11 December 2016

I don't know Spanish.

“I don’t know Spanish!” I exclaimed to Carly and Sarah in the food court.  I was triumphant.  It was a EUREKA moment!  (like the discovery of electricity, not the trippy tv show from Nickelodeon)

This conclusion stemmed from a story that goes way back, to my first legit job out of college at an accounting firm.  My boss wanted me to put a stack of papers outside our cubicles and instructed me to write, “BASURA” on them.  I asked why.  She replied, “it’s for the cleaning crew.”  I did as instructed.

Seven years later, I see a handwritten note a coworker placed on a stack of boxes, “BASURA.” 

Interesting, I thought, how both the accounting firm in Pittsburgh, and this nonprofit in Washington, DC, have hired the same cleaning company.  Oh, I guess the cleaning company is just national like Molly Maids or something.

For EIGHT years I thought BASURA was the name of a cleaning company.  I had concluded that my boss had me write BASURA on a stack of newspapers to signify to the cleaning company, hey these are for you to throw out.

It wasn’t until I was standing at Chick-fil-A in the mall and tossing a straw wrapper into the trash-can where it clearly was written, “TRASH/BASURA” did it all click.

BASURA means TRASH in Spanish.

Did I mention I have a French minor?

02 November 2016

I miss days like these.

Seeing Teddy come back through KAF this time not wounded
Some of us USO girls were at the DFAC (dining facility) on base when we saw this soldier who was probably 125 pounds soaking wet, all bandaged up, and in obvious pain, with sweatpants on him that were HUGE.  And it was way too hot in August 2011 for sweatpants. We came to call him "Brock Puppy," because he was so sweet and young. We knew we needed to do something for our wounded warriors who were medevac'd (medically evacuated) to KAF and stuck there recuperating until they were deemed fit enough to go back into battle at their FOBs (Forward Operating Bases). So, we stopped by the wounded warrior barracks with blenders to make them smoothies.

The 10th Mountain Crew's "It Was Not Our Time" picture
 including Schuh, Brock Puppy and Teddy
It was incomprehensible to me that their biggest complaints were not the pain they had from shrapnel in their sides or bullet holes in their shoulders, but that they wished they were back with their guys on the FOB.  They missed feeling "useful."  I jokingly said, alright I can put you to work! Come volunteer! They took me up on it, and came by every day to volunteer. During one shift I asked Schuh to change the movie in the movie theater and handed him 2 remotes. He gave me a look of 'this is confusing how am I supposed to work this,' so I gave him an encouraging slap on the arm and said, "you got this!" His eyes turned HUGE as he took a deep breath and said between gritted teeth, "THAT'S THE ARM WITH SHRAPNEL IN IT." I felt so badly! I wounded a wounded warrior! He was fine of course, and they all made it a big joke with putting tape on his arm to warn me which one was his "bad arm." A few days later while working the front desk he worked a piece of the shrapnel out of his arm, and I held it in my hand. It was this tiny piece of metal no bigger than an earring back but as sharp as a razor blade on all sides. I had been in country for already a year at that point, but in that moment it all became very real what was going on outside the wire, far away from my plushy big base. (Schuh would later be awarded USO Volunteer of the Year in 2012).

They were a great help at the center, and a lot of fun to be around. They made me crack up when one of the girls was driving the USO van, and they joked that they survived the fire fight, but now were going to die from bad driving in a minivan.  They volunteered through the pain.  They claimed it helped them to have something to do to take their mind off it.  They were so fantastic that when one of their other friend's was wounded several weeks later, he brought himself to the USO to volunteer.  He'd been told it was the best way to recuperate.  (That was the very sweet, Malm).

After about a month, they returned to their FOBs to get back to duty. We were sad to see them go, but knew that's where they wanted to be. A few months later they came back through our base to return to the states. It was so good to see them happy and healthy and going home!  (See picture above.)

Almost all of them are now out of the Army 5 years later. All of us USO girls are no longer at KAF. I find myself talking with the USO girls about that same concept our wounded warriors mentioned 5 years ago; we miss feeling "useful." It's not that you're not happy with your life or loved ones, or friends, or career even, it's just that feeling of not being instantaneously needed and like what you're doing is bringing about a change in someone's life right that second. It’s something you don’t know that you’re missing until you’ve experienced it.

I remember when I attended a TEC (Teens Encounter Christ) retreat weekend many moons ago that I was on a “God high.”  I was ready to run the world.  One of our leaders warned us that while we had changed, the world we would return to after that retreat weekend had not.  If we didn’t temper our enthusiasm, we’d be disappointed in everyone and everything come Monday.

Now multiply that weekend by 21 months, throw in some life-altering experiences, and amplify the danger, stress, and fun by about 1654 percent.  It’s a difficult high to come down from.

31 January 2016

How to fake being an adult

Cook and serve a delicious meal.
If you got that, you look like you have it ALLLLLLL together.

Want to impress a potential love interest?
"Let me just whip up some pan-seared steak with roasted butternut squash and green beans almondine.  It's nothing.  I do this all the time."

Want to impress your colleagues?
"Oh, for lunch I'm just having some leftover chicken paillard with roasted parmesan-crusted asparagus and smashed potatoes that I made yesterday."

Want to impress your parents who know that your "fancy dinner" used to be a microwaved chicken patty on top of spaghetti that you generously called, Chicken Parmesan?
"Gotta go mom, my pork dan dan noodles with watermelon radish and garlic-lime peanuts is almost ready."

Yeah.  You sound like a legit adult.

Place those meals on some breakable plates you got from your roommate's relative and pair it with boxed wine in a glass you got free from a tasting, and it's full blown successful adulting.

For added fun when discussing a delicious meal you get to use words you have to google to pronounce, with ingredients you have never heard of before.  "Well when the farro was ready, I tossed it in the shallot citronette."

The Set Up
  • I tried Blue Apron, Plated, and Hello Fresh.
  • I bought the plan that had 3 meals a week for 2 people. 
The Pricing
  • Blue Apron - $59.94
  • Plated -$72
  • Hello Fresh $69
Blue Apron was in the lead for the pure price alone.  Plated, get over yourself.  BUT, if you refer a friend to Hello Fresh they get $40 and you get $20 off your next order.  So.....CHA -CHING.
The most adorable hot sauce ever!

The Delivery
  • I'm a fan of Happy Hour, so I appreciate that Hello Fresh' delivery stayed cold until 9 pm.  My parents' Blue Apron showed up warm, and they called them and got a new free box of 3 meals with minimal hassle.
  • Out of the gate, I like Hello Fresh' delivery style.  Each meal is in its own separate box, so it's easy to just stack the 3 boxes and remove from the fridge when ready instead of throwing bags of different veggies and meats into the fridge only to then have to dig through days later to find all the necessary ingredients for your meal.  (Yes, I'm THAT lazy that this step matters.)  
The Ingredients
  • EVERY. SINGLE. RECIPE. of Plated had at least one onion in it.  I despise onions.
  • Ingredients I was pumped to use for the first time ever: endives, tarragon, cavatelli pasta, watermelon radish, and farro
  • I haven't cooked any raw meat other than chicken or ground beef in my life.  I enjoyed learning how to cook mouth watering shrimp and steak!
The Directions
  • Blue Apron requires an additional set of hands and preferably a culinary degree.  The directions are so complicated, and you're supposed to be simultaneously sautéing, boiling, and chopping.  It took FOR-EV-ER.  I actually had to reheat the meat because my sides weren't ready yet.  Then there's the extra 30 minutes you need to budget for washing every pan, mixing bowl, cutting board, sharp knife and large spoon you own.
  • Plated and Hello Fresh directions tell you what pans, bowls, etc. you'll need.
  • Hello Fresh created the least amount of dishes.
My presentation was on point!
The Deliciousness
  • Blue Apron dishes were delicious, and were meals I would NEVER have cooked on my own.  There was enough for leftovers as well.
  • Plated was fine, but nothing exceptional, and smallest serving size by far.
  • I have dreams about Hello Fresh' Shrimp Po Boys with Remoulade and Creole Wedge Salad and Ginger Marinated Steak Wraps with Pickled Cucumber, Carrot and Jasmine Rice.  I'm salivating right now.
The Winner

  • Coming in the middle for price, but the top place for ease of actual cooking, deliciousness of entree and amount of leftovers for lunch the next day, IT'S HELLO FRESH!
So if you would like to fake being an adult with ease just like me, use my code and get $40 off your first Hello Fresh box.