Summer free time always comes as a bit of a shock to my system; I’m so used to always going at full speed ahead during the school year that suddenly having ample free time feels quite strange! At this point, I’m pretty well adjusted to this new normal, but I’ve still had a little more free time than I feel I need or want. So I’ve found ways to fill it!
The first way I started filling my free time this summer was with German! I should probably expound upon this further in a separate blog post, but for now suffice it to say that I am a HUGE fan of my German tutor Hamid! German lessons are truly a highlight of my week, and Hamid and I have already decided that we must stay in touch after this summer.
Besides German, I’ve also been reading more. I finished two books the other day (Wild Swans, by Jung Chang – highly recommended, this is a wonderful story tracing a young woman and her family’s history over the past few politically complicated decades in China – and Kindred, by Butler – an interesting historical/sci-fi book exploring slavery through a modern day woman’s experience of time travel), so I just started Anna Karenina and Zlata’s Diary, yesterday.
Alongside my reading, German studies, and internship, I’ve also been exploring some new trails and some new recipes! This past weekend I went to check out Roys Redwood Preserve, a modestly sized, but very pretty, conservation area with redwoods and hiking trails. With me, I brought both a book (Wild Swans), and a little bento box lunch, prepared based on the guidelines in a set of anti-inflammatory diet recipes sent to me by my grandfather a while back (Recipes found here). My stomach’s been a little out of sorts lately, so I’ve been going back and trying a bunch of these recipes (so far I’ve tried the smoothie, oatmeal, frittata, wrap, and, of course, the bento box, and have been a fan of them all!). The bento box was a very satisfying meal, and it worked quite well as a a little picnic lunch. After hiking out a ways (hoisting my book, lunch, water, and extra layers in a towel, because silly me didn’t think I had enough stuff to require a bag/backpack), I found a lovely little spot in the middle of a stand of redwoods trees. There, I settled down on my towel, and enjoyed my book, my lunch, and the lovely scenery. All in all, it was a beautiful way to spend an afternoon, and I would definitely recommend that you all check out the recipes mentioned above!
Finally, I also decided to get another job! After all, when one has free time and a bit of boredom, why not channel that into something financially expedient? It was a rather funny process, because one weekend several weeks ago I was exceedingly bored, and in typical Marta fashion, I channeled this into applying for a flurry of barista/coffee shop/cafe type positions. I subsequently thought to myself, “Who would hire someone to work for a month?” as I’ll be leaving in mid-August, and sort of abandoned the idea of a job working out.
And then, lo and behold, Panera called me and wanted to hire me! So here I am, now an official Panera employee! It’s really been quite fun so far – the training isn’t exactly a blast, but it isn’t too difficult, and it’s been fun to become acquainted with my coworkers and get to brighten people’s days with frozen lemonades, pastries, and of course the healthier, more meal-type offerings. I also frankly think it’s probably just good life experience for everyone to work in a service-type industry at some point – I, for one, know I will pay more attention for the rest of my life to leaving my table neat, being careful not to leave dirty napkins under the table, etc. The one downside of my work at Panera might be the increase in my sugar intake – when you stand right by the pastry case all day, and have a nice employee discount, it’s awfully hard to get through a shift without a little sugar. We’ll see if my self-discipline in that regard improves over the next month – stay tuned!