How To: Enjoy a Long Weekend in Texas

Step 1 – Meet old friend at baggage claim and awkwardly skip-run into each other’s arms. 

Step 2 – Use two different phones and absolutely no knowledge of Dallas to get lost for hours, venturing onto toll roads, back roads and m****rf*****g commerce way, until finally finding and touring Dealy Plaza. 


Step 3 – Stay in a fancy hotel for the night, planning to drink numerous a’Rita’s from the gas station, only to stay up late talking and fall asleep mid sentence. 

Step 4 – Enjoy continental breakfast, steal everything they won’t charge you for from the room. 

Step 5 – Go to friend’s house in Wichita Falls, see improve show, get drunk and talk about politics after being called a yankee and responding “my state wasn’t involved in that war…”

Step 6 – Go to friends hometown, meet her hilarious friends, go to lake to cool off and drink all the drinks. 


Step 7 – Wake up the next morning wondering why you are still wearing a swimsuit, why the words ‘crown royale’ make you nauseous, and where your toothbrush is. 

Step 8 – Go kayaking hungover. For five hours!

Step 9 – Drive a car for the first time in two years but just briefly. Feel 15 again and decide driving is still not for you. 

Step 10 – Go back to Wichita Falls, take a Benadryl because you are insanely allergic to Texas and konk out for the whole ride. 

Step 11 – Go hiking in Oklahoma on this trail, oh wait is that a snake, never mind, this trail nope that’s a snake, no, this trail, no snakes, awesome, wait where’s the trail?


Step 12 – Head back to Dallas for the flight home but magically find extra time and a Buccee’s. Buy tourist-y goods and delicious salsa. 

Step 13 – Say goodbye, promise to come back soon, know you will. 


Best of luck.

Dos and Don’ts of Flying

Do Know the Rules and Regs

I know it’s a lot, but TSA has a website and every airport has information centers you can call. You need to know if your bag will fit. You need to be prepared for security. Do your homework.*

Don’t take over the armrest

If the thing you are doing requires you to enter my personal space, ask yourself how necessary it is. If it is extremely necessary, make it happen fast and apologize for elbowing me in the ribs (lookin at you lady-from-yesterday’s-flight).

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Do pack snacks. 

One time I bought an orange juice at an airport Starbucks and it was $8.

Eight. What.

Airports are like theme parks except airports allow you to bring food in so, get you some snacks before you get to the airport and save a dime. Or eight dollars.

Eight!

Don’t shame a parent because their child is crying. 

I don’t like screaming children, you don’t like screaming children, their parents don’t like it either. But there is nothing they can do so, buck up buttercup, life is hard and the babies feel it all.

Do pack water. 

An empty water bottle is allowed through TSA and can be easily filled at a water fountain past security. Planes are dry and flying does weird stuff to your body so hydrate.

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Don’t play your sh*t out loud

This is a rule for life I think. If you are in a public space and you’re watching videos or listening to music, use headphones. Because, are you kidding me, don’t be a d*ckhead.

Best of luck

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*If you haven’t already researched it, look up ID requirements for 2018 flights. The laws are changing and certain state licenses won’t be accepted.

Dos and Don'ts of Flying (1)

The (Late) 2017 Bucket List

At the beginning of college I got my first credit card. Don’t worry, I’ve always been ridiculously responsible about budgeting, this story’s not going down that road. What I recall almost as deeply as the nightmares I had about the possibility of interest payments, is getting my first statement.

It wasn’t that I’d spent a lot of money, it’s that every line item on the statement was a fast food restaurant or something I ordered from the internet. My credit card statement was a story of me as a shut-in. It was not an untrue story.

I wish I could say I saw this sad story and immediately changed; went full Eat, Pray, Love and traveled the world, sky dived and moved to a new city, danced like no one was watching. I did none of those things, because isn’t life lived in the small changes and the tiny moments?

Yes, it is.

So I went to a few more stand up shows and plays, I made my meals out into dates with friends, and I traded a few pretty dresses for road trips and ridiculous midnight adventures. I learned to get back into the world and be a bit more brave and a bit less tied to things.

When I heard about Eventbrite‘s GOMO, or Get Out More Often, I thought “that sounds pretty baller.” And then I thought “damn, son, you need to stop picking up slang from your students.”

In all seriousness though, there’s a huge life lesson here and you know how I love those. So in the spirit of GOMO! (something I will be yelling randomly all over NYC’s subways), here’s a list of 10 adventures I’d like to have this year.

*I’m putting a couple on here I already did, because, well, I want to brag a little too*

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1. Go To the Oscars

I did this. So…

2.  See a Play

I hadn’t totally planned on it, but I did this today too. Casually went to see Hamilton with my students. More on that later.

3. Get Out of Town

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New York is draining, which is surprising since I’ve yet to live in a New York apartment with decent sink and shower drains. In our year plus here, Boyfriend and I have only left the city a hand full of times, mostly to fly home or get out for a weekend camping trip. This year I really want to go somewhere quiet, stay in a B&B and relax for real. I want to be not just New York relaxed, but actually relaxed.

4. Have a Picnic

It doesn’t have to be in Central Park or Prospect Park or any park. I just want to make sandwiches and pack them to green, nature area and eat them in the company of those I love.

5. Go Camping

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This tends to happen a few times during the summer but it’s something that I really like and Boyfriend LOVES. Nature is the great healer and no matter how hot/humid/disgusting this summer is, we have to get out there.

6. Write a Story

I’m keeping expectations low because I won’t even finish grad school until August. So, not a novel, nothing epic, just a story. I have ideas in my head all the time and I used to do a lot more writing them. Time to get back to that.

7. Do a Yoga Retreat

Yoga brings me as much peace as nature does and I’ve been wanting to try one of these for a long time. This year I want to bite the bullet and go all in for a weekend (or maybe a week).

8. Take the Train

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Not the subway. Dear god, never the subway. The actual train. I don’t even really care where I go, I just want to go. On the train.

9. Be Present in the Blogging Community

I have made a few great blogging friends and interacted with other bloggers and I genuinely love this community so much. Grad school and teaching tend to keep me from both blogging (whoops) and making deeper connections with other bloggers (double whoops). This year I want to get back to the blog and jump in to the community.

10. Get a Tattoo with Boyfriend

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I should note: I definitely don’t mean matching tattoos. I truly believe though that it’s an experience worth having with someone you love and Boyfriend has not yet gotten a tattoo. I’m working on designing one for him and as for me, who know, could turn out as anything.

Best of luck.

P.S. Eventbrite also has some crazy cool planning tools, like this one. Check them out!

I Went to the Red Carpet & Lived to Tell the Tale

It’s been a bleak few weeks for the blog, for a lot of reasons. The most important one is that I went on a vacation in which I mostly disconnected from technology, hung out with family (including adorable children), saw old friends for the first time in way too long, explored Seattle all over again, and finally ended up in LA, hanging out at the actual Red Carpet for the Oscars.

Also I caught the plague from previously mentioned adorable children and am still a snot factory and temporarily deaf in one ear. Turns out a terrible cold can turn into my very first sinus infection with a side of ear infection.

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But yes, you did read that correctly I was just chillin on (well, near) the Red Carpet with my new besties Lin, Taraji, and Dev. No big deal.

Except very big deal.

How? You ask. Well, about a month ago I got a mysterious email from People magazine/The Skimm saying I’d won first prize in the Oscars Fan Experience Contest. Naturally I assumed it was a scam, but I decided to research it further because the whole thing sounded vaguely familiar. Eventually I found that I had in fact entered on a whim and The Skimm verified that it was not only a real contest, but I was one of the winners.

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I didn’t win grand prize including air fare and hotel accommodations, but since I’d planned on being in Seattle already and have an awesome friend in LA, the detour only cost me an extra $80.

For the Oscars.

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I invited my friend from Grad School and we arrived at the Oscar Fan Experience location at 9:30 on Sunday, the big day. Well, 9:35 because the map they provided did not include all of the streets or the curvature of the main road (this is why we need to teach geography in schools).

I’m not going to lie, I brought a book because I definitely couldn’t figure out what we could possibly be doing between 9:30 and 2, when the Red Carpet officially opened. I assumed they just needed a lot of time to seat all of us.

But when we arrived we were immediately given a swag bag (notable gifts include a USB power bank, a seat cushion, adorable sunglasses, a billion snacks, and an Oscars Fan Experience t-shirt), donuts and tons of coffee. We were then directed to the various “glam stations” which included hand massages, a hair bar, photo areas and tarot card readings. This was followed by a delicious lunch. We were plenty busy until it was time.

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Around 1:50 we made our way to the bleachers and looked out upon the Red Carpet, the press, and the manic-looking assistants/interns/coordinators. I was told by an obnoxious* woman in front of me that we’d missed some big stars (Ryan Seacrest, who remained on the carpet all night, and some reality star dude).

It took about an hour for celebrities to really start arriving, but once they showed up they were there in droves.

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Because I can’t even describe to you all the feelings and excitement, here is a list of the celebrities I was within 15 feet of on Oscars night:

  • Lin Manuel Miranda (he saluted us)
  • Dev Patel
  • Jim Parsons
  • Busy Phillips and Michelle Williams
  • Trevante Rhodes
  • Taraji P. Henson
  • Chrissy Teigen and John Legend
  • Kate McKinnon
  • Felicity Jones
  • Emma Stone
  • Andre Holland
  • Dwayne Johnson
  • Octavia Specer
  • Darby Stanchfield
  • Mahershala Ali
  • Jason Bateman (he winked at us)
  • Andrew Garfield
  • Salma Hayek
  • Michael J. Fox
  • Sara Bareilles
  • Nicole Kidman
  • Halle Berry
  • Janelle Monae
  • Matt Damon
  • Kirsten Dunst
  • Charlize Theron
  • Ashton Sanders
  • Brie Larson
  • Ruth Negga
  • Emma Roberts
  • Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel
  • Denzel Washington
  • Meryl Streep
  • Ryan Gosling
  • Naomie Harris

There were others, I’m sure there were others, but my excited little brain stopped processing new information at a certain point.

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After the Red Carpet excitement, we were taken to the El Capitan Theater nearby where we were given food upon food upon food and sat down to watch the show. Even though we didn’t get to be in the real theater, watching the Oscars in this delightful old theater (while stuffing my face with free food) was pretty cool.

I know you’re wondering and yes I took pictures but honestly they are terrible in comparison to what you’ll find if you just use google.

You should know though that John Legend and Chrissy Teigen love each other that much up close and everyone else is exactly as attractive as you thought.

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Best of luck.

I Went to the Red Carpet

*Barbara from Ohio spent the entire evening in my personal space, leaning back on my legs to show me her pictures and asking who each and every celebrity was.

4 Things I Wish I’d Known Before Moving to NYC

1. The Subway is Hell

You know that movie scene where the quirky girl is riding the subway and writing in her journal about her quirky thoughts? She looks up and there’s a handsome stranger peering back at her. He smiles. She smiles.

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Riding the subway every day is exactly like that except replace “writing in her journal” with “struggling to stand while the car sways and the man behind her pushes his briefcase into her leg.” Oh and the handsome stranger is an old woman yelling at the ceiling that the A train used to run all the way to Jersey City. Oh and there are no smiles.

2. Renting an Apartment is Hell

No, I don’t mean it’s hard or time-consuming, I mean it’s actual hell.

Because I moved to New York with Boyfriend, the option of subletting or renting a room wasn’t really on the table for us. So, I started looking for studios about 3 months out from our move date. I was quickly informed that this was too early and listings are only up about 30 days before renting. Cool, cue anxiety spike.

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At about 6 weeks I found a listing on the Columbia Off Campus Housing site for students and met an awesome agent who took the time to explain the process. Here are some important pieces to renting basically any property in NYC:

– Your income must be 40x the rent annually – so if you want to rent a $1500 studio, you will need to make a minimum of 60k/year, for a $2000 place, you’ll need 80k/year. If you are really lucky, a rental company might accept 35x the rent, especially if you have good credit, but if not you’ll need a guarantor…

– A guarantor is a co-signer for the lease, this can be a family member or friend, but be warned, they must make 80x the rent ($1500 apartment = 120k/year). If you don’t have a loaded friend, there are many companies that will co-sign for you in exchange for a fee, which is typically one month’s rent.

– If a broker is showing you the apartment, that’ll be another fee which fluctuates between 1-2 months rent.

– If you meet all of these requirements and are approved before the apartment is rented to someone else, congratulations! Now quick pay a deposit, 1-2 months rent, renters insurance (in many buildings) and you’re in! Welcome to you 300 square foot apartment that costs 4x what it would have in the city you moved from

3. Taxes are Hell

I moved from a state where I could calculate the amount of money that would be taken out of my paycheck at about 10%. New York scoffs at that amount, New York giggles, New York promptly quadruples that amount and then asks how you’re going to make rent.

Granted I make more money than I used to, but my first paycheck was a bit of a surprise. Turns out, making 51k means I pay 38% of my income to the feds, state, and city. Cool.

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I know there is a system that involved brackets and varying percentages, but I don’t know exactly how it works. Best I can tell, New York just adds up the amount of joy it’s sucked from you that month and charges the same percentage in taxes.

4. Getting Out of the City is Hell

Ok, once you’re out of the city it’s awesome, but the actual act of leaving is a pain, especially during the holidays.

For Thanksgiving, Boyfriend and I went to Virginia to visit my family and looked at just about every possible way to get there. Flying was $800-$900, the train was $500-600, renting a car was a minimum of $600 plus gas. Finally we settled on a 12-hour overnight bus and it still ran us over $350.

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I won’t even talk about trying to fly back to the best coast for Christmas…cough $900 cough.

Granted these are long distance trips and we could get out a bit more locally, however then there’s the cost of travel, lodging and food. Day trips are rough if you don’t have a car and getting anywhere by subway/train/bus takes forever.

What I’m saying is, if you live here, you’ll want to get out once in a while and you will not succeed most of the time.

Alright so maybe it’s not that bad and NYC has some pretty beautiful and great bits too. But, be warned, it will try to get to you. Like a loud little brother, NYC will always be there yelling in your ear when you just want some space.

Anyway, I’d love to hear from you with any comments or questions!

Best of luck.

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What Happens When Your Soul Sister Visits

This weekend I’m lucky enough to have the love of my life visit me: BFF Jess. Don’t worry Boyfriend knows his place: directly behind my Jess. He’s cool with it.

In honor of this spectacular event, here are the stages of what happens when your soul sister visits.

Stage 1: The Planning

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Everyone tells their friends they should visit, everyone makes superficial plans for a “one day” visit, but the real planning typically starts with a text.

“What does May look like for you?”

This is where the timing and the plane tickets and the time off work come into play. This is real.

Stage 2: The Countdown

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Typically starting casually, this stage causes all conversations to end with a mention of the impending excitement.

“You’re going to be here in nine and a half months/two months/one week/TOMORROW”

For BFF Jess and I this usually comes to a peek the week of the visit, when we relentlessly annoy our friend by posting photos of us on Facebook and reminding the world that THIS IS HAPPENING SO SOON.

Stage 3: The Reunion

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THIS STAGE IS IN ALL CAPS BECAUSE OMG MY BFF IS HERE AND I CAN’T BELIEVE SHE’S HERE AND SHE’S SO PRETTY AND PERFECT AND I LOVE HER AND I NEED TO TELL HER EVERYTHING THAT’S HAPPENED IN THE PAST SIX MONTHS EVEN THOUGH WE TALK EVERYDAY AND SHE ALREADY KNOWS EVERYTHING.

Breathe. Ok. LET’S JUST HUG AND JUMP UP AND DOWN SOME MORE.

—–

I hope you all have a lovely weekend. I’m off to forget I’m a grad student and an adult for a weekend of adventure with the greatest human I know.

Crazy Faces

Best of luck.

What Happens When Your Soul Sister Visits

Motivation Monday: Adventure

When was the last time you did something for the first time- (1)

Adventure scares the hell out of me.

It is, by nature, the exact opposite of me curling up in my comfort zone and ignoring the world. Adventure is inviting the world in.

I can’t think of a single adventure I regret. Even the ones that turned out badly taught me enough to avoid regret. So I know adventures are good. And still I hesitate every time.

Let me explain it this way: one time I went bungee jumping…

During Peace Corps, I took a vacation to Lima with my awesome pal, Jeannie. One day we found a company who did bungee jumping off of a bridge in the mountains and signed up. The next morning we got up early and rode on an old bus through curving hills while I tried not to vomit due to car sickness.

The entire ride up I was calm. Am I going to jump off a bridge? Hell Yes I am! When we arrived, I stepped out of the car, listened to instructions, put on my harness and helmet. I felt good. Am I going to kick gravity’s ass? Hell yes I am!

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We took photos and waited for the gear to be checked and rechecked. We walked out onto the bridge and lined up. I watched the first person jump, flying downward with grace and giggling all the way. I turned to Jeannie and simply said “nope, can’t do that.”

Am I going to plummet from the edge of oblivion? Hell no, are you kidding me!

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We had to option to jump or be thrown and let’s just say I had to be thrown.

I’ve had to either be thrown or throw myself into most new adventures, because damn it if I’m not a big old chicken. But the thing about adventures is; it doesn’t matter how much you kick and scream before you do it, it only matters that you did it.

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What was your latest adventure?

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Best of luck.