Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Stuffed Tomatoes

So tonight I was at my Intro to Graduate Studies class and I was starving. (Is it just me or does it seem like a lot of my blog posts start off with me being hungry?) The class is held from 5 - 7 pm on Tuesday evenings and if it weren't for the entertainment factor of our professor Trent Hickman I'd probably hate it a lot more than I do.

Anyway, tonight I was hungry and I didn't have any foods with me to appease my stomach. We have a break halfway through the class, and normally I would have used that break to run down to the vending machines and grab a snack of sorts to tide me over until I could get home and eat real food. (and by real food I mean pasta) Well since my ID card is old and the mag strip is pretty well worn off of it the vending machines don't recognize it anymore so vending machine purchases are out. (I don't ever have any cash.) Unfortunately, tonight during our break one of my classmates left and when she came back she had this gorgeous (both in looks and smell) tomato that was stuffed with some kind of white cheese and smelled like garlic, butter and heaven.

I could tell from the looks on the faces of my other classmates that I wasn't the only one who was suffering as a result of her clearly visible gastronomical pleasure. Immediately I opened up my laptop and searched "stuffed tomato recipe." I found one that seemed fairly simple yet elegant and delicious so I decided that rather than my usual pasta dinner, I would break out of the norm and make some roasted tomatoes stuffed with parmesan, garlic and herbs.

After calling Maurianne a couple of times to figure out what exactly it means to "mince" garlic and whether or not I could substitute parchment paper with paper towels I managed to put together 15 fairly delicious looking pre-roasted roma tomatoes. I put them in the oven and waited anxiously.

After 20 minutes at 375 degrees F I pulled them out, fully expecting to see and smell a culinary delight. I was mildly disappointed.

They looked flat, and they smelled...crispy. Yes, crispy. That's the only word I can think of that adequately describes the smell.

I figured that was just the water that had cooked out, and I assumed the less-than-perfect appearance was due to atmospheric pressure or something, so I shoveled them onto a plate, took them down to my room and dug in.

Once again, I was mildly disappointed. They had a very weirdly interesting texture that I don't think I'm a huge fan of. The tomatoes were mushy and kinda slimy, and the ratio of bread crumbs to parmesan cheese was decidedly out of whack, erring on the side of too many bread crumbs, so the top part of the thing was crumbly and crunchy. They tasted alright, nothing to write home about (or write on one's blog about...unless you're trying to put off homework like me), but they weren't awful either.

Ultimately, they weren't nearly as delicious as that masterpiece that I had pined for during my class today, but they were edible and I ate nine of them. Jordan ate one and was done. So here are the five left-overs:



Like I said, they aren't that pretty, and their taste pretty much matched their looks. I guess the important part is that I had dinner and it was mildly healthy. meh.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Vocalise

Sometimes I'll be sitting in my room doing homework and I'll get restless and feel like if I don't get up and go do something I'll go crazy. When I say that I need to "get up and go do something," I don't know what exactly that means. And that's frustrating. I feel like I can't stay sitting still, but that I need to go...do something.

The something that I need to do is something active, or if not entirely active then at least something that involves getting up from my awesome chair and moving around at least a little bit. It's like my body is getting jealous of the workout I'm giving my mind, and it says to me, "Hey Sam! Hey, hey look down here. Let's go do something fun." But I can't go do something fun because I have things I need to do.

I have to revise a short paper for class in the morning
and I have to read the first 1/3 of First Democracyand I have to do a historiography-type assignment concerning Well-Bound Words: A Rhetoric
and I have to finish reading Miller's The Evolution of College English: Literacy Studies from the Puritans to the Postmoderns
and if I go do something active and fun I won't get all this work done that I need to get done.

Though I try to ignore it and push it down and away, the need to get up and about won't be ignored and keeps telling me that I have to "go do something."

This internal battle reaches fever-pitch and I'm becoming less and less productive with the homework I'm working on. I feel like if I sit in my chair any longer I'll burst, as much from my need to go be active as from the frustration that, at least tonight, I can't get all my homework done like a responsible student and "go do something."

The struggle intensifies, I'm not getting anything done at all, and I'm sure that before long I'll probably give up, sacrifice doing some of my homework and go for a run or something.

Then my roommate Joseph goes into his room (right next to mine), picks up his cello, and starts playing Vocalise by Rachmaninoff.

The paper-thin walls of our house allow for the beautifully clear tones of this piece to filter into and fill my room.

Inexplicably my internal tension dissipates almost immediately. The need to "go do something" is replaced by a feeling of contentment, joy and focus. Somehow the ineffable beauty of this simple yet elegant Vocalise has calmed my restless spirit.

And I can turn back to my studies in peace.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

This Is a Printing Office

Crossroads of civilisation

uuuuuuuuRefuge of all the arts against the ravages of time

uuuuuuuuArmoury of fearless truth, against whispering rumours

Incessant trumpet of trade


From this place words may fly abroad

uuuuuuuuNot to perish on waves of sound

uuuuuuuuNot to vary with the writer's hand

uuuuuuuuBut fixed in time having been verified in proof


Friend you stand on sacred ground

This is a printing office.


- Beatrice Warde

Monday, September 19, 2011

That Sweet Poitin from Ireland Green

So the last time I wrote on my blog school hadn't started yet. Well, it's started now. It's hard. For the first time in my life I have to actually buckle down and study. I've always been a decent student, but by no means stellar. I'll be the first to admit I could have worked a lot harder and done a lot more work as an undergraduate, but, as they say, that's neither here nor there.

Now I'm doing homework all the time. Seriously, all the time. There have been a couple of occasions when I've gotten frustrated and thought to myself that I'm not cut out for graduate school and that it's just too hard and that I'm not good enough to be here. But when that has happened I just go to bed, and when I wake up in the morning and go to class I realize I'm not as dumb as I thought and that I can acquit myself fairly well if I put in the time and effort to actually do the work assigned me.

Because of the intensity of my classes I would probably hate school a lot right now if it weren't for the fact that I love my classes. If for the first time in my life I'm actually working hard and being a good student, then I have to say that similarly, for the first time in my life I'm actually really, really enjoying all of my classes. Everyday I go to class and I'm fascinated by the discussion. Maybe the fact that I'm prepared for class and the discussions held therein leads to my interest in the subjects being discussed, but that line of thinking just leads us to a chicken and the egg dilemma, so I'll just leave it be.

As you're reading this you're probably asking yourself, "Sam, so what? Why do I/why should I care about your life in graduate school? In fact, why am I still reading this?" That's something I don't have an answer for and that you'll have to answer for yourself. A better question that you should be asking yourself at this point is this: "That's great Sam, but what does all of this have to do with illegal Irish moonshine?" Now that's a question I can answer.

Tonight I'm skipping FHE because I need to read Hawthorne's The Blithdale Romance for my Leadership in the Humanities class. The whole book. I should have read at least part of it over the weekend, but I was doing the reading for my Composition Pedagogy class instead and I didn't get around to Hawthorne. On top of reading The Blithdale Romance, I have to write a short "progress report" on it discussing my evolving definition of leadership as it relates to the humanities and the ways that Hawthorne's work has helped to shape that definition. I then have to present this short paper to my class tomorrow morning. In short, I have a lot to do tonight. It's going to be enjoyable, but it'll be a lot all the same. You'll notice I still haven't answered the question about "that sweet poitin."

Well, my soundtrack for the evening started out with this:



and has gone on to include this:



this:



this:



and this:



I could continue on in this vein, but you get the idea.

While I've never been to Ireland and therefore my views of the same may be somewhat romanticized, right now I want nothing more than to sit in a pub with some good friends and order myself some bangers and mash and a tall brew. Except I'd probably just order a soda not a brew. Because I don't drink. While I'm really enjoying school, this little scenario that I've just painted sounds a lot more appealing. Unfortunately I can't do any of this.

Instead I'll have to content myself with listening to drinking songs and dreaming of a place where, "at the foot of the hill there's a neat little still where the smoke curls up to the sky. [And where] by the smoke and the smell you can plainly tell that there's poitin brewing nearby."

Maybe in a little while I'll take a break and go off campus to buy myself some Provo poitin: Cherry Coke.

Sl√°inte!