Saturday, August 21, 2010

Living It Up! (In My Own Way)

I was reading this article in the NY Times the other day, and it kind of made me realize something that I have been searching for throughout this blog: happiness is directly correlated to experiences, not material things. Also, what you’re “supposed” to be doing and where you’re “supposed” to be at certain points of your life, might not be what will actually make you happy.

Shocking, I know.

For a year, I was working so hard at two jobs and making money and gaining experience that would hopefully help me jumpstart my career. But guess what? I didn’t have time to spend the money the way I wanted to. I was tired all the time. And my experience has yet to jumpstart my career. (Maybe the jumper cables weren’t hooked up properly?) Then, after quitting the second job, going back to Starbucks full time, and quieting my mind about what I’m “supposed” to be doing, I starting noticing that I’m actually enjoying my life and, finally, living.

In the past 2 months since I quit the paper, I have done more things and had more time for friends than I’ve had in the past year. Sure, my schedule is different than most people, but somehow it works out that I can spend time with everyone. Sure, I don’t have as much money, but that is just making me appreciate all the free things the world has to offer.

When I was making more money, I also wasn’t saving as much. I would go shopping at least every other week, in search of something that would fulfill me and make me fell good about myself. Guess what? Buying a fantastic outfit but having no time to wear it out doesn’t make you feel any better. Now, I put away a little from each paycheck, pay off bills, then take what little is left and make the most of it. Now I have a reason to wear all the cute outfits I bought instead of putting that money into savings. (I’ve also realized that shopping for shopping’s sake doesn’t me have the best taste. Some of the things I bought are not as cute as I originally thought. Having “what was I thinking?” moments only a few months after buying something is NOT good…) As an added bonus, I cherish the things I buy a lot more than I used to and I'm actually doing research on stuff before blowing $150 just because I want it. ( the Nook vs. Kindle debate, the Nook is kind of kicking the Kindle's ass...I still can't bring myself to buy it though. Yet.)

I’m not saying that I am completely happy or that I don’t get frustrated or that I don’t still want to move out of my parents house or move to the Bay or NY or that I wouldn’t like to be making more money to buy myself the Brian Atwood Harrison Chain-Trimmed pumps ($1,050 at Saks, but sooo friggin hot), but honestly, if making more money and buying those pumps and having the fabulous apartment comes with being stressed, unhealthy and unhappy, then you can have it.

Don't worry, I'm still on a search for how to live out the rest of my life, so I'm not going to be giving up my blog any time soon. (Insert annoyingly cute emoticon here)

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

You Want to Sit at the Bar?!

Anyone who knows me, knows that I love beer. I didn’t always, but thanks to Alec and the fabulous staff at Timmy Nolans, I have come around. I am wiling to try just about any beer now and I actually have clear favorites.

While I was hanging out with my grandparents, I was telling Grandpa about my new favorite, Downtown Brown from Lost Coast Brewery in Northern California. I discovered it like I typically do: sitting on a stool at Timmy Nolans. I wanted to try something new but I didn’t know what. I looked at the tap handles while Rocky, one of my fabulous beer professors, explained all the different kind of beers they have that I haven't already tried. One of the handles caught my eye. It was wood with a kind Picasso-esqe drawing of a man at a table with a beer and buildings in the background. I turn to Rocky and say, “I’ll take that one. I think the handle is pretty.”

Downtown Brown is a brown ale with a bit of sweetness to it, kind of caramelly. It’s not too heavy and there is not a whole lot of carbonation. Overall, it has enough flavors to keep me satisfied. Yes, I expect a beer to keep me satisfied from first sip to last drop. Is that too much to ask?

I was telling all of this to my Grandpa over dinner and he said, “Well I have to try it. They probably have it at that Yardhouse. That’s where the young guys go.” Why he added that on, but if that’s where the young guys go, I need to be there.

So, the next night, after we went to a movie, we went to the Yardhouse. If you have never been to the Yardhouse (it might just be Yardhouse, but I am not a frequent visitor, so I really don’t know), you should go. They have 100 beers on tap and the bartenders are pretty knowledgeable. Or at least ours was.

When we got there, Grandma walked up the hostess and asked for a table for 3, to which Grandpa replied, “BJ, let’s sit at the bar.”

Grandma whips her head around and says, disgusted, “You want to sit at the BAR?”

There was an awkward, staring moment between the two, so I turned to the hostess and said, “I guess we are going to sit at the bar.”

Grandma huffs off, horrified that we are actually going to sit at the bar and points out to Grandpa that he might not be able to get up onto the bar stools. He, in true Jack Brown fashion, shows her up by getting into the stool just fine. It might have taken him a few tries, but he did it.

The bartender barely gets over to us when Grandpa says, “Do you have Downtown Brown?”

The bartender, who clearly had a whole speech he was supposed to give us and is now thrown out of his comfort zone, “Umm..Yes? Downtown Brown, you said? Yes, yes, we have that.”

“Well that’s what I’ll have.”

Grandma orders a soda and then the three of them look at me, who has just started drooling over the possibilities. It must have been a full minute before I realized they were waiting on me, but I finally said I needed a minute to think about it.

The bartender comes back with Grandpa’s Downtown Brown and Grandma’s soda and waits for me to respond. I decide to go with a delicious stout called Old Rasputin and, in pure bliss, we enjoy our beers.

The best part, however, came when we got the bill. I had already intended to pay because I just spent 4 days at their house and it’s the polite thing to do when you’re a guest. We had ordered calamari as well, so I was expecting it to be a little expensive. When we got the bill and I looked at the total, I almost jumped for joy. Our beers were half off and so was the calamari! We had walked in after 10 p.m., during their reverse Happy Hour! Let me tell you, there is no better feeling in the world than going to pay for something and having it be half of what you expected.

Although, sitting at a bar, having beer with my grandparents "where the young guys go" might be a close second.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Adventures from Grandma's Closet

So what does one do with 4 days off in August?

Go to the desert, of course.

My grandparents just sold their house, which is great because they have been trying to for over a year now. The problem? They have 3500 square feet worth of stuff that they now need to get into about 1500 square feet. (They don’t have a place yet, so please pray for them!) Therefore, I was assigned by my mom and aunts to help them get rid of stuff. Obviously, my mom and aunts don’t know me very well, otherwise they would know that I am a bit of a hoarder and would be of little help. But I tried.

I figured out who I get my penchant for shopping from. Grandma has enough clothes to open up a boutique, not that anyone would actually buy anything. The best pieces had to be 3 nylon tracksuits, in pastel pink, teal and blue, with tapered pants and, the best part, SHOULDER PADS. I wasn’t really old enough to know, but apparently, in the ‘80’s, people who weren’t linebackers would workout with shoulder pads.

Grandma tried to tell me that these were the fashions and I shouldn’t judge her. I assured her that I understood what the styles were, but why the hell had she kept them for so long?! She couldn’t give me an answer. Nor could she answer what year she had bought them in or when the last time she wore one of them was. She tried to blame her memory loss on old age, but I think it was from shame.

Once I was done with Grandma, I tried to work on Grandpa and his books. I now know who I get my book obsession from. He was worse than Grandma, though, because he just ignored me and told me to come help pull boxes down in the garage. In 110 degree heat. It was the most fun you could have without actually having any.

When I went back into the den to try to get rid of (read: steal) some of Grandpa’s books, Grandma was looking through photo albums. There were some on a high shelf, so of course I was given the task of pulling them down so she could go through them. Fyi, photo albums are HEAVY. However, once they were down, we started looking through them and it brought back a lot of memories. There were pictures from every embarrassing stage of my life, along with every embarrassing stage of my cousin’s, aunt’s and uncle’s lives. (To all my family members: you're welcome. I thought about scanning every horrible photo and putting it on Facebook, but I decided against it.) It was so much fun!

Then, I struck gold.

I was looking through an album from one of the many trips my grandparents took and I found a picture of Grandma in a row boat with a few other ladies, WEARING ONE OF THE TRACKSUITS. I looked at the outside of the album where Grandma had written the date.

“Hey Grandma, do you recognize this outfit?,” I said, pulling out the photo so she could take a closer look.

She knew where I was going with this but she played along. “Yes, isn’t that one of the suits we gave away yesterday?” Yes, she called them “suits.” Not “tracksuit” or “jogging suit,” but suit.

“Yes. Guess what year this picture is from?”

“I don’t know.” She looked a little nervous now.

“1989. Grandma, those tracksuits are old enough to go to a bar and order you a Perfect Manhattan.”

She then told me she thought Grandpa needed some more help in the garage and politely got rid of me.

I tried to steal the picture to scan, but for an 80-year-old, my grandma is pretty quick!