Alex in Transit(ion)

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I <3 Running Stores That Allow Dogs.

In my last post I said that I would wait to get new sneakers until later within the week. I’m dog sitting at my friend’s place in Brooklyn and one of my favorite things to do is go around her neighborhood in DUMBO. But my most favorite thing turned into the most painful thing because the only shoes I packed with me are my Converse All Stars and my Vibram Bikilas. Before I went out, I tried doing some yoga but it was too painful and realized that sitting and supine poses are on the agenda until I heal up. I thought that the Converse would be a good sneaker to walk in but I was so wrong.  I wrapped an ACE bandage around my foot and put my Vibrams back on because my foot liked the compressed feeling.

I looked at the dog, who wanted to play, and I realized that if I’m going to make it through this weekend, I’m going to need better shoes. I searched for “best running store in NYC” and found New York Running Company. All the reviews on Yelp seemed solid and I liked how they make you run on a treadmill until they find your perfect shoe. I didn’t want to leave the dog alone so I called the Columbus Circle location and asked if they allowed dogs in the store and they said yes! I put Zoey in her carrier and off we went!

When I got to New York Running Company, I met with Stephanie who was absolutely enamored with Zoey and was so helpful. She brought me to the treadmill, analyzed my gait, and said that I overpronate when I run and I need a more stable shoe to correct my gait. I did not know what she meant by overpronation but apparently, when I run, my ankle rolls 15 degrees inward to meet the ground and most of the work comes from the big toe to push off. Now this is a problem most commonly found with people with low arches or flat feet. I have high arches. I feel the reason why I developed an overpronated gait is because Vibrams encourage a midfoot strike. When I strike with my midfoot, my ankles roll inward, and boom: overpronation. This can’t be corrected with my Vibrams.

Stephanie suggested that I should run in stability shoes and brought out the Brooks Ravenna, another model of Brooks that I don’t remember, and the ASICS Kayano 20. I always heard such great things about Brooks and was excited to try on a pair. I really liked running in the Ravenna because the top of the shoe promoted a rolling motion which made it really easy to push off but the deal breaker with both of the Brooks models was that the ankle felt too loose. I tried on the ASICS Kayano 20′s and was sold. While it doesn’t have the rolling motion the Brooks Ravenna has, it is a stable and responsive shoe. To help correct my gait, Stephanie fitted me with an Orange Superfeet insole for high arches. Holy wow. Where have these been all 26 years and 11 months of my life? The shoes and insoles cost $197 but I got a discount from being a New York Road Runners (NYRR) member. It was expensive, especially since I’m still on my intern salary, but I’d rather pay money now to avoid a doctor’s visit later. Stephanie told me about her marathon training class that she’s teaching in the summer. I mentioned to her that I’m going to give myself a GPS watch for my birthday and while she recommended Garmin, she also told me to check out the DCRainmaker blog, which reviews all the GPS watches. I asked her how important having a good heart rate monitor is because my co-worker raves about his. She said that it’s a great feature to have because based on your heart rate, you can see if you are healthy or sick, and it can determine if you should take a rest day. She recommended for me to have a training journal and I really like that idea. I already keep track of my workouts on MapMyRun but I’m thinking about making a public GoogleDoc spreadsheet where I can log my stuff and integrate it within the blog. All in all, I highly recommend the New York Running Company. I dig the community, they allow dogs, and you walk out with some solid kicks. If you go there, make sure you ask for Stephanie because she is so great. I feel like that’s something that Jimmy Fallon would say.

Since I had Zoey girl with me, it was time for the ultimate test. I may be injured,  but it’s no reason why the dog can’t enjoy a stroll in Central Park. It was such a gorgeous day and Zoey is such social butterfly so she gave a lot of people front paw hugs and made new dog buddies. This was my second time in Central Park and I saw this huge rock that seemed like it was something out of The Lion King . Zoey and I raced towards it but then realized that it is no place for dogs because of all of the broken glass in the crevices so we chilled out in a sunny part of the grass while we enjoyed our $3 bottle of water because the water fountains weren’t turned on yet. I brought a silicone collapsible bowl with us for her to drink out of. I can’t get over how handy those are. The pain that I experienced was still there but nowhere near to how excruciating it was earlier in the day.

As for my Vibrams, I’m still going to wear them, but only casually. It”s disappointing because being a minimalist runner was something that I took a lot of pride in but I’m not going to injure myself and risk losing out in competing for my first marathon. I don’t regret the journey because I really enjoy wearing Vibrams because of how comfortable and flexible  they are.

Even though I have a pair of running shoes that I’m dying to try out, I’m sticking to swimming this week. I think I’ll go to yoga on Wednesday because I should be healed up by then and Donna Scro of Garden State Yoga is absolutely fantastic. I am going to miss her classes when I move to Hoboken. Thankfully, there is a branch of GSY in Hobo so I don’t have to worry about switching studios. I still will go to Bloomfield because there are some classes, like Yin Yoga and Meditation and Restorative, that aren’t offered at Hoboken, and the teachers are that amazing that I don’t mind having to travel a little bit for class. I’ll go out for my first run on next Saturday. I feel that will be enough time to heal up.




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Vibrams and Foot Pain

The tops of my feet have hurt like crazy for the last couple of days. The last time I experienced pain like this was when I was beginning to transition to running with Vibram Five Fingers.

I will say that I think it’s partially my fault because it’s been weeks since I’ve been to yoga and I haven’t been keeping up with a home practice because I’ve been getting over a cold and grad school has taken over my life. I’m used to going to yoga at least 4 or 5 times a week and maybe this is my feet’s way of telling me that my body needs my practice.  I also haven’t stretched my feet as well as I should because I thought my feet were adjusted to minimalist running. This is going to make me sound like such an awful runner but even when I haven’t stretched like I should, I’ve never experienced pain like this.

I’ve been running with Vibram Five Fingers since 2012 but I am thinking that if I’m going to be marathon training,  maybe I do need a regular pair of running shoes for the days when my feet aren’t feeling up to the Vibrams. I think I’m going to pay a visit to Fleet Feet and see what’s the best option for my feet. I hear that they are great; apparently they analyze your gait to see which running shoe is best for you. If there’s anything I’m realizing is that marathon training isn’t a solitary exercise (no pun intended). It takes so much input from others to help educate and motivate you to help build the endurance to run the race and make sure you’re not injuring yourself.

Even though my mind wants to push myself to run, I know it’s not a good idea. I’m going to do some yoga and walk around in my Vibrams after my practice. Maybe on Sunday I’ll feel up to running.

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Marathon Training: Coaches, GPS Watches, and Realizing My Schedule

To qualify for the Boston Marathon, you need to run at a feeder marathon with a finishing time of 3 hours and 35 minutes. That means for 26.2 miles, I have to keep a pace of 8 minutes and 21 seconds. This isn’t going to be easy. I looked at last year’s results for the Mohawk- Hudson River Marathon, which I’m running in October to qualify for Boston, and only 163 out of 939 runners were able to finish the race in 3 hours and 35 minutes. While that is intimidating, they wouldn’t recommend the time if it wasn’t possible. People do it and I want to be one of those people who do. However, I am taking into account that 3:35 isn’t going to be achieved by running non stop. This may be tmi, but what happens if I need to go to the bathroom? Do I just pull a Forrest Gump when he said “if I needed to go, I went?” Haha, there’s so many mysteries.

Last night, I saw on NYRR’s Facebook that Summer Sanders, who is a former Olympian but I know her as the host of Nickelodeon’s Figure It Out, wrote an article about tips on how to train for a marathon and she spoke highly of NYRR’s Virtual Coach program. It’s $175 but I think it’s worth it, especially after consulting one of my friends who runs NCAA cross country, who also recommended me to find a coach. The program looks really cool, I can e-mail the coach whenever I want about my training program which is great because I’m going into this headfirst and am going to need all the help I can get to qualify.

I’m also going to need a GPS watch. For so long I thought I could do without one but I’m seeing that if I’m going to get that 8:21 pace, I need to know where I stand during my training. That looks like it can set me back between $125-150. My friend and I always joke about how we got into running because we thought it was so cheap but we were so wrong. I’m also looking into hydration belts because even though there will be water tables during the race, there won’t be when I’m training, so I need to make sure that I’m doing this safe because I’ve never been a fan of passing out. On the bright side, I’m starting to appreciate the fact that I have my 6 month grace period for student loans so I guess I should spend while I can.

I realize my plan to run 3 marathons in a little over a year is really ambitious but the way I see it, the Mohawk-Hudson one is the only marathon (so far) that I’m going to be nuts about keeping my pace. If I do qualify for Boston, I don’t need to worry about what time I finish at because I’ll have guaranteed entry for the NYC Marathon through the 9 races, volunteer staff at 1 race program. The running schedule doesn’t intimidate me because after I graduate, I’m going to have a huge void in my life because I’m not used to having free time. I got hired on the Obama campaign in March 2012, where I was working 7 days a week and usually long into the night. Immediately after the election, I finished a two and a half year grad school program in a year and a half. I wonder if committing to run a marathon is my way of filling up my time and the funny thing is I didn’t realize that until just now.

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My first Marathon in the 518.

This is going to mean a lot to me in so many ways. I’ve never trained for anything like this before but I’m excited for the challenge. I was kind of disappointed when I found out that I couldn’t qualify for the NYC Marathon this year because, through NYRR, I need to complete 9 races and staff one as a volunteer in 2014. Honestly, I see there’s a reason for that and it’s actually really fun planning which races I want to run and I’m itching to volunteer with a race because even though I’ve only done one race with them, I love the enthusiasm behind the organization and I’d like to be a part of it.

After my race, I thought about the Boston Marathon, which takes place every April, and is about 6 and 1/2 months earlier than the NYC Marathon. While I’ve always heard great things, I’ve never been to Boston and I think this would be one incredible way to see the city. Unlike the NYC Marathon, where all I have to do is complete the 9 races and volunteer at 1 event, I actually need to qualify with a time below 3 hours and 35 minutes. I looked at the top races and I found that there was in the Capital Region. When I found out, I laughed because I lived there for so long and had no idea that this event took place. Then I smiled because I saw the route is my beloved Mohawk-Hudson Bike/Hike Trail. I used to ride almost every day when I lived there. It’s where I developed my love for transportation planning.This is where my first marathon is meant to happen. Plus, I get to see my dearest friends for a weekend. I don’t get to hang out with them that often, so this is going to be so legit.

Now all there is to do is to train. I’m going to follow this marathon training schedule because it integrates yoga with it. I’m going to try my best to follow through with the practice. The best thing is that I live in the NYC Metro area and there isn’t a shortage of dedicated running trails. I also need to figure out how to eat for this thing. Luckily for me, I really like peanut butter!

Things are falling together. There are a lot of thoughts to expand upon but until I can sort them all out, what I can confidently say is that I believe I am where I need to be and I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else than here.

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Goodbye Darth Vader.

I can’t remember the last time I took a legitimate sick day from work. Maybe when I got my wisdom teeth out in 2012? Even though so much of me is saying to myself, “you know, you can sort of breath right now without sounding like a Darth Vader wannabe,” I am letting myself rest. I’m still trying to figure out if skipping class is something I should do or not but wow. It feels so good to finally relax. My yoga teacher was talking about that the other week. She said how she was always on and when she was feeling sick, she was fighting it and continuing on with her routine, which is what I was doing last week. It then became apparent to her, as it did to me, that it’s time to accept the fact that you’re sick. You may hate every single moment of your sinuses flaring up, wondering how the human body can become such a vehicle for disease, how you’re missing yoga, how you can’t train for your race next weekend, and you can’t focus on your homework.

But it’s what happening at the moment. And it may be inconvenient, but then you get to today, and you’re not reaching out for the tissues every two seconds. You’re starting to find the strength to clean up your room, which currently feels like it’s overrun with germs. And that homework? Well, it’s going to be done as soon as you clean your room. Sometimes you just have to get through the bad things to finally get to the good again.


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embracing 3.06

Yesterday, I went out to dinner with a good friend from college. She and I haven’t had the chance to hang out in ages because I’ve been so busy with school. She asked me how I handled it all and I put my head in between my arms and cowered, “I like to get A’s.” Some of my academic colleagues and friends have questioned why I’m striving so hard to keep a 3.95 and it’s for a few reasons.

1. I’m paying approximately 20 grand a year for this degree. What is the use of spending all of that money if I’m not getting something out of it? Especially in this world, where information is so instant, people will call you out immediately if you can’t fire back with a good explanation. That not only weathers your credibility, but the credibility of your program.

2. I’m considering going to back to school to get a Master’s in Information Systems and even though the MPA opens doors for me to be hired by companies that will pay for me to go back to school, I really would like to get a nice scholarship. I found out from one of my friends that the reason why he didn’t have his employer pay for his master’s is because if he would be required to pay taxes on it and instead, chose to fund it himself. Even with knowing that, I still would like to take the tuition remission route because if I can get a scholarship to cut a good chunk of that, then I won’t have to pay a lot back come tax time.

3. I’m not going to lie. I got a 3.06 for undergrad. It’s not because I slacked off, instead, it was a result of spreading myself so thin. I was involved in so many extracurriculars, which included executive board positions, and wasn’t mature enough to find the balance between my leadership positions and academics. It wasn’t until I interned in DC that I figured out how to strike the balance. Even though the GPA is low, I don’t regret one moment because the leadership experience I received got me to where I am now in which I balance a 40 hour internship combined with 12 credits a semester, volunteering in Newark, and yeah…that whole having a life thing.

The three times (ooh, another set of threes)  I’ve been embarrassed about my undergraduate GPA was when a political science professor cornered me and sarcastically said in front of the whole class, “and you wanted to be in Pi Sigma Alpha,” which is the political science honor society. I was really mad at the professor at the time for calling me out like that but now I see where he/she was coming from. In the beginning of the semester, I was on fire but towards the middle, I was putting off studying to get used to the campus that I just transferred to, and at the time, making new friends and getting myself involved in new clubs seemed more important than my grades. The professor saw my academic potential go down, knew I was capable of more, and wanted to give me a strong wake up call.

The second time was during graduation and they were announcing the graduates who received all academic honors. While I received departmental honors in my philosophy program, right after the ceremony my father asked me, “why wasn’t your name called? I expected it to be called.” That stung. My father financially supported me through my undergrad and like I said, even though my way worked out in the end, at that moment, I felt like I disappointed him. That’s actually the biggest reason why I strove so hard to succeed in graduate school. I will be receiving full academic honors from Rutgers and when my name is called, I’m not going to feel one ounce of self pride. I’m serious about that. I honestly did it all to make my family proud of me. Even though I did the work, if it wasn’t for my mother and father placing such a precedence on my education, I wouldn’t be here. I know that sounds weird but in the Italian culture we honor the sacrifices of the family before we acknowledge the individual’s.

The third time was applying to graduate school. I ended up getting accepted into all of the schools I wanted to get into but I cringed each time I wrote “3.06″ on the applications. I wrote my essays about how my professional experience matured me and I felt that number did not serve as an indicator of my future success in a graduate program.

3.06 will follow me for the rest of my life but it doesn’t define me. It shut some doors but opened others. 3.95 doesn’t define me either, even though I’m happy to have it. They’re just part of the journey, each achieved for their own separate set of reasons. My education professor said that we shouldn’t be satisfied with receiving an education. We should claim our education. I intend on doing just that.a

Wow, that got deep. Probably need to lighten the mood somehow. He or she has such big paws!


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Erastus- My new Brompton: Coming sometime in 2014

There is nothing that makes me happier than being back home in Upstate New York. But the one thing that always sucks is that when I visit Upstate, I’m never able to take my bicycle because it’s not allowed on the train during afternoon rush hour. I’ve been trying to figure out which bike to add to the family in 2014 because I will soon be in a position to buy a nice new bike. At first, I was thinking about getting a roadie because I would like to participate in RAGBRAI and triathlons.

Yet common sense won out on me. Yeah, it would be great to finally own a roadie, but that’s not going to solve my problem of not being able to ride a bike when I visit upstate. While I’ve had extremely kind offers from my friends who let me borrow their bicycles while I’m in the 518, it makes things a little awkward because it means that they can’t ride with me and then you have to make plans of when to pick up and return the bike. At my parents’ house, everyone is taller than me so borrowing a bike is not an option.

I’ve always heard amazing things about Brompton bicycles. They are folding bicycles, and while they may look like a toy, they are extremely durable. The writer of my favorite cycling blog, Lovely Bicycle, sold me on them when I read about her adventures cycling through Ireland and speaking the praises of how well it handled the terrain. 

Riding in Upstate New York is not a one size fits all experience. I grew up riding mountain bikes because of the hilly terrain near my parents’ house and it wasn’t until I moved to Albany that I saw while my mountain bike was more than capable of getting me from point A to point B, it wasn’t as fun as riding my ex-boyfriend’s hybrid, which was much faster. Even though I was able to build up the muscle mass in my legs and endurance to keep pace with him, I wanted to ride something that was zippy in the city but still capable of absorbing the shock of hilly terrain of rural New York. In 2012, I purchased a Raleigh Alysa FT2 and I’m so happy with it. It fits all of my needs, except the ability to travel with it.

I refuse to let another summer go by without riding Upstate again. Brompton’s website lets you build a bike to your specifications, which I am a huge fan of because I’m really picky when it comes to the specifications of my ride since I need it to handle diverse terrain.


The bike, when built, will actually be 24.2 pounds. The travel bag adds 5 pounds bringing the total carrying weight to 30 pounds. While the price is steep at $1751, excluding tax, I see buying bicycles as a lifetime investment. As long as you take great care of your bike and ensure that your renter’s insurance will cover it if stolen, you won’t need to buy another bike again unless you want to. After I buy my road bike in 2015, I think I’m done for buying bicycles. I also don’t own a car anymore, and considering that I used to pay $1,800 a year for car insurance in Upstate NY, I don’t see it as a major cash setback.

I will be purchasing the Brompton at Downtube Bicycle Works in Albany. I can’t speak enough about the service at Downtube. They are so nice and truly make an effort to know their customers. I promised that I would buy a bicycle from them. When I purchased my Raleigh in 2012, I was working on a campaign in Florida and while it was an absolute pleasure working with the great folks at J&S Cyclery in Melbourne, Florida, I felt really weird about not getting it from Downtube. I purposely made the colors red, white, and black because I love The White Stripes and they happen to be the colors of SUNY Oneonta, my undergraduate college, and Rutgers University, where I am a MPA candidate. The bike’s name will be Erastus, after Erastus Corning, who was the Mayor of Albany for 42 years and is the namesake of my favorite bike path in Albany. The Corning Preserve may be 9 miles, but it gets the job done if you’re looking to get a quick ride in and leads to the gorgeous Mohawk-Hudson Bike-Hike Trail. 

I haven’t wrote a blog post in a long time but it felt really good to concentrate on this instead of writing a quick Facebook post. I still can’t truly define the purpose of this space, but it feels great to devote 1,000 words to something that is not academic. 


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tuesdays watching Maury

The National’s new album is sublime. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get out to their show the other day. I’ve been dying to see them live for years but I don’t start my job until the 17th so money’s a little tight. I am really pumped. Last night, a friend and I went out to the bar and he said “you realize you came here six months ago and now you rule this place, right?” It’s weird to look back because so much has happened so fast but I guess that’s just the person I am. If I set a goal, I am relentless until I achieve it. That’s not to say that I get everything I want but even when the result isn’t what I desire, I think you just have to keep on swimming.

The motivation behind that is that I only get one shot in this life. Getting the car stolen four days before the election was over taught me that. I could be upset and give up or I could be upset and keep working because we needed to win. I chose the latter. Also, if there’s anything I can say about the city of Newark, it’s that it does a good job at keeping you sober and grounded. Even though summer classes are INTENSE, I’m happy that the regular semester is over because I’m volunteering at Bike Rescue and I’m going to look to see if I can set up a city wide clean up with Rutgers. There is so much trash around the main drags of Newark and now with Mayor Cory Booker about to make his exit, I believe that it is imperative to hold this city up. Newark’s taught me a lot and there are times where I dream about moving out to somewhere like Jersey City or Hoboken where the crime’s a lot lower- I think that’s Newark’s problem- that people leave it. To me, Newark is the Charlie Brown Christmas tree. If people sat around for a while and took the time to take care of it, it would be nice. One of Mayor Booker’s major criticisms is that he’s not in Newark and always somewhere else, and it’s a valid concern. I understand his point about why he was away, so he could promote our city, and he did. But when he’s gone, what is going to happen? The celebrity is gone and it’s unlikely that the media will flock to the new mayor like they did to Booker. I just can’t wait for school to start again so I can see if I can get some students together to form a community group. We’ve made so much progress. I can’t stand to see it go away.

The same friend also said to me, “when you talk about Albany, your eyes light up. Will you move back?” That’s actually another post…which is taking a while to write because there’s so much emotion behind it since Albany is so much of me but I said that I can’t. Albany’s got some great people taking care of it. I can’t say the same for Newark, which is why I need to stay.

But yeah! School! How’s that going? For the first time in my academic career, I finished the semester with a 4.0. Still can’t believe that. I’m really glad that I took a couple years off between undergrad and graduate because my work experience provides such a rich foundation for my studies. Now that I have the 4.0, I don’t want to give it up. Summer classes are intense though- I understand that I need to take the accelerated classes  because I’m aiming to graduate by next May but I definitely feel that I would enjoy the subject matter more if it wasn’t getting dumped in my brain. It’s so funny because in undergrad, all I wanted to do is stay in school, and while I love academia, I want to use my master’s in the professional world. I am thinking about getting a second master’s in either transportation engineering or urban planning. I thought I wanted a Ph.D but I think a second master’s in either of those fields will get me to where I’d like to be. Time will tell.

I also ended up finally making the transition from campaigns to transportation planning. Through luck and my knowledge about the field, I got the internship and I still find that so crazy. The truth is, I haven’t felt this happy or fulfilled in such a long time. For years, my personal life was sacrificed to advance the cause and my career. To be in a position where I can go to work, truly passionate about what I’m doing AND able to be myself…listening to music, going to Yankee games, actually seeing my family and friends, going to concerts, participating in community service, reading books, it feels unreal… and that’s what makes me, me. I’ve gone so far  away from it and I’m so glad that no longer is my phone ringing off the hook at any hour of the day and that no one is hounding me down. Liberating cannot even begin to describe it. I still get to participate in campaigns yet this time, I volunteer and I’m able to call my shots about when I’m in the office, make my phone calls, knock my doors, and when I’m out, I’m out. I do not regret the last couple of years at all. They built my character and taught me so much but it’s time to go because my heart’s no longer in it to be full time. The keys belong to someone else with the fire in their belly.

Until next time, America.

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Civility and Understanding in the 21st Century

I will admit that I am writing out of emotion (I would love to research this topic more but I’ve got to do my grad school research before I start freelancing) but I feel that with the increased use of the Internet and social media that, although it has revolutionized communication and has made it so much easier for people to connect, it has also made us more divisive. It’s a true shame because the Internet gives its users access to millions of sources and opinions but I see so many people use it to support their own opinions and beliefs, without researching the other side.

If you know me, you know that my political beliefs are as blue as the sky but I’ve always stayed true to the old saying: you are going to attract more flies with honey, rather than vinegar. I love learning about people and what makes them tick because if I’m just enclosed within my beliefs, I won’t learn anything or progress. Everyone has a voice and we owe it to each other to give each other constructive criticism or politely question each other instead of being “OMG YOU DON’T BELIEVE WHAT I BELIEVE, HERE’S WHY I AM RIGHT AND YOU ARE WRONG. YOU’VE NEVER READ THE CONSTITUTION RAH RAH RAH.”

I deal with it all of the time, especially at my father’s business. The people in our town have seen me grow up and the question always comes up about what I’ve been up to. I understand that my employment background may make others become very defensive towards me and they no longer see me as “Alexandra” but “Alexandra the Democrat.” I can’t even count the many times I had to deflect talking about politics because when I am home, which isn’t very often these days, I want to enjoy my time with my family and not discuss my political beliefs. I truly believe that regardless if you’re a Democrat or a Republican, you deserve to have a fine Italian meal that only my family can provide.

The truth is, we are all in this together and I think with wall to wall news and the constant stream of opinionated social media that we forget that we live in the UNITED States of America. One party doesn’t have all of the solutions and as I’ve seen with my experience, there’s a lot that we all can learn from each other. Although I’m for gun control, I joined a Well Regulated American Militia group because I believe I cannot form a qualified opinion without learning how the other side ticks and I can only hope that others who are on the opposite side have taken the time to research both sides as I have.

Also, I’m so sick of hearing that it’s only rich people who get involved in politics. If you feel so inclined, you can get involved as well and maybe achieve a high office! All you need to do is get involved in your community and you can do so by attending town meetings, neighborhood, and community associations. Then, talk to your loved ones, friends, and acquaintances about your vision because if they also agree with you, they will be the ones who help you organize your campaign by making the phone calls to solicit donations from supporters and knocking on doors to reach out to your constituency. It is possible to finance your campaign through solicitations without putting a lot of your own money in it. I’ve seen it happen! You don’t need to be born with a silver spoon in your mouth but what you do need is a strong organization to back you up who will be willing to put in the long hours because what you all believe in is too important to stay quiet. It kills me every time I hear people say government is full of the same old people because honestly, it doesn’t need to be that way. You just need to step up.

Finally, ask until you hear a “no.” You’d be surprised how many doors can open by having the confidence to ask.

In closing, I leave you all with this:

Ask not what your country can do for you- ask what you can do for your country.

- President John F. Kennedy

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sodium and sustainability.

Oh hey! I know I took an unexpected hiatus but to all of my comrades in grad school, you know how it goes. There’s so much reading and projects that you wonder:

  1. Can you keep up with the reading?
  2. Alright, you’ve done the reading, but does that mean you can understand the material?
  3. Oh yeah! While you’re answering those two questions, you also have papers to write and tests to take. 


I’m very happy with my performance and I’m pulling straight A’s but I have a midterm coming  up in less than two weeks. I haven’t taken a test since the GRE in December 2011 so I am crossing my fingers that I will keep up the good work. It’s great getting to know everybody more. One of my colleagues who plans to complete our program in 4 consecutive semesters, while working full time, told me that during the weekends he wakes up at 8AM and does homework until 8PM. He says it’s hell but it will be worth it for him. He’s also made me realize that this is going to be my easiest semester because next semester, I will be taking a lot of quantitative research classes. Next semester I plan to take:

  • Political Economy and Public Administration (required)
  • Analytical Methods (required)
  • Public Budgeting Systems (required)
  • Administrative Transparency (concentration)

I haven’t stopped cooking though and ahh I’m so pumped because today was the first time I made my own homemade broth! Last January, I made soup for the first time and I was SO proud of myself for making such a healthy and delicious meal…until I realized it wasn’t so healthy. I realized that there was so much sodium in it that every time I ate the soup I cringed. It was such a shame that I couldn’t enjoy my soup that I worked so hard to make without fearing that I was one step closer to hypertension with each spoonful. I decided to make my own broth by saving up a gallon of vegetable scraps. Then the job assignment came up and I knew that I’d have to hold these plans until grad school started. 


Beginning to simmer for a hour…


And now, we strain. This is probably the most arduous part of the process. I used cheesecloth for the first five minutes, then I realized that my sieve did an excellent job. Don’t worry, I did let it cool a bit before I started straining. One of these days, I hope to get some glass storage containers so I don’t have to wait to strain. Maybe I’ll get a nice Pyrex set for my birthday! Isn’t the color incredible? You would think it’s a beef stock, but it’s really the color of the vegetables! 



Finally. A gallon of homemade broth. It does have a very strong vegetable taste, so I think that when I use it, I will put one teaspoon of sugar and one teaspoon of salt to make it more flavorful. It’s just so great knowing that I had complete control over this process, it’s sustainable, and I don’t have to worry about risking a heart attack because there’s barely any sodium in it. 

I do want to try to make a clear vegetable broth. It looks like I may have to separate my scraps and keep the light colored veggies away from the dark colored ones. I will be making a Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato soup this week and I’m a litttttlllleee afraid about what the color is going to be like. 

As for this week’s grocery list, there won’t be one because I have a lot of the ingredients on hand. I think the world of Kate from and truly believe she has changed my diet for the better. The greatest thing about her recipes is that they yield so much. Since I was sick for most of this week, I stuck to sleep and take out because I was too lazy to cook, but I just made the Vegetarian West African Peanut Soup this afternoon and it is ready for dinner tomorrow night. Then I will make the Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup and I am really excited for the end of the week because I’ll find out what this Black Beans and Quinoa with Chipotle Raspberry Sauce dish tastes like. I would never think that black beans and raspberries would ever go together, but it looks like I’ll find out! 




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