Tuesday, October 26, 2010

what? like it's hard?

I am in the process of applying for a pretty important scholarship. It's a nationally competitive award, and every time I remind myself of this, I mentally crunch the numbers and immediately get discouraged. I've barely wet my feet in this ordeal and I am already planning escape routes. Is it too late to back out? Can't I just apply to a bunch of other little scholarships? I really don't have what they want for this thing. Why waste the energy worrying over it?

Today, I took a shower in the middle of the day. Partly because I was gross (we had our Call Center supervisor meeting outside today, and let me tell you, late October does not translate to cool - or even comfortable- weather) but also because I just needed to think without being tempted to fade into homework or surf the web. And I came to what I like to think of as an "Elle Woods revelation."

Instead of finding another excuse not to do something just because it might stress me out, or because I might not get the money, I'm going to do it to prove that I am a powerful woman and I'm not going to be controlled by anxiety.

In order for this to work, I have developed some guidelines for my success; things that will give me peace of mind while allowing me to accomplish this task with minimal emotional disturbance:
  • I aim to complete the nearest approximation of every requirement. What is (or what was) really keeping me down is thinking that I am not the perfect candidate for this award. If it asks for three recommendations and I have two great letters lined up but one so-so, I will not worry about it. I will fill out the application to the best of my ability and allow the committees to sort it out from there. 
  • I will make a daily list of accomplishments, not just for progress on the scholarship, but for my day in general.  I came out of my initial meeting with my adviser feeling like I don't do enough, like I don't do enough volunteer work, or have enough "true" leadership roles, or that most of the stuff I do do isn't important. To combat this, I have already started my daily affirmations AND I made a list of the activities I take part in just for this year and it is several pages long. I feel better already.
I have also decided to take things step by step. To-do lists aren't going to work for this. A daily reminder of ALL the things that need to get done only serves to compound my stress. It's like instead of the header reading "To-Do" it says "Here is a list of things you should feel bad for not doing right. now."
  1. Step One: remind myself why I am awesome, why I deserve this scholarship, and why I should absolutely never feel like I don't do enough. (updated resume, made a list of activities, organizations, leadership roles, and relevant work experiences- check)
  2. Step Two: Set realistic, non-demanding goals that may be implemented one step at a time.
  3. Step Three: read example responses to see what they are looking for/what works.
  4. Step Four: ...haven't gotten this far. Just thinking a step or two ahead. Like a carpenter. Who builds stairs. 
In the meantime, I will also be reading the NYT. Today I learned about a rapping video of an Obama impersonator, so I'm gonna go check that out. Peace.

Friday, October 22, 2010

d'you mind if I call you NYT?

Alright. I have a new project. It's actually more like a homework assignment, but I'm calling it a project so it doesn't sound so... mandatory.

I am going to read the New York Times. Everyday.

This may not  seem like a huge deal to you, or my mother, or Melanie Griffith in Working Girl, but it is something I am definitely going to have to work at. Apparently the USA Today is not an appropriate periodical for someone applying to be a Truman Scholar. That's right, in order to apply for this scholarship (30,000 big ones for grad school and a requirement to work in the "public sector") I need to regularly read a "good" national newspaper and "a thoughtful periodical."

Apparently, occasionally doing the USA Today crossword and Sudoku puzzle does not count as "reading" nor does the USA Today count as "a good national newspaper." I already knew it was the joke of the newspaper world, having learned in my communications class that it was made for the typical subway commuter: quick and easy stories and lots of bright colors. Heck, it doesn't even come out on the weekends.

So starting yesterday, I am reading the NYT. Can I call it that?   ...too late.

Now for the thoughtful periodical... I'm guessing Entertainment Weekly won't exactly impress the review board. Drat. Why can't they just like me for me??

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

RLS: the fruit of the sea

"Anyway, like I was sayin’, shrimp is the fruit of the sea. You can barbecue it, boil it, broil it, bake it, sautee it. Dey’s uh, shrimp-kabobs, shrimp creole, shrimp gumbo. Pan fried, deep fried, stir-fried. There’s pineapple shrimp, lemon shrimp, coconut shrimp, pepper shrimp, shrimp soup, shrimp stew, shrimp salad, shrimp and potatoes, shrimp burger, shrimp sandwich. That- that’s about it."   -Bubba

Some friends came to visit me this weekend! Because they love me. And well, because they love Charleston.

On the to-do list for Saturday:
  1. Farmer's market in Marion Square (to get delicious tiny powdered-sugar donuts and to enjoy the state-fair atmosphere of jump houses and many babies and dogs) 
  2. Aimlessly stroll around the city, inputting historical tidbits that I learned by walking next to the slow-moving carriage tours
  3. Japanese horror movies! Hosted by the C of C Japanese Club. Which is different from the Anime Club. Different. They were very adamant.
  4. Dinner at Hominy Grill
So. Hominy Grill. You may have heard of it. You've definitely heard of it if you live in Charleston. Or if you are a die hard foodie. Or if you watch or read Anthony Bourdain (if you don't you should).
From reading Anthony Bourdain, watching No Reservations, and living in Charleston, I have ascertained that Hominy Grill is delicious in many respects, but famous- maybe world renowned- for its shrimp and grits. The name "hominy" means grits. Heck, grits are on the sign! For years I have been meaning to eat at this restaurant, but never made the time to. A few weeks before they came, Stephen texted me with one request for the Charleston trip: Hominy Grill.

Saturday night- of course we go. It's a great place for brunch, but we were really hungry and ready for some famous food. Also, there was the slight possibility that it would be easier to get into around dinner time.

6:32 PM- I call ahead to ask the waitress about the wait time. The restaurant is several blocks away and in a direction I normally don't like to walk after dark. She says there are tables, but we should probably make a reservation. "OK, can we have a table for 7 o'clock? For four," I ask- CaraBeth is coming with us. "Our next opening is at 8," she says. Eight. I look around at Kala and Stephen and CaraBeth and mouth "eight?" But no one gives me a firm yes or no, so I freak out and say thanks and hang up the phone.

We decide to walk over and hope they can fit us in. We arrive around 7, which would have been perfect if they had had a table waiting. No such luck. We find the hostess and put our names down for eight.

In the intervening time, CaraBeth needs a drink because she hasn't been feeling well (since she ate a package of cookie dough the night before). We wander around, finding coffee houses that close the minute we walk to the door, a mysterious "Tent Association" building that is crumbling to pieces, and end up eating an appetizer at O'Malley's.

FINALLY, we get back to Hominy. It's starting to get cold at night, and we are tired of walking and shivering. The hostess leads us in the cozy, warm, homey kitchen-like restaurant...and then out the door onto the patio. Of course, it's an adorable patio with lanterns and twinkle lights, but still.

All I can think about is how good the shrimp and grits are going to feel: warm, hearty, delicious. I will have shared a meal, across the time/space continuum, with Anthony Bourdain.  

Our waiter comes out, gives us water, asks if we'd like anything else to drink. Stephen gets a decaf coffee. The rest of us mumble something like "water's good..." "mm fine..."

"Great!" he says, "I just wanna let you know about our specials tonight, they're on the wall behind you" (he points) "and I do have some bad news- we're out of shrimp tonight!"

My jaw. hits. the table.

No shrimp? No shrimp and grits? No SHRIMP? What would Bubba have to say about this? I have been building this meal up in my mind for weeks. And no shrimp. Thanks for taking our drink orders first.
"You're totally welcome to leave and come back tomorrow," he continues. "Honestly, I've worked here four years and this has never happened before." I'll bet. I'll bet you're lying.

I already don't like this guy.

I order some rice casserole that usually has some shrimp in it, and we negotiate the changes: instead of shrimp, how about chicken? Fantastic. I am still disappointed.

When he brings out our food, he hands everyone their dishes and as he makes his way to me says "Guess what, it's your lucky night, we found FOUR shrimp for your meal! You got the last ones!"  Oh, it's only every girl's dream to eat the last four shrimp! Especially with the knowledge that they were probably fished out of someone else's unfinished entree or scraped out from under the fridge. Goodie.*

All in all, the food was pretty good, Kala and Stephen's visit went great, and the Japanese movie we watched was expectedly and understandably grotesque and confusing. So, a good weekend for sure.

*This is not meant as a negative review of Hominy Grill, and I fully intend to go back and try again someday. But maybe next time I'll try for brunch.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

I can't believe they have pepper imps

I've posted 100 posts! YAY!

OK, bigger news. I went to Harry Potter Land. Or the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Islands of Adventure. Also known as the Harry Potter theme park. Or "Rowling Mecca." 

Look, proof:
me being a dork outside a quill shop. OK, so I was a dork everywhere.
It was amazing. All three days of it. All three butterbeers, all five times I rode the Hogwarts Castle ride, all the stores I went in, all the lines I waited in (which, by the way, are wayyy shorter at the end of the day. duh. Took us all weekend to come to that realization), all the hours of driving and walking it took to get there. All amazing.

Here is a list of the things I couldn't stop myself from buying: 
  • a quaffle. Seriously. A "regulation" Quidditch ball from the Quidditch Supply Store, Dervish and Banges.
  • a Durmstrang t-shirt. it's really comfy and a little badass
  • two packs of peppermint toads. they are delicious. and they were b.o.g.o. free
  • chocolate frogs. almost a pound of chocolate- the frog is about as big as the palm of my hand. And by some fluke, I got two trading cards!
  • acid pops. they promise to burn a hole through your tongue in the book. I am afraid to attempt. 
  • sugar quills! candies "you can suck in class and just look like you're thinking what to write next"
  • pumpkin juice. It's delicious. I would drink it everyday if I could, like they do in the books. It tastes a bit like spiced apple cider, but of course more pumpkin-y. Rest assured it is not 100% squeezed-from-a-pumpkin-straight-from-the-patch juice.  Which I would also enjoy immensely. I only drank half of it so that I could attempt to replicate it's wonderfulness. Because I am turning into my mother: "I could make that!"
  • butterbeer. it's frothy, it's amber colored, it is so many synonyms for delicious. Like cream soda with a hint more sarsaparilla and a shot of something sweet and creamy like frosting. And the mug is awesome. 

I highly recommend taking a pilgrimage to visiting this theme park.

The Hogwarts ride is pretty scary though, so if you have really little kids, they might want to stay away from it. Unless they like spiders in their face and almost getting their soul sucked out. And getting spit at by something in the forbidden forest. And getting tossed upside down by the Whomping Willow. And intense Quidditch sequences. Actually, who doesn't enjoy a good Quidditch sequence?