First of all, welcome back, Columbians! I’m happy to be back on campus for my senior year (2014 whatttt). I love and missed you all more than I expected. For my first column of the year I thought it would be best to address the very important topic of cookies.
I’m being totally (OK, about 50 percent) serious here. If you’ve read any of my previous columns, you know I have a love/hate, mildly codependent relationship with Westside cookies. For the past three years, they have been the conquest of many a 2 a.m. journey. From white chocolate macadamia nut to double chocolate chunk, these cookies have become a delicious constant of my Columbia career. In four years I’ve lost friends, switched majors, and questioned my place in the world. But Westside cookies have always been there–my delicious, chewy rock in the midst of the storm.
Some of my other cookie faves on and around campus are also tasty, but far less reliable. First and foremost: John Jay cookies. Somewhere around seven times a year they are fresh, hot, and not oatmeal raisin–although you have to make a mad dash to hoard as many of these cookies as possible, as they disappear in seconds. They are a rare, rare joy, and they taste like a delicious trophy (that chocolate mint chip, though). Sadly, I have given up on the meal plan and will be relying on friends’ generosity for those ever-elusive sugary morsels.
Another dessert friend is Barnard/Columbia catering cookies. Always plentiful and always free, these are some solidly mediocre cookies. They are always a little stale, and seem to be sweetened with Splenda, but beggars can’t be choosers. While the boring yet weirdly satisfying sugar cookies will do in a pinch, hold out for the peanut butter cookies if they have them. Those with nut allergies, I’m sorry for your struggle.
Fast-forward to this August, and a new contender has entered the race: Insomnia Cookies. Oh boy. Tailored to night owls? They deliver to suit my lazy needs? The cookies are fresh and hot and delicious? R.I.P. diet plans, and hello Senior 15. (Jesus, I hope I’m being hyperbolic.) In light of the store’s recent opening on Amsterdam, my entire late night snacking regimen has to be re-evaluated. These cookies seriously rival my old favorite, and might even one-up it with the fresh-baked factor. (Not to mention Westside is a pretty far trek from EC—ain’t nobody got time for that.)
I’m proud of myself because so far I’ve only ordered Insomnia once and didn’t even devour the entire order in one sitting. Progress. Perhaps this change in cookie choice is nothing but a good omen of what is to come this year. While gauging my life by cookies may be a little juvenile, I’m feeling hopeful that my final year is going to be pretty … sweet.
Do you know how hard it is to eat vegetables? Really, really hard. At least for this meat-loving, cookie-chomping, soda-guzzling girl. I recently started cooking vegetables in more dishes than my staple favorite sautéed spinach and have even cooked some vegetarian (!) meals. Right now I’m in the convincing-myself-vegetables-taste-good phase rather than the boy-I-sure-love-veggies phase. But it was time for a change.
My eating habits in these past 21 years of life have been mediocre at best and admittedly horrendous at worst. I’ve tried y’all, I really have. I’ve done juice cleanses to “jumpstart” my new healthy lifestyle (they typically end after two days with Indian takeout). I’ve tried planning out my meals, counting calories, logging what I eat (hint, its mostly sugar). I tried to seek out help on the Internet and embarrassingly have a secret online pin board called “Get Fit Krista!”
Notably, I pretty much only buy healthy foods when I go grocery shopping (side note: Whole Foods is an overpriced, bougie land of wonder). However, my dinners pilfered from shape.com are usually completely overshadowed by the twix I ate as a treat or the Dr. Pepper I just had to have after my difficult day of skipping all my classes. Not to mention the nights, a la Frodo and Co., when I inexplicably have a second dinner.
The bags of cookies, the entire medium jalapeño and pepperoni pizzas, the late night onion rings, are getting out of hand. I know why I do it, though. Food is an easy coping mechanism and I have poor impulse control. It’s the same hamartia that leads to Netflix binges and online shopping splurges. I don’t think I was always this way. I once (foolishly) looked back at photos of myself as a high school senior and I was the slimmest I’ve ever been. Maybe I just had a faster metabolism back then, but I really think it was because I was happy and content and confident. Sure, I was stressed about college and boys and what dress I would wear to graduation, but I wasn’t experiencing the soul-numbing anxiety I’ve felt in college. Plus, I had a cute boyfriend and an even cuter haircut. The point is, I knew who I was, what I wanted, and that I was well on my way to achieving it.
Flash forward four years to a girl who is 700% done with college but excessively concerned about what I’m going to do when I graduate. Actor? Writer? Professional intern? Do I even have any marketable skills? These are the burning questions that fuel my late night snack sessions. I’ve been working really, really hard on the symptoms and never as much I should be on the root of the problem. I need to be digging for answers like the ones my directors ask me when I’m in a show. Who am I? What on earth do I want? And how do I find my identity when I’m too full of sour cream ruffles to think? These feel like daunting, insurmountable questions, but I think I’m going to start doing my very best to answer them, instead of reaching for another snack. Food is not meant to be my crutch. Food is meant to be nourishment and comfort and joy. I want to bring the joy of eating back into my life, and so I will. And while I’m on this grand journey of self-discovery, I might just start to like veggies, even if only a little bit.
Krista White is a Columbia College senior majoring in theater. Noshing on the Big Apple runs alternate Fridays.