Dunk Driving

Despite an incredibly long vacation from blogging, it has not been a vacation in the least from eating. Senior week festivities, graduation parties, dinner after dinner, and open bar after open bar spelled a foodie's celebration at its best. A week long adventure through Rome, Florence, and Assisi, this little lady was exploring culture the only way I see fit... through the stomach. Finally, home and settled after a whirlwind of highs and lows, happiness and anxiety. It has been a tumultuous few months, filled with lifestyle changes, rampant emotion, and consistent reflection. I always tended to be a thinker, but I never had all that much time with school to really ask myself the difficult questions like, what will I be and how the hell will I get there. Maybe it was for the better to be too occupied to ask these questions, because the problem with this line of personal interrogation is the fact that there are no clear cut answers. That's just life. I was always insulated from real life, thanks to the joys of a college education, summer vacations, and vigorous studying for exam after exam. Don't get me wrong, school is essential and a wonderful preparation for the real world, but it is also unrealistic when compared to the great beyond of the L word... life.

Those of you who know me, know that I am not the greatest driver. I haven't driven in four years, give me a break! Regina is the first to take over the wheel for fear of having to tolerate my driving. And mama loves to be behind the wheel so I usually defer to her no matter what the circumstance. On a rare occasion, I am in the car by myself and I have to be hyper vigilant or I will miss a turn... or five. Regardless though, the driving experience provides some continuity. For one, there is always music blaring. Additionally, more often than not, you are sharing the open road with someone you care about, whether family or friend. And last but not least, there is a Dunkin Donuts hazelnut iced coffee with some half and half in the cup holder. College developed in me a sever dependency on my coffee products. The funny part is I don't always drink the caffeinated variation; I just find comfort in the taste and what a cuppa joe represents. It is slightly sinful when you add some cool flavors or ten packets of sugar, but largely it is a safe choice next to soda and other frappa lappa doo dah complicated drinks. There is moderation in coffee, or at least there can be moderation if you train yourself, as I have had to. More than taste though, an iced coffee is fundamentally necessary to any long venture in the car. It is a mindless activity that can be sustained without detracting from concentration. It is a mobile meal, sometimes accompanied by greasy tater tots from Wendy's or those amazing deep friend french toast sticks. The only downfall is the part where the syrup ends up on your seat belt and sometimes yourself.

Long road trips with the radio playing your favorite recent hits, let us experience life as if it were a movie, just for a moment in time. Pretty in Pink or the Breakfast Club esque, the songs playing define your culture and generation. You sing along, whether or not you are in key. No one is there to judge you, or maybe it is the fact that the people in the car probably like you enough to tolerate your attempt at Barbara Streisand or Celine. Keep telling yourself that these soulful singers had their start in the back of a pickup truck, singing along to the Eagles of Earth, Wind, and Fire. Wind rushing beside you, sun shining through the roof, music, road, and iced coffee. Life of late has been a transition. I am not insinuating that it should be difficult in the least, but as any young recent graduate will tell you, its different. I have my health and an amazing support system so all in all, vita e' bella. But it is still a challenge to look forward without panicking. Your time is spent considering your happiness and future. The years of schooling have been endured, exams taken, and entry level jobs sought, and sometimes left. Sensory overload at its best. There is no control group in the experiment of young adulthood.

You just have to go forward and assess the journey at every juncture. I guess the important thing to remember is to be honest with yourself and look internally for the answers. Everyone's opinions are usually relevant in some way, as there is always a lesson to be learned even in the most unfortunate of circumstances. Even starting a job, to find out it made you miserable and scared the ever living bejesus out of you because it was so far from what you envisioned. But above all, the answers lie with you. Finding contentment in life has to originate from deep down. There is no manual for building a life we can be proud of, no algorithm, or even a wise sage that can tell you everything there is to know about finding fulfillment. Only God knows that, and he gave us the freedom to figure it out. So in short, taking an exploratory look at life and trying to really pinpoint what brings us joy whether we are 21 or 95, is a sound approach. And when you are dreadfully overwhelmed by the scary thoughts and anxious panic that sets in when you are trying to define yourself, your life, and your goals, grab the keys and an iced coffee, and hit the road. Let Rascal Flatts take you to the promise land of the open road, and after an hour or so, your world might start to make more sense.

Chocolate Cake Cure-All

It has been far too long since I have shared my foodie point of view. This is in no way due to the fact that I have been bereft of thoughts, but more so because I have been inundated with schoolwork, nights at the restaurant, and that whole finding a full time job and transitioning into adulthood business. Thankfully I have a part time job now that I quite enjoy...a small bit of affirmation despite not finding a full time position just yet. If only there were more hours in the day to search. But there will be no settling on my part so I will wait it out. The only solace I feel when I am drowning in homework, is the fact that nearly everyone around me here at Georgetown is feeling just as overwhelmed, seniors included. What happened to the simple senior year everyone mentioned. Or perhaps that is just some illusion people create for themselves by checking out, partying excessively, and pretending that school is irrelevant. Sadly, as the future and responsibilities are coming ever drastically closer, lessons in the classroom do seem a tad less relevant. Applying the lessons acquired in the classroom seems like a more worthy undertaking, but I am not the type to give up entirely. Although sometimes I wish I was one of those carefree Wednesday night bar hoppers. Ah nah I don't. Not my style. I really prefer working it seems! I spend my weekends at Filomena Ristorante nowadays. Only the best Italian food in all of the District. It took entirely too long for me to inquire about a job there, as I am in love with everything about it. Shame I never figured it out sooner. The employee meals are to die for, obviously. And working with people has been great practice for me; I am developing a thicker skin our of necessity. My coworkers are so cheery and warm hearted. There is a great sense of camaraderie that they have so graciously extended to me... like a family. We share a meal every shift called "family dinner" and it is a very fitting name. Good food, with good people. Is there really anything else more fundamental to our happiness? I am having a hard time coming up with it if there is. 

Now, a thought provoking question at the end of a hellishly busy week of paper writing, long restaurant hours, on Valentine's day no less (that was a party :/ ), and assignment after assignment. What is more comforting than family and friends? No, boyfriends out there-You are not the answer. Sorry. Drumroll please...

The answer is CHOCOLATE CAKE. Ever have a really awful date, and rush home so that you can sit in your jammies, snuggle up in bed, and devour some chocolate decadence?  Please tell me I am not the only person that does that. Or how about the time you made an entire chocolate cake, for a date that you anticipated having, just to be disappointed and stood up. The regiment is the same however. Home. Bed. Cake. Repeat. It is uncanny how an inanimate object has such an overall calming essence. Maybe it is the big glass of milk that hits the spot just right after you ingest layer after layer of chocolaty goodness. The dismal part of the remedy I have coined the chocolate cake cureall is that is it not the best for your waistline, guilt complex, or self esteem. Drowning any sorrow in a slice of triple chocolate mousse is only healthy and maybe even acceptable in moderation. Every girl needs her cake. But sometimes what we need more, is perspective. So what if your test was horrible, or it is the time of the month, or the boy you thought was the one turns out to suck... surprise, surprise. Thankfully we are living and breathing proof of resilience. Little detours, annoying  circumstances, and tremors might pervade our young years, but that is just a part of life it seems. And these situations are only as wretched as we allow them to be...never so overwheliming that they are able to defeat us. So just remember to keep everything in perespective, funny coming from me, the worry wart. But if you still feel the itch for something chocolate, "raise your glass" of two percent and cozy up with a slice. Or even better, share a slice with a dear friend, in celebration of the beautiful person you are. More frequently we turn to the chocolate cake cureall to cover up sentiments of helplessness, but remember that our dear friend Double Fudge Layer Cake has needs too. A happy companion will do...