The Kombucha Craze

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“Look! It has alcohol in it!” One of blue-clad ladies on duty for breakfast, rushed over to her friend at the register. “See here,” she stated emphatically with her finger on the ingredient list. The other cafeteria woman chuckled as she punched in the price of a student’s breakfast. Kombucha had appeared in Gordon’s cafeteria that morning, and it was the talk of the kitchen workers.

Kombucha is a fermented, sweetened, fizzy tea, which has certain health benefits including improving digestion and supporting your liver. My mom has been trying to coax me into drinking it for years, being a staple of her after-dinner rituals. “Veronica, it taste good. Really.” The faintly-vinegar tasting elixir is made using a colony of bacteria and yeast, which is a strange, rubbery, disk shaped organism. I’ve never really had the desire to drink it, because the brewing process, a frequent fixture of our kitchen countertop, was hardly an appealing advertisement. The sight of a massive jar of orange-ish liquid with something strange lining the top induced me to refuse my mother’s occasional offerings of the drink.

However, things change. I don’t know if it was Kombucha’s recent rise in general popularity or if it was the transformative power of college, but I’ve found my sentiments on the probiotic liquid to be adjusted. Now, its tangy taste is quite appealing to me. I concede, my mother was right.

Veronica A.

My Complicated Relationship with Valentine’s Day

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One year, for composition class, I wrote a shape poem about how much I disliked Valentine’s Day. In subsequent years, I regarded the supposed holiday with some apprehension. As I encountered sweet notes from friends and thoughtful attentions from family members, I came to not to totally despise the frilly idea of doing something nice on February 14. I couldn’t quite embrace Valentine’s Day, because like love poems, I did not have a clear idea of what everyone was making a fuss about.

As I have grown and experienced more of life, I’ve come to sympathize with sonnet writers. Which assisted me when my English teacher assigned a collection of love poetry to read for homework. She also recommended, repeatedly, that we might want to memorize one and recite it to a special someone. Her suggestion was met by uncomfortable shifting in chairs and awkward smiles. Nevertheless, I found myself appreciating the endearing lines of affectionate language.

In the spirit of this red hearted holiday, here is one of those assigned pieces, by the sonnet master himself, William Shakespeare.

Let me not the marriage of true minds

Let me not to the marriage of true minds

Admit impediments. Love is not love

Which alters when it alteration finds,

Or bends with the remover to remove:

Oh. no! it is an ever-fixed mark,

That looks on tempests and is never shaken;

It is the star to every wandering bark,

Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.

love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks

Within his bending sickle’s compass come;

Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,

But bears it out even to the edge of doom.

If this be error and upon me proved,

I never writ, nor no man ever love.

Veronica A.

Current Classes

Visual Storytelling – “Anybody want an Altoid?” Professor Thurman chirps through his brown, bristled beard as he sets up his computer. He tries to loosen up the room in preparation to discuss narratives and the five major plot points. But at 9:45 a.m. the rotund room of college students is a reluctant audience. His unkempt hair shifts as he explains that a major conflict should be introduced within the first third of a film. A few of us endeavor to engage as the class progresses. We’re starting to formulate ideas for a fiction short movie. But I’m stressing over the uncreative products of my brainstorming sessions.

Introduction to the Study of Language and Literature – We’re a motley mix; some athletes, some bookworms, and some caught in the middle. Our teacher scans the room with her intentional gaze looking for any semblance of a hand. The volume of her voice modulates drastically as she tells us about how she ripped the cover of her book when she opened the package it was mailed in. Dr. Andrea Frankwitz, as she is called, possess an eccentric but easily entertaining talking style. And throughout the class one sometimes wonders at the strange connections she makes, at the same time you figure you’ll just roll with it.

French II – “Bonjour! Bonjour!” Professor Campoli exudes French enthusiasm as she wastes no time in helping you finish your poorly pronounced sentences. “D’accord! D’accord!” For a while she talked about de boeuf and de viande, which are meats, and how “j’ai adore” looking at them in the catalog. I found this confusing because I didn’t think you normally looked at meats in magazine. However, I appreciate Madame Campoli’s simple, but refined style. She traipses in front of the black board in little black, lace up heels, and she always has a silk scarf around her neck.

The Great Conversation – Dr. Ian Deweese-Boyd has small, brown, circular spectacles, which compliment his grey hair. His dulcet voice drifts thoughtfully through the classroom, as he introduces the essay about body image and advertising, which is the subject of our discussion. We go around and share our experiences with media influencing ideas of beauty and our professor nods considerately as he uses a fountain pen to take down notes.

Veronica A.

Back to Practicing

 

I took a break from harp. For an entire semester, I did not pluck a string or read a single note.  But as fall rolled by, I realized I missed making melodies. Passing the campus music building, I would longingly glance at the students practicing their sonatas and

img_5554 orchestra pieces. I never thought I would feel so strongly about giving up my large, at times bothersome, instrument, but somehow I was incomplete without it.

After considering this, I resolved to return to the thing and take up my callouses again. Over break I practiced in preparation for lessons and joining the orchestra. But as I settle into the harp stool once again, I remember the effort which musicianship requires of the person.

While the loom-like instrument can be a source of pressure for me, it is one I absolutely need. Nothing teaches you intentionality like working on a piece of music. You’re given a compilation of odd rhythms and ridiculous melodies and expected to put it together for an effortless performance. No one else can stitch together those triplets and half-notes for you. You must, measure by measure, work the combinations into your finger memory. Through harp, I have unearthed the secret to success in most things, and it’s also something I am terrible at: focus.

Too often I find my mind wandering as I near the third line of a piece. I’ll start deciding what I want for lunch or what homework I’ll attack first when I finish. Oddly enough, this also happens while I’m reading assignments for class. But just as new year is for resolutions, so a new semester is for renewed efforts, and focus is one of mine.

Veronica A.

California Pt. 2

 

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The West Coast is a sight to be seen in the winter months. With a rare abundance of rain, the hills were green and the palm trees punctured the valley mist with their prickly heads. Erica loaded her Spotify playlist, and we belted our way through L.A. traffic to “Everything’s Gonna be Alright” by Mike Mains and The Branches.

Between the Pacific views of San Diego and Spanish aesthetics of Santa Barbara, Erica and I discussed first semesters of college and love languages. She introduced me to Krispy Kreme, and I explained to her why coffee has zero calories. Our escapades led us to reunite with old friends, while renewing that bond that got us through junior year of high school and Calculus II.

I can’t always properly explain to people why students in online school spend their savings on plane tickets to see their friends on the other side of the country. But I can confidently say that we know long distances relationships like no others. Now, both as college students, we continue to weather those obstacles to friendship, but now with only a two hour time difference.

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Relishing the 65 degree weather.
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Pier-ing at Santa Barbara.
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Living on the edge.
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Erica likes to point out that even mother nature knows she’s a queen.

 

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Admiring the Pacific from a high vantage point near San Diego.

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Erica with her men.

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We kept on running from the rain, but it caught us on the boardwalk at Long Beach.
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Cactus gardens can be pretty too.

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It was delicious, but I will never again eat three donuts in a row.

 

 

I had a blast with this one and I’m going to miss her. She and wildly warm California made me forget that it was the middle of  winter, but second semester of college calls, so back to Massachusetts I go.

Veronica A.

The Wrapping Job

There once was a present; it seemed so unassuming. Then the recipient tried to open it. She laughed at its comical second and third layers of wrapping. And then came a fourth and a fifth. The Christmasy patterns failed to cease with each reveal. The girl who received it, so caught up in the hilarity of it, continued to laugh until she cried. Through welling eyes of merriment she continued to dig deeper past each layer. They kept on coming. Seriously, when was it going to end? The ordeal must have lasted a good ten minutes before the object contained was revealed.

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It was a light, shaped like a bug. Still laughing, the girl thanked her giggling, thirteen year-old cousin, who beamed at the sight of her still surrounded by mounds of ripped paper.

Veronica A.

Christmas ’16

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If you stand on the first three steps of the stairs leading down to the basement, the wood stove will affectionately wrap your feet in the byproducts of its inner combustion. Should you descend further, the icy, concrete slab floor will welcome your feet into its winter temperature. But all the wrappings are the ping-pong table, so you tighten your abs and think about that glossy crimson paper that makes you want to hum: “The Holly and the Ivy.”

“Well, some call Him Jesus, I think I’ll call Him Savior…” Josh Garrels croons from my computer as I secure a white ribbon around another package. My mom called my music sad. But my exuberance for the holidays has been stored away in the closet along with my paper dolls. I think my mind is in a cocoon. I think I’m changing, hopefully into something more beautiful.

The incarnation of stainless savior, enclosed in humility is an event deserving celebration, whether you’re feet are warm or cold. It costs us very little to commemorate a divine deed so great. Therefore, whether I am changing or merely down for a season, Merry Christmas! And may His face shine graciously upon you this New Year.

      Veronica A.