Monthly Archives: March 2011


Ah, Lent: the season of giving up things that are bad for you but you need an excuse for yourself to get rid of them so you slap religious concepts onto it and talk about how sacrificial you’re being for barely more than a month.

I didn’t do that growing up because I’m not Catholic.

But, what with those awesome Jesuits filling my head with great thoughts for 4 years of higher education, I took a liking to the idea and began to do things in recognition of Lent.  Not necessarily always giving something up, but evaluating my routines and deciding where I was missing making the world a better place and myself a better friend/partner/roomie/student/person.

This year I didn’t plan on doing anything.  Until….

Britt and I have been continuing our love affair/sushi affair cross-country while she’s in SkiUtah and I’m in NEO.  We regularly had “conversushions” last year where we’d try a new sushi joint and talk for hours (or cry for hours or laugh for hours, depending on which month it was).  One of our favorite and final ones included the sushi master handing us brand new beautiful chopsticks of our own.  (This was good fortune as we’d spent the last 10 minutes of the meal debating whether or not we swipe the stix we were dining with because we loved them so much and decided against it in the end.)

So, a week ago today, we embarked on a 40-day challenge: utensil-free living until Easter.  Originally we had no guidelines beyond that but the first morning proved difficult when we realized we can’t chop any large food items.  We decided there were certain utensils (knives, spatulas) we can use EXCLUSIVELY IN PREPARATION of la nourriture; no utensils were to make it to our place settings or to aid in our consumption.

While it started out as merely an unconventional little thing that made us giggle, while researching how chopstick-centric cultures get around the whole cutlery thing, we found interesting reasons that we’d add to our list of motivations:

  • Chopsticks Only Work in Pairs. This book focuses on gender equality (the universe really loves me) and how BOTH can only properly/fully function with the other playing an equal and important role in society.
  • During Chinese New Year, all food is prepared in advance and all knives stored safely away.  This is in line with folklore that good luck for the new year will be cut away if a knife is used during the first days of the year.
  • “The honorable man … allows no knives on his table.” — Confucius is awesome.  AND nonviolent.
  • Chopsticks force you to eat smaller amounts of food at once and also usually slower.  Not only do meals become meditative and conversational, but they also become more filling with less food.  Imagine that, America!
  • The last 2 bullets actually are derived from potentially the coolest-titled article ever authored and posted on the internet, “Chopsticks:  The Choice of a Jedi.”  Read more for yourself and digest (har, har).
  • (Not exclusively limited to chopsticks, but) our conscious efforts to bring our own chopsticks everywhere we go sure is cutting down on waste of disposable utensils and resources used to clean reusable silverware.

We’ve been joking about how we’ll be “fluent in Chopstick” by the end of the Lenten season, but I really have been amazed with the versatility of the skinny lil’ thangs.  You name it, I’ve been eating it– salads, oatmeal, pasta, vegetable bakes…In fact, last week I even managed to eat a thick shake with my chopsticks.

It’s a Lenten miracle.


Fierce is the Word: WHM

Women’s History Month, Day 2


SERIOUSLY THOUGH.  I found out this morning that she was speaking at Oberlin College and I arrived an hour and a half early for the talk in order to claim seats 3 rows back from where she’d be.  And boy, am I glad I did– The Plain Dealer estimates that around 1800 people were present in Finney Chapel to welcome her back to campus!

The woman is turning 77 this month. SEVENTY-I’M-NOT-MESSING-AROUND-SEVEN.  Still touring.  Still signing.  Still speaking.  Still stirring the pot like you wouldn’t believe.  I managed to scrawl 8 pages of notes during her talk if that says anything about the content she continues to deliver despite being almost 4 scores young! 😉

I don’t want to take up too much space typing out everything she said (you can read the PD article for more words on the experience), but I would like to point out a few of Steinem’s life accomplishments in honor of Women’s History Month, and I’d also like to drop a few of her wisdoms in closing.

A brief history:

  • In 1971, Steinem helped found the National Women’s Political Caucus, of which she is still president to this day!
  • Ms. Magazine was founded by Steinem in 1972, the first issue selling 300,000 copies in 3 days and generating 26,000+ subscriptions in a matter of weeks.
  • Steinem published a highly controversial contraception-related article in 1962 and hasn’t turned back since; she has published 7 books and countless articles to date, including last week’s NYT piece on women in politics.
  • In 1993, Steinem joined the ranks of more than 200 incredible US women inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in Seneca Falls, NY.  In other words, she kicks ass and lives to tell the tale to audiences nationwide.

Her thoughts:

  • On the seemingly insurmountable task of changing things for the future: If we once lived differently in the past, we can live differently in the future.
  • Ends don’t justify the means; means ARE the ends. We can’t breed peace from war.  We cannot have community or joy or equality without living out those values every day.  You don’t get something by putting it off.
  • On risk-taking and launching into action: even when you fail, you are saved from the “what if’s?” that would have haunted you.
  • We cannot be afraid of the energy caused by resistance. We are all imaginal cells (google it and be blown away) catalyzing a change to the society in which we function.
  • On laughter: humor comes with true enlightenment.  When you have insight in the world, you can’t help but laugh at unexpected results.  This will keep you young and energized, and comfortable to speak your mind– unlike the air of false solemnity we so often adopt in the public sphere.

My own thought: I miss the intellectual activism I’d taken for granted at Loyola and in Chicago.

Alright. I’ll do it.

a ghost from blogging past.

After enjoying reading the last few previous posts, I thought I’d drop a line or two. I too approach somewhat of a time of rapid change. It’s strange to have so much freedom to go where you want, yet feel so secured to staying in one place. Everyday I’m different, I feel like I’m having travel-PMS (don’t be offended, please).  I don’t feel stuck, that’s not the right word. It’s more like I got a Sam’s-Club-free-sample of the BIG OLD world out there, I didn’t buy the 2-pound bag yet, but I haven’t cancelled my membership yet either. I want more than a sample now, because I want to eat it for more than 5 minutes. But I’m afraid that if I go back and buy the bag, now I’m committed, and there’s nothing wrong with committing to that bag but what if that two pounds is just too heavy? …now I’m out 1/4 of the money I made subbing today, I can’t return it, and I got to listen to the Cosco two cities over tell me “I told you so” for the next 365 visits…

I once read a book titled “The Last Lecture” by a man named Randy Pausch, who was essentially on his deathbed recalling the pro’s and con’s to the decisions and routes he chose in his life, a somewhat different spin on the well-known book “Tuesdays with Morrie” (also re-read recently). My favorite quote, in all its simplicity is “Experience is what you get when you didn’t get what you wanted. And experience is often the most valuable thing us humans have to offer.” He had a life of unsteady careers, pursuing things he loved that didn’t make sense stability-wise. He found himself in the strangest love encounters, that he approached completely on impulse. And yet now he’s lived an entertaining-enough life to attract millions of readers to his book. And learned enough lessons to inspire the general public.

I’m not sure where I’ll be next year, or how my decisions tomorrow will affect it, if at all. But if I’m beginning to believe that with that idea, with that quote, essentially there are no failed decisions…and at least for a moment, you get assurance, pressure lifted off your shoulders.

…or so it seems. Then again, I can’t decide what to eat for breakfast each morning.