Politics & Religion: A Naked Moment

I don't quite know how to start this, and I have to tell you that I'm not super excited to be opening myself up this much on my personal blog.  My intention for this space was to try my absolute best to keep it peaceful, light and as a beautiful piece of the web to hold my memories and pictures.  However, I'm afraid I have to allow my original purpose for this to subside for a moment so I can discuss something very crucial, personal and deep.  I know this will surprise some people, maybe even those that I hold closest to my heart, but that's okay; it's necessary that I voice my opinions in order to be honest with everyone (myself included).  Please know that I am not trying to offend anyone.  I am only telling my own personal thoughts and feelings.

Beginning as far back as I can remember, I was raised to be a Christian - to believe that God created the world; that Jesus Christ, his son, died for our sins so that we could be born again and spend eternity in heaven after we die.  It seems so easy...simply stated - just believe this and you will not spend forever in the fires of hell.  As a child, hell definitely didn't seem like a place I'd like to live someday, and the idea of God sounded surreally wonderful.  I chose to believe it; to believe something no one can prove or see with their own eyes, but it somehow made sense to me and I rarely questioned it.  When I did question it from time to time I was told, well, that's what faith is...believing something you can't see.  You just have to trust it and know in your heart that it's the truth.  Okay.  So I continued to believe.

In the later years of elementary school, I remember attending a local baptist church with my family.  I've never been a fan of church, especially the services.  I was always incredibly bored unless I suddenly noticed many people laughing at something the pastor had said, and that would get my attention for a little while as I listened intently waiting for the man with the strange accent to say something funny again.  I attended children's choir at this church, and I was actually given rather large acting roles with singing parts and even solos in a few different plays put on by the church.  At this time, I was enjoying going to church on Wednesday nights, singing with my church friends and learning about the Bible.  I was even baptized when I was 9, if I recall correctly.  I remember being told that I had to make the decision to have a personal relationship with God in order to be baptized and washed clean of my sins.  It seemed strange to have a personal relationship with something I wasn't even 100% positive existed, but I was convinced He was real and I needed to do this to spend my afterlife in heaven with the people I love.

I've always heard people say they have conversations with God, or God has spoken to them and told them what to do in tough situations.  I used to try so hard to talk to God.  I would pray and pray and pray and ask God to send me a sign.  I think I may have gotten a sign a time or two, but it could have just been a coincidence.  Who really knows?  I prayed harder than I ever had in my life when I saw my Pop having a seizure in the passenger seat of his friend's car sitting in the driveway when I was 11.  I fell while running up the stairs to get away from the chaos, squeezed my eyes shut so tight as tears came streaming out and I prayed.  Why is this happening?  Make it stop.  Make him all right.  It isn't time for him to go yet.  He died ten days later.  I remember seeing his body - bruised, yellow in coloring laying on the hospice bed, lifeless after having fought so hard.  But I continued to believe.  Bad things happen sometimes, and we cannot control it.  It was time for him to go.  God wouldn't have taken him if it wasn't time.  Although, some people in my family didn't believe he would go to heaven, so for all I know he could be burning in hell right now.

Back to the topic of church.  By the time middle school rolled around, I was attending "Surge" which was a youth group that met on Wednesday nights.  I really enjoyed the youth leader.  He always made sure we were having a good time, one way or another, with silly songs, props and dances.  The thing I didn't like about it was that my old choir friends were different.  We weren't really friends anymore.  The youth group became very cliquey and no matter how hard I tried to be a part of their groups, I didn't feel welcome.  I felt like an outsider that didn't belong.  It was almost humorous how quickly things had changed.  It's not that they were rude to me and it may have solely had to do with the fact that they all went to the same school and I attended a different one.  Whatever the reason, I started disliking church again.  My freshman year of high school, there was a church youth group for high schoolers that was "all the rage" called M-Pact.  What I found interesting about M-Pact was that the same kids I would see worshiping and praising the Lord with their hands lifted up and waving in the air, tears pouring down their faces because of the feelings they were supposedly feeling, were the same kids cursing in school, drinking, running around in the hallways grabbing each other's body parts to be funny, being disrespectful to teachers and so on.  It just didn't add up to me.  These kids considered themselves Christians?  This made me view the idea and institution of church even more negatively, and I gradually stopped going to M-Pact.

Fast-forward to college.  Everyone knows college is supposed to be where teenagers grow into adults and make decisions and choices that shape who they will become.  It's true.  I met a lot of different people from various backgrounds with various views and opinions.  I made some wonderful friends and formed relationships that I still cherish and respect.  It was an extremely happy time for me, and there are many things about that time in my life that I miss a great deal.  Now, I'm an adult.  I have made the afore-mentioned choices that have begun to shape me into the person I am and will continue to be.  Some of these unfavorable decisions have disappointed my family.  I moved in with my boyfriend right after graduation.  We had been dating for about a year and four months, and I saw it as a waste to pay for my own place because I was almost always over at his apartment anyway.  So for reasons of finance and love, I moved in with him.  Two apartments later, we still live together in - what some would consider - a bed of sin.  It's a pretty delightful bed of sin if you ask me.  He's my best friend and I learn more and more from him everyday, about him and about myself.  I'm content and, it's really wonderful.

The ideals of Christianity, faith and the afterlife honestly don't cross my mind too often these days.  I'm not saying I believe there is no God; I would still like to believe that there is, and sometimes I do.  I mean, truthfully, no one knows what happens after we die.  People either choose the road of believing in heaven and hell as real places of the afterlife, or they think it's all an idea/elaborate story to make people feel better about death.  At this time, I'm not really sure what I believe, and it's been this way for quite some time now.  People are always pressuring me to believe something - I HAVE TO believe something.  All I know is that I believe in family, love, happiness and being the best person you can be during the short time we have on Earth.  No one knows what's next, and that's okay.

Now personal views aside.  Let's talk about the Bible.  The Bible says homosexuality is wrong, an "abomination" is the word used I believe.

"If a man has sex with another man, kill them both." Leviticus 20:13

Okay, that's pretty clear.

Others sins in addition to homosexuality, according to the Bible, include getting tattoos on your body (I have a tattoo), cutting your hair and/or beard (pretty sure most people do this on a regular basis), eating pork, eating any kind of seafood (these organisms are considered unclean) and having wounded genitals (yes, you read that right).

"He that is wounded in the stones, or hath his privy member cut off, shall not enter into the congregation of the Lord." Deuteronomy 23:1

Another sin mentioned in the Bible is cursing at your parents.

"And he that curseth his father, or his mother, shall surely be put to death." Exodus 21:17

Getting remarried after a divorce is also considered a sin, unless of course your husband cheated on you.  Also, working on the sabbath is a sin punishable by death.  That scares me a little because I don't have the ability to choose my work schedule and therefore work most every weekend.

"Ye shall keep the sabbath therefore; for it is holy unto you: every one that defileth it shall surely be put to death: for whosoever doeth any work therein, that soul shall be cut off from among his people."  Exodus 31:14-15

What I find a little odd is that Christians have somehow evolved and managed to forget some or all of these sins except for homosexuality.  If God views all sin the same, what sets homosexuality apart from getting remarried after divorce?  This cherry-picking just doesn't make sense to me.  These are the kind of inconsistencies that make me question the whole belief.

I have an endless amount of respect and love for my Nana because she has come to terms with having a gay daughter.  She struggled with it for a little while and finally decided to "love the sinner, hate the sin."  She doesn't nag my aunt about her choices and her lifestyle.  She loves her just the same as her other daughters, and told me personally about the gratitude she has toward my aunt for taking such great care of her in this difficult last year and a half that Nana has developed health problems.  Not a single day goes by that my aunt doesn't call to check on Nana, and she even had a new room built onto her house that Nana lived in during the past year.  They are two of the best people in my life - pure souls in a mixed-up world.

Moving on to a somewhat current topic in politics with the presidential election upon us - women's rights.  This is a subject that never ceases to infuriate me, but I'll attempt to keep it brief.  It's disconcerting that this is even still a present issue in society.  

Here are some verses from the Bible concerning women's rights:

"Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience as also saith the law. And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church." 1 Corinthians 14:34-36

"Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord." Colossians 3:18

"Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee." Genesis 3:16

I don't even know how to react or respond to these verses.  No wonder our country isn't willing to give equal rights to its women or let them make decisions regarding their own bodies.  These are the philosophies and beliefs many people grow up reading and studying.  What do you say to this?  I'm sorry, but a husband should not "rule over" his wife.  It's called a partnership for a reason.  It's not a master-slave relationship.

As far as the election goes, I honestly don't love either presidential candidate.  I watched parts of the debates and they both use colorful, buttered-up vocabulary and talk about percentages and numbers like they've got the bandage for our wounded country, but when it comes down to it, they're just trying to win us over with their words and their promises.  Amidst the shred of honesty they may convey, most of their talk is lies.  We've seen it happen over and over again.  This time it's no different.  Unlike many others, I'm not going to flat out announce who I'm voting for, but it's probably pretty obvious given this post.

I'm not trying to convince anyone to believe anything other than what they already do.  I just had to tell this story and get some of these thoughts out of my head and into real words.  It feels good to be open and honest - a breath of fresh air, a naked moment.


Girls' Weekend in Houston

Photo credit: Heather B.
I love getting to hang out with Jason on a daily basis; he's my best friend and whether we're out on an elaborate, romantic date or just sitting on the couch watching TV in our fat clothes, we're always having a great time just enjoying each other's company and presence.  Sometimes, however, I just have to be with my close girlfriends, and I'm so so grateful that we've kept in touch regardless of our living in different cities and moving forward in our own individual life paths.  I'm incredibly lucky to have such solid gold friendships with beautiful ladies that have equally beautiful souls.  I don't know where I would be without them; good or bad, they have helped me become the person I am today.  Mushy stuff aside, I had the pleasure of getting to meet up with Emily, Sarah, Sam and Heather this past Saturday night for a short, but much-needed and treasured little trip.  I got an awesome deal with my IHG employee discount at the Crowne Plaza in River Oaks near downtown Houston.  I was really excited to get to go out and experience Houston night life because although I was born and raised there, I was never old enough to get into the decent 21+ places because I was already living in San Marcos when I turned 21.  While checking in to the hotel room I ran into one of the hotel managers/concierge that I had met about a few months ago when she came to my work to give us customer service tips and ideas.  She was super helpful and welcoming and gave my friends and I some suggestions of where to go and how to get there.  After everyone arrived at the hotel and we were all dolled-up, we took a cab to Rice Village where we found Baker Street Pub to be extremely packed so we went next door to 55 Bar and ordered some appetizers to share as well as a few beers.  After a sad goodbye to Heather, we decided to take my mom's recommendation and head over to Midtown to check out a popular bar/pub called Celtic Gardens.  To our initial disappointment there was a long line all the way down the side of the building to get in.  I noticed a few girls going right up to the front of the line and being let in, so I decided we should do the same.  We got in easily, of course! (haha) A few drinks, three shots, a couple of midgets and one baldy later, we closed down the bar and grabbed a cab to take us back to hotel where Emily taught us how to dance to "Gangnam Style" before we all crashed.  The next morning Sarah had to leave early, but Sam, Emily and I ended the short, but sweet visit at Barnaby's Cafe for brunch.  I love time with my ladies, and I'm hoping I don't have to wait until Christmas to see them again!

Photo credit: Emily G.


Austin City Limits 2012

It was super last minute, but thanks to some interesting/lucky circumstances, Jason and I got to go to the Austin City Limits music festival at Zilker Park completely for free!  I was given two three-day wristbands to the festival by an appreciative guest staying at the hotel.  Because it was so last minute, and we weren't planning to go, both of us were scheduled to work over the weekend which was a bit of a bummer only because I had to wake up early for work each day and Jason wasn't able to go Friday night.  However, we still had a great time and got to see some amazing shows.

Seeing Jack White play with his all-female band was probably the highlight for me because (1) it's the closest I'll ever come to seeing The White Stripes live because, let's face it, they're never getting back together (thanks, Meg) and (2) I've been a huge fan of mostly everything Jack White has ever done, he's entertaining to watch and he's one of the greatest guitarists of our generation.  He opened with one of my personal favorites, "The Hardest Button To Button" and closed with the timeless "Seven Nation Army" which was a sure-fire crowd favorite.  I got to see him back in 2010 with The Dead Weather at Coachella, but this was better because he played a few songs from each of his musical collaborations.

Another highlight would be seeing Ryan Gosling about ten feet away from me (!!!!) as he was exiting the Austin Ventures stage during The Black Lips' set.  He and Rooney Mara are in town continuing filming for Austin director Terrence Malick's new movie.

Friday night I went to the festival by my lonesome and got a bite to eat and a beer before finding a spot for the Alabama Shakes.  Sadly, I could not hear Ms. Brittany Howard too well because of all the chatty Kathys surrounding me, but I stayed for the majority of the set before heading over to see The Black Lips.  I had been wanting to see this foursome for quite a while by this point, and they definitely didn't disappoint. They played one of my faves, "Not A Problem", which they referred to as "a golden favorite."  I was up front for their show because it wasn't too crowded, which I was relieved to find because it was a zoo of bodies pretty much everywhere else in the park at all times.  After that, I got some Amy's Mint Chip ice cream and made my way back over to the Barton Springs stage for the musical delight to my ears that was M83.  Their light/laser effects were pleasing to eyes as well - a perfect ending to the night.

Saturday night Jason went with me and we got to catch the very end of Band of Skulls before going over to the Bud Light stage to catch The Roots and then to AMD for Jack White.  Unfortunately, Jack White played at the same time as Neil Young and Crazy Horse so we had to make a pretty tough decision.  We went with Jack White, but got to catch a couple of Neil's songs as we were exiting the festival grounds.

Sunday night was the last night and we had the pleasure of seeing The Civil Wars (who have stayed at my hotel before), Die Antwoord (for the second time), Iggy Pop & the Stooges (which was amazinggggg!  He opened with "Raw Power" and "Search and Destroy"), Crystal Castles (headache) and then about the first five songs from the Red Hot Chili Peppers because the sound was super bad.  It wasn't necessarily their sound; they just weren't loud enough.  Apparently ACL experienced the same problem last year during Stevie Wonder's set.  Pretty silly.

It was an exhausting, yet fun-filled weekend, and I'm so happy and honored that we were given the spontaneous opportunity to go.


The Little Things

People always say that, in the grand scheme of everything in life, it's the little things that matter the most. Everyone gets caught up in "life goals" and ultimate destinations or deadlines, profits and spreadsheets, but when you manage to get a break from all the day-to-day chaos, you can actually see pretty clearly what is most precious to you.  You just have to remind yourself to pause every so often and relish in the moment.  Breathe deeply and temporarily erase all the little worries eating away at your mind and soul.  I know I sound like a weirdo, but this time of year always brings this out in me.  The temperatures finally start to cool down, I can wear my tights and my boots and walk outside without being immediately drenched in sweat.  I'm reminded that it can actually feel nice outside in Texas, if only for a short while.

Needless to say, I had a great two days off.  After work on Saturday I met up with my Dad, Rebecca and a couple of their friends at Red's Porch for a late lunch before they headed over to the UT football game.  It was nice to catch up and visit with them if only for a brief time.  I also spoke with my aunt who informed me that Nana has decided she no longer feels comfortable living alone, so the plan is for her to sell her car and her house and rotate living with each of her four daughters in three-month increments for as long as she's able.  It's sad to see her lose her independence and suffer from so much anxiety over her health, but I know she's in wonderful hands.  She's still one of the strongest, most beautiful souls I have ever encountered, and she deserves to be taken care of in the best way possible.

Last night I made a delicious dinner of Paul Deen's honey & goat cheese chicken, au gratin potatoes, peas and crescent rolls before Jason and I met up with our friend Amanda at Alamo Drafthouse Slaughter Lane to see LOOPER.  The movie was really great.  The story line was super captivating and intelligent.  I definitely recommend it.  I was a little disappointed with the service at Alamo however, and I hate to complain because I work in the service industry, but really?  How hard is it to make a mimosa?  Yes, I drink mimosas at night.  Shut it. So I ordered a water and a mimosa, and they gave me a Sprite and a champagne flute full of what tasted like 100% orange juice.  Oh and I later ordered a sangria that I never received.  I'm not closing the door on this location by any means.  I realize it's a new theater, and I'm sure they were swamped as it was a full theater.  I just hope our experience is better next time.

Today was pretty relaxing.  Jason and I both slept in, I did a bunch of laundry and we drove (windows down!) to End of an Ear to buy a replacement needle for our record player and each got a new record.  When we got home we caught up on last night's episode of Dexter.  The new season has actually been pretty entertaining so far.  For dinner, Jason made amber ale barbeque beef sandwiches and sweet potato tots while I squealed over the season six premiere of Gossip Girl.  Chuck + Blair 4 lyfe.

Twas a good couple of days indeed.  Now, it's back to work for both of us tomorrow...ick.



Oh hello friends.  It's Friday night.  Kinda.  I have to work tomorrow so I'm not feeling much like party crashing a wild ruckus tonight, but here is what I am up to this evening...

Drinking: A Fox Barrel Blackberry Pear Cider.  Mmm mmm delish.  I got hooked on these a few months back when I stumbled upon them in the beer/wine section of Central Market.  A cider lover's delight, lemme tell ya.

Listening to: Good ol' Grizzly Bear.  I'm really digging their new album right now so it's made me reinvent my love for the group by going back and listening to their beginnings.  I'm head over heels for the remixed version of the 'Horn of Plenty' album.  Especially this song:

Realizing: There are a lot of shortcuts I am unaware of on my MacBook.  I just accidentally pushed command + G and a weird little search bar popped down under my bookmarks bar.  Also, it's fun to listen to a song on YouTube at the same as a song is playing on Spotify.  Trippy.

Pondering: How narcissistic, rude and self-entitled some people act.  This has been an axe-murdering of a week at work due to a myriad of factors.  I stayed late today to type up a statement for my manager regarding an incident in which a self-entitled jack-booty went a little too far.  I'm just so ready for tomorrow to be over and done with.  Thank god I'm off on Sunday and Monday.

Anticipating: My birthday!  I always look forward to it for some reason.  Hey, maybe I'm one of those narcissistic freaks who craves attention.  Anyway, I already know what Jason is getting me, and I'm super excited to receive it, and I'm moving into my "mid-twenties" which can only be a good thing, right?  Right.

Enjoying: These little baby pumpkins I bought at the store today on the way home.  They just complete my Halloween decor.  Hunter likes them too :)


My Love Affair With October

For as long as I can remember, I've always had a little thing for October.  I can't quite explain it, but every year on October 1 I just feel this great sense of relief and comfort.  It's like every stress, large or small, that I've been bearing in my mind or on my shoulders just eases up a bit, and everything is fresh and fancy-free.  It sounds so silly, I know, but it really is the best time of year.  October also brings my birthday, as well as a few birthdays of friends and family, my favorite holiday, red and orange leaves, a cool breeze, the delicious scent of baked sweet potatoes, Russian sage and aster, memories from the past and Reese's Peanut Butter Pumpkins!

As for Halloween - people seem to either love it or hate it.  Well, say what you will about the day of "devil-worshipping", but there are some really wonderful aspects to the spooky holiday.  For me, it has always been such a beautiful example of community togetherness.  Yes, there have been negative cases regarding trick r' treating such as awful people poisoning candy and/or putting razor blades and other harmful substances into kids' goodies, but nothing like that has ever happened to me or anyone I know so excuse me while I reminisce the good.  When I was little my whole family would come to Nana and Pop's for my birthday on the 30th, and many of them would stick around for Halloween and take me out trick r' treating with my mom.  Then, when I was a little older but still young enough for it to be acceptable to participate, I would go around the neighborhood with my close friends collecting candy, laughing at the funny costumes, crying at the scary ones and just relishing in the moment, wishing time would come to a stand still.

It makes me excited to think about the future when I have children of my own and get to celebrate this magical time with them.  I hope they adore all the wonder as much as I do.  I also hope they aren't little sour-pusses like I was every year on my birthday.  It's so strange that I would get so grumpy all of the sudden on my special day and almost always end up getting a spanking or, at the very least, a good talking-to.  I think I would just get overwhelmed by all of the emotions I was experiencing - excitement and delight to be surrounded by everybody I love, the opening of all those pretty little gifts.  And I've always gotten really anxious when I'm with opposite sides of the family at the same time and friends from different friend circles.  I always feel like I'm not giving each person enough attention, or giving some people too much attention.  I'm silly like that I suppose.

Let's see if I can remember all of my Halloween costumes.  I've been a witch, Jasmine from Aladdin, Meg from Hercules, Dorothy, a clown, a '50s diner waitress, an angel, a can-can dancer, Marie Antoinette, a vampire princess, Linda from The Evil Dead, the Virgin Mary, Courtney Love...and that's about all I can think of right now.  I'm sure I forgot quite a few costumes, but those are the ones that seem to stick in my memory.

So there you are, kids.  Now go enjoy the beginnings of Fall and that fresh October air we all love so much.



Playlist Post: October 2012


I have had this monster of a playlist completed for about a month now and have been listening to it quite a bit already.  October really is the perfect time for a playlist put together my moi because I get to have fun and throw in a lot of Misfits, Dead Man's Bones and Say Hi To Your Mom as well as other dark, eerie songs I listen to year round.  So here it is - 142 songs to meet all of your October music needs.