What the Hell Is Water?

I’m an inspirational quote person. I like them because they often push me to be a better person, or at least remind me to strive to be a better person. When I find quotes I enjoy–in articles, in books, in speeches, in music, on Thought Catalog— I write them down on the virtual sticky notes on my Macbook desktop so that I’ll see them every day and remember that I always have the opportunity to improve.

Recently, I watched a graduation speech that was laden with quotes that I wanted to write on my virtual sticky notes. The speech is “This Is Water,” by David Foster Wallace. Wallace gave the speech in 2005 to the graduates of Kenyon College, and it truly does inspire; it’s funny, but chock-full of life lessons.

The speech starts out with this little story (which will explain the title of this post):

“There are these two young fish swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says “Morning, boys. How’s the water?” And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes “What the hell is water?”

Growing up, my parents told me to take a walk in another’s shoes every once in a while, basically, think about what’s going on in the lives of the people around you, not only about how you’re feeling. Wallace’s speech is the grown-up version of that piece of advice. At least that’s how I interpreted it. There are so many days when it’s easy to forget that other people have tough lives too–he emphasizes that it’s easy to operate on you own default settings with little awareness of others. Ultimately, it’s an individual decision to choose to be compassionate and disciplined and aware every day. This point is better put in his own words below:

“The really important kind of freedom involves attention and awareness and discipline, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them over and over in myriad petty, unsexy ways every day.”

There are things in life to appreciate day in and day out and it’s hard to recognize them, and I know I have to remind myself to be aware; aware that “this is water.”

(The first link is the 22-minute, full speech; the second link is the 9-minute version with an accompanying video)

 

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B-A-N-A-N-A Pudding

Desserts. Double the sugar, but double the happiness–at least that’s what I think. I’ve had a sweet tooth for as long as I can remember…I credit my grandpa for spoiling me as a tot with bags of Hershey’s minis accompanied by the Lion King.

I moved to North Carolina when I was 11 and discovered an unexplored territory of desserts. Pecan pie, peach cobbler, pralines and banana pudding—the topic of this blog post. Between bites of banana pudding from Fosters Market on Sunday, I told my friends that I’d write my next blog about it, and despite their laughs, here it is. It took me a while to discover the Nilla wafer, banana, whipped cream-layered concoction that is banana pudding. It’s not the most appealing dessert on the shelf, but once I tried it, I committed to “taste testing” it almost everywhere.

These are some of my favorite ‘nana puddins:

  1. Allen & Son Barbecue (Pittsboro, N.C.): Baby, you the best. But really, this banana pudding is amazing. You take a bite and get all of the components of banana pudding, as in, you won’t get a bite that’s missing something. The pudding almost tastes like cake batter, but in the best way possible and there’s always just enough meringue. I usually favor whipped cream over meringue, but Allen & Son can convert me to the meringue side. I’ve been to a couple of events catered by Allen & Son and shamelessly make a to-go box of this sinfully delicious zert.

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    Allen & Son Banana Pudding

  2. Foster’s Market (Chapel Hill, N.C.): Everything in Fosters’ dessert display case looks magazine-cover worthy, so it’s easy to overlook the bowl of naturally sloppy banana pudding. But don’t. Or just eat two desserts and make one of them the banana pudding. This one has whipped cream as it’s glue and doesn’t skimp on the bananas. Honestly, banana pudding without real chunks of bananas isn’t worth eating.
  3. Casey’s Buffet & BBQ (Wilmington, N.C.): Casey’s is your grandma’s southern cooking in an all-you-can-eat buffet, which means you can eat as much banana pudding as you want (!). I think they use a boxed pudding mix, but Yelp reviewers note it as “the best banana pudding in Wilmington”, so clearly, people don’t mind. It’s the low maintenance sibling of all my favorite banana puddings—cool whip, banana chunks, Nillas and store-bought pudding mix, but honestly, it’s the best I’ve had in Wilmington too.

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    Casey’s Buffet & BBQ

“Your worst is your worst. Fix it. Be better.”

In January, I saw a HuffPost article shared on my Facebook Newsfeed entitled: “If I Can’t Accept You at Your Worst, Then Maybe You Should Stop Being So Horrible,” written by Matt Walsh. I clicked on it, and it quickly became one of my bookmarked articles. Walsh starts with discussing the “every kid gets a trophy” complex that has “ruined” so many millenials.

“See, I think all of this nonsense — this “everybody is special, everybody gets to have a trophy, everybody gets a card, everybody gets recognition” idiocy — can produce only two possible results, neither desirable. One, it can make perceptive, self-aware children even more embarrassed and insecure. They know that they are undeserving of these accolades, and they’d rather not be patronized.”

He then goes on to say that it also creates kids who are egocentric and believe their s*** don’t stank, if you will. That attitude has infiltrated peoples’ attitudes toward relationships–people feel that they’ll always be accepted, even if they act terribly. The whole: “Accept me for what I am” bit that seems to be all over social media.

“Newsflash: It’s not OK to be selfish, impatient, and out of control. These traits, while common, are UNacceptable. They should not be accepted, least of all by the people you claim to love. The onus is on YOU to change your behavior and your attitude, not on them to “handle it.” Are you such a gem that they should thank God for the opportunity to be emotionally abused by you, if only it earns them a chance to bask in the glow of your superiority?”

I love his article because it opened my eyes, I didn’t win trophies for everything I did as a kid, but I still feel like I’ve caught myself excusing my actions because my better self makes up for it, which isn’t okay. No one should strive for simple acceptance–unless it’s into a school.

What kind of a pathetic and dreary goal is that, anyway — just wanting to be “accepted,” tolerated, put up with? That’s not why we’re put on this planet. Life is not about gaining “acceptance.” Life is change. It is not static and stagnant, do you really want your relationships to be?

 

 

College ACB vs. Yik Yak

Everyone enters freshman year of college with a little bit of anxiety–you have to make new friends, eat from a cafeteria, find your classes, pass your classes, and adjust to an entirely new world. As if all of those things weren’t stressful enough, there was also College ACB, which was an anonymous forum where college students could, “vent, rant and talk to college peers in an environment free from social constraints and about subjects that might otherwise be taboo.” It also claimed to encourage “deep and thoughtful discussion.” L-O-L. It was the opposite of deep and thoughtful. Basically, students posted whatever they wanted about whoever they wanted. As a freshman, especially for girls, there was a fear of showing up on the website. People rated girls’ pledge classes, talked about who was ugly, and posted photos. It was entertaining in a twisted way, and luckily only lasted for my freshman year of college. Apparently, there’s a similar website now called Collegiate ACB, but I’ve never heard of anyone at UNC using it. 

Instead…there’s Yik Yak

Yik Yak is a relatively new app that was created for college students, and acts much like a message board, except there’s a 200- character limit. Users can post anonymous, tweet-like tidbits (called Yaks) about anything they want and anyone within a 1.5-mile radius can view the Yak. I personally have the app and enjoy reading it for a few laughs. It’s better than CollegeACB because you can “report Yaks,” which are then reviewed, and removed if they’re deemed inappropriate. At UNC, Yik Yak seems to be used most by members of Greek organizations, and many of the Yaks perpetuate stereotypes given to certain Greek houses.  So far, I haven’t seen any traumatizing individual “call outs” on Yik Yak–it’s generally used for writing humorous things about college life. Also, they haven’t enabled media sharing, which is how they should keep it. Overall, I find Yik Yak to be a lot more harmless than CollegeACB, but maybe that’s just because I’m a senior now.

German Chocolate Caramel Brownies

Chocolate and caramel are two of my favorite dessert ingredients. My grandma has made these German Chocolate Caramel Brownies for my entire life and although she thinks they’re a “secret recipe,” the Internet seems to be quite in love with them too. The recipe is easy to find with a quick Google search, but since I love them so much, I wanted to post them on my own blog. I’ve made them as a birthday present for almost every friends’ birthday, and they’re consistently a hit. Here’s the recipe so you can make them!

Ooey Gooey

Ingredients:

1 box of German Chocolate Cake Mix

1, 14-oz package of caramels, unwrapped

2/3 cup of evaporated milk

3/4 cup of butter, melted

12 oz of semisweet chocolate chips

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees and grease a 9 by 13 in. pan.

2. Melt the caramels and 1/3 cup of evaporated milk in a small saucepan. If you have a double boiler available, use that for the melting because you’ll reduce the likelihood of burning the caramel.

3. In a mixing bowl, combine the cake mix, 1/3 cup of evaporated milk and the butter. Once combined, press half of the mixture into the pan. Bake for 6 minutes.

4. Once cooked, take the pan out of the oven and pour the chocolate chips over the brownies. Then pour the caramel over the chocolate chips.

5. Then, put the remaining batter on top of the caramel and chocolate chips. You can put the remaining batter on in flattened handfuls–it doesn’t need to completely cover the caramel and chocolate chips.

6. Bake for 15-18 minutes. Once done, allow to cool and cut or put in the fridge. They’re great both ways!

Hint: Sometimes, I double the recipe (and baking times) for thicker brownies.

Destination: Jamaica, Mon

On Saturday, I returned from a week-long, final spring break hurrah in Montego Bay, Jamaica. I couldn’t stay inside long enough to write a blog post, so I have some serious catching up to do.

I was lucky enough to spend the week in a villa called Nutmeg South with 11 of my closest girlfriends. I’m not going to try not to be cliché with my description of the week–it was the best of my life. Mostly because I doubt I’ll be back in a place with 120 college friends again. We all drank lapped up the sun..and some rum and Red Stripe, and had a blast.

My description doesn’t do the week justice, so here are some picture accompaniments:

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Flying into Montego Bay

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The humble abode

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Our Crew

Our Crew

The Worst (and Most Entertaining) Local Advertisements

Whether it be a commercial for a local automobile retailer or a neighborhood mattress store, local commercials can be terrible, but also hilarious. In Chapel Hill and my hometown, Wilmington, N.C., I’ve laughed at more than I can count. I’ve seen one with a car salesman pretending to be Miley Cyrus on a wrecking ball, one that parodies a Viagra commercial, and another where the green screen is visible. Below are some of the funniest ones that I’ve seen (and could find on YouTube).

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