Things you are “supposed” to love: music edition

During my travels last week, I tuned into the All Songs Considered podcast celebrating the show’s 16 year “birthday.” The hosts selected one song from each of the 16 years that best encapsulated the year that was in music.

I try to be “cool’ and “hip” (does using those words completely negate me from achieving that status?). But, there are certain musicians that I try and try and try to like because I believe that I should. Either because I drool over other artists who are “similar” or because I have this notion that society does, and if I don’t, there may be something wrong to be. Social pressure is real. No one wants to feel like the odd person out during a conversation on pop culture.

So, I’ve compiled a few musical artists that, based on previous listening history, I should technically love. But, I don’t. It’s not you, musicians, it’s me. Here are a few:

Bjork

Her quirky voice, poignant lyrics, and fusion of sounds align with my musical tastes. I’ve tried hard to swallow down her songs, and they all end up getting stuck. I feel like I’m wearing a wool sweater, and the itching begins. And all I want to do is rip that sweater off.

Wilco

A band that always creeps onto top lists of decades. Granted, I haven’t listened to their latest release (the aptly titled Star Wars). But I have a distinct memory of driving back from a work trip, and the only cd that my boss had that who I knew the artist was Wilco. Filled with hope of falling in love with their winding path of musical sounds, I ended up being castigated and told I was no longer allowed to pick the music. And we cut off the CD halfway through.

Ryan Adams


Ryan Adams covered all of Taylor Swift’s 1989 album – which is the closest I’ve come to really saying “Yes, I’m a Ryan Adams fan!” And, the song “New York New York.” That’s about it. My lack of lust for Mr. Adams is harder to quantify. It’s one of those: “He just doesn’t move me” answers.

Let’s do one more…

Radiohead


I realize there might be friends who will be appalled with me. I can say that I have tried to be a Radiohead fan. Throughout college, I collected their music (often through LAN parties – now there’s a fun factoid of my past!) and would turn it on (streaming through Windows Player – word). I didn’t feel the click that I desperately wanted to. Radiohead is a band that I will attempt to re-connect with at this point in my life. We’ll see what happens…

Are there musical artists that you feel you should be a bigger fan of based on either your listening habits or social pressures?

 

Six things I am crushing on this week

To start with a bit of cruel irony: after noting in my post yesterday that I had yet to succumb to slipping on ice during any training runs, I was four-tenths of a mile into my 8 mile run and…you guessed it:

polarbear

I ate it. Luckily, I performed the classic Hollywood fall of my legs flying up in the air and landing on my butt.

After a quick curse word and a double-check of all limbs, I proceeded on to knock out the remaining 7.6 miles amid much more ice. It was a very jilted run in regards to my route – a lot of U-turns. And, sadly, this morning’s freezing rain will be pushing my run today to…this afternoon? To the “wish I could” history books? It’s March. It’s time for spring.

I feel compelled to touch on a variety of topics this morning, so I have opted for the infamous list post in order to fulfill my own whims. From literature to legumes, here are six things I am crushing on this week:

#1: Chickpea cutlets from Post Punk Kitchen

chickpea cutletsLike mini-chickpea burgers of love

In need of something meaty, crunchy, and delicious? These cutlets – with their hint of lemon – will rock your world. They are easy to make and require few ingredients: chickpeas (duh), wheat gluten, bread crumbs (I use Panko), some thyme/paprika/garlic/sage, a little lemon zest, soy sauce, olive oil – BOOM! You have a chewy plant-based steak. I have fried them both times (it’s all about that crunchy, baby), but baking the cutlets in the oven is an option as well. You can find the recipe here.

#2: Hot jams: Ibeyi, “Ibeyi”

ibeyiPhoto via NPR’s All Songs Considered blog

Twin sisters Lisa-Kaindé Diaz and Naomi Diaz first blew my musical mind on NPR’s First Listen with then soon-to-be-released album Ibeyi. Their playful, sensual, and haunting French-Cuban ballads are enhancing and evocative. I immediately pre-ordered the album, which is NOW available for your listening pleasure! Right now, I have “Ghosts” on repeat, which is the third track.

#3: Sold – Patricia McCormicksoldPublished back in 2006, this novel explores the horrific world of child trafficking, in particular from Nepal to India. Through the eyes of Lakshmi, a 13-year old Nepalese girl, we journey with her as she is sold into the sex industry by her stepfather as his gambling habits have netted the family a debt they can no longer pay with their crops. It’s written in almost a verse format – short bursts of text tracing Lakshmi’s experience, her naivete, and her realization of her new reality. The novel is raw and unapologetic in telling her story – as is the story of thousands of young women in this part of the world. I highly recommend reading it, as it will educate and anger the reader (well, it did me). This was in my 2015 reading stack, and it was one I had difficulty putting down.

#4: Another glorious Costco find – red lentil pasta!

RotiniOh Costco – you did it again! Chocked full of protein and fiber, this red lentil pasta proved to be an excellent substitute to the standard durum flour variety. It doesn’t boast any overpowering flavor. We topped the noodles with a marinara sauce one night and a peanut/ginger curry a few nights later. Great texture and very filling.

#5:  Dreaming of house decorating

After abandoning Pinterest for the last month or two, I jumped back in headfirst on a quest to find barn doors. When Aaron first mentioned these as an idea to close off our dining room, I was a little on the fence. Barn doors? This coming from the woman who had burlap a plenty at her wedding, I know. But, I am now 150% on the hunt for a barn door-esque look for our dining room. Here are some that I have just fallen in love with:

barndoor4I also love the fact La Croix is in this photo

barndoor3Likely no animal head behind our future door…

barndoor2Does the dog come with the door?

barndoor1It just screams GREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEN

#6: The powerful medium that is Twitter

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Yes, tweeting road conditions in the Triangle may earn you five seconds of fame too. Twitter – from questioning dress colors (which I honestly did not follow nor care to follow) to breaking international news to chronicling a llama escape – this social media platform continues to amaze and bewilder me.

Alright, those are six things that I am sharing with you. Would you be kind enough to share something YOU are crushing on with me?

Day 25 of vegan recipe challenge: everyday I’m Brusselin’

Starting this post on a slight homage to Super Bowl-bound Seattle Seahawks led by resident good-guy Russell Wilson. Still with the bitter taste of defeat on my tongue, I’ll still root for the Hawks since cheering for New England is not an option.

After the previous Sunday’s long run of 14 miles causing quite the mental consternation for me, I am happy to report yesterday’s 15-miler proved quite the opposite. Breaking my vow of no headphones, I donned a pair for the 2.5 hour journey, listening to two NPR Ted Radio Hour shows and one Pop Culture Happy Hour. Two things I learned:

1) Japanese bakeries in the United States actually invented the fortune cookie. During World War II when fear-monger and hate from the rest of the country led to Japanese internment camps, the Chinese ended up picking up the cookie market, forever cementing in the short-sighted minds of Americans that these treats were part of the traditional Chinese food experience.

2) The story of David and Goliath isn’t as epic as first told (or, repeatedly told). David was a skilled slinger, and the stones found in the particular region were much denser than traditional rock. Based on calculations, the force of the rock coming from David’s slingshot was likely equivalent to a .45mm bullet. Additionally, there is evidence Goliath had acromegaly, a form of giantism caused by the growth of a bengiun tumor on one’s pituatory gland.

Andre the Giant had acromegaly

Shifting from giantism to giantly good eats, I was surprised to find a recipe in the January/February 2015 Health magazine that: 1) was vegan; and 2) was simple. I have seen a shift to include more recipes in publications that are plant-based, which is great. I also received the latest Cooking Light in the mail:

It might be time for us to part ways, CL. It’s not you; it’s me.

So, Health magazine earns a win on this Brussels Sprouts salad. The instructions call fr you to break the sprouts up into thin ribbons. You may certainly do that. I got out the ol’ food processor and shredded away. Or, if you’re really short on time, you can purchase Brussels Sprouts pre-shredded from stores like Trader Joe’s.

bsprouts

Shredded Brussels Sprouts with Apples and Mustard Seeds
Prep Time: 20 minutes; Cook Time: 20 minutes
Serves 4

Ingredients:
1/2 cup raw pecans
16 ounces Brussels sprouts
2 Tbsp. cider vinegar (I substituted red wine)
1 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. honey (I substituted agave nectar)
1 small shallot, minced
1 Tbsp. brown mustard seeds (I used mustard seeds)
3/4 tsp. fine sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 sweet-tart red apple such as Braeburn or Pink Lady, cored and diced

Directions:

1) Preheat oven to 350F. Arrange pecans in a single layer on a baking sheet. Toast, shaking pan once or twice, until golden brown and fragrant, 8 to 10 minutes. Let cool on a cutting board for 5 minutes and then coarsely chop.

2) Thinly slice Brussels sprouts crosswise in 1/4 inch rounds. Remove any woody stems that remain and using your fingers, break up Brussels sprouts into thin ribbons. (Or, use your food processor to shred away).

3) Make dressing: whisk cider vinegar, honey, mustard seeds, shallot, salt and pepper to taste.

4) In a large skillet, warm oil over medium heat. Add shredded Brussels sprouts: saute, stirring, until soft but still retaining some crunch, about 5 minutes. Add dressing and cook, stirring to combine for 1 to 2 minutes longer. Remove from heat. Toss apples and pecans with sprouts. Serve immediately.

brusselsprouts

Oh yes, this is a warm salad. Great texture, tang, and crunch. I really cannot get enough B. sprouts in my life, and this will be a go-to, especially to complement a heartier protein or grain dish. Like this:

dinner1

The vegan Hoppin’ John recipe to come. Until then, reflect on the reason why many of us have today off: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his historic contribution to the Civil Rights Movement. I have Selma on my must see movie list. After watching 42 and 12 Years a Slave already this weekend, I still can never claim to have a full understanding or even comprehension of what transpired (what still transpires) in our world. But, I must stay present in it, must continue to learn, and then must continue to do what I can to transform the institutions and cultural norms that feed this vicious cycle of powerlessness, of fear, and of hate.

And then I became a commuter.

Outside of the extenuating circumstances of required travel, I have been dubbed “lucky” by others for the reason that I have essentially avoided a work commute since joining the world of employment. In fact, the longest round-trip I have undertaken up until this past week was a park-and-ride situation back in Phoenix (circa 2004). The drive itself was only about 15 – 20 minutes each way, and then I had the luxury of cracking open a book and allowing myself the next 30 minutes, each way, to get lost in the pages while someone else ensured I arrived safely to be destination. If that’s not a slice of heaven, I don’t know what is.

Now, I am one of the masses, letting time to slip away while confined to my steel cage (with the “check engine” light still illuminated 14 months later), oblivious to the victories and tragedies of those in nearby lanes. Flipping back and forth between “Team of Rivals” (On disc 24 of 36 – in the midst of the Civil War!) and NPR,  I keep focused on my surroundings because driving in the Triangle is auto dodgeball. Of course, I consider myself an excellent driver. Does everyone say that? Perhaps, but I do know that my intuition (thank you ENFJ preferences) and assertive nature allow me to avoid the mistakes of (most) everyone else behind the wheel.

It does make one’s jaw drop to witness the sheer lack of awareness visible on our roads these days. When did the actual act of driving become our second or third priority? Checking texts and email, making calls, applying lipstick, eating breakfast, putting on pants – it’s like our vehicles have become our second offices, bedrooms, and even bathrooms – and we’re okay with this? We shouldn’t be, especially when staying in one’s lane seems more like a suggestion than an actual safety precaution.

traffic blogAhhhhh…life on the open road…of three feet in front of you.

One of the benefits of this longer commute has been the “me time.” One of the reasons I sought new employment was to be in an office setting to foster collaboration, better communication, and more functional relationships. But, I have forgotten how distracting it can be – I know, obvious statement, right? But when you have been in your own nook for two years, silence was my go-to partner, and frankly, she’s great for knocking out thoughtful responses and conjuring up the right words to add to a strategic plan.  Now, she sits in my passenger seat to and from Raleigh (although she is often muted by All Things Considered).

The time of “decompression” is splendid – even on the morning of my second day where an accident on the Interstate added an additional 45 minutes to the journey. On that day, I felt a strong sense of camaraderie among my fellow commuters. Alas, we were all in the same position: needing to be somewhere, likely 20 minutes ago, and with zero control on changing our situation. The strange sense of kinship during that stop and go period took me by surprise, but I want to relish more moments like that. Frankly, it’s too easy to continue to always identify what makes them different…or bad drivers.

First week of commuting in the books. First week on the new job: exciting, exhausting. Moving into the world of environmental and political advocacy is one – similar to previously working in organ donation – that never crossed my mind as a potential career path. Fortunately, it has, and I embrace what my role in it evolves into over time.