Monday, April 30, 2012

A J-O-B!

Today I received an e-mail telling me that I didn't get a job I applied for over three months ago.

I thought to myself "Thanks for the heads up" and rolled my eyes with near audible sarcasm.

But then I thought about all the people who are looking for jobs and have to put up with that amount of uncertainty and I felt very, very thankful for mine. I didn't expect to have a job so quickly after graduation.

I was talking with someone yesterday about my high school job.This person surprised me by telling me she had never had a 'crap high school job'. And I began to wonder if that is something that still happens. Everyone has one right? That job that now that we are ten-years removed we can compare the absurdity levels? These are war stories we like to out do each other with. Kind of like "crazy-freshmen-roommate-" tales.

My crap-high-school-job? Working on the quality control assembly line at a backpack factory. I worked hard, saved up for my first international trip (China), and learned to keep my head down and shut my never ceasing teenage girl gossipping pie hole.

But I have experienced being under-employed as well. Here's a confession: I worked at two gyms over two years selling gym memberships after I paid to go to a four-year school and get a fantastic education.

I used to be shy about telling my new friends (especially, uh, the Dukies) that I spent time between grad school and undergrad working at a gym (among many other things). And not at a consulting firm. Or at an international aid agency. Or working on a presidential campaign.

But I am not shy about it now. It is what it is. I did what I had to do to help keep us going.

So here's to those out there trying to find a job, or a better job, or another job.

And remember, as I learned, jobs don't come to those who sit around watching six seasons of Grey's Anatomy in a month. Limit yourself to two episodes a day. Oh, and try Alias. I love me some Alias, though it didn't do much towards getting me a job. Vaughn saved me from many an under-employed low.

Those eyes can soothe all sorts of pain, but won't put money in the bank.

So good luck on the hunt.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Recently, again

Recently Stuffed

We went to a national touring food competition. The Brooklyn Brewery goes around the country, finds out what the "thing" is to eat, and then makes it into a big competition. 
Here in NC it was PORK which most interpreted as BACON.
Specifically the cook who made BACON WRAPPED BACON.

Recently Romantic

We went out on a date to a great Asian fusion place in Chapel Hill, JuJuBe. 
We thought we looked modern (at least that is what Marty told himself about his cutting edge t-shirt and jeans look), and took a picture with our model faces. 

Recently Baffled

North Carolina is attempting to pass Amendment One, which would change the state constitution to make marriage between a man and a woman. There is already no marriage equality here in NC, so it is 100% a political ploy with unknown ramifications that impact all sorts of couples. I am simply baffled at the efforts of some to layer prejudice on top of prejudice. 

Recently Acquainted

We went on a nice hike at the Eno River State Park. We met Mrs. Frog and Mr. Turtle there (along with Mr. Snake but I ran away before I could take a picture). It is a nice hike. We had a good discussion about if the pamphlet describing the trail as having a "long, strenuous 250ft change in elevation" was being sarcastic or not. As people from states with actual mountains, we couldn't be sure.

Recently In-Training

I signed up to run the Bolder Boulder 10k during my trip to Denver next month. Getting back in to running is annoyingly slow. Also doesn't help that I am training on flat ground at sea-level, two things that the course in Boulder will certainly not be. 

Recently Hosted

We had the absolute privilege of having Kennedy, a staff member of Carolina for Kibera over 
to our house. It was his first time out of East Africa and it was a great evening. The highlight was Marty explaining ice hockey to him. Particularly how they actually encourage fighting. Also that we some how ended up watching Lawrence Welk Show for an hour. It was great to be able to host him after all the staff were so kind to me last summer. He was so impressed with how quiet our apartment was. Yes, it is certainly not as loud as a large urban slum. Put's that bloody dog from upstairs in perspective.
E Street Cinema Presents Without a Fight

Kennedy is here to promote a documentary about the soccer programs at CFK. 
You can read about the documentary here.

And even better yet, if you live here in Chapel Hill come and see it in person!
At the Varsity Theater on May 8 at 7pm.  

Friday, April 20, 2012

Reasons why my hometown is the best: Numbers 6, 32, 102, and 197

We just bought tickets for a week home. And we couldn't be more excited.

Why? Because my hometown is the best (for other reasons see this).

Here are some other reasons...

6. Our Wedding Place

We got married in our hometown on a beautiful day in July. I prayed every day from the day I got engaged to the day we walked down the aisle for no rain. Didn't matter to me if it was gray, that's not a problem. I just wanted no rain.

It was 78 and sunny on my wedding day. 52 and rainy the next day.

I love going back to that place and remembering all of our favorite people gathering in our favorite place. It was a heck of a day, and a heck of a party.

32. Its not humid

And the south is. It so so is. Gross. When we came out to NC to find an apartment and asked the staff if they had air-conditioning, they laughed in our faces. New to the world of 'climate control' (something that the people here take very seriously), we didn't know that we might as well asked if they had toilets in the apartment.

102. Boomers

This is perhaps my husband's favorite place on earth. A diner that serves burgers, waffle fries, and milkshakes. I have been going here since I can remember, at first ordering the kids meal that came in a paper car. It really hasn't changed much since I graduated to my own fresh banana milkshake and boomer burger. There really isn't anything quite like it.

2006 in front of the iconic burger painted on the wall

197. The ocean

I love the ocean and my hometown is right on it. Okay, it is technically on the sound, but its still the ocean. I love being in it, on it, near it. I love to eat things from the ocean. Most of my best memories took place next to the ocean. I plan on spending the week near the water. Even better, our parents now have new toys that will increase the awesomeness of this trip - a new boat and a new cabin on an island.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The World is Real Small

Before I went here....

We went here!

Houston Rodeo

Here's a funny story about how the world is real small.

Back in Washington state, I played the cello growing up. Starting at age 10 and going through my first year of University. I played in the local youth symphony and went to band symphony camp every summer for seven years. Yup, I was that kid. I was also the kid that threw myself into camp. We had real cool friends for all seven years and threw epic teenage fits at the end of the week while being dragged into our mothers' minivans (or was that just me?). We bonded over Beethoven and crushes on oboe and trombone players, complained about the over eager violin player (there was always one), and pulled the mattresses out from our bunks to watch the stars and talk about what our adult lives would hold. We thrived during the one week a year WE were the cool kids (okay, that one is probably just me).

 We saw some of each other outside of camp, but not much.

When we all graduated from high school we said our good-byes and went our own ways. Without camp to hold us together, we doubted we would see each other ever again.

Fast forward seven years.

I was at my first day of my second job in North Carolina when I saw someone across the gym where I was working. Do you ever see people so out of context that you don't recognize each other? I saw her, she saw me, and we had an awkward moment of "is it you? no, it can't be". But it was. My good friend Sydney from camp had just moved to North Carolina to be with her soon-to-be husband who was in Law School at UNC.

What luck! It was a time when I was lonely and she was totally an answer to prayers. And even better!  Husband liked her soon-to-be husband!

One thing led to another and for 18 blissful months we had a great couple friends to hang out with. That was until the big-bad-place that is Texas stole them away for "graduate school". (Psshaw, grad school is so overrated. COME BACK!)

So that is where we were headed the day after I got told on a Thursday I would be going to Rwanda on a Monday (remember that?). It was a great weekend in Houston. It is so rejuvenating to be with old friends. It was definetly a lesson in living in the moment but we had a fab time. Miss them big time.

We went to the Houston Rodeo and saw baby animals (like hours old)

And ate fried catfish for breakfast at the local joint that has a reserved table for Beyonce.


Thursday, April 12, 2012


I've decided to revamp the unimpressive/impressive theme I had going with this theme I have seen floating around. A little more flexibility, if you will....

Recently Annoying

During my first run in two months I smiled at the seven runners that I passed. Only one smiled back
Not surprisingly, this girl had a Oregon State shirt on. 
Affirming my belief that PNWers are the best.

(Did I ever tell you about the time I went to Oregon State for a semester? 
Okay, sometime I will.)


Recently Returned

From Rwanda. But you know about that. 
Somehow, I can't seem to shake the statement Husband made about how 
the landscape reminded him of Dr. Suess. Thoughts?

Recently Bragged On

My husband gets published this week in a very prestigious journal. 
Now, not only is a superstar human being, he is officially a superstar scientist.
And one step closer to that PhD.

Recently Reconnected

I don't feel like I have made it home until I have checked in with my besties. 
Especially this girl, who is living the dream of moving back to the PNW and renovating her own house. 
Like a house she owns.
Like she has a mortgage.

Betsy Starr

Recently Purchased

Tickets to go to Colorado to see another bestie (I don't use this term lightly).
I haven't seen her for more than an hour or two in two years.
Now that I have this stinking job I have to use the holiday pay, right? 
Can't wait to see her and to do some major catching up. 

Recently "aaawed"

I heard about this kid on NPR. The video is awesome. See? 
There are good people out there!

Recently Guffawed 


Source: Joey deVilla/Global Nerdy

Original image by Diana Walker for Time.

Recently Devoured

It wouldn't be a blog post if I didn't mention food. 
Last night I made this pasta dish, its vegetarian and super yummy.
Is it bad that I 'surf' food blogs?

Recently Avoided Fail

On Easter morning, before church, before breakfast (key fact there), 
Husband decided he would make a chocolate silk pie.
A recipe that calls for a double boiler, a device we don't have.
It was a complete disaster. 
Full of throwing things, expletives, and statements of giving up. 
But we started again,
rethought our impromtu double boiler design
(apparently the engineers are rubbing off on me)
and ended up making a fabulous dessert
And learning a lesson about the perils of baking before breakfast.

Pic and recipe here

Recently Celebrated

8 lbs of ham!
Food for 20!
Six people at the dinner table!
Too much wine!
I love Easter.
A reminder of renewal and of fresh starts. 

What have you been up to?

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Article Reaction #1: Happiness

That article I mentioned started a few thoughts, this if the first of them...

So we think a lot about happiness as Americans. What brings us happiness, what makes us unhappy, what really cheeses us off (this phrase always confuses me, as I rather enjoy cheese). We are actually quite focused on this, aren't we?

Often people, and I have thought this too, say how they are surprised that people can be happy in low-income settings, in countries that are different from ours, in places that seem to do nothing but lack what we think we need to be happy.

But really, think about it. What makes you happy? Not like I-just-scored-a-mean-deal-on-this-dress happy, or thank-God-its-Candy-Cane-Jo-Jo-Season-again happy, but like really pure joy happy.




Feeling fulfilled.

Food and physical comfort.

Do they have all these things in places that are different from ours? Yup, they sure do. Do people value these things the same way we do? Of course! And sometimes even more so! Surprisingly, the world out side of America isn't made of a bunch of people throwing themselves earth's largest pity party.

So why is it a surprise that some of my pictures have smiling people in them?

But the second part of this commentary is that when we discover that they are happy, it somehow gives us a sense of relief and we sit back and say "Great. Our job is done. Now back to these jo-jos".

Say what? You can still experience moments of happiness and be hungry, alone, hopeless, and in need of healthcare.

Don't let the fact that people all around the world can be happy in conditions that are far, far different than yours let you off the hook for reaching out to your neighbor in whatever capacity you are able to (in a thoughtful way, but that's the next reaction).

That we all can be happy teaches you the strength of the human spirit - the common urge we all have to sink ourselves into moments that involve friends, family, and a good meal.

But it certainly doesn't give us an excuse for inaction.

Friday, April 6, 2012

So, How Was Rwanda?

I have been home for a week now. I had a great stop over in Nairobi to see some friends really quickly and to stay with Mama. It was a great refreshing visit and a reminder of all the great friends I made last summer.

People have been asking me about Rwanda and wanting to know how it was. I haven't had much time to do too much processing because this week has been nothing but work. But it is good to be settling into my new job, a new rhythm, and a new opportunity.

In general the conversation goes something like this (I am growing accustomed to the abbreviated, almost awkward nature of these conversations trying to summarize an experience that is difficult to convey and difficult to understand).

So, how was Rwanda?

Great. A lot of work, but great. Didn't get to know any place too well, but did manage to make a few new friends along the way.

What did you do?

Went to a lot of hospitals to look at their medical equipment. We went to 25 hospitals all over the country. Some the equipment we saw was in use, so we had to go into ORs and wards. We saw a lot of intense things.

--At this point I read the person and either choose the light hearted anecdote or the more serious depressing one --

Light hearted: We actually walked into an OR that was being used for an adult male circumcision, which is a big campaign because it reduces significantly your risk for contracting HIV. Were they under? Nope! They only use local anesthesia so they were wide awake! And then we left the room we saw a bunch of nervous looking young guys waiting for their turn. They looked beyond panicked! You should have seen their faces! The only place in Africa where the people aren't chatting! And they have to walk down the hill after the surgery! Oh boy.

More serious: The neo-natal rooms were the most intense. Two or three babies in one incubator, infant warmers that were broken so the temp didn't adjust and were heating up a baby too much, impossibly small babies - each identified with a piece of masking tape over their bellies. On the last day we saw a bundle covered in clothes in a bassinet that had a piece of masking tape over it. I tried really hard to will it to life with my stare, until I had to turn away.

Oh, that sounds tough/exciting.

Yup, but it is good to be back! And to be employed!

Yeah, I am sure you are glad to be back!

So, have you seen Titanic in 3D yet?

And that, in most cases, is that. No hard feelings all around. I love my experiences abroad and can talk about them all day. You just have to ask.