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Yes, I disappeared again. It was a heck of a few months sorting out what turned out to be a nightmarish move from Austin back to Denver. While I miss my Austin life and friends dearly, it’s great to be back in the “Sunshine State.” I’ll bring you up to speed on a few things, good and bad, and then we’ll just move forward like nothing ever happened.

Bad: Goodbye lakes

Great: Hello Mountains

Bad: Stepping into my future home to realize it was unlivable and my management company hadn’t taken care of it the last four years. (Real Property Management of Colorado)

Great: Waging a negative PR campaign against the bastards and realizing there is a market out there for “Revenge PR.”

Bad: Not having a home to move into when I arrived in Denver.

Great: Having the greatest friends in the world who gave me their basement and their brewery (ah, to wake up to the smell of hops each morning) to stay in while I repaired my home.

Bad: Leaving behind my chauffeur ants in Austin.

Great/ bad: Moving into my Denver home to realize I have squirrels and flies I can train to take their place. (For the flies, I have learned that spraying them with professional strength Mr. Clean bathroom cleaner, then grabbing them with a napkin is way better than smooshing their guts on your window. Plus, it cleans the window. Bonus.)

My new trainees

Bad: Leaving behind my Austin porch family.

Great: Gaining the horseshoe hoodlums (a group of daily drunks that put in a horseshoe pit between the sidewalk and the street. Each day they open the side door of their mini-van to provide music for the game of skill.) in my front yard and the homeless people who sleep in my backyard. At least they take my garbage out for me and dispose of their malt liquor bottles in the appropriate containers.

Bad: Leaving behind my Titos adoring friends in Austin.

The Tito's Sunday Funday Crew

Good: Rejoining my beer loving friends in Denver.

Bad: Leaving behind the live music capital of the world.

Great: Coming to find Denver now has a happening music scene.

Bad: Sabotaged yet another relationship.

Great: Got stellar advice from the greatest sister in the world: “You deserve someone that says ‘I cannot believe this amazing woman is available to me. I’m going to do whatever I can to make her mine before someone else does!’” Word, Michelle. Word.

Bad: Worst. Movers. In. The. World. I’ll spare the extended details for now, but the first thing they said when arriving at my place is, “Where do the homeless people hang out looking for work in Austin? We need a few more guys to move your stuff.” (Jet Van Lines)

Great: Another use case for “Revenge PR.”

Bad: Dad getting kicked out of the Brown’s game because a flask fell out of his sleeve during security check.

Great: Dad getting back into the game using another gate…flask and liquid inside intact! Brownies Win!

Cheering on the Browns!

Bad: My furnace blows a ¼ inch layer of dirt throughout my house daily.

Great: Perfect timing for my Dyson Christmas gift from my parents.

Bad: Gaining 10 lbs during the chaos of the last few months.

Great: Winter Clothes.

I’m sure there are many more I will recall over time, but for now I’d like to see if I can top the great year that 2010 turned out to be by focusing on crushing it in 2011! Happy New Year everyone!

Oh, and one more thing… I found a bird in my house. How ironic, given my lifetime love/hate relationship with the creatures. I was dozing off on my couch when something flew into the room. It was a red breasted robin, standing in the middle of my floor and staring at me with its beady eye. I opened my front door and pleaded with it to leave, but it just kept walking around. It sat on my couch for a bit, then headed over to my desk and checked on my work. I’m of course FREAKING out but he is just looking at me as if to say, “Do I really have to go?” Eventually he just sighed and gave in, slowly swaggering out my front door to the porch (Yes, I do believe birds can swagger). For a short second, I almost felt like asking him to come back in and hang out, then I wigged myself out about how the hell it got there and what other animals I was co-habitating with and headed over to sleep on Brie’s couch.

I’m still living in fear of waking up in the apartment of Ace Ventura, but alas, what would my life (and this blog) be if it weren’t for the drama!

Day one of the World Cup Dating Plan wasn’t a total bust, but I can’t say it was a complete success either. I’m going to call it a fact-finding trip. I needed to spend a day in the environment to assess how the people act and where the windows of opportunity are. Truth be told, I was having such a blast hanging with friends and cheering for the USA, that my mind was not on seeking out targets. Plus, that would defeat the purpose of finding a foreigner. During the England game, we set up a satellite office in Fado and we all were more absorbed in facebook and answering emails than anything else. I did learn that the English folks like to chant. It does not matter what it’s about… Could be “I’m England till I die,” or “I love beer,” or “the guy in the hat is a wanker.” One person starts the chant and the rest of the bar joins in. Its kind of fun. Although our “office” was set up right next to the chant leader, which got annoying after a while.

At one point I did have a gentleman come up and give me a World Cup sticker book. He said he saw me eyeing it (wha?) and “when you see a pretty lady coveting something, you have to give it to her.” Unfortunately, he had no accent and did not meet the height requirement. I know, cruel, but I only have a few weeks window. I need to stick to the plan. Am thinking Italy versus New Zealand tomorrow could be a great option. I’m going to the Passion Pit show tonight, so a 9am game is a bit aggressive, but hey, what’s the point in making a plan if you are not going to be dedicated?

In other news, the porch family has finally returned. I am not sure where they disappeared to for a week. Maybe they went on vacation, but they are back in full force. They were carrying speakers bigger than me into the apartment. They invited me to their party tonight. Must be a welcome back to the porch party. I also talked the guy who owns the pee shop to start carrying diet Mountain Dew. I’m really starting to make an impact on this neighborhood.

It took me 45 minutes to drive the one mile to downtown last night (yes, I am single-handedly keeping BP in business). There are three things that make Jen cranky: Extreme humidity, hunger ….. and traffic. Its Republic of Texas (ROT) Rally weekend in Austin. For this, everyone that owns, or pretends to own, a motorcycle within 300 miles of Austin rolls into town to take shots and do stupid things on dirty 6th street. It’s a mini-sturgis. Don’t get me wrong, I am not one of those haters of things that bring people to this ridiculously awesome city. I love the bikers. At least while I was sitting in the completely gridlocked downtown Austin I had AC, great music and glorious people watching.

HP and I used to say “Fucking trail of lights” every time we got stuck in traffic. This was because every year around Christmastime, Austin would roll out the Trail of Lights just a mere .25 miles from our apartment. Thousands of cars would line up for miles to drive through the park and gape at pieces of wood shaped like snowmen and presents lined with 25 cent twinkly lights. Meaning, we were pretty much shut-ins unless we were willing to fight an hour of traffic to get 3 blocks from our home. Its like fireworks. I don’t get it. Please explain to me again why we think it is so amazing to look at strands of lights wrapped around objects or explosions in the sky? They bore me. Beer please.

Side Bar: The only time I was ever stimulated by twinkly lights was the Pelzer light people. It was a neighborhood just outside of Greenville, South Carolina, where my parents lived. It was kinda white trashy. And this family would do up their house then wrap themselves from head to toe in lights and stand at the end of their driveway waving at people. That, for some reason, was highly entertaining. We went in the minivan and kept the side door open, drive by style. I hate shows like Cops and Dawg the Bounty Hunter because I truly feel embarrassed for the people that those shows exploit, but for some reason I enjoyed seeing these jackasses wrapped in 50 lbs of Christmas lights, wandering around their driveway. I bet the kids are now old enough to fight the tradition. “But Dad, I want to go TP Fatty Patty’s house tonight, I don’t want to stand on the driveway chained to a power cord waving at people. Plus Susan might see me.” “Son, you will wrap your ass in these lights and you will wave like the queen of the gay pride parade, because the money that people throw in this bucket to help pay for the electricity bill is going to send you to college!”

And we’re back. Now, I hear, the city is saving money by shutting down the Trail of Lights. No argument here. I’d much rather put up with traffic because all of the bikers in town. From now on, traffic, regardless of where it is or why, will be met with “Fucking ROT Rally.”

Me and Berta, stuck in the biker parade

I will live this weekend as if I had no car, because it will be sleeping in my downtown parking garage until Monday. After I literally hopped up on the sidewalk and took out two orange cones yesterday to finally put Berta to rest in the garage, I have no desire to finesse my way back home with that piece of machinery. That, and by the time I went home last night there was a bit too much vodka running through my veins to safely put this fine piece of human machinery behind anything with horse power.

Tonight is the tour send off and CD release party for an incredible band called Stonehoney. If you are in Austin, head to Threadgills South. These guys will blow you away. I just have to figure out how the hell I am going to get there. Forget calling a cab. It takes hours because of all the people that wish they owned Harleys and who want to get downtown to gawk at the real deal. Maybe if I just start walking that direction someone will let me hop on their hog…

Oh come on, we all have one.

So I’m at a fabulous graduation dinner for HP’s little bro. It was at Sullivan’s in Austin. My favorite place to get a yummy steak. And yummy steak I most certainly did get. But they squeezed in about 3 times more tables than should have been in that dining room because it was graduation weekend. I’m not talking a little bit crowded. I am talking log jam, parking lot, sardine style, nobody could move and we were all stuck to our seats due to “too many people eating and boozing in one room at the same time” issues. Anywho, that has nothing to do with what I am trying to say, but it makes me angry when restaurants do things like that, degrade my dining experience, to make the extra cash money. Plus, if there was a fire, you wouldn’t be reading this now.

So Kev, HP’s brother, was talking about his love for legos, and mentioned how he really wanted to build the lego version of the Death Star. To which his mom said, “you don’t have enough room in your tiny apartment for the Death Star.” To which Kevin said, “I could put it on my balcony.” To which his friend Andrew said, “Then that would show everyone what a big dork you are.” To which I said, “It’s like a dork beacon.”

Then I got to thinking about this dork beacon phenomenon, and came to the conclusion that we all have them. Sure, some shine brighter than others, but there is a little bit of dork in all of us and its impossible to keep it completely hidden. And, if you ask me, that is AOK. I’m a big dork. There are all kinds of dorks out there. I’m tolerant and rather adoring of dorkiness most of the time. Although, if your particular dork beacon is too much for me to handle, it may keep us in the friend zone.

So shine it bright and shine it proud, but here are a few that you should think about dimming a bit. Actually, these are more like dousche beacons, but nonetheless, kick the bulbs out on these suckers:

  • Nickelback (In your car, on your phone, in your iPod, in your head, anywhere)  = dousche beacon
  • Crocs or mandals (Man sandals. There are very few that can pull it off successfully. Flip flops are acceptable if you are by a pool, lake or beach, or you are consistently drunk) = dousche beacon
  • Puka shell necklace that you just can’t bring yourself to take off. Take it off.  = dousche beacon
  • Balls hanging from your trailer hitch (just don’t) = dousche beacon
  • Chains. around your neck, your ankle, your wrist or to walk your dog. = dousche beacon
  • Man purse. I know its tempting. I don’t know how I would carry all my shit without a bag. Especially with cell phones and what not. But don’t give into the temptation. If it goes over your shoulder, across your chest or around your waist, and it isn’t a duffel for your gym clothes or a messenger for your laptop,  its a purse. a purse is a purse is a purse. no.  = dousche beacon
  • Oh, you don’t get to hang your phone from your belt either. Sorry, I know I am being difficult.
  • Dogs smaller than 25 lbs that you didn’t inherit from someone. (Gay people are excluded from this one) = dousche beacon
  • Flesh colored or barely there beards. Yes, Spencer Pratt style. If you cannot grow it, don’t. You look stupid. = dousche beacon
  • Ed Hardy = dousche beacon

Meanwhile, I had a nice chat with my friend Brian last night. He used to work the party circuit downtown with HP and me back in the day. We were both downtown for dinner last night and were reflecting upon the fact that the area was crawling with people shining dousche beacons and women dressed like hookers. I mean, I love heels. I really do. They make me feel powerful and sexy. Under jeans or with an appropriate dress. But why o why do I now have to consistently compete with women that are in 8 inch heels, with their crotches barely hidden by minidresses and jumpers (who brought those back?). Oh wait, I don’t compete with them because I am pretty sure that I don’t want the men they attract…. BUT, Cosmo (the $9 one I bought in the Cancun airport) told me that all men are attracted to skanks. Literally. Those are the words that were in glossy print. Logically, men know skanks suck (in more ways than one), but intuitively they can’t help being drawn to the dirty.  Of course these mags can now add credibility to their claims by just saying Jesse James or Tiger Woods. Sigh.

Anyway. HP is in town. As are the rest of the Olsens. We went to the Highball last night. I’ve been avoiding it, thinking it was the latest gathering of dousche beacons, but I was pleasantly surprised. Love the people that work there. It has a cool vibe. And we sang the crap out of some kareoke in the hula room. Then HP and I kicked it old school style and had a dance party at my place until 4am. Yeah, just us. Pissing off my neighbors and refining our moves in my kitchen. At least we didn’t break out the tap shoes this time.

God love the Olsens. God love Jameson. God love Ciscos because I’m headed there for migas right now.

I am gradually being eased back into American society. As if there was someone watching over me, ensuring I didn’t go into shock from an abrupt assimilation attempt, I ended up with a Mexican cab driver taking me home from the Austin airport. As soon as I said I came in from Mexico, he spoke to me in Spanish the rest of the way and told me I was mui bonita. He also said if I had called him to pick me up and hadn’t just happened upon him, he would have brought me flowers. Then he asked if I was going out tonight. Yep, just as shameless at the guys in Mexico. He also refused to turn on the air conditioning.

So, I bought a $9 Cosmo at the Cancun airport. And by Cosmo, I mean the magazine, not the drink. Yes, NINE DOLLARS (not pesos). I have now regressed at least one year in intelligence from having read it too. That crap is horrendous.

What I learned from it, though,  is the word “vajazzle.” Yes, its the term for bedazzling your vajayjay. You can now have rhinestones line your runway. Apparently this is not new and I have been under a rock.  But, I still feel compelled to say something. I am horrified. And, if you know me, you know that I am not easily horrified. I cuss like a sailor and drink like a fish. I’ll never make the list for the worlds classiest people, no matter how long it is. But it is people that vajazzle and end up on Cops and Cheaters that are giving Americans a bad reputation. A reputation that I then have to overcome every time I travel to a foreign country. No wonder Salvador and the other ferry men immediately thought I would show them my chi chis.

Cut it out.

Oh, and my plants are dead.

Home sweet home.

It’s time. I’m about 5 months too late to call this a “new year, new me” moment, but what the hell? I’m turning over new leaves left and right.

It was about 60 days ago that I finally decided to take a giant swan dive off the corporate ladder. It only took me until my hair was falling out, my friends didn’t recognize me, I hadn’t had a date that scored better than take out Chinese and a Lifetime movie in a year, I dreaded getting up in the morning but couldn’t go to sleep at night and my 2-year-old niece told me I work too much. So maybe the decision was past due, but at least I got there.

The hardest part of all of this was finally just taking the plunge. So much anxiety and stress goes into coming to the conclusion to take control of your own destiny. What if I fail? What if I lose my home? Good God, what if I have to move into my parent’s basement in Sun City??? As I contemplated what to do, I received a lot of advice along the lines of, “Don’t quit until you have something else. You have a good stable job in a bad economy.” And you know, that advice was certainly sound. But the fact of the matter is, I had no interest in “something else”. It was time to see what I could do on my own. It was a burning desire that no one else could feel and a decision no one else could make for me.

I looked around, realized there was no one that would be affected by my poor decisions but me, and hell… I will always have Sun City if things fall apart. Plunge I did. And you know what? The hardest part is over. Once you step off the edge, there is nothing to do but do your best to make it work.

So I have spent the last few months a little bit stressed out, working my tail off and wondering whether I’ll make next months mortgage payment. But I once again have a full head of gorgeous hair, my friends welcomed me back to their lives with open arms, my family stands behind me and shines with pride… and dammit, I’m happy.

So, what I am trying to say is that I’m motivated to write again. For the first time in almost 2 years. You can probably guess that most of my posts will follow along this entrepreneurial journey I have embarked on, but for those of you who were with me on the last ride, don’t worry, you’ll still get a good healthy dose of bad date tales. That’s a leaf I probably haven’t turned over yet…

On February 12th, Mean Rachel wrote a retaliation to the recent findings that Austin is amongst the least stressful of 50 major cities in the US. She makes some very good (and funny!) points about Austin stressors and I find myself driven to back her up.

First of all, I would like to single out the people who actually had time to respond to this “poll” of the Austin metro area. Certainly it was not the huge base of young professionals in this city schlepping themselves and their laptops to their various places of work every day, putting in 14 hour days, then scrambling around town to take care of life matters (or to down a martini or two) in order to go back to bed and do it all over again in the morning. The poll results are “based on telephone interviews with 1,027 national adults.” Not 1,027 Austinites. 1,027 adults nationwide – all who actually still have a home phone and were there to answer it when the pollers came calling. My guess is the three people from Austin that actually participated were my friend’s 75 year old mother who spends her evenings at Threadgills and days sipping lemonade on the front porch or they were amongst the mojito draining, botox injecting Dallas infiltration waiting for their nails to dry so they can put on their sparkly shirts they wear as dresses and get in line for Qua.

The fact of the matter is… If you are anywhere between the ages of 23 and 40 (the largest population group in Austin), life is fucking rough. Whether it’s the increasing pressure of squeezing out every last ounce of productivity our bodies can produce for the corporate powers that be, scraping up the money to live downtown while money bags moves into the latest high rise next door, or the disappointment that comes with being chronically single while living in “the country’s best city for singles,” things aren’t always easy in the “Texas oasis” that is Austin.

We are just lucky to live in a city that is so freaking cool that most of us recognize we could be a bunch of stressed out shells of beings living in some worn down city with nothing to do but braid each others’ hair while texting in our votes to American Idol or going postal at the local mall rather than stressed out people of substance decompressing on the lake, on a patio in the sun or at one of the other thousands of local destinations Austin is proud to claim as ours.

So I know I explained the whole traumatizing experience when I was 2 and chased by a peacock at the zoo. That was the inciting incident of my fear and loathing of birds. The swallows that dive bombed me while I mowed the lawn in Omaha (seriously, my neighbor mowed with a tennis racket), the pigeon that dropped green poo on my head in NY, and the irritating bird crap and noise that came with my ex neighbor who we referred to as Ace Ventura, did not help matters. I am telling you, there is something about birds. They know things. They know I am afraid and they mock me. I have witnesses. Every time I am around them they swoop extra close to me or come way nearer to my food than I am at all comfortable with.

Anyway, today I made a breakthrough. I shared a moment with the birds. I sat outside to eat my lunch at Whole Foods. This in itself was a huge accomplishment as anyone who has been there knows this area is shared with the birds- as equals. At first my skin was crawling but then I formed a special bond with a bird that had a stub for one leg. He was bathing in the water, flying around, and seemed pretty darn happy. Not sure how you know if a bird is happy but just go with it. Anyway, I don’t what all of this means, but for some reason I don’t think it is creepy any more that every day at 5:30pm millions and millions of birds line themselves up on every tree, building edge, electrical wire and stoplight pole along 6th street. All of them at the same time. All of them facing the same way…

Wait… that IS still creepy! There are no other animals that come out en mass like this, line themselves up exactly 61/2 inches apart and chat with each other. Wouldn’t we think it was weird if all the mice or all the squirrels in the city lined themselves up at the side of the same road every day at the same time… as if they were watching a parade? (Would be kind of funny actually) And where does it end? At the city line? How far out can a bird live and still participate this ritual? Are there jurisdictions? HOW DO THEY KNOW?!! What the hell is this all about? I wouldn’t put birds toward the top of the animal list for brains. So how do they orchestrate this? Don’t give me that whole “instinct” thing either. Migration? yes. Mating? yes. Billions of bats off to find insects for dinner at the same time? yes. But gathering for a massive city bird meeting (bird-thirty) every evening? Creepy. Somebody should look into this.

Meanwhile, it is Christmas Eve. I am by myself at home in Austin, as everyone took off for the Holidays. Since I have spent every 3 days for the past year either packing or unpacking a suitcase, trekking through multiple airports, or driving back and forth between Houston and Austin, I opted to stay put for this Christmas. I am beginning to regret it because I do miss my family, although I just saw them at Thanksgiving. So I finished my shopping, cleaned my apartment, baked my dish to take to my friend’s house tomorrow, and now I am sitting here bored out of my mind and only have 3 channels. Trying… to… resist…fancy…bottle of wine…from…client…

Screw it. Cheers and Merry Christmas!

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