Alone In McCurtain County

In the last year and a half, I’ve learned the difference in being alone and being isolated.

Being alone looks like a quiet house, a fat book and a full glass of wine. It feels full but also spacious.

Being isolated feels like no one can hear me, not even me. It looks like 3 a.m. and bad TV infomercials.

Isolation is a frightening feeling. I would characterize it as depression’s best friend and anger’s favorite third cousin. What we do in isolation is even scarier than what we do in the dark or behind closed doors. Feeling isolated is scraping the floor of the emotional ocean, bottom-feeding on the worst of the worst: insecurity, resentment, madness.

But being alone – and traveling alone – is one of my favorite things. At 19, I ditched my group of classmates during my study abroad and proceeded to take the train all across London. Alone.  This was 100 percent against my professor’s instruction and university policy, but like usual, I said to hell with the rules. Because I know and believe in the things that lie beyond the parameters of conventionality and rule-following: creativity, exploration and self-discovery. Taking that train to Picadilly Circus and back again was exhilarating, but never, ever scary. I vowed to take more solo trips in the future.

Then I read Cheryl Strayed’s “Wild,” a book about a 22 year old and her decision to hike over 1,000 miles across the Pacific Crest Trail alone in an effort to find her way out of intense internal isolation. I read this book during a time where I as feeling most isolated and incredibly sad. You wouldn’t think the cure for isolation is time alone, but it is. It’s about shifting your thoughts – not your physical surroundings.

So I took off to McCurtain County, Okla. to visit a friend. When she was off to work, I’d spend the day hiking alone in Beaver’s Bend State Park. I packed my backpack, grabbed a water bottle and trail guide and crossed my fingers I wouldn’t get lost or mauled by mountain lions, Sasquatch or meth heads. And behold, I didn’t. I hiked for hours without seeing a human, and traded the company of people for that of deer and toads and minnows and crawfish.

And I never felt so safe, or full.

I know a lot of us feel isolated…classmates in new jobs and in new cities, newlyweds, the newly divorced…pretty much anyone and everyone under the age of 30. But we aren’t alone in feeling isolated. We are just a road trip, a phone call, an email away from each other.

And, maybe, just a long walk in the woods away from ourselves.

Love,

J.

 

Advertisements

Life, Lately: June 2014

 

I’m starting to feel like a real, traveling gypsy. Give me a tambourine and a pet goat and I will officially fit the bill.

I’ve been ping-ponging between College Station, Tishomingo and OKC for the last few weeks. Cory is traveling all over for safety trainings while I am taking the time to see friends and continuing to juggle freelance meetings, deadlines and design projects. I’m living out of a duffle bag and kind of all over the place but it’s fun and exciting and breath a fresh air. I get to live a little, write a little, design a little and learn a lot in the process.

The blog, thereby, has fallen to the wayside a little. And, man, I hate that. I want to spill my guts to you guys about all the “big life things” that are in the works for us right now, but I’ve learned over the years that really great things – like sunrises and sunsets and all the miracles – have to unfold quietly and in their own time. And  I only need to be still and watch the magic happen…not everything in this world is dependent on my actions or interventions. In fact, hardly anything is.

So, in the meantime, I’m taking stock of what I’m up and what’s on my mind.

XO,

J.

 

Making: Oatmeal, topped with brown sugar, blueberries & raisins

Cooking: Does oatmeal count as cooking?

Drinking: Beer – the perfect beverage for summer activities

Reading: The One and Only by Emily Giffin

Wanting: Another sunny afternoon by the pool

Looking: Through design books. My favorite is the Letterhead & Logo Design series

Playing: Golf

Deciding: What book to read next

Wishing: I owned all the Warby sunnies

Enjoying: Honestly, just taking the time to create and learn new things and starting my summer masters courses

Waiting: For news…

Liking: Khloe Kardashian’s indian headdress at Kidchella

Wondering: How Iggy Azalea has such a tiny waist and bumpin’ booty. Some girls are just lucky, I guess

Loving: Seeing and unexpectedly running in to old friends

Pondering: Grabbing some watercolors and giving a shot at digitizing some illustrations

Considering: Starting Orange Is The New Black on Netflix. I’m behind, I know.

Watching: Netflix. Always Netflix.

Hoping: To get out of life limbo, the sooner the better

Marvelling: At how tolerable the summer temps have been. I remember much hotter days.

Needing: Caffeine. Always caffeine.

Smelling: Honeysuckle, my favorite summer scent

Wearing: Second-hand, ripped up jeans and a SOSU shirt circa ‘78

Following: This Instagram account. WANTING ALL THE THINGS.

Noticing: When people demonstrate patience

Knowing: Better things are coming

Thinking: About taglines, call to actions, etc. Designer-y things. Oh, and feature story intros, transitions. Writer-y things.

Feeling: Optimistic

Admiring: The people who never change – in that really great, deep-down-in-the-soul kinda way.

Sorting: Clothes into piles for packing up or giving away.

Buying: Typefaces and lipstick

Getting: What I need, and luckily, what I want most days

Bookmarking: New blogs and type foundry sites

Disliking: Impatient people…Take a deep breath, chill out and wait your turn, yo.

Opening: Thank you notes

Giggling: Over texts from Cory

Keep Austin Weird: Barton Springs Bares All

20140323-151550.jpg

The only Oklahomies who ever visit us down here deep in the heart of Texas is my parents & our forever BFFS, Devon & Billy. Devon, Billy & I went to high school together. A few years post-graduation, those two became lovahs & now they live & go to school in Ada, OK. We all have such a good time together, and they spent a long weekend with us.

The boys went golfing on Friday while Devon & I drove down to Austin for a day of shopping. We hit up SOCO, I found a rose rock ring at Uncommon Objects (TO DIE FOR) & we wined & dined on the patio at Perla’s. I especially love Austin for all its artisans… local, handmade items are not only in abundance, but one-of-a-kind. Investing in rare goods & local artists feels like a fun adventure, and building a house or wardrobe to reflect all the places I’ve been & loved is pretty cool.

We jokingly talked about heading to Hippie Hollow, the nudie beach, for some afternoon sunbathing. But we headed to Barton Springs Pool instead. Dev & I didn’t even pack suits, we just wanted to shed some outer layers & lay in the grass. Barton Springs, in the heart of Zilker Park,  seemed like the perfect option.

To my knowledge, unless a beach was explicitly described as a nude beach, everyone would have some clothing on. Maybe not a lot of clothing, but the main attractions (or horrors, depending on your point of view) of the human anatomy would be reserved for more intimate, private affairs. Nay. We found a grassy spot among the other sun worshipers, leaned back & about that time I noticed that everyone else’s boobs were out. Out, out, out. Big ones, little ones, white ones, black ones, tattooed ones, perky ones, saggy ones, ones with babies attached….Tops off errwhere. At this point, I start to wonder if I’ve perhaps missed something… but no. Women everywhere were sunbathing in the nearly nude.

Listen. I’m a pretty liberal person and as a country girl who grew up out in the middle of nowhere, I’ve done my share of topless tanning within the privacy of my own, secluded back porch. I mean, my goodness, if Duchess Kate can tan topless so can the rest of us. But in front of strangers, young families, old dudes? Outside of my comfort zone.

However, the longer I lay there & people watched the more I realized that A) everyone surprisingly looks more alike naked than you’d think. Sure, some are smaller or taller or rounder than others, but generally…We all have two eyes, a belly button, etc. and B) Ironically the more naked people got, the less sexualized nudity seemed. Unsuspecting people walking by would, sure, do an initial double take or perhaps suppress a smirk or sneak a giggle but beyond that, no one seemed to care. Kids didn’t care. Old men didn’t care. Groups of tourists didn’t care. They walked on, found their spots, or continued to swim or whatever right next to completely naked strangers. They carried on their conversations, read their books.

I thought, okay Austin…You’re pretty weird, but I can handle this.

Then an elderly man laid his beach towel right in front of Devon & I & proceeded to strip down to a speedo thong. It was our cue to leave.

Naked misadventures aside, the weekend was full of fun, good food & laughs. I love when friends visit…It’s like being home though we are hundreds of miles away.

xo,

J.

20140323-151625.jpg

20140323-151658.jpg

20140323-151647.jpg

20140323-151829.jpg

20140323-151842.jpg

Shop Local

IMG_7193 Big city livin’ is not something I take for granted. I can find a place to eat any hour of the night (with drive-thrus!), we can partake in just about any form of entertainment imaginable, and we are just an hour’s drive from some of the coolest & happenin’-est cities for young people in the country, like Austin.

But when it comes to shopping, Southern Oklahoma is still my favorite spot. Local boutiques like the Lucky Rose, the Pink Pistol and Bliss are some of the most unique and impressively curated shops I’ve ever been to. Whenever I’m wearing pieces from any of those boutiques, I always get asked a million “Where’d ya get that?” questions…My finds range from funky to rare. Whenever I am in town, I go crazy shopping and browsing all my favorite places.

This weekend, I got to enjoy wine at the Lucky Rose Spring Fling event. It was an after-hours shopping extravaganza. The place was packed with ladies shopping, sharing, sipping and laughing.  It felt so cool, so forward, so exciting to be a part of –  as a guest and as a hired designer. Lisa Rose, the shop owner, is always pushing the envelope and blowing me away with new, fun and innovative ideas for her business and for Tishomingo, Oklahoma.

Evites I designed for the Lucky Rose's Spring Fling event

Evites I designed for the Lucky Rose’s Spring Fling event

IMG_7239

Infinity scarf from Murray on Main in Tishomingo, OK

Midi rings and chambray top from Bliss Boutique in Durant, OK

Midi rings and chambray top from Bliss Boutique in Durant, OK

IMG_7229

The ultimate underdog, Teddy

When I wasn’t shopping, I was eating with my parents, watching movies with friends, golfing and attending baby showers. It was a great weekend.

J.

Kelly Moore Bag: Chapel

Screen Shot 2014-02-05 at 12.43.27 PM

Guys…I am so in love with my new Kelly Moore Bag, the Chapel. I may be an exclusive, lifelong lover and carrier. From now on, life as I know it will be categorized by “before I bought a Kelly Moore Bag” and “after I bought a Kelly Moore Bag.”

Kidding. Sort of.

I am a bag lady by heart. I love all kinds, big and small. Weekenders, classic purses, messengers, totes, backpacks…I am always buying a new bag, switching up what I’m currently carrying or on the hunt for my next favorite. When I bought my Canon Rebel T2i in college, I ordered it over and phone and told the store clerk to just send me the cheapest camera bag in stock. What arrived on my doorstep was the Titanic of camera bags: huge, bulky and black. Superbly ugly. And worse, it was functional only as a camera bag…Throwing in a book or tablet was not an option. Thus, I spent a semester carrying two, giant bags two and from photography class: my camera bag and my backpack. It made for an uncomfortable commute all semester long.

As of a few weeks ago, I was still stuck with that ugly black bag. I wanted something a little more versatile but still able to protect my gear and all my new lenses while traveling. The Kelly Moore Bag quickly rose to the top of my search list. I perused the site, fell in love, watched the videos on the bags and decided the Chapel was definitely for me. While KM has bags specifically designed for men, I liked that the Chapel in mushroom color was androgynous enough that Cory wouldn’t mind carrying it if we were traveling. The Chapel has a removable basket, which is great for when I’m out and about without plans to shoot. The bag, sans basket, operates like an everyday catchall but with enough pocket options to easily store my iPad, notes, notebooks, credit cards and little items like thumb drives and lipgloss. It’s easily the best bag I own, and can see adding to my collection as life changes (supposedly the best diaper bag ever, mammas).

Downside: they’re expensive. But after all my research, they will last you quite some time. I never mind paying a little more for something that is worth the investment. I have spent $100 on a bag and have it show signs of wear & tear just weeks later. So far, the Chapel is the sturdiest, manmade leather bag I have ever carried.

Screen Shot 2014-02-05 at 12.43.49 PM

I’ve carted this baby around with me everywhere…From Austin to work to out with friends. I’ve worn it as a backpack, messenger style and as a shoulder bag…all in one week. It keeps things interesting and it is definitely built for keeping up with me and everything in my life.

Put one on your V-day wish list 🙂

XO

J.

Weekend in Golden, CO

golden

If you made it to our wedding, chances are you participated in the late night search party for one intoxicated, missing guest: Colorado. His real name is Jonathan, & he became one of our best friends during our time in College Station, TX. Once a coworker of Cory’s, Jonathan is now living in his home state and attending Colorado School of Mines in Golden.

The three of us together is a little reminiscent of Ferris Buler’s Day Off. Just like in the movie, the boys are pretty unlikely friends: Jon grew up in Denver’s wealthy suburbia. Cory grew up in rural America. Jon’s dad is white collar, Cory’s dad is blue collar. Cory is calm & collected, Jon is more temperamental. Jon’s traveled the world, Cory has traveled to…Texas. But for all the ways they differ, they do have some things in common: both are insanely smart. Like, I-can’t-follow-thier-conversations smart. Both are mama’s boys (&, arguably, mama’s favorites). Both are  extremely patient with my sassy nature.

boys

Because we missed him so much, and needed a break, we flew out to CO for the weekend. We toured the campus, Coors brewery and went tubing in Winter Park.

I drank more beer this weekend than I probably have all year, and that’s still not much. I’ve hung out with girls who drink Natty Light & girls who love IPAs…I’m really not a beer drinker and under no circumstance pretend to be. But the tasting post-tour at Coors had me feeling adventurous. I tasted everything from the tried-and-true brews to recipes dating back to 1919.

beerbeer2

We also got to visit with Jon’s new friends…One is a wealthy black man from Ghana and the other, a  Kurdish muslim from Iran. They’re both students with Jon at CSM. Over beers, we all talked about how important travel is to us. But even more importantly, befriending people who are different from us, with different experiences and ways of thinking.

Michael, from Ghana, said it perfectly.

“People who do not travel…their view of the world is so microscopic. They’re the kind of people who believe everyone gets three square meals a day.” 

Then Michael went into the story of his own birth. His mother, a fugitive for smuggling gold across borders, was fleeing from the police while heavily pregnant (a strategic move on her part, as leverage against harsher imprisonment). She hid on his grandfather’s farm, birthed Michael without assistance & proceeded to sever his umbilical cord with a machete.

Whoa. There’s a woman I’d like to meet.

Overall, the weekend was everything I needed. I saw new things, met new people and slid down a hill at 30 mph. Every time I visit the mountains, I begin mental justifications for quitting my job and blowing all my money on a life in the mountains. I could be an excellent ski bum. Who needs retirement savings, anyway?

xo.

J.

C & J Do Austin

austin_tx

 

During my short time in the Lone Star state, I’ve been able to define two types of Texans.

You’re either “Fort Worth, TX” or you’re “Austin, TX”.

Cory is Fort Worth, but he married an Austin. & since he’s never been, we decided to take a weekend get-a-way to the capital city. I have only been once before, as a kid. My clearest memory is standing on the Congress Bridge at sundown & watching the bats.

It’s only a 1.5 hour drive from CS.  We decided, why not? We didn’t have a special occasion to celebrate, just wanted to explore. Besides, do you need a special occasion to do something awesome?

We stayed at the Adam’s House Bed & Breakfast.  Constructed in 1911, it sits in the oldest residential district of Austin. It’s close to 6th, the SoCo district & within walking distance of some great local cafe’s, like Mother’s & Hyde Park Bar & Grill. The sheets are like butter & they serve some real, kick-ass homemade granola at breakfast. I throughly enjoyed watching Cory choke on his as the innkeeper inquired about what he does for a living. Austin isn’t the place to mention that you mine coal, or as some environmental groups call it, “rape the Earth”.  Awkward.

IMG_4269

IMG_4273

 

After breakfast, we hit the town & decided to go to the Austin Zoo while it wasn’t so hot. We thought this was an actual zoo. Turns out, it’s an “animal sanctuary”. So basically, every circus animal reject & millionaire’s tiger (like Mike Tyson’s) come here to live out their days. Along with pot bellied pigs, exotic reptiles and birds. We watched lions wrestle & fed goats. It was weird & still kinda wonderful. We are still country, farm kids at heart.

IMG_5599

IMG_5598 IMG_5603

(What I’m wearing: It’s my latest Stitch Fix. The necklace SF sent me is made by an Austin designer, Stitch & Stone. Cool, right? They set up a booth every Saturday in SoCo. If you haven’t gotten a fix yet, you can sign up here. You’ll get a $25 discount for using my referral. Yay, discounts!)

We spent most of Saturday in the SoCo district, shopping local vendors & consignment stores. We also ate desert before lunch at Hey Cupcake!, probably the most popular food trailer in the city. Cory stuck to the classic Red Velvet while I had the Michael Jackson (Get it!?)

soco_district

IMG_5680

IMG_5650

IMG_5643IMG_5644

 

Of course, we had to see the bats. It’s the largest colony in North America, & now one of the top things to do in Austin. Sundown was at 8:10, & at 8:13 they came pouring out in well-choreographed streams. We sat under the bridge & watched. It was a pretty remarkable example of nature’s perfect design. & I prayed one wouldn’t land on me & infect me with rabies.

IMG_5682

Post-bats, we met up with a good college friend. It was a fun, relaxing & yet still adventurous weekend. We decided we may not be totally Austin people, but we would love to visit on occasion. We didn’t hit everything on our to-do list (Cathedral of Junk, anyone?) but we always have next time.