsession for old cameras and typewriters and phones. I do not own any old cameras or typewriters or phones. But one day, when I am a real person and have my own apartment/house to decorate, I will find a way to incorporate these things and hopefully do it without coming across like a crazy hoarder.

So the rest of my project was really easy. I mixed up about six cups of some of plaster of paris (enough to go to almost the top of the tea-pot), poured it into the tea-pot, stuck the branch in, and then put the tea-pot and branch in a small bucket that would support the tree while the plaster dried. I let it alone for almost 24 hours.

Then. Voila!

Cute right? And the branch is super sturdy and great for all sizes and weights of necklaces. So I gathered up my necklace collection, draped away and then..... (the dots are supposed to be a drum-roll)

Yay for the end of tangled necklaces! Although this may be bad, because I might think from now on that I can do crafts. Which is sure to end 9 times out of ten in disaster and severe glue gun related burns.

But hey, I guess this was my one out of ten non-disaster :)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Martha would never lie to me!

So I may have told you about my attempt to make Babycakes Bakery vegan, gluten-free vanilla frosting (basically comprised of of soy milk, coconut oil, powdered milk, and cow tears (vegans can eat those!)). This frosting was not frosting. This frosting was weird, milky soup. It's very possible I did something wrong. But I was not going to attempt such a thing again.

Yet I had cupcakes to frost! For yet another March birthday (holy smokes there are so many March birthdays, I feel like every year I remark on this and yet for some reason every year it is a surprise, and every year I immediately do the old count backward nine months trick and realize that May/June is some serious baby-making season). But I digress. I needed to frost my vegan, gluten free chocolate cupcakes of obnoxiousness/deliciousness (also Babycakes and also made with the tears of cows). I also was in a pinch time and ingredient wise, because yesterday and today have been so busy I've barely had time to pee (honestly I shouldn't be writing this blog, it's 11pm and I have a BIO exam at 8 that I have done very, very little studying for, but oh well!). So what's a girl in a pinch to do for questions about all things baking?

Go to MARTHA of course! And I did. I found a simple vanilla frosting recipe online, Martha approved. I gathered my ingredients. I began to beat said ingredients in a bowl. And yet, something was wrong. The wind whipped up and dark clouds gathered. Dogs bayed at the full moon. Babies weeped.

Martha's frosting was not working. Martha's frosting was not soup but it was a grainy, granular mess, in no way resembling frosting. I felt something inside of me began to shatter. It was one thing if crazy vegans let me down. But Martha. Not Martha. Martha wouldn't lie to me.

Just as I was whipping myself into a frenzy of betrayal and just as my mother was about to check me in for psychiatric observation, I realized something. Confectioner's sugar! Martha had told me to use confectioner's sugar, and silly, silly me, had used regular old cane/table sugar. It was me who had screwed the pooch. Not my Martha.

I threw out the old batch after debating for several minute if there was any possible use for a bowl full of badly mixed table sugar and butter (surprisingly not). Then I made the new batch and within minutes I had beautiful, creamy, looking straight out of the tub FROSTING.

And all was well in the world. 

Monday, March 21, 2011


Oh for all that is good and holy. I was browsing on J. Crew tonight, as I often do when I am broke, just to get that sweet, sweet whiff of retail. And in the shorts section, I came across these:

I am speechless. Literally sputtering, because there

No words.

I cannot decide if looking at these $150 denim SHORTERALLS makes me want to laugh hysterically or weep for the children who have to grow up in a world where such things exist.

At the very least, methinks I smell a Halloween costume! 

Sunday, March 20, 2011


I just wrote an annotated bibliography and I feel like my brain is soggy. So to dry it up a little before I dive into studying for my BIO exam (by the way, thanks spring break for ENDING and ruining my life), I thought I'd talk a little bit about cupcakes, specifically the two very different kinds of cupcakes I made last week to take to my sister up in DC for her birthday.

First I went the traditional route and made Apple Banana Cupcakes (which are apparently Polish).

The recipe: (from


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2/3 cup shortening
  • 1 1/4 cups white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup ripe bananas, mashed
  • 2 apples - peeled, cored and shredded


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease and flour 24 muffin cups, or use paper liners. Sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, cream together the shortening and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla and buttermilk. Beat in the flour mixture, mixing just until incorporated. Fold in the mashed bananas and shredded apples. Fill each muffin cup half full.
  3. Bake in the preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow to cool.

So one change I made was to substitute half the shortening for apple sauce. I probably could have substituted all of it for apple sauce but at the last second the inner Southern voice in me (and also my mom's outer voice from the other room) panicked about taking all the fat out of a recipe. My mother literally said "Never remove all the fat."And because I'm Southern, I felt like I had been a second away from cutting the green wire and blowing everyone up, that's how monumental a crisis it would have been if I cooked something without shortening. And it might have been. I will never know because I kept some of that delicious, delicious fat (or love sauce as I like to call it). I also substituted half the flour for whole wheat. And used three bananas instead of two. And I made brown sugar cream cheese frosting to put on top, so I could call these very obviously muffins cupcakes. To sum up, easy and mmmmm.

Then I went the less simple route and made crazy vegan, gluten-free, sugar-free chocolate cupcakes. I honestly have no idea what came over me. I am not vegan. I do not have any kind of gluten allergy. I would eat sugar with a spoon if it were socially acceptable. And yet I found this recipe online (on Gwyneth Paltrow's newsletter Goop, which I know, groan, I am insufferable, I want to punch myself in the face) and Gwynnie had in turn found them from the NYC and LA vegan bakery Babycakes. And for whatever reason after seeing that 2/3rds of the ingredients were things I had never heard of, much less seen in the grocery store, I decided I had to make them. Most people would see arrow root and xantham gum and take a pass. But what can I say? I like a challenge. Either that or I just make life way more difficult than it needs to be, because I am a crazy person.

So the recipe:

Chocolate Cupcakes

YIELD: 1 dozen
  • 1 cup garbanzo and fava bean flour
  • 1/4 cup potato starch
  • 2 tablespoons arrowroot
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 2/3 cup agave nectar
  • 6 tablespoons applesauce
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup hot water or hot coffee
  • Frosting for serving (see recipe below)
Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line one, standard 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners and set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, potato starch, cocoa powder, arrowroot, baking powder, baking soda, xanthan gum, and salt. Add the oil, agave nectar, applesauce, vanilla, and hot water directly to the dry ingredients. Stir until the batter is smooth.
Pour 1/3 cup of the batter into each prepared cup. This portion will almost fill the cup up entirely. Bake the cupcakes on the center rack for 22 minutes, rotating the tray 180 degrees after 15 minutes. The cupcakes will bounce back when pressed and a toothpick inserted in the center will come out clean. Remove from the oven.
Let the cupcakes stand for 20 minutes. Transfer them to a wire rack right side up and cool completely. Using a frosting knife, gently spread 1 tablespoon of Frosting over each cupcake. Place the cupcakes in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

First let me tell you, gathering these ingredients was a quest, like if the Holy Grail was in Whole Foods and the Knights of the Round Table were gluten and dairy intolerant kind of quest. After considerable time I managed to find everything except for arrow root  (shocking that that isn't easy to come by right?, I know there's nothing I like better in the morning (night, afternoon?) than a nice glass (bowl, plate, IV?) of delicious arrow root). So I asked a Whole Foods employee, assuming I would get a blank stare, but because I was at Whole Foods I got an excited grin and a determined gait as he strode off to find arrow root. But alas Whole Foods was out of arrow root as was every other health food supplier in Richmond (I checked them all). But thanks to a quick Google search I learned plain old flour could be substituted for arrow root (2 tablespoons of flour per one tablespoon of arrow root). So my cupcakes would not be completely vegan anymore, but life would have to go on. Luckily I was not baking them for a group of children where I'm sure at least one anti-gluten mom would murder me in my sleep for slipping her kid gluten.

Other than that everything went shockingly smoothly. These were incredibly easy to make. And as far as taste, well I was prepared for the worst. I was prepared for them to taste like what I imagined garbanzo flour and potato starch tasted like (because seriously?). But they were good, like really, really, really great kind of good.

No butter. No eggs. No sugar (although to be fair agave is nutritionally identical to table sugar, despite what some would say, read my Nutrition textbook if you disagree or just use too much agave and see what happens to your butt). No flour (kind of...) These are the antithesis of Southern larded up cupcakes (which don't get me wrong, I will never abandon). These are obnoxious Whole Foods endorsed cupcakes that Gwyneth Paltrow loves. And I would hate myself for making them if they weren't so delicious.

And as much as I never thought I would say this, perhaps there is a time and a place for vegan and gluten free. Perhaps my butter and egg and dairy loving side can make room for a garbanzo flour side.

Although I do have to say that the Babycakes recipe for vanilla frosting (which you can find online but which I did not include in this post for soon to be obvious reasons) was TERRIBLE. I did not make frosting. I made soup, delicious, vanilla and coconut flavored soup, but soup nonetheless. Apparently when you leave eggs and butter out of frosting this is what happened, because you know what makes frosting not soup-the presence of eggs and butter.

But if this experiment in baking proved anything, it's that nothing has to be all healthy or all unhealthy. There's usually room for the two to coexist. And they kind of have to, because if you leave out one you have soup frosting and if you leave out the other you have a diet full of shortening. Neither are good options.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Sometimes you need a win.

First and most importantly, I urge you to buy/borrow/take out from your local library this book, Nowhere to Be Home, narratives from Survivors of Burma's Military Regime. You can find it here or here. And probably some other places too. It's part of the Voice of Witness non-profit book series, founded by my hero, Dave Eggers, which uses oral history to illuminate human rights crises around the world. And if you're already checking out after reading that sentence, because human rights crises immediately raises red flags of sadness in your head, then I really beg you to reconsider. I know that sometimes the world is too sad. God knows the last few weeks have been tremendously and sometimes viciously sad. I know we want to turn inward when the world is like that, to surround ourselves with light and fluff and silliness. I love light and fluff and silliness and I frequently surround myself with those things. But I also realize the important of every once in a while, looking outward, opening our eyes and ears and hearts to other's voices.

And this book is such a great way to do that. No one will be giving you a history lecture. No one will be reading off a dry account of political events. These are people's lives and stories right there on the page, and even though their circumstances may be overwhelmingly different from our own, the circumstances of people raised in a closed world full of oppression, I guarantee that you will find something in their voices that is relatable. Because that's the thing about opening ourselves up to the world. Yes we may find sadness and cruelty and violence, but there will also be reassurance in our own universality, that this world isn't nearly as big and scary as it seems on the news, that in reality its much smaller and more immediate and familiar, that people across oceans and continents who speak different languages and eat different foods are ultimately very much like us or the people we love.

And that's freaking wonderful. That's the very foundation of all of my hope and all of my optimism, that the world will never be beyond saving because the people in it, no matter where they are or what they may be involved in, share a single, common, beautiful humanity, one that transcends culture and politics and religion. 

So sorry to get super deep. But I just really encourage anyone to buy this book. Even if you know nothing about Burma, these people's stories will change you and move you and make you better for having heard them. 

And my second and far less significant point tonight is that somewhere between the covers of this book is my name, printed in neat type under the list of transcribers. It's in small print and it was a small contribution compared to what others did, but still...

My name is on this. My name will always be on this. My name is associated with something that Dave Eggers (did I mention he was my hero?) is associated with. My name is associated with this beautiful history of this incredible, vibrant country that has managed to survive and to hope and to fight in the face of opposition that I can not even begin to understand. My name is associated with these inspiring, heroic Burmese people who sometimes put their lives at risk just to tell their stories, in the hope that those stories would have the power to lend itself to a movement of change. 

I'm very proud of this. Because as a writer a lot of your "moments" are losses, rejections or set-backs that define you and make you better and stronger. That's just the nature of the game. But this is a win, a win I really needed, and a win that had everything to do with writing in the most literal sense of the word and nothing at all to do with me. It was so wonderful and such a blessing to put aside my voice for a little while to help give these people their's.

And in the process, over hours of listening to audio files and copying down what was said, I fell in love with a country I have never seen in person, but which came alive to me from their words. In my experience the only thing that has made the world smaller is traveling, actually seeing a country and its people. But this experience made the world smaller for me without ever having to leave my home. A nation came into focus from a million miles away. Its faces grew clearer. Its heart beat grew loud and impossible to ignore, a beat of stubborn hope that cannot and will not die, even if the only thing that sustains it is a story of freedom, passed down in whispers.

I hope you will read this book. I hope you will hear these people's voices and see their faces and join them and support them and believe with them in that oh so universal and oh so human dream of change. 

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Cooking with Liz

Something has happened to me over my spring break. Something terrible.

I remember a time, a time not too long ago, when spring break meant drinking...and more drinking, and yes a little more on top of that. I remember dancing. I remember heels.

And sure there's still wine (but that's not exactly a change of pace for me), but I have spent my spring break so far being so domestic I may have to change my name to Martha.

I'll have another post soon wherein I detail my "projects" (including closet organization, car cleaning, vegan cupcakes, and crafts!).

But tonight I just have to describe the heavenly dinner I just concocted. I, of course, have to thank Oprah, as one does for many good things that happen in the universe. In the latest issue of O Magazine, I came upon a page bearing this image.

And then I had a food blackout, and I woke up licking peanut butter off the floor. Because holy deliciousness Batman. This recipe manages to combine four of my favorite things in the world, four things that I would never have thought to put together-poached, runny eggs, soy sauce, asparagus, and BUTTER.

So today during an epic Whole Foods trip (where I bought Xantham gum and garbanzo flour among many other crazy things I've never even heard of for my cupcake project tomorrow), I picked up some humane eggs (isn't it nice when our food is humane instead of sadistic?), some crisp, green asparagus, and to go along with it (because I have a hard time having dinner without meat), a herb roasted rotisserie chicken and a fresh loaf of whole grain bread.

The poached egg and asparagus ended up being just as easy to cook as the recipe suggested. I brought water and a dash of white vinegar to a simmer, gently slid my humane eggs into it (that sounds dirty), and cooked them at a simmer for about three minutes, just long enough to cook the white but leave the yolk all gooey and runny and perfect. I boiled the asparagus for a quick 30 seconds. Then I heated up canola oil on a skillet, added the asparagus and soy sauce, cooked it just long enough to blister and coat, then took the skillet off the heat, added butter and water, and waited for the butter to melt. 

From there I placed my perfect, fragile egg on my asparagus, drizzled the soy/butter sauce on top, added a few tender pieces of roast chicken and then a big hunk of bread to scoop everything up.

Perfection. Simple as can be. Only a handful of ingredients.

And so, so good. Thank you Oprah. I bow down to your wisdom in all things. 

Monday, March 14, 2011


So I was waiting at 8 & 1/2 last night to get dinner, and while waiting I couldn't help but overhear the conversation of two boys and a girl next to me.

They looked to be around my age, no older than mid to late twenties, and they kept talking about "spring break." One of the boys said he had ordered "5 bottles of champagne" for the flight, which I found strange, because can you bring your own champagne in coach? Isn't that frowned upon? Then the girl kept referring to "Turks", and again, from my frame or reference, what is this "Turks"? Is that some small town in Florida I haven't heard about?

And then the kicker. They would fly to Tampa, pick someone up, then stop to refuel. In a plane. As in a private plane. As in a private jet chartered by this boy to fly his champagne soaked friends to a beautiful, mystical island in the sun.


Who are these people!? What breed of Richmonders is this that does such glamorous things? And they all just talked about it like it was so normal. If I was taking a private jet to "Turks" for my spring break I would be shouting it from the rooftops and peeing myself a little. The most exciting spring break I ever had in college was a one night trip to SAVANNAH, as in two hours from Charleston. And there was a giant storm and the entire city blacked out and I thought I was going to die via tornado, my worst fear.

I seriously feel like I just saw a unicorn. I had no idea there were people in Richmond that did such things. New York sure. LA yeah. But twenty something people in Richmond (people who I am assuming are in school if they are taking a spring break, unless that is some kind of secret rich person holiday that only rich people know about) take private, champagne party jets to "Turks"!?

I need to make some new friends.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Something beautiful and sad and important.

"But it was near the end of his remarks, when Ellison told the story of Mohammad Salman Hamdani, a Pakistani-born American citizen who drove an ambulance part-time and worked as a research assistant, that Ellison's emotions overwhelmed him. As Ellison recounted, some people initially suggested, after Hamdani disappeared on 9/11, that he had been involved in the attacks. It was only later that his remains were discovered in the rubble of the World Trade Center. He had seen the smoke that morning and rushed to help."

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

I could be:

-doing my Nutrition homework
-studying for my Anatomy exam on Friday
-doing my Psychology homework
-doing my Ethics homework
-taking a Biology quiz
-doing freelance work
-working on my Nutrition diet project plan
-reading Nursing articles 
-working on my Nursing annotated bibliography

I could be doing all of these things, and for about an hour I stressed out about the fact that I was not doing any of them. And then I took a deep breath,

-and realized that it's late, I'm tired, and I had a long day wherein I wrote two articles, went to an hour and a half of literally butt kicking physical therapy, babysat, and kicked my butt yet again at the gym (ps sorry butt, love Liz). We ask a lot of ourselves. I know I ask a lot of myself. But sometimes,

it's better to stop asking. For at least the rest of tonight, I'm asking


of myself.

And it feels like coming up for air.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

A writerly afternoon.

I always love being a writer, but some afternoons are just made for it.

Like this one, when it's raining outside and warm and cozy and clean inside, when there's hot coffee in my favorite College of Charleston mug, and Thin Mints (a little treat since I kicked my butt at the gym earlier). When my assignment is to write about the best places in Richmond to get hangover food.

Yep, sometimes, on certain afternoons, being a writer is just perfect.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Single Saturday.

Don't worry. This is not another "woe is me" Bridget Jones weepy type post. Today I had a quintessentially single Saturday. And it was lovely.


-Slept in (funny how "sleeping in" has now become 8:30, but still!)

-Caught up with a good friend over Starbucks, Libbie and Grove browsing, and Stuffie's.

-Went to the outlets for new workout clothes-left with a bag full of J. Crew. I literally cannot go to Williamsburg without making a significant donation to J. Crew corporation. I'm anticipating that they will put up a plaque with my name on it any day now. There were just too many sales and discounts on top of sales, and discounts on top of discounts. Plus with my training for the 10k (5 cardio work-outs a week plus two yoga classes baby), I've lost a pound or two, not much at all, probably nothing anyone else would notice, but still, there is no shopping better than  post-losing a couple of pounds shopping, or even just post-really good work out shopping. I could have tried on a bright orange plaid jumpsuit and I would have been tempted to buy it.

-Ate Ellwood Thompson's sushi for dinner, my favorite sushi in Richmond.

-Cleaned my room and did laundry! Okay so here is where you're probably going, oh so this is a depressing, weepy post, poor girl. But for how insanely, barely able to catch my breath busy I've been the last few weeks, a full evening devoted to laundry and vacuuming and clean sheets was absolute bliss, particularly when paired with wine and Sex and the City on E. Without a night like this my laundry would have piled up so dangerously high that my only clean clothes would have been semi-formal cocktail dresses and sweat pants. Not a cute combination.

-Caught up on email. Also a GOD SEND! I am constantly in a state of being behind on my email. And because I was raised as a good Catholic, I have irrational, all consuming, CRUSHING guilt over this. If you know me and are expecting an email from me, rest assured, I may not have replied, but I am so neurotic that I am literally sweating with anxiety and that ever present guilt over it. So tonight I sent some long overdue emails, some in response to some very, very nice responses to a review I just wrote. I think I've still been a little sub-consciously scarred over White Christmas-gate, so to get kind, generous, positive feedback from people, especially in the theater world, has meant a great deal to me. Writers are insecure and crazy. Giving us praise is like feeding raw meat to wild dogs. In other words, we go nuts over it.

-Caught up on some work. Also beautiful and necessary. I'm working on a piece right now about the bill that just went through the VA General Assembly that will require clinics performing 5 first trimester abortions per month to get regulated as hospitals. I cannot give much away about it, other than that calling the research and interviews I've done for it "work" is kind of a stretch. I love writing about things I care about. I care a great deal about this. So much in fact that I'm kind of terrified of actually getting the thing down on paper, because I know this I cannot screw up. It means too much. But anyways, I worked a little on it tonight, and I'm really excited, and well, stay tuned.

-Finished my Self magazine. Yes in addition, to reading O magazine, I now also read Self. I am so self-actualized and vision boarded and healthy diet planning and energized that I actually find myself incredibly obnoxious.

Anyways, thank you single Saturday. You were perfect :)

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Slow jams.

Brian Williams slow jams the news. And it is tasty.

Did I mention I have a huge crush on this man? Something about how and solemn serious he is on the news and how unabashedly silly he is on things like this, 30 Rock, and The Daily Show.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

A political moment.

I apologize, but I must take a brief moment to get political. If that isn't your cup of tea, feel free to skip this blog and tune back in when I start talking about baby clothes or singledom again.

1) There is something deeply upsetting and maddening about the US's deployment of war ships, freezing of assets, warning of imposing a no fly zone in Libya. Not because for a second I think the US should stand by and let innocent people get massacred by a crazy pants dictator (side note, are Gaddafi and Charlie Sheen distant cousins?). Not because I think it's wrong for the US to use its considerable force and might to intercede in humanitarian matters when there is gross injustice and needless loss of life. But because of the obvious reason behind it-oil. If you think that the US is doing its heavy weight posturing for any other reason than because Libya is a top oil producer, then you'd be kidding yourself. I wish this weren't true. I wish I could believe our government would show its force, because it believes that being a superpower carries with it the responsibility to step in when nations target their own citizens. I really wish it, because I believe in international diplomacy. I believe in the beautiful ideal set forth after WWII, that wonderful, simple promise of never again. But as much as I want to believe it, I can't. Because where was our government in the dozens of situations in the recent past when innocent people were slaughtered by their governments. Where were we when genocide tore through Rwanda or Darfur? Where were we when children were hacked to death with machetes? Where were we when the Burmese government violently squashed pro-democracy protests and imprisoned political prisoners simply for speaking their minds. Why were these people's lives less valuable to the United States or to the international community? Why is their fight less of our business? I hate that the answer is economical and financial. I hate that, because I will never be a political realist or isolationist. I will always believe everyone on this earth belongs to everyone else. Everyone is everyone's charge. And just as it would be wrong for a body builder to stand back and let a little kid get beat up on a public street corner, I think it's wrong for the world's powers to let innocent people get slaughtered, no matter where they are, no matter if a drop of oil or resources is produced on their soil. I know that's naive. I know it's idealistic. But in the midst of such a cynical, pragmatic world, more of us need to be naive and idealistic.

2) The Supreme Court ruled today that the crazy pants Westboro Baptist Church can protest at military funerals. I think those people are despicable. I think they are terrible and awful and every other bad adjective you can name. I think they're small and selfish and monstrous in their refusal to see or respect other's pain. But I agree with this decision with all of my heart. What they say and do makes me sick, but in this nation they absolutely have the right to say it. Democracy and free speech mean nothing if we only let people shout when we agree with them. We have to let the small and the selfish and the ugly shout too. It's very tempting to want to put a muzzle on these people so they can't hurt anyone anymore. If I could physically do that I would. But we're not a country of muzzles. We're a country of loud mouth idiots, and no matter how loud mouthed or idiotic, you have a right to speak. So shame on you Westboro Baptist Church for taking that free speech and turning into filthy vitriol. Shame on you for bastardizing free speech to make it a weapon. But kudos Supreme Court for upholding one of our most basic rights.

Side note: isn't it great that Democrats and Republicans can set aside differences if only to agree with how much those people SUCK.

The end of my politicizing.
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