I'll miss you... New Orleans

You never know what will happen in New Orleans. From crying in a bathroom stall of a bar while telling a drag queen how beautiful she is, to catching beads thrown by Joshua Jackson (in the Pacey Witter era), to listening to Morgan Freeman sing while you eat the best fish and bread pudding you've eaten in your life.

Last weekend, thanks to an overbooked hotel in the midst of Mardi Gras season, I ended up in a luxury suite with a perfect view of St. Charles where my friend and I watched a parade from a new angle.

In the hotel across the street from ours, an elderly couple enjoyed the parade hand in hand... as a girl waltzed around in lingerie in the window above theirs for 45 minutes.

Even though we weren't dancing until 4 am with leftover fried chicken fingers in our purse (as has been known to happen) and waking up 4 hours later to dance with Ellen (as has also happened), it was still amazing to spend time with good friends. Two minutes of laughter that leaves you gasping for air and covered in snot that only happens with your best friends is worth every second of a five hour drive.

And the food. I could easily make a separate post entitled I'll miss you... boudin and grits. And praline bacon. And king cake. And bread pudding. And jambalaya. 

I'll miss you... archive:

meanwhile, in the opposite of portland...

Speaking of Portland... I think the city is so interesting to me because it's the polar opposite of where I live. Take grocery shopping. First of all, Portland has a curiously high concentration of vegetarians and vegans. And in Portland, as you can see in the clip below, not bringing a reusable shopping bag is practically punishable by death. (And my sister assures me this is fairly accurate.)

Like I said, things are a little different here in Louisiana:

Usually when I bring a reusable bag to the grocery store, the cashier picks it up and promptly forgets about it, bagging my items in a plastic bag instead-- and odds are, they're using the "one item per bag" method. 

On more than one occasion, a cashier has said something like, "I remember you! You're the one with the bags!"


And one time after I placed my bag on the conveyor belt, the cashier tried to ring it up. I didn't notice until she had tried to scan it three times, and look at me, frustrated. "Do you remember how much this costs?"


Recently I was leaving the produce section, the top of my cart (where you would put a baby) filled with fruits and vegetables for the week. "Excuse me," another customer asked from behind me, "Are you a vegan?"
"No?" I answered in my usual we don't know each other so why are you talking to me tone.

"Oh. Well you have lots of vegetables in your cart, so I was just curious. I'm thinking about going vegan."

Has it come to the point, I thought to myself, that just because a person happens to have some produce in his/her cart, he/she is on extreme diet restrictions? Can't a family just like fruits and vegetables?


I have had to tell a cashier what a kiwi was so they could enter the correct code. 


Where are you guys on the Louisiana to Portland spectrum? Hopefully somewhere in the middle... because either end of the extreme could get annoying really fast. Believe me, I'm tired of being the Bag Lady of my local grocery store. 

on today's episode of Portlandia...

Portland was a natural stop for Y on the interview trail - it's our favorite city, and my sister lives there. My sister loves to show off the quirk that Portland is famous for - perhaps you've seen it portrayed on Portlandia? I've only been to Portland 6 or 7 times, but even with my small exposure, nearly every part of that show rings true.

And based on my latest trip, I've got a pitch for a sketch.

The scene: a mother (Mom X) is tucking her eleven year old twins into bed in their shared bedroom. Posters of baby animals line the walls, American Girl dolls lay scattered in the threshold of the room, on the brink of outgrown. 

Twin A: Mom, puh-leeeze can we get our ears pierced?
Twin B: EVERY one in our class has them pierced!

Cut to PTA meeting

Mom X: I'm thinking about letting the girls get their ears pierced.
PTA mom 1: I hope you're not thinking about taking her to Claire's.
PTA mom 2: Did I hear someone say Claire's? As in, the corporate chain of tween jewelry that's ruining America?
PTA mom1: Don't even get me started!
PTA mom 3: What are we talking about?
PTA mom 2: Claire's!
PTA mom 3: (gasps) Why?
PTA mom 1: Mom X is thinking about going to Claire's to get the girls' ears pierced.
PTA mom 3: (pulls out phone) Mom X, I'm going to send you some literature on Claire's. You know they practice inadequate sterilization techniques, right? 
PTA mom 2: And the quality of the jewelry they put in the poor children's ears is disgusting! 
PTA mom 1: Don't forget about that horrible gun!
PTA moms, in unison: (shuddering) Not the gun!
PTA mom 4: I took my kids to The Wanderer.
PTA moms nod enthusiastically.
Mom X: The Wanderer?
PTA mom 4: He does body piercings, so he has to be up to code and sterile.
PTA mom 3: And he only uses the best quality metal.
PTA mom 2: My kids said it didn't hurt at all!
PTA mom 1: And his shop is within a tribal art museum, so everyone can get a really fulfilling experience. 
All PTA moms in unison: And there's a coffee shop next door!

Cut to The Wanderer's piercing shop. Mom X, the girls, and a little boy enter the shop.

Boy: (wide-eyed, whispers) Mom... where are we?

The Wanderer: Okay, can we get this over with? I need to go to Ikea. 

Twin A sits on the piercing chair. The Wanderer rubs iodine on her ear, and she flinches as the needle approaches.

TW: (rolling his eyes) Listen kid, I pierce babies' ears all the time. If they can do it, you can do it.

Boy: Mommy, where ARE we?

Mom X: So tell me why you're better than Claire's.

TW: (sneering) Claire's and Hot Topic... they're big corporations, so they're above the law. They don't have any inspections to make sure they're sterile. My shop is fully sterile. 

Cut to the shop exit; both girls have had their ears pierced.

TW: Listen here, ladies. You better not go to Claire's and buy any of their crappy earrings. That stuff will rot your ears. If you come back to me with an infection, I'll charge you $100 because I'll KNOW that you went to Claire's. And NO dangly earrings. Ever. Your hole will stretch out.

Camera zooms in on The Wanderer's ear.

second city

Chicago, 2008

I've been thinking with some dread about applying for jobs when we move next year. As a true procrastinator, I realize how much of a pain it's going to be to update my resume, yet I make no move to start. In fact, every time I  think about it, my mind wanders. 

What if I can't find a job? What if even Starbucks isn't hiring? Or Ihop? Mmm, waffles. Leslie Knope likes waffles. Amy Poehler has a great job. I wonder what her resume looks like. I wonder if I could put the time I performed at the Second City Theater in Chicago on my resume?

When Y and I took our month long road trip in 2008, Chicago was the second-to-last stop, after Washington, D.C., New York City, Philadelphia, and several more places I can't list because it's exhausting me just to type them all out. What were we thinking?

In a money-saving strategy, we stayed at an airport hotel. On our one day in Chicago, we woke up at the crack of dawn and took the hotel shuttle to O'hare, where we caught the El into the city and proceeded to walk around for, oh, TEN HOURS. The only time we sat down was to a) shove pizza into our faces and b) ride a tandem along Lake Michigan. 

At the end of our ten hour stroll, we sat down in our front row seats for an improv performance at The Second City Theater.

You guys, the show was hilarious. Probably one of my favorite things I've ever done on vacation. It's been 3 and a half years and we still reference the performance. If you ever hear us talking about smegma flavored jellybeans, that's what we're talking about.

But there's one skit we don't talk about.

In this skit, a female castmember needed an audience member for an improv mime performance. Her face covered in mime makeup, she reached down into the audience and pulled me onstage. I had no choice. 

She began miming that the two of us were on a date, and I was supposed to mime with her, reacting. 

Here was the problem: there is a reason why there is no such thing as micro-miming.
When you're up close to someone who's miming, and a bright light is shining in your face, you can't tell what the hell they're doing. The movements look random and they don't make any sense. 

From my point of view, I was standing next to someone in makeup having a long, weird seizure.

From the audience's point of view, I must have looked like a puppy, cocking my head in confusion as the mime CLEARLY opened a car door for me and pushed me inside and CLEARLY strapped a seat belt on me and CLEARLY gave me a flower and looked out in the audience like "Why am I going on a date with a total idiot?"

I literally stood on the stage motionless for three minutes. For the audience, it must have been like how I feel when watching Michael Scott make a complete fool out of himself: like the agony is so awful I want to remove my eyeballs from my head so I don't have to witness it.  

I can't remember if people laughed. The only thing I remember clearly is Y's face, as compassionate as I've ever seen it, looking like he wanted to pluck me offstage and carry me out of the theater. 

It was bad. So bad that the people behind me said, "At least you were wearing a cute dress up there." So bad that the actor who played the mime came up to me at intermission and asked if I was okay. 

Somehow, I don't think Amy Poehler has anything like that on her resume. Back to square one. Waffles. 

101 in 1001: Austin City Limits

scenes on South Congress

Confession: I started one of those 101 in 1001 to-do lists last week.

I know I'm, what, 2 years late to this party? But I had a great reason: September 15, 2011 was exactly 1001 days until my 30th birthday. I can't think of a better thing to count down to than my impending senior citizenship.

Just kidding. But 30 is kind of scary, considering I feel 16 about 99% of the time.

Anyway, I think rather than sharing my 101/1001 list here, I'll just be sure to tell you when I check something off, like I did this past weekend: attend a music festival.

Even though I've been to Jazzfest in New Orleans twice, I felt like I had never had an actual music festival experience. My first time, I was a senior in high school and was only allowed to be there for a few hours. We got there just in time to stand at the back of a Dave Matthews concert, and left immediately after. My freshman year in college I went back, armed with a Sharpie-d shirt that said "WE <3 U JOHN MAYER" which I'd like to pretend never existed.

I've always wanted to go to Austin City Limits, and I knew next year I might not have the luxury of a relatively short car ride. So I went.

We heard Ray LaMontagne, whose voice was -- as the girl behind us correctly noted -- like butter despite his lack of personality (made up for by his sassy sign language interpreter). Dehydrated and hungry, we stood in the middle of a haze of smoke listening to Foster the People. We arrived early for Sara Bareilles and ended up front and center; she played her song "Let the Rain" on guitar and when she threw her pick into the crowd, it landed on my foot. She and her band busted out the accordion for a perfect cover of Mumford and Sons' "Little Lion Man". 

I stood in the middle of the park with "Love Lockdown" in my left ear and "Viva La Vida" in my right ear as people streamed back and forth, trying to decide which concert to see. We eventually ended up at Kanye West, in the middle of thousands of white people in tight jeans and fedoras yelling we want prenup!

I only made it to ACL for one day, but I'd say I had a pretty great music festival experience. I can't wait to go back to Austin and I'm mildly obsessed with this little video of the trip I made using the 8 mm camera app and iMovie:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=04rqQgs0jUI]

writing prompts: little d visits the cliffs of moher

If you couldn't tell from my little absence from this blog, I've had a slight case of writer's block. I was annoyed that every post I wrote was about med school and instead of, you know, writing posts about something else, I decided to abandon the blog altogether.

But I'm back.
And trying to tap into parts of my life other than riding shotgun (with my hair undone) on this ride we call med school. Don't worry, I will still gag you with tales of abscesses and discharge. Which has a nice ring to it.

Today though, I'm going to play along with a writing prompt link up at Mama's Losing It.
And this week's prompt enables me to channel my inner Suri Cruise: Write a post about a childhood memory as if you’re in that moment again…from the perspective of yourself as that child.


The Cliffs of Moher, Liscannor, Ireland

This smile? It's fake. I mean, look at my pants.

At this point in my life, I think I can safely say I hate buses. I've been on more buses than Ms. Frizzle (who I do not think exists yet, but if she did, she would adore my pants) and all of them have led to views like this one in middle of nowhere, Ireland. Which would be great and all if I wasn't FOUR.

You know what would make this view better? If I had a boyfriend - no - a husband to enjoy it with. We could hold hands, maybe sip some hot chocolate and talk about how we're going to remember this moment for the rest of our lives. He'll hold me up as the wind threatens to knock me over.

But for now, I'll take my stuffed Care Bear back- thank you for holding it, Mommy - and retreat back to the bus for another few hundred miles of sightseeing. Or in my case, charming the rest of our tour group with my undeniable cuteness and trying (unsuccessfully) not to barf. At least my pants are comfortable.

Mama’s Losin’ It



The maxidress was a bad choice. Should have stuck with 80's pants.

a change of plans

We had a plan.

Okay, sort of. We had as much of a plan as you can in our interesting little situation. Y was going to specialize in emergency medicine (and possibly go into space). He was going to do an away rotation in Baltimore. He thought his chances of actually getting in there were pretty high.

So my brain did the only thing it knew how to do: it created a life in Baltimore. Maybe I would take the train into DC and work. On my days off, I would take Ike and we would comb the state of Maryland for the best crab cakes. My nieces and nephews would come visit me and I would be their fun yet educational aunt who took them to the Spy Museum but only after a visit to the Capitol.

Hello, fun yet educational aunt.

Y would... work. On his days off we would go to baseball games or take Ike on walks on the harbor. Or maybe Y would just sleep.

But then Y did the unthinkable: he switched specialties.

First he decided he was interested in a super specialized emergency medicine/ internal medicine program. There were only 5 in the country that met his criteria. One was in Baltimore, so I kept our Baltimore life active in the back of my head. But suddenly, there were 4 very specific other places we could live. Chicago. North Carolina. Richmond. Brooklyn.

New York hadn't been on our radar before. We weren't even considering it. But for one minute I let myself imagine what our lives would be like in the city. One morning, while crossing a busy street near my work, I even practiced the face I would make when Y announced "SUNY at Brooklyn!" on Match Day. I think it looked like a mixture of hipster wannabe and flat broke.

Or maybe it looked like this, at the thought of having to cross the Brooklyn Bridge again.

But that specialty was fleeting. After a slight existential crisis, Y is now set on internal medicine. The thing about internal medicine? There are programs everywhere. Baltimore isn't on top anymore. Goodbye, crab cakes. Hello cheese steaks. Hello Chicago dogs. Hello Grand Ole Opry. Hello clam chowda and cannolis. Hello Space Needle. Hello Stumptown coffee.

Cheesesteak, cannoli, chicago dogs.

I can't keep up with my thoughts these days. Neither can my stomach, because apparently most of my hypothetical future lives involve food.

Yes, this can be annoying. For example: Besides the fact that I think my brain is running out of juice, I would love to buy a bike. But do I want a bike for occasional, leisurely use or an everyday bike in case we move somewhere bike friendly where I could ride to work? Only time will tell. Time being approximately 224 days, 7 hours, 41 minutes and 13 seconds according to Mrs. Dr. D's countdown.

These are tough problems, people.

But in spite of this annoyance, I kind of want to relish in the moment. How often will we get the chance to daydream about moving [almost] anywhere we want? Not often.

So I have three questions for you: Where do you live? Why should we consider your city/state? Where would you live if you could choose 1 place in America?

(And yes- Y is placing importance on other things than the city and its food culture-- like the strength of the program, and of course, whether he gets a sense that he likes the hospital after he visits. )

our weekend: chaincation

Chaincation (aka Tour de Chains): driving 100+ miles simply to visit a series of chains that aren't available in your hometown. This type of vacation can attest to a) the lack of options in your hometown; b) the lack of culture in the town you're visiting, or c) your lack of taste.

I guess for us, it was a mixture of the 3. We drove with some friends to Dallas, our nearest large city, with two things in mind: returning wedding presents to Macy's and Crate and Barrel and indulging a lifelong fantasy to go to Medieval Times.

But first things first. We weren't alone in our choice for lunch -- it appeared the entire city of Dallas had the same idea. In fact, there were police directing traffic. And there was lots of traffic. There was also a 30 minute drive thru line and a wait outside in the 106 degree heat. People will do anything for a Double Double with animal fries.


When I heard about a Sonic opening in New England and mile long lines of customers waiting for their first footlong and cherry limeade, I rolled my eyes. Sonic is old news, people. When I was a wee high school lass, we met every afternoon for a happy hour slushie. Gossip was spread. Tator tots were consumed. No big deal.

This was different. I'm not sure why. But it was.

A few more stops on our chain-cation:


The piece de resistance: an evening of eating with our hands and avoiding dirt kicked in our tomato soup by horses.

This is how you know you're too old, or maybe too cynical, for a place like Medieval Times
  • You can see the hidden sadness -- which you may have mistaken for enthusiasm as a child -- on the faces of everyone who works there. Specifically the falcon tamer. He can't even smile in the pictures anymore.
  • You wonder if your knight, who smiles broadly at the cheers from his royal subjects, has any relationships outside of the arena that can make him smile so wide.
  • When two actors are ad-libbing out of earshot, you assume they're trying to decide what to do after the show, not worrying about the princess they're attempting to save.
  • You discuss which knight is hooking up with which wench.
  • At least 5 times, you wonder aloud how well the animals are treated and whether the facility has its own veterinarian.
But Medieval Times knows the secret to numbing any doubts or negative thoughts:

And before we knew it, we were screaming for our knight and rushing to meet him after he won. (He won! I haven't felt such pride since... well, the last sporting event I watched. I'm easily influenced.)


After dragon tail soup, dragon eggs, chicken, ribs, and a Pastry of the Castle, the obvious next step would be to put on your bathing suit and head to your rooftop pool all night. Luckily, Dallas nightlife is really into beds. Beds in clubs, beds at pools - and our hotel, the Downtown Sheraton, was on board with that trend. We lounged on a bed and stared up at the skyscrapers while relishing in the fact that a breeze was blowing and it almost didn't feel like a southern summer.

a moment in tampa

One morning in Tampa, I decided to take a walk from my hotel downtown to the Hillsborough river a few blocks over. The hotel boasted its proximity to the "riverwalk", which sounded nice enough. But as I approached this riverwalk I noticed colorful graffiti covering everything in the distance.

My sketchville alert -- the one that goes off when you realize your GPS has just routed you through a scary neighborhood -- was on full blast. Every passing person was suddenly a threat. I jumped each time a car passed.

I could see the riverwalk in the distance and it looked nice - a perfectly manicured park sticking out in the sea of graffiti. I figured the city of Tampa was in the midst of some kind of downtown beautification project in what was once a poor area... they just hadn't gotten around to washing off the spray paint.

It was broad daylight, so I decided to keep walking despite my wariness. When I reached the start of the riverwalk, a plaque explained that Ivy League college crew teams trained at this stretch of river in the summer and showed their school spirit by spray painting...everything.

My brain has never gone from STRANGER DANGER to WINKLEVOSS TWINS! quite so quickly.

By the way, have you ever seen the University of Tampa? My picture above doesn't do it justice, but I thought it was so pretty I had to do a double take the first time I saw it.

carol convention 2011

Today is a very important day: the start of the annual Carol Convention.

I've explained Carol Convention before, but let me just sum it up by saying that at my old age of 27 and 4 days, it is the one weekend a year where I might have the opportunity to make a Facebook album with a line from a song as its title. Just like the olden days.

This year our planner, Leila, went all high tech on us with her clues for the weekend. We were sent this CD and told to listen to the songs, go to a website and answer questions about the songs, and only then would we receive our clue.

The clue:

Here is your packing list:
Cowboy boots
A Swim suit
Dancing Shoes
Water shoes
Water camera
Lots of room for Texas beer, chips, and salsa!

If you haven't figured it out, I'm headed to Texas today, authentic Target cowboy boots in tow!

For those of you who enjoyed the guest posts the past few days, I'd love to hear your thoughts on the matter! If you write a post, send me the link -- and I'll share my thoughts sometime next week, when the traveling craziness dies down.

For those of you who think my blog has turned into The View (aka Y's friends): a) dibs on being Whoopi and b) don't fear, the guest posts are over and I'll be back to making fun of your friend shortly. As in, tomorrow.

(PS: A recap of last year's Carol Convention. I'll do better this year.)

my soundtrack

I do this thing on trips, particularly when I'm flying, and particularly when I'm flying alone. I listen to one artist the entire duration, over and over again. Amazingly, I don't get sick of the music. Instead, it becomes the soundtrack to that trip and its memories.

I didn't realize I did this until last month's trip to Phoenix. When I uploaded my pictures, Ellie Goulding's "Lights" album -- the music that kept me sane for 10 hours of flying and a 100 degree walk through downtown -- popped into my head.
{I dedicate those lyrics to the cactus who attacked me}
Suddenly it was clear that I've been doing this as long as I can remember. John Mayer's Room for Squares reminds me of something. It's not a smell, a taste, or a touch, but at the same time it's all of those things. I bought that CD at the Irvine Spectrum in Orange County while visiting my brother and sister in law the day after my high school graduation. To this day, that music is a mixture of excitement and terror at the thought of college, the smell of my brother and sister in law's new house, and the predictability and openness of their cookie cutter desert neighborhood.
Coldplay's Speed of Sound is a cold summer day, running through Hyde Park and just making out the top of the London Eye. It's pride at taking a risk and studying abroad and curiosity at what would thrill me next in that foreign city.
She & Him is my perfect winter -- snowed in at a bookstore (Powell's, no less), and seeing the sky open up and just snow for the first time.
Sara Bareilles's kaleidoscope Heart is the first day of fall, walking along Lake Michigan, orange leaves, pumpkin donuts, best friends and spontaneity.
Even our honeymoon had an unintentional soundtrack, thanks to its proximity to the recent death of a pop icon.
I'm flying to Florida next week and now that I'm conscious of my soundtracking habit, I'll probably ruin it. But I'd like to at least do it to some good music, so any recommendations for the album I put on repeat? I'm thinking the latest Deathcab for Cutie or Adele.

if the beatles wore gaucho pants

{image from Visit Abbey Road's hall of fame}

I can't believe I'm just now coming across the Abbey Road webcam. Standing on this corner 6 years ago, I shook my head and thought to myself that this had to be one of the most ridiculous spots on Earth. This was, of course, right before whoever was holding the camera [facing the wrong way] yelled "Go!" and I walked across the crosswalk [by myself].

{if I hadn't told you this was 6 years ago, could you have guessed the year by my awesome gaucho pants?}

If you watch the webcam during London daytime, you won't have to wait more than a minute or so before you see a group of people trying to recreate the famous picture. The tourists are constant. The traffic is constant. It's really very funny, and standing back and realizing I was right in the middle of such a uniquely odd place is one of my favorite traveling memories.

What's the strangest place you've visited? Have you ever crossed Abbey Road?

from pelvic exams to salsa dancing

Cacti fascinate me.

I realized this in 2007, when I saw my first real, live, saguaro cactus. We were driving from Louisiana to California, and started noticing giant cacti standing around like it was no big deal. As soon as we saw one within our reach, I made Y swerve to the side of the highway so I could get a picture with the phenomenon that until that moment, I had never seen in real life.

Last week, I flew to Phoenix for a work conference. Which was fine and all, but I was more interested in making sure cacti were still real. They are.

But I don't recommend getting up close and personal to verify this. Trust me.

I spent 10 minutes or so behind a museum downtown in the 98 degree heat, pulling cactus spines out of my legs. No less than 4 groups of people passed and laughed at me. One guy asked if I had been "cactused". I'd say that was a pretty good word for it.

I made it. The spine removal was rough (most ended up getting stuck in my fingers, which hurt even worse) but I was pretty sure they were gone. I rewarded myself with an entire pizza at Pizzeria Bianco and cautiously set out to explore the desert.

Back home, at a dinner party full of med students, I feel the need to change the subject to something slightly less disgusting than "the 5 minutes or so your head is between someone's legs" during a birth. So I bring up my cactus assault. After a quick table-side physical exam, Y confirms there are still spines stuck in my leg.

So, while I eat a piece of cake, Y uses the antiseptic wipe he found in his white coat to clean my leg(fun fact: med students bring their white coats to parties. Or they leave them in their cars after work and there they stay through the weekend. Still counts). While the conversation around us drifts from pelvic exams to salsa dancing, Y shaves off the top layer of my skin with his swiss army knife and uses a pair of tweezers to pluck the spines.

And no one bats an eye.


I decided it was time to update my bulletin board... can you tell I'm seriously itching to go somewhere?

It looks like our next unnecessarily long road trip is going to be to Savannah and Tybee Island. Any tips?

Kiss me, I once spent two weeks in Ireland

I'll take pretty much any excuse to whip out pictures from Ireland. I swear the scenery looks greener every time I revisit them, and for a second everything just feels as fresh as it did there in July of 2009.

I hope we can celebrate St. Patrick's Day this weekend with some of the food we lived on in Ireland: Bailey's porridge, Banoffee pie, Bailey's ice cream, and of course, Bailey's. Who am I kidding, the likely scenario is that Y will have a glass of Bailey's at 7 pm and fall asleep for the night. Slainte!

Day 10: a wanderlist

The other day Y had the bright idea to put a chair on our front porch. I know, right? Groundbreaking. Now our favorite thing to do is sit on our new chair and look out at our beautiful view.

And by look at our beautiful view, I meant pretend we have a view.

Y's pick:

My pick:

Our mutual pick:

Yes,it will be difficult backing out of the driveway into water, but so worth it.

On a more realistic note, I've actually made a list of places in my area that I'd like to visit before we eventually move to our house in Central Parksterdam, Ireland.

Because I'm a big list nerd, I literally made a file in word, separated out into restaurants, bars, outdoors, experiences, and road trips. So if you're a local friend and want to join me on my quest to, I don't know, eat a kolache, let me know and I'll share. But here's my broader road trip list:

1. Visit Natchitoches -- where Steel Magnolias was filmed -- during Christmastime and take a Steel Magnolias tour.

2. Austin, TX. I've never been to Austin and I think that needs to be fixed. On my actual list, to emphasize the seriousness of the situation, I have it as "AUS.TIN".

3. Go wine tasting in Texas wine country and visit Fredericksburg, TX, a little German community that I've heard has delicious food.

4. This was not on my list until about 2 seconds ago, but I just came across a travel blog for my area and they profiled some hiking and biking trails at a resort called Cypress Bend that I had never heard of.

5. Monroe is a city I've heard absolutely nothing good about, but one of my favorite blogs, DesignSponge, does city profiles and somehow Monroe made its way onto their list. Mu curiosity is officially piqued.

6. Any kind of middle of nowhere festival. I've heard about a sunflower festival, a lavender festival, a tamale festival, and my friend Jenna went to a Dr. Pepper festival.

7. Hot Springs, Arkansas. Bathhouses totally creep me out, but I want to see one.

8. The Abita Brewery. Why I never went when I lived in South Louisiana, I'll never know.

9. Marfa, Texas is nowhere near me, but if we ever happen to be out west, I am completely intrigued by the place. Jane at Sea of Shoes (the authority on cool) describes it as "a gritty West Texas cowboy art colony". Some Marfa art -- a "Prada store" in the middle of nowhere:

Other Marfa pictures: (1)(2)(3)(4)(5).

Anyone local have any other suggestions? Who's going to help me tackle my list?

tales from the highway

I know you were all disappointed that I broke from the WBThirty posts this weekend and you didn't get to find out "what I would do if I won the lottery." I have a good reason, though. This past weekend, I drove 8 hours roundtrip to spend exactly 24 hours in Texas. The payoff was worth it - I got to see friends who live out of town, watch an episode of "Sisterwives", eat my first Vietnamese sandwich, and nearly vomit from laughing at an Aziz Ansari show. I think everyone needs to experience nearly vomiting from laughing at least once in their life, so I definitely recommend you see Aziz.

(Let me clarify that: I definitely recommend you see Aziz if you understand the humor in R Kelly and Kanye West, and can handle 99% off color jokes. Y's parents heard I was seeing Aziz, trusted my taste, and rented his stand up. They were...not impressed. Moral of the story: don't blindly trust my taste, and avoid Aziz Ansari if you can't laugh at a joke about R Kelly having sex with an ATM.)

To be honest, I kind of enjoyed my eight hour solitary road trip. The highway I took was really interesting -- especially this:

It was so cool and old that life actually started de-saturating as I drove by.

Turns out someone might actually live in this abandoned theater. This being Texas, I decided to get off their lawn as quickly as possible.

(Edited to add: I just did some Googresearch and discovered that this theater was an XXX drive in, which makes it that much creepier.)

Somewhere around hour 2, I discovered that my $5 Target sunglasses are magic autumn glasses. I kept thinking to myself how odd it was that Texas had such great fall foliage, but soon realized that the tint of my sunglasses was making things look way prettier than they really were. While the rest of the travelers on this highway saw this:

I saw this:

Also on this highway, I was able to play a rousing game of "Funeral Home or Fancy Neighborhood?" with myself.

(Well now that I've zoomed in I see there's a golfer in the first picture. That was NOT visible from the highway.)

Aren't you impressed with my ability to entertain myself? Any good road trip stories out there?

Fear not - back to your regularly scheduled WBThirty posts soon.


When we went on our vacation to New York and DC, I realized that other than the constant energy, the H&M on every corner, and the fact that you could eat at a different restaurant every day for the next ten years, there was another reason I loved being out of the South: everyone was rude and no one wanted to talk to me.

Yes, I just listed rudeness as a positive, right up there with the availability of cheap, cute, Swedish clothing and Indian takeout. You have to think about it from my perspective: I am AWKWARD. Every random stranger that asks me how I'm doing is just another opportunity for me to make a fool out of myself -- so I'd actually just prefer if they didn't ask.

Not to mention the pressure I feel, having to ask every single stranger how they're doing. And the disappointment when, time after time, I just hear "fine". That brings me to my next point: why ask someone how they're doing, when no one in the history of time (I've done research) has ever said anything other than "fine" or "good, thanks"?

Also: politeness wastes time. Imagine this scenario, it happens to me daily: you're approaching a 4-way stop. Another car approaches from the opposite direction -- for the sake of accuracy, we'll say it's some kind of large truck with some sort of confederate flag paraphernalia. Perhaps like this:

This vehicle gets to the stop sign a full three seconds before you make your full stop. Even though they have the right of way, they wave you through. This throws you off, since it's not your turn. So you wave them through frantically, because you (okay, fine, me) are OCD and can't handle when the flow of traffic is disturbed.

The other driver is clearly offended that you didn't appreciate their polite gesture, and waves you through again, just as frantically. You both hesitate. Finally you think, "Okay fine, I'll just go" and start to inch forward. Without fail, the other driver has that thought at the exact same moment. You take turns lurching forward until one of you takes the plunge, ending your epic 4-way stop battle, and you (okay, me again) end up being 10 minutes and 7 seconds late instead of just 10 minutes late.

Phew. Can you tell this is a sore subject for me?

I appreciate the effort, South, but I propose we set some rules. First of all, there should be no politeness in driving, other than when I need you to let me in your lane. Secondly, if you don't know me, there is no need to know how I'm doing today because surely you don't want to hear about how my dog rolled around on his back on top of a dead rat in the backyard and then barfed on the couch (true story). And finally -- this one is the most important -- if a girl is wearing heels, you must be within 5 feet in front if you plan to hold the door open for her, because we both lose when you've committed and have to hold the door open for a full minute while I run-walk across an entire room in 3 inch heels and inevitably faceplant.

Taylor is the new Lizzie.

I went on a little road trip last weekend to embrace my inner 16 year old.

Yes... four friends and I, most of us over the age of 25, went to a Taylor Swift concert and in between songs about high school crushes and Jonas brothers, we talked nonstop about how we could all be her best friend. Seriously. Two of us are married, two of us are homeowners, and we can all relate perfectly to a song about being fifteen. That is the beauty of Taylor Swift.

[Confession: I spent my four hour car ride memorizing the lyrics to all of her songs. This activity replaced my usual road trip entertainment: impressing myself with my ability to remember songs from my youth. My proudest moment? I still know all the words to Gettin Jiggy Wit It.]

In case you never get the opportunity to make it to a Taylor Swift concert, I'll give you the rundown:

Taylor sings a song, making sure to punch the air with her fist and/or run her hand through her hair. You desperately wish you were her, so you strike a Taylor pose:

Taylor finishes song and, in awe, looks at the crowd:

and looks.

and looks.

I mean, we get it, Tiger Stadium is pretty impressive and there are a lot of people there.

(When I showed Yoni this picture, he noted pretty seriously that he's surprised there was no epistaxis among my friends and me, and then laughed gleefully at his exclusive little joke. This is why he wasn't invited.)

And Taylor looks on.

And on.

Seriously, this went on for at least two minutes.

I began to wonder what Ike was doing.

(That's about how I felt, too at this point, buddy.)

And when I was done Ike-dreaming, Taylor was still staring.

I would say by the end of the show, there were about 10 minutes total of combined staring.

(Scholarly Ike calculates that the staring:singing ratio was 1:12.)

But even with all of the awkward staring (and dancing...and arm thrusting...and attempts at conversation) we did enjoy ourselves. And if Taylor Swift and I had gone to high school together, I'm pretty sure we would have skipped through the halls together, holding hands and wearing sparkly dresses.

I can only hope we had as good of a time as this person, who must have a special place in their heart for the music of T Swizzle and just had to take a solo picture in front of the tour bus. Like I said, that's the beauty of Taylor Swift. We were all fifteen year old girls once.