The Travelin’ Weenies: On the Road Again

Several years ago, I unplugged from social media during a trip to Colorado and wrote a 13-part series on my blog. As I prepare to leave for a trip up the California coast, I’m trying to decide if I want to report from the road on social media or unplug and write longer blog posts to be published as a series upon my return.

In case you’re curious but don’t want to commit to the entire oeuvre, here’s a sentence or two from each post:

Part 1: The Colorado Experiment - In order to prevent a pall from forming over our vacation as only an unintentionally euthanized pet can do, it was decided that I would take the Xanax and Dexter would monitor the drink cart.

Part 2: The Comfort of Crap - Thus was I forced to endure the withering stares of the holier-than-thou light-packer set as I moved two sweatshirts and a toiletry kit the size of a small raft into Mr. Weenie’s bag.

Sasquach

Part 3: Weenie in Her Full, Upright and Locked Position – What child picked its nose and wiped it on my arm rest? Who is that coughing up a lung in the exit row? How many heads have rested on this miniature dust mite farm some call a pillow?

Part 4: And They’re Off - Take note, all you pet-loving travelers: Do not attempt to toss a dog dish full of water out the window of a car going 65 miles per hour.

Part 5: Down in The Valley - Having paid for the experience, we decided to take full advantage of all the park had to offer, which as it turned out, included a terror ride to the bottom of the gorge in a small metal cage.

Part 6: Lost in Condo City - While these asshole harbingers of doom mocked us from above—all the while hoping my small, leashed, rodent-like companion would make a break for it—I spotted a figure walking toward us.

Part 7: Man Does Not Live by Cookies Alone - Other food-related hiccups during our vacation included an in-flight salsa explosion, the unfortunate altitude-meets-yogurt episode, a coffee-on-Nikon/poodle moment, and the great Rocky Mountain scrambled egg incident.

Part 8: Mountain Mama - We climbed up ridges to gorgeous waterfalls, while resident fecal expert, Bill Haddad, kept us apprised of the bowel habits of Colorado’s diverse woodland creatures.

Doggie YogaPart 9: Why Poodles and Spas Don’t Mix – There were very few things we missed along the way due to poodle intolerance—we even managed to slip him into a few restaurants here and there—but sneaking him into a spa seemed a bit optimistic.

Part 10: On the Road Again - Have you ever tried outrunning the rotation of the earth? Not as easy as Superman made it appear, but sort of fun in a Lucy and Ethel kind of way.

Part 11: Vail - Coming back to Vail after so long was like going to someone else’s high school reunion; I didn’t know anyone and spent a lot of time trying to find a restroom.

Part 12: Rocky Mountain Hell - We’ve given thought to climbing onto the roof to try and get service, but who would take care of Dexter if we died in a tragic internet accident?

Epilogue - As I sprawl out on the kitchen floor, waiting for the house to cool down, it occurs to me that other than my husband and a 12-year-old boy panning for gold, I haven’t spoken to another human being in over two weeks.

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Now to decide what to do during my trip (other than enjoy it). Maybe I don’t need to report every detail, but it makes traveling more fun. And the bonus is afterward I’ll have a nice memory journal to look back on. What would you do?*

*Let’s pretend “both” is not an option.

I tried (and failed) not to use “SXSW” in this headline.

skipperpinThe great and powerful SXSW is upon us, and with it, a slew of blog posts about the pros and cons of the season. Whether you warmly welcome the mass of humanity setting upon our fair city or mutter obscenities as they jack up the price of air travel, you probably fit into one of the following seven categories of Austinites. See where you fall along the spectrum:

A-TEAM: “Get off my lawn.”

  • Those who remember Armadillo World Headquarters, Skillerns Drugstore, pre-Mopac transportation, and Aqua Fest (bonus points if you had a Skipper Pin)
  • Allowed to complain/shake fist*

*might be mistaken for an elderly person**
**probably are an elderly person

B-TEAM: “You can be on my lawn, but only if you bring me a giant doobie.”

  • Those who remember Eckerd’s Drugstore, jeans that fit properly, and blow-jobs on South Congress that didn’t include dinner and drinks
  • Allowed to complain; fist-shaking optional

C-TEAM: “Get off my lawn.” *said ironically*

  • Can be identified by number of Apple products in his man-purse; often confused for SXSW attendee; sneaky
  • Not allowed to complain; legal to throw rocks at this person, although must be prepared to pay for broken horn-rimmed glasses (unless worn ironically, in which case you may stomp on them repeatedly)

D-TEAM: “What the hell’s the problem with this traffic? I’m going to be late for my manicure.”
WARNING: Soccer Mom (Do not fuck with these people.)

E-TEAM: “What is that bright disk in the sky?”

  • Often referred to as “recluses,” these people remember a time before cell phones/laptops, when parking downtown was free.
  • Complaining rights depend upon whether you’re too cool (see C-Team) or too old (see A-Team)

F-TEAM: “Get out of my town and go back to California, posers.”

  • Moved to Austin after 1979
  • Mistakenly think they’re allowed to complain; likely to be mocked by Teams A and B

SPECIAL TEAMS (Natives)
CAUTION: Handle with care; may be hostile

  • Can be identified by pissed off facial expression and total disdain for others (especially when those others are from Dallas)*
  • Allowed to complain while two-stepping over your grave

*Unlike F-Team, the Natives see Californians as just another irritating invasive species, akin to hackberry trees and feral pigs. No matter how often you clear the land or cull the herd, they just keep coming back.

And there you have it—your guide to a happy and safe SXSW. There’s no need to fight about it—just pick a team and go with the flow.

Now please get off my lawn.

Ethics, Schmethics

I was recently asked to contribute a post to Krystle Lilliestierna’s wonderful blog, PaperFort Studio. As I nosed around the site, a bulleted list on the about page caught my eye. It is there where Krystle sets forward her “Code of Ethics for Creative Endeavors.” And that’s when it hit me. I was staring into the face of my direct opposite: a blogger with ethics.

easter_easter_cakes_cookie_cutter

I now present to you the “she-said/she-said” of ethical codes: 

Her: Sketchbook first. Computer second.
Me: Computer first. Hygiene second.

Her: Never settle for the first idea.
Me: Do as little work as possible.

Her: Take time to ponder and reflect.
Me: Check Facebook, eat waffles.

Her: Seek inspiration outside of the internet.
Me: Seek inspiration on Pinterest.

Her: Respect the process.
Me: Get it done in time for the Colbert Report.

Her: Find power in simplicity.
Me: Find power so I can charge my phone.

Her: Make multi-tasking the exception.
Me: Make raisins in cookies the exception.

Her: No question is silly.
Me: No question is important enough to interrupt an NCIS Los Angeles marathon.

Her: Details set the tone.
Me: Chips and salsa set the tone.

Her: Follow my gut.
Me: Follow the chocolate.

Her: Take risks.
Me: Take the easy way out.

Her: Try again. And again.
Me: Try once. Fail. Stomp off in a huff.

Her: Seek tasks that challenge me.
Me: Seek tasks that don’t require showering.

Her: Trust my expertise.
Me: Trust Wikipedia.

Some people might see this list and conclude that I’m an underachiever. While it’s hard to argue otherwise, I prefer thinking of myself as “The Mirror of Self-Confidence.” One glance at me and you’ll immediately feel better about yourself.

You’re welcome.

 

Barf Me Out!

Hey there! Look who wrote her first guest post ever! Thanks to Krystle Lilliestierna at Paper Fort Studio for inviting me to write it.

big-brother-is-watching

“You asked me once, what was in Room 101. I told you that you knew the answer already. Everyone knows it. The thing that is in Room 101 is the worst thing in the world.”  —Nineteen Eighty-Four

Anyone familiar with George Orwell’s classic dystopian novel remembers Room 101 – the torture chamber in which a prisoner’s worst nightmare becomes his or her method of punishment. I’ve given my own Room 101 a lot of thought, and over time it has developed into a perfect vision of Hell:

I’m on an airplane, in a window seat next to a child who’s suffering from acute motion sickness. As I leap onto the lap of the guy in the next row, an unpleasant flight attendant orders me back to my seat. When I refuse, an air marshal tackles me in the aisle and cuffs me as I lie on the soiled floor. (So sue me for having a flair for the dramatic.)

When asked to write a post about fear, I started a list: scorpions, cobras, scorpion/cobra hybrids, accidentally buying a blood diamond, etc., cleverly avoiding the carsick elephant in the room. It speaks to the depth of my fear that I have difficulty even writing it down.

I’m afraid of barf.

163-snacksI was surprised to learn emetophobia is fairly common. Not many people enjoy throwing up, but imagine spending a good part of your life avoiding it. Adding insult to injury, people think puking is hilarious, and once alerted to my weakness can’t wait to tell me all their barf-tastic stories.

I would rather French kiss a tarantula while wearing a meat suit in a shark tank than throw up or be near someone else who is. To illustrate how this phobia manifests itself in my daily life, here is a sampling of strategies I employ to create a barf-free environment:

Be proactive. To avoid the unique embarrassment that comes from being tackled by an air marshal, get an aisle seat whenever possible.

Be prepared. Always travel with anti-nausea wristbands, prescription anti-emetics, Dramamine and Xanax.

Be vigilant. When eating out, I’ve been known to feel the temperature of the butter or cream on the table, and if they’re not adequately chilled, request fresh replacements.

Avoid drunks. If you have a problem with the idea of being left in the gutter, don’t count on me to be your designated driver. I will dump your drunk ass on the side of the road, drive home and sleep like a baby. Guilt does not factor into this equation.

Plan well in advance. If my husband says he’s feeling queasy, I pack a bag and put it by the front door with my keys and a blanket just in case. If he ends up getting sick, I sleep outside in the truck. In retrospect, this might explain why he says I’m not a nurturer.

148.martha-stewart-she-aintThe first step is admitting you have a problem. I choose to believe that drinking alcohol protects me from raw egg cooties, so I do tequila shots whenever I bake. I realize this strategy is flawed, but there’s little point in baking if you can’t lick the beaters. Plus, I get a nice little buzz going.

Always get it in writing. I’ve been known to make overnight guests promise not to throw up in my house. (I don’t actually require a written contract, preferring instead to use the honor system for friends and family.)

An ounce of prevention is worth a gallon of hand sanitizer. If I had to choose one strategy with the biggest potential payoff it would be this: Do not have children.

Don’t be stupid. Avoid roller coasters, raw chicken, small planes, deep sea fishing, unrefrigerated dairy products, spinning in circles, Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines and children’s birthday parties.

Acknowledging my phobia is strangely liberating. When people discover this part of me, my other quirks seem a little less glaring. Sure, I have hermit-like tendencies and an inability to eat tomato soup without a grilled cheese sandwich, but that’s nothing compared with the decontamination process I undergo after a visit with my nephews.

Unlike Orwell’s fictional version, my Room 101 is all too real. One look at my nauseated husband crawling to the kitchen for a glass of ginger ale while his wife sleeps peacefully in the driveway should be enough to convince you of that. Now, will somebody please get that poor man a cool compress and some saltines? I hear his wife is a real jerk.

“You must try harder. It is not easy to become sane.”  —Nineteen Eighty-Four

10 Things You Need to Know About Winter in Austin

Snow Day

My sister and me.  And a snowman. (You can’t tell from this photo, but we used almost all the snow in the yard to make him.)

If you are new to Austin, you might not be familiar with our winter ways. Never fear, because I am here to help. When the local forecast calls for snow, that means there’s a 97% chance it won’t snow. Regardless, I would encourage you to prepare for a natural disaster, because at a certain point, whether or not it snows becomes irrelevant. The National Weather Service has nudged the snow cornice, and it’s too late to stop the impending avalanche.

Here’s what you should expect in the coming days:

  1. Children will stay up all night looking out their windows for signs of snow.
  2. Adults will stay up all night looking at their weather apps for signs of snow.
  3. Parents and children alike will study the local news stations with fingers crossed, waiting to hear if school will be cancelled. It should be noted that parents’ fingers may be crossed for different reasons than those of their children.
  4. All the grocery stores will run out of everything. If you choose to stock up on supplies for the 3% chance of waking up with a thin layer of frost on your windshield, I recommend wearing protective gear. It can get pretty ugly in the toilet paper aisle.
  5. If it rains but does not freeze, people will pretend the rain is sleet and drive accordingly.*
  6. Local meteorologists across all networks will experience a phenomenon known as a “snowgasm.” If the weather makes national news, prepare for multiple snowgasms.
  7. Plan on recording all your favorite TV shows, as they will be preempted by local news stations showing off their latest ice graphics.
  8. In the unlikely chance it snows, you will want to dust off all your winter gear, including (but not limited to) coats, boots, moisture-wicking long underwear, wool socks, neck gators, gloves, glove liners, earmuffs, face masks, snowshoes, ski pants, snow blowers, St. Bernards and plastic trays (for sliding down Murchison hill).
  9. Make a giant batch of chili (with beans).**
  10. If you hail from the south, be sure to investigate the brick-lined hole in the wall where you store your scented candles and National Geographic magazines. There’s a strong possibility this is a fireplace. I highly recommend searching online for instructions on how to use it, because anyone from Austin who claims to know how to work one of those things is a fucking liar. (I’m pretty sure there’s something called a flue that you’re supposed to close up tight to keep all the warmth in, but you should probably call your cousins in New Jersey just to be safe.)

So if you find yourself confused about what to do to prepare for the upcoming disappointment we locals call a “snow day,” feel free to contact me at any hour. I’m sure to be awake. Waiting for snow.

UPDATE: Austin recently received another arctic blast, and there was real ice on the back steps. Drawing up plans for a guardrail now. 

*Sometimes the only way to tell if the shitty drivers around you are responding to rain, snow, ice, pollen, pet dander or asphalt under their tires is to check out the facial expressions of the children in the back seat.

**It has been brought to my attention that Texans do not believe in putting beans in chili. Before things get ugly, let me clarify. I meant to suggest that beans would induce tooting, which would warm both you and your loved ones. In retrospect, it was offensive of me to suggest such a crude act. Mixing chili and beans is blasphemous in these parts. Separation of church and state might not be important to Texans, but goddamnit, don’t you go putting beans near my chili. Oh, and farting on your loved ones isn’t nice. It’s hilarious.

My 10 Resolutions for 2014

I’m not much of a resolution-maker, as I prefer having low expectations and exceeding them. It is in this spirit that I share with you my plan for 2014 in modified call and response format:

ONE

Resolution: Write one post per month on each of my blogs
Realistic Goal: Write one post this year on one of my blogs
Believable Goal: Pay website hosting company on time

TWO

Resolution:  Write a book
Realistic Goal: Outline my idea for a book
Believable Goal: Open a new MS Word document and title it “Book”

THREE

Resolution:  Hit 350 cartoons on CasaWeenie.com
Realistic Goal: Average one cartoon per week on CasaWeenie.com
Believable Goal: Remember password for CasaWeenie.com

FOUR

Resolution: Lose weight
Realistic Goal: Gain less than 10 pounds
Believable Goal: Finish off all the fudge and cookies before midnight

FIVE

Resolution: Eat healthier
Realistic Goal: Eat more veggies
Believable Goal: Stop eating stuff I find on the floor and think is candy

SIX

Resolution: Start exercising
Realistic Goal: Stop using stationary bike as a drying rack
Believable Goal: Occasionally leave the couch to get a glass of water myself rather than have my husband do it while I shop online and watch “Law & Order” marathons in my pajamas

SEVEN

Resolution: Stop procrastinating
Realistic Goal: Learn how to use a calendar
Believable Goal: Continue procrastinating

EIGHT

Resolution: Get out of the house more
Realistic Goal: Shower and get dressed in the morning
Believable Goal: None of the above

NINE

Resolution: Clean my house regularly
Realistic Goal: Clear off my desk by next Christmas
Believable Goal: Find my scissors

TEN

Resolution: Spend a lot less time on social media
Realistic Goal: Spend a little less time on social media
Believable Goal: Spend all my time on social media

So there you have it; my resolutions for the new year. I hope they’ve inspired you—or at the very least, increased your confidence about achieving your own goals. Best wishes for a happy, healthy and (un)believable 2014!

 

Euthanasia in Texas

Dear Ilene’s Garden,

After careful consideration, I’ve decided to put you out of your misery. I don’t take this responsibility lightly, but it’s clearly time. You had such promise in May, but let’s face it—you’ve never been an overachiever, and this process requires full dedication. I’ve noticed you daydreaming a lot (no doubt fantasizing about a bumper crop come autumn). WAKE UP, GARDEN! Where do you think you are? Minnesota??

I remember that one radish you produced a couple years ago. It was a very good radish, but hardly worth the $400 investment. For that price, you could’ve bought a full pint of radishes at Whole Foods—maybe even some lettuce to make a salad. I don’t mean to hurt your feelings, Garden, but surely you must sense it’s time.

Poor Ilene, bless her heart. Her foolish optimism makes me want to tie her up in a little bag and push her into Ladybird Lake. She has done more to set back the art of gardening than Monsanto. It’s as if she’s her own little Dust Bowl, only dustier. I hope at long last you will both find peace.

Your friend,
August 2013