Catching Up

‘Sup guys, So at the very bottom of my last post I resolved, in the spirit of New Year’s, to write more posts like Tina Fey’s Bossypants (because she and I both have glasses and brown hair, she’s straight up awesome, and honestly the only lady comedian-book I’ve read). The real reason is because Bossypants is all about her real life and once upon a time this blog was about my life that real people enjoyed but then it turned into, a self-help blog or something lame like that. So let’s talk about anything but self-help………….

……………..I started my fourth semester of being a ramlet! Now the fun things are going. I’m finally in my major and doing fun things, like taking cool history classes not “Here’s everything that happened in America since 1865 quick learn it in 14 weeks or fail”. I’ve got one professor who mentioned Ellwood Thompson three times in one class and spent ten minutes talking about my favorite painting. I’m getting ready to turn in some adoption papers, which is totally fine, my mom has been trying to sell me for a few years now anyway.

Edouard Manet’s Olympia, 1863. Take this French prostitute in. Love her. Aspire to be her. Just don’t try to call her up, since she’s not really a prostitute, just Manet’s friend modeling as one.

The Big Lebowski is teaching another one of my classes. I mean it’s totally fine, I walked into class on the first day expecting to learn about post-Civil War Richmond and now I sit and wonder if the professor prefers to go by “The Dude”, goes bowling and pays for his milk in checks and, if I give him a rug to tie his room together, if I will get an ‘A’ in return? (Here’s a little clip of some “Best of” the Big Lebowski so you can have a little taste of what class is like. Don’t worry about not getting the plot, I’ve seen the movie and don’t fully understand it either)

Alright, alright, what else has been going on in my life? I won $2 from the 70’s scratch off ticket but then lost all my winnings when they PowerBall ticket I bought with the said $2 failed me. I have a new favorite venue, after Hannah and I took an adventure to see Sleepwalkers. The Broadberry is awesome and cheap ($7 show? Hell yeah!) for anyone interested in awesome and cheap shows. Also, Sleepwalkers are pretty groovy, I ended buying this local band’s album, which definitely deserved its placement on the best of Richmond’s local music scene 2014 list by Richmond.com. They have a groovy, 60’s British psychedelia-Yellow Submarine Beatle’s feel to them. Which, is inarguably one of the best feelings the history of music has to offer.

Ignore the fact that it’s called “Cocaine”. It’s still got a good sound.

Every ladies’ night with Hannah and Alison is always the best (insert awes here), but our latest was probably one of the best yet. Seriously, our night started off with Shyndigz, the late night dessertie on Cary, then twenty minutes of menu indecision over the classic “Cake or pie for dinner?” debate (The answer is you actually can’t go wrong because everything at Shyndigz is made of sugar, rainbows, happiness and fairy wings so order whatever sounds best to you. Or take a tip from us and get the key lime pie, peanut butter pie, or salted caramel chocolate cake. It’s your call).

Real women do too!

We then went to go see Gone Girl at the Byrd, which was already promising because hello two hours of Ben Affleck, but the plot!: his wife disappears and Ben Affleck’s character is a suspect and then Neil Patrick Harris appears and he’s crazy and it gets thicker as the movie goes on. Guys (girls?) it’s a $2 movie ticket to see Ben Affleck for two hours AND it’s an insanely amazing movie, why are you still reading this and not at the Byrd now?

Look there he is! Behind the lady with the crazy eyes! (PSsst, Hannah, the poster is in French!)

I got new glasses after seven years with my previous pair (It just wasn’t working anymore. We were going in different directions.)

My old music obsession has been going pretty strong since my brother and I have been playing records on our uncle’s old record player (Thanks again Tim!) lately. James will play you Jefferson Starship or Bob Dylan, while the sounds of Joni Mitchell and Little Feat fill the house when I’m messing around. Aw, this has been so much fun catching up with again! I can’t wait to share more of my adventures with you! We should really do this more often! What, did you say something about chocolate cupcakes and the Big Lebowski this weekend? It’s like you’re reading my mind, why of course I would love to!

That may or may not be a poster of Olympia on the right....

That may or may not be a poster of Olympia on the right….but hey look I got new glasses! #astigmastimisforwinners

Also, I’d like to extend a personal happy birthday to the pearl herself, member of the 27 club, Woodstock icon and hippie idol to all, Janis Joplin. You’re role model (minus the heroin and alcohol abuse and overdose part) for following your heart and not giving a crap about what anyone thinks. I’ll try to keep some of the quirky you in me.

JanisJoplin

Thankful for Richmond’s Renaissance

In the Spirit of Thanksgiving, I suppose it’s time to follow all other blogs, social media posts, and people in general by saying what I’m thankful for.

But since it probably goes without saying that it’s when your coffee has free refills and all of the cute boys in my history class, let’s change things up a bit. What is Richmond, VA, the 804, thankful for?

We’re thankful and excited we were chosen for Stone Brewery’s next home, opening 2016 near Rockett’s Landing. Beating out many other cities up and down the East Coast, Richmond continues to prove herself as a Mecca for foodies.

Speaking of that, let’s talk restaurants. How many times have you praised the Lord that Red Eye was open til 1 or 2 am to warm you up in this chilly fall/winter that’s upon us? Doesn’t a Sugar Shack donut set your day off on the right note?Or that, thanks to the twice-a-year Richmond Restaurant Week, that lets you try out more pricier places like Comfort, The Roosevelt, and Deco for $25.14 for a three course meal? And on the topic of the Roosevelt, Southside is reeling in bliss that we now have Southbound, which officially opened Tuesday. If I had the time and energy, I would also list the 390672038503 other amazing places to go grab a bite to eat. 

To branch off of that, I don’t think there’s anything like Richmond’s coffee addiction. Thank you, Lift, The Lab by Alchemy, Blanchard’s, Capital Coffee, Black Hand, Lamplighter, Crossroads, Taza, and (soon) Perk! for keeping Richmond rolling.

Not just thankful, Richmond is also proud to be the home of University of Richmond, Virginia Union, and Virginia Commonwealth University. Even though it’s kinda unspoken that you pick one school and bleed their colors til death, as a city we’re proud to house them all.

One of Richmond’s crowning jewels is our blossoming art scene, we pride ourselves over this like parents with kids making A’s in first grade. Our premier art museum has exhibited Dale Chiluly and Picasso over the past couple of years, and currently China’s Forbidden City. 1708 Gallery holds in the Inlight Festival every year, a nighttime display of colors for a night in different parts of town. The Street Art Festival made its debut a year ago at the abandoned GRTC bus stop, drawing attention to the growing presence of murals in the city from the Richmond Mural Project. Look for its return next year in Manchester.  First Fridays art walk is the place to be every month, up on Broad Street’s Arts District. And let’s not forget Joe Seipel’s School of the Arts at VCU, the number one public arts university in the country. Richmond truly honors art and artists highly. 

Our local shops and businesses are another thankful feather in this turkey. Where else can you find a Quirk gallery and shop/future Quirk hotel, kitschy World of Mirth toystore, or Chop Suey used bookstore (with a cat?!)? These little shops are what give Richmond its Richmond culture, and not the big box, any-suburban neighborhood Targets. We’re here to support each other and each other’s businesses. 

We’re grateful for the James River and its class IV rapids that make river days hella lot more interesting with your stand-up paddle boards, canoes, and inner tubes.  There’s nooks and crannies to tan and swim in all parts of the River, from Texas Beach to Pony Pasture. With Richmond being named the best river town in the country, I mean we’re just a little proud…. 

And even though, thirty years in the making, we still cannot figure out where to put a baseball diamond, Richmond is trilled and thankful the San Francisco Giants chose to nest their double-A team, the Flying Squirrels on the Boulevard.

I saw an article floating around Facebook the other day about Richmond being one of the most prideful cities, and with all the good and fun stuff we got running around the city, I can totally believe that. Maybe it’s just me, but with all of these awards and notices Richmond has been getting lately, all the hype about our food and river, Richmond’s going through a Renaissance, and we’re in the midst of it. To be around all of this liveliness and growth is exciting, I just want to prance up and down the James eating some tres leches cake from Kuba Kuba and make my own silly RVA video. We might as well be Florence in the 1500’s. We have a Cathedral  and a statue of a naked guy, too. 

(What a time to be alive)

(By the way, I’m starting a petition to get more nationally recognized holidays dedicated to food. Not like National Cake Day, which most people sadly ignore. I’m talking multiple Thanksgivings, where school is closed for a week and people get the day off work-at least one a season. I think I need 100,000 signatures to have Congress officially look at it, so your support is greatly needed!)

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.