Monday, October 25, 2010

Cookin' It Up Like Domestic Ladies

I don't think it was ever a good idea to give some young college girls loads of chicken. Especially if they have no clue how to cook it, prepare it, or how to handle the fact that it is completely coated with fat and has bones in it. I mean, look at that face of mine! It kind of scared us!

The vacationers from last week came to our door with a gigantic load of some serious chicken--as opposed to the chicken that clowns around--and we graciously accepted it. Any food is loved food in our apartment. Along with this massive...thing of chicken, we were given cheese, ground beef and potatoes. Immediately, I used some of the ground beef because I adore beef and I'm not a money tree; besides that, I really don't appreciate chicken like the rest of the world. But, I had nothing to worry about, since my housemates were quick to use the free American cheese on whatever they could. I found out later that many of them aren't too keen on beef, so it looks like it's all mine! There is quite a bit, so I'm ecstatic to try it in instant ramen to make the meal stick for a little longer.

Anyhow, as a household, we decided to cook much of this chicken Sunday night. We didn't know how, we didn't know when...but we were going to grab--or more like slowly pick up the raw stuff with our finger tips--and we were going to cook it and devour it. Before the event, I was just a little bit against chicken, but I think the process has put me off of chicken for awhile. Spontaneously, we decided we should cook the potatoes too, since there was quite a bit and we should have something with our chicken. Immediately, I volunteered to make mashed potatoes, remembering moments where I had watched my mom make the beloved stuff. I could do it, it didn't seem that hard. Sometimes, I had even done bits of the preparation at home! I can peel, I can chop, I can boil and I can use an electric mixer. I was most certainly prepared to poke the boiled potato chunks to test their softness. Yep, I had volunteered myself for something easily done, nor did any of my other housemates know how to make mashed potatoes. I even had garlic salt if I wanted to transform them into something...garlicky.

As I went about my tater prep, my buddy was stuck tearing the fat off the pieces of chicken. Why, yes, it was very gross-looking. I felt sorry for her, but I also looked at her with a newly discovered awe. Look at her, doing the job that no one else will but seems so necessary amongst those who are anti-animal fat! My hero. On the other side of the table was my other buddy, learning that she liked to squeeze the juice out of limes. I don't know what we were going to use the lime juice for, but we told her to make it if somebody wanted some on their chicken...I guess. I think she really found a great hobby for her. Her future husband will ask what's for dinner and she'll reply, "Lime juice! And lemon juice! And orange juice! And any other citrus fruit juice I can squeeze out of the fruit!"

As we prepared our various areas within our apartment, two very noble, brave housemates were trying to accomplish the task of grilling chicken. If it was a pretty nice grill, then they'd be pretty good at that whole grilling thing. But, alas, why should it be that easy? Nay, it was a grill that required coal and manual lighting. Yes, they had to light it...and keep it lit. The latter was the hardest part of the gig at first, but I know not of their struggles after the initial preparation of the grill.

Back to the kitchen, lime-juice-buddy was wondering about crispy chicken. How would we accomplish this feat? "You can use corn flakes." fat-tearing-buddy explains. Sadly, we didn't have cornflakes. Instead, we find ourselves dipping the chicken in egg and then into crisped rice. Yes, we were most definitely improvising. It's a good thing we didn't have any guys over, or else I think they would find us kind of ridiculous in our cooking techniques. Anyway, we put the rice-chicken in the oven and hoped for the best, telling ourselves that it was free chicken. Still, I don't think that put my heart to rest at what we had thrown away later on.

Now, we shall return to my wonderful endeavor of mashed potatoes. It was like a breath of fresh air, those potatoes. They were the only thing I knew--and not just because my father was instant messaging me on skype to help me out. I've actually seen all the steps of making mashed potatoes and I knew what they were supposed to look like. Besides, I just had to watch them boil and poke them every now then. When they were finally soft enough, I poured out the excess water and mixed them with my magic electric mixer. Of course, I added a little bit of milk and butter to make it creamy and then some salt for flavor. Wallah! Beauty in it's finest form of food. Alright, so they weren't beautiful, but they were a great sight for hungry tummies.

As for the chicken, the rice-chicken turned out, but the blood was still in the meat, sitting in the center. Apparently, we're supposed to soak the bloody stuff in salt water to get the blood out. I lost any small appetite for chicken and I didn't eat any of it. My fat-tearing-buddy did and she said that it was pretty good! I suppose I will never know... I'll stick to my beef.

After all our experimental fun and joking, we were faced with the awful truth: cooking makes messes. I groaned, but I think some of the others ignored it. We rinsed off a few things before we watched a double feature of "Corpse Bride" and "Practical Magic" to bring in that Halloween spirit. What an experience, what an endeavor!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Here Comes the Sun, But Where's the Snow?

Hello, all! It's me, the one and only Laura Elizabeth Miller! Okay, perhaps not the one and only, considering that I don't have any very unusual names. But, it is me, nevertheless, and I have finally gotten around to another post.

In Utah, it's getting cold. In Washington, it's getting cold and rainy. In Hawaii, however, it is hot and sunny; sweat-inducing and blinding; non-Northwest-like and non-winter-like. It's just not what I'm used to, and it certainly does not feel like winter is coming. Perhaps this is why a lot of students don't want to go to class and just want to be on the's still summer here!

Speaking of not going to class, I had the most wonderful experience yesterday. I was feeling extremely reluctant to go to class in the afternoon and was just dreading walking into that classroom. To my happiness and joy, my class was canceled! On one hand, that is wonderful and I spent the time messaging buddies and doing my homework. Yes, I did my homework earlier than usual; yay me! On the other hand, the teacher was sick, and I simply cannot be pleased by such an ill-fated occurrence.

School has been going quite well; classes aren't too agonizing and I seem to be able to take on the load very well. Of course, my mother's wonderful packages from home help me plow on and work those two jobs and classes! Considering that I can never truly look at my apartment as a permanent residence, I don't have very many options for fun things to do. I suppose I could go to the beach, but I like walking the shore better at night without the crazy UV rays and blinding sunshine. Although, now I have something to record my shows, so I am truly blessed to have full advantage of our huge television! Oftentimes, I doodle, or look up rice recipes online. Just yesterday, I drew a picture of a "flying crocodile machine." If you are wondering where in all the planets I got that from, my housemate and I discovered it while watching Pirates of the Caribbean bloopers. In one of his blunders, Johnny Depp described the "Flying Dutchman" as the "Flying Crocodile Machine." Indeed, we chuckled about that many times. Sometimes, we just giggle about it in the class we have together, along with the phrase, "Button, oh button." I have also drawn the true story of the Titanic. Obviously, the tragic fate of the ship was nothing like this, nor was it comical at all, but I find krakens to be fantastic, fictional creatures!

As Halloween comes nearer, I find myself unsure of what will happen on the 31st. I have a costume, should I find myself invited to some party or realize there's an on-campus celebration of the frightful holiday. In some ways, I miss home, because Halloween was a day I would spend with my best friend, or amongst people I know and cherish. Plus, I would much rather walk through a scary maze than the "Haunted Lagoon" at the Polynesian Cultural Center. I hear scary things coming out of the PCC at night sometimes...

Now is sort of the time that students are asking each other, "are you staying for Thanksgiving?" Most reply that they will be, since we really don't have that much vacation time to fly home, eat some turkey and fly back. My housemates and other students explain that it's not a big deal, because Thanksgiving isn't really any more than lots of food. But they also don't eat as much as me. To me, Thanksgiving is kind of a serious family holiday. Perhaps that's mostly because we like to eat! If there's one thing that I will miss, besides the green bean casserole, it will be the nine pies my mom makes with the homemade crust. Where else can I get a peanut butter and chocolate pie? Or a to-die-for-chocolate-mousse-pie? I am not expecting such joys to be in Hawaii. I'm pretty sure there will be something coconut at the Thanksgiving table this year.

As for Christmas, I am bouncing on my heels with excitement for my winter break. I get to fly home and see my entire family: parents, siblings, nieces, nephews...the whole lot! I'm so unbelievably excited, but I'm also quite worried about getting them gifts...I have no idea what to get them. I'm also eager to see my best friend this winter and my sweet, sweet little pooch. Beside all the wonderful living beings, I'm also thrilled to be in Washington weather. Sun is great, and it gives me an excuse to tell my mom that I need new shorts and a plethora of summer shoes (not that I've taken advantage of said excuse), but I grew up in the rain and the clouds. I grew up wearing jeans and jackets and loving every minute of it. I came to love the ocean on a cloudy day; I find Northwest beaches to be so beautiful and so under appreciated. Though, ultimately, I miss the snow. Hopefully there will be some when I fly home this year, but not until after I come so I don't get snowed in.

College has given me an excellent opportunity to discover what I have taken for granted and to count all my blessings in great detail. At home, I was thankful, but not to the extent as I am now. Now, I understand the beauty of a dishwasher and the greatness of a home cooked meal. I can now comprehend the convenience of a car and the perfection of having a quiet house without vacationers stomping upstairs. I don't only marvel at the things I don't have, but I also have come to appreciate all the many things that I have at the moment. I am so grateful for food; for clothes; for an incredibly nice apartment; a bike so I don't take forever to get to campus; a computer; roommates with printers; a television; gym shorts; kind housemates; some cooking background; cookie recipes; skype; a phone; and definitely a longer list than that. But, most of all, I have come to love my family and my best friend even more. Not having them here is kind of hard, especially when you're a new student on campus. On the island, I don't really have that many people I can turn to that think the same as me, that share secret jokes with me, that have the same humor as I do. In this tiny place, I don't really have anybody that understands me as much as my family does.

Just this morning, I received a most exquisite package from my mother. When I opened it, I could imagine heavenly light bursting out of the cardboard insides. Literally, I hugged the shirt inside and then I ate a cookie. I took out each object like it was the best thing in the world because, right now, it is the best thing in the world. One of the many gifts inside was a pair of white vans and my fabric markers, preparing me to celebrate Halloween all the way down to my toes...really. I am planning a Halloween pair of shoes to embrace such a fun and exciting holiday! Now, all I need is an edited version of Sleepy Hollow. Maybe I can record it on TV.

I'm pretty sure my roommates think I am quite strange and nerdy at this point. At least, three of them do, I think. I have to admit, I'm not surprised. They often find me watching the unusual, but intense show of Doctor Who and it can take awhile to grow on something. It would be strange to walk into a room and encounter David Tennant yelling random things on the screen; I'd be a little frightened. I'm pretty sure that the anime I watch doesn't suit their tastes either. The weird talk of mushi and odd folks that turn into animals when hugged raises a few eyebrows but also slight chuckles. One of the anime I watch, named Fruits Basket (and I know that a couple of my brothers are aware of this one), has been nicknamed "Fruits" in our apartment. Sometimes, there is a holler of "Fruits!" by either my housemate or myself.

Besides my television strangeness, I also tend to exclaim odd things and appreciate...different things. Such as, I often talk in a series of accents and voice tones. If I am simply saying "I need butter," I may say it in a nasally, high pitched voice or in a very epic British accent. Sometimes there is a moment of silence...then a laugh. Or if we watch a movie where I tend to pick up a line I like, such as "there's shrimp in this!" in a very extreme, dwarf-like voice from Lord of the Rings, I may say it sometimes. Recently, I have begun to replicate the voice of Dumbledore from Harry Potter Puppet Pals. It certainly makes college life interesting for my housemates. Can you imagine living with me? I'm pretty sure they never expected this.

Nowadays, I work two jobs. I've never had an official job before, but I'm doing pretty darn well with securing them and handling them. For one, I am an art teacher's assistant, doing the basic duties of preparing the classroom for their various projects, grading, handling powerpoints and all that great stuff. For the other job, I'm an usher for the auditorium. So far, I've handed out programs and monitored the doors and I find it to be quite relaxing sometimes. Even though it sounds rough that I have two jobs, I hardly reach seventeen hours a week. In other words, it's way easier than it sounds.

Anyway, that is life right now. It's pretty smooth, sometimes dull (which I spice up by using strange voices) and sometimes unusual. But, always sunny. I just miss everything I'm used to!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Here I am at BYU-Hawaii, a land of sun, ocean...and rust. Because of the sun and ocean air, lots of things rust here, so my bike is already getting some flecks of the lovely stuff. I transitioned pretty well into life here, already able to set a routine for myself with classes and work while poking in the spiritual devotional every Thursday.

My classes seem alright. I mean, they aren't the best because it's class. I love to learn, but I don't like to do the work outside of the classroom and that is usually my downfall. So far, I've managed to do most of my work and turn it all in. The only time I failed to finish my work was because I had no clue that I was supposed to finish that section of hirogana in Japanese; therefore, it only came about by my ignorance, not my procrastination or laziness.

Work is basically right up my alley. I help out around the art classroom and run small errands, which is just what I like. I don't get blamed massively for doing something wrong--like if I cooked in the cafeteria--and I don't have to be around bugs and dirt! Nor do I have to do any of that public speaking sort of business...usually. I love it to death.

But, being here helps you discover things. You realize that you really don't know how to cook or that washing clothes is a bit more of a science than you thought. You discover that really you are an outgoing person, you just have to be presented with the right environment. For me, I've discovered that I'm actually pretty fit when it comes to bike riding. I ride like the wind and I have no intention of slowing down; I want to go home, not dilly dally.

On the other hand, you also discover some sad points too. When you leave for college, you understand what your relationship really was with all those people back home. Perhaps, for some, all their friends continued to be the same as they were when you lived in the same town as them. For others, they realize that their friends only bothered to keep up the relationship when he or she was available all the time; when instead of a five-hour plane ride, they're only a ten-minute drive away.

For some, we feel ignored.

True, I was never very popular. Maybe I could've if I wanted to, but I was fine with a choice number of friends. I treasured every friendship I had; but some people don't feel that way. It seems like some friendships are only formed when there is a need for social interaction and a reassurance that your likes and dislikes are accepted by somebody. But it is the choice of the two involved whether that specific relationship is worth saving and valuing, even after they aren't near each other any more. As I am in Hawaii, I feel like I am starting to be forgotten by some and just plain ignored by others. Maybe I'm annoying them because I still want to be part of my hometown in some way. Or maybe I am no longer useful to them, so I am no longer necessary to their survival and happiness. That's a sad thought, but it may also be true. This is sacrifice. This is the distinction of true friends and those who just aren't right for you.

College makes me think. I am out here on my own now and I have to analyze my situation. But, college hurts too.

Just yesterday, I had my eighteenth birthday. Oh, yes, the big one-eight; now I can buy dry ice! My buddies made me cakes, I had one send me a card and I got a wonderful package from my parents. My best friend managed to get her present to me, despite the fact that she is far, far away from here! My housemates got me a card! All day long, people posted "happy birthday" and various sweet things. Some of these people, I didn't even know! They are just kind people by nature, I think. To tell you the truth, this was twenty times more than I ever expected to get. Therefore, it was one of the best birthdays I've ever had because it went beyond what I would deem a good eighteenth birthday.

Despite my easy transition into school, this was a hard week for me. I can only hope that my time here will only be easier as I understand and comprehend things more and more.