It's still in the 20s here and feels like it has been for a year, but last weekend I got a shock of sleeveless, no-tights weather in Austin. When it hit 80 I started sweating and complaining, as is my right, even if I've been shivering inside my own apartment most of 2014.
Austin (this was my first trip–no I've never been to SXSW and have no plans to) could be summed up with three B's: BBQ, Ball jars, beards. The entire city seemed scented with smoldering wood. I can't imagine anyone hating the smell of hickory (or is it oak?) burning in the air, but if you did, you would hate this. The folksy use of canning jars is also pervasive in other parts of the country, but even the hotel was using them in the bathroom for drinking glasses. And yes, Brooklyn is full of beardos, but relatively groomed not full-on ZZ Top hair on 20somethings. At one bar, The Brixton, 7 out of 10 men had hillbilly facial hair and when I thought maybe I was the oddball, upon leaving a pedicab driver outside exclaimed, "It's a beard convention" so I felt better.
I went thrift store shopping, something I never do in NYC, and picked up a few cookbooks (I'm more about the '70s and '80s than I used to be, which I'm not even going to pretend is normcore) and a pair of frumpy low-heeled shoes that happened to fit just right, in a shade of green I like. It's nearly the same green that I painted my table last year, which makes this photo look sort of off.
I picked the hotel, Lone Star Court, a brand new property made to look Texan mid-century, mostly because it was attached to an upscale outdoor mall. The mint green Smeg fridge was cute.
Maggiano's was right across the street.
On weekend nights, bands play at the open-door, fire-pit (the entire complex smelled of a campfire always) warmed bar on the other side of the pool. I could hear a Steppenwolf cover and gaze upon the Dillard's logo while safely from my porch.
I went to a botanical garden with pretty much nothing in bloom except a handful of these creepy True Detective crime scene totems scattered about some scrub grass.
Of course, I ate bbq, Tex-Mex and drowned in queso, but that's not for here.
What else have I been up to?
I've thrown out my back, or I think I have since I'm not sure what that means exactly. A few days after I knocked my teeth out, my lower back started killing but I didn't go to the doctor because that's the kind of thing they just tell you to go home rest for (did I mention I received a $720 ambulance bill and near-$900 ER charge?). After a few weeks, it dissipated, but then last week it came back to the point where I couldn't sit up or get out of bed. This is probably just the beginning of the end where all my limbs and organs begin petering out.
I signed a six-month extension on my lease. Who knows what I'll be doing at the end of September.
I bought a Chromecast so I can now watch Netflix on TV like a young person even though I still pay for cable and have a semi-land line (I keep the latter because I do interviews for work and it's more reliable).
I started taking another writing class because I'm convinced that one day I'll actually be able to write a convincing non-bloggy personal essay and paying for classes forces me to focus (actually I paid $400+ for an online class last year around this time and totally stopped participating three-fourths through). It's not really about skills anyway. Of course I can write a personal essay; getting them published is another thing. Same for the opposite of personal essays, the service piece. I'm not sure what switched in the world, but in the past year I've not been able to get anyone interested in anything I pitched. And frankly, my motivation is low considering that something I could get paid $350 for ten years ago might get me $50 today. Some are cold emails, some are editors that are not complete strangers, and I'm not getting no's but completely ignored. In the current OMG Yummy! video landscape, no response is the new no. And if you want a concrete example, like four months ago I was trying to drum up interest in a piece on '70s cocktails, the unloved era, making a comeback. Total silence. Time Out and The Wall Street Journal have both written this article since, so it's really about me, not the subject being timely. And what this does is make me want to be meaner and less trusting of people and not help others if they were to ask. Sometimes I wonder if I suffer from the Dunning-Kruger effect, but it's more likely that I don't know the right people and am not persistent enough.
The night of my first class, I was dumb and wore these sweater tights that I found in my closet and had forgotten about. I have at least 30 pairs of tights so this is reasonable, but with this weather, how could I have ignored the thick wooly ones? I remembered why, ten minutes out the door: they don't stay up. By the time I got to the subway, the crotch was already skulking down and by Manhattan the waistband was half-way down my thighs and had taken my underwear with it. Freezing temps and naked waist to mid-thigh aside, I was more concerned that they'd keep traveling downward until appearing below my knee-length skirt. I mean, I had a parka one that also hit at about mid-thigh, but there was nothing to cover up with below that. I was late and wanting to fast walk, but could not because my only remedy was to shuffle and press my arms against my sides and flatten my hands in my pockets to try and maintain the level of rolled-down tights and underwear and this kind of worked. I wasn't able to rectify the situation until the break one-and-a-half hours into class. And then the whole thing just replayed on the way back home but it was dark by 10pm and if my tights fell completely down on my three-block Williamsburg trot, no one would notice. Instead of throwing the tights out–the quality looks so good and there are no holes–I washed them and put them back in the closet. I hope I have the good sense to not give them another go next winter.