Saturday, March 26, 2011

My Favorite Things

When the dog bites, when the bee stings…

These past few weeks have been thesis crunch time and pre-concert prep time. (Sunday, April 3 at 7 PM at the Michigan Theater, the Michigan Pops Orchestra presents – Pops Lock and Drop It: A Dance Concert in Two Acts! Sadly my last concert with Pops, but it will be a great one!) In order to relieve stress, I have been trying to focus on things that make me happy. I’m no Oprah, but here are some of my favorite things!

1. Small Dogs

I don’t mean purse-sized dogs, but terriers and dogs the size of Toto from the Wizard of Oz. I see people walking them around Ann Arbor all the time, and I may or may not have creeped out a few owners by staring a little too obviously. I find them adorable, though, and I cannot wait to have a few puppies of my own.

2. Specific moments at work

I work in a library, and there are always small things about the job that make it great. My favorite happens when I check availability for items. The item’s due date and the name of the person who checked it out pop up next to the title. I love when someone asks for a popular film, like Inception or the Social Network, and not only do I see that it is checked out, but it is checked out to my coworker who is standing four feet away. It makes me smile every time.

3. Good food

When I have time to actually cook dinner, it makes my whole night better. My mom gave me a great cookbook for Christmas, and I’ve spent some time whipping up spicy shrimp with angel hair pasta and sweet potato risotto. I love it, and I can’t wait to have more time to try new recipes.

My sister and I made an excellent Thanksgiving dinner!

4. Fiction

I read at least three books over spring break and wished I had time for more. I spend a lot of my time reading at school, but mostly it’s nonfiction and I’m trying to figure out the author’s arguments so I can say reasonably intelligent things in class the next day. I miss getting caught up in a story and losing track of time. My favorite weekend mornings are ones when I’m curled up in bed with a book.

5. Reading until I fall asleep

On a related note, the best nap is one that happens after I cannot keep my eyes open any longer.

6. Blue Skies

The winters in Ann Arbor are frequently gray and cloudy. When there is a clear blue sky once in a while, it makes my whole day feel better and happier.

7. Unexpected pleasant conversation with strangers

I am not advocating talking to strangers, or taking candy from them, but when I interact with people unexpectedly, even in a small way, it can brighten my day. My favorite stories about this come from riding the T to work a couple summers ago when I interned in Boston. Every morning, I grabbed a copy of the Metro and worked on the crossword puzzle while I rode to work. One morning, the man sitting next to me leaned over and said, “Hey, you have some answers I don’t. Do you want to swap?” We rode until Park Street doing the puzzle together.

8. Europe.


Yes, this an excuse to post pictures of Greece.

Sunset over Ios.

9. Castles.

See above.

Chenonceau, France

What are some of your favorite things? How do you relieve stress?

Friday, March 18, 2011

I Want to Be Tina Fey

When I was in seventh grade, I began watching Saturday Night Live. It was a big deal that my parents allowed me to stay up so late and I felt extremely grown up and sophisticated. One of my favorite parts of each episode was Weekend Update, hosted by Tina Fey and Jimmy Fallon. Once I realized that Tina Fey was SNL’s head writer, I had a new goal in life: Be Tina Fey.

I worked with my friend Hope to accomplish my goal. Together, we wrote our own sketch comedy show: Saturday Afternoon Prerecorded. (We were so clever.) SNL comedian Rachel Dratch was from Lexington like us, and Amy Poehler was from neighboring Burlington. We were from a core of future SNL stars! We were clearly destined for greatness. Looking back now, I am still proud of some of our sketches. One was about Looming Finals, which would follow you as you studied yelling, “Looooom! Rhymes with Doom! You will be Dooooom…ed!” Not too shabby for seventh graders. Another favorite was one of Hope’s, about James Bond’s illegitimate child who goes to therapy to try to work out his daddy issues only to discover that his therapist was one of Bond’s conquests. We also attempted to write a Weekend Update segment, though that mostly focused on the Lexington Minuteman Police Log. It seems every week, a “group of youths” is seen cavorting around town and wreaking havoc on skateboards. As you can see, my hometown is a hotbed of crime and excitement.

I dreamed of filming an episode of our show and sending it to Studio 8H in Rockefeller Center. Tina Fey would eventually find it, realize how hilarious and brilliant I was, contact me to ask if she could use the ideas Hope and I came up with for the show, and eventually, once I was legally old enough to work, ask me to move to New York City to be her personal assistant/co-writer.

Sadly, Hope and I never got around to filming Saturday Afternoon Prerecorded (which has a really terrible acronym, looking back on it). During high school, I started wanting to be David Sedaris as well as Tina Fey, but I also realized that I am not nearly as funny as I thought I was in seventh grade. I wrote a college admissions essay about how I had wanted to be Tina Fey but recognized that it was impossible, so planned to major in English or History. (Though I thought this would set me out from the crowd, I now think that the admissions officer must have been sad that I had given up on my dreams at age 18 and that is why I got waitlisted at that school.)

In 2006, Tina Fey launched her own show, 30 Rock, of which I am now a devoted fan. Between that and Amy Poehler’s Parks and Recreation, I am reminded each week of my seventh grade goal. Now, as I am about to graduate from U of M with a degree in history and not sketch comedy or even creative writing, I recognize that I am probably not going to be Tina Fey. However, being reconnected with my goals is definitely a good thing. While I might not be the head writer on SNL, at least I know that I want to work to do something creative. Maybe it will creative and clever enough that Tina Fey will eventually call me… We’ll see!

Who did you want to be when you grew up? Let me know!

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Perfect Monday Night Out on the Town

As the end of the semester approaches, I have found myself buried under work and lacking the time to write interesting blog posts. Today's is shorter, but hopefully still informative!

My roommates and I are big fans of good deals. Though I enjoy splurging on fancy food and drinks, I also don't have the cash to do so on a regular basis. Luckily, Ann Arbor bars and restaurants have some pretty great happy hours. My roommates and I have planned out a Monday night to hit as many as we can (Monday because some deals are exclusive to that evening). I suggest you get a group together to try it out!

Here's the list, organized by start time:

4:00-6:00 PM: Vinology - Happy hour, deals on wine

4:00-7:00 PM: The Melting Pot - half-priced cheese fondues, $2 off glasses of wine

7:00-11:00 PM: Cafe Felix - Half-priced martinis (I recommend the Honey Pot or Orangini-tini. Yes, even I feel a little girly ordering an Orangini-tini, but it's delicious and has a splash of Orangina, so you can't go wrong.) *Monday night only

8:00-11:00 PM - Cafe Habana - $8 pitchers of sangria (regularly $11) (Though the best sangria in town is still at Dominick's, in my opinion)

9:00-11:00 PM - The Melting Pot - half-priced dessert fondues and $2 off glasses of wine

If you decide to forgo Cafe Felix on Monday nights, they have a deal on Wednesdays for half off bottles of wine.

Or, Thursday through Saturday, the Black Pearl has a late night menu that is $3-$4 off select martinis, including my favorite, the Nutty Alexander: Amaretto, Frangelico, Bailey's, and Kahlua with cream and nutmeg - delicious and does not taste like alcohol. Probably James Bond would make fun of me for not drinking straight vodka, but hey, I'm happy drinking super sweet martinis.

Friday and Saturdays, if you wanted to wander away from Main Street towards State Street, Red Hawk Bar and Grill also has an amazing happy hour from 10:00 PM until 1:00 AM - half off all drinks. Their well liquor is also what you have to request specially at most college bars, so it's a great deal.

There are probably other great happy hours that I don't know about - feel free to let me know! I have roughly seven more Mondays to try out the 6:00-11:00 PM Monday Happy Hour Extravaganza, so I've got my fingers crossed that I can drag some people out to try it.

Saturday, March 5, 2011


Part of an occasional series in which I highlight places in Ann Arbor I'm going to miss when I move in May aka places you should visit when you're in town!

A place of joy! (photo from

I had only been on spring break for four days when I had a pang. I missed Zingerman’s Deli in Ann Arbor. And not just Zingerman’s in general, but the specific area where they have olive oil taste testing. It was a little strange to miss that exact spot, but then again, it’s a short walk (and mental jump) from the olive oils to the fresh bread and brownies to the cheese counter and then to that lovely spot where you order sandwiches and side dishes.

I love Zingerman’s. One of my life goals is to make enough money to rent a house within two blocks so I can buy fresh bread and unusual cheeses there every other day, plus coffee cake on the weekends. Their sandwich menu is varied and delicious – the #27, Pat & Dick's Honeymooner (“Smoked turkey breast, Wisconsin muenster & sweet-hot honeycup mustard on grilled challah bread.”) is one of my favorites. Next door to the deli is the annex, with seating as well as desserts, coffees, and cocoas. Recently, they featured at least six different types of cocoa, from their regular deliciousness to Mexican drinking chocolate.

Every trip to Zingerman’s is exciting and pleasant. The staff is extremely friendly and is always willing to explain the different types of cheese/bacon/etc that they sell. There are also tons of samples, which always make me happy. When waiting in line to order sandwiches, you walk by the bread counter, so you can pick up a piece of bacon pepper bread or sour cream coffee cake or a chunk of brownie… it’s all of my food dreams come true.

So many cheeses! (photo from

Zingerman's has also played a special role in my life in Ann Arbor. Tasting cheeses was one of my first dates with my boyfriend. Dinner at Zingerman's Roadhouse was another early date. (Try one of their macaroni and cheeses!) For my 22nd birthday, he created a picnic in U of M's arboretum with Zingerman's bread, cheese and side dishes and surprised me with their Buttermilk Cake ("A dense buttery yellow cake filled with raspberry buttercream and covered in smooth vanilla swiss buttercream." Delicious!). I've also found that getting a cup of coffee and camping out in Zingerman's to work can be surprisingly productive. Because it's a bit of a walk from campus, I'm not surrounded with stressed college students like I would be if I set up in the undergraduate library. Additionally, during my freshman year one of my favorite moments with three of my best friends was a dinner conversation that revolved entirely around Zingerman's gift baskets. When I have a steady job, I hope I can send them each gift baskets now and then to remind them.

I hope that after I leave Ann Arbor I won't have to give up Zingerman's entirely. They do have an impressive mail order catalog. (Please keep this in mind if you're someone who ever needs to buy me gifts!) Considering I missed Zingerman's that much after only four days away from Ann Arbor, I'm sure that after four months it will be even tougher. On the bright side, I'll always know where to go for lunch when I'm back in town!

And, for your enjoyment, here are my college roommate's thoughts on Zingerman's gift baskets: "So you send gift baskets back and for for like, five, ten years to establish trust. Then the last year, you don't send one, and you grab the one they send you and you flee the country. Then you're one gift basket ahead!"

What do you love in Ann Arbor? Let me know! I've only got two more months and I want to see as much as I can!