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I am not a super-healthy person.  Anyone who has seen the collection of boxed pasta and ramen noodles in my cupboard would concur, but I do think about what I eat, and try to do my best.  It was challenging last year with three jobs, full-time school, and the occasional internship, but now I’ve got no excuse for not trying.  Plus, now that I’m taking running more seriously, I’m realizing just how sluggish these “bad for me” convenience foods make me, so I’m pushing those out of my diet in favor of stuff that spoils faster, and makes me faster.

I used to have a really hard time finding food to eat when I was out of the house because of my vegetarianism.  I spent many a night at a restaurant eating just french fries or mozzarella sticks because there was nothing else on the menu that didn’t have meat in it, and because I used to be afraid of vegetables.  I rarely complained, just dealt with the fact that I made the choice to not eat meat, and these are the consequences.  Prior to that, I was a picky eater living in a town with two restaurants–I’m used to limited selection.  Now it seems like there are a lot more options for people like me, but a whole new set of problems.

Jewish Friend always talks about the “clean plate club” of which she is not a member.  Her parents are enthusiastic eaters, and she has always been more dainty.  They would encourage her to join them in the clean plate club, but she had no interest.  “You’re a member of the clean plate club,” she told me recently, “I bet your parents never got on your case about not finishing your food.”

The problem, in my case, is that I was not a member of the clean plate club growing up–there was no such club in my family, we all fed ourselves.  I typically finished my whole can of SpaghettiO’s, or half bag of Lipton Rice and Sauce, but not because someone told me to, just because that was enough to fill me up.  I ate until I was full, then stopped.  It wasn’t until I started earning my own money, and paying for my own food while out at a restaurant that I joined the clean plate club.  I want to get my money’s worth, and though I often do take home leftovers, I also nibble and nibble until there’s not much left.  This was fine when portion sizes were smaller, but now when a typical entree lasts me three days–it’s become a problem and a nuisance.

On my recent trip to the Virgin Islands, I had to be at the airport at 7am.  I really don’t eat breakfast even though I know you’re supposed to, because I’m not hungry in the morning.  I haven’t been moving, therefore, just don’t have an appetite until around 10am.  Since I was traveling and didn’t know for sure when or what my next meal would be, I decided to see what TF Green International Airport had to offer me in the way of a small, light breakfast.

Options include Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts, assorted dinner places, and the Wolfgang Puck kiosk.  I love Dunkin Donuts, but had already had two large coffees at home, and the thought of a wake-up wrap or hash browns curdled my stomach, so I decided to see what overpriced horrors Wolfgang had to sell me.  Most of the offerings were lunch/dinner stuff, but there was a cold case of salads and fruits, and a delicious-looking yogurt parfait.

Once I got closer, I realized that this yogurt parfait was in a 16oz cup.  16oz– one full pint, 1/2 a quart–that’s a whole lot of yogurt parfait.  According to MIT, the standard size for a serving of yogurt is one cup,  which is half of this giant yogurt that I was staring at.  The typical single-serving yogurt cup that I bring to work is 1/2 a cup.  Is it because it’s “healthy” that it comes in such a giant size?  Is it just because the real expense is packaging and Wolfgang, and everyone else, wants to make their money back?  Do people really want to eat this much yogurt in one sitting?

I stood there staring at it for far longer than I should have, because I was really in the throes of a quandary.  Not knowing for sure when my next meal might be (accounting for delays, possibly running to meet my connection, refusing to overpay for terrible plane food, etc.) and knowing that as soon as I reached my final destination I would immediately start drinking heavily–I needed to eat something.  I could buy it and throw half of it away (which I hate to do), I could force the whole thing into my stomach and feel sick rattling around on the plane.

I pictured myself choking down a warmish glass of yogurt, and did not feel good about it, so I turned to walk away and noticed a basket of what was sure to be overpriced bananas.  Bananas are filling and come in a reasonable package size, so I chose that instead.

“$1.17.” the clerk told me.  Then she mumbled something as I was fishing around for change.

“I’m sorry?” I said.

“I said why don’t you help yourself to another one, these are pretty small.”

My father called to sort out the logistics of my upcoming visit.  Because I’m flying into Minneapolis and then driving to Fargo, I’m not going to also drive to Bemidji (where they live, about 90 minutes away from Fargo).  From my perspective, I’m mostly going back to Fargo to see my friends.  Considering all of the intense time I’ve spent with my parents (15 days non-stop) over the past year, I think this is perfectly reasonable.  Plus, whenever I do go to their house, we just sit there watching HGTV, which I just don’t enjoy as much as they do.

I thought having them come to Fargo for marathon weekend made much more sense.  I’m running the 1/2, my dad usually runs the full, my mom and brother did the 5k two years ago– fun for the whole family!  Now it seems that my father will not be running the full marathon, but the 1/2, “I’ll be running right next to you, Annie.” he told me.

I don’t want to sound like a total brat, but that is not ok with me.  I’ve never run with another human being (except next to strangers), and I really have no interest in taking that on.  I’m not a chatty runner; I clap on my headphones, get in the zone, and proceed to sweat and huff and turn red in the most unattractive way possible.  I just want to be left alone.

Then my father asked where I run. “On my treadmill,” I told him, “watching TV”

“Oh, you don’t have any friends to run with?”

By the end of the conversation, I not only felt like a horrible daughter, but also like a friendless nerd who runs only to get away from bullies.

I picked running (or had no choice but to pick running, since it seems to be in my DNA), because it’s a solitary activity.  I don’t need to form a team of varied skill, or do any kind of administration, or worry about letting anyone else down– it’s all me.  Now it’s getting all mucked up because I keep choosing to run in from of people.

Part of me thinks I should have kept my jock tendencies a secret like I used to, but, too late for that now.  Plus, for some reason, I’m excited to get this free t-shirt…

It will be fine.  The thought of spending timewith my parents is often much more stressful than the actual act– keep reminding myself that.  Also, free food.

I’m in the throes of a vacation craving more intense than I’ve felt in years. I think I’m alienating friends by being so singularly focused, but I realized a while ago that I have not left the lower 48 (except going to Canada briefly), in 7 years. This is not ok with me.

How does a girl who professes to love travel more than most things, let it slip this far? I’m not completely sure, but I intend to stop it.

In all honesty, I though that moving to the East Coast would calm things a bit– it’s not that same as traveling to a completely foreign land, but creating a new life in a completely different part of the country never previously visited, must be close. As much as I want to explore my new home, I really have to admit that driving to Cape Cod is unlikely to satisfy me.

This begs the question: why have I not chosen a career that allows me to travel, or even requires me to travel? Answer: because I do not know what career that is.

For all of my searching as an undeclared sophomore, I still have no idea what people do for a living. I grew up in a small town where things were clear-cut: doctor, policeman, teacher etc. The small-townness of it all, allowed to stereotypes of the 50s to prevail, and people had jobs that were readily understood by anyone else unlike, say, “I’m a shoozit, which means I do x, y, and sometimes z, but usually my assistant handles that.”

I spent the first two years of college reading books, taking test and surveys, all in an effort to understand what the hell I should major in because I thought that would determine what job I would do. All the tests said either lawyer, or writer. All of them. In my mind, two choices could not be further apart, though both appeal to me. Although, after I finished my first masters, when I realized that I could not be a full-time writer, I also realized that I love the idea of going to law school, but would rather never practice law– thanks meyers-briggs.

So, now I’m going to be a librarian, which is a career choice that has felt the more comfortable of any I’ve ever made, and one that I could have made even given my rather limited wordview on careers (it may be just that I overthought things)– except all I can think about now is travel and how librarianship stifles that. Even though I would be basically unemployed as a writer because I lack discipline, and the ability to write anything that doesn’t sound smartassed– I could legitimize traveling because it would lead to the next big novel, character, article, vignette, script etc.

Librarians, mostly need to be on-site to manage the goings on at the library.

This is why, as I told a friend a couple weeks ago, I plan to be a librarian turned professor turned writer turned editor turner writer/lecturer who is in high demand but can be picky. I don’t think it’s unreasonable.

So, I needed librarianship to make writing fun for me again, I need travel to make librarianship fun again, we’ll see what happens after I achieve travel because I’m seriously running out of passions– maybe thats when I discover the whole new talent that I previously never knew I had.

My parents are coming to visit in July. For five days I will have three extra bodies (two of them large, male bodies) crammed into a very hot apartment, three extra people using my shower, and three air mattresses taking up all of my floor real estate. It would be an understatement to say that I’m a little apprehensive about the whole thing, though I am looking forward to free meals (not from Tim Horton’s).

What makes me most apprehensive is the miscommunications we’ve had already in planning this trip. First they were coming in May, but my brother’s work got in the way. Then they were talking about July and asked if there were any dates that didn’t work for me. All I said over and over and over was “end of June through beginning of July, I am going on vacation, I am unavailable those dates. The rest of the whole summer is up for grabs but end of June through beginning of July is off-limits.”

Then I get an email from my mother saying that they’re planning to arrive July 4.

In the subsequent phone call she inquired about the black-out dates on my calendar, and I told her, and I had told my father 1/2 dozen times “I took the time off to go to ALA conference in Anaheim, but that fell through, so now I’m going somewhere.”

“You don’t know where you’re going?”

“Well, we (my Jewish friend and I) were going to go to Montreal, but she doesn’t have a valid passport right now, so we’re re-planning things. If it doesn’t work out that she and I can coordinate schedules– then I’m going somewhere by myself. I have to go somewhere this summer.”

Of course she asked me to switch the days off to coordinate with when they are visiting, but I refused, then she asked, “really, you’d go somewhere all by yourself? Aww.”

This brings to mind another pair of incidents that came one on the heels of the other recently. I was in a class and we had to group up with different people than usual. So I got to meet a couple women from the other side of the room (the room divided itself, rather handily, into the young side and the old side). One of these women had mixed up my friends Mary and Lisa and asked Lisa why in the world she moved all the way to Rhode Island from Texas.

“Actually,” Lisa told her, “I’m from Connecticut, Mary over there is from Texas. But Andria moved here from North Dakota.”

The woman’s jaw dropped and she gaped at me in a way I’ve never experienced before.

“Why did you move here?” she demanded.

“For library school.”

“Had you ever been here before? Why did you pick Rhode Island?”

“No, and because it sounded pretty.”

“You’ve got balls of steel, girl!”

“Erm, thanks ?”

And then she followed with a question that I never thought I would ever in my life hear, “But how do you meet single girlfriends?”

This question perplexed me to no end. I wanted to indicate Lisa, sitting to my left, and say “She’s a girlfriend.” And also assert, “Single or not, I don’t have a very elaborate screening process.” But I was really wondering if she was asking me where to find girls to go clubbing and trolling for men with or something. Do people really do that? Also, she’s a rather tired-looking elementary school teacher, does she do that? What the hell is this conversation about, is she really asking me how to make friends?

“Well, what do you do on the weekends?” she asked.

“Well, I work all week, so on the weekends I do homework and…” These are questions that are very hard to answer. ‘On alternating Sundays I go to pub trivia, occasionally I see movies, or go to parties…’ I mean really.

Thankfully, the professor asked us all to regroup, so I got to shrug off the rest of the grilling, but I was given her phone number along with the offer “I’d love to show you around Providence.”

So that was weird.

Then the following day at work I was having a nice conversation with someone who I genuinely like when she said, “I hope you’ve managed to make at least one friend since you’ve been out here.”

By this point, I’d been in Rhode Island for 7 months– is she kidding?

But I don’t really think that people want to hear that you have a full social calendar and are, in fact, beloved by many. This seems to be a product of never having left a place, and never having had to make friends, although I’m still baffled. Does the woman who asked me where I find single girlfriends actually not have any, or did she just want a new technique? I’m a bit disturbed by the fact that these people seem to picture me sitting home alone, longing for the prairie and the friends I left behind– but that’s their shit.

I am a scandalous woman.

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.

Every now and then I get a crazy, almost manic need to go on vacation.  I can rarely afford to actually go on vacation, so I try to satiate myself by watching travel documentaries.  It doesn’t really help.  Also it’s rather difficult to get travel documentaries that are actually watchable.  A lot of them don’t want to actually tell you anything about the places you’re “visiting”, choosing instead to just shoot wide panoramic shots of old buildings– or else they star Rick Steve.

 So I turned to historical documentaries, which I also think is a sure sign that I miss being in school.  My brain has started to feel mushy, and even though I’ve been reading as much as I can, I haven’t read too many “smart” books.  As Heidi very aptly put it, I read a lot of pink/yellow books i.e. “chick lit”.  I’ve gotten away from that more recently, but still feel like I’m not learning enough.  Anyway, I checked out “Russia- Land of the Tsars” from library.  Presented by The History Channel and narrated by Edward Hermann this is sure to be a well-made and informative documentary.  And it is.

 I was happily watching and learning one night after work when I realized that I already know a lot of this stuff about Peter the Great; I’ve already seen this.  How big a geek am I that I’ve already watched a four-part documentary about the history of Russia?  No matter, it’s still very well-made and entertaining and I intend to finish it– again.

 Non sequitur

 I was working at coffee shop a couple evenings ago when this guy came in.  He was wearing a pin-striped suit and seemed inordinately pleased with himself.  Typical smarmy salesman/business major type who just turn my stomach.  I hated him or sight, naturally, and happily noticed that even though his suit was obviously new, it didn’t really fit him well.  He waltzed up to the counter and I asked what I could get for him.  “What kind of really good house wine do you have?”

 I was slightly taken aback, but quickly recovered and told him to go order his wine in the wine bar area rather than in the coffee shop.  Later I saw that he was sitting with a slightly lumpy girl in pink having a conversation that seemed a little like a job interview, and also a little like her being forced to listen to him blather on about whatever fascinating things were on his mind.  Being the nosy sort, and being that they were sitting on a place where I could easily eavesdrop, I lent them my ears just in time to hear him say, “One of the most amazing sights I’ve had the privilege to see in my lifetime is St. Paul’s Cathedral.  When I saw that dome, my breath was literally taken away.”

Oooh, I do like St’ Paul’s Cathedral, I thought, Anglophile that I am.  In fact, I recently watched a documentary about the evolution and urban planning of London that included a section on the still impressive engineering prowess Christopher Wren employed in constructing that very dome.

Then he said: “Of course, when I say St. Paul’s Cathedral, I mean the cathedral in St. Paul Minnesota.”

Is this something that people do?  Randomly assign names to things that aren’t called by those names rather than the things that are?  Also, I want to know if his St. Paul’s Cathedral is actually the Basilica, or just another cathedral in St. Paul.  I’ll freely admit that I am not that familiar with the religious architecture of the Twin Cities, but if anyone can recommend a good documentary about it, I’ll certainly watch it.