Waterfalls

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My job can really be a downer sometimes; often my schedule changes at the drop of a hat and before I know it I’m in the drug store scrambling to pick up enough toiletries for an impromptu trip.  Today was spent much at the mercy of my bosses waiting for word from their bosses (this sounds like a bad comedy, right?) about my schedule in the next few weeks.  Things ended up turning out a little better than expected, and so to celebrate I came home, had a few drinks, ate some of the leftover Easter Ham (I believe my words as I walked through the door were, “I want this [piece of chocolate], I’m having a drink, and all I want to do is eat some of that ham.”), watched a few Twilight Zone episodes, and listened to some “oldies” (aka 90s music).  

One of my all-time favorite songs is TLC’s Waterfalls.  I love, love, LOVE that song.  If any artist(s) ever wanted to write a song about life it was done perfectly with that song.  Genres aside, the lyrics ring out true:

Don’t go chasing waterfalls, please stick to the rivers and the lakes that you’re used to

Those lyrics are screaming, “Don’t go after things that are out of your reach (for good reason), stick to what you should be focused on in life.”  I feel like at any time in my life when I have questioned whether something felt right or not, I can hear that line playing over and over again in my head (I definitely soundtrack my life, sue me).

My favorite part about the song is Left Eye’s rap, which is actually much more beautiful when read:

I seen a rainbow yesterday
But too many storms have come and gone
Leavin’ a trace of not one God-given ray
Is it because my life is ten shades of gray
I pray all ten fade away
Seldom praise Him for the sunny days

And like His promise is true
Only my faith can undo
The many chances I blew
To bring my life to anew
Clear blue and unconditional skies
Have dried the tears from my eyes
No more lonely cries
My only bleedin’ hope
Is for the folk who can’t cope
Wit such an endurin’ pain
That it keeps ’em in the pourin’ rain
Who’s to blame
For tootin’ caine in your own vein
What a shame
You shoot and aim for someone else’s brain
You claim the insane
And name this day in time
For fallin’ prey to crime
I say the system got you victim to your own mind

Dreams are hopeless aspirations
In hopes of comin’ true
Believe in yourself
The rest is up to me and you

I don’t know if I would ever get a tattoo (one day I’d love it, the next I’d be over it already), but in my imagined maybe-someday-when-I-get-a-tattoo reality, I would probably want to be even artsier than I already am (so, would that cancel out “being artsy”?), I would want to get one of those bolded sections in some super feminine print (so I could be like one of those fabulous examples on Pinterest).  Okay getting waaay too hipster for my own good!

Anyway, for a fantastic blast from the past…err, 90s (and some just plain old good life advice) listen to some TLC.

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Food + Health + Music

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Food

I have a confession to make: I can’t cook.  There has been much time spent on Pinterest drooling over the beautiful creations that people pin, and I have thought about attempting to make some of them, but then I just get discouraged because I actually barely know how to cook anything.  I went to a university where they provided food for us, and actually, we didn’t really have access to cooking appliances.  Anyway, I’ve got a little time off from work this week and next, and so my goal has been to actually cook using recipes.   I bought a Better Homes and Gardens healthy cooking magazine and wanted to try the Seven-Grain Salad with Roasted Pepper, Feta, and Mustard Dressing.  Because I live overseas and do not have access to specialty grocery stores like Whole Foods, I had to try to stick to the recipe as best as I could.  It’s listed below:

3 cups water

1 1/2 cups seven-grain pilaf mix

1/4 cup olive oil

1/2 teaspoon finely shredded lime peel

3 tablespoons lime juice

1 tablespoon coarse ground brown mustard (I did not use this because I couldn’t find it)

1 to 2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (I couldn’t find this, so I substituted with chipotle pepper)

1 cup chopped tomatoes

1 cup chopped cucumber

1/3 cup chopped roasted red sweet pepper (I used fresh sweet pepper)

1/4 cup chopped pitted Kalamata olives

1/4 cup snipped fresh herbs, such as dill, mint, and/or parsley

1/3 crumbled feta cheese

It turned out decent for the substitutions I made, considering this was my first attempt at actually following a recipe and having to create a sauce myself.

Health

So while not ready to go full-on Paleo Diet just yet, I am definitely trying to change what I eat.  I would really like to lose a few stubborn pounds that have been hanging on for a few years and tone up.  Pinterest really is my weakness–it makes finding different workout routines so easy!  I really like to do distance running, but I tend to just get in the habit of one or two routines and not really changing things up, which doesn’t help my speed-work too much.  Long, slow distance only trains the body up to a point and then you just plateau.  Hopefully by adding different calisthenics, weights, and interval cardio, I can improve my speed for my distance runs.

Music

I finally gave in and might be going down the path of Hipster tendencies (gasp) by branching out and expanding what I’m listening to.  I really like listening to all different types of music, with a few exceptions, but as of recent I’ve definitely been leaning in the Hipster musical directions.  A few albums I’ve downloaded recently of note are:

Wild Nothing/ Nocturne

To be quite honest, a lot of these groups sound very similar to me, but I really enjoy the Dream Pop sound.  It’s easy listening for mornings driving to work or just relaxing.  I’ve been listening to this album a lot as of recent; for anyone that likes easy listening I recommend this album.  And to read a much better review please check out BBC’s review of the album.

Foxes/ Echo, Warrior, Youth (EPs/singles)

I don’t know why, because even though British singer Foxes seems like initially “another female singer/songwriter,” her music is really interesting.  It is pop, but it just has a different sound.  Youth is almost like something that would be a dance song in a club, but it’s still different.  I hope she releases a full-length CD in the near future.  Really like her stuff!

Delta Rae/Carry the Fire

This is my FAVORITE new album I’ve downloaded.  I love blues-inspired, southern-rock-esque music.  Bottom of the River is a very powerful song, but my number one on the album is Morning Comes, the tale of an every-man and the obstacles he faces in his daily life.  Although different in sound, I think Mumford and Sons fans might like this one.

Hopefully this coming week I’ll have more dishes to share, and hopefully no disasters!

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New Jersey, My Love

So I’ve been a little homesick recently (living across the world will, on occasion, do that to you), and I went through some of my photos from home.  I am, through-and-through, born and bred, a Jersey girl (and for all the beef it gets, it is kind of awesome–Springsteen, Bon Jovi, amazing beaches, porkroll!). Summers were spent flying down the streets on our beach-cruiser bikes and walking laps on the boardwalk or through downtown.  You’d work on the Boardwalk or in a local seafood restaurant  and when you got out you’d probably end up hanging out at the Ocean Bay Diner until 5 AM with your friends.  I didn’t really have a curfew in high school, just as long as I called to say where I was.  I come from a small town, and thankfully crime was practically non-existent.

And I come from the time a few years back when the underground music scene was gaining popularity and a lot of the now pop-rock bands started out just as a few kids playing in someone’s basement or garage.

When I came back from Japan after my year long exchange in high school, I started working in this little town known as Ocean Grove.  It’s really a bizarre place, started in 1869 as a Methodist meeting camp, it remains the longest acting camp-meeting site in the United States.  It’s a dry town, and back in the day they used to lock the big iron gates so no one could get in–or get out–until the Sabbath was over.  It’s only a square mile total in size, and the town charter was essentially written incorrectly and in 1921 it was ruled unconstitutional.  Basically everyone was fired from their jobs and Ocean Grove got absorbed into the larger surrounding township.  To make things weirder, there are residents who stay in some of the houses who are really….quirky, to say the least. I encountered quite a few of these “townies” when I worked there.

The town itself really is quite lovely, though, full of Victorian beach cottages and some outright gigantic mansions–you definitely get the vibe of that old turn-of-the-century Jersey Shore glamour.

And a few from Seaside when it’s at its best–in the middle of winter when the Benny’s and the Jersey Shore hooligans are nowhere in sight:

You can take the girl out of Jersey but you can’t take Jersey out of the girl.  Nothing quite like waking up at 5 AM to bike to the beach to watch the sunrise and then grabbing porkroll and cheese on a crispy, toasted bagel at the nearest diner.  And as long as you remember not to slurp your soup or detain a homing pigeon, it’s really a great place to be from.

What place do you call home?

Just a few shots

The days have been incredibly long at my job, so I can not express just how relaxing it is to come home, listen to Edith Piaf, and have a cup of tea before bed.  Especially when the hours you are working look something like wake up at 5 AM and don’t return home until around 9 PM.  Staying focused has been difficult recently; we’ve been working 7 day weeks and it’s not certain when we will stop.  I’ve dug up a few shots I took awhile back that I’ve always liked, so I’ll go ahead and post them tonight.

So on a completely random note, one of my New Year’s Resolutions was to listen to more music, and now that I have a big-girl-job I can actually afford to download pretty much all the music that I want on itunes.  Recently I’ve been listening to The Who’s Tommy, which I was introduced to through my all-time favorite, Almost Famous.  It’s pretty wild, and if you’re into concept albums like myself, it’s worth a listen.  Totally bizarre.  And on the topic of music, I can’t wait for Mumford and Sons’ new album to be released.  Definitely looking forward to that one.

Cinema Inspiration

As noted, I’ve taken up writing again.  Not that any hiatuses are planned, it’s just that because of the nature of my work I tend to have very little time to really just sit and reflect.  However, I firmly believe that the lack of healthy outlets causes a person to really start to lose sight of themself; when work becomes the entirety of a person’s existence, things go south pretty quickly.  Anyhow, I am going to try my best to get in a few entries a week (if anything, for my own well-being).

So as I was getting my apartment fall-ready, I was thinking about inspiration in general, considering why I like certain influences and want to reflect them.  That goes for clothing, decor, artwork, writing, life in general, whatever.  In this case, specifically, I was thinking about my favorite movie–Almost Famous.

I will hands down say that Kate Hudson’s eccentric and fanatical muse, Penny Lane, is definitely a major style-influence.

Penny Lane asks the main character, William (based on director Cameron Crowe), if he wants to go with her to Morocco.  The character of Penny Lane is, up until the end, almost completely surreal.  Kate Hudson does a fantastic job of portraying an individual who is always on somewhat of a different level of reality, right down to the   very fact that she doesn’t even use her real name, or let others know what it actually is.

I love this movie for a variety of reasons, another being the music.  As Zooey Deschanel’s character Anita leaves home to become a stewardess, she hands William a note and tells him, “Look under your bed, it’ll set you free.”

William inherits Anita’s record collection and begins to pursue his dream as a rock writer, which is the basis for the entire movie as he travels the country with the fictional band of Stillwater.  Elton John, Led Zeppelin, Simon and Garfunkel, the Beach Boys, and a handful of other classics paint the movie’s soundtrack.  One of my favorite scenes is the morning after the character Russell has a bit of a debacle the night before.  Divided on a few things concerning the path the band is taking, they seem to come together as they all join in to sing “Tiny Dancer” on the tour bus.

As William travels with Stillwater, he is faced with the challenge of writing what the actual truth, despite the pleas of the band members to just, “make them look cool.”  Eventually he does end up writing the article for Rolling Stone as he sees fit, even with a few bumps along the way.  William leaves home young and misses his high school graduation, which hits home for me because I left home during my senior year to study abroad in Japan.  I also missed my high school graduation, along with a handful of other high-school staples.  I think there is something for those of us who feel the need to find whatever it is that we are looking for–we seek it by travel, by writing, by whatever.  But there is something that compels us to leave behind what is the usual and comfortable to seek that which is foreign to us.

Anita tells William before she leaves, “One day, you’ll be be cool.”  Maybe what she actually meant was, “One day, you’ll know who you are.”