university of the super committed

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It’s been inexactly one week back in this city of concrete angels, back being a (technically) functioning member of society, and I feel like I’ve been seeing everything through tinted experience-goggles (though never of the wine variety, because Crianza and I are still in a committed relationship and also legality)

Not all bad or great, not even *that* different, just enough to leave a pleasantly funky taste in the back of my mouth.

Some observations:

My friends are really accomplished, specifically successful huggers. Which is good, because if you give me a limp noodle hug, I might feed you an actual limp noodle. (The worst). I was really a bit worried about coming back after 7 months MIA being kinda social media inactive (millenial probssszzzz). Did people forget who I was? Did they really only like the 9 extra inches of hair hanging down my back? Was I #STOKED enough about USC to have shared context to discuss? Of course, none of these mind-niggles actually came to fruition – everyone is lovely and welcoming as per usual, and it is a great cure to post-exchange friendship depression to remember that people are p cool worldwide.

Los Angeles is colder than I recall, and being alone in a ginormous, creaky historic LA home west of Vermont will challenge your squaling-suppression abilities.

Buying espresso in a European frequency is going to bankrupt me in t-minus 10 days.

The UPS monster may have eaten the new mobile device I ordered, but what it didn’t know is that I’ve developed a fondness for the slide-out QWERTY keyboard phone of 2007 I’ve been rocking. Affectionately known as the dino phone, we’re like Bob the builder together and get! the! job! done!

USC students are On with a capital O, All The Time – so much so that I needed to capitalize that middle ‘t’ on the ‘the’. Did that make sense? I’ve spent an entire business course spent on career opportunities and how to perfectly craft your online/written/media presence. I’ve congratulated more than a couple of friends figuring out their futures months/years ahead of time.

My peers are beyond cool, and I am constantly humbled, awed, honored, and proud to be their friend.

But sometimes, you can’t help but compare yourself.

You can’t help but use it as wonderment and motivation and a questionably healthy (?) sense of fire under your chair to try to FIND that which is going to be your FUTURE and bring you CONTENTMENT and MEANING through CAREER. It’s far too much to ask. But sometimes it feels like just enough to ask, and sometimes it feels inadequate to just ask for so little. I’m rambling. I’m thinking, I’m questioning, I’m questioning again, because that is the power of these peers of mine.

And sitting at home, writing this on a Saturday night feels right.

And being back in Los Angeles, feels right.

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que vaya bien, barcelona

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Local Time: 12:42 a.m.
Departure to California: 4:45 a.m.
Current status: jittery and nervous and sad

Seven months later, I didn’t think this moment would actually arrive. I didn’t conceptualize what it might feel like, I didn’t realize I’d truly have to leave this city, didn’t think I wouldn’t know when I might exit the US again. Didn’t think the prospect of returning to LA would make me nervous, didn’t think I’d be this human I’m mostly proud to be, didn’t think, didn’t think, didn’t think…

Didn’t believe I would actually feel this loss, didn’t know what leaving a geographic location might mean. Didn’t expect my privilege to grow to such heights, didn’t expect my beliefs to be so challenged. Didn’t expect to fall in love with so many people, didn’t know the definition of home to change.

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Didn’t expect to look so far and wide for my future, didn’t expect to feel a world citizen. Didn’t know what I’d learn from whom, didn’t expect great beauty at each turn. Didn’t think I would truly struggle, didn’t realize whom I’d miss. Didn’t know what I do not need to live, didn’t know what I wanted from life.

This life journey is just beginning, I know I need to remember that. Life and beauty and excitement exist at geographic home as well, I just have to search. But this unsettled urge, this desire to wander has been instilled – I just have to shed a few baggage kilos, and I’ll be back.


I have been incredibly, incredibly indebted to a lot of things/people in the last seven, and especially four, months.

  • the parentals, for support/funds/not freaking out (too much) when I said “i’m in Paris” and then didn’t answer the phone for 5 days
  • USC – I haven’t always loved it for the same reasons, but it is the beginning and end and reason for this place that I am
  • HUMANS. Couldn’t have climbed 6 flights of stairs with my suitcase without hostel friends, couldn’t have dealt with crazy landladies without apartment friends, couldn’t have made it out of the house without roommates, couldn’t have smiled at coffee without friendly cashiers, etc.

This isn’t the end of Alimentarily. In fact, I hope for it to be just the beginning – I have a million things to digress about a couple of places (Prague, Morocco, Paris, Girona, to name a few) that I was too harried to recount before now. I hope what I have to say about them is still interesting though not quite as timely (a few hundred apologies to my past and future journalism instructors). And then, digressions about wherever I happen to be in the coming days/weeks/months/on

In the mean time, nos vemos pronto California.

12 things i learned whilst on the biggest procrastination binge of my life

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(Kind of like when I was in that cathedral in Madrid where I took this picture and my head was swiveling in the wrong direction. Unless you count that to be the right direction because heaven and what not. #digress)

  1. Working out the brain is also habit. or rather, forcing your brain to work out takes practice. its so much easier to bow out of obligation when you’ve had no obligation to bow into for so long. school is going to be very difficult to return to.
  2. Drake DID date Rihanna
  3. The USC student government has postponed determination of their diversity resolution by 2 weeks, citing reasons such as “we all had class today”, and “where is the money coming from?” at a private university halfway to their $6 billion fundraising goal.
  4. LeAnn Rimes and Giuliana Rancic once had a skinny-calling compliment fight where they told each other to eat sandwiches.
  5. Shell once claimed they had no “direct” role of the death of the people in the Niger Delta where they were operating, and they were acquitted in an international forum.
  6. There may be a reason that Lupita Nyong’o’s favorite musicians are African-American, and that reason may be connected to the fact that 99% of the other celebrities Vogue interviewed in their 73 questions series are not of color of any type, most probably unintentionally.
  7. There are bigger than us factors at play in the motion of the globe, and no one person can be in control. Contrastingly, those with power of any sort have great immeasurable responsibility.
  8. The hairstyle I would like to rock is now called a “wob” – wavy bob. That’s dumber than even I could have come up with and now I am doubly stoked to order one.
  9. IceCube would like the world to know, that NWA does not stand for ‘Nickelback was Awesome’
  10. I owe my roommate a box of “barritas de cereales” because oops where did they all go?
  11. Cello is the closest-sounding instrument to the human voice, according to Spotify.
  12. If you don’t renew your Spotify student subscription within a year, they start charging you real-person prices. If you were real-person price ready, you would be more salty and take your business elsewhere. But you’re not. That’s why you’re writing this right now, and not your paper.

an argument against academic papers

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Coming to you live, swaddled on the couch in my turtleneck, slightly sweating out a slight fever, and slightly more than slightly frustrated with the academic paper I am supposed to be writing on the topic of business ethics (can you say procrasti-blogging? Me neither)

Business ethics is a topic that lies very close to my interest – I am a disenchanted business student (to say the least) who often annoyingly rolls her eyes at things like ‘the bottom line’ in my marketing courses, who is thoroughly enjoying her class on reimagining capitalism, and is totally unsure where in the consumer world to find myself in just one short year post-graduation.

So obviously, I entered this course with high expectations – top business school, PhD candidate professor of the Institute of Social Innovation, classroom full of international peers with individual views on the role of business and we got to discuss ETHICS while the world around us broils with consumer desire for shared value!

A session and a half in, I found myself defining legitimacy as it applies to the moral understanding, the cognitive understanding, or the pragmatic understanding, and its relation to the modern conceptualization of instrumental CSR. Did I lose you? Because I lost me.

So I, as a mildly obnoxious student that I have the ability to be, went up to my prof at the end of class and in polite, smiling, hesitant words, asked her, essentially, “What’s the point?”

What is the purpose of academia without application?

Of forming the Global Environmental Council for the Health of the Ailing Alpine Sheep and studying in great detail The Coalition in Support of Less Cotton Candy Coverage in Social Media?

(The mention of sheep cannot be either confirmed or denied.)

The response I got was two-pronged, and (spoiler-alert) I think the real Prongs would have called the responses less impressive than a strong Befuddlement Draught:

Prong 1: To get a good job! [This seems to be a be-all, end-all answer to a lot of “why’s” in business school. Why learn this? Because everyone before you had to suffer so now you do to, because when you get out you’ll be expected to show your battle scars. Sounds a lot like hazing to me but what do I know?] Because when you’re a high-paid CSR consultant to a boxy corporate company, they will expect you to reference academia so they can reference academia and the cycle shall continue.

Prong 2: Sometimes academia is simply for the sake of discussion. And though I’m all for educational, thought-provoking discussion to get the creativity flowing on date night, this sounds like a whole lotta “no reason” to me, especially in a topic like business ethics that has all this relevance and practicality and in a room full of the world’s future business members, shouldn’t we be DEBATING something? Practicing our ability to consider ethics in the face of profit, or practicing our ability to totally ignore it at the very least?

I don’t want to paint a completely bratty picture of the education I’ve been getting here – most of my courses at ESADE thus far have been engaging and thought-provoking in a way that I am very grateful for, especially considering the amount of time I have been able to dedicate to them and truly absorb their material.

But when ethics surrounding business, a topic that has killed thousands of people, and taken homes, health, families, and food away from another set of thousands is addressed in this clinical and sterile way, I don’t know what to do with myself.

I welcome every criticism of my viewpoint, I’m so naive when it comes to most topics that are past my bubble-sized scope of understanding, that putting an opinion of anything out in the world is one of the scarier things I might do. And I’m truly searching for an answer to this question – what is the purpose of academia surrounding a pragmatic topic, if it is not connected to a practical goal? If the purpose of debate is debate and the issue being debated involves humanity, why take time in the citations?

Until I figure it out, I guess I’ll start this paper.

where exactly to eat for a weekend in Madrid

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There is nothing more special and lovely than a few too few days, eating far too many churros, and laughing just enough bellyful. The squad and I spent a whole 3 days in Madrid this past week, and ate our way through the city, leaving just a few hours to consume the culture and drink in the harried, important air.

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Madrid’s capital-ness was self-evident: the grandiose buildings, the meandering streets that followed a non-grid drawn by a toddler, the way the light on the street sparkled post rain, the jungle planted mid-train station. Just quite everything was larger than life AND death, and old and busy and dirty and beautiful – I felt like a truer-than-true tourist.

Staying in the midst of the town, we almost overdid our budget by buying a 2 day train pass for a whole 7 euros and never using it: instead we worked off a bit of our Madrid calorie layer by walking. everywhere. Which is refreshingly the primary mode of transport everywhere I have been in this land ~ no workout, no problem. (some problem. shhh conscience) I brought one pair of true close toed shoes to Spain, and these boots were not really made for walking, so of course I’ve used them to walk/hike/run for a plane quite a few times in the past two months.

But I digress, FOOD recs coming up.

Pre Madrid, I avoided all semblance of homework for any “classes” I’m taking here on my “semester” abroad, and instead fell into the internet vortex, accidentally only earmarking eateries. oops? If we had eaten all the places I had pegged, I would still be in Madrid, having not fit through the plane doors, but alas we could only eat a few meals a day. In addition to some *bomb* microwave popcorn with freshly ground pepper, to be consumed only if sitting on the floor of a hostel, here are the winners ~

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Friday eats:

Ojala – Urth Cafe, meet Spain, and add a basement full of sand to sip a landlocked beer on the beach. My inner basic was doing cartwheels as I ordered an arugula salad with my brunch eggs, right after they served me orange juice with a stripy straw. If your eyes are done rolling to the ceiling, you could kindly rest them upon the best toast I’ve had since coming here. We came straight from the airport, because that’s how priorities work.

Mercado de San Miguel – Post a 5 hour nap (oops) we salimos de la marcha to the classier, prettier, less crazy little sister of Barcelona’s Boqueria – soft lighting and a warm conversational buzz set the perfect romantic date for 4. The concept: you order a tapa or two and a copa around the market, until you can’t walk anymore. (or something like that?) We had the creamiest burrata in the entire world, a bite size bitty of decent paella, a coupla leggy copas of Rioja Crianza for 3 euros (learned from my trip to Logroño, am I cultured yet??) , and blue cheese mushroom pizza to share. Avoid the quiche, have the froyo (thanks Aradybaby for the reco). Those are both mandatory requests. I was too distracted by the bright white spreadable lightly savory cheese to take any pictures.

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Saturday eats:

Chocolatería San Gines – Need I say anything more? Honestly. Churros con chocolate. Churros with dippable drinking melted chocolate. They’ve been doing it since 1894, they’ve had a little practice – we went twice. That is all you need to know. Thanks to a course taught at our school about Spanish culture for the reco.

Subiendo Al Sur – Found in the blogosphere. Love/hate the fact that that word has become a regular part of my vernacular, but I’m accepting it as a piece of my being. Run by two brothers and a (son? nephew?) – everything is fair trade, etc. etc. Yet another home for LA baby bitches vacationing in Europe, but also wildly affordable and adorable. We were the only ones in the restaurant at 8 pm, and it was absolutely twinkly. What to get: A sweetish marinara sauced vegetable lasagna, or the most flavorful ceviche in the entire world. Or both.

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Sunday eats:

Circo – Don’t stop til you get enough. Day 3, and we obviously hadn’t gotten enough ~ after a late night *cough* early morning burning up the floor of the kapital, we awoke in time for an afternoon brunch. Unfortunately, my googling skills failed us with their accidental success – famous ‘La Bicicleta’ was full. So I hung my head in the back of the line til for about 3 minutes til squad walked into this absolute GEM. Let me paint this picture for you ~ Are you ready? I’m not sure you’re ready. Ok now perhaps?

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12.50 euro. A choice of drinks to begin; we all opted for orange juice, because #healthiswealth and #nextdayhydration. A bulging basket of bread and olive oil for a table full of loud, hungry girls. A choice between four entrees, of which I can remember two: Salmon on a savory pancake, or eggs benedict with sausage. Freshly fried, thick cut potato slices. Side salad. A ‘tasting plate’ of dessert which really consists of three full sized slices: an apple pie, a brownie a la mode, and a cheesecake, or a choice for creamy Greek yogurt topped with muesli. And a coffee in case you’re still a bit peckish.

We sat around for 3 hours, formulated the idea for a 6 way business plan, talked about life futures, and extolled the oh-my-gosh-ness of the potatoes.

La Rue – A good 6 or 8 hours after that marathon brunch, we found this lil guy to just tie up the tiny stomach pits that had made themselves heard, for some crepes. Order the one with chicken, brie, and onions, and the chicken salad, and the blackberry tea. And then order again, once they forget about you because you had the misfortune of sitting in the back.

Also, we saw the Prado, the grandest post-office I’ve ever seen, a chill-giving sign welcoming refugees to Spain, Museo Nacional de Reina Sofia, and JUST missed Parque del Retiro – it was raining and churros round 2 called. We came, we saw, we cultured. Thanks Madrid!

San Joan de Gaztelugatxe

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Say that five times fast, because I sure can’t. Middle school spelling bee champion my butt, I will never be able to spell that without search engine aid, but when I’m telling my Joey Tribbiani-esque pick-up story of hiking along the coast of northern Spain I can say I went *there* and point (but with appropriate smarm).

Some moments from my recent existence:

  • Huevos con foie, also known as the life changing tapa. A measuring cup filled with foie and cheese and mushrooms, topped with a quail egg over easy, served with bread. Melty, gooey, savory: unthinkable animal parts and indescribable flavor.
  • Reanalyzing capitalism in a classroom full of students from around the world, all with personal anecdotes of their country’s system. A Finnish girl raising her hand to say she is paid by her government whilst on her semester abroad. America-centric views told around the world.
  • Falling accidentally asleep atop a grassy knoll in utopian Bilbao under the afternoon sun, because my feet hurt just a tad and I wanted to rest my head for just a bit.
  • A three hour conversation covering most controversial topics perched outside an obnoxiously boho-chic cafe, consuming a sexy spiced carrot cake and a cafe con leche.
  • Playing a game of pool in an actual pool hall.
  • Winning a game of pool in an actual pool hall.
  • There aren’t a lot of days when my needs and wants are under satisfied. It is a new kind of privilege, that which I have never before experienced, or really know what to do with. I fully recognize how unsustainable this way of life is, and how often I use the word “I”.

    So I’ll stop for now, and leave with you some images after the break of San Joan de Gaztelugatxe (and its confusing Euskeran spelling), an old lady contemplating life, and a shoutout to the world for being so darn beautiful.

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    #blessed

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    You saw this one coming.
    You knew that I, who have an overwhelming need to use obnoxious vocabulary in everyday life and say the word beautiful (emphasis on the beauuooooo) far too often, would leave you with a mushy/corny/cheesy (all the weirdly textured adjectives) post about how blessed I currently feel by the potentially (non)existant higher power that there may or may not be.

    You might not have expected that this comes after a period of slight strife. I feel like Shalaka outside of the US struggles even more than Shalaka inside the US, which is saying a lot. Tending to the harried side of things, its far too easy to get wound up in my stressed mind, running around, sweating it, etc. And its been a tech whirlwind of a week: the quintissential my-iPhone-got-stolen story, followed by the not so common story of my laptop going kaputz. Apple deserted me! Technology only brings evil! I thought about ditching it all and becoming a hermit.

    But some Lianne La Havas telling my I’m ‘Unstoppable’, some roommate support, some angry group running, and some deep breaths later, I did the epiphany thing.

    I feel so lucky to be seeing this world. I am so privileged to not worry too much about comfort and security.
    I feel so lucky to have people at home that give me perspective.
    I feel so lucky to constantly be surrounded by smart/funny women.
    I feel so lucky to have feet that can carry me through the beauty of this place.

    You might even say, I feel hashtag blessed.

    (Shoutout to all the ladies that came and made me become my mom-the-hostess this one eve. To many more!)