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It’s that time of year again where I really, really want to go on vacation. As a result, my travel documentary watching has gotten a little out of hand (again). I was at friends’ house on Monday for dinner and the hosts were telling tales of far-flung locales and trekking up mountains. My contribution: “In Indonesia, for a nominal fee, you can watch a pack of Komodo Dragons eat a goat.”
Host replied “That’s true, have you been?”
“No, I just watched a travel documentary about it.”
Now, I don’t want to go watch Komodo Dragons eat a goat (certainly I wouldn’t pay for the privilege), but it would be nice to hang out in Indonesia (or anywhere, really) for a while. I know this time of year does always get to me because this is when I was in England two years in a row, and various spring break destinations other years– but it seems too, that I tend to surround myself with adventurers. That’s cool, I wouldn’t have it any other way, but it makes me jealous. So, Best Friend by Proxy (BFbP): I’m glad you had fun in Bali and Thailand; Boss lady: I’m glad Granada was lovely, Hosts from Monday night dinner: I loved being able to try a bunch of weird-ass food, and I WILL come visit you in Jakarta– try and stop me.
In other culture shock news, I now live in the most Catholic state in the Union– who knew. Also, not caring much for organized religion, who knew that it would affect me? Yesterday was St. Joseph’s day. I didn’t know there was a St. Joseph, but apparently he’s Mary’s husband– father of Jesus, makes sense that he gets a day. He’s the patron saint of workers and Sicilians (interesting combo). Presumably, he’s had this day as long as I’ve been alive, but not being Catholic, and not being one to learn about saints, I had never heard of him.
Yesterday, I got schooled in Italian pastry. Rhode Islanders love their pastry as evidenced by all of the Dunkin Donuts in the state, and the fact that they all seem to do brisk business, but Italians, apparently have pastry needs above and beyond that of the average Rhode Islander. On St. Joseph’s day, you must eat zeppole, which is a cream filled pastry (I have one sitting on my counter, but wasn’t hungry enough to eat it last night– I’m such a heathen).
I shouldn’t be totally surprised because I’m sure a lot of these people don’t know what lutefisk or lefse are… maybe. I honestly have no idea where the pastries I ate growing up even come from because my dad’s family is Norwegian, my mother’s is English, Irish, Swedish, and Bohemian, and Minnesota and North Dakota have a lot of Germans and Icelanders.
Maybe what I’m reacting to is just the fact that I came from the land of Germans, Norwegians, Swedes, and Icelanders to the land of Italians, Irish, Portuguese, and Cape Verdeans, or maybe I’m reacting to the fact that the bloodlines in this state seem to have mingled less and there are distinct communities. Although Mountain, ND is apparently the most Icelandic city in America, and I got schooled on Italian pastry by a woman who admitted that she is neither Italian nor Catholic, and she had also made Irish soda bread.
So, this week I have eaten, as far as food I had never eaten before: Irish soda bread (plain and with raisins); Kimchee; some fermented tofu that I don’t know the name of; a fermented rice dessert that I don’t know the name of, but the liquid tasted like sake (which makes sense), I have a zeppole at home, and a pot-luck on Saturday (who knows what I’ll find there!). I guess even though I’m not traveling abroad, I’m still experiencing new cultures and trying new foods– and watching tons of travel documentaries.
I have my commute completely sorted out. In the morning, I listen to NPR, specifically BBC World News. I arrive at work a bit depressed, but nevertheless proud of myself for knowing things. This knowledge came into play pretty early on when I was able to rant in a very informed manner about how bullshit it is that all of our tech support is outsourced to India, and when one of the undersea cables that connects us to India was severed recently, it certainly didn’t inconvenience anyone except the consumer. Not Fair!
I’ve also become more paranoid about the state of the economy, in particular, the rising cost of food.
In the afternoon, I listen to recorded lectures. Currently, A History of the English Language, next “Waking Dragon: The emerging Chinese economy and its impact on the world”– to feed my paranoia, or at least inform it.
I’ve also started hoarding food not unlike (I imagine) a family during the depression. I eagerly scan the weekly grocery store circular for deals on non-perishables, and stock up. I just did a quick inventory: I have 58 bags and boxes of rice and pasta, 25 cans of soup, 12 cans of tuna, and a giant vat of plain white rice that I actually brought with me from North Dakota.
For whatever reason, when Pasta-Roni, Rice-a-Roni, or soup is on sale 10 for $10, I don’t allow myself to buy more than ten, but when it goes back on sale, I can’t wait to buy more. Right now, for example, I’m itching to get back to Stop’N’Shop to grab another ten boxes, even though I’m running out of room for it.
For the past week, I’ve been subsisting on cheese that I got for free from job #1. The Chairman from the National Endowment for the Arts was in last week, reading poetry. His presence necessitated a glorious spread of crudités, which resulted in a lot of leftovers, which I have been taking home in sandwich bags every time I work. I should be able to clean out the fridge this week, since I think my co-workers are losing interest.
Maybe I’ll get scurvy living this way, or maybe I’ll be completely set with the recession truly manifests. Time will tell. I should probably buy some vitamins.