Would You Rather...

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Or be HAPPY?

For the majority of my life I've opted for the former.

It seems so natural.
So justice will out.
So personal victory.
So logical.
So easy.

In the epic battles of my life I'd like to think of myself as someone that doesn't kowtow.

Someone who is Strong.

But in the mental court cases of my conscience I return to this question. Wondering, is it worth sacrificing personal contentment? Does victory make me better than my opponent? And ultimately, does it matter? I'm not 100% satisfied with the latter, but maybe, just maybe, I'm starting to glimpse the significance of that option.


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Everything that I understand, I understand only because I love.

Leo Nikolavich Tolstoy

Poultry and Promises

Sunday, February 21, 2010

A few months ago I volunteered to write a book review for the Botanic Garden newsletter. A friend had recommended the selection and while I read with an eye towards fulfilling my commitment, I was surprisingly swept up in a story that has, and is quickly altering my consumption choices.

As a general rule, I don't do fast food. I'm not much into boxes or packages, because I simply didn't grow up with them. I don't drink carbonation. And I don't eat red meat. (Okay, except for an In-N-Out burger in the company of close friends, and that's only annually, if that.) It might be possible for me to be a vegetarian, if it weren't for the chicken and fish. That said, I understand talking about food can be a touchy subject. People are very attached to how and what they eat. It's comforting. We do it three times a day. And sometimes it's hard to change. I get that. And while we may not all be able to live like the Kingsolver clan, I find it fascinating how this book has impacted me in such a significant way.*

An excerpt of my review.

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life. (2007). A consummate storyteller, Barbara Kingsolver, documents the journey of moving her family from Arizona to a farm in rural Virginia, where they abandon traditional agribusiness to live a year off the food they grow themselves, purchase locally, or live without. Co-written with her husband and daughter, respectively Steven L. Hopp and Camille Kingsolver, this memoir is a genuine family affair. Never has asparagus been written about so passionately. From harvesting earthy morels (a type of edible wild mushrooms) in April; visiting Amish dairy farmers in Ohio during strawberry season; raising young poults that would latter become Thanksgiving dinner; to harvesting a never ending supply of tomatoes and zucchini, this book clearly illustrates the idea that food is not a product but a process. Written in an accessible, non-preachy style the books sidebar features include recipes for using food in-season; insights into the dietary and global implications of commodity crops, pesticides, and genetically modified food; practical questions to ask at your conventional grocery store, and a genuine success story of one family's return to the land.

Fast forward two weeks to the world's strangest impulse purchase. A whole chicken. A what? Yes, turns out, when you ask a butcher innocuous questions, such as: Where was this chicken raised?; Did it spend its life in a cage?; What was it feed?; Was it given any type of growth hormones?, the Eastern Market vendor will than automatically assume you want to purchase the item in question. I'd been poultry punk'd and wound up walking away with a three pound bird.

This morning I set out to tackle my purchase. Cutting off legs and wings, maneuvering through tendon and bone, while trying to preserve the integrity of the skin turned out to be a challenge. (Growing up my mother did this all the time. I now know what skill she possessed.) At one point, with my kitchen shears slicing through the back bone and ribs of the waxy creature, I thought I'd give up poultry altogether. It truth, the dissection turned out to be more emotional than I anticipated. This animal had given its life for me. It became oddly intimate, and while I'm no Ina Garten, I did manage to end up with six descent pieces, which later became a succulent fare of Lemon Tuscan Chicken.

(*Side effects may include being slightly appalled at the appearance of watermelon and pineapple cubes masquerading as acceptable food at social functions in February. True story.)

Love ME

Monday, February 15, 2010

Yesterday was the day of love, but really I think every day should have some element of that magic. (Whether you're a fan of the fabricated holiday or celebrate it more as a Happy Anna Howard Shaw day...it's all what you make it.)

Some things that made my weekend extra special:
An REI giftcard.
Biking on frozen dark winter roads.
Ethiopian food and genuine communication with a dear friend.
An early morning Sunday walk.
Cupcakes from one of my favorite places.
Seeing a college friend attending my new ward.
Reacquainting myself with you.

Hope your Valentine's Day was just as lovely.


Does not run on holidays.


Not That You Asked...

Friday, February 12, 2010

Okay, maybe this is cheating a little, but I'd like to share portions of an email I recently sent to a friend of mine. Is that cheating? Well, it's my blog, right? Actually, some emails are just impeccably timed. You see, I've wanted to document the last five years of my life for some time. Make it official or something. Truth is, I took a long sabbatical from pen-paper journaling. It was a conscious decision at the time, but it is one that I now regret. In a small effort to reclaim portions of those lost years,* you know, for my not-yet-existing posterity, I need to start writing. This is only part of my story, huge chunks have been omitted, but it is an important piece nonetheless.

1.) Upon graduating from grad-school in 2007, and even before then, I knew I'd eventually have to do the socially responsible thing and return to the work force. (Those student loans don't pay themselves you know.) Trouble was, all the applications and interviews I had in/around the DC metro area were for part-time positions or contract government positions that would require a very looong waiting period. I knew that I couldn't continue to live in DC on a part-time salary, so my decision to leave the east coast was mainly a financial one. I'd been offered a great position at University X and the timing, combined with the ease of how things came together, seemed to indicate my decision was right. (Does one ever really know what is right?) While I knew I would be returning to my roots (not something I really looked forward to), I looked at it more as a good opportunity to get started in a full time career doing a multitude of things that I'd been trained to do. I was compromising in a way.
(Side Note: When I moved to the east coast, I'd never really set out to stay. I knew that grad-school had a definitive end and as far as making it my new home, well, that just wasn't something I'd really considered. This is all retrospective, of course, and current circumstances indicate the exact antithesis. So, you ask, what's that all about? Read on.)

2.) When I left the east coast, the summer of 2007, I never really left it. I say this a little tongue-in-check, because in actually it is true. I reviewed my calendars for the 18 months that I moved back to Roots and during that time I returned to DC six times. Six. Yes a couple of those times were for weddings, but in actuality I was still spending a fair amount of time "visiting" DC. It just didn't make sense. Why was I spending so much time in a place that I had lived. Was I living too much in the past? Maybe. Did I miss it? Absolutely. But I think it may have just been my wanderlust, which I'm finally starting to accept. I'd only been at University X for about seven months when I started getting the itch. Ohh, that familiar itch. I knew that I would only be able to advance so far where I was and I also knew that if I wanted to stay with the University X I would have to transfer to the main campus. That was a non-negotiable for me. (No disrespect to the institution, I just couldn't see myself living in the UC as a late twenties single. Thanks, but no thanks!)

In March of '08, I read an Ensign article that just resonated with me. It had something to do with the D.C. temple and while I really don't recall the particulars of the article, I do remember the feeling I had. That was, I needed to move back to the east coast. It was a quiet moment and it wasn't actually until the following January that I moved back, but again, it felt like the right decision.

(Side note two: This is not to say that I don't have profound love and respect for Roots. I do. It's my home and I'll always have connections and dear friends there. My family is there. I have incredible memories of Logan, Lincoln Lane, and Laird Ave. I cherish Roots. I cherish it for what it is.)

3.) So now I'm back on the east coast. In fact I've been back for 13.5 months. The second time was a much harder transition than the first. I'd come back for different reasons and the reality of day-to-day living was more a slap in the face. But all in all, I am happier. Living is living any place you live, but sometimes the geography and people make a difference. I could never have had the opportunities for service and social interactions that I have here. For the most part, I like my life. Yes I've still got bills to pay and errands to run, and lonely Friday nights, but I get to experience that all in a City I Love. The east coast is not without it's faults, but I also realized that I'd left my heart behind in D.C. and I needed to return, if not to reclaim it, to find out, for certain, if this was really real.

(Not to worry, I would never subject anyone to the entirety of those years. At least not in blog format.)

Wordless Wednesday

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Happy News

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Dedicated to my dear friends.

So happy for you!

10 Things I L-O-V-E February

Monday, February 1, 2010

1. Winter Olympics2. Valentine's Day
(A true Romantic in every sense.)
3. Refund

4. Answering phones at WAMU

5. Dark Dove promises

6. USBG Orchid exhibit
7. Mount Vernon for Free
8. Party Hats
(For those winter babies.)

9. A weekend getaway
10. One month closer to spring

How do you survive the last of the winter doldrums?

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