One of my favorite things to do is to introduce people to boba and watch their facial expression change as soon as they have a ball in their mouth. Really, not being ironic here.
I dragged Sugarface to IKEA about a month before we started dating and then paid him with pizza to help me build a table and bookshelf. I still giggle at the memory of his IKEA commentary on our trip there. He pointed at a map and said in a leveled voice, “Oh look, a map of my personal hell.”
During my last visit to Houston, my mom showed me a short letter I had mailed to her. She is not the kind of person who saves physical things for sentiment but what I said in this letter meant so much to her that she continues to read it off and on. It reminded me to take more time to write more love letters. This link was another reminder. I should warn you, you might cry!
My friend Thomas asked me, “Next time you’re in Houston, do you wanna try to explore the underground cistern with me?” UH, YAS!
One of the perks of unemployment is having enough time in the morning to do Morning Pages again. It’s mentally cleansing and I start my day with less noisy mind chatter. See the video by the author who came up with Morning Pages.
And while we’re on the topic of movies, here is a movie analysis of the only movie I’ve seen 3 times in theatre. Spoilers ahead! If we ever have coffee in person, I can tell you my story about this story.
I started July with a middle of the week visit to one of our creeks in Austin with Sugarface and his pup. Every time I find myself doing something fun during normal work day hours I make sure to be grateful for one of the perks of unemployment. We then drove eight hours to Arkansas to spend Fourth of July with his family. It was a perfect few days spent barefoot in our bathing suits and eating amazing home-cooked meals.
My friend Treavor came to visit me that next weekend and gifted me early birthday presents to add to my home library. We talked really late into the night, watched Magic Mike XXL, which we both really enjoyed, and worked to find work in coffee shops.
I joined Sugarface during one of his work outings. Again, as I sat under a tree with him in the middle of a Tuesday, I thought to myself that this could have only happened while I’m in between jobs. Along with the lunch dates we’ve had.
July really had wonderful weekends. The third weekend I spent in Chicago with girlfriends. I went with my current roommate, a former roommate who now lives in Florida, and a friend I often travel with. In Chicago I met up with my friends who live in Chicago, one of whom was a former roommate! I could start a sisterhood of lovely women I’ve had the pleasure of living with. There was a moment in time prior to this trip where I wondered if it was prudent of me to go on a trip while unemployed. I’m glad I went! It was mostly paid for by the time I was laid-off and it produced such sweet memories. We went with the purpose of eating and singing along with Taylor Swift. I wish I could show you how excited my roommate was when Taylor surprised us with Sam Hunt.
The last weekend I spent with my girlfriends again. Stephanie picked me up bright and early with breakfast and treated me to great conversation while floating on stand-up paddle boards. My roommate and I hosted our monthly brunch, our theme being “Totes Toast”.
I ended the month turning another year older, feeling very loved with the gifts in the mail and cupcake and plant deliveries. On the actual day, Sugarface made me my favorite breakfast. I met up with my old coworker who was also laid off and we applied to jobs. I had lunch with my best friend and then dinner with Sugarface at my favorite restaurant. It was a quiet day and made me very happy.
Towards the end of June, I was laid off unexpectedly when my company downsized. The layoff has left me feeling really unsettled and insecure about my life. However, when I look through my images shared on Instagram in June, I’m surprised and pleased to see how happy my life is, even when unemployed. I started June wading the Green Belt with Sugarface and our dogs. I tried to force Bob the dog to enjoy swimming but he remains very much like me, a panicked swimmer. I bought myself peonies and reveled in their short season.
Bob the dog and I took a weekend trip to Houston where I would leave him till mid-August. He stays with my parents when I travel and I had four weekend trips from the time of drop-off to August. In Houston, I met up with my friend Thomas and we practiced our night-time photography. Sugarface left for a conference for a week which is the longest we’ve been apart. While we were apart, I had a rough week of not only missing him but also getting laid off. I spent that week reeling and spending a lot of time in coffee shops job searching. I tried to fly to Arkansas to meet Sugarface after his conference and to spend time with his friends and family. I ended up flying halfway and driving the other half with a stranger. (Our connecting flight was delayed and then canceled so we split a rented car.)
Sugarface and I were reunited for a very relaxing weekend. The first of two consecutive weekends (second one being in July) in his hometown. He showed me his childhood home and I met his parents. The natural beauty of the lake and trees compounded with his mom’s amazing cooking and the kindness of his family and friends felt restorative.
Not depicted on Instagram, aside from that spontaneous road trip to Arkansas with a stranger I met while waiting for our soon to be canceled flight, was another ride with a stranger! This one less risky. Blacklane gave me a complementary ride to the airport in a luxury car. I was not otherwise compensated to try out their service or obligated to tell you about them. This is the third time I have used their service and have felt quite spoiled every time. Also not depicted, I officially joined the board of the Austin Food Bloggers Alliance as their Social Chair!
I’ve put off writing about May because I knew I’d fail in really capturing its weight. Can I just be honest in public and say it scares me to be happy? I guess with my experience with grief and loss, either very personally or through empathy and sympathy for my loved ones and through exquisite fiction, for all the times I’ve been gutted by loss, it magnifies my fear of being happy and feeling loved and loving. It’s knowing that every story has its end and the more I fall in love with a moment, a person, a friend, the more overcome with joy I am, the bigger of a hole it will leave.
I’m so happy it scares me. And it’s a constant struggle to be present. To not worry about endings. To let joy lap at my feet or crash into my heart and smile for the experience of it all.
In May, I celebrated the beginning of a marriage of two of my friends. One of whom I forged a fast and intimate friendship with at the end of 2013 when she and I had simultaneous #lifechanges. Me the ending of a long term mostly unhappy relationship and her the beginning of a happy engagement. She offered me her condo to serve as my literal shelter and then provided me the figurative version of shelter through her generous friendship. In just a little over a year, we’ve had countless brunches, traveled to Greece, and by the end of my lease with her, I felt restored. It was an honor to be a guest at her fifth and last world-touring wedding reception. At her wedding reception, I was reunited briefly with my previous roommate who also lived at the condo I mentioned. We were seated at the same table and she met Sugarface and I made loose plans to visit her soon in Chicago.
I had a sort of last supper with Treavor. We had tacos and sat outside on a patio and said “til next time” as he embarked on an international trip.
I had my yearly reunion with girls I used to share a Youtube channel with. We drove 7ish hours from California to Utah and climbed Angels Landing. (Link to the blog post down below.) I returned to Texas to have a two day work week before borrowing a Cadillac from District Drive and driving 9ish hours with Sugarface to visit his siblings in New Orleans. One thing not depicted on Instagram was sharing a take out meal with him in the parked car right outside of Houston. They say one way to challenge a relationship is to be stuck in a car together for long stretches of time. I’m relieved that we do okay cramped in small spaces and with achey backs and legs. Our drive was dotted with a few bridges, each one promising to be THE BIG ONE. I’m still not sure where that big bridge stands.
In NOLA, I met Sugarface’s siblings and a Katrina refugee beagle. They’re all kind and witty, which didn’t surprise me. We traded stories and I tried to commit their stories to memory. I ate one of Sugarface’s favorite sandwiches and introduced him to one of my college friends at brunch. Two full days enjoying the humid air and the magnificent oak trees flew by too quickly before it was time to drive 10ish hours through scary storms and back to Texas.
Not depicted on Instagram was the record-breaking rains we had in Texas and the long uncomfortable wait for beignets.
I love all the common interests I have with my friends, but I also appreciate the differences. It’s the differences that challenge me and expand my horizons. I’ve mentioned last year that the Grand Canyon wasn’t high on my must see list but Ashley who is interested in seeing all the National Parks (multiple times even!) insisted we visit Grand Canyon last year. It was the first trip I took that wasn’t a metropolitan destination, my first hiking trip even. I loved it.
This year she made a compelling 10 point argument that we have to visit Zion National Park. I’m not sure why she went through the trouble of making a 10 point list as I’m certain all she had to do was say, “Hey! We’re going to Zion National Park this year!” and that would have sufficed. Ashley, Nicole, and I took a long weekend and hiked Zion, with Ashley as our experienced tour guide.
Nicole and I flew into LA on Friday and Ashley drove us across three state lines to Springdale, Utah just in time for a late night dinner, where weirdly, I had an exceptional meatloaf. Really. The next day we woke up after sleeping like logs and had a “late riser’s” breakfast before embarking on our hike to Angels Landing. Ashley once sent me a video of someone hiking Angels Landing. In that email sent last year, she said, “When we go to Zion, you might want to sit out Angels Landing.” That video did a better job conveying how amazing and awesome and scary the hike was than any of my photos. (Also, I was too busy holding on to safety chains to even try to capture the greatness.)
When we reached the top of Angels Landing, I knew that it was an important moment in my life. Ashley’s passion has become a little bit of mine. It also made me miss Sugarface. I texted him that night telling him I want to hike to awesome places with him.
The next day we hiked to Weeping Rock, Emerald Pool, and Hidden Canyon. We saw our first 360 degree rainbow at Emerald Pool, climbed a hanging sidewalk to get to Hidden Canyon, and let Weeping Rock weep on us. On the hike to Hidden Canyon, I was tired and hangry and when my hips got wedged in between two rocks, I fell apart in laughter that almost resulted in me peeing myself. Nicole asked me what was so funny. Through tears and laughter I said, “I’m stuck in between a rock and a hard place!”
On our fourth day together, we drove back to California, flanked by storms and ambushed by tumbleweeds. I didn’t know tumbleweeds were a real thing. Apparently you don’t want to drive through them as they get stuck under your car. We ended our last night together watching Pitch Perfect 2 and with late night conversation. The next morning we had breakfast and aggressively hugged each other at the airport.
I had already begun to miss these girls before I even got off the plane on the first day together. So you can imagine how much I miss them now. I’m both grateful and sad that we see each other once a year. I’m sad because it’s only once a year! Grateful because we make it happen despite living very separate lives in different corners of the country.
Every time I sit down to write these monthly recaps, I’m surprised by how much can happen in just a month. There was a wedding which entailed a trip to Houston with Sugarface where he met my parents for the first time, a four day work conference, and house sitting and taking care of a total of four dogs with Sugarface.
As usual, there were good meals with good friends. I spied a beautiful albino peacock peacocking during a lunch. I had a sweet Monday dinner with Treavor and Kim when she was in Austin for work. After which we laid in bed at the Austin Motel. We shared stories about our first kisses and asked each other how we decided to leave (anything or anyone in particular) and discussed what kind of festivals we’d organize if we were in the business of organizing festivals. We ended that night with a walk down Congress and talked an already closed restaurant into selling us cookies.
I also instagramed (and blogged) a unique DIY party where we dabbled in wood burning. Link down below.
Not depicted on Instagram was meteor hunting at midnight in a field where a bug repellent candle in a wicker basket served as a lantern. Oh! And I finally after many years of having a food blog, started a Facebook page for it. Give me a thumbs up would you?
I was going through my old photos to post a Throw Back Thursday on my Instagram account when I found photos from last July when I was road tripping through the Carolinas by myself. I drove to Charleston, South Carolina specifically to visit Angel Oak. Standing at 65 feet tall and believed to be over 1,500 years old, Angel Oak is by far the most magical tree I’ve ever had the pleasure of seeing in person.
If you are ever in the area or are like me and just want to be in the area, they are open 9-5 and charge no admission.
Sometimes I want to live in particular moments for forever. Or at the very least keep what happiness I’m feeling in the moment in a bottle somewhere so I can go back and just drink it in whenever I want. This fear of leaving perfect moments and having them soon forgotten is the driving force behind my taking a million photos and journaling.
I fulfilled one of my longest dreams in the month of March. I often made myself sick with fear of not being able to treat my parents to a much deserved vacation. They worked so hard and I was scared they may never retire or something terrible might happen before I could travel with them as an adult. My only memories of travel with my parents were a couple trips to Vietnam with my mom and some road trips when I was still in elementary school. So when I made Vegas happen in March, a destination my mom requested, it was the biggest sigh of relief and joy.
I lugged my tripod around the Strip to practice my night photography and felt like I struck gold when a double decker bus with blue lights drove by me just when I clicked the camera for a long exposure. Consequently, I took the coolest light trail photo I’ve ever taken.
I went on a couple of work day lunch dates with Sugarface. Off-site lunch dates always feel like a treat! I’m finding that most of the time I spend with him I want to bottle the feels to revisit later.
The spring flowers are in bloom and they make me happy when I have my DSLR around.
Not depicted on Instagram was a weekend in Houston to meet a long time friend of mine visiting from Miami and horrendous allergies from the pretty Spring flowers.
This year’s February brimmed with love-filled moments. Sugarface met one of the most important people in my life, Kimmy who feels like the keeper of all my memories. She told me later that she had a hard time believing that in just a dinner they have exchanged more words than she had with any other previous boyfriend of mine. This felt so good to hear. I’ve been accustomed to living independently of romantic partners and I now finally understand the bliss that is to be had when you actually share your life with a significant other.
Other love filled moments included booking travel for May with the former Totes Awesome Channel girls. Our last trip was a year ago when we visited the Grand Canyon. I also drove down to Houston to have a mini TAC reunion and first time meeting for me and Bri. We felt compact and cuddly in Bri’s king-sized bed. We only had one night since I committed to being a tasting judge at a cake competition in Austin that same weekend. We giggled obnoxiously all night and it felt like we just belong together. Alas, Roommate Ashley and I returned to Austin the next morning and Bri went back to California.