Sunday, May 31, 2015

Discovering Texas: Paris, Atlanta and a Little Bit of Louisiana

When my sister visited me in Topeka last year we spent a day roadtripping through Kansas. We were guided merely by a map and wanderlust. It was one of my most favorite adventures in Kansas.

I knew when I moved to Texas that I wanted to discover it the same way I did Kansas: through road trips. Last week I got a large fold-out map to start deciding on where I could go (this map, however, is less cool than the Kansas map because it doesn't include cool sites to see like "World's Largest Ball of Twin" or "Geographic Center of the United States").

Saturday I was feeling the wanderlust, the desire to get out and drive and see new things. I was already in Prosper for a birthday party, so I decided to head east to Paris, Texas.

Paris is a cute little town, with a square similar to ours in Denton. It's smaller, and filled with more antique shops than is probably necessary. It has some great architecture that I tried to capture. In the middle of the square is a fountain, with their courthouse off the square.

Sadly, there were many closed shops and vacant buildings, not just downtown but everywhere. It makes me sad when I see cities appear to be falling apart. I imagine that it was once a thriving town full of character and life and people. Then highways get built and freeways, and roads that used to take you to town now take you through town.

Some years ago the Paris, Texas Eiffel Tower was built. It is smaller, obviously, than the original in France, and also is adorned with a red cowboy hat.

The day was still young-ish, and instead of heading home I decided to head southeast on Route 77, through Atlanta, Texas, to the intersecting state boundaries of Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas. I'm a sucker for things like that. I thought there would be a sign of some sort marking the spot, or at least an area to pull off that had signs for all three states. All I found was a bar and a liquor store.

Since I had never been to Louisiana before I decided to keep going. I made a stop at a Walmart in Vivian, where I seriously considered going the thirty-five minutes to Shreveport. I decided against it and started my road trip back home.

My computer is still being strange, so I can't download photos. But if you want to see some, check out this link

Friday, May 29, 2015

My Literary Boyfriend

Every girl has to do it: choose which literary character fits their "boyfriend" mold. The question is generally posed as "Which Jane Austen male figure is your favorite?" Mr. Darcy is generally the winner (helped likely by the BBC production starring Colin Firth). And while I like Mr. Darcy, I have generally been more fond of Captain Wentworth from Persuasion (possibly because I also love Anne Eliot).

Then I read Jane Eyre, which is quite possibly my favorite book, and learned of Mr. Rochester.

Tonight I saw the film adaptation of Far From the Madding Crowd, which then introduced me to not only the great Bathsheba Everdene, but also Farmer Oak. Yes, just like I can aspire to be like fictional TV characters (I'm looking at you, Leslie Knope), I also note which literary male characters I would most like to date.

Aside from that, though, the film really is quite great. I have read two other Thomas Hardy novels, Tess of the D'Urbervilles and Jude the Obscure (which I admit I never finished because it was boring) and was expecting this story to be tragic as well. It is not. It does have tragic elements, but it is essentially a love story. I didn't know Hardy had it in him. My cousin actually wrote a really great review of the movie that you should read.

Bathsheba is a woman of independence who rejects a marriage proposal in the first ten minutes of the film. Not because she's unkind or haughty, but because she doesn't "need" a husband, and while she would be glad to be a bride it unfortunately is followed by being a wife. She actually has that choice and it's great.

She then has two other suitors, one of which might be a good choice and one which is clearly a very bad choice. I will admit to being blinded by a couple Captain Troy's myself. She learns from it, there's some tragedy, but in the end she realizes that she doesn't need Farmer Oak to help her position in life or to give her a piano (she bought one herself), but that she loves him and wants him in her life.

Obviously I have missed out on a lot of finer points of the story since I have only seen the film adaptation. However I plan on purchasing the book this week.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

I Feel Lucky

I don't know what I did to end up in Denton, but I feel like the luckiest person.

Today one of the bosses told me how proud he was of me and I was doing so much good, and it was exactly what they wanted when I was hired. I admit I blushed a little; I love positive reinforcement, but also squirm when I get it. I responded that I loved Denton and felt so lucky to be here, and I hoped I could do so much. This was after I gave a very simple presentation to the president of TWU. I returned to work and for more "Good jobs!" from my boss, the Mayor and other co-workers.

This all comes after last week, where there had been many compliments given, too. I really enjoyed my time in Topeka, but here it feels like I'm thriving. I have lots of positive feedback, my boss gives me direction and projects and goes to bat for me. I feel supported by not just my co-workers, but the community too. I had felt unfulfilled for awhile in Topeka and was a main reason for me seeking a new job opportunity.

Denton is just what I needed.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

500 Miles

Last week my car got quite the workout, as I travelled to Arlington three times to see my Royals in their series against the Texas Rangers. I walk or ride my bike to work, and to lots of other places, too. It's one of the reasons why I chose to live where I do. I bet it's taken me three months to put 500 miles on my car.

But the Royals were worth it. I splurged for the first game and bought a seat right behind their dugout. And it was awesome. The Royals won that one with a homer in the tenth by Gordon. The next game I chose a seat in the outfield, which I've never done before. After some very annoying fans left, I enjoyed the game even if the Royals lost. Thursday's game was an afternoon game, and I felt a bit like Ferris Bueller. Except my boss knew I was there and told me to have fun. It was brutally hot and cold water was in short supply (they actually ran out at one point).  But the Royals won, and split the series.

I have pictures, but my laptop has died and I am typing this on my phone.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

My First Tornado Siren

I have always wondered if I would know a tornado siren was going off. Would it be loud enough? And would I know that it was the tornado siren and not something else?

That siren went off today around 2:30 pm. And at first I didn't realize it. I recognized the sound of police and fire sirens, which had started just moments before. The weather was really picking up but didn't seem any different than the thunderstorms we'd had all week long.

The rain and wind was getting pretty intense, and I realized that I WAS hearing the tornado sirens. I started to panic a bit. I grabbed Biscuit's cardboard carrier out of the closet and put her in it. But then I didn't know where to go. If I had been anywhere else (except maybe on the freeway) I would have known what to do. I couldn't remember the rental company ever telling me where to go in the event of severe weather.

I decided to turn the tv on and see what was going on. Yes, there was definitely a Tornado Warning in effect until 3 pm. The weather map showed a mass of red and purple making its way through Denton. The meteorologist then said, "This is coming right through Denton. If you are in one of the dorms at UNT, make your way to the basement."

I don't have a basement. I live on the third floor. I was panicking.I called the maintenance number but no one answered.

So I called my mom. I frantically told her the sirens had gone off and I didn't know where to go. The connection was bad (obviously, a tornado was afoot) and I lost her. I grabbed the cardboard carrier Biscuit was in and a book and headed to the bottom floor stairwell. While walking down the stairs the emergency alert went off my phone: Tornado Warning - seek shelter.

As we sat there, my mom called me back. I told her I was now in the stairwell. We talked for a bit, but Biscuit was getting pretty loud in her carrier. She wanted out. It was getting close to 3pm, and it seemed like the worst part was over. I decided to go back to my apartment and see what the news was saying.

The tornado had passed. I don't think a tornado actually touched down in Denton. But there damage nonetheless. I took a walk around the Square and passed upturned baby trees newly planted on Hickory St and tree branches littering the courthouse lawn.

It was a crazy afternoon. After clawing her way out of the carrier, Biscuit has been laying around unphased by it all.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Keep Those Things Away From Me...And Dry

A couple weeks ago I was in a meeting for a group planning an event that was intended to raise money for a good cause. To raise money the group would host a Dunking Booth and anyone who wanted to dunk the person in the seat would have to pay money. The point is to get people well-known in the organization that people would gladly pay a few dollars to see dunked.

Names were being thrown around. But before too long, the organizer mentioned that, for obvious reasons, it was best not to have females included in the list. You know, because we don't want the event turning into a wet t-shirt contest.

I sat there and was annoyed. Then I was mad. Women couldn't participate for the sheer fact of being women and having breasts. And that people would look at those breasts when behind a wet t-shirt. I'm pretty sure it doesn't take a wet t-shirt for people to notice breasts. And really, it's not like the plan was to put these ladies in tight white shirts and have them prance around in front of everyone while we judged who looked the best.

The point was to make money for an organization that does good things.

I don't know if anyone else was uncomfortable like me. If I was more articulate maybe I would have spoken up. Maybe if I had unleashed my inner sassy-pants I could have mentioned that plenty of men have large breasts too, but that's not stopping them from participating. Or that men also have anatomy and maybe I don't want to see a wet pants contest.

I dislike the focus on our bodies. Yes, women have breasts. But they also have arms and legs and ears and armpits and MINDS. Let's not automatically disqualify them because they have breasts.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

The Story of My Biscuit Shirt

Everyone loves my cat, Biscuit. She's fat and super awesome. There is so much love for her, that before I left Kansas my friend Kate made a t-shirt for me (and her) featuring Biscuit.

 The shirt is perfect. It has an awesome cut and is a bright red. I would wear it everyday if I could.

The best thing about the shirt is that it elicits comments from complete strangers. I've been at the grocery store and had strangers say, "Nice shirt." I've been walking around the Square and had numerous people comment on it. It is the best conversation started when I meet new people. When Kate was in Denton, she actually had people meow at her. When I wore it in Dallas, a guy at a restaurant stopped to read it out loud, "Check meowt," then followed it with, "Done!"

But the best moment came when, at Arts and Jazz Festival, Jess noticed a guy wearing a shirt that also said "Check Meowt." She insisted I meet him and get a photo taken with him. I approached him and we bonded over our shirts and love for cats. He said he was a little concerned that he'd be the only person at Jazz Fest with a cat on his shirt!

 Turns out, the shirt he was wearing is from Walmart and pretty popular. Mine, however, is an original work of Kate Lindsay. Which makes it priceless. 


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