New post, new blog!

Sorry I’ve been absent from this blog for a while.  Big changes have occurred in my life.

1. I moved out of DC to my new home of Huntington Beach, CA

2.  I just completed a bike trip from Seattle to San Francisco.

3.  I started a new blog a couple of months ago

Once I establish a source of income here (yes, I moved without a job -at the expense of worrying my parents insurmountably), I will be back to making silly posts about the recent recipes I try out, the art I discover, and the knowledge I gain.  So keep an eye out for me!

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5 days

I can’t believe it’s already September.  So this is it.  Only 5 days until I bid adieu to DC and board a train for Seattle to begin my amazing bike adventure.  

I don’t think it has hit me.  Even after I have no room and am subletting from a friend. Even when I have no belongings but a box of clothes.  Even after I finish up one of my jobs and find an incredible amount of free time.  Even after my friends give me farewell hugs.

I guess I should have been more active in going outside to take in the sights, sounds, and smells of DC for one last time.  Instead, I have been busy leading volunteer dates, packing, shopping for biking/camping supplies, helping coordinate the next event for a community service project (In One Day DC) that will happen after I leave, and applying for jobs out in California.  I never planned on having a goodbye gathering since I don’t like attention -even if it’s the good kind (I know. I have some unidentified psychological problem).  I suppose it’s fitting that I leave in this manner.  Life will just go on in DC and the memory of me will fade out of the city as people leave the area.

I am very focused on the future, but I take this moment to thank DC for the allowing me to meet such wonderful people some of whom have become my new friends and helping me grow to become an adult with a clear sense and acceptance of my identity.

I cannot wait to see what the west coast will have in store for me.

Portland!!!!

Portland is a city of passion.  It seems like people do what they love -whether it involves food, art, bicycles, music, beer, or cars.  Everyone takes time to enjoy and do things consciously.  No one is in a rush to catch the Max rail.  Even more amazing, drivers will even spare a few seconds to simultaneously stop on a four-lane road and wave pedestrians across the street the instant they reach a crosswalk.  Although there seemed to be a record amount of smokers, the city is a place with which I felt a connection.

The little time I was able to spend exploring the city outside of working a conference has inspired me to snap out of the end-focused DC mindset and start living every day with happiness in mind.  Thank you, Portland!  You are a gorgeous city with wonderful people!  I hope DC adopts a thing or two from you!

Pervading The Threshold

I am sitting in the Portland airport after a week of working a conference and exploring the city.  I was going to just sit at my gate per usual, but I turned into the business corner that was on the way to use my laptop, check my e-mail and kill time watching some mindless videos before boarding a flight to return to the East coast.  It is here that I had a realization.  When I go back, I won’t have a home.  I have moved out of my house.  My friend is graciously housing my belongings in her house, and I will sublet her room for a couple of weeks while she is gone on vacation.

Then, I’m off.

A new chapter. A clean slate. The open road. Whatever else you want to call it.

I knew the day I would leave DC was coming for a long time.  Even with the date set and visible on my calendar,  it all feels so surreal.  It’s funny because I don’t think I am any closer to figuring out what I want to do with my life for a living.  I know that I have not encountered whatever it is.  Maybe it doesn’t exist and I need to create it.  Right now, all I want to do is just that- do.  Do everything that appeals to me. That challenges me.  That scares me.  That is unknown to me now.

That is my plan.  Thank you, Portland, for inspiring me.

Here’s to many future firsts, small victories, and crossing out of bucket list items:

August 5- I work as a staff for a conference.  Almost 5,000 ecologists in one convention center.  And I got a name badge. I feel so special.

August 7- I climbed a rock wall. In cowboy boots. Hardcore.  Even the Army soldier was impressed that I was able to lift my leg so high in stretch jeans.  Totally gave the public a crotch view in doing so though.

August 8- I ate at Voodoo Doughnut.  Too… much… sugar…. But hey! I was a tourist for a moment.

August 9- My friend and I walked through a drive through at 11pm.  The Wendy’s employee at the window was not happy, but we made the truck driver behind us laugh.

August 10- I got my first pat down.  Not as invasive or humiliating as I thought it would be.

Time to Make It Work Again!

 

Yes, yes. I used that cliche catchphrase that has lost it’s cuteness, but I say it to properly announce that Project Runway Season 10 starts today!  My favorite show! Not so much for the designer drama but the weekly assignments and the end products.

If you’ve been following me for a while, then you know that I am a bit of an art nerd.  I love making things, and I have always been fascinated by sewing. When I was little, I would use my toy sewing machine to make little purses for my stuffed animals. AKA a piece of cloth folded in half with the sides sewn together. Big woop.

In more ways than one, my mom has been my idol, but one of the skills I admire in her is her ability to mend clothes and make household items like curtains and sofa covers with a fabric, sewing machine, needles, pins, and thread.  She even made my senior year prom dress.  And she would make it look so easy!

In college, there was a fashion design club where a couple of my friends in art classes were members and showed off their designs in a fashion show each semester.  Their talent is amazing.  One of my friends actually went to FIT and is now living in New York designing.  It made me even more eager to learn!

Another friend who is now taking classes at the Art Institute shared me this video recently that captures all the steps in the design and construction of a garment….which happens to be a jacket by Chanel…Oh, I’m sorry. THE Jacket.  I get so excited watching the video.  I hope to one day own a sewing machine and a dress form to start playing around with clothing design.

Until then, I’ll just keep watching Project Runway…

The Beauty of Beasts

Don’t worry! I won’t spoil anything!!

Last night, my friend and I went to see The Beasts of the Southern Wild at E Street.

It is an incredibly beautiful film about the world and life in The Bathtub as seen from the perspective of a little girl named Hushpuppy.  Through mesmerizing shots and narratives of wisdom beyond her years, she challenges us to think about the ethics of our own society and way of life as well as the role and responsibilities of humans as determined within the order of nature.  Capturing the adherence to the self-sustainable lifestyle of the community, observations of the world from Hushpuppy’s eyes force the audience to develop understanding, admiration, and respect for their world very different from what people living in the modern societies know.  Benh Zeitlin makes his directoral debut in this film shot over 56 days in the bayou of southern Louisiana, starting ironically the day Deepwater Horizon exploded.  In addition to Zeitlin’s status as a newcomer, all of the characters in the film are played by first-time actors, including Quvenzhané Wallis who plays Hushpuppy. You will be blown away by her talent and poise!

Go see this film and all the other amazing ones playing at the Landmark Theater locations!!!

After the film ended, my friend and I discovered that while we watched the film we had both thought of a little boy named Michael.  Michael was a student at McDonough 42 Middle School in the 6th Ward of  New Orleans.  We had spent our spring break at the school to do community service work and help rebuild the community post-Katrina. Michael had wandered away from the kids playing during recess to help us prepare a plot for the school vegetable garden.  In the hour we worked with him, we talked a bit and realized that Michael was not an ordinary child.  He said that he did not care about school because protecting his family was his priority.  With an intermittent adult figure in his life and their small house full of his various family members, he told us of how he sleeps on the floor by the back door with a baseball bat to fight off anyone who tries to break in.  While Hushpuppy was mature, she also lived in her fantastical world of imagination.  In stark contrast, he lived in reality of now.  He had no choice but to act as an adult figure for his siblings and his own security.  At six-years-old, he was well aware of the struggles that would surround his life.  Unfortunately, there are kids like Michael everywhere who are deprived of a childhood and live in an unstable environment.  We just hope that Michael is okay and is still in school to allow him a haven to escape from the responsibilities that burden him in his home life.

My friend and I had visited New Orleans three years after Katrina hit, and the city was then still recovering to restore its original affluence of vitality.  Then, after the Deepwater Horizon explosion, the progress the city had made was again challenged.  Through all the hardship, the resilience of the community and their attachment to the place they call home is incredible.  With Michael in mind, we truly hope that New Orleans and the people who comprise the community have received and are receiving support and services to flourish once again and antiquate the nickname “the city that care forgot.”

Time for see you laters

It’s official.

A girl agreed to take my room and be the new roomie for our group home.

I am moving from my beloved DC.

Like anyone who has experienced moving, I am a bundle of emotions -sad, nervous, anxious, excited, terrified, dread (of all the packing and cleaning). As I started counting the days I have left to spend here with my friends, my mind wandered to all the amazing memories of experiences I have of the city. I never thought I would ever get to know the city and the people so well to make this place feel like a neighborhood. A community. A home.

Although starting over is daunting, I cannot wait to venture with heightened awareness once again, meet new people, and explore to personalize locations with sentimental connections to memories in my next destination.  All in an effort for personal growth and to create a new home.

But for now…..I still have so much I have yet to do before I go!

On the list of things to do by August 20-ish:

  1. Find a rooftop to have a summer BBQ
  2. Get the balls to perform a poem/song/anything on the Bloombars open mic on Mondays
  3. …..and skateboard at the skate park on 11th Street
  4. Wander through the underground tunnel system around Capitol Hill
  5. Go to Radius Pizza and take advantage of the $5 slice and pint deal (It’s not a myth! Radius is coming back, Mt. Pleasant!)
  6. Bake the perfect loaf of bread
  7. Drink a beer at night or watch the sunrise from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial (OR! Not pass out there and do both)
  8. Finally e-mail the guy at Capitol Hill Arts Workshop to learn how to use the dark room and develop a roll of film
  9. Watch a movie outdoors at one of many summer screenings in DC
  10. Tour the White House. (Better get to writing to my letter of request!)
  11. Visit Baltimore during the day (Ok. Not in DC, but it’s so close and the only other time I went was for a night photo shoot of abandoned train cars. Not the safest thing)
  12. Host a relaxed dinner party to see all of my DC friends at least once last time

I still can’t believe it.

I gotta go out and take advantage of the weekend!!!

Rising Sea Level = Competition for Space

Global warming and climate change.  Regardless of what your stance is in the issue, read this article about Kiribati.

Kiribati is an island nation in the south Pacific with a population 103,000.  All of their land is only mere meters above sea level.  With the gradual rise in sea level, soon their entire land will be submerged.

With no indications of sea levels receding, President Anote Tong has been trying to address this issue so that his citizens retain a home.  In September 2011, The Telegraph reported that Tong was considering converting the entire nation to a nation on stilts.  Now, almost a year later, Tong has reconsidered this option of creating new land to using existing land: purchasing land area from Fiji.

Like the more recent article mentions, with the transfer of the Kiribati nation to another land, they will inevitably lose a part of their cultural heritage and identity as they must implicitly adopt and assimilate.  Therefore, it is not only the death of their islands but a toll for the people as well.

The important thing to realize that neither of Tong’s suggestions is a solution.  They are merely an immediate response to accommodate a problem that, for the moment, affects Kiribati more extremely than any other nation.  If sea levels rise even more, all countries will be scrambling for higher ground and overcrowding cities inland.  (Use this map to see how a rise in sea level will affect our islands and coasts).  Being here in southern California and seeing all the mansions scattered  along every bit of the coastline, I worry that if this time of chaos arrives, the competition will become one of wealth.

For the preservation of the world’s cultural richness, biodiversity, or beauty for our children to admire and enjoy…. Whatever the reason, let’s convince our individual nations to change out current way of life and seek a solution together.

Food, food and more food – cooking meals, the California edition

It is my second day in California, and it seems like my week here will lead to nothing but food posts.  My stomach is very excited with the idea.

For dinner, I cracked open this amazing cookbook that I found in no other than…..Urban Outfitters!!! Yes, I said Urban Outfitters – the store that sells clothes for young people.  If you’ve ever been inside and looked at their book selection before, I’m going to dispel all your presumptions about my cookbook.

No, it doesn’t have a girl in floral and neon ensemble anywhere in it. Or Polaroid / Instagram-esque shots.  Or any sarcastic remarks and pop culture references.

The Illustrated Quick Cook: Time-Saving Tips, After-Work Recipes, Cheap EatsThe Illustrated Quick Cook is a rarity among cookbooks, in my opinion, in that it has photographs for each recipe! Perfect for those people like me who is self-conscious of their cooking abilities and need a picture of what the end product is supposed to look like – especially if it is intended to feed other people.  Not only this, but it also has tips and photos on how to cut certain fruit and what not.

Really useful to flip through to just get ideas.  That is exactly what I did.

Dinner: 

I used a couple of the recipes as inspiration and modified them a bit.

Chickpeas in olive oil and lemon (p. 432)

  • Drain canned chickpeas (aka garbonzo beans) and heat in pan with minced garlic clove, lemon juice, and olive oil as desired.  I chopped some of the mixed greens and added them instead of the parsley which I did not have.

Chicken with noodles and basil (p.108)

  • The grocery store did not have udon and I wanted a lighted base anyway, so I used pappardelle pasta.  Boiled that along with snap peas cut in pieces (substitution for the basil).  Cooked the chicken in a skillet with a mix of teriyaki sauce and soy sauce.

Image

Okay. Okay.  I took the picture before I put the chicken in the pasta since it was still cooking on the stove when I had everything else all ready.

Breakfast:

French toast topped with fresh fruit

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So easy there is no recipe.  Just crack a few eggs in a bowl and mix with some cinammon.  Dip bread and heat on skillet.

The fruit in this picture was all mixed in a bowl with a drizzle of honey.  Delicious.

Today’s challenge: Be happy!

Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness…

In the interviews of people all over the world in the movie Happy (shown as part of the Environmental Film Festival a few months ago), the attainment of happiness was consistently among the top goals of life.  Unfortunately, people from developed countries vied for other goals in higher priority -riches, fame, and success.

It is a common belief that a person must have a sense of security through possession of money, a house, a car etc to be happy.  If that is the case, a majority of the people in the United States and other developed countries should be happy.  In reality, these countries have the highest rates of depression.  Conversely, people interviewed in developing countries, who did not have much possession and worked for unsteady daily income, declared with a grand smile to the camera that they are indeed very happy.  How can that be?

The documentary explained that, while things like fame or materialism may bring an intense level of happiness, it is also transient.  True, long-lasting happiness was not derived from any physical object that one could possess.  Instead, the origin of true happiness is the relationships that one has with others.  Humans are social creatures, and it is our natural inclination to relate to other beings.  I believe that today people are subtly taught by media to always want and are too distracted by what they do not have to truly appreciate the value of all that they do indeed have.

So what are we to do?  How can we be happy when we have  not yet accomplished our career/educational/personal goals?

I can certainly say that I wish I didn’t have school loans or had figured out my calling in life or was traveling around the world while getting paid.  But I can also say that I am happy to have parents who trust me, to live with great roommates, and to have friends all over the city and the world.

Happiness and gratitude go hand in hand.  I bet everyone has a lot to be happy about – your job, your courage and openness to have explored new activities, your friends and family, the wonderful weather outside, your feet for being able to support your body as you walk….

Perhaps today, Sundays, this hour, is not the best time.  Maybe something tragic has happened.  Or you feel ill. Or you have an incredible hangover.   Maybe that’s not the case and today is simply a blah day.  A day when asked “How are you?” you would reply as my former boss always did: “I can’t complain.”

Everyone will have days that do not elicit or conjure happiness.  On these days, take Andy Warhol’s advice.

A print my friend got me from the National Gallery of Art

You have to be willing to get happy about nothing

– Andy Warhol

The narrator explained that happiness is all about perspective.  Train your mind to experience things from a positive perspective and happiness will gradually find its way to immerse your everyday moments.

Easier said than done, but why not give it a try!  What’s the worst that could happen -you might be happy most of the time??? How awful