Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Job Hunting

I am currently looking for a (good, engaging, well-paying, interesting) job.

My friend Katherine's sister told her that she applied to nearly 100 jobs before she found the one that was perfect for her. 100 jobs (100!). Needless to say, we have both decided to crack down a little more with this job hunting business.

Luckily the hunt isn't entirely without satisfaction. I have discovered that secretly, it is highly satisfying to write the "MSW" behind my name. My cover letters look something like this:

"Dear so-and-so,

I am awesome. Blah, blah, blah, blah...

Oh, and did I mention that I was awesome? Blah, blah, blah...


Metta Prieto, MSW"

*Sigh* I just love that ending.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Can't WAIT!

I can't wait until we move at the end of next month! I can't wait to have two bedrooms instead of one, and a washer and dryer in our home. I can't wait to unroll all of the ideas we have for putting together a new space, like artists exploring a fresh clean canvas. I can't wait to try things, and fix things, and paint things, and up-cycle things, and accidentally ruin some! I can't wait to have a walk-in closet to throw things into, to sacrifice that space for the sake of the order of the rest, like throwing Joe into the volcano. I can't wait to unpack dishes into a home with twice as much cupboard space, and to start a real collection of food storage. I can't wait to hang pictures, and plug in new speakers and listen to music loudly as we unpack! I can't wait to hate packing and unpacking.

I just can't wait!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Summer, summer, summer...

Shoulders peel from sunburns. Pool parties. Legs itch from bug bites. Evening strolls on the Bolin trail. Camping in the mountains. Eight mile hikes. Jumping up and down in front of the t.v. screaming at the Brazilian soccer team. Beach houses and fishing. Bellies stuffed with picnics. Symphony concerts on the lawn.

It's turning into a great summer.

Every year the NC Symphony plays a free family concert on the outdoor commons at Southern Village. We went with our friends the Whittiers and Hills, and we wish it would happen like this every day. Imagine little kids dancing, and sticky skin, cold lemonade and picnics, bare feet and people moving their bodies unawares to the rhythm of the show tunes...

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Growing things

A few days ago, I was browsing through blogs and came across an entry that featured approximately thirty photos from all different angles of the same flower in the same garden. I had the distinct impression of "I'm losing interest" about two photos in, so for you I've tried to quell my own gardner's pride and only feature three photos. Take a deep breath, and scroll down!

We have a large private deck here which has been perfect for a few pots (we also have a big healthy basil and rosemary, some squash and a bell pepper), but in a month we are moving to an apartment with no outside space besides the walkway outside our door. Our location is very, very low traffic so I may risk a few pots outside, but...

...any ideas on how to do veggies with very little space?

Thursday, June 25, 2009


Michael Jackson died today. Part of me suspected that he had slipped out to live somewhere in peace with Elvis and Marilyn, but that was before I heard someone with a British accent announcing his death on the news. Immediately I sensed it was true because it was a Brit telling the story, and not an American. American media sometimes gets creative with the news they share, so the British accent really cinched it for me. You can see how complex I am.

When Marcos told me about Michael's death back four hours ago when it was still a rumor, it didn't quite strike me like the death of Princess Diana did back when I was young enough to have no real idea who she was, but old enough to be completely floored by her death nonetheless. I have been wondering what the difference between these two celebrity deaths is for me, and I think that it just comes down to the fact that I equated Diana with charity. It felt like a piece of the world's pool of goodness flickered and went out when she died.

I am curious to see how people will remember Michael Jackson over the next few days. He was undeniably the King of Pop, but he had also lead a strange and bewildering life which made him unapproachable and probably very misunderstood. I guess I hope that in his honor the world remembers him mainly for his incredible music.

A sad day? It is, Michael.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Nerds are hot!

"Nerd: A computer expert by aptitude and not mere training. Usually male, under the age of 35 and socially inept; a person whose tremendous skill with operating or designing computer hardware or software is exceeded only by his, rarely her, passionate love of the technology. See also hacker."

This post is a dedication to my husband Marcos. Yesterday he expressed some discomfort with his feeling that he's a nerd, which surprised me because I think he's so great the way he is, nerdy or not. So maybe he knows a lot about computers, and maybe his passionate daily updates about the status of the Palm Prix are kind of nerdy, but he is gorgeous, smart, out-going and adventurous, kind and helpful as all heck, and VERY far from socially inept. I wouldn't have him any other way.

So to help him have pride in his nerdiness, I present to you "Nerds are hot!".

(I did not fabricate this image, but I wish I had. Isn't it great?).

The following blurb by Kathy Bailey has been sitting above the desk of my friend Rebecca, and after reading it for a few weeks I thought this would be the perfect time to share.


High-School girls, be nice to nerds. They age very well. The baby fat disappears; the gawkiness softens. Social skills and a sense of style catch up. New eyewear is purchased. The lessons of suffering transmute into sensitivity and an attractively strong sense of self. And nerds make lots more money than the hunky high-school studs, who peaked at 17 and by the age of 30 are saddled with wounded egos, child support, drinking problems and all the wrong values. Give me a man who reads".

Hear, hear!

P.S. Just to make sure I was using the right lingo for this post, I nonchalantly asked Marcos if he was a nerd or a geek. He said he couldn't remember what the difference was, except that one made more money than the other. I'm crossing my fingers that the nerd is the rich one...

Sunday, June 21, 2009

"Yeah but"s

For the past year and a half or so, I have been a student ambassador for the UNC School of Social Work. Shortly put: when prospective students come to campus to check out the graduate program I might have had lunch with them, or if they've come for our monthly info sessions I might have sat on the student panel and answered their questions.

When I talk one-on-one with Master of Social Work (MSW) candidates, something that has caught my attention over and over again is the way prospective students answer my question, "What got you interested in social work?". The majority of MSW candidates were either working at a job or volunteering somewhere and ran into some type of systemic "wall" of sorts, and realized that in order to make change they would need to further their education.

And then comes their story. I listen patiently while the passion, the completely raw passion for such-and-such issue comes spilling out, along with a few ideas about how the situation should be improved. After a few years of talking about those very problems in the intimacy of our small classrooms, I've been exposed to the complexities surrounding a few social issues, and rarely is anything as cut and dry as I once thought. Surprisingly, I feel almost less sure of my ideas after my education than I did before I entered graduate school, simply because I have new information to throw into the mix. If problems were really as simple to remedy as we think they are, there would probably be worldwide peace, puppy dogs, and chocolate bars for all of humanity.

(Which reminds me: I really don't envy Barack's job).

I appreciate these new student's decisiveness and vigor, and so, during those brief encounters with prospective students, I rarely vocalize the "yeah but"s that come to my mind as they plummet down their single path of thought.

Goodness knows they will need that passion to get them through grad school...

Saturday, June 20, 2009

To tide you over...

So strange. I've been working on an entry for two days now and I can't get it right. It's not even that my thought is particularly profound; I just keep losing focus in my writing. Maybe it's because Marcos is home from Canada (insert Joni: "oh Ca-na-da-AAAAAAAAAAAAHHH"), and I have something much more important to focus on.

So, until I get the post to a place where I'm happy with it, here's an image to tide you over. This is a wall of outlets. Marcos reads a tech-y blog that highlights strange inventions, like this one. One of the blog commenters suggested that the outlets should actually be a wallpaper, with only a few real sockets here and there, to keep costs low. Brilliant.

I was also thinking: I hope this dude doesn't have kids. It would be a real chore to put out those plastic socket protectors.

Monday, June 15, 2009

"Minha Casa Futura" gets a facelift

Yesterday I undertook the organization of our desktop icon entitled "Metta". In "Metta" are a number of different files I use, such as "UNC", "church", "work", and surprisingly "Minha casa futura" (my future house). Curious as to the contents of that file, I opened it and found... nothing. Absolutely nothing.

Which is when I decided it was my absolute duty and obligation to waste utilize a number of hours searching design blogs in order to generate some ideas, should I ever be called upon to create livable spaces in a house larger than a glorified closet (which is what our apartment feels like after scanning through design photography of real homes and penthouse apartments in New York City).

Things I noticed? I am drawn to hanging utensils in the kitchen, and walls painted in certain hues of green. I crave natural light and warm light. I love when people reconstruct old wooden things and combine them with newer pieces. I prefer bolder motley colors, natural rooms and anything genuinely rustic over a minimalist or industrial look. I like spaces to look lived in.

Readers, I want to apologize for not connecting these images with the name of the person who photographed them. I started collecting the images for my file without remembering to link them to their artist, and I regret that I can't direct you to their proper source. However, most of the images came from a great blog called decorology, whose author is brilliant at citing artists, so you should be able to find names there!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Early Life Crisis

The date was June 7, 2009 - a week ago.

Last Sunday evening, both Marcos and I (in separate places) found ourselves in serendipitous social circumstances that left us inspired, and not a slight bit yearning for more engagement in life. He, enjoying the stories and presence of a Brazilian couple - new friends who invited him to break bread with them after church last Sunday in Ontario, Canada where he is currently working for a few weeks (which explains my lack of posting, ey? I've lost my muse...). And I, here in Chapel Hill, spending a rare evening with a group of highly intelligent, big-thinking, incredible, single women (which confirmed for me that it is indeed a myth that all men are interested in smart girls). Two humble settings a country apart, and yet both of us sat among these new friends during the same hour, both of our minds racing with ideas and the feelings of wanting to grow and engage more in this thing we call life.

Welcome to our Early Life Crisis. Don't worry, this story doesn't end in the purchase of a Nissan Fairlady Z (we wish), or the rash abandonment of important aspects of who we are - believe me, our goals are much tamer. We just have the impression that if we improve the quality of some of our down time, we will be able to reach more of our potential. What a bore to even use those hackneyed words, but I am having trouble finding another way to say it.

So, when Marcos and I had our nightly phone conversation last Sunday after returning home from our social outings, we had a lot to say to each other. Although a recent keikakukai (planning meeting) as a couple propelled our spiritual life to a place where it is finally taking the shape we want it to, there are other areas that are a bit amorphous and we're noticing the room for improvement. For example, because Marcos is a consultant for his company and some weeks are busier than others, he wants to explore other work possibilities and challenge himself with new projects. He knows he can do more, so why waste precious moments as a young adult doing less than his full capacity? And although it may sound basic or silly, we discussed trading in some of our movie nights snuggling on the couch for listening to more NPR, finding more opportunities to engage in the community and serve our friends, reading great books, taking spontaneous roadtrips, and exploring some of our talents.

On some level, I believe that we just want the little car of our life to move a bit more so that we can be directed more easily and so that we can be in a better place to notice doors of opportunity opening along the way, and the bushes rustling.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

. . . __ __ __ . . .


I'm being held hostage by a book! I'm trying to escape, but I can't.

Good thing I'm enjoying every second of it.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

...and the most interesting idea of the day award goes to...

...Clay, the man who owns this truck. He was completely flattered that I wanted to take pictures of his masterpiece, but with this type of creativity, who could resist?

Clay reported that his truck is over twenty years old, but it runs well, so he decided to make a little herb garden in the bed with cement blocks. He actually drives the truck all over town, just like this.

Over the years he's learned to put the heartier plants on the outside because they get the most wind at faster speeds.

It's amazing what people come up with...

Friday, June 5, 2009

Pregnant Belly Photoshoot

On Monday evening, Nicole and I ran out to the UNC botanical gardens to catch a few shots of her gorgeous pregnant belly before her scheduled induction on Tuesday morning. I had no idea what I was doing with the photography, but I was pleasantly surprised by the results. I had to wiggle with coloring (only in picassa... I'm not savvy with photoshop), but overall I am proud of Nicole's belly and proud of what came of the photos.

I, of course, will let her tell her own story of what happened the next day.

For those of you who are wondering how such a petite girl pulled off such a massive belly, I should clarify: there were TWO buns in this oven...

I am sort of a stickler for good framing in photography, so taking pictures with the model's head intentionally cut off was a stretch for me...

Okay, so this above shot kind of cracks me up. I had no idea what I was doing, so some shots came out a little strange. But I love the one below...

A common mistake...

"Hello, meet my husband Carlos Marcos..."

People mix up Marcos' name quite often. He says that in seventh grade as a newcomer to the United States, his teachers at school would consistently call him Carlos, even if he had corrected them two minutes earlier. And he still gets it all the time.

Once we stumbled upon a Carlos Prieto online... as we were minding our own business, looking through the police reports for Utah County. Now, Marcos' really doesn't want to be mistaken.

After our fishing outing a week or two ago, Drew told us the following story. Since we had been fishing at his classmate's parent's place, his classmate approached him at school the next day and told him about a phone call she had received from her mother. Apparently, after talking briefly with Marcos during our fishing expedition, the mother had called her daughter and said, "You missed Carlos! He was here". Not knowing that Drew had taken any friends along to fish, the girl replied, "Mom, his name is Drew, not Carlos". To which her mother answered, "No! Drew's friend, Carlos! You missed him. He was here, and he is a HUNK".

We'll let it slip this time, Ma'am, because your description of him was so accurate.

The "F" word

No, of course it's not "finger", "fabric" or "fudge"... today's F word is f.e.m.i.n.i.s.t.

One thing I loved about being a student was that I had access to the perks that come with being part of a University. Whenever there was an interesting lecture going on, or a cultural event, I usually heard about it and tried to be there.

One of the lectures I attended this past semester that left an impression on me was a part of a week-long series of workshops and lectures hosted by the Carolina Women's Center called "The 'F' Word", which was all about feminism. The particular lecture that I attended was about Third Wave Feminism, and it was a total eye-opener.

You see, I've always had feminist leanings, because to me it makes sense that women should have access to the same legal, political and health benefits in this country that men enjoy. But the title never seemed to fit me perfectly, because the word "feminism" comes with all of the baggage left over from Second Wave Feminism. Baggage that doesn't really fit me. But whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa... third wave? Second wave? Let's review.

In the history of feminism, the movement is typically broken up into three genres or "waves". The First Wave of American feminism occurred at the end of the 1800's and the beginning of the 1900's and was led by suffragists such as Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, and Lucretia Mott. Their fight was for equal property and contract rights, as well as access to the vote for women. At that time, women were virtually owned by their husbands, and so in some sense they were fighting for gender equality on a very basic legal level. In this day and age, I doubt we can accurately imagine how much courage it took for those women (and men) to stand up and be something and say something.

The Second Wave of American feminism moved alongside the civil rights movement of the 1950's and 1960's. When we think of Feminism, the images that come to mind are usually from this era: Bra burning, man hating, feminazis, Betty Friedan's controversial book The Feminine Mystique... all of these were relics of Second Wave Feminism. Women at this time were fighting for political equality and the end of gender discrimination, as well as freedom from the rigid gender roles that had played out in post-WWII American suburbia.

There are some very valid criticisms of this Wave of feminism, such as the movement being a middle-class white movement that largely excluded minority women, and that the movement did not take into account the varying aspirations of women - those who preferred to be homemakers, as well as those who despised the role. However, my feeling is that we have no idea how much ground was covered by those movers and shakers. As a twenty-something year old female in the year 2009, I have access to achieve virtually anything that I really, really want to achieve, and many of my streets lined with gold were paved by women (and men) of this era.

And then comes chapter three. Third Wave feminism is a child of the 1980's and 90's, and is sort of where feminism is today. In general, Third Wave feminism cuts across the boundaries that the Second Wave couldn't, such as the lines of racial and ethnic and sexual differences. I think what I like best about the Third Wave is that it recognizes that women can be active feminists, and NOT conform to a lot of the stereotypes that are associated with Second Wave feminism. For example, I may not be totally up to date on shaving my legs (which could get me an enthusiastic high five from a hard-core Second Wave feminist who believes that me shaving my legs is a sign of my bondage to the societal expectations dictated by men), but I also really like some typically feminine pastimes, such as cooking, sewing, and decorating my house. Third Wave feminism says bring it all! Bring your energy, and your activism, and your kids and your knitting needles.

This sounds more like my kind of movement.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Tree fishing

I've always had this secret interest in fishing. Fly fishing specifically, because it looks so rad, but fishing in general has always drawn me.

On Memorial Day, I finally had the chance to try my hand at it. Drew and Alicia invited us to join them at Drew's classmate's mother's house, which is about an hour from Chapel Hill in the middle of nowhere. This family maintains a large pond with fish, and they gave the Whittiers a generous invite to come use their poles and fish. Here are Drew, Alicia and Korven. They actually know how to fish, and were good at it.

The following is a photo of me and the fish I reeled in. Drew and Alicia were generous and said that whoever reels it in caught it, but really, the fish was already hooked when I picked the pole off of the ground, and completed the arduous task of rotating the thingy that reels in the fish.

I also strategically placed the fish much closer to the camera than I was, so that the angle would expand its size. In reality, the fish is shorter than the length of my hand. Clever, right?

Sadly, fishing was not my thing. The whole sitting and waiting and doing nothing part was a bit too sedentary for my wiggly self. Even when Alicia suped up my hook with the last five worms so thickly that the thing looked like a popsicle, I was no good. The fish made off with my bait while I was busy looking around. The only thing I caught during the outing was a pair of trees.

My mom, on the other hand, had some real skills. She made her way around the edge of the pond catching fish after fish...

Marcos was also good at fishing, which didn't surprise me. After a long while of trying to get a bite, I let him have my pole for ten seconds to show me what I was doing wrong, and he immediately got a bite and caught a fish! Maybe I'll be better at fly fishing...