Friday, October 26, 2012


M turned two this Friday. I was not in the mood to do a birthday party this year so we kept it small and quiet most of the day. We went to breakfast with Nana. M delighted in a bear-faced pancake and a lit candle to boot. We sang happy birthday and she made a wish (I think). Then we went to My Gym to try something new out. M took to it like a duck in water; she had so much fun. I've been talking about Rio 2016 for swimming but who knows, maybe we'll be on the gymnastics mat instead.

Later on that day we had the Pellegrinos and Melanie over for dinner. Though I didn't want a party, I couldn't stand the thought of singing Happy Birthday to her alone (since I do it that way every other night before bed). Miss M had a great time with big M and LL - she always does. It was a super low key affair - pizza and salad. Of course my little lady would not get through the day without cake. I had a beautiful little number made up and I must say, it was pretty dang good too. I hope she made another wish. Dad came home from hunting around 8 and I think my wish was answered.

It's hard to believe she's two and yet every moment with her has been so fun. She is smart and funny and quirky. She gets so much from Andy physically but I know her humor and her goofy comes from me. I can't wait to spend another year watching her grow and change and discover the world even more with the enthusiasm that makes me love waking up to her every day.

Here is a video from the day:

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Lone Star State of Mind

Austin was like one of my favorite t-shirts: cool and creative and I just FELT comfortable in it. To say it was a good fit, at least for a girls weekend, would be an understatement. It didn't hurt to have the company of old college roomies too.

The town is very chill; very relaxing. Maybe it’s because music is always playing and people are in to being unique and creating - you know, doing their own thing. Maybe it's just like any strange city: everything seems novel and new the first time. Maybe it's because I was toddler-free and got to sleep in till 10 am one morning. I can't shake the feeling though of old songs returning to me as we weaved in and out of stores or over lunch; tunes I hadn't heard for years or forgot about but that made the city seem more alluring (from Toad the Wet Sprocket to TV on the Radio). It just felt like the city was wooing me.

Stars are everywhere. I would expect nothing less from Texas but in Austin it comes in much cooler forms. I got in later Friday night and missed "happy afternoon". On their way back to the hotel, Chena, Dahlia and Sophia came across an Austin Film Festival premier and James Franco moving through the red carpet doing an interview. To my dismay, we met up after that and all I had to look at were photos of the star-crossed meeting. 

We changed and went to find some dinner. We headed over to Rainy Street and had a drink at a place called Clive while we waited to be called for some Indian Food at a place called G’Rag Mahal. Then we walked through the neighborhood to a bar called the Blackheart. All the places were houses or empty lots made into some great venue. it was all very residential in feel, like we were cruising some college town and a cool neighborhood had magically turned in to a bar scene one night. You could hear music seeping out on to the street, loud and lofty, like the night was on fire. The feel though was still very mellow in many ways. Beautiful people everywhere; some of them certainly quaffed but others quaffed with a creative vein - in a tight fitting flannel and some cool band t-shirt. It certainly is a place to be an individual. The crowd at the bar surfed Facebook and listened to the band and danced and drank; never fully invested in one thing other than the scene itself and being out for the night.

The next morning, we woke up at 10 am. I can’t remember the last time I did that and though we were up late, it felt good to sleep in; to not pop out of bed for a miss M, always on schedule at 7; to have a breather and only take care of myself for a few days. We wondered down to Congress Street and walked towards breakfast. Dahlia’s friend Star literally ran directly in to us, what a strange sighting and what a sweet girl. She tipped us off to Second Street, where we headed for breakfast. We stopped at a place called Jo’s, which ironically might be a chain (and you know how I feel about that but damn my sandwich was worth it). I had a gooey egg sandwich and a latte as we all sat outside at the bar space watching Austinites in the Saturday morning routine. Bikers going by, women in dresses and fedoras. Older people. It was truly a mixed bag. 

We walked a chunk of the city after that looking around. We accidentally ended up on a three hour tour to reach our paddle boarding destination. It provided those moments where you come upon daily life in an unfamiliar city. We got lost found ourselves over by a spring pool trying to figure out where to go and then how we even got lost to begin with. But there were people everywhere: running or on the river or playing music.

When we finally got to the paddle boarding place, it was really a great experience. Paddling down the Lady Bird Lake, feeling like we were on a river. Looking up at the mansions and getting lost in the vegetation on the cliffs just below them. Watching the birds sweep over the water. Hearing the light paddle in the water and sitting down, lying down relaxing with a cool breeze to alleviate the humidity in the air. It felt like a perfect experience I could recreate everyday, though I wouldn’t have the inspiring new place and curiosity in my pocket.

We painstakingly walked back towards the hotel our sweet river retreat. We stopped to eat across from Austin City Limits, a statue of Willy Nelson standing guard. From there we headed to see the bats, which I hate to say were a bit of a disappointment, though I imagine in the height of summer are still pretty amazing. Back at the hotel showers ensued and some chill time. We headed out for dinner at Perla's, a great restaurant with a fun patio for pre-dinner drinks; one that almost felt 1940's movieish. Once inside, the food backed up it's reputation (all the entrees were impressive but goddamn their Shells & Cheese was out of this world). We made our way to a jazz bar after that and then got dropped off before Sixth Street to take in the post-college football happenings. It was pretty chaotic and funny and also left me feeling old.

Sunday, shopping was on the schedule. The clouds were full and floated through the air rather quickly when we started out that morning. It can get a little windy down south, which serves as a reminder that you’re in the old west because otherwise, it doesn’t feel that way at all. It feels like some strange place you wander in to that has really good eye candy: architecture and signage and restaurants. Music streams from all over the place and if it isn’t streaming, it’s live. There is a constant stimulation to your ears – in a good way (not in the Vegas way where machines leave you feeling bombarded) - more in the way where you find yourself walking down the street in a light mellow mood wondering why you feel so relaxed only to realize music has been dusting your ears for a few days, weather subtly in shops and restaurants or at a bar right in front of your face. You run in to old songs you haven't heard in a long time. You run in to new songs too.

We made our way around the sites, stopping to see what this guy Lance Armstrong has to sell in his UBER-bike shop, which was pretty cool. Dahlia made out like a bandit in there (unfortunately some lucky bastard found her souvenirs in the cab after we were dropped off at the airport). Still we had a good lunch thanks to Julie Howard's recommendation of Guero's Taco Bar. I knew I could trust anywhere she sent me and really, how can I be unsatisfied with fresh guac and queso?! We shopped after that down State Street taking in the food carts and secondhand stores, finding cute screen press t-shirts and funny schtuff to take home to loved ones. One last drink and then we were fetching a cab to leave. Quick but a great escape.

This seems the perfect sign for this place: uncorporate and phallic and bright. It's just a fun, sexy city keeping it fresh. 

And then it was just a memory. Until next time, my friends...

Some photo credits to Chena Popper, Dahlia Feiter, and Sophia Yen :)

Friday, October 19, 2012

Tractor Day

D has a tractor (of course he does, are you surprised) but I digress... Miss M is in LOVE with it; but then again she loves anything motorized. D and I have our own subtle battles; him enticing her with diesel engines and two-wheeled vehicles; me with music and tutu's and some nail polish every now and again. In any case, I made the mistake last year of fighting my battle in the literary sense by purchasing a book called Tractor Day by Candice Ransom for Valentine's Day. It's a story about a farmer and his daughter plowing the fields together while an UBER dowdy mother hangs clothes, feeds the pigs, and lugs around the baby. I inscribed in the book: "For D & M - so you can take a ride together."

Well who knew the guy ACTUALLY had a tractor at the time. Actually I did but I rarely take him seriously until I see the object he has been talking about for 6 months in my yard (see "GS" "KTM" "Gun Safe" and "Swinger", etc. in the appendix). Mostly this happens because D has a Lot where he squirrels away all his stuff. Currently though, his cute little tractor is in our backyard. It really is cute and who knows what we will ever do with it but I'm sure something in suburbia will have an itch to scratch. For now though, it is M's favorite ride. She asks to go out back for "Tractor Day" and I literally have to stop myself from rolling my eyes. I will admit, it is pretty cute though once she's on it. Perhaps I could take a turn and funnel some of my Footloose fantasies.

P.S. I see some Kevin Bacon coolness in the old girl!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Still Everywhere

It's a strange experience being an adult; it can be quite solitary at times. I remember a while back (probably 8 years now), a friend of mine was talking about someone and made a comment about how she couldn't tell whether the guy was being candid about his experience. She said to me, "you know how adults can be." It caught me off guard. In fact, I didn't. My tendency was to think most people were pretty upfront and honest about their lives. However, the deeper I go in to this wilderness of adulthood, the more I find there are many things left unsaid.

As adults our realities can seem more messy than we ever imagined. We navigate through it all; sometimes we fail immensely in the company of others and sometimes we are the only ones around to be proud of our accomplishments. I had an artist friend a few years back named Witold K, who always said, "on the day you understand your loneliness, you will understand my art." Truth be told, I never could relate to that statement. I related to his art from a different perspective but I could never let go of how much I couldn't relate to his statement. As I get older though, I acknowledge my loneliness more and more. I'm not even sure it's a bad thing, which is what I originally thought about the concept. When I try to make sense out of what this all means (being alive here on earth), I think at the end of it all we are left with ourselves morphing into some other form of energy. Perhaps we don't need to make any sense of it at all. But then again, where does that leave an analytical person such as myself. 

Tricia posted an article this week on FB and it made me think of my dad because it argued God and connectivity from a scientists perspective... and because he died two years ago. Not that the article really has anything to do with my dad besides being scientific in nature and giving me some respite about the passing of time. It spoke to my hope that though he isn't around anymore he is still around. 

When I meet my sisters for dinner tonight, he will be at our table. He will be in our humor, he will be in our intellect, he will be the reason we come together find some way to enjoy this crazy thing called life. Our blue eyes looking around at each other, slightly heart broken and slight uplifted by the thought of how beautiful our father was to us. 

I would be foolish not to acknowledge the amount of time and space that will continue to build since October 2010. I move forward in my journey and my dad is not physically part of that experience anymore. However, he is always in my heart and frequently still in my thoughts. He will never know the rest of my story. Sometimes it hurts to think about it that way. Then again, he always knew who I was, what my spirit was about, and I like to think that meant he always knew my story. No amount of dead can take away the love I always felt from him and continue to remember fondly.

Championship Tennis

We got to watch J try to qualify for state this past week. It was so fun to see him in action. This year, sheer coolness. Next year, State!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Princesses in the Park

We ran in to Cinderella last weekend. We were at the park and a women mentioned there was a bunch of Princesses around. It sounded strange at first, like she was suggesting fairies were hiding in the bushes if we only looked closer, but then I saw a woman dressed as what I can only assume was Merida from Brave. I figured we would head in the direction she was and see what we came up on. We walked in to the pavilion, which alone seems breezy and magical, and I looked to my left to see Cinderella framed between two large columns as if she was waiting for her Prince to come. I thought the set up was pretty fantastic for Miss M, who would be meeting her first real princess.

Truth be told, they're not even on her radar. I'm not sure that I really want them to be though I have to admit, meeting Cinderella in person was pretty cool. M marveled at her big blue dress. She lifted her skirt to show M her shiny silver shoes, which sealed the deal with the old girl. M gently touched her gloved hand and told her the only thing a girl can think of, "My birthday coming up" (which btw is the statement of the month). The princess told me that is why she was in the Park; to take photos for her company, which sends characters to parties to hang with kids. We walked on past Peter Pan and Obie Wan Kenobi. We didn't see anymore princesses but we managed to hold on to the the magic in the day.

The most magical thing for me lately is that Princess Ginger has bucked her dog anxiety to accompany us on a few walks recently. It makes me so happy to be out and about with her.

I just had to post this photo too because I love M's big, almost painful, clenched smile as she says cheese. 
It's pretty commonplace these days and I know it will only be a fond memory soon.