August 31, 2011

In Quest of The Perfect Dirty Chai

Currently Listening To: Nothing But The Beat, David Guetta

I believe I've told y'all before that my very favorite hot beverage of all time is a Malindi Macchiato from Java House in Nairobi, Kenya. (That was back when the blog was a baby and had a readership of about two, so no worries if you missed that part...) But really. I try and have like eighteen Malindi Macchiatos everytime I'm in the country because, well, they are just that good, all delicately spiced and coffeeish and delicious. I'm long lamented the fact that I can't get a Malindi Macchiato on this contient.

Recently, though, I had an epiphany. I'd been hearing about this drink called a dirty chai and seriously wanted to try it but had always been hesitant to order one in case 1) the barista had no idea what I was talking about and 2) I sounded creepy (because, really, just think about asking a barista who has no idea what you're talking about for a dirty chai. Especially paired with a good eyebrow raise.) But then, about two weeks ago, I realized that a dirty chai - a chai latte with an espresso shot - probably is exactly what a Malindi Macchiato is! In America! So I went for it. 

And the first one I tried was not all I had hoped and dreamed it would be. Which was a minor setback in my excitement. But, I figured, Americans don't know chai like Kenyans know chai, and even though this particular one was a little gritty and intense, I decided it had potential. And not all coffee shops are alike, so maybe - just maybe - if I started trying chai lattes everywhere, I'd find the one

So everybody, I've started my quest. So far I've been to Mudhouse, Starbucks and my fave local coffee shop, Para Coffee. And the latter two were successes. But if there's one thing that abounds in Charlottesville it is coffee shops (as well as art galleries and vineyards. I really lead a difficult life.) and I plan on trying them all. And I'll be sure to let you know when I find it.

[image via We Heart It]

August 29, 2011

Oh, Ben.

Currently Reading: Pride and Prejudice. For class.

A current favorite of the Hangout Room. (And given the number of times we've listened through this album, that's saying something.)

P.S. You can get some free Ben Rector songs here :]

August 27, 2011

Fourth Year.

I just drove back from Kroger (had to get ice cream to make milkshakes, duh) under a sky painted deep purples and pinks by Irene. Y’all, it’s been a busy, fun, crazy first week back at school followed by my last day of work today, and so now I am all tuckered out. But not too tuckered out to share just a few of the things I’ve learned during this first week back at school:
  • Even in the middle of Virginia, you might still get an earthquake and a hurricane in one week.
  • God is so good at working things out. Like my up-in-the-air class schedule.
  • I am probably going to spend 4/5 of this semester in a building I had previously never had a reason to enter. (Aka I'll be in the South Lawn Commons every Tuesday and Thursday from 10:45 to 12:30. Possibly drinking some Starbs. Come sit with me.)
  • Being a fourth year does not necessarily guarantee that you know how to get to your class, or what bus will take you home, or how to not be the only person walking into your discussion completely soaked from the rain (enough so that you even ask your TA if it’s okay to wring out your dress in the bathroom...).
  • La Bamba is the place to be. Especially The Hangout Room (pictures to come).
  • Maybe you shouldn't read 3/4 of the book assigned in June on the day it is due. But then again, maybe you shouldn't assign summer reading to college students...
  • My Thursday schedule is the worst.
  • Sometimes you have to take annoying classes because they are required, but then sometimes you befriend first years named Keith.
  • Probably the best way to prepare for your final year of undergraduate education is to watch Love in the Wild the night before classes start.

As you can see, we're off to a good start.

August 23, 2011

And Hello to Another Year as an English Major

by Billy Collins

Sometimes the notes are ferocious,

skirmishes against the author
raging along the borders of every page
in tiny black script.
If I could just get my hands on you,
Kierkegaard, or Conor Cruise O'Brien,
they seem to say,
I would bolt the door and beat some logic into your head.

Other comments are more offhand, dismissive -

"Nonsense." "Please!" "HA!!" -
that kind of thing.
I remember once looking up from my reading,
my thumb as a bookmark,
trying to imagine what the person must look like
who wrote "Don't be a ninny"
alongside a paragraph in The Life of Emily Dickinson.

Students are more modest

needing to leave only their splayed footprints
along the shore of the page.
One scrawls "Metaphor" next to a stanza of Eliot's.
Another notes the presence of "Irony"
fifty times outside the paragraphs of A Modest Proposal.

Or they are fans who cheer from the empty bleachers,

Hands cupped around their mouths.
"Absolutely," they shout
to Duns Scotus and James Baldwin.
"Yes." "Bull's-eye." "My man!"
Check marks, asterisks, and exclamation points
rain down along the sidelines.

And if you have managed to graduate from college

without ever having written "Man vs. Nature"
in a margin, perhaps now
is the time to take one step forward.

We have all seized the white perimeter as our own

and reached for a pen if only to show
we did not just laze in an armchair turning pages;
we pressed a thought into the wayside,
planted an impression along the verge.

Even Irish monks in their cold scriptoria

jotted along the borders of the Gospels
brief asides about the pains of copying,
a bird signing near their window,
or the sunlight that illuminated their page-
anonymous men catching a ride into the future
on a vessel more lasting than themselves.

And you have not read Joshua Reynolds,

they say, until you have read him
enwreathed with Blake's furious scribbling.

Yet the one I think of most often,

the one that dangles from me like a locket,
was written in the copy of Catcher in the Rye
I borrowed from the local library
one slow, hot summer.
I was just beginning high school then,
reading books on a davenport in my parents' living room,
and I cannot tell you
how vastly my loneliness was deepened,
how poignant and amplified the world before me seemed,
when I found on one page

A few greasy looking smears

and next to them, written in soft pencil-
by a beautiful girl, I could tell,
whom I would never meet-
"Pardon the egg salad stains, but I'm in love."

[image via We Heart It]

August 22, 2011

You Would Think That... a fourth year I would be able to start the school year with my schedule figured out. But apparently not. I'm drowning my anxiety about the fact that I'm not actually in either of my English classes yet with some Mat Kearney because I love it.

August 21, 2011

The Summer I Became A Townie

Currently Listening To: Into The Morning, Ben Rector
2 Days Til: classes start. (WHAT?!)

Apologies for my absence, all, but in the past few days everyone has been trickling – and then pouring – back into Charlottesville. And it’s wonderful, catching up with everyone and hearing about everyone’s adventures and having the house fill up again. But as I sit here on my bed watching out my window as cars ease through the four-way stop sign at 14th and Gordon, I realized that there about quadruple the number of cars as last week, and that I had kind of really gotten used to C’ville sans students.

Y’all, C’ville and I have gotten close this summer. It’s funny how little I knew about what lay beyond the reaches of the University before. But now, after working at the Downtown Mall and having days off to explore – not to mention my family’s new house in the area – I feel kind of like a local. I know where to park for free around the Downtown Mall and I recognize the regulars who mill around down there – and they’ve started to recognize me. (I can tell because the people who work at the Dumpling place have started giving me eight dumplings in one order instead of seven. Probably because they feel sorry for me because I am there by myself so much...) I’ve exchanged the walk to Grounds for the trek down West Main Street, and the typical student-aimed restaurants of the Corner for local gems like Crozet Pizza, Belmont Barbeque, Bellair Market, Spudnuts and Crozet Mudhouse. The twenty-minute, countryside drive between Charlottesville and Crozet is second nature to me now, and I now even know how to use the 250-Bypass. I’ve gone to Chiles Orchard for strawberries and peaches, swung off the rope swing at Blue Hole and discovered Chris Green Lake.

And it’s been lovely.

And so although I sometimes secretly get jealous when people tell me about the incredible, adventurous, exotic summers they’ve just returned from, I’m grateful for the way I’ve gotten to know this town that I’ll be in for another two years.

So Charlottesville, here’s to you.

August 18, 2011

Because This Only Happened 5 1/2 Weeks Ago...

Hello loves! I just took the GRE and thankfully I got the scores I needed! (Fun fact: I'm already in my grad school, aka Ed school. I know. Don't ask me why they made me take the GRE...) So driving an hour there + four hours of testing + sitting in a traffic jam for 45 minutes on the way back means it's time for me to do something a lil' brainless...such as showing y'all my sister's wedding pictures! (See, all this requires of me is clicking 'insert image' and voila!). This is just a smattering of the 500+ there were, so if you want to stalk the rest (and let's be real, who doesn't want to stalk wedding pictures all day erry day? ...oh wait, is that just me?) check 'em out here!

All photos by Elisa B Photography.

August 15, 2011

GRE Studying Has Gone To My Head

Currently Listening To: Faster, Matt Nathanson

I'm baaaack! And in the past almost-week since I've seen you (by which I mean rambled to you), I might have:

a) Driven significant distances four days out of five (C'ville to Southern Shores to Williamsburg to C'ville to Oakton to Berryville to C'ville. WHEW.)

b) ridden some OBX waves with my about-to-be-22-years-old middle school BFF (Happy birthday, Danielle!)

c) watched my small group leader/discipler/traveling buddy get MARRIED!

d) been welcomed back home by a storm that knocked over three trees around my house, draped power lines across my housemate's car and left us without power overnight*

e) All of the above.

I canNOT believe that by the time I look up after GREplanningretreatwork this weekend everyone will be back and classes will be just two days away. WHATTTTT?

*Felt just like home...

August 9, 2011

Move, Eat, Learn and Drink Starbucks.

Currently Reading: The Help by Kathryn Stockett

I just had goodbye pizza with my parents who are headed back to Kenya tomorrow. That, plus a married sister who is waitressing it up at a Lebanese restaurant in Bethesda (a fun fact I only learned about today....communication fail) means that I'll be all alone here...

On a happier note, I'm rolling out of here in the morning to spend a wee bit of time (like two nights) in the Outer Banks with Danielle Hale and family (oh, what sandy, beachy, sunscreeny joy!). Then I'll be doubling back up to Northern Virginia this weekend for Lauren Behrmann's wedding, and I cannot wait!

While this is all happening, posting may be sporadic. So in the mean time, I'm going to leave you with two examples of awesome people who are making awesome ideas happen that struck my interest and made me smile this week:

Exhibit A: Move, Learn, Eat (Via Today's Letters)

I especially love that first one. It makes me want to travel the world... (but then again, what doesn't?) More fun facts about this project can be found here.

Exhibit B: Jonathan's Card

Jonathan wondered what would happen if he made his Starbucks card number public...which has turned into an interesting social experiment of the pay-it-forward variety. Read more about it here. I'm definitely intrigued...And also wondering how to be a part of this when I don't have a smart phone... (but really. Anyone wanna help me out with that?)

I wish I was cool like these kids.

August 7, 2011

Miles and Miles in My Bare Feet

Remember this dilemma? And how when I finally I decided I might want to go The Civil Wars instead they were sold out? (Which was okay because Joshua Radin was still wonderful...)

Well, all is right with the world now because The Civil Wars are coming back to Cville!!! I am already excited for October 22. Especially because I already have plans to go with the lovely Kate.

Things to look forward to... :]

August 5, 2011

Friday Five

I recently discovered that two good friends of mine have never seen The Sound of Music. I was shocked. Wasn't that a normal part of everyone's childhood? Didn't everybody watch it every year at their grandmother's house at Thanksgiving? Didn't everyone grow up singing about doorbells and sleigh bells and schnitzel with noodles?

Apparently not.

I tried to help these friends get their lives back on track, but our plans to watch it fell through. Twice. Ironically, I ended up watching it earlier this week with a different group of friends...Which inspired me to make a list of just a few of the things I've learned from Fraulein Maria:

Five Life Lessons Learned From The Sound of Music

1. Singing can make any situation – from starting a new job to thunderstorms to your dad being mad at you to having to go to bed early -- better. Unless, of course, you are trying to hide from Nazis.

2. It is possible to make a full set of matching outfits out of old curtains. It is also possible to convince a sixteen-year-old girl to wear old curtains and match her six siblings.

3. Every preteen girl dreams of being sixteen going on seventeen. And having a boy who is seventeen going on eighteen dance her around a gazebo. (And hopefully not turn out to be a Nazi.)

4. It is okay to fast forward Mother Superior’s song. And to skip the majority of the second half (from when Maria returns to the wedding) to get to the good part at the end. Even if you actually only watch 2/3 of the entire movie ever, you can still say you love it.

5. It is always the butler. 

I realize this list barely scratches the surface of the wonder that is The Sound of Music. So if you have any to add, please do so.

[All images via We Heart It]

August 3, 2011

Summertime Studying

Currently Listening To: Swept Away, the Avett Brothers
Lyric Love: See the end of the rainbow / But what more is a rainbow / Than colors out of reach

Coffee-shopping and studying (for the GRE). Kinda felt like old times. By which I mean not summer times, unfortunately...

And what I learned while studying was that it has been a looong time since I have done any math. Gahhh.

August 1, 2011

Holding Sway, Part 2

Currently Watching: Shark Week.
Verse Love: God is not a man, so he does not lie. He is not human, so he does not change his mind. Has he ever spoken and failed to act? Has he ever promised and not carried it through? (Numbers 23:19)

When I was thinking about this post, I came across this piece I had started to write last summer for an essay contest (I think?) for missionary kids (MKs). I remember writing this while I was still in Kenya last summer, about to go back to the States and that whole life, and these were the issues I was thinking through right then - and probably because I was still in the middle of them, I didn't really know how to move beyond the questions and form a conclusion. And then I forgot about it completely. Either way, here's a glimpse into the unconcluded thought process of a grown up (growing up?) MK:

In the two years since I’ve been at college in the States, my former life has been tidily tucked into a box and slid onto a shelf in the backroom of my mind. At first it was out of necessity: if I was ever going to survive in this new land of free refills, interstates and well-dressed classmates fresh from the ever-frightening American public high school, I had to meld myself to their ways – starting with developing the most efficient way to answer “Where are you from?” After that, it was because I had become successful at melding, and so in my college life, a story about growing up in Ethiopia took so much background explanation that eyes would glaze over before I even got to the main point of the story. Knowledge of my other life was reserved only for my closest friends – but I doubt even they fully understood.
Every once in a while, though, I would start remembering on my own. I would slide that box of the shelf, blow the third-world dust off the lid and open it. Out would leak a string of memories, erratic and idiosyncratic, tattered but proud, each leading further into the depths until I would wonder, Was this my life? And then, sadly, How could I have forgotten?

This summer I went back to Addis Ababa, the overgrown village of a city built on a plateau 8000 feet above sea level that I consider my home. The fact that Ethiopia is the only African nation to never have been colonized by a European power is a source of fierce national pride, but the negative effects are also emerging – instead of technological advances, Ethiopia continues to lag about twenty years behind and remain ragged around the edges. It is a land of juxtaposition: domed Orthodox churches project sermons out of loudspeakers that collide in midair with the drone of the Muslim call to prayer; flagged, sleek diplomats’ cars bump along potholed roads past the beggars that stretch their palms out hopefully to the tinted windows; beautiful Italian restaurants catering to foreigners are just down the street from the hole-in-the-wall cafes of scuffed linoleum, ancient espresso machines, and the best injera b’wet around. Unlike other cities where nice areas are walled off and far from any hint of the third world, in Addis, the whole range is all on top of each other and in your face. It is poverty and potential, development and dust. It was like this during all of my teenage years, and it was exactly the same when I went back – even, shockingly, more vivid and gritty than what I had remembered.

I came back to my college life with renewed perspective and a lot of thoughts to work through. Ethiopia – and Kenya, where my parents now live, and Africa as a whole, and even the world – is where my heart is. I’ve never wanted to remain in the States for the rest of my life, but rather have always planned on returning somewhere overseas in the future, to teach at an international school like the one I went to. I want to teach international kids because I was one, and I understand that they are in a unique situation with unique needs.
With my future goals seemingly so tidily laid out, then, why is it so easy to fall right back into the business of an all-consuming, activity-filled college life? I substitute the immediate for the important and before I know it the memories have been put back on the shelf. But this is not how I want it to be.
Yet it is possible to reconcile the two worlds; can the scent of roasting coffee and the sound of a rainy-season storm beating on a tin roof permeate the success-driven, polo-shirt-wearing atmosphere of college? How do I make this happen? And what would it look like?

...I think I still might be looking for some of these answers.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...