Last Dance

Please tell me that when you read that title this song pops into your head: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jOpUfTi1keI. (Please also tell me that if that song does come to mind, you’re also under the age of 45. No? I figured. All right.)

Anyways. I hope that wherever you are, the weather is nice, or has improved relative to the polar vortex which dramatically gripped the United States this week and caused people (including us) to pack grocery stores and stock up on supplies as if the cold was going to last a week, not two days, and subsequently make them hungrier than normal. If you’re in Santiago, espero que no te haya afectado tanto este humo raro que cubrió la ciudad los últimos días. Usually I don’t whine too much about the winter until the volatile Midwestern spring is in sight, but I wouldn’t mind a beach vacation soon.

Washing dishes for ten minutes caused the windows to fog up like this.

Washing dishes for ten minutes caused the windows to fog up like this.

PANIC. Everybody panic!

PANIC! Everybody panic!

Big plus about the cold: it shut down school around here for two whole days, giving my brothers an even longer break, which meant that I got to spend more time with them! Look at all the awesome things that happened while I was here and not in Chile.

Winter sunrises are pretty spectacular, though.

Winter sunrises are pretty spectacular, though.

I am now at the end of my last winter break as a undergraduate. As I’ve said before, and which I will now say for the last time, declining the grant and staying stateside was 110% the right decision. I have no regrets about it. I do not feel like a life-changing opportunity was missed, and I think I’ve reaped far more benefits out of sleeping and enjoying my family than I would have gotten out of running around hot, smoky Santiago for a week. Lesson learned: trust your gut. If something is telling you not to do something, even though there’s a really good argument for doing it, just don’t. Let it go and know that there’s a good, perfectly valid reason you want to take the other road.

It just hit me the other day that this is indeed my last semester as a college student. Obviously I knew it was coming. But I hadn’t gotten that “this is IT” feeling yet. And then I did, once I filled out my application for graduation and confirmed how I want my name written on my diploma.

The key to making the most of this semester is to remember that this is just the last dance, not the end of the world. I want to end college on a high note, and get out while I’m still loving it and having fun. Yeah, college has been the best four years of my life- SO FAR. I hope to God that I am not peaking now! My summer theater camps use to end each year with the reminder, from Churchill, that it was not the beginning of the end. It was just the end of the beginning.

That is all this is. Graduation is a big, momentous occasion- not just to celebrate how fantastic the past four years have been, but also to look forward to what’s coming next. Although the job search has been challenging, it’s also exciting. Look at all of the possibilities! Look at all of the things I can do, once I get a foot in the door!

While I already know that I’ll be blown away by the speed of this final semester, and at the end of every week I’ll probably beg more and more for time to slow down, I’m just going to keep reminding myself that what’s coming next (especially when- not if, when- I get a job) just keeps getting better. I have gotten to where I am today by thinking positively and working hard. Working hard is key- because nothing will happen for you if you don’t try to make it happen.

So that’s what this semester is about: making it happen. “It”- the job, the thesis, the awesome celebrations, the best friendships, everything else- will happen. But it’s up to nobody else but me.

Okay. Good talk, guys. In other news, I baked bread!

Proofed. Not proven. Proofed. Right?

Proofed. Not proven. Proofed. Right?

This smelled AMAZING.

This smelled AMAZING.

Yeasted breads can be a little scary, yes. And this loaf was not perfect, as you will see in a moment. It didn’t rise completely during proofing, which is always fun. Then I couldn’t get the seam of the dough to stay closed, and the filling then bubbled up and oozed and burned all over the oven floor. Dad to the rescue once again! Nothing a little barbecue spatula and a fan couldn’t fix. Thanks, Dad!

Disclaimer: I’m not a food photographer and I shoot with my iPhone.

It looks really cute and pudgy now...

It looks really cute and pudgy now…

...and then it turned into this.

…and then it turned into this.

Ah, that familiar smell of charred cinnamon and sugar. Too common in our kitchen. I’m sorry, family.

I know. Delicious, right?

I know. Delicious, right?

But that wasn’t anything cutting off the wonky ends couldn’t fix! It was just about perfect on the inside. I’ll work on aesthetics eventually. For now, I’m happy baking things that taste good- even if they’re a small disaster on the outside.

Look at that swirl!

Look at that swirl!

You're darn right it makes good toast! Heavy, rich, sweet toast. And the layers pull apart like a dream.

You’re darn right it makes good toast! Heavy, rich, sweet toast. And the layers pull apart like a dream.

I found the recipe right here. Don’t worry if you don’t have a stand mixer. I did the whole thing by hand. You just mix and knead it for about as long as the stand mixer does. Easy peasy!

One last thing: as a blog resolution for the new year, I’m going to try and start writing every other week. Blogging is excellent writing and storytelling practice, and I’d like to recommit to it this year. I’m already accumulating ideas and will keep brainstorming and outlining a little bit at a time so that twice a month, I’m ready to write and will have something new and not pointless to share with you. Do you have any ideas or suggestions? Let me know in the comments!

With love,

Gaby

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