Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Blind Leading the Blind: How Not to Make an Omelet

My boyfriend, John, is always looking to me for cooking help. He knows a good amount but he assumes I know more, which I am very realistically modest about. I know what I know and I do have some sort of instinct for eyeballing measurements and the basic techniques needed for baking, because that is my specialty. I am definitely NOT an expert chef. I have a limited menu that I cook on rotation that I enjoy. The great thing about John is that he was very eager to learn and even jumps at the opportunity to chop onions for example. I wish I knew more about cooking so that I could be a better teacher but what ends up happening is what happened today on our leisurely Sunday morning, we decided to make omelets. This is what we did:

How To Not Make an Omelet:


  • 1 dozen eggs
  • Shredded cheese
  • Olive oil
  • milk
  • Spray butter
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 yellow pepper
  • 1 orange pepper
  • 1 onion
  • 1 small tomato
  • 4 small Portobello mushrooms
  • some spinach
  • 1 avocado

The Process

We chopped and diced the peppers, onion, and tomato. We ended up only using about ¼ of each pepper. We put a small pan on the stove at a high heat and poured some olive oil on it as it warmed. We occasionally stirred it as it cooked.

We put 12 eggs in a bowl with some milk and mixed it up to a good consistency. We put a larger pan on the stove and greased the pan with some spray butter we found in my refrigerator that my mom must have bought. Now we were ready for the magic.

We poured half of our eggs in the larger pan so that it covered the whole circular area. We then threw a bunch of shredded cheese on the whole thing. We grabbed a handful of spinach and put it on half of the omelet. More cheese then we put our cooked peppers, onions and tomatoes on it. We sliced our avocado in half and put some slices on it. Again all this is only on half of the surface. We eyeballed to see if the eggs we cooked. Then, the side without the veggies on it, we scrapped and folded itself onto the other side of our omelet. And there you have it…

As you can see, it’s way too stuffed. We decided for our second omelet we would roughly do the same thing just with less veggies on the inside. It was better…

I should mention that I’ve never made an omelet before. I’ve watched other people do it and just kind of faked my way through this whole experience, relying on common sense and intuition. Ultimately we concluded we used too many eggs and too many vegetables. However the whole thing was delicious but we both couldn’t finish our monster omelets. Success, we were full and satisfied with our meal.

After we cleaned the kitchen in my apartment we headed to John’s house to start a garden in the backyard. This is another situation where I might have a little more experience than John. John’s old roommate, Clifford, use to have a large vegetable garden, a small herb garden and an organic compost pile in their backyard. However Clifford moved out and his garden died and over grew. John really wanted to start fresh and get in the habit of growing some of his own food. Once we walked out into the backyard we realized we probably won’t get to gardening today. Today we were going to be clearing out the weeds and mowing the grass. Thankfully it wasn’t grossly hot and it was mostly cloudy day. I found some gloves and begun to clear out some weeds in the small garden by hand while John searched for a lawn mowed then wrestled with figuring out how to work the weed whacker. I found the place Clifford had his old compost pile and straighten up the edging. I got tired fast and it felt like we weren’t accomplishing anything.

I went over to help with the weed whacker situation. He was having trouble finding a long enough extension cord. Together we covered more ground and took care of the problem. (Go Team John and Sarah!) Well we just gave up on getting the weed whacker to reach the back garden. (yay?) We took turns using it around the patio, touching up the small garden and fence edge and clearing a path to get to the recycling and garbage cans. (Go Team Go!) I also started straightening up the patio. It was getting late in the afternoon and we wore the weed whacker wire down to nothing. We figured we needed to make a trip to Home Depot for more supplies. We showed up to the complex only to realize how utterly dehydrated we both were. We called it a day and took a nap.

Now that we have a better idea of what we’re up against, we will be much more prepared for the backyard next weekend.

Monday, August 23, 2010

First Day of School

It’s that time of year – back to school! The smell of newly sharpened pencils, the sound of freshly cracked books, the colorful array of new clothes on children coming back for another year of education is an exciting experience not only for students but also spectators. I always get a little nostalgic when school starts again. I loved school. How can you not? I mean sure, the people sometimes sucked and the food was awful and many of the assignments were bull shit but every new year was a chance to start over again. I miss the mind-set that anything could happen and I can do anything. That hopeful innocence gets lost over time. I still feel like I can do anything but it’s different. (that’s my niece, Madeline, in the picture on her first day of Kindergarten 2009 )

In Austin regular schools start today while the Universities and Colleges start on Wednesday. The whole city had been subdued in the summer and now is a hustle and bustle of activity and people. The blinking yellow light of the school zone I was biking through caught me by surprise today. College students clutter central Austin, jay-walking and generally being obnoxious. I’m starting to feel very bitter-sweet about the whole experience. On one hand, I feel an incredible warmth for all the hopeful grade schoolers and on the other hand, I’m very annoyed and feel rather cold towards the party-hungry college kids. Does this mean I’m getting old?

I recently got a teaching/mentoring job at a High School. I will be heading an after-school film club at Travis High School. I’m really excited but a little nervous. I was a relatively good high schooler. I wanted to learn; I wanted to be there. Will my kids? What if they don’t like me? They don’t have to show up because it’s an after school program, so what if they don’t? Do I have what it takes to inspire and teach?! When I think about my favorite teachers, they were always the ones who didn’t take any shit from anyone – student, faculty or administration – they were the rebel teachers.

I worry about the state of education, especially in Texas. It seems like the state would rather spend money on roads and parks than the future leaders, our prosperity. I feel like every political topic can all come back to education. Hey you Tea Partier, You hate paying taxes – you don’t want your tax dollars to pay for some “lazy” person’s wellfare, Well maybe if we had a stronger school system then, we could possibly have a technological, medical, and industrial growth then we would have a stronger economy and we wouldn’t have as many people mooching off a social system that is made for dire conditions. That’s probably an over generalized example. How about: Hey you Pro-Lifer (that ultimately mixes up personal preference and the government’s control over your body), maybe instead of protests and bombing Planned Parenthood, maybe you could use that money to help educate young people on how to have safe sexual practice so that they don’t have to accidentlly get knocked up and get an abortion OR have the baby, not be able to provide for it, get on wellfare, work a bad minimum wage job, leave the child unsupervised, the kid grows up turns to drug and violence and ultimately ends up robbing YOU, Pro-Lifer with your VW Jetta! Wow I should stop. I’m getting worked up. BUT my point is, most problems start with kids and can be fixed with proper education.

I know my teaching job doesn’t start for another couple of weeks, and I am not a student anymore but I have an impulse to go get a new outfit and lay it out on my desk chair for Wednesday’s day at work, to organize my backpack and make sure my pencils are all sharpen.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Welcome [Centers]!

On our road trip we realized that State Welcome Centers are helpful things and decided to try and stop at as many as we could. Here is the Best of Welcome Centers. . .


Welcome to Louisiana


Welcome to Mississippi


Tennessee Welcome You




New Jersey:

and New York:

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Eating Across America

As Amy and I went through our photos from the road trip, we came across a good amount of pictures where I’m eating, or drinking or had just eaten. I guess food inspires us to take pictures. I thought it was funny, so here you have it, me eating across America…

At Little Bigs in Houston eating a slider.

Eating fried chicken in the car somewhere in Louisiana.

Drinking a piƱa colada on Bourbon Street.

Rocket Pop by the Reflecting Pool in DC

Chinese food in China Town in Washington DC.

Philly Cheese Stake in Philadephia…

And Eating a Pinini in a New York City deli

Yep. I like food.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Things I’ve learned while at camp (in no particular order):

The summer 2010 I did something that I will probably never get to do again, I went to camp, an all boys camp at that, at the ripe old age of 25. Part of me wished that I had gone there under the guise of a sociological study of human behavior, specially males in their gender programming as done through camp. I feel like I could have written and some sort of great thesis paper or dissertation on this that would eventually one day get published. Maybe I would title it What Boys Do When [They Think] Girls Aren’t Around: Male Gender Programing and Behavior at Summer Camp. But alas I was not their for social science purposes and I did not collect any solid data or conduct any real surveys. I did observe many things that I thought I would share with you.

Before I get into it I did also learned a lot about myself this summer when it comes to my prejudgments of country living and people I fondly use to refer to as “townies”, people from small towns. I went completely outside myself even though I was very uncomfortable at first and I came out a better person for it.

Boys like to dance. Oh yes ladies, the boys at camp love to get down. Every cabin clean up, cookie line, rest period, commissary, and shower-time the boys would dance to whatever music we played. It was amazingly hilarious. I ended up making two dance montage videos featuring just the campers and counselors dancing. However there is a small decrease in the dancers starting with the 11-13 year olds.

Boys love pop music. This mostly refers to the younger campers but I have never heard more pop music in my life than I did at camp. All summer long I heard Party in the USA by Miley Cyrus and Tik Tok by Ke$ha and Poker Face by Lady Gaga etc.

Boys will do things without any consideration for anyone around them but themselves.Granted, the camp that I’m not allowed to mention, does try make the boys more independent and self reliant. However a lot of these boys could just be called selfish.

Boys love ‘MERICA! Seriously I’ve never been around so many people with such extreme patriotism and national pride. Some of the campers asked me one day which country I was from. I didn’t know where this was going so I answered. They seemed surprised that I was from America because “[I] don’t say the pledge [of allegiance]” in the morning. I was taken back. I explained that being an American gives me the freedom to choose to actually say the pledge of allegiance but that I do love my country and give it my respect. I am always quiet and respectful during the whole flag raising. This didn’t satisfy them because they ended up calling me a “terrorist”.

I feel like many of the boys actually felt like this song. Fuck Yeah!

Texas Two-Step. Every Saturday night all the counselors and basically the whole town of Kerville, Ingram and Hunt go to this rodeo and country-music club called, Criders. I was very reluctant to go to this club since I’m not really a fan of country music but my friend, Kevin, convinced me to go and it was actually fun. Some of the guys even took the time to teach me how to Texas Two Step. It was fun. I genuinely looked forward to going on Saturday and drinking the $2 Bud Lite Lime.

Friendship is probably one of the most important things there is. period. I thought a lot about the nature of friendship this summer. What makes two people come together and become friends – shared interests and likes? proximity to one another? The campers that liked camp were the ones that made friends and the campers that didn’t like camp and tired to run away were usually the ones that had a harder time. Personally, I had a lot more fun once I made friends too. It’s hard being a loner when everyone around you is having fun. I really appreciate of people like Kevin (in picture with a silly mustache I convinced him was a good idea), Ashley, Katharine, Andrew, Francesco, Kile, etc. Thanks for accepting me in the camp family.

Summer Nights from Grease has a whole new meaning. At camp people hook up and have relationships. I was guilty of this myself. Let’s look…
[him] Summer lovin’ had me a blast (Yeah It was actually fun)
Summer lovin’ happened so fast(meh I dunno)
[him] I met a girl crazy for me (I was not crazy for him. He was all right)
Met a boy cute as can be (he was cute)
[Both] Summer days driftin’ away, to uh-oh those summer nights (meh)
Uh Well-a well-a well-a huh Tell me more, tell me more, Did you get very far? (umm yeah)
Tell me more, tell me more, Like does he have a car? (actually he had a truck)
Uh-huh uh-huh uh-huh uh-huh
[him] She swam by me, she got a cramp (whatever, I don’t cramp up when I swim but we did go swimming together)
He ran by me, got my suit damp (again not applicable)
[him] I saved her life, she nearly drowned (now this is a funny inside joke but he actually almost drowned the camp nurse BUT later saved a campers life)
He showed off, splashing around (he was kind of a show off but it’s cool)
[Both] Summer sun, something’s begun, but uh-oh those summer nights (meh)
Uh well-a well-a well-a huh Tell me more, tell me more, Was it love at first sight? (no. I noticed him. But once I heard him talk I hated him)
Tell me more, tell me more, Did she put up a fight? (we fought all the time)
[him] Took her bowling in the arcade (we did play games in an arcade and we sort of went bowling)
We went strolling, drank lemonade (n/a but there was lemonade in the dining hall which I’m sure we drank at some point)
[him]We made out under the dock (not at the dock, no)
We stayed out ’till ten o’clock (it was actually more like 1:30am and then he was done for the night)
[Both] Summer fling, don’t mean a thing, but uh-oh those summer nights (this I mostly agree with)

Other people’s summer flings ended tragically in real heart ache and sadness. Thankfully mine had an understanding from the beginning. Almost all the unattached girls at camp had a guy or two. It was all interesting. Those first couple weeks were probably more telling than I realize. I wish I could go back in time and watch it.

It’s pretty easy to ride a horse. I don’t know what all the fuss is about, it was really easy to ride a horse. Granted my horse did all the work but seriously piece. of. cake. I’m probably exaggerating but I kind of felt like I could handle myself on a horse but I felt bad about it. This animal could obviously crush and kill me at any moment, why on earth did it allow people to tame him.

“One day at camp is like two weeks in real life.” There is a This American Life episode about camp which I heard awhile back and decided to relistened to it while I was at camp and it took on a whole new meaning. I understood what all the fuss is about. There really is a difference between regular people and camp people. If you’ve never really been to a summer camp then you don’t understand the weird inside jokes, the traditions and the deep friendships. Even though I’ve only known these people (my camp friends) for 2 months, I care about them and would totally back them up. “One day at camp is like two weeks in real life” is a quote from that TAL episode and it is completely true. Camp is a bubble in a time warp. The outside world only exists when the mail comes. I had no idea what was happening with the BP oil spill or anything really because I was at camp. I maybe got like 10 minutes on the internet each day, if that. All that was important was what was going on at camp, the people and drama.

The Stats (Inside Jokes):

Favorite Summer Drink: Ice water from dining hall, Bud Lime from Criders, Jam Jar Wine with Ashley and the girls.

Favorite Summer Food: Guacamole from dining hall, Chili’s Honey Chipotle Chicken Crispers ® with mashed potatoes and broccoli

Favorite Summer Snack: Ice cream Snicker bars, Orange Dreamsicles, Cascadian Farms Organic Vanilla Chip Granola Bars®

Favorite Summer Activity: Swimming in the Guadalupe River then laying on the dock and letting the sun dry me while I listen to my ipod and watch the kidos play


Day 11 of the Young & Stupid, YES! Road Trip:

Unfortunately Amy had to be at work later tonight so we left Houston in hopes to get back to Austin with a enough time for her to relax before her shift. Originally we thought we could make it all the way last night but it was better that we didn’t. The drive from Houston was comically short in comparison to what we had been doing, we were averaging like 300 miles a day but still longer than we wanted. Other than being complete exhausted, I was feeling good about being home. I went away this summer to get away from my life, to find something new and I did. Even though last summer on Jessica’s and my west coast road trip our goal was to have a life epiphany, it didn’t necessarily happen. However this summer, without even trying I think I had one. I feel like my head is clear. I’m feeling confident that I”m going to do what’s right for me. I’m going to work hard. Also on top of everything I have a new fondness for Texas and everything Texan, including me. My whole life I haven’t really been proud to be from Texas. I even taught myself to not say y’all. But after this summer in small-town Texas and then traveling across the country, I realize that Texas isn’t that bad at all. It’s actually pretty great.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

More of the South: Sumter to Sara(h)land to Houston

Day 10 of ‘merica Road Trip:

I don’t want to say too much about all this because it will probably bore you. We drove and drove and drove through the eastern-southern part of the United States. We took 378 to Colombia then hit I-20 through Atlanta and Birmingham where we hit 59 so that we could hit I-12 which would become I-10 in Baton Rouge which would take us all the way to Houston.

The only thing worth mentioning about this leg of the trip is that my dad told us over and over and over that we’d have perfect weather the whole way home. Hot and sunny. Shouldn’t be a problem. And you know what, it rained for 3 states straight. Mississippi had the worse rain. So much for the Weather Channel. Thank goodness for This American Life podcasts on my ipod to take our minds off the crazy rain that hit us from all sides. The deadly rain did take our minds off being sad from the trip being over but we were both very pensive. We reflected about everything we saw and did.

Amy was not looking forward to going back home while I was looking forward to getting my life back. After being at camp all summer then going on a cross-country road trip, I was ready to start over and do things the way I want to do things. I was going to get another job and make things work in Austin or I was going to leave. I now know more cities I would like or could to live in: New Orleans, Philadelphia, New York City, maybe Nashville, Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego and Ausitn. We when get to Houston we crash out on the beds.

Read Amy’s post

Saturday, August 14, 2010

From the center of the universe to no-mans-land

Day 9 of the Young & Stupid, YES! Road Trip:

Another night of no sleep and we were about to drive for 12+ hours. What.A.Mistake. I got everyone up for one final time. We were all sluggish, half because we were tired and half because it was over. We quickly packed and headed down to the car to load it up. The boys were going to catch a bus to Vermont to go stay with one of Sam’s friends. It was all happening very fast.They left us before we were even done packing the car. I gave them long hugs because I didn’t know when I would see my foreign brothers again. They were leaving. We were leaving. Amy and I had sort of took care of them and I wanted to know that they were going to be okay. I told them to call if something went wrong. Franco made some joke that made me smile. I felt like crying. Sam seemed to have been holding back his emotions. He was very short with the good bye. Amy and I were both sad.

We got on the road. Amy and I both maybe got 3 hours of sleep. Our plan was to take I95 all the way to South Carolina and then cut over to Sumter. After we got out of the city, we hit up a convenience store for gas and caffeine, Lots of caffeine. We took turns driving about every 2 hours. We were both so so so tired. I started playing some of my episodes of This American Life I had put on my ipod for this occasion. I was glad Amy liked it. She drifted in and out of consciousness while I drove and I did the same when she drove.

Somewhere in Virgina we hit traffic, stand-still traffic. It was amazing because there wasn’t even a service road to turn off to to try and avoid it. We put the car in park for awhile and traded places again. We ended up talking to the car next to us that said it was beach traffic but according to our road maps, the Virgina Beach was like 4 hours away. We went a little crazy in traffic. Thankfully we had gas. Once we started to move a little and see some civilization we got the fuck off I-95. We lost about 2-3 on our trip. We ate Chili’s and complained about I-95 and Virgina. We kept saying “What the fuck” over and over.

With our tummy’s full we got back on the road. The landscape from Virginia all the way through to South Carolina all looked the same. Trees and road. Amy and I continued to take turns driving every couple of hours. My brother, Andy, my sister-in-law, Marsha, and my dad were expecting Amy and I to be in South Carolina for dinner around 7 or 8. I had been calling my dad all day updating him on the traffic situation and I told him not to wait for us and to just eat without us. He insisted that they wait for some reason. We didn’t actually get there until about 10:30. Andy was a little cranky from being hungry. Amy and were a little sick from being in the car and were thankful for another home-cooked meal. While I caught up with Marsha, my dad talked Amy’s ear off. We ended up crashing about midnight or so, hoping to be refueled for the next day, the longer day of driving.