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I feel like I’m 22 going on 52

April 13, 2011

Man, this has been a hard week.

Work has been really stressful and I’m trying to figure out how to leave the headaches in my cubicle and come home with a smile.  Blasting obscene rap music has been surprisingly calming.  Being stuck in rush hour traffic…not so much.

I used to wonder as a kid why my parents looked so tired after work, why my mom found making dinner for the four of us so difficult, why my dad insisted that we help him out with housework.  I thought, “Well, I have to go to school for 8 hours too and I have to do homework, what’s the big deal about cooking and laundry?  They have it so much easier than I do.”

Now I can’t believe they didn’t go crazy from it all or feed us McDonald’s every night or make us wear dirty clothes to school.

It’s in moments like these, when you peel back another layer from the mythical persona of your parents, when you begin to understand their daily struggles and sacrifices and joys, when you realize that the decisions you make will actually define your life, that you can actually feel yourself growing up.

You know those growing pains you get when going through puberty, where you can actually feel your  legs getting longer (or in my case, not that much longer)?

It’s kind of like that, but in your heart and in your gut.

My mom used to tell me to stretch my muscles, or to take more calcium or potassium to help with the pain.  And whether or not that actually helped, I believed her and it felt better.  But what do you do now that there is no straightforward answer? 

What is the cure for growing-up pains?

**While I haven’t come to any long-term, life-shattering revelations, what’s helped me through this week has been a simple combination of: running + phone calls with Austin + vanilla bean ice-cream.

I want to be a billionaire…so freakin’ bad

April 11, 2011

Last night, I ate Sebastian.

Eat me with butter!

And may I say, he was delicious.

You should also know that The Little Mermaid is my favorite movie.

Yesterday our local grocery store was selling whole cooked lobster for $3.99 each!  Austin and I have never had lobster before so we decided to jump on this deal even though we have no idea how to eat, much less cook, lobster.

After we arrived home and unwrapped them, I realized one very important fact: watching rich people in movies eating lobster is much more glamorous than trying to cook lobster at home.  They look so much more…real in real life.  Imagine that.

This fact was not helped when Austin cheerfully told me that lobsters are crustaceans and therefore what we were about to eat were in essence, giant sea bugsBugs.

Thank goodness we didn't name them...

I consider myself a pretty adventurous eater.  I’ve had veal sweetbread (pancreas), beef bone marrow, and jellyfish…but I definitively and absolutely draw the line at bugs.  They’re just so…slimy and crunchy and buggy-eyed and disgusting and…

I may be exaggerating just a bit.

Austin, being the big, brave man that he is, took the reins and cut the lobsters in half before setting them on the grill to cook for a bit.  We pulled the meat out of the tails and claws and dipped them in butter.  There wasn’t much meat in them because they were such little lobsters, but I imagine that professionally-cooked, restaurant-grade, jumbo lobster tails must be amazing.

Sigh…someday.  Someday I’m going to fly first-class (at least once!), own a designer dress (or just try one on), and eat lots and lots of lobster.

Three Cups of Tea and 3.9 Miles

April 9, 2011

I know I haven’t written for a week now, but I’ve just been too busy doing stuff.

Unlike my past few posts about feeling stuck/lazy/unproductive, I’ve spend the past week off my butt and getting little stuff done (going to the bank, making dinner, taking naps) as well as big stuff accomplished (being inspired, reconnecting with friends, and finishing my first race–yay me!)

Unfortunately all my doing-stuff-ness meant that writing became the one thing left undone.  And since most of my posts thus far are about me doing nothing, I figured it be best if I wrote about me doing something.

And without further ado…My Week of Doing Something-s.

Wednesday: Meeting my personal rock star, Greg Mortenson, and wanting to be his groupie

Greg Mortenson, writer of Three Cups of Tea and Stones into Schools, builder of schools for children in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and an all-round education and women’s rights superhero, came to KU to talk about his experiences and the importance of educating women.  Hearing him humbly speak about what he and the Central Asia Institute had accomplished was incredibly inspirational and left me with warm fuzzy feelings all night.

Plus, he signed my copy of Three Cups of Tea which is probably the coolest (and only) autograph I’ve ever gotten.

And I didn’t wash my hands for a good half hour after he shook my hand.

So thank you Mr. Mortenson for coming to KU and reminding me the type of person I want to be and the type of life I want to lead.

Friday: Tecates and Tacos

After a long workday and a quick workout, Austin and I decided to satisfy our craving for Mexican food by checking out a restaurant in Lawrence that we’ve never been to (there aren’t that many left).  We not only love authentic Mexican food but we also love finding new places to try.  It’s like discovering a whole new world of food to explore, savor, and devour.

Tortas Jaliscos is located in an unassuming building behind a gas station and there weren’t that many people in there when we arrived, so I was a bit weary at first, but I’m so glad that we gave this place a try.  Austin got the steak/chicken/chorizo fajitas while I munched on some authentic chicken gorditas.  While the refried beans and rice were typical of most Mexican restaurants, the meat in Austin’s fajitas was so well-seasoned and perfectly cooked. I wish I had a picture to convey the deliciousness of the food and the happy looks on our faces, but we ate it all before I could even grab my camera.

The owner even came out to thank us for coming in and recommended that we come in before the end of the month to try their April special of Blue Corn Enchiladas.  I can promise you I will be there.  And I’m taking pictures.

Saturday: Grillin’ and Chillin’

Who: Me, my girls Lauren and Sweta, and our boys

Where: Lauren’s massive dining room table

What: grilled steaks, baked potatoes, asparagus, mushroom risotto with peanut butter cup ice-cream and chocolate-chip cookies for dessert and Boulevard Wheat to drink.

My personal highlight of the night: using Franzia sweet white wine to cook my risotto

My personal lowpoint in the night: when Austin told everyone I had stinky farts

What I call our boyfriends when they’re together: The Three Stooges

Sunday: My First Race!

We woke up bright and early to carpool with our relay team to the Boulevard Brewery plant in Kansas City for the Brew to Brew Run for Cystic Fibrosis.  Teams of one to ten people run a point-to-point relay race of 10 legs from Boulevard Brewery to Free State Brewery in Lawrence, about 44 miles total!

Boulevard offered free beer and coffee while we were waiting to start with the other 7:30 am teams.  Dilemma: Do I drink the beer and run dehydrated or should I opt out and hydrate with water instead?


Austin and I enjoying our pre-run beers

Uh, duh.  Beer.

My team: Ad Astra per Acrospire

After our team captain Laura ran the first leg, it was Austin’s turn!  Unfortunately for him, he hyper-extended his knee in Jiu Jitsu two  days beforehand and couldn’t run as well as he liked.  To deal with that, he popped a couple ibuprofen, iced his knee the night before, and…dressed up as a banana of course!

My Banana Man

A lot of the teams dressed up in funny costumes or team shirts, but I can promise you that he was the only running banana there!

The Banana Man finishing his 5.3 mile leg

He actually finished his leg in great time despite the knee and the heavy winds that kept catching his banana costume.  I was so proud to see him running toward the mini-finish line. I’m also glad he didn’t….peel out.

A nervous smile right before my turn

Of all the people on my team, I was the only race-running newbie so I was so nervous about doing a good job.  Not only did I want to finish my 3.9 mile leg, but I didn’t want to let my team down.  I tried smiling for the camera but my heart was beating so fast.  What if I had to walk?  What if I didn’t finish?  What if my team thinks I run too slowly?

Austin was so supportive at the starting line and it was so nice to have my best friend there to boost my confidence.  Once I started running though, I was all on my own.  It was me, the pavement, and the heavy winds billowing across the flat landscape.  I played my favorite running playlist and tried to relax a little while staying focused on running at a steady pace.

Inner Running Dialogue:

“I can do this.  I’ve run 4 miles before around my neighborhood.  This isn’t any different.”

“Man, it is hot outside.  And dusty.  Is that dust in my teeth?  Gross.  I wonder if you can make sand from rocks that way.  Damn, it’s windy.  What I get blown away?  Is that possible?  I’d be like Mary Poppins.”

“Ok.  Focus Janie.  One step in front of the other.  Relax your shoulders.  Relax your neck. Just breathe.  Steady breaths.”

“Why didn’t I pee beforehand?  Where am I supposed to pee out here?  I can’t believe that I just ran past an eight-year-old boy.  I feel like a terrible person but at least he didn’t pass me.”

“Alright, snap out of it!  Janie, you have two goals: Do not walk any part of this race and finish this.  That’s all.  You can do it.”

And guess what?  I finished!


I did it!

Seeing Austin and my teammates at the finish line cheering my name and jumping up and down gave me that little extra energy to sprint toward the finish line.  Though tired, I had the biggest smile on my face.  Last year, I didn’t run in Brew to Brew with Austin because I was afraid to challenge myself.  This year however, I faced my fears and I accomplished something that I always wanted but was always too nervous to strive for.  I ran my first race!

What is something you worked hard to accomplish and did?  What are you striving for next?

A reminder…

March 28, 2011

Dear Janie,

Today was your first day at your first grown-up job.  Congratulations!  You showed up to work early, remembered almost everybody’s name, and took some really good notes.  I know you were really nervous but you did great.

I know this wasn’t what you imagined your first job to be.  I know you won’t be using your college degree.  I know that you aren’t sure where this job will take you, whether you’ll like it, or what the hell you’re doing.

It’s ok.  Breathe.  You know you’ll eventually find your way, even if that means taking it day by day.

Now this is a full-time job, so you may have to give up Thursday martini nights or flying to Thailand on a whim.  Don’t fret.  When you finally buy your first car all on your own, you’ll be so proud of yourself.

You’re so excited about having paid vacation days, health insurance, and work experience and why shouldn’t you be?  Now you can finally go see that dentist you’ve been putting off.

But promise me something ok?  Promise me that you won’t forget how much you still want to go to Thailand.  How you want to get your Master’s Degree in anything.  How you want to have a garden.  How you want to go scuba diving, mountain climbing, and sky diving.  How you want to write down every single one of your mom’s recipes.  How you want to find your “dream job”.

Work hard at this new job and enjoy the perks.  But don’t lose sight of who you are and who you want to be.  Don’t forget that there are still many places to discover, people to meet, and adventures to experience.

You are not just an employee.  You are  a writer.  A traveler.  A sister and a daughter.  A cook.  A runner. A dreamer and a lover.  A girlfriend.  A best friend.  A reader and an explorer.  You are many things and be careful not to get so caught up in being a worker bee that you forget all the other parts of who you are.



I’m trading in my beer mug for a coffee mug

March 26, 2011

It’s 10:05 on a Saturday night and I am in bed.

Yes, I am 22 years old.

Yes, I am staying at my parents’ house part-time from now on to minimize the commute to my new job.

No, my parents are not going to bed yet.

Yes, that makes me feel old.

My first day at my new job is on Monday and while I am excited to start, I am not ready to be at work by 7:30 AM.  This means I have to be up by 6:00 AM every morning…and be in bed by 9:30 pm to have a full 8 hours of sleep.  Which is a necessity if I don’t want to turn into the angry zombie of myself (not attractive nor pleasant).

I don’t think I’ve been up that early since high school…four years ago.  Since then, my body has adjusted quite happily to my college schedule of waking up at 10 am and going to bed at 1:30 am.  I quite enjoy waking up at the perfect brunch time and staying up late enough to nibble on late-night munchies.

Sorry Taco Bell, no more fourth meals for me.

From now on, I’m joining the legion of early risers who chug more coffee than beer.

But before I can enjoy all that “early bird gets the worm” stuff, I need to go to bed first–which is where I’m stuck.  It’s 10:28 now and I’m no closer to dozing off than I was 23 minutes ago.  I would take a warm bath and have a warm glass of milk, but alas I don’t have a bath tub and I’m lactose-intolerant.

What helps you sleep at night…or get up early in the morning?  Are you an early riser or a night owl?

And a helpful tip from Toothpaste For Dinner

The art of doing nothing…but napping

March 25, 2011

Yesterday was the epitome of a lazy day.

Woke up late, ate brunch, watched TV, ate lunch, napped on the couch, napped in bed, played board games, ate dinner, watched March Madness.

It’s been a really long time since I’ve had the time to take a late afternoon nap.  Ever since graduating, I’ve spent my days trying to be productive, trying to move ahead in life, trying to accomplish something.  But now that I only have t-minus 2 days until I start my new job, I just want to hold onto every minute of this unemployed bliss.

Oh life and it’s ironies: I work so hard trying to find a full time job, impatient to start, bored with my free time…and then the minute I get a job, I just want to hold on to every free minute I have.

Does that ever happen to you?  Have you ever wanted something so badly, but then the minute you get it, you want what you had before?

Two years ago, I read the book Eat, Pray, Love (side note: book much better than movie) and fell in love with the Italian phrase: l’arte di non fare niente. The art of doing nothing.

Well first off, I love how Italian just rolls off the tongue and tastes like a decadent bite of tiramisu.  l’arte di non fare niente. l’arte di non fare niente…delicious, no?

But equally important is this idea that there can be an art to doing absolutely nothing.  Just as how painting, writing, singing, dancing are all forms of art, doing nothing is an art as well, one that deserves practice, focus, and enjoyment.  At times it is important to set aside expectations and responsibilities and simply be.

Of course this whole “being” thing isn’t as easy as it sounds.  Throughout my day that little annoying voice kept whispering, “Haven’t you watched enough March Madness?  Why aren’t you getting work done?  Shouldn’t you go for a run?” Annoying right?  The first few whispers made me feel guilty and I started to consider what I needed to get done.

But then I would focus on that phrase, l’arte di non fare niente, and remind myself that doing nothing doesn’t make me lazy.  Doing nothing is doing something.  It is the 100% no-guilt savoring of successive afternoon naps.

Yesterday I wasn’t a recent grad about to start her first job.  I wasn’t a 20-something with bills to pay, friends to call, emails to send, car to fix, workout to finish.

I was just a girl, playing Parcheesi, daydreaming about tiramisu.

What I’m Obsessed With: chins and cinnamon rolls

March 23, 2011

I’d like to first use this blog post to announce that: SPRING IS HERE!

And while I am currently drugged up with anti-histamines to avoid clawing the itch out of my allergy-consumed face, I’d still rather suffer from high pollen count than snow.  I am literally glowing, GLOWING in this 70 degree weather.  Yesterday I pulled my flip flops out of closet hibernation, threw on a skirt, and went outside to OD on some Vitamin D.  There really is nothing better than feeling the warmth of the sun on your toes.

In celebration of the season that brings tulips, Cadbury eggs, and the lowering of my gas bill, here are a few things putting a smile on my face:

1.) Momma’s Cookin’

While Austin and I love to travel at every chance we get, there’s something immensely comforting about coming home during spring break, sleeping in your high school room, and having your mom ask you, “Are you hungry?  Can I make you something?  What do you want for dinner?”  So while our friends are skiing in Colorado, getting drunk in South Padre, or scuba diving in Belize, we wouldn’t trade his mom’s homemade carrot cake cookies for any of that.

2.) Today’s Big Thing

Without this website, I would have never watched:

or this…

3.) Aaron Eckhart’s Butt-Chin

While watching Battlefield: Los Angeles…

Me: Isn’t Aaron Eckhart hot?

Austin: Ew, he has a butt chin.

And now I can’t stop staring at it.

I put the last one in for good measure.

4. “E.T”: Katy Perry ft. Kanye West

Listen to it.  Amazing.

5. Cinnamon Rolls in all shapes and forms

Cinnamon rolls, twists, breads, buns, pancakes?!  All finger-licking delicious and now I can’t sleep.  Not a good idea to Google “cinnamon roll types” before bed.