May 19th, 2013
Texas had a bit of a cold snap recently. It was surprising, because Texas never has cold snaps in May. I actually had to unearth a light sweater! I like this particular sweater because it has brown, velvet elbow patches, which make me happy for no particular reason. Or, more likely, they just make me feel a bit like a college professor. And, full confession, I bought this dress because the pattern reminds me of waffles — coincidentally my favorite food — and the cut is reminiscent of a 50′s diner waitress. Plus, the embroidered collar is a whimsical, feminine detail. It’s basically the most perfect brunch dress ever. Ever. Let’s call this one, “college professor goes to brunch.”
Sweater: F21 // Dress: ModCloth (discontinued) // Sandals: old
May 15th, 2013
When this post goes live, I will either be in Las Vegas, or on my way there. I am spending five days in Las Vegas for Bloggers in Sin City, a social media / blogger unconference. I don’t know what to expect (except for hugs, drinks, and swag) — so details are forthcoming upon my return. In the meantime, I have some pre-scheduled outfit posts for you!
I love the Jazz Age and the Lost Generation. So, I basically fangirl hard over the Fitzgeralds, Hemingway, and Gertrude Stein while listening to jazz records and drinking too much. Suffice to say, I’ve been looking forward to The Great Gatsby movie for about two years, and – it did not disappoint. I love Baz Luhrman, and Gatsby, and the soundtrack (did I mention the soundtrack??). What I do not love is cheesy 3D effects in otherwise decent movies — of which I thought Gatsby (thankfully) had few. For the midnight premiere of my favorite novel, I insisted on dressing up and donning my new shoes from ModCloth (even though I actually bought them for the BiSC white party) because they make me think of my beloved, wannabe flapper dreams.
Dress: Ross // Shoes & Tights: ModCloth
May 10th, 2013
I wrote in a previous post that I had given running a fair shake, and it just wasn’t for me. I was fairly certain I was writing truth at the time. You see, I used to run circles at the college track in the name of cardio only. I didn’t enjoy it, ultimately, I just wanted to burn off my Starbucks latte. Then, the other day I was sitting on the couch watching Pretty Little Liars and I saw a robin skip across my deck. I walked outside and it just happened to be a particularly beautiful morning — the kind of morning that makes you desperate for all the following mornings of your life to replicate it. Before I had realized what was happening, I had laced up my Korean running shoes and was walking outside. The sun felt warm on my back and my legs felt increasingly restless. Then, I ran. But it was different this time. I was running because I wanted to smell the clover and chase the doves that hide in the trees behind my house. I actually live in this neat little pocket of greenbelt nature in the city and sometimes it’s easy to forget how lovely my surroundings are. I didn’t run far, or fast, or with perfect form — I just moved. And so, I’ve been running. I’ve been running because I want to, and I haven’t been competing with anyone (including myself), and I’ve also been stopping to observe. Today, I found a creek that runs into the man-made greenbelt ravine behind my house. It had just rained and everything was thick with grey mist and fresh flowers. I stopped, took my shoes off, and walked through the creek. It would have been better for my potential 5k time to keep running, but I really wanted to see what that creek felt like (it was cold).
I guess what I am trying to say is don’t give up. I could have easily talked myself out of going for a run that day (I mean, PLL is addictive), but I didn’t. And if I hadn’t gone, I wouldn’t have found that little creek — a place I will return to, to think and imagine. Life gets weird sometimes, and convoluted. It’s easy to forget what’s important. But, I’m just going to keep not giving up for now.
May 3rd, 2013
It’s getting hot in Texas. Each day the temperature climbs steadily towards 80, then passes it around midday. I know that soon it will be crawling past 90, then 100, and we’ll all sit inside, drinking sun tea, and wishing it was only 80 degrees and “comfortably warm.” Texas summer (and spring) necessitates wearing as little clothing as possible. I usually choose breezy dresses and flats for my outdoor adventures — which, this weekend, was a five year old’s birthday party.
This dress is one of my favorites from ModCloth — shopping online is so hit or miss for me, but this was a hit. The dress is light and airy, with a soft shift under a sheer, patterned overlay. Although it’s a little too short to wear to work, I can’t get enough of the playful fawn pattern in spring and tend to casually over-wear it.
P.S. Look how long my hair is now. Ponytail city, population: me!
dress: ModCloth (discontinued) // shoes: Minnetonka
April 30th, 2013
I just finished reading The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin and, like many readers before me, I wondered what my life would look like if I made a concerted effort to be happy instead of giving in to negativity. For me, the acceptance of negative feelings is similar to drowning, sometimes it’s easier to just give up and let the abyss take over.
I’ve decided that in order to experiment with this idea of happiness, I want to focus on some measurable intentions for my own life — much like Gretchen does in her book. This will, I hope, challenge me to fill my day to day life with more joy.
- Work to make new friends.
Right now, I am starting over in the same place and, as it turns out, I don’t have a ton of girlfriends. But I am taking a big personal risk and going to Bloggers in Sin City this month, so that should help with this goal.
- Drink tea with a quiet mind.
I want to utilize the concept of mindfulness when drinking tea. I want to have a cup of tea and do nothing else aside from concentrate on tea and my immediate surroundings — a kind of mindfulness meditation.
- Eat more fruits & vegetables.
You guys remember when I was a vegetarian for a year? Well, I gave that up when I moved to Korea and now I feel like I don’t eat enough of them.
- Wear the nice dress.
I have so many pretty clothes in my closet that I am “saving” for a special event that will (most likely) never come. Instead, I want to dress up for every day, for no reason. I want to always feel fabulous.
- Start a happiness journal.
Every day I want to write down one thing that made me smile, as a reminder to be grateful for the life I live.
April 26th, 2013
I’ve been thinking about taking chances and risks more often lately. I’ve had this blog for a few years now, and like I mentioned in my last post, now that I am out of Korea I feel like I don’t have anything interesting to blog about anymore (obviously this is not true because I am super interesting). However, I am trying out an atmosphere of growth and doing something a little bit different. One thing I’ve always wanted to do is post my daily outfits on the blog. I am super inspired by girls like Meg at Bow Ties are Cool, Rebecca at The Clothes Horse, and Liz at 26 & Counting. Not only do they seem fabulously put together, they are bold enough to post their looks for all the Interwebs to judge.
dress & cardigan: Ross / tights: ModCloth / boots: PacSun
I felt silly and a little self conscious taking the photos, even though I was doing it alone in my backyard (or maybe that’s why I felt self-conscious). I suppose, the overall concept here is to create a fun, professional wardrobe that combines all my walks of life: being a graduate school student, being a writer, living in Texas (where we don’t really layer), and (eventually) working as a tattooed high school teacher again. I think posting some of my outfits will challenge me to get creative and avoid a routine of t-shirts and jeans. So, this is a public declaration of my guilty pleasure! What do you think? Yes, no, indifferent? Leave opinions in the comments.
April 20th, 2013
I keep staring at these blank input fields on WordPress as though I will never again be able to fill the white space with rows of carefully cultivated text, the only crop I can grow here. I’ve been feeling lost since returning from South Korea. Jared immediately got a job as a graphic designer, and I’ve been stuck in this weird vacuum where I can’t get a teaching job for this year, but I can start applying for next August. I’ve been writing and I started graduate school for Teacher Leadership, I’m doing things — but I’ve been wondering about my authentic self too.
While still in Korea, I reorganized my blog categories and one of the categories I created was “being Abby.” I’ve been reading The Happiness Project by Gretchin Rubin, and one of her happiness “commandments” is “be Gretchen.” Obviously it resonated with me a bit. We all have an idea of the person we wish we were, and it alters our perception of the person we actually are.
“The chief happiness for a man is to be what he is.” – Erasmus
There are lots of people I want to be, people I’ve tried to be: a runner, a vegan, a fashion blogger, an indie music connoisseur, a photographer, an English doctoral candidate, a more committed gamer, a more laid-back person, a full-time nomadic traveler, French.
Sometimes I pretend to be interested in subjects I am not. I made myself run, with Vibrams, and hated it. I wish constantly that I was more into music and could be the one to introduce people to cool bands instead of the recipient, but I’m not. I wanted to enjoy my English graduate classes, but I thought they were mostly pretentious fluff and I left the program.
Instead of striving for false legitimacy I want to embrace being Abby.
I am a geek who loves pixel art, computers, and casual mmo gaming. I also like to wear pretty dresses, fun boots, and get tattoos. I am a teacher, and I am most comfortable when I embrace that fact instead of fighting it. I like to try new things — sometimes they work out and sometimes they don’t. I love helping, both animals and people, and I don’t always put myself first. I write and read, a lot. I love living in Texas, and I don’t need to travel a ton to find myself.
Yet, I will probably always live in a dichotomy where I will occasionally think: “wouldn’t it be great if I was like that” — but I have to remind myself that I am pretty great just being myself. I’ve got to stop putting pressure on myself to blog, or run, or whatever. When I write here, I want it to be authentic, and it’s just taking me a while to rediscover my voice here in the States. I have confidence that it will return and I will once again know what to say.
“Follow your inner moonlight, don’t hide the madness.” – Allen Ginsberg
April 11th, 2013
The thing about the zoo is that I feel a mix of emotions whenever I go. I am all, “Yay animals!” but “Boo, cages!” As my sagacious friend Jeremy reminded me, many of the animals in zoos are either injured or born in captivity, thus necessitating an environment where they might thrive rather than perish. For example, Trinity (the bald eagle) was a gunshot victim and can’t fly. Additionally, the Houston Zoo has an animal enrichment Facebook page that let’s you know what new and awesome services they are providing the animals. I also learned that the Houston zoo has been in existence since the late 20′s. Many of the animal habitats have been relatively unchanged for that long! So when Jeremy, my zoo pass carrying friend, invited me this past Wednesday, of course, I said yes.
We went by the meerkats and sea lions first, and I was determined to finally visit the red pandas (although they were mostly sleeping and preening) because I’ve never gotten to see them at the zoo. Refer to Instagram for panda photos.
And I am fairly certain that the Houston Zoo elephants are the happiest elephants ever. Easily one of my favorite habitats.
I get really excited to pet animals, especially goats. Can you tell?
I am always enthralled by the bird sanctuary. I think the bird sanctuary is my favorite place because of the obvious reason, I love birds, and the less obvious, that it’s so quiet and peaceful. There’s a sign warning you to be quiet in order to not frighten the birds away when you come in, thus deterring a lot of children from entering. It also reminds me of all the other quiet places I love: libraries, beaches in the morning, old churches.
Afterward we went to a burger joint called Hubcap. I had heard about whilst still in Korea, and I’ve been dying to go there. I ordered the “Sticky Sliders” which are a beef patty, American cheese, bacon and crunchy peanut butter. Jeremy got the “Hangover Burger” which had a slice of ham and cream gravy. We split, or rather tried to split, the bacon and cheese fries as well. I will be back, mostly because peanut butter on burgers is a damn revelation!
It was a good day, I even got a bit of a sunburn. Summer? Is that you? I think so!
April 4th, 2013
I ordered a grande soy chai latte with a Starbucks gift card I got for Christmas in 2011. In case you were wondering, Starbucks gift cards DO last that long and they DO NOT work in South Korea if you received them in America. When I received my drink, the cup seemed monstrous and gigantic compared to the Starbucks teas I ordered with moderate frequency in Korea. My hands felt small and confused. I couldn’t manage to drink the whole thing before it began to chill.
I looked at the calendar and wondered how it’s already become April. People, much older and wiser than I, often remind me that time spins outward uncontrollably as we get older. Whenever I think of time in that manner, I feel like I am wasting my precious commodity by sitting on the sofa, drinking the aforementioned giant tea, and writing. And then I remind myself (again and again) to just relax. Enjoy. Breathe.
I went through some of my Korea photos on Instagram today, and felt my first real twinge of nostalgia. I know the memories are not fully separated yet, not yet cream and whey, and I can’t possibly feel the distinct emotions of my deliverance. But I miss our friends, I DO know that. Luckily, we have a lot of people in Texas who missed us as well, and the bite of their absence has been significantly lessened. It’s been interesting, and a bit inspiring, to see who has managed to make the time to see us in the last month. By leaving, I created a distance between a lot of people I loved. But distance shouldn’t be the sole marker of friendship — whether it creates convenience or it’s opposite. Coming back, I can see more clearly the people I want to keep close to me.
Upon our return, Jared unearthed two of his old record players at his mom’s house, along with a slew of old (and original) Beatles albums, and I decided to set myself up for another slam dunk on the life list. I brought them home, dusted them off, and began the undertaking of starting a record collection that was all mine. Luckily, my brother works in a record store now (and he’s in a band, I feel like he is doing high school backwards). He ordered me the, rather difficult to find, Into the Wild soundtrack by Eddie Vedder and I also picked up Amy Winehouse’s Back to Black (one of my favorite albums ever). I think I am going to search for some classical and jazz records now. Although, if I am being completely honest, I desperately want a 1920′s phonograph more than anything. For now, the records will suffice.