Sunday, November 29, 2009

Thanksgiving Break, the Dallas Art Museum, Dealy Plaza, & Harley Davidsons

Yay holidays!  Even when I like my job I love long breaks that involve copious amounts of food.

Lennon and I skipped between families during our break, and he insisted that when we made it to Dallas, we had to eat at Isabella's Pizza.  This was part of the Lennon's-childhood-grand-tour of Grand Prairie, and lunch came with stories of little Lennon eating there with his dad after karate practice while proudly sporting his gi.  Isabel was actually there, making pizza from scratch, when we walked in.  If the pizza hadn't of been larger than two of my stomachs, I would have eaten the whole thing.

Lennon's mom is a member of the Dallas Art Museum, which means free admission for her and a guest.  Sadly, this does not mean one can use her card without her presence... darn photo ID's.

One of the large sculptures was this crazy glass/mirror thing, which I managed to get one picture of before being told "no photographs, please."

Photos were allowed in the hands-on room of the museum.  This cardboard chair was comfier than my desk chair.  I may need to start saving boxes.

The museum's atrium had large, glass sea-anemone flowers blooming on the windows.

I liked them.  They reminded me of antique summer picnic sets.  I have a miniature pink one for my Samantha doll. 

Outdoor mosaic murals were also ok for photographing.  Dallas actually had leaves changing colors properly for fall.  I keep steppping out in Austin and thinking it's early spring since everything is still green.

On Saturday, Lennon's dad took us to Dealy Plaza to see the site of the Kennedy assasination.  Sort of an odd spot for a romantic pose, but the "x" behind us is where the fatal shot was fired. 

Father and son outside of the Texas Book Depository building.  Related?  Hm...

When going over to see these gigantic cow statues, Lennon asked why they weren't more appropriatley fixed in Ft. Worth.  His dad reminded him that Ft. Worth doesn't need fake cows.  Here, Lennon takes the bull by the horns.

I like to let the fake cow know that I will never eat his more lively brethren. 

Yes, we are THOSE tourists. 

Next to the giant cows is an old cemetary with famous early Dallas-ites are buried, now located in the center of downtown Dallas.  I thought pelting Lennon would leaves would liven up the place.

A trip to Grand Prarie/Dallas wouldn't be complete without a tour of Lennon's dad's Harley Davidson shop.

I wish I could say I got to ride this home to Austin, but $21,000 says I probably should just be happy being allowed to touch it.  One of the best Harley mechanics in Texas was a mere two feet away should I have broken anything.

Today we are both back in Copperas Cove with my family for Christmas decorating and laying around, now watching Star Wars on T.V. - how long till Christmas break?

How was your holiday?

Thursday, November 26, 2009


On Black Friday, Thanksgiving, every day, I am thankful...

for families that are and are not my own.  squishy couches.  the twenty years I knew my mom.  my dad.  my step-family.  my grandparents.  the grandfather I never met who looks like my dad.  boyfriends.  ex-boyfriends.  all the ways I realize just how much like my parents I am.  car trips.  Bella.  friends in Atlanta.  in Boston.  in Little Rock.  in DC.  in Austin.  etc.  my job.  bar-b-que sauce.  the calluses on my fingers.  neutral milk hotel.  green bean casserole.  carpets.  ceiling fans.  skirts.  movies with happy endings.  bras with wires that don't stab me.  wireless internet.  holidays.  book stores.  lamps.  room mates.  acoustic covers.  textured paint.  sperry's.  all things past & the future.

I have been and will be hopping between Copperas Cove and Dallas until Sunday, using borrowed wireless on other people's computers.  But I hope everyone's weekend is cozy and filled with people and things worth loving, even if they aren't physically present.

In that respect, I wanted to learn to play the song below on guitar, because after my mom died, it took on a new meaning for me, and one time I played it and realized I'd started crying.  Lame, maybe, but true.  My playing was not so stellar, so I skipped the personal cover.  Regardless, for anyone who has to be apart from someone they love - for whatever reason - death, distance, serving in Iraq like Doug, about to go to Iraq like Hal, estranged - here's a song for you.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Big Poppa E & I: Covering "Tonight You Belong To Me."

My room mate, Eirik, known to the larger world as Big Poppa E, performs a duet with me on one of our new favorite songs.  We are accompanied by a kitty meowing, the microwave, and my guitar.  I hope it makes you laugh a little - happy holidays!

PS - Check out my kiddos tonight - three of them are members of the Cipher and are going to be featured tonight at the Austin Poetry Slam at the Independent.  Eirik will be hosting, so cheer for him, T-Fly, Courtney, and Pete extra loud since I'll be home in Copperas Cove by then. 

Travel Like A Pro Part 1: Skirts In Boots

Having grown up as a military brat, I've done a lot of travelling.  Maybe not enough to qualify as an expert, but close enough to know how to travel well.  So, to celebrate one of my talents - travelling - I'm going to do a few posts with travel tips, just in case your holidays involve cross country treks, continental skips, calculated avoidance of relatives, or all of the above.

First up on the agenda: packing clothes that are both casual and dressy enough to not look like a miscreant in a nice restaurant.  It's also important to not look like one of those harried airport patrons wearing sweats with "Juicy" across the butt while sitting next to a woman in a pencil skirted-business suit with her legs crossed away from the pink mess beside her.  Trashy.

The easiest and most versatile way to pack, for warm weather or cold, is to take skirts and boots.  Boots keep your legs warm, skirts always look nice, and regardless of stereotypes, skirts are way more comfortable than jeans.  To pair a skirt with boots, I recommend going with flared, a-line skirts that can be matched with plain t-shirts, sweaters, or nicer blouses.

Above are a few of my favorites:

1) Yellow "Great Escape" skirt from Anthropologie.

2) "Little Birds" skirt from Etsy seller alejandrina

3) Cashmere "Working Girl" skirt from Etsy seller Econica

4) Shirred wool skirt (available in four colors) from J. Crew.

Being anti-leather, all of the boots I picked out as favorites are vegan and cruelty free.  A long list of animal-friendly, skin-free online retailers can be found at Peta's website (don't be scared off, it's just a list of stores) under Compassionate Shopping Guide

These boots, going clockwise, can be found online:

1) Charcoal faux suede slouch boot by Zulu at Alternative Outfitters

2) Thames by Neuaura brown dress boot at at Vegan Chic

3) Tom's vegan wrap boot (in four colors), and remember that if you buy a pair of Tom's shoes, then they give a pair to a child in need. 

4) Zarrah boot from Madden Girl at Moo Shoes

I haven't gotten around to buying a new pair of boots yet - all the pairs I own are either leather and I feel too guilty to wear them, or they make my feet look too big because I didn't size them right.  I've got my eye on that slouch pair, though. 

What do you like to pack for travelling?  Are you an anti-sweats-in-airports person, or am I alone on that...


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Story Corps + The Things That Haunt Us

Germans in the Woods from Rauch Brothers on Vimeo.

One of the blogs I check regularly is Waging Nonviolence, and I can't help but re-post this video they highlighted from Story Corps.  The animated video illustrates the words of WWII veteran Joseph Robertson, who fought at the Battle of the Bulge, and his memory of shooting one German soldier, that has stayed with him for over sixty years.  Coming from a military family, having gone through ROTC, anti-violence to the point of vegetarianism, etc, etc... stories like this stand out as critical to highlighting the psychological affects of war, which, while still following the Ft. Hood story closely, seems even more important to bring into the public sphere of consideration.  And no matter what you think about war - you should familiarize yourself with Story Corps, because it is just THAT awesome.   

Monday, November 23, 2009

Girl Guitar Austin + Three Chord Songs + A Shameless Request For Free Voice Lessons

After Ladies Rock Camp, I signed up for guitar lessons with Girl Guitar Austin, per the advice of my co-worker, Julie.  Girl Guitar is run by Mandy Rowden, who is the ideal example of a woman who has taken the thing she is most passionate about and made it her life in a positive way - and the benefactors of this, in addition to people who go to her shows - are girls like me who get to go to guitar class, play with other ladies, and drink wine, all at the same time!  If you've ever been inside a rehearsal space at one of the Music Lab locations, then you're probably picturing a black room with lots of equipment, cords, and amplifiers strewn about in a hazardous-to-your-health-and-spinal-cord sort of way.  Mandy has managed to make her space look like an apartment - complete with refrigerator, framed photos, fabric wall paper, lamps, mirrors, wine cabinet, and chairs with squishy pads for comfortable playing. 


I've only been to one lesson so far, and our first song was "Get Right With God," by Lucinda Williams.  It must be fated for me to be in this class, because Lucinda Williams is partly an Arkansas girl.  Her father is one of my favorite poets, Miller Williams, who was a creaive writing professor at the University of Arkansas - which just so happened to be my major, and my alma mater.  Go hogs.

Moving along, the above video is proof that I have, indeed, been trying to practice, unlike every other time I've started guitar lessons.  I even got a little over-zealous this weekend....

Above is my attempt at St. Augustine by Band of Horses.  I remind myself of a little kid plunking on the piano to find the right notes.  My poor room mates; it's lucky they are heavy sleepers.  Also, while I may be documenting my labored progress at learning the guitar, if anyone wants to take pity on me and offer up a lesson on how to sing, I'd gladly document that progress, too!  Turning my vocals into something that actually sounds like singing would be a huge feat for any teacher - so please, use me as your before and after selling point!  I've already got the "before" part recorded - see above. 

I'd also like to add, as a foot note, that while I may be wearing a Save the Wild Things t-shirt and playing a Band of Horses song, I am not the pretentious hipster that this video makes me out to be...  Or is the first act of being a hipster denying that one is a hipster?  Crap.  I bought that shirt in Baton Rouge in fall of 2008, pre-release of any movie trailor, and I discovered Band of Horses in the second worst way possible, (according to hipster theology, the first worst being to hear it on the radio), it was suggested to me by while downloading mp3s. For shame!  I was also baking chocolate cupcakes in between songs - if you promise to forget this post I'll give you one.  Although, I did make the frosting from tofu.   

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The XX & Friendly Fires at Mohawk, with NO Holly Miranda

Dear Holly Miranda,

I bought tickets to two bands I'd never heard of just to see you play solo.  It's been too long since I saw the Jealous Girlfriends perform at Juanita's in Little Rock.  But then, heartbreak of all heartbreaks, you cancelled.  And I did not realize this until 10PM, after standing smushed as marbles in a kid's back pocket for an hour, when a band came onto the stage that, alas, was not you.  You Tube has been my only consolation since Thursday.  But don't worry.  I am not a fair weather fan, and I'll be front row, (or fourth), the next time you come through town.  Just - please don't cancel again, as next time I might cry.

A little You Tube therapy.

The non-Holly band that came on was The XX, and while I am enjoying thier mellowness in the quiet, calm space of my living room while wearing polar pear pajama pants and thinking about sleep, it was not an exciting enough stage show to merit staying cramped on the lower deck of Mohawk.  Plus, even though I was front stage right, I couldn't see 1/3rd of the band, because the girl was standing behind a speaker.

Ater going upstairs to sit down, I started checking twitter on my phone, and saw that Austin Bloggy and ATXhipsters were both tweeting the show, and one had been right beside me on the deck, and the other was right in front of me on the upper level. 

I kept trying to figure out who was tweeting during the show, but it was actually much darker than this picture makes it look.  Overcast skies make for a great lighting backdrop.

Lennon is not nearly the fan of mellow music that I am, so if I was annoyed by the cancellation of the set I came to see, which was only aggrivated by being bored with the string of songs featuring the Am chord, then it's easier to imagine his level of boredom.  But, he's a good sport, and beer makes everything better.

The Friendly Fires reminded me of the 80's clashing with a disco roller rink.  Every butt in the venue was suddenly on a pendulum, and shook back and forth, back and forth. 

I can't take credit for the above two pictures - I was standing on the stairs, peeking around the corner, as it was the only place I could a) get enough height to see over the crowd and b) not have to fight the impermeable line of people clinging to railings for a vantage point.  So Lennon, being the skinny giant that he is, waded into the fray to take a few pictures for me.

I did take this one.  I watched the Friendly Fires through the frame of a plant.  Then we left, and went to Magnolias for mud dip.  That was when it started to pour.  Good timing.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

More Feats of Upper Body Strength: Aerial Silks in Austin

The E.A.S.T. Austin Studio Tour has not been limited to traditional gallery art; it also incorporates workshops, demonstratoins, and performances.  Last Sunday, a few girls from Blue Lapis Light aerial silks studio hosted an outdoor demonstration of their "in-your-face-Newton" stunts on a large yellow rig with long, ominous, silk scarves flowing to the ground where a single yoga mat stood as cushion between aerial mishaps and the grass.

Rolling in late, per usual, I only caught the last part of the performance, but luckily for me...

Winnie Hsia was gracious enough to climb back up the silks to pose for me in a splits position.  My legs threatened to buckle under me if the thought of attempting that even crossed the frontal lobe of my mind. 

I think I'll hedge my bets on gravity-defying moves by sticking to my beginner pole tricks, since at least a pole is anchored to the ground.  On second thought, maybe I'll just continue to be the girl taking pictures.  I'm ok with that.

At the end, all of the girls came out and took a bow.  There was quite a crowd gathering, and the mosquitos had found us, so it was time to go back to an air conditioned gallery.  Be sure to watch for other events put on by local performers this weekend, since the studio tour extended it's run, and if you find Winnie on facebook, she can tell you of other upcoming aerial silk events. 

Also be sure to check out her boyfriend, Danny Strack, Austin's slam poetry team captain for the National Poetry Slam last year! It's hard not to hold a grudge against talented people who, when combined, have the same affect as the Captain Planet rings joining forces to save the universe, but it's worth avoiding the talent-jealousy-grudge to meet them.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Flightless Bird - sort of...

If you've been with me for a month or so, you'll know I abandoned trying to play guitar and sing at the same time during my weekend at Ladies Rock Camp, because it was too darn hard.  Well, I've managed to learn a song!  Sort of... if we ignore that I miss the very first chord, can't always match the tune to the chord that I'm hitting, have to concentrate really really hard on where to put my fingers next, and I don't deviate from the same simple strum pattern, then we can say: ok, I learned the song.  I learned a song!

So, if I've ever given you crap about anything, I suppose this is fair turn around.  My goal is to know a different song, better, by one week.  And in this goal, I will actually practice, and actually learn to play, (ideally).  Singing is another story - practice can't fix everything. 

The Get Up Kids in Austin: A Real Emo Love Story, or, Why My Boyfriend Almost Slept On The Couch

On Wednesday night, the musicians who created my number one favorite album of my quarter century life time - the Get Up Kids - came to Emo's.  The first song to ever grace my ears by them was "Holiday," on a mix CD my friend Josh gave me in the tenth grade.  I don't remember anything else on the mix CD, but I played "Holiday" so many times in my 1994 Jeep Cherokee, cruising around Fayetteville, AR, with the windows rolled down, that he finally suggested I give the whole album a try.  The Red Letter Day EP quickly followed Something to Write Home About, and the rest... wasn't history.  It was a CD that got played so much I had to buy a new one to replace it.  If you can't tell already, I'm fond of the group.

When I saw them advertised to play in Austin, I bought tickets for myself and Lennon well in advance online.  After they finally arrived in the mail - green and shiny with a holographic sticker - I proudly displayed them in the mirror's frame on my dresser, a daily reminder of my impending high school obsession to be gratified.  Wednesday finally came, I rushed home to grab the tickets and my boyfriend so we could rush right back out to go downtown, but to my surprise and dismay, the house was empty.  When efforts to get in touch proved futile, I did what any self respecting, stood-up girlfriend would do:

I calmly brought his pillows and a blanket downstairs, made him a bed on the couch, (the short one), and wrote a note in red pen that read simply: "Forget?" with the ticket receipt on top.  The spare ticket I suddenly found myself with was quickly offered to my friend Elizabeth, with the suggestion that she and her girlfriend split the price of a third ticket.  So, I left my love letter on his pillow, put a note on his laptop in our room that read "downstairs" just in case he missed it, and left.

Arriving at Emo's was also a surprise - I had no idea that a band I have adored since tenth grade, (TEN YEARS AGO - goodness), was still so popular.  It was packed, and being front row was out of the question.  Elizabeth and Andrea abandoned my plight to move forward after being elbowed back by a few misplaced fraternity brothers, with the threat of violence on the elbowers if they did not remove themselves from the situation quickly.  I'd normally agree with their stand, but this was the Get Up Kids, and I needed to be as close as possible.  "Close as possible" ended up being the third row, pressed in on all sides, with the two tallest people in the venue standing in front of me, and the one ass who thought "Holiday" was a moshable song behind me.  Nonetheless, I held my ground.  Forty-five minutes into the set, I felt someone pull on my sleeve, and before I could flash my face of annoyance, I saw Lennon, crouching behind me so that his too-tall head wouldn't block the view of the girls he'd just pushed in front of, telling me he'd promised he'd be there, and was sorry he forgot about the show when he agreed to go to the poetry slam with Eirik, (I also had a message on my phone from Eirik begging me to go easy on Lennon - aww, male solidarity).

So Lennon had forgotten the slam was that night, came home to find my note, had an "oh crap" moment, ran out the door while Eirik cheered him on with "Go boy go," drove downtown, tried to get in the door with the ticket receipt stub thinking it was the ticket, got laughed at by the door man, ran down the block to the ATM for the cover, got in, got a beer, pushed his way to the front stage left, couldn't find me, pushed his way back out, got another beer, saw Elizabeth who told him to look for the girl in yellow towards stage right, dove back in to the crowd, shoved his way toward an SLR camera up in the air with a yellow hoodie beneath it, and finally found me.  He said he suffered a black eye and bruised elbows to find me in the deluge of bodies. 

Needless to say, I brought his pillows back upstairs for him when we got home.  No too-short love seat doghouse sleeping for my forgetful, sunburned, crowd diving boyfriend.  At least, not this time around.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Pole Dancing Escapes the Strip Club + Brass Ovaries, Austin

A few weeks ago, I signed up for an introductory pole dancing class held at Forbidden Fruit on Wednesdays.  Before getting into the dancing, one of the first things that the two instructors addressed were the stereotypes and stigmas that surround pole dancing.  According to The Flying Studio, pole dancing didn't even enter strip clubs until the 1980's, and the dance traces it's lineage through yoga practice, the Victorian May pole, Chinese acrobats, up through Barnum and Bailey. 

The class was set up in the store, with all of the racks pushed back to the walls.  It was well populated by college students, two strippers, one wife getting ready to give her husband a sexy birthday present, some army personnel, a day care worker, a few returnees, the clerk at Forbidden Fruit, and of course, myself. 

One thing I learned from my first step up to the pole, (which was not unexpected), is that it's HARD, and relies heavily on upper body strength.  Exposed skin aided in sticking to the pole, but it still wasn't enough to merit not needing a spotter on most of the tricks they showed us.  I never feel tall until I try to find the ground behind my head, starting from a standing position, and then the ground suddenly seems quite far away.   

The class was a good introduction to the challenges of pole dancing, but not a place to hone skill or keep up a sweat since turns had to be taken.  The sponsoring studio, Brass Ovaries, does open studio practice, as well as private lessons for 1-3 people at $60/hr. If I had the money, I would totally start going, and I'd never lose an arm wrestling contest again.  Ever

The Friday after the class I got sore and stayed sore for the duration of the weekend.  I didn't immediatley experience the feminine empowerment that some of the returnees attested to, but I am writing this article, and I enjoyed myself, so perhaps this is the outpouring of those empowering stirrings.  Either way, who's up for splitting $60?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Austin Garden Party

I attended the Garden Party, hosted by the Austin Eavesdropper, at the Liberty Bar on Saturday night with Lennon.  The cold germs that are now building superstructures and mass transporation monorails in my lungs were tending their first batch of hatchlings on Saturday, so I promised myself I could go out if I went early, left early, and only had one beer.  Sadly, this resulted in a lack of pictures from my camera.

Ever enthusiastic about dressing up, I dropped by Parts and Labour the day before to find a feathery hair piece. I chose this sea shelled hair pin by Marlo Adelle.  I thought it would be something I'd never wear again, but after putting it in, I decided a bit flamboyant suits me.

My theme for the night was pearls.

The photobooth was manned by Trevor Ray, and like at the Bleet Up, he had all kinds of fun goodies to utilize as props.  I can't do hair, period, so a bob was out of the question.  Since the Garden Party was in support of sustainable gardening, a lot of the door prizes were beautiful succulents.  Having left early, I bet I won the grand prize and will never know.  It's ok, though, as I no longer have a front yard.  Congrats to the evening's winners - lucky saps!  (I know, terrible pun). 

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Austin Rugby: The Huns, and Lessons on How to Take a Hit

One of the things Lennon was most excited about when coming to Austin was rugby.  Our first visit out to Burr field was to watch a Hawaiin shirts vs. skins game, (after we finally found the field while humming the banjo tune reminiscent of Deliverance during the dirt road drive). 

The Austin Blacks are the team of the Austin Rugby Club, but this weekend we watched the Austin Huns play at Burr against the Dallas Harlequins.  I don't have much interest in rugby beyond the cuteness of the striped polo shirts that comprise the traditional uniform, but Lennon is quite the enthusiast, and now that he has a new 9-5 job, he has no excuse not to start getting his butt kicked by cleats during evening practices. 

Despite my lack of interest in most sports, there is something to be gained, though, from watching men (or women) run full throttle into each other sans padding.  So, as a non-competitive sport viewer, I offer up the universal lessons that rugby has to offer for all people:

How To Take A Hit Like A  Champ

1) One must always know what they are in for.  Observe a situation before stepping into the foray.  This is the equivalent of studying a play book, or taking a deep breath before the buzzer sounds in a race.  If you're going to get the wind knocked out of you, make sure you've got wind to spare.

2) Avoid friendly fire.  Ther's nothing more frustrating than being knocked out by your own team.  Be aware of the location of all your chess pieces at any given time. 

3) Kick like you mean it.  Punting is for chumps.  I used to punt in PE class during dreaded kick ball games so that I could outsprint the person going for my one-inch kick to get to first base.  This wasn't a strategy - it was a fear tactic.  I didn't want the ball thrown at my face.  If you've seen the movie Julie and Julia, then I advise you to take away this one mantra: "No fear, Julia." 

4) Even when you're in the game, remember the outside world.  Sometimes what seems most important at the moment is put into perspective when you stick your head up above the squall-of-work bubble for just a minute.  Clarity often ensues.   

5) Team work.  Nothing pads a hit like a good team mate, (although, refer to point number two), especially if the guy in front of you has a really cute butt to look at.  Maybe this isn't applicable to all people... 

6) Don't hedge the field.  If the ball is your target, go for it.  In first grade I stood in front of a field kick during a pee-wee league soccer game and blocked the ball with my belly button.  From that point on I never went near that nasty thing.  Thank goodness for participation trophies.  Regardless, I never made a single goal; I was too infatuated with the risk. 

7) Get a leg-up.  Go further, read more, study harder, get up an hour earlier... however much you can push yourself to get ahead of where you were before - do that - but not more than that.  Review point number four. And if you fall from your vantage point, get up gracefully. 

8) Remember, it takes patience to get where you are going.  So don't rush the field if you aren't ready, and don't brawl just because something doesn't go your way.  Some things are a long way off but very few things (on this planet, at least) are in the distance of infinite. 

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