Thursday, September 30, 2010

Thoughts on Human Nature

One last post before October! My apologies in advance for these long paragraphs and even longer sentences. 

There has been a recurring theme in my life this past week, or at least one that I keep hearing about, mostly in my Anthropology class and then tonight at Intervarsity. In Anthropology our teacher really stressed for the first few lectures how we attempt to study cultures, and the things that every human being has in common, and also how they differ. That seems like a really obvious thing, but you can read a lot into it. It's crazy to me how much things are different in some societies that live on the same planet as me, for example, the idea of "consanguineal marriage," in which spouses don't live with each other, they stay in the same home as their blood family for the rest of their lives. Fathers don't father their own kids, but rather the children of their sisters whom they are around all the time. Everyone is essentially brought up getting the same things out of family as we do, just from different people. 

We've talked about culture shock, and how the best way to study another group of people is to totally immerse yourself in it and leave behind all aspects of your own. Our teacher said sometimes when you come back home from field study, the adjustment back to your old life is often the worse culture shock, which I thought was really interesting. So obviously people in this world can be really different from each other, in beliefs, customs, behaviors, etc. But the idea that's been on my mind lately is the fact that there ARE things that every person has in common. This may be entering into religious/spiritual territory, but I believe we were all created with an innate desire for human interaction. God (or whoever is our creator) made us so that we have emotions, and those emotions are affected by how we relate with people. 

One of our assignments in Anthropology is to experience something cross-cultural and write about it. As a last resort due to time constraints, I attended a showing of a Spanish film about a woman in Spain (go figure) who gets by on working odd jobs to maintain a living for herself and her two grown sons, who quite frankly need to get their acts together and a) stop doing drugs and stealing shit, and b) stop being mentally insane. The second one is probably a lot harder to do, given you can't just turn off a malfunction in your brain. But anyway, in the end of the movie the woman has an opportunity for this great life in America with successful, kind people who want her to stay with them, but she ends up going back to take care of her sons when they need help again, despite her constantly saying she was sick of putting up with them. You could tell along that secretly she loved scrubbing floors everyday past the age of retirement, and finding jobs for her sons when they were too messed up to do it themselves. Why? Because she was a mother and she was taking care of her kids - pretty much all she lived for. What would she be if she wasn't needed by them anymore, and had no obligations? 

When writing my paper on the movie, I kept trying to think of the ways Spain's culture is different from ours, but I kept coming back to the idea that it didn't matter how poverty-stricken their family was compared to what I know, or that they spoke another language. All I could think about was how we were the SAME. What mattered in that woman's life at the end of the day was her relationships with her sons, and I feel like that would be the same no matter was culture you were part of. Kind of like the saying "A smile is the same in every language," which I've thought about a lot, actually. We can all relate to one another somehow.  I can't think of any time you could smile at someone and have it mean something offensive, unless there was some strange taboo of showing teeth or something ... everyone just naturally takes a smile for meaning happiness and warmth. 

This idea was driven home tonight by the speaker at Intervarsity. He talked about how there is no reason for us not to reach out to certain people because they're different from us. We can always find something that's similar on both sides. Does everyone want to be successful in life? Yes. Has everyone felt fear at some point in their life? Yes. Have most people experienced the loss of something/one they loved? Yeah, most. 

Another way this truth has manifested itself is through a silly internet website called, that I've used to talk to strangers halfway across the world. I wanted to start keeping a tally of all the countries people were from that I conversed with. When you start up a conversation, you have no idea who you're talking (IM-ing) to, and lots of people will ask "asl": age, sex, location, to see if they want to talk to you. It frustrates me that people will turn down someone who says they're from Korea or India or even Canada probably, because they don't think there will be anything to talk about. I always say you can have a conversation with anyone as long as you speak the same language, because it's true! I've had intense religious discussions with Muslims and Atheists before, and I've had talks with Indian and Chinese girls about love and relationships. Further proof that we all go through the same things in life, no matter what continent we live on.

And just to add on to that mix, I even thought about something similar when I was reading part of Brave New World today. In the utopia the book is centered on, people are born and raised like robots, with no concept of family whatsoever. The word mother is like a swear word because mothers don't exist, and people are completely discouraged at all points in their life from maintaining relationships of any kind. You don't have brothers and sisters. There is no such thing as monogamy or even dating one person. So when they tell the story of one woman who goes to visit a reservation in America (the book is set somewhere in what we call the UK now) and gets stuck there, pregnant, having to give birth to a real child when the culture she was raised in had every single embryo grow and emerge into life from a tube in a LAB, you can imagine how awfully foreign it might have been for her to have to mother the child. She was ashamed at first because it's not what she was used to, but her son grows up and ends up recalling all these instances of her singing to him, teaching him how to read, rocking him to sleep, etc. So far in my reading (and I'm almost done), they haven't addressed the issue of how easily she knew what to do with her own kid, but I was surprised at, well, how easily she knew what to do with her own kid. Except then I thought "Well duh, it's our instinct to care for each other and develop nurturing relationships." See what I mean?? No matter how much you try to decondition people to NOT rely on each other, that basic nature is still there in all of us. Nobody told the woman how to act towards the child she bore, she just learned very quickly and caught on like any normal mother would.

Of course, Brave New World is fiction, and that instance doesn't provide real proof of my theory. But no matter. I'm still counting it. Basically, to tie these ideas together and sum it up: Human beings will always have things in common, mainly the fact that we were made to live with and in the company of other people, and relationships will always have a place in our lives. Our desire for interaction is universal, and such are the similarities that everyone shares that make it possible to relate to anybody in the world.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Why I Suck

Along with complete lack of self-discipline, I found another semi-related flaw to my character that could use some working on: I am a quitter. I've known this before but it strikingly manifested itself tonight while I was longboarding and working on the cross-step. It's a beginner's trick I've been working on for a few nights spread over 3 weeks' time, where sometimes I have success and sometimes I just can't get it at all. Tonight was one of those nights for a while. I couldn't balance right, kept putting pressure in the wrong part of my feet, leaned too far to one side ... etc. After so many attempts that ended in my having to step off the board midway, and ultimately falling to the ground and scraping up my hands, the discouragement level was getting pretty high.

Frowning as I recognized what this meant - I had been completely in love with this newfound sport up until it got slightly hard - I blatantly remarked to Jake, "I'm a quitter. I don't want to do this anymore." And all my self-esteem went down the toilet. I realized how soon I give up on things that I actually enjoy when they start to become challenging and demand more time and effort than I'm used to. I kept trying the trick tonight, basically because I was determined to at least be back in the spot I was at last week where I could do it 50% of the time. I remembered some tips I heard online, and eventually got better. However, this attitude of mine worries me that I won't ever stick with any hobby or passion because I'll hit a road block and end up not caring enough to forge ahead and overcome the obstacle.

On the way home, I recalled many instances in my life where I've quit something because it got hard:
- Piano (loooong time ago. could also have been because I got bored)
- English 2010 two semesters ago. Dropped out halfway through.
- Skiing. Still trying to discern the real cause of why I stopped. It can go on the list though.
- Aspects of dance & tumbling. There were tricks I gave up on because I could never get them, so I just stopped trying.
- Learning how to play the drums. When I actually had to teach myself, it required more effort than I was willing to put in.
- Finishing books. I gradually lose interest, thus making it difficult to persist.
- Video games. Those darn boss levels just pissed me off so much! I never finished any game.
- Various other things.

This is not to be confused with my ever-present problem of not being able to STOP doing things that are bad for me, like eating, not going to class, and spending money on clothes and stuff. That's a whole different topic altogether.

The point is that I have a problem and it needs to be fixed. I don't want to be a quitter. I don't want to get so excited about loving something again, finally, and then losing interest somewhere down the road because it started to get too hard. For some reason it always surprises me when I'm learning something new and for a while I progress at a steady pace, but all of the sudden I almost hit a plateau and everything requires more work. It seems like that's a natural thing when you're developing a new skill, but it's always a foreign idea to me. Maybe it will help by just acknowledging this fact, so I can tell myself that it's normal to slow down with the progression rate and things will just start to take more time.

Or maybe I have a valid point ... ? When something starts to not be fun anymore, because it's too hard and frustrating to deal with, then is it completely wrong to want to stop?

It just took me about 2 seconds to decide the answer is, yes, it's wrong. Motivation and persistence will provide results that will make the activity fun again. What was I thinking? What do YOU guys think? Oh well. Now at least I know what I'll be praying for during the next few weeks. Another plus: next time I fill out a survey or questionnaire asking me what my flaws are, I'll have a ready answer, legitimate and composed. None of that generic "I'm disorganized" crap, or "I don't like my disgusting thighs."

Friday, September 24, 2010

P.S. I Loved This Movie

Holy crap, I haven't posted in 6 days! Without even realizing it, I just came pretty close to failing my goal of posting once a week. That means no gaps of more than 7 days. Phew, what a close one. I don't even know what to write about, but I think I'll go with one of the highlights of my week thus far:

I watched P.S. I Love You one night with me, myself, and I in the comfort and squishiness of the Big Turd (aka our oversized brown Luv Sac). Every one of my family members has felt an increasing dislike for the thing since we got it, including me, I'm ashamed to say, but every once in a while I'll fluff it up and attempt to get cozy when I'm by myself. It usually works as long as you get situated in the exact right spot, and make sure you're not wearing a hoodie that will eventually bunch up against the bag and put a strain on your neck. But enough about that, I really wanted to say that the movie was reeeeally good. I didn't know a lot about it when I started watching, other than one of them (Hillary Swank and Gerard Butler) dies rather fast, and it was very popular when it came out. According to the box it had lots of famous people and was supposed to be a "romantic comedy", meaning there would be some laughs in it as well. I was confused at how that was going to happen, since it sounded more like a tragedy to me, but surprisingly it worked out perfectly.

The plot follows Hillary Swank's character after her husband dies, showing the process she goes through with her friends and family. She ends up receiving a series of letters that he leaves for her, planned before his dying from a brain tumor, in places he knows she will go. They usually involve comforting words that bring back wonderful memories of their relationship, and instructions for tasks for her to do that help her on the way to moving on from his death. Of course, each of them ends with the words "P.S. I love you," hence the title. His messages in the letters really exemplified the thing I was constantly amazed at, which was her husband's optimistic spirit throughout all the bumps in their relationship, because Holly was quite the pessimistic instigator. No wonder people fell in love with this movie when it came out, because he genuinely loved her with all his heart and never gave up - who wouldn't dream of marrying a man like that? Plus he was smokin' hot with his Irish brogue and rocker-style. There was nothing to dislike about his character, and while at first I wasn't a fan of Holly, she proved to be quite static and ended up changing a lot by the end of the movie. She no longer annoyed me like she used to, and she wasn't the only character to change for the better, either. There is a sub-plot involving her mom (Kathy Bates) that increasingly gains importance and becomes interconnected with the main plot.

Another character I enjoyed was one of Holly's best friends, played by Lisa Kudrow, who provided much of the comic relief. The other portion usually came from Harry Connick Jr.'s character, who is secretly in love with Holly while she wants to just stay friends. His social awkwardness and inappropriate comments were refreshingly real and made me laugh. On top of those two handsome men, my favorite hottie from Grey's Anatomy (Denny!!) and now many other big movies, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, added to the sex appeal even more, with HIS Irish brogue and rocker-ness. Plus he had that quiet mystery factory that always left me wondering what his intentions were. Turns out he was actually a good guy, and ... well, that's I'm going to say without spoiling anything.

I really enjoyed the way the movie was set up with time changes between the past and present. Flashbacks were longer than what I've noticed is typical in movies, which was a good thing. If they had been shorter, it would've been harder to believe the love story, so this way you really fell for their chemistry. Half the movie I had butterflies in my stomach from the happy moments, and half the movie I was crying or near to it, because my heart literally hurt when it went back to the present and Holly was completely lost. I can only imagine what it must be like to permanently lose the closest person to you, especially if your life with that him/her is all you've known. Even though I haven't had that experience, it only took me a few seconds to put myself in her shoes and realized how devastating the situation would be. She had to rebuild her whole world almost, and I truly admired her strength in that.

There is no way I can fully explain how powerful this movie was, you just have to see it. Like 500 Days of Summer, it's one that takes you on an emotional roller coaster, making you feel all sorts of intense things in a short period of time. Usually I don't like movies that don't have happy fairy-tale endings, but I've learned to have such great appreciation for the select few that have the power to do this to me. I think any movie that causes you to really feel something as strong as these emotions deserves a lot of credit. So for that reason, I would gladly watch P.S. I Love You again anytime, and love every minute of it.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Cotton Candy Making and My New Favorite Sandwich

Yesterday I had the privilege of producing clouds upon clouds of sweet, pink cotton candy, something I've never done before. As part of my job I showed up to the stand and was placed in front of this foreign machine with little instruction on what to do and basically no instruction on how it works. I understand processes a lot better if I know how they work, so without that knowledge I was a little lost and, well, let's just say things could've gone a lot smoother.

The first time I laid eyes upon the cotton candy machine, I was amazed at how the motor was running but it appeared that the cotton candy just magically formed out of the air onto the sides of the large bowl. You couldn't see the strings of sugar being thrown from the spinning device into the middle, they just mysteriously showed up. I quickly got over that shock in order to keep up with the pace of grabbing the fluffy rings when they were ready and twirling them around my hand to create a ball to place in the bag. I learned that it's important to keep as much air in as possible, because obviously that's when cotton candy is the best.

For a long time the machine and I were not good friends. For whatever reason, it was always upset with me, displaying its nonaffection by: making very loud noises when I tried to put sugar in, spitting the sugar back out and into my eye in large chunks, and getting the cotton candy rings tangled into the hot motor, which was NOT supposed to happen. That melts parts of the candy cloud into hot pieces of crystallized sugar that are not desirable for eating (or touching right after the act has happened). Granted, I did some klutzy things of my own accord, such as spilling about 2 cups of sugar onto the floor. In general, I probably made the biggest mess of anybody ever assigned to that shift. Cotton candy was all over my clothes and apron, my hat, the equipment, and even places high enough on the wall that I couldn't even reach to clean off.

When it's not yet wrapped in fluffy clouds like you're used to, cotton candy resembles spider webs, and I felt like I had just gotten into a really mean brawl with one after that experience. Two hours (!) of continuous cotton candy making later and I was finally done, with minimal bruises except for the emotional ones on my soul from the machine's cruel abuse. I must remember next time I'm introduced to something new to make sure the whole process is explained to me first so I don't become the poster child for how to mess things up in every way.

To segway into my next, unrelated topic of this post, I will now place a decorative line of random symbols here. It's not really a segway at all, but it clearly distinguishes that this next topic has nothing to do with the first.


In other food news (so it's somewhat related), I just invented a great sandwich that everyone should try if they have the following items on hand:

Italian Bread
Mozzarella Cheese
Heirloom Tomato
Basil Pesto (the store bought kind in a tub)

You will also need some sort of heat source. I used a stove. I don't know whether to call this a fancy grilled cheese or a panini, because it has elements of both. If you haven't figured out already, all you do is put those ingredients between the two slices of bread and cook it. I buttered the bread so it got crispy, and let the cheese melt first on medium heat - if this takes too long, place a cover on the pan so the heat stays inside. The capers aren't so important, but the pesto is pretty much necessary because that's where the flavor comes from. Lately I've been finding that pesto goes well with a lot of things, and cheese & tomatoes are not excluded from that list. A friend of mine seems to have the impression that I don't like sandwiches - do you still think that, Brayden? I even have a picture of my delectable creation. So Ha. 

Doesn't that look yummy? That dark spot on the bread is just cheese that got stuck between 
the sandwich and the pan. 

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

What is Critical Mass? (Not a Scientific Inquiry)

Oh, what a joy the Internet is. I can watch music videos with profound messages in them linked to a cultural phenomenon, then learn more about it by googling it and wikipedia-ing it and all sorts of things. Such as the case just now, when I watched the 30 Seconds to Mars' music video for Kings and Queens. It was nominated for a VMA so I decided to check it out. Basically the whole time you see a large crowd of eccentric bicyclists doing their thing through the streets of downtown Chicago, randomly interrupted briefly by this white horse, all while the band is shown playing their song on a rooftop at the crack of dawn with nothing else going on around them. It was a cool premise, but I didn't know what the video was trying to say so I scanned some comments down below and found out it had to do with this thing called Critical Mass.

Based on the small amount of research I've just completed, Critical Mass is the huge bike ride that many citizens take part in every Friday of the month in large metropolitan cities like San Francisco (where it started in 1992), Chicago, New York City, etc (and 100s of smaller towns across the world). They typically block off the roads and disobey traffic signals, demonstrating their power in numbers and do-what-we-want attitude. Many people think the purpose is to protest legally against the cities' unfair treatment to cyclists. This point is evident in the music video when one cyclist gets hit by a car and the whole crowd stops, but their spirit is so strong that the man quickly awakens and just gets right back on his feet to continue on with the ride. 

According to the official website, at least for Chicago, there is no intended political agenda involved and you don't have to belong to any social group to participate. The lack of organization is appealing, since no one person is ever in charge, and usually the group will just end up riding wherever they feel like, which leads to a sense of thrill and spontaneity. Since Critical Mass has caused controversy in many places because of city disruptions and rudeness, other groups have been formed such as Critical Manners and Courteous Mass that essentially do the same thing, but are polite about following the traffic rules to ensure that bicyclists maintain a good reputation. 

While watching the music video, one of the main thoughts running through my head was "what a bunch of hipsters." I guess this is their way of showing that all types of people are welcome to join in, no matter what their motive is, which is pretty cool. If I ever get the opportunity to witness or participate in a Critical Mass, I will not hesitate in seizing it. The mass organization of events like this by the general public is one of the things that reminds me how awesome America is. I'd love to know if anyone has experienced this before and what their observations were. Otherwise I encourage you to watch the cool music video by one of the most epic bands of this decade! and read more to learn about this exciting phenomenon. So far the other source I used for info was the wikipedia page, but I'm sure you can find many more sites on it if you want. 

Monday, September 13, 2010

A Stupid Morning

If you are not my mother, skip this intro. If you are my mother (Hi mom!), please know that I am not burning the candle at both ends or whatever the phrase is that you use to say I need to stop partying and get more sleep. Not partying partying, but just always staying up late and being busy. I assure you my grades will not suffer from my lack of absence in 50% of my classes today, which you will read about now.

I estimate that I got about 5.5 hours of sleep last night. Not TOO horrible, except lately I've been thinking that every hour I fall short of a good, full night gets deposited into this large bank of hours I need to catch up on. Like they rollover, you know? If I get 4 hours of sleep one night, and 8/9 the next, I am still in debt of 4 hours and it will hit me later on in the week. Or so is the theory that probably has no actual merit in real life. It just feels that way sometimes.

Anyway, you've probably caught on to the fact that I haven't been getting a lot of sleep for the past few nights, so naturally I had a very hard time staying awake in class this morning. Let me tell you all the ways I have FAILED AT LIFE already today (in proper list form) because of this:

  • Failed to wash the dishes last night, meaning I had to take 10 minutes to do them before school, which caused me to arrive when all the parking spots were taken. Result - parked on the street some 15 minutes walking distance away. It. Was. Annoying.
  • Stayed awake in 8:30 AM class fortunately, but unfortunately dozed off about 5 different times for 30 second intervals during 9:30 class. That's what I get for reading ahead and knowing everything the professor is saying, eh? If it was new information my brain would have been working to soak it in, but such was not the case.
  • Decided I was just not going to make it through boring Anthropology next period, and didn't want to disrespectfully and blatantly take a nap on my desk while the professor lectured. My thought process: "[person I know in that class] looks like he takes good notes on his laptop, therefore I can get them from him later and catch up on what I miss. Therefore I am safe to skip in order to use the time instead to somehow rejuvenate myself."
  • Succeeded in leaving wallet in my car before classes, meaning there was no way I could buy a coffee on campus. Could not find a good place to nap. Walked to car while deciding to take a nap there, then hopefully find a closer parking spot to go back to my next class.
  • Once in the car, changed plans to go to Starbucks and get a vanilla-caramel latte to hopefully get some energy in me. Drove back to school and all around campus. Found absolutely no parking spots in any of the legal lots. Decided I wasn't going to park far away again just for one more class, so I then drove home, forfeiting the rest of the academic day. 
  • Another result being that I wasted a bunch of gas in that process. And $4 on a drink that took me one minute to consume because it was so filled with an unnecessary amount of ice. 
  • Also, missed the religious presentation I was asked to attend which would have been after a lunch break. The biggest loss of the day, since I've now let some people down.
  • To top it all off, I got home and crawled back into bed and for a long time could not even FALL ASLEEP, when half an hour before it was all I could do NOT to doze off in a normal sitting position, amidst noise and bright light. And here I was in a quiet, dark room under the covers of my comfy bed, letting stupid things occupy my mind instead of it taking a rest.

Eventually I did fall asleep and get an mediocre nap. I resolved to study extra hard to make up for missing class, but I am all around peeved at what a stupid morning that was. And hello, why is parking all of the sudden so much more impossible to find than it was last year?? It's absolutely ridiculous. All the freshman need to learn how to ride the bus so I can have the luxury of parking where I want without having to arrive at 8:00 every morning, regardless of when my classes actually start. Clearly I am the center of this universe. I just don't think everybody knows it yet. Wake up, World. 

Friday, September 10, 2010

First Sushi Experience

What a lame title, right? At least you know what you're getting yourself into. This is not a post about what I'm learning in anthropology right now or a How To make a trendy scarf or anything. This is me talking about my first real sushi experience. Go figure! According to more than one of my friends, the one time I had a bite of a Costco sample a few years ago does not count. Back then I spit it out into the garbage can, surprised that any food could make me gag. This time I did no such thing. Instead I masticated and swallowed like a normal person, and my taste buds weren't even cringing. 

As a side note, I just want to say that I'm very energized right now, and I still have accounting homework and the rest of this post to finish before my personal goal of getting to bed by midnight. Which is in about 20 minutes. And also, I had another great night with Intervarsity which I would love to blog about more than food, since it is the true experience that's making my life fantastic right now, but since this is not a private journal, I won't delve into religion a whole lot. Let's just say that I am falling in love with Jesus, and leave it at that. 

Back to sushi: Danielle and I went to Tona tonight for dinner and went all out with trying new things and picking the most exotic items. Danielle wasn't a total noob at Japanese food but I was, so every time I was able to even get rice into my mouth with chopsticks was an accomplishment for me. I've used them before, but with rice it's a lot harder. It kept slipping through, you know? Those darn pieces of wood. Anyway, here's what we ordered (to share, cause we were on a date ;) ) -
Vegas rolls: salmon, tuna, and cream cheese. with the rice and seaweed of course. deep-fried. yummmm.
Rock 'n Roll rolls: "barbeque eel w/avocado"
Bento Box with Tempura and Ton Katsu: "fried prawns and vetables in light tempura batter" and "tender pork loin coated with panko bread crumbs, vegetable-fruit sauce"

Yeah, that's right, I had eel. And prawns. And raw fish! Do those dishes not sound delicious and totally foreign? Ok so the titles of the sushi were actually very American-sounding, ironically, but it was all very different from anything I've ever tasted. My favorite things were the pork dipped in the sauce (Ton Katsu) and the Vegas rolls, which are not actually on their menu. If you go to this restaurant looking for them, you'll have to specially ask the waiter. Another new thing I tried tonight was Miso soup. I'd heard about it a lot but never had it. It's nothing too extremely special. I liked it. The end.  

My favorite new part about Japanese food is the dessert. Tonight marks the second time I've tried Mochi ice cream, which is basically a ball of ice cream wrapped in rice pastry that sort of has the gel-like consistency of a gummy bear, but not as sticky and hard to chew. We had the strawberry flavor with raspberry sauce, which was the perfect ending to a great meal. For those interested in the restaurant itself, our meal ended up being split to $20 each, so it's a little pricey. The service was good and we both enjoyed the ambient live instrumental music. I would definitely go again. 

Here's what I want to know: why was eating sushi not on my bucket list (or 20s)? I keep doing things that warrant List Status instead of the stuff I'm actually supposed to be accomplishing. Oh well. It all leads to an interesting life. Oh, also, I now know I do not like the taste of Wasabi at all. It can go crawl into a sewer and die, and it'd probably fit in with whatever other nasty chemicals are lurking down there. I don't see how people like that stuff ... 

In all my excitement about trying this abundance of new foods, I had to take a picture of every dish. Props to the iPhone creators who gave it the best camera ever (check out the close-up photos). I am continually amazed by this thing. It knows how to focus all by itself! Good job, buddy. *gives iPhone an affectionate noogie*

Remember, you can click on each photo to see the full-size. It lets you see all the details ... like HD television! 

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Concept of Moving Out

I'm forcing myself to blog right now. It's hard to find things to talk about after a summer of concerts, tea parties, petting tigers, and just all-around fun experiences. I was hoping to blog about Brave New World when I'm done with that, especially because it's part of accomplishing my 20s List, but we'll see if I still feel inspired by the time I'm done.

This post reflects much of what I've been thinking about in the last week or so: moving out. I had gotten this idea in my head sometime around last spring, and I'm not quite sure what spurred it on but all of the sudden it became my main goal in the next part of my life. There's nothing wrong with living at home; admittedly I have it made in the shade and I'm pretty well taken care of financially by my parents. I had an OK list of reasons for wanting to do it, but I recently discovered the big one that was lurking in my subconscious. And this is that I like to have things to plan and organize, and honestly right now, I have no other specific ambitions to pursue.

Let's be honest, who doesn't look forward to being able to go grocery shopping with their roommates every month and plan their meals for each week? I know I'm not the only one who has thought about it. Once you're buying your own food with your own paycheck, the feelings of independence are probably pretty solid, I'm guessing. I'm getting so ahead of myself in already wanting to pick out recipes for dinners that I'm going to make, and find coupons online, and compare Winco prices to Wal Mart prices. I mean, I don't plan on even being able to move out for another 6 months at least, but I still periodically browse KSL and the newspaper listings to see what type of apartments and houses for rent are out there. Why does this excite me so much? Because it gives me something to work towards! Think of all the planning and budgeting that goes into living on one's own. I could spend days just going through my room and deciding what I'll keep vs. what I'll bring, and online shopping for used appliances/furniture, and designing the decor for each room. Just mentioning these things makes my brain smile.

Google Image Search Result for "Move out"

Now that I've realized how much the appeal in moving out is caused by just the act itself, and having something to work towards, I'm worried that I'm jumping the gun and unnecessarily pushing away my family before I'm ready. I still love being around them, and I'll be sad when I can't sit down with my mom in the kitchen whenever I want to talk, or team up with X24 in provoking Garrett to the point of hysterical yelling and throwing kitchen towels across the room. And of course, I'll miss my dad always willing to listen and share his wisdom through gentle advice about my relationships and life decisions. At one point in one's life does one decide he/she is ready to leave the nest? I feel like I've been looking at it as more of a change in habitat rather than a change in life. Once you leave, you're not supposed to change your mind and come back, and I don't want that to be a problem for me.

But at the same time I've had this feeling like I'm not going to get anywhere in life unless I make changes and DO something. Maybe that something needs to be moving out and living on my own. I don't know if it'll bring me sudden divine inspiration about what career path I'm destined to follow, which is getting to be a pressing matter at this point in time, but at least I won't be sitting still in my bubble of comfortable consistency (can you tell yet how much I like alliteration?). When I started writing this post I didn't know what was going to be said, but apparently it's just one of those thinking rants. I thought maybe I would upload my estimated budget for the cost of living each month, or discuss the many ways I'm going to save money on food. However, at the current moment, those things aren't as important as the knowledge of whether I'm going to make the right decision or not. If anybody reading has any advice, on that or even just tips on being frugal when I DO move out, it would be much appreciated. Other than that, this concludes another journal-type entry in the blog de Sousa that I might be re-reading in published form some 20 years later to my kids.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Whoop Whoop! A Recipe

Let me start off by saying it's been an interesting week thus far in my head. I've had days where I just sit and read all these blogs from creative geniuses who are so much better at this than me, and all I want to do is crawl inside their imaginations and soak up the juices so I can become an awesome writer like them. I've had days where I just want to post something but nothing inspires me (hence the ipod game). And more often now I'm getting these days where I'm having religious experiences that are really digging at the core of my soul, chipping away like I'm an ice block being formed into a beautiful sculpture. I'm growing ... but not every feeling I get during this process is a happy one. So for some reason tonight I'm left with the non-ability to blog about anything personal or important.

However, Danielle and I did make some awesome treats today which I will now share the recipe for. It is courtesy of the Everyday Food Magazine, which is part of Martha Stewart's amalgam of money sucker products that together are slowly taking over the world. But I must say, if the world is going to be taken over with delicious desserts like this, I'm all for it. I do not take credit for any of the following information. Please, someone try making these because they are amazing, and pretty easy, too.

Raspberry-Lemon Whoopie Pies


Makes 15
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup plus 3 tablespoons light-brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup fresh raspberries (4 ounces)


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter, 1 cup brown sugar, and lemon zest until light and creamy. Add vanilla and egg and beat to combine, scraping down bowl as needed. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. With mixer on low, beat in flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with milk and ending with flour mixture (scrape bowl as needed). Beat well to combine.
  2. Drop batter in 2-tablespoon mounds, about 2 inches apart, onto two parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake until puffed and pale golden around edges, 17 to 19 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through. Let cakes cool completely on sheets on wire racks.
  3. In a large bowl, whip cream and 3 tablespoons brown sugar to soft peaks. In a small bowl, mash raspberries with a fork, then fold into whipped cream. Divide raspberry cream evenly among bottoms of half the cakes, then sandwich with remaining cakes.