31 December 2010

Another year over...

Well, it's New Year's Eve once again, and yes, this is going to be the stereotypical "look back at 2010" post that needs to come this time of year.  I'm going to highlight a few of the great things that happened during the past 12 months.


Overall, 2010 was a pretty good year.  I started off the year spending a week and a half in Paris in January with my Dad.  J'adore Paris =) and it was a great start to the year.  I loved being there especially now that I can actually speak French to the locals (unlike the last time I was in France), and now that I care some more about all the history of the city.  It's definitely a different experience being in Paris once you're studied French literature/history.  Everything makes a lot more sense.  Below is a video I took on my last night in Paris, from the top of the Centre Pompidou (Pompidou Center, which contains a modern art museum).

video

The Olympics took place in February, and my favorite sport to watch was curling.  Later on in the month, I actually got to try out curling myself at a club near my school.  It's a lot harder than it looks!

March is basketball season!  With the pep band, I was lucky enough to travel to Hartford, CT and Palo Alto, CA with the band.  Spending the end of spring break in California with the band was one of my favorite college memories so far.  Taking a trip to Facebook and spending an afternoon in San Francisco with the trumpets (and some other awesome bandies) was an incredible way to finish out the pep band season, even if the team did lose in the first round.  As much as I complain about band, there's no way I would ever quit.  The friends and memories I've made as part of the Rutgers band will be with me forever.


Evidently not much happened in April, because I don't have many pictures from that month on my computer.  Rutgers Day and the Scarlet & White Game brought an official end to the 2009 marching season; my roommate and I and some other friends decorated our floor like the ocean for the floor decorating contest...but I think by this time we were all just ready for the semester to be over and summer break to begin!


May must be a great month for me to make a fool of myself.  From Rutgersfest to the ResLife carnival, the end of another year at Rutgers was right around the corner.  I think we were all starting to go a little crazy by then.  (Case in point:  see image.)  Once the summer break finally started, I spent a day in Philly with a friend where we went to the Top Chef tour and met Jamie and Nikki and ate some awesome food!

June, June...well, I started my summer class (16th century French lit) and started my 7th summer at Creek Run.  While it was by no means my favorite Creek Run summer, I still met some awesome people and made the best of it.

July brought Independence Day and Bastille Day, and I, of course, celebrated both.  July 4th was spent with my family watching fireworks at a nearby high school; Bastille Day, in New York City at a street fair with my dad.  What can you say- we love French!  My dad, one of my sisters, and I also did the Philly Challenge in July.  What that is is a race around Philadelphia with clues directing us towards places where we had to take pictures proving that we were there.  Although we didn't win (and did not even come close!), it was a fun way to spend time with each other and explore a city that's very close by but that we rarely visit.  Lastly, my family went down to Washington, DC for a day, toured some museums, ate some delicious cupcakes, and stopped by the White House.  Though the trip was brief, we all loved it!  I think July more than made up for June in busy-ness!

What does August bring but BAND CAMP!  Lake Greeley was a rainy mess this year, but that didn't stop the 2010 tRUmpets from making great memories and having a lot of fun.  A highlight of this year's band camp was the huge dodgeball rivalry between Kenny's team, Andy's team, and Any Team but Andy's Team (aka, the girls!)  It was a great, albeit slow, start to what turned in to a superb season for the marching band (although not the football team...).

September marked the beginning of the second half of my Rutgers career, and my 3rd year living in Brett Hall.  No comment on that last one......  I also chopped off all of my hair in September and donated 12 inches to Wigs for Kids.  It's a great organization that provides its wigs for free (as opposed to Locks of Love, which charges).  It felt great knowing that I could donate my hair for the second time in less than 3 years.

I went home in October for the first time this semester and surprised my parents, who were completely convinced that I was still at school!  It was my high school marching band's home comp, which I go to every year.  Unfortunately, Rutgers had a football game on the same day this year, but I was done there early enough to drive home and see my high school perform!  It was a fun weekend of seeing friends and family who I don't see, usually, except for breaks because of my crazy schedule.  Also, a shout-out to my mom, who turned 50 in October!  We had her surprise party in August so that it would really be a surprise!!

In November, I wrote a book.  It was my first time participating in NaNoWriMo, and although I seemed to go crazy at times, I'm absolutely glad that I participated.  The feeling of accomplishment at writing that fifty thousandth word and the people that it connected me to made the experience so worthwhile.  I also saw Les Miserables with my entire extended family as my grandma's Hanukkah gift to us all.  It had been about four years since I'd seen it last, and this time, I didn't even fall asleep ;-) !  It's hard for me to make it to all the family get togethers now that I'm busy at school, so I really enjoyed the opportunity to see everyone.

Obviously, the most important thing that happens in December is my birthday!!!  I finally turned twenty =D  I had a great evening celebrating with my friends a few weeks early, and then spending time with my mom on my actual birthday.  It was a very laid-back, but enjoyable, celebration.  I also traveled with some of the marching band brass line to New York City to play for the Heisman Awards Dinner.  I don't really pay attention to college football all that much, but it was a good experience nonetheless.

As you can see, 2010 was a busy and fun year for me with lots of great memories, great friends, and great experiences.  Here's to a 2011 that's even better!

06 November 2010

NaNoWriMo

In November, I will write a novel, 50,000 words between November 1 and November 30.  Why?  Maybe I'm crazy, but in the midst of 16 credits of classes, 9+ hours of research a week, and marching band, having an exciting plot twist or a new character to introduce is something for me to look forward to writing at the end of each day.


I've considered myself a "writer" since elementary school.  My earliest memory of writing meaning something important was in third grade, when I won a poetry contest for a poem I had written about outer space.  It was around that time when I realized that writing meant something more important than just turning in assignments.


As middle school arrived, I found myself writing more poetry.  I had never gotten much in to writing prose, but poetry became an escape.  I started many a notebook to fill with poems.  At some point, I also attempted to write a short story, but did not get very far with it.  So, poetry it was.


In high school, I continued writing poetry- albeit less of it than before- but was becoming more dissatisfied with what, I was beginning to discover, its limited role was.  I needed direction towards writing prose, what seemed like a long leap from what I had written in the past.  Senior year of high school, I took an English elective, Creative Writing and Poetry (a semester of each).  My teacher, Mr. Tortorelli, really opened my eyes to writing.  The poetry anthology that was the final project for the Poetry semester is one of the things I treasure most.  The comments he gave me on that project are still what I think back to for inspiration and to remind me that one person, at least, got something out of what I had written.  During Creative Writing, we were asked to write a short story, and that was my first experience with creating a plot and seeing it through to the end.  Though the story was only three pages, I realized that writing prose was something achievable.


Once college rolled around, I barely had time to write anything at all aside from papers.  My freshman spring, I enrolled in Creative Writing, hoping that by being forced to write for class, I would be inspired to write outside of it.  That didn't work so well- once that semester ended, I didn't write again, seriously, until less than a week ago- but for the class, I wrote a short story about a young mother who gives up her baby in an open adoption.  At some point, I'd like to seriously revise and edit that piece.  Unlike the story I had written in high school, this was more personal, as it was based (loosely) off of my cousin's adoption from China.  Not only was writing important to me, but I again realized how much of an impact it could have on others.


Being a Molecular Bio/Biochem and French literature double major does not give much time or reason for writing a novel.  I had heard of NaNoWriMo as a freshman, and now, as a junior, I am taking the plunge.  I feel like I have been getting so wrapped up in coursework that I have been neglecting things I used to love doing.  Yes, I love French.  Yes, I love biology.  But there are other things I love that have been getting pushed off to the sidelines of my life for too long.  Maybe NaNoWriMo is just the excuse I need to pull them back to center court.


It's day 6 of NaNoWriMo, and I am just over 25% of the way to 50,000 words.  The official count is 12,575.  In between studying for a Religion exam on Christianity and starting to find primary sources for a paper on the influence of French symbolists on future artists, I will be sure to find time to return to Vythnn.  Adam just fell asleep, and he can't wake up until I figure out what happens next!

19 September 2010

bored out of my mind: a exploration in why.

It's one of those weekends...just when I'm used to being busy all the time, I find myself with nothing to do.  It's not even that I don't want to do homework (well, I don't- but who ever does)- in fact, I've already read a chapter of religion, 2 chapters of biochem, and reviewed about half a chapter of physics problems.  I went to synagogue, went food shopping, cooked 3 nights worth dinner (microwaving "leftovers" during the week is much easier), and moved my car over to Livingston (a feat in itself, with the new weekend bus schedule).


And yet, I've spent a good portion of the weekend with "nothing to do".


Maybe it's a product of an extremely schedule during the week and most weekends.  Maybe it's just my lack of ability to focus on one thing for a long period of time.


During the week, I revere the short breaks I've given myself in my schedule- half an hour or an hour here and there, but nothing crazy.  Even bus rides between campuses become what I look forward to as a break from academic life.  I always find these reprieves to be insufficient during the week; yet, when I am given more time off, I find myself at a loss for things to do.  When a class lets out even 5 minutes early, I am ecstatic.  Five more minutes to myself!  Yet, hours without scheduled activities leave me struggling to stay sane- much the same feeling I get when I'm sitting in class for that same amount of time.


I think it comes back to the saying, "Too much of a good thing..."  There needs to be a balance between structure and freedom so that neither becomes solely the problem or the reward.  As much as I know I will hate sitting in lecture tomorrow morning, right now, I wouldn't mind at all.


Another hypothesis I have come up with is the "rules" that are in place forcing us to do different things throughout the week.  Because of these "rules", activities that are not enforced become much more appealing.


For example, if I was, right now, given the opportunity to listen to an interesting lecture, I would go- because it sounded interesting and I wanted to hear it- not because I must.  Tomorrow morning, I am expected to attend all four of my classes and marching band rehearsal, and there are consequences in place if I do not (a zero on a quiz, points against the attendance percentage my final grade).  As usual, I will be at all of those classes tomorrow...waiting for them to end so that I can have my 5 minute, 30 minute, 45 minute break.


And, as easy as it would be to skip class and turn that 5 minute break into a 2 hour one, I won't.  Because I'm used to fitting what I need to do into shorter periods of time.  What would I do with those extra 115 minutes?

12 August 2010

I've come to realize...


I've come to realize that my hair:  can be a more valuable resource to someone else then it is to me.

I've come to realize that when I talk:  I'd like people to listen to me, not just hear what I have to say.

I've come to realize that I've lost:  the ability to let go.

I've come to realize that I hate it when:  people make fun of things that I take seriously.

I've come to realize that money:  is worth saving.

I've come to realize that when I get old:  I hope I don't regret anything that I did or didn't do earlier in my life.

I've come to realize that I'll always be:  determined to accomplish my goals.

I've come to realize that the last time I cried was:  over something important at the time, but silly now, as I don't remember the situation.

I've come to realize that my cell phone:  keeps me sane during long hours working at camp or sitting in class.

I've come to realize that when I wake up in the morning:  I don't ever want to get out of bed.

I've come to realize that before I go to sleep at night I:  wish there was more time in the day to get everything done.

I've come to realize that right now I am thinking about:  the fact that tomorrow is my last day at Creek Run this year, and possibly forever if I end up working in my lab next summer.

I've come to realize that my life:  has the potential to be full of adventure, if I make the correct decisions within the next few years.

I've come to realize that when I get on Facebook:  I won't get anything productive done for at least a few hours.

I've come to realize that today I will: [ah well, today's nearly over.]

I've come to realize that tonight I will:  bake cookies and watch Project Runway.

I've come to realize that tomorrow I will:  spend my last day at Creek Run playing with my campers and saying goodbye to my friends.

I've come to realize that I really want to:  travel and see the world.

I've come to realize relationships:  are difficult to develop.

I've come to realize that love:  is based upon trust.

I've come to realize my best guy friends:  are determined and set in their ways.

I've come to realize my best girl friends:  are always there for me to talk to when I need to.

I've come to realize that my friends in general:  are paving their own ways, but are still willing to stick together.

I've come to realize food:  brings people together.

I've come to realize that summer:  is too short, and makes memories that are hard to let go of.

I've come to realize heartbreak:  is something that I don't want to deal with any time soon.

I've come to realize that crying:  is a good emotional release, but doesn't actually change anything.

I've come to realize that death:  is final; and nothing can change the regrets that it causes.

I've come to realize that I'm sick:  of feeling like I've let people down.

I've come to realize when I'm bored:  I tend to think too much.

04 August 2010

Growing.

This summer has really flown by, and honestly- I'm not mentally prepared to go back to school in a little over two weeks.  Not just for the normal reasons of not wanting to go to class, or eat dining hall food (etc), but because this summer break has really been the only time in over a year that I've been able to spend actual time with my family.  I was traveling over winter and spring breaks this past year, and while it's something I love doing, I think the amount of time I've spent with my family this summer is going to make the transition back into school life more difficult than it has been for me in the past.


We were visiting with family friends earlier in the summer, and one of the adults commented that after this summer, wouldn't I be done living at home, because I would have to stay at school more to do research.  On one hand, I would probably enjoy the freedom of living in my own apartment- and I get a taste of that, to some extent, living in the dorms during the semesters.  On the other hand, however, I like knowing that I still "live at home"; that's still where I belong, and I'm not tied down to some other place instead.


Honestly, I probably won't be living at school over breaks like some people do or expect me to do.  Being at home with my family- as much as I complain about it- is more comfortable and more my style (most of the time).  Even when I am at school, I talk to my mom every day.  The way I see it is, it's growing up but not growing apart.  The independence is nice, but so is having somewhere to go back to.

13 June 2010

Food!

Dishes that I've made recently and enjoyed:

Ravioli Lasagna
(This is a dish I've been making for a while.  It's essentially the same thing as lasagna except using ravioli instead of lasagna noodles.  Doing this allows you to eliminate the ricotta cheese between the layers and just use mozzarella (and in this case, parmesan too).  It's just as gooey and delicious as a traditional lasagna.  You can use frozen or cooked ravioli; it takes about 50 minutes to cook if the pasta was frozen, and about 20 if it was cooked first- just long enough for the cheese to melt and start to brown.)













Peaches and Bananas in Cinnamon Chocolate Sauce
(Intended as a dessert; also works as a side dish.  This one was a big experiment on my part, since I just added things to the pot until it tasted good.  A little corn starch thickens the sauce, but the main ingredients in it are cocoa powder, confectioner's sugar, and cinnamon.  You can use whatever fruits you want- I just happened to have peaches and bananas handy when I made it.)













Meatloaf on Garlic Bread w/ Red Sauce
(This one I even got my cousin to eat, and she ate nearly half of the dish before my aunt got to try some. That never happens when she tries new foods!  The meat used here is just ground beef, which I seasoned and added BBQ sauce, ketchup, mustard, and a few other secret ingredients.  I added some bacon to the meatloaf, too, which adds an extra level of flavor to the dish.  Another secret to making this dish taste good is using regular garlic bread and topping it with your own shredded cheese instead of buying cheesy garlic bread- it's much gooier if you do it yourself!)



Tangy BBQ Sloppy Joes
(These started out as Tangy BBQ Sliders, but progressed in idea to Sloppy Joes by the end of Memorial Day Weekend.  A spicy BBQ sauce is the key component to this dish, as are grilled onions and sharp cheddar cheese.  Make sure to drain the meat and then add some extra BBQ sauce before plating.)

11 June 2010

She dreamed, too.

She, too, had hopes and dreams once, too...once, a long time ago, when things like that were allowed.  Then she grew up, and hopes and dreams of a wonderful future became hopes and dreams for a future at all.  Then that ended too, the day that everything of hers ended; when she rested forever yet dreamed no more.

07 June 2010

Whoops!...and food.

I flat out missed May in updating blog posts...oops.


Now for the real purpose of this post:


One food...how many days?


Recently, I saw a blog about a woman who wore the same little black dress for 365 days just by accessorizing it differently each day.


It got me thinking- why not do the same thing with food?  I'm not saying that I would like to eat one food for an entire year, but just to think about how many ways there are to "accessorize" food.  I want to come up with lots of different recipes that feature one main ingredient, yet are all unique.


First off, ground beef is such a versatile ingredient, but a lot of people don't seem to know what to do with it.  Because it can be used in so many different ways, you can really season it with whatever you want and it should still taste good.


1.  Tangy BBQ Sliders- with Texas-style BBQ sauce, bacon, and grilled onions
2.  Open-faced Italian Meatloaf Sandwiches- on garlic bread with mozzarella cheese and red sauce


These are the two ground beef recipes I've made recently and both were delicious!  (I did have people other than myself try them, so it is an unbiased opinion.)  The next recipe is an adaptation; I originally made it with ground chicken, and my little sister- who is one of the pickiest eaters I know- actually enjoyed it!


3.  Ranch Burgers- seasoned and with ranch dressing and fresh veggies on a crusty roll


I am going to come up with more recipes featuring ground beef, and then hopefully move on to some other versatile ingredients and do the same thing.


Ideas:


4.  roasted tomatoes and italian-seasoned ground beef with olive oil on romaine lettuce
5.  asian-style beef pockets with soy sauce and garlic in crescent dough


Bon appétit!


PS:  Pictures coming soon!  Just as soon as I find my memory card adapter...

25 April 2010

"I want to grab handfuls of music out of the air and stuff them into my mouth."

At the spring football game this afternoon, I was able to take some pictures of my trumpet in the sunlight.  The contrast of the silver instrument against the green turf with such intense light allowed for pretty awesome shots!  (They look better larger.  You can click on them and that will happen.)









10 April 2010

Road Signs

Last weekend, the weather was particularly nice, so I went around New Brunswick and took some pictures.  I'll probably put them up in themed sets, but I especially liked the pictures of street signs that I was able to take at fun angles.  That's one thing I enjoy about photography - that it allows you to take something ordinary and create a beautiful image.



03 April 2010

Alma mater is a Rutgers tradition

An opinion letter that I sent to The Daily Targum (Rutgers University newspaper) in response to the proposed changes to the Rutgers alma mater and this response from two University deans.


The Oxford English Dictionary defines tradition as “a long established and generally accepted custom or method of procedure”.  Based on this definition, I have to disagree with the piece written by Vice President Qualls and Dean Davidson, stating that “change does not mean [the] loss of tradition.”  If the alma mater is changed to become gender-neutral, the words of the song are no longer “long established,” and the tradition of singing words that have been sung by previous University students since 1873 is lost.  Even if few words are changed, the history that the alma mater represents is no longer present.  Rutgers was an all-male institution until 1972.  Being that Rutgers was founded in 1766, women have only been allowed into Rutgers for about 15% of the University’s existence.  The words of the alma mater remind us of this fact, and changing the words to our age-old alma mater marginalizes a huge part of Rutgers history.
As a female student, I am proud to attend a university that supports women so strongly, and I acknowledge the efforts of the Douglass Residential College to encourage women's leadership and success.  And, as a female student, I am in no way offended by the words to the alma mater.  In fact, I am proud that the song represents so much Rutgers history, and I am glad that when I sing the alma mater with a group of Rutgers peers, I join thousands of previous students in making my mark at the University.
If the words to the alma mater are changed, hundreds of years of our University’s history will be lost.  The alma mater is one of the few traditions that still remains at Rutgers, especially since the formation of the School of Arts and Sciences, and it is important for students to remember why Rutgers is what it is today.  The alma mater serves as that reminder every time it is sung.  I am proud to attend a school that has such a rich history dating back to 1766, not just 1972.  Though I understand the reasoning Douglass Governing Council is using to spearhead a change in the alma mater, the alma mater is much more than just another song.  It is a symbol of Rutgers history, and that fact can not be forgotten during this debate.  Changing any words of the alma mater destroys the “long established” tradition that has been a part of those words for the past 137 years.

14 March 2010

the Olympics

When the Olympics were airing a few weeks ago, I frequently heard disappointment voiced about the games, mostly that winter olympic sports are less exciting than those of the summer games.  (I am, in fact, a huge fan of the winter olympics over the summer olympics.  However...)


Whether or not you are a fan of the sports themselves, there's something to say about being able to watch athletes- representatives- from 82 different countries come together in one setting, completely devoid of political intrusion; to compete against each other with sportsmanship and grace, without regard to the nationality of their competitors.  When our world today is ravaged by so many political conflicts, an event like the Olympics serves to remind us that behind the front of politics, we are all still human beings, and that even if countries may disagree on certain issues, people from those countries can still connect with each other on other levels.  Yes, the Olympics is a great sporting event that showcases amazing athletes from all over the world.  It also serves as a brief reminder to everyone that it is possible to relate to people from other countries despite some initial barriers that may have to be broken through.  Although politics plays a role in the relationship between various countries' governments, it does not have to get in the way of real human connections.


Whether you take this lesson and impose it on a small-scale or global level, there is something that can be learned by each of us from watching the Olympics.  Though the Olympics occur just every two years, hopefully that is often enough that we don't forget that deep down, there is something the same inside all of us.

06 February 2010

Photos of Paris

These are 6 of my favorite pictures that I took on my trip to Paris in January.  (You can see them larger if you click on the image.)  Enjoy!

Gargoyle eats the Eiffel Tower :)
The Louvre pyramid at night

The Eiffel Tower at night
Sainte-Chapelle cathedral


12 January 2010

Je suis au Paris!

Bonjour de Paris!
Je m'amuse beaucoup malgre qu'il fait trop froid de rester longtemps en plein air. Donc, il y a beaucoup des musees pour cette raison =P

So far (besides eating lots of delicious pastries) I have been:
-shopping at 2 of the huge deartment stores, and Muji (stationery store)
-to a street market
-down the Champs-Elysees
-to Trocadero-great view of the Eiffel Tower
-to an architecture museum (not my idea at all, but great views from its 3rd floor!)
-to Notre Dame, Arc de Triomphe, and the Eiffel Tower st night to take pictures
-on tours of the Opera house and revolutionary Paris
-to the Cluny museum on medieval France
-inside St. Chapelle cathedral (beautiful stained glass windows)
-to the Shoah memorial, a Holocaust museum
-to the Pantheon crypts
-up the Eiffel Tower...I walked!
-to see L'Avare at the Comedie Francaise

I've been really busy, but this trip has been awesome so far, and I'm still here for 3 more days. Off now to go up the Arc de Triomphe and visit some more museums :-)


~posted from my iTouch~

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