Saturday, May 31, 2014


Today I went to the Richmond Greek Festival with my aunt and her boyfriend. We waited until around 2:30 to go, hoping that there would be fewer people there, but we still ended up waiting in line and we just spent a longer chunk of the day being hungry. But that's okay! The line moved quickly, and we got our food.

The menu had all kinds of Greek entrees, most of which I can neither pronounce nor remember how to spell. But which entree caught my eye and earned a spot on my plate?


If you followed along with my adventures abroad last summer, you'll remember that I fell in love with my host mom's moussaka in France. If you didn't, you can catch up on those blog posts here, here, and here.

I was kind of excited to get to have moussaka again and to see how my host mom's dish compared to authentic Greek cooking. My two moussaka experiences were actually very different.

It's been a while, so I'm not sure I have the details right, but I remember my French host mom's moussaka consisting mainly of eggplant slices, tomato sauce, and cheese.

The moussaka I got at the Greek Festival still had eggplant, but there were some very different other ingredients in it. For example, it had ground beef. Again, I could be wrong, but I don't remember my host mom's moussaka having any meat in it. There was also a layer of something in the Festival version that reminded me of mashed potatoes but was decidedly not. The most noticeable difference was that my Festival moussaka had cinnamon in it. I thought it was a little weird, but I was starving, and I gobbled it right up. It wasn't until I revisited the leftovers later in the day that I decided that the cinnamon is too weird for me and I prefer my host mom's moussaka over the authentic Greek dish.

How do you think the festival workers would react if I bought moussaka tomorrow and asked them to make it a little more French?

But moussaka is moussaka! It was still pretty good, and I was glad to have it. I also had some kind of cheesy pastry which was tasty if a little rich, as well as a side dish of green beans with tomatoes in it. I ate the green beans without complaint. They were fine. Nothing really to write home about, but they didn't offend me in the least. All in all, a tasty and satisfying meal.

I got to sample a bunch of different Greek desserts. To sum them up in one sentence, I would say that the desserts were very sweet, and none of them had chocolate. There was baklava and other pastry-like things with honey or powdered sugar or almonds... all with Greek names I don't remember (I am sincerely sorry). I got something that looks like cheesecake except there's kind of a flaky crust on top and bottom, both crusts appearing to be drenched in honey, and the inside is extremely soft and quite sweet, although it has kind of a weird texture.

I don't mean to give the impression that I'm turning my nose up at all this Greek food. I'll admit, my experience in food is fairly limited to a few select cultures, and there's a lot of stuff out there that I've never tried, so my taste buds aren't exactly programmed to immediately enjoy new things. But my official stance on food is that I will try anything once, and I tried a bunch of different food from the Greek Festival. While it wasn't food that I would choose to eat very often, I did enjoy it, and I'm very glad we got the chance to go.

The atmosphere was kinda fun, too. There was music, and I heard rumors of dancing. We didn't stay and eat at the Festival; my aunt's house is only a short walk away, so we walked over, grabbed some food, and walked back. And I need to mention that I was eating a Greek yogurt popsicle on my way back. Because it was delicious. And strawberry-flavored. Made with real strawberries, too. Honestly, I don't know how I forgot to mention the popsicle earlier. It might have been my favorite part of the meal. I probably forgot it because I ate it so much earlier than I ate the other parts... but it would have melted if I hadn't eaten it first!

Also deserving of mention is the fact that I saw a car with stickers from my university at the Festival. That was really, really awesome. On the first day I was here, I saw a car with stickers from my university's rival, which was kind of a "What the heck? What are you doing here?" moment. I began to wonder if perhaps I wasn't alone in Richmond, if maybe there were others like me. If one of my rivals lives here, then why not some of my own people, too? And today I found them. And it was definitely a Roll Tide situation.

Here are two pictures of the Festival for you to peruse:

Friday, May 30, 2014

More Lois Lane

So you know how I was talking about Lois Lane yesterday? Yeah, I just wanted to share another version with you:

I need to get on that Lois Lane's level.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

I am a Journalist

So let me just start off by saying that my second day at my internship was MUCH better than my first day was. Still a little too long for my attention span, but it was okay.

Why? Well, today I decided that, if people didn't pick up the phone when I called them, I would leave them a message AND email them. And the emails brought results.

The person in charge of this project gave my next-desk neighbor (who I thiiiink is also an intern?) and me a revised game plan today. There were certain schools highlighted on our Google spreadsheets, and those schools had a specific program or building that we were to call and ask about. There was often also a point of contact and phone number already listed, which was awesome. So today there was less mucking around on the Internet looking for stuff and less mucking around in telephone transfer land.

And I actually heard back from some people! I think the whole email thing helped. Like, I would totally be more willing to answer questions over email than over the phone (but then again, you know how I feel about the phone). I got to talk to a really interesting professor at the College of William and Mary about a dual degree program. She was very willing to talk about it, which was AWESOME.

But as the person in charge of the project was telling us about the new additions to the spreadsheet, she also went over the kinds of questions we were supposed to be asking. She encouraged us not to feel limited to the questions on our scripts, but to follow up on some of the details if we found them interesting. She finished up with a very trusting "You know, you're journalists."

At that moment, my brain shot back a rather unexcited "Uh, I'm actually an English major. I write about old poetry and stuff. All this interviewing and reporting stuff is not my thing."

But you know what I did today? I conducted interviews. I compiled research to be used in a magazine article. I fact-checked another article. I scoured the Internet and called every phone number I could find in order to find elusive information


I might be a journalist who is slightly afraid of talking to people on the phone, but so what?

It got easier and easier to pick up the phone and call people as the day went on. I think I stopped worrying about it so much. I also stopped sticking so closely to the script and started talking a bit more naturally. Honestly, I think it helped that I realized that I wasn't actually going to get to talk to a human being about 80% of the time.

But when I actually did get to talk to a human being and I actually got a whole stinkin' lot of work done? It felt awesome. I felt like some kind of confident and news-savvy reporter. I kind of felt like Lois Lane and began wondering if some kind of awesome Richmond superhero was going to show up and be my boyfriend.

I mean a good version of Lois Lane, of course. I'm definitely not comparing myself to some kind of weak and swooning type. I was thinking of the DC Animated Universe Lois Lane, who's full of snark and awesomeness.

An example:

See? Very few people can get away with hitting Batman.

The only thing about today, though, was that I realized halfway through the day that I kept writing things like "We are writing a story" and "Please give us a call back" in my emails instead of using words like "me" and "I." In reality, I was doing that because I was giving out one of the higher-ups' numbers and not my own, and the entire time I was really just doing research for the person who would actually end up writing the story, so it was more a collaborative effort than anything.

But it made me start thinking weird things... Like I had been sucked into the conglomerate being of the magazine staff, and we were all trapped together in this hive mind, and all I was was just a hand of the giant being that is the magazine...

So yeah, I think I'm going to stick with comparing myself to Lois Lane. I think I need to make up a superhero for Richmond. New York has all kinds of superheroes, and I'm pretty sure Los Angeles or San Francisco have some, but you never hear about a Richmond superhero. How do you feel about Rich Boy?

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

First Free Day

Whoa! Almost forgot to write a blog post tonight! It wasn't my fault. My aunt had Sherlock on when I got back from dinner. I got distracted.

I will be working at my internship on Tuesdays and Thursdays, so today, being Wednesday, was my first day off. I'm kind of extremely happy about how my schedule worked out. It means I work a day, get a day off to recover, work another day, and then I get a four-day weekend!

I really hate that I'm already complaining about having to work at this internship. I shouldn't be feeling that way. I really need to be grateful that I got a position with this company that is being so flexible and in a town where I have free and entertaining lodging- dogs included. It's just... Well, I was originally told that I was going to be working four hours a day, and now I'm working eight hours a day, not including an hour-long lunch break. That first day kinda took a lot out of me, you know? And that wasn't even a full-length day.

I mean, you saw in that last blog post where they made me talk to people on the phone, right? (I know, I know, I need to get over it and be an adult.)

Living in a new place and starting a new internship can just be hard sometimes, I guess. Especially since this magazine stuff is so new to me. I'm an English major, so all I know about journalism comes from the class I took in seventh grade and my time as a high school correspondent for my local newspaper. Also, I'm already stressed out because driving in Richmond is harder than what I'm used to.

But in cases like these, I know it's important to focus on the positives. For example, yesterday I learned how to fact check an article. Basically, you just call the people you're writing about (AAAAAAAAAH) and make sure your information is right and your telephone number works, and if there's a website, go there and make sure the URL works.

Also, the people at my office are all pretty friendly. My supervisor got married over the weekend, so they had cupcakes for him in the morning, and I got to have one. The computer I'm working at has a touch screen, and while I don't use it, it's still cool to have. The screen saver is bubbles that float around the screen. Best of all, there's a little deck with a picnic table behind the office. I can eat my lunch there, breathe a little bit, not look at a computer screen or traffic, and recharge my being-with-and-talking-to-people batteries.

So there's a lot of good stuff about this internship. But the title of this blog post is First Free Day.

I stayed up late last night, and I slept in late this morning. And it was glorious.

I watched Justice League on my aunt's giant TV. And it was glorious.

I ate English muffins with peanut butter for breakfast and cheesy scrambled eggs on toast for lunch. The food was glorious.

I wore my favorite marching band t-shirt and my favorite crimson athletic shorts with houndstooth stripes. And it was glorious.

I explored the immediate area on foot, the method of transportation with which I am most comfortable. And it was glorious.

I saw a sign for a dentist whose name was basically Davey Crockett. And it was glorious.

I bought a little box of fancy chocolates from the chocolate shop, making sure to bring one home for my aunt. And it was glorious.

I found a whole bunch of places to eat lunch. And it was glorious.

I bought a green tea frappuccino at Starbucks. And it was confusing, because I had fully intended to order a green tea lemonade, but somehow the word "frappuccino" came out of my mouth. But it was still glorious.

I started feeling dehydrated and sick on my way home. That wasn't so glorious.

My aunt told me that there is, indeed, a Moe's Southwest Grill in Richmond. And it was glorious.

I went to dinner with a friend that I haven't seen since middle school. And it was glorious.

I watched Sherlock with my aunt, accompanied by her two dogs and to the tune of a gentle thunderstorm. And it was glorious.

Then I sat down to write this blog post, and I had intended to just write about my day today, but then my feels started coming out. Man, I hate it when that happens.

I guess I just needed that. I didn't talk to hardly anyone about my first day yesterday. Mostly I just wanted to curl up in a ball. "Please don't ask me about my day. I don't want to talk about my day. Don't ask me about my day."

It's okay. I ate some pasta. Then I felt better.

Okay! Game plan for tomorrow: Get up. Get ready. Make a lunch. Eat breakfast. Go to the office. Do work. Wait as long as I can to have lunch. Do more work. Come home. Scream a little. Have a snack or just dinner. Watch some YouTube videos. Relax. Celebrate the fact that I have four days of freedom.

Sounds easy, right?

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Random Fact #22

Random Fact #22: Some Virginia high schools get a lot of automated voice message calls.

Source: One of the two high school secretaries who started talking over me today when I called them because they thought I was an automated voice message.

So apparently my professional voice sounds like an automated voice. How 'bout that?

I had to call a whole bunch of high schools today to do research at my internship. As a general rule, I am terrified of speaking to people on the phone. The mere thought of it makes my tongue dry up, which seriously impairs my speech while I'm actually talking on the phone, which in turn makes me even more nervous. I drank soooo much water today. Got well acquainted with the office bathroom.

You know that moment when your tongue and mouth just stop functioning normally in the middle of a sentence? I had one of those moments.

"...a story about innuffathef ethhaysh- sorry, ithhafakayshun..."

And the worst part? It was on voicemail. My butchered attempt to say "innovative education" was recorded on the voicemail for everyone to play over and over again. They'll probably play it over the morning announcements tomorrow, let everyone have a good laugh.

But when I get it right, I get it soooooooo right that people think I'm not even human. I had to start inserting a "How are you today?" into my little spiel so that people wouldn't keep treating me like a robot.

Monday, May 26, 2014


Hey, folks! Guess what! This is my 200th blog post!


After falling off the wagon for a while after finals (those went fine, by the way! I don't have to sing the "Let it Go" parody I wrote), I wracked my brain to think up something interesting to do for my 200th blog post. 200 is a big deal, you know?

Well, I thought and I thought, and then I was lazy and lazier, and I never really came up with a good idea. I suppose I could have done that instead of watching Justice League on Netflix, buuuuut... I like Justice League, okay?

Well, around three weeks passed, and I started getting packed up to travel to Richmond, Virginia. It occurred to me that the beginning of my internship adventure could be a fantastic way to break my impromptu hiatus and celebrate 200 blog posts.

So! Here we go, ladies and gents! I have a brand new car and a room in my aunt's house, and I am ready to take on this internship with Virginia Living magazine!

Except for just a few things.

The main thing is transportation.

I'm used to driving around in a calm, medium-sized (if that) Alabama city where the roads are smooth, wide, and well-marked, and I can park in any of the bounteous parking lots.

Soooooo yeah this driving around on the teeny-tiny, bumpy, one-way, poorly marked Richmond roads where the drivers are more aggressive and the only parking is the parallel kind is... kinda hard.

Like, seriously, parallel parking isn't even on the driver's test in Alabama. None of my high school classmates learned to do it through our high school driver's ed class. I'm still in the process of mastering it. Like, I did it successfully by myself for the first time a few hours ago. On a residential road with no traffic.

Heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeelp somebody help me heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeelp

Well, that just means that tomorrow is going to be an adventure. I'd be lying if I said I weren't extremely nervous. But you know what? It's okay! Everything's gonna be oooookay. I'm feeling optimistic. Putting my best foot forward.

Richmond seems like a pretty cool city so far. There are three Starbucks in walking distance of my aunt's house. We walked one of her dogs to one of them this morning. This part of the city seems pretty walker and biker friendly. It was a nice day, too! Not too hot. Not windy. Nice and sunny. We passed by several runners and fellow walkers with dogs or strollers.

The folks at Starbucks were pretty friendly, and I enjoyed my green tea lemonade. We walked back to the house and I unpacked a bit.

Later on, I watched Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy with my aunt. My conclusion is that I'm pretty sure it's a fantastic movie but I'm going to need to rewatch it because I had a few lapses in attention and I'm not really sure what was happening in some parts.

After the movie, we went to Burger Bach, a burger place in (or at least close to) Carytown, which is a popular shopping and dining district in Richmond, with kind of a downtown feeling. That was a pretty good burger! According to the menu, they're New Zealand-inspired. The meat was very fresh. The fries were really tasty, too! We got a large bowl of fries, which came with two dipping sauces.

Then I fueled up my car at a gas station. The Ford Fiesta gets absolutely lovely gas mileage, but the tank does, in fact, run low sometimes.

Then I drove through Richmond like a crazy person, baffled and bemused by all the one-way roads, traffic circles, skinny lanes, brick roads, and spotty painted lines. I did not intend to drive like a crazy person, but... I mean, I'm already kinda rusty on my driving since I haven't had a car for the past three years, and I'm not used to this kind of driving. But nobody died! So I call it a success.

Now it's definitely time to turn in. Tomorrow's my first day at my internship! I've got to get to sleep so I can hopefully drive less like a crazy person tomorrow. Fingers crossed.

This is the beginning of my adventure!

Happy 200th Blog Post! Thanks for reading!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Dr. Wikipedia: Spring Finals Shenanigans Part 5

Spring Finals Shenanigans Part 5

I'm making flashcards for my Intro to Theatre final (and this time I have enough, so I won't have to color any black and write over them like last time), and I just wrote out a card for the term "Rock Musical," which my teacher has defined as "a musical theatre work with rock music."

I realized that I didn't have an example of a rock musical written down, and the term wasn't in the glossary of my textbook, so I hopped onto Wikipedia to find a good example.

What's the first sentence on the Rock musical Wikipedia page?

"A rock musical is a musical theatre work with rock music."


It looks like my teacher pulled his definition straight from Wikipedia.

I could be wrong, of course. My teacher could have pulled that definition from one of the sources listed at the end of the article. He could have found the exact same phrase on a different website or in a book. But it certainly looks suspicious.

Of course, there's nothing inherently wrong with Wikipedia. I love Wikipedia. It's just that professors usually bring the hammer down on you if you dare to cite it as a source for anything. It's not exactly the most reliable source of information.

Okay, man. Getting through grad school. Teaching a lecture about musicals you like and some of the info isn't in the book. Using Wikipedia 'cause ain't nobody got time for research. I can dig it.

This falls into the category of shenanigans partly because my teacher is probably teaching us something right off of Wikipedia and partly because I'm poking fun at him for it.