Sunday, January 31, 2010

Jug Wine Comics


The list of awesome people I work with goes on: Meghann, one of our program specialists, draws comics, and they're GREAT.  She has also taught me to knit, but that's another story.  According to her blog, she'll be on KVRX 91.7 on Tuesday night, 8:30PM, "chatting about being a cartoonist, being a lady, and being a lady-cartoonist."  

She also has mad style, and if I can ever remember to take my camera to work, I'm going to barrage her with camera flashes, (and Meghann, if you're reading this, that's your heads up).  

Rockin & Swappin

Saturday night was the Austin Rock N'Swap at Beauty Bar, hosted by Tolly of Austin Eavesdropper and Sarah of The Year of Living Thriftily.  I got to go with another one of my favorite bloggers: Michelle of Wicked Whimsy, and aside from great company, you know it's a good night when you have a free rum and coke in one hand, a free chocolate, caramel-stuffed cupcake in the other, and are juggling the two between shuffling through racks and stacks of free clothes that are up for grabs.  I also got to meet Indiana of Adored Austin.  Everyone I met was so warm and kind that it made it difficult for my extreme case of "the shy's" to take affect. 

These are the clothes I took in tow - two beaded shirts, one being a bit too peek-a-boob for my taste, three shirts I shrunk and can't squeeze around my expansive rib cage anymore, one dress that zipped all the way up on me many moons ago, a shirt so sparkly that Lennon laughed at me when I brought it home, and three necklaces that haven't seen daylight in over a year. 

And this is what I brought home!  Two swirly skirts, a halter top, (with quite the plunging V-neck, I may need to invest in a bandeau top), a jacket and t-shirt for Lennon, and the dress of my dreams.  I didn't bring home ten things, as I wasn't quite fast enough to grab everything that was put on a rack and made me salivate.  There was some stiff competition going down, and I feel lucky to have nabbed the finds I got. 

This is the dress I wore for the event, and it doubled as a baby shower ensemble prior to the swap.  Elizabeth, my co-director, and I, are friends with the very sweet custodian, Aurora, who has our section of the campus.  She brings us breakfast tacos and teaches me Spanish.  Her daughter-in-law is pregnant with a soon-to-be grandson, and Elizabeth and I were incredibly excited to be invited to the family event.  We got to eat spicy salsa, queso fresca, home made tortillas, and guacamole.  Our present was bi-lingual baby books from Book People, but I doubt that baby will need it, as I spent most of the afternoon being taught Spanish phrases from a 100% bi-lingual eight year old.  When I think of my high school Spanish "C," I cringe.

Dress: Jakura, from a boutique in Little Rock
Cardigan: Old Navy
Boots: Steve Madden, clearance
Brooch: from my grandmother
Necklace: ordered from Delia's in ninth grade for Izmir American High's homecoming formal

Lennon is modeling the t-shirt and jacket I brought home for him atop his PJ pants.  Being a Dallas-ite, Lennon was teased in Arkansas for his "damn state pride," so this Texas tee seemed fitting, (haha, see what I did there?).  This Gap jacket is a size large, but he'd wanted a mechanic's jacket like this from Target that didn't quite fit right.  "Doesn't fit right" is an issue at $30.00, but at $FREE, it is not.  A little hot water should fix things right up.

And remember how I said I found the dress of my dreams...

I didn't waste any time playing dress-up.  I added the scarf since the belt loops on the dress were empty, and the red brooch and heels seemed the perfect accompaniments.  I was holding my breath the whole way home that it would fit, and it did, like a charm.  I'm debating whether to keep the length or take it up, as I'd probably wear it more if it was shorter and less formal.  Any votes on the subject?

Did you go to the swap?  And if so, what'd you find!? 

Friday, January 29, 2010


Not long ago, I posted a picture of the three Boys & Girls Club high school Youth of the Year finalists on the night of judging.  My girl, Bridget, is the lady on the left, and tonight was the awards banquet, where the winners for middle school and high school competitions were announced, (that's why I'm dressed in my teacher outfit - no run-around-chase-kids clothes tonight).  The high school competition is the one that goes national, and the winner at each level is awarded scholarship money.

The Youth of the Year program works to recognize outstanding members of the Boys & Girls Clubs who have had a rough path, but have worked hard to become upstanding students, club, and community members.  The national winner gets, essentially, a full ride to college and lunch with the president.  It's a big deal.

Having been a teacher for the past three years, and never having been a club kid, everything about the Boys & Girls Club is new to me, so I have to feel out every program, event, procedure, piece of paperwork, etc, as I go.  I was very nervous about doing the packet for Bridget to submit her as a Youth of the Year candidate, because if I screwed up my half of it, it would jeopardize her shot.

So I was just as nervous as she was when our executive chief stood up to announce the winner for the city of Austin.  In the past, there has only been one prize: a $5,000 scholarship for the Austin winner, and plaques for everyone else.  He said he wanted to do something different this year, and had decided to award the runner-up a $2,500 scholarship, and that winner was: Bridget!  $2,500 for school!?  Oh my goodness!  I'm so excited!   These are kids who do they best that they can, but will need extra help to get them where they want to be.  Bridget totally deserves it and I couldn't be more pleased.  Tyra, from Lanier, won 1st, and Michael, from South Club, took 3rd, and he's only a sophomore, so now he's groomed and ready for next year's competition.  I'm shocked, though, that Mark was able to find $2,500 to give out, as the slumped economy has hit all non-profit organizations, including ours.  It's a huge deal that she was awarded a second place prize.

With that in mind, the BGC is getting ready to launch their Someone to Someone (hence all the shirts floating around that say "someone") campaign.  This is going to mean I'll be posting about nights where proceeds from certain restaurants in town go to the BGC, and also a night at Hang Town where I will, if I'm brave, be playing guitar with Girl Guitar Austin for a night of fun, music, and fundraising with the BGC.  My friend Julie is the BGC PR lady by day, and songbird by night, (she's the one who referred me to Girl Guitar).

Please stay posted for these events and come visit me!  And speaking of come visit me... I *may* concede to play Antone's Monday night at 7PM.  Lennon has been coaching me and I'm feeling a bit more confident, and my supervisor said I could leave work early.

Now on to my teacher outfit, pulled from retirement:

Slacks: The Limited
Oxford shirt: Gap
Lace tank: White House Black Market
Sweater Vest: The Limited
Necklace: from Accesory City
Shoes: from Dillards (can you tell I love the Dillard's shoe department?  It's a Little Rock based company, I have to be loyal)
Tibetan Monk Photo: by the art teacher who works with our kids, Michael Long.  He was part of the East Austin Studio Tour.  He rocks, (and teaches adult classes, too).

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Why I Will Not Play Antones

How did February 1st sneak up to be right around the corner?  Little buggar.  I was none-to-pleased to find this email in my in box today from my teacher (who is awesome even though I'm not - it was a beginner class, cut me some slack!):

"hey pretty ladies! I'm super pumped about the big show monday night; here are some things to know:

y'all need to be there by 6:30, por favor.  doors aren't officially open until 7, so unfortunately husbands, friends, adoring fans, etc. can't come in until at least 7 so if you ride together you may have to kick them over to lavaca street for a pre-show drink. or make them wait in the car.

I made up a fancy facebook invite:

if you click on "invite people to come" under the logo all your friends will pop up.  if you click "share" it will post it to your profile.  part of the fun of playing at a kickass place like antone's is the enormous pressure to fill the ding dang place up... [etc] ...also we'll be followed by guilty pleasures, a really fun all-girl cover band.

let me  know what questions you have! you're all gonna rock and you're all very pretty!"

Fill the place up!?  No siree!  There are names for people like me:

1) She-who-needs-more-practice
2) Shake-n-Bake.  (This is why I don't read at poetry slams).

What do you do when you're scared of something, especially crowds?  I have prescription anti-anxiety medicine.  Seriously.  I used it on the few occasions I slammed/competed last year.  But that's probably not the best solution.

Oh faceless internet anonymity, how I love you in terms of being way too personal.  (Sometimes.)

Two New Awards + My Upcoming Birthday: SQUEAL!

Awards really do make me squeal, in the same way I gave a little squeal whenever I found out a boy I had a crush on liked me back.  Blogging is sort of like that.  Being liked makes me happy.  But on the flip side of real life, being unliked doesn't make me too terribly unhappy.  Because hey man, it's the interwebz, and serious business it is not.  Now back to business.

On the night I wore this, I was supposed to go dancing and was so disappointed when plans changed.  We ended up at the Dog and Duck Pub, though, and that is never disappointing.  Especially when the bar tender recognizes you and knows you're from Arkansas.  That's awesome.  

Dress as shirt: from SoLa during their 50% off sale
Cardigan: Ann Taylor Loft
Jeans: Joes Jeans, with stars on the butt, (this is important)
Shoes: from Dillards

Now on to share the award buttons I am still dancing around from getting.  The first is from Sam, and I could not be more honored to have this title:

Sweet action!
This certainly needs to be passed along to Erica of Alabaster Cow.

The second is from Joann of Sidewalk Chalk, and this one comes from a few stipulations: list seven random things about myself.

So here it goes:

  1. I am so sleepy right this moment I can hardly keep my eyes open, let alone think.
  2. Lennon and I fight a lot.  Yes, I totally just aired that out in public.  I still love him.  We are both stubborn and have completely opposite value systems in regards to vocabulary, and we moved in together way too quickly and haphazardly.  Oh well.
  3. I have terrible stage fright.  I don't like when any group of people are looking at me - I have no idea how I was a teacher for three years.  I'm supposed to perform at a guitar recital on Monday.  I'll probably bail, (evidence of the necessity of this action to follow).
  4. The only meat product I miss is pulled pork BBQ sandwiches.  But I will never, ever eat pig again.  If I ever consider it, I'll visit a slaughter house.
  5. I have dreams of growing all of my own food, abandoning neighbors, and living like a lux dirt hippie, (can I claim coining that phrase?).  I like hot water and a Clorox-scrubbed clean house too much to go totally natural.  I also don't like breaking my nails, but guitar playing does that plenty for me.
  6. The anxiety of not being good enough - at writing, as a girlfriend, at my job, to get into a PhD program, at life - is petrifying at times.  But I can't even define "good enough" if I try.  Maybe I'm just neurotic in general.  That's really what it is.  And possibly why I have debilitating stage fright.
  7. My birthday is Saturday after next.  I'll be 26.  I really really want a red wigglers worm composting kit.  Like really.   
 And without doubt, this award is going to the following: Amy of Ha Ha Wait What, Grant of Austin Carnivore (hehe :), Courtney of Pastry Covered Awesome, and Sara-Jane.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

When Peace Isn't Equal

I read in Time yesterday that there is talk of reaching a peace agreement with the Taliban in Afghanistan.

"Peace" you say?  Hoorah!


I'm reminded of the quote "we don't negotiate with terrorists."  If there is talk of giving the Taliban license to rule, then apparently we do negotiate with terrorists?  And I don't mean "terrorist" necessarily in the "we blow stuff up" way, but in the, "only half of the population are human beings" sort of way.  If somebody showed up at my door, told me I had to forget everything I've learned and drop the dream of a PhD, cover up my face everyday, hand the car keys over to my male keeper, and stay home bound all day, I'd call them a terrorist.

The New York Times published an article today about the worries being voiced from international women's groups about the backslide in Afghani women's rights that could occur if the Taliban were given full control of the country again.   There's quite an uproar, with good reason.

Last year I saw the movie Osama about a girl living with her mother under Taliban rule.  Her father had died and women were not allowed to work, so the mother dressed the girl like a boy and sennt her to work.  When all of the boys in the city were rounded up to go to Taliban Day Camp, it became evident things were not going to turn out well.  I cried.

The girl who plays Osama, Marina Golbahari, was interviewed after seeing the film, and she said she had a difficult time watching it because it reminded her of when the Taliban ruled.  At thirteen in a Taliban-free time, she enjoyed going to school and living in the house that was purchased for her family by the film's director, even though it leaks.  She has done several short films since this feature, but her father does not want her to do any more because it is "immodest."

There's other change afoot in Afghanistan: the first all girl metal band, Burka Blue, is alive and well, despite music being also viewed as "immodest."  I'm curious what will happen to the girls should the Taliban be coerced into a "peace" treaty.

So the difficult question, in summary, remains: who would experience the peace of a peace treaty with a group like the Taliban?  The women who will be pulled from school, returned as wards to the men in their family, possibly beaten, possibly killed for behavior viewed as improper from a woman?

I don't like war, I don't like killing, (who does...?), but I also don't like the idea of a "peace" that potentially benefits only half of a population.  That's actually pretty sorry, and I hope it doesn't come to pass. 

There's no such thing as pseudo-peace.  Sorry, feds. 

And if you're interested in women's rights and portrayal in media, About Face is a great web site to check out.  Just FYI.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Water Wars: Part Two! + A Little Eco-DIY For Fun

If you know me, you know I have a thing for fish.  Pictures next to this dive shop mural were inevitable.  Lennon has once again bumped our Dallas aquarium trip back - so now instead of going on my birthday (two weeks, oh my goodness I'm old) - we're going over Valentine's weekend.  If he flakes, he's going to fry like fish in a pan!  Or maybe that's a bad simile to use in front of my gilled friend...

Our beautiful Sunday morphed into a chilly Monday.  But Sunday was prime for a puppy walk and bike ride.  I was dying of thirst the whole day.  Hm, I wonder why after Saturday night's escapades on Sixth Street?

Shirt Dress: Si Style
Leggings: Charlotte Rouse
Shoes: Converse All Star
Fishy Mural: I'm 98% certain the name of this place is Royal Scuba

Speaking of fish, thirst, water... I read an interesting blurb in Vegetarian Times about a town in Australia that has voted to ban all sales of bottled water.

One of the major concerns of the residents of Bundanoon, Australia, was that the water company would fill their city with trucks and other evidence of excavation, suck up all the water, drive it north to Sydney, bottle it there in a large plant, then drive it all the way back to sell it to them.

I call this post "Water Wars Part Two" because I mentioned the controversies of polluted ground water in the US, as well as stolen water for bottling and soft drinks in rural India a few months ago.  It made me go out and buy a Brita tap filter, which promptly blew off the sink nozzle when water pressure was applied.  Back to Target it went.  Now I just toughen up by drinking my water straight from tap to Eco-Canteen, (super cheap at Walgreens!).

The New York Times also wrote about Bundanoon's 99% unanimous decision to ban bottled water, but quoted "industry groups" saying (whining?) "It is unfair to single out bottled water when many other consumer goods — like disposable diapers and imported produce, cheese and wine — have an equal or greater impact on the environment."

Here is my answer to that:

  • Disposable diapers?  Try reusable, sewable nappies from  Oh, and that adorable baby in the pink nappies?  That's my high school friend Adrienne's daughter, Charley.  Adrienne is living every American girl's dream: she studied abroard in the UK, married a handsome red head with an accent, and now lives overseas with hubby and baby.  (At least that was my dream!)  And she DIY's her own Earth-saving nappies and sells them all over the world.  Pretty cool.  She also gave me the first beer I ever had.  That gives her prominence in my catalog of life changing events.
  • Imported produce and cheese?  Say hello to your local CSA.  I hear rave things about Johnson's Backyard Garden.  I'm joining as soon as I have the extra bucks saved up to pay for the four weeks in advance ($32/week).
  • Wine?  Make your own damn wine!  And yes that is the (switch wine with beer) motto of Austin Home Brew supply.  Lennon's beer is fermenting in our closet right now.  Expect photos soon.
  • And while we're on the subject of eco-friendly, I want these Skoy cloths, a less hokey ShamWow which would solve our roommate dilemma of who's turn it is to buy the paper towels next.
Back to the water, I understand that not every city has drinkable tap water, (after all, not every geographic location can be Arkansas...), but the city of Bundanoon plans to put in filtered fountains throughout the city that people can fill up giant, reusable jugs with.  This is not an odd proposal to me, as I used to visit Hot Springs, Arkansas frequently and people were always filling up jugs at the natural spring fountains all along the main drag.

I suppose my number one motivation for being concerned about the planet's well being is selfish, in that I want to have kids, raise them, and then see my grand kids all grow up to enjoy fireflies in summer (hard to even find one in Little Rock now, so depressing), golden leaves in autumn, and not worry about the coastlines collapsing into the sea.  I don't like fish that much.

It's also important to note how cool it is that a small town stood up for something they believed in, gained national attention, and kept a corporation from mowing over their streets and water supply, (now if only we could help India have that same voice when talking to the Coca-Cola company). 

We are all a bit riled up in this apartment about the Supreme Court decision to take away spending limits on corporations, and Lennon has already brain stormed ways to make a case and sue the Supreme Court on several occasions for infringing on the individual rights of actual humans over corporate entities.  While this is all talk, (mostly), change and recognition all has to start somewhere - look at Bundanoon.

Monday, January 25, 2010

How To Have an Awesome Morning: Eat Awesome Food

Not long ago I made a recipe called Italian Eggs and Polenta.  Making the polenta from scratch, I doubled the recipe and set some aside in the fridge for later.  That later came in the mornings that followed for the remainder of the week, because I made super delicious Mexican Breakfast Eggs and Polenta!

This is the container I refrigerated.  It's sort of like cold cornbread before heating it up.  

I don't feed the boys for breakfast - one egg just for me.  And maybe I'm crazy, but I think the eggs are adorable in this little egg fry ring.  I got this yellow one in a four pack from Williams-Sonoma, but sadly I lost the pink one in a move :(

These things were supposedly non-stick, but I find if I don't spray them down prior to cooking, then I have to dig the egg off the edges. 

I also made salsa from scratch the other day.  While it wasn't the best thing I've ever made, it was still pretty darn good and great for use in dousing my polenta.  I have my low fat plain yogurt that doubles as sour cream at the ready.

Hello Heaven: thy name is egg yolk, salsa, cream, (yogurt), cornmeal, and cheese.

Mexican eggs, grapefruit, and tea.  This was indeed an awesome morning.  Having just failed miserably at making rice for my dinner (it's the simple things that I find the most difficult), I'm now salivating at the memory of this.  Oh, and picking crunchy rice from my teeth... lovely.

Downtown Austin Photo Scavenger Hunt

I love weekends - I get to focus all of my attention on cleaning the house, sleeping in, cooking complicated meals, planning the grocery list, writing a bit, riding my bike - the possibilities in a weekend are infinite.  And yes, I like a clean house enough to merit chore completion a high point. 

On Saturday, though, Lennon and I went out for our friend Katie's twenty-sixth birthday.  It was a surprise photo scavenger hunt and night out downtown, planned mostly by her room mate, Jo.

I also love any excuse to wear a party dress.  For a downtown photo scavenger hunt, flats were definitely a neccesity!

Dress: French Connection
Tights: Target
Shoes: ??? I don't even remember buying them!
Necklace: Etsy

It ended up being chilly so I wore a black cardigan over this, but it still equaled the perfect transitional outfit for going from dumpster diving to the dance floor :)

This is my team for the scavenger hunt on top of The Blind Pig Pub.  We never did come up with a name... but this photo was for "entire team on a roof top."  The bar tender was also awesome - he made everyone cheap drinks for the item "chugging contest with a stranger," and acted as our photographer for several shots, including "entire team with a stranger mooning all."  Check and check.

This adorable bulldog helped us out for "Shake hands with a stranger's dog."

"Entire team doing a chorus line with a stranger."  I think we should have gotten bonus because we got two strangers. 

The other team was a bit more coordinated than we were.  Katie, the birthday girl, is on the far right.  And as seen in pictures on previous posts, Lennon's legs look freakishly long.

"Entire team in the back of a truck."  We couldn't find a person with their truck, so our first inclination was to run to the fire station to get a picture there.  A very, very cute fireman took our picture in and around the truck's cab (there's a LOT of buttons in there!), but we were worried Jo wouldn't count it, so we interrupted traffic to jump out of our car and climb into the back of this unattended pick up.  Mara set the camera on top of her car and we jumped in and out very quickly.

Again, the other team totally beat us in style points on this picture - they got in the back of a beer truck.

"Entire team with a food vendor."  The other team copied us and got the same shot.  It's a tight squeeze in there between the grill and the wall.  Other items on the scavenger list included, "high five a homeless person," "one team member in a dumpster," and "one team member in a porta potty."  It's too bad EVERY PORTA POTTY downtown is padlocked.  The only one we found open was on the back of a truck trailer - bonus points to Courtney for running out of our car (stopped at a red light), climbing onto the trailer, and posing in the potty for a picture before the light turned green.  That's dedication.

Katie and Jo after the scavenger hunt.  I'm convinced our team won since theirs failed to put their whole team on a rooftop, and just made Lennon climb city hall.  We all had dinner at this inexpensive and delicious Indian restaurant - Tarka Indian Kitchen, and then hit Sixth Street.  Being a collective beer fan club, we spent most of our time in The Ginger Man which could rival the Flying Saucer on beer selection.  We then spent all of ten minutes in Six Lounge, and ended the night at Qua, which, when I don't think about the $20 credit card minimum I didn't know about until after I'd received one drink, was awesome because there were live sharks under the dance floor.  Being an aquarium fanatic and a dancing enthusiast, I was in Heaven.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Hello Gorgeous!

...and while I do like my dress today, I'm definitely talking about the day itself and not me.  I don't think it could have been any more perfect outside.  It was cool this morning for food run, I got to get a cup of coffee with a co-worker downtown, (so many people in suits!  It was like being on a different planet...), came home to change, the sun burst out of hiding just in time to have lunch with co-workers at New World Deli, (I call it New Worldly), an afternoon meeting was canceled, so now I'm finishing up work on my computer and giving myself a ten minute blogging break - windows wide open and a cross breeze coming in.  Hello perfect!  Back to programs in half an hour, and it's games day!

I don't believe in a seasonal wardrobe.  I believe in cardigans.

I found a shell while snapping pictures.  Now it's beside my mouse, as the snail seems to have run away naked prior to my finding it.

Can I lay in the sun and take a nap like the kitty cats do?  Just this once?  Tomorrow is rugby day, and there is NO NAPPING IN RUGBY.  But there are sandwiches.

Dress: Forever 21
Cardigan: Target
Boots: Steve Madden
Birdie Necklace: SoLa, and now Ericka has its twin, as it just got to her mailbox today!

Alright, breaks over, back to work.

Somedays I'm Glad I Didn't Go To Law School

Like most English majors I knew, I was thisclose to law school.  It was that or teaching, since the goal of (I assume) most English majors - writing professionally - can seem woefully unrealistic and out of reach when walking past the podium bearing the university's official seal.  Once crossed, I opted for teaching.  I'd been substitute teaching throughout undergrad, and on the days that teachers left me actual lesson plans instead of a movie, I would drive home ecstatic, (except for that day in the kindergarten glass - between the crying, the pottying, the penguin play, and the fisticuffs over stickers - I almost kicked in the door to the playground to run away screaming). 

Today I had to wake up early for what is termed "food run Friday."  At 9AM I go to one of our sites in East Austin to get on a moldy bus, drive to Capital Area Food Bank, and pick up boxes and boxes and boxes of canned food, frozen meat, drinks, etc, to deliver to all of our other sites so that the kids can have dinner and snacks for the upcoming week, (every staff member does this one Friday a month). 

Capital Area Food Bank also delivers.  Every Friday morning that I've pulled up to our East site, CAFB has had a large truck parked on the lawn, folding tables set up, and a long line of people waiting to get a few free bags of groceries.  I am always overwhelmed by the urge to ditch the warehouse-to-kitchen delivery, and instead jump behind a table to help pass out the grocery sacks. 

Now before I begin to enter Polyanna Sunshine Vomit mode, let me talk about a few of the things that make me really cynical about my job:

1) I hate it when loads of logistics and administrative work go into giving our kids free things, and there is not a thank you in sight.  For example: we are able to give free, BRAND NEW expensive tennis shoes (they seriously gave away the same pair of New Balances I bought for $160 last year), to kids through the Shoes for Austin program.  Rather than look happy, there were some kids who complained they didn't like the style of shoe they got.  I wanted to throw a shoe at them. 

2) Sometimes we are able to give away daily bus passes to kids to get home after programming.  Bus passes, even though discounted for our program and AISD, are still expensive.  Yet once word gets out that we have a fresh batch, there are ten kids surrounding me, stating that they need a bus pass, now, as though sleeping at school is the only other option.  The stipulation for getting one is having participated in one of our programs.  If they haven't met this requirement by my standards, then all hell and whining breaks lose, and sometimes a helpless chair gets shoved around in anger.

3) Free dinner, three times a week, and snacks on the non-dinner days.  How many plates of food have I had to go around and throw away because they were left throughout our facility?  Um, lots.  It's gross, and I get quite bitter about it. 

4) Ok, is my point made?  Trying to be giving isn't always easy, cheerful, or fun.  But that's true of everything.  If I was to stand on my cyber soap box and talk about how beautiful it is every day to work with disadvantaged populations, I'd hope everyone would label my writing as one-sided, false, and (dare I write it) falling into, in literature, what we call the "noble savage" syndrome, which would be a disgusting viewpoint. 

Now that I've got reality in check, I do want to talk about how awesome my job is sometimes, and how no amount of money can pay for the feeling that comes along with seeing someone else become empowered in a positive way. 

Girls Rock Camp is close to my heart and a perfect example.  Last night they had ten girls, most of them shy and nervously giggling, get set up with a drum set or a guitar, possibly for the first time in their lives.  No boys were allowed, despite several of them begging for a chance to come in during the girl's time, and (brace yourself for what sounds like cheese but isn't), the smiles on the girls faces when they had their instrument in hand was a month's paycheck.  Having been (still am?) a shy girl, I knew exactly what they were feeling when being told that they are talented, even if that talent hasn't been fully developed yet, they have a right to make noise, and have a supportive and eager audience of peers and adults.

Emily Marks, Heather Webb, and the other ladies of GRC really do rock! 

The "I Can" attitude is what we try to instill in all the programs we run.  "I Can" make good choices, "I Can" succeed at something constructive and beneficial, "I Can" interact with people who have my best interests in mind, "I Can" move beyond whatever has felt limiting in the past, "I Can" solve conflicts without self-destructive behavior or straight up quitting everything.

The difficulty is getting the kids to participate in programs - as we often compete with sports, babysitting, jobs, and the beyond-comprehension allure of walking around and doing nothing in the academic off hours.  Regardless, it's amazing how seeing ten girls with an instrument for the first time, ten boys excited about having an open forum of communication with an adult they admire, ten kids learning to knit because it looked like fun, ten people who really need food and are thankful to get just two bags of it early on a Friday morning, can make me glad that I'm not at a different job.  (Let's just not talk about the massive amount of paperwork, deadlines, and non-profit [quite literal] pay check for now...).

I don't read the bible much anymore, even though I keep meaning to sit down and do so, (and the Koran, and the Talmud...), but there is a verse from it that I try to remember when my kids are being especially moody, rude, or just all around difficult.  While not verbatim, it goes to the gist of Jesus saying to treat everyone you encounter - beggars, mean people, your mother in law - as though they were really him in disguise. 

Essentially, love all, and be patient with all, even if it's hard.   (Sometimes it's really hard.)

I know everyone is focused on helping Haiti right now, but if there's anyone looking to keep up that spirit and help out in Austin, here a few excellent places to start:

And of course...

  • The Boys and Girls Club of Austin - you want to volunteer?  You can go to this website, or you can also call me.  I'll put you to work!  And by work I mean playing soccer, pool, arts and crafts...

Arturo weeding fruit trees at Tree Folks

 LBJ Kiddo with a wheel barrow at Tree Folks

 Me!  With dirt!  And no shower yet!

What causes do you like to contribute towards?  Are there any Austine and/or national organizations that I left off?

I'm also curious how other Austinites feel about the people with signs who stand by the highways.  Do you give them money?  Or food?  I never have, and I get this horrible feeling in my gut because a) I don't want to roll down my window because I'm paranoid, b) there are homeless guys outside my apartment who sit and drink beer from large cans all day and c) I give a little money to my church, and they put a lot of their finances towards charity, including homelessness.  Somehow, I still feel like crap.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Three Quick, Semi-Random Thoughts

1) I had the solution to skirts on bicycles under my nose / in my banner the entire time!  When clothes are a problem, just don't wear them!

2) Amy sent me another award - she is an awesome blogger and photographer, and I may have to make my own award to send her way to let her know!  I'll have to work on my techy graphics skills.

Thank you!!

3) I had the best day in at my after-school program today, and I have to brag and share a few pictures I took with my iphone:

We started a knitting class which swelled (mostly with boys!) after this picture was taken

Girls Rock Camp had their second day and ten super excited young ladies

We started our boys mentoring group: "G's to Gents."  I don't know what these hand signs are, but hence the name... plus they were way excited about the "passports" they got!

The Bicycle-Skirt Dilema

Sometimes I worry Lennon and I are too on the same page.  I've had the skeleton of this "skirts + bicycles" post up and ready for completion since I finished breakfast and left for work, and then I came home to find Lennon espousing the never-before-realized joys of cut off denim shorts on Facebook - all because of his new love for bicycles!  He has a pair of terrible cut-off denim shorts that look like something Huck Finn would wear if he had been alive and playing hookey circa 1970.  Lennon then posted this picture, with a note apologizing to hipsters of the world for all of the flack he's given this hipster-favored look in the past:

Really?  Really?  I am not a fan.  But I can't say that girls don't have the same problem with pants when riding bikes.  I discovered that pants and bicycle chains don't play nice together the hard way, when a gear shredded the bottom half of my linen pant leg.  I still have a vendetta against that bike...                                                                        

Europeans know what's up in terms of practicality meeting fashion, though.  It's not uncommon to find bicycles overseas with large "skirt guards," or if you're male, ahem, "coat guards," for the long tail coats they wear in winter.  Why aren't these prominent in the US?  A company in California has started selling them, and they are quite cute!

The Dutch tulips seem appropriate for a European-inspired bicycle, and the cultural fusion of tulips with cowboy boots is a nice Texas touch, if I do say so.

Both of these images are from Cycle and Style, possibly my new favorite website.  You can see these bikes even have a chain guard so pants don't have to be rolled up.  And if it was a mens bike, the cut-off denim short would not be necessary - hoorah!  Now if only I could find a way to make heels go with my mountain bike, the "bone crusher," it could be an all-occasion ride.

I can't tease Lennon too much, though.  Because I've given the same amount of flack to the tights-with-shorts look, and guess what I've discovered?  It's the perfect ensemble to wear when biking on a cool day!  No ripped or rolled up pants leg, no chill bumps, and no problems.  I just might be converted, so in all fairness, Lennon can keep his Huck shorts without fear of my tossing them stealthily in the dumpster out back, as I've oft considered doing.

Boots: Steve Madden (clearance, yay!)
Tights: Target
Shorts: Target
Lace tank: White House Black Market
Pink shirt: Michael Stars
Cardigan: Banana Republic, and pilled to shreds.
Scarf: from Spain
Locket: from my grandma's dresser
Ring: Target

Lunch break over - back to work!  It's terrible to have a window-less office on a PERFECT day like this is.  At least I can walk about outside once programs start after school. 

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