July 24, 2017

The Fun Part of Moving

So in the mural post I mentioned that I was moving, and that is happening THIS WEEKEND. I'm going to miss my new wall but oh my gosh I am excited to get out of my current place. The new spot is super cute, a studio but more square footage than where i am now, big open room with exposed ceiling beams, nice wide closet, bright orange walls outside with cactuses all over the place, skinny little kitchen that's still about seventeen times bigger than mine now with a window and tons of storage, blue-tiled bathroom with a full sized tub including a ledge to put shampoo and stuff on, security doors that let air and light in but also deadlock, ALL the good stuff.

I am going crazy at work with blogs and pinterest, getting all kinds of inspiration. My budget is at about zero - especially now that I bought Bix a crate, I figured he might need his own space (aka I might need him to have his own space) in the closer quarters - but I have high hopes for little diy projects and working with the stuff I already have aaaaand possibly a healthy dose of thrifting. It's funny, I used to be a minimal kind of girl, everything was stripes and stripes and stripes and shades of light blue (but like, MESSY, so not actually that minimal, just poor decorating), but these days I just want everything to be as colorful/floral as possible. Pinks and yellows and teals and PLANTS.

Here's a handful of patterns and prints and rooms that I'm digging these days. We'll see how it all actually turns out!
*Cue David Bowie song*orange and turquoise, poppy painting. -kitchen color inspirationImage Via: Justina BlakeneyThat rug, and the plates, chair  plant-loveDIY Christmas tree cactus

July 11, 2017

that time i made a mural

I'm not a crafty person. It just isn't my love language. I don't have an eye for picture walls, I almost always wish I'd chosen a different color scheme, I lose patience for tiny details.
I do like to paint. Especially when the painting involves copying other pictures or... tape.
Enter my mural project.
When I moved to Tucson, my little mouse house had a butt-ugly wall. A fenced-in yard, which makes Bixby SO happy. But in that yard, a really, reeeeeally ugly wall. A wall that I decided to fix. I googled some stuff, decided on a geometric pattern, went to Lowes (got laughed at a little, they didn't believe I was gonna finish or that it would look good I think??), bought four little containers of paint and a bunch of masking tape - NOT painting tape, I got that as well and it would not stick to the wall - and went at it. Until I got bored. The project took a few months, when I could have honestly knocked it out in a week.
But it's done now, and I'm really pleased with the result, and here are the photos!
So here's the inspiration, it's called Red Red Rhombus by Melanie Mikecz. The photo links to a place where you can purchase the print if you'd rather not make an enormous version of it yourself.
Bixby was super helpful. This is the wall as it was when I moved in - not the most welcoming or aesthetically pleasing.
First round of taping! I also drew this out on paper before putting it on the wall.
Every other box was painted. I only used red, white, blue, and yellow and just mixed them in little paper bowls.
Removed the short bits of tape, retaped on top of the painted parts, painted the other boxes within each long strip, removed all the tape except the top and sides. Then I retaped some more.
If I were going to be living here any longer, you would also see a photo with cute little cactuses and tomato plants and stuff lined up in front of the wall. As it is, I'm peacing out of this house by the end of the month. Hope the landlord and the next tenant like it!

July 4, 2016

Southeast: Miami & Orlando

This one is hard to write, because it's the very last one.  Florida bookends my trip down the United States rabbit hole.  I was there a year ago exactly, watching fireworks over the marina, internally twirling over the backpacking trip I was about to begin.  I expected to go to Spain and Chile and maybe Maine for a summer of sailboats, and I didn't yet know about the heartbreak of Allen, South Dakota, or how gut-wrenchingly beautiful Highway One is, or that at one point I'd wind up shin-deep in grapes.  I was naive and excited, and Florida was the first domino of the journey.  Fast forward through all of it, through tears and loneliness and awe and sickness and Bixby, and I was back in Florida, a last hoorah, the last stop before the road trip ended.

I drove, because I'm stubborn.  Because this is how it was supposed to be, and this way the Austin mishap only stole New Orleans from me AND I could see Brittany, my incredibly delightful friend from college.  So I loaded up the car again, leaving my ever faithful companion with my dad for the week (bye, Bix), and hit play on the seventh Harry Potter audiobook.

This actually turned out to be problematic.  The seventh Harry Potter book is the one in which George Weasley's ear gets blasted off, and when my own George Weasley the Hyundai Elantra was forced to relate the story of his namesake's accident, his own painful memories came flooding back, it was just TOO MUCH, and he decided not to stop when I told him to.  In normal human terms, I was driving down I-4 in the night and the rain and the traffic and I pushed the brakes and the car did nothing different so I pushed them again and still nothing happened and I considered pulling off the highway but we were on a bridge and there wasn't room for me between the cars and the concrete wall and I forgot to pull the emergency brake and then my lovely car ran into the back of a jeep.  Fortunately, all that happened to the jeep was a tiny little ding in its plastic bumper, but poor, poor George Weasley's nose was all kinds of smushed.  He is a faithful little bugger though, and the only things broken were the AC, my pride, and the very obvious and tragic crumpled hood - we were still a go to drive the rest of the way.

I have no pictures of Orlando.  All we took were snapchats, little mandala memories gone after ten seconds, so I have no physical reminders of what happened.  But - Brittany and her roommates and I were together almost the whole time.  We ate lots of sandwiches: sandwiches in tea shops with art on the walls, sandwiches dripping with brie in a shop with cheese grater lampshades, leftover sandwiches reheated in Brittany's oven.  We wept through the final Hunger Games movie on a rainy afternoon.  We spent a night downtown, a loud uber ride to cobblestone streets strung with lights and music and people swaying in high heels.  We watched Toy Story curled up in the living room, an homage to the DisneyWorld culture that permeates Orlando.  It was the girliest time I had spent in a while, and I enjoyed it thoroughly.

And then Miami.  Miami is sort of my second home, and I've been enough that there are routines.  Mornings buying miniature muffins at the bookstore, evenings eating at our favorite Coconut Grove restaurants.  Walks with the dogs around the marina.  We went shopping and got our nails painted and hair blown out - crucial Miami vacation things.  Joy and Lewis and I went to see The Good Dinosaur, aka Lion King round two.  I stayed over Thanksgiving, so we spent one day cooking and cleaning and eating and eating and eating and watching football, except instead of sweaters we were in sleeveless dresses and shorts.  Joy and I went out for a night that began with wine and a cheese plate and ended with handstamps and slushie drinks.  And the boat!  Anna Carol and Greg got a boat, and we drove out to No Name Bay one afternoon and jumped in.  Swimming in Florida, as far as I can tell, is almost always bearable, but even in Florida, swimming in November is cold.  We did it though, dog paddled around the boat in turquoise water, raced storm clouds home past Stiltsville.


Because it just wouldn't be right for things to go smoothly, when I started home I found out a nail had lodged itself in my right back tire, one of the ones I'd purchased just before the road trip started.  I got the spare tire on with some help, and drove to a nearby auto shop, where they told me they couldn't patch it and I needed new tires for the front wheels anyway, so it'd be best if I just bought a set of four brand new tires.  It was more than I could afford, but the other option was abandoning George Weasley (NEVER) and taking a flight home.  So one late start and four shiny new tires later, I was back on the road, risking George's wrath and playing the Harry Potter audiobook.  We drove back up the same highway, one of the very very few times I'd had to double back on myself over the course of the trip.  I chugged all the way up Florida, blasted "Going to Georgia" through the peach state, and cringed through South Carolina, which seems to consist solely of sex shops, gas stations, and South of the Border.  There had been talk of a motel, but after spending close to $500 on the tire fiasco and being just a couple hours from home when I started to wear thin, I drove all the way from Miami to Chapel Hill in a day.  Home safe and home for good.

So that's it!  That's my road trip, that's my quarter life crisis, that's my great adventure.  The US of A I saw summed up in a series of blog posts.  Spacious skies, cactuses, poverty, snow, big horn rams, ziplines, amber waves, gas stations, waterfalls, religion, starbucks, bridges, racism, wine, purple mountain's majesty, love and hate and everything in between.

Happy America Day, y'all.

June 15, 2016

Southwest 3: Albuquerque and Austin

I was so so lucky to have another connection in Albuquerque to cushion the blow of leaving Tucson.  Didn't hurt that New Mexico is beautiful and deserty but with the added bonus of More Trees, but I was even more appreciative that I got to see Sarah's brother and sister-in-law and finally meet her precious baby niece.  John, Erika, and Nora (eep!) were such welcoming hosts.  I got in late, but not too late for us to eat dinner at Monroe's, which was this deliiiicious New Mexican restaurant.  We actually bundled up in winter coats, continuing the weird weather roller coaster I'd begun in CA. 
The next morning I had enough time to hang out for a while, so we went for a hike with Nora and the puppies, which ended abruptly when a strange man started yelling at us to turn back.  And also howling.  It was fine.  We turned back, but other than that it was a great hike!  Really cool landscape.  Nora is such a little sweetie, and I enjoyed spending time with the sister-in-law of my sister-friend.  Bixby and their dog Peter got along swimmingly too, and Nora loved having a whole other dog friend to play with.
And then I left again and drove to Austin but I stopped in a few spots along the way.  I drove though Fort Sumner, so obviously I had to see Billy the Kid's grave.  I saw fracking machines, which looked like really strange and giant birds pecking into the earth, and I could smell them before I saw them.  I bought a pair of shoes at a gas station, but I promise they were cute.  I stayed at a Motel 6 in Lubbock.  And then there was Austin.
What happened in Austin was I put my wallet on the trunk of my car and started driving, and then that little pocket of some very essential items was suddenly gone.  I retraced my route twice, and it was still very much gone, probably blending its little tan-and-gray self into the big tan-and-gray Texas landscape.  I didn't know what else to do but drive to North Carolina.  And so I drove to North Carolina.
HOWEVER!  Three very incredibly lucky things happened after that minor catastrophe/major setback.
First: I thought I had $75 on my person: twenty stashed in my car, a twenty-five-dollar gift card, and thirty dollars left over from the MST still in my pack.  75 dollars is not enough to buy the gas necessary to get a person from Texas to North Carolina, let alone the hotel room I would surely need since it was already early afternoon and the drive alone is twenty hours.  BUT sometimes not unpacking all the way pays off, and when I went to get the precious and small amount of cash out of my backpack, my beautiful beautiful SECU credit card with my very own picture on it was nestled beside the bills.  I suddenly had money and a photo ID, and things were not so bad.
Second: When renting a hotel room, you need to provide a driver's license, and my driver's license was somewhere in a city I had driven fast away from.  I knew that this requirement existed, but for some bizarre reason, I know my driver's license number by heart.  (Pro tip: save this info in your phone!  Also, if you have an extra driver's license, stash it in your car somewhere!)  When I offered the bare bones information I had and the credit card with my picture on it, the kind kind kind man behind the desk told me not to get him into trouble and handed me the key for a room on the third floor.  Thank you, stranger.
Third: After eight thousand caffeinated drinks, after driving over the Mississippi at night, after hitting traffic in Houston and Atlanta, after tearful phone calls and many podcasts and Bixby faithfully riding shotgun - after all that, I got home.  And the next day, my dad called me to let me know a wallet-shaped package had arrived in the mail from Austin, TX.  "Open it," I told him, trying not to be as excited as he was.  Inside was my wallet, coins and all, missing some punch cards that presumably fell out when it flew off the back of my car.  And a note: Hi Anna, I found this wallet at XXX address. Thanks! Tony.  I googled the return address, but it was just a post office.  Thanks!!  THANK YOU!  You are the best person, Tony!!!  I hadn't bothered canceling any of the cards because I a) have to believe that people are fundamentally good and b) am lazy, so I was immediately back in business and ready for the next leg of the trip.  Can't stop, won't stop, here I come, Florida!
Next up, How George Weasley the Hyundai Elantra Busted His Nose (and His Feet) and other adventures I had in the Sunshine State.

June 9, 2016

Southwest 2: Tucson

Guys.  Guuuuuuys.  Tucson was my favorite.  Am I allowed to say that?  It was.  I tell people this and some of them are all, "Tucson? Really?" and some of them are like, "TUCSON. YES."  This grass-between-my-toes tree climber who grew up pretending to be a woodland fairy fell head over heels for the statuesque cactuses and the endless brown orange earth.  Have you read Stargirl?  No?  Go read Stargirl.
...Alright.  Now that you've done that, you get Tucson.
These are the things that happened:

1.  I didn't get in until after dark, which is always a little disconcerting.  Durham dance pal Leslie and her now-fiancee Adam introduced me to this delish mexican (southwestern? new mexican? i was never really able to distinguish) restaurant and my bike did NOT! get stolen off the back of my car.
2.  I zipped over to my couchsurf host's house and met him and his brother (hiiiii FRANZ AND CHRIS) and they were great and Bixby lurved them and I finally watched Jurassic Park for the first time in my entire life.  We also went to their parents' house because their parents' neighborhood has a pool/hot tub and we bopped back and forth between the two and the sky was the clearest blue you've ever seen and the cactuses were green and reaching and there were mountains in all the corners in the distance and I was like okay, Tucson, I like you.
3.  I went shopping on 4th Ave, where they have the best bookstore and a hippie shop and a place with raspberry soda and a little boutique where all this stuff was practically $5 so I bought a dress that didn't fit.  Hooray!  Sarah and Erika and I facetimed while I ate a salad.  I got a little baby cactus that I velcroed to my car and drove around the rest of the US and then killed on account of cactuses need water too.  Not a lot, just not none.  Sorry, baby cactus.  Also: Hub ice cream.  Swoon.
4.  Bixby was like a celebrity on a leash.  After traveling around the country with a dog, I will tell you where they love dogs the most and that place is Tucson.  Everybody wanted to say hi and pet him and learn his name and I was so proud of him and it was great.  I feel like he really flourished in Tucson.
5.  AND MAYBE THE BEST PART OF THE ENTIRE THING IS THAT GENEVIEVE LIVES THERE.  Gen is one of my favorite people on the whole planet.  She knew me at the most embarrassing and awkward time of my life and loved/s me anyway.  She had a bonfire at her house and her dad was there too and her fiancee Mikey and her friends and I brought Franz and we drank beer and they played music and everything was great.  We did other fun things too, like Try to eat at a restaurant that Hillary Clinton dined at once but there was an absurd wait so Go to a different restaurant and eat really good food and also margs and then Barhop around downtown Tucson for a while.  Great great!  Her friends are cool!
6.  Sunday was brunch at Mikey's grocery/restaurant place and watching the Panthers play football and then the All Souls Procession, which I had sort of adjusted my schedule for and was absolutely the highlight of the Tucson time.  We all got together for face painting and eating and then the parade started and it was the most magical thing.  All of us, all hundreds (thousands?) of us walked around in our masks and costumes for this strange and sacred ceremony with music and praying and an enormous urn.  We dropped in names of people who'd died over the past year and then they lifted the urn up and lit the whole thing on fire and it was sad and happy and beautiful and we danced across the stage even though we weren't supposed to.
7.  I left the next day (sad face).  BUT!! not before Gen asked me to be a bridesmaid in her September wedding, which means: I get to go back.  And guess who just bought her bridesmaid dress last night.  See ya soon, Tucson ;)