July 29, 2016

Luxury: Treasures of the Roman Empire

With his internship, my friend received a free membership to Nelson-Atkins...and members get to bring themselves and a guest to travelling exhibits for free. It was great that we had an excuse to use his membership (which was received after our initial visit) before the end of the summer.

Sadly enough for him, he had mistakenly heard it was Egyptian-related only to find out it was focusing on luxurious items from the Roman Empire. We were still excited, though!

I'm going to share the Museum's description of the exhibit as it was put far more eloquently than I ever could say it: In Ancient Rome, members of the privileged elite communicated their wealth and status by adorning themselves and their homes with a variety of luxury goods.
Ranging from elaborate gold jewelry to bronze statuettes and finely-wrought silver drinking vessels, Luxury: Treasures of the Roman Empire showcases some of the extraordinary artistic achievements of Roman craftsmen and offers valuable insight into the complex social relations of the Empire.

July 28, 2016

Chipotle Cultivate Festival & Pizzeria Locale

On our original Saturday trip to the WWI museum we were very annoyed at the lack of parking - the town had taken over this normally-free parking lot to charge $10 during the Cultivate festival - a free party (except the concessions you buy) thrown by Chipotle about ideas, music, and food. I'd never heard of it but I wanted to check it out seeing as it was, you know, free.

July 27, 2016

Kansas City Bier Company Brewery Tour

After watching Star Trek Beyond Friday night (!), we went for a (large) drink (or in his case, 2) at KC Bier Co. as we have in the past. We happened to read about their weekly tour and planned to be there the next day. 
I'm so glad I read about this place the first weekend I visited, when I helped him get settled into his apartment. I'm sure he would've heard about it without my help but it's a spot we both love - if we ever lived here I wouldn't be surprised if the staff would know us by name. I should also throw in that I didn't get a picture of it but my friend ordered a delicious brat on a bun this time while we waited (which I had a bit of and can confirm its deliciousness).

July 26, 2016

Happy Birthday, Jeremy!

My brother turns 37 today! Hard to believe this little stinker got so old...

I don't know if he knows it or not, but our family has always agreed Jeremy seems to have the biggest heart of us all. Despite the many, many struggles he's gone through (out of us siblings, I'd say he's fared the worse with luck & life), he's still the warmest. It's been such a joy for me to see my big brother become a father and to watch his face beam with pride when he interacts with his sons.

July 25, 2016

National World War I Museum & Memorial

While Third Time's the Charm or KC in KC: Final Round sound like fine enough titles, I decided to break the following few posts down separately so there wouldn't be such an obnoxiously long post (as per my usual). Not to say this isn't about to be an obnoxiously long post, because it is - it's a bunch of pictures of a museum, after all... but you don't need that plus the brewery plus the art exhibit plus Chipotle Cultivate fest all at once...

After 11 Saturday morning we started to join a tour after buying our National World War I Museum tickets, but then learned the tour was an hour and forty-five minutes. My friend really wanted to check out the Kansas City Bier Co. tour at 1 pm (the only time offered) and I wanted to buy a memory card before our next site because, guys, for the first time ever I made the mistake of not bringing a memory card. Good news is: you can never have enough memory cards. So we checked out the Memorial tower and booked out around noon.

July 21, 2016

On Gratitude

I'm really grateful that I had already written a few (positive) scheduled blog posts in advance before the recent events, or it would have been far more difficult to create such posts in the present time. I have a habit of often feeling like "nothing else" could possibly go wrong in the world without stopping to smell the roses. With that said, I have a lot to be grateful for lately, so I'd like to share those things with you now.

  • I'd never heard of an overage escrow check before, but I received one today, and with a little extra sitting in my checking account than usual, I can say - for a moment - I am in $0 credit card debt. 
  • Yesterday my co-workers took me out to a planned-belated birthday lunch, stating their tradition is that at least once a year, you shouldn't have to buy your own lunch. There was homemade ice cream cake, too. 
  • I'm so glad Kafka and Lucky have each other's company to preoccupy them in this time - I even had a little time to kill on the clock the other day after a cancelled appointment and bought them matching beef knuckles so they wouldn't have to fight over one. I'm also really thankful that there has yet to be a barking war between Lucky and the sweet pit-bull next door - which is usually what happens when he visits. 
  • I'm really grateful that while taking on caring for Lucky for the time being, I still have access to my friend's parents to allow me to go visit him out of town - like this approaching weekend, when he desperately needs the cheering up. I'm also happy with how the dogs are handling my 13 hour days and not tearing up the house or having accidents. 
  • I had to cancel brunch plans Sunday that had been in place for some time, and those little sneaksters went and tucked a card on my kitchen table with a post-it instructing me to check my fridge which was stuffed with homemade blueberry muffins and a Fossil Cove six-pack. 
  • Not only did a dear friend offer to drive the carpool down to Trent's funeral, she provided the sweetest birthday dinner for me Monday night (even though I hadn't done much of anything at all for hers a week before!). She created a garden produce mandala as a centerpiece for the Shinerbock, endangered species chocolate (my favorite!), and the sweetest birthday/grievance card I may have ever received - while still sharing her first homecooked meal with me in her new home. I'm fortunate to be surrounded by powerful, independent women who foot their own mortgages like me! 
  • Did I mention that same friend left me flowers? And my boyfriend sent me flowers to cheer me up on my birthday - I had never received flowers at work before!

July 19, 2016

Eureka & the Four Seasons

Well, I don't know about you, but I surely need a distraction. I don't want my blog to bring others down but I fully believe in not pretending everything is okay when it isn't. This week's been one of the most difficult weeks of my life, and it came after weeks of horrible news of terrorist attacks and episodes of police brutality (and corresponding hateful Facebook conversations) and I was already worn down. At this point I'm just more tired than I've ever been. 

I'm very thankful for my support system in this time. I was fortunate enough for my mom to have been in the area and was able to drop back by before she went home to Texarkana after I found out about Trent. I was fortunate enough my boyfriend was able to come in and attend the funeral with me. I was fortunate enough for there to be a carpool down and to have received flowers, homemade muffins, messages, calls, beer, and so, so many hugs. I was fortunate enough to have a collection of pictures and videos to smile at, and of having a friend so loved that I could spend hours reading all the sweet things written about him. 

So without further ado, I'd like to break the cycle here a little and let you know I am still looking at the positive things in life. I didn't do a great job taking pictures during my mom's birthday weekend, but I wanted to share the few I did take. 

We had a full day of garage sailing (as I like to call it) - all over Northwest Arkansas, because they exist but they're always so spread out. We ate food, watched a movie (the kind you squirm in your seat and wish there had been a better movie choice available because it's not prime watch-with-your-mother viewing material), walked around the Crystal Bridges trails, and spent a few hours in Eureka Springs. 

I've been to Eureka several times now. It's a little shy of an hour from Fayetteville near the northern state border. It's one of the area's best kept secrets and is full of beautiful old architecture, funky little shops, and this weird Hippie vs. Conservative Christian vibe going on, with the Passion Play on one side of town and all kinds of weird liberal artsy stuff sprinkled throughout - I love it.
Inspiration Point, right outside Eureka Springs
We also spent a fair amount of time antiquing and visiting flea markets. Which is what my mom likes to do when there aren't any more garage sales available. There were a couple of neat ones at Inspiration Point on the way to Eureka.

July 14, 2016

25 for 25: Life's Lessons So Far

25 doesn't sound very old to most people, but chances are, making it to that quarter of a century mark guarantees I've spent over a fourth of my life. While there were birthdays I was more excited for (16, 18, 21, the ones with cool sleepovers and water balloon fights, etc.), there's something a little surreal about the 25-mark. I thought it would be a good time to think about a few things I've learned/realized over the years...
  1. You cannot predict life - no matter how stable it is at any given moment, it doesn't mean it will remain that way tomorrow. Whether it's: be careful about buying a house because you may not actually stay in it for a minimum of five years because you may not end up staying in grad school and want to move away, or some sudden financial burden or relationship or job change... you cannot know where you will be in five years. You do not know where you'll be a year from now. Don't depend on those plans. 
  2. Tell people you love them as often as you can. I never thought anything of my step-dad asking, "did I tell you I loved you today? Well, I love you today!" when I was younger... in fact, I sometimes grew annoyed at his predictability. But I understand the lesson now. It is so important to give and show love and gratitude and reach out to people you care about and remind them. I haven't done the best job of sticking with my New Years Resolution of being less out of sight, out of mind, but I understand its significance. 
  3. Gratitude is one of the best mindfulness practices for literally anyone. I'm one of those self-proclaimed realists that are maybe a little bit pessimistic, and I envy the pure joy, the sweetest, most sincere, non-annoying kind of happiness exuberating from people like my old Mormon boss... and just by focusing on the positive things that happen each day and all which you do have to be grateful for really does help me feel more optimistic. It's really hard to be grateful when it feels like everything is falling apart and your mental health is hitting a low point - but man, does it do the trick.
  4. Open your eyes and never stop questioning. I wasn't really taught to question things, as a daughter of the South, until I accidentally indoctrinated myself into an Honors College specializing in just that. Make sure you morally agree with things that affect you and your neighbors in the world. Fight against things you don't agree with. Be a force of change for the better. Plant trees whose shade you'll never sit in. Don't turn a blind eye to terrorism on the opposite side of the world. Be an active citizen of society. 
  5. Step out of your comfort zone. This is coming from the queen of comfort, here. If it weren't for stepping out of my comfort zone, I'd still be a picky eater missing out on all kinds of delicious food - maybe I wouldn't have this same love for food or cooking at all! If I hadn't taken the leap to go the "French Camp" or France or even the aforementioned Honors College, I would have never had those multi-week or years-long experiences that seriously impacted who I am today. I wouldn't have gone on one of the most fun vacations I've ever had. I wouldn't have had my experience with Teach for America. One of my biggest regrets from my high school era is skipping out on Arkansas Governor's School and staying home to work my first summer job instead - which was easy to do because it wasn't in my comfort zone and I didn't know what to expect. I would rather regret doing something that not trying it any day. I owe who I am to the space outside my comfort zone. 
  6. A great example of me stepping out of my comfort zone & posing for a local
    photographer who needed a "model," which made me feel pretty silly... but
    here I am, and Kayla did a great job - check her out!

July 11, 2016

On Loss

Just after my fourth birthday, my oldest brother Chris died during a climbing accident at age 19. It was my first introduction to death and I didn't really understand it and I don't recall much of this time period at all. I don't have many memories before age 5 but he's in almost all of them.

I've been to lots of funerals, of relatives and family friends. My mother's mother is the only grandparent I have left. I've been to funerals where young people such as my fellow high school students have died. I've been to more funerals than I can remember to count. 

It's actually been a bit since I've been to a funeral. There was a more recent death that was rather hard to stomach... but they didn't really have a service for her; it was one of my favorite clients, who had died in a car crash almost a year after I'd left my job as a behavior intervention specialist. It was incredibly difficult losing someone younger than me, someone I had mentored, someone who had been through so much, someone who'd been so easy to love.  

- - -


July 9, 2016

Happy Birthday to My Mom!

All I can remember is this perm when I was little.

July 6, 2016

On Success

During my last week in sixth grade we had a “retirement party” for our math teacher. I’m making an assumption that my school wasn’t the only one following the trend of peers signing white t-shirts with permanent marker, much like a yearbook. When Mrs. Cleveland signed mine, she gave me a little pep talk on how she planned to see my “name in lights one day: doctor, or lawyer” (I’m sure she meant a la business sign with a backlight and not Hollywood bulbs) – it’s rather empowering looking back, sure. I had a teacher at a backwoods school that was encouraging a girl to be a doctor instead of a nurse or secretary and hitting high standards, so I’m thankful for that. It even sounded really good at the time.

After I passed the age of wanting to perform by way of singing or acting (though don’t let my car or closet mirrors know), doctor and lawyer were exactly the kind of jobs I dreamed about. That’s what success looked like, I had been taught. From a very early age, I knew much was expected out of me, whether from my parents or the high school teachers who led the 4th grade GT group. In most ways, this was very helpful to me – it was great for my self-esteem (until my teenage years came along), it made me ambitious (and to not surround myself by others who weren’t), it made me work hard at getting a full-ride scholarship (without ever mentioning their growing scarcity), etc. I’m entirely grateful to my wise elders for telling me how smart I was during my younger days instead of focusing on being cute (though it sure was a slap in the face come college when you realize just how average you really are).

My point of this ramble is it taught me one version of success. To get excellent grades, to impress your professors, to get a job with a certain minimum starting salary, and to buy a nice fat house in the suburbs.

July 1, 2016

This One Time, at French Camp...

As you may already know, Nova Scotia is an eastern maritime province of Canada. It is also home to Pointe-de-l'Église, which translates to the town of Church Point. Pointe-de-l'Église received its name because it's home to the tallest wooden church in North America at 190 feet, Église Sainte-Marie. But another reason the town of Pointe-de-l'Église is famous is for its French-language post-secondary institution (the only such college in Nova Scotia): the Université Sainte-Anne.

And in the summer of 2011 (a year before my future trip to France), I attended their infamous five-week immersion program - which was nothing like anything I'd ever done prior for two reasons:

  1. No English was allowed - like, I'm-not-playing, if you were caught doing so too many times, they could send you home and keep your money kind of strict. You could, of course, call home during certain times of day in a designated area - but that's it. 
  2. Being a teacher's kid, my mom was home in the summer, and we weren't wealthy, so I never went to any kind of summer camp like a lot of kids get to. Talk about the semi-adult summer camp that's about to unfold... 
Having said that, there weren't a lot of Americans in attendance, especially during the first session of the summer (which is technically called "spring" session, but speaking as an Arkansan, June ain't spring). With over a fifth of Canada's population speaking French (the majority living in Quebec), ~18 year old students from all over the country travel to Eastern Canada to learn or improve their French every summer - and to party

At Université Sainte-Anne, they keep you busy. No time to spend homesick or talking to outsiders in English busy. No time to be bored... you definitely get your money's worth. With two formal classes in the morning aside (plus homework too), there is still very little downtime. 

In the afternoon, everyone attends a (mandatory) workshop of their choosing. I don't know what I was thinking but I decided to really challenge myself by taking a salsa & African dance class (if you don't know me, I have zero rhythm, and just when I start to get something right and someone applauds me, I mess up all over again). My friend Catherine (whom I had dragged with me) selected my second-choice: poi, where performers swing tethered weights to form hypnotic patterns, and are often glow in the dark (sometimes even on fire!). At the very end, all of the workshops put on a big talent show so they could share their newly learned skills.