Saturday, April 28, 2012


I got an A on a Sci Fi quiz this week! When I looked down at my grade, I started doing a sauntering kind of victory dance down the long hallway in Mendenhall: head-banging, shaking my shoulders, and muttering "I know my stuff!" Sure I may have looked slightly insane, but I think I earned it.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Veganing, the Next Generation

I've been feeling really gross for almost a week now. (Physically, that is. We aren't going to continue with the loss of confidence thing from the previous post.) My brain is fuzzy and I can't focus, my mouth feels like an old sock, and I--I--
I've lost interest in food.

I know, it's shocking.

Today in Sci Fi my professor mentioned listening to your gut and being aware of what you're eating and how you're feeling, and I had an epiphany.

I'm going vegan for a few days. Just until my body clears itself up and gets organized. I can't afford to have fuzzy brain during finals, and even one meal without cheese or meat made me feel a little better. I wish I had a blender, because I've been daydreaming about smoothies all day today, but we make do with what we have.

So. Today for lunch I had a big ol' salad. It wasn't vegan because I put hard-boiled eggs in, but I didn't have any meat or cheese, and I think I'm on the road to slightly better.

UPDATE: Yeah I'm not going vegan. But I won't be eating meat for a few days. So... wooo.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Insecure Monday

I mentioned this towards the end of my last post, and I want to discuss it now. I'm trying to find my place at Smith and figure out who I am and what I'm good for and all that jazz, but while I definitely feel like a Smithie, I don't feel like a dance major. Technically I'm still undeclared, but come on now. I love my classes and my professors, and I want to take all the dance classes ever, but something isn't right. 

As for the ESS minor, forget about that. I belong in that department about as much as I belong on the athletics fields. When I tell people that I'm an ESS minor, I feel like I'm lying to them. 

And here's why. 

I have this idea that each department has a particular type of person that is best suited for that particular area of study. I realize that I'm stereotyping, but writing out this post is just intended for me to organize my thoughts. If I offend anyone, I apologize. 

To resume. The dance department, interesting and wonderful though the classes may be, is full of people who think things about dance that really don't resonate with me. I'm sure I could steer myself towards more conscientious behavior while in class, but I am taking Musical Theater Dance. It's sometimes hard to ponder the head-tail connection while I'm pretending to be a showgirl. God knows that's hard enough for me. 

I keep thinking that I'm trying to be at least four different people at different points throughout my day. In Comp and Sci Fi, I'm trying to be analytical and deep about not only dance but movement. In Kinesiology, I'm trying not to make an ass of myself. (At this point that's really the best I can strive for.) In Jazz, I'm just really uncomfortable with awkward movements that I don't feel feminine enough to execute properly. In French class, I feel like I'm missing something, but more often, a lot of things; not the right style, attitude, not talkative enough, not confident enough, not understanding enough of what my professor is saying. 

This is especially weird because I think of myself as a relatively self-assured person. My classes have just been making me hella insecure about life lately, and I'd like to know what gives. 

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Why I will never be an athlete

I told Caroline that I wouldn't join crew because it's a cult, but that's only one relatively insignificant reason. Clearly I don't have a big problem with cults: I'm a dance major.

Here's the real reason. I don't mind working out, and I actually kind of enjoy it if I'm not too distracted, but my workouts have to be on my own terms (because I am a baby). If someone forces me into doing something difficult and I'm not 100% on board, within minutes I'll start contemplating murder.

Take the time I went to spinning with my two sisters. Caroline was very into spinning and talked me into joining her. Figuring I was out of shape and needed to get ready for dance in the spring semester, I agreed. My thoughts:

"This isn't too bad. I can do this."

"The Allman Brothers? Who in their right mind listens to jam bands while working out? Or, you know, ever?"

"Dear God this is hard. I just want to stop, but I can't, or Caroline would judge me!"


Sorry, Caroline.

That was pretty much how it went down in Kinesiology today. It was another day with exercises that are hard for me to do in a neutral way, like jump and land on one foot. After hearing that instruction, I did a saute and landed with my right foot in coupe. My partner didn't say anything for awhile, then she said, "I think you're missing the point of this exercise."

NO! I was doing the exercise properly, because life is better in turnout. You can balance better, jump higher, and lift your leg higher, too. I do not understand why people refuse to make their lives exponentially easier. If you did all exercises in turnout, THEY WOULD ALL BE EASIER!


I've been mulling over Kinesiology and the Dance Department and my place at Smith for a while now, but that's a story for a later date. I just wanted to share that I am not an athletic person, and I have just realized that I never will be. If you were entertaining the possibility of me starting a pole-vaulting career, now's the time to give up that hope.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Gotta Have You

That was the song of my autumn.

I usually take any opportunity to look back and consider how far I've come over the past few weeks/months/years, but I'm trying to do that less. In the words of my brilliant friend Emily, "You can't live your whole life looking backwards, or you'll fall over and trip."

Of course she's right; she almost always is. (It's not a good idea to stay up till 3 a.m. watching Korean dramas, but aside from that her impulses are usually spot on.) I don't have to remind myself to keep moving forward very often, but there are some songs that just describe certain periods of my life so well that it's occasionally hard to resist.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Friday afternoons

In the spirit of Lesson #13 that I have learned at Smith, today I'd like to share with you some of my favorite teas. If you bribe me with these teas I'd be willing to do almost anything for you. And if you were to give me a sardine, of course, there wouldn't be anything you couldn't obtain from me.

  1. Lemon Ginger tea. Brand: Stash. This is the best tea in the world for sickness. It feels like a magical brew that burns a little if you drink it too fast. You can feel the wellness pouring down your throat.
  2. Jasmine Green blend. I forgot the brand, which is a pity, because this tea is beautiful. The jasmine smells lovely, and the green tea gives it a really smooth taste. Jasmine tea reminds me of my HR. The two are just linked in my mind. Two great things that are often found together.
  3. Pomegranate Raspberry with Green tea blend. Brand: Stash. This is the first fruity tea I ever bought for myself, and it was a good choice. It's fruity, but not overpoweringly so, and it's not so delicate that you can't taste the flavor. This tea is also an appealing red color and dyes the teabag. The only downside to this tea is that the teabags can only be used once. The second cup will smell like fruit but taste like water.
  4. "Awake" tea: mint tea with tarragon. Brand: Tazo. This is nice tea for the morning, especially if you start the morning feeling queasy. The mint settles out your stomach and starts you on a fresh note, but the tarragon keeps it from being overpowering. I drank this a lot at Unirondack. Contrary to the impression I seem to be creating, I was not pregnant at the time.
  5. White tea with chrysanthemum and raspberry. Brand: Bigelow. The best for last. This tea is exquisite: the flavors are balanced, it's not sweet, just flavorful, and it's light and clear. A cup of this tea leaves me refreshed and prepared to take on the world. As if that weren't enough, it makes killer iced tea. I'm going to drink a cup of it now!

Monday, April 9, 2012


I apologize too much. I think this is a side effect of living so close to the Canadian border or possibly just being female, because I apologize for things that are in no way my fault. I apologize when people tell me they're not feeling well. That doesn't make any sense! I didn't poison them, so why should I be apologizing? Precision of language is a virtue.

But when I try to focus on my apologies and stop them, they just flood out of me even more often. What am I supposed to do?

Sunday, April 8, 2012

French propaganda

I have a deep-seated obsession with France. I like the language well enough, but I've always been really enamored with France: the food, the people, the Frenchness of France. This is all thanks to my mother. She feels the same way about France; I mean, I know she likes the language but that's not really what it's all about for her. It's a much deeper, fuller love that I don't think I can articulate. But I think I understand it, because the books she gave me when I was little make the picture a little clearer.

And with that introduction, I present to you: Book Installment #2: French Propaganda of My Childhood. Let's just dive in, shall we?

1. A lot, a lot, a lot of "learn to speak French!" picture books, but my favorite was always If I Lived in France.
This book was like a tasting menu as far as language books go. It followed the life of one very oddly-drawn boy if he lived in France for, let's say, about a year. There was a loose plot that was basically, "Check it, guys! France is SO COOL!" and maybe seven or eight vocabulary words per page. The boy wandered around willy-nilly, exploring France and all its wonders. I was very proud of myself the day I finally figured out the proper pronunciation of "boulangerie" (which means "bakery"). I spent hours puzzling over that word, and when I finally nailed it, I met my mom at the door squealing excitedly, "Mommy, I can say it! I can say it! It's 'bou-lahn-jair-ee!'"

Most important lesson: Pronunciation guides are bullshit. Listen to the word if you want to learn how to say it properly.

2. The Sweetest Fig. I was planning on making a separate "Bizarrely Dark Children's Books" post, but then I came up with this idea and liked it better.
The Sweetest Fig was about a French dentist (so you know he's evil) who apparently took lessons in money management from his old copy of Jack in the Beanstalk and never learned how to treat animals properly. An old, very poor woman with an awful toothache begs him to take care of her, and when he finally does so, she can only pay him with two figs, which she says "will make your dreams come true."He doesn't believe her and eats one right before going to bed. Turns out the old woman was right! The dentist has a dream about being in public in his underwear and...what do you know! The next day he's at the Eiffel Tower in his underwear! How embarrassing!
Then he spends a long time studying lucid dreams and mind control and giving his dog the odd kick in his free moments, so he can dream about being fabulously wealthy. [Spoiler alert] He's all set to make his dreams come true...when the dog eats the last fig! The dentist beats the fear of God into the dog (no, I'm not joking. He really beats his dog.) and goes to sleep. The next morning...the dog is human and the dentist is his dog. Forever. The end!
This book was really sinister, but it was set in France...and the illustrations were gorgeous. Whatever mixed impressions this book may have given me, it still influenced my life profoundly.

Most important lesson: I learned that you should never mistreat anything. Never.

3. Ooh La La (Max In Love). This book was one of a series about a canine poet named Max. These books were, more than anything else, really complicated. Max writes poems and goes to Paris and Hollywood and all sorts of interesting adventures, but they were full of innuendo and complex wit and jokes that the target audience could not be expected to understand. They sure baffled me. Even with my French language books, there were bilingual puns that eluded me, and since they were puns, my mother couldn't explain them. I remember puzzling over these books for almost as long as "boulangerie," and it didn't help that each page had about a novel's worth of text written in cursive:

Look at that. Does that stuff make any sense to you? I sure couldn't understand it.
But regardless of comprehension, I liked the book because it showed me layers of Paris and layers of the French language that were all new. The incomprehensible puns, the pages where the word "bleu" was repeated approximately every other word: they spelled something out to me. They made me want to go to Paris and look, just look. They made me want to nose around and see what I could see.

Most important lesson: a person who recites a spontaneous poem about you at a poetry slam is mentally unbalanced and you should run from them at top speed.

4. Linnea in Monet's Garden. Now this was the gold standard. This book is, in a nutshell, the reason why I have to study abroad in France. When I was little, I hated my name with a burning passion. I thought it was stupid and ugly and different and I hated it. Reading this book and developing a fondness for Monet started to change my mind. This book was about a little girl and her adult friend who went to France to see Monet's garden and his paintings. It was a wonderfully composed book: there were pictures of Monet and his garden, pictures of the garden now, and drawings of the flowers. It was beautiful.

I liked Linnea. She was an American girl who liked France, and not just Paris, which was a refreshing change. I loved the garden and I loved the pictures so much. I got this book long after learning how to read, but the plot barely interested me. Why read the story when there were such beautiful flowers to look at? I liked the cats and the flowers and the paintings. I liked it all.

Most important lesson: Get to Monet's garden somehow.

This concludes our installment. Exit is out the back, I apologize for sounding pretentious, and Happy Easter.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Lessons learned at Smith

I don't update that page very regularly, but I think it's a good mix of funny, serious, and honest thus far. I mention it now because I just posted a bunch of new lessons, and two have corollaries! Get excited, my friends. Then go check it out.

Knockoffs and goodbyes

Emily is going on med leave for the rest of the semester, and wouldn't you know that on her last day here, the dining halls weren't serving anything she could eat. Typical. Alice decided we should make her a farewell dinner, and for a change, we didn't make Indian food.

This meal was Alice's brainchild. She found a recipe for corn salsa on How Sweet It Is, (which you should be reading if you aren't already) that linked us to What's For Dinner and three excellent recipes: cilantro lime rice, chili-lime chicken, and spicy black beans. Topped with the corn salsa and avocado for those who wanted to partake (all two of us), this meal was amazing. We hardly had to tweak it at all; we just swapped the onions for shallots and left out red pepper flakes in the beans, and it was a delicious, Emily-safe meal that everyone enjoyed. Almost everyone went back for seconds, and since it was a one-bowl meal, we didn't have that awkward juggle where you have to rinse out your bowl if you want to sample a different dish. Caroline would hate it, but if you don't have a problem with cilantro and you want a light meal for warm weather, this is it.

For dessert, I made vegan peanut-butter cookies. These came into my life this past summer at camp, when we were serving African Peanut Soup (bleh), and my boss and I thought it would be funny to serve peanut butter cookies for dessert. These cookies are extremely dry, but really delicious: they're about the consistency of the peanut butter filling in Reese's cups. Last night, I decided to drizzle them with (soy-free, dairy-free, gluten-free) chocolate to try and temper the dryness. I'd try more chocolate next time, but just remember to take small bites.

Vegan Peanut Butter Cookies

Yields about twenty-five smallish cookies.

(3) cups flour
(2) cups peanut butter
(1/2) cups oil
(1.5) cups sugar
(2 tsp) vanilla

1. Mix all ingredients in a bowl.

2. Roll the dough into 2-inch balls and place on an ungreased cookie sheet.
3. Using a fork, press a checkered pattern into the top of each cookie.
4. Bake at 400°F for 10 to 12 minutes.
5. (Optional) Drizzle with chocolate before serving.

These cookies don’t spread at all, so one tray can fit just about the whole batch. They also don't really change color when they bake: just trust me, ten minutes should be fine.

It's a shame we had to say goodbye to Emily after this meal, but at least it was a nice sendoff.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Books for my future kids

I could write about this all day, so I'll try to keep it snappy. Let's just say four great books for kids who are just learning to read, say in the four to five age range. (That's funny, just like...the kids I work with now. WHAT!)

1. The Frances books.
April and I were discussing the brilliance of Frances just yesterday. She's witty, interesting: the kind of little kid I aspired to be when I was little. Frances makes up songs about things she does, much like Jason Segal's character on How I Met Your Mother, which is just about the best thing in the world.
"I do not like the way you slide,
I do not like your soft inside,
I do not like you lots of ways,
And I could do for many days
Without eggs."

So much love. Frances is absolutely on my list.

2. The Frog and Toad books.

They're bros! And these books totally hold up. The other day when I read Frog and Toad All Year out loud to das babies at Sunnyside, I was legitimately laughing out loud. These stories are gold! And I really appreciate a genuine friendship in a children's book that isn't corny. Frog and Toad do stuff like rake each other's lawns, but that's not all friends do. They have super kickin' adventures, too. Love it.

3. Doctor DeSoto. For starters, the illustrations are exquisite:

Yes. William Steig, I respect and admire you. And once you get past the awesome illustrations, you can appreciate the sparkling characterization. This is one children's book that doesn't bullshit. The fox is a fox, toothache or no. Sure, you got rid of his pain and gave him a badass gold tooth. Honey badger don't care! I really appreciate this touch of reality in a world where foxes wear cuff links.

4. And finally....Eloise.

Oh come on. You had to see that coming.
Eloise is great because she is a kid and no bones about it. She lives in a fancy hotel, her mom is never there, and she can get away with she does whatever she wants. Didn't you always kind of want to do that? And a perk of these books is that appealing as utter chaos may be in theory, when you see what it really looks like....

Chaos loses its glamour awfully fast. So kids don't try to be like Eloise, but they appreciate her for being her utterly insane self. God, it's beautiful. And, just as the cherry on top, those books are delightful to read out loud. Seriously. Go to a bookstore and find any Eloise book, and just read part of it out loud in a ridiculous voice at top speed.
But no matter what crazy fiasco Eloise gets into, she doesn't have some kind of marvelous insight at the end that makes her sound all deep. She's six, for Lord's sake. (If you haven't guessed yet, I read Eloise Takes A Bawth at work today.) When confronted with the problem of how to fix the flooded plaza, she just shrugs and goes back up to the tippy top floor of the Plaza. Solve your own problems, people. Don't ask a six-year-old.

I could do more, but I won't. At least not right now, and probably not in this same vein. Anyway, this isn't anything my sisters and Alice haven't heard, and as you guys are my only readers, I'll spare you the trials of repetition. This time.