Monthly Archives: January 2013

1,380 Miles, some desert running, and a puppy

As I write this, I am sitting on the dog bed next to a (finally) sleeping puppy who has only recently abandoned her efforts to help me type. I cannot rest the heels of my hands on the laptop, because they are skinned raw, and Lewis is dead-to-the-world asleep. The sign of a truly productive vacation is when upon return home Lewis can’t stay up past 9, and I can’t fall asleep until after midnight.

Things lined up rather marvelously this weekend, if I do say so myself. A concert coincided with an important anniversary. A race with some unused vacation time. A spay surgery with a road trip. The results were five days of patchwork vacation held together by the Steve Jobs biography on audiobook.

Day 1)

Austin. We cashed in a “Friends and Family” rate at Hotel Saint Cecilia so that we could design-geek/beat-geek out. We also conducted research on counterintuitively veggie-based foods, which on South Congress mostly just means we ate out. To be honest though, as much as I love anything leek-based I would have been content with the minibar at the hotel…Central Market has nothing on Liz Lambert’s minibars.




The whole trip was planned around a Heartless Bastards concert. The date of the concert, January 17th, happily coincides with the anniversary of the day Lewis decided not the be a heartless bastard, an instead to ask me out on a “real date”…


The band was amazing. Definitely a band that should be heard live, which was why is was particularly peculiar that we were surrounded by an unusually uncouth group. Not what one would expect in Austin, the standard bearer for indie music culture. My inner, snarky, guardian of all social contracts, we’ll call her Emily Post-modern, would like to send the following memos:

To the gorilla grinder requiring five feet of clearance on all sides: we’re not forming a dance circle around you. We’re trying to avoid the splash zone of your Lone Star. And the girl you met five minutes ago with the line, “That’s a beautiful name,” is not making up a new dance move, she’s trying to get away.

To the guy whipping out disco moves while the rest of us do the Buster Bluth: I think you’re cool, but the girl with whom you are obviously on a first date  looks a little uneasy.

To the sorority reunions happening in front of and behind us: talking over the music makes your voices sound fat.

Day 2)

More Austin. We check out vinyls from the front desk (it’s that kind of place) and Lewis makes the most of the outdoor shower (yes, that kind of place).



Day 3)

Big Bend. We headed out early in the morning for the National Park, armed with Steve Jobs’s biography on Audiobook. Which made us so glad to arrive at the headquarters of the Big Bend Ultra Run where your choices for company were happy, sun-dried, endorphin-fueled nature nuts…or no one for hundreds of miles. Either choice seemed better than imagining myself in the company of Steve Jobs circa 1982.


We hiked to an amazing waterfall. In the middle of Big Bend. Amazing. Lewis tells me that it is great for skinny dipping when not serving as the meet-up point for three generations of a family reunion, which it was at that moment. Lewis, though intensely private, is an avid streaker and skinny-dipper. I, though intensely public, am neither.




IMG_0404[1]Day 4)

The Race. Last year we ran the Big Bend Ultra Run 50K. After nearly losing my religion, I declared that I hate trail running and had no desire to do anything of the sort ever again. So this year we registered for the 25K, employing theory that stopping half way through the 50K would have made me incredibly happy. Ergo, if I ran a race half the distance, I would be incredibly happy.


We we right. It was great.

Other than the moment I caught sight of the finish line and forgot to watch where I was going.



We met up with Lewis’s parents for dinner and soaked in the views of the Chisos, as the medic informed me that soaking the Rio Grande or the hot springs with open wounds was ill advised. I drank a soda and a beer. One for the race. One for the road rash.


Day 5)

The Long Road Home. We piled back in the car with Steve Jobs (having had all the laid-back, balanced people we could take) and headed back to Marathon for breakfast. The Burnt Biscuit Bakery is always an entertaining stop, so we made it and were regaled on why there were flowers coming out of the coffee roaster while we feasted on fried pies (I’d run out of reasons for indulgences, so this one was just a plain old indulgence).


At exit 477, we took a detour to Marble Falls, to meet the newest member of our family. Florence McNeel (formerly Chloe the rescue rottweiler) rode home in my lap, finally fully vetted and ready for her new home. At this point, Lewis, who bikes to work most days, had been driving for five straight days (except when he was running across the desert). I knew he was exhausted, and wondered if the two-hour detour to fetch Florence had been the right call.



I need not have feared. Lewis’s assessment after 1,380 miles: “If only all long road trips ended with a puppy.”

How to live a life worthy of teenage cult cable

Hey there, girls! So, you want to live the glamorous life of your onscreen BFFs? Look no further, ‘cuz I’ve got all the inside secrets on how Aria, Serena, Blair, Spencer, Hanna, and their posses manage to keep their blood pressure sky high without having to get fat.

Where to be:

  • Conduct all of your most dubious business in front of open windows. This includes 1) confrontations with persons whom you previously pretended not to know, 2) kisses you should not be bestowing or receiving, and of course, 3) perplexed staring. Perplexed staring is not dubious, but it gives your stalkers time to snap some photos of you in a flattering pose for once. (Note: make sure you have a stalker. If you don’t have one yet, just change clothes in front of your open window.)
  • Another great place to conduct business: the rain. If it’s raining, go outside! This is prime atmosphere for kissing, crying, hunting, and hiding. Since those four activities make up 90% of your waking hours, chances are if you stand in the rain long enough, you’ll get to maximize your investment.


How to speak:

  • Make sure to be totally obvious when you are lying or upset. The best way to do this is to eliminate the natural pauses from conversation. Note to self, you can never shift your eyes too much.
  • Lying is always in your best interest. But if you must tell the truth, make sure to blurt it out in haste, including lots of redundant details. If you must share, over share. Preferably in public with maximum emotional casualties.
  • This adage will help you make wise choices in tricky situations: If it’s not worth hiding from someone you care about, it’s not worth doing.
  • Just because your mouth is open doesn’t mean words need to be coming out of it. Staring slackjawed into a crowd (or just space) is a great way to signal to frenemies, nemeses, and tender-hearted-manchildren that you are emotionally vulnerable.
  • Don’t waste your brain cells explaining yourself to those outside the loop. Answer all questions with the same question, but change the emphasis of the words and heighten the intensity from anxious curiosity to indignant fury. For example:

Rightfully Worried Parent: What are you doing?

Teenage Cult Diva: No, what are you doing?!?


Vacuous-but-Hot Boyfriend: Are you telling me the truth?

Teenage Cult Diva: Are you telling me the truth?!?

Social scene:

  • Always pause when entering social gatherings, to survey the crowd. Despite being the prettiest girl in the room, it’s always a safe bet to look mildly uncomfortable and shy. To be convincing, simply  imagine that the rules of the universe might have been recently turned on their head, and you could spend the night as a miserable wallflower. This will also give the nerd who is hopelessly in love with you time to pine while you search for the hair-model/misunderstood-bad-boy you were hoping to find.
  • On that note, live in an affluent community with plenty of semi-formal events. Fashion shows, charity dinners, dances, and at least one masquerade ball. Masquerade balls are a total necessity because you get to look fancy and mysterious at the same time. Schedule all confrontations with the baddies around a masquerade ball for maximum thrill.

  • Masquerade or not, remember that, for you, every day requires a costume. The more improbable the better. First off, you’re going to have to get up early to get all that hair and make up in place. And forget ever breathing, eating, or feeling your toes again. Next, you’re going to need to requisition a substantial line item in your parents’ budget for keeping this up. (Note: you’ll need to find yourself some parents who live in Siberia or under a rock or something, because half of what’s in your closet is what was once considered hosiery).  Chunky wedges and impossibly high heels are a must, as you need to be able to fall down if a baddie is chasing you.
  • Another benefit of living in an affluent community: beach houses, lake houses, etc. Great locations for making future secrets. Which you should hold onto until the opportune moment when you can remember all of the over-informative details so that you can publicly vomit them out all over your friends who knew you were hiding something (because of your shifty eyes and refusal to answer direct questions…)

Basic High Drama Etiquette:

  • Never turn off your phone in intimate situations, as you should always be expecting scandalous texts and emergency phone calls. But leave it lying around if at all possible.

  • Rushing and storming are the only ways to leave a room. The only ways.
  • The most versatile excuse for getting out of situations you don’t like: “I just can’t do this right now.” Also useful: “I want to tell you, I just can’t right now.”
  • Always remember your priorities. No matter how urgent the stakeout, deadline, or escape, there is always time for a breathless heart-to-heart with your estranged boyfriend (preferably at a masquerade or in the rain). Fortunately for you, while those conversations endure painstaking hours for most of us, you’ll be able to reunite, kiss, interrogate, and abandon him in the course of one dance or cup of coffee.

I guarantee, if you follow these simple steps, your life will very much resemble the addictive cable fantasies we all love so very much.

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New Year Holiday in Not-Brazil

I didn’t do a lot of reflecting on the turn of the year as 2013 approached and 2012 eeked to a close. But a couple of weeks ago, I was offered the opportunity to close the year out with a bang. Or rather, um estrando. A client canceled his trip, leaving a vacant room up for grabs in a Rio de Janeiro hotel. On Copacabana beach. With a view of the New Years fireworks.

The trip to Rio was the ultimate way to “stick it to” 2012, a year that was full of upheaval and bad news. Hop on a plane, soak up some sun and order room service. Be jetset. Come out on top.

It’s not uncommon for me to close chapters of my life by skipping town. A good international cleansing to bookend seasons of growth, struggle, incubation, or serenity.

After a last minute scramble and a lot of tension (can Lewis go? can we get visas in time? plane tickets are how much???), it didn’t work out, and thus I am blogging from my home office, not a Club Room overlooking the Rio nightlife. And the holiday I had was entirely different than the holiday I passed up.

Instead of a plane, I hopped on a Megabus. I guess instead of jetset, I’m coachset.


Instead of the concierge, I hung out with old friends (Rex and Lee are not pictured, but they came to visit on a night that I would have been in transit).


Instead of Copacabana Beach, I sat in a cozy coffee shop on Guadalupe Street in Austin. The people watching was just as good.


Instead of room service I had Kerbey Lane Pumpkin Pancakes (once at the restaurant, and then again at home with this exotic local…)

IMG_0231[1]Instead of in-flight entertainment, I did a lot of this:


And instead of fireworks from a Club Room in Rio, I watched them from my own bed. In addition to the official display downtown (which we can see to the south), last night it was hard to tell if 2013 or a revolutionary militia had arrived in Dignowity Hill. Fireworks are a major budget line item for our neighbors.


Compared to a trip to Rio, yes, it was a low-key holiday. But it’s a more fitting way to say goodbye to 2012, the year of bad news. Rather than fleeing to South America to dazzle the year into oblivion, it exited through a sieve. Staying home I realized that there were a lot of things from the past 12 months that I don’t want to leave behind. And those things have passed through Christmas and into the new year. I love my friends. I love my husband. I love gingerbread pancakes. And I love our city. God is on the throne. I hope that some things stay just the same in 2013.