Comfort in Potatoes

As much as I loved being in NYC, I found myself missing certain things… and by things, I mean certain foods.

When you’re living with little money and even fewer cooking utensils, there’s precious little that one can do to create a good meal. Thankfully, my roommates and I were able to thrive off of the goodwill of others. Pots, pans and bowls were borrowed from our neighbors, and at least once every day, we were able to cook something.

I missed quite a few foods, which are staple foods in my house here in PA. Usually, the things that we always have are: popcorn, potatoes, and the fixings to make waffles. These are the foods I missed the most when I was yearning for something late at night. Sure, I could’ve used microwave popcorn (and I did once or twice), but it’s just not the same when you’re used to making it over a stove. I don’t know, something about that act makes me feel more connected to it.

I even bought potatoes when I was away with intentions of making fried potatoes. Fried potatoes is something we make often here at home. My first memory of it was my grandmother making it. I was always excited when I would go to Nana’s house, and see a pan of fried potatoes sitting on her stove. The “recipe” has evolved since I started making them, and it now includes fresh garlic. I bought every base ingredient in fried potatoes with all intentions of making them… until I realized that there was one major thing holding us back: neither I, nor my roommates, nor anyone we knew owned a knife that would cut potatoes. It was a sad realization, but we ended up making loaded roasted potatoes instead, which was quite delicious.

When I came home from New York, of all the things I could’ve cooked, fried potatoes ended up being the first thing I cooked when I arrived home and had the energy to stand at a stove. Admittedly, this took a few days.

Maybe it’s the influence of my Irish twice great grandmother, but I love me some potatoes. Most applications I enjoy when I prepare it, but Nana’s potato salad is good no matter who decides to make it. That influence could also explain why french fries are my weakness. Then again, if you don’t like french fries, I question whether or not you’re human. What’s not to like?? If you eat enough of them, you may not like how they tighten your pants around your middle, but besides that… they’re delicious, salty and amazing!

I have no real recipe for making fried potatoes, and I don’t think I posted one here. However, I did take a picture when I made them that day. Call it a tribute to my most homey dish.

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This version included green bell pepper, which was a suggestion that my mom made. It worked out quite well, actually. I may have to make it a more permanent ingredient in this recipe.

If we’re so blessed to have some that survived another day, I like topping them with an egg (usually over easy). The egg I used the next day was more like over medium/over hard because I got a little overzealous because I was using our small cast iron pan to do it, and I kind of forgot about it.

I was little out of practice in making over easy eggs since, oddly enough, I really didn’t make any when I was away. I did make a lot of eggs, but it was more in an omelet form. I’ll have to try making “sunny side up” sometime; I haven’t done that since cookings school!

Well, that’s it for me. I know that when I’m away from home the next time, I have to be SURE that I can make fried potatoes. It’ll bring home a little closer, and what better place to remember home than on one’s plate?

 

The Power of Being Thin

This is a post I’ve wanted to write for a while because it’s something that I’ve witnessed and have experienced before. No matter what the smaller pockets in society say, there is a pressure to be thin, or “skinny”. It’s bad enough that people (mainly women) may feel inferior because of their skin tone or economic status, but on top of this, they feel an enormous pressure to be no more than the circumference of a toothpick.

Just like there is white and male privilege, there is also a form of privilege that comes with being thin. Most decent clothing isn’t made above a certain size. The options for plus sized women wanting to look fashionable are few and quite abysmal. Having shopped with women that are considered “plus size”, I’ve seen the selections. There are very few retailers that cater to a fluffier woman. Let’s not even get into high end designers; some of their clothing won’t even fit an average sized woman, let alone a woman with more girth!

In addition to the whole clothing debacle, the way people look at you is different when you aren’t skinny. This includes the way the opposite sex views you. People will judge you on a lot of factors merely based on your size, like: work ethic, sometimes economic status, even personal hygiene! It also seems like men respond more to women that are thin. Heck, sometimes I even feel like nothing around women that are thinner than me, and I’m not considered fat.

There are also challenges that come with being what most would consider “skinny”. It mainly comes in the form of people serving you “haterade”. Folks, mainly other women, that know of this privilege envy you and start making snide remarks. If they don’t say anything, they’ll treat you coldly and may shun you. I’ve had this happen many times when I’ve lost weight.

The other thing that would bother me sometimes is when I would go away, and come back thinner because I wasn’t eating enough. People would say “you look good!”.

So… you’re encouraging me not to eat enough?

I think the worst responses I’ve ever experienced was when I lost around 20 lbs last year. Whether I needed to or had it to lose or not is arguable. I just changed some things about the way I ate, and was working 40 hr days in a job where you’re constantly walking and standing. The end result was weight loss.

Well, folks had a LOT to say about that. Some people said I looked great, other people thought I was too thin. One person even asked if I was sick! Yet another person made reference to my former size, making me wonder if my former size (which I was happy with at the time) was a decent size to be! I was dismayed by all of these comments! I was made to feel like I didn’t look good before I lost weight, and that I didn’t look good now either!

After the dust settled, it took me a few months to reconcile with the new size. I was given no moment to decide how I felt about it before the gallery started throwing their peanuts. For a long time thereafter, I thought I was ugly and skinny, and hated how I looked. Honestly, I would’ve felt better if no one had said a thing… but that’s not going to happen. Everyone has an opinion on weight and size, and some will boldly proclaim those opinions.

Even at my current size, and the size I was before, people thought of me as “skinny”. It just goes to show you that “skinny” is relative. I don’t know if this is just a United States problem or what, because I never seem to have thoughts and feelings of unattractiveness when it comes to men that aren’t American. No matter what size I am at the time, non-American men celebrate it, and love everything about this black American girl.

A girl in my acting class did a scene where she was at a party, and she catches her boyfriend cheating with a girl that’s thinner than her. Her reaction was “That skinny b—-h!” Then she proceeds to jiggle her stomach, lift up her shirt, and write “F— skinny people” on her stomach before ending the scene.

What’s sad is that “skinny privilege” has caused this divide, and has made women feel that way about each other. I know I’ve felt that way about girls that are thinner than me. Not all skinny girls are mean, and it’s not their fault that “skinny privilege” exists. For all you know, they could be feeling as awkward as I did when I got skinnier.

If you’re going to be angry about this, let’s be angry at those that instituted skinny privilege. Shall we?

 

 

Sweat, Chocolate, and Chinese Food

Sunday was a crazy day. It always feels a little surreal when I’m in New York. I don’t know why this is; maybe there’s something in the Manhattan air.

The crazy things that happen when you’ve only had 4 hours of sleep lead to all types of ridiculousness, including the series of events that took place when I was trying to catch a train to NYC at 5:15 am. The reason I only got 4 hours of sleep was because I was in a desperate search through my drawers to find something that would qualify as “business casual”. What happened after that is the result of having had such little sleep.

I tore up my room for several precious minutes looking for a Metro Card. Yes. The Metro Card that I had for a month when I stayed in New York… for some crazy reason, I chose the minutes I should’ve spent driving to the train station looking for this Metro Card. Never mind the fact that I could just buy another for $1. *sigh*

Not only did I not find the Metro Card, I ended up getting to the train station approximately 3 minutes before my train was supposed to leave… and I was 2 city blocks away. I might’ve been there sooner if I hadn’t been a ditz and decided NOT to take the highway. I hit every stop light there was to hit on the way there.

I went to pay for a parking ticket at the machine, and only paid for 12 hrs. I needed 24 hrs. Desperate to not get a parking ticket or be towed, I paid another $20 for the same amount of time, and threw both receipts in the window. Grabbing my things, I booked it to the train station. I really shouldn’t have bothered, because I missed the train by a good 5 minutes.

So there I was… sitting on the platform waiting for a completely different train that would connect me to the New Jersey Transit. It was the only hope I had of getting to my location in time.

I was supposed to be in NYC at 10 minutes before 7am. I actually got there at about 8:37am. Let’s also throw in the fact that I had to figure out where this place was. After getting on the wrong train and asking 1.3mil people which way to go, I got to the place 1 hr late! I was so embarrassed! My first time appearing for any film shoot, and this happens. Thankfully, the crew and everyone else was late, so I may have only appeared shortly after everyone else, but it didn’t make me feel any less bad (of course, I found out that fun fact a little later about everyone else being late).

The film shoot was a lot of fun; I made a few friends! I “feasted” on pineapple and black coffee, and chit chatted with a girl there that is a nanny and an actress. She’s from Colorado, and moved out here to pursue acting. The whole experience was copacetic, and everyone there was easy to talk to, which is nice for a shy girl like me. In the down time that us “extras” had, I managed to read a book I rented from the library, and examine a few paintings on the walls.

After one last shot, we were released 1/2 hour earlier than scheduled. They were even nice enough to comp me for the price of taking the NJ transit! I wasn’t expecting that; it was very kind. I used that comp to buy lunch. This led me to my “old hood” (the place where I lived for my month in New York). There’s a Chinese food place there that has the BEST Chinese ever! I got some fried rice, chicken wings, and an egg roll.

I also walked down the way to “The Chocolate Room” for a small scoop of their house made Belgian Chocolate ice cream. After all the self-inflicted foolishness I endured in the morning, I deserved a little chocolate. I got a child-sized scoop on a cone because it’s what I could afford. It was truly delectable. *wink* Next time, I shall get a bigger scoop. It was thoroughly chocolatey and altogether satisfying.

The sun had come out, and the subway was sweltering, as usual. After having walked around in the heat, I was hot and tired. I munched greedily on my egg roll with duck sauce on it. Some man opted to sit next to me, bless his heart. A couple of times, I felt like he was watching me. I’m sure it had a LOT to do with how greedily enthusiastically I was eating that egg roll. Or probably from the interesting stench “aroma” emanating from me. I could only imagine what I smelled like: salty with a little body funk, and the faint scent of chocolate. Oh, and let’s add in the smell of Chinese food, shall we? Yeah, that’s a thing of beauty right there. (hashtag: why I’m single).

Now after the transportation fiasco I had this morning, I still managed to miss my bus from Chinatown to Philly. I left in plenty of time this time, but the train that I should take wasn’t running to the right stop. So, yet again, here I was running to catch the bus… and I still missed it. In fact, I received the “privilege” of watching it pull off. *sigh* Thank God they run every hour; I was able to hop on the next one.

I’ve never had so much transportation drama in my life. I’m one of those people that is normally an hour or so early for planes and trains! Apparently, all of that went to crap yesterday. Well, what are you gonna do?

Two and a half hours later, after a crowded ride on the Chinatown bus, I was back in PA. It felt like a cold harsh reality to be back, like someone waking you up by mercilessly dumping cold water on you. Thankfully, when I walked from 11th St to 28th to get my car, it was still there… and there was no ticket.

Despite the day of transportation mishaps, I’m already planning another trip to New York. Hopefully, I can catch my train and bus on time the next time around… and use stronger deodorant.

Predictions Epilogue

A while back, there was a daily prompt titled “Predictions”. We were asked what we thought we’d be doing on Day #211 of this year. I calculated that day to be July 30th. I gave two different answers. Now that the day has come and gone, I can tell you just what I was doing that day.

On Wednesday, July 30th, 2014, I was in New York City, New York. I was attending an intensive for acting at the New York Conservatory for Dramatic Arts. From 9:30 to 17:55, I was in classes. I took: stage combat, speech, film, and commercial classes. I was stressed out and hungry. I swear hungry was my default for how I felt at any given point during the 20 days I spent in class.

The day before that, I had interviewed a woman cop for a role I had in acting class, and auditioned for a spot in the conservatory program the previous evening. By the next day, I was feeling relieved, and feeling good about the audition and interview. I’m even happy to report that I enjoyed it. I told the man that I was auditioning for that I felt less like crapping my pants when he asked me how I was. I was supposed to go out somewhere Wednesday evening, but I ended up staying back and rehearsing lines with a partner instead. Or I was practicing an assignment for stage movement.

A couple of days before that, I had written a one-line diary entry that read “I think I lost my freaking mind.” I was stressed out by all that we were learning, was desperately trying to absorb it all and keep up with the many assignments that we had. When I look back on it, the assignments weren’t that many; I just wanted to do them well and not embarrass myself. I think it just felt like a lot because this was at least a 13 week curriculum that was being jam packed into 4 weeks. It can be stressful.

Thinking back on it, though, I can’t have imagined a better way to spend my summer. On Day #211, I was in the middle of my 3rd week, with but one more week left in the intensive. One more week in New York. One more week with people that I was used to seeing and liked being around. It’s been a long time since I’ve been around people that understood my craziness. In fact, they shared in it. Although I was stressed out, broke, and hungry most of the time, it was one of the best days of my life. It was the most well-spent month of my life thus far. I know that’s a huge thing to say, but what price can you put on finally feeling free to be your crazy, ridiculous self? And, for that matter, people–peers and teachers alike–are encouraging you to be so! I felt hard pressed, yet released in that month… all at the same time. I’d do it all over again.

Although I forget the specifics of that day (because I forgot to do the entry on the actual day), I remember the whole of what I was doing and whom I was with. I was with people that I became very attached to (even though I didn’t want to admit to that), and that liked being around me also (even though I was scared they wouldn’t). It felt like having a family: a crazy, partially international, mixed-up impromptu family. I love ‘em all and miss ‘em all.

This picture was taken the last day of our stage combat class. This was the second to last day, and the only picture I have with all of us in it:

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Much love to my acting family. I miss you all a whole lot. I haven’t started listening to depressing songs yet, but give it a couple of hours. Much love to NYC as well. I hope it will be my next home sooner rather than later.

 

Hoopers on Coney Island

On my last official weekend in New York City, a group of my classmates and I decided to go to Coney Island together. It was a Sunday, and since it marked our last full weekend in NYC, we decided that we wanted to be together. I made the mistake of not bringing my hoop the last time I visited Coney Island. This time, I refused to make that mistake.

The initial group was rather large, but it did split itself into two smaller groups. The first thing we did was hit up Nathan’s for food. The cheese fries are great, especially if you get them with bacon. Sorry guys, I didn’t get a hot dog there. Maybe I will next time.

I had put my travel hoop together because we were taking a while to decide what to eat. I didn’t end up hooping right at that moment, but I kept the hoop connected, and handed it off to a friend while I placed my order. After I got my food, I found my group of friends sitting on a spot on the boardwalk that was closest towards the railings where the beach is. Of all places that they decided to sit, there was a young woman with a bunch of hula hoops on the sand close to us. “Finally! A hooper!”, I thought excitedly.

Normally, I can be quite shy and introverted, but all shyness goes out of the window when I see someone with a hoop. It’s like I become a child once again that has no fear of what anyone will say or think. I immediately went up and talked to her.

I found out her name was Sarah, and that she had been hooping for a couple of years, just like me. Also, like me, she claimed to be shy; however, she brings the hoops to the beach every week so that people can play with them. After talking with her for a couple of minutes, I told her I’d be back once I ate something.

I couldn’t eat fast enough! Shortly after, the band of classmates had dispersed, and I ended up with a group of new friends… other people that were just like me, and understood the magic that came with hoop dance. For the next 2 hours, I was in hooping bliss, performing on the hot Coney Island boardwalk. Some people stopped and watched, and others joined us! At some point, we were about 10 hoopers deep, which was amazing! There were a couple of hoopers that ended up playing in my personal hoop. I even learned a new trick!

After a couple of hours out there, I decided that I should probably find my schoolmates… mostly because they had my wallet, which held my phone and metro pass. In the meanwhile, I managed to earn $4. Sarah and the other hoopers were nice enough to split some of the donations we got with me! That made me feel cool and special. What made me feel even more special was when she gave me her card.

“Hit me up when you come back; I’d love to hoop with you again!”, she said. I readily agreed to do so.

After wandering around for who knows how long, I finally found someone from my group. I had lost all track of time, and didn’t realize that I had been hooping for nearly 3 hours until I got my wallet back and checked the time on my phone. We arrived at almost one, and it was about 5:30 pm when we went to leave! Thank God I wasn’t getting tired because I was getting old. Though I’m not really old, I did fear that this was the issue.

I sat on the F train going home, and I was tired, thirsty, and tanned, but happy. It’s a beautiful thing when you connect with someone that understands a portion of your madness.

The Section 43 Story: My Journey Home

On the first day of actor’s movement, we did an exercise where we had to do a gesture that described us. This is a story based on all of those gestures. Yes, I remembered them. I hope you enjoy it. You guys are awesome!

As I was getting ready, I spun around in a Rand whirlwind trying to get things ready. When I double checked my ticket for the bus, I realized that it needed to be printed out! I did a Sarah to FedEx, and had an issue with the printing. I did an Ian, and tried to do it again. Same terrible results. I went to the service desk doing a Kendall, and the man helped me print my email… and refund my last mishap with the computer.

As I went back to the dorm, and was relieved to see that I didn’t have to pay anything for my massive luggage bag, I did a Madisson to feel copacetic once again. After cleaning up as much as I could and triple checking that everything was packed, I gave the RAs my keys, and did a Rachel, reached down for my bag, and went out the door. On my way up the stairs from the F train, two women and a man asked if I needed help with my bag. I did a Chris, and meekly replied “Yes, please”. So they did a Phil, and reached down to help me with my bag. I did a Shae as a show of gratitude.

While sitting on the Chinatown bus, driving out of Manhattan, I couldn’t believe I was saying good bye to New York, good bye to the experience of living there and going to school there, and good bye to people that I had come to love. I did an Anje and looked away and toward the window so no one would see me cry. I was really going to miss it all.

Finally, after 2-1/2 hours (and a brief nap), I saw the skyline of my beloved Philly. As much as I like coming home, this time, it didn’t have the same joy that it normally has. While I started to do a Flowers to figure out why, the train of thought was interrupted when the bus came to a stop at its destination: Chinatown in Philadelphia, PA. I got off the bus, did a Jerson to get myself going, and used those muscles to start pulling my bag again.

While I waited for the train, I took off my very heavy backpack, and did a Diana to loosen up my shoulders and neck. It did help a bit. The rest wasn’t long enough, because the train came soon after. I sat next to my luggage, and realized it had a little hole. I did a Colleen over the battle scar. While that isn’t bad for a 14-year-old piece of luggage, I wondered if I could fix it somehow.

I was finally back in my town, but still had to complete and arduous walk with a heavy back pack and a heavy piece of luggage. After much pulling, tugging, sweating and stopping, I FINALLY got to my house! On the way, some obnoxious guy had the nerve to tell me to work it, while not lifting one finger to help me. He received a Lulu, as I trudged on. When I got to my house, I did an Isom; I had triumphed! Leaving the suit case behind, I walked to my Nana’s around the corner to retrieve my house key since no one was home when I got there. I did a Gabriela to announce myself, and a Stephen when I actually walked through the door.

I’ve been speed walking through town since I got home, and I’m more than ready to do a Tony that falls into a moment of Oriah. I hope that I can have that moment for a minimum of 12 hours so I can attend church on Sunday. The way my church is, I’ll need all of those precious hours.

A Healing Walk

I had a bit of a letdown today. I was disappointed, and left my apartment/dorm to take a walk.

I walked all the way down my street until I got to the end of the street. There’s a raised walkway that overlooks the Brooklyn Bridge park, and that’s where I ended up. I started crying openly. How odd that I would feel like I had enough privacy to cry in a public place. I did, though. I cried freely and as long as I needed to. For a brief minute, I missed my deceased grandfather, and cried a little more. Shortly after, when my eyes were no longer blurred with tears, I looked down and saw this food market that a friend from school had told me about. There were a bunch of tents, and it looked like a farmer’s market.

“I wonder how I get there”, I thought. Without thinking too much about it, I left that place and went to find out how to get down there. I walked up a couple of streets until I found a street that went on a downward slope. “Well, this looks like the best way”, I thought.

I walked down the street on a hill, and ended up precisely where I wanted to go. I didn’t know that Brooklyn Bridge had a park! Shoot, I wish I had known about it earlier!

I walked on the walkways, and stood to look at the water lapping against the rocks. The sound of the water hitting the rocks sounded so soothing and helped me relax and be calm. I could have been content with doing this, but I decided to keep walking around and try to find those food stalls.

They were in plain sight, but I had to walk though a small opening in this large gate to get there. I don’t know if it’s because they weren’t yet fully open, but I went through and walked around. At that moment, I was sorry to only have $.59 in my bank account, but I could afford to look around at everything. I don’t know about any of you, but do you know how hard it is to look around at good smelling food, and not get any? For a girl that loves food, this is a circle of hell for me. It’s one thing to decide that you aren’t getting anything; it’s another matter entirely to be tempted by the sound of things sizzling, be seduced by the aromas in the air, and you cannot partake because you cannot pay. It’s evil, I tell you! EVIL! And everything looked good! This also may have been because I left the house on an empty stomach and cried my eyeballs out. I don’t know about any of you, but being emotional makes me tired, and kind of hungry once I catch my breath.

I walked around and there were a good amount of food stalls. If I get money before I leave, I promise I’ll taste a couple of things for y’all in case you ever visit. Although I couldn’t taste anything, just being around it gave me a sense of comfort. When I can’t understand the stuff going on in my life, I can understand food. Even if it’s a food with which I’m unfamiliar, as long as I know how it’s supposed to taste, I can make sense of it. Food isn’t difficult, finicky or fickle; it is what it is, for better or for worse.

Sidenote: OMG, I hate sitting still! I’m sitting her bouncing both legs! And it’s pretty outside, and I’m stuck in here doing procrastinating on homework that I’m supposed to do! Argh! :End Sidenote. 

After walking around and looking at the food, I left that area, and walked around on the pier. I met a woman and her dog Penny, I saw a place where you can roller skate outside, a place to kayak, and I decided to swing on the swings. As I was on the swings, I started seeing myself swinging from a piece of rope with a wooden plank small enough for one to sit upon. I was swinging happily under a tree as petals fell around me, and canon in D was playing in my head. Ah, imagery.

After having that moment, I decided to walk back home. For some reason, the walk back home was extra rough. Maybe it was because I had to walk up a steep hill on a hot and humid day in jeans, on an empty stomach, and with no water. Just a guess.

I got back to the room feeling sweaty and tired, and ready to eat something. I got a glass of water and borrowed a pan to make some eggs. I ended up toasting some bread also and made an egg sandwich. I’ve (finally) mastered the art of making sandwiches in a small pan. The only thing was that I forgot to put a little oil or butter in the pan before I put the eggs in. I think I just got overzealous because I was hungry. Either way, the sandwich was delicious. It may not have looked like much to anyone else, but I certainly enjoyed eating it.

But you know what I want the most? I could really go for some McDonald’s. I don’t even like McDonald’s like that, but I’ve been wanting it very badly. I think I just want fast food because it would be quite the treat, and it’s so darn expensive to buy fast food here. As much as I like NYC, getting food is expensive… especially if you’re living like a college student and have mere change in your bank account. It’s rough, but I get by. I was darn near vegan the first one or two weeks because all I could afford was fruit, bread, and a couple of other things. Chicken was way too expensive for my minuscule budget.The only reason I ever ate any meat at all over the past 2 weeks was because of my merciful roommates. Thank God for my roommates; they helped me out on many a night for dinner. Though I haven’t had much, I’ve been lucky enough to have a dinner every night that consisted of more than cereal. Such a blessing.

The cooking has been simple these days (and not by me), so I haven’t been posting a food entry because of it. Sometimes simple food and a good walk is all a girl needs to set things back into perspective. Sure, the situation may not have changed, but at least how I looked at it has.

Ciao!