Wednesday, November 28, 2007


I just finished my last whole plate of Thanksgiving leftovers, and MAN! they were delicious. Something about heating them all up, maybe the flavors all merge together in the microwave or something, but they were just so tasty! Now, what a bummer, I have to go back to cooking my own meals.

Do you know what else is a bummer? Being woken up at seven AM (on a day when you don't get up until eight) by a construction crew working on the roof, banging their hammers right above your head. When I went outside I had to dash to avoid falling shingles, and when I looked back I realized the team of workers were Amish (or Mennonite, or something--I guess they came in cars because I didn't see any horses grazing on the lawn). It was like my own little barn-raising.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Thanksgiving Success

Since I was a kid, my mom's family normally celebrated Thanksgiving at my grandparents' house in Williamsport, PA; when my cousin and her husband bought the house 6 or 7 years ago the family generally kept the tradition and gathered at that house. However, this year my cousins were out of town, so on my mom's suggestion, I offered to host the meal. It was not a huge crowd. I had only six guests: my grandmother, my aunt, my mom, her boyfriend Armando, my brother Dan and a South Korean grad student I invited through a Thanksgiving Dinner program run by the university. But I'd never cooked a turkey before, and had certainly never prepared so many dishes all at once, so it was a big undertaking for me nonetheless.

My aunt, who is a nurse, had to work on Thursday so we had our dinner on Friday. This gave me most of the day on Thursday to spend cleaning my house. Inexplicably, I decided to spend a good portion of time rearranging my dresser drawers, and another stretch of the day watching a Law & Order marathon on USA. So my free day was spent less efficiently than I might have hoped, but by the time my mom, Armando and Dan arrived the beds were made, toilets scrubbed and welcoming scented candles lit.

Friday's meal was a success. My mom (my co-chef) and I worked out a tight timeline of when to put things in the oven, when to assemble casseroles, etc. After more than five hours straight of slaving away in the kitchen we had a delicious meal. Sure, there were a few snags: we lost track of the timeline in the last half hour or so, and there was some confusion about what dishes needed to come out of the oven at what time, and for some reason the turkey sort of split open and collapsed when we took it out of the roasting pan, leaving it lying in a rather obscene manner sprawled on the cutting board. But this made it easier to carve, and it was delicious. All the dishes came out great, including homemade stuffing and cranberry sauce, both of which I made for the first time.

The rest of the weekend was very relaxed. The guys took care of some projects around my house (visiting Lowe's no less than four times in two days) and in between meals of Thankgsiving leftovers we caught up on episodes of the first season of 30 Rock on DVD. I introduced my mom to the show, and she and now my brother are now converts. If you haven't seen it, you are missing out on the best thing on TV.

I hope you all had a great Thankgsiving, wherever you were and whoever you celebrated with.

Monday, November 19, 2007

A Different World

This weekend I spent a couple of great days in New York. It's always nice to get to the big city for a while. Aside from the standard bit of shopping I need to do every time I get out of town, this time I got to visit with some old friends I haven't seen in nearly a year. It was quite an international weekend. One of the things I love about New York is how international it is. Even just walking down the street you hear all kinds of languages: French, Spanish, Chinese, Arabic, Italian, you name it. Saturday night we went out to a birthday party for a friend of my friend Sara, who is Swedish. It was definitely the tallest, blondest and most fashionable group of people I've hung out with in a long time. Sunday morning, we went out for a delicious breakfast at a Latin American place with dishes from at least five different countries. Huevos rancheros, a pineapple-mango shake, and cafe con leche...yum!

After a quick afternoon visit with Alison, Basil and Henry, I caught the Chinatown Bus back home (yes, really). It's a quick trip, only four hours. The bus was pretty empty so after we left the city I stretched out across a couple of seats for a nap. I slept for a couple of hours. When I woke up, it was dark outside and with a few dim lights on inside the bus, it was hard to see out the windows. However, it slowly dawned on me that the silhouettes I saw outside were trees...snow-covered trees! While I was gone about 3-6 inches of snow fell in central PA. Right about when I figured this out, we passed a country road alongside the highway, and I saw two horse-drawn carriages go by--we were in Amish country. Just a few hours outside the city, I had arrived in another universe.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

What is this, 1996?

Yesterday I had an exam in the class I'm taking, and as I did last year for a similar exam for the same professor, I lugged my ridiculously heavy laptop across campus for the test, causing potentially permanent spinal and/or shoulder damage. But to my great surprise, the professor asked us not to use laptops, but instead to please WRITE DOWN our answers. What the...? You mean, like, with a pen? I was lucky to discover a pen in my bag but had to borrow paper to write out my essays. But the biggest problem was that when I went to start writing, I froze up. The last time I wrote something important (and lengthy) by hand was in college, probably ten years ago! How does that work? What will I do when I change my mind about the way a sentence is coming together? What happens when I decide that a sentence belongs at the beginning of a paragraph instead of at the end? You mean, when I write this down, I can't cut and paste? It's PERMANENT!? This was a scary thought, and an eye-opening one. Had I become so reliant on computers that I was afraid to allow my thoughts to flow freely?

Eventually, I came to my senses and dove in. Once I began to write my thoughts came together and everything worked out just fine and I finished writing out my answers with a bare minimum of cross-outs and scribbled edits. It was good for me, I think. I hardly ever write something and keep it after a first attempt. Already I've erased and re-written at least three sentences from this blog post. Even simple e-mails go under the knife before they're sent. Maybe if I had to write everything out by hand I'd actually get more done.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Long time no blog

Well, hello there. It's been a while. What's up? How are things? Last time I wrote it was...gosh...WEEKS ago! How's life treating you?

Anyway, I know, I've been an absentee blogger for a long time. I apologize to all four of you out there reading this. Here's a quick catchup:

  • I got new carpet in my apartment! The landlady was really great about it, and had it replaced a month after I moved in. It makes an entire world of difference and I love my apartment so much more now.

  • I did go tailgating, but not the weekend when I said I was going to. It was pretty fun, and I'm glad I went, but it won't be a common occurrence in my future.

  • I went to Boston a few weeks ago and had a great time catching up with some good friends from my European years. We got to enjoy the start of a New England Autumn by going apple-picking:

  • Apple Picking Apple tree window Apples!

  • I saw Dar Williams and They Might Be Giants two nights in a row!

  • I made a great jack o'lantern, but only had two trick-or-treaters. That brings the total number of trick-o-treaters I have had at my house in my adult life to: five.

  • Jack-o-Lantern

  • Two weeks ago, I went to my hometown to attend an awards gala, honoring (amongst other people) my mom! She won an award for being a community "hero". Mom works at the Senior Center and is a really dedicated and hard-working counselor for seniors. I'm so proud! It was kind of a fancy event, with a celebrity host:

  • Me, Mom and Denis