Monday, May 10, 2010

Chelsea Holeman FINAL

Health violations don't scare Normanites

Theoretically, if a common person found out there were bugs, hairs, or toenails in their food, they’d stop eating it. Theoretically, such things would earn a health violation for the guilty restaurant and patrons would be driven away by the information. But when put to the test, these theories cannot stand alone in the real world. It seems that most people will overlook the dark side of cheap restaurants in exchange for their convenience.

“I don’t really have time to care if a fast food restaurant has a lot of food violations,” said Katy Dietz, OU junior and frequent fast food patron, “All I’m thinking is ‘Ok, Taco Bell is on the way home and I like their burritos.’ ”

Dietz isn’t the only one willing to forget the unspoken horrors of fast food. Lines snake around Taco Bells and McDonalds religiously every night around dinner. And yet, according to, an online site that lists a restaurant’s inspection violations, both Taco Bell and McDonalds had over 150 and up to 300 violations, several of which relate directly to food born illnesses. Both restaurants declined to comment.

“If you’ve gotten food poisoning before, you know how serious it is. You’re more likely to not visit that restaurant again. But everyone else who knows about it but hasn’t experienced it just assumes it’ll never happen to them,” said Daniel Dukes, store manger for Raising Cane’s. Dukes said he enforces the health code policy by having his team members clean as they go rather than try to clean at the end of the night.

According to a facts sheet provided by the Cleveland County Health Department, a health inspection report numbers the most important violations from one to twenty one. If any of those first twenty one are violated, it relates directly to the safety and health of the food served. “We can warn them, we can fine them, we can punish them, we can even shut them down,” said K.C. Ely, representative for environmental services at the Cleveland County Health Department, “but in the end, it comes down to how the manager enforces food safety.”

Dennis England, co-owner of Sugar Bakery, said he thinks that some of the violations are unnecessary and should be reformed. “Sometimes I think that it’s just some Fed in the Capitol who thinks they need to throw another law down to make themselves look better.” When England and his wife Christie first opened their bakery, their representative from the health department said they needed to change the green walls of their kitchen because it wasn’t ‘standard’. “I think she was just having a power trip that day,” said England.

Ely said that all of the violations are in place for a reason, and that repealing one would only lead to more people wanting more laws changed or removed. “We don’t sit in a room and think of ways to hurt small businesses. We’re run by the FDA, and these are national regulations.”

Dukes agrees that the rules are necessary, and adds that his business stands out because of them. “People notice when the restaurant they’re in is cleaner than what they’re used to. Our customers keep coming back because they feel comfortable and they know they’re getting a quality, clean product.”

Dietz said, “I mean, if there was a hair or a bug part in it, then maybe I’d stop eating it for a while. As long as it tastes good and I’m not throwing up later, I could care less if it’s been cooked properly.”

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Emily White talks of why she likes working at McNellies and how it is unique from other Norman bars.

McNellies Hopes to be Norman Legend

"You're not coming here to get a bud light lime and get drunk with your girlfriends." said Chris Schroeder, OU student and novice beer connoisseur. McNellies is a popular bar among Oklahoma beer enthusiasts for offering many international beers on tap. Emily White, bartender and shift manager at the Norman location, said they felt it was high time to spread the wealth to Normanites. "I think a lot of people came from Tulsa and knew about us, so they're telling all of their Norman friends."

"I'm in here most pint nights to see what they're offering and to expand my horizons," said Schroeder. The pub and grill offers over 200 kinds of beer, 30 of which are on tap. It also boasts a true pub atmosphere, with a relaxed and friendly environment. White said the atmosphere is one of her favorite reasons for working here. "It's nice not having to deal with people who just want to get drunk off a cheap beer, who are actually here to enjoy it." said White.

Crowded on a Tuesday night, the bar seems to already have skyrocketed in popularity. But White said the pub is doing many things to get more Norman citizens in the door. "Our pint nights and three dollar burger nights really draw in the college crowd." And being the only pub of it's kind in Norman, White said this bar seems well on it's way to legendary proportions. "We're not on the level of the Tulsa bar just yet, but they better watch out, cause we're sure as heck gonna be."

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Summerside Winery

Local Winery Can't Find It's Roots

Ten years ago, a winery in Oklahoma would have only been a figment of Marsha Butler’s imagination. Known for their strict command on alcohol, Oklahoma liquor laws prevented any Oklahoman from starting their own winery until they were repealed in 2000. “We were so tired of our desk jobs, and we saw that the law had been repealed, so we decided to jump on the opportunity to open a winery,” said Butler. But now, more liquor laws may stand in their way of becoming a success.

The Butlers count their blessings, however. In 2004, a law was repealed that prevented Oklahoma liquor vendors from shipping their liquor outside the state. The Butlers previously skirted around this by taking their liquor to out-of-state festivals, in hopes that it would bring customers to their winery for more. “When you’re first introducing your brand, festivals just seem like the best solution,” said Shirley.

Butler said she feels the next hurdle will be getting wine into grocery stores. “People from others states laugh at us,” she said, “They just go ‘Well, that’s Oklahoma for you.’ ” The Butlers actively fight the prohibition of liquor in Oklahoma, and they ask that those on their side visit to help lift the strict shipping laws. Butler hopes lifting these laws will bring the cultural sigh of relief Oklahoma desperately needs.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

The International Pantry Bit Off More Than It Could Chew

A crowded cooking class watches as Chef Robert Black makes Scotch Eggs.

Jocelyn Wall underestimated the boom her business would experience. “I never expected it to get so popular,” she said over the many conversations happening in last Thursday’s cooking class. The 28 seats were almost full, which caused its guests to be quite territorial. One woman refused a young couple’s request to sit next to her because she was "saving seats for her friends.” Wall said the class, hosted once a week, is almost always packed. “I even let people stand sometimes. Any business is good business.”

Despite their popularity, Wall said the International Pantry may not be able to handle growth anytime soon. Wall currently acts as manager and owner while her store manager heals from a serious car accident. Wall adds that finding part-time workers also presents its own challenge. “So many young people in Norman are transients, so once you get them fully trained, they have to leave again.”

Robert Black, Chef at Iron Starr Bar-B-Q and perpetual teacher of the classes, said he feels the price of success is worth it. “Yeah, it may be a little crowded, but we’re able to give families something to cook other than meatloaf. It’s also more cost-effective than going out for that same meal.” Classes cost 25 to 35 dollars a person. Dates and menus for each cooking class can be found at .

Thursday, April 1, 2010

A Different Kind of Sugar

Sugar Custom Cake Shop is the bakery that refuses to be like any other. "Everyone comes to a bakery and wants all kinds of dessert stuff," said owner Christie England, "This is what I know how to make, and I'm sticking to it." White Castle burgers, odes to Mad Men, and telephone booths are just some of the creations produced at Sugar. "If you want to do something creative and off the wall, this is the place," said England.

Even though the bakery has only been open since November, new customers are coming in daily with strange orders for the sugar artists. "People like to get pretty creative with their requests, and we spend the time to make it right," said England. England said their strangest cake was an armadillo run down by a motorcycle. Claire Dwyer Lee is a customer of the bakery, and she ordered a Mad Men themed cake for her husband's 30th birthday. "Other bakery cakes look good but taste boxed, and some cakes taste great but aren't as pretty," said Lee, "I just know Sugar is creative and I trusted they would do a really good job."

This trendy, forward-thinking cake shop has also taken advantage of one the best forms of free advertisement; social networking. Their Facebook fan page has pictures of all of their cake creations, as well as photos, fan comments, and notifications of events and bakery specials. "Facebook has just done wonders [for us]," said England. And with over three thousand fans, this business seems like it's well on its way to success.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Debit Hangover

Campus Corner has been a popular nighttime destination in Norman for decades.

Signs advertising daily discounts can be found outside of almost any Norman bar.

“If they want to, college kids can drink cheaply all day long,” said John Howell, manager at Blu Fine Wine and Food. And, for the most part, he’s right. Adults age 19 to 25 often take their tiny paychecks straight to the bars, priding themselves on finding two very important things; discounts and a good time. And yet, the two are seemingly unable to coexist in todays clubs and bars. Josh Brimer, a senior at OU and active member of Delta Upsilon fraternity, said that he rarely looks at the number on his bill at the end of the night. “I just hand over my debit card and sign my name when I get it back.”

Countless online articles rail early Twenty Somethings for spending their entire paychecks on restaurants and bars. said that the age group spends as much as 200 dollars a week on alcohol alone. The Baby Boomers would be aghast at such a price tag. According to a 1970 Census, the average beer in their day costed 37.5 cents. For men, who WebMD said will be legally drunk after about five beers, that’s a whopping 2 dollars tab. Howell said he knows what is changing. “If you go to a bar and buy an Absolut Soda for 10 bucks, and you and your date have three drinks each, you get a 60 dollar bar tab and don’t even have a buzz. You wonder, ‘How have I spent that much?’ It’s because we have to pay our rent.”

With the rise in popularity of the ultra modern, ultra hip lounge bars, comes a rise in drink prices. Manager Hunter Mankin of Seven47 said that their customers often don’t realize how much money went into creating the upscale atmosphere of the club. “We have six flat screen TVs, all with a separate cable box. Those aren’t free. Neither is the modern leather seating or the cleaning crew or the track lights.” Howell said the million-dollar atmosphere created is often only unconsciously evaluated, and patrons only go as far as liking or disliking it.

Howell explained that, in business 101 terms, bars often take a large sum of money to build an upscale environment, and they jack up the prices on drinks to pay that money back. Mark Graves, assistant manager at Cellars Wine and Spirits, said he doesn’t see the logic in spending 20 dollars on two drinks just for the atmosphere. “I could spend 200 dollars [at Cellars], then throw a party at home for me and all of my friends, and still have a lot left over.”

Also, the cost of getting a drink to a customer’s table is summed up in one word; taxes. Howell goes into depth about all of the taxes he must pay to get alcohol to Blu. He said there are shipping fees, taxes for storing the liquor in warehouses, taxes for bartering the liquor overseas, taxes for sending it on a train, fees for sending it from one store to another, and an Oklahoma-specific tax that is five percent higher for liquor than food. “It’s a miracle that for a little over five dollars, you can have a 20 oz pint of beer, considering what it took to get it here,” he said.

While the state Liquor Control Board shows that drink prices have increased the most in the last 10 years, Mankin said he’s only noticed a definite change in spending since the economy crashed. “People used to spend 50 to 100 dollars a night, and now the average bar tab is around 20 dollars.” Makin also noticed that lately, Campus Corner isn’t popular until two hours later than normal; around 12:45 or 1 a.m. “In the [fraternity] house,” Brimer said,” most guys will go to someone’s place, do shots, drink a bunch of cheap beer with their date, and then just go to the bars to dance. They don’t really drink a whole lot while they’re out.”

Makin says this is the best way to save money when a twenty something wants to have a good time. “I know our drinks are pricey, but you’re not coming here for that. Do what you need to do before you get here, then we’ll provide the music, food, and atmosphere you can’t get at home.”

Howell disagrees. He said that the best way to avoid overspending is to pay with cash, because the money a customer spends is more tangible. And he adds that, even though it seems “grandma-y”, searching the local paper or event magazine for drink specials is the best way to keep a bar tab down to the minimum. “Everyone’s got the same mousetraps to get you in the door. As long as you take advantage of those, and only those, you’ve got six ways to Tuesday to have a good night.”

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Everyone’s heard the old moniker “Adapt or die”. Its necessity created a mainstream in which many big fish swim comfortably, and all smaller fish stayed out of the way or inevitably succumbed to the circle of life. In the way of groceries, organic produce is standing the test of mainstream life. Teetering between the ease of convenience and the ethics of sustainability, many Oklahomans work to find ways to make their products more accessible to a superstore world.

Kathy Downing and her husband own a sustainable ranch near Tulsa, and said that selling food cheaply is difficult because they are a small, family run business. “We just can’t afford to charge the same prices as the industrial farms,” she said, “but at the same time, we don’t want to take the ethical shortcuts they do to be able to offer that price.” Downing said that she feels the extra price is worth it, to save yourself from all of the toxins you’d put in your body if you ate industrial meats.

“It’s really hard for a kid in college with no money to buy 7 dollar loafs of bread every week,’ says Roger Sawkins, a senior at OU. The price seems to have been a main deterrent for many who wish to purchase sustainable foods. Sara Kaplan, co-owner of Native Roots Market, says that she thinks that for some, it will always come down to price. “But if they truly care about their health, it will save them money in the long run,” she adds.

Doug Rader, an employee of Native Roots since it’s opening, said he definitely notices a difference between the regulars and the ones who only come in sporadically. “Those that buy food unprocessed and unpackaged, they’re the ones that have the best skin, they’re the ones that have the most energy, they’re the ones who aren’t as sick as often,” he said. When asked about his own eating habits, he confessed to still enjoying resteraunts and fast food every once in a while. “Late at night we don’t have any options except for Taco Bell, McDonalds, and I-HOP, so it’s difficult to work organics into that,” he said.

The sustainability committee at the University of Oklahoma noticed this problem as well, and decided to be the ones who ignite change. Along with many other green efforts across the campus, they began buying the eggs and meats from local farmers, such as the Downing family. Downing said, “It’s been great working with a major client like OU, but of course we’re so excited that we get to be apart of improving the quality of the food those kids eat every day.”

Kaplan said they are taking steps to improve the convenience of organic foods as well. "We've just begun selling frozen organic pizzas made by a friend of mine," she said. Rader said he thinks this is a good way to ease people into the organic mindset. "It hopefully helps them say 'Hey, organic pizza really isn't that hard to make', and then hopefully they'll make it a part of their everyday lives."

Rader also said he thinks that for organic foods to become mainstream, shoppers will need to change the way they view food selection. "People are so used to going to megamarts and getting everything in one store and having it look fresh," he said, "but they need to remember that, in nature, fruits and nuts and berries and buffalo are never found in the same pasture." Hopefully, he said, we can reclaim our roots to nature and become better, healthier, happier people.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Winter weight could be mental

A student feasts on a footlong in his bedroom during a cold winter day.

In these last few weeks of winter, many are packing themselves into gyms to shape up for swimsuit season. As they run off the extra winter weight, they say so long to those creamy soups and warm fried meals that remind them of home. However, in this unseasonably long cold spell, many find it hard to replace their bowls of warm chili with a salad. “It’s hard when it’s snowing outside to motivate yourself to get to the gym, when you’d rather stay home, bake cookies, and watch a movie,” said Jeff Craighead, a senior at OU.

A lack of motivation may not be to blame for a person's unwillingness to move in the winter. Donna Tall Bear, an educator in the Department of Health and Exercise Science at OU, thinks craving comfort food is a human's most basic instinct. “This time of year we are very good at storing energy, as we needed to be when food was more scarce,” she said.

In essence, a human’s primal brain experiences something similar to hibernation, a survival instinct that shields them from harsh winters. Christen Roy, an employee at Huston Huffman Athletic facility, noticed how the weather effects the crowds at the gym. “It’s usually the most crowded before spring break till around September,” she said, “and on really cold days or rainy days it’s a ghost town.”

Tall Bear said that changes in weather can trigger a form of depression called Seasonal Effective Disorder. She says this disorder is temporary, but can have an effect on a person’s life and eating habits. “The sun provides us with certain vitamins that regulate our serotonin, a chemical that controls pleasure centers,” she said, “and we tend to eat to get the same pleasure response that we did from sunlight.”

Tall Bear argues that much of a human’s connection to food is tied with emotional needs and cultural nurturing. Kait Kishbaugh, a student at Oklahoma City University and native Pennsylvanian, never craved southern foods in high school. “I would always want steak or fish or grilled veggies. Now, having been in Oklahoma for a few years, I want fast food and chicken fried steak all the time,” she said. Tall Bear had similar experiences growing up in the northeast, and noted that Oklahoma's culture around food is quite different from her upbringing.

“The social implications surrounding food and alcohol here are much different. It’s just an accepted part of any social gathering to feast,” she said. She adds that this, in turn, creates an emotional connection with food.

With Oklahoma being the sixth fattest state in the nation, the sight of dishes piled with creamy, high-caloric meals is just a part of every-day scenery. Therefore, during ice storms and snow days, grocery stores notice that they stock certain items more than others. A Wal-Mart stockman remembers most often needing to refill the frozen pizza, cookie dough, and macaroni and cheese aisles.

So is there a way to override biology? Tall Bear said absolutely not. “You cannot override your primal brain. You cannot change your evolution. You cannot change your physiology,” she said. But, she does advise that men and women take a step back and examine their relationship with food.

“Ask yourself, why am I eating this? Am I bored? Am I stressed? What is my connection to this food?” she said.

A survey of 100 people at Huston Huffman shows that most had gained only five pounds, if any weight at all. “If you think about it, losing five pounds will take a college kid maybe a month to lose,” says Roy.

Tall Bear said that the key is always moderation. As long as you enjoy the things you love in small portions, you can maintain a healthy weight and maybe even not need to go to the gym 10 hours a week before spring break.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Society struggles with Lent
Spirituality versus popularity creates an emotional tug-of-war

Stores shelve miles of tempting easter candy during the Lent season.

Since we were children, Lent has always been seen as the time to drool over the pastel packaged bunnies and chocolate eggs until Easter morning came around.

Having given up sweets after receiving encouragement from our Sunday school teachers, we counted the days until we could wake up and feast upon these treats we denied ourselves for 40 long days.

But how much do we truly suffer during this time? We often forget that the root of Lent is to remind Christians of Jesus Christ's suffering in the desert to build a relationship with God.

Today, many people use Lent as a second chance at a New Year’s resolution.

Shinae Smith, a Catholic who chose to attend a Presbyterian church when she went to college, noted this fact.

“People say this gives them extra incentive and accountability to lose weight or stop drinking pop,” she said.

But Smith said that Lent should actually mean something completely different.

“For me, having that hunger pain during Lent will remind me not only of Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice to me, which was himself, but that he suffered for 40 days and nights and knows what it means to struggle.”

Smith is one of the few who still views lent as a spiritual reminder of the sacrifice of Jesus.

Even non-Christians now practice the act of Lent, simply because it is a common, widely-discussed topic.

OU student Katy Deitz says that even though she doesn’t attend church anymore, she still tries to give up something for Lent every year.

“ A lot of my friends give up something. It’s just become kind of a habit to at least try to give up something, cause so many people talk about it,” she said.

Katy is demonstrating what Pastor Mike Girlinghouse of University Lutheran says all humans want and need: the sense of belonging to a community.

“Why do we study in groups or go to football games? Cause it’s a heck of a lot more fun than reading on your own or watching it alone on TV. The same is true for Lent,” he said.

Pastor Girlinghouse said he is a spiritual man, but he is aware that Church more often serves as a place for people to be social rather than experience something spiritual.

He also said that people want to participate in Lent because we crave the desire to follow discipline.

“We live in a culture where there aren’t many disciplines, so we manifest those in our habits. These same patterns are found in those who make New Year’s resolutions,” he said.

Alex Shumate, the son of a Baptist preacher, said he sees church as a habit because he went with his parents every Sunday as a kid.

“It’s not that I don't feel spiritual when I go to church, because sometimes I do. But, like Lent, I go because it's what I've done my whole life,” said Shumate.

Shumate enjoys being able to discuss what he’s giving up for Lent with his friends, but he won’t flaunt it as he said some tend to do on their statuses for social networking sites.

“Like with praying, you don’t go up to people and say ‘I prayed to God today!’ It kind of defeats the purpose of building a spiritual relationship if you brag about it,” he said.

Shumate adds that people discuss their Lent accomplishments because it commands a certain amount of respect if you make it all the way through the 40 days without your chosen vice.

For most people, that vice is food.

“If you’re going to sacrifice something, you need to sacrifice something essential,” explains Pastor Girlinghouse, “and it doesn’t get more essential than food.”

So when you walk by the rows of candy at WalMart and want to cave in, either remembering your Christian faith or a committment to a friend will make easter morning that much sweeter.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

I hear...

Whatever it may be...the vacant lot in a sea of McMansions calls to me. The neighborhood is eerily empty. Families and couples out celebrating the holiday and their love for one another, as they should be. I am able to focus immediately. I hear what is immediately around me first...

I hear leaves. Dead leaves. I hear them rustle under my puppy’s feet. I hear them whisper to each other as the wind winds through their dreary, crispy maze. I hear them tumble over one another to escape the piercingly cold weather, only to be halted by the rattle of a chain link fence. I hear the leaves daintily crumble under the pressure of the puppy’s foot.

I hear her collar jingle. Softly, at first. She must be turning her head in curiosity. I visualize the collar turning with her, creating a ripple effect, only slightly behind its controller. She runs to satiate said curiosity, the collar running with her. It gains momentum, clanging at first, but increases so that it may be mistaken for an overzealous dinner bell.

The ringing collar stops abruptly. She must be distracted. I focus on enlarging my sound circle, extending it to the song of birds in trees I imagine to be high of the ground. They sound far away. Hopeful. Cheerful, even. The day's bright sun pierces through my closed lids and inspires them to sing to one another, wishing for the winter months to fade into warm summers. Ah, but it’s a tease. The biting wind whizzes past my earlobes, simultaneously stinging the skin’s surface and drawing blood towards the exposed appendages. My fingertips grow numb.

The ever-present sound of engines had been in the background until this moment. A polite honk of the horn, perhaps someone stuck at a green light, grabs my attention. I am now very aware of the consistent hum of vehicles. They climb the sound barrier, beginning as a distant whirr, building to a slow and constant vroom, and fading just as quickly as it climaxed. I am completely drawn to this sound. My mind challenges me to hear beyond it, and yet the cacophony refuses to cease. Instead of nature, I am reminded of technology and concrete and greenhouse gases.

It takes several moments of concentration, but I begin to listen again. I hear a bark, but not one whose origins are canine. This bark has bounced off of many walls and fences and trees to reach my eardrums. It is the end of an echo, the last sound wave of many.

There’s a bang to my right. It startles me. I hear it only once, and attribute the noise to old ramshackle storage sheds slowly dismantling in the neighborhood behind me, or an abandoned crowbar thrown poorly atop an unstable surface, unable to hold its resting place. Once I have convinced myself of this, I hear it again. And again. And again, but louder. I cannot see where the noise originates, but my ears tell me it is to my right. There is not a soul within 100 feet, I’m sure of it. I recognize the thought as silly, but I entertain notions of danger. Should I return to the safety and warmth of my home? Or satiate my curiosity?

The dog hears it too. Her feet trot across leaves long forgotten, leaves that became a part of the earth once their glorious fall color faded to a moth brown. She is heading to the right, towards the sound. Her fierce but apprehensive bark halts the banging. I feel her looking back at me for reassurance. I attempt to remain calm, and cheerfully call her to me. Drawn to happiness rather than danger, she joyfully sprints across the crusty ground to meet my embrace.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

It's the largest amount of superficial energy gathered in one place. It's lights flash in your pupils, bringing you to a sense of inertia, entrancing you to waste an entire paycheck in the slim hopes of doubling your money. The neon glow is only intensified when the bells and buzzers elicit a delighted squeal from a voice you can't see through the crowd. ...Could you be that voice? Maybe one more dollar...

Person Without a Portrait

Monday, February 1, 2010

dog picture - story to follow

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Target Audience

In discussing the needs of 'Norman Food Fans', one must consider the following: What food options are currently available to them? Is there anything lacking in their food connoiseur lifestyle? Where could they find those things they lack? Are there ways for them to add a wider menu selection to their nightly dinners? These questions and more would be answered in my articles addressing my target audience- 'Norman food fans'.
While Norman is a place of great cultural diversity, their distinction in food tends to falter. The tragedy is, there are many distinctive restaurants to be discovered in the OKC metro area, yet their lack of publicity keeps their name under wraps. Time and time again Norman residents will find themselves among the chains of I-35, stuck in the rut between Chili's and Applebees. Addressing my target audience, I plan to explore such cultural landmarks and, through my articles, make them household names.
Also in broadening the horizon of those Norman citizens interested in doing so, I would like to write about the cultural associations with certain holidays and food - Passover, Easter, Valentines Day, Lent, etc. Where did the culture begin? Is it still a time-honored tradition or has it been commercialized? Also, in these articles, I could explore different vendors that sell authentic holiday food, or how to make it through Valentine's Day when you're on a diet.
These articles would most hopefully benefit college students. Easy Mac and PB and J's get old quick, so I could produce articles geared towards teaching college students how to eat richly with few resources. This could branch off into many facets, such as cooking gourmet in a dorm room or how to get the most out of fifty dollars at the grocery store. The latter idea could serve Norman citizens on a budget as well.
On a similar note, I could also write about the food provided by the university, and how they are taking an interest in student's health. So often junk food is the most consumed item, often because a healthier alternative is not provided. How is the university counter-acting this? Do they plan to provide nutritional information? Will they add more health-conscious things to their menus?
Last, I would like to cover events centered around food. Does Norman offer cooking classes? Where can a Norman resident go to learn cake decorating? And even though it has already passed, things such as the Chocolate Festival or the State Fair would be excellent events to cover that traditionally are surrounded by food.
These and the other topics we discussed through e-mail will all broaden the options for a Norman resident who has taken an interest in food and wishes to integrate more interesting experiences and meals into their daily lives.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

About Me

I’ve always wanted my life to be enviable. I blame it on the Women’s Rights movement. Even though the unofficial holiday was meant to inspire my career aspirations, I absolutely hated going to my parent’s offices on Take Your Daughter to Work Day. I hated the fluorescent lights, the carpeted walls, the lack of creativity, spirit, passion and lack of color. Everyone always seemed busy and unhappy. At the ripe age of 10, I vowed that I would do something interesting and worthwhile with my career, something I would regale stories of to my grandchildren. Even though I had no preconception as to how this vow would be achieved, I blissfully skipped through elementary school knowing I was going to be different from my housewife-bound classmates.

My freshman year of high school, it occurred to me that dance, a hobby I had loved since I was three, would be a perfect profession. I had always harbored an intense passion for the art. My heart would fill with emotion when I would see members of the Tulsa Ballet move an audience to tears with their grace and other-worldly bodies. I attended a small dance school and was a member of pom, so I naively decided that would be more than enough experience for me to thrive in the dance world. It would be that easy. I would attend Oklahoma City University, alma matter of Kristin Chenowith. I still had stars in my eyes and was incredibly excited for my dancing future.

Turning your passion into a career is tricky. The same joy I had experienced throughout my formative years simply became a job. I resented my teachers for telling me I was overweight and not good enough, and I found no comfort in the unforgiving hierarchy of the dance world. I absolutely hated auditioning, and took rejection very personally. I developed serious body and weight issues and became highly reclusive. I was never diagnosed, but I was as close to depressed as an upper middle class suburban white female could be.

My parents and I then decided to re-work my life route. It took maturing for me to realize that they never were unsupportive of my goals. They just knew the hard knocks of a dancer’s life. We decided it would be best for me to have a back-up career path. So I applied to OU and became a journalism major.

Never have I been so happy with a decision. While I still love to dance, I have found that there’s room in my life for other passions as well. My whole body fills with adrenaline for every countdown on OU Nightly, even if I’m not on camera. I love hearing positive affirmation for my writing, and I love knowing that I have successfully told a story.

I also have scaled down my glamorous life requests, and in doing so found that I am most interested in local news. Local news doesn’t require the flash of major news networks and keeps a community in touch with one another. However, in pursuing local news brodcast I am aware that I will often have to be a 'one man band'. I have wanted to learn FinalCut and Photoshop for years, and I am so excited that Multimedia will help with this.

I hope that through this I may have a very small, but positive effect on the world. And yes, I may have wide-eyed aspirations, but there shouldn’t be such a vendetta placed against optimism. We could all use a little hope.