stuff and things

This is it! We are going to zoom up to the present moment! Remember, I am:

  • Interning in Winston Salem, NC during the week
  • Traveling back and forth to Carrboro, NC for fun and games on the weekends
  • Also with a chunk of my heart/brain with the baby kittens in Virginia. I had a few days off of my internship in mid-September while my preceptor was on vacation and took advantage of the opportunity to see the babes, of whom I’ll share a few photos below
  • Thinking general thoughts about life, which I’d like to share

Let’s start with the life thoughts.

Today was a good day (I write this on the first day of October, 6 days before my 28th birthday. I am prescheduling this post but it is more present than any post I have written in quite some time).

I went to the farmers market and got this crazy coconut turmeric deliciousness:

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Then this afternoon I took a long walk with my work wife, Colton, which was fun too. Physical activity is always happiness-inducing.

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I count my abundant blessings and I don’t want this post to come across as too snarky, or tastelessly ungrateful. But I also sometimes worry that this blog is a frenzied chronicle of parties and fancy food and not real life at all. So this is a little bit of straight talk and also a bit dark. Don’t be offended, please!

In general, though, this has been a slightly blue time of the year for me. It’s weird to be single in your late twenties facing a birthday. Particularly given that my current internship involves being exclusively around babies, it’s a daily reminder that I’m in a totally different life phase than many people my age. While it’s certainly great that I’m getting this excellent education and bettering myself professionally and really feeling like I’m in the right place; there’s a piece of my life that just doesn’t exist at all right now. A piece of life that rightly or not is viewed as very important in our culture. A piece of life towards which I do feel a certain hormonal pull (and being around babies all day is no joke for the hormones- sometimes all the breasts and crying babies and stuff get super overstimulating and then it’s like I get this oxytocin surge and BLISS OUT. It’s so weird).

Also, dude, it’s kind of hilarious that I am totally opted out of the dating scene right now and am also technically the owner of SIX CATS. Yikes.

I’m also doing a lot of soul searching about what comes next and where I want to live and what I want my job to be. My life has been about school for SO LONG (I began prerequisites for this program in early 2012) that it’s weird to think that school wasn’t the destination, it was just a stepping point on the journey, and now I need to head elsewhere and build a career for myself. And despite having completed a competitive program I still feel so paralyzed in choosing what comes next, as if the next decision I make is going to be a huge deal and put me on a path that I cannot get off and have to keep committed to and follow to the top of the field, which of course is not true.

I also have been eating a bit unhealthily lately; mainly, I think, out of boredom. Riddle me this: what are people doing at 9pm? I don’t have to get up til ~7:30am so it’s too early to go to bed. My evening workouts have concluded by that point in time, and I am fed and watered. Is everyone just watching Netflix? If so that’s SO DEPRESSING! And also, what were people doing at 9pm before Netflix? It wasn’t that long ago that we had passed the Little House on the Prairie time period where life was endless work; but that we hadn’t reached the constant access to media time period of the present. Were people… doing hobbies? Playing sports? Tripping acid (at least in the 60s)? Any 9pm suggestions welcome.

Finally, like I’m sure all of you, my recent thoughts have been unable to escape the current presidential election. At least one person I know has actually had to start anxiety meds. I feel so woefully unqualified to opine about the state of the world (in part because I am WHOA SO PRIVILEGED) but let the record state that I’m feeling real helpless about the state of our country and real unclear about what I can do about it. So I default to trying to do right by a very small group of people in my day to day life (currently, premature babies and their mamas). And voting of course- YOU HAD BETTER BE VOTING, BLOG READERS.

But it doesn’t seem like enough, helping a few babies and casting a single vote. I used to be such a true believer. A frequent volunteer (starting at the age of 16, when I wasn’t even able to vote). A political science major in undergrad. It’s so bizarre that the Bush presidency seems so nonthreatening now. I mean, he had a pretty reasonable position on immigration! He didn’t casually advocate war crimes! And now he runs around being an endearingly bumbling all American awkward dad character! But man, the thought of all that’s happened this year, and what could happen this year’s election… well, I’m hardly going to reveal any new information on this blog. But it’s intense, intense stuff.

I can’t catch up on the state of the world from NPR because all they do is talk about Trump and I can’t listen to it. I go to the gym and see the big screen TVs and tense up; first time in history someone’s blood pressure is raised instead of lowered by regular exercise. I see all the memes posted on Facebook and cringe as I try to scroll quickly enough to not have to read anything in the horrifically vicious comment section. Just… just… WHAT IS WRONG WITH EVERYTHING?! While even the best electoral scenario will hardly clear things up- I think at this point America is in a phase like when you’re in the middle of deep cleaning your fridge and realizing how deep and vicious and thick the grime is- the worst case election scenario is truly, truly frightening to me and it should be to you too.

And now…

Let’s take a detour from all those thoughts and look at some kittens.

My time at home in Virginia with the babes was so blissful. They are getting so big and surprise surprise are still so so so so cute.

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Either they’re sleeping preciously like this in the pictures… or ,they’re partying. As my mom says, when they’re in their room and she’s down the hall or downstairs she said it sounds like a “disco bowling alley”.

This guy is particularly wild, though you’d never know it by his sleepy face.

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Want to learn more about their individual personalities? Want to ADOPT ONE? Good news!

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Their adoption site is here! Yay kittens!

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One more picture just because it’s hard to stop

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When I was home with the lil babies I also visited with my friend Jaclyn, who’s interning at the surgeon general’s office in DC cause she is so smart! I met up with her in the suburbs and taught her about Korean bakeries. Shaved ice yaaaaasssss.

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Chocolate mousse cake with adorable tiny topper yaaaaasssss

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Then it was farewell kittens, back to North Carolina, and the Winston-Salem to Carrboro commuter life.

And, shortly thereafter, time for a visit with my dad, stepmother… and two Chinese foreign exchange students who are currently living with them. A few ventings thoughts on the visit.

  • Our dad is more engaged in parenting when he is paid to do it (like by rich Chinese parents who want their kids going to American schools). My sister and I should have chipped in more cash when we were children!
  • That being said, engagement is relative. I met everyone at a restaurant for dinner one night and was like, “Where is Dad?” and my stepmother was like “*sigh* He’s at Auto Zone.”
  • He was at Auto Zone because though my dad has six cars (!) some of which he has bought sight unseen on EBay (!!!) none of them actually seem to work properly. Having busted pieces of metal in his garage/driveway/spilling into the street is one of my dad’s greatest loves. I think he’d be deeply disappointed if he had a single, properly working car.
  • We did have a nice day walking around UNC’s campus. The foreign exchange students are sweet girls and seem interested in the American college experience.
  • The gang’s last day in town was the Carrboro Music Festival, which is always one of my favorite days of the year. My dad went to Home Depot and then listened to football on his car radio until we were ready to leave (…) and I took my stepmother and the girls into town and we had a bit of fun. Below you will see my friend Sarah dancing with Dancing Bruce, who we watched outside Weaver Street Market.

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And then my relatives hit the road, and I frankly got to heave a little sigh of relief and enjoy the music festival. (Er, and apparently then the transmission quit on my dad’s car in Richmond and they took a $140 Uber ride home, getting them there at 2am. CLASSIC!)

I, meanwhile, meandered through Carrboro, running into basically everyone I know at various music venues. My favorite buddy was this little party animal, who I haven’t seen in way too long.

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I suppose there’s something to be said for being out of the parenting phase of life and instead getting to play the role of Cool Aunt Ileana. Little T had skipped her nap and had an unfamiliar schedule at the music festival. It was delightful and hilarious watching her giggling uncontrollably and stumbling around like a frat boy on a Saturday night.

And here’s the thing, despite the snark of this blog post, I really, without a hint of irony or defensiveness, love the life I’ve built. And that’s perhaps why I’m feeling so angsty, because it feels precarious.

  • Will all the good friends I’ve made here take off on the marriage/family track and leave me behind? (With my cats, LOL)
  • Will I end up feeling incomplete and unsatisfied because I haven’t found romantic love?
  • Will I not live up to my “potential” in my career? (<< that is a super dangerous and dumb thought but it’s around)
  • Have I not built enough skills to be a successful adult out in the real world?
  • Am I too busy thinking about what I don’t have/watching Netflix at night/not seeking out romantic love/not doing extra things to build my career and wasting my youth?
  • Will America be left a pile of smoking rubble?

Wisdom welcome 😀

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living out of a suitcase

Remember my recent chronology?

So I hopped on a plane back to RDU after Lydia’s wedding. Admired the sunset over Jordan Lake as we landed.

Chicago, IL-> Carrboro, NC

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Don’t worry, my gorgey porgey false eyelashes stuck around for a few more days after the wedding. I MISS THEM.

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Then I was in Carrboro for a few days of hostessing! Fortunately my friend Claire is literally the best houseguest in the world and it was lots of fun having her around. (Claire is my friend with whom I communicate almost exclusively in quotes from Ted Cruz’s bad lip reading).

Her first morning in town, we met the silly boys from our program for brunch at Monuts (unofficial food sponsor of our class). While we waited for our orders, Claire learned some important animal facts.

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I didn’t get a donut, aaagh! I had an upset tummy for a few days after returning from the wedding. Don’t worry, I went again to Monuts a few short weeks later, chronicled later in this post.

I tried to be a good hostess and cook a tasty dinner for my guest (Malindi came by too). Deviled eggs from my friends’ chickens, roasted veggies, and amaaaaaaazing smoked mozzarella and fancy crackers.

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Then my auntie Michele moved down to Chapel Hill (huzzah! My efforts to get everyone I know to move down here to continue! Well fine she was maybe motivated by her own daughter Sophia and her imminently arriving grandbaby but I still take credit). My other auntie Jeanie came down for the weekend to help. Jeanie and I made dinner for everyone- Michele, Sophia, her husband Mike, and the fetus- one night.

Tasty salads, one tomato; one green.

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YUMMY South African red wine. And pasta!

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Pasta had sauteed mushrooms and peppers and YUMMY chicken meatballs from Weaver Street Market.

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I knew Mike and Sophia had some craziness coming their way so I made them dinner again a few nights later- this was DOPE mac and cheese because I used all the random cheese bits I’d thrown in my freezer.

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Then I hit the road to my internship. For the past eight weeks or so I’ve been spending my weekdays in Winston Salem interning at the hospital and my weekends back in Carrboro, living my life and seeing my friends.

Carrboro, NC-> Winston Salem, NC

I’ll tell you about what’s happening in Winston Salem soon! It’s cool!

Winston Salem, NC-> Carrboro NC

A few weeks ago I had a very delightful weekend. It was a weekend celebrating the nuptials of my good friend Steph and her now-husband Eric. That Friday evening I:

  • Was hosting my friends Jaclyn and Zach at my place; they were in town to celebrate the wedding
  • Planned to have dinner with them as well as some other friends from my program
  • Was stopping by my cousin’s to hang out with her and baby and help to the extent of my (limited) abilities with breastfeeding (my boss is a lactation consultant and my internship includes a lot of lactation, hurray!)

Long story short, I ended up getting wayyyyy held back at my cousin’s so I demanded that Colton pick up Zach and Jaclyn at my house and take them to dinner, where I would meet them.

Colton can’t do anything without being a total creeper, so he willingly picked up our friends at my house but then sent me a creepy-ass picture from my own bed.

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I made it to dinner. It was aight. This poke bowl was a little uninspiring. Ironically, I, the girl who ate raw fish, did not get food poisoning; my friends who ate fully cooked tacos did, yikes!

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Later on Friday night Steph and Eric hosted a gathering at a bar downtown and bought everyone free drinks. A bunch of us saw the market price seasonal chocolate board (!) and knew we had to go for it. Tasty treats!

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The wedding was the next day, Saturday. Zach and Jaclyn got a hotel room for that night and a few of us went with them to glamorize and get ready there. At the Durham Hotel housekeeping delivers chocolates to your room (!) and apparently if there are random strangers loitering around your room they get chocolate too (!!)

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The wedding was at one of those fabulous old Durham buildings that was probably once a tobacco warehouse. Lovely exposed bricks and things. Steph and Eric really love their chickens and this was reflected extensively in the decor that day.

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View from the balcony. You can see the ceremony seating area towards the back.

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The ceremony was short and so sweet. I am not usually a wedding cryer, BUT.

Eric, Steph’s now husband, is not a big talker. He helps run the NC Comic Con. He enjoys flying drones (and messing with the backyard chickens with drones). He often, ahem, disappears into the back room of their house and a cloud of smoke comes out from under the door. He is not a chatter.

During the vows Steph was cute and funny and told a sweet story about Eric’s grandfather. And Eric… Eric gave the most earnest, heartfelt, proclamation of his love for Steph and a rumination on all her inner light. Choking up. AND I CRIED REAL HARD.

But the ceremony was over in like ten minutes tops and then it was party time! Steph, when she hosts parties in her own home, always tends to end up standing on a chair to give guests directions (i.e. “Here is where you can find the wine”). Her wedding was no different, albeit she opted for a staircase this time around.

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I wish all weddings had slideshows of baby pictures. It is one of my favorite things!

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Also one of my favorite things: why have a cake when instead you can have an ice cream sundae bar from the best ice cream place in Durham?!

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All of the wedding food was REALLY DELICIOUS and not too safe and boring either (lots of interesting heirloom vegetables and smoky kebabs and things).

I can’t remember the last time I had a brownie sundae. It was a delight.

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Then there was an 80s vinyl DJ (!) and lots of silly dancing and chatting and gabbing. Eric was certainly feeling no pain by the end of the night hahahaha.

hilarious wedding pic

And the rest of us had fun too!

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The next morning, oh shocker, we hit up donuts. Zach and Jaclyn treated me to breakfast and then I drove them to the airport. We split this selection here (they ended up taking half of them with them for their trip):

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  • Blueberry pancake
  • the Carolinean (sweet potato bourbon!)
  • peach pistachio
  • spicy chocolate ginger
  • dude I don’t know
  • it is hard to keep track they are all delicious

For nutrition (sarcasm) we also got some savory food. Scrambled eggies and OMGSOGOOD avocado toast (hot pepper flakes+pepita seeds= great additions to avocado toast. The bread was also basically just a crispy butter sponge; didn’t hate that)

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Carrboro, NC-> Winston Salem, NC

Insert work week here!

Winston Salem, NC-> Carrboro NC

Finally being back into a semi-regular housing situation (albeit one divided between two towns) I was finally ready to do what Alli and I have been planning forever- a house warming party!

But not just a house warming party. A house warming party meets CELEBRATION OF DOLLY PARTON’S FIFTIETH WEDDING ANNIVERSARY AND VOW RENEWAL! Which was in 2016, which of course you knew, right, because you follow all Dolly related news, right?!

We enjoyed dressing up and there were many interpretations of Dolly, just as there have been many phases of Dolly. I went early career country Dolly, Alli went for 80s glamour princess Dolly. Hip bow! Press on nails! Tragically the white cowboy boots she ordered from Amazon for $8 that she planned to bedazzle did not arrive on time.

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The night ended up being just a ridiculous series of playing dress up. Alli’s friend did some ethnographic research on the local drag queen community and brought some fabulous men’s stiletto high heels. I brought out a variety of temporary tattoos, which is how I ended up with R2D2 on my cleavage for a few days

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Is it deeply disorienting packing all of this fun into the weekend and living out of a suitcase? Yes. Do I enjoy it? Yes.

One more post and then we will actually be more or less caught up to the present!

a few days off

Let’s flash back a bit. It’s been a busy, generally pleasant, but also very disorienting a few months.

My recent life chronology:

Let’s chronicle that middle period of time, betwixt internships!

I drove from Wilmington to Carrboro for a few blessed days off.

First things first: I went out for pink wine with some friends at Tandem (tasty but overpriced). Malindi and I split the chickpea fritters, we’re no fools.

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And didn’t hate this deviled egg with crab either nom nom.

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My sister was minding her roommate’s neurotic miniature greyhound. She licked my arm obsessively for like twenty minutes. It was weird.

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I spent a great deal of time doing laundry at my sister’s. Washed allllll the things. I had a broken dryer at my new place (thrilling!) and a whole bunch of sand-covered apparel.

I also used a few days to actually adjust myself to my new home. Putting up curtains. Getting necessary home repairs done (see above: re, dryer, and add pest control tasks and furniture repair and closet organization and so on). Cooking tasty end of summer treats!

Heirloom tomatoes and basil.

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Plus mac ‘n cheese with leftover chicken and veg, because I am not a fancy lady 😀

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Corn and basil cakes from Eating Well magazine, my FAVORITE SUMMER RECIPE. Plus farmers market tometers.

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Panzanella. Can you tell I like summer tomatoes and am sad their season is ending?

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I also got a few days with my baby cat child before I sent her off to Grandma’s house to finish out her pregnancy.

A guy came to finally fix the broken dryer. Lola cat did not like that.

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I built myself a new, high bed frame from which one can look out the window. Lola liked that a lot!

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And I felt like a badass independent woman, building furniture. I got this bed, which I like a lot, and will be pretty easy to disassemble and reassemble should I move in the future, which is CLUTCH, since moving beds, as we all know, is The Worst. Also, Amazon Prime definitely paid for itself and then some with free shipping on this bad boy.

Lola got a few happy days with me in her home in Carrboro. But then I delivered her to my mom’s, to finish out her pregnancy. There was a bit of an adjustment period.

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If you can’t read my mom’s handwriting (she was once a news reporter):

Lola escaped from her room, explored the house, then attacked me when I tried to scoop her up. She’s now hiding under Malindi’s bed. Please figure this out.

My mom and I my sister and I all overlapped for, cat drama aside, a few very relaxing days in Virginia. We had tasty treats as a family. My mom made this outrageously delicious three bean and quinoa salad, I made a frittata

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We also went out to Cheesetique, because we are a cheese loving family.

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And then I began living out of a suitcase, which my next few posts will chronicle!