Sayonara/See you later

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In an effort to consolidate some of my online presence, I will be moving all further posts (being of a personal nature) to my Tumblr page. Please check there for updates.

I am not done with the WordPress community, and I will not be taking down this page so old posts will still be archived and retrievable.

I update my Tumblr much more frequently, so hopefully, happy reading!

Aside

For those of you who are familiar with my web series, “How To Make Things and Do Stuff,” then you know that it was mostly centered on my forays into the culinary arts. What gave them an edge of individuality, however, was probably my complete and total lack of knowledge and/or any visible skill whatsoever in the kitchen.

Sadly, since I have been married, I have learned how to cook. Which was something of a triumph and a letdown. On the one hand–hooray! I can cook! No more dinners of cheese and crackers for me!…unless I want to. On the other hand–oh no, now I’m good at cooking, who’s going to watch my cooking shows now? People who actually want to learn how to cook what I’m advertising? Bleh.

In watching a segment on Conan O’Brien, I was hit with a revelation–here is something else I know little to nothing about. A way to start fresh, a do-over with my “How (Not) to do things” video sets.

I am going to start doing video game reviews.

That’s right–videos, accompanied by a completely arbitrary grading system and written commentary, of me in actual gameplay. I figure I’ll start easy and work my way up. After all, my background in the field of video game play exists solely on the few hours I spent watching my sister play The Sims growing up, Mario Paint and those racing America-style car consoles they had in the basement of the Cici’s Pizza by my house in Houston.

Should. Be. Interesting.

I literally just had this idea about 20 minutes ago, so keep your spidey-senses tuned in to my channel for more updates.

Lessons in Love

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January 30th (10 days) will mark the one-year anniversary of the day me and F went to the courthouse in Austin and voluntarily submitted ourselves into the common thread that weaves us into the fabric of the global tapestry of intra-species interaction: marriage.

According to the findings of the U.S. Census Bureau of 2011/2012, the average American female will enter into her first marriage around the age of 27; for men, the median age is 29. I was 23 years old when I solemnly swore to make Fred the one and only object of my affections for the rest of my life. He was 27. By the books, I suppose we were younger than the national average. That’s not the only way in which our love story defies the data, but I digress.

I don’t think the age you marry matters when it comes down to understanding exactly what marriage is. You can be 15 or 50, but that first year of marriage will be equally as enlightening. I don’t care who you are or where you come from, how long you’ve known your significant other or how many books/articles/blog posts you’ve read on the topic. Marriage is an act of love (well, it should be). It is a decision to bind yourself in more ways than one to one person for as long as you both shall live, which, with modern medicine, is actually quite a long time. It’s a mutual promise to defy nature together, which is a daunting task for anybody.

Look at any great love story–no two people had an absolutely perfect union. If you’re not fighting, you’re not doing something right. Fighting is an important part of the process of embracing every nuance, every facet of the person you have decided to devote a lifetime to learning how to understand.

Yesterday, me and F revisited a common point of contention between the two of us: I don’t like the way he gets when he plays video games. It is really hard for me to stay mad at him–or anyone, really–for longer than a day, but the few hours I am living in the heat of the argument–lemme just say this now: it is in your best interest to stay out of my way.

We were en route to the gym when the argument erupted from the bubbling simmer of conversation it had been previously. Once we got there, it seemed a shame to waste the time we’d spent in transit, so I slammed the car door so hard it shook poor Johnly’s frame and stomped inside. I was hoping a vigorous workout would sweat out the anger, but I was still peeved afterwards. Once we got home, I took a shower first and attempted, once again, to calmly approach him and talk things out. My reasoning was, How will I know what not to repeat in the future if I don’t know what I’m doing right now that is making you angry? Fred’s reasoning is, Let’s just let things lie until they boil over.

I’m not saying either approach is more correct than the other. I’m just saying that marriage is a constant game of Compromise.

When the second attempt at conversation didn’t work, I waited until he was in the shower, then suited up for the cold weather and slipped quietly away.

I had every intention of going to the mall and shopping it out. When I couldn’t justify spending money for no reason, I decided I’d go to one of two coffee places I know that have free Wifi. Either way, my plan was to be gone until dark. He can’t miss me unless I go away, I reasoned with myself.

I drove for about 15 minutes, just making big squares around my neighborhood as I decided to go one place, then another, then another. As I made my second full loop with the intent of going to the Full Moon Diner, I thought to myself, “I bet Fred is hungry…we just had that work-out and it’s a little after lunch time.”

The moment I thought it, my destination became suddenly, glaringly obvious.

I pulled up in my driveway a couple of minutes later. I walked in the door, set my bag down and, without taking off my shoes or my coat, walked into the kitchen where Fred was. He asked me where I’d gone and when I told him the story, ending with, “I just realized, even when I kind-of hate you, I’m still always thinking about you. All the time.”

He put the spatula down, crossed the kitchen and we just hugged for like five minutes.

“You make me a better person,” he said into my hair.

This is what I think marriage is. Marriage is loving someone in spite of their faults. It’s putting that someone above everything else, even (and especially) when you don’t see eye to eye about something. It’s not asking them to change, but wanting to change yourself just to be the best version of you that you can be for that one person.

I’m no Dr. Laura, though.

The Tequila Diaries

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21 Dec 2012

The world is supposed to end today, but I feel fine.

22 Dec 2012

My life right now is so surreal that I feel the need to record it. I still feel I’m in danger of being pinched and waking up and realizing this is not actually my life.

ImageI am currently thousands of miles above the ground, riding in the first row of first class in a 737 headed for Mexico City, where I will spend the next 16 days wrapped in the warm embrace of Fred’s family, amid the chaos of one of the largest cities in the world.

“Mrs. Lambuth? Quiche or oatmeal?” the stewardess just asked me. Below is a sprawling landscape of what I originally thought were fields of beach-white sand, but I’m now realizing  are snow, pockets of civilization dotting the silken white blanket.

Is this my life? Really? This time last year, I waas so poor I barely had enough money to rub together for heat; I was sure Fred’s departure for the Navy would be the end of us, as it were; no job prospects on the horizon (I guess that much hasn’t changed).

ImageThis morning, Fred grabbed me from behind in the USO at the airport, hugged me fiercely and murmured, “Thank you for marrying me,” into my shoulder. And now I’m sipping on a FREE Bloody Mary, and it’s a damn good one at that.

Somebody pinch me…on second thought, don’t. If this IS a dream, then I never, EVER want to wake up.

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I am pretty sure we are over the Gulf of Mexico right now. Not sure if what I’m seeing is the edge of Texas or northeastern Mexico, but my excitement has woken me up. That, and I kept having this dream where we flew into a massive thunderstorm and went into a barrel roll…

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How come when you look at the sea from a plane, it looks like the little white crests of the waves are standing still (and since “wave” itself is a motion word, after all, does that make it doubly ironic)?

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All settled in at the Lambuth household on Rio Hondo. They really do live in the heart of the Distrito Federal. It’s a large, three-story house with a green, sprawling back yard, complete with his dad’s specially constructed smokehouse out back (sign that says “el Club de Tobi”). The house used to belong to Aida/Mama’s parents, but since the Mexican government bought (and promptly demolished) Fred’s childhood home, they’ve renovated a little bit and turned this into their new home.

From the window of our room, you can see the thick wall of trees that signals the edge of the Parque de Chapultepec. The traffic on the way back from the airport was stressful, to say the least. Cars dart quickly around with little to no regard for their fellow drivers on the road (or, seemingly, road signs, speed limits, LANES, I could go on).

IMG_1965As we descended over the city, I excitedly snapped several pictures of the city from the airplane window. The landscape was breathtaking–hulking mountains with rings of fluffy clouds and fog encircling their tops, laced with pockets of urbanism that eventually dominated the ground until before you know it, all you can see is vast stretches of city, just nonstop metropolitan mapping.

It’s going to be hard to keep up with all my observations–I just don’t want to forget anything. The brightly colored buildings–glaring yellow, Stop (“ALTO”)-sign red, pastel paints, deep purple with a velvety/crimson-red trim–stamped with outline graffiti of giant, high-top, Converse sneakers. How everywhere I look resembles neighborhoods, shades of my life before this–parts of lower/east Austin; Laredo; CARACAS, big time. How even though the menus use dollar signs ($), I KNOW a glass of lemonade does NOT cost 38 dollars (it was pesos, per obvi). 

23 Dec 2012

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Today, I tried a liqeur (Bailey’s)-filled chocolate for the first time. I also chopped wood for the first time, to supply our evening’s fire fuel. As I write, I sit on the patio of John’s “Club de Tobi” as the guys air out the smokehouse. We’re planning a barbecue party for this upcoming Friday.IMG_1968

This morning we had breakfast at a buffet off the lake in the park. Then we went to the Pabellon Polanco, a mall, for a little last-minute Christmas shopping. The subtle (and vast) cultural differences number so many that it’s hard to keep track of them all.

At stoplights, street performers jump in front of your car to do their thing for a brief moment or two, then go amongst the cars collecting tips. Two parkour boys did some acrobatics/tumbling in front of our car–I’ll tell you what, I’m much more inclined to give them money than those guys who go around with dirty rags offering to “wash” your windows.

I’d heard of, but could not anticipate, the glaring disparity between those who have money and those who have none. On the way to the City Market with Mama, a small boy stood on the corner of the street looking a little lost and forlorn. It was only later that I noticed the belts draped over his shoulder, the plastic-wrapped billfolds in his hands.

afghan-girl-1At one stoplight, an old native-looking woman with a silver braid down her back and a maroon bundle of blankets in her hands approached our car, holding out what appeared to be a can with a slit cut out of the top. As she passed the car and turned her back to us, I saw the bundle of blankets was actually a tired-looking little girl. Her face was haunting, similar to that famous National Geographic magazine cover photograph of that Middle Eastern girl with the unforgettable obsidian eyes. We made eye contact. I smiled and waved to her. Without changing her expression (except for a slight widening of the eyes), she crinkled the fingers on her exposed hand at me.

I was glad I was wearing sunglasses then. I didn’t want anyone to see my eyes brim with tears and tell me not to be so silly.

24 Dec 2012

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This anise-flavored “Christmas” candy that Fred’s dad has is AMAZING. In fact, all of the food has been spectacular. I had a torta de milanesa for lunch that was so rich and fit to burst with deliciousness I could only eat a quarter of it. I chased it with some horchata (rice milk), and it was all so good going down that my body decided it wanted another taste and brought it back up again later :-/ That’s okay. It wouldn’t be Christmas if I didn’t get sick at some point. The incessant cloud of cigarette smoke has me with a permanent head throb and mini waves of nausea. I’m so glad Fred isn’t a regular smoker.

IMG_1992He is certainly happy here, and it’s easy to see why. His family is, like, killing me with kindness. Today his mom tried to buy me new shoes and that went over about as well as the time Jack took me to Kohl’s and tried to do the same. It is interesting to see him (Fred) so in his element. Or rather, to finally be a part of what I always (heretofore) had to imagine when I’d drop him off at the airport and he’d leave me behind. I can only imagine how it must be to have me transposed over such a familiar (and yet, also foreign, if we’re being literal) setting.

IMG_1994I finally got Jake (my brother-in-law) to talk to me! Bless this nausea/indigestion! Talking to him is like talking to my stepdad, JJ. Very intelligent and opinionated. Hard to relate to. Specific interests…I love him. And in time, he will love me, too. HE WILL! ALso, thanks to his advice, I really am feeling a lot better.

This morning, I went with Fred to the park. I circled the track while he ran a couple of times, then decided to lay out in the grass and continue reading Papa’s copy of “Seven” by John D. MacDonald. Fred said there were several times on his way around where he was checking me out and realized, “Oh, hot damn–that’s my wife!” Simple pleasures.

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25 Dec 2012

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Christmas with the Lambuths in Mexico is so laid back. Fred has already made me a paloma (grapefruit juice and tequila) to help loosen my tongue for when the family (including Fred’s two insatiably gossip-mongering young female cousins) arrives in an hour or so for the big Christmas feast.

People here wear hospital masks in the street because of the pollution/risk of contamination. It looks like something from some post-apocalyptic video game.

26 Dec 2012

1. Why is there no Reddit app for smart phones and tablets?

2. Don’t you just hate when you have what you think is a really good idea and with less than a word, someone crashes all your enthusiasm in one fell swoop? My husband is the unfortunate recipient/sounding board for my ideas (both eccentric and otherwise). In addition to an idea I told him about during one of our very first phone conversations ever for a sci-fi story about a doppelganger universe, I had what I thought was a genius idea for a story today. Here’s the pitch: You know how the president gets a federal salary for life once he retires? What if the current president (inept), to cut costs, hires a top-secret CIA operation to kill all living former presidents? 

Fred’s reaction (once he got done laughing, of course) —

“If he’s trying to save money or help get the nation out of debt, that really isn’t going to save him very much. Like, at all.”

Damn him for always being right.

I’ve taken a nap like every day since I’ve been here. Mama says it’s because my heart is working harder since it’s had to change basically everything — my diet, my schedule, the air quality, the altitude, everything.

We went into the heart of downtown Mexico City, Distrito Federal, today (aka “Consumer Central”). 

27 Dec 2012

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This morning, Fred took me for breakfast at Un Lugar de la Mancha, an independently-owned cafe/bookstore with an outdoor patio (sad I didn’t get to go to Diego Luna’s place, La Bipolar, in Coyoacan). It was similar to what I want mine to be like one day. “Nicoletta’s [Bakery and Bookstore].” *fingers proverbially crossed for that one*

On the everchanging backdrop of the city, a bedsheet hung over a brick facade wall, que lo dice, 

“DEMOCRACIA MUERTA.”

Mexico City is an eclectic mix of the old and the new. The traffic and pollution here is a nightmare (despite the fact that green initiatives are up ). There is an abundance of open air markets, and only one gas (oil) supplier, PemEx, where gas attendants are a mandatory service. Police cars always roll with their lights blinking, so that the only way you’d even know they were after you is if they turned their sirens on.IMG_2288

I made up two words today. “Intertwoven” and….something else. Oh, you know what? Interwoven is a word. So is intertwined…that’s probably what was happening up there, in the scary vacancies of my twisted little mind.

28 Dec 2012

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Another beautiful morning spent hanging out in the perfect-weather park while Fred literally runs circles (laps) around me. This one park reminds of a more exotic Austin — an oasis of physically fit people in a sea full of whales. It is literally the perfect temperature — high of 24 degrees Celsius (75 degrees Fahrenheit) and a low of seven (45 degrees F). 

Whenever you go shopping, it’s such a madhouse. Bodies packed tightly everywhere in one massive throng, pulsing with life and passing you along in a wave of incessant motion. People stand on the sidewalk outside their stores, peddling their (often contraband) wares and attempting to usher you inside.

“Senorita! Senorita, que buscas?!”

When the wind blows, as I lay on a bed of dry grass and crisp leaves here in the sun, I feel like I’m being kissed by an angel or some other celestial being.

And now, an exchange between myself and Fred’s dad.

Me: I was so sheltered growing up, I had no idea what constituted the actual act of sex.
John: Until you got married to Fred?
Me: ………………………………….yes. *face spontaneously combusts*

29 Dec 2012

Well, diary, I’ve had a doozy of a day (to quote Dale and Tucker)…

30 Dec 2012

I felt so bad for the rest of yesterday that I never got around to saying what happened. Well, I can finally sit upright, so here’s the abridged version:

Due to what I’m pretty sure was a result of bad take-out burgers and fries from Ruben’s Sandwiches, I (as well as everyone else who ate it, though I undoubtedly got it the worst) got VIOLENTLY ill. Like, hospitalized, IV in my arm, sick. I started throwing up around 0500 and did so about every 20-30 minutes until noon. After about the 15th time, when it was all medicine and water coming up, they rushed me to the hospital (I passed out on the floor next to the bathroom due to the loss of so much fluids), where I was diagnosed with colitis. Basically, something had inflamed my large intestine so it was constantly pushing against my stomach, making it feel like I had to throw up all the time. Even after I was discharged, I was in SO much pain. It was literally gut-wrenching. Sleep was slow in coming, but such a blessed relief.

Recent events have definitely put a damper on some of our vacation plans (at least we have 6 more days). On the plus side, at least it happened where there were people to take care of us — his parents have been saints throughout this whole thing. Also, this may be the only vacation I’ve ever been on where I lose weight (instead of gaining it).

Poor Fred is really ill. Everything just runs right through him.

I like how his dad calls him “pumpkin-head.”

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Man, I just woke up from like a 4-5 hour nap. I feel like I could sleep the day away and think nothing of it. Fred says it’s good for our bodies to rest so much during recovery. I think it’s because they were working so hard yesterday, just to keep running.

Must postpone sleep so I’ll sleep well tonight.

1 Jan 2013

What I woke up to–a kiss on my upturned lips, then, “I love you…You look better without make-up….your eyes are green today.” How can you beat that? *smitten*

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2 Jan 2013

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I think one of the reasons me and Fred go so well together is this: Fred stopped believing in magic, the innate goodness of man, a long time ago. His cynicism onset at an early age. I, on the other hand, am filled with an unhealthy level of awe and wonder for an adult.

We need each other.

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After waiting for 2.5 hours for Fred to finish up his game, I had a plethora of time to just sit and think. It’s reassuring to know that at the pit of my nature, I am inherently restless. A woman of action. 

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We explored Coyoacan today. It’s like the hipster neighborhood, around 20 minutes south of the house. Took the Metro (subway) there. Guess that makes four cities I’ve taken the subway in (Mexico, Caracas, DC, NYC, Chicago–oh look, five!). The orange line cars were older–they had these mega-fans blasting warm air and even kept the windows on the cars propped open while the train was in motion. The brown line we transferred to, on the other hand, was brand new. Shiny, clean, ample seating room, sentries posted on the car, televisions suspended from the ceiling. It wasn’t segmented like other trains, either — you could see all the way down from one end of the train to the other, like a long corridor filled with people staring at me as if I was some tall, pale/see-through She-Devil. 

3 Jan 2013

It’s funny to think sometimes about the fact that while Fred was making out with some skank in her dorm room, I was probably in the library at WAIS being lectured on how Wikipedia is not a reliable academic source.

4 Jan 2013

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Sometimes I have dreams about having a miscarriage. Which is weird, considering I’m not pregnant and never have been. Hope that’s not some sort of scary omen or anything…

Fred’s mom got me socks and a fuzzy warm sweater yesterday for no reason. Also, she got my boots fixed–my favorite brown ones I got at Buffalo Exchange years ago in Austin, I think I was still in school. They’re even nicer than when I bought them. All shiny and soft and smelling of shoe polish. Re-stitched the hem in the back, BRAND new soles…I want to do something really nice for his parents for treating me so well and embracing me as one of their own. I’m just not sure what.

Went to the Cafebreria El Pendulo today. Read on Flavorwire that it’s supposed to be one of the 20 prettiest bookstores in the world, and since I consider myself something of a bookstore connoisseur, decided it was necessary I check it out before we leave. Upon entry, there is a dangling pendulum slowly dripping sand as it swung to form a pattern that looked like two planets orbiting each other. Two stories of winding wooden stairs adorned with ivy (fake or real, I couldn’t tell) and booksbooksbooks everywhere: piled on the ground, floor-to-ceiling, dripping off tables, draped around the base of the staircase. There was ample plush seating both up and downstairs, and there was even a vinyl section (though I found that vinyl trended more expensive down there than it does up here).

The books were all sealed in plastic, which was kinda a bummer since you couldn’t exactly flip through anything (an act I never considered a luxury until I realized the freedom to peruse a book’s contents in its place of merchandise is not a universal right). We decided to partake in their tableside cafe service, and while I sipped a chocolate malt (not the best I’ve ever had, but Fred’s Irish coffee more than made up for my lackluster order) and listened to my favorite Franz Ferdinand song play softly in the background, I was reminded of all the great coffee shops/bookstores that I’ve known and that have helped shape my life:

  • Barnes & Noble – after spending years living among their shelves, I was finally hired. It was my first job. I held it for seven years. It is also, to date, one of the best jobs I’ve ever had. Really opened the world of business and book vending up to me.
  • Spiderhouse – any trip to Austin can only be completed upon visiting one of the original Southern Houses of Hip
  • Book People
  • Forbidden Planet – Mecca to geeks, dweebs, nerds, and dorks everywhere
  • And, of course, the reverential holy temple of all bookstores, The Strand. To summarize the splendour that is The Strand would be to denigrate it into blasphemy.

5 Jan 2013

What I had to look forward to back home :-/

What I had to look forward to back home :-/

Our last day in Mexico. In a few hours, we will leave for the frozen tundra that is our home. I will be sad to leave (though I won’t miss the constant indigestion and perma-headache). I’ve gotten more than used to the temperate weather, beautiful parks, crazy hustle and bustle of life. Fred’s parents proposed that while he is in deployment, I come live and work with them in Mexico. I will be giving some definite thought to that idea. I could contribute to a wire service like Reuter’s or AP, or work at the Nylon Mexico office!

But I dream. If I want them to hire me, I need to get my rear in gear. Have something to show for all this time. Give them a reason.

You know, for all the poverty I saw in Mexico, I also saw a lot of kindness and empathy for their fellow man. I saw a guy emerge from a grocery store and hand a bag of crisps each to the three small children begging for change out front. Another stooped to hand a big bag of oranges to these very old, crippled-looking native women with barely enough energy to lift their empty cups for change from their place on the pavement of a bridge crossing a busy street into Polanco.. It was really heartwarming and a pleasant reminder of the good in all of us. For despite the fact that Mexico City is the third largest city IN THE WORLD, in the heart of such chaos and industry, the less fortunate do not go completely unnoticed among its roughly 21 MILLION inhabitants.

IMG_2364For anyone who wants to see the full album of pictures I took, just check out my Facebook album “Vacacion de los Muertos Gringos.”

 

Nonstop 90s Weekend on i101 is literally the best.

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“Slide” by Goo Goo dolls provides the perfect background music as I write this.  At least, I think I’m listening to i101…I only get like 2 radio stations since I live on a military base with like a thousand giant satellites confusing my poor radio.

I’ve found I do some of my best thinking when I’m sitting on the ground. Introspective realizations increase tenfold when I have a giant mixing bowl filled with batter sitting in my lap. Extra points if the batter has raw eggs in it…subtract some if I’m using my finger as a spoon/licking apparatus. Which is to say, most times.

Me: You know what’s hotter than your wife licking batter off her finger while dressed like a space-age lumberjack? 
Fred: What?
Me: Everything. 

On the menu tonight – Pioneer Woman’s bundt banana bread. It would’ve been regular banana bread, but I realized after I mashed the bananas that I didn’t have a loaf pan (way to commit, Nicole).

Here is a picture of hers. Mine will very likely look nothing like this: Image

This is our last weekend together as our Great Lakes family before we start the achingly sad, inevitable split. Our fatherly eating machine, Pantig, will be the first to go. His babies need him (as does his overworked wife, I’m sure), so that’s okay, but he will be sorely missed. To celebrate, I took the boys into Wicker Park to hang with my boy Bucio and deliver him some oatmeal chocolate chip cookies (he’s a friend from high school he’s turning 25 he has a twin named Ozzie he has the coolest job and game for miles and miles the end). He ended up showing us a side of Chicago I would be very unlikely of to see otherwise.

Began the evening at the beautiful Berghoff. One unique characteristic of my husband (actually, probably all men, now that I think about it) is that he remembers some of our fondest memories, some of our sweetest moments–by what we were eating. I’ll say “Remember that Valentine’s Day we went to that German place in downtown Austin and it was completely deserted except for us and thousands of twinkling lights on the terrace?” and he’ll say, “Oh GOD that bratwurst–that beer–what amazing spaetzle!”

After that, we fought the freezing rain to go to two different convenience stores. The reason was lost to me since I had 2 cocktails with dinner (Horse’s Necks, to be exact). I remember getting lost in the candy aisle in one…I believe there was also a conveyor belt with wine on it. That might’ve been the Walgreens. I don’t know, convenience stores in the city are like something out of a kitschy 60s movie set on a space station.

Bucio found us refuge in what at first blush appeared to be an abandoned building, but once you overlook the missing railing and creepy little door that leads to a third dimension or something underneath the stairwell, we actually found ourself at an extremely well-disguised VFW (that’s Veterans of Foreign Wars, for all you civvies. It’s like an American Legion).

The Ukrainian bartender with a pixie cut the color of a tube of lipstick one might find at the Dollar Store told us we were too early for the karaoke. A kindly older gentleman found us later and told us there were no rules there. Except for no cursing, cuz they were a family affair. We entertained ourselves with friendly banter and horrible games of pool (the cues had no tips so it was less like billiards and more like playing a table tob game of bowling. While wearing those giant gloves that like Mickey Mouse and Goofy wear).

(Go 00:42 seconds into this for the relevant part of this clip….this is for you, Andrea)

Before we knew it, the quiet questionable room had turned into like the underground meeting center for the most hipster-y hipsters I’ve ever seen in my life. And trust me, that is really saying something. I lived in Austin for 2 years. EAST Austin. In my early 20s. This hotbed of hipsterdom outdid all the time I spent there, and then some. When I felt I’d had just about enough hipster overload and bad renditions of 80s songs by a bunch of drunk idiots, we left the sea of flannel and fake glasses to hang out at Bucio’s.

It was a really pleasant night. I personally enjoy fusing friend groups (though I know it’s frowned upon in many social circles), so it was fun to bring my worlds colliding together and introduce a good friend I’ve known for 10 years to some very good friends I’ve only know for about one now. Everyone got pleasantly drunk (except for me and the minor, since I drove us). McConnell talked a lot, and LOUDLY, as he is wont to do (whether or not he is under the influence is beyond relevant). Eutsler played the guiter and I sang quietly in the corner while everyone reminisced and discovered new things about one another, occasionally breaking the chatter to munch thoughtfully on my cookies.

McConnell: I FEEL LIKE EVERYONE HATED ME. DID THEY HATE ME?
Fred: Probably. They might’ve liked you more if you’d talked less. Or about anything besides the Navy.
McConnell: I DON’T KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT ANYTHING ELSE!
Fred: They gave you like 3 outs for that topic of conversation and you kept dragging it back. Also, you talk really loudly when you’re drunk.
McConnell: NO I DON’T!
ME: OMG shut up. Shut up shut up SHUT UP! EVERYONE! SHUT! UP!!!

Despite the fact that we almost died on the way home – I kid, that’s an exaggeration, but it was definitely one of the top 5 most terrifying drives of my life; it was so cold that the rain on my windshield wipers froze instantly, rendering them relatively useless as they left giant streaky blobs instead of wiping the water away – I cannot think of a single way that evening could have gone any better.

……….

……

I could have not accidentally stolen Bucio’s jacket. That could have made it better, probably…..for him.

The Year of DO, not SHOULD DO

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Despite the fact that my military ID and debit card were found a mere few hours after I reported them missing, I am trying to stay positive. Because it is only eight days into the New Year and that’s what we do, DAMMIT, we stay POSITIVE!!!!!!!

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Harry Potter Deathly Hallows journal of AWESOMESAUCE

I wrote in a journal (the most awesome journal ever, courtesy of one equally-as-awesome best friend), so I will probably just transcribe those entries and include a slideshow…

I don’t know why I’m giving you a rundown of what I am GOING to possibly put on here in the future.

Here is what I know: I only posted 12 times over the past year. 12 times!!! That is unacceptable! It felt like a lot more for some reason!! That’s like once a month (yeah, I can do math, no thanks to the discouraging messages my Teen Talk Barbie used to say from her hidden shoebox in the closet)! Seriously. What the hell else was I doing with my time.

Ever since we got back from Mexico, everything smells like vanilla to me.

In case it wasn’t glaringly obvious yet, I have no idea where this post is going. I suppose I could always put up my list of tenuous New Year’s Resolutions…..yeah, there we go, there’s some focus.

Here is a list of all the things I hope to accomplish this year. I want to say I will…and I will, because I SHALL accomplish them. I’m sure of it. Not like all those quitters out there. You know what happens to quitters? Nothing. Ever. Because they quit everything.

Nicole’s New Year’s Rezzies

  1. Structure my days better. Set aside a schedule (of productivity!!) and stick to it.
  2. Get back to the shape I was in when I started dating Fred (aka best shape of my LIFE)
  3. Re-read the Harry Potter series
  4. Take one of those free online classes that MIT, et al, offers
  5. Get a job
  6. Write that damn book already
  7. Re-gain my flexibility (it was not that long ago that I could do the splits and pop up from a standing backbend)
  8. Launch my professional website
  9. Make that tribute video I choreograph in my head everytime I hear DJ Madeon’s “Pop Culture”
  10. Finish and post my Austin gang video to YouTube.

There are more….but those are the least embarrassing ones.

“Write what should not be forgotten.” ~Isabel Allende

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There are the good things that make life worth living. Big and small, they are the details, the threads in the fabric of our lives (to risk sounding like a Hanes commercial).

The smell of the world after it rains, the water still clinging in teardrops to the grassy blades.
Your first kiss.
The first time a boy hits you and tells you you’re pretty.
So many firsts, each and every one…
The first time you told a boy you loved him.
The first time you told a boy you loved him, and meant it.
How proud your parents were the day you graduated college, and how crisp and cool the air felt.
The smell of your newborn baby brother, lingering on your arms, a faint musk of diaper cream and milk. The smell of innocence.
What pure, unadulterated, unprecedented love looks like as you hold your husband’s hands and stare deep into his eyes and soul in a courtroom, in front of no one but each other, and say “I do,” for now and forever.
The unsung, everyday heroes among us.

Yeah, those are the good things. But we should never forget the bad, either. For how sweet can anything be if we have no comparison of what sour tastes like?

All victims of natural tragedies, as well as those of the unexplainable manslaughter that occurs every day. There is no mercy where there are no accidents.
Exploitation of the innocent and the fallen.
A homeless veteran or family or even just a crestfallen, dirty man with his mangy dog on the side of the road.Tears of disappointment and confused anguish on a child’s face, whatever the reason.When a mother runs out of food stamps in the check-out line at the grocery store and has to shamefully put things back while her children cry hungrily from the shopping cart.
9/11.
All our brave men and women serving in the U.S. military. You don’t have to agree with the cause, but you do have to acknowledge their courage and commitment to something that is bigger than any of us individually.
There is so much more worth noting, but I just wanted to jot a little something down while I lay in bed, before my eyelids droop shut. I need to get used to writing more often, even if it’s not necessarily for any means or toward any end.

 

Weekends gone wild, woo-hoo!!…..except not really.

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Where is it decreed that winter days must be gray? Why are there no gray summer days? You’d think that atmospheric science class I took in college would come in handy right about now…but you’d be wrong.

Last weekend, me and the hubster went traipsing around Market Square in Lake Forest (click on me for interesting factoid about this shopping center!) in search of these reindeer I saw advertised on the Lake County events website. There have been a plethora of holiday/winter festivals in the area, but SANTA did not deliver on this particularly blustery day. I didn’t mind much, though. We paced those cobblestoned streets like we owned the place, stopping in to taste some fancy frommage at a local deli and stealing a sip of the best cider I’ve ever tasted in my life by pretending to be a honeymooning couple at the Deer Path Inn, a quaint little German-style building on the National Registry of Historic Buildings that was built in 1929 (did I mention it was THE BEST CIDER I’VE EVER HAD. IN MY LIFE). 

It’s a shame, really, because there was so much more to that blue-carpeted inn than the cider but forever, in my memory, will I associate that particular establishment with a silver tureen of cider tucked away into a not-so-secret hallway. So if you ever find yourself in the northern suburbs of the Greater Chicago area, do yourself a favor and steal yourself some cider. It’d probably be nice if you paid for a room too, but that wouldn’t be very adventurous.

Can I just interject right now to say that this post has been sitting open in my browser for about a week so if the chronology of it doesn’t make much sense, don’t worry–you’re not going crazy. Just me.

THIS past weekend was the last weekend I’d have with all of my Navy family boys all together, so we went into town. I had this long list of things I wanted to do–see the world’s longest candy cane, go ice-skating in Millenium Park under the big Bean, attend a book sale at a public library–all, or even some, of which would have composed a very nice day.

We didn’t do any of that. What we actually ended up doing was watching a long pub crawl of drunk Santas march past us, scaring all children (and some adults) in their path; popping in for a Hot Buttered Rum at this pub I can never remember the name of but is under the Loop and conveniently close to Cloudgate (btw, do not be deceived by the name–it did NOT taste like Butterbeer, as I was led to believe, by myself, judging from the description of the drink); eventually found ourselves at the Navy Pier, where we stumbled upon their Winter Wonderland festival (which was quickly deemed by the guys as being too “childlike” to be fun…like they know what fun is or whatever) and got lost in a stained glass exhibit looking for this hidden seafood restaurant; then wobbled back to the station in time to make the 9:35 UPN-line home. It’s amazing how quick that train ride is when you’re not dead on your feet. I propped my phone up on my knees and indulged in a little Always Sunny… with my sweet baby Euts to my side and my sweet baby husband asleep on my shoulder.

Even though nothing turned out the way I wanted to (I’m looking at you, ice-skating rink rental line guard with the ‘roided-out sense of self-importance), I still had a magnificent time. As always. And even though my impending trip home leaves me with little to no time to organize one last holiday get-together and send out our first year of official Lambuth family Christmas cards, I am eagerly awaiting Wednesday, boarding that plane to Houston and seeing all my favorite people in one place.

The Gobble Wobble Show

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I just want everyone to know that my delay in updating this blog is 100% intentional. If you thought it was because of my laziness and general sloth-i-city, then you would be WRONG, because that’s exactly what I WANTED you to think! What I’ve actually been doing is cultivating suspense and intrigue in my readership. I’m so good at it that you probably didn’t even realize how badly you had been awaiting my next update, did you?

Well, you’re welcome.

On to T-gives tidings!

As some of you may/may not know (…though that basically covers everyone, if you think about it), this was the first official Lambuth family Thanksgiving. It was also my first Thanksgiving not spent with my family in Texas. As well as the first Thanksgiving where I was to be the host/primary food supplier…lotta firsts, this year was. I contemplated making a cooking video (working title: “How NOT to put together a Thanksgiving dinner for 10-12 people”), but decided no one wanted to see me crying on the floor of my kitchen surrounded by wet cheesecake filling and pumpkin pie puree. Or rather, I made the directorial decision that I did not want anyone to see that. I’m sure that would’ve been pretty entertaining, capturing one of my lowest points on camera.

I began the week with big plans for my “Indian-style Thanksgiving Celebration” (I was REALLY proud of that play on words: Indian-style because I wanted to celebrate the Native American ancestors I do not have, and also because due to the lack of seating, we would all be dining Indian-style on a tablecloth I laid out on the floor of the dining room). As the big day drew nearer, though, most of those little plans that involved things like decor and what type of party punch to make went right out the window as I tried to time exactly when and how to make every dish.

What I Had: 

  1. A guest list that hovered around 10-12 people
  2. A sous chef (the only guest couple were bringing about half of the meal)
  3. A semi-locked-down menu
  4. Four adult male sailors crashing in my guest/living room (in addition to myself and my husband, that made for a grand total of 6 people in our little love nest)
  5. A very distressed 6-month-old kittencat
  6. Some CRAZY drunk neighbors

What I Did NOT Have:

  1. A table
  2. Chairs
  3. Enough eating/drinking utensils
  4. A chill pill (though I really coulda used one…or four…or fifty).

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Somehow, I managed to pull it off, though I have to stop here to give a serious credit shout-out to my stepmom/every person who has ever hosted a Thanksgiving dinner. I had NO idea what I was getting myself into. There is so much planning and prep work: having to time when to make what, how long such-and-such will last in the fridge, how long to thaw what, etc. I made the pumpkin pie and cranberry swirl cheesecake with gingersnap-walnut crust on Tuesday, then spent a good 12 hours on Wednesday getting most everything else ready to go so on Thursday all I’d have to do would be warm things up and serve them.

Let me just make sure I’m being clear about something: when I say “12 hours,” I do not mean collectively. I mean I was literally in the kitchen for a good 12 STRAIGHT hours. I did not go to bed until about 3:30 a.m. and then I was up again at 9-10 a.m. making berry muffins and coffee for everyone, as well as mentally preparing myself for the day ahead.

I have to say, though, with everyone’s help, what could have been a massive tragedy ended up being pretty catastro-FREE (get it? Free of catastrophes???). I did make everyone go around the table(cloth) and say something they were thankful for. The married men all made sure to lead with “I am thankful for my wife…”; the single ones all began with  “I am thankful for the Lambuths and the Massies, for providing us with all this food and a place to spend Thanksgiving that isn’t our cold, lonely barracks…”; and then there was mine:

“I am thankful that my first Thanksgiving did not include any parents or in-laws, because that would have made this about 100 times more stressful than it actually was.”

I mean that in the nicest way possible, btdubs. I would have loved to spend Thanksgiving with my family; HOWEVER, the thought of hosting my very first Thanksgiving during my very first year of marriage and having to please both sets of parents is….well, let’s just say, I don’t think a tablecloth/Indian-style setting on the floor would’ve cut it real well.

I am sincerely grateful for the Massies, who brought over a ton of delicious dishes and certainly helped to feed everyone (DAT HONEY-GLAZED HAM); for my husband, who took control of the turkey; and for his friends, who periodically popped into the kitchen throughout the day to help me with some of the smaller tasks.

Le Menu (blue means I made it)

  • 14-lb. Butterball turkey (with gravy made from its own juices)
  • Green bean casserole with mushroom bechamel and crispy onions*
  • Golden mashed potatoes with leeks and sour cream
  • Holiday cranberry swirl cheesecake with gingersnap-walnut crust
  • Ginger pumpkin pie with graham-cracker crust
  • Garlic cheddar biscuits
  • Homemade hummus
  • My stepmom’s amazing corn souffle
  • Deviled eggs
  • A giant honey-glazed ham
  • Rice and beans
  • Cornbread
  • Cheddar-bacon mashed potatoes
  • Yams
  • Rolls (Hawaiian sweet bread and the simple quick-brown yeast ones, which I spread with a thyme-garlic-butter infused sauce before popping in the oven)

*Went old-school for most of these recipes — like, farmer’s market veggies, nothing frozen, made entirely from scratch, old-school.
**If you want the recipes for any of this, just check out the T-gives board I made on my Pinterest.