Leaving for Chi-Town and other updates

Hey! I know it’s been a minute. How are you? Here’s what I’ve been up to, and why you haven’t been hearing from me:

Blue Eyes Messy Hair will be relaunching soon. I’ve got myself a new design and even a new URL (to be announced), but there’s a lot of work to be done around transferring the old content from this website to the new one. So far, it sounds like this has to be done manually, which means… I need a nice chunk of time to get it done. But this is exciting! More details to come, but until that launch, expect content on here to be a little haphazard. :/

The Chicago move is just days away. We are really getting ready. In fact, Michael is officially moved out of his place, and last week we signed a lease on an apartment. Then yesterday we had a going-away party, which was just oodles of fun. Michael will be moving our stuff up (thank you, best boyfriend) in mid-August while I stick around Houston to keep working. Then we’ll meet up in Austin for a good friend’s wedding, blow it out that night, and fly to Chicago the next day. Peace out, Houston!…ish. I just found out I’ll then be working here until early October. Ah, the consulting life.

We got robbed. Actually, home invaded – the difference being that a “home invasion” happens when the robber enters your house while your’e in there. In our case, this meant while we were sleeping on a Wednesday night. Long story short, WE’RE OKAY and that’s what matters. And he took a lot of gadgets, which can all be replaced. Weirdest of these is that some of these gadgets (cell phones, iPad, etc.) were sitting right next to us while we slept. Yes, it was crazy. Yes, I’ve been able to sleep through the night since. At this point (a week and a half out) it mostly feels like a dream.

I’ve been launching myself into extra-curriculars, and it’s been stressing me out. I generally like stacking my plate a little too high, but lately it’s been too much. It started when I committed to a new workout schedule, which has been incredible. It ramped up when I signed up for a certification test for work, thinking I could just knock it out after a few week’s of study. (Wrong.) It escalated from there with a short but intense writing class (that I highly recommend!), which ended just as a photography class got going. Yikes! I’m actually a little mad at myself for committing to so much in such a short time, while I’m supposed to be moving and also, you know, doing a good job at work. I’m honestly ready for everything to be over. Get me to Chicago, let things calm down.

I hope you have a great rest of the summer! I’ll write again when things are a little calmer and hopefully will do so on the new site!!

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Photo Review: 4.20.2014

Happy Easter! I hope you had a good one, full of dyed eggs and rabbits and brunch. I hope there was brunch!
The last few weeks, in photos…

my morning, as per usual

!

I drove to Austin last weekend to pick Michael up from the MS150. Sans a brunch buddy but in need of fuel for the drive, I dined solo at Revival Market.

They accidentally gave me two espressos… I didn’t mind.

I made my favorite carrot soup! Really good chilled, too.

crawfish boil

sneak attack

pure joy

fish tacos to go (…and if you’re wondering, no, that wheat grass did not work out)

Saturday bike ride

flea market by night

More bike riding! Pretty streets.

Easter bloody

morning crumble prep

It’s strawberry season in Texas. Fresh from the farmer’s market!

wax, neon, protein

As a wrap-up to Easter weekend festivities, my family went to see my brother’s band, Black James Franco. They were great! Such a fun way to end the weekend.

Photo Review: 4.6.2014

Who’s excited for Game of Thrones tonight?! I don’t know about you, but I’m all team Khaleesi. In celebration of the premier of Season 4, Michael said we are going to cook traditional Eastros food… I think that really just means a nice bottle of wine. :)
The last few weeks, in photos…

I did my first pedal party with a group of coworkers. For $45 a person, we pedaled our way through three hours’ worth of bars around Midtown Houston. It was SUPER fun, and my favorite stop was Mongoose versus Cobra, a German-style bar with these amazing pretzels.
Even though it’s still rainy and a little chilly here, the wildflowers have really sprung. It’s illegal to pick them, but I bought this bunch at last weekend’s farmer’s market trip. 

I bought a bike! Last year, Michael got a ton of use out of his bike, and it made me really sad that I was never able to join him. I vowed that this year I’d buy one, so I made true on that promise last weekend. I’ve already gone on a few rides and, besides the soreness on my bum, it’s been great.

breaking in my bike at the Bayou City Art Fest 

my beauty, next to Michael’s

One of my best friends moved across the country on Wednesday. Just before that we celebrated his 27th together… Ray, you will be missed!

hbd

Bluebonnet season never ceases to amaze me.

Do you see it? The perfect spiderweb? It was so complete and impressive I couldn’t take it down… though that will probably change soon.

Michael and I made sushi! Super easy… all about buying quality fish.

Enjoy GoT tonight, and have a great week!

Rainy day thoughts and mindfully waiting

I’m a big believer that things happen when they should. Not in a god’s-hand sort of way, but more in an if I listen carefully enough to myself, I will know when something is right sort of way. It’s all about recognizing my not-yet-conscious thoughts and feelings, and being ready to act when they surface.

Several times in my life, extremely clear decisions have cropped up in my brain that are totally unrecognizable to my conscious; that is, there’s no trace of me ever having toyed with these decisions until they’re there, refusing to be sidestepped. The weird thing is that as soon as I articulate these thoughts, I immediately recognize them as being right, and I can feel that my subconscious has been mulling over them for quite some time.

Moving to Houston was like this for me. I had never considered leaving my job at Teach For America, never considered uprooting from the Upper East Side (for at least a few more years), until one day in December 2011 it occurred to me that I wouldn’t stay. And as soon as I said it – even though I phrased it as a question, at the time – I knew there was really no question. I belonged back in Texas. It was the right thing to do, and I was sure of that.

The kicker is that sometimes, as our subconscious works through particularly tough problems – and before we get the satisfaction of an answer – the experience can be painful and uncomfortable. Before I decided to move to Houston I felt anxious for weeks, and I couldn’t figure out why. And then – poof! – as soon as I decided to move, I felt at peace, and knew the decision to leave New York had been my source of unrest.

And why am I bringing this up, you ask?  Because I’m in the uncomfortable part. I really am. For the past few weeks I’ve had this sort of gnawing feeling, this anxiety that doesn’t seem to go away, no matter how much on my to-do list gets checked off.

At first I thought this feeling was due to my anxiety around passing a certification test for work, then I thought the uncomfort had to do with a presentation I gave the following week. The completion of each of these tasks yielded washes of relief, but both proved temporary: The gnawing is back.

I’m not sure what my subconscious has in store for me, or if it will ever be revealed (I certainly hope so!) but for the time being… my ears are perked.

Photo Review: 11.10.2013

Photos from the past few weeks:

For the past month I’ve been commuting to Austin for work.  This is the point in the drive during which I turn up the Dixie Chicks and feel blessed to live in Texas.

Sunday morning reading
poor crickets
Sometimes there’s nothing better than the store-bought mix.

It’s leather jacket season!
working from home

quinoa spring rolls with Grateful Bread sriracha sauce

virtual participation at Holly’s wedding shower
sunset
jogging around Town Lake in Austin
I was flooded! 
Did you know this is how brussels sprouts grow?
Two year anniversary dinner at Uchi!  My mouth is still watering over the hama chili…

"Headfirst off the Caprock": A Review

Daddy checking out his first copy!

I’ve been reading a lot of non-fiction lately.  “Lean In,” as I’ve mentioned, Michael Pollan’s iconic “Omnivore’s Dilemma” and then his subsequent “In Defense of Food.”  And while I’ve been enjoying them in a fact-hoarding way, there’s something to be said for the almost guilty pleasure of sinking into fiction, which is what I did when I read my dad’s recently published “Headfirst off the Caprock.”

Ah, fiction.  Characters you get to know and like, sympathize with and judge.  “Headfirst” provides the pleasure of character, as the novel follows its hero Kerry through his senior year of high school in the 1970s.  He’s a likable guy (who quite reminds me of the author) with a passion for music and a frustration with the way things are going in Duro, his tiny West Texas town.

Lucky for us we meet Kerry just as things are heating up in Duro — there’s a drug bust on the horizon — and just before he meets his first love, Laura.  We get to watch Kerry and Laura’s relationship unfold in an almost painfully realistic way (think 18-year-old palm sweats, insecurities, and never quite knowing how into you your date is).  But we also get to experience the naive, pure happiness that comes with a first romance.  It made me cry.

While obscure music references and details of life in the Caprock make this a perfect read for anyone who came of age in the 70s, the book’s quickly moving plot and subtle, likable characters make it a pleasure for all lovers of a good story.

Day 50: Things are heating up!

Collapsing into my mat after last week’s run

I think I should start adding a temperature stat to these posts.  It’s 93 degrees outside right now, “feels like” 97, with a high of 103.  Sheesh!  This morning during the run it was about 80, with 80 percent humidity.  For those of you who come from more arid climates than Houston (read: anywhere else), running through 80 percent humidity is a little less intense than running through a steam room.  And since you’re not usually running through steam rooms, let’s call them equal.

Aside from the heat, the run this morning was fantastic.  8 miles, two runners at my speed to chat with, and a pretty steady 9:45 pace with a negative split.  All in all, not so bad.

A few updates on the training front:

– I’m a morning person now!  That’s right, all my workouts now happen before 7 a.m., and I’m not looking back.  It took me about a week to adjust and actually push myself during the workouts — so easy to be sluggish at 5:30 a.m.! — but once my body got used to it, I haven’t had any trouble.  It also helps that the thought of waiting another hour  to exercise — or worse, until the end of the day — means unbearable temperatures.  It either happens in the morning or not at all.

– I have yet to meet my workout goal for a week.  :/  The schedule should be:

  • Sunday – rest
  • Monday – run easy 30-45 minutes
  • Tuesday – hill train with Houston FIT (45 minutes) + arm strength
  • Wednesday – hot yoga
  • Thursday – tempo run with Houston FIT (45 minutes) + leg strength
  • Friday – rest
  • Saturday – long run + core strength

…but too often I’ve cut a workout, and that’s usually been yoga.  This week, however, I went to yoga twice, and felt amazing after.  My body had been craving it — the strengthening, the stretching — so I’m just going to have to suck it up and, well, not cut my workouts out.

– I finally caved in and got a water belt.  I avoided it for the entirety of last year’s marathon season*, but Houston FIT requires them, and they do add a huge amount of flexibility to a run.  What they don’t do, though, is sit nice and snug against my hips.  As a girl, my hips are wider than my waist, which means the belt pops up into my skinnier part, and then bounces around during the run.  Annoying at best.
A few weeks ago, I decided to combat this by strapping the belt really tightly around my waist, which resulted in a horrendous side stitch.  While I want to throw in the towel on the belt, I’m now resigned to wearing it somewhere between my waist and hips, and yes, having to readjust it pretty often during the run.  I’m trying to like it, okay?!  We’re just not there yet.
– I’m getting worried about gaining training weight.  If you’re wondering why anyone would actually gain weight while training, this article explains what I went through last year.  I honestly didn’t even notice it until after the marathon, because I didn’t think it was possible to be burning an extra 4,000 calories a week and be adding on pounds… but somehow I managed it!

The main culprit, according to the article and also in my experience, is the feeling that I deserve a reward meal after a long run.  That should be totally fine and great — I certainly need to refuel — but too often it’s an extra meal.  What I’d like to do is simply adjust the timing of my meals so I have the energy I need for a run, rather than increase my overall calorie intake.

Day 50, by the numbers:
90.07 – miles run to date
8.02 – longest run to date
1:21:45 – time it took
10:12 – average min / mile pace (with water stops — I wish they didn’t count!)
And as usual… the post-run farmer’s market treat:
My favorite: a frothy double espresso
From the Chef Roy tent at the Urban Harvest Eastside farmer’s market: Tomatoes, beets, sprouts and other greens, gruyere cheese and an egg (to make it breakfast-y) on Slow Dough
*How did I avoid running with a water belt in Houston’s deadly heat, you ask?  Only by going to great lengths.  If I wasn’t running with Team In Training (they would usually provide water every two miles), then I would drive the route I was running beforehand and stash water bottles every two miles in people’s yards.  If you live in River Oaks, I may have hit your house…

words words words

Last year, my company was really focused on getting to know each other.  In my first month of work we had to share our “life maps,” which meant sharing a visual representation of whatever aspects of ourselves we wanted to share, with the not-explicitly-stated-but-still-expected requirement that we get deep.

People talked.  They cried.  I cried.  It got real.

When it was my turn, rather than share timeline-style, I gave a summary of my personal values, and attempted to describe where they came from.  While my list contained some typical items (“family” definitely made the cut), what I really remember was that I had written that I have a commitment to “the exact truth.”

“What does this mean?” my coworker, Jovian, had pointed to my poster and asked.

I stumbled.  Do I always tell the exact truth?  Do I expect the exact truth from others?  Do I even believe in absolute truth?  Hmmm… this was trickier than I had intended, and I couldn’t answer conclusively.

What I realized later is that my reference to truth had less to do with not lying and more to do with precision of language.  Ironic, but “truth” wasn’t the precise term at all: What I value is communicating exactly.

And here I am, re-reader of my own emails, blog posts, diary entries, and letters.  A perpetual re-crafter.  A maker of the tiniest adjustments.  An editor.  Re-word, re-phrase, strike out, repeat.  I think I could do it forever.

Some people have passions for causes, some for pleasures, some for other people.  Mine is for words, though there’s no story to tell yet…

p.s.  Good job yesterday, Texas.  

Big Bend

View over the South Rim, Big Bend National Park, TX

Earlier this week, I got back from a five-day vacation to West Texas.  For the vacay, eight of us loaded up two humongous trucks with camping gear, food, and plenty of booze to make our way to Big Bend National Park, in the southwest corner of the state.  Nothing like a 9-hour drive without leaving Texas to give you a little appreciation for the enormity and beauty of the place.

Big Bend is that circled area.

We spent three days in Big Bend, tackling a few hikes, including one semi-harrowing 16-miler and one off the trail, and in general spent our time doing the same camping things I did with my family growing up.  S’more were involved.  So was breakfast bacon.  So were the stars.

Oh yeah — wine was involved, too!  This is the campsite on Day 1.
Emory Peak
Peering over the edge of Emory.  That would have been a long fall.

Day 2 (our first full day) we set out to hike Emory Peak.  The top of the peak, at 7,825 feet, is the tallest point in the park, and getting to it from the campgrounds, at 5,400 feet altitude, was no easy feat.  The hike is a pretty steep climb of switchbacks, followed by a 40-foot scramble to make it to the very top.

We had planned to have lunch at the top, and certainly deserved it after 3 1/2 hours of hiking, but the weirdest thing happened: The last 40 feet of the climb were swarming with gnats and ladybugs.  I thought I liked ladybugs, but getting them down my shirt, up my nose, and even in my eye (that one died :/) made me think otherwise.  We later asked a park ranger about this mild phenomenon, and he didn’t have a clue.  Similarly, my dad was at the top of Emory Peak a few months ago and there were no traces of the insects then, either.  Strange.  Needless to say, we ended up bringing our lunches back down with us and eating and the base.

While I was not-so-secretly hoping we would all continue the hike beyond Emory Peak and around the South Rim — an additional eight-or-so miles — by 2 p.m., when we descended to the base, the sun was beating and supplies were lagging, so half of our crew headed back to camp.  Another couple continued on to do a shorter loop (which would still not get them back to camp until 6 p.m.), and Michael and I decided to stick it out and finish the South Rim.

It was worth it.

South Rim, Big Bend National Park, Texas

Whereas Emory Peak’s reward comes at the very top, with spectacular views for as long as you can stand the bugs, the South Rim takes you along the edge of this ridge for a good 45 minutes of uninterrupted views.

16 miles? 11 hours?  Some seriously quality time with the sig other?  Check, check, check!

Our crew at Santa Elena Canyon.  That’s Mexico right behind!

Day 2, or The Day of Sore Muscles, involved a trip to Santa Elena Canyon, my favorite spot in the whole park.  The canyon is made up of a very slow-moving and shallow Rio Grande river, flanked on both sides by incredibly steep cliffs.  The coolest part of the very short trail is that it ends into a few giant boulders.  When I was a kid, it was my favorite rock climb.

Hanging out at the campsite.  What a sky!
Michael and my romantic silhouette at the end of the Window Trail
Can you spot Michael?

Day 3 ended with a hike along the Window Trail.  We decided we wanted to do it right as the sun was setting (short notice!), so we practically ran the 1.8 miles to catch what ended up being dusk.  So beautiful!

On our last full day (My birthday — I’m 26!) we hiked in the morning and then headed north to Marfa, Texas, famous for being a tiny, middle-of-nowhere-in-a-dry-desert town that tourists flock to for its art & music scene, as well as for the famous Marfa lights.

Heading to dinner at Cochineal, one of just a few restaurants in Marfa, and a real testament to the town’s artisan culture.  Totally recommend if you’re ever there. 
Hey Marfa.  Hey kiddo.

So we did drive out of the city and sit in the middle of a deserted road, looking for the Marfa lights.  They didn’t appear.  These headlights did!

This is actually a candid — they were all getting ready for the next photo.  Looks like Michael (at the right) was already prepared! 
The final group pic the morning we left Marfa

Do I have to say it was one of my very favorite vacations?