Pile of Books

I have an extremely bad habit of coming up with something that, to me, sounds like a GREAT IDEA, ordering a ton of books on it, forgetting about it* over the course of the next day/week, and then getting an email notifying me to come and pick up books that I cannot remember why I wanted to read.

So I pick them up anyway and add them to my pile.  Will I ever get through this pile?  Will I ever remember why I wanted to read these books in the first place?


* Sometimes I forget about it because it only seemed like a good idea at the time, and after some thought it’s actually not so great.  But the books still seem interesting and I’m always hopeful that they will lead to a better idea.. if I ever get around to picking them up.


5. Try 25 new recipes (kale chips)

My college boyfriend (and current good friend), Tom, is a foodie.  When we were dating I happily tried pretty much everything that he put in front of me, from a chorizo and black bean dish to cheese tortellini with pesto.  In Paris he got me to try snails (chewy, but good) and duck (fatty, but damn good on a baguette).  I ate my first piece of sushi and had my first legal drink (a blowjob shot, don’t ask) with him.  So when he told me that I should try making kale chips, I knew I had to make it happen.

Kale chips, unlike the oatmeal cake from last week, are pretty easy.  Wash kale.  Break off from the stem into chip-sized pieces.  Toss in olive oil, salt, pepper. Bake at 400 degrees until crispy.

I’m proud to say I did not screw them up.  The kale shrinks a lot as it bakes so I have less than I expected, so I’m not sure if I’ll go through the trouble again.  I’ll probably demolish them in less time than it took to make them.



5. Try 25 new recipes (Oatmeal Cake)

It was movie night at the Thomas-Irwin-Spector residence.  I had gotten home a little later from work and was rushing around to make a cake while chatting on the phone with Andrea about our friend’s upcoming wedding.  By “upcoming”, we really mean “almost a year away”, but as bridesmaids I feel like it’s our duty to keep a constant level of giddy excitement.

I was trying this recipe from Pinterest, which should’ve been my first hint that I should tread carefully.  Have you ever seen that Pinterest fails blog?

My first mistake was using a smaller pan than the recipe called for. I figured this was no big deal, since I could just bake it longer and the slices would be taller.

I started getting nervous when the sides were getting crispy but the center still moved when I poked it.  Eh, no big deal.  I pulled it out of the oven just in time to let some friends in, and we chatted as it cooled.

When the time came to get it out of the pan, it was not cooperating.  I swear I sprayed the pan with a significant layer of oil but it wasn’t letting go.  When I finally did manage to slam it out, the pan took parts of the top off in chunks.  Very attractive.

I tried to cover the crappy looking parts with glaze while my roommate, Mark, looked on.

“What kind of icing is that?  Caramel?”

“It’s a GLAZE.” I snapped back, perhaps a little more snippily than I’d anticipated.  This was hysterical to my two friends, who pretty much died of laughter since.. well, glaze isn’t exactly a flavor.

It still tasted good, and I made everyone tell me that several times to make up for making fun of how it looked.

3. Go without Facebook for a month

I’m about a week into my post-facebook life and figured that it’s a good time to reflect, in list form.

1. I don’t feel like I’m missing out on much.  Get this- if I get curious about what my friends are up to- I text them!  And I’ve already had one friend who rarely texts me send me a text just to say hello and that he was thinking about what I was up to.

2. I transferred my facebook addiction to the New York Times app on my phone.  Now in the morning I roll over and read about what’s going on in Syria, or skim the most emailed section.

3. Sometimes I think about how cool it would be to post something to Facebook, but then I stop and wonder why.  To make myself look more interesting? As a humblebrag? Most of the times, yeah, posting on Facebook seems driven by a desire to make people see that I’m doing well for myself.  Instead I’ve been trying to sit back and think about how lucky I am to get to experience this moment, without having to share it with 250 other people.

15. Fire a Gun

Sometimes I’ll be talking to someone and they’ll casually mention how their parents were a little overprotective when they were growing up.  I’m not usually the kind of girl who always needs to one-up someone, but when it comes to overprotective parenting, my parents won the gold medal at the superbowl of perfect child rearing.

Besides not being allowed to watch any cartoons deemed “violent” or with characters that were a bad influence (Angelica from Rugrats), we couldn’t have any violent toys.  No fake handcuffs, nunchucks, hulk hands or anything even shaped like a gun. Nerf gun?  Nope.  Water pistol?  All of ours were shaped like animals, with the water coming out of a tiny elephant’s trunk or the mouth of a fish.

If I were a betting girl, I’d say that might have been the start of my desire to (safely!) fire a gun.  But I could also situate it a larger cultural context. Guns are a big part of American culture, at least in some parts of the country (NOT suburban new jersey!)  Furthermore, and more depressingly, Oakland has one of the highest rates of gun violence in the country.  I’ve always wondered how deliberate of an action gun violence is, and having never even held a gun I couldn’t say with any certainty the amount of conviction it would take to point it at another human being.

I’m fortunate to have friends from all over the country, and after discovering that my friend Brannan owned a gun that he’d brought with him from Georgia I asked him if he’d teach me how to shoot.  So yesterday I took the train down to South San Francisco, sat down at Brannan’s kitchen table and got a quick lesson in gun safety.

I realized that I’d never even seen a gun up close.  It looked far “faker” than I expected, almost plastic, but heavy when I held it in my hands.  Despite the fact that it was unloaded I still felt a knot in my stomach, a nervousness about what could happen.  Realistically, nothing, but that didn’t take away the nerves.

I took a bit of time to think and realized that part of this list, part of what I’m supposed to learn from it, is to put aside preconceived notions and fight some fears.

After getting to the shooting range and signing a couple forms, I found myself standing in a room that reminded me of my parent’s basement except for the empty casings littering the floor.  Even with hearing protection on, I had to fight the instinct to jump every time I heard a gunshot.  Hello, childhood fear of popping balloons.  Nice to see you again.

Brannan fired off the first round after showing me how to load the gun and get a bullet up into the chamber.  I’ll be honest and say that after watching the gun kick back, the spark as the bullet left the chamber, and the noise, I was pretty sure I wouldn’t be trying it.  Mostly I was frightened of squeezing the trigger and then getting too frightened to safely put the gun down, which is a bit ridiculous since I can hold my shit together if I have to.

After watching him shoot a few more times so I could get used to the noise, I stepped up to the metaphorical plate.  He loaded a single bullet for me and after some hesitation I pushed the cartridge in, stood with my hands in the proper position, aimed, and… stood there.

For probably a good five minutes.

I’m lucky that Brannan is patient because I thought I was going to stand there forever, just standing, just thinking and willing my body not to shake.

Finally, with a tiny rush of adrenaline, I squeezed the trigger… and missed the target entirely.  But just knowing that I had done it and nothing terrible had happened, and I could do it AGAIN, if I wanted, gave me a pretty incredible sense of victory.

I fired another three times after getting the hang of how to aim, hitting the target twice.   Not a bulls eye, mind you, but at least I hit somewhere on the target!  After that I turned the gun back over to Brannan and let him finish off the rest of the bullets.

I’m probably not going to be a gun enthusiast anytime soon, but I did gain a tiny bit of understanding about guns and the culture surrounding them.  Maybe it does have something to do with my upbringing, but just pointing a gun at a target?  Terrifying.  But I’m glad I worked up the courage to check this off my list.  Every word that I write for school this week will seem easy in comparison.


Twenty-Five before 25

  1. See the northern lights Compose a list of 28 things that I love
  2. Find the secret hot tubs on Essex Street
  3. Go without facebook for a month (or more..?)
  4. Read twenty-five novels/poetry collections/non-fiction-non-architecture books.  (Follow along on Goodreads)
  5.  Try twenty-five new recipes
  6.  Go on a multi-day hiking trip
  7.  Take one weekend adventure per month that involves leaving Berkeley and not doing anything school related.
  8. Start dancing again (Berkeley Ballet Theater)
  9. Learn how to play the guitar
  10. Run a half marathon.
  11. Take a photo a day for a month
  12. Get my nose pierced
  13. Host a sophisticated dinner party
  14. Attend a slam poetry event
  15. Fire a gun.
  16. Acquire the wardrobe essentials / stop buying clothing that can’t be worn in a variety of ways.
  17. Keep snowboarding!  Learn how to sail
  18. Buy a bathing suit.
  19. Go a week without complaining
  20. Practice mindful eating.
  21. Volunteer with Habitat for Humanity — learn how to use tools! Be able to read architecture articles in Dutch
  22. Become more emotionally mature/aware and feel ready for a relationship.
  23. Call my mom once  per week.
  24. Learn self defense.
  25. Decorate my bedroom.