Thursday, November 17, 2016

thursday things

So many things in my head, so little time to write them out coherently.

- I'm in a book slump. I think the vacation/election/daylight savings triple whammy have just made it hard for me to get lost in a good story. I haven't read or listened to a book since mid-October. I have Commonwealth checked out from the library - is it any good?

- The Gilmore Girls revival is next week. I admit, I have a bit of Gilmore fatigue. It went from being a show that was shared among a select group of diehards who were glued to the CW in the early 2000s to being this phenomenon that everyone knows and not to be too much of a hipster, but it was more fun when the fanbase was smaller. I should be happy that something so great has been shared with the masses but honestly, I feel a little Gilmore-d out. That said, if anyone ruins Seasons for me, I'll cut you.

- The election, you guys. I keep trying to inform myself from different sources, read more, and form my own opinions based on more than articles that are shared on Facebook (because didn't you hear? They're mostly fake). I signed up for a washingtonpost.com digital account (free with my .edu email address!) and actually try to read articles that interest me, or those that sound slanted, or things with which I feel like I don't agree. Maybe it's confirmation bias, but doing these things still has be deeply concerned about the next four years.

- Onto lighter things: the show Search Party starts on Monday on TBS. Andrew and I went to a screening for the pilot when we went to the ATX TV Festival over the summer and both really, really liked it. It kind of had the self-aware tone of Girls with less sex and more of a plot. They're playing the entire series in a row so you can set your DVR and binge at will.

- Everything that I want to post about in bullet point form (like the amazing Adele concert and finding a new, hidden coffee shop) I've posted about on Instagram lately so here's a reminder to follow me there if you don't already. How do you feel about Instagram stories? Not gonna lie, I love seeing who has viewed mine yet never ever seems to like any of my photos.

- I'm trying to "like" more lately. Like more instagram posts, more tweets, more cute photos of people's kids or pets on Facebook. Those damn digital hearts shouldn't have meaning, but isn't it sometimes nice to get a little acknowledgement? On a blogging note, I've been reading a lot and commenting less. Time to spread that liking over to this area a whole lot more (and, um, maybe respond to comments from weeks ago? Eeek.).

- Thanksgiving. For the first time in over ten years, Andrew and I are hosting. It's his family, which is thankfully much, much smaller than mine and there will only be 11 of us, total. And, my brother-in-law went to culinary school so Andrew has a sous chef far more skilled than I am. And we'll spend Black Friday eating BBQ because of course we will. At least he isn't cooking that, too.

Why is it that I always think I have so much to blog about but by the time I sit down to put thoughts into words, my mind is blank? Tell me I'm not alone. Also, John Mayer has new music out today and since much of my musical taste is held over from 2003, I'm pumped. Linking up with Kristin and Joey for Stuff and Things.


Thursday, November 10, 2016

post election post

You need more election thoughts like you need another picture of a red Starbucks cup, but I need to get this out of my head so that I can process and move on. This is one for me, not for you.

At first, I was with her because I was for anyone but Trump. As the race went on, though, I started to feel like I was more with her. Yes, the email situation was bad. Yes, Benghazi is a whole score of things that went wrong and there is blame on many, many people. But there were things she said and was going to work on that are important to me.

I respect your right to own guns, but I don’t think you need a semi-automatic weapon. I work in a school. I get messages about “troubled” students we need to be on the lookout for. Every time I’m reminded of the uniformed officers who patrol my campus, who are fathers and mothers working this extra job to help their families, I send up good thoughts that they never have to put their lives on the line to save mine. I stood with the candidate who was going to work to get the most dangerous weapons out of the general public’s hands.

You may not realize it, but I’m half Mexican. I never had much of a racial identity growing up; I was definitely raised identifying as white, but normally felt not white “enough.” I’ve had people say derogatory things about the Latino community in my presence when they didn’t know my last name. Luckily, my grandparents were born here so I pass Ann Coulter’s test. But crazy people on the streets don’t know that. If they see my darker-complected grandmother or aunt or father walking around, I fear that those who support our future president will harass them or threaten to deport them, simply because our leader seems to think that’s okay. There is absolutely nothing in my heritage that gives my family more of a right to be here more than someone trying to come to America today (but perhaps there’s a prize for getting here first? May I remind you that it does not say RSVP on the Statue of Liberty). I also – since I look like your average Caucasian – feel the need to apologize to the people of color I encounter on a daily basis, out loud, even if I don’t know them that well. I’m sorry that it seems that so many in my race failed you and didn’t take your actual daily struggles into account.

I’m with her because I couldn’t be with him. I couldn’t support a man who would decry an entire religion based on the actions of some. Are we going to stop allowing white men in public? They seem to commit the most mass shootings, after all. I believe marriage is between two people who love one another. Period. I believe a woman has the right to control her own body, whether it’s from the unwanted advances of a man or an unwanted pregnancy. I believe in America as a land of opportunity and that there should be a path to citizenship for good people. I don’t believe in breaking families up through deportation and I don’t think a wall is the answer to the war on drugs or illegal weapons. I admit, I believe in these things SO MUCH that yes, I was able to overlook any flaws that Hillary Clinton has. And there are many. She IS human after all. No candidate has ever been perfect. A certain amount of trickery is always involved in getting things done in government. Haven’t you seen Lincoln?

I will find it hard to support Mr. Trump in the next four years. I believe that the 16 women who spoke out against his treatment toward them were speaking the truth. Men of America, please know that sexual assault isn’t something someone would claim for attention. I do think his financial privilege puts him at a disadvantage when dealing with most of America, his quick temper will cause him to spend more time apologizing than getting things done, and his ugly rhetoric will continue to incite his most ardent supporters and disappoint those of us who don’t see the same version of America he so clearly does. I have never before wanted to be wrong about a person so badly, though, and I definitely hope to be proven wrong.

Let me be clear: Democrats aren’t “whining” because their candidate lost the election; they are feeling lost and helpless in their home country because the president-elect has made promises to do things that will disenfranchise them moving forward. His worldview seems to indicate to him that Latinos work for him and the black community is limited to inner cities. He may nominate a Supreme Court Justice who will tip the Court into overturning longstanding cases, or encourage additional profiling based on ethnicity or religion, or hell, he may even push a button in a briefcase just to prove he can. We don’t know now, but we do know we don’t want to live in that world. People have rioted for far less; at least this time, it’s more. We are also afforded the right to peaceful protest, and I hope that Mr. Trump sees these groups and what they stand for and takes them into account when January 20th rolls around.


But this is America and democracy is king, so we have to move on. I have hope in those who will stand up for what’s right, even if it’s against the President. I have hope in this wakeup call so that we all begin seeking and respecting different viewpoints. I was under the impression most Americans, regardless of party, thought Trump was a joke; clearly, I was wrong. So was the media and the pundits and the late night show joke writers. But we all still have to go to our jobs and love our families and live our lives. It’s now our burden to do it in a way that shows increased love, tolerance, and strength in order to combat whatever lies ahead.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

bbq wife life by the numbers

A pop-up is when a restaurant or concept takes over a space that isn't its own for a limited time. Since Doubleback BBQ doesn't have a "home," pop-up is a good phrase for the monthly food services they keep putting on. The one over the weekend was the 6th.

(I struggle with saying "we" in conjunction with Doubleback; on the one hand, I help where I can. I feel pride and a sense of ownership through my husband's hard work and some of my own. On the other hand, I make it very, very clear that this isn't my dream and don't work nearly as hard as Andrew and his business partner.  That's why I like the BBQ Wife concept, and others in similar situation seem to get it. Our husbands are completely consumed by smoked meat, whether it's making it, eating it, thinking about it, or writing about it. Anyway.)

So many good ideas come from Jana and Steph. This post idea seemed to work really well with summing up how the weekend went, and BBQ life in general:

2 - services - both lunch and dinner

4 - types of meat

20 - hours of brisket smoking

3 - extra trips to the store I made because someone forgot something

5.5 - combined hours of sleep on Friday night for the pitmasters

43 - estimated number of apple crumble bars cut and packaged by yours truly

7.5 - lbs of German potatoes prepared and sold (they were an unexpected hit!)

4 - dishwasher loads of dishes from prep to post-event in my house alone

5 - people working for a smooth service

25 - hours spent smoking meat

9 - bottles of Doubleback BBQ sauce sold (all that was made!)

10 - supportive friends and family members of Andrew and me who showed up to eat

1 - amazing birthday cake bought by Doubleback BBQ (ironically, from Truth BBQ) for their wives' October birthdays... it was phenomenal and even half of it was so massive that I'm going to have to freeze it.

50 - forks and knives wrapped with a napkin and sealed with a Doubleback BBQ logo (not by me,  but by my BBQ wife partner in crime who is way nicer) (And they all disappeared and then some so there were probably 65-70 people served, at least.)

90 - lbs of meat (before cooking) prepared for the event

6 - lbs of tater tots in the tater tot casserole

48 - homemade buns made, sold, and eaten for the event (brioche hamburger buns and pretzel hot dog style buns)

2 - number of smokers used

0 - Nothing. What was left at the end of the night. They were completely sold out and had people bummed to have missed out on dinner. What a great feeling.

A pic I took of the aforementioned apple streusel bars during our test run the weekend before, along with mustard made from a local Oktoberfest beer and homemade sauerkraut.

Some things are harder to put into numbers, like how I had to learn really quickly how to take an order in a way that made sense, use a credit card swiper, be friendly to customers (whoa you guys, they have actual customers!), learn people's names, and talk about the food all at once, on a Saturday, when I had been on my feet helping all day. But this was the most successful night yet. People who we didn't know before this started are coming to the bar to eat their food, asking for certain menu items, leaving Facebook reviews, taking photos of their plates, and basically validating the fact that they're doing really, really well at this thing. It's like when you plant a seed and you barely start to see it sprout through the dirt; it's confirmation that something's in there, that thing you started wasn't a dream, and there are things that you can't see working. The change from event to event is small, but it's a huge change from where they were in April. Let's see where the numbers take them next.


Monday, October 17, 2016

the things unsaid

... aka, the posts I haven't written yet. I wrote this post to join Alyssa's non-challenge blogging challenge but realized after mostly finishing this post that I read the prompt wrong and this should be things I haven't written but want to.  I just thought about things I haven't written and honestly, this is all I'm going to say about most of them. I mostly just want to be more motivated to write more.

There are many reasons I haven't written many posts. A lot of it goes back to thinking that no one cares what I think about things and no one really reads blogs anymore which is why I wanted to embrace this challenge at least once while Alyssa is running it. It's hard to find motivation to sit in front of a computer for what seems like no reason.

Many posts are silly and haven't happened because I was to lazy to recap something and now, the moment is gone:

- What to pack on a trip to Napa (this padded, cross-body camera strap was the biggest reason I wanted to write it - I love it!) (Not an affiliate link because I'm not fancy.)

- How we ended our Napa trip... that we took in September 2015. In short, we went on a safari and even though it wasn't supposed to be like a zoo, it was. It was fun but sad. A cool experience, but not a must do.

- A recap of the ATX Festival, season five. That happened in June. In short: it was biker week in Austin so our AirBnB was super loud, Friday Night Lights is one of the best shows of all-time, you should watch the show Search Party when it airs on TBS in November, and Tate Donovan aka Jimmy Cooper playing Jimmy Cooper in front of me in an OC script reading was fantastic. Olamaie is also a must-visit restaurant next time you're in Austin.

On top of our safari jeep in California | In the REAL Panther Fieldhouse with the authentic J. Street signature and Panther P | Tate Donovan in the center, surrounded by Jack from Revenge and Mindy Riggins.

Some things just never got fleshed out, but were probably mentioned in other blog posts in passing:

- Blog Your Unpopular Opinions, volume two. Volume one happened way back in 2013. Volume two includes things like my dislike of Chipotle, Scandal, spirit animal, Fri-yay, and hashtags in blog posts. Sorry guys, they just aren't for me.

- My at home alone behaviors. Lots of trash TV, laying in bed like a starfish, and listening to bad music - what would you expect?

And other things are just hard to write. Or I don't want them on the internet forever for various reasons:

- My feelings on everything election-worthy. If you follow me on twitter, you can see that I'm With Her, but I've never listed why. Normally we don't talk politics, but this election has changed the rules. Voting for him just seems like a step back in history and it seems to be obvious that most people are voting for anyone but him. I've considered elaborating on that beyond 140 characters, but why take a chance on spreading misinformation, pushing my opinion as fact, or trying to be better than many of the awesome things already out there?

- Kids. I don't even want to elaborate on why. I feel it's a very "you do you" topic so I'll just stay over here keeping quiet.

- A time I was wronged that still stings when I think about it. It was a long time ago, and it doesn't need to be addressed, but not posting it does show how much I fear being vulnerable on the internet.

The more I think of posts I wouldn't write, the more topics I realize there are. Some stories aren't mine to share. Some ideas would come across so one-sided that they would hurt others in my life if they ever came across them. Some topics are still such a mystery to me that I wouldn't know how to tell anyone else what I feel about them, let alone why. What are some posts you haven't written, whether you intend to or not?

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

book talk

This post is coming to you from day two of a cold medicine induced haze. It's probably a good thing that I didn't read much this month because I don't think I could handle a longer post.

My guess is that the combo of new TV shows, getting up more consistently to go to the gym (which eliminates my nighttime reading time), and nothing good coming up at the library has contributed to my weakest reading month yet. Such is life - more to come this month, I'm sure.

(A) I Remember Nothing: And Other Reflections - I read another Nora Ephron book a few years ago and really liked it. When I saw that this one was narrated by her (she wrote When Harry Met Sally and You've Got Mail, among other things), I thought it would be a fun audiobook. Unfortunately, it came across in many places like a cranky old(er) woman was complaining about the next generation. Some parts where poignant and made you think about aging as a whole, but that would have come across much better in a print book. (3 stars)

(A) Calling Me Home - This one may have been recommended by another link-up person. It isn't something I would normally read. A 90 something white woman asks her hairdresser - who is in her 30s and black - to take her on a road trip from Texas to Cleveland to attend a funeral. The story is told from the POV of the older woman, telling the story her forbidden first love with the black son of the woman who cleaned her house and from the POV of the hairdresser dealing with her own love life and children in present day. I hated the audiobook narrators for this so, so much but I was just curious enough about where it would go to keep listening. Had I been using my free time to read this myself, though, I probably just would have quit. Am I the only one more lenient with audiobooks since I use them along with my more passive time? It was fine, but no need to rush off to grab it. (3 stars)

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child - I started reading Harry Potter books in high school, right around the time book four came out, and anxiously awaited each subsequent book like everyone else. I wasn't sure how to approach the play - JK Rowling has very specifically asked people not to post spoilers - but I really liked it (plot elements follow - if you consider that a spoiler, stop reading). Cursed Child basically picks up at the end of the 7th book, with Harry and friends dropping their kids off to head to Hogwarts. Harry's middle son, Albus, is the titular Cursed Child. It's strange to see Harry as an adult, especially as a flawed parent rather than a clever boy who can work his way out of everything. The play is missing Rowling's trademark descriptors (since it's meant to be acted out and not read) and it doesn't quite carry the magic of the seven books. But, overall it was a fun little visit back to Hogwarts, like seeing an old friend you've missed. I would love to see how some of the wizarding world elements are put on stage, so if Cursed Child ever travels, I definitely want tickets. (4 stars)

The Hopefuls - I saw this book described as hilarious but it didn't make me laugh at all. All of the main characters seemed mostly miserable and unhappy with their lives with only one really willing to do something about it. I think the thing that really bothered me, though, was that a large portion of the book takes place in Sugar Land, Texas, a suburb of Houston (and where I spent a lot of my teen years). The home in Sugar Land is described as having a basement (we don't have basements in this part of Texas as it floods all the time and we're too close to sea level!) and a big deal was made of Torchy's Tacos, which wasn't in Sugar Land at the time this book took place - a detail that just annoyed me. Overall, though, the book didn't have much of a point or tell a story that was all that interesting. I kept thinking there would be a big reveal, or something that someone was hiding, but the thing to cause conflict that happened at the end was over so fast that it was almost inconsequential to the reader. It's an easy read, and maybe I missed something since I mostly read it while I was sick, but I think it's one that's safe to skip unless you're really into DC life (3 stars).

I just got The Light Between Oceans and I'm Glad About You from the library - any suggestions as to which to read first? Congrats to Steph and Jana on two years of Show Us Your Books and here's to many more!