You Fancy huh?

Something really embarrassing happened to me last week. I became the Mayor of Jeffrey’s. Yes, I Amanda, use Swarm (formerly Foursquare) to check in places. I know that is “like so 2010” but I like to do it. I like to know where I’ve been. I like to look and see if it feels like 100 years since I’ve had a really awesome coffee at an independent coffee shop or if it actually has been.

Now if you’re not from Austin and you’ve just read my affirmation of my love of Swarm, you are probably thinking: “So what.” Fair point. I’ll get there. If you are from Austin, there are a couple things you could be thinking. So I’ll start to clear that up. No, I’m not a waitress there.  No, I’m not a middle-aged business man who needs to cut down on his red meat consumption. No, I’m not independently wealthy.

I’m a media supervisor at an ad agency and as part of my job I build relationships with sales reps from digital, television, and print publications. Sometimes that relationship building takes place over dinner. Sometimes that dinner is at a swanky steakhouse that is an Austin institution with steaks that start at $55.

Courtesy of travelsquire.com

Jeffrey’s Facade – Courtesy of travelsquire.com

Now, I’m not going to lie and tell you that it’s not a damn good steak. It is. If you have an anniversary, or any particularly important celebration coming up, go to Jeffrey’s. Get one of their yummy cocktails, sample the cheese cart, talk to the sommelier and get a great bottle of wine, throw caution and the World Health Organization to the wind an indulge in some delicious red meat. Do it. You will have celebrated well.

What I am going to say, that being the Mayor of this fine institution is embarrassing. I hold no other mayorships. Zero. So for this to be the only one, just makes me feel weird. I have been there a total of 4 times, and each time I have felt extremely spoiled to be eating so well…and like an imposter. This is a fancy people place. I am a fancy lady…but not that fancy.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, I typically am fine with self-identifying as a Swarm user. I still am. But I was really taken back by how much of a fraud being the mayor of Jeffrey’s would make me feel. If at all possible I’d like to abdicate the thrown. The Major of Jeffrey’s should not be me, it really has to be the guy with the killer mustache who does both the cocktail and the cheese cart. Am I right?

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What I Learned on My 8 Mile Run Today

Yes, you read that title correctly. This morning I, Amanda, had an 8 mile run. Ok, fine, miles 5-7 were a bit combo run/walk. But that’s not the point. The point is in like 1h 40m I moved myself 8 FUCKING MILES.

And this run was very educational. I learned a great many things and I want to share them with you.

  1. 8 miles is far.
  2. An overcast sky on a Texas morning in August is a blessing.
  3. There are a lot of bakeries and furniture stores on Burnet I need to visit.
  4. Medical Parkway is almost exclusively doctors offices (fair) and hair salons.
  5. Don’t put “Take a Walk” by Passion Pit on your running playlist, sends the wrong message.
  6. Someone on 35th St has a rooster.
  7. Hills are stupid.
  8. Setting a goal and telling everyone about it is really vital to success

I said i learned things,I didn’t say they were all earth shattering. But I think the last one is pretty important. At least for me. I ran 8 miles today, because in October I’m running 10 in this awesome charity race, Run for the Water. I decided to fund-raise in addition to running and my friends and family have donated, so…..I kinda have to run this race.

Yeah the money will go to the charity regardless but now  everyone knows I’m doing it and they’re gonna ask me about it and I am self-centered enough that I want to be able to say “oh yeah, it went great.” I don’t want to say “oh that, um yeah, so I chickened out because I didn’t want to be the last person to finish.”

I do not love running. If I wasn’t doing this race this would be just about the only reason I ran: someecards

And while I love to eat and drink, that really only ever inspired 3 miles tops. I cannot believe that I’m going to run 10. And honestly, at this point I’m not really sure its even possible. But this morning around mile 6, 8 seemed impossible, and i made it home so maybe there is hope. At the very least there’s a whole internet full of these to keep me going:

Hey GirlRyan Gosling

June 2014, A Success Story

So circa Spring 2012 I decided to give running a try as an adult. Up until then I had negative bordering on traumatic memories of running having been subjected to mile runs in gym class as a chubby asthmatic kid. Somehow I turned a corner on it and me and running worked out our issues. I’ll never love running the way I love say, cheese, but since running helps me eat cheese without turning into the 600 lbs woman we have come to an agreement.

I have no desire to be one of those insane people that runs marathons. Sorry, just no. However, when  I moved to Austin I was working my way up to a 10K having completed several 5Ks and having settled into 3 miles as a standard run.

Yeah, well a lot has happened since last August and since running doesn’t make me happy the way cheese makes me happy I have seriously slipped. And it’s whatever. I’m not going to beat myself up about it . Perspective, it’s one of the only good things that comes from unthinkable loss.

So at the start of this month a bunch of people in my life were talking about starting 30 day challenges: abs, yoga, etc. I was feeling a little left out, until I decided to give myself a June challenge, too. I opened my Nike+ Running App and figured out how many runs per month I had averaged in the last year as well as how many miles.

Then I set my challenge, beat my average of 7 runs and 13 miles with an 8 run/13.1 mile goal. Not exactly a Herculean feat I know but hey judgey-mc-judgey-pants it’s a start.

We’ll there is a solid week left in this beautiful month and by using an aggressive red sharpie on my lovely Boston wall calendar to mark my progress I have hit my goal. 8 runs totaling 17.92 miles.

June

None of those runs were 3 miles. None of them were at the pace I used to run. But that’s not the point. The point is that I set a goal and I met it. And it feels good. It was such a little thing but life is totally in the little things. Like sweaty runs, achieved goals…..and brie.

Another year…Another Spotty Commitment to Blogging

Happy 2014. Another year…another spotty commitment to blogging.

Typically I get overly apologetic about my long hiatuses between posts. But this go around I’m going to give myself a free pass. If you’re reading this, chances are you are a family member or a friend and you know full well why I’ve been MIA. If you happen to be a reader coming from across the interwebs to enjoy my ramblings (first thank you!), I won’t tap dance around it. My absence has been a direct result of losing my mother to stomach cancer in November.

Before you race to the comments section to tell me how sorry you are, don’t worry about it. I know you’re sorry. Who wouldn’t be sorry? You’d have to be Satan incarnate to not feel bad for a girl who lost her Mom. I’ve drafted a lot of posts about losing her, and I fully intend to actually follow through and post about it at some point. The sub-title of this blog promises wit, but let’s be real, it’s really just a collection of stories that could more easily be called “The World According to Amanda, In Case You Might Care.”

So yeah, there might be some semi-downer posts coming out in 2014. Potential titles include: Fuck You Cancer…No Really, Fuck You; 10 Things Not to Say to Someone Who’s Mom Died; Dear Hallmark, Fuck You Too, Sympathy Cards Are Dumb; Why You Should Definitely Drive Half Way Across the Country With Your Dad; Some Awesome Things My Mom Taught Me That I’m Willing To Share With You. All working titles and subject to change, obviously.

One thing I am willing to write about is one of the many reasons my Mom was quite possibly the most selfless and freakin’ genius mom ever. So I moved to Austin a little over 4 months ago knowing full well that my Mom’s time was limited. The prognosis was never great, but my mom was a fighter and you kinda just enter this alternate reality of wishful thinking with these things. So when I got offered the interview for my current job I called my mom hysterical crying. I was jumping ahead in my mind to getting offered the job (cocky I know, but hey, I did get it so….just sayin’) and I was terrified of leaving the east coast and her feeling like I was abandoning her while she was facing this terrible thing.

First, she calmed me down by pointing out that I didn’t have a job offer so I needed to slow my roll. Then she said she’d never tell me I couldn’t go. I responded that she could totally tell me I couldn’t go. She was the one with the Big C and she got to make the rules and if she told me I needed to stay in Boston, I would suck it up and stay. Period.

When I actually got offered the job, and visited Austin, and started to feel like this was just the change I needed I called her again. She told me I needed to do this, not despite the fact she was sick, but because she was. She said I needed to take the job because I needed to have a life that was my own.

At the time I didn’t understand that. I told myself I’d be budgeting it in to fly home every other month to see her, so that I was home just as frequently as I had been when I lived in driving distance. It didn’t occur to me that she’d get so sick so fast. And I certainly didn’t anticipate starting 2014 already half an orphan. But now that that is my reality I understand what my Mom did for me in helping me make this huge move.

As I walked from my downtown one-bedroom apartment to the farmer’s market I’ve posted about in the past, green juice in hand, about to see all the dogs and the children and buy local farm fresh produce to begin the post-holiday detox I realized exactly what she has given me. She has given me a place that is all mine; that is proof that I’m going to be ok without her. It’s proof I’m going to be ok because I’ve already laid the foundation for this happy chapter in my life and I did it all on my own. I couldn’t have had a happier Saturday morning yesterday and when I swapped out my finished juice for a cup of coffee it honestly felt like she was smiling and saying “I told you. I told you’d be fine, look how fine you are.” You were right Mom. Totally right.

I’m a Grown Up, I Have Throw Pillows

It’s not that I don’t think of myself as an adult. But for some reason adult and grown up are different to me.

I’ve been mostly financially independent for quite a while. I’ve lived in cities for the past 6 years. And I’ve lived completely on my own here in Austin since I arrived 2 months ago.

But today I really felt like a grown up. Because today. I rented a Zipcar. Drove my butt 30 min north to the closest IKEA. And a bought a couch y’all.

This beauty is all mine.

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And it pulls out to be a bed so that people can start visiting me already!

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And to think it started out as this

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I’ve always loved being independent. But for some reason this whole couch thing symbolized a lot more. I’m really on my own. I really live in Texas. I’m really a grown-up. I mean I’ve got throw pillows and everything!

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.

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?