We All Survived April, Y’all!

It’s been almost a year but today felt like a good day to start blogging again, so hello! Hi!

We did it! We survived! They said it couldn’t be done, what with two eclipses and the blood moon and all that but here we are! I’m not even going to try to do a recap of the last year because no one cares but the last month was pretty eventful so I’ll at least go over the highlights:

1) Alex and I traveled to West Texas for the Viva Big Bend Food Festival. It was amazing and highly recommended for a long weekend getaway. The Big Bend area is amazingly beautiful, the people are friendly, and there is so much to do. My only qualm is that it’s so far away (~6.5 to 7 hours from Austin depending on traffic) because Texas is so dang big.

We did a few official food festival events as well as some off the map stuff. We stayed in Alpine, Texas which is a weird little college town (emphasis on little) with a lot of character. Our trip included a cocktail tour put on by Tito’s Handmade Vodka (where a party bus took us to three locations with a different cocktail at each stop), the obligatory visit to Prada Marfa, a tour of a diary goat farm (the highlight of the trip for me to be honest), hiking at Big Bend National Park and a “star party” at the University of Texas’ McDonald Observatory.

Definitely not drunk

Alex on the Tito’s bus

Figuring out what to do next in Marfa

Dress: Target, Hat: Amazon, Sunglasses: Francesca’s, Bag: TJ Maxx

Alpacas at Marfa Maid Dairy

Alpacas at Marfa Maid Dairy

Me and me bff Cuatro at Marfa Maid Dairy

omg bb goat!

More like Prada Valentine

Prada Marfa

Santa Elena Canyon at Big Bend

Santa Elena Canyon

2) Alex and I got engaged! To circumvent any awkward interactions spurred by “how did he ask?” and “let’s see the ring!!”-type inquiries: I asked him, he said yes! There’s no ring because I feel like it’s kind of weird to buy yourself an engagement ring if you’re the one doing the asking? I did buy him a ring but it was more symbolic because he’s not really a jewelry person. Anyway, we’re still in the preliminary stages of wedding planning but I expect that’s going to be a topic of conversation around here more and more so stay tuned.

D'aww.

A couple of cuties.

3) We went to a wedding and I met an alpaca there! Also our great friends, Eddie and Erica made it official in a beautiful, Gatsby-themed celebration and we had a wonderful time staying at the Hyatt Lost Pines resort through the weekend. I wish they would get married every weekend!

Tail-end of BooBoo off to the right, there.

Dress: Luxe Apothetique, Headband: Francesca’s, Sunglasses: Francesca’s, Shoes: Target

4) Cooper is still the cutest. You can keep up with him searching for the Instagram hashtag #coopertheworst.

Boop.

Obligatory “I’m Not Dead” Check In

I know it’s been, like, a million years since I’ve updated so I don’t even know why I try but hello again.

So much has happened since the last time I posted that I don’t even know where to start. SO MUCH. Cooper and I have moved in with Alex downtown, Alex and I went to Colorado for our annual ski trip, SXSW 2013 happened, I applied and got accepted to a 10-week immersive web developer training program here in Austin, the President (yes, as in the POTUS) came to visit my office last month and last week we went camping at Garner State Park:

old baldy cacti view from painted rock rio frio

These days I am spending my free time reading World War Z by Max Brooks and studying up for MakerSquare, which starts next week. You can follow my progress at my new “professional” (lol) blog/portfolio site bridraffen.com.

Asking for an Asskicking (A Belated New Year’s Post)

IMG_3207

 

(Cupcakes c/o our friend Alexis at our house on New Year’s Eve)

I am really good at word games like Scrabble, Word with Friends, Scramble with Friends, Boggle, etc.* You get the idea. I don’t say this to brag (I mean, for real, who would be impressed by someone bragging about that? That’s like saying you’re really good at checkers). It’s just something that I’m known for among friends and family. While I don’t win every game, I’ve beat plenty of people enough that they just flat out refuse to play with me anymore (as well as warn others who may challenge me).

Have I possessed some sort of innate, exceptional aptitude for looking at a random group of letters and making words out of them since before I could hold a Scrabble tile? As amazing/weird as it would be to be some sort of Scrabble prodigy, I’m afraid not. While I’ll say that I was always pretty good at it, it’s something that I got really good at with lots and lots of practice.

Back in 2007, I worked a job as the contracts manager at a travel club. I had a dungeon-like office space that I shared with the office manager, Carmen (who eventually became one of my dearest friends) and we had a lot of downtime. Carmen liked to challenge me to bouts of Literati on Yahoo! Games and Lexulous on Facebook (bringing it back, y’all) in between timeshare presentations. She was really good. She knew that sometimes making the highest scoring word wasn’t the most important play; sometimes you needed to strategically block your opponents from high-scoring tiles. She had memorized  the list of acceptable of two-letter words and Q-without-U words, whereas I knew nothing of these potential ringers. She repeatedly kicked my ass. Over and over and over. For months on end. And where some people would have thrown up their hands, deciding that getting their ass kicked repeatedly was not fun and quit playing the game, I became more and more determined to beat her. We worked together, 40 hours a week, for a year and a half and eventually, I did beat her. In fact, I was beating her fairly consistently (she was still beating me most of the time, though). So I became the sad person Scrabble boss you see before you today.

I wrote all that to say, as we are just at the beginning of a new year, I intend to approach 2013 the exact same way. I have realized that I’ve been able to take on a lot of amazing opportunities due to luck and being in the right place at the right time and knowing the right people and my brilliant personality. I’ll admit that my life is pretty great right now and when you’re comfortable, it can be so easy to just be content with what you have and coast. But I really want to challenge myself and put my ass out there to be kicked more often, both in the professional and personal areas of my life – because in many instances, that’s the only way I’m going to get better, faster, stronger. So here’s to 2013 kicking my ass. I can’t wait to see what I can accomplish.

* Oddly enough, I’m terrible at Letterpress.

In Rememberance

I know that today a lot of people are reflecting on and thinking of those affected by the horrific attacks on 9/11 that happened 12 years ago (!) but in addition profound tragedy of that day, today also has personal significance for me and my family as a day to celebrate the lives of relatives who had touched our lives.

Today would have been my maternal grandmother’s 69th birthday:

Tonia Joann Gaston Phillips

 Grandma Tonia came into my life when I was about three years old, due to my mother being raised by another family. I was her first grandchild but did not get to see her as often growing up because she lived in California. She was extremely funny, sassy and tough as nails. And although my mother and one of her brothers did not grow up with her around, she did a fine job raising three other boys by herself. One of my favorite memories of her is when I was about 19 or 20 and lamenting about lack of money, she suggested I get a part-time job at Hooters. When I scoffed, mortified that my grandmother, of all people, had suggested such a thing, she shrugged and replied matter-of-factly, “What? You have the rack for it!”

Today also would’ve been my parental grandparents’ 60th Wedding Anniversary:

Fielding Duane Draffen, Sr. & Nancy Roberta Huston Draffen

Grandpa Fielding & Grandma Nancy a huge part of my life from the day I was born, I have so many fond memories from their big blue house on Bales Ave. in KC when I was a kid. Grandma was one of the kindest people I’ve ever known. No matter who you were or where you came from, as soon as you walked into her house, you were adopted into the Draffen family. She could also cook like nobody’s business – in hindsight, I very much regret not taking the initiative to learn from her and my mother when I had the chance because I am now in my mid-twenties and pretty hopeless in the kitchen. Grandpa Fielding was a veteran of the Korean War and one of the smartest people I’ve ever known. I remember quizzing him for hours about history and science and 1) him always knowing the answer and 2) never getting impatient with my constant questions. Together they co-founded the Missouri Negro High School Alumni Association (which apparently doesn’t have a website, according to Google) and were perfectly matched partners in crime who raised six (!) children together.

I miss all three of them and wish I could talk to them today. The world has changed so much since they’ve gone. I would love to find out what Grandpa would think about the iPhone and can imagine having to repeat myself a million times while Grandma Nancy figures out how to use Skype. I’d even take Grandma Tonia making me feel bad for not calling her often enough. If Apple ever figures out a way to FaceTime from the afterlife (you know they’re working on it), I look forward to catching up.

Credit to my mom’s and my Aunt (Nancy) Elaine’s (yes, my grandmother figured if her husband could have his first born son named after him, she deserved to have a girl named after her) Facebook timelines, where I stole these photos from.

Hangin’ with Mr. Cooper

A couple weeks ago, one of my dreams of the last six years or so came true: I adopted a puppy. Obviously, since I’ve been thinking about it for literally years, it’s not a decision that I took lightly. I’ve always been an animal lover and I did get spend a couple of years of my life with a lovely kitty but having a dog a special kind of commitment. There’s the obvious financial and time commitments but there’s the stuff like not being able to randomly sleepover at my boyfriend’s at the drop of a hat or take off for a day trip early in the morning and not come back until late at night without making arrangments. Plus, your “need for companionship [has to] outweigh [your] distaste for picking up shit.”

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