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Checking off my ATX bucket list!

The Austin skyline at sunset.

As of September 1, I’ve been living in Austin for two years. I came to this city with the intention of furthering my career, and really taking it as an opportunity to start fresh, leave the past behind me, and just LIVE my life.

So, I made a bucket list specifically for Austin, and I’m proud to say I’ve tackled at least half of it (if not more). Many of the items on my list got checked off this past weekend, when my best friend came to visit! We had so much fun, I wanted to share some of the things we did.

See the bats on Congress Bridge


Each fall, the biggest bat colony IN THE WORLD assembles itself under the Congress Avenue Bridge in downtown Austin. These are Mexican free-tailed bats, and they stick around until it gets chilly and then fly off to Mexico. Everyday, they sleep in the crevices of the bridge, and fly out at dusk to find dinner. And crowds come out in hoards to see them.

So, my friend and I took a “bat cruise”, where we got way too close (pretty sure we got pissed on) to said bats, but were in complete awe when the 1.5 million of the little guys came flying out from underneath the bridge. The sound of them squeaking will possibly ALWAYS be a memory.

Hike Mount Bonnell


Okay, so this wasn’t on my bucket list, but it’s one of the most well-known hikes in the city, particularly because of its stellar views all the way around. It’s a fairly easy hike and you can see the downtown skyline, the tower and stadium at the University of Texas, and there’s a great shot of the Colorado River. Absolutely gorgeous!

Paddle board on Lady Bird Lake


This wasn’t on my list either, although I did list “Have an adventure on Lake Travis”, which I did in August when I went on a pontoon boat across the lake! However, I have never been paddle boarding! I’ve been kayaking once, on the Colorado River, so my friend and I decided to grab some paddle boards, and we were able to paddle behind one of the stages at ACL and hear some live music before paddling back to the dock. It was fantastic!

Tour Jester King Brewery


The Jester King Brewery is basically out in the middle of nowhere, but I’m ALL about these sorts of adventures, especially in Texas. So, my friend and I drove southwest, and ended up on the working ranch where the brewery lives, right next to Stanley’s Pizza, which is a glorified barn, complete with a fire oven. This place made all of my Texas dreams come true: beer and wine served in mason jars, a pasture, live chickens, fresh beer, and chandeliers hanging from beams in the barn. And that pizza was delicious!

Hit up Rainey Street


I’ve already been to 6th street several times, but Rainey Street is supposedly more of the local’s place to get rowdy. We checked out Icenhauer’s, where we both got some fancy cocktails (her’s had grilled pineapple in it), and then we went to the Parlor Room, which seemed a little more college-esque. But still, a very good time.

Go to ACL


Also not on my bucket list, but a recent wish of mine has been to go to ACL, because why not? I live 15 minutes away! So, we got 1-day passes and completely lived our best festival lives and saw Tank and the Bangas, Run the Jewels, Vance Joy, The Killers, and about three minutes of Gorillaz. We both fell in love with the Silent Disco, drank our fair share of beer, and enjoyed a local favorite: Torchy’s Tacos. The frozen sangria was also tasty.

See Graffiti Park


This was a perfect stop on the way to the airport – closing off a three-day weekend of Texas fun. The Graffiti Park at Castle Hills has art on art on art. People are tagging it every day, and there were already messages of hope sprayed on the walls for Vegas and Houston. Plus there were plenty of owls, skulls, and pop culture references. A must see!

When I visited Indiana in June, many of the things I was told we could do, we didn’t end up doing, and that bothered me. I meet lots of people who are happy living where they were born and raised, and that’s great – but these are often the people that let life pass them by. I’m a firm believer in being a tourist where you live; making the most of each situation; and just going for it!

Other things I’ve crossed off my list include: get a pedicure at Caesar’s salon, eat at the Hula Hut, and one upcoming thing will be eating sushi at Uchiko!

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The Austin Film Festival!

Bigger than I ever expected...

Bigger than I ever expected…

Today concludes the 23rd annual Austin Film Festival – an event I honestly never pictured myself being a part of, but this year, I was! Let me explain.

I know I’ve mentioned that I have had a recent interest (turned to minor obsession) in screenwriting, and back in May of this year, one of the many screenwriting podcasts I listen to suggested to get involved in your local film community, especially if there was a film festival.

Well, hello Google, and voila – turns out the Austin Film Festival is one of the biggest, most anticipated film fests of the year. Whoa. So, I signed up to volunteer. If you volunteered for 10 hours, you earned yourself a pass to see any and all of the films at the fest for free. Work more hours and you could get into panels, contests, parties, and roundtables.

But honestly? I just wanted to see what this world was all about.

In August, I heard from the volunteer coordinator and things got started. Immediately, we were invited to free movies and events to created to help us meet each other and be a part of the event. It was really exciting right from the start.

In late August, I attended an orientation session where I learned that not only were we going to be volunteering with one of the biggest film festivals, but it was also a massive writers conference. Wow! Without knowing it, I’d signed up for something that was going to benefit me in so many ways – ways I couldn’t have even imagined.

At the orientation, we were also informed of the areas in which we could help. There were tons of jobs to do – in fact, much of the work of the festival is completed by its volunteers. I knew immediately that I wanted to work on areas of the writers conference, but I’d have to sign up for the shifts first.

And I did. I signed up to help with two very special events: the pitch competition, where participants are given 90 seconds to pitch their feature film or tv series, to a panel of judges, in attempts to win a badge to next year’s conference; and then the script library, as a part of the screenplay competition.

I also signed up to help with some of the pre-festival activities, such as stuffing swag bags, and filing registration forms.

Naturally, the pre-fest stuff wasn’t glamorous, but it did a lot of good for me a few weekends ago: for starters, it got me out of the house. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have a bad habit of staying indoors all weekend catching up on sleep or reading or TV.

So, the volunteering got me out of the house, and it also got me downtown (I live in North Austin), and I got to meet cool people, all while stuffing 3500 giveaway bags for a massive festival. Not too shabby!

Last Saturday, I signed up for a 9-hour shift (I was feeling really eager), and it was going to be 9 hours of the pitch contest. The coordinator for this event was really nice, and she let me be the timer – meaning I had to time each pitch and raise my hand at the 90-second mark for the pitcher to quickly wrap up.

I knew the pitch competition was going to be fun and cool – hearing everyone’s ideas for TV and movies. However, what I didn’t expect was the other half of this event: getting to hear the feedback from respected professionals in the industry.

I kid you not, these panels were LOADED with talent. There was a writer from “Thor” and “X-Men”, a writer from MTV’s “Awkward” and “The Fosters”, a writer from “Justified, writer from “Adventures in Babysitting”, writer from “The House on the Left”, a producer from “Lost” and “Castle”, and so many more. Y’all… my jaw was on the floor for pretty much the entire 8 hours.

There were so many cool aspects of this competition: 1. All of the amazing, diverse ideas that were pitched, 2. How kind and supportive everyone was to each other, and 3. The positive and constructive feedback the judges gave to the contestants.

At the end of my 9-hour shift, yes, I was exhausted, but I was also so inspired. I am just now dabbling into screenwriting – researching it and finding out how to even construct a script – and it was so, so cool to see people (both amateurs and professionals) come together on a mission to improve their craft.

On Sunday, my shift was in the script library – a room within the Intercontinental hotel that houses all of the semi-finalists and finals in the screenplay competition. There are scripts for feature films, tv series, and hour-long dramas, and there are all sorts of genres. The screenplays are all neatly printed and bound and laid on a table in alphabetical order, meant for anyone attending the conference to come in and look at and/or read any of the scripts.

Uh, yes! My shift was about five hours, and I read several scripts during my time there. I read a paranormal crime thriller, a romcom with a devilish twitst, and a spec for “Broad City”, among many others.

Many of the writers of the scripts even stopped in to see their own scripts, take photos, and read others in the room. It was a really neat experience, to say the least.

Coincidentally, my weekend ended at The Ritz in downtown Austin, seeing a viewing of “E.T.” in the theatre.

I had a new perspective on it, watching it as an adult, and as a person who just got a crash course in script-writing, and a new outlook on the craft of writing.

As a child watching it, of course, there were parts that really scared me. As an adult, though, I could relate to Elliot (pretty much the cutest kid ever) on so many levels – on going through a parent’s divorce and remarriage; on not fitting in at school or with family; and doing what we do when we need to connect – finding it anywhere, whether it’s via a stuffed animal, an imaginary friend, a long-haired sassy cat, or a wrinkley extra terrestrial.

It was perfection – the movie – and the weekend.

Officially addicted: ‘Nurse Jackie’ season 2.

Season two - hells yes.

Season two – hells yes.

It’s official: we have made it to Friday… And, I’m addicted to “Nurse Jackie”.

And how could I not be? At the end of every episode is a cliffhanger! I watched season one in a single day, and season two was no different.

At the end of season one, it’s obvious that Jackie can’t keep on as-is, because her two lives are starting to bleed into one another. But where are things really going to start to crumble?

It seems obvious that at some point, Kevin will find out about the affair, given that Eddie has all but moved in. But at the end of season two (spoiler alert!), Kevin and Dr. Ohara surprise Jackie with an intervention.

A review from Time magazine explains the season in an interesting way: At the outset, the series presented Jackie a dedicated, righteously driven but flawed nurse whose drug use was a reaction to the physical and emotional pressures of her career and home life. Season 2, however, has been dedicated to taking that setup apart, demonstrating how easily that explanation turns into excuse-making and even—as shown by Jackie’s final, sarcastic “Blow me” at the idea of confessing that she’s a drug addict—a kind of monomania. Lix Brixius and Linda Wallem, along with Falco, have done a thorough job of presenting how Jackie uses her pressures as the ultimate answer to any demand that she change, and how—true to form for an addict—she’s mastered the art of combining her lies with enough truth, and even genuine confession, to get by.There are lots of reasons why people probably loved this show – it’s smart, funny, and very different from other medical shows of the past. Why am I loving it? I love the juxtaposition of, well, everything. The music is cheerful and chipper, much like a musical; while Jackie’s actions and body language read stiff and direct.

She’s easy to like despite doing a lot of terrible things; and this is always the type of character that’s most difficult for writers to grip. But Jackie juggles the ultimate balance that all of us face at some point – sure maybe it’s not a percocet addiction or an affair at work, but it’s the angel and devil issue.

Now, I will say I haven’t watched much medical television (I’m much more a crime and mystery fan), but I’m curious about this whole argument among doctors and nurses: are nurses the healers? It’s a theme that’s constantly being brought up in the show, so I’m just curious.

 There is no question that I’ll be watching season three – given that I spent a majority of my Saturday driving around the greater portion of Austin to find a reasonably priced DVD of it (no, I don’t have Netflix, and yes I know it’s cheap). Anyway, I found a copy for $6, so I’ll let you know how that goes.

I also wanted to sincerely apologize for posting this so late – I am currently doctoring up my at-home laptop (which is about 15 years old) and I ran into some serious difficulties when I wanted to post this – I even tried writing it on my phone and posting it from there, but it essentially got deleted, so there’s that.

Don’t worry, next week, the blog will be completely back in full swing will all kinds of goodies! I hope you all have a great weekend and we’ll see you back here on Monday!

Things I’d tell you if I could.

We're goin' downtown....

We’re goin’ downtown….

If we were talking, there’s so many things I’d tell you; but I know the chances of that happening are slim-to-none, and for good reason. I’d like to think that our hurtful actions toward each other came from places we don’t venture often; places of anger and insecurity.

But nevertheless, we are here, apart, not speaking – a scenario that is likely our fate given what’s happened, and despite my attempts to reach out.

There are so many times I wish I could call you – times when I feel there’s really no one I could call, and I remember being able to call you almost every day and tell you about all the little things that happened during my day that possibly no one else would care about.

For example, I went kayaking for the first time EVER earlier this week, and 1. I didn’t flip the watercraft, and 2. it was really fun, and definitely something I want to do again.

I’ve also never tried a stand-up-paddleboard, but I saw several people at the lake on them, and despite my lack of balance, I think I could do it – it’s on my list of things to try.

Surrounding the lake are these giant houses up on cliffs, shaded by thick trees and greenery, and I look at the houses and wonder what life is like inside them. Is it quieter there than anywhere in the city, or are their problems the same inside the walls as we face anywhere else?

It is in these quiet moments when I realize just how alone I feel these days – an amount of loneliness I’ve never felt, and sometimes am not sure how to deal with until I realize I just have two options: 1. cry, or 2. shrug it off and find something to do. My choice depends purely on my surroundings.

A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog post about a meltdown I had and explained that I often feel like a majority of my life is just me going through the motions and acting like I don’t hate everything. I got many responses from readers saying that’s pretty much how it is for everyone.

And you know what? That made me feel really sad for this life. I’m still not entirely sure how I feel about eternal life, but if we only have one shot at this physical being, then I certainly don’t want to spend my years faking my happiness. Right?

 After the kayaking adventure, we went to this BBQ place – and it seemed like a place you’d like, given your willingness to try just about any food, plus it had its own beers on tap. I only had one, mainly because I started noticing the more I drink, the sadder I get, and those are just dark places that I’m trying to steer clear of.

My route home took me through the heart of downtown, and I realized two things: 1. All of the downtowns I’ve seen remind me of each other – and Austin is no different. It reminds me of downtown Dallas, Cincinnati, and even a little bit of Chicago.

When times get tough for me, I have a history of reaching out to those who may not have the best intentions for me. And I hope that’s not the case here.

I suppose that’s what they mean about timing, and possibly fate, too. And perhaps the silence between us will eventually sink in, and I’ll have my answer.

But I do know that wherever you are, whatever is happening in your life, I do hope it’s something good.

Bucket List: ATX Edition.

Beautiful pic of downtown Austin.

Beautiful pic of downtown Austin.

I’ve lived in Austin, TX for 9 months now (time flies!), and I can honestly say, I’m not sure how long I’ll be here. Don’t get me wrong, in general, Austin is pretty freaking cool, but I just don’t know if I’m ready to say, yes, this is the place I’ll be for the rest of my life.

It’s a commitment I’m not ready to make. But, I definitely want to make the most of my time here, whether it’s two years or 10 years, I want to leave knowing I experienced everything there is to experience in this cool city. So, here’s my list (so far):

  1. Have an Adventure on Lake Travis – I’ve been to Lake Travis a few times already, and it’s gorgeous! But I want to kick things up and have an adventure! There’s all sorts of things out there, such as: jet skis, dinner cruises, parks, wineries, cooking classes, and festivals, among many others. I’m on it!
  2. See a movie at the drive-in theatre – The Blue Starlite Drive-In is one of the best out there, according to Conde Nast. They are always playing cool movies, and it looks like they are playing a “Grease” Sing-a-long this weekend! Might have to hit that up!
  3. Eat at The Salt Lick – This is the place everyone’s heard about, and they’re known for their large outdoor fire pit where they make some (apparently) delicious BBQ!
  4. See the bats – From March to November, the bats are out in Austin! Rumor has it, the largest urban bat colony lives in Austin! There is even a boat tour where you get to see the bats leave the Congress Bridge; definitely must do this.
  5. Hit up Rainey Street – This is the historical area of downtown, although it’s come along way in the last few years. It’s known for its collection of dive bars, but it also has hot brunch spots, pizza places, and a few notable pieces of graffiti.
  6. Eat at The Hula Hut – Located on Lake Austin, it’s always island time at the Hula Hut! Mexican food with a Polynesian twist – this place looks delicious.
  7. Visit Waterloo Records – This shop has been the iconic place to get tunes since 1982, and although Austin’s grown a lot since then, it’s still the mecca for music lovers in Texas.
  8. Have a Moment at Teo Gelato & Espresso – I saw this spot on my way to UT the other night, and after some Googling, I see that this is the real deal; authentic gelato made from scratch. Yum!
  9. Bullock Imax – A part of the Bullock Museum, the IMAX theatre has tons of good flicks coming up, including “Finding Dory” in 3D. I’m admittedly really excited about this!
  10. See a baseball game at UT – I went to the UT campus for the first time two weeks ago, and stomped around a little bit. And I must say, the baseball field looks beautiful. I must see a game there!
  11. Host my own breakfast taco competition – Not a real competition, but I do want to try as many different breakfast tacos from different places, and see who’s got the best one, in my opinion. I’ve already tried them from Taco Deli and Torchy’s (both delicious).
  12. Bullock Texas State History Museum – I don’t really know much about this, but I’ve heard it’s great, and seriously, when was the last time I went to a museum??
  13. Sushi at Uchiko – Saw this place on an episode of #FoodPorn and although I might have to save my whole paycheck to eat it; I must do it.
  14. Pedicure at Caesar’s in the Domain – I saw this place when I was Christmas shopping and it looked so nice, and my hairstylist actually goes there and told me it was great, and sanitary. Always a plus! She said they even serve booze there; count me in!
  15. Austin City Wide Garage Sale – Started in 1977, this isn’t really a garage sale at all, but it’s a bunch of vintage items all in one place on certain weekends of the year. I’ve been on the hunt for a typewriter for awhile now, so maybe this is the place I’ll actually find one!
  16. Wait in line for Franklin BBQ -Waiting in line has become commonplace at Franklin BBQ…and we’re not talking a 20 minute line; it’s at least a 3 hour line. So, you get a bag of tacos and you eat while you wait for the food, and I’ve heard there’s sometimes beer pong.
  17. Dollar hot dog night at a Round Rock Express Game – This happens on Mondays and I’m SO down to hit up a ball game on a boring Monday night! Bring it on, summer!
  18. Lala’s Little Nugget – An Austin institution, Lala’s is known for keeping the Christmas spirit alive all year ’round with Christmas decor and even an old school jukebox. Cash only!
  19. Baylor Street Art Wall – This historic wall shows various street art from many years passed to the present.
  20. Buy Stuff at a Farmer’s Market – There are farmer’s markets all over Austin (seasonally, of course), and I’ve really never been to one. I’d like to go and check out all the fresh grown foods and homemade goodies.
  21. Tour Jester King Brewery – Jester King has a TON of beers, of course, made right here in Austin! Their brewery tours are free, and the tasting room is located right near a local pizza shop. Yes!
  22. Take an Antonelli’s cheese class – Aside from just wanting to visit this shop, I want to take one of their cheese classes, where you get to learn about certain cheeses and the wines that taste best with them. Cheers!
  23. Tackle the Wine Trail –  There are 48 wineries in the state of Texas, and each October, you can purchase a “passport” that provides you with a free tasting at each winery and a discount pass if you buy wine at the wineries! YAS.

I’d also like to note that I’ve already done several things that would be on a bucket list like this, such as Zilker park for Kite Fest and the Trail of Lights, Mozart’s Coffee, went ice skating at Whole Foods, eaten at Hopdoddy, been to several Texas Stars’ games, been to The Oasis, had drinks at Midnight Cowboy, partied on 6th Street, and have seen several movies at the Alamo Drafthouse. I’m all about an ATX adventure!

Some-kinda wonderful weekend.

No alarm clock: the definition of freedom.

No alarm clock: the definition of freedom.

Last week at work was quite a doozie – I don’t want to go into details, but let’s just say our staff is dwindling. All for respectable reasons, but it’s always a little sad, and hectic, when people move on.

I always look forward to Friday, but last week held an exceptional urge to get to the end of the week. And BTW, I did try some of my “tips” for not hating Monday last week, and I think it helped some. It will be an ongoing process.

Another process is the weekend itself. I want to have this balance of doing fun and relaxing things, but being productive as well, whether it’s cleaning my apartment or working on upcoming blogs for the week, or even just hitting the grocery.

Somehow, this last weekend, I felt like I was able to hit that balance. It was a simple little weekend, nothing too crazy, but I’m coming off it feeling good, and like I have a little energy to conquer the week. Here’s a little bit of what I did:

Friyay

6:00pm – Laundromat. Raced through two loads of laundry. I don’t have a washer and dryer, which is something I’ve always been provided at the apartments I’ve lived in. I thought I’d see how long I could last going to the laundromat before I hated it and bought my own units, but I actually don’t mind it. It only takes around an hour and about $5 to get all of my clothes and linens clean. I’ve found Friday evenings are the best time to go because there’s about no one there, except losers like me. Plus, it’s a good excuse for me to read; which is exactly what I did Friday evening.

8:00pm – Hip-Hip Master Class. I signed up to take a Hip-Hop Master Class with the very talented Dylan Cheek. I definitely got worked, but it was pretty cool. He was a really nice guy and taught us an advanced hip-hop routine to Future’s “March Madness“. It was a tough routine, but it made for a good challenge (and a good workout), and it was a switch from the things we usually learn in class. Expanding my horizons one dance at a time!

Saturyay

8:30am – Finally got up after my devil cat had been bothering me since 7. Made coffee and eggs. Ate breakfast on the patio with said devil cat. Decided to thoroughly clean the kitchen while catching up on an episode of “The Real Housewives of Dallas”. Still not really liking this show.

10:30am – Folded laundry. Conquered three baskets of laundry while watching episodes of “Watch What Happens Live”. Realize that in order to put laundry away, I’ve got to clean my wreck of a closet. So, I do – even vacuuming and then decide to hang my nail polish organizer. I got it for Christmas; it’s like the ones you see in nail salons, with the little clear shelves. I hung it, and loaded it up with all 100 bottles of my nail polish, in color order. I then continue the cleaning sesh to clean the bathroom and take out the trash.

Perfect for cocktails.

Perfect for cocktails.

12:00pm – Feeling accomplished. Make a grapefruit margarita (Hornitos silver + grapefruit juice + grapefruit LaCroix + squeeze of lime) and watch a few episodes of “Jersey Shore” – the ones when they are in Italy.

3:00pm – Head out. I started at Goodwill, just to see if they have anything interesting. Found a pair of blue and white polka dot shorts, a plastic mason jar cup with an “H” on it, and a Christmas coffee mug that has gold foil stars and matching lettering on it. I cannot pass it up for $.99. If you’re new here, just know that I love to bargain shop. I head next to Big Lots (a place that always makes me happy). I find a beach-themed jarred candle collection that smells exactly like it sounds – buy the “Sun Tan” and “Beach Bonfire” scents. No, seriously. These smell amazing! I also found a bubblegum pink pair of aviators for $6. Win.

4:30pm – Walk to Half-Price Books. Start search looking for a book I heard about on a podcast a few weeks ago, “The Coincidence of Coconut Cake”. Realize I forgot the little notebook where I keep everything, so I Google the title to find the author. Find it, get to the right aisle and start my search. Crouch down to reach the “R” authors, and simultaneously get hit by a 3-year-old girl running full-speed down the aisle. Fall over, drop my phone. The mom, who was chasing after her, drags the brat back over and says, “Apologize to her, she dropped her phone”. “I’m sorry,” says the girl. Roll my eyes, and collect myself. She hit me pretty hard, and I feel like her mom is equally a shit bag for not also apologizing. Find the only copy of the book I’m looking for. Hit the checkout and wish I would have flipped that little shit off.

5:30pm – Head to the grocery. Grab my weekly needs: organic apples, almond butter, yogurt, and protein bars. Okay, and wine. Checkout, and head next door to the sushi bar. Order $30 worth of raw fish to go. Read more of “The Silkworm” while I wait. Get food, head home.

7:00pm – Decide to eat sushi dinner on the patio with Blanche. Pour a glass of wine. The weather is beautiful, my patio is nice and clean (and has a working little fountain thanks to last weekend), and I’m just taking it all in. I listen to the latest Manrepeller podcast, “Monocycle”. It’s one of those moments that just feels great. Isn’t it crazy how these little things can just completely change your mood? It’s not like I went out and bought a car or saw an inspirational movie. I just had a simple little day, where I got lots of things done but also had a little bit of fun.

Sunyay

2:30am – Wake up to an armful of mosquito bites (I’m allergic). Find Caladryl and Benadryl. Spray myself with bug spray; turn on all the lights looking for the blood-sucking bastard. No luck. Watch two episodes of “The Vanilla Ice Project”. See the little sucker fly by the TV. Kill it. Back to Vanilla Ice until I fall asleep and let the West Nile Virus spread throughout my veins.

9:50am – Wake up and get up. Coffee. Eggs. English muffin. Hit the couch for hours of TV and blogging.

2:00pm – Drop-off rent check & head to P.Terry’s for fries and chocolate shake, despite the fact that I looked absolutely horrible in shorts the day prior.

4:00pm – Nap. 

6:00pm – Meal prep for the week/cook a few Green Chef meals.

10:00pm – Back to the couch for all the wondrous Sunday night TV until my eyes close…

I finally watched ‘The Breakfast Club’…

See you next Saturday.

See you next Saturday.

That’s right, before this weekend, I hadn’t seen “The Breakfast Club” in its entirety. I knew the general plot, and had seen parts of it, but never actually paid attention to it.

So on Saturday morning, I started watching it before I headed out for the day. I was excited to see it, given it’s written by my FAVORITE screenwriter John Hughes (“Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Home Alone), and after all, it’s a classic.

After watching it, I can tell you a few things:

  1. It’s no “Ferris Bueller”.
  2. Emilio Estevez never looked so cute.
  3. It does capture the teenage spirit like no other.

If you aren’t familiar with the movie, basically, five high school students in Chicago (Hughes based the school off his high school experience) show up for an all-day Saturday detention. They are all from different social circles, and all got in trouble for different reasons. After sitting in the same room for 8 hours, needless to say, they break down a few barriers.

I particularly liked the essay they wrote… because of course I did.

Helloooo, Heath Ledger!

Helloooo, Heath Ledger!

I’ll be honest, there’s a ton of movies I haven’t seen that I definitely should. So, over the last few weeks, I’ve kept my eyes open for movies to record and watch when I can actually sit and enjoy them.

So,  aside from “The Breakfast Club”, I also watched “Brokeback Mountain” and “Bad Words”…not really sure why all of the movies I watched this weekend start with a “B” but whatever.

I watched “Brokeback Mountain” late Saturday night as I was editing a 100-page essay of Shakespeare symbolism (no, seriously). I didn’t know much about the movie going in, other than the fact that two cowboys fall in love and can’t be together. Here’s what I gathered:

  1. Heath Ledger looks fine as hell. I repeat: fine as hell.
  2. The scenery; the landscape is absolutely beautiful.
  3. We haven’t come as far as we think when it comes to the 1960’s view of homosexuality.

Here’s the plot scoop: two complete strangers meet when they get jobs as sheep herders on Brokeback Mountain. They become friends, and eventually fall in love. However, they both have families and lives back home, so they part ways after the summer ends. Their story continues over the years, and eventually returns to the mountain in an unexpected way.

I watched “Bad Words” Sunday evening – it’s a movie I wanted to see in the theatre but it just never happened. It’s the story of a middle-aged man (Jason Bateman) who is determined to FINALLY win a spelling bee, even if it means being a complete dick to do so. And it is pretty funny; not so funny that I regret not paying $15 to see it, but it’s worth a watch if you’re looking for a laugh.

kiteDon’t worry, there’s a ton more random movies in my queue, so get prepped. But, I also didn’t stay indoors all weekend; I’m happy to report I did my fair share of stomping around ATX.

Truthfully, I had a rather nasty argument with my most recent fling (I will be able to fully unpack this next week), so I was happy to have a distraction with my very full calendar.

The highlights? Took a new dance class (feeling a little sore from it), discussed major blog moves over delicious pizza at Pinthouse, tried liquid nitrogen ice cream at SPUN, whizzed through IKEA for a few cute things, and went to Zilker Park for the annual Kite Festival, where I watched the kite contest, and had a scrumptious crab roll from Garbo’s Lobster…okay, and part of a funnel cake, too.

I also completely left my cell phone on the ground at the park, and amazingly, someone turned it into the lost and found, so I got it back… and I even found the person who turned it in and was able to thank them! Luck was on my side this time!

The Kite Festival has roots in Austin dating back to 1929, and it has always served as an event for the community to celebrate family. The festival is presented each year by the Exchange Club of Austin, an all-volunteer organization dedicated to the prevention of child abuse.

I wasn’t sure what to expect; I just knew there would be a kite contest that involved homemade kites. But, the site was really beautiful! There had to be a hundred (at least; I’m not good at guessing) kites in the sky dotting the picturesque downtown buildings. It was windy, so the kites were really soaring! I loved it, and I also learned that the Kite Festival is the official kickoff of spring events in Austin. Bring it on!

It really was a fantastic weekend… is it sad to say I’m ready for this coming weekend to begin already?

My week ahead is super busy at work, but I’m excited to bring you another exciting, HONEST, round of content right here!

The ‘Love Hangover’, no meds needed.

If Saturday was the official “Love Hangover”, then Sunday was a performance hangover. Let me back this train up and explain.

You may or may not recall that I’m making a big effort to step outside of my comfort zone and do more things alone because, well because I don’t know anyone, and I’m not going to know anyone if I sit in my apartment all the time (but don’t worry, I’m not ditching that either).

So, last weekend, I went to a Saturday brunch at my apartment complex. While I currently kind of hate my apartment complex (the parking is terrible and the trash fee is $30/month, but whatever), they do have a pretty robust social calendar, and although I’m not a huge fan of getting to know thy neighbor, you’ve got to start somewhere.

Around the holidays, I went to a gift wrapping party they had and it was pretty fun, so I figured the brunch would be okay. So, I took a little walk to the clubhouse and found that it was a legit, homemade brunch and it was pretty yummy. About 20 residents showed up and I was sitting next to a woman named Linda.

She was older, and we started chatting about where we lived within the complex and which model we had (because what else would we talk about?). While we don’t live near each other, we live in the same apartment style, and she said she’d moved into the apartment, which is a little more than 600 square feet, after downsizing from a 1400 square foot apartment.

Eventually, we got to talking about where we’re from. Turns out, Linda is from New Orleans. We missed each other’s paths by a few years, as she relocated to Austin after Hurricane Katrina. In our short talk, you could tell she misses New Orleans (doesn’t everyone?), and we agreed, no one does brunch like NOLA, baby.

Since she’s lived in Austin for a little over 10 years, I asked her where to eat, where to go, that sort of thing. We also talked a lot about writing, because Linda loves stories and has been journaling since she was a child. But, I’ll be honest with you, as Linda sat and tried to convince herself that she’d go to the gym after brunch, I wondered if I was looking at my future.

Would that be me at 68, living alone, renting a crappy-esque apartment, trying to convince myself to hit the gym on a Saturday afternoon post-free brunch? That’s not meant to be a jab at Linda, or an attempt to say she hasn’t lived an epic life, after all, we only talked for 30 minutes. But it did give me a little kick in the ass.

Meanwhile, I’ve been spending the last six weeks practicing for Dance Austin Studio’s Annual Love Hangover Showcase, which happened on Saturday night.

We had some late night practices, often putting me home at 11pm during the week. Our group, the Video Vixens, were closing the show with, what our instructors called, a huge finale. So we had to BRING IT.

Friday night, show eve, we practiced at the studio until 10, and I went home, showered, and packed my things for the next day. I wanted to get a good night’s sleep.

On Saturday, our tech rehearsal was at 1:45 pm, at the venue, and it was pretty much understood we’d be there until showtime (my performance was around 9:15). So on Saturday morning, I was basically running around like a maniac trying to figure out and pack every single thing I could possibly need for tech rehearsal, the performance, and just in general hanging out for 7 hours pre-performance.

One of my fellow dance girls asked me to lunch,  so we met early (at Flyrite Chicken and it was so fresh and yummy) and got a bite to eat. It was awesome to relax before our busy day, and get to know each other! I joined the dance studio to have an outlet, but also to burn some calories and meet people, so it’s a win!

We headed to the venue close to 1pm, to get parking secured and prep for tech rehearsal. Since I got there early, I got a chance to see some of the other acts that were planned for the night, and I was impressed. During our turn for tech, it was the time to actually practice on stage, and walk through the audience for our entrance.

After that? I spent close to two hours slapping on my stage makeup! I was talking to my mom on the phone while doing this, and laughed, realizing that so much of my cosmetic stash is meant for performing. See, I have this dream of my life being a musical, which is why I love anything glitzy, I love glitter and sequins, and anything over-the-top. So, my Caboodle (yes, a real Caboodle) was packed with false lashes, glitter eyeliner and glitter hairspray, and multiple eye shadow palettes. I love it!

While it has been YEARS since I have performed (high school, senior year, 2003), the day brought back so many of those feelings I had pre-performance as a teenager. Of course I was nervous, but I was excited to show what my group had worked so hard for. I was also really excited to see what the other dancers had in-store. The entire studio, plus a few bonus performers, had all come together to make the entire night a special one.

But there was a huge difference in Saturday night’s performance: there was no one in the audience I knew. In high school, I never wanted my parents to sit within an eye’s view of me, because it would make me nervous. Why? Possibly because the very first time I ever danced for a crowd, I made a small mistake, and my dad sat in the audience and was loudly laughing at me. Go figure.

In a way, knowing no one I knew would see the performance was a load off my back, but of course, I wanted to hold up for my team, and put on the show these people paid for. But, it was painful to check my phone and see that not a single person wished me good luck that night (not counting my mom, because she told me on the phone).

Since I was performing in the second show of the night, I got to relax and watch the entire first show. And, I was blown away. There were great performances by the other group classes, but the instructors also performed, and it was fabulous! There was also a silks dancer and a pole dancer, who really showed out.

The owner of the studio, who choreographed my routine, reminded the audience that Dance Austin is a place for everyone: professional dancers, amateur dancers,  people who’ve been dancers, and people who want to be dancers, no matter the age. She created the studio so everyone could have that outlet, and without completely realizing it, that entire concept is really uplifting, and I’m happy that I somehow found it.

During the intermission of the second show, that’s when we all went backstage to change into our costumes (combat boots, black leggings, sleeveless oxford, cuffs, and a bow tie, complete with a cane) and any final touches to makeup and hair before lining up.

Our group was divided into two: the “chick-n-dales” and the “Magic Michelles”. It was a stripper battle for history. So, the Magic Michelles are on stage, just planning for their next show or whatever, and the Chick-n-dales show up to break up the part, kick them off stage and show them how it’s done. Then the Michelles kick us off, show off a little, and then we both get on the stage and perform together. The audience loved it!

And sure, I wish I had more pictures and video to show you, but it wasn’t allowed, and I was also just trying to stay focused and not be on my phone the whole time. I will keep my eye out for any pictures or videos though, and I’ll post them as I see them.

It was a fantastic night, and I’m really excited to go back to the studio tonight and work toward perfecting my skills for the next showcase in October. Who knows, maybe I’ll try something new next time!

On Friday, one of my coworkers asked me what I was doing over the weekend (because that’s what everyone asks on Friday) and I mentioned the showcase.

“Wow, you’re life is so full,” she said.

“Mine?” I was confused.

“Yes, you’ve got your blog, all of your dance classes… you stay busy,” she said.

Yeah, I guess I do! There are definitely times I feel like all I do is clock hours at work and then be a giant sloth in front of my TV (not saying that’s a bad thing). But, I really do work hard to create a big life for myself – it may not be glamorous, but it’s real, and I’ve got to say, it’s pretty fun!

[Stage makeup look: Eminence Bright Skin Moisturizer, Eminence Bright Skin Licorice Root Booster-Serum, IPKN New York Radiant Primer, Color Mates concealer, Maybelline New York Dream Wonder foundation, Sei Bella pressed powder by Melaleuca, Aph Orism brow shadow and gel, MAKE Skin Illuminator, LOC Shadow Stick, e.l.f Everyday Eyeshadow Book, pop beauty Bright Up Your Life eye shadow palette, e.l.f liquid eyeliner in black, e.l.f liquid eyeliner in stardust, L.A. Colors false lashes, Younique 3D Mascara, stila Extreme Lash Mascara in black, e.l.f blush in Pink Passion, the Balm Bronzer in Desert, Wet n Wild illuminating palette in Catwalk Pink, Sei Bella Definition lip pencil in nude]

Pic of the Week.

PrimeTime Burger at Hopdoddy.

PrimeTime Burger at Hopdoddy.

I realize I talk a lot about being a recluse and spending my weekends indoors, and well, part of this is because I find great joy in relaxing at my home, in my sweat pants.

Another thing is that, since I’m working all week, I spend a majority of my weekend writing,  reading, or attempting to just relax. But, I am also realizing that I live in a pretty cool city and I’m not going to discover it or meet people when I’m sitting on my couch.

So, I made it a goal to get out and do some things I’ve been wanting to do for awhile. And so, I did! On Saturday, I got up, had my coffee, hit the showers, and put on something cute, so I could go explore.

I started at Nordstrom Rack, because there was no Nordstrom Rack in Baton Rouge when I lived there (I believe there’s one there now), and it’s been years since I’ve been to one!

Now, you guys know how much of a bargain shopper I am. And yes, Nordstrom Rack has some great deals, but these are “designer deals” meaning, even at 50% or whatever, they are still just too much for my little budget. But, it’s still fun to look.

Gorgeous.

Gorgeous.

I did spy a gorgeous, gorgeous bag (I’m definitely a bag lady, y’all) by Deux Lux, which is a brand I recognized from my seasonal employment at Anthropologie last Christmas. I used my 50% discount on one item and that was a Deux Lux Weekender bag that I couldn’t stop staring at.

It’s plaid and sequined, and was actually in my car when it got broken into, but the thief took my ancient, nearly ripped Coach bag instead. Little did the thief know, the Deux Lux bag was worth more.

So anyway, this “Rivington Weekender” bag at Nordstrom Rack was gorgeous, woven cognac suede, massive in size, and had this navy blue silky liner. I really loved it. But did I need another bag? I walked away. Then looked longingly back at it… then just snatched the sucker up. It was the last one on the rack, and listed for a third of its original price.

It will make a super cute work bag, not to mention a great carry on when I plan my next flight! I also picked up a super slim phone charger (mine was also stolen), that was on clearance for $8 (originally $35).

After skipping out of Nordstrom Rack, I was really excited to hit up a restaurant I’d heard so much about: Hopdoddy. Not only had my coworkers raved of the place, but I also saw it on an episode of Food Porn on FYI:

Hopdoddy is most known for their burgers, but they also sell pretty decadent shakes. I was originally going to go for a shake, but I ended up guzzling some local beer (Thirsty Goat Amber by Thirsty Planet).

Anyway, I headed to Hopdoddy and as predicted, had to wait in a line that was wrapped around the building. But, I was too excited to care.

I’m also facing my fear of eating alone in the midst of all of this, but they sat me at the bar, and the bartenders were nice. I got my beer, and to my delight, it was frosty and delicious, and the Oklahoma/Kansas game was on. Win-Win!

So, I ordered the PrimeTime burger: Texas Akaushi Beef, Brie Cheese, Arugula, Caramelized Onions, Truffle Aioli, Steak Sauce, along with a side of Parmesan Truffle Fries.

Y’all. This shit does not compare! I’ve had In & Out, Shake Shack… no, no. This shit was amazing. If there weren’t so many awesome restaurants here I want to try, I’d go back this weekend! Wow. I’m still dreaming of it.

I sat there, and I stuffed myself, and I recognize that getting straight up nasty with a burger, beer, and fries probably isn’t the right way to meet people, but I’m more interested in getting every morsel of deliciousness to my stomach. And I did.

I left Hopdoddy with a slight buzz. I was full, it was sunny and 74 degrees, and I’d just done what I thought I could never do: enjoy a great meal alone. I felt great, and I promptly went home and took a food-induced nap. It was a lovely little Saturday.

So, I’m certain I’ll be going on even more adventures in this little city of mine. I’m excited to share them with you, of course! Don’t forget to watch “The People vs. O.J. Simpson” tonight! See, I haven’t lost my reclusive tendencies, completely.

Oh baby, it’s cold outside!

Fireplace + hotty totty = pure bliss.

Fireplace + hotty toddy = pure bliss.

Okay, so I can’t complain too much about the cold weather, living in Austin, Texas. But I know many of you, my dear readers, are freezing your little butts off this winter. The funny thing about Austin is that I really never know what the weather is going to be like.

When I moved here, people said it still “got cold” come wintertime, and I believed it because, it definitely got cold when I was living in Baton Rouge. I know, all of the people north of me are sitting there, reading this and calling me a wimp. But, yes it still gets below 30 in the South, and it still stays humid, which makes it seem much colder.

Anyway, as the winter months arrived, the cold weather did not. It was still 70! Then, all the locals were telling me, oh, just wait until January and February. And, sure, we’ve had some nights in the 30’s, but not like what I was expecting. However, my apartment has two giant glass walls (basically big ass windows, it’s nothing fancy), and it gets freezing in there – but I still refuse to turn on the heat. I’m cheap, and it’s Texas. Period.

So, I’ve got 5 ways you can keep warm this winter! If Punxsutawney Phil is worth his salt, then we’ll all be romping around in our swimsuits in five weeks, amirite?

Get an electric blanket. It sounds so silly, but I asked for an electric blanket for Christmas, and I was really excited when I got it. You see, my bed is backed up against one of these aforementioned glass walls. And while it looks really cool, I didn’t expect my bed to be freezing when I slip between the sheets every damn night.

Enter: the electric blanket. Not only do I turn it on about an hour before I go to bed (in order to warm the sheets before I even touch them), but I also drag this thing to the couch when I’m ready for a TV binge. It is so cozy! Mine also has a 3-hour timer built in, so it shuts off automatically and you don’t wakeup sweating at 3am. I just love it!

Slip into slippers. I L-O-V-E slippers! I never really thought about my love for slippers until college, when you always have to have something on your feet in student housing. But I’ve been wearing slippers ever since, and I’ve got at least six pair in my closet as I type this. I’ve got ones with actual soles so I can wear them outside (don’t judge me), some that are super cozy and I may or may not sleep in them, and some that are just really cute.

DIY throat lozenges!

DIY throat lozenges!

Make something. Turning on the oven or the stove will make your house feel warm, and let’s face facts, who doesn’t feel better after creating something delicious? You should most definitely make Shrimp Ramen! Haylie Duff, from The Real Girl’s Kitchen has an awesome recipe.

Or… you could (and should) totally make your own throat lozenges. No, seriously! I saw a recipe in Bust Magazine and it looks surprisingly easy, and packed with cold-fighting properties.

Go for the warm accessories. Luckily, wool socks and thick beanies are in style this year, so none of us have to feel stupid when we step out in our winter’s finest. Blanket scarves have been everywhere this season, too – I wasn’t sold at first, but I bought one anyway and have had fun styling it different ways.

Down a hotty toddy. I hate Ole Miss, but I’ll take a hotty toddy any day of the week. Basically, it’s just a hot, spiked beverage, and who doesn’t love that? I found six recipes for toddies, and one of them is even from the Midnight Cowboy, right here in Austin! It’s a legendary bar, and I’d give you more details, but I got properly hammered upon entering.

What ways are you keeping warm in this cool snap? I’d love to say I hate it, but I love a good excuse to stay indoors and hunker down with a full DVR or a book! #AntiSocial