Saturday, October 28, 2017

Five Songs I Have on Repeat

Here are my five fave song obsessions at this moment. You're welcome.

1. The Gold by Manchester Orchestra



So deliciously moody and perfect.


2. Learn to Let Go by Kesha



Lady, I wish I could. This song provides many feels.


3. May I Have This Dance by Francis and the Lights, featuring Chance the Rapper



Someone needs to hold a boombox over their head and play this song real loud outside their crush's window.


4. The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness by The National



Total nonsense, and I can't stop singing along.


5. Let 'Em Say by Lizzo and Caroline Smith



I've been pretty obsessed with Lizzo since I saw her at SXSW this year. I think she's positively amazing. I'm so excited to see her perform next week live in Austin!


Thursday, October 19, 2017

Chad feels much better. So do I.

I'm happy and grateful to report that Chad feels much better. After the alarming swelling of his face due to an infection, his nice face is now back to normal. The antibiotics did their job defeating the infection in his jaw. I'm thankful for modern medicine. I'm thankful that we have the resources to deal with health issues when they arise. I'm mindful that many people are not so fortunate. 

I'm also thankful that the overwhelming sense of helplessness and worry I felt as a result of Chad's infection is gone. We are both sleeping (mostly) soundly again. 

🙌

Thursday, October 12, 2017

I had a birthday. Chad needs a root canal.



The Wednesday before my birthday featured a tough session at the gym with my sweet, pretty, perky trainer (who is trying to kill me with lunges, squats, planks and push-ups), lots of household chores and a trip to the grocery store to prepare for the celebrations (and laziness) to come. Thursday morning Chad and I hit the road at the crack of 9:00 AM. (That's early for me. #ChronoDelayed) Destination: Dallas, first stop: lunch at Unleavened Fresh Kitchen. Being a vegetarian on the road in unfamiliar places presents a challenge. While a few chain restaurants offer veggie options, I don't always (as in hardly ever) want to eat at Subway or Chipotle. I research online ahead of time for viable veggie food. Unleavened Fresh Kitchen hit the spot with the Gardener Wrap -- yum! Bonus points for location near our next stop: Dallas Arboretum & Botanical Garden. I was so looking forward to seeing the eleventy-billion pumpkins and gourds. The displays were amazing. But I won't lie, the hot weather and blinding sun were a major fall weather fail. Chad and I skulked from shady spot to shady spot, cutting our time at the gardens short due to sunburn risk and heat exhaustion. Enjoy the photos. Know that I was sweaty and growing increasingly irritable when I took them.






This year's pumpkin village theme: The Wizard of Oz




Is that Dorothy in the background? Nope.
Just some little girl standing on the pumpkins.
Like one does.

We traded the blinding sun and sweat-inducing heat of Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden for the sweet shade and air-conditioning of the Dallas Museum of Art. We specifically visited the museum to experience the Kusama installation art piece entitled All the Eternal Love I Have for Pumpkins Call me skeptical about standing in a mirrored box with polka-dotted pumpkin sculptures for 45 seconds, but it turned out to be emotionally affecting to see these joyful pumpkins reflected forever and ever and ever. The optical illusion of eternal pumpkins also left me feeling a bit wobbly physically. I think the artist knew what she was doing by limiting exposure to 45 seconds. If you go, I strongly encourage you to buy tickets to this special exhibit ahead of time. Chad and I wandered the museum for hours. I do love Dallas Museum of Art.

Lovely glass art with a nice view at Dallas Museum of Art

As I shamefully admitted on this very blog several months ago, Chad and I fell off the vegan wagon. We're just vegetarian with vegan tendencies now. With that out of the way, our last stop in Dallas: dinner at Cane Rosso in Deep Ellum. We shared salad, focaccia and an outstanding Margherita pizza. There was cheese and it was delicious. I'm sorry, cows. Thank you, cows.



We managed to wait out most of the rush hour traffic before hitting the road back to Austin. After some bothersome lane closures due to roadwork, we were home safe & sound by 10:30 PM.

Friday morning I awoke to donuts from Bougie's delivered by a handsome, hunky man. (It was Chad.) Wow. (The donuts and the Chad.) We went halfsies on a lavender donut and a cinnamon donut. Both cake style donuts were exemplary. I highly recommend. 

After some relaxed Internet time and lolling about, we stepped out for lunch not too far from home at El Mercado (a.k.a. Old Reliable). Veggie fajitas and a daytime margarita were all I hoped they would be. Many times while dining at El Mercado on Burnet Road, I've looked across the street and spied the sign for Chocolaterie Tessa. With birthday-weekend momentum building we finally visited Chocolaterie Tessa for the first time. The smell of chocolate gently beckoned us inside while the spare, tasteful displays offer glimpses of chocolatey goodness. We procured six truffles to share, each more heavenly than the next.  

In the spirit of trying new things we also popped in to a store in our neighborhood that we'd not yet visited. Magic Caravan at 5003 Burnet Road lives up to its name. Gorgeous rugs, fancy pillow covers, intricately painted ceramics, exotic jewelry, Turkish towels, robes and colorful light fixtures delighted us. Plus I got to meet the shop dogs who were sweet and beautiful, so major bonus points there. I exercised great restraint, buying only three colorful handmade ceramic bowls. Great restraint. 

Chad and I went to see a movie in the middle of a weekday. So decadent. We saw Flatliners (the 2017 re-do). Meh. Then we hit Trader Joes's where I bought everything that looked good. The bill came in under $59. What?! I should go to Trader Joe's more, but it's a bit of a trek from our house. 

Saturday morning I spied with my little eye this lovely birthday tablescape. (Even though my birthday wasn't until Sunday, Chad set the scene early.) Chad made yummy brunch for us which included killer French toast. We did our best imitations of sloths all day. We had leftover veggie fajitas for linner. (Linner = lunch + dinner.) We had birthday cake a little early. We're so crazy! (Note the sarcasm. We are fairly mild-mannered and polite folk.)




Sunday, officially my birthday, we brunched at Blue Star Cafeteria: the only place in town to get good grits. After brunch the weather was brutally hot and sunny for what was supposed to be a fall day. And Austin City Limits music festival made most of Central Austin a no-go-zone. So we scurried home to hide from the elements and crowds. I opened presents. I am now the proud owner of a Kenzo sweatshirt. I try to be all "live simply so that others may simply live", but in my heart of hearts, I lusted for that colorful Kenzo sweatshirt something fierce. My precious.

Sunday afternoon, Chad took his usual weekend day siesta. He seemed distracted. After some gentle questioning, he admitted to a toothache. We thought it was sinus pressure from seasonal allergies making his tooth hurt as it was sinus-adjacent. After three and a half days of birthday debauchery (kidding), things kind of fizzled out by Sunday evening (not kidding). We ate Trader Joe's salads for dinner. Chad went to bed way early. 

Monday Chad's tooth was hurting even more. He googled and self-diagnosed that he probably bruised a ligament in his jaw due to sinus pressure. (Public Service Announcement: do not google and self-diagnose. You'll be wrong.) I went to my workout Monday morning and to Spanish class Monday evening. Chad did not sleep well Monday night.

Tuesday Chad's upper jaw and tooth were still in a real bad state. I rubbed his shoulders between doing loads of laundry to try and distract him from the pain. We met up with Chad's brother, who happened to be in town for his work, for dinner. Chad put on a brave face for his brother, but agreed to see a dentist Wednesday, so I know the pain must have been terrible. Chad did not sleep much Tuesday night.

Wednesday morning Chad awoke to a swollen upper lip. At his 8:00 AM dentist appointment, the doctor diagnosed a serious infection and a need for a root canal. After an initial treatment, and a prescription for good pain meds and antibiotics, Chad should be on the mend. Only, he's not. If anything, the swelling is worse and has spread up to his nose and cheeks. I'm so worried about him. He looks miserable and awful. I offered to take him to an urgent care clinic, but he declined.

I'm marching him back to the dentist tomorrow if things don't look better in the morning. Send prayers and happy, healing thoughts. 


Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Five Favorite Live Theatre Shows I've Seen

I'm really proud to call such a creative and talented person as Max Langert my friend. Friday evening Chad and I saw Max Langert's new play Gibberish Mostly at the newly reopened Ground Floor Theatre. Gibberish Mostly presents a thought-provoking, clever speculation of what goes on in the mind and consciousness of an autistic woman unable to speak intelligibly to her parents. Or is it that her parents are unable to speak intelligibly to her? The set design features an inventive forced perspective of slanted wall lines and door frames making the small set seem much larger. The mirror-image room set design employs no physical wall, instead using different floor color and backdrop color on each side to visually separate the space. This mirroring theme is a thread throughout the play.




You can still get tickets to see Gibberish Mostly through September 30 by clicking here.

I'm grateful that the Ground Floor Theatre reopened after a 20 month absence. Austin is losing far too many of the performance spaces and businesses that made our fair city quirky and charming. I'm proud to support local theatre, especially Ground Floor Theatre.

Chad and I talked about other favorite live theatre shows we've seen over the years. To the best of my recollection here are my five favorite live theatre shows I've seen. (btw: I've seen lots of shows in Manhattan, but only one Broadway show made my list.)


1. Co*Star: The Record Acting Game with Vincent Price



Conceptualized and performed by Lee Eddy for the 2016 Fronterafest Short Fringe in Austin, this play rightly won "best of fest". I laughed. I cried. I saw this play three different times, and still loved it each time. Lee Eddy embodies a character like no one else I know. She brings pathos to even the silliest moments. I really did cry when her character knocked over a beloved houseplant in the midst of "co-starring" with Vincent Price. Genius.

Here is the description from the Fronterafest website:  
YOU act scenes opposite your favorite actor. Directions: 1) Remove script from LP envelope. 2) Turn to any scene you want to play. 3) Place the phonograph needle on the corresponding scene that is on the record. 4) Listen carefully as the narrator sets the scene and the star on this record acts out his part and gives you your cue. 5) When your cue is given, read your lines at the proper pace so that the flow of the scene is natural and realistic. 6) Follow the script but you may add, change or improvise your lines as you wish. REMEMBER! Practice makes perfect.


2. The 39 Steps



Chad and I saw The 39 Steps in Manhattan on Broadway. By some unknown magic, we scored front row, center seats. Four hardworking actors played about a hundred different characters in this hilarious tale of spy craft with lightning fast pacing, imaginative sets and crazy costume changes. My face hurt after the show from laughing, smiling and gasping so much. Branded as "Hitchcock made hilarious", 39 Steps is anticipated to return to Broadway in 2018 - 2019. This is the show to see!


3. Circus 1903



Chad and I loved this touring show. We saw Circus 1903 in Austin at the Long Center.

Read my original blog post by clicking here.

Check out the tour calendar for Circus 1903 by clicking here.


4. Santaland Diaries 

Santaland Diaries (the stage show) is based on the essay of the same title by David Sedaris chronicling his time working at Macy's as a holiday elf. The stage show adds some holiday tunes performed cabaret style for good measure. Chad and I have seen this show many times over the years. I personally prefer Santaland Diaries performed by perennial Austin actors Martin Burke and Meredith McCall at Zachary Scott Theatre. That said, I've seen other actors perform the role of Crumpet from Santaland Diaries, and the show is still laugh-til-you-cry funny and snarky. Definitely catch a local performance of Santaland Diaries wherever/whenever you can. Please be warned that this show is decidedly not family friendly.


5. Annie



When I lived in Birmingham, Alabama during my elementary school years, my parents took me to see a touring production of the musical Annie. The first, and quite possibly the last, musical I ever loved. (As an adult, I'm not a big fan of musicals. Really? You're going to burst into song? No thanks.) I bought a long-playing record of the show. I learned every word to every song.  I retroactively pity my poor parents having to listen to that noise as I readied myself for the imaginary audition when I might win the role of Pepper. I didn't want to be that goodie-two-shoes Annie. I wanted to portray the bad-girl Pepper.

btw: I'm dragging Chad to a movie-party of Annie (the version from 1982) at the Alamo Drafthouse. Send Chad happy thoughts during this difficult time for him.

Get out and support live theatre! I acknowledge that live shows can be expensive. Many venues host pay-what-you-wish performances or offer reduced ticket prices for students, members of the military or senior citizens. Check with the venue, you might be able to volunteer as an usher (or in some other capacity) to see a show for free.


Friday, September 15, 2017

To BYOP or not to BYOP? That is the quandary.

Fall is my favorite season. Halloween is my favorite holiday. I love carving pumpkins. (For those of you who vehemently oppose any of these opinions, go ahead and freak out. Bye.)

Starting many years ago in my tiny studio apartment, growing in guest list size as my accommodations grew, I have hosted many BYOP (Bring Your Own Pumpkin) parties. A few years I didn't have the energy to host a BYOP party (like the year some rotten ne'er-do-wells kicked in our front door and robbed our house). Hosting this party requires much planning, physical effort, some sweat, a little bit of cursing, a good dose of creativity and a lot of cleaning before and after. I won't lie: some years after a BYOP party I swear that I'll never do it again. It's that tiring. Some years after a BYOP party I feel reconnected to old friends and so thankful for social connections. I perused old pumpkin party pics today in an effort to decide whether or not to host the BYOP party this year. Here are some of my favorites. Enjoy.











Reasons to host BYOP:

I worry that our social group and support network are drifting apart. Hosting this party invites all the people we like to reconnect, to strengthen bonds and renew friendships.

Halloween is my favorite holiday. BYOP is a fun way to celebrate Halloween.

I love seeing the pumpkins people carve, paint, sticker, bedazzle or otherwise decorate. 

I not-so-secretly love planning and logistics, especially as they relate to parties and decorating.

I already have the to-do list, party rental list, grocery list and blueprints from past BYOP parties. 


Reasons to not host BYOP:

October is a busy time in Austin including: both weekends of ACL music fest, children's sports activities, school carnivals, UT football games and various fundraisers. 

It's so much work to host this party. From setting up tables, chairs, buffet, grocery shopping, food prep, pickup from vendors, to struggling to be a gracious host as an unnamed guest lets their children barricade themselves in our home's only bathroom during the party for over thirty minutes, to cleaning up pumpkin guts off of the hardwood floors and rugs. So. Much. Work.

About half of the guests don't touch a pumpkin during the party, despite all the carving tools, stickers, paint and bedazzling supplies I offer. I should simply be glad that every guest chose to attend. But some broken part of me really wants the majority of attendees to decorate a pumpkin.

It's kind of expensive. Can one put a price on friendship? No. But this party's budget might shock some of you. 

Good weather is not guaranteed. One year it rained really hard during the BYOP party. We moved the buffet tables inside and relocated the pumpkin decorating stations to our carport. Despite our best efforts the party was kind of a bust.


Monday, August 21, 2017

Five Scary/Suspenseful Movies I'm Anticipating

With all the scary, awful stuff in the spotlight recently, I appreciate the relative safety of fictional scares and suspense. Last weekend Chad and I saw Annabelle: Creation, part of The Conjuring franchise. We both flinched, gasped, covered our eyes, and quietly uttered "uh-uh!" and "oh no!" several times during the movie. That creepy doll was relentless! I can gasp in fright, then laugh at myself with relief about fictional supernatural forces. I can forget the real scary stuff for a while. Watching scary movies is like loosening a pressure valve, letting the anxiety and fear out a bit, before the pressure builds too much.




Here are five more scary/suspenseful movies I'm anticipating:

1. Flatliners 

I loved the 1990 version. This looks like a cool refresh on the story. Plus I have a little crush on James Norton from his work on the BBC mystery series Grantchester.




2. IT

Another refresh of a 1990 production. I loved the television mini-series of IT from ye-olden-times. The trailer for this newer rendering looks even better.




3. Happy Death Day

Like the horror version of Groundhog Day, living the same day over and over until our hero gets it right, and foils her own murder: good times! Seriously, I'm super excited for this movie.




4. Murder on the Orient Express

Another retelling. When I was in middle school, I read just about every Agatha Christie book I could get my sweaty paws on. (I've told you guys repeatedly that I was a dorky, bookish child. Don't doubt.) This version looks moody, suspenseful and worthy of attention, even if most of us already know whodunnit.




5. My Little Pony: The Movie

Creepy. Suspenseful. I may not sleep for days after watching this movie.



Ah-ha! Just kidding. Obvi.


5. (For real this time) The Limehouse Golem:

The sepia-toned visual warmth of this movie adds a sinister layer of grimness and griminess to this mystery. Bill Nighy excels at portraying creepy confidence and brooding sense of duty. Yes, please.




Friday, August 11, 2017

Five Things I Loved About Summer Camp

As an adult living in Austin, Texas, I don't love summer. In fact, I actively dislike summer. It's hot, too relentlessly sunny, humid but also lacking in meaningful rain, and about five months long. Let me emphatically repeat, it's HOT! Summer in Austin causes me to plot my relocation to the Pacific Northwest every August as I stare forlornly at the extended weather forecast.





When I was a kid, I also didn't love the summer heat living in Louisiana, Alabama, West Virginia and Texas. I did love the time off from school, especially those precious weeks each summer spent at sleep-away camp. My personal favorite camp I attended as a kid was Camp Cosby, a YMCA camp in Alpine, Alabama. Yes, it was hot in the summer. No, the cabins were not air-conditioned. Yes, the water from the shower smelled more like chlorine than the water in the pool did. The fun and adventure of Camp Cosby outweighed these trifling discomforts.

Here are my five favorite things about summer camp as a kid:

1. Sense of community

Some years I went to camp the same week as a few of my school friends, and we bunked in the same cabin. Other years I made new friends on the bus ride from my local YMCA in Birmingham to Camp Cosby in Alpine. Bonds formed fast and often lasted after camp ended. As a kid with a limited amount of time at camp, you clicked quickly for maximum fun and friendship. Even after camp ended each summer, I kept up a pretty good penpal routine for at least a few months with my besties.



2. Sense of freedom from "real adults"

Sure, most of the counselors were ages eighteen to twenty-two, but they weren't paying a mortgage or paying back student loans yet. Overall the counselors seemed like a relatively good-natured bunch, happy for a summer paycheck. There were always a few camp administrators or camp nurses who seemed absolutely ancient compared to the campers, but campers never saw much of those figureheads. I especially liked the annual snipe hunt that the counselors took new campers on. Would "real adults" take unsuspecting campers into the woods at night for a snipe hunt?





3. Crafts

I made about a bazillion "god's eyes" by wrapping yarn around popsicle sticks. These days on Pinterest there are some super-fancy, multi-dowel, multi-colored god's eye projects. Mine were not fancy, used only two colors, only two popsicle sticks and ended up in the trashcan pretty soon after I returned home from camp.




I also loved keychain weaving with plastic cords. I spent hours making fancy keychains and bracelets. The keychains were actually useful, and usually avoided the fate of the trashcan.





4. Canoeing

I loved paddling a boat on the lake: more than riding horses, swimming or even water skiing. No, I am not in this photo.



5. Dances/Socials

Once each camp session there would be a dance/social, varying in themes from disco to square-dancing to contemporary top 40 music. Campers never knew what the theme would be each session, but we did our best to wear appropriate "costumes" with the materials available. I remember braiding my hair and using eye-liner pencil to paint on freckles for the square-dance themed social. I remember the thrill of dancing with my camp crush, simultaneously feeling so shy and embarrassed.




Did you go to summer camp as a kid? Did you love it, hate it or something in between? What were your favorite things?

Monday, July 10, 2017

Easy as Falling In a Hole

You've likely heard the sayings "easy as pie" and "easy as falling off a log". Whoever coined the phrase "easy as pie" never made a pie. It's not very easy to make a pie, especially if you make your own crust, which I do. Falling off a log is fairly easy, though not always pleasant. A few days ago, I heard the phrase "easy as falling in a hole". Maybe this was a misquote, but I like it, and found relevance in the thought.

Most of my working life has been spent in customer service. I started working at the tender age of eight years old as a babysitter for my own sister and for neighbors. My qualifications? I was a child myself, and thus able to relate to children. File this under "what were the adults thinking?". With the benefit of hindsight, I judge that I was too young to be employed in the childcare industry. I continued my highly unregulated childcare business up through my teens on top of school, speech & debate, theatre and other part-time jobs simultaneously.

At age fifteen I landed my first legitimate job at Arby's for a summer. My mom thought that I could walk the 1.5 miles from my house in the Texas summer heat to this job at Arby's. A neighbor's mom was horrified at the thought of me walking, and secretly gave me rides to and from my job when my own parents couldn't/wouldn't. Thank you, Mrs. Blackwood. I owe you.

For my next legitimate job I toiled as a home fashions department salesperson at Mervyn's located in an unfashionable strip mall on the edge of town. My mom maxed out my Mervyn's credit card, and I got called on the carpet to explain that to my manager. Otherwise I maintained good employment standing for about a year.

At age seventeen I decided my destiny awaited in bigger and seemingly better employment at the glamorous shopping mall in the middle of town. I worked at Margo's ladies' fashion store for over five years, on and off. The district manager trusted me to train many of the store managers and new employees, because technically I had the most seniority. I enjoyed working at Margo's during winter holiday breaks and summer breaks from college.

As a college freshman I got a job at the University of Texas Alumni Fundraising Call Center.  I didn't stick to the script for fundraising calls, because it sounded stilted and unnatural. I got reprimanded for not sticking to the script, but then I was THE top performer raising over $25,000 in alumni donations. I got to meet the University President who personally thanked me for being such a bad-ass fundraiser. (My term, not his.)

While back in Plano the summer after my freshman year of college I worked at Camp TV in downtown Dallas as a video editor and office underling. I felt very grown up working full-time downtown, until I was in a hit and run car accident on the way to work one morning. (To clarify, another car broadsided my car and kept going.) My dad was so mad about the wreck, he threatened to not allow me to return to college in the fall. A whole terrible ordeal ensued. I paid nearly every penny I made that summer to get that stupid car repaired. My dad refused to claim the wreck on our insurance for the repairs, convinced that I was at fault.

Mercifully, I secured a job as a Resident Assistant for my sophomore and junior years at University of Texas at Austin. This enabled me to (somewhat) rationally explain to my dad that with or without his permission, I found a way to pay for my room and board at school. I also scraped together just enough money for tuition to return to school. Being a Resident Assistant was the toughest job I ever loved. Residence hall life provided an amazing sense of community. In retrospect, I wish I'd stayed in the dorms as a senior in college, but I thought I wanted to live off campus in an apartment my senior year. Live and learn.

I worked as a cashier at Breed & Co. during the fall semester my senior year of college. I worked as a salesperson at Toy Joy during the spring semester my senior year of college. I also worked as a Residence Hall Receptionist at University of Texas both semesters my senior year of college. Yes, simultaneously while working at Breed & Co. and Toy Joy, interning at a radio station and finishing my senior year of course work. When did I sleep? Seriously.

Right out of college I got a six-month temporary job with way low pay doing fundraising for a non-profit collective. I was quite the shiny, happy do-gooder.

Through an acquaintance at the non-profit, I found my next job as an Assistant Manager at a high-end store that shall not be named. My eighteen month tenure there came to an abrupt end when I uttered the phrase, "I resign effective immediately", rather than stay at a hostile work environment one moment longer. One of the owners felt bad about the situation, and found every minute of unused vacation time, sick time and overtime that they could to pay me a big parting check. The other owner lied and told my next employer that they fired me. Classy.

For like ten seconds I worked as an SEC-licensed Service Representative at a mutual fund company. Worst job fit ever for me. I'm so bored by other people's theoretical money and by investment income tax laws.

Fresh off that disaster, I landed a job as a Junior Graphic Designer and Copywriter at an insurance company in the marketing & advertising department. Also a bad cultural fit for me, I slogged away here for two years before resigning. The final moment that sent me running was when a claims adjuster proudly announced, "We won that brain-damaged baby case! They didn't get a dime." Disgusting. Bye, Jerks.

What did I do next? I decided I needed an easy job where I felt comfortable. I fell into that old familiar employment space of retail doing sales & visual displays at Old Navy for one holiday season. There was so much fleece. So. Much. Fleece.

Still a young go-getter, I nailed a job interview for the supporting role of Marketing Assistant at Zachary Scott Theatre. The wages were dramatically low. I eventually figured out that I wanted to be on the stage, not writing the press releases and assembling the press packets. I lasted one frustrating year.

I rose to Assistant Manager at J.Crew while also working at Dougherty Arts School in various roles. I didn't sleep much or socialize much during those two years.

Right about the time I started doing paid acting work on a regular basis, I also started working at Furry Godmothers as an insured and bonded, mobile veterinary technician and petsitter. Pros: petting cute animals for money, walking dogs all over Austin including some very chic neighborhoods, writing humorous and informative pet care journals during each visit, a somewhat flexible schedule that allowed time for also doing theatre. Cons: poop, insulin shots, subcutaneous fluids, tube feedings, working EVERY holiday, sometimes starting my day at 6:00 AM and not ending until 10:00 PM. I quit after two and a half years, because I needed time to grieve my dad's sudden death. This also coincided with way too much time spent in New York City for Chad's work and a job offer to move there.

I spent several years as a serious actress with a talent agent and everything. Résumé available upon request. I wrote a separate blog for this at sometimeactress.blogspot.com

While still going on auditions and occasionally getting acting work, I started as a volunteer at a pet rescue non-profit. After a year of volunteering, I scored a (barely) paid job as an Adoption Center Co-manager. I cared too much. I got too stressed. I burned out in a white-hot flame of significant weight-loss, hives and hemorrhoids. Cute, huh?

As soon as my stress-induced hives and hemorrhoids healed, I fell back into retail as a Home Stylist and Visuals Associate at a hip furniture store for two and a half years. My (mostly) delightful coworkers kept me there longer than I could have endured without them.

With only two days off between jobs I began my next post as a Supervisor and Visuals Coordinator at a decidedly not hip men's clothing store. I made a bad decision in taking that job, but I had bills to help pay. When an unexpected financial windfall happened, I happily resigned that job.

I have thoroughly enjoyed being unemployed for the past two years. I've been busy with some acting gigs, maintaining my trophy-wife status and being the neighborhood crazy-cat-lady. But... I'm getting kind of bored and restless. I want to work again, to feel relevant, to have some kind of social connection with humans.

With my work history, it's no surprise all of the inquiries I get on linkedin.com are for retail and customer service jobs. It's as easy as falling in a hole for me to land a customer service job. But then I'm stuck in that hole. I no longer enjoy being in that hole. It's dark down there. There are some unpleasant creepy-crawlies down there. It's difficult to climb out of there. The schedule is unpredictable down there. The pay is cruddy down there. Customers/clients are not always nice down there. When I begin to look for my next work or volunteer project, I will be very wary of holes in my pathway.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Ex-Boyfriend Spotted at Favorite Grocery Store

I have one ex-boyfriend from college who still lives in Austin. We shop at the same grocery store sometimes. Over the years I've seen him approximately five times at this store. We never speak or acknowledge each other. Back in the day, he broke up with me by ignoring my phone calls and telling a friend of a friend that he didn't want to see me anymore. I think the modern version of this is called "ghosting". At the time, it broke my heart. It sucks to be dumped unceremoniously. Six months later I met Chad, and pretty much forgot about that Ex-BF.



My former, much-beloved gym shared a parking lot with this grocery store, which happens to be my favorite grocery store. Usually when I spotted Ex-BF in the past, I looked sweaty and ruddy from exercise, with little to no makeup, less than ideal fashion and unstyled hair. Since my former gym closed, I have a better chance of showing up at the grocery store wearing makeup, and with some thought given to hairstyle and outfit. On that fated day last month, as I left for the grocery store, Chad asked, "You got a hot date?" This is his funny way of telling me I look nice. Honestly I wasn't doing anything special with my outfit of jeans and t-shirt, except for accessorizing with a necklace, earrings and my wedding ring. (I don't wear my wedding ring to the gym. I'm afraid it will get scratched or damaged. I also dislike the pinch-feeling of the ring as I'm gripping weights or handles. Chad agrees with me on this.)

I spotted Ex-BF from a distance of about 50 feet at the grocery store that day. I thought, "He's aging well. Good for him." Then I noticed that I wasn't blushing or hyperventilating, and thought, "I'm handling this Ex-BF sighting really well. Good for me." Ex-BF did not spot me in that moment. Awkward situation averted. Yay.

I steered my cart toward the checkout lines. I waited in line for about two minutes with no one in line behind me. I stacked my groceries on the conveyor belt. I had several feminine products, three bottles of Chameleon cold brew coffee, vegan hot dogs, buns, sunflower seeds for the birds/squirrels and many bottles of Topo Chico fizzy water amongst my groceries. I remember thinking how absurd it might be to judge someone based on the products purchased on a random grocery run. Someone got in line behind me. They put cat litter and several giant bottles of cheap wine on the conveyor belt. I sneaked a peek at what I assumed would be an elderly spinster lady. Nope. It was Ex-BF. Dangit! Did he not recognize me? Why would a sane person knowingly get in line behind their Ex? I gave a grimace in his general direction, not making eye-contact. I looked just long enough to see him tilt his head a bit to the side, like a dog does when they are trying to understand your words. Maybe in that second he recognized me, too late to back out of that checkout line. He suddenly became engrossed in his phone. I felt myself blush mightily. I turned and kept my back to Ex-BF. I watched my heartbeat become more and more pronounced under my shirt. As inconspicuously as possible I took a few, quiet, deep breaths to try and calm myself.

I gave my friendliest smile when the checker greeted me. As the checker scanned my items, I pawed through some Snickers bars that said funny things on them in the Snickers font and logo style such as: POUTY, SLEEPY, CRANKY, LOOPY. Yes, I am allergic to peanuts. Yes, Snickers are packed with peanuts. Anything to avoid looking back at Ex-BF behind me. The sweet bagger asked me if I wanted my face powder left out of the grocery bag, and maybe in my purse instead. No thanks! Throw it all in the bag, please. Hurry, please. Thankyouverymuchhaveagooddaybye. When I completed checkout and all my items were bagged, I dared to give the tiniest glance back as I fled for the exit. I saw Ex-BF digging through the Snickers bars with a half-smirk on his face.



I got home and immediately spilled all the details of my Ex-BF sighting to Chad. (Chad works from home, as do all of the employees at his company.) I was still blushing and flustered. Chad laughed with me about it, and kindly asked if I needed a cold compress for my forehead. He gave me a hug.

I'm so glad that Ex-BF behaved like a thoughtless jerk all those years ago. I'm so glad I met Chad at the right time, when I was ready to have a thoughtful, smart, nice, super-handsome boyfriend who respected me. I'm not so glad that Ex-BF got in the checkout line behind me at my favorite grocery store.

I need to find a new favorite grocery store.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Five Cool Treats in Austin

It's not even officially summer yet, but I'm lining up my coping mechanisms for the heat that will pervade summer in Central Texas like a hot, wet blanket. In semi-related confessions: Chad and I fell off the vegan wagon. More on that later. I now self-identify as a strict vegetarian with vegan tendencies. Some, but not all, of the following places are vegan-friendly. All are vegetarian-friendly, of course.

1. Sno.Co Flattop Shaved Ice



This shaved ice trailer parks at the charmingly funky Vortex Theatre complex at 2307 Manor Road. After seeing an Instagram post of the frosty goodness I can't wait to try it!


2. Snow Monster



Chad and I have ventured way north to the Snow Monster location at North Lamar and Braker Lane several times. Snow Monster is totally worth the trek! Snow Monster serves snow ice which is a popular Taiwanese dessert made with fruit extracts and fresh milk. Snow Monster makes a soymilk version also! They offer about a bazillion toppings to personalize your frosty treat.


3. Juiceland



Having some vitamin-deficiency induced guilt? Feeling like you need a healthy cool smoothie? Juiceland can help you with that. They have lots of locations, even outside of Austin, for you to get your fix. Vegan-friendly to the max.


4. Sweet Caroilne's Snow Shack



Sweet Caroline's Snow Shack serves yummy New Orleans-style snowballs. The trailer at 8102 Mesa Drive near Spicewood Springs Road sits conveniently/dangerously near my gym. If I tell you I'm going to my gym, and return with a technicolor tongue, you know what's up. I like the texture of these snowballs.


5. Venezia Italian Gelato


Venezia serves up Italian gelato made by real-live Italian-Americans! I can't wait to try it.
Chad spent his baby and toddler years in Naples, Italy where his dad served as a Navy Pilot. Chad loves gelato and most things Italian. It will be easy to convince him to make the trek down to Venezia Italian Gelato at 1701 South Lamar Boulevard.


Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Circus 1903

If you live in Austin, you have one more day to catch Circus 1903 at the Long Center. Chad and I marveled from our front row center seats at this magnificent circus complete with a wise & wise-cracking ringmaster, contortionist, strong man, trapeze artists, high wire act, acrobats, beautiful (puppet) elephants and more. Wow!


Use discount code: ZACH for 25% off!

I don't want to say too much about the show and spoil it. Chad and I both loved it, and we're a tough audience. Circus 1903 delights young and old. If you live in a city other than Austin, check out the official Circus 1903 website for tour dates in other cities by clicking here.

Friday, June 02, 2017

Five Shows I'm Loving on Netflix

These shows are not for kids. I'm an adult. I get to watch shows with adult themes.



1. Lovesick

After discovering he has an STD, a young man decides to reconnect with past relationship partners to deliver the bad news. Sweetness, hilarity and awkwardness ensue. This Netflix original is set in the UK. I love the accents and the scenery.

2. Master of None

I have a strong affection and affinity for the work of Aziz Ansari. This Netflix original revolves around the daily life, love interests and career of a 30-something actor living in New York City. I love that Ansari's real-life parents play his parents on the show. The first two episodes of season two, set in Italy, are gorgeous eye-candy and pay homage to a European aesthetic. Season two, episode six, entitled "New York, I Love You" served a wonderfully warm, moody and slice-of-life realness.

3. Death in Paradise

In this fish out of water story model, a British police detective who hates sand, sun, surf and seafood travels to the Caribbean island of Saint Marie to help solve the murder of a fellow British police detective. He does such a great job solving the mystery, he is rewarded/punished with an extended work assignment on the island. I love the scenery, the chemistry of the cast of characters and the quirky mysteries. I just started season two.

4. Girlboss

This Netflix original is a loose retelling of the rise of Nasty Gal clothier, Sophia Amoruso. Real loose. Set in San Francisco, the eye-candy scenery delights. The vintage clothing also provides a visual party. I love Sophia's spirit, drive and vulnerability. I love the characters that surround her. I'm halfway through the first (and currently only) season, and pacing myself sparingly. I don't binge on good shows with a finite number of episodes.

5. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

A resilient woman is rescued after fifteen years in a doomsday cult bunker and makes her new home in New York City. I love the breakneck pace of weirdness and wackiness in this charming show. I love bearing witness to Kimmy's journey to conquer her past tribulations and figure out modern life. I love the charming weirdos that surround Kimmy. I'm halfway though the current/third season. I find past episodes imminently rewatchable. Each episode packs a dense punch of jokes and eccentricities.

What are you watching and loving? Do you watch multiple episodes at once, or pace your viewing pleasure?

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Bee Better with Bombas Socks

Stop everything and watch this three and a half minute video right now. 


I love Bombas socks. I love the soft fabric, blister-preventing-padding in the right places, durability, arch support, cool designs and color combinations. Oh yeah, and for every pair sold, a pair is donated to a person in need. Chad and I have about thirty pair of Bombas Socks between the two of us. I even sent a bunch to my nieces and nephews for Christmas when Bombas started making kids' sizes. I sent my mom a pair in one of her Mother's Day gift boxes a few years ago. I love these socks. I love the Bombas mission.



This is not a paid promotion. I just love Bombas socks that much. Here's the link:



Sunday, May 14, 2017

Five Faves for the West Austin Studio Tour

Photo of yours truly, taken by Chad

The West Austin Studio Tour runs May 13 & 14 and again May 20 & 21. If you are in the Austin area, you should check out at least five stops on the tour, and report back to me. Chad and I  treated ourselves to a West Austin Studio Tour preview party on Thursday night at one of my favorite former workplaces, the Dougherty Arts Center. Based on that preview and a few friend/former teacher connections, here are my five must-see stops on the tour. Be advised that I like spaces with multiple artists showing their work, versus needing to see the exact studio where one particular artist works.

*Roll over text and click links to see works by each artist mentioned.*

1. Austin Art Space Gallery and Studios
7739 Northcross Drive, Suite Q

The lovely floral artwork of artist Neena Buxani caught my attention. Erin Edwards also tickled my fancy. Bonus points for nine resident artists in one stop.


2. Blue Genie Art Bazaar
6100 Airport Boulevard

Photo I took of Blue Genie entrance at Christmas-time

This is the mothership with over fifty artists in one place! I'm giving myself at least 90 minutes here. Artists' works I'm most excited to see are Rory Skagen, Dana Younger, Eya Claire Ford, Anne Marie Beard, Court Lurie and Mark Puente.


3. Jay Long, Artist Studio
1211 W. 49th Street

Chad and I proudly own two prints by Jay Long. I love the melancholy, earnest mix of sweet, and sometimes slightly menacing, imagery this artist creates.


4. Frederick Douglass 217 Moore
Gather North Lamar, a Vuka Company
5540 North Lamar Boulevard

This artist displayed a ridiculously intricate, miniature city scape carved out of erasers at the preview party. Chad and I were blown away. I can't wait to see more of his work. There are three other artists at this stop also exhibiting work.


5.  Kasey Kilcrease
ZACH Theatre
1510 Toomey Road, Topfer Pavillion

Kasey's art is bright with clean lines and such character. I want to keep looking at each piece. Hush. I'm still looking. Go around me. I'm still looking. There are four other artists at this stop also exhibiting work.


Saturday, May 06, 2017

Five (or more) Summer Movies I Want to See

1. My Cousin Rachel 



This looks wonderfully gloomy, suspenseful and a bit dastardly. Perfect for hiding from the blistering hot sun in an overly air-conditioned movie theatre.


2. Megan Leavey



A woman breaking gender molds, serving in the military, with a warrior dog who saves her life. She just wants to be able to adopt the dog at the end of his tour of duty. Let her adopt the dog! Sure to induce a cathartic ugly-cry.


3. Despicable Me 3



When I was a child, other people's parents would tell me how mature I was. Brent McDaniel's mom, Candy, went so far as to say that I must have "popped out of the womb acting like a 35 year old." I'm making up for my misspent (unspent?) childhood. I don't love every kids' movie, but I love the Despicable Me franchise.


4. Baby Driver



Nope. Not about the daycare drop-off. This movie is crime-riddled and dangerous with car chases and double-crossing deeds. Yes, please.


5. Nearly certain to be half of the yet to be announced lineup for the Paramount Summer Classic Film Series



Sometimes I just like the time-tested, greatest hits. Past favorites from the Paramount Summer Classic Film Series include:

All About Eve

Strangers on a Train

Breakfast at Tiffany's

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance

Ferris Bueller's Day Off

Casablanca


Saturday, April 29, 2017

Powerless Peacocking



For those of you unable to attend Night of the Peacock last Sunday evening at Mayfield Park, I'm posting a transcript of the peacock-themed story I told. The variety show, produced by my friend Max Langert, raised nearly $1100 for SAFE Alliance. The nineteen resident peacocks of Mayfield Park were just as much part of the show as the musicians, poet, storytellers and actors were. The peacock squawks and struts punctuated the human performances with genius comedic timing. The huge trees and tranquil ponds at Mayfield Park provided a beautiful backdrop. I'm thankful for creative, driven and talented friends who ask me to be part of their shows.

Powerless Peacocking

About ten years ago, I worked as a background actor in film, television and commercials. You may recognize me as a recurring featured extra from season three of Friday Night Lights. You may recognize me as the airline stewardess who bumped shoulders with Temple Grandin as played by Claire Danes in the Emmy-award winning, HBO-produced movie entitled Temple Grandin. You may recognize my hands from twirling pasta in Carino’s Italian Grill commercials. Some of my fellow actors back in the day would complain bitterly about getting casting notices for reality television shows. I hate to be the one to break it to you if you didn’t already know, but there isn’t much real about reality television. There was a particularly odious reality TV show called "The Pickup Artist”. Many of my female friends, some of them happily married, were summoned by their talent agents to appear on this not-so-real reality show.

The premise of The Pickup Artist was that a guy, who claimed to be suave and debonair, coached men who were unlucky in love, on the shady art of picking up women. The main coach-guy called himself Mystery. Mystery looked like he took fashion advice from both an evil magician and a pirate. A typical outfit for Mystery might include knee-high boots, a puffy shirt, a crushed velvet cape and a fuzzy top hat. The real mystery is how this awful show ever got the green light. "The Pickup Artist" promoted several pickup tactics: Peacocking entails dressing oddly or flamboyantly to call attention to oneself. The "neg” involves giving back-handed compliments mixed with a little insult to get a lady’s attention and deal a blow to her self-esteem. For example: “You’re pretty, but you’d be really gorgeous if you lost ten pounds.” Who wouldn’t be charmed, right? Pickup artists also coach persistence. If a lady initially rebuffs a pickup artist, he keeps trying to get her attention, or starts hitting on her friends.

Around the time this reprehensible reality TV show was on the air, I attended weekly pub trivia nights with a group of friends at Mother Egan’s Pub. I was usually the team secretary, recording our answers and walking our answer sheet up to the front of the pub for scoring after each round of trivia questions. 

On this particular night, after one of the rounds of trivia, I walked our team’s answer sheet up to the front scorekeeper's table. When I turned to rejoin my team at the back of the pub, there was a little boy blocking my path. He wore a rainbow-striped baseball cap with a small, red propeller on top of the hat.  I thought, “This is weird. Why is this little boy in a bar? On a school night? Why is he wearing that silly hat? Is it punishment for something bad he did?” He looked kind of scared, but stood his ground, directly in my path. 

“Excuse me,” I said, and stepped to one side, hoping he would step to the opposite side, and we could pass each other. Instead, he gave me a slow visual appraisal, looking down the length of my person and back up to my face. He locked eyes with me, and said, “Hi” in a squeaky voice. He cleared his throat, and tried again, and said, “Hi” with a slightly deeper voice this time.

The longer I looked at this scared little boy blocking my path, the more the alarm bells started sounding in my head. I realized he was not a little boy, but an adult male with a slight build and terribly timid posture. I also clued in that the weird hat was likely an attempt at peacocking. I worried if I stood there much longer I might be subjected to the full “Pickup Artist” routine about which my actress friends had warned me. I didn’t want to be mean, but I was (& am) happily married, and just not at all interested in striking up a friendship with any adult who wears a rainbow-striped baseball cap with a small red propeller on top. So I said, “I’ve got to get back to my team for the next round of trivia. Have a good night.” I gave a little wave, turned the other way, and found a new path back to my team’s table. 

Rainbow-Propeller-Hat (that’s the name I gave him) appeared at my team’s table about twenty seconds after I reclaimed my seat. He stood beside me, breathing loudly and stared at me. Everyone on my team fell silent in contagion as they laid eyes on Rainbow-Propeller-Hat.  They seemed mesmerized by Rainbow-Propeller-Hat and his creepy vibe. Half of my teammates stared at Rainbow-Propeller-Hat with slack-jaws and wide eyes while the other half of my team employed more surreptitious side-eye glances. 

I’d love to tell you that I politely and firmly rebuffed Rainbow-Propeller-Hat on my own in a blaze of feminist glory, but that’s not what happened. Instead, I winked at my husband, who was sitting across the table from me. I then turned to Rainbow-Propeller-Hat and said, “This is my husband, Chad. Stand up and introduce yourself, babe.” My husband is one of the least jealous, most polite people you’ll ever meet. He also happens to be six-feet tall, and he lifts weights.


Chad stood up. That’s all it took. Rainbow-Propeller-Hat wouldn’t even look my husband in the eye, but mumbled, “Hey man, Do you know where the bathrooms are?” My ever-polite husband pointed in the general direction of the bathrooms. Rainbow-Propeller-Hat made a hasty departure, with his little red propeller spinning in the wind, thus salvaging some tiny shred of dignity. Okay, no, that’s a lie. When a person is peacocking, and doesn’t have the sense of self-worth or sense of humor to back it up, dignity goes out the window real fast. I felt bad for Rainbow-Propeller-Hat, that he couldn’t just be himself and strike up an honest conversation with someone. I felt really mad at shows like "The Pickup Artist” for preying on lonely people, and for giving terrible advice like peacocking for pick-ups, the “neg” and persistence when one should not persist. Apparently many people shared my opinion, because “The Pickup Artist” received much bad publicity and public backlash. “The Pickup Artist” was canceled after only 16 episodes, no longer besmirching the proud name of the majestic peacock.


Friday, April 21, 2017

Delayed Mourning Catches Up to Me

Marigold loved to supervise projects like packing.

On Wednesday, November 30, 2016 Chad and I took Marigold to our faithful veterinarian to have her euthanized. Marigold lived over nineteen years, an uncommon feat for a Persian cat.  I grudgingly witnessed the clues that Marigold's quality of life declined: sleeping in odd places, weight loss, diminishing use of her back legs, and finally, a large lump on her jaw. I gave Chad and the veterinarian a well rehearsed speech about how it was time to let her go. I rehearsed that speech so much, because I had to convince myself of its truth before I gave it to other people.

At the time I steeled myself against feeling Marigold's loss too deeply. We had (and still have) three other resident cats and a big dog upon which to dote. We housed a foster cat who had just been rejected from an adoption program the week before Marigold died. The foster cat, though very loving to people, made it clear she hated other cats by attacking our two male cats anytime she got out of her room. The foster cat situation added exponentially more stress to an already stressful time. Thankfully, the foster cat entered a different cat adoption program on January 20, 2017, fully two months later than we intended to keep her. The day I dropped off the foster cat at the adoption center, she shook with fear in her carrier as we waited to enter. She peered at me pleadingly from the holding kennel, leaning as far as she could to keep an eye on me as I filled out her paperwork. I thanked the adoption center worker for accepting the cat as I handed over a cutely worded, but honest, information sheet I had prepared to aid in the cat's adoption. Back at home, I spent four hours scrubbing, disinfecting, vacuuming and steam-mopping the foster cat's room. When I finished cleaning, I sat on the sofa and sobbed for thirty minutes. I felt miserable about dropping off the foster cat. I felt like a failure for not finding her a home. When I told a dear friend about how awful I felt the next day, she responded, "You saved that cat's life." That's how I try to see it now.  I hope our former foster cat is very happy with her new family.

Four and a half months after making the decision to euthanize Marigold, I started dreaming about her. I dreamed she was fluffy, healthy and happy. In the dream Marigold telepathically told me she was at peace and pain-free. She showed me a ghost of a teenage boy, and warned me about him. Dreams are weird, am I right?

Two nights later I dreamed about Marigold again. In this dream I worked in Austin's historic Scarbrough building again. Behind an old bank vault, I discovered a secret staircase leading up to a modest apartment frozen in time in the early 1920s. There was a china hutch displaying pastel floral adorned fine china dishes. Old furniture supported impressive spider webs and dust layers. Marigold walked through the living room, leading me to the lovely claw-foot bathtub in the apartment's single bathroom. I marveled at the secret apartment discovery so much, I forgot to pet Marigold, or even greet her properly in that dream. When I awoke that day from that vivid dream, it hit me: I forgot to grieve for Marigold.

I have been a weepy mess for the past two days. I miss my dead Marigold so much. I miss the way she would meow at me until I picked her up and put her on my shoulder like a baby. I miss her twice-daily races up and down the long hallway in our house. I miss her sitting next to me on the sofa purring loudly. I even miss her sneezing fits, when I had to massage her throat to calm her enough to stop the sneezes. I miss her general sassy demeanor and her radiant, massive halo of gold fur. I miss that Marigold loved her Janie-dog, napped happily next to Janie and sniffed Janie's frito-scented feet.

This too shall pass, but I have to let the grief do what it will for a while. Proper mourning can't be delayed indefinitely. It will catch up to you.