Thinking About My Label

I don't go to church. There I said it. It's out there. I'm not religious, I don't like the commitment involved with going to church, and frankly it's a waste of my time. However, I've been known to make exceptions for people who are important to me. Tonight was one of those evenings I guess, because Mer was singing Christmas music, including a song written by hers truly. It was a lot of fun to hear Mer sing and the sermon actually provoked some interesting thought.

What I appreciated most was that the pastors do not just read the bible and report what they read and what they think and therefore what everyone else should think. It's more like a literature class. They analyze it. They pick it apart and present what meaning they find. They also have a fantastic PR/Graphic design person. I would love to shake that man's hand (I'm almost certain it's a man).

The whole experience got me thinking about my own beliefs. This is not to say that I plan to have an epiphany or even a rush of religious fervor. It just allowed me to further think through, in my own quiet way, what I think about it all. Saying that I'm atheist or even agnostic is just a way of simplifying things. It makes answering questions quicker. The truth is I haven't found an appropriate label for my beliefs yet, but that is for another post.


The Great Baking Frenzie Begins

Fact: Christmas time means baking.

I made my first batch of Christmas cookies on Thursday. They were pretty simple; chocolate tree cookies, green royal icing, and a few sugar pearls for decoration. They are beautiful and quite delicious, and please excuse me while a brag. This being the first time I've ever used royal icing, I am really excited that it turned out so well.

This is just the beginning of a long string of baking projects, that if I'm honest with myself, starts in early November and goes through early January. For a few months my brain becomes over occupied by glittery  Martha Stewart-esque projects that can sometimes become embarrassingly elaborate. 

I plan to temporarily pause, so as not to fail all of my finals, but when those are finished I will be free to let the frivolity take over. This year is going to be all about ginger bread cookies. I can't wait to go home, play in the snow and get myself knee deep in gumdrop buttons.


An Alternative Thanksgiving

Homemade Braided Bread
College is always a weird time. It's a transition of some kind for everyone. For me it's all about the consequences of living 1300 miles away from any form of relation to myself. Sure I chose to move this far away and I really do enjoy the distance most of the time. So long story short, I knew this was coming. It was never a shock to anyone that I decided to spend this Thanksgiving in California.

The original plan was to stay so I could work a bit and to cook my own Thanksgiving with a few close friends. Of course as they say, best-laid plans of mice and men oft go astray; as did these. Almost every bit of this plan fell apart, in fact. Close friends became not friends at all and the camp I planned to work was cancelled altogether.

Lucky for me, I have a truly gracious friend, Socho, with an even more gracious family. She needed a ride home so the two of us drove to her house and I shared Thanksgiving, for the first time, with someone else's family. I will be the first to admit that it might have been a tad awkward, even though they were so kind and accommodating in every way. I really didn't want to butt in on their family time. But honestly, it was a relief for me to leave Humboldt County, I'm sort of a "move about" type so three months anywhere is enough to give me the "rampin' sallies" as my family would call it.

My family is pretty standard when it come to Thanksgiving.
Cooking.Football.Eating.Football.Dessert.Football.Sleep, with football still on.

This is my account of Thanksgiving with the family that wasn't mine:

Two of the most important bits of information, Socho is vegan, her mother is a veggie, and her father is a carnivore. Strange combination? Yes. Also Socho's mother is English, so she feels no regret in not following tradition in this case.

Dinner was fairly standard, but it included Toferky sausage, which I admit I really enjoy eating and goes shockingly well with cranberry sauce. In fact, I almost liked it better than the Turkey her father made for him and I. After dinner we watched an array of TV shows from home improvement reality TV to dogs who ate things they shouldn't; which featured, as we should have expected, a multitude of pet vomit. Dessert was actually furnished my me. I went on a baking spree and made both a loaf of bread and Red Velvet Cake Truffles which were consumed for dessert. The only regret: No pie! Although I'm sure my arteries thank me.

On the whole it was not a bad experience, but it did make me realize that maybe the real tradition that should not be broken is spending time with your family no matter how odd or mundane they might be. Cliche, I know and I'm sorry, but I speak the truth.
The glorious and successful Red Velvet Cake Truffles 


Eric Corff Phenomenon

I don't know if any of you know about this Eric Corff bumper sticker phenomenon but apparently it's everywhere. Bumper stickers reading "Eric Corff...What a Douchebag" have been found plastered on street signs and bumpers from Boston to Good Ol' Humboldt County. Word has it they have even been spotted globally in Thailand and New Zealand. It seems to have quite the cult following.

Of course the first question anyone needs answered is: Who is this Eric fellow? And what did he do to gain such a bold title? And why does it deserve to be so widely advertised? Curiosity got me on this one initially but after a bit of research I found that Corff's title came from his time spent living in Telluride, CO. I have a particular interest, because my home town is only a few hours from there. 

After some research this is the story that emerged. Corff was originally from Oklahoma and lived in New York before moving to Telluride, Colorado. The story goes that while living there he began sleeping with another guy's girlfriend. The man confronted Corff and there was a fight that resulted in the man being arrested and spending a few nights in jail as well as Corff filing a restraining order. You should know that Telluride, while it is a very popular ski town, is infinitesimally small. 

The man was asked by a blogging co-worker if he was the one who made the stickers, since he clearly has reason to dislike Corff. But the answer was no, although he did say he thought it was pretty funny.No one as of yet, has come forward claiming to have made them. The mystery of the sticker maker has yet to be solved. 

After hearing the full story, as best as it can be explained by several different blogs, it sounds like a bit of an overreaction to me.  As funny as it might be there are men who sleep with women who are certainly not single all over the world. Not to say I condone it, I'm simply reminding everyone that Eric Corff would not be the first. However he might be the first to have a bumper sticker made and mass produced as a result. Unless there is another story behind it, I wouldn't step up as the sticker producer either. I must admit, from a marketing perspective, the scale is impressive, but possibly unnecessary given the story. 


Finishing Books

I finished a book tonight, for the first time in months. I concede Julie and Julia was not the best book I've ever read, but it kept me entertained. I learned a bit more about French cooking and I proved to myself that I am capable of finishing a book while still keeping up in my classes. It was an accomplishment for that reason alone since although I do enjoy reading; I am often impatient with books and lose interest within the first few chapters. 

The best part of finishing a book, for me, is choosing the next one; unless I've just read an earth-shatteringly great novel then it becomes rather difficult. But since there are only a handful of books I've read that I felt that strongly about, it's usually an extremely pleasant process. I allow myself time to stand in bookstore and just peruse until my vision gives out. 

Thanksgiving is coming up and I am not traveling, in fact, I'm attempting my first Thanksgiving on my own, so I will have plenty of time on my hands. Time I plan to spend reading, watching old movies, and baking my little heart out. Mer has also started me on knitting. I'm attempting to make a cowl, which is like a little mini neck scarf. I'm sure that will occupy some of my time. 

For now I get to wile away the hours, that I should spend doing homework, wandering through the fantastically chaotic shelves at the Tin Can Mail Man, our local used book store. I look forward with anticipation!  


The Anatomy of the Dead Fern in my Bathroom

It's Halloween weekend and of course Friday night I lost my voice. Because I sound a bit like a chain smoking Muppet and because I might be contagious, this weekend has been kept pretty low key. Mer and I found ourselves a new coffee shop called Lotus in downtown Arcata to do our homework in Saturday afternoon and went to a quiet Halloween party that night. But for the most part we have kept to the apartment.

I went out a bit today to get some Halloween photos for my photojournalism class but our plans for today were mainly to stay in and work on homework. We made a deal that we would study for 30 minutes and watch a short episode of Scooby-Doo then repeat for most of our evening, but we found early on that Netflix only has hour long Scooby movies so we decided to forgo the movie watching and just get down to studying. Sounds pretty hard-core nerd right?

I don't know what distracted us but the next thing I knew, I was vacuuming the counter top in our bathroom as Mer was grooming the quickly dying fern that dwells ( I could hardly say it lives) on the back of our toilet. I'm not sure entirely how this came to pass but I will attempt to recount it for you.

For some reason totally unrelated to the human anatomy and obituary writing each of us were respectively studying -- yes I was assigned to read about obituary writing on Halloween weekend -- I began recounting my childhood, my younger brother and his various oddities, my Barbie Lamborghini and the elaborate gardens my mother used to plant when I was really young. Mer loves to garden so the conversation, that I shouldn't have been having because my voice sounds like broken construction equipment, turned toward plants and gardening. I talked about the orchid I killed in my dorm last year and she reminded me of her dying fern in the bathroom. Before I could say "Plant murder" we were in the bathroom trying to devise ways to save the plant, littering the floor, and counter, with needles as we went.

The plant rescue has been put off for a few days, because we remembered that we were supposed to be doing homework this evening. But I'm sure we will be in the grips of distraction again soon.



I am an Atheist. But recently I've been considering going back to church. I've always sort of dipped my toes into religion, so to speak. This sounds totally silly coming from an Atheist I know but there is something I really like about tradition. I like lighting candles for eight nights and singing songs in a language I don't understand. I like singing hymns out of a hymnal. I like going to satyrs and leaving a place for Emanuel. I even like sermons. That is why I've been thinking about going to church.

The problem is when you don't believe in anything there is no need to commemorate that lack of belief. There are no traditions that one must carry out of a sign of their lack of faith. There aren't a lot of aesthetic selling points on Atheism. But that's what I believe in, or don't believe in, as the case my be.

Religious people don't understand why I would carry on with traditions even though they are essentially meaningless for me. To be perfectly honest I don't know for sure why I would either. There is just something about traditions even if I'm just doing them for the sake of repeating the action. I want my life to have tradition. I don't need every action I take to be drenched in meaning. The meaning for me is happiness.

In all honesty I wont go to church. I feel like participating, despite my lack of belief, is cheapening the experiences of those with plenty of faith. But I do miss hearing sermons. Pastors are like the dependable advice columnists of the religious world. Maybe I should spend more time with the news paper instead.


Dating Advice

When I first started working with children I thought it was really strange that, no matter where I worked or with what age, they always asked me Miss Kristin are you married? Do you have kids? When I said no the next question was Do you have a boyfriend? The answer to that was generally no as well. When I began it seemed like a really bizarre conversation to have with a child, but as I got older and worked with children more and more I got fairly used to it. It wasn't until a few days ago that one of the kids said something that really caught me off guard. It always fascinates me to see how children view life, but more specifically, subjects that they won't understand fully until they are much older. I think it's because I always wonder what I thought as a child and can't seem to remember.

The context was fairly ordinary. I had just explained to a little girl that, no I wasn't married, I had no children, and no boyfriend either. Her response was what cracked me up. She said, Good! You should never be married, but you never want to be single either. Just have a boyfriend for your whole life! I didn't know how to respond to that, but luckily I didn't have to, she piped up again to say It looks like you need to go get a boyfriend. This time I had a response. My question to her was How do I get a boyfriend? The girl just shrugged her shoulders at that, much like any grown woman would do, and asked Have you brought him cookies?

Haha. Oh yes. I have.

Lucky for me a little boy was sitting next to us who knew the answer. These were his instruction on how I should go about getting a boyfriend:
1 Bring him flowers, chocolates, and cookies.
2 Go home.
3 Cross your fingers.
4 Hope he will be your boyfriend.

This is my new tactic. Cross your fingers for me...



I played the most intense game of chess that I've played in a long time today, with a second grader. I work at an elementary after school program in the afternoons and I'm becoming especially fond of some of the children. This little boy, we'll call him Oliver, is probably my favorite. I know I'm not supposed to have favorites, but in the years that I've spent working with children, I've found everyone has favorites.

Looking across the chess board at Oliver, formulating his next move; I felt like I could actually see the gears turning in his head. I was honestly worried that he would beat me through-out most of the game. Not only that but it went on through free time until his dad came to pick him up. His dad even waited around while he and I pushed our few pieces across the board. He really was good at chess, not just for a seven-year-old. Just when I thought I had him cornered he would take my bishop or rook right out from under my nose. It was really fun even if Oliver got a little bit over impassioned when he lost. Yes I did win, but I almost hoped he would sneak one by me. But there is always tomorrow and I'm rooting for him. Am I crazy for wanting to play chess with this little boy every day for the rest of the school year?

French Poetry

Earlier this evening I found myself in the rarest of all my moods. I felt terribly inspired to write French poetry. Inspired so much so, that nothing, not even the fact that my French is perfectly awful, could stop me. So this is the untitled poem which resulted.

Si j’étais un oiseau,
     Je voudrais voler aux tout le monde.
Mon cœur vole avec moi,
     Sur le bout de mes ailes
Comme les gens
     Qui pleurent après les films.
Bien que je suis une personne
     Qui pleure après  les films.
Je vais aller voir les maisons petites et grandes.
     Mais je vais aller voler après les maisons
Et vers l’horizon
     Parce que je n’ai pas peur.



Earlier this weekend my roommate, Mer, and I decided to venture out to Arcata High School to see The Phantom of the Opera in its original silent movie form accompanied by an orchestra. I was not sure what to expect one, because the orchestra was comprised of high school students and two, because I have never attended a silent movie. I was really concerned, most of all, that I had coerced Mer into coming with me and it was going to be a mind numbing evening filled with out of tune oboe and squeaky clarinets. I'm a bit of a snob. Lucky for me it exceeded both of our expectations.

There was something simplistic and perfect about watching a silent movie. The text narration was far more manageable than today's equivalent; that coming from someone who really enjoys reading. The film mostly relied on the audience's ability to read the actors gestures and facial expressions. It was almost interactive compared to the spoon-fed plots to which my generation is accustomed . And it seems I made a premature judgement about the musical abilities of the Arcata High School students. The music was enjoyable. Not one deafening squeak met my ears. 

Mer and myself were envious of the turn of the century dresses. There we were in a tiny auditorium watching The Phantom, who looked like the love child of Lurch and Droopy-Dog, in our dark jeans, sweaters, and heals. We were almost too fancy for the occasion by the standards of the beaming parents that surround us. Yet there was Mary Philbin on the screen donning lace and silk draped about her as only we could imagine having. And we both thought, every now and again, maybe it would be nice to put on a nice dress and go on about our lives without having the whole world stop because we are not wearing sweats or jeans. Just a thought.

I could come to only one conclusion given the whole evening; we were clearly not born into the right decade, not even close.