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on tight jeans.

12 Sep

You know that feeling when you put on a pair of jeans you haven’t worn in a few months? How the starched-out cotton clings to your thighs & you have to wriggle around to get the zipper to zip, despite not having gained any weight? The way you awkwardly waddle from place to place as they reform to fit your legs?

Yeah, this feels a little bit like that. Awkward, stilted, starched, self-conscious. Like a high school reunion (not that I would know). But hi. I’m back.

I’m 2nd from the left in case you can’t remember what I look like.

I wish I could tell you that my two-month absence was because I was out living it up in the summer sunshine, but I’ve always been a pretty bad liar (no poker face to speak of, unfortunately). And while I have done my fair share of fun, exciting things this summer, the truth is that I haven’t posted because I’ve been in a bit of a “funk”.

I don’t usually get very personal on the blog not because I don’t trust you, but because I like my blog to be a “happy place”. But I figure at least a cursory explanation is in order.

This “funk” has really been a long time coming. For at least a year I’ve felt myself losing grip of my bits of exuberance and vivacity that used to define me as a person. I’m not sure if people can really tell from the outside, but mentally I get in very negative places fairly frequently. During the school year, I’m too busy to dig myself into mental trenches, but summer tends to invite brooding and the subsequent haze of negativity. I did a lot of questioning of my blog’s purpose and most of my evaluations came up negative. Not to mention that my overall motivation was at an all-time low.

And really, it’s easy to watch the time slip away. A day. A week. Two. Six. Two months. You fall into a rhythm of mediocrity and lackluster living that just isn’t worth it. But once you dig yourself fairly deep, it can be hard to get back out.

These help. :)

I really don’t want to bore you to tears with yet another sob story, nor do I particularly want to garner any pity, but the point is that I’m reviving myself, one small step at a time. It might start with just getting out of bed for a workout. Just stepping outside for a ten-minute walk. Just getting enough momentum to do one small thing. But eventually those become easier, and eventually you can move on to the bigger things.  Eventually that stilted, awkward feeling gives way as the cotton bends & stretches & everything becomes second nature again.

These too!

This conveniently is coming just before the start of the school year when I’ll probably be slammed with work, so I can’t promise how often I’ll post. I also am still kind of evaluating the direction of my blog, but that’s a story for another time.

The point of this lengthy, wordy, and probably overly-personal post is twofold. Firstly, to kind of say hello and offer a meager justification for my extended absence. Secondly, to remind anyone and everyone out there who’s having a bad day, week, month, year, that it can and will get better. I don’t really have a lot of answers about how, but I’m always open to discussing my experiences more via e-mail (and possibly on the blog if anybody really wants to know, though it admittedly makes me a little nervous).

So here’s to softening jeans & remembering how to smile & finding those bits and pieces you think you’ve lost along the way. They’re always there. You just have to find them.

How do you get out of funks?

Anything in particular you want to see on my blog? I have a million pictures from the summer that I’ll be releasing in doses, but I’m sort of rethinking my general formula… Sometimes I feel like I just write fluff. Maybe that’s just me being negative though!

Personal stuff on blogs: yay or nay? 

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daddy of mine.

19 Jun

My daddy and I have quite a history. He’s put up with a lot of sh!t from me.

No, literally. As the story goes, when I was around 6 months old he was taking care of me and ran out of diapers, and was holding me in is big old hands and… well, I had to go! (Why I am posting this story on the world wide web is totally beyond me).

At least I was adorable…

Since then, he has continued to put up with quite a lot. From my… rather rough… teenage years to my affinity for bad music, he just sits through it all… Perhaps not without complaint (poor Bruno Mars is the brunt of 90% of the jokes in our household, particularly for “Grenade”, and let’s not even start on Justin Bieber and Taylor Swift), but still.

The fam in Italy… yes, my dad is large and intimidating.

Though we still butt heads from time to time (as is wont to happen when you combine two stubborn people), I know whenever I need him he’ll be there. He’s my biggest cheerleader and supporter of my newfound interest in running; we exchanged numerous disgustingly-long e-mails over the course of last quarter in an effort to design a training plan for my half-marathon. On one night in particular he arrived at home tired from a day of biking and partying and still stayed up an extra half-hour to write me an epically long response about every minute detail I was obsessing over (what can I say, babbling is genetic).

He and my “little” brother did the STP last year, and *I* was the cheerleader… 

I know if I need someone to wake up early with me on vacation and go on a run, he’ll be there. I know on days when I feel fat and ugly he’ll be there to tell me I’m crazy and, of course, beautiful (whether or not I believe it). I know when I need to get from point A to point B he’ll lead me the right way… which my mom and I are both a little questionable at.

And, of course, whenever I have a spider in my bathroom or a 49.5 pound suitcase to carry, he’s my man.

The happy couple in Sorrento last year. :)

For all that he drives me crazy making fun of me for, well, everything, I know I’ve inherited some of my incredible wit (read: penchant for bad jokes) from him. If not simply a dry, sarcastic sense of humor and a thicker skin. And for all the times I’ve had to hide my chocolate chips in my sock drawer to keep him from eating them, I know there have been many times that he’s helped me polish off a batch of cookies or muffins (tough job, but someone’s got to do it). For all that he scares the living daylights out of almost all of my potential suitors (even the ones that measure up to his 6’4″ height), I know he’s also good for keeping away the creepers. And for every annoyance he may have caused me, I know I’ve done at least a million times more.

So thank you, dad, for putting up with crap of various forms for the past 20 years.

Excuse the fact that I look like a zombie… this was a very early-morning train.

And happy fathers day. :)

What has your dad put up with?

catch-up seven-up

13 Jun

Oh hi… I think I’m late to the party.

Let’s pretend I’m “fashionably late” instead of “two-weeks-gone-without-notice” and then I can make an awkward segue into a tag I just got for the “stylish blogger”. Along with a promise that I’ll, you know, pop in a bit more frequently (for some details on my prolonged absence, check the list-of-seven below!)

Thank you to the lovely Vivianne (isn’t that just the most beautiful name?!) for tagging me! :)

The rules of the Stylish Blogger award are as follows:
1. Share 7 things about yourself.
2. Tag some fellow bloggers.
3. Contact bloggers and let them know you tagged them.

In lieu of sharing 7 things about myself I’ll tell you 7 things about the last two weeks of my life that seem to have mysteriously disappeared.

1. Finals. I don’t have a picture to accompany this one because I was a little bit crazy trying to cram study in advance for all of them. I think I’ll just include a picture of one of my fuels-of-choice…

Not my fave flavor, but I mean, it’s still Kombucha!

2. Packing. I alluded to this earlier, but remember my desk? Eventually it became this…

And my bed? Became this…

And my name disappeared from the doorway as if I’d never been there.

I also enjoyed a last meal with my floormates in our dining hall… please excuse the quality!

This was a weird, overly sentimental transition for me. I’m not living in the dorms next year, though I will be living in campus housing of a different variety (more on that in number 3!). I definitely won’t miss having to make cookies in the dingy dorm kitchen though… here was my very last batch (made from a mix, because all my flour, etc., was packed away!)

While I’m excited about my living situation next year, I’m not going to have the same access to tons of different people at any time of day… it’s just a different chapter and I’m notoriously awful at letting things go (as much as I do long for variety!)

3. I visited my digs for next year! Here is my kitchen, most important thing, right?!

My school just built these new townhouses as an on-campus housing option. I’m not quite organized enough to figure out leases and houses and all that jazz, so this was perfect. I GET A KITCHEN. And…

a full sized bed! I have never had anything bigger than a twin! So that’ll be fun… lots of room to spread out. Or lots of space for pillows.

4. Finally came home last Wednesday after a whirlwind of a day… my last final, working for a storage company, checking out of my dorm room, and finding a ride to the airport. Then, of course, my flight was delayed 3 hours… which by the way is more than the amount of time I spent asleep the night prior to this excursion, and more than the plane ride actually takes!

It involved a lot of these crackers… they plied us with food, and I’m not capable of saying no to free food even if it’s processed junk. Sorry I’m not sorry ;)

5. The morning after I arrived (after sleeping a solid 11 hours… bliss!) the first thing I did was bake scones for my friends who were coming over later. I’m predictable, I know. I did try to branch out of the cookie-ness though… Does that count?

These were amazing. They were the pumpkin scones from Veganomicon… you can check parts of the book out here and get the recipe, but really you should just buy the entire book.

They were definitely softer than normal scones but they were so tender and pumpkin-y and the cranberries were PERFECT. Out of season? Perhaps. But that’s how I roll.

6. Gathering with my best friends!!! I didn’t take a picture of all of us, but we really mostly just chatted, ate entirely too many pita chips with hummus, and walked a few miles to Jamba Juice.

And made a delicious salad, featuring avocado & goat cheese & raspberries & balsamic vinegar.

7. Having some friends stay with me this weekend which involved the typical tourist-ing with a combination of home-friends and school-friends.

The school friends/guests

Pike Place is always where it’s at. Foodie post about Pike Place will be coming since I realized I took tons of pictures of the samples & crepes ;)

Also some gum-wall action…

Pretty Maya :)

And I got a blurry picture taken by my friend and felt the need to post it just so I don’t feel so bad about always posting pictures of everyone else. I’m clearly apprehensive about this photo-taking situation…

Cute.

Anyways, that’s what I’ve been up to! I also made some muffins and, well, cookies, and cake, and yeah. My oven’s getting a workout ;) Oh, and I went on one run but as I’m entertaining guests exercise isn’t my highest priority. We’ll see how that changes!

Sorry for the wordy-pictury-newsy-recipe-less post but I figured I’d do a little catch-up then get back to the usual. ;)

Oh and you are ALL tagged because I’m a little too lazy to tag people after that monstrously long post ;)

I realize I’ve asked this as a question a million times, but how is your life? Tell me what’s new! :

If you’re out of college, how did you transition from dorm to non-dorm life? Did you like living in a dorm? I loved the constant people but am excited to have a single where I can sleep whenever I please, and of course to have a kitchen… I suppose it’s just bittersweet, as are most things. :) 

perspective.

9 May

Here’s what I spent my weekend with:

Sensory & motor systems… yay neuropsych!

Daunting, right? I may or may not have had a few mini-meltdowns over the sheer amount of material I needed to learn. But after a little impromptu run (! More on that later), I started to think about the real take-home points.

Because regardless of whether or not I ace this test, the following things are still true:

The cone receptors in my retina will still synapse just fine and allow me to see the brilliant colors of roses in the sunshine.

 

My temporal lobe will still process some of my visual pathways and allow me to recognize the faces of those I love.

The many olfactory glomeruli in my nose will still help me smell (and taste!) delicious cookies.

Like crazy-salty-corny cookies!

My motor cortex will still send messages via the dorsal corticospinal tract to activate my leg muscles and power me through my first run in 6 months (spurred by a near anxiety-attack over aforementioned test… at least it started back up my running mojo!).

The sun will still shine, the flowers will still bloom, there will still be stars in the night sky & a million other little things that make me happy, I will still have people to love and ways to show them I care, & in the grand scheme of things, this little test doesn’t matter at all.

That’s my perspective.

How do you keep things in perspective?

relay for life.

3 May

I mentioned that I did a (very small) bit of Relay for Life the other day, and it kind of got me thinking about my “inspiration” for Relay… my grandfather. So here’s a rather wordy, rather un-food-related ramble about my grandfather and what he meant and means to me.

On May 1st, 1929, my grandfather, Vincenzo Rimoli was born in Naples, Italy. After a life filled with trials, tribulations, a move to Brazil, and lots of laughter, he passed away on October 10, 2008 after battling cancer for multiple years.

It’s fitting, then, that on May 1st, 2011, I found myself walking in my school’s Relay for Life, musing about my grandfather and what life meant to him.

My grandfather’s Italianness was unmistakable. From the tale of his shameless wooing of my grandmother (he literally proposed to her, then pretended to cry when she said no and guilted her into marrying him because he’d “just lost his job”… luckily, she came to love him anyways) to his undeniable adoration for all things food-related, the “Italianness” was pervasive. He and the rest of my family are just like a slightly altered version of My Big Fat Greek Wedding; from what I hear, he was also infatuated with Windex.

I had always wanted to go to Italy to better understand that part of my heritage, and when I finally made my way there this past summer, I felt some kind of connection to his past, his culture, my past, my culture. But what was missing was context, stories, irrelevant details of his past life that I never bothered to get to know. As we sat upon the beach my mom and I puzzled over whether, perhaps, he too had gallivanted on its pebbly shores, splashed in its blue waters; I know he loved the ocean. And both of us regretted never having asked.

Brother & I in Sorrento last summer

Regardless, I saw pieces of him everywhere. His roguish smile was plastered on the faces of the crowds of look-alikes laughing gaily in the streets. His love for all things culinary wafted through the air with the scent of pizza at the local pizzeria. And his genuine zest for life was there in the vibrant, loud, rambunctious crowds on the train, the haphazard music groups making their way down the line collecting money.

 

He never stopped trying; multiple times along the course of his sickness we thought he was on his way out but he fought back with a force unlike anything I’ve ever seen. True Italian stubbornness, but it served him well.

And above all, he cared about all of us. I distinctly remember him using all of his limited energy to stand over the stove making our favorite pumpkin soup, I remember his frail hands smoothing over a towel as he exerted a seemingly impossible amount of effort to prepare to take my brother to the pool.

I remember, in better times, the squabbles he and my grandma had over his occasionally erratic driving.  I remember his grin, his lack of shame in sharing his broken English with the world, the unmistakably Italian lilt of his voice as he pronounced “Bell-eh-vooey” instead of Bellevue.

So today, I walk for him and the millions of others affected by this disease. I walk and I reminisce. I remember those times, I remember the crazy times when my part-Italian family all came together for loud games of bingo. I reminisce and I bask in his memory hoping that I can siphon some of that love for life back into myself. I walk to remember, and I walk to move forward in my life the way I know he’d want me to; if he saw the sadness in my eyes he’d undoubtedly crack some terrible joke just to get a smile. So I’ll walk, and I’ll smile, and I’ll remember.

Relay two years ago… hello short hair. 

Who would you walk for? 

let’s get lost.

16 Apr

Or: A spontaneous Saturday.

I keep telling you I want to work on my spontaneity. But I guess sometimes spontaneity just has to happen. Here’s a few snapshots from my adventures to the farmer’s market and beyond this morning.

My school has the most beautiful rose gardens, and they’re just starting to bloom…

At the market!

At the farmer’s market itself, I sampled probably more than my fair share of oranges and apples and delicious hummus but didn’t end up buying anything (which made me feel a little bad, but…). I did, however, get lunch.

This was the menu board for the delightful Oaxacan Kitchen Mobile stationed at the farmer’s market. I’ll bet you can’t guess what I had…

It may have been 60+ degrees outside but this soup was still delicious. Not overly salty, just slightly creamy without cream (totally vegan and gluten free!) and with a slightly spicy kick. I LOVE carrots & butternut squash… soooo good. :)

These birds made the more seasonally-appropriate choice and languished in a fountain to cool off…

I wound up getting lost on the way back. For once, this didn’t faze me too much… I ended up walking the exact wrong direction on the street my dorm is on for awhile, which I realized once I hit some industrial buildings. However, I also stumbled upon a Mission Cemetery.

It was seriously beautiful and dripping with history. It also looked exactly like the scene from Phantom of the Opera where she’s singing about her father, with palm trees instead of snow…

I’ve never really been to cemeteries. I know some people visit them regularly, whether to visit loved ones or as a calm place to think. I think I just have never had one within walking distance from me, but I rather enjoyed this little jaunt. The only trouble was I desperately wanted to know the stories behind each and every headstone. Because everyone has a story, and these people lived out their entire lives…

Who did they love? What did they love to do? What made them smile? There were also a number of Italian and Irish immigrants; I would LOVE to know all about that! Luckily, I have a fantastic friend who has since promised to return with me so we can make up their stories ourselves in lieu of true answers. :)

By this time I had already somewhat figured out where I was supposed  to be headed; I called my mom to ask her to check online but thought better of it. I knew my anxiety was what was driving the phone call; I didn’t like not knowing where I was heading, or if what I was doing was right.

But as I said to her on the phone: I’ll never know if the direction I’m heading is right. I can only guess, go by feel, go by the signs around me and my own intuition. And maybe there’s beauty in not knowing.

And maybe there’s beauty in being just a little lost sometimes.

Have you ever gotten lost and stumbled upon something wonderful? 

Do you get lost a lot? I honestly don’t; my mom is notorious for her lack of direction, but mine is usually okay… with a few glitches, obviously. ;)

How do you feel about cemeteries?

numbers.

28 Mar

I feel like numbers are a rather pervasive theme in all aspects of my life…

Blog

4. Number of tries it took to finally get a picture on Foodgawker.

Delicious peanut buttery cookies with PB M&Ms!

2.5. Factor by which my page views increased after aforementioned foodgawker featured me (hi, new readers!).

Photography

80. Number of dollars I paid for my new lens at the beginning of spring break, resulting in massive explosion in number of pictures taken…

1,198. Number of photos I took over spring break.

10. Number of photos I was actually in.

11,403. Number of photos on my hard drive… And I’ve had my computer for only about a year, and I never uploaded my old pictures on here.

50. Gigs of harddrive space left. Given that I used 50 in the past year for those pictures, I dunno how long that’s gonna last…

School & other stuff

1. Number of days I’ve been in class this quarter.

1. Number of batches of cookies I’ve already baked.

chocolate chip cookies :)

4 1/3. Number of hours I’ve spent in class today.

2. Number of lab classes I’m taking this quarter.

2. Number of upper division courses I’m taking this quarter.

19.5. Number of hours I will spend in class/lab each week.

200. Number of dollars I spent on books.

Not enough. Number of hours in the day.

 

On the plus side?

Now THERE are some numbers I like to see.

Tell me about your Monday :) Or if you’re new here, say hello!