Saturday, March 31, 2007
...so, naturally, i decided to go line dancing.
yes. you read that sentence correctly. i went FREAKIN' LINE DANCING (although technically speaking, i guess it wasn't really LINE dancing so much as texas two-steppin' and country-western swing... but line dancing has more shock value, so there you have it).
this coming from a girl who used to get all gussied up (heh) in tight jeans and high heels and cute little tops with dangly earrings and clutch purses to go swill $14 martinis and hob-nob with the ambitious DC crowd. instead, i put on a thin fitted t-shirt, some jeans, and my new cowboy boots and headed over to the broken spoke (home of the disgusting chicken-fried steak that megan and i had sampled a mere week ago) with my buddy paula for some dancing lessons and live country music.
and you know what? we had an absolutely fantastic time. the "dance lesson" was about an hour long, and they taught us the texas two-step as well as some basic country-western swing moves. amusingly enough, the men outnumbered the women, so us girls took turns dancing with the different guys so that no guy would have sit out for more than one dance in a row. after the lesson, we drank shiner blondes and chatted while we waited for the band to set up (some of our other buddies had joined us... actually, it was me, aka a korean kid from the DC 'burbs, one canadian, and two irish kids... what a motley, non-texas crew eh??).
once the band got started, the dance floor was pretty much packed for every song. we two-stepped, we spun in circles, we ducked under our partner's arms and pretty much had a boot-scootin' good time (oh my lord i can't believe i just used that phrase). i had a bunch of different dance partners (there is something undeniably charming about a man asking you to dance, whether he's sporting a cowboy hat and boots in some texas dance hall or a pair of fitted jeans and fly-ass pumas in a dark DC club), although i must say that the best dance was with my friend paula... we realized that neither of us are any good at playing the boy and leading and decided to spin each other around the dance floor for the entire song instead.
(the second-best dance was with this portly gentleman who had a GINORMOUS beer belly, and although he was a smooth dance partner and strong leader, i had to bite my lower lip the entire time to keep from giggling at the fact that his belly was doing more of the work of leading me around the dance floor than his hand on my back.)
many hours and many beers later, we headed home, exhausted and sweaty and completely satisfied. am i true texan? absolutely not. i love that i lived in a big city and will still put on my tight jeans and high heels for a night of martinis on the town (in fact, that's exactly what paula and i did the very next night). also, i still couldn't help myself from noticing that i was one of the few non-whities in the place and that i never would have been caught dead in that kind of place back home. but hey, why the hell not, you know? i learned the texas two-step, danced my pants off, rocked the hell out of my new cowboy boots, drank piles and piles of beer, and realized that i don't have to take myself so seriously all the time...
Thursday, March 29, 2007
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
(man, could i sound any more like a self-absorbed 20-something? yowza. cue emo music, please... or maybe some john mayer "quarter life crisis," although i have seriously lost some respect for him given the rumors that he is shacking up with jessica simpson. dude! i know you're not that hot, but seriously, at least you can credibly say you're a legitimate musician. that alone should net you some higher quality than jessica simpson, aka boobalicious reality star / no-talent ass clown)
the reality is that i never came to austin to stay, and although there are a million reasons why i really like it here and have been content to hang out for a bit (reference the million posts on breakfast tacos, runs on town lake, and the general chill but friendly / artistic and smart vibe of this town)... i'm already curious as to what's next. where will i go? who will Jen Mess With next?
it's tricky, because i feel like at this point i've somewhat-sort-of established myself in my industry... i've got five solid years' experience, and i could easily continue down the advertising pathway, stay here for a while, maybe check out another agency, build my client experience, climb the corporate ladder, etc etc etc. i'm no longer 22, paying my dues and trying to prove myself. sure, there's the proving-of-self that always comes along with a new gig, and i'm not necessarily one to sit on my laurels and get too comfortable... but at this point i am lucky enough to enjoy a decent salary (nothing exorbitant but i can make ends meet), a good job at a respected shop, interesting clients, challenging projects and fun business trips (a cruise? trips to Munich? no one's complaining here).
on the other hand, i can't help but wonder if there isn't more out there. could i be more? could i do more? could i contribute more, learn more, gain more? when my mind starts wandering like this, i immediately gravitate toward the possibility of going to grad school. it would be great! i could be a student again and bask in my nerdy student-ness! wear a backpack and take tons of notes! soak up the wisdom of others, live a life of the mind, get out of the corporate world for a bit, possibly re-direct my career path.
then i get all ooky about it. well... shit. grad school's expensive. plus, when i get out, what would do i with that degree? would i just go right back into the corporate world and work for the man? if that's the end result, i'll progress a lot faster if i just stay in advertising and climb the ladder. what if i go to b-school and it's filled with a bunch of douche-bags who overuse the term "net net" or "let's not re-invent the wheel?" (full disclosure: i have totally used both of those terms. but at least i was properly mortfied afterwards.) i always pictured myself going to grad school for something completely random and unnecessary, like french film of the 18th century. but who the F am i kidding? what the hell would i do with that? go to cocktail parties and be one of those super-academics that knows a shit ton about some obscure topic that no one cares about except for me and my professional circle of maybe 20-30 colleagues?
this post will have no neat and pretty conclusion because i have no idea what that neat and pretty conclusion will look like. perhaps the down side of this "move to a new city and do lots of soul-searching" plan is that you end up spending too much inside your own damn head and therefore end up over-thinking everything. maybe i should just jump in and go for it and see where i come out on the other side; that plan has definitely worked for me before.
whatever happens, though, i'll be sure to keep you loyal nine readers posted. (i think my loyal readership is growing, y'all. i had about three. then maybe five. and now a whole nine! woooot.)
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
Monday, March 26, 2007
despite a full nine hours' sleep last night, i am totally dragging ass at the office today. and there is no time for dragging asses. there is work to be done! clients to be serviced (that sounds so wrong)! brands to pick apart! etc.
as soon as i get my act together, i am going to write a nice long juicy update, but for now, here is a preview of all things JMWT:
- i went to a country western bar this wknd where i was the only minority and i felt like it was 1965. everyone was texas two-steppin' and country swing-dancin' and wearing cowboy boots, and it was insanely awesome. they were such good dancers! we were too intimidated to join in but were perfectly happy just sitting at the side tables, drinking some shiners and watching the crowds. yee-haw bitches.
- i ate chicken-fried steak for the first time. verdict: f'ing disgusting, and extremely unhealthy to boot. i'll stick with "rabbit food" (as the waitress called our salads, which we had polished off), thankyouverymuch. oh, and for the unaware: chicken-fried steak is steak meat (but not nice fork-and-knife steakhouse steak, and not ground chuck either... somewhere in btwn. sirloin, maybe?) that is battered (like fried chicken) and then fried and served with about an inch-deep covering of thick white gravy. excuse while i go barf in the corner. bleh.
- i am an official (gulp) texas resident, with texas license plates and cowboy boots and everything. JMWT? more like Texas Messes With Jen. (yes, i bought some cowboy boots. they were hella expensive but i love them. don't laugh if i wear them back in DC, okay?)
- we had some adventures out in texas hill country, including a visit to the beautiful hamilton pool and some family-style all you can eat BBQ at my beloved salt lick bbq... ahh, texas.
more to follow (including pics!) when i have some more time. in the meantime, if anyone can answer the following question for me, i'd be much obliged:
what the hell should i do next?
(with my life, that is, not with bbq or cowboy boots or country western dancing...)
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
1. the texas capitol building! it really does look like the nation's capitol! except taller (insert "everything's bigger in texas" pun here), and pinker (insert pun about not expecting a pink capitol in a state like texas here):
2. leeeet's... gooooo... flyyyyy... a kite (or two, in this case)...
3. a painting of a woman's ass. we were obSESSed with this picture. you have to admit that she's got a pretty nice ass.
Monday, March 19, 2007
once #1 had been completed, i set about trying to figure out the best way to make #2 happen. rendezvous with the drunken canadians (hi Paula!)?? happy hour with work people? pull a total Bridget Jones by uncorking a bottle of wine, putting on some sweats and popping in a DVD? as i was considering my options, i got an unexpected call from the one and only di johnston, who had been screwed over by the airlines and was making an impromptu drive from houston to fredericksburg... and wanted to stop in austin for some dinner and rest.
the poor kids were so exhausted from their long day that "dinner and rest" turned into a one-night stay @ the luxurious JMWT hotel. there was much consuming of chips & queso and margaritas and eventually glasses of shiraz... much discussion about topics ranging from end-of-life care to my pitiful love life to the difficulty of finding authentic tex-mex cuisine in manhattan. a good time was had by all.
saturday dawned bright and sunny and... green. yes, folks, st. patrick's day was upon us, and although i generally don't make a big fuss about the holiday, i couldn't say no to the prospect of drinking beer with actual irish friends on the big day (who were quick to point out that although st. patrick's day is indeed celebrated in ireland, america makes a far bigger deal out of the day. stupid tacky americans, mucking everything up as usual). i donned a green tank top and headed downtown with my buddies to their favorite irish pub, which was sponsoring a block party complete with a U2 cover band, irish dancers, and tons o' beer (no green beer, though, which made me rather relieved). there was even a bride and groom who had gotten married that morning @ the pub and were there to celebrate their reception (um, survey says: negative). he was decked in a green-themed suit and she was wearing a white wedding gown (IN THE BEER-FILLED BLOCK PARTY TENT) with a green sash. whatever floats your boat, i guess, but for me? hell no. only in texas, eh?
unfortunately, the ol' liver just ain't what it used to be, and i wasn't good for much after 9 pm... in fact, i went home and fell asleep in my living room chair. klassy.
sunday was a flurry of errands, cleaning, laundry, long bike rides and expensive trips to the grocery store. (side note: how is it possible for one person to spend $100 on groceries? i am ONE PERSON, not a family of four. granted, i hadn't gone grocery shopping in forever and was out of everything from the fresh stuff -- drinks, eggs, fresh produce, etc. -- to the pantry-ish stuff -- peanut butter, granola bars, etc. but still! $100! for one person's grocery bill! seriously. am staying home and eating homemade food for the next ten years, WTF.) the highlight of the day was the enormous vat of chili i cooked up (verdict: "tastey," as fergie would say) and the fact that most of the SXSW freaks have left town and i can now reclaim my neighborhood as my own. good-bye emo geeks! now go home and take a shower, mm'kay?
Friday, March 16, 2007
emo dude #1: "dude, you weigh WHAT?!"
emo dude #2: "i weigh 114 pounds."
emo dude #1: "dude, you only weigh 114 pounds?!"
emo dude #2: "yeah, so what?"
emo dude #1: "dude, i weigh 154 pounds! that's like a difference of..."
emo dude #1: "dude, that's a difference of like, 50 pounds!"
aww, emo dude #1. you were so close. SO close!! better luck next time. also, just FYI: skinny-fit plaid pants, faded band t-shirts and wristlets do NOT look good on you. neither do aviator sunglasses.
Wednesday, March 14, 2007
um. hi Amalah readers! i am a total fraud! a bad blogger who is only used to having six loyal readers, so the sudden influx of site traffic is very strange!
alas and alack. well, in the spirit of keepin it real (because that's how things get down around here), i will just post what i would have posted, Amalah-induced site traffic or no...
...which is... wait for it... WAAAAIT for it...
a review of my birthday festivities!
(woo hoo! can you feel the excitement?! the bold and italics totally add a note of panache, no?)
for a variety of reasons that are totally not worth going into right now, the day actually started off on a rather shit-tastic note. however, since i am good and resourceful and try to control my own happiness, i decided to take matters in my own hands and turn my day around for once and for all.
i'd like to take a moment to present you with Jen Messes With Texas's Three-Step Plan to Improving An Otherwise Shit-Tastic Day:
- leave work in the middle of the day. go home to your apartment and put on a comfy t-shirt. shut your blinds so that pesky sun doesn't stream into your room. put your blackberry and your cell phone near your pillow (am a model employee)... and then take a restful, rejuvenating nap. ahh.
- wake up 45 minutes later feeling much happier only to discover that wait! it gets better! your leasing company has left birthday balloons and freshly baked cookies on your door! eat cookies while you check your blackberry and rejoice.
- decide that maybe you should go back to work already. stop by freebirds, pick up delicious chicken burrito with fresh jalapenos and an iced tea with splenda, and then head back to the office.
ta-da! happiness restored! works like a charm, i tell ya. just don't let any silly "meetings" or "conference calls" or "colleagues wondering where you are" get in your way.
anyway. so after work, the birthday festivies commenced, and my oh my, they did not disappoint. it was a three-phase operation, which i will describe below in pictures because someone once told me that a picture is worth a thousand words (whoda thunkit?):
PHASE #1: NORMAL HAPPY HOUR
(scene: molotov lounge, west 6th)
(featuring my fantastic friend Robert.)
ingredients: a rooftop bar, a sunny afternoon, a bunch of cocktails, a motley crew of friends...
result: good times all around.
PHASE #2: BRING ON THE KARAOKE
(scene: austin karaoke, north austin. this place is leGIT, people. i busted out my korean and everything.)
um... i think this is a misguided attempt to "drop it like it's hot" whilst singing karaoke. notice the look of "WTF?" on my friend Taylor's face.
PHASE #3: WE GO DANCING
(scene: cedar street lounge. outdoor bar, live music, lots of mexican martinis.)
misguided attempt #2, this time in response to my friend Sara's directive to "look hot." it turned out more along the lines of "look drunk," but what can you do? note the cameo role being played by my friend Paula's leg in the background.
all in all, an excellent birthday.
Sunday, March 11, 2007
the thing is, i have things to say! stories to share! musings to post! so enough with the obligatory "i'm sorry i haven't posted in so long yadda yadda" crap and let's hop to it:
as most of you know, this wknd marked the beginning of the annual insanity that is SXSW. having moved to austin at this exact time last year (more posts on that later, one year in ATX plus a birthday, holy crap, how the mind boggles), i can distinctly remember how it took an otherwise chill town and turned it into this crazy hodge-podge of skinny-jean-wearing emo hipsters, importante artistes all clad in black, geeky chic types in designer glasses and spiky hair, LA hotties in designer gear, and of course, groupies galore. live music blares from every corner, a lanyard on your neck becomes a status symbol instead of a horrible fashion accessory, and craig's list becomes overrun with posts begging for the oh-so-elusive wristband. it is truly fascinating to watch.
it also brings some celebrities to town, and i had the good fortune of seeing them all up close and personal-like. the bizarre twist in the story that i was actually hanging out with a woman who many consider to be an internet celebrity in her own right... maybe because there are thousands of people who faithfully read her blog every day in order to keep up with the ins and outs of her daily life (there is something the phrase "internet celebrity" makes me feel somewhat ooky inside, like i am some creepy predator checking out 13 year olds on myspace or something). her name is amalah, and although i've been reading her site for years i never thought i'd end up spending the afternooon showing her around my little corner of austin. there was much shopping, much admiring of the weather, much snickering at some of the emo hipsters, much reminiscing about the DC life (well, reminiscing for me), much chatter of the superficial variety ("do these sunglasses make me look fat?") and heavier variety (relationships and life decisions and how to deal with being a public persona) and oh yes, much imbibing of beverages of the cocktail variety. it was unexpected and spontaneous and tons of fun.
which brings me to the next (and final) section of the story. ahem. so, setting: we were hanging out on the back patio of the hotel san jose, one of my favorite little sanctuaries in austin, because it's right in my neighborhood, the pool is relaxing, there's foliage every where to provide refuge from the austin sun, and you can order champagne cocktails and cheese plates. but bonus! as a chic austin destination in my hip little soco neighborhood, it also tends to attract a celebrity crowd... and yesterday was no exception.
yes, folks, yesterday was my second encounter with celebrities here in the ATX. it wasn't quite the lance armstrong - jake gyllenhaal sushi-eating divine duo of past encounters ("divine duo," who am i, some lame tabloid writer?), but hey, i'll take a free glance at luke wilson and alan cummings any day. luke wilson was a lot cuter than i expected him to be, and alan cummings was... well, the funny thing was that neither amy nor i could remember what movies he'd been in, and an IMBD search led to results like "spy kids" and "X Men 2" although we were both sure he'd been in other things. oh well. he was still very pretty to look at, and fantastically gay (i think he even had a hottie boy toy in tow).
anyway. this post is getting really long, and since i'm starting to get sick of writing it, i'm fairly certain that you're starting to get sick of reading it. suffice it to say that it's been a great wknd, i promise to keep an eye out for more celebrities, and hey! famous internet people can be fantastic in person as well (not that i'm "reviewing" her or anything because that would be strange and presumptuous... just pointing it out is all).
more musings to come on the one-year ATX anniversary and the birthday that will officially put me in late twenties...
Tuesday, March 6, 2007
so when Nicole was in town this past weekend and i was trying to think of ways that would show her the magic that is austin's town lake hike & bike trail, i decided that biking was the answer. i dragged out the trusty ol' schwinny schwinn, we rented her a bike from one of austin's ten million bike shops (i swear everyone thinks they're lance armstrong here) and we hopped to it.
1.5 hours later, we were back at my apartment, tired and hungry but completely content. since then i have gone for several rides on the ol' S.S. and have been faced with a mind-boggling riddle that just doesn't make sense:
my ass is killing me from all that time on the wee little bike seat. KILLING ME. what doesn't make sense is that my ass is and always has been fairly well-padded (which i kinda like). so if one has a fairly well-padded ass, why would sitting on a bike seat cause such pain? shouldn't the natural padding act as a cushion, therefore protecting the rider from painful butt issues?
[shakes head in confusion]
Monday, March 5, 2007
- watching "coming to america" and "friday" ALL.THE.TIME in her dorm room ("sexual chocolate!")
- eating way too much late-night food from the greasy-ass castle (freshman 15, anyone?)
- doing girly college-freshmen things like curling each other's hair
- getting drunk for the first time in her dorm room on jack daniel's lynchburg lemonade
i was determined to show her a good time, atx-style, and give her a much-needed break from the life of a NYC attorney in my effort to live up to the title of "hostess with the mostest."
what follows below is a recap of our weekend, and even more reasons why austin is a fantastic place to visit at this time of year:
FRIDAY: a warm, sunny day. i pick nicole up at the airport and immediately we start chatting at the frenetic pace that always takes over when you're spending with an old friend that you haven't seen in a while. the chatting continues all the way to my apt in soco and then over margaritas and queso @ guero's (maybe not the most amazing tex-mex you can find in austin, but it's reasonably priced, has the chill laid-back atmosphere that characterizes austin and is extremely close to my apt). we devour an entire basket of chips and queso (with pico de gallo mixed in, of course) and decide to order another round of everything -- more margaritas, more chips, and another cup of queso ("queso: it's what's for dinner"). we wander around the neighborhood, poking our heads into the shops that are still open, taking in the beauty of austin's skyline @ night before heading back home for a quick shower and getting-ready session. nicole scolds me for getting lazy in my fashion choices ("but... but... i live in austin... i can go to bars in flip-flops!"), i sigh and drag out some ridiculously tight jeans and high heels and low-cut tops in an effort to live up to her NYC standards. :)
a mere $5 cab ride later, the bar-hopping begins. we begin with a round of martinis @ apple bar, including caramel apple martinis, chocolate martinis, and mexican martinis (with extra olives please!). we then head down to cuba libre for some freshly-made mojitos (served with a stalk of sugar cane), and then end up @ red fez for some hip-hop and dancing. i hadn't been there since the TOOTH INCIDENT OF '06 and am pleased to say that the drama was not repeated. and then... hmm. what did we do next? i think we wandered around aimlessly in search of food that was not a) nasty-ass pizza or b) mystery-meat hot dogs (amusingly named "the best wurst," which makes me giggle every time i see it) and ended up cabbing it down to magnolia cafe, austin's version of the 24-hour diner with the oh-so-ironic slogan of "sorry we're open."
SATURDAY: yet another warm, sunny day (although, as nicole so aptly put it, austin has this weird crazy temperature drop syndrome -- WCTDS for short -- where the middle of the day will be 71 degrees and sunny and come 9 pm it's 42 degrees and you're shivering. WTF?). we begin the day on an active note... renting a bike for nicole and taking a long, leisurely ride on the town lake hike & bike trail. oh the happiness! the swans cruising in the water! the turtles sunning themselves on every available surface! the sun sparkling on the water surface as kayakers glide through the glassy water! the happy dogs trotting alongside their owners on the trail! we took a few detours to take some pics and check out some downtown scenes, but all in all it was a fantastic ride.
after the ride we drove out to driftwood for, you guessed it, some salt lick bbq (faithful readers of JMWT will realize that i've taken every single one of my visitors there for the seriously delicious bbq, the hill country views, the amusing fact that hays county is a dry county and that you have to BYOB or make a pit stop at bubba's country store for some brewskis). several heaping plates of bbq later, we made our way back home for a much-needed shower/nap combination. later on, refreshed and rejuvenated, we headed out for the evening: a much more chill version of fri night, starting off with cocktails and appetizers on the rooftop of union park (heat lamps, pretty wooden furniture, pillows everywhere), some ginger-apple martinis @ saba (with the live music from next-door cedar street vibrating throughout) and then a stroll down austin's famous 6th street (adams morgan on crack for you DCers out there).
.... aaaaaand it's time for a sidebar! weirdest/lamest/funniest moment of the night, and also How to Spot Yellow Fever: as nicole and i were walking down 6th street this guy literally planted himself in front of me -- i.e. blocked my walking path -- to tell me that he was sorry to interrupt me (yeah right) but he just HAD to tell me how beautiful i was, oh man i am so beautiful, just wow, blah blah blah bullshit blah blah blah. i thank him and try to move on when he dropped the zinger: "what's your ethnicity?" i gave him a semi-glare of death (maybe a 6.0 on the 10-point deathly-gaze-o-meter) and said korean, to which he responded that his ex was korean and started trying to say korean things to me. boo. just boo. take your lame-ass game elsewhere, because i'm not interested, thanks.
so, this post is getting really long. let's starting speeding things a bit, eh? SUNDAY we went to stubb's for mimosas and buffet @ their gospel brunch (a college choir from lubbock, texas -- they were FANTASTIC, i really feel like gospel music should be sung by young, energetic choirs like that), stopped by the annual kite festival in austin's famous zilker park (home of ACL), wandered in and out of the shops in my neighborhood, bought some ridiculously expensive jeans at a super-posh jeans boutique, and went for delicious mexican food and sangrias at el chile.
the end. pics to follow another time...
Thursday, March 1, 2007
my friend dave's CD, the shanghai restoration project, which up until recently was only available for purchase via itunes... is now on amazon.com! and you should go! buy it! leave positive reviews! revel in his talent and the fact that purchasing this CD means that you can hear not only me but the lovely di johnston as well!
here are some additional exciting facts about the tracks:
- Introduction (1936) ~ theme song for upcoming worldwide Louis Vuitton advertisement campaign (Apr. 2007)
- Jade Buddha Temple ~ iTunes Japan Single of the Week (Nov. 2006)
- Miss Shanghai ~ featured on NBC’s “9.99” (Oct. 2006)
- The Bund ~ featured on ABC’s “The Evidence” (Jun. 2006)
- Babylon of the Orient ~ promotional track included in Sandisk’s Sansa e250 .mp3 players (May 2006)
- Lu Xun ~ featured in Rhapsody’s “Play Back the Night” advertisement campaign (Feb. 2006)
(we will now return you to your regularly-scheduled blogging)