Wednesday, April 23, 2014

who I am and who I want to be

I like a lot of things about myself. I'm honest, a decent listener, an above-average tipper, and friendly when I want to be. But, I confess - there's a type of person I want to be.

I want to be that person who is always there when you need them. Who always sends a note when you need encouragement, knows when to offer to help you out, compliments you on your worst day without even knowing how you feel, and gives a lot of themselves to other people.

The same way I had to learn to say "Thank you for having me over, Mr. and Mrs. So-and-so" as a child, I find myself as an adult needing to learn the social norms of generosity. Being a good friend and a better person. It isn't ingrained in me, and it doesn't come naturally.

I don't know if it's my only-childness, how my brain works, or some combination. When you tell me something is going badly with you, I care, I promise, but I tend to think that you will tell me about the bad stuff if you want to, and if you don't, I should change the subject to something else, like me or the weather. But adult women like to talk. We just need prodding sometimes, and some extra questions, and a little extra time. I'm working on giving all of that.

I'm also working on trying to be the initiator. Perhaps we are all a little scared of our invitations being declined, or we all just assume everyone is busy, but I think a lot of people are shy about inviting people to do things. I know I get that way; I assume if you wanted to hang out, you would ask. But if you assume the same thing about me that I assume about you, will we ever see one another? Not likely. So I am trying to keep track of who I haven't seen in a while, who I want to see, and what that person likes to do. I want to initiate because I want to be friends. I want to initiate email conversations with blog friends when time and content permit.

I forget to send follow-up texts when I know friends have had a job interview, I don't remember dates well at all, and my brain doesn't switch in to "helping out" mode when I'm visiting someone's home. I hate! I want to be the person who is thoughtful and caring and is there when you need me. It doesn't come naturally, but it's something I want to change. I want to make the effort to be that person.

I envy people for whom empathy and generosity seem organic - they don't to me. I keep tallies in my head when people buy me things and I want to repay them - beyond birthdays or Christmas, it's hard for me to accept something "just because." I am not particularly giving, but I should be: I mean, I have so much and I am very fortunate, but other than donating things that I no longer need or want, my giving spirit is pretty non-existent. I want my heartstrings to be tugged at and to give with a happy heart, not because Sarah McLachlan songs and sad puppy eyes made me do it.

This is one of my struggles, and while there are many other, more real struggles out there, this is something I don't like about myself, something that I can change. And I should! I'm working on asking the follow-up questions of friends, thinking of what I can do to be of help to others, and even giving too big of a bill for two cookies at a charity bake sale at work (baby steps, people. Rome wasn't built in a day.). I want to be that person, and even more, I want it to come naturally. Just like thanking someone who has me in their home is now automatic, I want the rest of it to follow. After all, who doesn't want to add to the things they like about themselves list?


Linking up with Kathy and Steph!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

the way I was (embarrassing photos ahead...)

I remember what it was like in 1996 when I was in fifth grade and a teacher told us that there was one special computer in the school library that could "talk" to a computer at another school in another state. We were going to do the same research and compare data with them each week. It was a big deal. This was the first I had ever heard of the internet.

Remember those machines where you could be on a magazine cover? I probably begged my parents to let me do this... Also, sorry for so many pictures of pictures but my scanner never works.

When I was in my most awkward, formative years, I needed glasses. They didn't have rows and rows of cute ones for kids at each eye doctor; instead, there were about five choices and they were pretty much unisex. Hello, Bug Eyes. I'm grateful I finally got contacts in 8th grade but from 3rd until then, I had huge "nerd glasses," as my husband now affectionately calls them.

Cat lady (my mom still has the sister of that cat - she'll be 20 next month) | I'm in the middle. This was my mom and step-dad's wedding and those are my cousins.

In middle school and early years of high school, the really lucky kids had pagers. You had to come up with different codes so your friends knew what your page meant! I didn't have a pager, but I was lucky enough to get a cell phone when I was 16 - the Nokia kind with the snap off faceplate and that had the game Snake installed.

Do you remember when cameras weren't everywhere? We had to actually plan ahead, buy film, wait to take 24 photos (because you used it sparingly, remember?), and get the film developed. If you were like me and had to pay for that yourself, you paid as little as possible, waited 3-4 long days, and finally got your photos back. It was a real treat if my parents offered to pay and I got one hour delivery.

I thought I was so hot when I was 13 and I got to get Glamour Shots. Check out the totally age-appropriate white button down  and brown lipstick (did I age 40 years that day? Why am I in front of a body of water? WHERE ARE MY FRECKLES?)

I don't think I had the internet at home until my first or second year of high school, which made me so uncool. Was there anything worse than someone using the phone and getting you kicked offline, "your" AOL dialing number not connecting because it was too busy, a song download getting stuck at 98%, or wondering if someone's vague Instant Messenger away message was about you? No, no there was not. AlSo, wE tYpEd LiKe tHis (whyyyyy?).

This was my favorite BUM Shirt from Contempo Casuals - I think it was the first I got in adult sizes. The holes punched through my head are there because this photo was in my Five Star planner that my friends and I filled with the coolest things we could find - stickers, pictures, collages, and notes. Was that a trend anywhere else?

I loved TV and getting my own VCR and a stash of blank tapes was a big deal. Accidentally recording over an episode of Gilmore Girls that I had yet to watch was pretty awful (the episode where Lorelai inherits money and pays back her parents for Rory's education? I didn't see that until, like, five years after it aired because I recorded over it. I'm still annoyed). Make sure the tape isn't set on the two hour setting or you will be in trouble when you try to record all your shows!

In high school I guess I thought I was rebellious for dancing on a table in a science lab? Also check out my cool Rainbow Brite shirt and velvet flares. I know, I wish I had kept them because they are obviously still so stylish...

I also fondly remember making mix tapes by recording songs off the radio, passing notes in class, and making collages from magazine cut-outs. That was my favorite hobby and even as an adult, I still notice cute fonts and pictures that would be perfect for the imaginary collage I guess I'm still making in my head. When my friends and I were bored, we would wander around the neighborhood, or call a cute boy and see if he would meet us at the park. We snuck beyond the area our parents allowed us to hang out and went to the gas station or grocery store to buy candy. I walked around barefoot more places than my adult, germaphobe self cares to remember. I didn't have a cell phone, and I didn't get kidnapped. My mom didn't dress me in the trendiest clothes marketed at kids and when Limited Too became popular, I had to beg to shop there. Off of the clearance rack, because it was way more expensive than my normal Target and Walmart staples. Back in my day, I think being a kid was a lot easier than it is now, even though then I thought it was so hard.

Thanks for hosting such a fun link-up, Suze and Steph, and giving me an excuse to dig up some dorky and embarrassing pictures!

suze blog

Monday, April 21, 2014

bbq, wine, and comedy in austin

I had such a great weekend in Austin! Let's get to the good stuff (and tons of pics).

Andrew and I left the house at 6 a.m. on Good Friday. I luckily slept most of the way there and we got in line at Franklin BBQ. For the uninitiated, Franklin BBQ was named the Best BBQ in America by Bon Appetit Magazine a few years ago. The lines are notoriously long and they only serve until they sell out - usually around 1 p.m. The line itself is a true experience - people bring beer, breakfast, lawn chairs, music, frisbees, all kinds of stuff. If you want food from Franklin (especially Friday - Sunday), you just have to commit to a long wait. Through all of the different BBQ places we have tried all over Texas, Andrew still says that Franklin is the best. I will agree - it is damn delicious - the meat actually melts in your mouth. I hate that expression, but it's true. So, anyway, Andrew dropped me off in line at 8:05 with my lawn chair and magazines and went to get us coffee.

The restaurant opens at 11 and we didn't order until close to 1. Due to all the beef and pork I've had lately, I was dying for some of Franklin's delicious turkey. We were two people away from ordering when a staff member said they were out of turkey. I looked at Andrew like he had forgotten my birthday - five hours in line and NO TURKEY? Yes, everything else is good and this was definitely a first world problem but it was so something that would happen to me that I just started laughing. We ordered (with plenty to take back for some of his coworkers) and the guy cutting the meat asked if we wanted any turkey. "What? There's some left?" I did a total 180. He put the last half pound in our order and I thanked him for making my day. Andrew thanked a higher power for our luck because if I had stood in line for that long and not gotten the thing I was craving, he never would have heard the end of it!

Someone who lives in the apartments across the street has a twitter account where they post pics of the line every day, We were where the arrow is on the left, behind the woman in purple.

The food was phenomenal, as always. The fatty brisket was perfect, ribs were perfectly cooked and delicious, and the turkey had great flavor. We tried the bourbon banana pie, too, and it was great. Aaron Franklin, the owner/smoker/pseudo-celeb (people were getting his autograph and taking pics) saw me getting up to get more paper towels and brought them to me and came over to chat about Andrew's Houston BBQ Festival shirt. He was so genuinely friendly and he didn't have to be - he could have hid in a back room - and his kindness, as well as that of his staff (the guy cutting the meat talked to Andrew about the Giants' draft prospects and the cashier chatted about his love of the Menil Collection, a museum in Houston) makes me happy to support this place. The food is that good that they could be the BBQ nazis and still do amazing business, but the fact that they are nice on top of it made the experience that much better!

Andrew's had a Giants sticker in his wallet for a long time so we decided to leave our mark | the famous signs | so much meat! It wasn't all for us, I promise!

After checking into our hotel, taking a walk, and a little rest, we were headed out for the night. We decided to check out Lenoir, a restaurant with a small menu that's supposed to be great. Since we were still full and short on time, we skipped dinner in favor of small plates and drinks on the patio. The patio was beautiful! It was behind the restaurant and shaded by a huge tree. Gladys Knight played from an actual turntable and there were board games out to play. The weather was perfect and I would have loved to sit there all night. The small plates were half off and we shared a bean salad, smoked snapper on a crostini, and a chocolate pot de creme. The food was great and you couldn't beat the price (I think each plate was around $4). The toast was savory and fishy without being overpowering and the pot de creme came with grapefruit, which I normally hate, but this wasn't tart and was so nice with the rich chocolate.

Bean Chaat Salad | Snapper Toast | Chocolate Grapefruit Pot de Creme | Cute decor

The reason we chose this weekend to go to Austin was to see Tom Haverford Aziz Ansari. I just started watching Parks and Rec recently but I have heard his comedy was good. He basically riffs on things that are actual issues people our age deal with - like friends being noncommittal with plans in case something better comes along, being in a relationship vs. dating around, and even how we get our food. It was a great show and really funny. He even encouraged everyone to take a photo of him at the beginning so no one would have to during his set.

"Take a blurry ass picture you'll never look at again." So true, but here it is! Our seats were awesome!

Normally, when we're on trips like this, I like to take advantage of the change in scenery and stay out late, but due to the early wake-up call that morning, plans the next day, and the fact that the hotel room was free to us (funded by this weird thing at Andrew's work), we went to bed pretty early.

On Saturday, we got up pretty early and checked out a Farmer's Market pretty close to the hotel. It was great - tons of fresh produce, flowers, coffee, honey, and other things, as well as booths selling tons of food. I had a taco from Tacodeli with Mexican mashed potatoes, refried black beans, and Monterrey Jack cheese - perfect for someone who doesn't like scrambled eggs. We shared kolaches from The Zubikhouse - one with sausage and cheese, one with fig preserves, goat cheese, brown butter, and sage. Both were awesome. Andrew had some tacos that I didn't care for and we got some Mexican coffee. I love situations like this where I can try a little bit of everything.

After a walk back to the hotel and checking out, we headed out for more food. Andrew has wanted to try Mickelthwaite BBQ for a long time and after he described their homemade moon pies to me, I was in. We got there around 11, when they opened, and got food by 12 . We shared a three meat plate - brisket, ribs, and their sausage of the day, a pork belly boudin sausage. The brisket was good but when compared to Franklin, just didn't compare. The ribs were fine and I liked the sausage a lot. My favorite thing, though, was the jalapeño cheese grits. They were cheesy and perfect, with a hint of jalapeño flavor but very little heat. Luckily we got a double order so we could eat half for lunch and saved the rest for that night. The moon pie also got saved and was eaten for breakfast on Sunday. It was awesome and so cute!

Instagram repeat of the trailer | the three meats | Moonpie, whole and cut in half. It was double layered!

Saturday was less food-focused. We went about 30 minutes west of Austin to check out Jester King Brewery. It's in the middle of hills and has a great covered area, huge trees, tons of beer and a few wines available, and a pizza place with a wood burning oven on site (unfortunately, we didn't partake - next time!). It would be a great place to go to with friends to just spend an afternoon chatting, drinking, and people watching. They also had iced coffee on draught which I was obsessed with - I now want to open a coffee shop with coffee made several different ways and have that as an offering, of course.

From the top of the hill, looking into the open-air pavilion | the pavilion was huge and pretty | From the bottom of the hill, looking at the seating area, tasting room, and area where the beer is brewed.

We went to two wineries, Solaro Estate Winery and Bell Springs Winery, and shared a tasting and got a few glasses at each. Solaro was really pretty (and they are opening a tasting room in Houston soon) but the tastings were mostly reds, which aren't my favorite. Bell Springs had live music and a cheaper tasting. Their sweet white tasted like peaches. The weather was perfect so just sitting outside relaxing at both spots was really nice!

Left and bottom from Solaro Estates, right from Bell Springs

On the way home, we went through Austin and stopped at Pieous for pizza. We shared a white pizza with arugula and prosciutto. It was good, but the impulse banana cream pie that we shared was the reason we'll go back. It was the most perfect pie crust I've ever had - buttery, flaky yet firm, and sweet but not overpowering. Delicious.

LOVED the chalkboard decor!

And then, on the way home, my husband who hates taking pictures spotted a bunch of people pulled over (and likely trespassing on private property) and taking photos in the bluebonnets. And, well, since I love our pic from last year, I wanted one from this year. I think it's a winner, even though pooping on the bluebonnets has kind of spoiled it for me. But I didn't have a blanket and didn't want grass stains on my mint jeans so squatting just happened.

Totally counts as  nature so I am linking up with Kelli!

We had a lazy Easter morning and then went to my parents' for lunch with my extended family. I guess the bunny skips old people and there were no kids to hide eggs for, so I missed that stuff, but it was nice to see family, as always. What a great weekend!


                                              

Thursday, April 17, 2014

throwback thursday: trying out for who wants to be a millionaire

Today's post is just a story whose details are already getting fuzzy but that I want to be able to remember well into the future. I'll just think of it as a Throwback Thursday...

It was Summer 2009, and Andrew and I knew we would be getting married the following summer. When we first started dating and I was in school and he worked nights, the afternoons were our time together. We loved Jeopardy and Who Wants to be a Millionaire and knew that our knowledge bases complimented one another well (basically he has an amazing memory and I know a lot about pop culture and a little about current events). Who Wants to be a Millionaire auditions were going to be held in Houston with a special audition for engaged couples to play to go on the show together to earn money for their wedding. I heard about them, but didn't say anything. I mean, I had to work, he had school, and what were the odds that anything would come of it? I casually mentioned it to him in a "hey, that would be cool" kind of way and then I told my boss the day before auditions. Her response? "You HAVE to go try, you won't forgive yourself if you don't!" So I went home that night, we gathered the necessary paperwork (I think we needed a copy of a contract or something for a wedding venue or officiant), and we decided to cram.

Now, you have watched Who Wants to be a Millionaire - how does one cram for that? We didn't know, either. I think we reviewed Presidents and major wars, lots of wikipedia-ing pop culture events, and some detail on huge historical moments like Watergate. I remember in one stroke of genius, I wanted to look up the names of the US Supreme Court Justices, so we did.


In line to take the test around 6 a.m.

We got up early and had to stop at Kinko's to make copies, then went across town to the audition site. We were assigned numbers, got in line and were herded into a room full of chairs. As we sat, Andrew was at the end of one row and I was at the start of another. We didn't get to sit next to each other, which meant I couldn't have cheated off of his paper if I had wanted to (not that I ever would have done that... okay maybe I would have...). So they passed out multiple choice tests and gave us a time limit. When it was time to start, I was confident in about half of my answers. They asked who the Supreme Court Justice of the United States was and I was so happy to know it was John Roberts! I also remember a question about Bugaboos (thanks, blog reading) and a few other things we discussed. Time was called and then we sat and waited for a few minutes. Andrew and I tried to communicate how we thought we did and both felt pretty good. They started calling the results by number and got to his first. He was through! I was so happy, but we both had to pass the test to get on the engaged couples show.  Then they called me. We had to come back in a few hours for more auditions.

SO EXCITING

We went back and had to wait in another line. We met with someone from the show who had our scores and seemed to like us. I don't remember what was said, but I know that instead of leaving like everyone else we had seen, we were shown to an area with a camera and told to give an interview. Now this we had not rehearsed. And neither of us like being on camera. I just remember rambling and talking over Andrew. Oops. But we hoped for the best and they sent us on our way. A postcard would arrive if we weren't invited to New York in the next few weeks.

  I think we have gotten better at selfies since then. I think it's funny that even in 2009 I was insisting on ridiculous pics to document unique activities!

Unfortunately, the story doesn't have the ending we hoped for. The "you failed" postcard actually came on Andrew's birthday that year. We theorized that our scores were so good, they were too worried we would actually win so they just couldn't have us on. We kept our eyes out that whole season for Wedding Week, to see who was better than we were, and we never found it. I like to tell myself that they scrapped the whole thing anyway, so it wouldn't have mattered.

It was a fun experience! I would love to try out for Wheel of Fortune or something one day, and I think it would be even more fun on a couples week or something so I could blame Andrew for anything we got wrong experience it with Andrew.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

mini-confessions

I've been on such a blogging roll this week and it feels so good that even though I didn't have a post planned, I thought some confessions might be in order. Linking up with Kathy, as one does.

- The amount of sleep I have thought I needed this week is ridiculous. I took an hour and a half nap after work Monday and fell asleep on the couch before The Mindy Project was even over last night. Let's say I'm making up for lost time and hope I get back to normal next week.

Bauer got the memo and stayed wrapped in a blanket all evening. I confess that I was lazy and didn't edit this photo at all for size or color.

- I cancelled my gym membership yesterday. I know in the land of sweaty selfies, this is crazy talk but I was just wasting money. I hated everything about going so I never went and never felt good after I did. I need to find something that works for me and sorry 24 Hour Fitness, but you aren't it.

- The amount of money I spend on fancy coffee is a little insane but I don't think I'm that sorry about it. Many twenty-somethings go to bars and drink shots of Fireball; I get a $4 latte at least once a week. No big deal, right?

- I'm going to Austin this weekend and I have nothing hipster-y to wear. My husband doesn't understand that this is a real problem and if we are going to a hipster bar on East 6th, I need to look the part and not like I just dropped in from Dallas or something (this only makes sense if you live in Texas, I'm sure).

- I get irrationally irritated over stupid things like coworkers using valuable mini-fridge space for tortilla chips. They're chips! They can be at room temperature - my salad can't! But since I'm at work, I can't say anything. So I tell you all instead...

- I love to rant and commiserate with others about things that bother us. Some call it gossip, and it probably is, but I often need someone to confirm to me that I am not, in fact, totally crazy. As long as we rant and commiserate in confidence, does it count as gossip?

- I had a weightier post in my head for today's confess sesh but it just didn't get written (see point one). But I love participating and all the new people I meet on Wednesdays so you just get what's in my head, confession style.

Tomorrow I have a Throwback Thursday post already written about the time I tried out for Who Wants to be a Millionaire so if you just found me today, make sure you come back tomorrow for dorky selfies from 2009!