Archive | January, 2011

Rx: Cowbell

31 Jan

I wish I could say that I enjoyed the sunny, 60-degree weather all weekend. I wish I could tell you I had lots of social plans with many different friends. I even wish I could report that I finally turned over a new leaf and went to the gym.

But alas, I cannot. Instead of all these lovely things, I spent the weekend sleeping in bed, suffering a fever and very unpleasant stomach problems. I won’t go into much detail, because it’s rather dull and truthfully way too much information. It started on Friday morning, right before my performance review. Of course. It would happen right when I’m being evaluated for my year-long performance. I thought it was just one drink too many from Amanda’s the night before. I only made it to noon before I couldn’t take the stomach gurgling anymore and had to go home. I went straight to bed and stayed there for about 24 hours. I woke up on Saturday, feeling much better, but still a little tired. I had dinner with Nikki and then our big Lost finale. By the time I got home, however, it was more of the same feeling from the previous day. No way it was alcohol-induced anymore. It probably also didn’t help that we had sushi for dinner…

Anyway, the worst of my fever was on Saturday night. I slept terribly that night – I must have laid awake in bed for four hours before finally going to sleep. I was cold and then hot, and kind of hallucinating because I was so tired. I spent a good amount of Sunday recovering from the fever, and napping to make up for lack of sleep the night before. So, I didn’t do much of anything all weekend. I did, however, finally finish World Without End (which was wonderful). When I wasn’t sleeping, of course.

Come to find out, Amanda and two other friends also got the same thing after we’d all hung out together. I kind of suspect that I gave it to them, because it sounds like I got it and got over it before them, but there’s no way of knowing. And I must say, although it’s never fun to be sick, it’s certainly not as much fun as when you’re a kid. My mom, of course, came to check on me to see how I was feeling, but wasn’t quite as doting as when I was younger. I mostly just wanted to sleep, but it’s nice to have someone there to take care of you when you’re sick.

I took it easy today at work, going in late and leaving early. I don’t feel really all that bad anymore – mostly just tired. But I didn’t want to overdo it today. I’ve been eating bland food and laying around. That might be a bit extreme, but I don’t want to relapse. All in all, not a weekend I want to repeat anytime soon. As my Facebook status confirms, I had a fever which no amount of cowbell would cure.

This is What my Heart Looks Like:

28 Jan

I’m feeling a bit under the weather today, so I need this bright field of tulips growing to cheer me up on a gloomy winter day.

BHLDN

27 Jan

Super excited to find out that Anthropologie is finally launching their bridal collection! Not that I’m anywhere close to being engaged, I’m still so excited to find this out before I get married. I’m going to have to have an Anthropologie wedding, for sure… The line launches February 14 – how appropriate! I can’t wait to see it!

For now, they’ve left all these lovely photos circulating:

Stuff I Want Wednesday

26 Jan

Some fun things to make your home colorful and cozy:

This fun, Earthy duvet set is perfect for adding color and pattern to a bedroom wtihout being overly feminine. Even though it’s trees and flowers, the bright colors give it more life than pastel florals.

Woodland Organic Duvet

And to go with it, some pretty tree curtains.

Tree Garden Curtain

This fun, colorful version of Sudoku would be perfect to leave out on a coffee table. It would be great for encouraging guests to interact with each other, and figure out a puzzle together. I’m a big fan of Sudoku

Colorku Game

Moroccan-inspired pillow cases, in various colors and with lots of sparkle.

Moroccan Pillow Case

This fun puzzle can be arranged in many different ways, to create many different patterns. It’s so colorful, and would look great anywhere.

Rainbow Octagon Puzzle

This linen dress form has the potential to be functional and decorative. You could actually put together outfits, or use it to sew, if you’re into that. It could also become a lovely post to store necklaces or scarves.

Linen Dress Form

Don’t you just love this clever bookend? It’s much more interesting than a plain, boring matching set. I’m not sure why, but I’ve always been interested in special bookends. I need to invest in them in my life!

James the Bookend

Really, who DOESN’T need a great print of a Union Jack? Well, probably the French. But I love it – I love everything British, and their flag is far less obnoxious than ours. I need one.

Union Jack Banner

Um, I almost gasped out loud when I saw this. I need this light like there’s no tomorrow.

Illuminated Remote Control Moon

Ten Things Tuesday – January 25

25 Jan

Ten of my favorite kinds of fruit:

1. Figs. Hands down, my all-time favorite. I could eat them plain, as jam or preserves, or baked in to something. I love figs, and I just can’t get enough.

 

2. Strawberries. One of the best days of my year is the day my mom decides to make strawberry jelly. It’s a simple recipe, but it’s amazing. I’ve never had better stawberry jelly, ever.

 

3. Blackberries. Just like figs, I think I could eat them in anything. My favorite is blackberry cobbler, with a yellow cake mix crust. Divine.

 

4. Kiwi. I once heard that a kiwi is a cross between a banana and a strawberry. I haven’t been able to find evidence of that anywhere. I can’t help but think about that every time I eat kiwi.

 

5. Bananas. The ripeness of bananas is always debatable. I like all stages – especially still slightly green with that extra sweet taste, but I also appreciate the milder yellow variety. But not brown and mealy.

 

6. Grapes. Especially frozen. I like small ones, large ones, with and without pits, green ones, red ones, black ones. All kinds of grapes. I probably like them because they are the reason we have wine…

 

7. Cortland Apples. These grow somewhere up north – New York or somewhere like that. So we can’t always get them around here. In fact, the only time of year we have them is during the Apple Festival. These are by far the juiciest, sweetest apples ever. Not too juicy that it runs down your face, not too mealy, not too sour. Absolutely perfect. And great for baking, too.

8. Limes. I sometimes eat them on their own, but I do especially enjoy anything flavored with limes. I love the intense sour flavor, much better than lemons. I really love putting lime in my water or in Coke at restaurants.

 

9. Clementines. Without fail, every winter, my cousin brings me a huge crate of them to snack on. They’re great to eat at your desk for breakfast. They’re great as an afternoon snack. And the best part is they’re easy to peel and have no seeds. Awesome.

 

 

10. Plums. They’re a little bit messy, but still a great snack.

Humanism

24 Jan

When I was a sophomore at Converse, I took a class called Ideas and Culture. Every student had to take it, and it was basically a class on Western civilization, thought, politics, religion, etc. The second semester I had a really great professor, and he really got me thinking about the topics we discussed in class. There’s one that I still think about quite a bit.

One of the ideas we talked about on a regular basis, but never really had an answer for, was the question of what separates humans from animals. What are the things that are truly unique about humans that cannot be said about the animal world? Our professor had an answer to negate every idea we came up with in class. He was actually pretty brilliant about it – to this day I still think about what I think he would say in response to my ideas.

Some people would suggest it’s opposable thumbs that separate us from animals. But I don’t think that’s enough. Not even the fact that we use tools, because there are plenty of animals that do that, as well. We can’t be so arrogant enough to think that we’re the only beings capable of using technology for our own benefit. True, we’re the only ones who use the internet, but it’s still considered a tool in my book. Animals don’t really have a use for it, but just the simple fact that we use tools doesn’t really separate us from animals. It’s not special enough.

Other people will tell you that it’s our forms of communication. True, we have more means of communication and media than any animal does, but it’s still not enough to make us special. Plenty of animals use basic forms of communication, such as SONAR and echolocation, not to mention all the different mating and warning sounds they can produce. Just because we’ve developed languages doesn’t mean it’s any different – just a little more advanced.

I think a good way to sum up the difference between humans and animals is this quote:

“Man is the only animal that laughs and weeps, for he is the only animal that is struck with the difference between what things are and what they ought to be.” –William Hazlitt

I believe that, more than anything, the thing that separates animals and humans is our ability to imagine something beyond our world. In some cases, we can actually create something bigger than ourselves, beyond tangible, physical reality. I think it’s our capability to create a world other than our own – in movies, books, TV, and art. We can create an alternate universe that, while technically still not true, gives us an escape from reality. I don’t think animals are capable of thinking this way; they cannot conceive of something beyond what is physically and emotionally present at that moment. They have no way to create a world beyond this one.

It’s this incredible imagination that separates us from animals, I think. Animals look at the world and see it for what it is, nothing more. Humans look at the world and see it for what it could be. We’re even able to create better versions of our lives. We build cities, cultivate food, treat animals like property, make products to make life easier, and write down our stories – fiction and non-fiction, for future generations. We’re always looking for the next best thing – something bigger and better – whereas animals are concerned only with making it day to day. There are millions of people, of course, who live a very similar existence. But in the Western world, mostly, we enjoy the luxury of leisure and imagination. We don’t have to worry so much about where to build a temporary shelter for the night or where to find food.

More than any other animal, we leave a lasting impressionon time. We have the ability to recreate history by writing it down, studying it, editing it. Animals have no such capablility. They are bound by the immediacy of their needs – to find food and water, to find a mate, and to raise the next generation. The human capacity goes much further than that. While we share the same basic needs, we also have the capability to change our path. We can do more than just provide for our most basic needs. We can conceive of something out there beyond ourselves. Some call it God, some think of it as aliens, some imagine something completly unique. We are human because we can consider something other than the absolute truth.

The example I can best think of to illustrate the point that we are capable of inventing our own world is the art of movies. I was thinking about this back in November when I saw the new Harry Potter movie. I always think about the incredible, seemingly endless possibilities of the imagination when I read or watch Harry Potter. The whole time I was watching the new movie, I kept thinking about how much I wish magic was real. Mostly because I really want that story to be real, and not a work of fiction. It got me thinking about the real world, and all the things we’ve created for ourselves to make life easier. In my opinion, movies are the closest thing to magic we’ll ever have. Some people would argue that technology or science are better choices, but I don’t think so. Movies, more than anything, give us the chance to escape from everyday life, and create worlds that exist only in the imagination.

This might be a complicated way to communicate, but it is still effective. I think we have a desire to communicate with those around us. Animals, of course, share this same need, but they aren’t able to do it in quite the same ways. Sometimes I think their pure, uncomplicated forms of communication are far more effective and poignant than anything people have dreamed up. But no matter how complicated or simple the communication is, the fact remains that animals cannot bring their imagination and creativity – if in fact they exist – in quite the same way we can.

And that is what makes us human. The ability to bring our imaginations to life, to extend them past our own minds, and share them with others.

Happening

22 Jan

It’s been a while since I’ve actually posted anything about myself, or my daily goings-on. That’s probably because it hasn’t been too interesting. What with all the snow we had the last two weeks or so, I haven’t really gotten out or done much of anything other than read. But this whole last week I went to work, uninterrupted. It’s nice to have that routine again (as much as I enjoyed my very extended vacation). I spent the entire week at the Museum, working on new programs and scheduling meetings. We’ve started to gear up for Earth Day again. You’ll remember how much of a slight fiasco that was last year. Well, not really a fiasco. But by far my least favorite and least important project of the entire year. I’m obviously not looking forward to it again…

I also spent the last week housesitting in town. I love doing that – it gives me a sense that I’m out on my own, running my own life – even though I’m technically staying at someone else’s house. There were two dogs I was taking care of, Lily and Zoe. They were easy to take care of, and very friendly. It just makes me want my own place even more, where I can get a dog and just live my life. I used to always think that I couldn’t live alone, but I kind of like it. I don’t know how it would be for a long period of time (or, like, all the time), but it’s nice for just a few days, anyway. I keep fantasizing about moving to grad school – where I’ll live, who I’ll live with, how we’ll decorate our apartment, will I be able to get a dog (which I really, REALLY want to!). So many things to think about in the coming months. Needless to say, I had a great time housesitting. It’s a great way to make some extra money on the side.

Even though it’s Saturday, my poor mom has to go to school. They have missed so many days for snow that they have to make up, they’ve had to take two Saturdays, as well as MLK and President’s Day. Hopefully it won’t snow anymore and there won’t be any more snow days to make up.

We have a family friend coming in tomorrow for a few hours. She’s an old friend of my mom and my aunt, whose birthday it is today. It’s kind of a birthday surprise for her. As far as I know, she doesn’t know anything about the visit. My mom asked me to make some chocolate cupcakes for the occasion. Aunt Mary had called earlier this week to ask me to make some for her birthday luncheon group, but I was housesitting, of course, and didn’t have access to that much baking equipment. She’ll be pleasantly surprised to see that she’s getting her favorite chocolate cupcakes tomorrow. I’ve been working on them all morning. I made the brownie centers last night and froze them, then got up this morning to bake the cupcakes. I wanted to get it done before the afternoon, because I’m supposed to be having lunch with Amanda here in a bit. She just got back from a mission trip to Arizona this week, and I’m curious to hear all about it. My hope is that the cupcakes will be done by the time I’m supposed to meet her (and right now, it’s looking that way), and then cooled off to ice when I get back later this afternoon. I have a dinner date with Alli tomorrow night, and I don’t want to be spending my entire Sunday afternoon running around making cupcakes. I’m going all out on them this time – espresso powder in the icing and fancy chocolate shavings on the top. They’re going to be the richest, most indulgent chocolate cupcakes ever. I’m so excited. Every time I make them, the recipe gets just a little bit better.

I haven’t mentioned before about our yoga experience on Tuesday. Mom and I try to make it to yoga every Tuesday night. Even though we should try to make it to the gym far more frequently than that, lately yoga has been the only thing we’ve been able to commit to. Anyway, we had a substitute this week, and she was intense. You know how most yoga instructors are very calm, mild-mannered, soothing? Not this lady. She was on the mellow side, compared to like aerobics or kickboxing instructors, but she was definitely not your typical soothing teacher. We were doing all kinds of intense stretches and poses – things we don’t normally do in that class. I kind of think of it as lazy yoga – it’s more for relaxation and simple stretching rather than flexibility. I admit that I should probably look for a more intense yoga class, but I just love how relaxing ours is. Anyway, I was not prepared for the intensity we were in for on Tuesday. My muscles hurt for at least two days afterwards! I was not impressed – I’m notoriously resistent to change. I wish I wasn’t that way – I need to be more flexible. Both from yoga and in life.