em_brett: (do not like)
2009-12-26 06:17 pm
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State of flux

Finished the semester, home for a month, then off to the other side of the world.

I feel completely lost right now.
em_brett: (Default)
2009-12-06 10:18 am
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Proof that I am more effective in the morning

I woke up an hour ago, lounged around in bed for a little while, then had cereal and made my usual pot of tea. Within the time it took me to drink said pot of tea, I glanced over my notes and happily plugged out the last 400 words of my paper abstract. Contrast with last night, where the first 200 words of the abstract took nearly an hour (and a fairly teary one at that) before I realized that I had other work that needed to be finished right then and abandoned it for the night. I'm thinking it might be worth getting up (and going to sleep) even earlier these days.

All this, too, despite insomnia from, oh, 3:30 this morning until 6 or 7. Annoying Neighbor came home around 3:30 and proceeded to stand in the hall outside less annoying Neighbor's door, telling him loudly about how her best friend had gotten drunk for the first time in her life! and it was crazy!

People, 3:30 am is sleeping time. Not yelling drunkenly time -- that really ought to end by 1 in the morning. Please? I mean, it was brief so I didn't bother putting pants on and telling her to go away, but oh man insomnia sucks. I am so excited to get out of the dorm into a place that is quiet.

Still, the snow-covered trees are framing the Dome nicely this morning. Maybe if i ever have time again I'll go for a hike.
em_brett: (afraid of nothing hat firefly)
2009-12-05 04:24 pm
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There is SNOW!

Finally! We've had a few flurries here and there but this is the first time anything's stuck. I was beginning to worry that I wouldn't see any this winter, since I'm to go home in 2 weeks and it rarely snows there.

I'm shifting into exams mode, which really means paper-writing mode. I've three ten-page research papers, a fiction portfolio, and a 24-hour take-home to take care of before I go home. I try to avoid going on and on about how much school is breaking me right now, but it's a difficult subject to avoid -- yesterday I had a thought that it wouldn't be all that bad if I just packed up my room and went home without writing any of my papers. Failing a whole semester's worth of classes wouldn't be so bad, right? It's been a lot of slogging through and taking the occasional half-hour break to cry and panic. Right now it doesn't seem so bad, but yesterday I read exactly one article for research. Not so good. When I called home, my mother was utterly unhelpful: all "well why don't you try x" and "well in two weeks it'll be over." True enough, but not particularly useful. Still, she's trying. J's trying, too, but she's getting over the swine and is understandably and perfectly reasonably mopey herself.

But there are, certainly, ups: last week I was home for Thanksgiving, which was wonderful as always, and mailed in my story to the Atlantic student fiction contest. Just have to cross my fingers until March now. I've told my parents that if anything comes from the Atlantic while I'm in Bali, they are to email me immediately with hopefully! good news. Oh, and other good news: two months til Bali. Yesssss.

Anyway, back to ignoring the big to-do about a recent incident on campus and doing some research. Will try to post more frequently in the future; don't count on it.

em_brett: (library)
2009-11-11 11:35 am

Small Measure of Success

Apparently when you hit shift+arrow left in Firefox, it navigates you back a page. When you go forward again, dreamwidth has dropped your post. Rewrite time!

My progress report for Humanitarian Intervention is DONE. That means in the next week I have only (only) to write a story, edit another story, write a blog post and comment on it for anth/wgst, and research and write the abstract for my anth/wgst paper. I also have to do things like edit other people's stories for workshop and do my reading. Also research my Indonesian paper and practice speaking.

In other news, the women-specific section of Kompas, which is an Indonesian-language online newspaper/publication, is entitled "Female." All this despite the fact that there is a perfectly good word in bahasa Indonesia, perempuan, for woman/female. Also all the photos are of non-Indonesian women. Bizarre. You can see for yourself here.

I think I just heard a fly buzzing around. Bitch, please -- I may be a vegetarian but that doesn't mean I have to care for flies.

em_brett: (library)
2009-11-09 11:28 am

"So let's talk about your paper...

...I want to make sure you focus on it. Because it's going to be hard to give you a good grade on the language part of this class." Says my professor, at the end of our session today.

Oh dear lord. I'm trying, I really am, but there's no one to practice with and dear god this is difficult. I don't know why I am so intimidated by (a) learning Indonesian since it's not like anyone other than my prof. sees me screw up and (b) by my professor because it's not like he's Clifford Geertz or anything.

AUGH flee flee flee. (To the library! Or to class. Y'know. Same idea.)

Also I am afraid I'm getting sick and there is swine flu on campus. DO NOT LIKE.
em_brett: (library)
2009-11-05 11:03 am

Slowly making progress

Putting off decisions about thesis, summer, that sort of thing; I can't really make an accurate or informed decision until I'm abroad anyway. My parents will be coming to visit at the end of my program, so if I want to go home or elsewhere with them, I'll be able to; similarly, I'll be able to stick around if I want.

Not thinking about my projects as much as I should be. I'm about to start attacking JSTOR for articles, so we'll see where that takes me.

Seeing Paul Rusesebagina (spelling?) speak tonight -- should be an interesting experience.

So yea. Slowly getting stuff done. Resisting the urge to ignore it all and nap.
em_brett: (dalek dance)
2009-11-02 10:39 am

Indonesian word of the day

Today's word of the day is merambo, or merambokan, which translates to "to utterly destroy." Me and kan are affixes, the former signifying the word as a transitive verb. The latter is known as a benefactive. The root of the word? Rambo, like the character. See the connection?

Indonesian is awesome.

em_brett: (sunrise)
2009-10-30 07:28 pm
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I have a lot of trouble making meaningful social connections.

No, that's not quite right. It's more of an all-or-nothing sort of thing, which is one of the reasons why I think I tend toward monogamous relationships. It is very easy for me to form a relationship in which one person means the world. What's harder for me is friendship: how do people navigate the grey areas of being close but not too close? What can you tell a friend and what can you not? What is too much information? What can you rely on them for?

It's why I spend a lot of evenings in, rather than going to one party or another. Social settings with tons of people who fit somewhere on the acquaintance----good-friend continuum, not to mention a whole bunch of strangers. Mix that with some social anxiety and you have a result that's not exactly my idea of a good time.

But then I also have nights like tonight, where all I really want is for someone to knock on my door and ask if everything's all right. But to ask it in a way that tells me that they already know and I don't need to explain to them that no, there is not a rational explanation for why I feel like curling up in my bed and doing nothing at all. But that would be overstepping the friendship bounds, wouldn't it? You say the word "depression" around anyone here and they shrink back, not sure what to do or how to help or even if they should help. It's almost as if they think "well, if I do something wrong I might break it, so I just won't touch it because that will help, right?" Even though it's that very thing, the not-touching, that makes this place horrible.

And so I curl up into a ball on my bed and wish that J were here, but know that I can't ask it of her because she has her own stress and her own life. To request she spend ten hours in the car this weekend on my behalf would be unfair. Tonight, while no fun, isn't a night where I absolutely need her here.

em_brett: (do not like)
2009-10-27 08:16 pm

In an attempt to stop this Day from going further downhill:

Enter the To-Do list of doom.

Tomorrow, I must:
Practice speaking Indonesian
Meet with my professor to practice said Indonesian
Meet with my other professor to discuss my potential paper topic
Read the introduction and chapters 1&3 of Farmer, Pathologies of Power
Read a sizeable portion of Vickers, Bali: A Paradise Created

In the next week, I must:
Read the Maxwell story
Write a brief imitation of said story
Figure out what story to write my story on
Finish Vickers
Read Block, Pushed
Read the Menacker article
Write a blog post for class
Finish Farmer
Read and critique 2 stories for workshop
Practice Indonesian
Begin my story

Major things due in the next month:
Story for workshop
Progress report for faith-based interventions project
Abstract for sex in society paper
Read a whole lot of things about Bali so I can figure out on what to write that paper
Don't panic.

Ohgodohgod why am I doing this college thing?

em_brett: (elephant)
2009-10-11 09:30 pm
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Oh man so much food

J came to visit this weekend and I made the world of food for her. First I made Mexican hot chocolate cupcakes (adapted from a couple recipes in Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, which seriously people, if you don't own it, you should) as a "congratulations you're employed!" present. They were awesome.

Then on Saturday we went to the Bennington Farmer's Market, where a wonderful baker gave us two baguettes for the price of one, and another farmer gave J two pablano peppers for free because she was admiring them while I was picking out acorn squash. She told him she was happy to pay for them, to which he replied, "sure, you could pay for them, but they're a gift." Farmer's markets and Bennington are some of the best places in the world.

Then we made soup!

So here are the recipes. The acorn squash, along with some beautiful purple carrots and a couple of parsnips, turned into the world of soup (seriously it made like 8 servings).

That recipe is here: )

The cupcakes were similarly awesome. Also spicy. Also delicious.

Also here. )

Recipes crossposted to [community profile] omnomnom , as usual.

em_brett: (afraid of nothing hat firefly)
2009-10-05 11:46 am

Crisis averted!

Mini-breakdown before heading to my independent study meeting today -- tried very hard not to start bawling as soon as I got to Prof J's office and couldn't understand a word he was saying.

So we instated a week o' review. The world is a wonderful place again and I can skip along to class. Also it's not raining anymore. Yessssss.
em_brett: (Default)
2009-09-28 05:28 pm
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Recipe! Spicy Peanut Soup

[community profile] omnomnom is having an fall food favorites fest (see what I did there?), so I figured I'd cross post my recipe here. I haven't made it yet this season (Shhh) but oh man it's happening soon.

I am more than a little obsessed with soup, and I love it when fall rolls around because it's cool enough to eat tons and tons of warm soup. This is one of my favorites -- I'm not sure exactly where it originally came (possibly the Washington Post?) from but my mom makes it all the time and it's awesome.

Recipe after the cut... )

em_brett: (do not like)
2009-09-22 11:18 am
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Oh, college, repository of all germs that I lack immunity to.

At least it's not the swine. I think.
em_brett: (afraid of nothing hat firefly)
2009-09-21 10:51 am

Oh man I am terrible at life

Specifically, at (1) posting and (2) learning foreign languages. No particular excuse for either, but hey, at least I admit it.

I'm trying to learn Bahasa Indonesia as an independent study before I head over to Bali in the spring. I consider myself a person of at least average intelligence, but memorizing new vocabulary? So not good. I have managed to learn the words for coffee, tea, and eat (kopi, teh, dan makan), at least. Is anyone surprised that those are the words I remember? Also nasi goreng -- fried rice. Seriously, just give me a list of food and cooking terms and I'll learn them no problem. I think my Prof was getting a bit frustrated, though, as I consistently forgot vocab words and mispronounce the negation word. Whoops...

In other news, I have an amazing view of what is either the Dome or an unnamed 500ft hill. I can read a topographical map, thank you very much, but the enormous oak and pine trees are rather in the way of any other reference points. Oh, also I have amazing morning light. Have I mentioned that yet? 

I went on a run this morning up one of the huge hills/small mountains near campus this morning. The hill faces east and the sun was just coming up. On my way down I got a perfect view of the valley, covered in golden-hued fog. Oh man I love these morning runs.

Now off to work on my fiction imitation! We'll see if it turns out well at all.

em_brett: (afraid of nothing hat firefly)
2009-09-02 08:36 am
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Back on campus

Partially unpacked, and busy from around 9:30-6 constantly with orientation staff stuff. Have to make sure no one gets hurt (knock on wood). More updates hopefully later tonight or tomorrow, but contingent on exhaustion. Need breakfast (coffee!) now.

The jury is still out on whether or not being here will be good.

On the bright (har har) side, my room gets wonderful morning light.
em_brett: (Default)
2009-08-24 05:45 pm
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And I'm back in the land of the self-important and entitled

Don't get me wrong. I'm more than grateful that I got to grow up in a privileged area where I had access to everything -- education, museums, food, entertainment, you name it -- at my fingertips. Still, it blows my mind that almost every car on the road is a brand new SUV and when I see guys in golf carts exasperated because traffic won't stop for them so they can cross the street and continue their game at their fancy country club.

It's also fascinating to me, coming home from my various enclaves of young, hipster, and environmentally-conscious. The last of those, the concern for the environment, is partly a function of the fact that if you can pay to fill up your Suburban with premium gas, you will. More than that, though, it seems to be largely generational. While I'm certainly not complaining, I'm currently sitting in the very large kitchen of my parents' over-air-conditioned first house. We drive to everything; although my dad could commute via the subway, he doesn't. A lot of that, too, is that it's more convenient and that my parents can afford it. Still, while I'd like to one day own a house with an amply large kitchen and central air, I'd also like to grow a lot of my own food and conserve enough energy that I can sleep easy at night knowing that I'm not exploding my corner of the environment.

On a completely unrelated note, Dad's scheduled for a biopsy near his old melanoma site tomorrow. He's been in remission for a while and it's probably nothing, but...ugh, I don't really want to think about the possibility.
em_brett: (do not like)
2009-08-24 12:50 pm
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So about that eight-hour drive...

I was supposed to drive from Boston to DC this past Friday. It seemed like a good plan: I'd finished my pottery class on Wednesday, so I'd take Thursday to pack up the apartment and head down on Friday. On the way, I'd drop J in Philly, where she'd meet up with her brother and then head home for her mom's birthday. That would let us split some of the driving and I'd still get home in a reasonable amount of time.

Thing is, I've spent all summer having quite a loose concept of time: to me, Friday may as well be Tuesday. I didn't really stop to consider that everyone and their mother would be trying to get out of town on one of the last Friday afternoons in August. So we sat in New York for about four hours.

Fortunately, J's family is wonderful and rather than going on to Philly from New York (at what was by then around 6 o'clock), we headed straight to her parents' house where I spent the night. I got to meet the Norweigians (J's unofficial extended family) as well as her mom's best friend who no one else likes. It was certainly eventful, and way easier than it would otherwise have been. The next morning, I headed home and then to the island where the family was. Good times -- managed not to crash despite the total 15 and a half hours of driving.

So now I'm home for a little over a week before heading back to school. I'm spending most of my time unpacking, repacking, washing cars, and working out. Not too bad, all things considered. I'm not entirely sure how I'm feeling about my return to campus, but I think I'll leave that contemplation for another time.
em_brett: (Default)
2009-08-20 10:12 am
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This is not a food blog, I swear

Last night one of my newly-vegetarian friends came over for dinner. J and I have had him over a couple of times this summer to (a) hang out with him and (b) teach him vegetarian dishes that aren't stir fry (not that there's anything wrong with stir fry). So, without further ado, I give you:

Frittata with Artichoke Hearts, Goat Cheese, Arugula, and Zucchini

The theme to my cooking these days is "what can I throw a ton of vegetables into today?" A frittata is basically an enormous omelet. Usually you cook the bottom on the stove and then stick it in the oven, but I don't have an oven-safe pan, so I discovered you can flip it (very very carefully) and it's just as amazing.


1 can artichoke hearts, chopped very coarsely
1-2 handfuls of arugala, torn into pieces (or you could just use baby arugala)
1 small zucchini, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1/2 of a small onion, diced
1 ear of corn cut off the cob (optional)
8 eggs (if you want to make this lighter, you could do 5 or 6 eggs and 2-3 egg whites)
1-2 T goat cheese (about 1 oz, or more if you prefer)
olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
a pinch of any of the following herbs you have on hand: oregano, sage, rosemary, thyme

You will also need either two large frying pans OR one oven-safe skillet OR impressive flipping skills/the willingness to eat a messy-looking frittata.

1. If you are using an oven-safe skillet, preheat oven to 375F. If you are using a frying pan, ignore this step.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs and goat cheese.
3. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat 1-2 T of olive oil, then add onions and saute until soft.
4. Add corn and zucchini and continue to saute. After 1-2 min, add artichoke hearts. Saute for another 4-7 minutes, until zucchini is softening.
5. Add arugula, and continue sauteing until it is wilted.
6. Add salt, pepper, and herbs to taste. Stir to distribute, then flatten vegetables evenly across the bottom of the pan. (Note: at this point I moved everything to the smaller of my two frying pans. If you are using two pans, you'll want to start the frittata in the smaller of the two so that when you flip it, it will fit into the second one. If you're using an oven-safe skillet, you can keep them in the pan. If )
7. Reduce to medium-low and pour in the egg mixture. Cook for 5-8 minutes, until sides are set. At about 4 minutes, begin to preheat your second oiled pan if you are using it.
8. With a spatula, pull back the sides of the frittata (gently!) to loosen it from the pan. At this point, either put it in the oven for 10 minutes or flip it (carefully!) into the second pan. Be very very careful not to burn yourself in this process, please. Cook on this side over medium-low heat for another 7 minutes or so.
9. Enjoy! You can either slice it right out of the pan or slip it out onto a plate to serve.

Serves 4-5. As usual, you can sub in pretty much any vegetable, cheese, or meat that would go well with eggs and it will probably be delicious.

Recipe adapted very loosely from Good Bite.

Crossposted to [community profile] omnomnom 
em_brett: (elephant)
2009-08-17 09:39 pm
Entry tags:

Delicious strikes again

I had a revelation today in the shower about what I would make for dinner. I present to you: couscous with avocado, chickpeas, corn, and general deliciousness! Dinner in half an hour, ladies and gents. Just for you:

3/4 c couscous (or any other similar grain. I used 2/3 cup couscous with 1/4 cup quinoa because that's what I had on hand; bulgur would also probably work wonderfully here.)
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 medium avocado, chopped roughly (you'll want to keep this fairly big, maybe 1/2 inch cubes, so they don't totally melt away)
2 ears of corn, cut off the cob (or 1 ear of corn and 1 cup chopped zucchini or any other similar vegetable that you love)
1 handful mung bean sprouts (the big kind you find in a lot of Chinese dishes)
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
6-8 leaves mint, finely chopped
juice from half a lemon
olive oil (2-3 T)
pinch cayenne pepper
salt and pepper to taste

1. Prepare couscous or other grain according to directions (usually 1:1 couscous to water, 2:1 quinoa to water). Set aside when done.
2. While couscous is cooking, heat a large skillet on medium heat with 1-2 T olive oil. Saute the garlic 1-2 minutes.
3. Add corn (and other vegetables, if using); saute 3-4 minutes more.
4. Add chickpeas, saute 4-5 min more. Add cayenne, salt, and pepper.
5. At this point, add the couscous if it's ready. If not, you can turn the heat down low on the chickpea mix and just stir occasionally until the grain is done, then turn the heat back up when you're ready. Stir to distribute. Double points if you keep all contents of the pan within the pan.
6. After 2-3 minutes, turn off the heat. Stir in the avocado, mint, lemon juice, and one more tablespoon of olive oil.
7. Enjoy!

Serves 4-5 as a main dish, probably significantly more if you use it as a side.
Also, just a note: I served this hot, but I'd put money on it being just as good if not better cold. (In fact, I'm planning on having the leftovers cold tomorrow.)

(Crossposted to [community profile] omnomnom )

Edit: forgot the bean sprouts the first time around. Whoops!

em_brett: (elephant)
2009-08-14 03:26 pm
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oh my god, you guys

So I don't know if any of you Dreamwidth-ites are in Boston, but if you are, stop what you're doing right away. Pick up the phone. Call The Elephant Walk and make a reservation, preferably for this week because it's restaurant week. Do not skip a course on their prix-fixed restaurant week menu. Eat it all. Roll home. You will be in heaven. Seriously, I was still ridiculously full this morning.

J took me out last night for our anniversary (belated due to food poisoning, as previously mentioned). I started with a chilled avocado citrus soup (which had grapefruit juice, lime juice, avocado, tomato, sweet onion, mint, and button mushrooms) that made me gasp in surprise at how good it was. I'll probably be working on a recipe because oh my good I want it again, so if I work it out I'll post it here. Then I had a salad with red bell pepper, grilled pineapple, and a chili-vinaigrette, followed by a curry-satay dish with tofu, onions, mushrooms in a sauce with cumin, cardamom, cinnamon, coriander, and other spices (recipe also hopefully soon to follow). Oh, and chocolate truffle mousse cake. I'm really amazed I ate it all. J may actually have gotten more food than I (given that her main course was ribs). I think our waiter was impressed with us -- he kind of laughed when we ordered, breathlessly because we were both starving, the entire four courses. People don't expect two 5'3" skinny women to be able to put down that much food.

So really. Put down whatever you're doing now and go eat.