Happy New Year 2013!

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Holidays, party of 1. No mom, I don’t actually smoke. Photo credit: Kelly Rose

I’m fairly confident the year was sufficiently rung last night.  The wine flowed, the turkey was delicious, as were all the delectable sides (including mashed potatoes, vegetables, stuffing and my Mom’s creamed corn).  I made a solid batch of deviled eggs and shoved blue cheese into pitted olives for a final touch.

But enough about me.  Most importantly, the meal was shared among friends.  We managed to cram nine people around the table for a family-style dinner, and were totally blessed with a night of laughter and plenty of leftovers.

I’m a little conflicted about making resolutions.  I tend to shape my life goals around the academic year because, well, I work at an academic institution.  Sure, I’ll be joining the pack that returns to the gym (but, to be fair, I went twice last week too).  Lose weight, eat better, let go of all the holiday vices… blah-di-blah…

But if I really had to pin down what I want out of this year, it’s to get my s&*# together.  

I’ve wrapped this up into three smaller goals that look like this:

  1. Meet more deadlines

  2. Find space

  3. Drink Tea

I’m pretty responsible, but the things that either (a) aren’t a priority, or (b) I don’t get paid to do sometimes fall by the wayside.  It happens with writing, and paying bills, and things like student recommendations or taking a ballet class.  In order to deal with all the little details and try to keep on top of managing my life, I need to find space in my brain.  But, I’m also seeking out a physical space so that I can continue to work on dance related projects.  With my change in jobs came a complete loss of free rehearsal space, and soon, I believe I might find the creative home that I’m looking for.

Vicki Crain told me that she was resolving to drink more tea, so this resolution is borrowed from her.  But drinking tea is not just the action of sipping on a overly hot, lightly caffeinated, somewhat tasteless liquid… it’s a life philosophy that I whole-heartedly buy into.  So, good one Vicki.

What, pray tell, are you going to work on this year?

Where Your Food (i.e., your turkey) Comes From

The food chain, by nature, is a brutish, nasty beast.

Bearing witness to it up close may not be something that is for everyone, but for me it was an important rite of passage.

I was a vegetarian for 10 years, vegan for 5, and, for me, I eat meat today for many of the same reasons that I stopped eating it in my late teens.

I will spare readers the soap box for now and make a long story short by saying that I’m delighted that this year’s turkey feast comes not from the Jewel down the road, but from my farmer friends Nick and Becky at Midnight Sun Organics.

I saw these guys while they were babies over the summer during a work-share shift, and since I haven’t been on the farm in several weeks I was slightly surprised to see fully mature turkeys following their master down the lane, like the Pied Piper.  Kids these days… they grow up so fast.

I agreed to help “dispatch” this flock because I feel a sense of obligation to participate in where my food comes from, and, for me, that extends beyond just vegetables if I eat more than just vegetables.  Knowing that these animals were cared for, had open space and real food, and were raised by my friends, means that they lived quality lives and, as my Mom put it, only have one really bad day.

While I wasn’t able to really help with *every* step of the process – a process I’m deliberately leaving out unless you ask me personally  – looking back on the day I’m most distraught about the fact that I’m not really distraught.  Honestly, it wasn’t that hard for me to desensitize from the whole thing and just get the job done.

But this is not really that unusual.  Everyone who eats meat is, to a certain extent, desensitized.  It’s just easier to do when you buy something in a florescent-lit showroom on a styrofoam platter.  When your meat doesn’t resemble what it used to be, it’s easier to not think about the violence that occurs before it ends up on your table.  Vegetarians make a habit of visualizing where meat really comes from and how it ends up on the plate, and this is often how I stayed diligent…. because, let’s be honest, meat is delicious.

The “alternative” activity for the day

Maybe for you this is not the way you’d choose to spend a Saturday afternoon: driving an hour to a farm to shuck garlic and slaughter turkeys. But the crisp, fresh air, time with friends, learning about my food, and 20 pounds of deliciousness in my freezer made for me, a perfect day.

Photos by Julie E. Ballard

Starbucks Around the World: Kushadasi, Turkey

Disclaimer: Since Travelpod does not allow you to export blogs, I shall be bringing old entries to you slowly, but surely, through good, old-fashioned (and painstakingly arduous) Cut-and-paste.

August 13, 2008

This is, by far my favorite and most memorable Starbucks experience around the world.  We booked a private tour guide and at the end of the day when he asked if there was anything else we wanted to see I spoke up with giddy: “Oh yes! Starbucks!”  Having just visited ancient ruins and traditional rug making communes, his reply was an almost aghast, “You want to go to Starbucks!?!”

Insert extreme American tourist embarrassment here.

But, paying in turkish lira for a mango passion fruit frappuchino and a mug, genuine fake bag in hand containing a genuine genuine Turkish rug….. unrepeatable (assumedly), and fantastic.  Big thumb’s up.