On Wednesday a few friends and I went to paint some pottery after work, at Practically Pikasso in Waco. It was a lot of fun, even though it took me forever to decide on what I wanted to do with my little asymmetrical bowl (something I plan to use, so long as the cats don't break it)! It's a really great activity to do with friends, as it takes a couple hours and you can chat the whole time. Somehow I don't think I've ever been to one of these places before, but I know I will be going again! I also learned it's a lot of fun to take pictures of art supplies- so colorful, and all sorts of shapes and sizes.
Our creations will be ready on next week; hopefully my little bowl will turn out well!
My sister introduced me to a new tumblr yesterday, We Are the 15 Percent, which features photos of mixed couples and families. It was created in response to ridiculous backlash from the Cheerios commercial which features a multi-ethnic, mixed race family. I think it can be hard for a lot of people to understand how this might make me or other mixed people or couples feel. It brings tears to my eyes, actually. Because no matter where I am, what country or state or neighborhood, I am always the minority. I am almost always the only one that looks like me. I am the confusing one, the one that people struggle with more than usual to put a label on, usually assigning me the wrong one. Black people don't consider me black. White people know I'm not white. I've had Indian people think I'm Indian. White people say I'm "some sort of Asian," (direct quote) Latina, Hispanic, Black, Native American. Pretty much anything that could fit my dark but not too dark skin and sometimes straight dark hair. Being mixed, a mix of whatever and however many parts, is the real minority in the world. I have never had a community with which I could relate, where I was not a visual rarity. So to see these pictures, of people like me, babies like I was and couples like me and my husband, it really feels like I have a place, for the first time. And that, if you can imagine, is a pretty big feeling.
As some of you know or kind of know, Kyle has recently left on his second deployment, this time to Kandahar, Afghanistan. We're told he will be gone for nine months, but with the military you never really know until they are actually on the plane leaving or returning. This deployment has been and will be quite different than the last, for both of us. I have experienced pretty extreme highs (feeling such kindness on d day, when anonymous strangers paid for our breakfast and friends checked in on me all day) and lows (pulling over on the highway because I was crying) already. But one thing is for sure, I don't think I've loved my husband more (or my cats; they're the best buddies).
Day Three: Monday May 20. On Monday we got dressed in our second most-professional attire and took the metro to the Smithsonian stop, where we talked about the USDA and the day for a bit, before heading over to the USDA building to get our snazzy visitor badges! There we met first with Max Finberg, USDA StrikeForce Coordinator and Director of Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, who spoke to us about what the USDA does, the seven areas in which the USDA works (rural development, foreign agriculture service, food safety, etc), and the importance of collaborations and taking full advantage of existing organizations. Next we went to lunch at the USDA cafeteria (amazing) where we ate with Undersecretary Kevin Concannon, whose only bosses are President Obama and Secretary Vilsack, before meeting with him back in his offices. He filled us in on some recent statistics about the various federal meal programs, and we were able to ask him some questions. Lastly we met with Dr. Robert Post, Associate Executive Director of USDA's CNPP. He spoke to us about the USDA's new MyPlate initiative, which has been introduced to replace the food pyramid, serving as a simple visual cue to remind us what our plates should look like (see image below). One quote I wrote down from him is that "the food industry is not the problem, but they have to be a part of the solution," and he also said that it is possible to eat healthy on a budget, which I don't think is necessarily true, or is at least much more complicated than a simple budgeting issue.
We then walked across the mall to the Museum of American History Smithsonian, to see their Food exhibit, which was pretty cool, even seeing how food marketing has changed over the years, all the many forms of coffee cup lids, and the evolution of the shopping cart. After that we had free time until we met up at Ben's Chili Bowl for dinner (I went with some folks to the Museum of African Art- amazing!). Ben's is a famous little hole in the wall spot (Obama famously visited) which I had somehow not been to in my two years in DC. Not the place to go if you're looking for healthy eating, but definitely the place to go if you're looking for a place with character, history, and chili dogs. After that we took the metro to Dupont Circle (kick off of Embassy Row; I once went to an event at the Indonesian embassy), wandered around, and got ice cream!