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Tuesday night, Vicky and I went to see The Little Mermaid Sing-A-Long at the Castro Theater. We were given a bag to equip us with all that we’d need for the perfect interactive experience: a plastic crown (King Trident!), a plastic fork (“dinglehopper”), soap bubbles (life is the bubbles under the sea!), glow sticks and party poppers (because why not?). The theater was beautiful. And packed. People were breaking out their glow sticks and bubbles long before the movie started. You can’t enjoy a sing-a-long without an audience who’s equally, if not more, enthusiastic than you.

It was incredibly fun. We cheered for Ariel. We stamped our feet. We booed at Ursula. And we sang all the iconic songs that made The Little Mermaid so great. And while princess movies may be sending the wrong ideas to children about gender roles and romance (seriously Ariel, you’re 16 and you’re “in love” with a guy you saw just once?), that’s not going to stop my inner child from loving this movie. At one point during “Part of Your World,” I got both the tingles and teary eyedness of nostalgia. There is no better way to re-watch a Disney classic.

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What do they got? A lot of sand
We got a hot crustacean band!
Each little clam here
Know how to jam here
Under the sea
Each little slug here
Cuttin’ a rug here
Under the sea
Each little snail here
Know how to wail here
That’s why it’s hotter
Under the water
Ya we in luck here
Down in the muck here
Under the sea

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Grape and Rosemary Focaccia from 17 and Baking

This is probably the easiest and best yeast-based bread that I ever made. Even my mom liked it and she’s usually skeptical of my baked goods. The olive oil and rosemary really shines through, especially if you heat them up together before you add it to the dough. I accidentally left the focaccia in the oven longer than I intended, but fortunately, it came out with a nice crispy crust with a soft interior.  Next time, I would use the regular red grapes instead of these wine grapes, which were a wee-bit too small and didn’t keep shape as well.

It’s easy to reach out for God when I am lost.  Those are the times when a prayer is never far from my lips and thoughts of Him linger at the back of my mind at every second of every day.  In my uncertainty and fear, He is the only thing that matters; the only light that shines; the one person who grounds me; the refuge from my sorrows.  Every thought and action leads me back to him.

You may call that obsession.  Infatuation.  Self-delusion.  But sometimes, even I question whether I am holding onto empty promises.  Yet I cannot deny that my faith leads me through the most vulnerable seasons of life, not in resignation and defeat, but in the spirit of the greatest joy and peace.  Therefore, I am not afraid, even as my plans fall through.  Even if those closest to me, fail me.  Even as I stand at the edge of the precipice, because I know He will not waver.

It is difficult to see God when I am comfortable.  Those are the times when prayers are mumbled quickly, more out of routine than out of desire.  When obligations, chores and schedules occupy my mind at every second of every day, and leave no room for thoughts of Him.  In my complacency, I am fooled by the deceit of the world that everything else could matter more than Him.

I am thirsty and I do not even realize it.  I cannot seem to stop myself from spending empty hours checking Facebook, surfing youtube, reading blogs, scanning news headlines, chain-watching tv shows, all in an exhausting effort to preoccupy myself with every scrap of entertainment.  As if I am afraid to let my mind rest, that if I find myself sitting in silence, then I would have to confront Him.

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What I want is to run to Him again.  Not just when I feel like it, but because I need to.  Everyday.  To run until I feel that pain my chest and the fatigue in my muscles.  To push, claw, crawl, and fight my way through every obstacle that distracts from Him.  To burst in song, erupt in praises; to throw up my hands and proclaim His name in unabashed joy.  To seek Him with every fiber of my being, so that I cannot be satisfied with anything else but Him.  Even if I stumble, even as I gasp for air, do not let me stop.  Run with me, and I will follow you.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind.

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The best thing about this recipe is that it doesn’t require kneading at all, which is a great because I don’t own a bread machine or a stand mixer—yet.  Still, I had enough trouble just spreading the dough out in a round enough circle so that each piece could be rolled up nicely.  But that’s just inexperience.  I liked these because they were fun to make and seemed like a new twist on the regular cinnamon roll.  However, they’re also less sweet and could use a bit more sugar, in my opinion.  Nevertheless, the butterhorns are great to eat while they’re still piping hot from the oven, and served with a glass of milk.

Cinnamon Butterhorns from The Cilantropist

It is official.  I will be attending the Neuroscience PhD program at the University of California, San Francisco this fall.

Now that I know my days are numbered in Boston, everything here—even the frigid cold—has taken on a rosy, sentimental feel.  Suddenly, three months doesn’t seem like enough time to do everything that I want to do.

Originally, I had considered working through the whole of summer before the start of school.  But I realized that if I were to slave away for the next six years, then I’m going to need at least two months to “veg out” and seize every opportunity for idleness.  I’d love to travel somewhere, but will most likely be spending one glorious month enjoying Boston and the surrounding areas.  How can I possibly leave without enjoying summer strolls at the Arboretum, kayaking on the Charles, tasting the soft-shelled crab in Maine, sampling wine at a Newport vineyard, picking berries at a local New England farm?

As excited as I am about San Francisco and warmer winters, I know I am going to miss Boston.  This was the first place I ever lived where I truly had to rely on myself.  I remember arriving at Logan airport with two suitcases, walking into a very dirty apartment, and sleeping on a bare mattress that first night because I forgot to bring bed covers.  I felt more homesick than I ever thought I could, knowing that everybody that I ever knew was on the other coast.  But two years later, Boston has become my second home.

This bread was the first thing that I’ve baked for a long while.  I needed something easy to help me get back into the groove of baking regularly.  I loved how the cornmeal in the recipe gives it a nice yellow-brown hue, which is beautifully offset by cheerful purple spots of juicy grapes.  I had this bread for breakfast, but I think it’s actually too cake-like to have during the first meal of the day.  Definitely, if you make this, eat it fresh from the oven so that the grapes don’t have a chance to shrivel.  It seems like most embedded fruits tend to lose their form in pastries, leaving moist holes where they used to be.

Red Grape and Olive Oil Bread from Christina Marsigliese

As a kid, I used to dream about moving to someplace where nobody knew me.  Now that I’m 23, I still fantasize about hopping onto a plane at a moment’s notice, except the prospect of being cramped up in a small space for more than six hours makes my knees ache.  Nonetheless, the idea of starting with a clean state is an attractive thought; that if you could change your environment, then you can fashion yourself to be whatever sort of person you always wanted to be.  Now that I’ve actually done it, I can’t really say that I’ve changed much, personality-wise.  What was it about myself that I wanted to change so much?  I’m not quite sure what I expected when I moved to Boston; maybe not a complete 180, but at least a 90 degree or something, right?  What I have learned is that I am who I always was, and who I’ll become is what I’ve always had the capacity to be.  I don’t need to force myself to change anything; I’m just going to let the “growing up” take care of that.

With the new year and pending interviews for graduate school, I’ve been thinking a lot about where I want to end up for the next five or six years.  If I were myself two years ago, I would’ve jumped at the opportunity to try somewhere completely different; not California and not Boston.  But I don’t really feel like pulling another major move anytime soon.  As much of an introvert as I am, building a social network from scratch is a lonely feat that I’m not quite up for doing again, yet.  And now that I’ve found a comfortable rhythm and routine here, I’ve been able to appreciate Boston much more for its beauty and vast number of places/things that I have yet to discover.  Even in this frigid weather, I am still excited to step outside and feel the drops of cold as the snow falls on my face.  The question is whether I can see myself spending the rest of my 20’s here, or anywhere else.  Wow, that’s such a loaded decision.

Recently, an old friend came to visit me.  It’s always somewhat of a surprise to see old friends now, since I rarely see them, so any lifestyle change is especially striking.  And for X—‘s visit, the first thing I noticed was the change in wardrobe.  He has graduated from slightly over-sized flannel shirts to form-fitting, and dare I say it, attractive “Urban Outfitter-esque” clothes.  I’m so glad to see that one of us has made the fortunate leap of buying our own clothes instead of relying on our parents’ best guess at youthful fashion; albeit, my mom still buys most of my clothing, but only because she is blessed with better sartorial sense.

We spent a bit talking about our immediate futures and reminiscing about sunny California while we braced against the northeastern winds.  Like me, he will also decide where he’s going to study for the next few years.  While both of us have fond recollections of the golden state, we are reluctant to return home for the next decade of our lives.  More surprising for him since I distinctly remember how adamant he was about living near home for medical school (and how he hated the idea of recreational drinking—well, guess who drank with me last weekend?).  It’s nice to see that people do change over time.  Who knows, maybe in a few years, I might change my mind about that PhD.  Maybe I’ll fall into teaching or turn around and pursue political science, or something.  As scary as it can be when plans fall apart, maybe it’s a good thing that we don’t always follow linear lives.

Right now thought, I’m going to graduate school.  Regardless of where I’ll end up, I think I’m going to have one “helluva” time.  I’m so excited; I can’t wait.

Pumpkin Garlic Knots from Handle the Heat