Amanda, noun

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According to the interwebs Oscar Wilde once said “I think it is very healthy to spend time alone. You need to know how to be alone and not be defined by another person.”

I’ve always thought about this quote in reference to that one friend you have who just can’t seem to exist in the world without a boyfriend. She gets out of one relationship, spends one night on the town taking shots and telling you how excited she is to be single with you, and by morning she’s on to the next one. I think everybody has one of those friends. I always kind a thought Oscar was talking to them with this quote.

He couldn’t have been talking to me (and for the record I am aware he’s dead and not actually talking to anyone presently, but that’s not the point). I’m an only child for goodness-sake. I am good at being alone. I’ve had lots of experience. This is Amanda, party of one, and it’s been raging for 24 years so I’ve got this down…

….right?

Friday night as I was lying on the floor of my new one-bedroom apartment I came to the realization that I was wrong. I might have been good at being alone as a child, but it’s been a long while since I’ve consistently hung out with just me.

With the exception of my first summer home from college I’ve lived with at least one roommate and as many as five, often including a best friend, for the last 6 years. More than once in my life, have I hung out with one person so much that we’ve received a “TomKat”-esque nickname. When I really think hard about it, with the exception of going to museums, there are almost no activities that I actively pursue solo, and even more that I solidly refuse to embark on alone.

I had a boss in college that pointed out to me that I draw energy from being around other people. The moment she mentioned it I knew it was true. But I’m only realizing now just how good I had gotten at keeping that energy pool full and never being alone.

When I decided to move to Austin, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do about my living situation. I wasn’t sold on living by myself. I notice when people ask me how I like living alone that they appear to expect a more emphatically positive response. The truth is it’s fine. But so was having roommates as far as I’m concerned. (Though knowing all the food in the fridge is mine and I can eat it, toss it, save it as I see fit is kind of life changing.)

This new realization about how I’ve been defining myself with whole groups of people is what is making living alone exciting. Don’t get me wrong. I’m making new friends, and I’m excited to start settling into new social circles. But I’m glad that I’m coming home to an empty apartment, and that sometimes I don’t have any plans for the weekend. Not because that inherently makes me happy or is what I like, but because it’s forcing me to be alone, and that is helping me grow.

And that is what this whole thing is about. That is what 24 (and maybe 25 and 26) is about for me…growth. I’ve got to make sure that when you look me up in the dictionary you’re getting an accurate definition and not one written by someone else. I might have been lying on the floor of my half-furnished downtown apartment on a Friday night with a glass of red wine and Orange is the New Black on Netflix when I realized all this – but hey, I’m sure some words/definitions has weirder etymologies.

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There’s Nothing Like Your First Time

They say there is nothing like your first time…

Get it together people, my mom reads this. This post is all about some firsts I checked of my list this past weekend that are entirely PG.

I had my very first bialy. What is a bialy you ask? Well it’s like a bagel, but Polish, and it’s not boiled & baked it’s just baked and it doesn’t have a hole it has a dent. It was delicious and it came as part of an amazing breakfast I had at my new neighborhood bakery, Sweetish Hill Bakery while I was waiting for my U-box to be delivered to my brand new apartment. (Because another first I did this weekend was half-move into my first solo-apartment. That will need to be an entirely separate post at some point.) In addition to being yummy, bialys are kind of interesting since they are the like sad step-sister of bagels. You can read more about bialys here like I did while I was eating it.

Saturday, I also drove in Austin for the first time! And I didn’t hit anything and I didn’t kill anyone. And what’s more it was in this adorable Smart car.

Image

Austin is one of several cities across the country (as well as Austria, Canada, Germany Great Britain, and Netherlands) that has Car2Go. Car2Go is everything you wish ZipCar was. You pick it up in one place and you can drive it to wherever you need to go and then when you’re done you leave it. As long as you park in a special Car2Go space or metered parking you are good to go. It’s awesome. Life changing one could say. Well life changing for me because everyone drives here and I don’t have a car and I don’t really want one. So, yeah, it’s kinda amazing. (I will admit, I used to think I’d like to own a Smart car…I’m adjusting those views, it is kinda like driving an enclosed golf cart…but hey, it gets the job done.)

Where did I drive this adorable vehicle you ask? To my friend’s apartment and then to UT’s campus to attend my very first tailgate. It was everything I could have dreamed y’all! Despite the fact that it was hot as all get out, there were men in jeans, boots, button downs and cowboy hats. And the world turned burnt orange. They know how to commit to a theme down here…or at least a color palate. We attended the tailgate organized by the student group at the law school. For $10 bucks we got all the burgers, hot dogs, Shiner Bock and Gin Bucket we could want. It was amazing. There were British exchange students doing keg stands. What’s better than that! Nothing. It was like living inside a strange country music jam and I loved every minute of it.

And this guy was outside the bar later. So there’s that.

Longhorn

Lots of firsts…and I’ll definitely be going back for seconds on all of them.

Farmer’s Market Follow-up

So this post is a quick follow up to my Farmer’s Market post. I wanted to share the yummy outcome of that wondrous $12 trip.

First, I used the sweet potatoes to make some Sweet Potato Quinoa cakes. Of course I found them on Pinterest. I didn’t have any fresh herbs, which definitely would have more them better but  they were still pretty tasty anyway. I made 8 instead of 4 which makes them less than 100 cals per pattie!

From How Sweet It Is by Jessica

From How Sweet It Is by Jessica

Next up was my own creation. Stuffed Zucchini made with what I had on hand from the other recipes.

Stuffed Zucchini

Ingredients:

1 zucchini

1/4 c. quinoa (cooked)

1/8 c. whole wheat bread crumbs

1/8 c. parmesan cheese, grated

1 tsp. minced garlic

I cooked the cooked the zucchini for 17 minutes at 350°. The I scooped out the center, missed it with the other ingredients, sprinkled a few more bread crumbs on top and broiled it for 3 minutes.

At 118 cals for each half it made a great dinner/lunch. If I made it again I think I might include sun-dried tomato, or some basil.

Last but not least I made Roasted Summer Squash with Mint and Lemon also from Pinterest.

From Kalyn's Kitchen

From Kalyn’s Kitchen

It was the perfect way to enjoy some summer squash before it’s time to start making winter squash creations.  It was so light and fresh and let me tell you, it made my apartment smell amazing. I could have sat there and ate the whole pan!

Did Someone Say Free?

There are a couple things you should know about moving miles and miles away from your home base. 1) It ain’t cheap. 2) Your social calendar will take a hit.

Eventually both of those things will work themselves out but as we’re on day 8 in Austin they are both still 100% true for me. Enter Austin’s Free Day of Yoga.  It’s like they knew I’m poor and friendless (ok, that second part isn’t true, I have friends…just limited friends in Austin, and it’s a holiday weekend so they had stuff to do, just like I probably would have if I was in Boston so it’s totally fine).

Austin isn’t the only city that does Free Day of Yoga so I strongly suggest you check out the link. You can even learn how to go about creating a Free Day of Yoga in your city if they don’t already have one. If you’ve ever been to Austin you can’t really be surprised that it was founded here. There are Yoga studios all over the place!

I’ve done yoga off of DVDs (either in the gym in high school or from the comfort of my own home) but I’ve never actually taken a formal class. When I visited and noticed how popular yoga is in Austin I knew I wanted to try it. FDoY was my chance to kill two birds with one stone – try a yoga class risk free and kill some time.

I love a long weekend just as much as the next person, but as someone who draws energy from being around other people I’ve had to work pretty hard to not go insane these past few days. So I when learned about this most amazing of events I kind of planned my weekend around it. Free Day of Yoga was today, Labor Day, but there was a kick off festival yesterday morning. I did both.

The Kick-off was in Tillery Park which is not within walking distance from my current digs so this was a perfect opportunity to experiment with riding the bus. The Capital Metro buses are only a dollar a ride. So that’s nice and cheap. The downside is that they are not NextBus tracked so there really isn’t a way to see in real time if your bus is coming. However, each bus stop in the city has an ID number and you can text that number to Dadnab and you’ll get texts back with the next 4 or 5 departure times for all the buses at that stop. Google Maps even lists the bus stop ID when you get transit directions online. If you’re at the bus stop you can also scan a QR code that launches a mobile site that does the same thing. My bus to the park was 4 minutes behind schedule but the one I took home was right on time. I’m not sure I’ll use the bus as much as I used public transit in Boston but I’m glad I’ve figured out how it works right away.

Tillery Park

I didn’t spend as much time at the kick-off as I had planned. I probably shouldn’t have gone right at 9am,but the first 100 people got a goodie bag and I wanted it!

2 coconut waters, 2 Kind bars, a sweat band, a pen, a magnet, some yoga coupons, and some vegan soap. Not bad.

2 coconut waters, 2 Kind bars, a sweat band, a pen, a magnet, some yoga coupons, and some vegan soap. Not bad.

I honestly would have stayed longer but I’ve come to learn that it can be humid in the mornings here until the heat of the day burns it off. It’s not oppressive or anything, but not comfy. As cute as Tillery was it was kinda buggy and once I had talked to the couple of vendors that had gotten there on time and set up I was ready to scoot out.

Tons and tons of studios all over Austin participate in FDoY. I narrowed it down to the ones I could easily walk to from my apartment. When I saw that Wanderlust was one of those I picked it immediately. My good friend that moved here in July has already been and reported good things. It also has an amazing website with a great story that I totally ate right up so I was sold.

Wanderlust

So today at Noon I rented a mat for $2 (I actually own one but alas, it’s in a U-box making its way to TX from MA) and took my first ever yoga class. It was a Vinyasa class, which to anyone unfamiliar with yoga is just one of many styles of practice. The room was slightly heated. I was so proud of myself for bringing a little towel. I became less proud as the class began and I realized I should have brought at least 4.

First of all the room was packed. We were very, very close to our neighbors. So close that at one point I kicked the guy behind me in the head. Yep, I kicked someone in the head today. I apologized as soon as class ended and he was pretty nice about it. But that didn’t stop me from feeling really bad. I also of course had some type of yoga savant to my left during class. She didn’t even appear to be sweating. I, on the other hand, have never sweat more in my whole life. Literally, beads of sweat all over my body. If you had seen me after you would have though I just got caught in the rain. The only thing that made me feel better in the face of Ms. I’m-so-great-at-yoga-pants was the man diagonal to my right. He was maybe 40, I don’t know. I’m bad with ages, but his hair was all gray so I’m gonna go with 40. He was pouring sweat like nothing I’ve ever seen. Seriously it was like a faucet. I swear there was standing water on his mat.

Sweaty silver-fox aside, I was really surprised by the number of men in the class. I guess I’ve always just thought of yoga as a predominately female activity. I’m not exactly sure where that comes from. Maybe because women tend to be more flexible. The class did skew female but there were at least a dozen guys in there. And they weren’t just tagging along with their girlfriends or anything. A bunch of them knew what they were doing. While I laughing on the inside at the idea that the instructor actually thought I could do a head stand, they were crushing it.

It was really busy in there today, I barely got a minute to appreciate the cute interior.

It was really busy in there today, I barely got a minute to appreciate the cute interior.

An hour later I emerged from the dimly-lit sweaty room quite damp but also really happy. I wouldn’t go so far as to say addicted, but I definitely want to do it again. Usually when I’m not good at something I don’t like doing it. However, today when I couldn’t do something, instead of being discouraged, my mind immediately went to “Can I practice this and get better?” Good news is there is a yoga studio in town that does “pay what you can” so I can take classes for as little as $5. And Wanderlust offers a 30 days for $35 special too. So I think I’ll be able to start incorporating some yoga into my life here in Austin which is exciting.

To reward myself for a job well done, and truly start my Austinite transformation I stopped by Daily Juice and got a juice for lunch on the way home. (I grabbed one called Pineapple Popeye, it was so yummy. Green drinks my friends, they’re where it’s at!)

Pineapple Popeye

I may not be used to filling my weekends with solo-activities but I think I did a decent job. Moving here was all about trying new things, challenging myself and living a happier, healthier life. I think this weekend was a solid start.

Have you tried anything new recently?

When You Know, You Know

So I’ve been in Austin a week. Bam! One week down. I can’t say I’m settled in but I’m starting to get my bearings.

It helps that I started my new job. I am a much better human when I have a schedule. Some people might think that the type of person who applies for a job and then moves 1,700 miles to start it roughly a month later is inherently spontaneous. Those people are wrong. I like to know where I’m gonna be and what I’m gonna being doing in advance. The more details that can be ironed out the better. The ones that can’t…well create multiple plans based on the variable that’s unknown. That’s how I roll.

Starting on Monday was a great choice. It was a slow start. I am used to 10 hour work days, and go-go-going. When I started as an Assistant Planner I was coming from being the Intern so I’ve never really had to experience this whole “on-boarding” thing. I’m not so great at it. I kept asking my new assistants and the planner that’s transitioning off the account if I could help them and they tried to be nice but I know in their heads they were thinking “How are you going to help? You don’t know anything about the account or the campaigns yet? We don’t know if you actually even know anything at all.”

Late Wednesday I was actually able to contribute. The account is shifting ad-servers to Doubleclick so I think I built some solid trust with my assistants with my MediaVisor and DFA skills. I might not know the agency’s trafficking process, but I know trafficking. I’ve spent more hours staring at DFA than I care to count, and I think they believe me so that’s a start. I’ve come to realize that coming in as the Planner having never been the Assistant on the account has its pros and cons. I want to be the smartest person in the room, so not having that background and the knowledge of process is a con. But the upswing of that is since I don’t know that nitty gritty admin stuff, it really means I have to take a more managerial role. My place is to guide my assistants and help them time manage, but in the end I have to let them actually do it. I think I struggled with that at my old job because I just wanted to get things done and I knew I did them faster.

These are the Palm Trees that are outside my office. You know, because that's normal.

These are the Palm Trees that are outside my office. You know, because that’s normal.

Just in case you think I’m getting a little braggy about already crushing it at my new job, I’d like to point out that for the first two days I only knew where one of the kitchens was and I was walking up a flight of stairs to get coffee and water. New things are hard.

Starting Monday was also a good choice because I started with 4 other new hires so I have some built in buddies. We’ve already done a happy hour. I think I’m solidly on my way to having friends! In all seriousness the girls I started with are awesome and all have such killer life stories and past job experiences I’m jealous. I am the only one who didn’t go to UT but so far no one’s holding that against me.

In addition to starting my new job this week I signed a lease. The fact that I will not be homeless in a couple of weeks is quite nice. I was pretty much on the verge of panic there for a while. I’m still a little uneasy about this whole living alone thing being permanent. On the other hand I am getting pretty used to walking around in my underwear just because I can, so there’s that.

I'm also getting kinda used to this. Good thing my real apartment will have a pool too.

I’m also getting kinda used to this. Good thing my real apartment will have a pool too.

Being a twentysomething with a solid amount of student debt the costs of this move and of living alone in a city are a little unnerving. And until I get that first state-income-tax free paycheck on the 13th I’m gonna be on edge. But it’s starting to all feel worth it.

If you’ve been following me you know I took a morning to say so long to Boston. In all honesty as I walked through the Public Gardens that day I thought to myself “What have you done?!” But I know I made the right choice in leaving. Even with a whole weekend spent solo-adventuring, living out of a suit case (ok two suitcases) in an apartment that does nothing but remind me I will never get to live in a luxury residence for real, I feel good. It’s hard to explain but it’s one of those things that when you know, you just know.