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C'etait ma destinée, et oui, je m'appelle Destiny!

Music That Takes Me Back

Bonjour! I’ve been working from home since St. Patrick’s Day and honestly, I’m ready for human interaction. I NEVER thought I would say that; I’m a pretty introverted person and love being alone or with a small group of people. There’s just something different about only sharing a few words with a cashier or delivery person; it’s not special or intimate. I can try talking to the cat, but he sleeps 70% of the time. I do, however, love rolling right out of my desk chair and onto the couch when the day is done and blasting my music with no one to complain about it!

That being said, I’ve had a lot of time to reminisce on my time abroad through my music. A couple of us took advantage of Spotify’s “3 months for .99$” special during the winter holiday and even though the price is no longer that cheap, I haven’t canceled it because I have so many albums and artists I saved that I absolutely love. Here’s a few of them and what they mean to me.

 

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At first I didn’t like The 1975 because I was a moron. No, I really didn’t like their first album very much, especially the song “Chocolate”. They were irritating to me. But then they came out with “I like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it” and I was instantly a mega-fan. My favorite songs are “Somebody Else”, “Paris”, and “She’s American”. I was going through a tough time with a boy from back home and these songs reminded me of him and the weird way we left things when I was abroad *takes long drag off cigarette*.  I would queue this album up on my bus ride to school and had it on repeat on the train ride to Colmar during Christmas vacation. Sometimes I cried to “Somebody Else” but that’s maybe too much information…

good evening

Next up is Deorro’s debut album, “Good Evening”. I REALLY liked “Five Hours” as a song to walk the SFASU track to when it first dropped, so this album followed suit and really impressed me. It reminds me of my trip to Italy, I constantly had it playing on the trains, planes, and buses we took around the cities. I want to apologize to my travel companion if he ever heard it blasting on repeat; I was obsessed. I will say I don’t like “Butt Naked” as a song, but the interludes are absolutely amazing and “Goin’ Up” is a banger, no contest. I still listen to this album in its entirety when I need a good pick me up.

 

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I WAS NOT AN ED SHEERAN FAN UNTIL THIS ALBUM, FULL STOP. I am so ashamed of myself for saying that. He is such a talented writer and singer. When he showed up in the one episode of Game of Thrones, I think I laughed so hard I cried. This album was a random homepage find; I wanted something to listen to on the way to Amsterdam via bus and downloaded it via the free bus wifi (before it kicked me off for downloading, oops)and I am SO glad I did. You’ve got the hits “Shape of You” and “Perfect” which I love, but I’m enamored with “Hearts Don’t Break Around Here” and “Barcelona”. I can picture taking the bus to Galway from Dublin with this on repeat, as well as taking a small break to myself in a cafe in Edinburgh. 

Funnily enough, this vacation was meant to be spent with a boy from back home (from earlier), but he never committed. I was very upset over it,and luckily I went with some other language assistants and had a FREAKING BLAST. So, it’s his loss in the end.

 

drake

I know I’m going to catch some flack for this one, but this Drake album just hit different. “Passionfruit”, “Teenage Fever”, and “Get it Together” are my “I’m feeling emotions over boys” songs, while “Gyalchester” and “Fake Love” are my more hype songs. Drake had a good range on this album, and I like it more than what he had out before and even after. I can remember sitting on the bus to the bigger grocery store, E.Leclerc (think French Costco) listening to this album, and waiting in between class periods with this playing while I scroll Facebook or revise a lesson (what works for one class doesn’t work for all!).

All these albums hold special places in my Spotify lineup. The 1975 have since released two more albums,but they don’t compare to this one. Ed Sheeran also released a collaboration album which is pretty good, IMO. Drake went above and beyond and released THREE albums since”More Life” but I haven’t really listened to them in their entirety. Deorro’s just vibing. I like that.

I’m always on the lookout for new music, so if you have an artist or album you think I should listen to, let me know! It might be my new obsession.

A Few Words on Loss

This particular blog post has taken me almost two years to write. Not because I’ve gotten busy with work or Stage Managing, but because every time I open it up and see this picture, I immediately start to tear up.

 

grandMy grandma Sue was my best friend.

Most of my earliest memories involve her and my Papa. I used to spend all my time with them and can’t remember any other house before their’s. I remember swimming in the community pool with my grandma, catching the feral kittens that would later become her cats, falling out of the tree in her backyard during my birthday party, and so much more. I remember Christmases and birthday parties, Easter egg hunts, Fourth of July celebrations, and Halloween costumes that I wore even on days that were NOT Halloween.

I saw less and less of her as time went on; they moved to Eagle Lake and college got in the way of life. While I was there I got cards for everything; New Year’s, Valentine’s Day, Fourth of July, you name it. I graduated on her birthday; December 13th. She couldn’t make it out but I spoke to her on the phone and she was so proud of me and my accomplishments. Before I went to France I made a point to visit her in Dallas. I spoke with her every now and again while I was abroad; she was the first person I called after “the election”.  I’ll never be able to fully explain how I felt but she knew. She knew I was scared and angry and didn’t try to make my feelings any less invalid. I’ll always treasure that conversation.

When I got back we visited her a few times. She loved strawberry sundaes from Sonic and when I gave her the stuffed bunny I had while I was in France I swear her eyes lit up brighter than fireworks. The last time we saw her was really hard. We got the call a few days before, and my mom and I flew in in the morning, visited all day, and flew back to Houston that evening. I held her hand all day and when it was time to go, everyone let me have a few moments with her alone. I told her to say hello to my aunt Kathy and aunt Linda, the daughters that had passed before her, and kissed her forehead before leaving.

We got the text that she had passed shortly after we boarded the plane. Everyone says she was waiting for me to come say goodbye before she left. Whether that’s true or not will always be a mystery, and I’m so glad I got to see her. I miss the sound of her voice, her warm hugs, and how she loved with all her heart. I try to be like her all the time. I have cards from my high school graduation and 4th of July 2013 hanging on my fridge. I have a book from her as my main decoration under the Christmas tree. She taught me patience, kindness, and what it means to be a cat lady. I think of her every day.

Hurricane Harvey

Hi all! As some of you know, I’m from the great state of Texas and the even greater city of Houston, lovingly referred to as H-Town (or H-Tine if you’re nasty). This past weekend we were hit by Hurricane Harvey, and even as I type this on a rainy Monday evening, we’re still getting hit by non-stop rain.

Here’s how it unfolded; Friday night was very rainy and all of a sudden Harvey made landfall and stalled out. Saturday and Sunday saw intermittent rain. Because of the unprecedented rainfall, some towns in the west like Dickinson and parts of Sugar Land (Sienna Plantation and Pecan Grove) are under mandatory evacuation. Those who refused to evacuate coastal towns (like Galveston, Port Aransas, and Port Lavaca) are either riding it out with lots of damage or succumbed to their better judgement and left as soon as they were able. I’ve seen news reports of whole neighborhoods under water so deep you can’t even see the first floors; and the water keeps rising. Roadways have turned into raging rivers seemingly overnight; what was once a safe evacuation route became a potential death trap. It’s one of the scariest things I’ve seen in my life.

I’ve been very fortunate to not have to evacuate my home, or have any power outages or flooding. We’re safe from a majority of the flooding and devastation in Downtown Houston; we’re about 20 minutes south of city center, where everything is underwater. No, really:

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Our Transtar cameras catch everything, including this flooding.

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A before and after shot of the same roadway.

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I take this road (288) to get into Houston; guess where I’m not going for a while…

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See how deep it is for wading? (PC: Thomas B. Shea/AFP/Getty Images)

 

But in the midst of all this destruction, there is hope. The NYFD and NYPD have deployed groups to assist in search and rescue missions. The Louisiana Cajun Army arrived in their boats to help rescue those stuck in their homes. From Houston alone, random strangers from all over the city are getting interviewed as to why they’ve come with their kayaks, jet-skis, and boats and their responses are all the same: they’re tired of seeing helpless people on the news and wanted to help. It’s not to gain fame or recognition; it’s to help take care of those in need. These people are risking their lives for hours at a time to help rescue the elderly, mothers and babies, and even pets from the ever rising floodwaters. Our National Guard arrived in droves and Trump has pledged his support of more federal aid groups coming to our rescue (along with a visit of his own, but more on that later). JJ Watt started a donation page and just hit a one and a half million dollar goal in a little over 24 hours. I’ve linked it in case you can donate, anything helps.

I am overwhelmed by the rescue stories and outpouring of support from the rest of America. This nightmare is far from over however; we’re still expecting tons of rain until at least the end of the week. My mom can’t get into her office building, I can’t make it to the stadium unless some significant receding happens, and there are countless others who can’t return home… because home doesn’t exist for them anymore. Those of us fortunate enough to be mobile have organized shopping trips for shelters, are volunteering at shelters in our area, and even hold yoga and fitness classes over Facebook Live. I’m so blessed to be from the most diverse city with the biggest heart. If you would like to donate, I have some links below for you to check out. Always do your research before donating. Again, anything helps and we will come back better and stronger than ever. #HoustonStrong

Here’s an NPR article with a list of charities and general information. Vox wrote up another list of charities you can check out, and our very own Houston Chronicle has been working day and night to get information out (electronically, of course).

Again I want to thank everyone for going above and beyond: the news reporters on location and in the newsroom, first responders, the Mayor of Houston, volunteers, and all my friends and family for checking in on us and with us. Y’all are the real MVPs. Stay safe, y’all.

 

ABCs of Travel

Rebecca tagged me in a travel post and I am more than happy to oblige! LET’S DO THIS!!! Continue reading “ABCs of Travel”

Hair’s the Deal

Howdy! A few updates: I’ve recently been hired on as a part time Guest Services Representative at the local soccer stadium (read: BBVA Compass Stadium) where I get to wear khakis and watch soccer matches while assisting fans with everyday problems one might face at a soccer game. I had my first shift last Saturday; it wasn’t the best because the game was delayed by two hours, and it definitely wasn’t the worst because we won and my coworkers are pretty chill. Looking forward to more shifts and more wins! I’ve also been dogsitting, which is something I’ve always liked doing, and am currently chilling with the sweetest puppers (and secret cat).

Today’s post is a visual journey into my hair’s hairy past. My hair and I have been through a lot; shows, graduations, breakups, and summer breaks have all played their parts on us. We’ve grown a lot since high school (literally and figuratively) and have shown our true colors time and time again. Here’s a peek over the last few years:

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I’m basically a chameleon. I’ve had teal, pink, green, blue, purple, rose gold, and copper hair. I’ve had straight across bangs and side swept and no bangs whatsoever. My driver’s license still has my haircut from senior year of HS; short, red, and with terrible bangs (that I cut myself so there you go).

Because I was almost never getting cast as a lead in high school, I was free to do whatever I wanted with my hair, within dress code. Box dying it was normal for me; black, red, brown, auburn, etc. Never blonde though, that would’ve ended terribly. I went through all of high school with short hair. I even had a “lesbian” haircut phase; long on the sides and short enough to spike it up in the back. Eventually I just wore it all down and straightened the shit out of it. I don’t think I ever saw my natural color in those sweet, memorable four years. Graduation came and I rushed to get some teal put in on the underside of my hair. That was my first taste of hair freedom and it was so addictive.

Going into college, I had bright magenta in my hair. I got cast my first semester *gasp* so I dyed it brown again. Didn’t get cast again until the summer before junior year, so I let it grow out and dyed the tips blue, let it fade to green, then dyed it purple with the help of my fabulous best friend who also dyed her hair #twinning. Eventually I wanted to get cast so I dyed it back and let it grow even longer. Then came the break up haircut; basically, the night me and my ex broke up I went to WalMart with my roomies and bought jet black box dye, then got a fringe cut the next day. Our emotions make us do crazy things to our hair…

Fast forward and I’m out of that terrible phase in my life, letting my brilliant brunette shine through but also adding some fun pops of color like copper and rose gold ombre, and eventually letting my stylist dye my hair pink like Frenchy (but with a passing beauty school grade). I even wore my hair pink for my best friend’s wedding at her request…and dyed it back to brown the next week. Since then, I’ve shied away from colors and started playing with length. While I was in France, I picked up a nifty little pair of scissors for maybe 1 euro…and went to town on my hair. First in October, then in March, cutting at least three inches off each time. Was it radical for me? Yes. Did I like it afterwards? Eh, I guess. Will I ever do it again? NOPE. I’ll leave my hair to the pros. I went to my regular stylist when I got back and he gave me ashy silver ombre and fixed my lop job, and I think I’ll keep my hands off my hair for a while…at least until I get bored again.

My mom told me a horror story about how she used to box dye her hair and then use Sun In but not go in the actual sun; instead, she would blast a blowdryer on it to achieve the desired highlights. She takes much better care of her hair now that she can afford it, but now I know where I get that innovative, DIY spirit from…

I used to let the opinions of others affect how I wore my hair. That “lesbian” haircut? I loved it until it was labeled as such, then I hated it. I was told my face was too big for a short cut, so I started growing it out. A boy I liked didn’t like the green in my hair, so I got rid of it instead of getting rid of him. It took a while to learn that no one else’s opinions on MY BODY mattered; the only one that did was my own but I was too tied up in wanting to please everyone else. Whether it be your hair, makeup, clothes, or accessories, do what makes YOU feel beautiful.

Wonder Woman and Female Empowerment

When I came home from France one of the first things I did was check with my midnight movie crew to see if there were plans for Wonder Woman. I remember back in high school and most of college when me and these girls (and sometimes a guy) would see a movie at midnight in matching shirts with card game in tow. We’ve seen Harry Potter films, Green Lantern, The Mummy, and countless other movies. When we saw WW, I knew it was gonna be a big deal for us. Read their review (and others!) here.

wonder-woman-gal-gadot-ultimate-edition-1024x681This was the first time a woman was front and center for a superhero movie. Wonder Woman is an Amazonian trained to fight like a true warrior and actually dress like one. From day one she learns she can do anything a boy can do, something most girls never even suspect might be a real fact. She knows men exist but they aren’t essential to everyday life, and she grows up surrounded by fierce females that take up the men’s’ work, but it isn’t actually labeled “men’s work”; it’s just work. The entire movie had me at the edge of my seat in total awe of Gal’s portrayal. When they threw the love scenes in, of course I cried, and I was so glad it wasn’t overdone or sappy, with Wonder Woman throwing everything away for a man or some other damsel trope we see so often in the media (remember Rachel from Friends?).  My point is, after the last few superhero films from both DC and Marvel, Wonder Woman gave us some quality female superhero screen time (by DC’s standards and box office numbers (380.686m$ thus far)), and I think it sets the tone for future movies of this nature.

The movie was empowering for me. It showed me that I can do anything I set my mind to, and that it’s okay to be a girl; I don’t have to shed my girlish traits to be accepted. I should be celebrating what I have to offer instead of bottling it away to please someone else or achieve something. Female empowerment isn’t about tearing other women down or comparing ourselves to others; the only person to compare yourself to is the person you were yesterday, and striving to continually be better than that person. Everyone has their own battles to fight, but it gets easier when we band together and tear down those mountains as a team instead of tearing each other down. They recently announced that the 13th Doctor would be a woman, something a lot of young girls and women watching since the beginning have been waiting for. In truth, I’ve been waiting for it as well, because being a companion is nice and all, but there’s nothing saying a woman can’t be the Doctor on TV, or even in real life. We’re just as capable, and it’s time we all start taking note and going after what we want. It’s time to become our own wonder women.

 

*box office number taken from Forbes.com

The Stupidest Thing to Happen to Me Abroad

Greetings! I’ve been taking some time to focus on my job search and “adulting”. So far I’ve had a few nibbles but no big bites from a job I’m really jazzed about. Still keeping my head up though.

Anyway, this post is about the stupidest thing that happened to be while I was in France. There were a lot of candidates for this story, and maybe I’ll make it a series, but for now I’ll share this one event. Continue reading “The Stupidest Thing to Happen to Me Abroad”

A Ghost Story

On our last school vacation before coming home, Josh and I started with a bang in Venice, Italy. It was by far my favorite destination on that trip, mostly because of all the water, but also because of the food. 

However, when we visited the Doge’s Palace, I wholeheartedly believe I encountered some kind of ghost(s)! Here’s what happened:

We were walking through the Doge’s Palace and it was so amazing. The history and the architecture were spellbinding. Evidence:


(Can you find Josh in these photos?)

Anyway, we were going downstairs to see the jail and dungeon and I took a short video on the way, to make a bomb Instagram post, #doitforthegram. The video stopped and along the way I lost Josh. I traveled further down and eventually found him across a hallway of jail cells. Evidence:


WHEN I TOOK THIS PHOTO my phone started messing up. You know the noise a camera makes when you click the button? Imagine that noise but 10x slower. My heart immediately stopped. I stood there for a good fifteen seconds before I screamed “OH HECK NO” and ran AROUND the spooky hallway (which took 2x as long to get out of the spooky dungeon) and get upstairs to “safety”. Josh looked at me like I was crazy, but he didn’t hear the camera click like it was possessed. After we got to safety I explained to him what had happened and tried to take another photo to show him I wasn’t (totally) crazy. Same thing; slow clicks with each picture I snapped. I think he finally understood what I was trying to tell him; this place was h-a-u-n-t-e-d. 

I’d like to tell you we ran out of there like bats out of hell, but there was still  a palace to explore! I turned my phone off and on again to fix the camera and decided to check my camera roll for any ghosts. Luckily no balls of ghostly essence or unexplainable shadows were in my shots, but the hair on the back of my neck was still at attention for the rest of our visit. Let it be known this is not my first rendez vous with the spirit world; a ghost scared me once in Maine while I was getting ready for bed in the beach house we were renting. I got so scared my cousin had to stay with me for the night #bestcousinever. 

I had a lovely rest of the time in Venice, and Italy in general. I won’t forget being spooked in a palace from 1340, however, and this will be a story I’ll tell until I’m old and grey.

It’s the Little Things…

…like not being able to translate ‘thing’ in French!

Here’s a list of little things that followed me back from France:

  1. The “bahhhhhhhhh” thinking sound. It’s not so much a sheep “bah”; think lower in pitch and drawled out. C’est m’énerve!
  2. The widening of the eyes when asked a difficult question, like a deer in headlights. It never fails me.
  3. Reusable shopping bags and
  4. Bagging my own groceries. Baggers don’t exist in France, so you’re hastily trying to pack your bags AND pay AND make sure the eggs don’t get crushed by the bottle(s) of wine you’re buying all at the same. Damn. Time. Ugh.
  5. Finding the cheapest wine. Okay, maybe that’s not my game; I usually went for the second cheapest option because I learned cheapest=nastiest.
  6. Disregarding Australian or Californian wines because they are trash. French all the way.
  7. Micellar water. It gets makeup off and toned your skin at the same time! Time saver! It’s significantly more expensive here, however…
  8. Frantically searching for wifi. Because data ain’t free.
  9. Attempting every generic password known to man in public spaces. ‘Password’, ‘password1’, ‘freewifi’, ‘name of establishment’, etc. There’s nothing I won’t try.
  10. Except literally asking someone for the wifi password.
  11. Beer! It’s cheaper than mixed drinks!
  12. Extra care of my hair. The water where I lived was very hard; it dried your scalp and made your hair limp and dead. I scrub real good and rinse well each time, and always use heat protectant, to avoid a repeat of the last six months. *shudders*
  13. Trying before buying, because returns or exchanges in France are extremely difficult and I had a fear there would be paperwork involved.
  14. Frenglish. Half my thoughts are en français and sometimes I forget the English words. It’s fun.
  15. 24 hour clocks aka Military Time
  16. Calendars starting on Monday. It really does make more sense, I promise.
  17. Putting spices and hot sauce on everything. Spice isn’t a word in the French language. Or cuisine.

That’s really it, I’m still an American at heart and a Southern girl to my roots. My students and colleagues have seen me do some weird American shit, so I guess this is their silent payback.

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