A Very Caffeinated Post

I’m caffeinated and excited and unfocused, which means that this entry will be too. LET’S GET THIS STARTED.

Do you all like Cheap Trick? I like them. It’s not like I’ve listened to their albums or anything, but I played the shit out of their greatest hits collection back during the summer of 2007.  I saw them back in 2010 at SXSW and they put on a good show.

It’s hard to focus because it’s vacation week! I’m taking a few days off to go home and be with my family and my douchebag little dog.  Also, my birthday is this week.  I will be 28.  I don’t mind turning 28.  27 was a pretty revelatory year for me and I’m appreciative of the lessons and experiences I’ve gleaned from it.  But it’s strange to think that I’m so close to 30.

I cut my bangs on Friday.  Now that I’m not dying my hair different colors every three months, it’s easy to get bored with my look and I needed something to freshen it up.  I saw a picture of Paris Jackson last week and loved her bangs, and decided to cut mine too.  (Last year I dyed my hair darker after seeing Frances Cobain’s look. I don’t know why I get inspired by children of legendary musicians who are much younger than me, but whatever.)

THAT WAS A VERY DEEP PARAGRAPH.

I am in a “all the things” mode lately.  I want to learn basically everything. I miss the structure and rigors of a college class. Isn’t that weird? I miss college.  If I could go back, I’d do something like genetics or biochemistry.  If I was born with more brains, I’d do something like astrophysics. I love the idea of complex mathematics; I just don’t have the intellect to do it.  Now that my crazy field schedule is over, I’m getting back into guitar and drums.  I’ve purchased several drum books over the past several weeks, most of which may or may not be associated with Dave Grohl.  Picking up guitar again makes me realize just how lacking my knowledge of music theory is.  When can I get the time to learn everything I want?

This weekend, I was flipping through the station when I stumbled upon True Blood.  I haven’t been keeping up with that show.  I stopped watching it mid-season last year, even though it was an Alexander Skarsgard centric season. I don’t know; it just lost my interest.

It’s always an interesting experience watching it with non-fans. I watched an episode with a friend a couple years back and he thought it was gross. I watched about fifteen minutes with Boyfriend this weekend.  I told him I just wanted to watch until I caught a glimpse of Eric; he was accepting and tolerant of this.  As I was watching it, I couldn’t help being hyper-aware of how cheesy it looked.  “This was a good show,” I said as Eric and Bill revealed their fangs, started hissing at each other, and flew the air.

I changed the channel since Eric wasn’t even shirtless so it was a waste of time to watch  I was behind on the story lines.

Okay, I’ve rambled enough. Hope you all have a safe and Happy Fourth of July!

A Much Needed Break

Well, this crazy 7-day shift of field work is finally done.  I’ve been working on this project on and off since May. It was an interesting project.  It challenged me and put me outside of my comfort zone (driving for at least 8 hours a day; driving a 4-wheel drive pickup truck up hills).  It’s funny thinking back how, when I first starting working on the project, I was terrified at the prospect of driving up hills in the 4wd truck.  I was convinced that it would just roll over.  But it quickly became very easy and it went from being a worry to something I hardly thought about.

The report was submitted on Friday too, finally.  I tried my best to accommodate everyone’s schedule and do the best I could with it after putting in over a full day in the field every day.  Maybe it wasn’t as successful as I’d hoped, but whatever.  At least it’s done and I did my best with the circumstances.

Last week was full of interesting moments – nothing bad, but just enough frustrations to annoy a person.  Expense report issues – oh man, you guys don’t even KNOW how ridiculously Office Space-y these expense reports can get.  Making really stupid driving mistakes since I was so exhausted. Oh! And getting a speeding ticket. I got that on Friday morning.  That really topped off the week. I mean, I deserved it.  You can only go 65 mph in a 50 mph zone for so long before getting caught.

I got stopped in March in a notorious speed-trap. I don’t know how fast I was going; fast enough to get a ticket. My registration was also expired for nearly three months. But I was all dressed up, and I’m not saying that this is why I got out of the ticket(s), but I find it interesting that I was given TWO warnings.  (When does that happen?!) But this time, I was in my field clothes without makeup and looked like a 16-year-old girl emerging from gym class. I was definitely getting a ticket.

Oh well.

I took a day off since I basically would have imploded without one.  I slept until ten this morning and have been lazily lounging on the couch all morning.  I wanted to go running since I am trying to get back into decent running shape (not marathon shape), but it’s getting hot outside, y’all.  The AC is much more appealing.

I have more vacation time scheduled soon; a half day Friday, some time off next week for the 4th of July (and my birthday.  Am I really turning twenty-eight?)  I feel guilty for taking some time off, but I need it.  Also, probably everyone else is too, so why stay in the office when no one is there?

I think I will spend today learning this song. I love it:

(Don’t worry, Boyfriend, this song is not about you.) I just love the set-up of the song, the breaks in the verses.  The whole album is actually pretty good.  I’ve always been more partial to Fiona Apple than Norah Jones, but I have been liking her more lately.

A Typical Night in South Texas

I have briefly mentioned that there is nothing to do in my hometown.  Luckily, my brother and I have a good set of friends here to hang out with.  In my hometown, you can do the following things at night:

1.  Go out and drink.  I’m all for house parties, but I’m not a big fan of going to bars or clubs for the purpose of drinking. I rarely, if ever, choose this option.

2.  Movies.  We’ve pretty much exhausted the movies this week.

3.  Drive around aimlessly and do things like go on a deserted playground at night while sipping a horrible Four Loko that your friend picked up for the group as a joke, walk in a deserted field next to a supposedly haunted building to see who wimps out first, or walk in a deserted, dimly lit, creepy park to see how much adrenaline your body can produce in one night. NOT THAT I’VE EVER DONE ANY OF THESE THINGS.

4.  Game night with friends (this happened the other night, and was very fun).

5.  Pool or some variant of the sort.

Tonight, my brother and I met up with friends at a pool hall.  I’ve only been to this pool hall maybe twice, including tonight.  It’s been here for at least 10 years.  “It’s closing tomorrow,” one of our friends said when we walked in. “Oh why?” I asked.  “But where are people going to play pool now? I thought it was getting business.”  “Dude, look around,” my friend said.  The hall was mostly empty.

Oh, so I guess that’s why it’s closing.

Tonight, the scene was typical for our hometown. It never fails to be entertaining in an ironic way.  The following things happened:

1.  The boys spotted a chick who clearly was confusing her panty hose for actual pants.

2.  The music changed from good 90’s alternative rock to rap as the normal clientele started filtering in.

3.  Speaking of which, two Lil Jon lookalikes occupied a pool table right next to us.

4.  A man was going from table to table, selling tamales from his cooler.

Ah, hometown.  Don’t ever change.

Have You Missed Me, Lovelies?

Hello my dears.  It has been quite a week.

On Sunday, I flew to Philly to hang out with my cousins and uncle.  My cousin Amanda took the week off to spend with me.  After our week together, she calls me her second sister. She is the sister I have never had.  I already miss her to pieces.

During our week, we visited some awesome small little towns and got some really cool gifts for the family.  I visited three states total: Pennsylvania, New York, and New Jersey.  For people who do not live in Texas, this may not be a big deal.  Since the closest state border to me is at least 6 hours away, I get kind of excited about being able to walk across a bridge and be in an entirely new state.

And yes, I was able to take a train to my beloved NYC and spent an entire 12 hours there.  I think we walked an equivalent of ten miles. For anyone who has a working knowledge of NYC, we walked from Penn Station to Battery Park, Battery Park to the Brooklyn Bridge, Brooklyn, and back over from Brooklyn to Manhattan.

We capped off our week by seeing a concert.  Maybe you have heard of them?  The Foo Fighters?  It was general admission, which means I GOT TO SEE DAVE PRETTY MUCH THE ENTIRE TIME.  HOLY SHIT.  I still haven’t quite processed that I saw him yet, even though my ears are still ringing and my voice is hoarse.

Yeah, I ordered the tickets back in July, but spared you all the “OH CRAP I’M SEEING DAVE IN X WEEKS” because I love you guys.

I still fucking hate flying.

I still want to recap my trip from last year, so I promise I will do a shorter recap of the trip I completed in 2011 sometime before I reach menopause.

I hope you all have had a great week.  I sure did.  And I still have a marathon to run Sunday, wow.

Epic East Coast Trip Part 2: Amish Country and Philly

So I realized recently that maybe I should blog about the rest of my East Coast trip.

“Woman,” you may say, “that trip was a year ago.  Why even bother blogging about it?”  But it was such an amazing trip, and I have pictures and stories from it that I would love to share.  It was a year ago, and it was such an adventure for me.  I only blogged about one part, which was the flight to Philly. You can read it here, but I can sum it up for you in a couple of sentences – I went on a flight for the first time in 17 years.  Did I mention that I have a huge fear of flying?  Ensue accidentally annoying my fellow passengers, attempting not to go into the fetal position when landing, and lots of worried glances at flight attendants every time the plane did something I found suspicious, i.e. every thirty seconds.

As to why I never finished blogging the rest of my trip – I may or may not have been distracted after my return by trying to get with someone who was just leading me on, which led to my being more interested in blogging Jeff Buckley/Nick Drake/Ryan Adams songs and thinly veiled entries about sadness and frustration rather than pictures of my trip.

I will split the rest of my trip into three parts – Philly, Washington D.C., and New York City.

I spent Friday in Pennsylvania with my family.  My uncle, aunt, cousin Amanda, and I all bundled into my uncle’s car, and he took us on a tour of the countryside.

I’ve lived in Texas for sixteen years at this point, so I had completely forgotten what it looks like to see color changes in the leaves.  In Texas, leaves go from green to dead.  I was amazed at the beautiful colors on the leaves, and took about fifty pictures of tree landscapes.

My uncle took us to see the Amish/Mennonite country.  I was fascinated that the horse/buggies would be sharing the road with cars.  We stopped at a Mennonite-owned eatery called the Village Farm Market in Blue Ball.  I ordered a chicken sandwich and some snickerdoodle cookies.  I cannot fully stress how amazing these items tasted. I just cannot.  My cousin and I were amazed.  I think that was seriously the best food I had on my trip.  Everything was fresh and homemade, and the taste was just phenomenal.  If you are ever in Amish Country, you must stop here. You will not be disappointed.

Later that afternoon, my family took me into downtown Philly.  My cousin had a loft downtown, so it was a perfect time to explore the City.  We covered a surprising amount of landmarks in a short time.  The line for the Freedom Bell was too long for me to consider standing in it, so I walked by a window, saw it, and was content. I  saw Betsey Ross’ house and walked in the oldest neighborhood in America.  My family and I took pictures by the Love Park Fountain.  Amanda and I went into a Masonic Temple, intrigued by its inherent secrecy, but the rest of the building had closed to visitors.  I surreptitiously tried to snap a picture, but it came out blurry.

We also stopped by Reading Terminal Market.  I walked inside of it, amazed at all the little shops and markets.  This is when I was first reminded that East Coasters do not have the patience of Texans.  My aunt and I were discussing what we wanted to eat.  The cashier finally snapped, “You guys going to decide what you want or just stand there?”

And of course – I ran up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art just like Rocky.  What do you expect?  I was actually a little disappointed because it seemed a lot more difficult to climb in the movies.  I didn’t find it all that difficult.  We still threw our hands in the air at the end in victory, and took pictures next to the Rocky Statue.  My cousin Kenny humped the statue’s leg, which was pretty entertaining.

What was also really entertaining about this trip is this was two days before Halloween, so we were able to see some interesting costumes.  We walked behind a couple heading to a party.  The man was dressed like Jack Nicholson from The Shining.

Later that night, we went to a nice restaurant called Marmont, where I had crab cakes and shish kebabs.  It was so tasty.

I loved Philadelphia.  I thought it was a beautiful city and really enjoyed the historical attractions.

After our long but exciting day, we sleepily headed home.  Tomorrow was going to be a long day – we were headed to Washington D.C.!

I promise I’ll try to post the rest of my trip this week, and not like, next year.

Until then, enjoy some photos.  This is me in the photos, I was still blonde back then.

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Vacation

This morning, the Sephora gift card I received for Christmas was burning a hole in my pocket, so even though I went to bed at 4 in the morning (for no reason other than watching movies and talking with my brother), I woke myself up at a reasonable time so I could go shopping.

I bought a version of this kit:

It’s not the exact same kit as listed here – for instance, instead of a scrub, I got a lip balm.  But I’m excited to try it out since the cleanser has done wonders for my skin. I will keep you posted on how it works.

So far my vacation has been very relaxing and lazy.  I have been relaxing with family and friends, watching movies, reading a lot, and eating more than my poor body can handle.  I seriously need to detox from all this holiday eating. I’ve been having a lot of caffeine and it’s a vicious cycle – I crash in the afternoon, sleep for two hours and then am wide awake in the evening.  This week I will get back on track by running and getting better sleep. I also have to work some this week (yay).

I hope you all are having a great holiday season.

Epic East Coast Trip Part 1: Thursday, the Dreaded Plane Ride

I have to do these in installments or else they would be 9 pages long and no one would read them.

I must have gotten an hour of sleep the night before my trip. I’m sure you all know how apprehensive I was about the flight. I may not have explained that flying is my biggest fear.  It is.  I liked it the one time I did it when I was younger, but in between then and now, I developed a huge fear of it. I think the reason is all the plane crashes in the 90s that the media talked endlessly about. I still remember them – TWA Flight 800, the ValuJet crash, the SwissAir crash.  I began to think that dying in a plane crash would be a horrible way to die.  During the years, I looked up plane crash statistics and crash causes, and freaked myself out about the whole thing.  I was not looking forward to this flight, as you could tell.

I woke up at 4 after a fitful night’s rest and felt apprehensive but excited at the prospect of seeing my family in Philadelphia.  The SuperSaver shuttle showed up on time at 5:15, and we had a quiet ride to the airport. Thanks to the lack of traffic, I was there before 5:45.  By 6, I had already gone through security. Unfortunately, my flight wasn’t until 8:05, so I had a ridiculously long time to get nervous.  I walked around the bookshops at the airport, and saw the Reader’s Digest cover of “50 THINGS YOUR PILOT DOESN’T TELL YOU.” Of course I read it. The only thing that made me feel better was the part that said it’s virtually impossible for turbulence to cause a crash. That’s nice.

Then around 7:45, we started boarding.  As I was stepping into the plane, I had a feeling of dread, where I wanted to turn around and not board it. Then I thought how disappointed my family would be, and how I would be wasting the money if I didn’t take the trip, so I did it anyway. I took a window seat behind the emergency exit, because I read if you sit within 5 rows of the emergency exit, your chances of survival are greater in the event of an emergency.  Then I had to suffer the interminable wait between boarding and takeoff.  As much as I dreaded takeoff, I just wanted to damn thing to fly already so I could get it over with. I’d forgotten the feeling in your gut as the plane lifts off the ground. I took a deep breath and told myself to calm down.  Then I looked at the downtown skyline as we turned away from the City and thought, “That’s where I would be right now if I weren’t on this plane.” That calmed me down a little. Then I thought, “I can’t believe I’m actually on a plane.”

There’s something about confronting your greatest fear that gives you satisfaction, but it’s hard to feel that satisfaction 36,000 feet in the air. Likewise, it’s hard to comfort yourself with the statistics when you feel every single bump and you’re so precariously high off the ground.  I was so nervous and hypersensitive to every single sound, vibration, and banked turn.  I had brought reading material with me but was much too nervous to read any of it.  I started writing a song and got through maybe a verse and chorus before I couldn’t focus anymore.  At one point I had to go to the restroom and felt bad that my aisle partners had to stand up to let me by. I spilled part of my drink on the man sitting next to me as I was getting up, so I pretty much felt like an asshole.

And landing. I hate it. Here’s why – remember that Buffalo plane crash last year, where the pilots were chatting instead of noticing ice building up on the plane? They crashed during the final approach.  I read all about that crash and as I saw the plane slowing down and making these banked turns, I thought of that crash and thought, “WHY IS THIS HAPPENING, ARE WE CRASHING?”  Ridiculous.  After we landed in Nashville, the man sitting next to me asked, “Are you home yet?” “No, I have one more flight,” I said.  He grimaced.  It was obvious to anyone how frightened I was.

The second time we took off, it was a little easier but not by much. I had to use the restroom again but since there was an elderly couple sitting in the other two seats, I didn’t want to make them stand up.  I turned on the Foo Fighters and felt calmer on this flight than the last.  Landing still freaked me out, especially those damn banked turns.  The woman sitting beside me noticed how nervous I was and started talking to me to make me feel better. I was so freaking happy when we landed, you have no idea.

I collected my luggage and walked into the airport, expecting to see my relatives by the gate.  I didn’t see them so waited dutifully for ten minutes before calling my aunt. “You have to walk out of the terminal,” she said. “They don’t allow us next to the gate anymore.”  Shows you how long it’s been since I’ve flown.  So I collected my carry-on bag and walked excitedly out of the terminal. I saw my aunt and uncle waiting for me and waved wildly.  It was emotional for me to see them since it had been so long. I was so happy to see them.  What’s amazing about a loving family is all this time could pass and when you see them again, it hardly feels like anything.  I had been a little girl the last time I saw them, so I know it had to have been weird to see me all grown up.

We drove home while I marveled at the beautiful East Coast landscape. It had been so long since I’d seen an actual fall, with real color changes in the leaves and everything.  The weather was actually warm, in the 70s.

We stopped at an Italian market first before heading to my aunt’s house, and my aunt picked up all the essentials – mozzarella, prosciutto, biscotti, Italian cookies, and torrone.  Then we went to her house.  Three of my four cousins were there – Tony, Kenny, and Amanda (the other, Alex, lives in England).  I gave them all big hugs. It was so good to see them again. Then we all sat and talked.  They are all really cool, intelligent people, so we hit it off right away.

My aunt made pasta arrabiata for dinner, and it was magnificent.  Amanda had to go to work, but Tony and Kenny stayed and told stories so funny that I was about ready to choke. Then we all watched TV afterwards. They are a very close-knit family like mine so I felt right at home.  Then Amanda came home, so we talked and watched TV for a little.

I went to bed feeling so happy to be with my relatives, and proud of myself for having confronted my biggest fear – if not successfully, it at least was an honest attempt.

Stay tuned for Part 2 – Philly!