Twenty

Oh hey, why don’t you look at that. I’m turning 20 in a few days. 

Twenty?!? Like venti?! 2-0? A third decade? November 17th won’t just mark me revolving around the sun twenty times, it’s the next chapter of my life: the transition from mini adult to real adult. 

Think about it, when you’re twenty, you’re living in your first apartment/college dorm/with your family, working and/or going to school. You have some responsibilities (rent, groceries, school books), and do a lot of taking care of yourself, but some things are still binding you to your parents (cell phone bills, health insurance). You’re young and fancy free, screaming “I’M AN ADULT” any chance you get while eating highly discounted Count Chocula cereal and coffee three meals a day and snacking on Starbursts and nachos and watching Toy Story for the tenth time in two days while writing your UNIV papers secretly hoping you never change.

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It’s Gonna be a Good Month

I may or may not be extremely biased here, but November is kinda my favorite month. Okay yeah maybe you caught me, it’s right up there with May-June-July-August-Summer, but technically November is a real month and MJJAS is hybrid created approximately seven seconds ago, so November kinda wins by reality. Now I know a bunch of you are like “oh no it’s all about December and that holiday jazz” or “September and its fall transition and Pumpkin Spice Lattes” (quote/unquote all basic white girls), but here let me give you the play by play:

  • November 1st: el Dia de los Muertos: Stop thinking about sugar skulls for a few minutes and really appreciate this holiday.  Day of the Dead is the Mexican holiday that honors dead family members by bringing food and flowers to their gravesides. It’s easy to get caught up in the roses, sugar skulls, and lollipops on the outside, when this holiday needs to be appreciated for its roots. Celebrated on the Catholic church’s All Saint’s Day, Dia de los Muertos is a holiday to recognize, remember, and appreciate your lost loved ones. Maybe it’s just me, but I think American culture could use a holiday like that.
  • November 1st: Halloween candy sales begin! 
  • November 1st: For the love of all things that are good and holy, No Shave November begins today. Prepare yourself for hipster beards and facial hair. Hipster boys with beards and glasses, beanies on cold days, let’s run to Lift Coffee to grab lattes and discuss Picasso’s use of blue or different kinds of hummus. (Hey ladies, it’s turning into tight weather so if you’re interested in participating in this month-holiday, go for it. *Feminism and stuff* Disclaimer: your boyfriend probably won’t be as excited for you participating as you are for him.)
  • November 3rd: Hello, Nacho-Taco week begins! Going on until November 9th, Nacho-Taco week is another extension of the $5 plate week Style Weekly puts on during the year (Remember Burger Week, Sandwich Week, and Chicken Wing Week?). So here’s the dealio (follow these rules carefully): Go to any of the restaurants on the list here. The meal(s) on the list are $5 and only those. If you download the passport and get it stamped after dining at three restaurants, you get entered to win a Visa gift card! 
  • November 4th: Election Day. For the love of Jesus Cristo, use your political right to vote. Don’t be lazy, don’t not care, your vote is not insignificant. I know you’re proud to have this opportunity and live in a democracy, so why not use this awesome right? You could be living under totalitarian rule.

    Why don’t politicians ever participate in No Shave November?

  • November 7th: VCU basketball sorta starts with an exhibition game versus California. Get ready for another season of Havoc, Shaka, and pep band The Peppa’s antics (like their new New Zealand war chant) 
  • November 8th: The Dirty Heads are coming to The National. Ah yes, my sweet summer is coming back 
  • November 17th: A certain blogging girl’s birthday (She likes reggae, coffee, and Chop Suey book store. Just sayin’)
  • November 18th: VCU basketball’s home opener against Toledo. Game will be on TV. Be prepared, ’cause IT’S HAVOC YOU FEAR
  • November 20th: VCU v. Maryland Eastern Shore at the Siegel Center. Not the Verizon Wireless whatever they’re trying to call it. This isn’t DC, we have no Verizon Center; VCU students aren’t about to give in to your capitalism. Anyway, we’re all trying to cope with calling the Landmark the “Altria”, one big change at a time is more than enough for Richmonders. 
  • November 27th: Thanksgiving. A holiday dedicated to food. Let me reiterate this: A day where it is socially acceptable to eat yourself into a coma. In fact, this is highly encouraged. 
  • November 28th: Nope. Nope. Christmas season hasn’t started yet. Don’t listen to the TV about Macy’s Black Friday sales. Yeah, those are cancelled this year. Go watch Charlie Brown or knit a scarf.

Inferiority Complex

There’s a quote by the old pal Aristotle, “the more you know, the more you don’t know”, which has always made sense to me. We’d study a few books in high school, and I knew there were still thousands worth our time. We more or less learned the definition of organic chemistry sophomore year, while my friends are registering for Orgo Chem II next semester. Touching up on just tidbits of things, I’d realize that the subjects go much deeper, and that there would be so much more for me to. Excited, I couldn’t wait to learn more new things once I made it to college.

Then I came to VCU. I’d talk to people who have developed feelings on British Prime Minister David Cameron’s foreign policy, friends who knew gender inequalities across the world and those who pretty much could describe every country’s flag off the top of their head. Not to mention the high numbers of multi-lingual people running around speaking in tongues.

“Hey I’m Claire, I barely have the attention span to read more than 100 pages and I speak broken Span-talian”. Your intense knowledge is actually kinda intimidating, it didn’t seem plausible to know so much and still be a teenager. I’m still trying to understand what ebola is, why do you know the different leader’s approaches on these things? 

Some friends would come up to me, discussing dead people and old stuff- you know, that history thing I’m trying to study- and speak of things-well how do you feel about Oliver Cromwell’s militant strategies? How about Canada’s treatment of Japanese Canadiens during World War II? Or Italy’s Prime Minister? Yeah, what about the IRA? Individual Retirement Account? No- Irish Republican Army- jeez you’re a history major, you should know this!

I’m not really sure where everyone is getting all of this information and informed opinions on things, maybe they’re an effect of this “information age” we live in, but I don’t go around researching the current political situation of major countries (maybe I should, but I also need to be writing a paper on Japanese internment, so I’m going to look up cake recipes).  As I move on with my college career, I’m running into more people with complex thoughts on complex situations and frankly,  it’s intimidating. I’ve always done well in school, but hearing these people I wonder if I’m supposed to know the same things they do.

Brownies fix everything.

And that’s when I take a moment, do some yoga breathing and take another sip of coffee and internalize a couple of things: we’re all different. We have different interests, and we utilize these things in different ways: some people study things as a major (thus do research in class) and others do them as a hobby (and research for fun). We all have different interests too, and can’t all be interested in the human genome project- but you know, there is a spot for all of us in the society. (On a personal note, history encompasses about twenty gajillion years on this planet and VCU’s history department only allots room for 12 history courses, so it seems about fair that I don’t know everything that has ever happened- sorry, I’m going to go study Louis XIV the Sun King don’t yell at me for not knowing French Indochina).

So the IRA- that’s pretty fascinating, but how do you feel about the end of Romanov dynasty in Russia? The international culture scene is pretty cool too, but what do you know about Richmond’s culture and history? We’ve all got strengths and weaknesses, and it’s important to not let anyone else intimidate you- no matter how scary their brain is, remember that you’re a smart cookie too, just in different interests-and it’s perfectly, absolutely, okay.

(What I’m really trying to say here is that the world is huge and my brain can only hold in but so much stuff).

“I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do” -Edward Everett Hale

Fall Doesn’t Totally Suck

Oh man.

I’m not sure that I’m prepared for this.

Someone get me a therapist.

Fall’s here.

I should’ve seen it coming, pumpkin spice lattes have been advertised for the past two months and Ugg boots are starting to make their presence as all the basics (as in basic white girls) have been coming out of hiding for their favorite season in their yoga pants.

White girls when pumpkin spice lattes are a out again be like

The past Indian summer month of September was a blessing as I was wearing sandals and cut-off shorts to class and making smoothies. But now, I’ve been sporting long pants and cardigans more frequently and soon enough, boot weather will be taking over. Ugh, shutters, boo, hiss.

But as Hannah reminded me, there are some perks to fall. Like the Richmond Folk Festival. I hope you came out again this year to Brown’s Island for the celebration of the decade-old festival. Good food (Even Red Eye was there!!), good music and entertainment (hello who know Balkan jazz was going to be so awesome? And why can’t the Mayans do a sunrise/sunset pole dance every day at Tredegar?) and good vibes and people- and I’m not just saying that because I was there. Did you know the Richmond Folk Festival is bigger than the National Folk Festival (the traveling festival that spends three years in a city, then moves on and leaves behind a festival for the city to cherish?)? With the NFF hitting up Greensboro, North Carolina next year, the motherland- my mother’s land-, I’m shivering in these connections.

Speaking of food, what about the fruit up in Charlottesville? Apple-picking at Carter Mountain, you know? Hannah, Sean and I went and picked more apples than one knows what to do with. Personally, I prefer fall apple recipes than pumpkin spice recipes (other than the pumpkin nutella muffins), and these apple granola bars and apple snicker doodles are perfection, these fried apples are better than Luck’s and take 5 minutes at most, and I’m dying to make these apple pie muffins.  If you’re one of those people who like savory food and things that aren’t dessert, apples and brie are probably one of the best things that will ever hit your burger so you should probably get on that.

And let’s not forget the fall sports to go along with your food. (If you’re expecting football than just skip over this paragraph). Hello, it’s October- Men of October- as in super attractive professional baseball players in the play-offs! I’m off in the corner praying for a Giants and Orioles World Series, and no not because both teams are orange and black. Richmond, much of the Giants spent time at the Diamond playing for the Squirrels, and Baltimore is just a day trip away- there’s minor league and regional loyalty.

Baseball pants and baseball pants and baseball pants

And as all good things come to an end, baseball season will be ending as COLLEGE BASKETBALL IS BEGINNING. YOU DON’T WANNA GO TO WAR WITH THE RAMS. FEAR THE HAVOC. SHAKA SMART. MO ALIE-COX. JORDAN BURGESS. BRIANTE WEBER. ROWDY RAMS. SEE YA IN THE STUDENT SECTION! 

And if sports aren’t your cup of tea, then I hope the Richmond music scene is! Dirty Heads will be playing November 8th at the National. You really shouldn’t be too worried at the new ownership, the people seem cool. Plus, $2 concert at the Canal Club on October 26- Priory with Coby and Kid is Qual. Check “Weekend” out here. Not bad for less than a Subway footlong sandwich, amirite?

We’re back on food, I see. It’s about time I announce on here than November 1st, Southbound will be opening its doors. Why should we be excited about this? 1. Southbound is bringing Richmond’s food renaissance to Bon Air (yay!). 2. Southbound will be run by Lee Gregory of Church Hill’s The Roosevelt (regarded by multiple sources as one of the East Coast’s best restaurants), a James Beard finalist, and Joe Sparatta of Heritage. 3. Following the Bon Air scene, Southbound will be family friendly (as combining cheaper prices with tip top quality food). 4. Holy crap now I’m going to have to decide between Southbound and Manny Mendez of Kuba Kuba’s Galley.

Flipping couch cushions and breaking piggy banks looking for ways to fuel my new restaurant hangout

Another good thing about November is not just birth month, but also arguably one of the best holidays- Thanksgiving. Yeah there’s being thankful and football or something on the tv, and a cute Charlie Brown special, but there’s also history (!) to this holiday, three days off of school and my favorite part: it’s a day dedicated to food. Peanut butter pumpkin balls? Cheesy apples? Home made mashed potatoes, fresh rolls, hot turkey? We celebrate on Wednesday is you want to come join our family for the day and partake in these foods.

Bee tee dubs Kirsten Wiig will totally be there. Just ask my mom. She’s totally like, our seventh cousin, only thrice removed

Also, Urban Farmhouse’s fall menu.

Also, the fact that Urban Farmhouse is opening soon near my college.

Perk, Bon Air’s new coffee shop, can open after December 1st. No yes this is perfect I only have to go through one stop lights to get quality coffee all of my problems will be solved  *plans to spend every free moment there, reading historical fiction and drinking chai and espresso until man of my dreams appears and we run away to open a coffeeshop/bookstore in Church Hill and be like Lee Gregory. We will prance around at the fall festivals, go to concerts and sporting events together, cook and eat like royalty in this Richmond Renaissance. And at the end of the day I’ll have to go apologize to Hannah because fall isn’t that bad, it can actually be pretty nice* 

Emperor and Empress, actually.

Confessions of a College Millennial

Since I was in elementary school, I knew that my future career would be somewhere in the arts and humanities. Falling in love with arts, literature, history, and other social sciences, my path was set to turn my passions into a job. As I grew older, I discovered that society was pushing me and my peers into STEM-H. As the millennial generation goes to college, most seem to follow this push, but there’s still a few of us who refuse to do so.

  1. I’m terrified of not getting a job after college. The way the job industry seems to be set up these days, I need a college degree to get a semi-decent job, and a master’s if I want my future family to live comfortably. People aren’t exactly knocking down doors to hire my major, and seeing that most history students want to teach, the dense competition scares me into thoughts of selling insurance or working at a grocery store. 
  2.  If I’m going to spend four years and a lot of money studying something, you better believe it’s going to be something I love. I spent years of my life drowning in geometry classes and meeting my doom in chemistry labs, but when it got to history and English, I pranced down the hall excited to talk about World War I and Modernism. VCU’s tuition bill is addressed to me, so I plan on getting every penny’s worth out of those checks I send. 
  3. It’s like your undergraduate degree hardly matters, people remind you than you can change your major or go into a completely different work field. Yet there still are those people who want to make fun of you for your arts or humanities major-oh you’ll never get a job studying sociology–sculpture major? more like starving artists. What ever happened to the Renaissance, when people sat around and thought the world of history, literature, foreign languages, and arts? Wasn’t the hipster movement supposed to make it socially acceptable to study international films and anthropology, or is that idea just to mainstream now and we’ve moved on to degrees in forensic science and petroleum engineering? 
  4. And speaking of foreign languages, the world we’re living in is getting increasingly more globalized. Shouldn’t we be putting a larger emphasis on international studies and foreign languages? Or is society getting so lazy that we’d rather use Google translate, which would help a few times, versus learning a new language, which would teach a new culture, light up a different part of the brain, and develop critical thinking and reasoning skills. The world is filled with hundreds of other countries and thousands of languages, there’s no getting around that.
  5. I want to major in something that I’m deeply passionate about. That thing, though, is a humanity, a success of humans, which society puts low on their totem pole. ECPI tells me to go into the medical fields, but with my fear of needles, that’s not going to happen. Engineers, scientists, and business men and women are praised, but I’m not looking into something I don’t feel passionate about. When was the phrase “follow your heart” replaced with “follow the big paychecks?”

    Thanks, society. My high knowledge of Tudor England and I are going to go cry in the corner. 

  6. There’s an inherent sense of competition and stress to being a college student. Always have to do well. Make Dean’s List, get into the good honor fratrority. Get the perfect internship, rock the seminar class. Stand out to future employers. Drink endless cups of coffee and don’t sleep for three days to get everything done. Oh, but don’t worry,  Bill Gates dropped out of college so don’t take college too seriously. By the way, you’re probably going to want to go to grad school if you wanna go anywhere in life, there is only one Bill Gates out there and that’s not you. No wonder college kids drink so much.