Monthly Archives: June 2009

Don’t Eat the Organic Kumquats

One of the surprises that comes with any away-from-home internship is new found adulthood. And with adulthood comes a very new and exciting activity: grocery shopping. I LOVE grocery shopping.

This turn of events is actually incredibly dangerous, especially for someone like me who’s trying to live on a slim school-given stipend in DC, the world’s most expensive city. DC also happens to be a menacing place in another way: it is the land of the Whole Foods. Everywhere you look is another looming bastion of disgustingly high-quality produce for exorbitant prices, full of temptations such as fine drunken goat’s cheese from the netherlands, organic large grain quinoa, and yes, the dreaded organic kumquats. My faith in frugality is tested everytime I walk by.

I have a tortured relationship with Whole Foods. On the one hand, it is the epitome of the spoiled-young-liberal-super-yuppie lifestyle, it encourages buying imported foods rather than local, and it certainly has a tendency to drain one’s wallet. On the other hand, I have found the average quality of food to be generally better than at most groceries, and the price issue is really only a problem if you let it be. The Whole Foods- owned “365” brand stuff is actually generally cheaper than comparable products at say, Giant, tastes better, and a lot of it is organic and therefore chemical-free too. Unfortunately, this is not what you will want to buy once you enter a Whole Foods. Right next to that 365 peanut butter will be a jar of BeardedHippie Farms’ organic peanut butter, with a label explaining that it’s made¬† from peanuts that have been hand-picked by a Guatemalan orphan who is being paid a fair wage by the Bearded Hippies so that he can buy his school uniform. And guess which peanut butter you are going to want to buy?

I have resisted much temptation thus far, but little things like nice cheeses, live basil plants, and yes, kumquats, keep appearing in my basket whenever I shop for groceries. I’m eating wonderfully for now, but I’m skeptical of exactly how economically sustainable my eating habits are. Of course, a sane person would say, ” Why the hell aren’t you shopping at Safeway with all the other broke college kids?” But in my defense, until recently a Whole Foods was literally the only food store within walking distance of my house. Now that I’ve moved, my NEW Whole Foods is actually the second closest, but the closest one is a gross Giant that is barely bigger than my apartment and doesn’t even have a deli section.¬† My life is hard.

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Working From Home vs. Working From Bed

For the last four weeks or so, I have been performing my nonprofit internship mostly from home. Working from home isn’t all that uncommon for people involved with start-up nonprofits; closet-sized offices, limited funds, and other time-consuming activities, such as jobs that actually make money, are all common factors that can drive the eager idealist into his or her home. My excuse is a combination of two factors: the first being a closet-sized office that we never use, the second actually being my boss’s excuse, a tiny baby. She works at home to take care of her kid, therefore we all work from home.

Needless to say, this has been a bit of an adjustment. I haven’t been quite as homebound as I could be; meetings with my coworkers, meetings with people from schools and other organizations, and random little detours like grant-writing classes have all broken up the days a bit. That being said, working from home requires a level of basic discipline, and that is something that I distinctly lack. When given the option to choose between, say, taking a nap or continuing to do my assigned research, I will choose the nap far too often.

An excellent (or rather kind of pathetic) example of this is right now. Right now I am lying in bed, still under the covers, trying to qualify it as work because I have my laptop on my stomach and am halfheartedly glancing at my inbox and some websites I’m supposed to be using between spurts of writing this blog entry. I am writing my lame and inconsequential blog, FROM BED, and later I will log these hours on my time sheet as “program development.” I am a bad person.

To be fair, it’s not that I don’t care deeply about my work. It’s just that what I’m currently doing is rather distant from the really compelling stuff that we do, and so it’s hard to keep that in mind for motivation. Also, there are a number of reasons why this morning is an extra struggle:

1. It’s Monday.

2. Those 3 glasses of red wine last night.

3. This bed is absurdly cozy.

4. My boss is moving this week, so she’ll probably be too busy to call today.

5. I’m doing research, which means it’s totally feasible to actually get work done on my laptop… in bed… while actually writing this instead. Maybe not.

I could go on. But rather than continue to regale you with stories of the torturous life of employment from the home, I’m going to eat a snack. Oh wait, it’s lunch time. I’m going to go eat lunch. And then maybe get my act together and actually accomplish something.

Also: I’m moving tonight! To a lovely apartment across from the National Cathedral, where I will be catsitting for two cats named Abigail and Mr. Bonkers. Mr. Bonkers might be my new best friend.

WTF is a blogosphere?

Hello friends, friend, or whoever may or may not read this. Welcome to my blog!

A little part of my soul dies when I say that. See, I have been silently fighting the new Internet-writing craze with all my willpower for the past couple of years. Why? Who knows… maybe because I’m a cranky old woman inside, muttering about “those damn kids today”; maybe because I’m just extremely technologically un-savvy; maybe because I was inwardly hoping that it was just that: a craze, something that would go away if I just ignored it for year or so. But alas, it has endured, and all my delusions of being a successful newsprint journalist, typing away Citizen Kane-style on a typewriter, have been shattered.

Earlier this Spring I heard art blogger Tyler Green give a talk to my art history class about the future of art criticism. The main focus of his lecture was about the need for art criticism and arts journalism in general to go online, and quickly. “You have got to be in the blogosphere,” he said. I cringed at the word and slumped lower in my chair. But, as much as my old-fashioned self may not like it, he was very right. Arts journalists are suffering more than anyone in the dying newspaper industry, and the only hope for people like me (people who dig through the New York Times or the Washington Post just for the Style section every morning) is online journalism, a.k.a. blogs.

So, I submit. I have indeed started a blog, on a bit of a whim actually. This morning I was mentally ranting to my boss about a bit of semantics she had taken issue with in the grant proposal I had recently written for her, and I decided: wouldn’t it be vindicating if I could publish that rant? Pseudo-anonymously, of course. So for the summer, I am going to write about the realm of the burgeoning nonprofit organization, based upon my experiences as an intern. Of course, I can’t guarantee that I will stay on topic very well. So expect possibly insightful discussions about the culture and subliminal hierarchy of nonprofits, interspersed with ramblings and outbursts of my own.

Ta ta for now, and look for the aforementioned rant soon!