Thursday, May 31, 2012

May's Last Stand

Hey, marvelous news: Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros released a new album on the 29th called Here!  With it having nine songs, it costs $9.99 on iTunes but Amazon is selling the mp3 for $5.00.  Now, I'm a general advocate of tangible items, but I am also unabashedly frugal; perhaps digital purpose will be the way to go.  If you're unfamiliar with this 11-piece troubadour, then I suggest you check out their arguably most well-known hit, "Home" that expresses love and nostalgia through folk-driven, instrumental-thumpin' chords and chants.  I cannot wait to have my hands (ears?) on their new music!!

With May on its last leg, I guess this means that we are tumbling into summer.  I like blogging about what's happened to me from the school semester because if you've been following this blog you should know by now that basically all I do is work.  As usual, I ended up greasy and with tired feet, though yesterday I had time to go out to dinner and a movie (The Avengers, which was actually pretty good) with my friends.  I also bought a few herb plants and I can't wait to see how my planting box progresses!
Here are a few photos from the gorgeous last weeks of school.  I took higher quality photos with my camera because I had no choice but to shrug off studying and lie beneath the trees to capture the temporary blossoms.  And hey, even though I go through cycles of panic and self-doubt with school work, I had my best semester yet academically (and otherwise)!  So it seems you can take time to stop and smell the flowers and finish what you need to do successfully :D.
Regarding the last photo, I never found out why, but the knitting club went on a guerrilla knitting spree (at least that's how I like to think of it) and they created public knitting installations all over campus!  On bike racks, railings and that tree, which happened to be fantastic because it made the tree favorable to look at and hug.  Random as it was, I hope they do more of that next year!

Listening: "You Can Call Me Al" by Paul Simon

Tuesday, May 29, 2012


Last Monday I went to the Adirondacks to romp around in the woods with my recently graduated housemates plus a few other friends!  My housemate Hannah, her family has a cabin on a 5,000 acre members-only property that's full of stocked lakes and ponds, pine-needle paths, dignified lean-tos, antique cabins and water craft.  

We swam and had a cookout at a lean to the first night.

There were 15 of us causing ruckus in their beautiful Scotch-pine cabin, built in 1890!

There was plenty of lounging about, bacon cooking and snake wrangling.  As in the giant garter snakes that kept appearing in their side room (the doorway with the antlers over it!).
The misty rain didn't stop us from going to the boathouse.  I went rowing and fly fishing for the first time!  Figuring out how to row really demonstrated how uncoordinated I am...
We had the two dogs in our boat, who kept shoving me off for the a seat haha.  I was an unsuccessful fisher-lady, but my friend Kate snagged a brook trout on our way back in!  We grilled that 17-incher up later that evening, with a delicious mustard seed spread :).
The pond was incredibly still after the rains, like a mirror.  I understand why people never would never want to leave.

Granted, I was only there two days but it was a darn good time.  It's just fantastic to be around people you are completely comfortable with.. which bites, because 11 of 13 of them won't be around next fall.  Alas, we all just need to keep moving to the next thing.
On the way to Kate's house where my parents were to pick me up, we had an absurd car accident.  I won't let Kate, who was driving, take the blame for this-- it was equally my fault, because I was blabbing my head off, not paying attention to the GPS and being a terrible co-pilot.  We took a right turn too hard and drove straight into the gas tank of a logger truck from Quebec that was, fortunately, stationary.  And the miracle was, everyone was alright.  We were kind of in shock, but minus a few bruises and whiplash, we didn't have any injuries.  The front end of the car was totaled, but the logger was able to drive back up to Canada.  Mind you, that made the afternoon a bit longer; we went to the nearest hospital that was 30 minutes away from the no-reception site of the accident, then my parents sped for two hours from my house to retrieve me (Kate's parents came from an hour away).  I'm not sure if it was a miracle, but it certainly reaffirms how lucky I am to be alive. 
And then the next day I was back to work, and from Thursday to Sunday, I clocked in 42 hours.  I know I say this everytime, but I am exhausted... But happy to be alive!

Listening: "Stuck in the Middle With You" by Stealers Wheel

Thursday, May 24, 2012

When I'm Not Working

I truly enjoy cooking and feeding people.  I wish my parents were a bit more adventurous with food and ate all that I do, but that's why I need to have friends over to my house more often so I'm not gorging on everything!  For example, last Thursday I invited Kerry over and put together a chicken roast with potatoes, onions, spinach and tomatoes.  I seasoned the chicken breasts with lemon pepper, cumin and parsley and then stuffed them with a bit of Swiss cheese and more spinach.  Even with my guest, my parents had leftovers and I had two meals for work!  It was delicious and simple, so give me a shout if you'd like the recipe!
I go to school in a pretty rural area, and I'm not much of an online shopper when it comes to clothes.  Needless to say, my first Salvation Army visit last Wednesday since winter break was a thrill!  I was in heaven again, sifting through all the color-organized racks, the soft and musty clothing with bright colors, off-sized fits and throwback patterns.  Wednesday is the half-off day and I spent $25 and acquired things such as a nice mason jar with a lid, Matilda and The Rescuers Down Under on VHS, a pair of American Eagle jeans for $2, a fluorescent orange windbreaker, a new houndstooth scarf, a New York & Co. pink cardigan, these wonderful printed drop-crotch pants (okayyy so it's two seasons ago and they are pure man-repelling status [term courtesy of the Man Repeller] but at this low of the price how could I resist?) and so on!  I love thrift shopping.
I nabbed this woven tote as I was heading to the dressing room--it's in perfect condition. Score!
When I have more than a moment to spare, I dive into painting.  I enjoy being lost for a few hours, not knowing exactly what my brain and brush might produce.  The one below is a preliminary for a larger painting that I would like to do on canvas from Monet's gardens in Giverny this past fall.  Photo cred goes to my friend Merrit.
Weapons of choice :)
I wasn't quite ready to start a full-size painting, so I made note cards!  I need to acquire a nice set of water colors, I miss manipulating their fluidity and saturating textured paper.

I am decidedly too antsy and lazy to read books.  I'm trying so hard to work through an environmental one by Bill McKibben, so maybe it's the subject matter that's not holding me down enough?  Bah whatever, I'll drift in between with my NatGeo Traveler magazines.  I'm itching to trot the globe again!

Listening: "Blue Skies" by Ella Fitzgerald

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Musical [side]Note

I was going to do a post talking about the thrifting, painting, cooking and more working that I've been up to, but then my pictures did not deliver to my inbox.  Whatever!  I just wanted to share some epic videos of bands that make my heart stir.  There are a few others, and I'm quite determined to see them before the age of 25.  If it means buying a pair of tickets and flying to Austin or L.A. for a weekend to catch them, then let it be done!

Arcade Fire, "Wake Up" at Glastonbury 2007  
The Shins, "Australia" in 2011  
Of Monsters and Men, "Little Talks" in Iceland Summer 2011  

Despite my ardor for music and festivals, I haven't done anything too extreme to make it to a live performance. I think the most I've driven is 3 hours, spent about $70 and came back at 3 in the morning before a 8 AM class (though on different occasions). Maybe next summer, or when I graduate, I need to think big: Bonnaroo, Lolapalooza, Coachella maybe or Osheaga in Montreal? There's also Outside Lands in San Francisco and of course Glastonbury where it all started, and then Europe's wild techno summits. At the moment, it's a fallacy worth fighting for. This July, I might take a weekend and volunteer at the Grassroots Music Festival that's at the southern tip of Cayuga Lake. I could apply to volunteer as hospitality, dining service (already do enough of that though), set up and clean up, or the children's tent.. yeahhh, probably face painting with the kids :). 
Jeez louise, it's already been over a week since I left school.  It feels quite long ago, though I'm happy to report that I'm going to the Adirondacks on Monday to spend a few days with my house mates and a few other friends!  Mountain R&R, away!!!

 Listening: Arcade Fire, because they make me tear up in the best way possible.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Weight

I had a lot of time on my hands this weekend, and I sublimed all my pent-up anxiety and energy and emotion from the semester and its end and let my creativity loose!  After my cleaning spree, I really locked in an art studio set-up in the barn.  My Dad salvaged a wooden table easel that my brother never used, I opened the crusty jars of acrylic paint, popped in some of my favorite cds from senior year and just went to work.  Behold, my first piece of the summer:
I've reinterpreted the donkey a bit, but I'm pleased.  I only used the three primary colors and white, and I think I reflected the values quite well.  I'm giving it to a co-worker who had asked me to paint it last summer, and I finally came around to doing it!
My activity does not end there!  I have all this active yeast and I've been taking a try at making bread.  Actual loaves are difficult, like the consistency and the flour measurements were slightly off for my attempt at a French-style baguette, but goodness is it gratifying to have a house smelling like a bakery.  It didn't taste bad either.  I also treated my parents to these enormous homemade cinnamon rolls from this recipe.  I didn't have bread flour so they were probably denser than the recipe actually produces, but still delicious and fairly simple.  We cleaned up the leftovers for this morning!  Nothing like starting off the day with a hearty dose of butter, eggs and sugar in pastry-form.

I recently finished a twelve-hour shift at my home turf work establishment, Mill Creek Cafe.  I'm learning how to cook on the line this season, in order to diversify my skills and be useful in all sides of the game.  It's a ton of fun because I love learning how the different dishes are made, but my feet are exhausted-- I need to take a load off.  In the last two days I've had two shifts that amount to 18 hours already this week... bring on the cash monay, baby! 
Listening: "Superstition" by Stevie Wonder

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Changing Gears

The dark-chocolate coconut macaroon as a
2 AM study snack only mildly contributed
to my body's self-destruction in light
of finals week.

 Thursday morning, around 8:30 AM I finally collapsed into bed.  I had spent about 10 hours working on my Global Studies final paper, after pulling an all-nighter before to crank it out.  I dragged myself out once again at 11 AM to do final edits, met my friends for lunch, then sat in the student center distributing our student-published literary and art magazine called The Laurentian Magazine (check out our blog! and then, at 3:17 PM, I clicked send -- submitting a 17 single-spaced paged research paper on the implications of Senegalese people eating baguettes even though they've been independent from France since 1960!  This project has quite frankly taken my soul.
That afternoon, I played frisbee on the quad with the Ultimate team for one last time and it was probably my best and favorite practice.  The rain was calming rather than chilling, almost everyone was on a goofy high of relief from surviving finals and I was just jittery as heck from being immobile in the library, terribly exhausted and full of processed sugars.  My friends came by to pick me up and we proceeded to make a last dinner together (celebratory cocktails in hand :D).  We had an over abundance of food for the eight of us, as I jokingly checked to make sure everyone had enough to eat.  My friend Jenny remarked that I'll make a good grandma!  HA, ahem, after I make that first hurdle of.. oh, I don't know, a boyfriend?  Let alone a husband and then kids with kids.
The last supper we prepared had bruschetta bread (a favorite), whole wheat penne with mounds of sauteed vegetables, a field greens salad with tangerines, a fruit salad and raspberry-swirled chocolate cake topped with Ben & Jerry's ice cream of the cheesecake variety. YUM.

Anyway, I tried partying with my house and everyone else who was free, but I was too darn tired to rally to my fullest.  I went to bed and didn't drag myself out until 10 on Friday morning.  I did a decent job packing, forgot a few things in the shuffle, but I was becoming reservedly sad and anxious about my departure.  My house had a family brunch, I personally made rice pudding and chocolate chip banana bread (kind of adjusted the ingredients, my brain remains in a sluggish daze) and we had a huge broccoli-tomato-cheese egg scramble, home fries and pancakes.  I was elated to have shared my last two meals with my favorite people at school.  I demanded a family photo in front of the house that I now consider my home after one semester.  My parents arrived, I had some help puzzling everything into the car, I sought out a few more friends for hugs and bye-for-nows, I paid for a few friends' meals using the last of my meal plan and then we rolled on south, out of the North Country.
My roommate from this semester on the right, Claire, is going abroad to France in the fall (we obviously had a lot to chat about), and on the left is Olympia who is my roomie for next year!
 50 Park Street, 8 inHabitants.
4 are graduating, 1 is going abroad, then 1 is coming back from abroad, and 4 others are coming in including 3 freshmen that we've come to know really well this year.  It's an odd dynamic of people, but somehow it works, and I can't say I love it enough.
 I will be the first one to admit that coming home from college is difficult .  I do like the comfort and the access that it accompanies, yet my home life satisfies me in a different way than being at school.  My campus life fulfills the extrovert side of me, I tend to be more frazzled but loving all the activities and people and learning and traveling if there's time; whereas, at home I am only with my parents if not at work or harking my friends, so my introvert comes through with painting, reading, biking riding, running and reflecting.  That being said, after not being able to fall asleep until 3:30 AM because of finals week throwing my body out of whack, it was wonderful drifting around my home today in the near-80 degrees, cleaning, organizing, sweeping, wiping, storing, compartmentalizing and re-setting my life for the summer.  I never know what to do with my school work from the semester.  I went through all the papers and kept what might be resourceful in the future, especially since my majors are building up.  I only wish I had enough wall space to keep hanging all the posters, photos and art work!  My giant Senegalese tapestry will have to be stored until next fall, when these three months of vacation will have passed by quicker than I expected.

Obviously a lot of things are going to change, as they always do.  For now I'm going to hold onto the spirit of Hammertime, all the time and my amazement, amusement, embarrassment, bafflement and plain joy for what this year has done for me.  And now that it's summer, you'll be hearing from me quiteee often.

Listening:  The Maine's second album, Black & White

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Self-Imposed All Nighters

Dear Pandora,
I'm not interested in hearing your Group-On commercials and seeing Victoria's Secret models flaunting their bombshell bodies all over my laptop at 4:50 in the morning.  Just let me listen to my music, darn it!

With love,
Nicole "likes shifting between Vitamin String Quartet, John Butler Trio and Foster the People radio" L.E.

Hahaha, I am just as surprised as you probably are as to how and why I have been up this long.  My 7,000 word paper isn't due until Thursday, but I really wanted to make a committed push to complete it by the end of today.  Writing is such a strenuous, drawn out process and I tend to make more work for myself than necessary, but clicking 'send' with the security of having a thorough piece of research is a powerful feeling.  I'm making it!  Just taking a blogging detour, obviously.  Even though it's finals week, I still have had random social and organization engagements.  It's just been easier working throughout the night because as my friend JJ put it, when no one's awake you don't have any commitments and can just focus on work!

Oh my goodness, and I've been rolling on several thousand grams of sugar.  I don't have a picture to show you, but my friend Ally and I finally made what we have been anticipating for over a year: cookie-stuffed cookies.  YES, it is true: you can bake a double-stuffed oreo inside a chocolate chip cookie and live to tell the tale.  Granted, they only make 15, but the are enormous and terrifying but nauseatingly satisfying.  So I ate two and gave the rest to my housemates.  Apparently these quickly-processed carbs are keeping me going.

Did I mention that I went to see Rubblebucket again this weekend?  My housemates and I drove to 2 1/2 hours south to catch them at an affordable price in a lovely venue as one last hurrah.  And dance, we did!  I nominate us for the best fans of the Bucket.  We were literally the life of the party at the concert, I was sweating everywhere and we confessed in our sheepish, starstruck ways to Kalmia how we loved their performance at our Springfest.  We ended the night with burritos the size of my head at the Mexican restaurant next door, then pounded energy drinks and drove home 'til 3 AM.  It was a marvelous final weekend with people I just really came to know this semester. 
 Awesome Rubblebucket band pic courtesy of somewhere on the internet...
They even came parading out into the crowd with us at the very end!  We had a congo line for Cinco de Mayo and my housemate Luke almost proposed to the lead singer Kalmia :D

We had our final house meeting 7 hours ago, and it's just not settling in that this spring is coming to a close.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Blooming in the North Country

Campus looks marvelous this time of year.  If only there weren't finals holding us back from enjoying it!  Haha just kidding, I fell asleep beneath the tree pictured above the other day... oh, how I adore spring.

I just finished my one and only final for the week, and I'm in the midst of writing a 7,000 word paper.  I feel relatively lucky compared to many of my friends who are cracked out and stressed from having exams every day.  I can't believe how quickly this semester slipped away, and I'm sad to see things go.. I mean, it's nice going home but I have so many opportunities and fantastic people to be around here.  I'll probably be burned out mid-summer, though in a different way from work.  Nevertheless, I know that we just need to take every stage in life as an adventure and in stride!  It's also nice knowing that I'll be back on campus at the end of summer rather than going abroad again.  Since we're going to be juniors(!!), many of my friends are now starting to study off campus.  I'll miss them immensely but I know that studying off-campus is one of the best things you can do for yourself while you're in college. 

That, and eating a pints of ice cream at 11 PM a few nights of the week.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Downward Slide

Aujourd’hui, j’ai mangé mon poids en nourriture et je me suis rendue compte que la France me manque plus que j’ai imaginé.  Bah oui, c’est ce temps du semestre.. quand je ne prends plus de souci avec ma santé et je m’en fous avec mes cours.  C’est vraiment un chemin dangereux mais ma stresse me tuerais autrement.  En plus, j’ai rencontre avec des autres amis de mon séjour en France et on a bavardé en cette belle langue au sujet de nos vies.  C’est un cadeau, la capacité de parler en langue étrangère.

Instagram, anyone?  I am quite the enthusiast and if my phone is ever in hand, my reaction tends to be Instagram that bitch!  For example, this photo was taken ages ago at the café where I  would enjoy tea or a coffee, a chouquette and the last week's homework before my 4-hour long political science class.  My French chatter today made me nostalgic for my life last semester.  What began as exploration and surprise became  comfortable routine, and sometimes I regret uprooting myself so soon...

And although I have settled back into U.S. college life swiftly as ever, the stress and activity can be unsettling.  I mean, we're on the downward slide of the semester; this Friday is the last day of classes, and then I will be leaving after finals week.  Of course I'm going to be devastated, I simply wish that my daily tasks didn't take so much life out of me!  This is where the argument of You are too involved comes into play, but I can't help that I love what I do and it's not just a resume-builder, it's interests and passions and my commitment to things tends to be unbreakable once it has been established (exceptional circumstances may apply)!  WHAT TO DO.

To give you a visual of now and what's to come:
Asian Students' Intercultural Association - President, this semester and next fall
Student Alumni Association - member, Deputy President next fall
The Laurentian Magazine - art/photo editor, Public Relations Editor next fall
Class of 2014 Council - member
Omicron Delta Kappa - newly inducted member, I think they'll force me to do things next fall..
Habitat for Humanity - Theme house resident, house and club secretary
Campus Kitchens Project - member, potentially a shift leader next fall
Club SLU - organizer and mentor

To any reader who feels empathy/sympathy-- how do I decided where to cut down?
I apologize for what seems to be gloating... My life seems hella tough, ya know? [sarcasm]