Archive | August, 2009

Bottled Up

30 Aug

Increasingly I find that I have two lives: my college life that I left down in South Carolina, which will never again exist in its same format, and my relaxed home life in Tennessee. These two separate parts of my life haven’t always come together seamlessly, and now I’m learning just how exclusive they were.

I find it hard to be here and truly be myself again. There’s the confident, hard-working part of me that comes out at school. Here, I have the comforted, protected version that doesn’t quite know how to navigate an adult life. I’m used to being independent at school, and relying on myself to get my work done and be responsible. Currently I have no work due, so there’s not that sense of rush to get things done and cross the next hurdle. It’s odd that, for the first time in my entire life, I can fully relax. Over the last four years I think I have associated home with relaxing and vacation, so that’s why I feel I’m currently on a school break, waiting to return to work. It’s been a while since I’ve lived here with a job, so I’m subconciously programmed to think of my home as the lazy place. I think it’s because of this complacency that I don’t really feel like myself at home anymore.

It’s been hard for me this summer to branch out and meet new people. There’s something about me that’s suddenly become incredibly shy, despite working on this the past four years to overcome it. My friends here all have jobs and things to keep occupied, and I do see them every once in a while. But I do feel like I left behind a life that I can’t come back to. My house and my family are still the same, but I don’t feel the same anymore. I guess something inside felt like home would never change, that life would just stand still and wait for me to come back. That’s obviously not how it works, though. Things have changed, and so have I. I know things cannot go back to how they were, but I so wish they would. I do not feel brave here, do not feel confident. I feel like an outsider or intruder in a world running just fine without me. Hopefully this is just a short phase, and soon I will find my place.

It will get better with time, I’m sure. For now I just have to challenge myself to be myself again.

A Life Less Ordinary

29 Aug

The phenomenon of blogging is something I think our society hasn’t quite figure out how to handle. All of a sudden anyone with anything to say in any variance of eloquence has a public space in which to do so. What is put out online isn’t always of the finest quality (because of course, when you give anyone license to open their mouths, what comes out isn’t always intelligent), and I fully admit that I don’t always have anything riveting to say. But I don’t think it’s always necessary to be riveting, just so long as you’re not hurting anyone else. After all, we have a right to free speech around here – at least for now. There are lots of things we see in everyday life and in a more virtual one that we can’t fully come to terms with, and don’t know how to appropriately respond to. I think that, increasingly, blogs and Internet spaces have become open forums for debate, argument, and ridicule. Debate, good. Argument and ridicule, bad. Maybe I’m just in the minority here, but I find that there is a serious lack of good manners when it comes to the Internet, a practice long-mirrored in normal life. It seems that in our great attempts to disconnect ourselves from other people we have lashed out at them virtually, further widening the gap between lives and respect.

Blogging is fairly new to us here in the most technologically advanced age in history. What exactly is the point? On the one hand, it’s an intrusive look into people’s lives, with sometimes little control over who reads it. But again, you choose exactly what you want to put out there; as much or as little of yourself as you want to reveal to the world can be instantly uploaded online. There are many types of blogs out there. There are those that track celebrity life and style, those that discuss important economic and political issues of the day, those that expose far-away places experienced by the most savvy of travelers, those reserved for educational and philosophical  discussion across miles.

And then there are the type of which I am apt to practice: the online journal. I for one am of the opinion that this is my personal space online. Yes, it’s open and public, but then again the really dirty laundry isn’t ever written for the world to see. Writing to me (even bad writing) is a way to work through issues in my life. Much like I use art therapy in my professional life, I use this blog to come to terms with the things happening around me. If no one reads it, I don’t care. I’m not that interested in ratings, anyway.

I’ve been at this blogging thing for years. In high school, before the days of Facebook, it was a small space to keep up with friends both near and far, and to record my normal life in the hopes that I’d look back on these memories with fondness and nostalgia. Of course in the five or six years since this started, it’s come along way – gramatically, subjectively, maturatively (highly likely that I made that word up). The one thing that remains the same is that I view a blog as a space to say anything, putting whatever you want out there, with no expectation of any return. Having this space has, I believe, helped me maintain some sense of sanity in recent months. I don’t think there’s anything out there that makes me special, or makes me worth reading over someone else. But I am a well-educated person and I do think I have some interesting things to say. If no one agrees with me, then that’s fine too. I’m not doing this for you.

It’s faster than writing in a journal. In fact, much of what I write here typically gets copied into my physical journal later, but I don’t always have time to sit and devote a long period of time to writing without typing. Call it complacency, but typing on a computer is just faster. I use this blog to document my life. It’s boring and uninteresting to some, but I’ll look back on this in the future and remember myself and my experiences. Ordinary life can be just as extraordinary as something far more exotic and interesting.

This is my interpretation of the purpose of blogging. I don’t know what a blog is for, according to the masses. I’ve always just thought of it as a place to put something out in the world – with the hope that maybe someone will agree with me – but ultimately for myself.

Fall Fashions

28 Aug

After spending two days in the kitchen I thought I would treat myself to some fun today. My grandmother and I went out shopping for a bit, hoping to take advantage of Payless’ buy-on-get-one half-off sale that’s currently going on. I’d seen a really cute pair of purple heels on their commercials and wanted to look for them. I didn’t end up finding them, because the Payless here doesn’t usually carry the best of their shoes in larger sizes. It’s always been harder, as a size 10, for me to find shoes. I realize that’s probably a lot easier than being, say, a 12 0r 13, but it’s still sometimes challenging to find cute shoes.

I did end up getting two nice pairs of flats, though. I’m a sucker for shoes, if I haven’t mentioned that somewhere on here before. I won’t mention how many I have, but it’s kind of a ridiculous number. But hey, I’m a girl, and a girl can’t have too many shoes!

We also went to Bath and Body Works, where I found a new fall fragrance: black amethyst. It’s heavier and more musky than I usually like to wear, but I think it will be a great fall perfume. I really can’t wait to wear it! I’m already looking forward to the crispness in the air,wearing boots and scarves, and leaves turning colors. If only it would hurry up and get here!

Later I also ran across the September issue of Vogue, which anyone interested in fashion knows is The Bible when it comes to clothes and accessories. If you buy one fashion magazine a year, this one should be it. Not that I’m anywhere near affording the items in that magazine (or ever have any hope of it), it’s still really fun to look through the pages and imagine that life of luxury.

Maybe one day…

Cookie Dough

27 Aug

I spent the entire day today making more shark attack victim cookies for a family friend. Their daughter is getting married next weekend in Cape Cod so they are preparing for several upcoming parties and such. Next Thursday they are hosting an informal Southern-style dinner for guests to take to the beach or sit around and enjoy picnic-style. I was commissioned to make shark cookies and shark attack victim cookies again after the mother heard me telling my aunt about the first batch. I made the dough last night, more than a triple batch to account for more than 100 cookies, and came down this morning to roll it out and bake it. Alas, the dough was too sticky, as there was somehow not enough flour. My grandmother and I had to quickly fix this after some minor stressing.

When the first batch came out, they stuck to they pan, as the ratio of butter to flour was now different. Parchment paper fixed this nicely, even though it was another setback that added to my stress level. I always feel pressured to get things done very quickly when working under a deadline, especially on a task I know is going to take me a long time.

After all 120 cookies were baked and cooled, I then had to ice them all. I was lucky enough to find some baby blue candy melts in our pantry, almost the exact color of the bridesmaids dresses for the wedding. These all became the bathing suits for the cookies, later completed with red blood on their various injuries. All in all this took me a good eight hours or so. The cookies were picked up a little bit ago, and they really loved them. I hope they will be a big hit at the dinner. At least they will be funny and very different. I’m thoroughly exhausted after today. And after yesterday’s intense cooking experience, I’m getting to be quite domestic and proficient in the kitchen.

Mastering the Art of French Cooking

26 Aug

It’s Wednesday again, and that means it’s my night to cook dinner. My plans for today were quite ambitious, but totally worth the effort. Last week we went to go see Julie and Julia, which was pretty good. Meryl Streep was, of course, wonderful. Anyway, the movie showed several different scenes making boeuf bourguignon, which looked and sounded divine. I found a recipe online for it in preparation for today. It looked like a fairly easy, although complicated recipe. When I printed it out, it was three pages long! It actually turned out to be fairly easy but was very time-consuming. It took about five or six hours to make, including browning the beef and pork lardons (which I had never heard of in my life!), sauteeing mushrooms and braising pearl onions, and letting everything simmer in beef stock and red wine for about three hours. Served over potatoes with great French bread, this was such a wonderful recipe! I’m going to have to make this again in the fall and winter, because it’s a perfect cold-weather meal.

For dessert I made the richest, possibly heaviest cake in the world: chocolate-peanut butter fudge cake. The icing wasn’t so much icing as it was chocolate fudge spread over the top. I knew my dad would like it a lot; like most men, he loves the combination of chocolate and peanut butter. It’s pretty divine. Definitely for peanut butter lovers, though, because of how rich it is.

Wednesdays are getting to be really fun around here. We do home-cooked meals almost every night, but not anything as intense as I do on my nights, usually just common, everyday fare. It’s nice to try new things and see how far you can stretch yourself in the kitchen. I’m always loved cooking and baking and I have really enjoyed getting to try things out.

In case you’re curious, you can find the recipe for boeuf bourguignon here: http://www.recipezaar.com/Boeuf-Bourguignon-a-La-Julia-Child-148007

Ten Things Tuesday – August 25

25 Aug

Highlights from this weekend:

1. Seeing all my sneaky friends, as Hahna likes to put it! It was great catching up with everyone and getting to hang out again. And of course getting out of town for a bit was really nice.

2. Jet skiing on Saturday. It was really fun, but kind of intense because of the waves from the passing hurricane. I swallowed so much saltwater, not to mention got a ton of it in my eyes. Driving the jet ski was great until the waves got intense. I’d do it again.

3. Full Moon Saloon. We had dinner one night at this pizza place that also had a bar inside called the Full Moon Saloon. Of course we had to go in there. It was pretty cool. We’ll have to find all the FM-named places in the country and hit them up.

4. Had lunch with James yesterday on my way through Columbia. We went to Mellow Mushroom, which was delicious. We had some pretty good conversation, too, which was a little surprising. Sometimes we have kind of forced/awkward conversation, but yesterday was nice. He seems to be enjoying himself at school.

5. Savannah. On Sunday we went to downtown Savannah for a couple of hours and walked along River Street. I bought some pralines for my family and we went Wet Willie’s, where I had a really good drink called Shock Treatment. I even got a souvenir cup. We also took our picture all together on this little wooden boat on a playground. We sang “I’m on a Boat” in celebration.

6. Hahna’s brother, Samuel, driving us around all weekend. He’s got to be one of the nicest people ever. He’s really fun.

7. Mallory catching sand dollars. She really wanted to take one home with her, but of course she couldn’t because they were still alive. Luckily we found a dead one on our way back from the beach, so she got to keep that one.

8. Crazy text messages from Melody, as usual.

9. Going to the beach and not getting tan at all. I don’t know how this gene skipped me, because everyone else in my family tans quite nicely. Not me, though. I’m always the whitest shade of pale that’s possible.

10. Meeting new friends down in Bluffton. Hahna and Katherine invited some of their friends to go out with us, and they were pretty crazy. I really liked them a lot.

Creepers

19 Aug

Is anyone else majorly creeped out by those talking Old Navy mannequins? I mean really, it was bad enough we had that Burger King stalker on our hands, but this is getting out of hand. I can handle a certain level of creepiness (I’m friends with Melody, for God’s sake!), but this is more than I can handle. Old Navy usually has fun ads, but these are ridiculous. I admit that they’re memorable, but not it a good way.