Food Fascinations

I’ve always loved food. When other young girls had dreamed of barbie dolls and Easy Bake ovens, I dreamed of the Easy Bake—sans the oven. I’ve had a million runs where I have literally thought about food with every step. I once read that guys think about sex every seven seconds. I’m certain I think about food as often.

But lately, my love has turned into obsession. I’ve always been slightly creepy when it comes to food—I frequently (and not so stealthily) scope out people’s refridgerators when I visit their pads. I often ask people “What did you have for breakfast/lunch/dinner today?”…and then forget that I lack a filter when it comes to food, and that this is an extremely odd question.

Since I could barely cook toast before college (I learned my sophomore year in high school—sadly, I’m serious), I used to only be fascinated by some aspects of food. I didn’t care to know how to marinate a chicken, or what spices to use to spruce up a steak. I liked the end result, not the process.

Yet now that I enjoy cooking, I’ve become a bit of a food stalker. I’ve recently “discovered” a variety of food blogs that I read multiple times daily. Not food blogs of my favorite magazines, either. Blogs written by actual people—your everyday “foodies,” I suppose. It feels intrusive, but I can’t help it—I’m fascinated by what people eat. Let’s just hope that I’m a more svelte blog stalker than a refrigerator examiner.

Luckily, my passion for food and running make a nice little marriage.  But I can’t help but think if one day the latter falls by the wayside, my obsession with edibles will eventually make me end up with a muffin top. And not the delicious, Panera kind.

A Wrapping Rant

I love Christmas. I love the sights, the sounds, the smells…even the pseudo, and slightly creepy Santas. There’s only one thing about Christmas that I hate. Despise, actually: Wrapping presents.

There are many reasons why I hate wrapping. For one, I’m awful at it. I couldn’t eyeball the adequate amount of wrapping paper to save my life, and end up with either too little or too much wrapping paper. The wrapping either ends up covering half the box, revealing the extra large store logo and appearing as if a blind two-year old wrapped it. Or I end up with too much, giving the receiver a workout as they attempt to go through a tundra of cartoon Snowmen.

I also never remember to actually purchase boxes in advance, so the present ends up being an easily distinguishable, yet extremely ugly, likely torn, blob of crumpled paper and too much scotch tape. Or I forget paper altogether, and end up decorating my gifts with Dilbert.

I’ve asked my family if I can forgo wrapping this year. They are already finished wrapping, of course, and we are already accumulating an array of neatly decorated boxes with red shiny bows under our Christmas tree. I’m the wrapping Black Sheep.

I’ll sing holiday hymns nearly immediately after Halloween, but put off wrapping the presents until Christmas Eve. Or even Christmas Day. Even worse, I don’t do it at all, and hand my gifts in the plastic bag or box that they came in. Bah Humbug.

Salon Small Talk

I’m pretty good at small talk. I hate awkward silences and enjoy asking questions, so usually this combo can garner me a few minutes of (non-weather related) small talk. Then I can end the conversation with a smile and a ‘See ya’ and move on.

However, there are some situations when the small talk needs to be stretched. And, as we all know, stretching small talk can be just as uncomfortable as attempting to zip up your high school jeans.

For example, you may have decided to split gas and drive home with an acquaintance. Which is even more awkward than driving with a stranger. You already know the basics about your car buddy, and don’t want to delve into personal details. So you’re limited about talking about your friends of friends, which eventually turns into gossip, or even worse, you revealing too much about your personal life in order to avoid the dreaded awkward silence.

You also need some skilled small talk to get through first dates. But at least we have former experience or friends to prep us through that. Or, at the very least, a magazine article that gives such unrealistic that it makes us laugh.

But there’s one situation that’s more awkward than both of the previous, and we all have to go through it. We may be able to pay more at the pump or opt to watch marathons of “The Office” in order to avoid either of the aforementioned. But there’s no way to skip the salon.

Small talk only bides you a few minutes—it’s nearly impossible to disect the weather, after all. There’s a reason why Al Roker only gets a few minutes of air time. Hair cuts last at least 20. Which leaves you the choice: Do you remain silent, or stretch that small talk? Either is incredibly awkward.

Even worse than a haircut? You choose to get highlights. I got my hair highlighted yesterday, and it took approximately 4 hours. 4 hours! With one person. Think about it: How often have you had a four-hour conversation with no rest? You can’t exactly pretend you have a prior commitment or fake a stomachache.  You paid to be there, and you can’t exactly go home with a half-striped head.

Of course, as the client you don’t have to be the only one to make conversation. The problem? Some hairdressers are entirely incapable of small talk. Personally, I think a little session—or even a full semester-long—on “Small Talk” should be required for hairdressers.

Luckily, my hairdresser yesterday was adept in this area. A bit too adept, perhaps. She told me about how she got pregnant at 16, had a boyfriend that doesn’t pay child support, another husband who was abusive and got two former teachers to pay his medical bills and accused her of drug use but then, in an odd twist of fate, turned out to be tested positively for steriod use himself…I pretty much learned her life story. Oh, and that she had a nose job.

Sayonara, First Semester!

1 down, 2 to go!

I can honestly say that this semester has been one of my exciting, yet most emotion-filled, ones yet. If you would have asked me to predict this post in August, my former would have been turned over all the wrong Tarot cards. I would have guessed it would be pretty stagnant—I’d have the same friends, same fun, and same ‘What was I thinking?’ moments.

I got much more than I bargained for, and I’m not having buyer’s remorse. I’ve had a zillion ups, and honestly, about one down. I used to hate change—but now I realize that my opinions about change were entirely inaccurate. I hated change when I wasn’t certain about the future. Sure, I would have been satisfied being a journalist, but I never felt butterflies. I was comfortable, but something was missing. And now I’m nervous, but excited. I love the fact that I’m in a career where my limits will constantly be tested. Where I can continually strive to be better. Where I will never, ever stop learning.

I’ve also learned alot about myself this semester. I learned that I can fight for myself, but I might not always win. And, ultimately, it’s a hard lesson to learn—but that’s life. I learned that believing in yourself, and realizing that others believe in you too, means so much more than if two people don’t trust you.

I’ve always been an indecisive person—still am!—but I’m slowly becoming indecisive about mundane things (like whether I want to eat a Roast Beef sandwich or PB—a tough choice that I deliberate far too long daily) rather than life’s biggies. I wish I wasn’t as indecisive about a particular topic, but we’ll save that for a later date…:)

I’m particularly excited about the uncertain. Bring on the hurdles. I’m ready to see if I can overcome them. Let’s hope the hurdles aren’t like real hurdles. The last time I tried, I fell flat on my face. HARD.

Winter Weaknesses

When it comes to Winter, I’m filled with faults. As I plunder through this crazy near record-breaking Blizzard (15 inches, nearly sub-zero temps, and nearly zero stores opened), I’m reminded of many of them:

1.) I am an awful parker. I may be from Chicago, but I am the polar opposite of most Windy City drivers: I have zero road rage, and zero parallel parking skills. You would think, thanks to my dad’s 250-hour pre-license driving requirement (seriously—I know 6AM driving wake-up calls and passenger seat clutches, believe me) that I would be a proficient parker—or at least pass. But no, I still rarely—if ever, am able to park inside the yellow lines on the first try. Hence why I park miles away in a mall lot.

2.) I do not dress appropriately for the weather. If it looks sunny and is sans snow, chances are I’ve probably considered running in shorts. You would have thought I had learned my lesson the first time…

3.) Considering I already had minor frostbite when I was in 8th grade because of my incapacity to dress for the weather. I thought it was too warm for gloves. Wrong. My snowy stupidity lead to a near frantic “My fingers are tingling, call 9-1-1!” (Ok, so I was in 8th grade, I was simply acting as expected for my age) Thanks to my ridiculousness, my hands lose all circulation the minute I step outside. And even still, I sometimes think I’m strong enough to step outside without gloves.

4.) I am extremely directionally challenged. My navigation skills are already significantly sketchy in sunny weather. Throw in some snow, and I’m similar to a seventy-five year old woman with   Case in point: I got lost driving to Downtown Des Moines on Monday night. I was lost for 45 minutes. I’ve been to Downtown Des Moines far more than 45 times.

It may be the most wonderful time of the year, but, in my case, it should probably be time for hiberation.

That’s one secret I’ll never tell…

I love drama. I steer clear of it in my personal life, but I love living a vicarious dramatic life. Don’t get me wrong: I certainly don’t wish extreme drama on any of my family or friends, but I am transfixed by acquaintance crises or spectacles involving strangers. Therefore, I do enjoy In Touch and People with sad regularity.

I know that it really doesn’t matter what kind of pizzas Octomom purchased for her plethora of nannies, what the Gosselin kids think of their rebellious potential stepmother Hailey, or whether Kristin Cavallari will actually end up with Justin Bobby. But I can’t help it: I’m curious about celebrities. I don’t get a daily dose, but I’m certainly willing to push their 15 minutes of fame a bit further.

I try to limit my dose of drama. After all, I enjoy reading and watching things that actually matter as well. Yet these past two days, my meager indulgence has turned into an overdose. Like many addictions, it began as a curiousity. I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. So I indulged, thinking I’d watch a single show and then scrap it. Boy, was I wrong. For a drama devotee, Gossip Girl is a dangerous drug. I should have probably stayed abstinent, but my curiousity got the best of me.

I have now watched 11 episodes in the past two days. In the spirit of the season, I wish I could have at least gone the ’12 days of Christmas’ route and limited myself to an episode a day. I’m almost hoping the series takes a serious nosedive, because this could be extremely problematic during Finals. DARE may have preached the dangers of drug addiction, but what I really needed was advice on overcoming a drama addiction.

Growth without Change

Ok, so I know I already posted once today. Perhaps it’s because my Foundations presentation tomorrow is on Accountability, but I need this blog to hold me to this goal.

Like everyone else, I was incessently asked “What do you want to be when you grow up?” when I was in Elementary school. And, also like everyone else, I thought that it would never change. But let’s be honest, unless you’re Tiger Woods and getting par and potty trained simultaneously, that goal likely changes. After all, I bet you can’t find a single kid that dreams of being an Insurance Agent or Actuary when they grow up.

Until recently, my goal was (somewhat) spot on: I wanted to be a writer. Of course, my third grade self thought more about writing books than magazine blurbs, but I gauged my goal pretty well. Now, as you all know, I’m an aspiring teacher. But, for some reason, I can’t forgo my novel-writing fantasies.

So I’m doing it. I truly believe in one of my favorite Walt Disney quotes: “All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.” At 22, I’ve merely scratched the surface of my lifelong list. But I’m ready to make a dent. I started writing an Adolescent Literature novel last year. I’ve written 57 pages, which is up about 15 pages from this time last year. Of course, the additional length is solely thanks to the larger size font and typeface (swapping for 14 point Ariel does wonders!).

Sure, I could let this goal slide by for a few years. But if I have the courage to write this goal down, I have the courage to pursue it. I may never get published, but I’ll never know if I don’t try.