30 June 2013

Long Island Iced Tea

I'm sorry I haven't written in a week or so--I actually have been working on a piece for this blog, but work has made it difficult for me to spend any meaningful time on it. Expect it in a day or so... it'll be a good one. 

Alright, so it's probably no secret that Ben and I like a good drink, and the other day we came into some unexpected cash, so we celebrated by buying an exorbitant amount of booze (and a swiffer because we needed that too) So now I present you with the baker boy, who today will be the bartender and he's going to tell you how to make his awesome  Long Island iced teas. Which if done right, will have you skyping your mom at three in the morning and funding various Kickstarter projects.

Long Island Iced Tea is probably the best possible drink for a hot summer's day, and the best part about the drink is that it's really pretty hard to mess it up.  Counterintuitively, the more booze you add the better it tastes, so don't be afraid to pour with a heavy hand!

To make it you will need:
-White Rum
-Triple sec (we used Cointreau because for whatever reason it's cheaper here :D)
-sour mix*

*you can buy sour mix at the store, but it's super easy to make yourself, and it tastes a lot better I think.  Just make some simple syrup by heating a cup each of water and sugar on the stove until the sugar dissolves, then add a cup each of fresh lemon juice and lime juice and refrigerate until you need it.

I'm not going to limit the size of your drink by telling you how much of each you need in ounces, because lord knows sometimes you just gotta make a pitcher.  Just use the following ratio and you'll have yourself an alcohol-infused version of what your mom used to give you back in the day.

-lots of ice
-1 part each of vodka, gin, tequila, rum, and triple sec
-2 parts sour mix
-only enough coke to make it the color of iced tea (it's really not for the flavor)

Stir, garnish with a lemon, and voila! I think I'll go have one myself now because it sounds so damn good.

20 June 2013

Him & I: A Love Story

My senior year began with a move into a beautiful brown-bricked building named Haven and a honor's thesis that promised to destroy my social life. At the time, I was very conflicted about a moody writer I had been half-dating for about a year who was on his way out to California. I'd spent the last few weeks of my summer vacation weeping into wine glasses and buying trendy clothes I told myself I'd be wearing when I met him in Los Angeles.

When I met Ben, he had just come home from a year abroad and was hanging around a lot of my friends (and his old friends, I suppose). I thought he was really cute (especially since he knocked off his foot-long ponytail since I'd last seen him) and I liked how crazy smart he was, but he seemed too clueless to actually date. I could tell he had a crush on me because I always made him blush and he asked me lots of questions and laughed at everything I said. I even remember calling my brother and telling him some guy from my floor who liked Rubik cubes and Japanesse was stalking me behind trees with his longboard.

A week or two after we met, our school held it's annual Folk n' Blues festival (it has another name us kids like to call it, but I'll just let you guess that on your own...) and my friend invited me over to her room to pregame with Ben. I wore a red dress and cowboy boots and Ben, Jen and I took shots of whiskey in her room and I gagged a lot because I'm not a very good drinker.

After the festival (which I spent shamelessly flirting with Ben), we all went to the campus bar and listened to a DJ in the basement. I danced with Ben and when the music stopped he grabbed my hand to lead me through the crowd, and I know it sounds silly, but I knew we were going to fall in love.

We talked a lot and I really liked that. I felt consumed. We drank a lot of wine and made dinner every night and showed each other our favorite movies. I read him essays from my thesis and hated that he liked every one. He read me a passage from The Brothers Karamazov and I cried into my pillow and felt so liberal-artsy. I called my mother and told her I wanted to visit graduate schools in Boston during winter break and she called back to ask if I was seeing a boy from the east coast.

A month went by and Ben kept asking me to be his girlfriend and move to New Hampshire with him.
I can't... we live in different parts of the country and this is our last year of school...I think I love this guy in California...
One night, Ben brought over a case of PBR and a pizza he'd found in a trash can and we stayed up until 5 a.m. eating and drinking. He told me he wanted me to make-up my mind or he was going to "bounce". Then he teared up and said he hoped we could walk around holding hands one day.

I don't know when we decided to be a couple, but the first night we said "I love you" we were outside of a French House party and were hiding behind some bushes so our friends didn't see us together and think we were dating. Ben said he loved me and  I said it back and we kissed and I thought I saw fireworks. Really.

About six months after that I was writing this paper (last minute) for this philosophy class I was taking on AI. I was really in over my head and just had a full blown wig out in front Ben. He made me buttered noodles and calmly talked me through my thoughts and notes until 6 a.m. when the paper was finished. He was so kind and supportive and I didn't even feel like I needed to explain myself. Like he just knew all the gory parts. Like it had always been this way and it always would be. I don't know how to describe it really, it just was. It just started and it never stopped.

14 June 2013

Light, Choices, Russia

It's strange how much light fills this country. When I came here in the dead of winter, I went quite a few weeks without sunshine. The cold, the gray, the ever-nights felt like they were swallowing me whole. I was Jonah in the whale. I never knew the time, the day. I felt turned, I didn't know which way was up, which way was down. There was just snow and black skies. And how odd that they are all now light?

In St. Petersburg it's the White-Night season. I've heard it's all quite romantic up there. 

Anyway, our sun kissed home has been filled with frantic emails, skype interviews, and long kitchen talks and bottles of wine. But decisions have been made. Decisions I feel comfortable standing next to.

Ben and I have decided to stay in Russia. 

When we were offered our second contract (which, up until a month ago, we had our fingers and toes crossed for), we immediately began to see dollar signs and other countries. We forgot about why we had really come here and it all felt very rushed. When we sat down and began to think about it all, we realized that we did not come to Russia to make lots of money. We had come here to learn Russia, live in another country, live in a big city, have an adventure. 

And to leave it all right when we had just felt comfortable here? After we had made friends, learned new words, knew where all the cool places were... well, it just wasn't sitting right. 

There have been some opportunities to make a bit more money here in Moscow, but we have decided against many of them. We are still waiting on some reach-jobs, but we feel that our current job situation is so good, why would we change it for an extra thousand bucks? We love our boss, we love our students, we know what we're doing... money isn't everything. And we make enough. Really, with our new contract, we'll make more than most of our friends back home. I think we just needed to take some time and put things into perspective. It's a nice feeling.

So, the small apartment we stay. But it's good; exciting things are still on the horizon. Our Germany trip is creeping up and plans to meet my parents in Amsterdam for Christmas and New Years are falling into place. And if Ben and I save well, we may even afford to meet some of our friends from the states in Thailand. 

A lot of happiness. A lot of sunshine. 

08 June 2013

Paints, Changes

I've felt a lot that I brought all the wrong things with me to Moscow. I brought work clothes, winter clothes, heavy gloves and boats, and some towels for the bathroom. But what I left were the things that make me me: I left almost all of my wardrobe (the cool one, not the practical one), my watercolor set, my kindle (this was just a stupid decision I can't really explain), things that connect me to myself. However, I've slowly been rebuilding them into my life which has been a strangely therapeutic process. Every time I purchase a new dress that speaks to who I am (and not what I do in terms of work), I feel like I'm discovering my self all over again. 

Well, Ben and I went on a date the other day and we saw that across the way there was an arts and crafts store. I was so excited to peek around, I slammed my mojito and dragged Ben through the glories of clay, mod podge, and scrap booking supplies until I found a St. Petersburg watercolor set. Ben was so sweet and supportive and encouraged me to buy all the brushes I needed and I went home feeling quite accomplished. 

It's been such a wonderful thing to sit in my sun-covered room, listening to music while Ben reads his MCAT book, painting small pictures on the edge of our bed. For a long time I've joked about painting a children's book about robots, but recently a story has come into my head and I think it's time to tell it through this medium. We'll see how it goes, but it's nice to have a space to be creative again. 

In other news... Ben and I were offered a second contract with the current school we are teaching at. The contract offers more money, but it's not as much as we'd like to be making. We started talking about taking this opportunity to travel somewhere else, which at first seemed incredibly daunting. But we put up our resumes on a couple of different websites and were flooded were job listings and interview offers from all over the world--especially in Southeast Asia where we would really like to work. We pushed our way through our clogged inboxes and replied to the jobs we felt would both be an improvement to our current financial situation as well as somewhere we would live to travel to and experience life within. 

One job that has been put on the table that we're excited about is teaching at a Montessori school in China. It was a long shot when I applied for it (you needed a Montessori teaching certificate, but the pay was so good I promised I would get one online if they would just give me the job) so I was incredibly surprised when I got a phone call the other morning from a British man who wanted to talk to me more about it. He said that there was a program Ben and I could get into where we would make more than what we'd be making with our second contract and at the end we'd be fully certified to teach at Montessori schools. He also told me that Montessori schools are in high demand all over the world (including America) and that if this was something we wanted to do for awhile, taking these jobs we be a good career move. 

So Ben and I talked it over and we decided to apply. It's a little frightening to be applying to go live in China, especially since I feel like I just got settled here in Russia, but when something good comes along, I think you just need to go for it (YOLO, right?). It's still a bit of a long shot--we decided we should finish our contract here (which ends in October) and the job offers were for the end of July, so hopefully they can find us something. If not, we'll stick it out for another nine months in Russia and then reevaluate. Either way, I feel like there are the buds of good things all around us and I'm excited about the future. 

03 June 2013

Sunday in Gorky Park

Oh, Moscow. How your obscene foliage has surprised me. 

The last time we went to Gorky Park, it was not at all what we expected. It was one of the first days we could walk around without our winter coats and the park was a mess. Mud, cigarette butts, glitter...
So disappointing. But now that our city has blown up with green, we decided to try again. We met up with our friend and enjoyed $10 beers and bipolar thunder clouds. 

There was some sort of baby parade going on. Bundles of pink and blue balloons were tied to strollers led by these women in pink polka dots. Why? Who knows.

I really like the fact that Russia celebrates it's writers just as much (if not more) as it celebrates it's previous leaders. 

Dogs with angel wings? Because why not.

Paddle boating, where none of the women paddled.

Aaaaand then we found Russian Chipotle. It was glorious.

So my friend Amy left Moscow and she wrote some really great thoughts about Moscow on her blog. I really agreed with her recognition that living in Moscow is having a love/hate relationship with Moscow. After I read it, I turned to Ben and told him that living in Moscow has been the truest love/hate relationship I have ever known. It's a confusing place to live, one with many contrasts, challenging contrasts that make it difficult to form opinions. I think Amy illustrates it wonderfully, so check out her piece when you get a chance. 

In other news, Ben and I have been talking about where we'd like to go for our December holiday and though nothing is set in stone, there's a lot of amazing options on the table. I'm really excited for all the possibilities and I hope we can pull it off. We might have to skip some meals out, but it'll all be worth it when we step off the plane. 

Till then, cheers! And enjoy this nice weather around the world. 

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