Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The answer to life's problems aren't at the bottom of a bottle, they're on TV.

I grew up in a small, liberal, hippy town in which birkenstocks and patchouli oil abound and on any given day you could spot ten volvos spattered in bumper stickers that read "Make love not war" and "Mondale and Ferraro."  This also meant that about 50% of the kids that I went to school with grew up in a "crunchy" household.  Our family started out that way to some extent.  My sister and I were denied sugar and subsisted on wheat germ dusted cereal and fruit leathers from our local cooperative  market.  But there was one fixture in our household that was absent from most of my granola loving classmates': A television.

I watched a fair amount of television growing up and to this day, I feel somewhat conflicted about how much time I devote to it.  I see those bumper stickers (again, mostly in Ithaca--you wouldn't be caught dead with anything like that here in tinsel town) that encourage you to "kill" or "throw away" your television; I hear those tales told of children reared in homes without it and I admire that.  But then I remember how much I like watching Bravo and all of those delicious fantasies I have about chucking my television, taking up quilting projects and generally becoming a productive member of society, promptly go out the window.

My T.V. watching habits are particularly egregious over the summer: no papers to grade, no lessons to plan, just hours and hours of prime re-run watching at my disposal.  I'll waste whole afternoons with entire seasons of The Rachel Zoe Project and Real Housewives of Anything Ever.  And gosh darn it, if it doesn't feel so good to come home from work at 1PM, sprawl out on my couch and slip into the sweet comatose lull of reality television programming.  It's like going to spa.  Except not at all.  Although sometimes I do reemerge from an episode of Pregnant in Heels to discover that my nails have been painted.

Sure, I could be reading or sewing or cooking or vacuuming or doing the dishes or doing (quite literally) anything else but summer is all about relaxation, n'cest pas? And I've been so worn out by this past year that I need my veg. sessions to recuperate. I am essentially one bad class away from turning Miss Viola Swamp. Permanently.  And for those of you unfamiliar with the children's book Miss Nelson is Missing, Miss Viola Swamp is this woman:

The retributive alter ego of the sweet (and grossly abused) teacher, Miss Nelson.  Sound familiar?  Well it should because that's me.  My teacherly plight is so long and filled with suffering that I might as well be a character from a Victor Hugo novel...or fodder for fabulous picture books. 

But I digress. 

The point, dear reader, is that if I do not want to be a twenty-seven year old burnout with bad hair, hinging on bitter haggishness, I need to have down time and I need to learn how to enjoy that down time.  And pronto.  Luckily Monsieur Television is an excellent trainer--he taught me how to delight in other people's interpersonal drama while blissfully ignoring my own problems, how to relate to other people in a cordial yet shallow way, and perhaps most importantly, how to take pleasure in moments of laziness while only feeling slightly rueful about it.  As a result, I am once again nearing human perfection.  At least until fall semester begins and I once again shrivel up into an overworked harpy.

So you see my predicament: as much as I may want to, I can't throw away my television.  I can't have one of those households where everyone reads all the time and makes papier-mâché models of greek gods instead of rotting their brains to the likes of The Vampire Diaries.  I am not that good or true or estimable. Maybe someday I will feel differently.  Maybe I will ban the television from my future household and instead make my kids go play outside, or something tyrannical like that.  But in the meantime, le television will be my companion of leisure and you can go ahead and feel superior to me, although I have to warn you, two can play at that game, compadre, and I have a genetic predisposed advantange.

And besides, productivity is overrated. Just look at American politics...

Monday, July 23, 2012

A Monday Mosaic

If I am going to keep up this blog with any regularity, I need to stop waiting for interesting things to happen to me and make the things that are happening to me seem more interesting.  Or at least train myself to feel less awkward about reporting on the mundane.  So here, for your viewing pleasure on this lackadaisical Monday, is a random sampling of thoughts and happenings paired with pretty pilfered images from the internet.

I've finally done it.  After many a self-loathing summer of begrudgingly drinking hot coffee, I have finally made the necessary preparations to drink iced coffee at home.  Meaning that I have finally had the prudence and the restraint to set aside some coffee to refrigerate and freeze into ice cubes.  As you can see the process is incredibly arduous and it's no small wonder why it's taken me ten plus years to do it.

Stats: Number of months I have now been making iced coffee: 2.  Number of times I have actually enjoyed an iced coffee beverage at home: 1.  Baby steps.

I have been considering joining pinterest.  It reminds me of the scrap booking my sister and I used to do as girls with photo albums and pictures that we had cut out of magazines.  I've been considering joining for about the past two months.  Pros: I like photographs of nouns that reflect my aesthetics but that I am neither skilled nor creative enough to create on my own (case in point: all the pictures in this post.)  I also like looking at and assembling things that look nice.  Cons: I'm already pretty self-obsessed and I'm worried that pinterest will nudge me over into full-blown narcissism.

I generally spend about $100 per week on groceries.  And this is almost assuredly a gross underestimate.  Unfortunately, much like my dressing myself, I eat based entirely on my mood.  So just like I am always pondering what my next outfit will be, I am always planning what my next meal will be.  It's only gotten worse since becoming a more adventurous cook and fashionista.  To avoid overspending (at least on food--I've lost all hope that this will happen with clothing,) Moses and I have made a bi-weekly grocery list complete with the ingredients of our top 10 favorite (and most commonly used) dinner recipes.  Although we spoke about making this list for four+ months and only just made it about two weeks ago, I feel confident that we will begin using it soon.  The jury's still out on whether or not this list will also help me with impulse buying, procrastinating less when it comes to making moderately important life decisions, and/or going to the grocery store hungry.

I have been blessed with my mother's metabolism. My entire life, I've eaten basically whatever I've wanted, when I've wanted, and never had to experience the unpleasant side-effect of gaining weight. During spring semester, however, when I was uber stressed and working all the time, I developed the unhealthy but tragically unavoidable habit of not eating all until 6PM, at which point I would binge. like. crazy.  This has wreaked havoc on my once glorious metabolism.  Approx. 10 lbs worth of havoc.  So since May (with the exception of a two week break for something clearly so important that I can't remember what it is) I have been exercising regularly with good 'ole Jillian Michaels and her dreaded circuit training dvds.  That's right, every night I have the priviledge of sweating to such gravelly taunts as "don't phone it in," "don't you dare quit," "I will murder your children if you don't give me everything you got on this chair squat," while I quietly pray for death.  But Moses swears that he can see results and that I am starting to look fit and thin again and I'll let you know when I think he's no longer lying to me (which will probably be never.)

Netflix watch instantly has recently added Bravo TV series Kell on Earth, chronicling the experiences of Kelly Cutrone, the founder of Fashion PR company People's Revolution (and, apparently, new America's Next Top Model judge).  It is the best thing that has ever happened to me.

And I never exaggerate.

So there you have it, kiddies.  In about a week or so I will be traveling to visit my family on the East Coast and then I will undoubtedly have more climatic things to relay but in the meantime, I hope you enjoyed the ensemble of ordinariness.

A happy Monday to you.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

En Juillet

I must confess myself, dear reader, astonished that it is July.  My gaze seems to have drifted from my calendar somewhere in mid-May, only to just wander back to behold the bleak and ghastly reality that it is now the dreaded estival median.  That's right, folks.  We are currently confronting the mortality of summer.  I can count the number of weeks left on one hand.  How's that for depressing?

But never you fear, dears.  I know you come to me for your daily dose of optimisim and I don't want to dissapoint.  So dab your eyes and repress your sighs--all is not lost.  I can say that now because I am on the other side of it; I've come out of my veritable mid-summer crisis.  My sentences are peppered with far fewer alases these days and I've managed to almost entirely cease all my lamentations that summer is half over, that I haven't done anything yet, and that I don't know who I am or what I am doing with my life (it was rather existential, as most of my crises inevitably are.)

The fact of the matter is that I have done things.  Lots of things.  And I have a quite a few more things planned before the summer's out.

For example, earlier this month, Moses and I traveled downtown and visited the Los Angeles Natural History Museum. 

I love Natural History Museums.  I don't know who doesn't.  If you are reading this and you don't, do me a favor: go to a mirror and take a long hard look at yourself and ask yourself why your life is a lie.  I mean, doesn't everyone want to be an archeologist from ages 6-9?  I still sometimes flirt with notion whenever I've had a particularly crummy day of teaching.  In fact, I'm rather surprised it took me and Moses so long to get down there.  I shamefully didn't even know it existed until watching a T.V. show that was suppose to take place in New York but like everything else is actually filmed in LA.  In that particular episode, the protagonists were suppose to be visiting the Natural History Museum.  Since I've been to the one in New York half a dozen times, I knew immediately that the space that they were claiming to be the American Museum of Natural History was not, so I asked Moses if Los Angeles had one.  He said that he thought they did and I immediately went a-googling to confirm.

Although considerably smaller than its eastern counterpart, it was still quite fun.  The gem exhibit was particularly exquisite.  It was like looking at magnificent, naturally occurring artwork.  Moses was equally impressed and was very to excited to be learning new things.  He insists that he enjoys it.  Clearly, as a scientist, he's chosen the wrong profession.

I think that overall, the dinosaur exhibit was my favorite.  I've had a long standing love affair with dinosaurs (see picture below).  I wanted to be a paleontologist from ages 9-13 because apparently being an archeologist didn't involve enough digging up of dinosaur bones.  Also, dinosaurs are awesome.  If you are reading this and you don't like dinosaurs, do me a favor: go to a mirror and take a long hard look at yourself and then punch yourself in the face.  You deserve it.

I also got a bike this summer.  That is certainly something.  And Moses and I have taken many a weekend ride to the Venice beach bike path.  We even biked down to the Marina on the Fourth of July to watch the fireworks display.

We had never been before, so we weren't entirely sure how early we should get there to reserve a good spot.  We decided we'd pack a picnic equipped with makeshift trader joe's s'mores and a nalgene bottle filled with two buck chuck and bike down to Burton Chace Park around 6ish (three hours before the show was schedule to start.)

Technically this is against the law, since it's an open container, but luckily I'm subtle.

Naturally, we were a little apprehensive at first.  Neither of us particularly liked the prospect of having to spend three hours in each other's company, our stomach knotted like fists...

Oh and by the way, that picture, the one above, is Moses' new absolute favorite picture of us together.  Yeah.  Can you believe this guy?

Me neither, but I digress.   As you can see we nabbed a spot with a great view...

...of the Marina, not, unfortunately, of the fireworks.  We were informed by Park Rangers about 15 minutes before the show that if we wanted to see any of it, we would need to go to the opposite side of the park.

Please note that I do not have any pictures of the fireworks because A. I actually watched them for real, instead of filming them on my iPhone like everyone else around us (not that I have an iPhone but that's hardly the point) B. My camera has a firework setting but I have been unable to figure out exactly how it works (t-minus five years and counting) C. It was crowded and I didn't feel like it and I didn't particularly want to ruin other peoples' viewing of the show with my camera's constant flashing (unlike those mentioned above in A.)

The following weekend, Moses I traveled to Estes Park, Colorado for Bill and Ruth's wedding.  It rained 99.8% of the time, which didn't bother me any except that I didn't think to bring rain appropriate footwear.

The landscape itself was remarkable.

Yes, the view from the rental car was spectacular
And we stayed in a rather charming cabin with Kate, Jacob, Baby Jake, and Mellie Rae.

I apologize for the general lack of photos but I was too distracted having a great time to do much snapping.  They did have a photo booth at the wedding, which I thought was a really neat idea.  And like any good idea, it was made only greater by debauchery.

Case in point:

Yes.  That is my boyfriend of eight years. Isn't he amazing?  Although, I would like you all to know that it was I who suggested he use the app on his phone for his Flava Flave clock.  You're welcome world for my awesomeness.

You're also welcome for my modeling genius. 

Although in my gin and tonic + infinite glasses of wine haze, I didn't quite realize that some of my poses were awkward (and perhaps vaguely racist.)  So, sorry world for my terribleness.

A big congrats to Ruth and Bill!  You are a lovely couple and lovely friends and lovely people and your wedding was lovely and enjoyable x 1000.

There you have it, proof that I have not wasted my summer.  I have made it to this midpoint having had a respectable amount of fun.  Stayed tuned for more adventures!

Not pictured: the hours spent sitting on my couch reading US magazine and watching repeats of the same Keeping Up the Kardashians episodes for the 18th, 19th, and 20th time.