Sunday, February 25, 2007

slice of life

i think i am officially spoiled by the austin weather. i hear that it snowed another five inches in DC today... and while i admit i kind of miss the cozy sweaters, the steaming hot chocolate (with a healthy splash of kahlua or bailey's, of course) and my favorite puffy down jacket, i'm also kind of okay with the fact that it's not quite march and there are people laying out by the pool. i'm okay with the fact that i need to wear long sleeves at night but can definitely get away with flip flops during the day. the weather was gorgeous this weekend, sunny and warm and breezy, the kind of weather that makes you want to take a thick blanket and a good book and spend the afternoon just reading in a park.

i went for a run along town lake, and although everyone argues that barton springs is the soul of austin, i have to wonder if that's really the case. of course, barton springs has more historical relevance, it has its own breed of salamander, it's a naturally spring-fed pool, etc etc etc... but i feel like town lake -- by nature of being free and open to anyone and everyone -- has a more diverse following. there's something about it that seems to represent everything that i've come to appreciate about this town. there's the dog park, with millions of different breeds running around, sniffing each other's butts and splashing into the water to chase a tennis ball. there's the water area, where a local running store sets up free containers of water and dispensers with little cone-shaped paper cups. everyone throws their trash away neatly and is willing to tip the jug for you so you can get out the last few drops, and of course, there's even little dishes of water for the dogs. i mean come on. you know that shit would get stolen in DC in one second.

and then there's the people. during today's run i saw such a cast of characters i almost wish i had brought a pad of paper with me to take notes. little kids on bikes with helmets and mommy or daddy riding behind, one guy with so many tattooes up and down his arms that it looked like he was wearing a very colorful shirt, a bunch of UT sorostitutes with short shorts and t-shirts that read "UT chi-o" or "go kappa," frumpy middle-aged women wearing workout clothes that had probably been purchased in 1974, an older couple in polyester pants and nicely pressed shirts that looked like they had just come from church, a guy with impressive man-boobs, even more impressive nipple rings and a considerable gut that was jogging along in tight biker shorts, completely comfortable with himself, a really hot guy in under armour who looked like an NBA basketball player (umm... i may have given him a slightly longer glance than everyone else), lots of 20/30-somethings like me, jogging along with ipod earbuds in their ears, latina girls with dyed hair and short shirts walking hand-in-hand with their wife-beater-wearing boyfriends, rastafarian-looking white dudes riding beat-up bikes and looking like they hadn't eaten a proper meal in months...

it was all just so entertaining. everyone hanging out, doing their own thing, walking, running, jogging, huffing and puffing along, biking, strolling, soaking in the warm sun and admiring the sparkling water. it's a really odd thing to feel like you live in this happy little bubble where people leave water dishes out for the dogs and the sun shines in march and not everyone on the jogging trail is some fit 20-something hardbody but normal-looking people who care about their health.

(contented sigh)

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

all hail the allergy queen

this morning i went to the allergy doctor to see if i too had fallen victim to austin's claim to fame as the "allergy capital of the world" (you thought it was all about the live music - ha! you were wrong, friend, it's all about the cedar trees and juniper count down here). i was told to expect a fairly lengthy visit and instructed to wear short sleeves, because they were going to do a skin test.

you guys. have you ever done an allergy skin test before? it is simultaneously FASCINATING and comPLETEly freaky. basically they inject your skin with a million different types of substances that people in this area are allergic to, set the timer for 15 long, excruciating minutes, and then come back to see which injections have turned into angry little welts. i mean, doesn't that sound like fun? who wouldn't want to be subjected to such torture on a brilliantly sunny 80-degree day?

the procedure itself is two-part deal. they start on your back, so you basically lie on your stomach while the nurse takes a pen, marks the injection sites all over your back (so she knows which substance was injected where), pricks you ten million times with ten million different things, and then leaves you there to suffer for 15 minutes before coming back in to see which ones caused a reaction (she rates the bumps based on their size, and the higher the number, the stronger your allergy to that substance). rub entire back off with alcohol to remove ink and then move to part two: arms. they use a higher dose on your arms, so things that cause a reaction on your back are severe allergies whereas reactions to arm injections are more moderate.

i watched the entire arm procedure in complete awe. she had a tray of bottles with the various injections, a tray of needles, and was incredibly efficient. once she had written all the different numbers on my arms to mark the injection sites, she would deftly insert the needle into the bottle, suction up the mold/pollen/grass/tree/dust/dander solution, poke my arm and then inject the liquid until it caused a little white puddle beneath my skin. she was also very nice, and apologized over and over again for causing me pain/discomfort (the needles didn't hurt much but the puddling part was an incredibly bizarre feeling of wtf? and ouch!) while trying to make small talk to distract me from the million needles (when i told her i worked in advertising for a living, she asked me if i was a model in commercials. awwwwww. i felt bad when i had to tell her that actually no, i'm just another working stiff behind a desk). when she finally came back to assess the damage, what with all the numbers up and down my arms and the various little lumps i swear i looked like i had elevator buttons on my skin.

anyway, so it turns out that i am allergic to everything! (did i mention that i'm writing this blog entry in my newfound home of a plastic, hypo-allergenic dust-free bubble?) i have a severe allergy to cedar/juniper trees and a mild allergy to just about everything else you can think of. cats, dogs, cockroaches (oh darn, there goes that cockroach farm i had been planning on starting), all kinds of molds, tree pollens, grass pollens and weed pollens. the good news is that he said mild allergies really aren't that big of a deal (meaning that my dreams of someday owning a dog aren't completely dead! hurray) and won't cause many problems in my everyday life. the bad news is that i feel like a dork. allergies are so not cool. nasal sprays are not bad ass. clarinex does not a sexy party drug make.

oh well. good thing i'm such a natural beauty that people mistake me for a model instead of your average corporate whore. maybe i should pull an izzy stephens and become a model to fund my next academic adventure.

although i somehow doubt that the somewhat dubious title of "allergy dork" would do much for my career as supermodel extraordinaire.


Tuesday, February 20, 2007

in case you're looking for me on friday afternoon

i just got this e-mail confirmation:


"Hi Jennifer,


WHAT: Senator Obama Visits Texas

WHEN: 2:00 PM – Friday, February 23 Gates open at 12:30 pm.

WHERE: LOCATION MOVED. Now at Auditorium Shores, on Riverside and South 1st, on the south bank of Town Lake.

Thanks for RSVPing to the Austin rally."


i'm SO there!!

Monday, February 19, 2007

a very austin weekend

fresh from the whirlwind that was my business trip to Munich, I had the pleasure of hosting the lovely Erica Lloyd in ATX this past wknd. a dear old friend and loyal reader of JMWT, she rolled into town on Fri afternoon and asked me if we could "everything that I write about on this blog." so I did my best to oblige. what follows below is a recap of our oh-so-Austin wknd:


friday, aka "wow it's nice out" and "where are all the people of color hiding?"
  • pick up E from airport
  • E marvels at warm weather
  • E marvels at ability to venture outside without a) down jacket b) whale blubber or c) both
  • roll to apt. introduce E to cowboy. everyone is happy.
  • dinner @ manuel's, downtown restaurant with interior Mexican cuisine. drink excellent margaritas at jam-packed bar while waiting for table. lament lack of color in restaurant, as I seem to be the only non-Caucasian person in the place.
  • eat delicious food: corn gorditas with tomato/cilantro/tomatillo, pork enchiladas with complex and delicious mole sauce, fresh chips and salsa
  • out to bars in the warehouse district: caramel apple martinis @ apple bar followed by more cocktails @ cuba libre (where we started an Official Minority Count and got up to 15 at one point, I think) and even more cocktails (and some water) @ lucky lounge, where the music was hip-hop and the Official Minority Count was much improved

saturday, aka "how much can we cram into one day?"

  • wake up relatively early (I can do this when other people are waking me up), go for long run on town lake, marvel at weather
  • put on eating pants, stretch out belly and head for family-style bbq @ salt lick bbq out in driftwood, texas. wait outside for table and get tortured by tantalizing bbq smells.
  • the gorging begins: bottomless ribs, brisket, and sausage with fresh cole slaw (surprisingly good and non cole slaw-y), awesome potato salad (also non-mayo-y), pickles, onions, habanero bbq sauce, soft white bread, and beans.
  • slowly begin the drive back to austin, notice that car seems much more heavy on the way back than it did on the way there
  • stop at random hindu temple along the way, wonder what the hell a beautiful hindu temple is doing in the middle of driftwood, texas
  • head to downtown for a whirlwind afternoon tour: visit capitol building, visit flagship whole foods market, visit my office
  • time for THE ALAMO DRAFTHOUSE! order some food and drinks and sit back to enjoy master pancake theater, in which they take a deliciously bad movie, do a funny comedy routine at the beginning, sit in the front with two mics, do a funny comedy sketch in the middle and more comedy at the end. the movie was titatnic, and every time there was a close-up of jack and rose entertwining hands you had to yell "hand sex!" and take a drink.
  • roll selves home and call it a day.

sunday, aka let's spend some money

  • roll out of bed and decide hey, one day of endless gorging wasn't enough, let's make it two! climb into car, avoid marathon runners and head for stubb's bbq for their sunday gospel brunch (stubb's = famous restaurant / live music venue in austin). enjoy PILES of delicious brunch (eggs, sausage, grits, bacon, pancakes, biscuits with gravy, bbq, fruit, home fries, the list goes on and on) and live gospel music. i sing with the band for a few measures. everyone is pleased.
  • head back to south congress ("soco" for those in the know) and wander in and out of the stores
  • head to zilker park (home of ACL festival and the famous barton springs pool, supposedly the heart and soul of austin) for a brief restorative soak in the sunshine
  • drive down to san marcos outlets for a quick retail break
  • come back to austin and end the wknd with some southwestern cuisine @ z'tejas (specifically: more margaritas and mojitos, chips and queso, shrimp quesadillas and enormous salads)

i think it's safe to say that a good time was had by all. and that i'm going on an all-vegetarian diet for the next few weeks... the thought of bbq makes me want to be ill.

who wants to come visit me????

Friday, February 16, 2007

the travel gods hate me

regular readers of JMWT (kinda like WWJD, but very, very different) know that i heart travel. travel! yay! if i could make travel my boyfriend i kinda might. what with the broadening of horizons, the experience of different cultures, the tasting of different foods, the fumbling over exotic languages, the fascinating grocery stores of other countries, the frequent flyer miles, the experincing of life in a different city/country, etc etc etc... travel and i are totally BFF.

but i think it's fair to say that during this week's business trip to germany, travel got the last laugh. it punched me in the gut, knocked me down, stomped on my face, did a tarantella on my smushed body, [insert hyperbole here]. part of me thinks i i had it coming, when you consider that the fact that i was going to fly for about 24 total hours for a meeting that would last about 6-7 hours at most (yes, "a" meeting, as in ONE SINGULAR MEETING for which i would be flying halfway around the world. the craziness, o how it boggles the mind).

it all started off so normally. roll to my beloved austin airport (beloved because of the ease of travel there), get some breakfast tacos, settle down with a newspaper while i waited for my flight. and then i found out that our flight to newark was delayed because of weather. and that said delay would cause me to miss my connection to munich. fun! much scrambling ensued, many telephone calls were made, many pleas were made with the (very lovely) continental desk staff (who could only do so much because my connection was on a different carrier). i ended up touching down in newark, bolting out the front door to a waiting car service, gunning it to JFK in a very comfy mercedes (whilst talking up the very nice polish driver -- we talked about pets, i think, and casual drug usage amongst his passengers, and the merits of a mercedes benz versus those of a BMW), and making it to JFK in time to board my re-routed flight. this is fun! except not really!

we landed around 10:15 am munich time on wednesday (aka middle-of-the-night austin time... so much for a tuesday night's sleep), and i headed to my hotel to freshen up before the meeting.
meeting went well, yadda yadda yadda, and i finally got to head back to my hotel room to collapse for the night.

thursday morning dawned gray and chilly and i once again headed back to the munchen flughafen (or munich airport for us amurricans). go through one million security checks, etc, and eventually board the MOST UNIQUE PLANE i've ever ridden. it was an old 737, so that wasn't what was weird (although that is probably the smallest plane i've ever taken for transatlantic travel). what was interesting was that the ENTIRE PLANE was first/business class. there were only 11 rows in the entire plane, and we were all first class. i guess lufthansa/united code-share with a company called privat air (first i'd ever heard of them), and this is kind of their shtick. since it was an older 737 they didn't have private entertainment systems, so they passed out personal DVD players instead, and the headphones came with plastic-wrapped ear covers so you didn't have to inherit the mysterious ear diseases of the previous headphone user. i was sufficiently amused. i've flown international business/first before but i've never seen the efforts an airline will go to to make an older airplane feel more premium.

once i got over that part, though, i settled back into my seat for what turned out to be one of the bumpiest flights i've experienced in a long, long time. it felt like the plane was not so much a solid boeing 737 cruising through the air to shuttle its passengers back and forth between countries but actually a paper airplane that had been left to the mercy of the elements. we shuddered, we bolted, we dropped, we jerked, we did everything but fly smoothly. i'm an experienced flier and a little turbulence doesn't really faze me too much (i mean, i don't really like but what can you do) but this was more than just some average transatlantic shakes. my palms were sweating the whole time and i had to focus on breathing normally. again, fun! but not at all! my saving grace was the fact that a) they kept the wine coming and b) there were only two severly rough patches, in the first and last half of the flight. landing was interesting, it almost felt like the plane was drunkenly trying to find its way to the runway (it had good drunken aim though).

i knew i had a long layover in newark, so i ventured into the city to meet the lovely di for some pan-fried dumplings in korea town and some browsing at border's before heading back to newark to make my austin connection. but what a silly idea! why fly home when you've been awake for nearly 24 hours if you can sit in newark airport with a delay instead?! silly me. i didn't end up getting home until nearly 3 a.m. last night and am surprised that i managed to drive myself home in one piece.

and thus ends the LONGEST STORY EVER about a topic that, let's face it, isn't really all that exciting. sorry, people. it was all i had. now i'm going to disappear again to host the lovely erica and show her a rollickin' good time, austin-style.

have a good wknd!

Monday, February 12, 2007

does it count as an update if you don't write it?

if you said no, well that's just too bad, because this is all I've got:

I'm famous! on another blog!

off to Deutschland for biz tmw -- more when I'm back!

be good.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

focus on the positive

as you probably guessed by the lack of updates, I have been locked away in a scary, scary place known as "work hell OMG stress stress kill self now." yesterday was one of the most infuriatingly frustrating days I've had since I started at this company nearly one year ago, and I went home feeling angry and annoyed and altogether rather dejected.

but! today is another day! and despite the fact that I still have a million changes to make to this presentation before I can send it to my client tonight, I am going to take a moment and try to improve my attitude by sharing two fantastically positive things that happened to me today:

the weather forecast for Austin, TX for Wednesday, 2/8/07 is sunny with a high of 77 degrees. I am currently wearing a knee-length skirt, short-sleeved sweater and light jean jacket, and almost regretted wearing the jean jacket when I walked outside to go pick up some lunch. HAHAHA SUCK IT east coast buddies. you so want to be here right now.

as I soaked in as much sun as possible during the brief walk over to Whole Foods, I agonized over what exorbitantly-priced lunch item I was going to buy today. gourmet sandwich? salad? sushi? a hot bar selection? chowder? what? I ended up going to the Asian bar and getting some hot udon noodle soup with spinach and shiitake mushrooms. I headed to the check-out line, ready to fork over my Whole Paycheck for one measly lunch, and absently went through the motions of swiping my debit card, no thanks, I don't need cash back, etc. it wasn't until I was back at my desk and clearing away the remains of my lunch (verdict: acceptable enough to satisfy the Asian flavor craving--especially with a few healthy sprinkles of the spicy powdery stuff that came with it--but after a few back-to-back meals from WF everything unfortunately starts to taste the same) that I saw the receipt she had tucked into my bag and realized that my lunch had only cost me $1.35. huh?!?! I'm guessing the poor guy charged me for the extra $1.35 for shiitake mushrooms but forgot to include the actual udon price. I felt bad for about .3 seconds before I realized that they have somehow managed to wrangle about 68% of my annual wages from me... and subsequently relished in my victory.

it's all about the small things, people.

Thursday, February 1, 2007 is my new BFF

the definition of "Jennifer" is as follows:

Stemmed from the name Guinevere; used to name a human of the female gender generally regarded by the public as an icon or example of independence and eloquence. Although this regal being may appear to have as much intelligence and imagination as the norm, if she was to be excavated one would discover that there is far more mystery and romance, (not being used in the sense of love and relationships, but an artful passion for life itself) to this woman than what could be learned in a life time.

"If I slaved to discover what lay beneath the deepest of oceans, I would have to search forever to reveal what lay hidden in the veils of Jennifer's soul."

what's yours?