[Resolution(s)] 3, 55 & 100: Tourism, original art, and one BIG burrito. Part One.

So, it all starts with the fact that my normal homebody nature and health nut status have been completely obliterated by everything that’s been going on these last few weeks.  And, kind of ends with the fact that somehow my friends have been better and more diligent than I have at helping me to complete this list of resolutions (thanks guys!).

Resolution 100: Obtain a Piece of Original Art

I thought for sure I was going to have to shell out hundreds of dollars for this, but it turns out all it take is going to the downtown IHOP at 4 in the morning and being somewhat interesting to a homeless man.

Before recently, I rarely went out (and by “out” I mean to Elysium, the goth club downtown, because I really despise the frat boy types at the other bars) and when I did I was out of there before the last-call traffic started.  But…my whole ‘usual’ routine was kind of turned on its head and I’ve been out quite a lot more than usual lately.

Last Saturday, 4 a.m., out with the usual suspects, we found ourselves at the IHOP in full-on vampyre garb, fangs and all.  We were seated together, the 5 of us, in the very back of the restaurant since evidently the staff has figured out that we’re a little too rambunctious for the front.  The back, however, is right up against the window, and tonight there was a very talented homeless man just outside who was staring in and furiously sketching away on a piece of foam board with a ball point pen.

We noted his presence but immediately diverted our attention back to what we would order.  Until a few minutes later…

He was inside the restaurant next to our table, peering at us all with the artist’s eyes, carefully sketching in the details that he was unable to see from the other side of the glass pane.

A few minutes later, he kneeled beside us and said “I think I’ll call it… ‘A Very Us In Austin, Texas …On a Saturday Night. Saturday Night.’ ”  And put it in my hands.

From left to right is Emma, Brandon, Me, Daley and Logan. And ta-da!  Original art.  And, as a sweet and unexpected twist…I’m actually in it. We all gave him the dollars we had left over, around 10 dollars between all of us I think. I trimmed it up and framed it when I got home and it is now proudly displayed on my bed side table.

It turns out he’s got quite a body of work going, because as soon as this went on facebook people started popping up saying “Oh I have one from him too!” I believe is name was Art Randle, but someone correct me if I have that wrong.  It makes me wonder if we could collect his stuff from around Austin and have an exhibit or something.  Get him a little more money than the few dollars he makes on each drawing.  Just a thought.

Resolution 55: Go to a restaurant, order and consume the most calorie heavy item on the menu.

Have you guys ever been to Freebird’s?  Well, if not it’s a national chain that specializes in burritos. Regular burritos, but also larger-than-your-head burritos.

The hybrid up there is your regular ‘ol burrito size.  You know, the size that a person could take down for a casual lunch.  And it goes up from there.  All the way to the Super Monster which takes not one but TWO 13″oversized tortillas to create.  You go down a line, kind of like a cafeteria, dictating to the burrito craftsman what you would like in your behemoth burrito.

Dru, the self proclaimed expert in creating Super Monsters, had the brilliant idea to knock off this particular resultion with said burrito, and insisted that I let him take the lead on its creation.  Most likely to deter my health nut from refusing cheese and sour cream.

The end product contained, among other things: Rice, Black Beans, Steak, Corn, Pico, Peppers, Onions, Guacamole, Sour Cream, Cheese, Lettuce, Cilantro and who knows what else.

The burrito, pre-wrap.  For perspective.  Or this, its size in relation to Dru’s mouth.

It’s a big burrito.

I was hoping I would never know the EXACT amount of damage I did with this thing, but nope…the Freebird’s site has a handy little chart for being able to calculate just how many calories are in that monstrosity. And, while I could have gone with one of those cream laiden dished at Macaroni Grill, or bothered a master chef about the calorie count in his richest concoction…I’m pretty proud (possibly a little ashamed) that I managed to consume the better part of a

2,162 Calorie Burrito

I say the better part because we actually split the thing between the two of us.  It took some real poking, prodding and jeering to get me through the last few bites of just my half. I used to think that I could probably take on competitive eating, but I don’t think that’s true anymore. Not if 1,081 calories of burrito can knock me on my ass the way it did. Given, It would have been even better reading to say that I ate the WHOLE Super Monster, but oh well, not everyone can be blessed with super eating powers.  Plus I may have lost a few readers due to sheer disgust.

Anyway. To commemorate a successful burrito feast, our obligatory “Super Monster” made from the burrito’s foil wrapping.  Mission Complete.

In Part Two:  Being a Tourist in My Own City.  Stay tuned.

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[Resolution] #24 Paint (with a twist!)

I come from a long line of artists. I even like to call myself one sometimes, but if I’m really honest, I never really honed my “hand” skills like drawing and painting.  I’m much better with a keyboard and mouse which evidently makes me a “designer.” But, artist or designer, or not, painting is one of those universally cathartic activities.

Now, take that catharsis and add red wine…and you have Painting with a Twist.

I know its brilliant, you don’t have to tell me.  Many a famous artist is rumored to have had his drink as close as, if not nearer than his brushes, but Painting with a Twist is not just a clever moniker I made up for getting wine drunk over art, it’s actually a business.  Someone took art and alcohol…and now makes money off of it.  And, I gladly gave them mine.

The lovely ladies in my life (Jenn, Nicole and Bernadette) decided we were long overdue for a girl’s day out, so we put in a reservation for a two hour Saturday class at Painting with a Twist.  For $35 they give you the canvases, the aprons, the paint, the space and the teacher…and you just provide the alcohol.

That’s Bernadette.  She’s happy to be there.

The class went a lot like one of those Bob Ross videos. The painting we were doing even had “happy trees!”  I was a little disappointed when the teacher didn’t actually call them happy trees, but hey, we can’t all be Bob Ross. She did take us through step by step, creating Picasso’s out of all of us non-painters.  In no time we were mixing paints, blending colors, and actually creating something that looked like real art.

Progress Shot

It’s a pretty fast paced class, I’ll admit.  I went in thinking that it was going to be a leisurely paint slinging where I could afford to hold a wine glass in one hand and a brush in the other, but not so.  Perhaps it’s a brilliant method of sobriety control.  We were so absorbed in our artwork that we all managed to get through just about 2 glasses each before the end. I didn’t realize how much you have to cram in to get a whole painting done in 2 hours, but it’s quite a bit.  Even a simple landscape scene has complexities I wouldn’t have even thought about.  Kind of makes me respect painters even more.

Here’s the finished product:

I signed it and everything.  Real artist.  Right here.

Now here’s the twist in the story.  What kind of artist would a be without a tortured soul-wrenching story, right?

Not two hours after I got my painting home, without even enough time to decide what wall to put it on…I stepped into the other room for just a few minutes. When I returned, my dog was laying on top of the canvas, paint chips and canvas shreds everywhere.

I cried.  I’m not joking.  Just flat out broke down over it.  But, luckily, they do another one every single day, and we’re already planning our next ladies’ day out and I’ll get to try again.  And this time will hang it on the wall far far out of my naughty dog’s reach.  And I’ll just have to cherish the memories–and the photograph–of this first go around.

[Resolution] #104 Help Someone Anonymously

Thanks to network TV, everyone knows these guys.  I don’t watch Glee, but I sure as hell know about it, and I’m generally surrounded by ‘GleeKs’. It follows a high school glee club in lavish show choir performances of top 40 hits all while following the quintessential high school coming of age stories of building relationships, dealing with life and world issues, and more.

But, this is definitely a fantasy show in more ways than one.  In fact, there are hundreds of schools all over the US who don’t even have a music or performing arts program, and even more who are having the funding for their existing programs slashed to go toward other extracurriculars, more focus on standardized testing, or funding just disappearing all together.

I don’t know if my attention would have been drawn to this issue in any meaningful way if it weren’t for trying to fulfill my month of “30 Ways in 30 Days” on TakePart.com, but I’m so glad that it was.  Music was the gateway to the arts for me as a kid.  It started off with playing Hot Crossed Buns on the recorder and trying out for the school choir and blossomed into a flutist in the middle school honors band.  In high school my love of performance morphed into theater arts and finally translated into the more private arts of creative writing and graphic design in college.  I would have never ended up where I did if it weren’t for someone putting that recorder in my hand, if it weren’t for that 1 hour of my school day dedicated to music, if it weren’t for some higher-up in my school district deciding that music was important for kids.

Well, thanks to DonorsChoose.org, school programs, including music programs, can break from the shackles of school district budgeting and donors are paired directly with teachers all over the country to keep their important school projects and programs alive.

Today, a school somewhere here in the United States got $50 from me to help fund some new supplies for their music and performing arts program.  It’s not a tremendous donation, but it’s something.  In the interest of remaining anonymous I won’t give so many details, but his particular school is in a high poverty area and most of the students are considered ‘at risk’ youth.  Music is an opportunity for them to build confidence, build community, and get exposure to the arts that they may not get anywhere else. But, due to lack of funding they can’t reach their full potential with broken equipment, or not enough equipment for the number of students enrolled.

The arts are so incredibly valuable, it would be an honest tragedy if it were lost to any child, no matter their background, income level, town size, school budget or anything else.  I encourage you to check out DonorsChoose.org to see if there is anything that piques your interest.  Even a $5 or $10 donation is huge for someone who is starting from 0.

…and as a little perk, if you donate $50 you get thank you notes from the kids.  That’s not why I did it, but it’s certainly a heart-warming extra.

Question of the day: How did the arts impact you as a kid in school?

[Resolution] #1 Get an Arm Tattoo

I went back and forth about this for a long time.  There’s a lot less stigma around tattoos these days, but I’d be lying if I told you that I wasn’t worried about my tattoos drawing judgement from strangers or preventing me from getting future jobs.  And, a tattoo on the arm is–well–not that discrete.  Especially in Texas where long sleeves are appropriate about 3 and a half weeks out of the year.

The thing is, though, what the heck am I doing if I’m prevented from doing something I really want to do because I’m worried about what other people will think or say?  In fact, my boss of all people said it best. In response to the statement “I’m just worried about future jobs and stuff…” he said “Well, maybe you shouldn’t be working for the kind of people who won’t accept you with tattoos.”

I hope he meant it…because today I showed up with one big a** tattoo.

A beautiful one, though.  And, one that I am completely and utterly in love with.  I usually have “tattoo remorse” after I come back home with a pretty big piece.  I stare at it constantly and analyze whether or not I’ll regret it when I’m 40 or 60.  I wonder what my grandkids will think. This one? Not so.  It really is a piece of art and I’m GLAD it’s not discrete.

I have Katja Ramirez at Perfection Tattoo here in Austin to thank for this one.  I searched long and hard for an artist that I thought would really turn my pretty vague idea into something stunning, and by vague I mean I walked in and said “I need a deer, a wolf, and the cosmos.”  She took it from there.

The deer and the wolf and two of my spirit animals, as I know them.  I know, I know.  I actually told that to an older gentleman today (he asked) and he called me a “fucking hippie.”  In a nice way, if that’s possible.  The whole concept of spirit animals is kind of…uncharted, I guess would be the word.  There’s no definitive way of discovering what yours are; it’s mostly animals that you’ve had a strong connection with since childhood, or animals that show up frequently in your dreams, or there’s even a few psychics and clairvoyants who can read them for you.  For me, it was a combination the first two.  But, on top of having a spiritual connection with them, the deer and the wolf are powerful symbols on their own that both have a very special meaning to me.

The Deer

Deer symbolize the powers in nature that are not easily subdued.  They are native to every continent except Australia, thus they are able to adapt very well to many habitats.  They represent instinctual energy, independence, and regeneration…This instinctual energy that deer represent tells us to trust our gut reactions, because those instincts will tell us when to fight or flee.

Deer also symbolizes the gentle, enticing lure of new adventures…But there is also a cautious element to deer.  Their antlers grow behind the eyes and offer protection…

Deer has many sides—deer is powerful and feisty, cautious, adventurous, and protective.  But deer has great individuality, calling for people to trust their instincts and trust themselves.

(via pure-spirit.com)

The deer, I feel is my “full-time” spirit animal.  The animal that I am most like spiritually.  Gentle, a symbol of unconditional love.  They are a symbol, as mentioned above, of independence and the lure of new adventures, a lure that has had its hook in me since it was in my power to seek out adventure on my own. And, protective, looking out for those they love. I feel that I will always have that spirit of the deer in me.

The Wolf

[Wolves] are seen as teachers, instructing us in our daily lives and all the troubles that go with them.  The lessons wolf teaches are not always easy to swallow, but nevertheless necessary.  Wolf is a symbol of guardianship, ritual, loyalty, and spirit.  Wolf has the ability to make quick and firm emotional attachments, and often need to trust their own instincts.  Thus they teach us to do the same, to trust our hearts and minds, and have control over our own lives.

(via pure-spirit.com)

Unlike the deer, the wolf shows up in my life only sometimes.  Mostly (and by mostly I mean exclusively) in dreams.  Without fail I will dream of a wolf when I am having a hard time listening to my heart and intuition, often when I’m facing a difficult time or life-altering decision.  Why, then, do I have one immortalized on my skin?  A constant reminder.  To listen to my heart and intuition at all times.  It’s the one thing in life that I constantly struggle with, with the exception of my ongoing sugar addiction, but I’ve pretty much given up on curing that.

The placement is symbolic too.  The deer appears on the front of my arm, always visible when I look at my reflection.  The wolf is near the back, not readily visible to me but there when I need him.

The Cosmos

The cosmos are the third symbol in the tattoo.  They’re a simpler symbol to me, just symbolizing my growing interest and understanding of the universe as a whole and all the dimensions in it, including the spirit world.  Like I said, I have a hard time trusting intuition, and therefore have a hard time giving myself completely to a belief in the spirit world at times. Though I’ve always known and believed that it exists, the extent and focus of my beliefs fluctuate dramatically.  The cosmos are less of a reminder and ongoing lesson, and more of a marker of my mindset at this point in time.

Recommended Reading

If you’re interested in more information about spirit animals and symbolism, there are three really great books that I highly recommend:

“So what the hell, leap.”

Happy Leap Day everyone!  The only holiday we get to celebrate only four years.  And happy 10th birthday to anyone out there who is NOT 40 today.

I thought long and hard about how I may commemorate this year’s leap day. I thought about making a ‘leap list’ (the new Bucket List thanks to some sticky Honda marketing) but that’s pretty much what my resolutions are all about.  I thought about cliff diving or something but…I had to work today.

I did take a little leap, or rather a roll, this weekend by rolling down a hill in this thing:

No joke.  It’s called the “Texas Sphere Ride.” You crawl inside that ball, get strapped to the side, and they let you go! Down a hill.  Sounds simple enough, but scared the you know what out of me and was the best adrenaline rush I’ve ever had at the same time.  Let’s just say it’s a good thing we did this BEFORE lunch.

I also celebrated by Mom’s biggest leap by fulfilling Resolution #52 and leaving her book for someone else to read in a coffee shop in Gruene, TX. I watched my mom spend years and years writing her book “Reunion on the Rainbow Bridge” and it took her more courage than I can imagine to publish it and put herself in the public eye with a very personal account of her parents’ unbelievable love story and a number of very personal and sometimes controversial stories of past lives and reincarnation.  I encourage everyone to check it out if any of that sounds awesome to you.  Because it is. 🙂 You can get it at bookstores everywhere (usually in the New Age section) or here on Amazon.com.  Unless of course you live in Gruene.  Then you can pick up a free copy at this coffee shop!

Still nothing for the day-of Leap Day, though. So, I had to settle for stretching my artistic muscles and creating this out of one of my favorite “Leap” quotes. For your Leap Day Pleasure.  Enjoy!