Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Lyrics leading to deep thinking

"Our vivid dreams are just like big production movies.
They get entangled well within our daily routines."
-The Wombats
Photo by Marc Eaton

Why I'm on Summer's side

Image from this website

    Often when I think about relationships, love, or on a more broad topic, life, I tend to refer to movies, books, television or even people who have obviously inspired and sparked the opinions that I’ve made regarding the tricky topics that I aforementioned. One movie that I continuously go back to is an all-time favorite of mine: (500) Days of Summer.

      I won’t bore with a tedious synopsis of the movie, but I will say that a boy, Tom, falls head over heels at first glance for a whimsical, spontaneous, and quirky beauty, named Summer. Tom is cute and all but he’s definitely one of those guys who reads way to much into the whole “finding the one” cliché, and as mentioned in the movie “had a total misreading of the movie The Graduate and listened to too much sad British pop music (ex. The Smiths)”. 
Summer on the other hand literally says the following in one of her first conversations with Tom:

1.     That she doesn’t really believe in finding “the one”.
2.     That she enjoys being on her own and wants to save the serious stuff for later
3.     That she doesn’t want a boyfriend but wouldn’t mind being “friends” with Tom because she likes him.

           To me, that doesn’t sound like too much to ask. Now I know that Tom and Summer go on to sleep together, have what some might call a romance, and not really ever put a label (ugh) on their friendship (she lets him know full well that she’s not looking for anything serious).  Tom starts to question what is to become of them because he thinks he’s in love with her (again she said she didn’t want anything serious). Even though she tried to tell him she was happy with their spontaneous love/friendship, he gets way over dramatic and that pushes her away.

     Months after their whatever-you-wanna-call-it crumbles, he meets up with her again at a mutual friend’s wedding. They talk, they laugh, they dance and they don’t kiss or do anything that should have led a mature adult to believe that they would get back together. Then a week later she turns up engaged to another man. TWIST!

     Well most people would consider what Summer did a “bitch move”. Others literally hated the movie after that bombshell and couldn’t fathom what would bring a person to do that. Here is why I am on Summer’s side:

1.     Summer made it pretty obvious she was a wild card in the beginning and she even said that she wanted to keep things between her and Tom light and casual. Fair enough.

2.     One of the very last scenes of the movie is extremely important. One of the reasons I love it so much is because its done very much in the style of an old Hollywood story about love where the past lovers accidentally see each other in a spot that they used to go to (with no one else around), which is in this case, is a park overlooking L.A. They’re both dressed in 60’s esque casual clothes which is equivalent to modern-day fancy, and she approaches him by saying “I thought I might see you here”. Classic. See where I’m going with this? Anyway, so at this point, Summer is married and Tom has quit his job to pursue a career in architecture (something Summer always pushed him to do). Both have obviously had positive changes in their life. While catching up, Tom says that he doesn’t think he’ll ever understand why Summer was able to call what they had a friendship but then get married months later to a different guy.  What Summer says in this scene was so groundbreaking for me that I probably use it way to much in examples about how I want to live my life, but here it goes anyway:

Summer: Well, you know, I guess it's 'cause I was sitting in a deli and reading Dorian Gray and a guy comes up to me and asks me about it and... Now he's my husband.

Tom: Yeah. And... so?

Summer: So, what if I'd gone to the movies? What if I had gone somewhere else for lunch? What if I'd gotten there 10 minutes later? It was - it was meant to be. And... I just kept thinking... Tom was right.

Tom: No.

Summer: Yeah, I did. I did. It just wasn't me that you were right about.

BAM! That’s it. What is, you may ask? The fact that Summer, while she maybe might have been the perfect girl for Tom (is his eyes) wasn’t meant for Tom. She was so wishy-washy about Tom because she wasn’t sure of what she wanted at that point. It literally took that moment of falling for a guy and knowing ,without anything telling her differently, that he was the one that she was made for and vise-versa. If she never felt that with Tom, then it wasn’t her job to stay with him.

3.      In conclusion, it was her own damn life and her own damn feelings and she had every right to     let herself find who was really perfect for her.

     So yes, maybe it was sad for Tom. Tom ,though, was slightly misguided and so much in this fairytale land of finding his own happiness that he didn’t even think to realize the kind of person Summer really was, even though he said he loved her so much.  People make these kinds of decisions and sometimes have to be impulsive and get heartbroken. It’s a good thing to consider the feelings of others, but finding your own happiness has to be done in your own way. Tom needed that heartbreak to learn something about himself and to push himself. Some may say that Summer dragged him across the ground then left him in the dirt. I say that she simply was as much a part of Tom’s life as he was of hers and they both were meant to help each other in that  time.

“What always happens? Life!” -Summer


Sources: (500) Days of Summer. By Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber. Dir. Marc Webb, Steven J. Wolfe, and Scott G. Hyman. Prod. Mason Novick, Jessica Tuchinsky, and Marc Waters. Perf. Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel. Fox Searchlight Pictures, 2009. DVD.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Keeping the sweeter things in life eternally scrumptious

Photo by Diann Eaton   

    All my life, I have loved baked goods. It’s not just about consuming for me, however. I mean, of course I love eating cookies, breads, cakes and scones with a burning passion. But there’s also the lovely idea of mixing together a cookie batter to perfection, baking them in the oven, and then setting them out on wire cooling racks, waiting for someone to come grab one on impulse. That, for me, is also where the magic lies. Pastries are a sugary, fluffy, and buttery way to satisfy any sort of sugar craving, reward yourself for accomplishing something important, or just a spontaneous treat to pick up as you pass a bakery on the way to work. Because, lets face it; as soon as you see the danish, you can’t resist the danish. Or at least that’s my way of thinking.

    Anyway, as I said, these pastries are something I have always regarded as a treat or extravagance. An indulgence, as some call it. And of course this was because my parents, like many others, tried to limit my sugar intake as much as possible when I was a child. This, of course, was in order to ensure healthfulness for their beloved daughter. Sounds like a pretty normal upbringing right? So now I not only enjoy a delicious scone from time to time, but I also enjoy baking for others and myself. It’s a hobby I partake in when I’m bored and sometimes helps relax my brain. I simply turn up Frank Sinatra or Vampire Weekend on Pandora, make the lighting in the kitchen as cozy as possible, and I have also been known to dig out one of my Grandma Issy’s retro aprons (just to make the baking experience a little more authentic).  

     Most of my recipes come from the Internet because in pursuit of ways to be frugal, I Google recipes for ingredients that I already have in the house. And I’ve even been known to use really odd substitutions for lack of certain ingredients. Think using melted chocolate coating instead of cocoa powder… it worked out surprisingly well.

    However, lately I’ve been using substitutions for different reasons. For some motive or another, everyone seems to be on this health crusade. Now I know that America has had its many troubles with obesity and there’s always a reason to try to aim for healthier options when it comes to the food we consume. But pray you, why are we ruining our baking with it? Seriously. The point of muffins, cupcakes, and tarts is to be a delicious treat! No part of me wants to eat a pastry that could be considered “diet food”. Instead of trying to fill our sweets with splenda (gross), protein powder, flaxseed wheat, skim milk, and other tasteless options that make baked goods taste like shit, lets make them the ol’ fashion sugary way. Why not just teach these people a little something about portion control? I haven’t the smallest desire to eat three sugar-free cookies just to have “less guilt”. Isn’t it far more worth it to savor that one delicious chocolate chip cookie? That cookie that took time and precision to create. That cookie that, though packed with sugar, butter, and chocolate, is bursting with a delicious and wholesome flavor, worth every bite. Save the healthy eating for dinner times when you should get your protein from lean meat and your vitamins from veggies.

     Rants aside, I did have time to include baking into my extremely un-busy schedule. Blueberry Almond Cookies were today’s baking excursion; very delicious, indeed. However I had to make my own changes to guarantee scrumptiousness. The recipe came from a famous celebrity chef whose name I won’t mention. Here’s a hint: she’s Italian. Narrow it down.

Photos by Eliza Eaton
     Anyway to give you an idea to how much better I made the cookies: I replaced skim milk with half & half, almond oil with vanilla extract, and lemon juice with cinnamon sugar. The lemon juice was, I’m assuming, added to compliment the flavor of the blueberries. Still, cinnamon just goes so much better with anything else and I couldn’t resist the opportunity to add it in. It was a worthy decision.

     As I said earlier, I really, really am a firm believer in healthfulness. I am also a very firm believer in indulging in the sweeter things in life from time to time. Those are the kind of pleasures that make a day a little bit brighter and better. Please just keep the Splenda the hell out of my cupcakes.


Monday, July 16, 2012

I Love Lucy

There is no real point to this blog. My kitten is just really photogenic.
All photos by Eliza Eaton and Alanah Grace

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Why runners shouldn't have such big egos

Photo by Russ Keberly of Keberly Photography

     I just want to start off this post by saying that I give myself full permission to post this blog that openly makes fun of runners. My reason being the fact that I am a devoted runner and have experienced many times when I questioned my reasons for continuing my way of life as a runner. Simply put, running is absolutely the least glamorous part of my life. Do I get a lot out of it and take pride in what I do? Yes. Do I ever feel hot or sexy when I’m doing it? Absolutely not.  My reason for writing this is based on observations I’ve made in my past eight years or so of being apart of cross country, track and just a running community in general. In a very generalized statement: runners tend to have big egos. Why? I guess that we tend to feel like we work harder than the average athlete, possibly average person.  Maybe we just feel like we’re lucky cause we get to eat more than the average person (or maybe that’s just me). The point is, running is 1% (or less) the stunning, heroic, picture of a world class athlete breaking the record in the 5,000 meters. The rest of running is actually rather disgusting. But let me elaborate on why we shouldn’t be so obsessed with ourselves.

Most people don’t really like us. It’s true. I mean, there are people who respect what we do as athletes, but for the most part people are just annoyed with us. There are several reasons for this. The first one is that we almost always are running around “half-naked”, as most human beings describe it. Now I can truthfully say that from my perspective, the choice to run in only a sports bra and spandex is all based on comfort. An 80 degree day can instantly feel like 100 degrees when you’re running, and in cases where you’re sweating profusely and moving around a lot, the less clothing the better. I personally have had my fair share of not only my non-running friends nagging me for never wearing lots of clothing, but those kind souls that speed past me in their SUV’s and yell obnoxiously are not to be left out of the equation. If I had a nickel for all the times I have been on a run and someone has yelled at me for not wearing clothing, I would probably have about 5,239 nickels, give or take. Aside from that, some runners think that the people who don’t run, look up to them like gods. False. Its possible that people respect someone who can run more than 5 minutes without passing out, but in all honesty, people watch soccer more than they watch track and field.  No one had ever said, “Hey guys! Wanna come over, have a beer and watch the track meet?”. No. Never. Cross country doesn’t even go into the mix because I’ve been asked to many times by different people what cross country really even is. So ,more or less, runners have a chip on their shoulder because no one came to watch our cross country meet that was five hours away from home. It’s a sad story for sure, but I don’t blame them.

We are a disgusting mess.  Sure running keeps you in shape and makes you look good in a dress and whatever. I’ve always credited my extremely tan shoulders to the long runs during the summer time (to that I also credit my huge white blotch between my belly button and mid-thigh… it’s the running tan curse). Anyway, the point is we’ve been known to be pretty gross, and in many ways, unattractive. For starters, we are constantly sweating for at least 30 minutes after we finish a workout or run, we get gross calluses and bruises and deformities on our feet, we get weird and awkward chaffing on our inner thighs and arms, and to top it all off, runners have been known to shit their pants. I hate to be so blunt and TMI, but you would be surprised about the amount of people who I know and know of who have experienced it. I mean, I for one, feel sorry for them because I can’t imagine the humiliation felt when you’re running in a race and you literally lose control of all bodily functions in the worst possible way.  People have heard about it happening to athletes during a triathlon. At which point in the tri did that horrid experience occur? The running part.  Point made.

We aren’t cute when we’re running. It’s like those silly memes on Facebook, tumblr, reddit, what have you. There’s a way that some runners think they look when they’re racing and such, and then there’s the way they really look. 99% of the time, the fantasy of looking like the goddess, Atalanta, while you running is exactly what I just said: a fantasy. Take me for example: whenever I run, I have this look on my face of sheer terror. People have tried to tell me that I look determined and strong, but with the combination of my cheeks flopping around, my eyebrows becoming harsh and severe looking, and my face fleshing into a ruby red hue, I think I look like any evil queen/ stepmother from any Disney movie. Just pick one.
Photo by Chris Tuck
 Aside from a common runner like myself not being as appealing to the eye, even running royalty can look, gross as they’re strenuously finishing a 5k on the track. Take Kara Goucher or Shalane Flanagan. I’ve seen edited down pictures of them looking god-like at the end of a marathon, but since subscribing to them on Facebook, I’ve also seen the poorly lit, skeletal looking photographs of them. Runners may be a great example of what the human body can do, but lord can it take a toll on your features: droopy boobs, boney chests, oversize quads that look disproportionate to the rest of you body, and so much more!

I truly hope that my fellow runners that just read that entire blog aren’t offended …because for God’s sake it’s just a joke. One of the best parts about being apart of something like running is being able to have a sense of humor about it and find something to laugh about. To me, that’s important because running has really messed with me mentally in the past. In the wise words of my high school coach, Coach Guynn, its important in running to just keep it simple. In my eyes, what makes something simple is being able to make fun of it. So consider my statements and remember that you’ve probably thought about it once or twice in your life. Running can be sexy ….. if you’re in a photo shopped picture on the front of Runner’s World and your name is Lolo Jones.


Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Greece Part 7: The Last Day

Photo by Marc Eaton    

    Welcome to the most depressing day of our trip. Before I go on to sound like some sort of ungrateful brat, let me admit that the day did get better. We left the ship early in the morning. Everyone was dragging along, except for Luke who was still living off his inebriated-ness from the night and kept singing “Party Rockers” to all our hung-over faces.  I, regrettably, didn’t get to see any of my new friends off, and at that point I was so tired that I didn’t really care.  After making our way through the crowded cruise ship terminal, we found our bus and once again began riding through the streets of Athens.

If I'm sharing this photo with you, I obviously have no shame.
Photo by Marc Eaton
    At the beginning of the ride, Luke went from the extreme obnoxiousness that made me want to hit him, too completely passed-out asleep. We rode about 40 minutes from the grimy streets of Athens to a little town that was a breath of fresh air compared to what I was expecting. Our tour guide went on to tell us about how it was a place where more locals of Greece vacationed. She even mentioned the fact that many a Greek television star lived there, but based on the Greek television I’d seen, I remained unimpressed.

    However the town really was great. Far less of a place trying to impress American tourists and more of a place that acted as a Myrtle Beach of Athens (for all you, East Coast Americans out there). We eventually reached our hotel, which was well equipped with a rooftop bar, pool, and air conditioning. After lying around and feeling sorry for ourselves, we all decided to go to the beach and find a place to eat lunch. All of that sounded unappealing to me at the time, but I was also determined to not let my last day of vacation be a total failure. We crossed the busy streets (which if you weren’t careful, was a death wish), and made our way to a little outdoor café. The adults were all 10 times more chipper than the younger folk of the group. While they ordered copious amounts of classic Greek cuisine and beer, I barely touched my chicken pasta and tried not to fall asleep at the table.

    All I really wanted to do at that point was get in the water, then lay on the hot sand. Well the convenient placement of the restaurant allowed me to literally step off the patio, walk about 50 meters across the sand, and reach the beautifully clear water. After wading around a bit, I collapsed down onto the sand, letting the sun hit me like a laser. It was perfection.
Photo by Marc Eaton

    This little beach definitely had its quirks. Men from Africa, southeast Asia, and other non-Greek countries, walked up and down the beach either carrying huge poster boards covered in cheap jewelry, or what looked like a whole closet’s worth of clothing on their backs. They approached me several times asking in their broken English or Greek if I was interested in their fine products. I would simply respond: όχι ευχαριστώ. No thank you.

    After hours of sitting in the sun and observing the calm beach life, we all went back to sit in our hotel rooms. Feeling rather daring and bold, I decided to sit topless on the balcony of our room. I mean why not? Everyone else in Greece is doing it. 

     After, yet another, uninspiring hotel dinner, our group decided to go walk around the town before it got dark. Following our vacation-long theme of YOLO, I decided to wear wedge heels. It was worth it, even after the third time I almost fell over in them.
Photo by Marc Eaton
    The town was quite fetching if you ask me. There were tons and tons of vacationing Greeks walking around, not giving a damn about any American tourists that were there. While on one side of the street we saw an outdoor band doing surprisingly good covers of songs by The Cure and The Smiths, we witnessed, on the other side, a large group of people waiting outside a church for a bride and groom to emerge. We decided to wait and watch as well. Sadly after about 10 minutes without even seeing a glimpse, we gave up on experiencing a little bit of a big, fat Greek wedding and moved on.

    As we strolled through the town, we watched Greek teenagers socializing at cafés (something we had never seen in Athens), and people out for walks with their families. We decided that we had to stop at a trendy little yogurt and gelato shop to get our last authentic taste of the classic European treats. After that Luke and I split off from the group to go walk along the beach as dusk was upon us. The beach was still busy with late night joggers, people sitting around at beachside cafés, and what seemed to be a high school party with clusters of awkward teenagers standing around in the sand as a D.J. blasted house music.

    When we got back to the hotel, we sat on the rooftop, overlooking the now lit up city. For a while we chatted about the trip and then decided to go to bed around 11:00 in order to sleep a little before our 2:45am wakeup call. After what seemed like no time at all, we were up and moving to get on the bus and head to the airport. 
Goodbye, beautiful Greece.
Photo by Marc Eaton
   After 12 hours total of flying (which felt like a total blur) I some how stumbled out of the Roanoke Airport, got into a car, and woke up pulled into the driveway of our house.  I immediately wanted to go back to Europe.

    The past days of reminiscing about our vacation have led, as you can see, to nearly 6,500 words of tedious recollection of the trip. For me it’s been like therapy and has helped ease the pain of AVD (After Vacation Depression). I’m already looking into various kinds of tours to take part in, in the coming years. I also definitely have my eye on study abroad options at university. I am nothing but grateful and filled with happiness that I was able to go to Greece and would highly recommend it to any considering European travel, especially in tour groups.

    And now, I must actually think about something to write about for my next blog post. Give me some time and it will come to me. But for the time being, σας ευχαριστώ for reading.