Sunday, April 18, 2010

Read a little dream for me

I have a strange relationship with books. Sometimes I go on book binges. Other times I go through book droughts. I rarely ever buy a book, and when I do, I have to buy it on sale, or as a gift for someone. I almost exclusively read what I consider to be “great books,” rarely “wasting my time” with the mediocre, and the same goes for movies and television shows. The only exception would be when I read non-fiction, usually biographies or autobiographies, and books on economics, history, or sociology. Then, I only need to be interested in the subject matter and not so much the writing style.

I grew up borrowing books from libraries rather than buying them in a bookstore, but since I left my hometown in 2005 I don’t think I’ve even stepped in a library (except for the grad school library, which was small and academic, and which I used as a study hall). So, for the past 5 years, I’ve been pilfering books from friends and relatives. When on vacation or staying at someone’s house, I tend to read what I find in the spare bedroom (Sarah Palin’s Going Rogue), or books left behind by strangers. Buying books used to be prohibitive in my family due to the cost, but even now, when all of us are doing better financially, we rarely buy books that aren’t on sale at Costco. Unfortunately, to date none of us can boast an impressive, or even semi-decent library of any scale. Hopefully one day that will change.

My husband and I agree that someday we’d like to be the proud owners of a library with built-in, floor-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall bookshelves filled with our favorite books. We both love to read, and I think we’re both a little inconsistent with our reading habits, although since my husband bought his eReader he’s pretty much working on a book (usually science fiction) at any given time and he’s usually able to go through them pretty fast.

From elementary to high school, I would borrow the maximum number of books allowed by the library, sometimes just grabbing what looked interesting from the cover, other times going by lists of “great books” I’d found somewhere. On the weekends and in the summers, when I didn’t have to wake up early for school, I would read sometimes until 4 or 6 in the morning. During these all-night reading binges, I’d fall asleep and dream that I was still reading, and I would read entire sentences in my sleep, seeing the page before me, and the sentences in themselves would make sense but often when put together with other dream sentences I would read in what felt like incoherent circles. In high school, inspired by my tenth-grade English teacher’s advice, I kept a master list of my favorite books. I need to find that list and continue to add to it. I think I read the greatest books during my high school years, and that’s when I learned to be impatient with any books that weren’t “classics” or “instant classics.”

College turned reading into a chore. For the first time in my life, I was forced to read books because they were assigned and because I had to write papers on them. A lot of the books weren’t great. A lot of the non-fiction stuff was mind-numbing. I picked up the Harry Potter series along the way, and other “children’s books” recommended to me by my friends, because they were quick, engrossing, funny, and clever. They were the complete opposite of the books I had to read for school.

These days it’s not uncommon for me to start up to 11 books at a time, finishing them one by one, or not at all if they don’t past my rigorous test of not being mediocre, or if they were just boring. I’ll also make serious literature leaps: yesterday I spent the morning reading two volumes of a Canadian comic book (Scott Pilgrim), and by evening I was working on a 1000-page posthumously-released Chilean noir novel featured in the NY Times’ 10 best novels of 2007 (Roberto Bolaño’s 2666).

My relationship with books goes through stages, and is constantly evolving. It’s similar to my relationship with and commitment to writing. I want to make the effort to stop my writing drought. We’ll see how it goes.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Shout outs to my alma maters

This clip from the HuffPost calls my first alma matter one of the 10 preppiest colleges in the US (and thus, probably, the world).

And this is a really funny clip from SNL. If you watch real close, you'll see my 2nd alma mater featured in the background. It's around the 2 minute mark. "Sarah Palin" is calling SAISers part of the "elite."

I have mixed feelings about these schools I attended. I have a lot of complaints about both of them, but I'm happy/proud to have graduated from them.

First, looking back, these schools were waaaay to expensive for me. Especially the 2nd one. It'll take me many, many years to pay off the student loans. I should have known better - that's why they can afford to be elitist. But I guess it taught me to continue seeing things from different angles, not just one, and to keep being myself. The elitist queen that I am.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Recipe becomes reality

I know this isn't a food blog, but it's my blog, so I'm bound to talk about food and recipes every once in a while. I invented a recipe! After years of thinking about it, I've finally just gone ahead and made it. Here it is.

Take a pork tenderloin, rub it with sinigang mix (tamarind soup base), it doesn't need to be marinated, and throw it in a 350 degree oven for 35 mins. Let it rest with a foil over it for 10 minutes. Cut it up, and eat it.

I served the roast sinigang tenderloin with pasta, green beans and tomatoes with a dash of oregano, a drizzle of olive oil, a healthy dose of salt, and a big splash of lemon. Buon appetito!

Diets are still for chumps

My loving spouse pointed out that I don't appear to be very understanding to people who want to go on diets. He thinks I should blame "the man" more than "the people." And I do think the whole diet industry deserves the bulk of the blame (no pun intended). But I also think that people should take responsibility for themselves. I'll throw my spouse a bone. Maybe I am a special case because I find nutrition very interesting and I also enjoy fruits, vegetables, and cooking.

I learned pretty much everything I know about nutrition from my high school health class. I took it during summer school and it was by far my favorite class ever. We learned about the birds and the bees, STDs, nutrition, and other things. It made me want to become a nutritionist, especially one that works on projects around the US and abroad to figure out the best way to feed people that don't have a lot of resources. It also made me aware of food labels, calories, and the US food pyramid.

Maybe I should cash in on my nutrition interest and become part of the industry, preaching my no-nonsense approach to food and eating!!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Diets are for chumps

I probably have no real place saying this* (which is why I have a blog) but I have always thought that diets - it doesn't matter which ones - are lame and don't work. Maybe I'm missing the point about diets, but I think it's dumb for one to spend time and money purposefully denying oneself certain foods in certain quantities and/or to try to fool oneself into thinking that doing this will make one lose weight.

People on diets spend an inordinate time talking and worrying about food. They talk about how much they like certain fatty foods but they can never eat them again because they are bad for them. And of course, it's natural that they fall off the wagon. Or is it on the wagon? But what they really need is to learn basic nutrition. People aren't taught nutrition - it's not common knowledge in the U.S. In other places, like in Italy and Japan and France, where it seems like people are doing well re: their obesity rates, there's a strong food culture/history.

But what's even worse about dieters and diets is the whole diet industry behind it all. All those individually wrapped, enticingly-labeled bars, shakes, bars, cereals, frozen meals, etc. The bottom line is that they are processed foods created in a lab. Why isn't it more natural for us to simply grow food, rinse some of the dirt off, peel it, and sometimes cook it (for the harder-to-process foods), and just stick it in our mouths and chew? I mean, good grief, what IS soda and why do people drink it as if it's water?!

And I do treat myself to random treats like those infamous chocolate sandwich cookies and ice cream and potato chips. After all, we do live in a modern society full of such edible wonders so I would just be denying progress if I didn't indulge once in a while. I'm glad I never really developed a taste for/dependence on processed foods. Hopefully that means I will never have to diet.

And don't even get me started on "going to the gym."

* I have been told that I have been blessed with a fast metabolism, which is true, because I do eat a lot, but I truly believe that eating well trumps metabolism.