drive.

One of my favorite things about yearbook was the purpose it gave me.

I was yearbook editor my senior year, and honestly that role probably defined more of the year than I would care to admit. Thinking back, it’s what I remember the most, besides the senior rituals/traditions.

That year I had been roped into taking AP Calculus (my first – and hopefully last – D!) and was absolutely miserable. I read about 2 percent of the books assigned in my AP Lit class, took Spanish 1 with all the freshmen because I didn’t have enough classes in my schedule and got put in time outs in photography because my friend and I never shut up long enough to get any work done. I actually tried to drop Spanish at the beginning of the year in order to have yearbook for two periods during the day… They said no.

But yearbook meant I always had something to work on and worry about and be productive with. I miss the productivity. I miss the pressure of deadlines and lying on the floor of the yearbook room crying because we only had three people on staff.  I really just miss all of that so much.

It’s something I couldn’t replicate in college. I work for the school newspaper, but so much of that isn’t the same. The urgency and huge attention to massive amounts of detail (is the white space between those pictures three picas or four?) isn’t there. I miss getting proofs and circling mistakes in red pen. I miss deciding between different materials to use for the cover and working on the themes that run throughout the book. I miss the excitement of getting the actual, physical, bound and completed yearbook and holding it in my hands for the first time. I miss living on InDesign and Microsoft Word and Outlook. I miss constantly double checking the names of students and teachers in stories.

There’s so much I miss about yearbook.

But I think the drive and passion I had for it has been missing the most in the past few years.

Today I feel like I have the drive and the passion – but nothing to do with it. I know what I want to do with it, but trying to change the world all by myself is admittedly aiming a little high. So instead, this drive and passion is sitting inside of me, festering, in the form of anger.

I found this anger for the first time in April. I’m not talking “I’m angry because you ate my last cookie” or “I’m mad because you said I was fat” anger. Not even “I’m angry because you slept with my boyfriend” or “I’m pissed because you broke my computer in half” anger. I’m talking about pure, bitter anger (maybe even rage) at society and the world, because things are wrong and one little person can’t change them by herself.

It took a year after I was sexually assaulted for me to find this anger.

I’m angry at the guy who did it; I’m angry at the cop who told me I asked for it; I’m angry at all the people I’ve told who have made me feel like I don’t matter. Overall, I’m angry at the society I live in that lets things like this happen and then pushes them under the rug after they do.

All I want is to take that anger and channel it into something productive – something like yearbook. I want an outlet that I can focus on. I want to pour over the details of a project and worry about deadlines and whether all the names are spelled correctly. I want to funnel all my anger and frustration into making something that will make the world a little tiny bit better.

But, for now, it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen.

So I sit around desperately trying to come up with ways to change the world instead. I’ve looked into countless organizations to volunteer with and tried to get involved with different communities, and for some reason or another, I haven’t found what I’m looking for yet.

I can’t wait to graduate and move to a city that has the kind of organizations I want to work with. I can’t wait to be able to do something I am passionate about. I can’t wait to channel this anger into productivity.

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crock pots are the best thing ever.

 

I’ve never been into the whole cooking thing. I really like baking (maybe because I really like eating raw cookie dough), although I don’t do it very often (probably because I end up just eating raw cookie dough), but cooking has never been my thing. Last year, when I lived in my sorority, they provided lunch and dinner for us five days of the week, so I never had to cook – and I didn’t even have the option since the kitchen was off limits. And on nights that I didn’t want what was available at Alpha Chi, I went to my boyfriend’s, and he made me dinner. (I was so spoiled, I miss that so much!) And the year before that, when I lived in my first apartment, the Jimmy John’s and Golden Sun delivery guys were basically my bffs. Plus I always had microwaveable taquitos in my freezer.

So basically I’ve been pretty much able to avoid cooking for at least the last year (aka since I moved out of my parents’ house).

Cooking meat freaks me out – I always convince myself that I’m poisoning myself with raw meat because I didn’t cook the chicken all the way through or didn’t heat the already cooked hot dogs enough. So I throw breaded chicken patties into my toaster oven for 10 minutes and nuke some steam-in-the-bag-in-the-microwave vegetables, and that’s usually my dinner. On occasion, I’ll make pasta (because that’s impossible to mess up) or really basic salads (aka baby spinach + salad dressing = done), but I typically stick to super easy dinners. Or I make sandwiches.

But after about two months of eating breaded chicken patties by themselves and halfheartedly making pasta with crappy tomato sauce, I decided I should learn how to use my crock pot. I’ve owned it for two years now, and I think it’s been used twice – once when my mom made queso in it while my parents were visiting, and once to catch the water spewing out of the pipes under my sink after my boyfriend’s friends clogged the pipes (to the point where they broke apart!) with eggshells while making egg salad.

Crock pots seem so easy since basically you just add ingredients, and boom, you have a meal. I figured that was something I couldn’t mess up, since basically the crock pot did all the cooking for me! I collected recipes from Buzzfeed and  Google, and on Tuesday, I decided to make this recipe.

It took me like eight hours, and I didn’t finish until 10 p.m. – mostly because I was Googling how to mince an onion and the best way to make bacon the entire time – but it was definitely worth it. I was pretty sure I was going to mess it up, but it was actually pretty easy (although time consuming – and mashing potatoes with a fork really sucks). The hardest part was the prep work (aka mincing onions and cooking bacon and peeling potatoes) but even that was more tedious than difficult. And potatoes + bacon + cheese = amazing. I’m getting hungry just thinking about it!

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I froze a bunch of it (because it makes like four to six servings), so I’ll have yummy soup in my freezer to eat this winter! Yay. And all my friends are jealous. (Or lying to shut me up after I sent everyone I know that picture to brag about it.)

So now I feel pretty comfortable with my crock pot, and I have a few other recipes to try sometime soon. The downside is how much crock pot recipes usually make – I live alone, so I’m only cooking for one, and most slow cooker recipes make around six servings. Luckily I have a decent amount of room in my freezer, and my best friend’s boyfriend is basically a human garbage disposal, so I’m sure I could pass some of it off…

Now I just need to figure out how to cook chicken without having a heart attack and make recipes that require a little bit more work than throwing things into a pot and leaving it for eight hours.

midterm week.

Last week was midterm week, I haven’t been getting enough sleep and my apartment is a disaster. During the massive flood here in Boulder (that made national & international news…), I noticed that water had seeped underneath the paint in a corner of my bedroom, leaving one of my pillows and a corner of my mattress soaked with gross gutter water and the carpet a little damper than I preferred. I was lucky that this was the only damage to my apartment (I live on the second floor), considering so many people lost their homes and all of their possessions. Being this lucky meant I was pretty much the lowest priority to the maintenance people for my apartment complex, since they were busy getting four feet of water and sewage out of some people’s apartments. (I really, really got lucky!)

That also meant that I slept on the LoveSac in my friend’s apartment on the opposite side of the complex that night because I didn’t want to sleep in a room where the roof might have structural damage or where the carpet and walls were molding (luckily, the roof is fine, and there wasn’t any mold). I threw Henry in his travel carrier (which is too small for him; I need a new one!), and we headed to her apartment. Henry did not like this at all, and he freaked out a thousand times, and I woke up at 5:30 in the morning to him crawling on my head (literally on top of my head) after escaping from his travel carrier. He was unhappy, I had to basically trap him in his carrier so I could get just three more  hours of sleep and I felt like the worst mom ever. Poor Hen. IMG_7143 And then after that I slept on my couch until the maintenance guys came and checked out the damage to my walls. This began the horrible sleeping schedule, because no matter how comfortable your couch is, after spending five consecutive nights on it, you start to feel like you got hit by a bus. Add in my dying smoke alarm that beeped to tell me about the low battery every one to three minutes for three days, and I was pretty much a disaster. Eventually, the maintenance guys came and tore out the paint (I don’t think I have drywall? Shouldn’t I? I don’t know how that works?) plaster where water had gotten trapped in order to dry out the walls and told me it’d be fine to sleep in my room again. That was about three weeks ago.

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My walls still look lovely. I had to push my bed away from the affected walls so it would dry out, leaving it really awkwardly close to the bathroom door. At the beginning of the year, I was trying to make my bed every day and keep my apartment clean, but it’s kind of hard to care about what your bed looks like when there’s giant, gross, paint-less patches on your cement walls. So I didn’t make my bed or put my clothes in my laundry hamper or throw away the empty Gatorade or water bottles or organize all the stuff I’ve accumulated in the last two weeks or attempt to re-hang the Command hooks that held up my Instagram photos and will NOT stay on my walls no matter how hard I try. Add in the mess from crafting (because I have my priorities straight and it makes perfect sense to craft instead of study or clean or go to the gym), and my apartment is basically a huge disaster area, except for the kitchen, where things start to smell and force me to clean. I did successfully bleach my white towels though!

So now I’m exhausted (I can’t fall asleep before 1 a.m. most nights for some reason, which makes getting up at 7 every Monday, Wednesday, Friday pretty difficult), and I live in filth. And I had three tests last week, yay! I kept thinking the weekend would let me reset my sleep schedule and get my shit together, but let’s be honest – that did not happen in any way, shape or form. I wasn’t even close this weekend because my parents were in town for family weekend, which was fun but also exhausting (so much good food and alcohol!).

senior year.

I’m not really sure how it happened, but somehow I’m in my senior year of college living in a one bedroom apartment with a long distance boyfriend and a pet hedgehog.

Graduation might be months away, but it seems like I can’t stop thinking about it. Probably because I hear “What do you plan to do after college?” about a hundred times a day. Nothing scares me more than that question, mostly because everything is so up in the air.

I know I want to move to Texas, and I know I want to go into some kind of editing, whether that’s in book publishing or magazines, and I know I want to actually see my boyfriend in person every once and a while. But that’s about all I’ve got.

I’m the extra horrified college senior that goes on Craigslist and Google to look for job openings in areas I want to live, even though I have around eight months before I’ll even be done with school, and those positions will have been filled months before I can even think about applying.

I think journalism is an extra scary field to want to go into, just because everyone seems to have a different opinion on the way the industry is going. One person tells me the industry is booming; another tells me to start looking into other careers.

I interned at a magazine in the Boulder County area during my junior year, from around August to last March. It was a great experience, and I would have stayed longer if I hadn’t had so many other things going on spring semester. When I left the internship, the editors took me to lunch and gave me advice and let me ask questions. One of my editors had traveled all over the world, working abroad and saving up her money. She recommended the experience, and while I didn’t think too much about it at the time, it’s something that has come up a lot since then.

While I was in China, I thought a lot about moving and working there for a year or two. Throughout the study abroad program, the class met with multiple people working in the journalism industry in Beijing. One of the people we met told me that it would be pretty easy for me to get a job, especially in copy editing, in Beijing. I could find a job, get a visa, move to China, copy edit and explore Beijing.

That sounds amazing, but it also sounds pretty scary. I’d be 7000 miles away from my family and my boyfriend and separated from them by a 13 hour time difference. I barely know any Chinese, so there’d be a huge language barrier, and after spending only two weeks there, I got a horrible sinus infection from the pollution (which was great compared to the pollution levels in winter). I have loved both my trips to China, but they’ve each only been two weeks, so I’m not sure how well I’d adjust to living there full time, even if it was only for a year.

I’m not sure if it’s something I would do or even if it’s something I could do, but it’s something I’ve thought about a lot. Luckily, I have a lot of time to think about it.

Besides China, the other option I’ve thought about is going to a program focused on editing. I’ve looked into a few programs already (although there aren’t that many to choose from..), and it’s something I’m interested in. There’s a one-month program in Denver, which would let me stay in my current apartment and not have to move somewhere else just for eight months. Whether having a certificate will help me in the job market or not is a different story…

So who knows where I’ll be in a year. I’ll still have the hedgehog and hopefully the boyfriend, but I’ll be out of college and in the real world for the first time.

a weekend in scottsdale, aka all the food i ate.

Last Thursday night, I drove to the airport, lugged my bags through security and got on a plane to Phoenix to visit one of my friends from school whose parents had just moved to Arizona from New York.

The first thing we did when I got to Arizona was go to Whataburger. If you have ever gone for extended periods of time without Whataburger, you understand how big a deal this was. Posting this picture on Facebook prompted angry, confused and jealous texts (“WHERE ARE YOU”) from my other hometown friends that had also gone out of state for college and were without Whataburger.

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And then I went to her house to meet a cat I’d been hearing about for two years. He hated me instantly.

that is pure hatred in his eyes

The next morning included my first Dunkin’ Donuts experience (I approve) and my first kugel experience (how did I live without it?).

We tanned for a few hours in the over-100-degree heat and swam in one of the pools in my friend’s neighborhood, and then, of course, because I am a healthy eater with a focus on living past 21, we went to Sweet Republic and had ice cream for lunch. I got peanut butter chip ice cream, and while it was great, the waffle cone it came in might actually be the BEST waffle cone I have ever eaten in my life. Ever. I want one right now.

this is ugly because i started eating it already what up

We did other things that I don’t really remember but may have included me buying a new purse from Nordstrom on a sort-of-but-not-really impulse decision. And then we had margaritas and Mexican food at the Old Town Tortilla Factory, and I cried because they brought us free red pepper tortillas with cheddar butter spread.

The next day the cat still hated me.

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We went to tan at my friend’s grandparents’ house instead of in her own neighborhood, so we packed everything (aka towels and one bottle of sunscreen) into the car, drove  to Cave Creek and had lunch at the Horny Toad where I ate far too much fried chicken. After lunch, to let that chicken digest a little before sitting in the sun, we went to The Town Dump, a self-proclaimed “wild and crazy” store where I bought cute, little tiles because why not, and saw disturbing things like dogs that bite with no snouts in tutus. The woman at Starbucks almost spelled my name right, marking the closest any Starbucks employee has ever gotten (only one letter off, and it’s the real way to spell my name anyway!)

We ended the weekend with sushi, In n Out (still not as good as Whataburger) and the cat continuing to hate me.

But look! He likes to drink ice water out of mini Solo cups. Adorable.

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And then I flew home at 6 a.m. Monday morning with Wally the Wolf to interview a source for my last story at my internship and borrow massive headphones in order to transcribe that interview.

China, 2009 vs. 2013

One of the main things I noticed on my visit back to China was the difference in the weather/air quality. On both of my trips, I stayed for two weeks, and both of my trips included the Fourth of July, so they were within two weeks of each other, just four years apart.

I don’t know enough to say whether or not most of this was smog and pollution or whether it was just fog and mist. Most of these are from the first half of my trip, and the weather during the second half was much nicer, with blue skies. Still, the difference in the pictures I took is dramatic.

Obviously these pictures aren’t all from the same angle (and the Great Wall photos are on different sections of the Great Wall entirely), but most are similar.

The top picture in each pair is from late June/early July 2009. The bottom picture in each pair is from late June/early July 2013.

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Great Wall 2009Great Wall 2013

Birds Nest 2009Birds Nest 2013

Birds Nest 2009 Birds Nest 2013

Tiananmen Tower 2009 Tiananmen Tower 2013

Forbidden City 2009 Forbidden City 2013

chinese food.

Let’s talk just for a second about Chinese food.

In America, we’ve got egg rolls, crab cheese wontons, kung pao chicken and fortune cookies. Go to China, and you’ll have a hard time finding any of these items – or discover that the original versions taste completely different from our Westernized dishes.

Growing up, I refused to eat anything other than broccoli, chicken and rice from Chinese food places. (I also would only eat rolled up tortillas slathered with butter at Mexican food restaurants and stuck solely to chicken nuggets at McDonald’s because cheeseburgers disgusted me.) I’ve always been a picky eater.

Then, at 16, I stumbled across an opportunity to go to either Europe or China with a bunch of other high schools as part of a conference. I had never had any specific interest in either region really, but I came to the pretty reasonable conclusion that I would probably never have another chance to go to China while Europe was much more accessible. So I picked the China trip.

Getting on the 14-hour flight to Hong Kong meant leaving all my familiar Western food and venturing into a world of scary, mysterious food that definitely was not just broccoli, chicken and rice. The trip forced me to try new things (starting with the weird Chinese airplane food), and I actually was pretty willing to taste all the different dishes that came out during our homestyle meals. The conference ordered all our meals for us, meaning I had no idea what i was eating and no choice in what I was eating. I will admit that I did refuse to try the duck that Beijing is famous for and the fish with the heads left on. (On a side note, I actually had my first Big Mac in Beijing.) I came home liking – even craving – Chinese food and willing to finally eat more than simply broccoli, chicken and rice. Image

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After four years of trying to find good jiaozi (dumplings) in the United States, I went back to China and found myself eating weird Chinese airplane food once again. This time, I was on my own for most of my meals, opening up a whole new world of food. The day we arrived in Beijing was the day before our study abroad program actually started. We trekked our way from the airport through Beijing’s subway, dragging massive suitcases upstairs and accidentally buying a ticket to the wrong subway line, and ended up at the dorms of Capital Normal University at 8:30 in the morning.

Five of us ventured out to find lunch after showering off the filth of 11-hour flights. We were searching for a dumpling place recommended by our study abroad program welcome packet, and as hard as we looked, we never found it. Instead, we ended up in a tiny hole in the wall noodle place, where the menu was entirely in Chinese and no one spoke English. Luckily, two members of the group had taken Chinese and could basically figure out what we were ordering so we weren’t just pointing at random Chinese characters and hoping for the best. Sitting in a tiny restaurant where the kitchen was outside, covered by a tarp, the five of us attempted to order a plate of food each. After two of us had ordered plates of dumplings, however, the people working in the restaurant hurried off, leaving three of us without food orders. Eventually, we managed to order two more dishes, but we soon realized why they had assumed we were finished ordering.

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Two plates of dumplings supplied more than enough food for the five of us, but by this point, we had two noodle dishes coming as well. By the time we finished the excessive amount of food – washed down with hot water, the only type of tap water you’re served in Chinese restaurants because of the contaminated water – most of us just wanted to take a nap to sleep off the 15 hour long travel day and the 15 dumplings in our stomaches.

This was just the first day of two weeks of amazing (and maybe suspicious) street food, weird food markets, tables of food I couldn’t identify and more duck than I could stomach. It’s my favorite part of China, but it’s also a part I was ready to get away from. I don’t think this says anything about Chinese food itself but is more a statement on the fact that we were eating out for every meal – breakfast, lunch and dinner – which isn’t normal anywhere.

Food MarketJiaozi Welcome Banquet (After) Street Food Breakfast Street Food Breakfast Bullfrog Jicama? Noodles

Pineapple Rice (aka the best thing ever created)

Scarfing down a personal pepperoni pizza in the Los Angeles airport on the way home was amazing, but the next day, when I was finally back home in Boulder, I was craving real pork dumplings.