Scenes from a Birthday Weekend

Friday was my birthday, so I thought I’d inundate this space with some pictures! Surprise! heheh.

First, a brief reflection: I’m now 45. Honestly? The only way I feel different is better than ever. I’m grateful to have no health complaints, I’m happy to finally have a use for the cute reading glasses I got in France, and I’m eager to set off down whatever path the New Year unrolls before me. I always loved how my birthday blends into the New Year, being at the end of December… I never thought of my December 27 birthday as being “unfortunately” lumped into Christmas. It’s all about the New Year, as far as I’m concerned.

Recently, I broke open a cookie fortune and got a fortune that catches my current drift splendidly:

 

The fortune I got a week or so before my birthday.

The fortune I got a week or so before my birthday.

 

Oh, the magic of a fortune cookie! “Creative energy is up – capitalize on it.” Yes. Yes, that is true, and yes, I will!

So, we spent the weekend at some favorite local haunts. First, Callaghan took me out on a lunch date. Deciding where to go was easy – I just wanted to satisfy my craving for Pita Jungle’s certifiably to-die-for lentil fetoosh salad. (The spellcheck wanted to change “fetoosh” to “fetish,” which is pretty clever. That salad has some serious addictive properties.)

The weekend also involved:

–A pedicure with Callaghan. Well, initially it was going to be just me, but shortly after we got there, he found himself getting his feet rubbed, too…the ladies there were quite persuasive, but it took little arm-twisting to get him in the chair next to mine. As the forty minutes of expert and intense foot and lower leg pampering and massaging wound down to its conclusion, he looked over at me and exclaimed, “Wow! I can’t wait for your next birthday!” I think he enjoyed it.

 

My Big Lebowski-inspired nail color selection

My Big Lebowski-inspired nail color selection

 

The deep, shimmery greenish-black nail polish I chose is OPI’s “Live or Let Die,” but it should be called “YOU WANT A TOE? I CAN GET YOU A TOE. THERE ARE WAYS, DUDE.” (Though this polish is darker than the Big Lebowski Nihilist Chick’s.)

–A detour through Papago Park on our way home.

 

Papago Park - one of my favorite places!

Papago Park – one of my favorite places!

 

Callaghan and his shadow

Callaghan and his shadow

 

Me and my... cactus!

Me and my… cactus!

 

–Also, after several months of Homeland deprivation, seven episodes suddenly became available… so we holed up for some serious binge-watching.

 

Ronnie James settled himself on Callaghan's legs to catch up on Homeland with us.

Ronnie James settled himself on Callaghan’s legs to catch up on Homeland with us.

 

–And there was the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl game on the 28th…

 

Sun Devil Stadium bore the banner of the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl for the show-down between Michigan and Kansas State on the 28th.

Sun Devil Stadium bore the banner of the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl for the show-down between Michigan and Kansas State on the 28th.

 

–We didn’t go to the game, but we went to sit on the patio at Rúla Búla for a little while…

 

At Rúla Búla, December 28, 2013

At Rúla Búla, December 28, 2013

 

On our way out of Rúla Búla, I glanced up at one of the T.V. screens and winced on behalf of Michigan, because I’m partial to the Wolverines, and man, that score was painful. Final Score: Kansas State, 31; Michigan, 14. Oof.

At least the Wolverines and their attending fans got to hang out in paradise for a couple of days. I’m here to tell you, there’s hardly a sight as gleeful as a Michigan fan skipping down the street in Tempe, Arizona WEARING SHORTS AT NIGHT at the end of December!

–Strolling home, we admired Mill Avenue’s holiday lights, which always stay up until after New Year’s:

 

Holiday lights on Mill Ave

Holiday lights on Mill Ave

 

…and here we have my beloved mill, street-side:

 

The street-side building of Hayden Mill at night.

The street-side building of Hayden Mill at night.

 

I guess if I could marry any building, it would be that mill, haha!

 

Walking by the light rail station at 3rd St.

Walking by the light rail station at 3rd St.

 

–And, of course, there was the Ronnie James.

 

Ronnie James birthday hugs.

Ronnie James birthday hugs.

 

It was a lovely weekend, and I’m ready for 2014!

Incessant Phoenix Flashbacks. Also, the Sports Sitch in Austin.

I realized that ever since I decided to post here on Tuesdays and Fridays, I’ve been posting on Wednesdays and Fridays… this is the fifth Wednesday in a row. Not a Tuesday in sight on the recent calendar. Somehow, despite my efforts for Tuesday, Wednesday is just when it happens. Maybe I’ll try to start posting on Mondays, as well, to make it a 3x/week affair.

Saturday evening, we went downtown to meet a friend at Champion’s, and he took us for a stroll onto Rainey Street in pursuit of some local flavor. I kept expecting to find Casey Moore’s cozying up to the old houses lining the street. I wonder when the look-out in the back of my mind will stop automatically using my old Phoenix metro stomping grounds as a cultural point of reference for Austin? Austin is a very unique place with a distinct character of its own, but without wanting to, I’m finding Arizona corollaries for many places we encounter here, as well as many of the same businesses. Some of the Austin neighborhoods appear to have twins in The Valley (Greater Phoenix Metro Area), especially around Arizona State University.

University towns. I like them. Austin being a university town was one of its selling points. The live music scene in Austin is bigger than it is in Phoenix – hell, it’s the “Live Music Capital of the World” – but in my opinion, Phoenix has more of a hard rock vibe, if you can apply a genre of music to a place to describe its general ambience. Phoenix is Alice Cooper’s town. Alice is a big sports fan, and his establishment is a popular pre- and post-game watering hole and eatery in downtown Phoenix. (My girl Stevie Nicks is in Phoenix, too.)

That brings me to this one thing about Austin: there are no major professional sports teams. This is not a source of distress, mind you… it’s just different from what I’m used to. The Greater Phoenix Metro Area has the Suns (NBA basketball), the Diamondbacks (MLB baseball), the Cardinals (NFL football) and the Coyotes (NHL ice hockey). The Ironman Arizona Triathlon is there, and there’s pro fighting. Golf is also big in The Valley of the Sun; the WM Phoenix Open is the largest professional golf tournament on the PGA TOUR. The Super Bowl was hosted at Sun Devil Stadium in 1996 (Cowboys vs. Steelers). There are also two college bowl games hosted in the Phoenix metro area (the Fiesta Bowl and the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl), and MLB Spring Training takes place there annually. Phoenix is a huge sports town by anyone’s standards.

Here, the major professional sports situation is this: San Antonio’s 1.5 hours away, which actually isn’t that far… it’s the home of the Spurs (NBA basketball). Drive to Houston (3 hours), and there are the Rockets (NBA basketball). And Dallas – 4.5 hours away – has the Mavericks (NBA basketball), the Cowboys (NFL football) and the Dallas Stars (NHL ice hockey). Also in the Dallas area, you’ve got the Texas Rangers (MLB baseball). So the teams are here in Texas, for sure. Just not here in Austin, which is perhaps a good thing, because it’s already bad enough that we’re tempted by live music opportunities every which way we turn.

It’s not like I went running off to sporting events all the time when I lived in Arizona. I didn’t. But I do enjoy the energy of a sports town, and there was the occasional game or boxing bout.

The most memorable one was on May 9, 1993; it was Game 5 of the Suns vs. Lakers NBA Western Conference play-offs. That was some basketball! The Lakers were in the house, and my boyfriend and I decided to go at the very last minute. We went downtown, bought tickets from a scalper and folded ourselves into the madness, because isn’t that what any sane college student would do when she has a final exam the next morning? I had my priorities straight. There were memories to be made. We had a feeling that the game would be phenomenal, and holy crap, our instincts did not fail us. About 500 mini heart attacks later (or maybe it was just one big long heart attack – yep, pretty sure I’m remembering that correctly), the Suns won 112-104 in an astounding over-time upset. That win constituted the biggest upset I’ve ever seen live, in person. Actually, it may have been the biggest upset I’ve ever seen, period.

 

 

I was there!

That was Jerry Colangelo’s Suns, with the likes of Charles Barkley; Dan Majerle; Cedric Ceballos; Danny Ainge; Kevin Johnson; Oliver Miller and Mark West on the roster. Remember that team, Suns fans? I was unabashedly obsessed. I was working part-time as a barista and found myself ridiculously flustered early one Saturday morning when coach Paul Westphal came in an ordered a latte. I don’t think I breathed at all while I was making his drink, and I was embarrassed because I thought he could see my hands shaking. At least it wasn’t KJ standing there before me. I would have passed out.

Needless to say, I’m a Spurs fan now!

But I’ll always be a Suns fan. And a Sun Devil.

One very exciting thing Austin does have, though, is Formula 1 racing. This is enormous, and it’s a relatively new development.

At any rate, I’m sure I’ll get to a point where I’m not looking around seeing Phoenix everywhere we go in Austin. We haven’t even been here two months yet. There’s a lot of discovery yet to happen, and we’re really loving it here so far!

Here are some pics from Saturday:

Stopping for a pose with this sculpture on our way to Champion's on 4th

Stopping for a pose with this sculpture on our way to Champion’s on 4th

A casual look at the scene while I was waiting for my Greek salad at the food trucks on Rainey St

A casual look at the scene while I was waiting for my Greek salad at the food trucks on Rainey St

I was distracted by the industrial beauty of the view while we were eating

I was distracted by the industrial beauty of the view while we were eating

Rainey St hang-out (with live music, of course!)

Rainey St hang-out (with live music, of course!)

A building downtown, lit up all gothicky and sweet at night

A building downtown, lit up all gothicky and sweet at night