Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Just Listen

I've had a tumultuous August, full of angst, heartbreak, and fear. While some of this was self-imposed, some of this was unexpected and frankly just sad. I really, really, really wish I could write on this blog exactly what has happened this month - maybe someday I can (please realize that this is not only about love, but also life/work/happiness in general). Until then, I have to just speak in ambiguities, trust that life will get better, and look forward to a long weekend away from work. I'm very tempted to book a last minute overnight stay on the beach... stay tuned.

In the meantime, I've compiled a group of songs that may be able to somewhat convey my feelings of loss, fear, stress and anxiety. Some of these will be obvious, but I know others will only make sense to me (and maybe a few of my closest friends). Regardless, I hope you enjoy the music anyway, and truly hope that each of you is having a better month than I seem to be having.

...baby, I don't want to know.

Cause I'll keep singing this lie if you'll keep believing it...

Maybe someday, someday I'm gonna settle down

And every day is a brighter day...

I have a lot of thinking to do the next couple of days, and some decisions that I have to make that I'm not sure I'm ready to make. Alas, so is life. I'm just going to try to keep my chin up in the meantime, and try to remind myself that I do deserve a life of love and happiness. Life is full of peaks and valleys... and hopefully I'll start climbing again from here.

Until next time...

--- Becks

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Worth the Drive!

Ah, August... I normally hate you. After living on the Gulf Coast for more than 1/2 a decade, it's hard not to. In the south, August usually means the arrival of the 3 Hs: Heat, Humidity, and Hurricanes. Blech. While I won't say it hasn't been hot here in California, it is true that a dry heat is much better than a humid heat. It may just have been my best August yet!

I drove to the coast this weekend to attend an alumni event out in Ventura. The event was titled Chile Fest XX, and was basically an excuse to gather, eat good New Mexican cuisine, and buy roasted green chiles at cost (which is nearly impossible outside of New Mexico). What is green chile, you ask? Well, to explain it to Californians, I usually have to refer to an Anaheim pepper. They look about the same, but a Hatch green chile (Big Jim/Medium or Sandia/Hot) has a deep, semi-fruity flavor with a biting heat. Have it roasted, and it gets a nice smokey flavor as well.

Green chile is a staple of any real New Mexican's diet. We put it in everything. It's so common that you don't really think about it. It's in your breakfast, lunch, dinner... and sometimes your desserts and wines too! Needless to say, we take it for granted. So imagine my surprise when I moved to Houston in 2005... and couldn't find it anywhere! I was shocked - sad - disappointed. How would I ever eat well again?

Houston proved to be an ok place to eat (ok, so the food there is amazeballs, but that's not the point). Luckily, there was at least one restaurant that had a Hatch green chile sauce, and both Whole Foods & Central Market both had roasted green chile available for a couple of weeks in the fall. But it never was the same. It was super expensive for one, and you could only buy it during that short window of time. I had been spoiled by the convenience of finding green chile year-round... it took some getting used to.

Seven years later, I find myself in Southern California, where chile verde is a staple in Mexican restaurants. Still not the same, but it's the closest I've had in years so I'll take it! And even better news? As I mentioned before, my alumni association has an annual green chile roast on the coast in Ventura! Hurrah! Did I mention how much I love California? :)

Today was definitely a treat, both for my tastebuds and my olfactory system. The scent of green chile roasting is so intoxicating. I'm sure I won't get the smell out of my car for months, and I love it! Oh, and did I mention what we had for lunch at the festival?  They served 3 types of tamales with your choice of red or green chile sauce (I made mine Christmas), posole, Spanish rice, and pinto beans. It was so good!

Alas, it is Sunday so I couldn't stay as long as I would have liked to... I had a 2 hour drive back to my house. So I packed my chiles in the ice chest, took my time wandering through the mountains, and enjoyed my ride home. Upon my arrival, I packed the chiles in smaller baggies for freezing, and told my brother about the fun I had today.

Being tired from all that driving, my lazy bones couldn't bear the thought of cooking tonight. Instead, I went down the street to the local In-N-Out burger for a cheeseburger and fries. Of course, I just had to add a couple of my freshly roasted green peppers to it - it tasted so much like home! Sigh. I will sleep good tonight! I'm so excited to have this in my freezer now, and can't wait to try all of my old recipes here in California. If my friends are nice, they may just get to sample some of it too! Ha!

Until next time...

--- Becks

Saturday, August 25, 2012

So Fresh, and So Clean!

Better keep yourself clean and bright; 
you are the window through which you must see the world - G. B. Shaw

The last couple of days have been so strange! After my last post, I have been fighting off the urge to allow myself get into a funk. Work has been challenging (in both good and sometimes awful ways), family has been stressful, and my self-confidence has been shaken. What gives?

Yesterday, I was fortunate to have my friends for work invite me out for a night on the town. Well, a night out... which is as much as you can do in the town that I live in. (I miss the city!) First, we went to a cute wine dive in the middle of a strip mall on the suburb-ish side of town. They had a two-person jazz ensemble that was fantastic. The girl reminded me of a friend from Albuquerque... actually, the entire experience reminded me of good times I had back home. It was awesome, and they even played one of my favorite sad jazz songs:

I know it sounds sad, but it totally fit my mood. Not that I let that ruin our fun though! After a couple of hours, we left and went closer to our side of town to this random burger joint called Eureka. Eureka is famous for its burgers... and it's impressive whiskey selection. I'm not much of a drinker, but both of the girls decided to try the $22 whiskey flight. Woo, did that put some hair on their chest. Just smelling it made me woozy! I stuck with a local favorite called The Real McCoy, an Amber from Mammoth Brewing Company. Not a bad beer at all, but a little sweet for my taste. I wouldn't call it a "girly" beer... but a little sweet nonetheless. 

The Real McCoy (with a glimpse of the whiskey flight in the back)

All in all, it was a good night and I had a great time. Today, I woke up happy and eager to start my day. The morning started well... I had a good (albeit hot) walk with my dog, had a nice enough lunch, and had fun with a Facetime chat with my nieces. I was pretty darn happy!

This afternoon, however, I had a couple of issues come up (that I won't get into on here) that really brought me down quick again. Have you ever felt powerless when things were happening to others that were beyond your control? Or does that only happen to me? Sigh.

My brother and I went out to dinner this evening, and he let me vent about what happened this afternoon. It was very therapeutic, and I left dinner with a clearer mind in addition to my full tummy. We stopped by Target, and I got my groceries for the week for under $100 which was awesome. I came home, threw some clothes in the washer, and jumped in the shower. 

I don't know if it was the stress from the week, the hot water, or the smell of the Field of Flowers by Philosophy bath gel I was using, but the entire experience felt a-mazing! I didn't do anything out of the ordinary... but I did allow myself to just feel the water hit my skin. I let the water and soap wash away the feelings of powerlessness I had been having. I let myself breathe in the light, crisp smell of the shower hitting the shower floor. And I watched as my poor self-image went down the drain. It felt good,  and I felt ok for the first time in the last couple of nights. 

You see, despite what happens in my life, I know that I have the power within me to choose to be happy, or to wallow in my sadness. I don't see the point of wallowing when there is so much in this world, and this life, for me to be grateful for! So today... and for as long as I can... I am consciously choosing to be happy! Isn't that what we all want anyway? Why not just make it so! 

Well, I'm off to finish laundry and to head to bed. Big plans for my Sunday! Hope y'all have sweet and pleasant dreams.

Until next time...

--- Becks

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Summer's Almost Over...

My niece called me the other night to tell me how school was going, and it suddenly struck me... summer is almost officially over. Where did the time go? I cannot believe we are already well into August! Needless to say, the thought really took me off guard. Summer is for relaxing, going hiking, and being lazy by the beach. WHY DIDN'T I DO THOSE THINGS? Oh, that's right... it's because I was spending my summer like this:

Another funny thought occurred to me while I was mourning my loss of summertime. Despite the hatred I have for summertime in Houston, I always used that hatred to fuel my need to take a vacation (or two) during the summer months. Yet, I haven't taken a single real vacation since moving to California last fall. Now, one could argue that there is no need to take vacation when I live in the state I often vacationed to... but... vacation doesn't feel like vacation without a hotel stay! Where was my beach? Where was my pool time? Where was my sanity?!?!

Now, while I could sit here crying and enjoying my pity party while I continued to NOT enjoy what few days remain for summer 2012... I decided I should actually do something about it. Of course, leave it to me to want to start enjoying it at 7pm on a Friday night. Sigh. Thankfully, my friend V let me come over to throw back a couple of cold ones and watch the fish swim in her saltwater tank. :) Yes, I'm that easily amused. And if Mohammed can't get to the mountain... improvise with an ocean in a box! Ha!

When I woke up the next morning, my decision was finalized. I WOULD GO TO THE BEACH! Yes, that's what I would do, even if I had to go by myself. I was not going to spend another day wasted on my couch in the hot desert of the Valley. This morning, I called my friend J and invited her to join me. Luckily, she went thus saving me from a lonely day on the coast. We packed up and headed to beautiful Malibu!

Now, one of my favorite things to do when I go to the beach is to eat fish. Yeah, pretty sick, I know. But for some reason, the smell of the salty air just makes me crave seafood - especially sushi! Sadly, Nobu is not open for dinner, my favorite restaurant (Duke's) had an hour wait, and we couldn't think of another place that sounded good. J whipped out her phone and used Yelp to discover Bui Sushi, located off the PCH near Pepperdine. The place had a 95% approval rating and good reviews, so we figured it would be fine. 

Crispy Rice with Spicy Tuna - Bui Sushi

Now, I normally don't write reviews of places unless I like them... but... I have to make an exception. Why on earth is this place reviewed so highly? I ordered a Rainbow Roll and the Crispy Rice. Both dishes were reviewed as "fresh" on Yelp. Um... I guess you could call it fresh since I was made that day? But the tuna definitely didn't taste terribly fresh. Blech. And the crispy rice tasted more like a deep fried rice cake! Yuck! The hostess was kind of snooty, and our waitress, while sweet, was inattentive. I could see if they were busy, but they just really weren't. I've had better sushi in grocery stores. It made me kind of sad. It made me really wish we would have held out for Katsuya later in the day....

My typical Katusya favorites - California roll, Crispy Rice, and Edamame! YUM!

After our underwhelming experience at Bui, J and I decided to check out the Sprinkle's Cupcake ATM in Beverly Hills. What's that? You never heard of a cupcake ATM? Oh, man... have you and I been missing out!

This is genius! Ok, so maybe that's pushing it a bit far, but seriously... how cool is that? Even though there was no line at Sprinkles, I just had to try the ATM! Wouldn't you? The ATM works just as the video above explained. You select your cupcake, swipe your card, and voila! Cupcake is in hand less than a minute later. Now, while this obviously is a silly choice during business hours (especially if you have a secret word for a free cupcake - check out Twitter!), it could definitely come in handy after hours. And who hasn't had a random sweet tooth while traveling? Hehe. Below is my cheesy picture after using the cupcake ATM. If you're not in the mood to try this, you should at least give neighboring Sprinkles Ice Cream a try. The line was ridiculously long, but those cupcake/ice cream concoctions sure looked tasty! 

My cheesy post-ATM face... man, I need a tan.

Alas, all good things come to an end. I'm home now, laundry is done, and my hair is finally dry post-shower. Tomorrow's Monday, meaning another long week at the office. Sigh. But, at least I can face this week knowing I didn't waste one of the last remaining weeks of summer! Next weekend, I'm off to Ventura for an Alumni Green Chile Festival. Sweet! Well, I'm off to bed. It is almost midnight after all. Sweet dreams, my bloggy friends.

Until next time...

--- Becks

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Nerves of... glass?

So my blog goal was a total fail. Work was not easy this week - it never really is, but this week was especially stressful. I've literally been coming home 2 hours late, and getting to bed an hour early. I'm just so tired! Sigh.

In addition to this week's stresses, I have a big event tomorrow that I'm totally nervous about. I wish I could go into more detail... let's just say that I hope it goes well! My stomach is just a bundle of nerves, and I hope that I can just hold it together through tomorrow. Would hate to crack under all this pressure before then. It's times like these I wish I had my best girlfriends close by.

In other news, I discovered a new piece of trash TV that I just may be in love with. Have you seen "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo" on TLC? Yes, ladies and gentlemen, "The Learning Channel" is now bringing another series to the airwaves that actually reduces the number of brain cells in your little brain. I'm a bit embarrassed to admit this, but I love it! The family is insane (and I can't believe the mom is my age!), and the little girl is adorable. Mind you, she's adorable in a completely obnoxious way, but I find it endearing how much she truly enjoys pageantry. Thank the fates for this show this week - watching this train wreck may just be the only thing that saved me from a meltdown! HA!

Well, that's all I have in me to type today. Hopefully, I'll have a better blog soon! In the meantime, enjoy your lives! And don't work yourself too hard like I always seem to do ;)

Until next time...

--- Becks

Sunday, August 12, 2012

New week, new goals

Hello my lovely friends!

A dear friend of mine recently informed me that I have been neglecting my blogs. Now, the other blogs are not blogs I have ever kept up regularly, but I had planned to keep this one up. What have I done?!?! Alas, a new week always brings with it the opportunity to do better, so I hope you're ready!

This week is going to be a rough one - I have a pretty big event on Friday (that I, unfortunately, cannot yet divulge), so I'll definitely need an outlet for my stress. I honestly don't know why I don't blog more anyway. I have always loved it! 

Well, stay tuned and check with me later this week. Hopefully, my posts will be worthwhile! Ha!

Until then...

--- Becks