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Wordless Wednesday: Adulthood is Perseverance

Adulthood is Perseverance

Photo via Flickr by Nic Sedlock.

Welcome (Back) To Adulthood: A Joyful Reunion

The Greatest Wedding Gift: My Friends from High School!

The Greatest Wedding Gift: My Friends from High School! (Pictured left to right, Missy, Sarah, Meredith, Me, Michael, Sarah)

“…Those steps on our journey to adulthood meant

something (however much we struggled), and we made it.”

This year of Adulthood has been an interesting one for me.

I married my epic love David on a sunny August day in San Diego. This August marks our first wedding anniversary and as the date approaches I am reminded just how fast a year passes.

I also attended my 15-year high school reunion. High school reunions are the stuff that eye-rolling, dread, and avoidance are made of. I didn’t attend my 10-year reunion. Partly because it was in Washington D.C. and I lived in California, and partly because I wasn’t sure if I wanted to really go. Was it really that important to keep in touch with people from high school who I didn’t already keep in touch with already? I wasn’t sure at 10 years, but the answer I now know is: Yes. It is important.

(As an aside, I have to say that my high school was a little different than most: We only had about 50 kids in our graduating high school class. Because of the size, the school was an incubator for creativity and learning, and I can really say that the kids in my class were a group of interesting, thoughtful and talented kids.)

At the 15-year reunion I felt a little different than I did five years earlier. In fact, I felt so different that I decided to co-chair the reunion with another friend from high school. I think the reason I felt different is because I realize time is passing quickly, and in the days and weeks and months and years that go by, I forget a little bit more each day about what it was like to NOT be an adult.

And I realized that a shared history is important to me. Memories of that little school and those interesting kids and teachers aren’t as vivid any more, but getting together 15 years later somehow cements into the universe that we were there, that those steps on our journey to adulthood meant something (however much we struggled), and that we made it.

I didn’t realize how much fun it would be to see everyone. My junior year prom date, who kindly put up with my bright green ball gown with a green boa in 11th grade, was there. We also did Model United Nations together and he was always the smartest delegate in the room. It made me so happy to find out that he is still the smartest delegate in the room, taking D.C. by storm working at a political think tank!

My senior year prom date was also there, who I actually do see pretty regularly. He used to psychoanalyze me for hours as a teenager and now is an accomplished child psychiatrist. (Senior Year Prom Date put up with my shiny lavender dress with a huge purple and pink boaobviously I was a little eccentric. Come to think of it…my wedding dress had feathers on it too! Clearly some things never change.)

My first friends from high school (who made a new girl not feel so lonely) were there, my girlfriends (many of whombut not allI still get to talk to) were there, my friend from math class was there, and friends who traveled from Europe, Canada, and Mexico were there. And they are all awesome and smart people.

Despite my initial anticipatory dread for high school reunions, fifteen years later I found that everyone grew up to be really nice adults. My classmates’ shared history makes us all kindred spirits and I’ll continue to cheer on their successes as adulthood marches on. But I’ll always remember them as a the funky group of kids from high school. I’ll remember the feeling of being at an age when the future of possibilities were made of only dreams and hopes and best intentions. It was real, because they were real too. Fifteen years later, we made the feeling true again.

Cheers to a future of limitless possibilities, then and now.

 

We EAT: Beebs’s Best Ever (and super secret) Chocolate Chip Cookies! (Or are they cakes?)

Hey everyone,

Adulthood has been busy lately, so I haven’t had much time to blog. I got a new job, which has been a great learning experience and my fiance and I moved in together. Life is good!

Today I christened my new kitchen (we haven’t been in this apartment for too long) with one of my favorite recipes: Beebs’s Chocolate Chip Cookies.

Who doesn’t love chocolate chip cookies? I, in fact, love them so much that I have tried literally dozens of “best ever” chocolate chip cookie recipes, but no cookie has been better than the one my friend Elizabeth makes.

The best part is, her recipe is the same recipe that is on the back of every/any bag of chocolate chips — with one caveat: she adds lots and lots of extra flour.

It doesn’t seem so weird until you realize the method to the madness. First, you make the recipe on the bag as usual, but stop right before you add the chocolate chips.

Here’s where it gets crazy. Then, according to Elizabeth, you add lots and lots of flour.

For a home baker who prides herself on precision (sifting everything, measuring everything perfectly), this boggles my mind. “What do you mean add ‘lots and lots of flour’? How MUCH flour?” I would exclaim. “Eh,” Elizabeth would reply, “just add a lot until it seems like you don’t need to add any more.”

So one day, I watched her do it. She made the recipe as it stated on the bag (which already had more than two cups flour in it!),  mixed it all until smooth, and then began adding flour by the cup full and stirring. “The stirring is the hardest part,” she told me as she struggled to get the wooden spoon through the thick dough, “But it’s a good arm workout!”  This dough is so thick, that a Kitchen Aid mixer can’t even mix it — even with the hook attachment! (That’s really thick, you guys.) I’m not sure how much flour she added in the end, probably another two or three cups. Then she added the chocolate chips, popped extra large tablespoon full 6f dough on a cookie sheet, and baked until slightly brown. Then, she had the biggest, fluffiest, doughiest, softest cookies you could ever imagine. Chocolate chip cookies, reinvented.

So, I tried it on my own. The first time I made them I was too nervous to put too much extra flour. The second time I made them, I put a little more flour — but was still cautious.

Today, I just let loose with the flour and, boy oh boy, did I make the best cookies ever. Part cookie, part cake, part scone — Beebs invented something amazing. And by letting loose a little from a recipe, I felt like a real chef! It reminded me that experimenting and spontaneity in baking and cooking is okay, and sometimes, the results are even better than you could have anticipated!

Now, I give you the recipe (which, in this case is on the back of a Trader Joe’s semi-sweet chocolate chips bag+a little magic from Elizabeth.)

2 1/4  cups all purpose flour (Ha! That’s a joke!)

1 ts salt

1 ts baking soda

1 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 cup softened butter (Ok, so I used 1/2 cup butter only and it was still delicious!)

1 ts vanilla extract

2 eggs

1 package of chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine flour, salt, and baking soda in a bowl and set aside. Combine brown sugar, sugar, softened butter, and vanilla and beat until creamy. Add eggs and beat. Add dry ingredients and mix well.

Now comes the crazy part: add a whole lot of flour. Add it slowly at first, maybe 1/2 cup at a time and mix. (You will have to hand mix this unless you have a really strong and big Kitchen Aid.) Keep adding more and more flour until the dough feels not sticky at all and actually seems a bit dry, but is still well incorporated. This could be close to three more cups of flour.

Add the chocolate chips and mix whilst giving yourself an arm workout. Spoon heaping tablespoons on to a cookie sheet. (Heaping is better for these cookies, as they really taste cakey and delicious when they are a bigger cookie.)

Bake for about 10 minutes or until golden brown on top. Let cool a few minutes on the cookie sheet before transferring to a cookie rack.

Enjoy! Report back on these cookies! Did experimenting with flour pay off in the end? (Trust me, it will be an enthusiastic YES!)

Guest Blog: Mr. Daedalus and the Tree of Knowledge

Update 3/16/12: This American Life, who first reported Mike Daisey’s story (which we blogged about here), has retracted the story due to factual inaccuracies. Stay tuned to Welcome to Adulthood for our thoughts on this issue.

For Mike Daisey’s response: check out this article.

The blog entry below was first published on Welcome to Adulthood on January 20, 2012

“…It’s just too damn easy to rationalize away that nagging little part of my brain that knows I should be more concerned about what’s in the sausage.”

Mr. Daedalus and the Tree of Knowledge

By David Daedalus

So there I was,  in my comically-small San Diego flat playing Doom on my iPad, when I turned on the radio just in time to catch an installment of ‘This American Life’. I have a particular fondness for this show and was doubly pleased as, like a rare steak and a fine Bordeaux, it pairs nicely with laying on my futon and blasting the minions of hell into piles of pixilated goo. This installment was entitled ‘Mister Daisey and the Apple Factory’, and after hearing it, I was left with one startling revelation:

Mike Daisey might well be the devil, and oddly, the devil seems to care more about other people than I do.

You see, Mike Daisey is a monologist and an Apple enthusiast who recently traveled to China to meet the people who manufacture all our iPads and MacBooks and whatnot. The episode of ‘This American Life’ is an edited version of a monologue that he gave about his trip. He described in detail the staggering pollution in Shenzhen, the Chinese city where Apple and lots of other name-brand electronic stuff is made. His story also told of workers being forced to use a known neurotoxin (n-hexane) to clean iPhone screens simply because it dried slightly faster than the non-neurotoxin alternative, alcohol. He described in vivid detail sixteen hour work days, child labor, and rampant worker suicide. This was likely the price that a score of Chinese laborers paid to make the iPad that I held in my hands, all while I sat in comfort listening to ‘This American Life’.

Mike Daisey might well be the devil: what he did through that monologue was pluck the apple from the tree of knowledge, hand it to me, and ask with an impish smile:

“Haven’t you ever wondered what’s in a hot dog?”

The thing is, I have, and what’s worse, I know in my heart of hearts I’m not going to do anything about it. Why? Because hot dogs are good. iPhones are cool. While of course I am morally outraged about the things Mr. Daisey described, but as long as I don’t actually have to see the blood and pain and torment that goes into making the things that I like when they are new and toss once they become boring, it’s just too damn easy to rationalize away that nagging little part of my brain that knows I should be more concerned about what’s in the sausage. Moral outrage is well and good, but what use is moral outrage unless it prods you to do something about the issue at hand?

Let’s take this a step further. I dated a gal for a while who was a domestic violence counselor and twice a week she was the on-call person for her agency’s Domestic Abuse Response Team. Basically, when the cops would respond to a domestic abuse call, her agency would get contacted so they could do a follow up. It really opened my eyes because her phone was ringing off the hook every time she was on call. Every night women (and men) were victims of domestic abuse all over town, and if you look at the statistics for this kind of thing, you may be surprised to find it’s more common than you think.

This is just one tiny example of all the horrific things that happen every minute of every day in your backyard and across the globe. There are tons of things in the world to be legitimately outraged about, so many that it’s literally an impossible task to educate yourself and do something about every one of them. It’s also easy to use this rationale as an excuse to give yourself a free pass (as I am guilty of doing) and not put any effort into caring about any of it. Why bother looking when it’s easy not to and you know you won’t like what you’ll find?

Mike Daisey may be the devil for enticing me with the truth, but at least the devil had the chutzpah to seek that truth, and when what he found failed to meet even the most basic standards of human decency, he had the courage not just to be outraged, but to do something about it. Granted, I may not be able to soothe (or even be aware of) all of the world’s ills, but Mr. Daisey’s fine monologue reminded me that I need to do a better job at caring about at least a few of them.

***

David Daedalus is a writer, a filmmaker, and a graduate student of Philosophy at San Diego State University. He also has a project on Kickstarter.com — to fund an animated series (one of his short episodes in the series has already been made) which he describes as “Philip K. Dick meets Southpark…with zombies.” To learn more and to watch the short animation, visit David’s website, here. David has also blogged with us before on Welcome to Adulthood. To read his other guest blog entry (equally as riveting!), click here.

 

[Photo by Marcin Wichary via Flickr.]

 

Wordless Wednesday: Adulthood is Annoying (Sometimes)

 

Photo via Inha Leex Hale’s photostream via Flicker.

Wordless Wednesday: Adulthood is Regret

Delicious photo by Kimberlykv via Flickr.

Beauty and Butter: A New Paradigm for Aging and the Wisdom of the Lamas

“…With an appropriated lesson from the lamas, we may be able to recast the relationship between our self-conscious concept of aging and the artificial enhancements tied to celebrity.”

During each Lantern Festival, the 15th day of the first month on the Chinese lunar calendar, Tibetan Buddhist lama artists create ornate and intricate sculptures made of yak butter. These butter sculptures typically take months to create, and due to the low melting point of butter, many monks choose to complete the sculpture in a very cold room. When completed, the lively and vivid butter statues are displayed under a sky of lanterns as part of the festivities. (According to Chinese tradition, at the very beginning of a new year, when there is a bright full moon hanging in the sky, there should be thousands of colorful lanterns hung out for people to appreciate. Imagine how beautiful that would be to see!) When the festival is over, the butter sculptures are melted down and the butter is discarded.

Aside from the striking artistry of these sculptures, these butter statues are meant to represent ‘impermanence.’ Impermanence is an important tenet of Buddhist philosophy, and the butter sculptures are a reminder of the ephemeral nature of life. Nurture your life, live it vibrantly, and then, when it is time, you let your life melt away.

This idea of impermanence is also useful for our own exploration of adulthood. As we all know, adulthood is inescapable. Inevitably, we will grow older. But, in our western culture which places a high cultural value on beauty, it is aging (and the inevitable conclusion to aging) that is one of the hardest aspects of being “an adult.”

Scantily clad celebrities infiltrate the covers of our magazines, our television shows, our movies, and our own collective consciousness. Thanks to Photoshop, celebrities in photographs are seen without a wrinkle, a blemish, or an ounce of fat. Thanks to plastic surgery, you too can opt to get any number of invasive and non-invasive procedures that will help you ward off the visible signs of aging! (…)
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Wordless Wednesday: Adulthood is Small Joys

My first ever Egg-in-a-Hole morning. Small joys, friends. Happy Wednesday!

Quarterly Writing Theme Winner: Inhabiting – The Bench in Apartments

“‘We’ll just write and be artists,’ we said over a jug of cheap wine.”

Inhabiting – The Bench in Apartments

By Two Girls on a Bench (Siana-Lea Gildard & Patricia Marsac)

We are often known for sitting on benches.  But when it comes to inhabiting, we have actually lived in quite a few places.  When we were first welcomed into adulthood (the day after we graduated from college) we moved into a motor home.  It was parked in our friend’s parent’s driveway.  We had no apartment lined up, no real jobs lined up, so this was our big plan, to move into our friend’s parent’s motor home.  Yes, we had humanities degrees – planning is not in the DNA of those with English and Theatre majors.

TRICIA: We aren’t that bad at planning, at least we had the motor home.

SIANA: A motor home is not a plan, an apartment and a job would have been a plan.

The best part of inhabiting this motor home was the adventure.  We felt so cool, so bohemian, we were just “crashing” somewhere until we figured things out.  Sure, the motor home was musty and the plumbing didn’t work and we had to go in the house to shower, but we got so much street cred.  Not sure who gave us the street cred, guess it was all in our minds, but we felt kinda cool.  We laughed about it a lot, mostly because we didn’t allow ourselves to be nervous about the idea that we didn’t have a frickin’ clue what we were going to do with our lives.  “We’ll just write and be artists,” we said over a jug of cheap wine.  But then our friend’s parents started asking when we’d be moving on and we really did miss running water, so we took all the checks we got as graduation presents and put them together for a deposit on an apartment.

Our first real apartment was in a sketchy area where we lived next store to a drug dealer.  We aren’t exaggerating, Tricia went to pick him up from jail one day because his pregnant fiancé needed a ride.  We really loved that place, it was a few blocks from the beach and had huge bedrooms and we wrote and painted all the time.  Sure, our window was broken by someone throwing a bottle through it one night.  Sure, Siana’s crappy ass car was broken into and nothing was taken because there was nothing to take.  Sure, Tricia felt it necessary to walk down the street carrying her Econo Club to protect herself rather than to protect her car late at night.  But that place was a gem.

After six months of living the life in that apartment, we  needed to move closer to the jobs we finally got (Tricia lugging things around the theatre, Siana lugging papers around a publishing company) and moved into what we now refer to as the roach motel.  This place sucked, but it was cheap and our reflexes became lightning fast as we killed roaches left and right with whatever we had in hand; whether it was a paper towel, a frying pan or a shoe.   We chalked this up to life experience and wrote a song for one of our performance art shows about roaches, which received the acclaim of many.  Writing what we knew, that was really living the dream.

SIANA: Yeah, I don’t remember the roach thing being that romantic.

TRICIA: Shut up, that roach song was beloved by all.

Finally, our last apartment together (before we moved in with the men that would later become our husbands) was the best.  We still talk about it with such nostalgia.  We set one of our screenplays in this apartment just so we could spend more time there in our minds.  It was a sort of two story apartment with a great kitchen where we really started learning how to cook and a living room where we really started learning how to drink and party.  We had a neighbor that played the piano, an old man across the courtyard that sat there with a little girl watching the swimming pool and a next store neighbor that became Tricia’s husband.   We had people over a lot; cast parties from the shows we worked on, birthday and fondue parties and random gatherings with strange people showing up that we didn’t know or invite.  But it was all fun.  And we wrote a lot together in that apartment.

TRICIA: I loved that apartment, I miss my bead curtain.

SIANA: Me too, I miss that old papasan chair too.

Now we live in houses just a few miles away from each other.  We thankfully share a 7-11 between our houses that we can frequent to keep our youthful spirits intact.  We’re thinking inhabiting may be more of a state of mind than where you live.  Although we have to admit, we are kind of attached to indoor plumping now.

 

***

­­­­­­­­­­­Website: www.2girlsonabench.com

Email: blog@2girlsonabench.com

 

 

Quarterly Writing Theme Winner: Life in a Box

“Out of necessity, I grew accustomed to never owning anything that I couldn’t move up or down three flights of stairs on my own.”

 

 

Quarterly Writing Theme Winner: Inhabit

Life in a Box

By Luke Williams

The tumultuous days of young adulthood are often marked by a lifestyle of near-vagrancy. Dorms, houses with eight occupants, coffin-sized studios, and the ever-popular Craigslist leap-of-faith roommate – I’ve lived them all. Looking back, I was a new-millennium cowboy living life out on the open range of new possibilities without anything to tie me down.

And while I would band together from time-to-time with other likeminded young adventurers it was always apparent that I was riding solo. “Self,” I might say on occasion, “your Craigslist leap-of-faith roommie suddenly has a brand-new wardrobe, and you seem to be missing a couple checks and a few sawbucks from your dresser…Suspicious?”

Looking out for yourself and anticipating betrayal out of someone you share a bathroom with was such a foreign concept that it nearly threatened to steamroll right over me. I was lucky enough to grow-up in a reasonably functioning household –at the very least I never had to worry about finding someone other than myself getting horizontal in my bedroom (and my bed!) until my grown-up years.

It was during these early days that my concept of home radically shifted. It was no longer a safe haven, a respite from the outside world, it was just literally where I could fall into unconsciousness for varying spans of time. Most striking of all is that it was never permanent. Nine months here, six months there, and one anomalous year-long stint with a signification other.

Out of necessity, I grew accustomed to never owning anything that I couldn’t move up or down three flights of stairs on my own. I stopped searching for random cardboard boxes and instead invested in giant rubber containers. I never gave a passing thought to hauling around personal treasures, pictures, or anything that fell outside of utility.

I became an expert at urban, young adult survival. I could screen out the Craigslist roommates who might try to put broken glass in my cereal simply from the number of smiley faces they used in the posting, and should I sense any impending doom after move-in, I could have my truck loaded-up within a day and be off to my next stop-over.

As I continue down my path through adulthood, the challenge has now shifted to learning how to turn that survival instinct off, or at least dial it back a notch. I’m in a stable work environment, I have a stable living situation, and yet I can’t seem to bring myself to unpack everything I own. I struggle to convince myself that hanging a picture isn’t a futile gesture, and I still come home expecting everything I own to have been pawned.

I find myself once again readjusting my conceptualization of what home means. So maybe, just maybe… adulthood is about knowing when to reassess expectations just as much as it is knowing how to avoid a roommate who is prone to perform pirouettes off a balcony.

***

Luke Williams is a freelance writer and graphic designer. He lives in a modest apartment in San Diego and recently purchased a couch. For more of Luke’s work, visit his blog LukusnotLucas.  

Photo by Amsterdamize via Flickr.

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