Sunday, April 30, 2006

checking in and checking out

the main purpose of this post is to tell you all i am still alive, just very distracted having fun with fantastic visitors and FInally getting drunk in austin (took long enough) and enjoying beautiful weather and wonderful company. the past few days have been a whirlwind as i returned from dallas only to be immediately greeted by two familiar faces, after which we subsequently embarked on a wknd of good times. there was lots of eating, and shopping, and pedicures, and time laying out by the pool, and ridiculous hangovers (not so good - apparently drinking large amounts requires consistent practice), and austin explorations, and coffee, and pho! i am happy to report that austin has decent pho restaurants! i cannot tell you what a relief this was.

the madness continues tmw as i depart for business trip #2 of 5... ironically enough, to new york, where i will see di and stephen again... and hopefully some other good people as well. will check in again soon, apologies for being so completely MIA. not that i have millions of readers that i am disappointing by not posting or anything like that... alas.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

mom to the rescue

today i kind of had a moment. a moment wherein i realized that i was kinda losing my shit. perhaps it had something to do with the fact that oh my god i'm at target aGAIN and returning stuff aGAIN... or was it the subsequent realization that they have a better, cheaper version of what i had JUST BOUGHT at bed bath & beyond a mere 20 minutes ago, which means i'll have to go there again as WELL to return that b/c who doesn't want to save a dollar here and there... and then i made the mistake of going to wal-mart and realized that they have a lot of stuff that's just as good as target but $5-10 cheaper, for the love of God and all of his holy angels and cherubim and what-have-you.

and then i thought about how my favoritest couple in the world will be landing this thursday and coming into an apt with no kitchen table, no slipcover on the sofa (seriously, the sofa without the slipcover is so ugly that it's practically giving me a headache - to quote the illustrious mandy c., "there's no safe place to rest your eyes!"), boxes everywhere, nothing on the plain white walls, bathroom rugs with the carpets still attached b/c i can't decide if i like them, and clothes all over the bdrm b/c i have no dresser to put them in.

and then i thought about much i still have to accomplish, despite the fact that i will hardly be home over the next few wks. case in point: tmw i leave for dallas for a two-day biz trip (and at 11:16 the night before, have i packed? have i done the reading i wanted to do in order to prep for the meeting? am i getting plenty of sleep so i can wake up early, rested and ready with plenty of time to make to the airport with no stress so that i can face a long day of client meetings and dinners? no, no, and clearly not, b/c here i am, writing on this blog). but back to the original point. aside from my job, my main task these days is setting up this apt. but when will this happen? wed and thurs i will be in dallas. tues and wed of next wk in NYC. mon and tues of the next wk in dallas again (for a diff client that time), and then off to miami on thurs. i'm in the office the entire next wk after that (gasp!) but leave for LA on sat (for the best biz trip of all, a 3-day cruise to celebrate the inaugural of my client's latest ship).

and so i did what any rational adult does. i called my mommy. to vent and whine and bask in motherly sympathy over my predicament. and did i get motherly sympathy? yes. did i get gentle chiding? yes. did i get concern over my general welfare, whether i'm still eating right in the midst of all this chaos, and the warning not to run myself sick and ragged? yes. but best of all? my mommy's coming to austin to save me!!!!!!! glory be! i only need to survive two more wks of bewildered chaos and then i will have a rational, reasonable, experienced, level-headed person to cling onto in the utter mess that is my life right now.

yes, i am a 25 year old functioning adult who has moved eight times since 1998. yes, i work hard in a good job and do my own taxes and pay them on time and can be trusted with professional responsibility and even small children. but there is no shame in admitting that sometimes you need a little help (especially of the maternal sort), and the knowledge that my oh-so-capable mom was coming to save the day has filled me with warm and fuzzy feelings like you wouldn't believe. plus, it's a gorgeous night in austin and i have all my windows open to feel the breeze.

so i took her advice, got me a yummy and healthy dinner and relaxed a little bit. well... that's where i stopped taking her advice. she told me to pack my bags and head to bed early and worry about the apt later, but i stopped to unpack all my purchases and admire my new shower curtain (i think we finally have a winner) and put up my shoe organizer and write this blog post... and NOW i will pack my bags and head to bed and pray that i wake up in time to make it to the airport, desperately chug down some coffee in an attempt to kick-start my system, quickly do some reading on the short flight to dallas and arrive at the client mtg on time, ready to impress with my casual brilliance.

wahoo, huzzah, boo fucking yeah!

"with my mind on my money and my money on my mind"

below is a random list of things that are on my mind these days. am finding that lists are good proxies for blog posts when my brain is too distracted to come up with complete sentences and real transitional phrases.
  1. the crazy media frenzy surrounding the duke lacrosse players rape scandal charges and how i think it illustrates that nothing is ever truly black and white
  2. color schemes for my apt and if i am skilled enough to paint my walls by myself (current plan: yellow for kitchen, apple green for bathroom, one red wall in living room, TBD for bedroom, maybe some kind of calming sage-y or taupe-y situation), and when the hell will i have time for this anyway?
  3. the fact that i have four business trips scheduled in the next four weeks (some are to unexciting places like dallas, but there's a NY trip thrown in for good measure and a few days on a cruise ship out of LA - now that's hot)
  4. the fact that i've already spent $596.86 at target and bed bath & beyond and still need to purchase a slew of big-ticket items yet (read: TV, entertainment stand, coffee table, kitchen table, dresser for bedroom, and digital camera)... granted, i have a bunch of things i need to return, so that number should go down a little, but still! $596! holy crap.
  5. whether i should buy all these big-ticket furniture items new at a relatively cheap place like target or keep on haunting craig's list for deals, an activity which is turning into a part-time job.
  6. how the rear bumper on my car (which was recently repaired after the stupid fender bender) is starting to fall off eeeever so slightly, grr, stupid f'ing body shop and their f'ing craptastic workmanship. am currently weighing pros and cons of the effort required to bring car back into the shop and raise hell for shoddy repair job.
  7. how the people whose wireless internet i am totally stealing need to get it together and improve their network so that i can steal a better-quality product. i usually steal the network of someone named "don'tworrybehappy" and i often find myself yelling at my laptop that i! am! not! happy! b/c the signal! keeps! going! dead! and for those of you who are going to suggest that i get my own damn wireless already, i know, i know, i will... once i get a TV and can get cable and do it all at once.
  8. the Great Washer/Dryer debate. to rent or to buy used, that is the question. whether 'tis nobler to go with the rental and not have to worry about installs or repairs or what to do with it after the year is up or to take arms against the idea of spending money and owning nothing, and by opposing, end this?

please help. any advice or counsel would be greatly appreciated. i will think happy thoughts for you and be your friend forever and ever amen.

Monday, April 24, 2006

i'm alive...

...just extremely distracted by the prospect of furnishing an apartment. am exhausted but very, very happy to finally be in my own place. will post soon with rambling thoughts about my new pad, but for now, suffice it to say that my tendency to be indecisive (who, me?) is NOT contributing much to Operation Furnish My Apt. i wasted what seems like hours in the shower curtain aisles at target and bed bath & beyond, staring at the various shower curtain options and feeling paralyzed by all the different choices laid out in front of me. vinyl? fabric? solid? pattern? bright colors or sophisticated black and white? and what about the bath rug?

let's just say that i am still showering behind a clear vinyl liner b/c the prospect of buckling down and committing to one bathroom scheme is just too much for me to handle. perhaps this is indicative of some larger problem??

i did! however! find a welcome mat that i totally love (that my neighbor across the hall then proceeded to swap with his mat, which left me utterly confused and trying to figure out if he was trying to send me some subliminal message only to find out that it was merely a late-night drunken joke).

(i am so going to get his ass back. am committing a small portion of my brain to brainstorming the Perfect Revenge...)

Thursday, April 20, 2006

i rock. do you rock?

all those years of teaching SAT prep actually paid off! or maybe it was the actual 8th grade that paid off?

You Passed 8th Grade Math

Congratulations, you got 10/10 correct!

just do it

one of the lessons that i'm quickly learning about being new to a city is that if you want to have any chance at meeting people and having some semblance of a social life, you oftentimes have to just suck it up and be social, even if that prospect seems as appealing as the prospect of having a big glass of rotten milk. mmm. now, for the extreme social butterflies in the audience, you may be thinking "that's crazy talk - who doesn't welcome the opportunity to be social?" but then there are nights like tonight when my ass is SO dragging after a killer work week and a disappointing thing happening at work and the prospect of moving to a new apt with maybe 47% of the bare necessities and an overall tough day, and it is nights like tonight that the prospect of going out and being social is the absolute LAST thing on my mind.

yet when you're new to a city and meeting people is a relatively important objective and a co-worker invites you to get dinner and drinks with some other people, you have to just suck it up and go. even if you look like a bum, and you're tired, and all you want to do is go home and make kraft macaroni & cheese and zone out for a few mins before getting started on all the work you brought home - you go. b/c you never know who you'll meet, and who you'll connect with, and what fun new places they'll introduce you to, etc, etc, etc.

so i went. and i perked up and had a lovely time with four other women, although two of them were hard-core athletes and spent a good 30 mins talking about all the races and triathlons and swim training and stuff they were working on, and i just sat there feeling guilty as i sipped on my margarita and thought about the fact that i'd only gone running once this week.

now that i'm home, am i tired? hell yes. am i really tempted to go to bed by 10 pm although i honestly can't remember the last time i did that? very much so. was it the time of my life? meh. arguable. but hey. sometimes you have to just do it, or else you'll just sit at home and eat macaroni & cheese and when there comes a time that the mood DOES strike and you DO feel like being social, you may not have anyone to call.

and that, boys and girls, concludes today's lesson on Living In A New City 101. the teacher is either going to go daydream some more about home decor or (gasp!) go to bed early for once...

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

let the madness begin

you know those periods of your life where you have so many things running through your brain that it becomes difficult to fall asleep at night because your brain is still chugging away at a million mph about all the shit you need to done?

hi. welcome to my current state of mind. the state of mind which will probably be taking over for a while.

the problem is that when things get crazy like this my under-pressure-get-shit-done side clashes with my more-laid-back-but-easily-distracted-and-occasionally-lazy side. it's like that stereotypical sitcom scenario (hey there alliteration! or is consonance? damn, english major skills are rusty) where you have the devil jen on one shoulder (the voice of reason and responsibility and productiveness) and angel jen on one shoulder (reason be damned, i'd rather be doing something more interesting), both trying to buy my allegiance.

for instance:

good jen: leaving corp. housing in just a few days. must start packing random crap that is strewn all over apt. must not save packing until last minute. change your address! set up all your new accounts! forward your mail! register your car in TX (sigh)! get renter's insurance!
bad jen: starts packing random crap, but hmm.... maybe i'll waste a bunch of time on thinking about what TV i'm going to buy. or thinking about what kind of shower curtain i want. and what kind of design scheme is going to in each room (in case you're wondering, i'm thinking neutrals and reds in the living room, chocolates and pastels in the bedroom, and bright colors in the bathroom). and how if i ended up on queer eye for the straight guy (if i was indeed a straight guy) they'd be so much better at this than i am.

usually it ends up being some kind of hybrid situation where i do indeed get all my shit done and do the work i brought home and sometimes even go for a run or bike ride (for the good jen) and then daydream about random stuff and chat on the phone w/friends and watch sex and the city reruns (for the bad jen)... and then flop into bed after 1 am, still thinking about all the things i didn't get done.

and it's going to get even crazier, what with the two biz trips that are already on the docket for next wk and the fact that my days are starting to take on a cruel, cruel pattern in which i am forced to dash desperately from back to back mtgs, eating food in mtgs, running into other mtgs late b/c i had the GALL to stop at the bathroom -- only to be set free at 6 or 6:30, braindead and exhausted. only THEN can i finally get started on the returning of calls and the answering of emails and oh, right, the actual DOing work...


there's smthg to look forward to, b/c...

dun dun DUN...

in just a week and a half i will have the privilege of being the hostess with the mostess for two of my favoritest people in the world, the lovely di and her fabulous husband stephen (a.k.a. the first people to visit my new pad, which will probably be in such a state of chaos that i might have to steal toilet paper from work in order to make it habitable).

but it's all good, b/c there will be much catching-up and eating of tex-mex and drinking of margaritas and mexican martinis and partaking of austin-y activities. plus! i went to a new restaurant tonight with the most fanTAStic sushi i've had in a long time. the food was sublime and oh-so-stylishly-presented, but still with an austin-y feel to it (btw, there was this family in the corner booth that was there with little kids. at the end of the meal the servers brought out a cupcake and started singing happy birthday. we quickly realized that they were singing happy birthday to a little boy that couldn't have been more than two years old. um, hello? two year old birthday celebration at a posh SUshi restaurant?! how yuppie can you get? if i was him i'd be all, "mom! dad! can we go to the chuck e. cheese already?! fresh salmon with grilled asparagus and tempura flakes is just so yesterday!")

anyway. i say bring it on the madness! the good jen and bad jen will combine forces and victory will be ours!

Monday, April 17, 2006

me against the elements

so i was warned about texas summers, but no one told me about texas springs. we're having a freak wave of hot weather this week resulting in statewide power outages and rolling blackouts in austin in a desperate attempt to conserve energy as people blasted their air conditioners.


no, that is not the forecast for hell (google hasn't cracked that code yet, har har). that is today's forecast from the austin-american statesman. 101 degrees, people!! that is way too hot for april. granted, it's not the nasty-ass triple-H DC killer (hazy, hot and humid) b/c it's a little drier out here - but it still feels damn unnatural to break a sweat in APRIL during the oh-so-long walk from the parking garage into the office (and when you throw in the daily three-flight stair climb, you might as well go home and take another shower).

the other nature/weather-related thing that is totally killing me these days? this whole daylight savings thing. the whole sunny-until-8-pm-thing is totally throwing me off to an extent that i've never experienced in my 24 other experiences with the whole DST plan. i'll get home around 8:15 and still feel like i have 5-6 hours to putter around my apt, maybe watch TV, catch up on some phone calls, go for a run, shower, cook dinner, and then maybe do work for an hour or two.... and then feel all surprised when midnight rolls around in no time. has it always been this bad, and i've just somehow forgotten? or does the sun have some personal beef w/me? i mean really.

btwn the oppressive heat and never-ending sun (and the fact that work is about to become super crazy again), i've gotta say that i'm feeling a little "fried" these days...


man, i crack myself up (which is a good thing, b/c i have a sinking feeling that i'm the only one laughing).

Sunday, April 16, 2006

good clean fun (in the form of a really long post)

i'm horrible for coming up with jokes on the fly, but for some reason this one stupid joke sticks out in my memory from when i was a kid. it goes like this:

Q: wanna hear a clean story?
A: a man took a bath.
Q: wanna hear an even cleaner story?
A: the man took a bath with bubbles.
Q: wanna hear a dirty story?
A: bubbles was the woman next door.

or something dumb like that. anywho, that was an entirely unplanned digression that somehow flitted into my brain after i wrote the title on this post, which was supPOSEd to be about my wholesome family fun-filled wknd in dallas. so i'll leave the lame jokes behind and get on with it already...

to give you an idea of the wholesomeness of my wknd, here are some of the activities i participated in:
  1. playing kids' cranium with my little cousin over and over and over although it's really a very lame game
  2. tossing bread into the neighborhood pond to see which animals would get it first, the fishies or the duckies
  3. eating wholesome all-american family food like roasted chicken and garlic bread and steamed veggies
  4. setting up a contest to see who could hurdle over my leg the best
  5. giving piggyback rides in which my steps were timed to the pink panther theme song
  6. dying easter eggs, helping them write their letters to the easter bunny, watching them hunt easter eggs with mad frenzy, teaching them how to prick holes and blow the yoke out of raw eggs so you can paint them and keep them forever since there is no yolk inside
  7. snuggling with little kids of all sizes at all hours of the day, picking them up when they wanted to be picked up, scaring them, tickling them, chasing them, and yelling that no, it's really not a good idea to jump into the nasty algae-filled pond
  8. saying good-night to them as they filed out to go camping in a huge tent in the backyard, complete with tissues, plenty of bottled water, and a portable DVD player (camping: it's not what it used to be)

the list goes on and on. i had a great time in dallas with the cousins and their respective broods (two families, five kids in total, with an age range of 5-11). it was nice not to think about myself for once, if that makes sense. as a single 20-something whose only real responsibilities are showing up at work and paying my rent on time (the kinds of things where if i fail to do them, the only person it really affects is me), it becomes incredibly easy to develop tunnel vision and think only of yourself and waste endless hours navel-gazing and pondering important questions like "what should i be when i grow up?" and "i wonder if i spend too much of my income at whole foods?"

but when it's wholesome family fun wknd, it's hard to think about yourself and your silly little life when you have seven year olds jumping on your bed at 7 in the morning because being patient and letting lazy aunt jennifer sleep in as their kind parents instructed them to is just TOO HARD when they want you to get up so you can play! woo hoo! let's have a pillow fight!

i also learned that i have mad skeelz when it comes to wielding a tube of icing and can make a mean bunny cake when given only two regular round cakes and some imagination (uncooked pasta for whiskers, shredded coconut for "bunny fur," etc.). am hoping i can find a way to milk said talent for financial gain.

but for some of you who don't know that softie-family side of me, i will end this post with a list of non-family-themed observations and rants about the wknd:

  1. having grown up driving on 495 and 95, i consider myself well-schooled in the basic rules and etiquette of driving. drive aggressively when need be, but always drive safely. always use your headlights when it's raining. don't tailgate, but if you see someone tailgating you, either get out of the left lane or tap your brakes to tell them to fuck off. so why don't texans get this? on my drive to and from dallas, i cannot tell you the number of 18-FUCKING-WHEELERS and CEMENT MIXERS i saw driving 55 mph in the left lane of a 70 mph highway and how strongly i wanted them to drop them in the middle of, like, the NJ turnpike or smthg to see how they'd do.
  2. i drove through waco and pondered what it would be like to live in / be from a town that only has national prominence for something horrible. like being from columbine or smthg.
  3. then again, waco is also home to the only official texas ranger museum, so maybe it's only the east coast snob in me that somehow overlooked this important fact. it sounded like a fine shrine to these brave souls, these intrepid warriors into nature.
  4. dallas has highways called 35E and 35W that run north and south. so you have to find "35E/N" or "35W/S." let your puzzled confusion begin. i've already moved past puzzled confusion to angry disdain.
  5. drivers of the dulles toll road, rejoice. in my 20 miles on the north texas tollway (my cousins live in a suburb north of dallas), i had to pay THREE SEPARATE TOLLS of 75 cents each. when i thought about the number of breakfast tacos i could have bought with that money, i had to wipe away a tear.
  6. i stopped for gas in italy, texas, "the biggest little town in texas!"

and OMG!! i almost forgot!! i got to ride in a racecar for the very first time in my life. my cousin has this crazy hobby of maintaining and racing cars, and he took me out for a bunch of laps around the track (not an oval track situation but a real course with crazy turns and such). and by racing i don't mean "hey let's put the rice rocket on a big empty road and tharrr she blowwwws!" but racing like make sure you put on your full-body flame-retardant suit, helmet, harness me in completely, etc. at one point the car in front of us (that we were exTREMEly close to) spun out of control and off of the track and kicked up this huge cloud of dust which obscured it completely from our view. my cousin somehow managed to stay in full speed and skid around it, but i swear i nearly peed in my pants.

i'll post pics of me in the suit as soon as i get them from my cousin. it was some hot shit dude. i nearly puked, got a fierce headache from all the fumes, my ears from the piercing squeal of skidding tires, and i felt kinda shaky for a while but it was insanely fun. oh, and the best part? i drove all the kids out there in the minivan and they watched DVDs the entire time (it was a bit of a schlep) while i chatted with my cousin's wife in the front. the minivan can now return to its rightful home at enterprise rent-a-car feeling like it has fulfilled its mission.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

when living in texas becomes a good thing (at least for the wknd)

growing up in montgomery country i got used to getting out of school for major jewish holidays - rosh hashanah, passover, yom kippur... you name it, MCPS was recognizing it. it instilled in me a sincere appreciation for the jewish community and their influential role in our school system.

now that i'm in texas, it's safe to say that things are a wee bit different. jewish community? not so much. maybe a few here and there, but they're definitely not ruling the school system like they do in bethesda. now, of course, austin is a relatively liberal and progressive city - many people jokingly call it a dot of blue in a sea of red - but we're still in the heart of central texas and the seat of the state government. and for once i find myself appreciating those good ol' conservative texas christians, b/c good friday is totally a paid holiday.

that's right, read 'em and weep, kids - i have a three day wknd for easter! God bless the texans and their old-school religious ways! yee-haw!

i plan on celebrating the 3-day wknd with a trip out to dallas (God help me) to hang out w/my cousins and their kids (five kids under the age of ten btwn the two cousins and their respective families)... i wonder if perhaps there's something built into mr. rental minivan that is somehow triggering my maternal instincts? perhaps there's a secret chemical that blows out with the A/C that makes me want to load a slew of kids into the van and put on a DVD, say, the incredibles or something? or a little shrek?

whatever the cause, i'm off for good times w/the fam... i'll be back on sunday, so be good and have a great wknd!

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

the pros and cons of biking

i took the schwinny-schwinn for its second ride tonight, which OBviously makes me a complete expert and therefore perfectly positioned to wax poetic on the topic (especially the part where i emailed my biker friends to ask them whether or not they thought my tires were flat. um, yeah).

so then! the great thing about biking is that it's healthy enough to make me feel reasonably productive, but it's fun enough that i won't punk out every time i'm tired like i sometimes do when i'm planning on running. you get to enjoy the weather while still doing something that's somewhat good for you. you get to see all the people sitting out under congress bridge, waiting for the flight of bats (yes, bats) at sunset (side note: did you know that austin is home to the biggest urban bat colony in north america?). you huff and puff up the hills but still get to coast down. i get to be the conscientious biker who calls out "passing on your left!" as i whiz by you (but not too close, b/c i hated it when bikers did that to me).

there's a considerable con, though. you know when you go on long road trips (especially to rural areas) and at the end of trip your windshield looks like a bug morgue? yeah, see, the same problem comes into play when you're biking. it's dusk, you're near the water, there are trees. pretty picturesque scene, no? the issue with the bike is that it there is a speed factor -- whereas when you're jogging, let's face it, you really aren't going all that fast (or at least i'm not anyway). so you have the speed factor, and with greater speed comes increased... bug collisions. yes, bug collisions. i felt them zooming right into my face throughout the entire ride and it was insanely distracting. happy bike ride, BAM! picturesque scene, BAM BAM! little bugs running straight into my poor, defenseless face.

short of rocking a balaclava-type situation, i guess i just need to suck it up and accept the fact that i might get a bug or two up my nose every once in a while...

and the parade of random cars continues

today i went in to drop off my car to repair the damage from this wknd's little four-car incident. this means, of course, that i need a rental while my car is being fixed.

so, for the latest episode of the "what kind of car is jen driving now?" show, i bring you...


(my first photo upload on blogger! aren't you proud?)

in a description from
Chevrolet has introduced the more rugged-sounding Uplander, a "crossover sport van" based on the outgoing Venture's chassis. Compared to the Venture, the Uplander takes on a taller stance and chunkier front fascia more evocative of a truck. The result, Chevy hopes, is a perception that the van is more of a hip and stylish SUV-like van, and not so much a boring soccer mom van.

so it's not REALLY a minivan, it's a crossover sport van.

that doesn't make it any less hilarious, trust me. it's a bit hard to park, but it makes me laugh, so i don't really mind. i was especially amused when the enterprise guy (who had no other cars to give me) told me that you can watch DVDs in the backseat, which will come in handy for all of my non-existent children. maybe i can put in some DVDs to entertain my bike, which is currently residing back there? maybe "lance armstrong's greatest moments" or smthg? to inspire said bike?

plus!!! i can once again listen to my beloved jammin' 105.9!!! (i still haven't replaced the stereo in the integra)

in the last two months, i have driven:

  1. a toyota corolla while my car was being repaired for damage in my fender-bender with mr. illegal cabbie man back in DC (i wonder what happened to him)
  2. a dodge neon on my last few days in DC when my integra had already been picked up to go to austin (total piece of crap)
  3. a buick rendezvous SUV for my first few days in austin while i waited for the integra to be delivered (totally pimped out and lots of fun to drive)
  4. a chevy HHR (PT cruiser wannabe) for the next chunk of my time in austin while i waited for the integra to be delivered and then for a stupid key to be made (kind of a weird car but i got really used to it)
  5. and now, a chevy uplander.

as soon as i get my check from the adjusters, i'm going to have to take my car in AGAIN to repair all the damage from being schlepped halfway across the country by a bunch of incompetent morons... wonder what kind of car i'll get then??? oh, the suspense...!

Monday, April 10, 2006

falling in love with austin, little by little

today after work (a nice, calm day in which i mostly caught up on personal business) i took the newly purchased silver schwinn for its maiden voyage. the inauguration of the silver schwinn, if you will...? at 6:00 it was still warm and sunny as i headed down towards town lake, the bike squished into the hatchback of my ghetto-ass ride. once i got on the trail it quickly became clear to me that i was not the only one in austin with the brilliant after-work trail plan - some parts of the trail were so crowded i felt like i was running a marathon where i somehow didn't get the memo that 95% of the other participants were going to be on foot.

but it was still lovely. it felt great to be on a bike again, and i was able to explore more of the trail than i ever had before. i saw swans, and kayakers, and even a little turtle sunning himself on a piece of construction material (of all things). there were actually two little turtle guys, one with a beautiful striped yellow head and one smaller guy with his head and limbs pulled into his shell. i sat there for a few mins waiting for him to bare his stuff but alas, it was not to be. the trail took me right next to the river and i admired how the evening sun made the downtown austin skyline sparkle. i crossed countless bridges, rode past the stevie ray vaughn statue and watched as people play sports on auditorium shores and frolicked with their dogs. i took breaks at several of the stations set up with free ice-cold water and little cone-shaped paper cups.

plus the people watching was amazing. there was this one woman speed-walking in a red bra and a matching red sweat sKirt (skirt! and she was not exactly svelte either). there was one dude who seriously could have been an underwear model. there were families, old couples, young couples, plenty of 20-something with ipods, and several punky-looking alterna-types on dirt bikes. super-athletic people whose muscles were glistening with sweat and other people who looked like they might pass out from the exhaustion of lumbering along at a snail's pace. white people, brown people, all diff shades (well, as many shades as you can find in austin, anyway), everyone just hanging out on the trail and enjoying the sun.

honestly, it was an austin moment. one that will hopefully be relived again and again.

after the ride i took a quick shower and met up with mary lorraine for al fresco dining and a glass of wine. we blabbed on and on about anything and everything, and i went home feeling talked-out and glad.

and now i'm home for a quick blog update, some ice cream on my front porch, and hopefully some reading before bed.

as monday nights go, i'd have to say this is one to remember. good times.

happy monday thoughts

several things to be happy about:
  1. the austin weather forecast is sunny and mid-80s for the entire week
  2. "i just saved a bunch of money on my car insurance by moving to texas!"
  3. once i move into my new apt my daily commute will be a whopping 3.6 miles ROUND TRIP, suckers

things to sigh about:

  1. my poor banged-up hoopty-looking ride
  2. the fact that i will have to register my car in texas and have texas plates

Sunday, April 9, 2006

sunday in review

the day started off on such a promising note. got a good amount of sleep, woke up to a beautifully sunny day. dashed out the door to finally get my hair cut (complete with great scalp massage and neck massage). met my friend joyce's cousin for a fantastic brunch at an italian restaurant downtown where we quickly realized we knew someone in common and gossiped away happily over bottomless mimosas (for $5!!). drove up to north austin to check out a used bike that a co-worker of mine is selling. realized that said bike is actually a great schwinn bike, light enough to carry, complete with built-in pump and new gel seat. happily purchased the bike, put it in my car and started heading home with plans of a long sunny bike ride before sitting down to do my taxes.

but then. THEN. i was coming to a light, about to merge on the highway. the car in front of me stopped kind of abruptly and i had to brake really hard to avoid a collision, coming within a few inches of his bumper but breathed a sigh of relief that nothing happened. next thing i know, BAM! four-car fender-bender. car #1 was stopped at the light. i was car #2 and had to brake hard to avoid hitting him, but braked and came to a complete stop without touching him. car #3 behind me did the same thing. then stupid car #4 comes barreling along and plows into car #3, causing a chain reaction through all four cars.

so we all pull over to the side of the road to inspect the damage and start exchanging information. i didn't realize that someone had already called the cops, and car #1 started badgering me for my info. the inhabitants of car #1 pissed me off for several reasons. first of all, his car had the last damage of all of us, yet insisted on getting my info right away for the TINY SCRATCH on his tail light. i told him that i hadn't actually hit him, i had indeed braked hard but had come to a complete stop before being rear-ended and was subsequently pushed into him. he immediately told me it didn't matter, that when it comes to chain reactions like this, each car is responsible for the car they rear-end, so i was responsible for his damage whereas he, being first, was responsible for nothing (as if someone had died and made him the greasy-haired God of traffic laws). also, i shouldn't be fooled by the small scratch, b/c sometimes, when you're in a car accident, especially with these newer cars (umm, he was driving like a 92 infiniti), there can be internal damage inside (OH REALLY. PLEASE ENLIGHTEN ME, O WISE ONE. BECAUSE I DIDN'T KNOW THAT BEFORE).

of course by the time the cops showed up they set his ugly ass right and assigned the blame to car #4, who will be responsible for all the damages. and hey, to each their own, but if you want my opinion, long and lanky hair that dangles greasily past your shoulders, ugly silver feather-ish earrings that match your wife's (or girlfriend's, or whatever), skin that looks like it hasn't been washed in since february and a know-it-all attitude DO NOT A GOOD LOOK MAKE. ew. please go away. you're hurting my eyes.

the kicker - the woman who was in the passenger seat of the car at fault noticed my MD tags and asked if i was new to town. when i confirmed that yes, indeed, i'm quite new to town, she said "well, welcome to austin traffic!"

um. it's a sunny sunday afternoon. there is no traffic. you fools just weren't fast enough on the uptake and have now caused trouble to three other cars who did the right thing, so don't try to blame it all on the non-existent fucking TRAFFIC. oh, and you want to talk to me about traffic? let's see if your ass would last ONE EXIT on the capital beltway, you stupid morons in the oversized SUV. please go away. your stupidity is offending me.

grr. and now i am doing my taxes. and found out that stupid H&R block is charging me hidden fees. don't get me started.

all i can say is, if this week doesn't start getting better soon, don't be surprised if i buy an emergency flight to DC to go hide at my parents' house and eat my mom's cooking.

oh, and can i just say? that i look like i am driving a TOTAL clunker these days. poor little rice rocket. what with the massive dings and dents from being schelpped from DC, the fact that she had to sit there for two wks not being driven b/c of the lost key, and now the hanging-off bumper, she's in bad shape these days... =P

Friday, April 7, 2006

oh yeah... i guess i am in texas

as i drove home from work today, a/c blasting in the 80-something-degree weather, i noticed an unusual sight in my little section of suburban paradise - masses and masses of flashing blue and red lights. what was it? an accident? construction? a massive drug bust? my curiosity was piqued even further when i saw a crime scene unit truck on the scene. austin doesn't exactly come anywhere near DC's reputation as the homicide capital of the world (especially in the boonies where i am living right now), so what could it have been?

i was unfortunately flying by on the opposite side of the road at ~60 mph, so an answer was not to be had at that exact moment. yet when i left my place 15 mins later to meet a friend for dinner (my first experience with ethnic food in austin - more on that later), i drove right past the scene. all of the same elements were still there - 4-5 police cars, orange cones blocking off the entire lane, crime scene truck. yet this time there was a dead deer on the pavement, circled in chalk like they do in TV.

my first thought was, all this for a deer? i mean i know i'm in TX and everything, but come on! it's a deer! i've had to drive past a dead fox on the side of the road for at least three days now, but they bring out the whole austin police department for a dead deer? and then i kept driving and saw random pieces of equipment strewn about, also circled in chalk. the final piece of the puzzle fell into piece when i saw a motorcycle on its side, also outlined in chalk. clearly something horrible had happened there, and i immediately felt kinda bad about my morbid interest in the whole thing.

and then i hopped on the highway and saw this stupid dude with tattoos up and down his arms flying down the highway on a loud motorcycle and a huge messenger bag, hair flying in the wind... that is, sans helmet. ahh, the glorious stupidity.

it's funny, b/c in the several wks i've been here (almost one month... wow) i sometimes find myself forgetting i'm in texas. it's easy to do that in downtown austin, i think, and also in my work environment. and then i see stupid shit like that and am reminded all over again. like the stupid person near my apt who parks their massive truck complete w/huge flatbed in the spaces marked "for small cars only." last time i checked, if you've got room for an entire tractor and several freeloadin' buddies in the back, you don't qualify as small. or the woman who drives this ugly-ass truck with a huge decal that says "real women drive trucks."

the worst is when i leave the safe mecca of austin and cringe with the constant reminders that i really am in texas. like the woman in the dallas airport who was standing in the public bathroom in her tie-dyed shirt, taking up the space of at least two sinks as she tried to flat-iron her rat's nest peroxide blond hair into submission. it was really hard to wash my hands without staring. or the airline employee who insisted on wishing every single passenger a safe flight by name and therefore holding up the line as she tried to catch every single person and pronounce their name properly as the rest of us waited in line impatiently. "hay-uve uh safe fliiight, mrs. cha... chatta... chattaranya?" (at least it wasn't "sammm.... ire.... naga... naga... not gonna work here anymore!") thank god she didn't butcher my name, but i was seriously tempted to interrupt her annoying southern drawl and tell her to just scan the damn boarding passes and let us get on the plane already.

anyway, TGIFFA - thank god it's fucking friday already. my wknd plans include taxes, a haircut, my boss's baby shower (what's up with children's books costing an arm and a leg these days?), sleeping in, brunch with my friend's joyce's cousin, and biking on the town lake trails... AND dirty dancing is on TV. i think that combination should be strong enough to erase the crappiness of this week. i'll get on it ASAP and keep you all posted on how it goes...

Wednesday, April 5, 2006

a cast of characters

so i'm back. miami was a complete blur of 14-hour work days, dinners w/the client, room service, getting sick, not getting enough sleep, long meetings and sessions and then annoying connecting flights back to austin.

traveling so much for work these days made me think. anyone who knows me knows that traveling is one of my absolutely favoritest things to do... the adventure! the food! the little streets! the languages! but with travel comes, well, travel... that is, the act of traveling itself. the lost luggage, the delayed flights, the tight connections, the obese passengers seated right next to you.

but i tried to put a positive spin on it. i also love people-watching, and where better to have a captive audience of potential watchees than a contained plane where you have lots of time to kill and nowhere to go?

i now present, for your amusement, a little rundown of all the characters i came in contact with on my recent austin-miami whirlwind adventure:
  1. the unclean mystery (austin to atlanta). he reminded me of bill gates in his dorky teen years... not that i knew mr. gates in his teen years or anything, he just looked like your textbook nerd. pale, doughy skin that probably never sees the light of day because he's too busy programming or something (sorry mccoy. you're a cool programmer). weird bulging eyes in a strange shade of steely blue (like what's her name in harry potter - luna lovegood). greasy looking brown hair that's kind of mussy but not in a hot, product-laced mussy way. wussy looking arms and ugly shoes. really horrible posture (he spent most of the flight slumped in this weird pretzel-ish way that made me wonder if he had any bones inside his body or just doughy skin everywhere). and, the piece de resistance - a beige t-shirt advertising some computer conference in san antonio. it would be better if i remembered the exact wording b/c it was SUPER DORKY and made my friend summer's "math rocks" t-shirt look really cool, but alas, it escapes me. so, the weirdest thing about mr. unclean mystery that makes him a mystery? a WEDDING BAND, people. a perfectly normal, white gold or silver or platinum or whatever wedding ring on his fourth left finger. i guess there really is someone for everyone out there... hot damn. i found myself really disappointed that mrs. unclean mystery wasn't on the same flight so i could check her out. plus i would have pegged him to be, like, 19 years old.
  2. the perfect family (atlanta to miami). i sat next to Dad and Son. Mom and Daughter sat in the row behind. Dad was tall and lean, toned but not in a beefy way, wearing nice shorts and a pressed polo shirt. sandy colored hair, nice wrinkles, handsome, reading some interesting looking novel. Son was prob 13 or 14 but not in that surly way, just in that "i'm not a girl... not yet a woman" way (the male, non-britney-spears version, of course). he was polite to the flight attendants and spent most of the flight playing with some expensive-looking gadgets. i didn't see much of Mom and Daughter, but did see that Mom was still really attractive but not in a lame MILF-attention-grabbing way, just classy and pretty and nicely dressed and reading some novel. Daughter was gorgeous in that still-young (maybe 10?) but you're-going-to-be-beautiful some day way. there was a lot of quiet joking amongst all family members. i hope they had a nice vacation.
  3. mr. international (miami to dallas). we didn't talk until the very end of the flight, but his look intrigued me. tan skin, very piercing blue eyes, kind of wiry body. he had work-callused hands and braided bracelets on one wrist and a really fancy looking cell phone and i just didn't know what to do w/him. we ended up chatting (while sitting on the tarmac for THIRTY MINUTES, for the love of God and all His holy angels), and he is mr. international b/c he is french, but lives in ecuador (quito to be specific) with his ecuadorian wife. he speaks four languages: french (which we spent most of the time using), english (also great), spanish (prob. fluent, given spouse and whatnot), and russian (b/c he sells helicopters! and a lot of his clients speak russian). americans are so lame.
  4. brokeback mountain cowboys (dallas to austin). okay, so i don't think they were necessarily gay. and they were actually very nice. and maybe i was just sick and tired of traveling by that time. but these were two older white gentlemen that i'd put in their early-mid 60s. tall, comfortable in their own skin, white hair, glasses, weathered-looking skin, generous noses and kind eyes. they offered me the window (i had the middle) b/c they were traveling together, which was very nice of them. but the first question of my neighbor's mouth? "so, are you coming from an international flight?" it must have been my mcdonald's soft-serve cup, banana republic polo shirt, and reef flip-flops that made me look so un-american...