February 24, 2010 - 8:23 AM
I love to discuss the local food industry - how many miles a meal traveled before it stopped on my plate, how the food was grown, how the product was manufactured, how the product was packaged, where it was sold and at what price, etc.
Recently I came to the conclusion that there were too many proteins and sugars in my life, not enough of everything else. In response to this revelation, I have made some recent changes.
I have become part ‘vegetarian'...if you can call it that. I decided to reserve meat-eating for one day a week, and see how my life is impacted if I am vegetarian the other six days during the week. I hardly think being a fulltime vegetarian or vegan is somewhere in my future, but I am attempting to find a more appropriate balance. One could say Eugene is ‘famous' for its emphasis on earth-friendly/sustainable lifestyles and practices. I often joke with visitors Eugene is the only place on earth where it will be easier to find a recycle bin than a trash can. In other words, a change of diet like this hasn't been difficult to accomplish in a city like Eugene where being vegetarian or vegan is relatively popular.
While what I eat is certainly important, I also am very interested in where my food comes from. Yes, I too have consumed processed junk created by multi-billion dollar corporations. But I don't want that to be the only kind of food I eat. And I have spent enough time studying these topics to understand that ‘good, local' food is often expensive and inaccessible for much of the population. The great news is, I sometimes feel like Eugene is an exception to this common problem. I mean I am a college kid on a budget, but I still manage to eat all right. That tells me that there is hope.
The Eugene farmer's market is wonderful. Some of the best meals I have shared have been tied to the farmer's market in some way. It is available all year long but it is most visited by me in the spring/summertime. For weeks now I have been dreaming of a sunny Saturday morning where I ride my bike to the market and collect some locally grown produce. Several grocery stores around town also carry locally made breads, cheeses and more. The farmer's market will always hold a special place in my heart though. Perhaps there is something slightly romanticized about having a conversation with the farmer who grew the crop I am purchasing and later consuming. I like knowing where my food comes from!
Here's to healthy and happy dining!
February 22, 2010 - 10:26 AM
Life is rarely a sprint. It is an endurance race. I'm recognizing this especially as I roll into week 8 of 10 (11 if you count finals week) and near the end of winter term. But today, I have running on my mind. As you may know I'm running the Eugene Marathon this spring (or crawling across the finish line as the case may be). Recently I made something of a pact to continue my training with a friend.
Maija is running the Eugene half marathon. Now I elected to run this race for entirely selfish reasons. I have a goal to run a marathon at some point in my life, and so I decided it was time to make that goal a reality. I signed up. Maija is running for a much bigger cause; she signed up to run through Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's Team in Training program. She has a fundraising page in an attempt to raise money for people living with or affected by blood cancers. You could say I have been a little inspired by her efforts.
Maija, who inspired me to make a difference, and I at a UO baseball game together.
Talking with Maija about her fight for a cause sent me thinking about what other students at the UO are doing to fight back against cancer. And then I remembered the Relay for Life event at the UO coming up May 15-16. I think I would like to join a team or start a team, and so my mission here is two-fold. If you're reading and thinking you would like to be a part of a team, please let me know. Or if you're reading and thinking you would like to donate and join UO students in our fight to find a cure, you can go to the Relay for Life website for the UO event and make a donation.
Relay For Life started at the University of Oregon campus in 2007. I have seen/heard it going on in the past but, I'm sorry to say, I never got involved. Well not this year. I am now the captain of Team It Takes Two participating in Relay for Life at the University of Oregon this May. Feel free to visit my profile for more information or to make a donation, or better yet to join my team!
My goal was to create a team and hope to inspire others to join my cause. As a part of Relay for Life teams of people come out to the event and take turns walking or running around a track or path. Each team is asked to have a representative on the track at all times during the event. Because cancer never sleeps, Relays are overnight events up to 24 hours in length. As a part of "It Takes Two" my vision was for participants to take part in the event with a friend dressed as a twin, a famous duo, as opposites, as a pair that was clear the two people were connected. Cancer is a battle that shouldn't be fought alone. And that is why we are in this together.
The only requirement to participate in Relay For Life is the $10 registration/commitment fee (per person) that is due upon registration. After that, anything you can raise through individual, team, or online fundraising is graciously accepted. It is recommended that each participant to set a personal goal to raise $100. If you raise more, that's even better. Even if you do not raise $100, you are still welcome to participate.
Please check back to my profile and team pages for updates often. When I started writing this blog this was all just a distant vision, and by the time I finished this blog I had become the captain of a team and started trying to spread the word to others about Relay for Life. This is only the beginning!
February 21, 2010 - 1:48 PM
No shortage of inspiration. Infinite shortages of opportunity. Sometimes there just aren't enough hours in a day.
What a week this has been! I feel like so much is bursting to get out of me I can't find enough time to let it all out. I think it all started when the sun came out on Thursday. Eugene has been blessed with a few gorgeous days this week and the nice weather is by itself capable of making a college student feel satiated with life. Hiking trips, camping trips, beach walks, river excursions have all been desperately trying to distract me from my studies. There are so many things to go out and do from Eugene and I have found myself excessively trying to prioritize and plan so that I might be able to capitalize on a few unclaimed hours in the sun.
Then I went to hydrology class and I felt like I found my life's calling (in part) during lecture. We started talking about water laws and regulations and analyzed the success and shortcomings of different forms of water regulation. After only an hour and twenty minutes of discussion I practically ran out of the room looking for people to tell about my newfound insights; I needed to share my passion for developing water legislation in the west that better reflects present day use and protects future development. All I wanted to do was learn more about water law in Washington and Oregon.
That is, until a friend pointed out a website they had discovered with photos of artworks in subway stations around the world. Scrolling through the website I was so taken with one particular piece I started researching the artist, Panya Clark Espinal. Her work in a subway station in Toronto, Canada was so striking to me. When viewed from the proper angle, her paintings on the walls and floors seem to jump off the earth and become three-dimensional. It is absolutely fascinating. And so, since that moment, I have been helplessly lost in a world where all I want to do is paint.
Clearly I have been inspired in a number of different ways by a number of different topics. Somehow, the amazing happened - I found a way to combine all three in a single afternoon.
Around noon on Saturday I decided with my friend Keith that we needed to go to the Oregon Coast. It never fails to amaze me that it can be late afternoon and at a moment's notice with a whim of desire, a person can jump in the car and from Eugene arrive on the coast in about an hour. We had several hours to play in the sand, eat fresh Dungeness crab sent to Florence from Newport the same morning, watch the sunset, and be back in Eugene by 8pm. Incredible. Now I said I had combined some of my other ‘inspirations' with this afternoon. I found myself chatting happily with Keith about local geology, groundwater, salt-water intrusions, and more along the way as we cruised the coastline. And instead of painting, I used photography to satisfy my artistic urges. I think some day soon I will attempt to paint my inner thoughts surrounding the wonderful Oregon shores, but not this weekend.
Like I said, sometimes there aren't enough hours for everything, but we try.
It has been exciting to feel so full of life. I'm eager for the new week to start and the inspirations I might find within it!
February 20, 2010 - 11:43 AM
In two years I can officially say I have lived for a quarter century. That's right, I turned 23 on Friday.
There are a lot of ways to celebrate a birthday in Eugene, but I was lucky, I had the opportunity to host an extra special birthday party. Just in time for my birthday the Harlem Globetrotters arrived at Mac Court. My parents came down for the occasion and joined seven of my friends to watch the world famous Globetrotters take on the Generals. I was surprised at just how many people turned out for the event. Lines were long outside the door and most of Mac Court seemed to fill up.
Eugene has quite the scene for shows, concerts, galleries etc. stopping by as they travel the west coast. For instance in this case the Globetrotters stopped in Eugene on their way to Portland to play the next night. The UO Ticket Office website is a good place to start looking around if you have an interest in the kinds of shows that travel through Eugene. A number of shows are also available for free either presented by the UO Duckstore, the ASUO, or as a part of the local Eugene scene. I know I have said it before but I don't think it can be said enough: Eugene is never short of things to do.
So what is it like living in a city that has so much going on? Well, the obvious answer is I love it, but I would also suggest that it is at times frustrating. Sometimes I feel like I don't know what's going on in time to make the most of it. The Eugene Weekly usually has a comprehensive guide of weekly activities, but I wish Eugene had a more accessible and interactive calendar for community members to utilize. The City of Eugene Calendar is out there and available, but not something I find myself using very often. I suppose I am envisioning some kind of system designed for students at the UO combining campus activities with community activities. Ideally students would be able to search for events by event type, name, location, date, etc. Departments on campus would have the freedom to post information on this calendar, and maybe student groups would be able to post pending activity approval. I live and breathe through my planner trying to ensure I am organized and on task - I suppose I'm envisioning turning my planner digital and making it accessible to an entire community.
Well, as I was dreaming about all this I discovered the UO has an events calendar. The sort of thing I have often wanted but never found before. So why aren't more students using it? Perhaps I have been oblivious for the past few years and I was simply living in the dark. But I think it is time this calendar became a more widely used feature within the student community. It would be interesting to see what would happen if links to the calendar started appearing in more places on campus, such as department home pages, event bulletin boards, Facebook, or even an additional link under "current students" from the home page. As a student I want to be well informed of what is going on or coming soon to my community. However, the UO calendar only displays UO sponsored orauthorized events.
Perhaps someone out there will be inspired to create a website that displays all of Eugene and the wonderful things it has to offer both on and off campus.
In the meantime, information is certainly available in a couple of different places, and Eugene is certainly not running out of things to do. Maybe I'm crazy for wanting a more streamlined process to know what is happening around town, but I hope you find the events you're looking for!
February 12, 2010 - 12:46 PM
I've been struggling this week. I have tried to tell myself I'm a dedicated student, but at times I've felt like a failure. Which I know comes as shocking news after being admitted to a graduate school. I've been telling myself all term I would find a way to catch up.
Eventually, I had to face reality.
After starting the term with mono and strep, I fell behind in my classes. I've done a great job catching up in three of my courses, but my fourth online course...eluded me. I convinced myself that as long as I stayed positive eventually I would find the time to get back on track with that class too.
When I was initially diagnosed with mono I was sent to meet with an academic advisor to discuss withdrawal procedures in the event I needed a break to facilitate getting healthy. At the time I thought it was ridiculous; I would find a way to make it through the term. This was the LAST one. I would make it happen. Sunday is the last day to withdraw from classes, and I had to finally decide: Was I ever going to catch up in that fourth class? Or should I withdraw and finish my degree in the spring?
At the point I realized I needed to finally face this question and stop pretending it wasn't an issue I was stressed to new limits and in tears. How would I know the right decision to make? I had never been so behind in school, and I had never felt so helpless in a class. When in doubt, call Mom and Dad. That was step one.
After talking the decision through with my family, I concluded that the best thing I could do for myself was to withdraw from the class and lighten the workload. In what was supposed to be my last term at the University of Oregon, I withdrew from a course that I needed to graduate. Now what do I do? I still had all sorts of questions, like what to do about my application to graduate for winter term and who to talk to next. Without a doubt, this was the most lost and directionless I have ever felt in my time at Oregon.
Once the decision was made I accepted there was nothing more I could do for the night and would need to seek help in the morning. Of course, my academic advisor was booked for the next week. I made an appointment but followed up with an email explaining the situation in case I needed to be talking to someone more urgently. I was sent to talk to the Registrar's Office. With little discussion or sympathy, my application to graduate was yanked, not just pulled, but jerked from the system. It felt so abrupt and impersonal. I felt the need to explain myself, justify my reasons for not being able to finish up this term...but I gather this probably isn't as big of deal as it feels to me. The Registrar's Office was professional, but I felt like I needed to let someone know why I couldn't do it, or else I was just a failure. Then I realized what was done was done, and it was time to refocus and find some positives in this mess.
Plans change. Sometimes, life throws something at you that you weren't expecting and you have to adapt. This isn't the end of the world. And this won't be the biggest thing to happen to me this year, even if it has drastically changed my plans.
I'm going to need to take a class in the spring to finish my geography degree. At first this felt like a disappointment, but it turns out, the two classes I have to choose from in the spring are exactly the kind of subjects I'm looking at specializing in at graduate school. I'm more excited about these courses than I was for the subject I dropped anyway!
Since I'm going to be around in the spring, I have started taking steps to become a youth soccer coach for a local league. Coaching soccer combines a handful of my passions, and I'm excited about becoming more involved in the community. This is also a good thing.
As a student, I'm eligible to apply for more jobs in the spring that have caught my interest.
I've always loved Eugene in the spring, and my friends are excited I'm not only staying but still going to be around campus at least a few days a week.
These are all things I can't find disappointing.
I'm convinced life usually works out the way it does for a reason. I hadn't planned on enrolling in the spring, but now that I need another class I'm going to enjoy an incredibly light load and make the most of it. I'm going to revisit some of my goals, and look for ways to reintroduce old hobbies and interests into my life that have slipped away because I've been so narrowly focused on school.
So there you have it. I planned to graduate this term, and now I can't. And you know what, it is going to be all right. I am going to be all right.