Wednesday, July 24, 2013

First law school book!

The first of my law school books came in, and I celebrated the best way I know how: with a margarita!

I think that what every law student really needs to know is that drinking makes studying so much more enjoyable. 

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Spinach Lentil Dal

To celebrate being back home, I actually cooked (previously, I had been living on microwave popcorn and Ramen noodles at the comedy condo).


It's called Spinach Lentil Dal.  Despite it kind of looking like barf in the picture, I promise you, it's really good!  I didn't come up with the recipe myself; nope, I stole it from the internet.  But, it's super easy, cheap and vegan, so I figured I'd share.  Here you go.    
  • 1 1/2 cups dry red lentils, rinsed
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 cup chopped yellow onion
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 3 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1 box (10 oz) frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • 1 can (13.5 oz) coconut milk
  1. Place red lentils and water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over HIGH heat; cover, reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes.
  2. Heat oil in a large skillet over MEDIUM heat. Add onion, tomato paste, curry powder and mustard seed. Cook, stirring frequently, until soft and fragrant, about 3 minutes. 
  3. Stir in spinach, coconut milk and lentils; reduce heat and simmer until thickened, about 10 minutes.
  4. Season to taste with salt and season with hot pepper sauce, if desired.
  5. Serve over rice.

Put Your Shoes Back On and Other Adventures on Greyhound

 After my two week Loony Bin run, I am back home in Michigan! Like my run last year, I took Greyhound. I am happy to report that unlike last year's trip, there were no bus break downs, no passenger arrests and no fellow rider showed me a knife "because you never know what might happen."

But, what would a bus trip be without a glitch? Sadly, we encountered a truck wreck (it ran off the highway), an hour away from Ann Arbor (my final destination). Our bus got to the accident site a couple minutes after it happened, and we waited for two hours on the side of the highway. There were a ton of fire trucks, a news crew, an ambulance and a helicopter. To provide some comic relief, one of the police cars racing to the scene got stuck in the ditch. Luckily, there were plenty of tow trucks on hand.


After nearly two hours on the side of the road, our bus finally started moving. Not even kidding, three miles after we started again, we got stuck behind another accident. This time, we waited for another hour.


I rode with some really nice people. On my first leg, I chatted with a grandmother heading from Texas to see her grandchildren in Vermont (we talked for nearly three hours). I also met a woman who was doing the exact same route as me: Tulsa to Ann Arbor. And I even met this little guy (who, upon boarding, was awarded "Cutest Passenger on the Bus"):

There were a couple of loud mouth-breathers and snorers, and I'm sad to report I did not get my own row. But, luckily, I brought earplugs and an eye mask, and I was able to get some sleep.

Other highlights of the trip:

-Successfully getting out of a conversation with a creepy dude who kept going on and on and on about the prices of rent in Texas. He was like Bubba from Forrest Gump talking about shrimp, only 98 times creepier.

-The bus driving coming over the loud speaker and announcing, "Whoever took your shoes off, you need to put them back on."

-Overhearing this conversation between two guys who didn't know each other.

Dude 1: "If you go to Ypsilanti, there's a good burger places there."
Dude 2: "Oh, I don't eat meat." Dude 1: "I don't either. I just meant they have a good veggie burger."

So that made me happy.

But, what made me even happier was successfully timing my potty breaks to avoid the nasty bus bathroom...that is, until we got stuck on the highway for three hours. And even then, I must say, the bathroom wasn't entirely terrible. Not getting Hepatitis from the toilet seat for the win!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Sweat by day, soft pretzels by night

I had a great time at the Tulsa Loony Bin!  I worked with Sam Demaris and Mark Poolos (who likes to keep it fancy and eat his soft pretzels by candlelight).


Mark was very kind and drove me to and from the shows each night. 

 Sharing the backseat with merch boxes.

Not only were the shows a lot of fun, but I got to be on a podcast.  Not just any old podcast, one that has beer for the guests.  I promptly asked if I could be a guest for three hours.


During the day, I tried to be productive (i.e. I told myself I was only allowed five hours of Facebooking-stalking per day), so I chipped away at my half-marathon training program.

Perhaps a place with 97 degree heat (and a heat index of 1,000 degrees) and very little shade is not the best place to train for a race.  Because I'm a glutton for punishment who enjoys sweating out toxins from 1989, I decided to do my running outside (normally I run on the treadmill because I'm a wimp who enjoys air-conditioning and drink holders).  I've been sweating from places that I didn't even know could sweat.

Of course, during all of my runs, I contemplated quitting. I asked myself what was I thinking by signing up for half-marathon #2 (and marathon #1 in the spring) in September.

However, slowly (and I certainly mean slowly), but surely, I pushed through. I took breaks after every mile to dump water over my head, but when I finally finished my runs, I smiled a huge dorky grin to myself (P.S. not an uncommon look for me).

Friday was supposed to be my cross-training day.  Does sweating 62 gallons from walking to the grocery store count as cross training? I sure hope so because that's what I did!

Here's the best part: I had food at the condo.  I scored some amazing deals like this one at the Kroger in Little Rock and brought them with me to Tulsa:
This is how you know you have a soda addiction: you have plenty of food, but you're still willing to brave a heat index of 110 (wish I was kidding about that) just so you can get Diet Pepsi.

On Saturday, I got smart and actually ran inside.  Oh, air conditioned runs, how I've missed you so.

I technically did seven miles since it was a 3.0 mile walk to the gym and back. 

There's also a movie theater in the same strip mall as the gym, so I saw The Great Gatsby for $1.25.  I also got to enjoy some much-needed air conditioning since I was drenched in sweat from the walk there.  My apologies to the people seated behind me.

And now, I'm about to embark on a 22-hour bus trip home.  More stories from the Greyhound soon!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Just got my law school schedule!

Things got real today.  I just got my schedule for my first semester of law school at MSU, I just ordered some books online, and I just had a near heart attack when I looked at how much some of them cost.

I'm excited to start law school, but I'm definitely having mixed feelings.  It's been a while since I was a full-time student, so I'm not sure what to expect.  Sadly, I was expecting all-you-can-eat buffets like I had in undergrad, but since I'll be living in an apartment and not a dorm, it's pretty much going to be Ramen noodle city.

I look forward to moving into my new place, although I'm definitely going to miss Ann Arbor (AKA the city I always come back to) and I'm not exactly thrilled about loading up a U-Haul for the second time this year.

I know I'm going to be meeting a ton of new people, but at the same time, that kind of scares me. I can get up and tell a room full of strangers jokes, but having one-on-one conversations with real, live humans makes me a bit nervous.  I suppose everyone in my class will be in that same boat though.  It's like the first day of kindergarten all over again without the nametags and self-cut bangs.  And hopefully, nobody will try to eat paste.

So while I'm going to miss things like Trader Joe's and awesome vegan restaurants, I'm going to gain cheaper rent, lots of interactions with new people, and oh yeah, a law degree.

And I'm quite thrilled about that.

I just have so many butterflies that I can't decide if I want to grin, squeal or throw-up.  Maybe all three.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Loony Bin Little Rock

I performed at the Loony Bin in Little Rock, Arkansas this past weekend.  And, apparently because I didn't learn my lesson last time, I took the bus.


My trip down to Little Rock consisted of three megabuses (Ann Arbor to Chicago, Chicago to Memphis, Memphis to Little Rock).  If you like verbal abuse and being yelled at by the driver and other passengers, I suggest you take megabus.

My favorite passengers were having a loud discussion about religion.

"You're either serving Jesus, or you're serving Satan.  That's it.  There's no in between," they both agreed.

Um...what about serving Joey McIntyre?  Because that's what I do.

Finally, after hearing nearly an hour of Bible quotes, one of the other passengers told them to shut-up.  Then an all out screaming match erupted between shut-up-lady, the Jesus-servers and a bunch of other people in the front row. Thankfully, they tired quickly and were quiet for the rest of the trip (other than some tremendously loud mouth-breathing by Jesus-server number one).

But, considering my ticket cost $3.50, I suppose I can't complain too much.

Upon exiting the bus, I realized that the heat in Little Rock is no joke.  90-something degrees with a bajillion percent humidity, are you kidding me?

Fortunately, Stephen from the club (one of the nicest guys in the business, along with the rest of the super awesome staff there) picked me up and brought me to the air-conditioned condo.

I was there on my own for a day before the other two comics (Sam Demaris and Adam Hunter) showed up.  Luckily, I was able to keep myself busy.

video

I also began my half-marathon training.  I'll be running my second half in September, so I figured it might be a good idea to actually get off the couch and start training after not having run for a month.

Dear Arkansas: I severely underestimated not only your heat, but your hills.





Not impressed by sweating from every pore of my body after my 3 miler.

The shows were a lot of fun!  Sam and Adam are both really funny and great guys, and we all bonded over our mutual love for MMA.







And while I love the staff at the Loony Bin (like, they seriously make me want to move to Arkansas just so I can hang out with them more), I am slightly mad at them. You see, they've gotten me hooked on this little vice called Candy Crush Saga.  I seriously might be in need of an intervention soon as I fear I may give up all of my hobbies, friends and free time just to play my new addiction. 
 
Luckily, I have a twelve hour bus ride (have such words ever been spoken?) tomorrow and I'll need to keep myself distracted.  So perhaps I can forgive them after all.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Late thoughts on DOMA

I was out of the country when I heard that the United States Supreme Court overturned the Defense of Marriage Act and declared that legally married same-sex couples are entitled to the same rights as their married different-sex counterparts.  I was in my friends' apartment in Copenhagen when I got a small pop-up from the Huffington Post on my phone, declaring victory.

I instantly broke into a grin.  I couldn't believe it!  I wanted to jump and shout and celebrate, but alas, I was in a place that was the first country to legally recognize same-sex unions (in 1989, no less).  I'm sure this sort of thing is old news to them, and not a daily struggle for justice as it has been in the United States.

This fight has always been close to my heart.  In 2004, citizens in Michigan,  my home state, passed a constitutional amendment that banned not just same-sex marriage, but any legal recognition of a same-sex union "for any purpose." 

I remember getting a knock on my front door from an anti-LGBT canvasser (with his two children in tow) asking me if I wanted to "protect the sanctity of marriage" by signing to get the measure on the ballot.  I remember volunteering at the polls, asking voters to stand for equality by voting against proposal 2 (as it was known then).  And I remember feeling my heart break as I learned 59% of Michigan voters had voted to take away rights from LGBT residents.

I remember standing in the rain at a post-election rally, feeling defeated, but still vowing to continue to work for justice for all.  I remember marching in this rally, to show that we would not settle for anything short of equal rights.  And I remember how it felt to be given the bullhorn.  I was nervous at first, and my voice shook, but it gradually became loud and strong as I shouted to anyone who would listen that we wanted fairness and equality and would not stop until those goals were achieved.






It's hard to believe a mere 9 years later, same-sex marriage is legal in 12 states.  I'm overjoyed to think that eventually that number will be 50 states.  Because, ultimately, the force that is justice, fairness and love cannot be reckoned with.  And it might take a long time, but it will win just as it did on June 26, 2013.

I also think it's important to remember that there is still so much work to be done.  38 states still lack marriage recognition.  The United States still lacks a federal law prohibiting discrimination in the workplace on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity (although on July 10, 2013, the Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee approved the Employment Non-Discrimination Act by 15-7 votes).

And we have a lot of work to do when it comes to ending sexism, racism, classism, ableism, speciesism, etc.  I believe that all oppression comes from the same source (the belief that one group is inherently better than another and is, thus, more deserving of rights), and in order to combat homophobia and heterosexism, we need to get rid of all of the other "ism"s. 

So today, now that I am back in the country, I will celebrate.  I will praise all of the brave souls who tirelessly worked to bring about this day. 

But, tomorrow, let's all pick up those bullhorns again.    

Friday, July 5, 2013

Norway!

During my time in Europe, I flew to Norway for a few days to go rustic camping.

We landed in Bergen, and set out to find a spot to camp.  Norway has this law where if land isn't inhabited (or close to a house or other city building), it's free to camp on.  It makes going to the bathroom challenging to say the least, but you can't beat the scenery or the price.

Our view from the plane:


First, we stopped for beer with a buddy of Drew's from Ann Arbor.  Small world that he happened to be in Bergen, too.  He took this picture of us before we set out.
We climbed the path out of the city (and what a climb it was!), and on our way up the mountain, we ran into Ragnvald.  "Raggie" as he let us call him since his name is difficult for English-speakers to pronounce was 20, from Bergen, full of energy, a nature-lover and a fan of using the word "cool" so freely that he instantly endeared himself to me.  We chatted all the way up the mountain and eventually camped two nights together.  He was so sweet and while he was still fairly new to English, he could quote Gabriel Iglesias stand-up routines.  He also had some insightful commentary on American humor: "Americans like to laugh at other people's pain."

I couldn't get over how beautiful the scenes from the mountains were.





Our campsite:
That's Raggie's tent with Jason, Drew and my tents in the background.


For two days, we filtered our own water and made breakfast in the morning and then walked down to the city to explore, go to museums and enjoy overpriced ($10 each) soy lattes.


We also made friends with a troll:
 After a couple days in Bergen, we took the bus to Flom.  It was the most gorgeous bus ride I've ever taken in my life!  Plus, unlike Greyhound, the bus was super nice and the bathroom even had a sink.  Bonus that it didn't smell like a sewer.

Pictures from around Flom:















Since we were in the middle of the fjords, climbing to a campsite was imperative. It was tough on my legs, and I vowed that if I'm going to hike again, I must get a backpack that actually fits properly.

It was worth the pain though because this was our campsite!
 


Oh, and we got to eat here along the way.
Just as we had done in Bergen, we spent our nights in the woods, and we trekked into the city during the day.  Because dairy and eggs are really expensive to produce (since a lot of Norway is mountainous and thus not suited for grazing cattle), a lot of their baked goods are vegan.  Each day that we were in Flom, I ate a cinnamon roll the size of my head.  It was a dream!

After not having a shower for four days, I convinced Drew and Jason to stay at a campsite for one night.  As soon as we checked in and pitched our tent, I couldn't get the water on me fast enough.  I'm sure Drew and Jason appreciated my efforts as well since I don't think I smelled so great.
 
I relaxed at the campsite while Drew and Jason went for some hikes, and it was perfect.  And by relaxed, I mean I went to the grocery store to buy more cinnamon-head rolls.

While I was in the grocery store, this very Southern American woman, stuck a giant tub of margarine in my face, and loudly asked, "which one of these is butter?"

No "excuse me, can I ask you a question?" just a loud, in-your-face, demand in the thickest, most hideous trailer park/Paula Deen-ish accent you've ever heard in your life.

"I'm not sure," I replied.

"Oh," she said, surprised, "you talk like I do."

Dear God, I hope not.









The day before we flew back to Copenhagen, we camped in Bergen again.  This time, rather than hiking up the mountains, we took the funicular (say that three times fast).  My legs and back were so happy!

Here's the view (ignore the fellow tourists in the background):