- Today, I saw an adult dressed as Paddington Bear. Bright blue trench coat, red hat. He/she was also wearing a yellow reflective vest, so he/she could have been Paddington Bear goes to work. (And it is even more fitting that he/she is unisex--I don't know if Paddington Bear is a boy or a girl. Also, this fits into that third category.)
- The British take great pride in their 'gentlemen sports'. When I played cricket last year they always told us not to talk trash because it was a gentleman (or lady in my case) sport (insert profuse apologies for forgetting to include me, here). Then they would ask when the tea would be served. I don't think this is ironic, but it was certainly a paradox to be sitting in the Liverpool section when Liverpool got beat by Tottenham on Sunday. I know that creativity is part of what it means to be a gentleman (or at least a Renaissance man). And I guess singing in choirs is something that gentlemen do. So I guess there is something gentlemanly about how 'creatively' some of the words that I heard were being used, in one of the largest 'choirs' I have been around. Who knew that four letters could communicate so much? (I think this is just a paradox.)
- Today, I got my textbook in the mail for the Spanish class that I will be taking next week. (That's right. I am going to learn the whole language in a week.) I can't find any English in the thing. I am not sure if that is because the whole thing is in Spanish (there is definitely a lot more Spanish than any book I have ever seen before) or because it is a German Spanish book. (Yeah, I'll let you think on that one for a while. And I think this might be ironic. But Alanis has muddled my brain so much that I can't be sure.)
29 November 2010
23 November 2010
- I have been managing spreadsheets. Yes, I know this isn't the glamorous life that you were picturing, but it is true. Sometimes I think I am getting a second degree in Excel and GoogleDocs. I spend at least some time every day managing attendance lists for various events that I am helping to coordinate in Oxford, but a spreadsheet has become the central component of my academic work this year as well (more on that in my second bullet-point). I think the best way to summarize this--and good news--is that I am learning how to behave like an organized person without actually being more organized. I have a fundamental personal paradox which is a tension between organization and clutter. On one hand, I recognize that I need to function in a largely organized and systematic way, but I lack the discipline to be as coherent in applying that organization to my life. I am cluttered, my room is perpetually disordered (note that I did not say messy) and I used to lose a lot of things until I developed coping mechanisms (called bags, purses, and big pockets with zippers). Spreadsheets are like a coping mechanism for my brain.
- I have been developing the fine art of being a pest. I know that for those of you who know me well or who have been around me when I am pursuing something that I am really committed to, this doesn't seem like a new skill. But, I suppose the difference is the degree of systematic pestering. I am talking about a professional level.
03 November 2010
01 November 2010
**Caveat--yes, I did just create these posts back to back; but I thought the story was too long to be one post.
31 October 2010
In that moment, I could only imagine the limitless possibilities for breath-taking beauty, and while I recognize that I will only observe, describe, and capture a tiny portion of it, I was reminded to always be watching.
29 October 2010
21 October 2010
10 October 2010
06 October 2010
25 August 2010
24 August 2010
16 August 2010
But when I haven't been doing those things, I have been having some fantastic culinary adventures. Just to tickle your tastebuds from afar and give you a few items to put on your food-to-do list (or your 'bucklet list' if you will--and if you are a certain relative of mine).
1. Good Stuff. Yes, that's the name of the restaurant. It's owned and operated by Spike, the former Top Chef contestant (yes, that is my favorite show). It is basically a classic burger and fries joint, but oh-so-much-better. If you have ever watched Top Chef and wondered "Would I like that?" The answer (in this case at least) is YES. I had been flipping through a Rachael Ray magazine about a year ago when I came across a Roasted Marshmallow Shake. Unfortunately, I never got around to trying it, and also, unfortunately, I didn't realize that the "Good Stuff Cookbook" from which it came was an actual place. Well, Saturday, I finally had the 'real thing'. And let's just say that it is probably good that I didn't try to make it myself, because it wouldn't have been as amazing. The fries were fresh cut and sprinkled with herbs with four different kinds of mayo sauces to dip in (yes, it was heaven.), and I am still thinking about the burger. (In other news, I am still trying to lose the weight that I most definitely gained in that hour. But, I would do it again. Every day. For the rest of my life.)
If you ever really want to find it, just go to Ben's Chili Bowl (apparently Barak Obama's favorite joint--at least that is what the 700 tourists lined up outside have been told). Once you get sick of the line at Ben's, just look across the street for the nearly empty restaurant that might have even lost power for the night (yes, that is a true story). Head on over, and enjoy being seated right by the front window. It is like being the mannequins at a department store. As you eat with your hands, you can be the selling point for others to come in and dig in to Ethiopian for the first time as well. As far as food goes, no utencils are required--that is what the "nerf-football" (as my brother has dubbed it) brown tortilla-like (but not really like) substance is for. Just wad that up and break into some egg yolk, meat of your choice, fresh veggies, and 'cottage cheese' (not like any cottage cheese I have ever had, but good all the same).
3. Jaleo--owned and operated by a judge on Top Chef--aka, he could have judged Spike (from Good Stuff)--enough said.
Pretty yummy Spanish tapas located right around the corner from the International Spy Museum. So after you work up an appetite after pretending to be Jack Bauer in Operation Spy--a terrific little simulation for young and old alike--you can get some bueno food. (Take that Spanglish). It is perfect for those who want to watch their intake. They will charge you entree prices for bite-sized dishes. It's like 100 calorie packs at a restaurant--buy yourself some self-control. The only difference is that instead of what appear to be freeze-dried oreo cookies that you get in your handy snack packs, you can get some legit flavors. My favorite was the greenbeans served well-seasoned with mango and ham. I'm serious. It was real good.
04 August 2010
- And a long walk home
01 August 2010
- Bright colored tshirts (ok, some of you may be picking up a trend here...)
- A purple cell phone (nevermind whether it has the features you want)
- Eating at new restaurants
31 July 2010
I have just returned from a week of vacation. My ivory (bordering on clear) skin is rosy, and I am holding my breath that my red fades to some version of tan instead of bubbling and peeling. But I’ll take what I can get. The best part of vacation (ok, not the best part, but a good part) is making sure everyone who didn’t get to go on a sweet vacation knows that you did. And it will be a good reminder for me as my bum is going numb from sitting for 8 hours a day entering information into an excel spreadsheet (can you hear the anticipation mixed with excitement in my voice?).
As we (or I, in this case) speak, my parents and I are driving down the interstate in Indiana. We just left Michigan City, Indiana, a city of great tradition and history. You see, my family and I have been vacationing on the beach of Lake Michigan since I was three years old. And over the course of two-decades, you manage to develop a few traditions. Some include Jack in the Box in St. Louis (yes, I thought that Jack in the Box was THE greatest when I was growing up), completing math worksheets for prizes on the ride on the way up, and there was even a period where we jazzed up the Chrysler mini-van and removed the middle seat and installed a TV, VCR, and Sega Genesis. Sweet.
But the Chrysler mini-van rests in pieces in junkers across America, I have wised up regarding the truth about Jack in the Box, and my math days are long behind me. But one tradition has remained strong—the Michigan City outlet mall. Two and half hours (including stops at several blueberry and vegetable farms) from our final destination, we start every Saturday morning off with some back-to-school shopping.
This year, I decided to work on applying some new self-discipline to my purchasing habits—what I am calling “if you don’t need it, don’t buy it”. Yes, I know. This is a novel concept. But it took lots of inner-dialogue to arrive at the conclusion that while, “No, I don’t have that shirt in that exact style in that exact color, but you already have two v-neck tshirts so even though those are $1 off, you probably don’t need to buy 14 more so that you can wear them for two weeks straight without ever doing laundry.” A valuable lesson to be sure.
But there was one thing that I never even considered buying.
The “Super Skinny Jean”.
Let’s just be frank about skinny jeans of all varieties—particularly the ‘super skinny’ design. You see, when I saw the physics-defying pants on the hanger, the irony and contradiction of the label hit me right between the eyes. Because, I thought, surely they don’t make those in sizes larger than 6. I mean, after all, those of us full-sized, normal, healthy, and fit women who wear larger than size 6 are many things, but we are NOT super-skinny (and there is no reason to feel badly about that fact). But let’s not pretend that super-skinny jeans will miraculously make us look super-skinny. They will likely just look like we bought our clothing 8 sizes too small, and further more the only thing that will be super about them is that they will be super-uncomfortable.
And furthermore Gap (that’s right, I am talking to you), ‘super-skinny’ jeans for the 0-6s are a bit redundant. I have never seen a pair of 0s that makes ANYONE look super-fat, let alone full-figured. So let’s rethink the strategy a little bit.
Check back soon. More to come...
18 July 2010
It's not that there haven't been plenty of things to write about. In fact, there have almost been too many things. There we go again, learning more things about me: When confronted with good options, rather than offending the non-selected but deserving choices, I snub all of them. This applies to everything except food. In that case, I make an exception and just pick all of them. You know what I'm talking about. When confronted with a plate of spinach, grapes, raw eggs, and other good-for-you choices, I just down them all. Right.
Anyway, how do you choose between writing about the time that there was a fist-fight two feet away from you on the bus, the time (five minutes after the fight on the bus) when someone started making a speech about Rosa Parks (after this sweet old lady had shouted "Peace BE STILL"), the time you waited for the bus for over an hour only to have it drive by without picking you up and causing you to not be able to sit in the seat in the movie theater that you had already paid a disgraceful ammount of money for, or.....there are others, but they don't involve buses and I am realizing that public transportation might provide my best material. Anyway, you get the point. Lot's of crazy, funny, frustrating, in a word, blog-worthy incidents. Too many to choose from.
And after listing all of those, I think I have realized that I am about to describe the least interesting of them all. Oh well, I am committed at this point.
So back in Oxford, I was talking to this girl who had lived in the UK for over 5 years (she was from the US) and considered herself British (essentially. It was a long and un-interesting conversation). She described in great detail how she just fit-in better in England and that the people just made more sense to her. Needless to say, I askd her about this. After all, the English make LITTLE sense to me, so this just didn't seem logical. And I am not sure that I fit in particularly well with all parts of the American ideology and even I felt like this was a ridiculous statement. Furthermore, who SAYS that?!
She then launched into this big tirade about how her mom has an American flag bumper sticker on her car and how Americans fly flags all the time and feel this need to assert their American-ness. I think she even talked about the resurgence in flag-flying and patriotism after September 11th, and how she just couldn't understand this mentality. (Let's pause here to note that flag-flying seems like a pretty silly metric to use to determine if you are ideologically similar to a given nation.) I think I argued with her. (Yes, I know. Most of you who are reading this are not surprised by this revelation. But you should know that in the UK I mastered a new technique: Say "Hmmm, ok. Interesting. Yes. Tell me more about that", all the while thinking "Wrong." or "You have no idea what you are talking about." or "I have no idea what you are talking about." or "You are a lunatic.". But here, I argued. I must have been feeling particularly patriotic on this day. If I had been better prepared, I would have pulled an American flag out of my pocket. Unfortunately, I had none.
Well, seeing as how I moved to the nation's capitol a few days after the fourth of July, I found myself reflecting on this experience a few days after arriving. You see, I was walking up this huge hill (I think I had gone for a run, but the huge disadvantage of living on the top of a hill--which I do--is that you always have to finish your run uphill. Sure, you start your run downhill, but at that point, you are not tired. And furthermore, these are "slow down so you don't fall down" hills, so you really don't get the advantage. I think this stinks. So I walk up the hill at the end.). Anyway...I was walking up this huge hill, and I notied that every doorway had a flag flying next to it. And then I noticed that every yard had four or five flags (baby ones) lining the sidewalk. It looked like a flag pinata had been broken over the neighborhood. They were everywhere. I laughed to myself when I thought about the ex-pat from Oxford who would be puzzled by these peoples' over-patriotism. I thought of something that she said about Americans' (apparent) need to assert their Americanis "as if they or other people are going to forget". This seemed especially funny to me as the Capitol building, the mall, and all the monuments are a short bus-ride away.
And then I thought, I wonder if other people come here and feel the need to assert their allegiance to their country. Seriously. I thought that. And because I am intuitive like that, I know what you are thinking. You are thinking, "Who cares? That's not funny." You are right.
But then, I got to the top of the hill. And just as I crested the hill--I kid you not--I saw a couple my parents age and what appeared to be an adult son. And they were German. I know this because the son had a shirt with a German flag and hat on it and was carrying a German flag. Oh, and the mother had glittering Germany necklaces, black, red, and gold all over, and more flags. And I knew they were German because somebody wasn't wearing deodorant. Oh wait, that is just how I knew they were European. (Ok, actually, that stereotype is not true. And it should be said that Germans are my favorite people on the planet. Seriously, its true. Them and Turks. And Greeks.)
I found out later that Germany had played in the World Cup that day, so it wasn't entirely random. But still. Crazy.
09 July 2010
07 July 2010
06 July 2010
22 June 2010
- 7:15 wake-up, don the sub-fusc, and meet the great Aisha for pre-exam prep (good luck today, by the way, Miss Red-Carnation)
- 9:28 Eat a piece of paper (see below).
- 9:30 Flip over the exam paper and panic. These questions don't look familiar.
- 9:33 Tricky Martin, these are the questions I was looking for but just slyly worded. And Robert, I don't even know what you are asking on your questions...
- 12:30 Done. Boom.
- 12:33 Friends waiting with silly string and a gift. How nice. It's three fish heads. I am so thankful. Mostly because the fish heads were in the box and not on my head (a common alternative)
- (The rest of the day is full of running errands, packing, seeing friends, and saying many goodbyes--but mostly see-you-laters, the best kind).
- 1:35 (am)--start walking to the bus station.