A Windy City Easter

Why hello there, old chap! Blogging is getting a little more difficult as I settle deeper into the routine of day-to-day life. After work it’s the gym, followed by the grocery store, then home, plant-watering (the garden is thriving despite the drought), cooking, cleaning, shower and bed. I’m lucky if I can watch half an hour of Bravo at night. But you’re not here to read my schedule.

For now, I’d like to tell you about my recent weekend jaunt. I know it’s Wednesday, and last weekend seems like eons ago, but it was such a tell-worthy weekend.

On Friday after work, The Patrick (hereinafter TP) and I made a mad dash to the airport. Our flight to Chicago was, of course, delayed, so the mad dash was in vain. We had time, however, for crappy airport food and to meet a lovely inebriated couple whose flight was delayed for five hours. The flight itself was not uneventful. Turbulence and nervous flight attendants kept me praying for the duration.

We arrived late Friday to spend the night at the home of one of the most amazing people I know. My friend Caitlin served in the Peace Corps in Zambia and is now working in Chicago. She graciously welcomed us into her home at 1:00 in the morning and stayed up with us to catch me up to speed on life in the Windy City.

TP and I spent Saturday with my brother, sister-in-law and the most adorable children in the world.¬†Delicious brunch, a walk to the playground, Easter egg dying, Berenstain Bear reading with my niece, cooing at my nephew, home-made pizza eating — it was anything but routine. And every moment was precious.

Even TP enjoyed dying eggs.
Sunday we woke up early for Easter church, where I ran into a dear former professor waiting for the next service. Chicago always has a way of making me feel like I’m in a small town nestled within a big city.

After breakfast and an Easter egg hunt, Patrick and I headed back to the airport for our return flight back to Texas. The flight was cancelled just before take-off and there was nothing short of a debacle in the airport as we anxiously tried to figure out when we would get home. Five hours later, we encountered the aforementioned lovely inebriated couple (sober this time) at an airport restaurant while we waited for our flight. They could commiserate with our situation, and we wound up making friends.

We got home safe, albeit incredibly late, Sunday night. All the stress caused by an airline that will remain unnamed (let’s just say it rhymes with schmontinental) was worth it, though. Look at these faces. I’d do it all over again tomorrow if it meant I could see them.

When Life Gives You a Penske

This past weekend I went to Austin to see one of my best friends in the world. Nina and her boyfriend needed to escape Chicago’s never-ending winter and picked a perfect weekend for Texas spring. (Coincidentally, I will be escaping the 90-plus-degree weather here next weekend with a trip to Chicago.)

While in Austin, we did what everyone does on a weekend trip to “the big city” (Austin is, after all, the big city to us). We ate, we drank, we went to a concert, we met the locals and we bought furniture.

Patrick and I had previously purchased a couch but it would be months before it was ready for pick-up. Since delivery fees are through the roof when you’re talking about a 60 mile span, we opted for renting a truck and hauling the couch ourselves. We didn’t realize at the time of this decision, however, just how difficult it would be to navigate a 16-foot truck through downtown Austin. The Little Blue Gem got to guide the way with me as its nervous pilot. “Serenity, Confidence, Strength,” I repeated to myself over and over as I weaved through Mopac traffic, leading a bright yellow truck and its fearless driver.

We survived.

And since we had success with the first leg of the trip (i.e. getting the couch), we decided that on the way out of town we should kill another proverbial bird with a single stone. Remember our lack of dining chairs? We lack no more, my friends. Our new couch got to ride back to College Station with company to share the oversized truck cabin. Thanks to our impulse buy, we can now eat and sit at the table at the same time — who would’ve thunk it?!

I’m overwhelmed by seating options. And clearly, so is Fish Taco.

Janitor Keys

I’m a very nervous person. I worry about all sorts of ridiculous things like comma splices or the possibility that I could be allergic to wine or whether or not I feed my cats too much (that last one is really quite probable). But some of my worries are completely legitimate. Case in point: I worry that I will be judged by friends, coworkers, the Kroger cashiers for the sheer volume of my keychain.¬†

I have what are known in some circles as janitor keys. 

It’s the kind of keychain where it can take 5 minutes to locate the required key for a door. It’s the kind of keychain that weighs down my purse and presumably my ignition. It’s the kind of keychain that contains library cards to cities I no longer live in and keys for homes I only visit once a year. It’s the kind of keychain that is never hard to find in a purse because it takes up nearly the entire purse.

Extra baggage. Extra opportunities to be judged.

So last night, I shed the extra weight. It felt so good this morning to grab my keys and feel like I have exactly what I need and nothing extraneous – that is, assuming I don’t suddenly need access to the Nashville library. I did, however, keep the pepper spray, though, so don’t cross me.

Texas Love

There are things about the town I live in now that took some initial getting used to. One of those things is my town’s version of the ice cream man. Growing up, I’d delight at the sound of “Turkey in the Straw” each summer as the ice cream truck would slowly roll through the neighborhood. Upon moving here, I heard the sound of jingling bells every evening, a sound I eventually learned was coming from the popsicle peddler. The peddlers ride around neighborhoods with a little refrigerated cart attached to their bicycles. The sound of their bells is so uniquely Texan, but the joy they bring to children’s faces is universal.

Out here, Patrick and I have also developed a love for Mexican grocery stores. Back in Nashville, we frequented the Indian grocer and the Asian market in town. We love looking at foods that are unusual to us, and nothing makes me happier than buying a 20 pound bag of rice (I’m taking suggestions for how to re-use the empty burlap bags).

On Saturday night, when other normal couples went on date night to the movies and out to dinner, Patrick and I headed to the new Mexican grocer in town to delight in fresh garbanzo beans and ogle tamarind pods. On our trip to Marfa we discovered a Mexican sparkling mineral water called TopoChico.

It’s refreshing and bubbly, and, best ever, it comes in lime and peach flavors (in addition to plain old original). Yesterday, it got up to 90 degrees here, and we both decided it was the kind of day where all you want to do is drink TopoChico. If yesterday is indicative in any way of the kind of summer we’re going to have here, it’s safe to say we’ll be going through a lot of TopoChico (I’m taking suggestions for how to re-use the empty bottles).