Monday, March 31, 2008

Civic Engagement

I have the day off today; this is the first day I've had off all semester (not counting Spring Break, which didn't really count, due to all the childcare). Well, I did miss one day of class for the rally several weeks back, but I digress. Today is a much-needed day for sleeping in, catching-up, writing papers, grading neglected papers, and restoring balance in my life.



I spent the whole day Saturday at the Travis County Democratic Convention. Remember when I was feeling all political and involved a few weeks back? Yeah, so that had pretty much worn off by the time I remembered I'd signed up to be a delegate for my precinct... the fact that we met at 6:00am on Saturday to carpool to the day-long convention (I got home shortly before 5:00pm) didn't help much, either. The entire week leading up (and much of the time I was there), I thought of these couple-friends of mine, we'll call them Rose & Charlie. Whenever Rose gets upset with Charlie (which is somewhat frequently, in my experience), he'll remind her, "You could've said, 'no,' Rose. You could've said, 'no.'"



Regardless, I didn't say 'no,' even though several opportunities presented themselves to do so, and I wound up in the poorly-lit expo center all day long along with 7,000+ of my neighbors. I will say that my fellow delgates of precinct 437 made the day much more bearable... in fact, getting to know my neighbors was the only thing that kept the entire thing from being a huge slaughter of a good weekend (the fact that I have today off is also helpful). Our group is really representative of the transitions my neighborhood has experienced over the past years... there were some old-school-78704-ers who bought their houses for $7500 30 years ago when the neighborhood was a red-light district, and then there were the new-money urban hipsters who have gentrified and changed the face of the neighborhood. There were also some poor-but-fabulous student types (such as myself) who brought spiciness and sass to the whole affair.

Don't get me wrong, being involved is cool--I like the fact that I'm participating in new and different ways in an historical election, I just also think that having a community meeting to vote for the delegates would have been a much more efficient way to accomplish that which we accomplished in roughly 11 hours at the Expo Center. Civic engagement is a somewhat new and enriching experience for one who grew up without being really community-involved. At the end of the day, I was even more amazed at the inefficiency of the governmental process, inspired by people who stand up for what they believe, annoyed by those who continually blame one source for all of society's problems, and pretty sure that I don't fall neatly on either side of the ideological line. If you're really keen to get an idea of what the whole experience was like, there are about a ton of blogs I've found with pics, etc. One such is here. Oh, and the greatest T-shirt of the day (although I really do love those 1930's-propoganda-esque Obama shirts) was probably this one:

Monday, March 24, 2008

Tardiness: Excused; Guilt Questioned

I woke up earlier than usual this fine Monday morning to go do an observation at 8:00am. Being as how I have class at 9:00, I had pre-emailed my instructor that I would be late today.

During the observation, I got a ton graded. I also may have made some brief observation notes (but did I mention how much I got graded?!?).

I got to campus in time for class and even got a great parking space at Mitsi's-Secret-A-Parking [it's not really a secret, but I like to pretend it is. This parking reminds me of Mandy's-After-5 parking when I was at Tech]. But since I already have permission to be late to class, I am clearly not going to go on-time. That would just be silly.

I'm actually hoping to miss the theoretical discussion part of this morning's class, as I was so busy grading last night that I chose not to read for class today. This has been a hallmark of previous semesters, but I've actually done a better job this semester. Regarless, in my self-induced tardiness, I have come to the library, caught up on friends' blogs, and done some more grading. Ah, the freedoms of excused tardiness! So much better than the "dangit-I-was-late-again!" guilty kind.

Speaking of guilt, how is it that mothers become such proficient guilt-mongers as their children grow up? I swear that my mom has gotten much better at this skill over the past few years. I wound up not going home for Easter which, a week before, seemed cool to everybody. Gas is expensive, I have school stuff, and I was just there (albeit for fewer than 24 hours) a week and 1/2 ago. But suddenly on Good Friday, my absence is no longer ok. Case in point:

  • Well, everyone's going to be here for lunch Sunday. We're all going to church together [except for you].
  • Well, it sure would be nice to have some help singing the Hallelujah chorus, but I guess we'll just have to get by [with our screechy sopranos].
  • Have fun with your grading [when you could be here with us].

I need to ask my mom-friends if they feel this inner voice of guilt was implanted in them at the time their children emerged from the womb, or if it's a skill that's honed with age and experience.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

He is Risen!

He is Risen, indeed!

Happy Easter. May you be blessed by the love of Christ.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Happy anniversary, girls!

Today is the girls' 3-month anniversary. We're quite happy together. I found the "before" picture last night on a stroll down photo-memory lane (after taking a 3 hour nap that totally messed up my regular night's sleeping), so decided to wear the same thing for an "after" picture. Check out how the shirt doesn't have the stretch wrinkles! The girls are by no means tiny, but they are ever-so-much more-manageable. My hair is a heckuva lot longer now, as well.

So, there's my boob post, by special request. :)

Monday, March 17, 2008

It's not easy being green.

Happy St. Patrick's Day. Apparently, it's kind of a big deal to some people... on the way home, the parking lot of the Dog & Duck was full of people celebrating in revelry. What I want to know is, how did they get the day off? Also, what's up with St. Patrick? Something about snakes and getting them the hell outta Ireland, maybe? I'm absolutely for getting rid of snakes by any means possible, so maybe I should increase my celebration of this blessed day.

I'm doing my own part for "green" today. It sort of started by accident. I'm sure you've noticed that gas is extraordinarily expensive. After cruising around the great state of Texas last week (and spending a considerable amount of green to do so), Joe Jetta [who's green, incidentally] & I arrived safely, yet completely out of gasoline, back in Austin. I totally need to fill up (and probably have enough gas to get to the gas station), but don't want to spend $50 to do so. So, I did what any starving grad. student might do, and pulled my bike out of storage yesterday [yes, it was in the storage closet... what does that say about my exercise habits?].

I rode to The Tavern for beers and basketball with some girlfriends yesterday, which was lovely (the ride, the conversation, the b.ball for the Badgers--though sadly not for the Horns). This morning as I loaded up for school, however, my ass was sore as anything from yesterday's piddly ride. This is going to take some getting used to.

I did cruise in to the post office on my bike on the way home, where I ran into my uber-Austin-vegan friend Travis (who was there on his bike; check out his website). That was a fun moment.

To be totally honest, this move wasn't motivated by my desires to save the earth or reduce pollution. It was all about saving a few bucks for a few days. Nevertheless, I've realized that it is very "green" and Austin of me to ride my bike and/or use public transit (they're buying gas anyway, I may as well take advantage of that fact), so I'm going to try it for the week... let's see if I can go car-less for a week. I'll also publicly proclaim here my intention to ride my bike to school for the rest of the semester (when I have class; when I teach, I'm still going to be allowed to drive, after this week). I live less than 2 miles from school; it is all uphill on the way there, but flying-fast on the way home. There are lazier people than I who get by car-less in this city. Besides, it will be good practice for when we want to ride into town from the yoga resort we're staying at on Turkey's Mediterranean coast (ok, so that is still in the works).

So, I may not wear green the rest of the day (because my green shirt's all sweaty now), but I'm going to attempt to live it. Beat that.


And in random things I found on the internet today... check out Yahoo's homepage. Please note the tag line of the "lead story:" "One woman's marriage ended over her husband's gaming addiction. Learn how to avoid this scenario." Then the links right below are the following: "Find the most addictive games" and "5 best-selling casual games." Find out how to avoid this scenario, or just say "Screw it," and find awesome games (that may end your marriage!). Hmmm.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

A Salute to Those who Own Toddlers


Lincoln with his bear, "Tartar"

As one who lives on her own, there are many things I take for granted. These things are brought into spectacular view when sharing my home with a 3-year-old. For example, on my own, I typically tend to have sufficient quantities of:

  • paper towels
  • clean sheets
  • towels
  • toilet paper
  • clean dishes
  • food that is appealing to the general population of the house
  • privacy

That is all a little different with the addition of a very small person. To my friends who are moms, I officially salute you.

Lincoln and I have had a pretty fun few days, all things considered. A photo synopsis of our goings-on:


It poured all day Monday, so we went to see the dinosaur bones at the Natural Science Museum on campus. It was pretty cool. There was a wall of snakes on the fourth floor, though... I am such a paranoid wimp, I had to cover my eyes the entire time we were on that floor... I almost elected not to walk down the hall at all (I quite literally had shivers down my spine just thinking about being in proximity to that many snakes. Ugh. The shivers are back now just thinking about that horrid wall of evil).


On the way back to the car, we stopped to check out the rushing Waller Creek.


The rainy day made us a little stir-crazy, so we had a rollicking good "Crazy Dance" session.


It finally stopped raining, so we had a lovely day out Tuesday. Lincoln LOVES Austin!


We fed bread to the swans and ducks at Town Lake. Murphy thought we were feeding him and kept trying to take bread from Lincoln's hands. The swans hissed at Murph (was anyone aware that swans hiss?).


Our much-anticipated picnic became a reality at Zilker.

We then played, played some more, took Murphy home, and went for milkshakes at Amy's/Phil's [P. Terry's milkshakes are better and much less expensive, but we did get our really cool photo-booth pictures taken at Amy's. Granted, something seemed to be wrong with the printer and the quality is not what I'd call "good," but the experience was totally worth it (and I actually had cash on me!). The second photo in the strip is my personal favorite. In the first, I was saying "Don't pick your nose" (note the hand lowering from his facial area). The third is classic deer-in-the-headlights-m.j.p., and in the fourth, Linc could be one of Raphael's cherubim)].

After the milkshakes and more playscape-madness, we visited the downtown library and brought home some books and videos. We should have done that Monday, but c'est la vie. I find the downtown library to be a vastly confusing place. Odd, as I typically use the even-more-confusing PCL.

These boys are pretty tired after a long day.

Murphy crawls underneath the blanket to snuggle with Linc.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

freaky friday [especially since it's thursday]

Second freakiest thing I've seen this week: THIS AD
I only wish I would have been clever enough to have written this about it:
"Unless this product is PhotoShop in a bottle, I seriously doubt that you will go from looking like a 90-year-old woman who's spent her life living on the beach to a sun-kissed 20-something after using it. As Judge Judy would say, "Don't pee on my leg and tell me it's raining." (And for the record, it should be "fewer" wrinkles.)"

Freaky accurate: This hilarious bit on graduate school (anyone who has heard my complaints about my current lack of 3-day weekends can attest to the stunning accuracy of this report.)

Freaking hilarious: "Poll Dancing" by Texas Monthly (With a title like that, how could it be anything but greatness?)

Freaky just: The Sasquatch. Yikes. And I don't mean this one:

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Austinization

Murphy & Skippy really like the new blog header (check out how grey Murph's muzzle is getting! It's creeping towards his goatee. He is getting up there... almost 3!)

In honor of the new Austinized format of the blog, I feel it apropos to include some images of this past idyllic Austin weekend. My continuing journey towards complete Austinization made some great progress last weekend.

For starters, did you know that the Independence Brewing Co. does monthly tours and tastings? This month they had a huge Texas-Independence-weekend-sized block party. Live music, barbeque sandwiches, people who brought games, dogs, chairs, and free delicious beer.


We ran into some friends of J.Y.'s from college (one of whom looked strikingly like Glen Hansard) with whom we hung out at the beer fest. It was such a fun time and the beers were great. Pictured here is the "Austin Amber."

Perhaps the most unique and delicious of the beers sampled on Saturday was the [soon to be released, but not currently on the website] Southside Black Beer. I've always been a little afraid of beers one can't see through, but this was like coffee... coffee beer. The perfect after-dinner beer. Yum; I wish I had some right now.

What better way to follow an afternoon of beers and friends than with delicious tacos? I sadly missed the new Torchy's grand opening last weekend (although I ate there on Friday before Saturday's big hurrah), but got the opportunity to check it out this weekend. It has it strengths and weaknesses.



The sign outside looks pretty good, but doesn't actually say "Torchy's" on it anywhere. And at night, only the outline is illuminated.

However, once one gets inside, the menu and food quality is the same of the stand. AND, the Brush Fire is now an enduring part of the Torchy's repertoire (no longer just the featured taco of the month!). That and the Green Chili Pork are my very favorites.

The patio is nice... there is a small stage area (and a pretty terrific band was playing Saturday night), but the lights aren't the same as the trailer. The lighting is nice, and the whole thing is rather cozy, but I'm not planning on eliminating the S. 1st trailer from my regular rounds.


Service-wise, the new Torchy's is still working out the bugs. Mike, the owner and brains behind the Torchy's empire, took our orders. There was some mix-up in the kitchen and we got flour instead of corn tortillas (which they fixed pretty promptly). We did have to wait a little longer than customary at the trailer... maybe because it was pretty packed. The BYOB policy is still in place, and last I heard there was some question about getting TABC licensing, due to the new location's proximity to Dawson Elementary. But that's mostly hearsay. I'll definitely be back for more taco goodness, but chances are I'll be walking to my traditional trailer Torchy's.

Maybe I should marry Torchy's.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Don't tell Sarah's mom...

It's been a busy week. It's been a FABULOUS weekend. There is so much to blog about, but I'm going to try to stay on topic for a bit.

On Thursday, Anissa called and convinced me to skip class Friday to go with her to Waco for a Clinton rally [incidentally, she tried to convince me to cancel class Thursday so we could go to an Obama rally... what a bad influence that one is]. So Friday morning, I cruised up to Jorge-ville, and we headed on to Waco for the rally.

Having never been to a rally before, I'll tell you what you might expect [at a small town rally]:

- a lot of posters being waved about



- giant flags


- a considerable amount of standing and waiting



- some excellent photo/video opportunities (especially if you're at a small-town blue rally in the middle of a red state)
video

- hordes of people pushing to the front for handshakes/signatures (I was literally pushed by the crowd up up against the barriers [how do those not fall over?]; I did get a signature on my poster, though [may be hard to see in this photo]! History is mine!).
- giant skull art (perhaps that's unique to Waco and not generalizable to all rallies).
It was a good time, overall, once we got past the excessive standing/waiting part. We met some nice Waco-ites(?), did some interesting people-watching, and felt very political and involved.