Thursday, December 24

Escape from New York.. 2009!





View from our balcony







Hanging out in Honduras












Coconut water!!






Mayan ruins @ Altun Ha (an hour outside of Belize City, Belize)

Wednesday, December 23

Cruise Highlights!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Still have yet to upload a single picture from the cruise, but will (hopefully) get to this by the weekend.
Since I also have still yet to go food shopping, unpack anything other than my toiletry bag, or clean the apartment I’m also going to keep this short.
So, top 5 cruise highlights:

1. Our balcony! Norwegian cruise line has a weird booking system. If you agree to pay for at least a room with a porthole window, but do not choose the location, they will sometimes upgrade you when you arrive. I have no idea how they figure out who to upgrade, where, why..but it’s great when it works out. We paid for a porthole room and ended up with a private balcony! It was pretty darn amazing, and B and I spent a good portion of the week sitting in our deck chairs enjoying the breeze and staring at the water.

2. Mayan ruins excursion--despite the downpour, I think both B and I really enjoyed this part of the trip. We visited the partially excavated Mayan city of Altun Ha, which is about an hour outside of Belize City, Belize. It was kind of (kind of=very) scary to clamber around on the rocks and pyramid shaped structures in the rain, but worth the effort. Got to see some jungle, ruins, and take pictures without killing ourselves on the sloping and very slippery rocks..so quite a success!

3. Food glorious food! Despite cruise ships being known for the buffets, we mostly avoided this dining option. It gets kind of overwhelming to be surrounded by so many people filling their plates with food, so we used the dining rooms and specialty restaurants for most of our meals. I’m still slightly annoyed by the fact that you have to a pay a cover charge for the specialty restaurants, but B pointed out that we made out like bandits on the room..so I couldn't’t really whine that much. The dining room food was good, but the restaurant food was great! We tried most of the specialty options, including Italian, French, Mexican & Steakhouse. My favorite meals were probably the Portuguese style Bouillabaisse in the French restaurant and the steak at the steakhouse. Yum!

4. Getting to explore (a little) in new places. Instead of booking an excursion in Honduras, B and I wandered into the small town near the port. The people seem to rely almost exclusively on the tourist business brought by the cruise ships, but it was still really interesting to explore. We enjoyed a beer while sitting at an outdoor cafĂ© that jutted right over the water, and B bought me a coconut to drink out of. A man with a large knife (or small machete) lopped the top off and stuck a straw right into the coconut! We didn’t get to explore much of Belize City due to our Mayan ruins tour, but we did get to see a little bit of the city and countryside via our bus.

5. Relaxing, reading, and just lounging around with B, J & WB. Some much needed down-time was enjoyed by all!

Tuesday, December 22

Quick Post-Vacation Update

Back from vacation, and my blog looks sadder than ever!

I have pictures to post, holiday cards to get in the mail, and a lot of cleaning.

B was nice enough to do the laundry and errands yesterday, but we have no food in the house..unless you count beer, whole milk & cereal as food (which I do not).

After a full week of being pampered, I’m not that interested in cleaning the apartment and doing a ton of food shopping..but I’ll survive.

Highlights of the cruise to come!

Wednesday, December 9

Passion vs. Prudence : Job Hunting in 2009

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

As most of you know, I am currently interning at two very different organizations while I complete my masters degree. Both of my supervisors have offered each position until May, and I accepted their offers. One job is with a large government agency, and the other is with a small non-profit.

Although I have really enjoyed the networking and the experience of working in such a large agency over the past 8 months, I am not sure that I would want to remain in this type of position indefinitely. The level of bureaucracy can be totally overwhelming, and I have found it difficult to maintain my composure when I see so much money being wasted when there is so much need in this city.

I feel like I can be more creative at my non-profit position, and that I am able to contribute in a more tangible manner to both the organization and the cause. Although I have been there less time, I feel equally or perhaps even more comfortable with the staff and office space.

I have been really transparent with both of my supervisors throughout this internship process about my desire to transition into a full time job either before or around May (when I graduate). Both have indicated that they will help me identify and pursue positions, although nothing concrete has appeared.
The small non-profit, however, just posted that they are hiring a new full-time staff member.

I knew that this was likely to happen in the next few days, and I had already indicated potential interest to the executive director.

After reading the job description I am torn.

I think I would really enjoy the responsibilities of this position. It is a training and outreach position, and would require a good bit of organizational skills and interaction with community stakeholders in various projects. Although I would likely have to learn more about some of these programs, I think I could do a good job.

If I were to transition into this position, however, I would probably have to put aside all of my current projects. I am sure that someone could take over my responsibilities, but I have become really invested in my work. I know that the organization with like to eventually create a position that might encompass some of these projects, but it’s likely to take months to figure out—and will probably only be ½ or ¾ time.

I also do not want the non-profit staff/director to think that I am applying for this job simply because it’s available and I want something full-time. Although I have been very transparent about my desire for something permanent in New York, I would not submit an application if I did not think I could do a good job or if I were uninterested in the work.

I also do not want to lose out on the opportunity to (potentially) continue with my current work and finish all of my projects.

Is it smarter to try something new and appreciate the security?

Or better to hold out and see what happens?

Patience is not one of my (many!) virtues, but presenting myself as a candidate for this position while already an intern is not without risks. If they decide to hire someone else for the training job, I wonder if they will even consider me as a good candidate for other jobs. If I chose not to pursue this opportunity, am I kind of shooting myself in the foot due to some potentially unfounded concerns?

Is it worse to look overeager for any full-time work or to seem inflexible about open positions?

Lots to think about!

Thursday, December 3

Thanksgiving Menu Overview

Overall I was pretty pleased with the Thanksgiving Menu.

I think that next year I will add a soup and remove the generic salad (since no one touched a single bite!).

Otherwise, I think it was pretty successful.

Our dinner included:


Appetizers:

Butternut squash and roasted onion phyllo tartlets


Dinner:

Turkey

Cranberry Challah Stuffing

Cranberry & Apple Chutney

Cranberry Sauce

Apple Butter

Green Beans with roasted shallots & fennel

Mustard & Cumin Roasted Potatoes

Sweet Potato Casserole

Green salad with walnuts and cranberries

Cranberry Rolls

Butternut squash ravioli w/ sage ‘butter’ sauce

Teriyaki Salmon


Dessert:

Pareve Pumpkin Pie

Mexican Apple Pie


If it sounds like a lot of food..well that’s because it was!

I also apparently went on a huge cranberry kick! Gotta love those antioxidants!


We had a ton of leftovers, which I turned into 2 pot pies.

I used the same pie crust recipe that I had used for the pumpkin pie, and it tastes great with either savory or sweet fillings.


Pictures and a few recipes to come!

Wednesday, December 2

Expose On Campus Sexual Assault: A Must Read!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I highly encourage everyone to go read Kristen Lombardi’s new article, “Sexual Assault on Campus Shrouded in Secrecy,” which is posted on the website of the Center for Public Integrity.
Personally I found Lombardi’s article thoughtful and well-researched but not particularly earth-shattering in its conclusions. I think that my perspective might be skewed, however, by the fact that I spent three out of my four years at college working as a counselor on an anonymous sexual assault hotline. I also worked as the TA for Violence against Women during my senior year—so I was pretty much surrounded by the issue of sexual assault on a college campus and the very serious concerns highlighted by Lombardi. Since most people do not spend a large portion of their undergraduate experience sequestered in various under-heated rooms discussing rape and devising social marketing campaigns for students (which by the way, is really really hard when your group is anonymous), I think Lombardi’s article acts an awesome expose piece.
Since I’m encouraging all readers to go check out her article, I won’t rehash all of her information and conclusions. I do, however, want to comment on one specific part of her piece. As she explains, prosecutors are notoriously wary of taking on college sexual assault cases due to the ‘he-said she-said nature’ of most incidents and the impact of drug and alcohol abuse on recall etc. This leaves survivors with little other recourse than to turn to academic hearings. As Lombardi points out, these hearings are shrouded in secrecy and their actual impact is impaired by conflicting laws that protect academic records and yet mandate the report of campus offenses. Yet even when a survivor is able to navigate the complicated system, pressure an administrator to move forward with a full hearing, and then convince a ‘jury’ of their peers and educators that misconduct has taken place, the punishment ranges from “ expulsion, suspension, probation, or another academic penalty, like an assigned research paper.”
I read that sentence in the article and laughed. Not a happy laugh though, a kind of incredulous and sad laugh. Really?
A possible punishment for assaulting a fellow student is…drum roll please…an assigned research paper?
What could you possibly write about?
An analytical discourse on the morality of having intercourse with an unconscious and inebriated acquaintance? A Shakespearean style tragedy that relates how your physically restrained a friend and forced them to engage in sex acts?
I know I’m focusing on just one specific aspect of the judicial process at a school, but I think it’s pretty ridiculous that an assigned research paper is considered an appropriate punishment. Assaulting someone on campus is a crime. Even if the local DA is not interested in pressing criminal charges, survivors should be able to turn to their campus administrators and know that they will be acknowledged, supported, and ultimately protected. No survivor should share their story, and then be forced to endure mediation with their attacker to resolved the ‘dispute’, or see them found guilty of misconduct only to write a paper and then resume studies at the same university.
We need to do a lot better for these survivors.