Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Celebrations and Goodbyes

The last week of J-Term was pretty low-key as far as work and activities but not less fun. It was good to know that I had really learned a lot from my Gender & Communications class. Most of which I attribute thanks to my colleagues and their openness to discuss difficult issues. I only hope they all continue to be aware of issues related to gender (more so humanity) and help others to become aware as well. Also I very much appreciated the guidance and support throughout the course from Dr. Eisner. I hope to continue my relationship with her in my last semester at Elon and in the years to come.

In the morning of my final I went to see a few of my friends perform their scenes for their class: Acting for Nonmajors. One of them did a scene about a couple in the south and issues related to a mutual friend who is in prison and the other scene was about these two friends, who are also factory workers, discussing the issues/histeria that comes with having a baby with someone who is mutual friends with your friends. Both scenes were good. I especially enjoyed the scene about three army vets particularly because it was all out hilarious!

Later that night I pushed my friends to go out to the men's basketball game against Chattanooga instead of going to or watching a movie at the apartment. Live a little is my motto. So they did come and we had a blast. It was an added perk that a lot of the players are cute so.... Alice was there with some friends too. I am so humbled to her for introducing me to Elon's bball team. I wouldn't have gone to any games if it wasn't for her encouragement and enthusiaism for the game. Thursday night was my third game of the season and in my entire college career. It was also an added bonus that we won! Afterwards we decided to go to Fro-yo (despite both of my friends being cold). Having forgotten to eat regularly all day I splurged (as you can see my fro-yo cup below). As entertainment we found a poster on the wall that looks identical to how Jamile looked when she was younger. See for yourself:

My fro-yo cup of madness
Jamile as a little girl

Friday was both a horrific and highly comedic travel day. It started to a rocky start when I couldn't get hold of my friend to pick me up to take me to the airport. Jamile was able to do so which was great. Getting off the train in Raleigh I checked with the ticket agents to see when and where the 100 bus would come. Sitting there for about 20-25mins I decided to ask again. Thankfully I did because the first agent was completely off. I decided to walk to the bus center I was told is where I could get the bus. Cold and snow flurries wouldn't stop a northern geneically hot-hot-hot blooded like me. So 30mins at the station and the bus came on-time. Only problem was the crowded streets near NC State's campus and the highway due to slick road conditions (leave it to NC). Finally getting to the terminals I got off at the wrong one having to get back on a bus to terminal B. Got my ticket but realized my flight was delayed.

View at Burlington Amtrak station at 845am

Waiting, waiting, waiting patiently reading a book the gateagent kept us updated with more delays due to the weather. Once on the place around 415pm (for an original 222pm flight) we waited in the aircraft at the gate to be deiced. Of course being in NC the pilot informed us that due to the power of the deice hose was so strong the main radio antena was broken. Luckily they have two other radios but they also have to fill out paperwork about the broken antenna. With a short window of opportunity to deice, call Newark Liberty, taxi out and take off for NJ the pilot reassured they were doing the best they could. Around 530pm we finally left the gate. At around 730 we arrive at the gate in EWR and I waited amusingly at the baggage claim curbside for my mom. Being so late I was hungry so we ate at my usual and favorite place in JC the Coach House Diner.

The next evening Dennis and my mom worked on the upstairs bathroom (process of being renovated) all day while I didn't. Later that night mom and I drove down to southern Tom's old neighborhood in Monroe to my mom's Atena associate Sam's house. My mom is the benefits manager for a Taco Bell franchise. Over the last few years she's developed a friendship with her Atena rep Sam. Living in NJ and spilling the beans about cooking Indian food he invited us to come down to party. So we did and it was great. Chicken curry was to die and ladies I'm telling you a guy who can cook and likes to cook is golden! Although Sam is available he's a little too old for me but any takers I'm sure he'd be willing to date.

Leftovers from Indian feast

Sunday mom and I went back to our old church in Montclair, St. John's Episcopal, in honor and celebration of Peter Jackson, the decon. I was amazed when he mentioned during the service that he had been at St. John's for 6 years which is 3 years more than usual. It was also embrassing to start crying in the middle of the service but I remembered how much Peter meant to me and my journey at St. John's. I met him when I was a junior in high school which seems like ages ago now. I will never forget his kindness and openness to people in the congregation and everywhere. It wouldn't have been appropriate to not celebrate with joy, music and a great spread at coffee hour for someone who made such an impact on this community.

Last night I decided to join my mom's trip back to the Montclair area for book club. Carol, my "fairy godmother"and longtime friend through church, was hosting and cooking lasagna for dinner. Most if not all the women in this book club are from our church: Patty, Liz, Priscilla (although not anymore), Terry, Carol, Ellen (who no longer comes since she moved to CA), Lin, and my mom. Having known all of them for nearly a decade they love me and were so happy to hear I wanted to join for a night. The book this month was called "Proof of Heaven". It was a very interesting book to discuss among a predominatly church-goer, faithbased group who have a diverse understanding of God and heaven and what it means to them personally and universally.
A street in my neightborhood

Although I had said that today would be a work day (Tues. Jan 30th) I ended up not doing much of anything. However, I did go out to mail my previous year's taxes, go to the bank and get some produce at a local shop on Central Avenue. Walking back from central Heights I came across some graffiti. It definitely put things into perspective for me because something as in consequental as this to some helped me remember where I live and where I'm from.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Wintery Wonderland! At least for a moment

It goes without saying that I was SUPER happy that it snowed this week. I was particularly pissed off at how "nice" it was outside. Everything someone would say, "Oh the weather has been so nice like spring" I found myself thinking "are you kidding me? It's supposed to be crappy and cold. Its the WINTER people!" However, I am bias considering I do not tolerate hot weather at any degree very well. I sweat on any given occassion even in the winter season when its (well moreso way back in the past less so in the last three years) traditionally colder. Besides my angst I was delighted to experience some snowy weather here at Elon. I haven't seen snow at Elon since freshman year. Of course I expected it to disappear the next day (which it did) so I was definitely going to take the opportunity to walk home in the snow when its clean and beautiful to watch.

 Outside the apt

I wasn't the only one. After the women's basketball game the brick pathways were filled with students. For the most part people were excited about it with the exception of a few who complained on-site. No bother to me. I was so chipper I danced part of the way home with my huge IKEA umbrella. It was fun and reminded me how the littlest things like walking through the first snowfall makes you feel so happy and childlike. Before it started I decided to walk to Lindner (across campus from my apt) for my Burst the Bubble Hip Hop class thinking, "oh, it might end up snowing while I'm in class. That will be nice. I'll get to feel a slight chill on my face." Yeah I'm that weird but really don't you love that feeling? It reminds me of the only time of year always designated towards spending moments with loved ones like at Thanksgiving leading into December, the start of the winter & Christmas season.

Trollinger House...oh how pretty

The unfinished Moseley extension 

Friday morning before most of the snow was already melted I walked to the Moseley to get a package and go to the Lindner to study. As I walked from my apt to central campus I took some snapshots of the area covered in white. I passed a few snowmen and a snow family, a lot of footprints and trees decorated with flakes. I also took a few photos of objects I thought were interesting that you can see below.

  Snowy footprints

 First buds of pre-spring season

Some of my friends were happy about the snow specifically because they were so hopeful that classes would be canceled. What they don't realize is we already get MLK day off so it wouldn't be in the best interest of the school to give us an extra day. Its winter term, we only have 3 weeks of class anyway! Although they didn't get completely off the hook students who had 830am classes got to sleep in another hour or two on Friday thanks to Smitty J's announcement of a delayed opening schedule. But most students, even in my 130pm class, skipped. I went to class having no reason to not come to class and I was glad I did. We presented ads to the class and talked about what we thought these images/videos meant, what they say to mass audiences and how they are relevant to the text/topics we discuss in class.


Friday night I went out to La Fiesta for dinner with the girls and had a jumbo margarita. It was delicious, the food not so much but it was nice to get out. We also made a trip out to the liquor store and found some interesting bottles like the one to the right.

Saturday was a chill day waking up around 1130am. Made pancakes and eggs for brunch, went to the gym later with my girlfriends and attempted to play racketball. Later I went to the Alumni gym for a Mellow Mushroom coupon as a promotion to come see the Elon Men's Basketball team play Wofford. I watched with my rugby teammates Rachel and Courtney. It was a very close game but in the end Elon won 68-61. Afterwards Courtney and I went to Kangaroo for some freakin awesome coffee. As I walked home I debated whether or not to go out clubbing since I hadn't eaten dinner yet and was kinda not feeling the club scene.

I ended up going out to Greensboro to a club called Allure. It seemed to have potential but I should've known when I asked the bouncer about the DJ and he said he was new would be a problem. He had potential in the beginning playing throwbacks and old school hip hop but eventually as the night wore on so did our boredom. HOWEVER, I will never forget our experience. I have been to clubs in other cities in the US and I've been to clubs all over the world and NEVER have I seen a ton of guys on the dancefloor groovin to the music, singing the music and waiting there for women to dance with them. In my experience its the opposite: the women dancing and guys come up after there are enough women on the floor to "choose" from. Like I told my girlfriends their looking for the right "meat." I will forever be grateful to Allure for exposing me to something completely different.

Today, Sunday, is another chill day. I ate pancakes and eggs again and did a load of laundry. Later I watched Silver Lining Playbook which was awesome! Now I'm debating when to go to the gym today even though my calves are in pain from the stairs exercise I did yesterday. Also I'm still not sure when or if I should do my readings for class today instead of tomorrow since I have an extra day off. I can't complain life is good :)

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Another Year Goes By...woot woot turning 23

Good news, I like my class. I've been taking Gender & Communications with Dr. Eisner. She's a great professor who is very sympathetic to our busy lives as students. I also appreciate how many films we've since related to gender issues and how we're exposed to and understand femininity and masculinity. Bad news is that its a lot of reading. Although most of our class discussions based on the readings are interesting I feel so tired at night its so difficult to push myself to read. Other than my class I'm also involved with rugby, burst the bubble classes and preparations for post-graduation opportunities, not to mention I do have a social life. I truly enjoy all I'm doing especially burst the bubble. I'm taking a Hip Hop and Cars & Trucks class both very interesting and most of the participants are guys.

The Man Wall

Birthday dessert at Pregos

This weekend was one of the first since I've been back to school that I've slept in. Although Saturday I did get up and go to the gym since practice was technically cancelled. Friday night consistent of a few hours playing Cards Against Humanity, Saturday, my birthday, was a quite day not doing much of anything except watching Casablanca, going to dinner with some friends and then going over to another group of friends for dessert (homemade bday 'sexy' cake) and V for Vendetta. Sunday, today, also a quiet and lazy day online watching Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie's show A Bit of Fry and Laurie and getting frustrated with online dating (aka OkCupid!). All in all I can't complain. I've had a pretty stress free week/weekend. Hopefully this coming week I go out and party a bit before finals and my trip back home. Yes...so soon.

All of my "types" of men...

My fave: marble cake with buttercream icing :)

If there was one thing that I learned this year to carry on with me in the next is self appreciation. Although I know that I want others to appreciate me and respect me I won't ever feel whole or as supported as I need to without myself. Of course there's God but at the end of the day what is the most relatable to myself: God or me. I am my own best friend and I need to treat myself better especially when I can't rely on others to fill that void. If I do that I can have a better understanding as to what I really need support, respect and appreciation from others, and demand it. So we'll see how this year turns out. 

Saturday, January 5, 2013

1st Weekend of the Last J-Term

Short week to start with, only two days of class so far. Its an afternoon class so I can't complain. Today we watched Iron Jawed Angels a favorite of mine that I was acquainted with back in high school when I was a member of the N.O.W Montclair section. Being a Gender & Communications course our professor Dr. Sharon Eisner thought that this was a great way to start discussion, understanding and background of the struggles of people (in this case women's suffrage) based on ones gender. It already seems to be an interesting class.

J-term for me was always a treat. I loved having one class for a few hours M-F and as a result feel a great sense of freedom to do so much that during a "normal" semester sometimes (most of the time) seems impossible to accomplish (i.e. reading for pleasure -- books I want to read not those assigned for class or work on my languages -- Spanish and Arabic). With that I also vowed to make the very best of my last j-term doing as much "partying" and fun stuff that I will only have the chance to do with some people whose time is limited (graduating early). Tonight I decided to let loose and go out to dinner at Red Bowl (Asian restaurant check it out HERE) with some friends, watched one of my all-time faves Clue (I absolutely LOVE the endings), watching disturbing cat videos on YouTube and went out to the Ke Lo Ke Hookah Lounge in Burlington. The ultimate highlight of the night for me was doing what I wanted to do and feeling happy doing it.

Green Dragon Roll & Eel sashmi YUMMY!!!

Its seemed that in the recent past...no I'd go as far to say most of my past I've allowed people and circumstance get in the way of doing things I want to do. Of course in regards to some things (i.e. my gap year before Elon where I travelled the world alone) I don't let things ruin my "plans" but sometimes  I do. But no more and I get the feeling that some of my collages feel the same way.

The hookah lounge was the most interesting and fun part of the night. It was fascinating to see a hookah lounge become a nightclub, dance competition and strip club at the same time. When we first arrived it was already busy. After we selected and paid for our flavor (vanilla...it was actually really nice and not too sweet) we sat down and people watched. The crowd was incredibly diverse which was comforting. Growing up in Jersey City I miss that but I have to remember how multicultural Burlington and NC in general really is.

The DJ was pretty good giving the customers a variety of music to dance to but I cannot make this up when I tell you that he was horny as f$%@. He came up with a dance competition, NO let me clarify a booty dance competition. Oh, lord is what I have to say to that. I found it hilarious how the men in the "club" packed into a confined area surrounding the few girls who decided to participate. They were herding into them like cattle. Then the next thing I know I see a few women walk by in bikinis and the half of the herd followed them to a stage near the door (aka closer to our table). After about twenty minutes of this we left to return home listening to the Burlesque (the movie) soundtrack. If I were to reflect on the events of tonight I would say at least this was an experience I can share with my class during discussion :) but more importantly that sometimes the best things in life aren't planned.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Christmas & Good Times with Family

The last few weeks home have been packed with things to do with family. One of them being a visit to the cemetery in New York on the way to see my Grandparents in Queens. We've (my mom and I) have been coming to see my grandma's (her mother whom I never had the opportunity to meet) grave. Over the years a few more people have died and were buried in this lot including my great grandmother Dee-Dee who died at 98 on Christmas day in 2001. Although I never really thought about it before I realized this year that after my mom is gone this will probably become my tradition. I don't know about other people but I find cemeteries very peaceful and even fun. I used to run around as a kid and play hide and seek. Bringing life to the dead...

 Below is a picture of our Christmas tree this year. We went to a tree farm in central Jersey near Princeton to cut our own tree. Its been a tradition to return to the same tree farm every year (with the exception of maybe one or two years) and more recently we've gotten into a habit of cutting our own. This year we brought Tom and Adam (Tom's son) along. Mom and I dressed the tree in ornaments Christmas Eve day while we watched Rudolph The Red Nose Reindeer. That weekend we also put up the lights and garland on the front porch. Our home was finally looking appropriate. Everywhere you looked I could see the spirit of Christmas. 

Christmas Day was a nice quite time with Uncle Jack. We opened presents and cooked appetizers and dinner dishes all day. Dennis, my Mom's boyfriend, came to join us for dinner. The pot roast was perfect especially with Mom's special horseradish sauce! Afterwards we called my cousins in Georgia to check in (an annual tradition --call all the relatives on Christmas). It was great to play a joke on them using Dennis as an announcer for the Mets ticket office. Uncle Jack (major baseball fan) has a long track record joking with my cousins who are Braves fans.  

Me and my cat Jessica (18 yrs old)

Our dinner...yum

The next few days Uncle Jack stayed with us. I decided to check out and see what was going on in town. We ended up going to City Hall to finally see what Mom had been raving about. She had mentioned that there was a room in City Hall that was used in the movie Quiz Show. We also went to see the Colgate clock near the Hudson. Unfortunately we didn't get a chance to see that since it started snowing and it was way to windy for me to volunteer walking around the boardwalk even with a crazy Uncle that would do anything (and loves the cold like me).

The last day Jack was here Mom took a half-day and we all went into the city for our traditional Christmas visit. We've gone into the city almost every Christmas most of the time with someone new to the area or here for a limited amount of time or someone who has never been to NYC. Note to anyone: Manhattan is magical during this time of year so don't wait, GO! We weren't as impressed by the tree this year (even though it's from NJ) but Saks' windows were a nice balance (compared to years past). We also went into the public library. My mom knows how much I LOVE libraries so she wanted to take me. I'm glad she did because I couldn't help but feel awe-struck as I walked into the building especially the study room. Of course all the scenes from movies and tv shows flooded my mind as I walked through (i.e. The Day After Tomorrow, Sex and the City, etc). I asked one of the librarians how many books the library carried and they said over 3,000,000 or probably more!! Knowing how amazed I was at all the visits to college campuses during my junior and senior years at high school I thought it was so sweet of my mom to think to do this.

Macy's windows - a history of Macy's
The public library

After Uncle Jack left early Friday morning Mom and I spent the rest of the time I was home together with the exception of a little holiday get-together on Saturday. We invited some family and friend over to have lunch and drinks and celebrate the New Year. It was so nice to finally meet some of our neighbors and to see Uncle Gerry, Aunt Mary and my cousin Kerry. Also thanks to my mom we played some Christmas games which was an interesting experience as you can imagine.

Sunday was a leisure day. Mom and I went to see Les Miserables. We both thought it was great, however, I was the most blown away by Russel Crowe's voice no matter WHAT the stupid critics say. I never thought he'd sound that great! Hugh Jackman on the other hand (especially an actor with theater experience) I wasn't as impressed, however, reminded of the actor who played Jean Valjean WOW it brings tears to my eyes just thinking about it. 

New Years Eve was just us. I originally had adventurous plans to go out in NYC with my friend Kristi who lives in DC, however, do to her cancelled flight back from Iowa over Christmas she couldn't miss more work. Mom and I did attempt to spend the night on the town but between the band, that was scheduled to play at the bar we went to, standing around instead of playing and mom being somewhat tired we decided to watch the ball drop at home. It was nice to just be together.