Monday, March 31, 2014


James and I got back to Austin this morning after three awesome days in New Orleans. Our primary endeavor was eating and on that front we covered:

Turtle Soup at Commander's Palace
Red beans & Rice
char-grilled oysters
fresh oysters
fried oyster po boy
baked ham/roast beef/debris po boy at Mother's
fried okra
Crawfish etouffĂ©e 
Bread pudding at Commander's Palace
lacquered quail at Commander's Palace
Giant bag of boiled crawfish
Gin fizz
plenty of local beer

Of course we already want to go back and eat more. And do more. I've done a lot of traveling and New Orleans is truly like nowhere else I've ever been. I don't think I've ever been anywhere else in the United States that has a stronger sense of place, which makes sense since the city is older than the country.

My curiosity is piqued and I've added several Louisiana books to my reading list (because I don't know all that much about the state). I picked up All the King's Men in high school, but I think I was too young for it (16-year-old Leslie: "Why would I ever care about southern politics???"). I'd like to revisit that. And while I'm sure it will be grim, I added Five Days at Memorial by Sheri Fink, about the triage that went on at the hospital after Hurricane Katrina, to my library hold list. Even though it was almost 9 years ago, it was clear even in our short visit how much the storm still defines the city. On that note, I also plan to read Salvage the Bones (2011 National Book Award Winners) by Jesmyn Ward.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Bye Bye, South By

Maybe the trick to reversing one's fortunes is to write a complain-y blog.

I was pretty bummed the last time I posted. Like, there might have been some crying and white wine that weekend. 

The following Monday this is what happened:

My one client was all, "Okay just kidding, we don't need to renegotiate the price."

An online lit mag that consistently publishes thoughtful, well written pieces accepted my pitch. I'm excited to have my byline go up somewhere that values quality as opposed to quantity, that's rare as far as online outlets go.

Somebody offered me a full-time job. What?

All of these things made me feel better, but not exhilarated. Maybe because I'm getting used to the fact that with freelancing things are either going really well or going horribly, and that's the new normal. But it did make me feel better about me

When things aren't going well, I feel unmoored. I start thinking maybe I'm not a writer, maybe I'm a barista or a checker at HEB or an admin assistant. (I must not be any of those things because whenever I get panicky and apply to those kinds of jobs, nobody ever calls me back.) When things are going well, I feel comfortable with "I'm a writer." 

I went and interviewed at the place that wanted to give me a job, it was a research position at a tech startup. We got around to the salary discussion part and I said something totally lacking finesse like, "Uh well, such-and-such is what I made in my last full-time position it would be nice to, you know, move forward from that." The interviewer smiled in a way I knew I'd shown way too many of my cards and said something like, "that wont be a all."

I decided not to take the job. But it made me grateful that I have a college education and a particular set of skills. 

Imagine me saying "particular set of skills" in the same timbre as Liam Neeson in Taken, because the occasional reminder that what I do isn't totally monetarily worthless makes me feel like kind of a badass.

And then there was South by Southwest!

Austin during SXSW is incredible. I ate so much free food and drank so many free dranks, saw three comedy shows and a talk with a bunch of magazine writers I really admire, and it was all FO FREE!

SXSW isn't all free, most of it isn't, and the badges to get into events are terribly, terribly expensive, but James and I had good luck with standby lines, so we had a good time on the cheap. 

Plus, one of my friends manages an indie band and she stayed at my apartment this week, which I think makes me a patron of the arts. She got us into an industry party and we made off with leftover wine when the place cleared out.

The other good thing that's happening 

My original plan was to spend some of my lit mag paycheck on new clothes, but instead I think it's going to be my summer sailing fund: I got an offer through a family friend to spend a couple weeks sailing in southeast Alaska in June. That's an adventure that's been on my bucket list for about a decade, so I am very excited.