Wednesday, February 22, 2012

25, Philadelphia, and the National Trial Competition

YAY!  I nearly have a life again!  First of all, thanks to all my loved ones supporting me these last couple months.  So far, 2012 has been a tough one and I have appreciated all of the prayers and cheerleading on my behalf.

I’m officially FINISHED competing in the National Trial Competition and, if I do say so myself, I had a very good run!

In Philadelphia last weekend, it worked out that I did 2 trials (it's just the luck of the draw if your team does Plaintiff of Defendant and since I only to defense, I only had to do two [grueling] trials.) and they went swimmingly!

Honestly, I felt VERY confident down there in the courtrooms at the Philadelphia Criminal Justice Center and I hope to one day haunt that building on the regular as a big shot lawyer :)

Here is my team at our hotel, after a string of successful trials.  Our team ended up advancing to the Regional Championship, so we are very proud.

I got to know waaaaaay more about my teammates than I ever wanted to know, but we really had a blast in Philly.

PLUS, it was my birthday!  And every restaurant we went to, we milked it for all of the free desserts we could handle!

In addition to local restaurants, we also made trips multiple times a day to the Reading Terminal Market.  I’m telling you folks, this place is INCREDIBLE!  It’s about 20 times the size of the Grand Central Station Market in NYC (no joke!) and we ate our way through the entire place!

For my birthday I enjoyed some red velvet and pumpkin chai whoopee pies (a Pennsylvania favorite) from this awesome little bakery booth called the Flying Money.  Plus a raspberry crumble bar, plus a peanut butter cake truffle (AMAAAAZING), plus a chewy coconut macaroon cookie, plus cupcakes…  Yeah, that good.  Or bad.


Among our good eats at the Market, we visited Tommy Dinic's for their famous roast pork sandwiches—as seen on Man vs. Food!  Here’s the little store:

And the meat

And the seriously delicious sandwich, including slow roasted pork, broccoli rabe, extra sharp provolone, and hot peppers.

I finished mine in about 190 seconds; everyone was thoroughly impressed.

I also ate crepes at the French booth (twice) and got Indian food once, including a lovely pomegranate lasse to drink, I bought a whole container of butterscotch peanut butter (yum!), lots of fresh bread and produce, and all that’s just from the market alone!  We also had legit Philly soft pretzels with spicy mustard that a suspicious little old Italian Philly lawyer man brought us all at the courthouse, 2 trips to McCormick & Schmicks (thank you, per diam), went to a legit Chinese place in Chinatown (including an order of the “House Special Duck”), and need I go on?

We also got a chance to do some shopping and touring nearby, including JFK Park with the LOVE sign:

Yes, smaller than you may have imagined.  But still nice.  Plus there’s lots of food trucks in this park!

I fell in love with the store Lush—seriously though, where has this store been all my life?

I got asked on a date by a suspicious character who may or may not have been homeless.  In his defense, I was sitting on the corner eating my macaroon at the time, looking rather homeless myself.  I said thanks but no thanks, if you’re wondering.  But he was rather persistent. 

We also were right by City Hall, which I believe housed the first U.S. Capitol.  Here we are walking under it.  Sebastian is making his, “I’m sad we lost” face while I am shamelessly making my “I’m GLAD we lost” face with Josh.

Load of fun & loads of food.  It was nice to be in competitive mode again and I had a great experience and a great birthday.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

A Noteworthy Anniversary of My Arrival to Earth

Here it comes folks, one-fourth of a century, my quarter life crisis, the big TWO-FIVE.  Not too excited about that, but hey, what’s a girl to do? 

 And what’s the plan for the celebration, you ask?  Well, as it turns out, I will be staying in a hotel for free in Philadelphia and getting to eat and drink for free thanks to a lovely little thing called a per diem!  50 bucks a day just to eat all the Philly cheese steaks and soft pretzels I want!!  And how, you may ask?  Well, you are looking at the defense opener on The Penn State University Dickinson School of Law’s National Trial Team and we will be competing in the regional competition over my birthday weekend, beginning on Thursday, the day before the blessed memoriam.   So thanks for the weekend birthday trip, Penn State!  So does that mean I will intentionally under-perform to knock us out of the competition early and allow for some free birthday sightseeing?  No comment.

And since I will be gone for my birthday, dearest Kendrick was kind enough to come for a visit this weekend for a more traditional birthday celebration including a festive homemade carrot birthday cake (a personal favorite of both of us)!  Festive really is the best word…and Fabulous:

…aaaaaand I opened my presents early :O  since I won’t be at home on the big day.  They included a gorgeous fuschia trench coat [I’m wearing it below in the photo with my snowshoes and I'm actually wearing it right NOW!], an amazing book called Design Sponge at Home (Love it!  Totally inspiring!),

 lovely earrings from my grandma, and a bosu ball from K which I have been wanting SO BAD for SO LONG!  He even helped me pump it up :) what a nice guy.

 And I got myself a gift compliments of b-day money from my grandparents: a new cover for my laptop to replace my cracked up non-fitting (although pretty) old one.  My laptop, the love of my life, will certainly be grateful.

Wish me luck in Philly, and happy birthday to me!

Campaigning for Winter- beating the blues

Being someone who was born and raised in Southern California and participated in year-round outdoor sports, I love being outside and I LOVE THE SUN.  I basically worship it.  Seriously.  In my closet...that has a window.

This obsession was all well and good until the one dark day when I moved to Utah and learned about a strange thing the natives called “winter.”  Then followed another, even darker day, when I moved to Central Pennsylvania and learned about a strange event known as a “blizzard.”  My first Pennsylvanian winter just happened to be the winter of the ever-memorable Great Double Snow Storm of 2009 when within a few days two MAJOR snow storms hit the entire East Coast one after the other, leaving my little car looking like a snow-covered hill.  Literally FEET of snow covered EVERYTHING. 

How the heck am I supposed to play water polo and do my sun worshiping dances in 4 feet of snow?!? 

And who ever knew that scarves served a purpose other than fashion?!  Not me.

Needless to say, I found myself walking to school on sub-freezing days in sub-standard winter gear, repeating in my mind over and over again things like,

“I am freezing.

 I might die of frostbite. 

I hate snow. 

I hate winter. 

I am freezing…”

Not exactly the healthiest internal monologue.

And then I decided that I want to work in Philadelphia…permanently.  And I began filling out the Pennsylvania and New Jersey State Bar Applications (yes, this is kind of a major announcement! :D ) and I realized, “Hmm…maybe I should try to figure out this winter thing…”  And the frank statement of a close friend from Long Island, New York of, “You have the worst Seasonal Affect in the world,” (ouch) led me to develop a cold weather plan of attack!

First, I thought about the main reasons I dislike winter and some of the why’s:
1.     I don’t like being cold
a.     I don’t have the right kind of clothes to stay warm
b.     I am worse than Ebenezer Scrooge when it comes to not turning the heater on
c.      Having cold/wet feet is like the worst thing ever 
2.     I love the sunshine
a.     It’s hard to wake up when its dark out
b.     I like being outside on nice days
3.     I like swimming and exercising outside

Given this list, I went to work to remedy these bad boys!

The key, honestly, was to stop being so Scroogey and to be realistic of my needs.  Yep, that’s right, I had to actually BUY some things (sooooo painful!) and I have actually even been keeping my heater on for longer than my usual 30 minutes a day... (NOT an exaggeration, unfortunately)

My sanity-saving purchases included:

1.     Sunlight simulating alarm clock
a.     You have NO IDEA how amazing this is!  I wake up to the sound of cows mooing and the sun shining, even if sunrise is technically 2+ hours away!!
b.     I’m a nerd about neuroscience and I know that full-spectrum light on the retina promotes production of wake-inducing neurochemicals, so I’m totally a believer in this item- even if its as seen on TV!
2.     Better coats, etc.
a.     I realized I only wore my cute, impractical coats.  The only legit jacket I had was much too large and I just wasn’t gonna look that frumpy for every day of the next 3 months.  Therefore, I shopped around for a cute AND practical coat that I DO like to wear!
b.     Honestly, this took a couple tries.  I don’t really know what makes a good winter coat, never really having had one, so I admittedly fell back on my ~only fashion matters~ state of mind in coat shopping, but eventually, I nailed it!  My coat is silvery and puffy and warm and has an amazing hood and it even fits 
c.      Rabbit fur-lined gloves= amazing
d.     Super cute AND super practical Merrell knee-high boots

And, thankfully, not everything needed to be purchased!  Here are the few things that I utilized that I had on hand and some simple strategies that I employed on my campaign for winter:

1.     Looove the windows
a.     On the occasional sunny day, I shamelessly place myself near the window, including
                                               i.     In church.  I get into the room a little early and open the curtains!
                                              ii.     At school.  I pull chairs for yards and yards and place them right by the window to read, despite being kind of in the way of everyone.  Who cares, they can walk around; I have a disorder!
                                            iii.     In the pool!  Yes that’s right, I still swim in the indoor pool and I swim in the far lane next to the window and even get the occasional ray as I swim along
2.     A better space heater
a.     I was gifted a space heater that has the technology that is lightyears ahead of my old one and I love it!
3.     A better mantra
a.     Instead of “I hate winter…” I borrowed a cheesy phrase from a magazine that my mom kindly gets for me, “There is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.”  And now that I’ve gotten better winter clothing, I’m actually starting to believe it!
4.     My super warm Kermit hat from Santa

Lastly, I thought of my peers in Utah who were always jumping up and down with joy whenever snow was in the forecast.  They all had the same reason to adore the very thought of snow: skiing.  Now, snow skiing and snowboarding and I have not really gotten along in the past.  So how could I harvest all of those positive feelings for snow if slopes are out of the question?  In a word, SNOWSHOEING!!  I got a GREAT deal on eBay and I can honestly say for the first time ever that I am anxious for a big snowstorm so I can try them out!

Who knows, maybe I’ll start worshiping the snow too :)