Saturday, December 21, 2013

One Long Weekend in Austin

My first friend in Shanghai/roommate/girl who galavanted about China with me came to visit last weekend. It was bar none the most gluttonous four-day feeding frenzy I've ever undertaken. Austin is definitely a foodie city, but there's a distinct emphasis on fried, fat, heavy and spicy. My body was rebelling midway through, but we soldiered on.

I didn't take a photo of everything we ate, but here are some of the things:

Migas breakfast plate at Juan in a Million

Bloody Marys that almost double as salads from Rio Ritas, fun to watch the
bartender dollop shredded garlic into the glass

This was the best surprise delight of the weekend - deep-friend jambalaya on a stick from the Baton Creole food truck. I was a tiny bit skeptical, just because I couldn't even imagine jambalaya on a stick, but James said it was good. It was out of this world.

Here you can kind of get a look at the rice and fixings inside

Chicken and waffles with bacon bits in the batter from the restaurant Bacon (they cure their own)

Couldn't quite do it

And this is the line outside Franklin's barbecue. We arrived at 10am on a Tuesday (the place doesn't open until 11am), and 10 minutes after we arrived someone came out and said they probably wouldn't have brisket or ribs for those of us that far back. So we had to go elsewhere, too bad as I still haven't eaten there. James has a vegetarian friend who will only eat meat from here because it's too good.

We still got some very, very good barbecue out at Salt Lick. It was so smokey and delicious, eating it made my whole body feel like my inside were turning into barbecue. 

We split a plate. Not very hardcore, I know, but we really ate a lot that weekend. 

Thursday, December 19, 2013

What if I had Mega Millions?

On Tuesday I went into a gas station to buy a coffee while a visiting friend and I waited in a two-hour line for the world's best barbecue (at 10a.m. they were already running out of ribs and brisket for slouchers far back in the line like us who only got there one hour before opening, so we wound up eating bbq elsewhere, but that's a story for another day).

On the way out of the gas station the clerk asked me - helpfully - if I was sure I didn't need a Mega Millions ticket too. We shared a laugh and I said no. Gambling in any form isn't in my nature, it's just not fun for me. $648 million is a lot of money, but I've heard the odds are infinitely better if you buy when the pot is down around $20 mill - I don't buy then, so why should I have bought this week?

James bought tickets in the Seattle Airport on the way home for Christmas. You can't get tickets in Alaska and his dad suggested he grab a few. Unfortunately, he wasn't the second as-yet-still-anonymous winner. But what if he had won?

We had this conversation on the phone last night, and not for the first time. Even though I don't buy tickets, I like to fantasize about winning. I know a lot of people like to say "oh I wouldn't really change the way I'm living," I think because it's natural to want to be satisfied with your own life (or to want to give the appearance of being so). But even if you are satisfied, that to me just exhibits a lack of creativity -- there's an awful lot you could do with MEGA MILLIONS.

James said he would finish school (why not?) but wouldn't feel like he had to get a career after that, that he'd probably just work on projects. Then next summer, we'd go on a giant American road trip (we're both most interested in seeing the South) in his VW Golf. Eat fancy food, stay in fancy hotels.

Then, I told him, when we got tired of the Golf, we could drive somewhere remote, stick a rock on the accelerator and shoot it off a cliff, then just hire someone to pick us up and take us to a car dealership.

James was aghast. He's a little attached. But then he got into the spirit and suggested we could buy the cliff. Then we decided we could continue to buy cars and shoot them off the cliff until the pile of cars was just an extension of the mountain. And then we decided we could shoot everything off the cliff when we were done with it: friends, personal trainers, maids...

If I had Mega Millions, I think I would live a pretty itinerate life for at least five years, switching between cities close to friends and family and countries I want to visit (presently, Japan is top of the list for both of us).

But eventually I'd have to produce something - maybe I'd back movies, or start a literary journal. Right now though, shooting a car off a cliff sounds pretty cool.

Monday, December 9, 2013


This morning I fired off the article I worked on all last week. And all day Austin had the most sleep-inducing weather: cold drizzle, heavy clouds, just enough wind to send the chill straight to your bones. That's Grade A movie-watching weather, right there. I wanted to reward myself by declaring it Netflix Monday. Alas, there are jobs to look for and other freelancer work to catch up on.

I think it would be much easier to make money if I had slightly more flexible ethics. Here are some things I think I could be really good at:

Financial Domination
Never heard of it? Me neither, until I read this. I couldn't do other sex work, just because of the germies and Ew. But I think I could tell somebody to give me all their money for the purpose of their pleasure and enjoyment. I could probably learn to use Excel to give my act some 'accounting' panache.

Psychic Readings
When I was little, I convinced the other kids I knew how to read just by picking up story books and making it up as I went. Then, years later, I went to theater camp and was pretty much unbeatable at improv games. My journo experience has honed my people skills, usually I'm okay at getting folks to open up. Therefore, I think I could build relationships with distraught people and fill them with baseless hope thanks to my fanciful predictions. And there is plenty of money to be made there.

Distressed Princess 
This is not just a Nigerian email thing, it happens in real life too. When I was interning at The Seattle Times, I did a story on people who fell for it. They were approached in a Costco parking lot by a man and a woman (the princess) from (insert exotic country) who had improbable money/bank problems and needed to temporarily hold millions in the victim's account. As a show of "trust" the victim went to the bank and took out $30,000. The princess and her dude friend (man servant? eunuch?) told him they were going to drive around the block with it and naturally they never came back. [The bank manager pleaded with the victim not to take out his money.] Once the story ran, I got a couple phone calls from other victims - presumably people who'd been too embarrassed or despondent to report to the police.

My understanding is this is a thing elderly people fall for. I leave a pretty good impression on old people. Plus, I would get to wear princess dresses. Grannies would totally believe me and give me their life savings.

Alas, all of these options are unconscionable and/or criminal. Maybe I could open a tarot reading social venture, where 10% of proceeds went to helping economically disadvantaged women open their own tarot businesses. Now who can argue with a little female empowerment?

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

T-Day Recap

I had the best Thanksgiving Ev-ar!

Or at the least the best in a looooong time, many years - actually probably the best ever because if you haven't been to a giant, extended-family meal in 4+ years, it definitely seems more special.

Between aunts, uncles, cousins, boyfriends, spouses [2], baby [1], toddler [1] and stranded Californian roommates, about 20 people descended on the Oregon Coast for Sampson Thanksgiving. Luckily, I was first in the food line and had the opportunity to make fun of my slower blood relations who had to wait. Because it actually takes time to feed that many people.

I also found a GIANT agate at Siltcoos Outlet. If you saw this agate in a tourist shop, it would cost you at least $6. It is longer than my thumb and I have not weighed it but it has a solid heft and good marbling. I personally showed it to every single one of my relatives (well, almost) and made them acknowledge my supreme beach-combing skillz.

Now I'm back in Tex-as (ez? ess?). Our apartment complex is holding a door/patio decorating contest. I asked James if he wanted to partake (first reaction "Ugh. No." then justified by "I'm busy with finals!"). He did say he'd watch Christmas movies with me, though I'm sure he thinks I mean exclusively Die Hard.

I'm still trying to finish this next article. I don't think I've ever written anything so slowly, which is frustrating. And it's not like it's going slow because I'm churning out words in precious drops, like French perfume from a flower press. No, the exact opposite. I've written way too many words and if they smelled like anything it wouldn't be flowers. All that and I haven't even finished a draft (cue: violin screech from Psycho).

It has to wrap up though, firstly because I told the editor I'd have it "just after Thanksgiving" (and I NEVER miss deadlines), secondly because I don't want to get a haircut or go to Costco or do other pressing errands until I've sent the damn thing off.

Blogging though? Plenty of time for blogging...