slubs in the city

Slub (adj): Maverick; unorthodox; independent in behavior or thought.


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it’s not classy, but for some reason we do it anyway.

Yesterday’s setting sun witnessed a typical Monday night at the slub house: we continued our unhealthy obsession with awful cable shows by indulging in a 2-hour dose of The Bachelor.

Before you write this post off as another abuse of the blogosphere by a complete ninny, let me state that the Bachelor(ette) is a glittering example of the crassness of reality television. It is also one of the most degrading parades of desperation currently on air. The five of us slubs are fully aware that The Bachelor is completely dreadful, and yet last night we were curled up before the TV in our stretchy pants with a glass of wine and a fountain of scathing commentary.

There are many reasons the Bachelor(ette) is unworthy for general viewing.

(A)   The show perpetuates the idea that true love can be cultivated almost instantaneously, even amidst the treacherous realities of extreme serial dating and fantastical episodes of courtship. Shockingly enough, I’ve personally never spent a second date with a potential suitor on a tropical island with 5 other competitors.

…or you could go on a date with a bunch of other chicks dressed in dopey costumes! true romance!

(B)   On that note, here is our favorite reality show’s success rate: Of the 23 seasons of The Bachelor and The Bachelorette (not including this current season, considering we don’t “know” the results yet), only 2 couples who made it to the end of the process are married (and the first couple to tie the knot has been married for 9 year). Yes, I realize that the show has produced a third married couple, but the bachelor from that season actually became hitched to his second runner-up (which doesn’t count) and their 2 year-old partnership began with a nationally televised wedding (which makes everything seem rather suspect).

only successful couple. do you thing trista and ryan!

(C)   Every episode of the show is littered with cheesy metaphors for love. Last night’s gems included comparing the Swiss Alps to scaling the rocky peaks of a relationship and conquering a fear of heights to conquering a fear of commitment. Listen honey, it’s a cool date idea to swim with sharks in a protected environment with professional staff watching you like a hawk – but that does not guarantee that you will be able to navigate the choppy waters of your fledgling relationship with a man who has been making out with numerous other women for the entirety of your acquaintance.

best quote from jaclyn this season: “this is the first time i’ve ever been attracted to a sheep.” ouch.

(D)   Even though they have their pick of the litter and – surprisingly – a few seemingly normal individuals participate in the show (Chris Lambert), the bachelors and bachelorettes never appear to use their brains when deciding who to propose to. In fact, I’m fairly certain that many of them have made unsound judgment calls with…ahem…other body parts. That’s what pure animal instinct and a room full of beautiful people will get you. We are only human after all.

the man:woman ratio seems to be a bit off here.

Watching Courtney and Ben steam things up on the boob-tube last night, though, Anna and I discussed the arguably least respectful part of The Bachelor(ette): the show’s audience.

The plot never changes, the competitors never become more reasonable, the relationships never last, and yet my friends and I have been following this show for years. You know what they say about train wrecks: as gruesome a sight as it is to behold, we just can’t look away. Anna summed up the irony of the Bachelor(ette) best last night by pondering the following:

As a third world country we routinely call out other societies (such as Middle Eastern culture, for example) for treating their women with less respect and deference than we believe we give ours. So if our female population is so much better off, then why on earth is a show like The Bachelor – or even The Bachelorette, for that matter – in existence? And why the hell do we watch it?

Lord only knows.

Truth bomb: For some reason we just really enjoy watching the Bachelor.

It’s always best to shove some of your more grandiose thoughts under the rug once in a while. Fortunately viewing reality television has yet to kill anyone, to my knowledge. The slubs will still be watching the finale of the Bachelor when it airs in two weeks. And we’ll still trash talk the show until the world ends.

You know what, I think I’ve found a way to wrap this post up with a viewpoint that’s representative of our house as a collective: Pick you battles and change the world with the resources at your disposal – but if you happen to enjoy lounging around in gym clothes and indulging in a show that highlights the more absurd parts of humanity, that’s okay. If there’s one thing you shouldn’t do straight out of college (or ever, really), it’s take yourself too seriously. We support your decisions all the same.

con amor,

shan

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it may be february 14th, but we’re in full-on summer mode.

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: when it comes to weather, Minnesota is an irrationally bipolar state. So far we’ve been experiencing an insanely mild winter (thank you baby Jesus), which is no doubt in direct response to this summer’s incredible humidity. The day Kat and I moved into the slub house the temperature registered around 100°. The stifling heat made hauling box after box of “necessities” (read: crap) and my ridiculously fluffy mattress up a flight of stairs an indescribable joy.

Despite the fact that it was 103° on June 7th (not including the heat index), I will maintain that summers are generally wonderful in Minnesota. After all, the average temperature from June to August in Hennepin County is somewhere between 68-70°F. Absolutely perfect!

So when the slubs moved to Uptown at the beginning of last July, we had a whole stretch of Minnesota summer in which to enjoy our new home. And we definitely took advantage of the vitamin D.

Today is Valentine’s Day, and despite your personal feelings regarding this most Hallmark-ey of holidays, all the love floating around the world for the next 24 hours has to make even the hardest of winter hearts warm just a little bit. Yes, the view outside my office window today is a relatively depressing steel-grey panorama of clouds and skyscrapers. And yes, I know for a fact that the sun is going to peace out around 5:40 tonight – after I leave Thrivent – so that’s pretty sad too. But Valentine’s Day has me feeling warm fuzzies at the moment, and those warm fuzzies have me thinking about other warm things – like summer.

On this day of love and sweet thoughts, let us rise up in solidarity and dream of the top 10 things we have to look forward to in 3½ more-or-less short Minnesota months!

1.   Outdoor exercise. This is number one for a reason. Anna, Kat, Laura, Nora and I used to take walks around Lake of the Isles (were Minnie lived for a while) on the regular. All in all, it took us roughly an hour to make it there and back. Given that the sun happily hangs around a lot longer during the summer months, a brisk jaunt around the lake after work or on a weekend morning was the perfect recipe for a great bit of exercise. Some of the slubs were even motivated enough to run around the lake. Others (ahem) were too lazy.

lake of the isles, with a scenic view of minneapolis

Besides burning off those cupcake- and queso-induced calories, here’s something else the slubs thoroughly delight in doing outside during the summer…

2.   Picnicking. Close your eyes briefly and picture with me: Toes in the grass. Food spread out on a blanket. Sun warming your face. A smoking grill. Friendly conversation. (Keep imagining with me.)

You reach for a cool glass of…

3.   White wine. It’s crisp and clean with a smooth finish. You’ve spent the winter savoring deep and full-bodied reds. But you’ve been anticipating the bright taste of this white wine for months and you’re not at all disappointed. (Maybe you even purchased your bottle of white wine from Cannon River Winery after passing a day in the vineyard hand-picking green and red grapes with the slubs!)

It’s the picture perfect summer picnic. And it’s best enjoyed on…

4.   Independence Day. I love celebrating America all the time, but most especially on July 4th. The fireworks! The billowing American flags! The cheesy Bruce Springsteen songs! The Jello salads! Independence Day is one of the best holidays, and as such deserves to be appreciated during the best season. Thank God the Declaration of Independence wasn’t approved by Congress in the middle of January. Even I would be too seasonally depressed to fully appreciate the parades (if there were any), and that’s saying quite a bit.

who doesn’t love a good fireworks display?

Instead of bundling up, during the summer we’re free as Americans to celebrate our independence decked in…

5.   Summer clothing. In a particularly memorable scene from the movie A Christmas Carol, little Randy Parker experiences a significant amount of distress one day when his mother over-dresses him for winter. He has way too many layers of clothing on. In fact, he can’t even put his arms down. I feel like Randy Parker during the winter and I don’t like it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not encouraging people to streak as soon as June 1sthits. But I much prefer sun dresses, sandals and short-sleeved shirts to my static-inducing Michelin Man winter coat.

too many layers. not enough mobility.

There are moments, however, when simply wearing lighter clothing during the summer doesn’t help you escape the Minnesota humidity. And that’s when we look forward to…

6.   Opening the windows. Here’s a tragic story: many days during this past winter, Kat and I have come to the sad realization that the frost on our windows is actually built up on the inside facing panes. Scratching ice from your window while standing in your bedroom is not good for the soul. So I can’t wait for the day when we can fling our windows open wide and not worry so much about the freezing consequences. Trust me – there are few things more glorious than lounging in the sun room of our house in a bright pool of sunlight, cooled by the breeze wafting in from the bay of open windows. Just thinking about it makes me want to take a nap.

the slubs wish our sunroom looked like this.

Although, truth be told, instead of lounging in our sunroom I’d rather be lounging about on a Northwoods beach while relishing the pleasures of…

7.   Cabining. If you live north of the Mason Dixon, you probably understand the immense joy of traveling to the cabin for a few delicious summer days (or even weeks). My family doesn’t even own a cabin and I somehow mooch my way to one at least once a summer. If you live south of this historic line and have never been to a cabin in the woods, you are missing out and nothing I can say in this post will paint a decent enough visual for you.

ham lake in northern wisconsin.

To get to most cabins, however, you must drive. This reality is slightly out of line with another of the slubs’ favorite parts of summer…

8.   Ditching our cars. We moved to Uptown for a reason. We wanted to live close to everything. We wanted to walk. And in the summer, when it’s not below freezing, walk we do! Everywhere!

for example, we spent a significant amount of time this summer wandering through the uptown art fair on hennepin.

We even walk after the sun has finally gone down to better enjoy the…

9.   Summer nights. With the exception of Christmas Eve, most Minnesota winter nights are pretty depressing events. On December 21st, 2011, the sun was shining for a whopping 8 hours, 46 minutes and 8 seconds – from about 7:48 AM to 4:34 PM. SAD. However, on June 21st, 2011, the sun stuck around for a full 15 hours, 36 minutes and 54 seconds – from 5:26 AM to 9:03 PM. WIN.

This means many things: (1) Coming home from work and enjoying the rest of your night is possible when it’s summertime, mostly because the slubs currently feel an automatic need to go to sleep once they leave their respective offices and it’s already pitch-black. (2) It is recommended by the slubs to eat dinner out on the porch and then sit around chatting until 10 o’clock because the sun won’t go away and the night gets tantalizingly cool. (3) Walking to Sebastian Joe’s for a late-night treat is akin to winning the lottery.

imagine how wonderful it would be to take a stroll down the stone arch bridge on a warm summer night…

And on our after-hours adventure to get frozen desserts, we have plenty of time to appreciate nature’s ultimate wonder of summer…

10.   Colors. This is what a garden looks like during the winter:

wah wah

And this is what a garden looks like during the summer:

COLOR OVERLOAD

And that is why I get so excited to see the colors come out again once summer rolls around.

So on this holiday, hug someone you love – and imagine how wonderful it will be to spend a beautiful (Minnesota) summer with him or her, windows open, reveling in the vibrant green and blue and yellow hues of the sun-soaked day!

con amor,

shan


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cooking, slub style

As you may have gathered, the slubs love to eat. There are few things better than good meals shared with great friends. We firmly believe this.

I also love to cook. I cannot speak for all the slubs here, but I almost like to cook more than I like to eat.

Why I love to cook:

  1. Cooking and baking are great ways to show someone you care.
  2. Cooking is a great stress reliever.
  3. Cooking is a creative process.
  4. Finishing a meal or baking project means I have at least completed one project that day. Some days, I need that empowerment.

But, let’s be real. I am not the world’s best cook. I have had my fair share of horrible meals. Luckily, my housemates are kind enough to not say anything. (Side note: I have never had a batch of baking powder biscuits rise. Ever. I have never had yeast bread fail. My cakes always rise to perfection. But baking powder biscuits? The fail proof recipe for delicious homestyle goodness? I can’t do it. Anybody willing to show me what I am doing wrong, I would greatly appreciate it). Hence, it is always nice to have recipes on hand that you know that everyone loves and that are hard to ruin.

Today, I wanted to share with you some of the wonderful, nearly fail-proof, recipes that the slubs love. That we make all the time. Most importantly, all of these can be made on a budget, from stock pantry ingredients, and often from leftovers. Oh yes. The slubs know how to deliciously stretch a buck.

Quesadillas, Enchiladas, Breakfast Burritos

slub food

Okay, maybe not all of you have the following ingredients on hand all the time. The slubs do. Our go-to dinners tend to be Tex-Mex themed. We always have salsa, tortillas, and cheese. And when I say always, I mean when we actually remember to grocery shop. We also usually have green bell peppers and onions on hand. Bam! Dinner.

For Quesadillas, heat up a large nonstick skillet. You don’t even have to grease it, which means no added fat. You’ll get enough of that if you use the proper amount of cheese. Put a large tortilla in pan. It may have first been smothered in refried beans. If it was from the slubs, it definitely was. Place this side facing up.

Cover in lots of cheese: cheddar,Monterey jack, queso fresco, cotija, Chihuahua, mozzarella, feta, or a combination thereof. Slub commandment: Love all cheese. For example, after a night out dancing we put fresh chevre into a quesadilla and served it with pesto. YUM. Lesson: don’t discriminate against your cheese.

Add your favorite ingredients like diced green peppers, onions, scallions, tomatoes, summer squash, black beans, corn, cooked ground beef, and/or jalapenos. Sprinkle with just a tad more cheese. Add another tortilla. When the bottom browns, flip the quesadilla. Let the second tortilla brown. Flip onto large dinner plate. Cut. Enjoy with salsa.

Enchiladas. Put all or some of these above ingredients in a large tortilla. Fold tortilla around ingredients so it forms a snuggly pocket for the delectable ingredients. Put in a baking dish. Smother in enchilada sauce. Bake in 350 degree (400 if you are impatient, which I often am) oven until sauce starts to bubble. Serve with rice and beans. Slubs often make two enchiladas each. Usually because we think we can each eat two. We can’t. Enchiladas make excellent lunches.

Breakfast burritos. Wrap up favorite ingredients plus freshly scrambled eggs in a tortilla. You may even add leftover rice and beans from the enchiladas earlier on in the week. You would be right to do this. Enjoy on a Saturday morning or a lazy weeknight.

Homemade Pizza

our pizza always looks this good

Ordering pizza can be expensive. Especially when one of our favorite pizza joints is Galactic Pizza. Heavenly. Definitely not cheap. So we often make homemade pizza. This is great because it allows everyone to specialize their own individual pizza and use ingredients we already have in the house.

Because we usually make last minute plans, this is the best dough recipe I have found. 30 minutes and you have pizza crust:

Dissolve 1T of yeast, 1 tsp of sugar, and 1 tsp of salt into 1C of warm water. Let sit for 10 to 15 minutes. Frothiness ensues. Add 2T of oil and 2 ½ C of flour. Slubs usually make this crust with whole-wheat flour. If using all wheat flour, replace the sugar with honey. Trust me. Combine and knead for about 5 minutes. Let rest for about 5 minutes. Roll out into individual pizzas (this makes about 4-5 decent sized individual pizzas). Bake at 450 for about 5 minutes or until the dough is no longer outwardly dough-y. I know. It was like I was born to write recipes.

Add sauce. You can use homemade or store-bought pesto or red sauce. We often used left over spaghetti sauce. An easy red sauce can be made by sautéing onions, garlic, and carrots in olive oil. Add a can of plain tomato sauce or diced tomatoes. Simmer. A little bit of sugar, butter, salt, pepper, basil, and oregano finish this sauce off.

Sprinkle with your favorite toppings and cheese. We like artichoke hearts, sundried tomatoes, spinach, feta/goat cheese, green peppers, onions, summer squash, pepperoni, tomatoes, olives, etc.

Bake until cheese is melty and starting to brown. If you’re feeling flush that month, enjoy with a spinach salad topped with pears, cranberries, sugared walnuts, and balsamic vinaigrette. If not, enjoy with a spinach salad minus the fussy parts.

Garbage Soup

I love soup! It warms you up on a winter day, and is perfect to take to work the next day for a delicious lunch. I love the flexibility of soup as well. It is such a great way to use up vegetables that are going bad or grains that have been sitting in your pantry forever. Just throw everything in a pot. Done.

Ingredients you must have: onion and vegetable broth.

Ingredients that would be great to have: garlic, carrots, celery, bell peppers, grain/legume of some sort (I love farro, but you could use brown rice, lentils, quinoa, etc.), beans, kale (you can use spinach or another green, but we have found that kale holds up the best through reheating…also, it is delicious)

Ingredients that you don’t necessarily need, but make the soup awesome: diced tomatoes, sweet potatoes, green beans, peas, zucchini, squash, corn, parmesan rind, parmesan cheese (splurge for the real stuff for soup…it melts so well), for meat eaters add turkey meatballs

Sautee things. Add broth. Add grains, beans, tomatoes, and any frozen ingredients. Add parmesan rind for extra flavor. Season with things like basil, thyme, bay leaves, salt, and peppers. Simmer. Serve with grated cheese and homemade bread, preferably fresh out of the oven.

Splurge recipes. Once in awhile the slubs like to make amazing meals when we have extra money. Here are some favorite splurge recipes:

Risotto

Here is the Pioneer Woman’s recipe for risotto. It is wonderful because it uses goat cheese instead of mascarpone. Heavenly. Ree suggests about adding wine if anything goes wrong. This is very true. If you were to happen to add half a bottle of wine, or more, while cooking, you wouldn’t be alone. We’ve done it, too. And it was spectacular.

Cupcakes

We love cupcakes. Check out Laura’s post about cupcakes on her blog. Laura is the best cupcake maker ever. Although her cupcakes usually look too good to eat, we eat them anyway. Here is one of the slubs’ favorite cupcakes from this year:

yes. they taste as good as they look.

It is like a high-class camping trip in your mouth.

Finally, always enjoy your home-cooked meals with friends, a glass of wine, and laughter. Once in a while, eat until you are uncomfortably full and roll into the living room. Turn on 30 Rock, New Girl, Downton Abbey, or Lord of the Rings. Complain about how you are too full to move ever again. Get way too into the program you are watching. And then eat a cupcake.

slub love,

Kat


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how you know you’re getting old

As I mentioned in a previous post, last week Kat and I were volunteer teachers for JA In a Day at Monticello High School.

Our topic: Careers with Purpose. Our audience: 9th graders.

It took us a while to figure out that the students were dressed up for Decades Day – I’m sad to say that I briefly thought wearing tiger-print baggy pants and a flight suit was potentially a rural Minnesota thing – but it soon became apparent that the 9th graders were more interested in the shenanigans of the afternoon than they were in talking about their life’s noble purpose. While they might have found some value in our time with them, they didn’t care enough to be fully engaged…

…that is, until we attempted to connect our lesson with celebrities.

This is how you know you’re getting old: when none of the kids who are a decade younger than you have ever heard of the following philanthropic public personalities –

Bono.

Or U2 at all, for that matter.

Princess Diana.

Bill Gates.

And only one of the students knew the singing group behind the song Bills Bills Bills (Destiny’s Child):

Still, we wanted the teenagers to understand that you can serve a higher personal calling outside of your career through volunteering your time and resources to a cause that you’re passionate about. This is important stuff. So Kat asked if any of the students knew Miley Cyrus.

The 9th graders flipped. Duh they know who Miley Cyrus is. Miley Cyrus is the best of course. They love Miley Cyrus.

yeah.

The slubs are beginning to find that very few things in life age you more than a younger person who is totally disconnected from your generation’s cherished culture.

Just to get the kids back on the straight and narrow, we forced them to watch a video of U2 performing Beautiful Day live in concert. One day they will understand.

con amor,

shan


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slub of the week: Ahmad Bradshaw

You may be shocked to hear this, but the slubs watched the Super Bowl yesterday . And not just the commercials or the halftime show. We watched the game as well. And gave up watching Downton Abbey to do so.

It was quite the event. Here are the delicious foods that were served: oatmeal chocolate-chip cookies, s’mores cupcakes, lemon teacakes, potstickers, hummus, baked brie, and queso. Possibly not  your typical Super Bowl fare, but it was a delicious, slubby feast.

Now, while some of us are football fans, none of us were really invested in the game. Nonetheless, we chose sides. Obviously. Shannon, claiming that she was supporting America, rooted for the Patriots, along with Anna and our friend Maddie. Nora and I, in our infinite wisdom, chose the winning team, the Giants.

We cheered loudly and often for our respective teams. There was even some smack talk going down. I mean really. Supporting the Patriots? Come. on. Nora and I were called anti-American. Vicious. But there was one thing we all agreed on: Ahmad Bradshaw’s winning touchdown was nothing short of EPIC.

Now, after listening to commentary after the game, Bradshaw had not meant to score on this play. Instead his intent was to run the clock down so that the Patriot’s offense would have as little time with the ball as possible. On the otherhand, according the Huffington Post, the Patriots wanted to “concede a score” so that they would have as much time with the ball as possible. He accidentally scores when the Patriots do nothing to stop him.

But for the untrained eyes of the slubs and friends, it went down like this:

Bradshaw has the ball. He runs. He makes a split second decision to make the slubbiest touchdown of all time. Bradshaw scores the winning touchdown by sitting into the endzone.

I mean, why exert the energy, Bradshaw? You are on the goal line. The Patriots seem completely unconcerned about you scoring. Let your momentum carry you gracefully into a seated position in the endzone. Standing: not Superbowl champion. Seated: Superbowl champion. WIN.

So, to the Superbowl Champions, Ahmad Bradshaw and Giants, congratulations. Congrats for winning a sporting event by acting like a slub. Pretend like you meant to do it. It was truly epic.

slub love, Kat


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value [val-yoo]: noun, verb.

Presumably you’ve just read the title of this post and are now thinking, good holy Lord above, not another reflection piece. Here’s what’s up: I’ve been on an introspective kick lately, mostly because Kat and my lives have been lacking in epic adventure and our literary resources are stretched a bit thin. Some of you may in fact want to hear about how much queso (multiple bowls) and how many cupcakes (multiple dozens) we have consumed over the previous few months, but that wouldn’t make for a very long blog post.

                        but seriously.

My last entry was about everything I’ve learned in the past 226 days from working at Thrivent and living with Kat, Laura, Nora and Anna in Minneapolis. Writing that post reminded me of another blog entry I penned way back at the beginning of my fellowship, when I was still amped on graduating into “adult world” and there was thriving greenery outside: read it here.

The post recounts my experiences with a values card exercise. With the help of a deck of 50 flashcards, each with a moral principle and a definition, I selected the top 5 standards in my personal values system. But like Kate Middleton’s status as a commoner, those top 5 values are SO seven months ago.

she’s a duchess now after all.

I’m an entirely different person now, thanks to Michelle Bachmann the mouse and our recycling collectors. So I tried the values card exercise again, and – wouldn’t you know it! – 3 of my top values have gone the way of the buffalo. Or should I say, they’ve simply transitioned.

Check yourself, I’m about to create a stunning visual for you:

“OLD” VALUES                           “NEW” VALUES

1.   Diversity                              1.   Autonomy

2.   Education                            2.   Community

3.   Faith                                    3.   Education

4.   Freedom                              4.   Fairness

5.   Happiness                           5.   Happiness

As you can see, both Education and Happiness managed to stick around. Darn it all if I don’t firmly believe in my right to learn and be happy. But who invited those other three strangers to the values party?

Autonomy:

  1. The quality or state of being self-governing, especially: the right of self-government.
  2. Self-directing freedom and especially moral independence.
  3. A self-governing state.

My parents have a significant collection of home videos from when my brother Collin and I were little. During a family picnic in one particularly memorable video, a tiny Shannon stands brandishing a hotdog like a scepter and repeatedly shouting the name of our country into the camera for no rational reason: “Umnited States of Umehwika. UmNITED states of UmEHwika.”

My intense love for the political philosophical foundations of our nation appears to have begun at a very early stage in life.

I won’t go into this concept extensively. Practically every post I have written in this blog contains at least a sentence or two that read like Mel Gibson’s script from The Patriot.

AMERICA!!!

But I had to ask myself: why the shift from Freedom to Autonomy? To be free, to live without obligation, is a basic and unalienable right. To be autonomous, though – that is a privilege. It is a privilege that many ignorant individuals choose to abuse, and many more thoughtful citizens wish they enjoyed.  The buzz surrounding the upcoming election has reminded me that my ability to self-govern has been cultivated by my education, my upbringing and my personal status as an American citizen. If values are the standard by which an individual measures the worth of his or her actions, it would mean flagrant contempt of the political philosophies I respect to underappreciate the weight of Autonomy in my moral system.

Community: a unified body of individuals, as…

  1. An interacting population of various kinds of individuals in a common location.
  2. A group of people with a common characteristic or interest living together within a larger society.
  3. A group linked by a common policy.
  4. A body of persons or nations having a common history or common social, economic, and political interests.

Reading through my definitions, I’m realizing how polar opposite Autonomy and Community sound. I’m running with it though:

While every individual should have the privilege to self-government, we all have the right to belong. Sure, we may start and end our lives alone, but every second of the time in between is spent muddling around on a planet populated entirely by other people. At a fundamental level we thrive primarily on human interaction, even if the people we meet aren’t necessarily like us – but life is so much sweeter when we feel like we belong to a group. There are an infinite number of interests and character quirks represented by our world’s population, and I guarantee that you will find a place to fit in somewhere.

for instance, i’m obsessed with the sims. and i’m certainly not alone. i have a community!

You are never truly alone. Whatever your definition of the idea, everyone should have a home. In some small way, everyone should have a community to belong to.

Fairness:

  1. The state, condition, or quality of being free from bias or injustice.
  2. Evenhandedness.

Listen. It’s really, really hard to be fair where human emotions are concerned, and in case you haven’t noticed, it is actually impossible for us as a species to completely detach ourselves from any and all emotion. Even Spock couldn’t go without indulging his feelings every now and then. I do not espouse unquestionable fairness in every circumstance, especially if it means the death of all passion and drive. Autonomy doesn’t necessarily tango well with Fairness in all situations, and I believe that there has to be a balance on the dance floor if we’re going to succeed as a community. (Not that I can dance with any measure of grace anyway.)

             look how emotionally happy he is!

But in the spirit of laying it all out there, I must warn you: it is dangerous to engage me in conversation if you have no inclination or ability to consider any part of the opposite side of a story. If you are the most avid human being ever about cause X or initiative Y or debate Z, I envy your zeal. But if you have never once stopped to put yourself in somebody else’s shoes and consider the value of their opinion, stance or experience, you will never gain my personal respect.

I believe strongly in making an attempt to treat others with as much consideration and objectivity as I can, because I hope to be treated fairly in return.

So the moral of the story is…

A couple of days ago, Kat and I volunteered to teach a Junior Achievement course on Careers with a Purpose to a class of 9th graders. Standing in front of the kids in all our employed and self-righteous volunteer glory, we waxed poetic on our own values and how they’ve served to guide our career decisions post-graduation. If you’ve read any of Kat’s previous entries about volunteerism and why she’s chosen to complete a year with AmeriCorps, it’s easy to picture how eloquently and passionately she spoke about pursuing a career path that fulfills a higher personal purpose. The “teenagers” responded by taking the stickers from one of our activities and slapping them on each other’s faces.

This made me slightly frustrated, before I realized that I didn’t have an attention span when I was 15 either. Mine and Kat’s frustration that the 9th graders didn’t take their values seriously, however, proves just how important they are to us. Our values determine and guide our moral standard, and understanding what makes us tick is essential to being happy.

That, or everyone should just run around with stickers on their face and call it a day.

con amor,

shan