The Ringer and the Finger

The tangy grapefruit and avocado puree made the air smell sweet as our wine glasses toasted to the evening. The rain unleashed fury outside while our small and intimate class laughed and giggled on the inside of Hubbell and Hudson’s cooking school in The Woodlands. While the decadent crème brûlée and rare prime rib were the topic of our class, the lesson was quite different. Then again– it isn’t every class someone chops off a finger.

_______________________________________________________________

I found myself in Houston to celebrate my mum’s birthday. Upon arrival, the humid sheet the Texans referred to as “air” brutally accosted me. It… was disgusting. The humidity is a topic of conversation with acquaintances upon learning I am from Texas. Politics usually follow. Astonished, most remark they could never live in a place so humid. I didn’t understand… until this trip.

The 100% humid, warm blanket clung to my sweater (NM was in the 50s) and it wasn’t long before the sky turned upside down and unleashed a fury. And it didn’t stop.

In a two-day celebration of my mom’s birthday, we headed to Hubbell and Hudson for a cooking class despite the torrential downpour. The recipes were a lovely contrast to the cooling rain: prime rib, avocado-grapefruit salad, truffle potatoes, roasted garlic and kale and a chocolate, peanut butter crème brûlée.

IMG_9324[1]

This was Robbie’s first cooking class. We consider him a natural. The chefs had a different name for him: The Ringer.

IMG_9400[1]

(Isn’t my future husband a stud?!)

[Definition of ringer: a racehorse, athlete, or the like entered in a competition under false representation as to identity or ability.]

The chefs led a demonstration on how to cut, slice, prod a panoply of edible delights and each time they turned to our side, Robbie had already cut it. Perfectly. Before they could say to even say to rotate the pot for the oil to cover the entire bottom, Robbie had it finished.

IMG_9600[1]

IMG_9322[1]

IMG_9398[1]

IMG_9323[1]

We cheered our small successes with delicious wine while Robbie sprinkled truffle oil in the potatoes and whipped cream with horseradish. We decided to take turns cutting the potatoes because Robbie can’t have all the fun. Which is where we learned an important lesson:

WATCH WHERE YOU PUT YOUR FINGERS WHEN CUTTING THINGS.

In hindsight, I’m pretty sure the poor woman on the other side of the room is thankful for my nurse mother and paramedic brother-in-law. She was chopping her potatoes and a part of her finger was off to join the food.

IMG_9340[1]

My sister and I, petrified of blood and pain, were trying not to think of it on the opposite side of the room. Everyone else in our family (mom, brother-in-law, future husband) was discussing the technicalities and procedures to remedy the situation. Abbey and I were on the verge on vomiting on her behalf.

The school went on weapon lock-down and we weren’t allowed to carve the prime rib or torch the crème brûlée. However, this doesn’t change the fact it was DELICIOUS and tasted nothing like a human thumb.

IMG_9399[1]

The woman left with a piece of her missing. I never knew the rule of thumb was to chop it for the sake of a meal.

Then again– there is a reason I don’t cook.

Real Estate Soles

As we paraded up the condo’s stairs amidst the summer heat and no air conditioning, my feet screeched in pain. There I was, clad in a pretty summer dress and heels to meet our Realtor. And there I remained, stranded a light below the rooftop deck clenching my jaw because my feet… oh my feet hurt so bad!

I’ve learned many things in my short existence by trial and error. Things like– fashion should take back seat when touring chic condos in the Capitol hill area of Denver and just because your fiance says dinner isn’t hot, don’t trust the New Mexican with his chile.

IMG_9094[1]

(I was really nervous/excited/anxious about house-hunting for the first time)

Robbie and I are moving to Denver!! The monthly trips to visit family in Colorado were to fall in love with the gorgeous city, check out wedding venues and most recently, find a place to become a first-time home buyer!

Buying a house at 25 is not exactly… relaxing. Getting my degree was child’s play compared to the field of craziness known as “house hunting.” Getting pre-approved for a mortgage was one step away from a blood sample and a notarized copy of my lineage. (Hmm. English I see. How fare your freckles are, maiden.)

The good news is our Realtor is incredible. Through the process he wanted to know our tastes and priorities with a home.

“Oh. This doesn’t have a dishwasher…” I trailed

“Is that a deal-breaker for your house?” Luca asked.

“No. I don’t wash dishes,” I replied.

Luca instantly shot a look to Robbie who replied that in fact, his wife-to-be refuses to wash dishes.

“She really doesn’t,” he admitted.

“I also don’t cook,” I smiled.

Luca was on a learning curve of the bickering, sarcastic, wholly in love couple who have VERY different tastes.

“The kitchen is most important to me,” Robbie began. “I’m the cook.”

Luca warmed up instantly to him. Methinks his love of cooking and Spanish-heritage bonded with Robbie’s.

“What is your most important detail, Emily?” he asked.

“I don’t want to say a closet for my shoes… because Robbie can fix that.”

At that moment, Luca and Robbie glanced at my heels.

In truth, the entire space is most important. We can rip down walls, remodel it to be 100% ours– but the structure can’t change. Painted brick cannot be unpainted, however. A fireplace right next to a wall cannot be shifted. Walls CAN be painted. Tile can be replaced and for our industrial mid-century modern motif Robbie and I both love– the space will definitely be our own.

Robbie and I celebrated our real-estate experience with local Greek food and then he surprised me with new shoes so we could continue our tour de Denver! From there we literally danced in the streets and tasted the best Denver had to offer. (Seriously– if you’re a foodie, stick with me. I can take your taste buds on a ride).

IMG_9096[1]IMG_9100[1]

We spent the rest of the long weekend eating, drinking and being merry. Yes. That is half a yard of beer nuzzled next to my cocktail.

IMG_9104[1]

We came back to Albuquerque to learn the crazy world of not only moving and finding a new job but also of getting a mortgage and the.. ahem.. joys with that.

My hair may be falling out (glamorous, I know) and my appetite is completely shot (I’ve had a protein shake today. That’s it). Our Realtor gets emails daily regarding condos — with a hot market, nothing is staying available for long and my type-A personality is just loving this (not).

Colorado will make my 4th state not including my brief stint in New York and I’m looking to (somewhat) settle down for the rest of my life. Buying a house at my 25.5 years of age is nuts and I can’t tell you what I’d do to call my dad for his advice and tips he no doubt would have.

I’m reminded constantly of him and I can hear his voice echoing when I’m comparing condos to each other. “Bud, relax. It will all work out.”

Assuming I don’t wear heels on our next tour…

Playback is a… (part two)

ACT II

EMILY di CONCUSSED: answering phone in car
Hey Abbey! What’s up?

UNDERAGE ABBEY:
Where is your plunger?

EMILY di CONCUSSED: worried
Um… what happened, Abbey?

UNDERAGE ABBEY:
Is it safe to shower with a clogged toilet?

EMILY di CONCUSSED:
We can discuss modern plumbing in a second– what happened to the toilet, Abbey?!

UNDERAGE ABBEY: matter-of-factly
Shelli.

NARRATOR:
Ah yes. Only a matter of time before five women in a tiny apartment takes a toll on the utilitarian aspects. Emily’s phone illuminated with a video of Shelli in the bathroom livid beyond belief. Apparently taking photos and video of the… um… blessed event was not nice.

FLUSHING SHELLI:
You put them up to it!

GIGGLING KAREN: laughing hysterically
I DID NOT!

FLUSHING SHELLI: think “Godfather” like anger
Oh I know you did, Karen. I know you did.

NARRATOR:
By the time Robbie and Emily arrived home, there next to the welcome mat stood the plunger of shame.

IMG_8890[1]

Robbie and Emily stood outside of the door for minutes listening to the shrill laugher and screams coming from inside the apartment.

Upon opening the door, a madhouse could best describe the scenario. Tears were running down the cheeks of the women from laughing so hard and each woman regaled the scene:

HALEY DAMN:
Good God. Your family, Emily… I know them way too much now.

GIGGLING KAREN:
Oh my goodness! Oh my goodness! I haven’t laughed so hard in a while! Thanks Shelli for being the butt of our jokes!

UNDERAGE ABBEY:
hysterical laughing

EMILY di CONCUSSED:
What on earth…!? Okay. I have neighbors. We need to quiet down.

NARRATOR:
But quiet-down they did not do. Instead more videos were shared. Shelli rolled her eyes and stared at Karen every time the video played Shelli screaming at Abbey, “Payback is a B*TCH!”

The women took turns repeating the phrase until it was time to settle into bed. Abbey took her Ambien and thus started blabbering nonsense after sitting down to pet Haley.

UNDERAGE ABBEY: sounding half-awake
I’m glad I can add something of entertainment. To the value.
Running around naked and eating bread… I’ve done both!
My world is spinning. Don’t do anything fast.
Cake is good.
Can we take the flavoring down to them and make pink?
Are we getting the giggles?

IMG_8893[1]

NARRATOR:
Emily was live-tweeting the event under #SisterOnAmbien while laughing until she cried. Haley was shaking her head in disbelief (some would say shell-shocked) and Robbie just laughed.

ROBERTO BEERZALINI:
Women.

NARRATOR:
Women indeed. After the giggles continued in the bedroom, Emily marched to the door to reprimand her mother and Aunt.

EMILY di CONCUSSED:
Mom! Shelli! You two need to pipe down and go to bed. I don’t want to hear any more giggling coming from this room.

NARRATOR:
Emily began to realize she is turning into her mother.

EMILY di CONCUSSED:
I have neighbors. And if those neighbors complain about the noise, I’m coming for both of you. Put the cell phones away and go to bed!

ACT III

IMG_8921[1]

NARRATOR:
The next day focused on Old Town in Albuquerque to shop and relax. With live Spanish music playing in the plaza, Haley and Emily wandered (like children) into shops while Shelli, Abbey and Karen went to find shoes.

IMG_8931[1]

IMG_8926[1]

IMG_8934[1]

NARRATOR:
The day followed with a trip to the pool, pizza and beer, a nap and a cutthroat game of Catch-Phrase.

The game is centered around communication and it wasn’t long before the competitive spirit came out.

EMILY di CONCUSSED:
Physician on tv who is bald

UNDERAGE ABBEY:
Dr. Oz!

EMILY di CONCUSSED:
The other one.

GIGGLING KAREN:
I can only think of that one.

EMILY di CONCUSSED:
Um… okay… When you go to get gas, you may say….

UNDERAGE ABBEY:
DOCTOR FILL ‘ER UP!

NARRATOR:
Tension was thick as the beeping matched the rapid heartbeats. The games were close. Haley scored against Karen point after point and it wasn’t long before Karen exclaimed…

GIGGLING KAREN:
Eat sh*t, Haley Brown!

___________________________________________________________________________

Author’s Note:
The headache has subsided and the toilet seems relived the women traveled back to their home states. But as for me, Girls’ Weekend was filled with more than just merriment. Now I have enough blackmail to tease my friend and family with for years to come! We toasted to life, love, happiness and the knowledge that even in the face of hardships and … well … any crappy situations, humor is a fantastic remedy.

Playback is a… (part one)

All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players – Shakespeare

THE CHARACTERS:
EMILY di CONCUSSED
GIGGLING KAREN
FLUSHING SHELLI
UNDERAGE ABBEY
HALEY DAMN
ROBERTO BEERZALINI

ACT I

The apartment seemed spacious upon entering. With each woman fluttering in after the other accompanied by mammoth-sized luggage, the chiffon textiles thrown about and the panoply of chatter instantly made the dwelling tiny.

NARRATOR:
Five women. One apartment. Not set in a chic and trendy New York television show, no. This takes place in the heart of the southwest in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The land of red and green. Chile, of course.

Upon arriving, the ladies went to lunch and then set off for a mountaintop experience. Haley Damn is scared of heights so getting on the world’s longest tram where open air is thousands of feet below made her slightly… squeamish.

IMG_8802[1]

“We’ll be passing the highest distance to the ground right about…. nowwwww,” the annoying tram guide announced. His voice was conditioned by too much bad television as a child and every statement was inflected to be of up-most importance. It wasn’t really.

IMG_8788[1]Haley stood grasping the poles inside the tram car while the rest of the crew crammed their eyes against the transparent protection.

At the top, the sun began to slowly set and turn the Sandia mountains into its moniker (Sandia means watermelon). The women trailed off for an adventure and embarked into the woods by the beat of their own drum.

IMG_8803[1]

IMG_8804[1]

IMG_8795[1]

IMG_8747[1]

Hours passed by and soon the proverbial campfire which gathered the flock was a round of margaritas.

IMG_8775[1]There were cheers. There was food. And none knew what was in store for the upcoming days. (dun dun dun)

While putting leftover in the back of the SUV, Abbey decided to close the hatch. The metal hit Emily’s skull. Hard. CRUUUUUUUNCH!

GIGGLING KAREN:
Did it hurt Emily?

EMILY di CONCUSSED: obviously in excruciating pain
No. It felt like Christmas.

NARRATOR:
A trek to the beautiful started off Friday. Tent Rocks is the name of the majestic place in the middle of nowhere. Placed upon steep tepee looking tents are boulders.

IMG_8888[1]

IMG_8821[1]UNDERAGE ABBEY: genuinely confused
How did they get the balls on top of the mountains?

GIGGLING KAREN:
That’s a nice boulder!

HALEY DAMN: in a Golden Girls-esque voice
Wear sunscreen! Wear sunscreen!

UNDERAGE ABBEY:
What do you have… spf 100?

HALEY DAMN: matter-of-factly
80. Karen? Shelli? No sunscreen?

NARRATOR:
The women walked past the sign signaling it is against the law to take anything from the land and to not climb the rocks.

EMILY di CONCUSSED:
Shelli! Are you seriously putting rocks in your bag?!

FLUSHING SHELLI:
Yes! Aren’t they pretty? They will be perfect in my rock garden!

GIGGLING KAREN:
I should pick up a few of those

NARRATOR:
Shelli continued finding “treasures.” Haley kept disappearing like Kevin from Home Alone but instead of getting into mischief, she was hugging trees (literally) and taking hundreds of pictures of dead wood.

EMILY di CONCUSSED:
Dude! These rocks are so cool! I wonder if I could climb them…

HALEY DAMN:
Oh my lanta… I gotta get a picture of this.

NARRATOR:
Picture she did. Of Emily climbing up the two rocks. And pictures she has. Of Emily sliding down the rocks. Skin was lost.

IMG_8845[1]

IMG_8840[1]

IMG_8827[1]

With a bag full of rocks, hands with a little skin and cameras full, the ladies waddled to the car to trek to Santa Fe.

After the sunny hike, the women were primed for a meal and, no surprise, margaritas to celebrate.

The waitress carded the troupe and Abbey’s card was nowhere to be found! At the same moment, it dawned upon Emily and Abbey the location of the card was Emily’s iPod (tucked away back in Albuquerque) from their morning workout at the gym.

The situation was explained. The manager was called. The end result? The 30-something Abbey would be having water.

The gaggle continued to tour Santa Fe and her beauty.

IMG_8878[1]

 

By the end of the day, the weary soles were dragged home where Roberto had a fancy-schmancy dinner of Lamb prepared. [emphasis on Lamb because it deserves respect]. Roberto and Emily headed out for a quick trip and the phone call transcript received… well… changed the way the women thought of each other.

One tiny apartment doesn’t leave much room for secrets. And in the words of Shelli..

FLUSHING SHELLI:
PAYBACK IS A B****!!!

[continue to Playback is a… (part two)]

Babycakes

With flour gracing my shirt, I separate eggs and pause above two different bowls. Which one…? Hours have passed by, meringue has formed stiff peaks and not a single cake is finished. Glancing at the clock I realize I’ve been awake almost 20 hours so far and have hours yet to go.

So…I procrastinate.

In truth, I love the feeling. Challenges are exciting! Stress and pressure to perform under constraints… ahhh! Bliss! My thesis in for my propaganda class in college measured over 40 pages and was written in one evening. (A love of writing may have helped) This memory was at the top of my mind while my brain turned to an exhausted blob (and the cakes resembled the same).

  • I was asked to bake three cakes for a friend’s baby shower on Saturday. Knowing I should probably start early, I mentally kicked my own butt on Friday.

Less than 24 hours to make three gourmet cakes which look edible and by my own perfectionist standard, pretty. Heading home to begin, I was told of the change of plans.

House-sitting means my type-A personality needs to accept the things I cannot control. I wouldn’t be baking in my kitchen.

As we were driving over, I calmly (in my opinion) let Robbie know this is the first and last time we will try a gastronomical endeavor outside of my (comfort zone) kitchen.

Once we arrived, the work began. I figured start with the most challenging cake and work my way to the most simple. My three giant bags of spring form pans, ingredients and cake plates filled the antique space. While my rented kitchen had a panoply of bowls, the promised giant mixer was nowhere to be found. Hello hand-held mixer I brought just in case.

While the open windows welcomed in the warm outside Albuquerque air, the gas oven evened the score inside. Moist air = moist cakes? My brow was flour-filled as I whisked the minutes away.

IMG_7953[1]

While placing the second cake in the oven, Robbie tried to place a pot roast with the cakes. Oh no. His roast was to the brim with garlic, herbs, potatoes and broth. Though delicious, it would not grace the same air as my baking nuggets.

Some couples need his and her towels or sinks. We need ovens. #FirstWorldProblems?

As cakes were cooling and more cakes were baking, the temperature began to bake more than cakes. Just when the fresh buttercream was making my hand-held smell like burnt rubber, the icing started to melt!

Rushing to the freezer with icing and a cake, Robbie just sat and laughed.

Midnight came and went. The cakes were slowly assembled and the roast filled the early morning air with the warm meat smell carnivores salivate to. Pouring myself into a shower to transform my chalky skin to its original hue and then into bed at the 22 hour mark made me appreciate sleep like I was in college again.

The next day’s makeup tricks made me look more awake than I really was and the party was the expected festive celebration. Cake disappeared quickly and I even snagged some for my husband-to-be.  The mom’s expression seeing the cakes made the flour, sweat and time seem like nothing. I’d happily do it again.

While I highly doubt I will ever open up my own bakery, I couldn’t help but beam seeing ladies stuff their faces with my artwork. As an artist, seeing your art consumed is such a great thing to see.

Cake anyone?

IMG_8646[1]

& congratulations to my friend Melanie! Baby Aiden decided to come early and greet the world yesterday!

Lay Lady Lay

IMG_8562[1]

Leaning on my elbows, my toes touched the lush, green grass. The hot sun peaked at the tip of my giant floppy hat and seeing the Colorado mountains behind the stage, the smooth sound of an electric guitar took my breath away.

____________________________________________________________________________________

2a.m. is early. Despite the renegade ambiance and stillness the middle of the night symbolizes, when an overzealous (and annoyingly) triumphant alarm sounds to remind me of the looming  road trip, I am slightly grumpy. Trekking to Denver, Robbie (my night owl) and I snuggle yet again into the bucket seats of my SUV for another journey to the wild west. This time for a legend: Bob Dylan.

Arriving at the venue, the blanket was spread on the grass and we grabbed a delicious pilsner to settle in for a show.

IMG_8622[1]Live music is magical. While the experience is different for everyone, I usually find myself in a fit of giggles because of the rich people-watching. (Gyms are also great for this. There was a guy pretending to give birth while doing bicep curls the other day. Oh mercy…)

In the haze of non-medicinal pot, were modern hippies a week past a shower, in 90s cut-offs and toting fanny packs. I’ve never seen anyone dance with a pizza box quite like these women.

While the interpretative dancing stood in front of us, the majestic sounds stole the spotlight and wooed me to my core. Wholly relaxed, the grass became my living room floor and I laid down to listen to the music. I closed my eyes and heard what falling in love sounds like.

Standing up to jive with Robbie for a few songs, the sky turned black and soon cold drops splattered from the heavens. While some shrieked and many more ran for cover, there we stood in the rain. Maybe we were ragamuffins in our own way. Maybe we didn’t mind the rain. We stood still as the world moved. The rain muted everything but the music.

  • There is something beautiful about rain. Whether it is cleansing, calming, or the inner peace one feels standing in the rain, we experienced a revolution just standing there listening. Melodies took flight. Minor chords lead to major harmonies. Beauty simply existed.

The rain was over as quickly as it started and the sun began its descent. Bob Dylan crooned and banged the piano at will soon after and laying under the twinkling stars with my love, we dreamed of our future. In whispers, we planned remodels of dream kitchens, our dream jobs, and living in the city.

Later on that night, Robbie and I along with his brother Simon and his dad sat on the patio to discuss the show. His dad lit up sharing stories of Bob Dylan shows throughout the years and silently I sat enjoying the glimpse into the love of music from the Thomsen men. While their laughs are different, their smiles are the same.

IMG_8543[1]

Also, floppy hats cause problems in photos.

Baby Training Wheels

The sound of a child’s laughter. Holding the little fingers with your giant ones. Everyone knows the wanna-be-mom. You know– the ladies who dream not of Jeannie, but of swaddled puke machines. No disrespect to these women, my mom was also in the club: to these women, having babies = having fun.

 I am not one of these women.

Kids are great, don’t get me wrong. I babysat most of my childhood (other kids, not myself) and even was the Children’s minister for a brief stint at my church. And though I want my own someday, that doesn’t change my expression when I find myself in the company of miniature humans. Sheer terror.

My future sibling in-laws came to town and left Arya in her Uncle and future Aunt’s care. Robbie and I would be babysitting.

IMG_8438[1]

When my future niece’s parents left that evening, Robbie just patted my shoulder. “I’ll teach you what to do.”

Okay. First of all: stereotypes. The dude in the relationship is the baby whisperer and I tremble when a kid locks eyes with me.

To me, this kid is a ferocious dinosaur with no teeth. I am rendered immobile.

Arya was supposed to go to bed. But sleep did not come. As I painted wedding cake toppers, Robbie bounced her around the room. She would grab his beard and smile. At a point, he told me to play with her while he used the bathroom.

My pleading eyes looked at him, “but she will cry!”

“She’s happy, Em. Don’t worry about it.”

He left. She looked at me. She burst into tears.

This did not instill much confidence in his baby-training.

Robbie came out of the bathroom found me one step away from joining the waterworks.

He consoled the baby and his future wife.

“It’s okay, Em. You’ll get it.”

Arya was put to bed (not by me, of course) and the wailing continued for twenty minutes. When Robbie came out of the room, we watched a movie with subtitles. It’s like watching a foreign film… but in English. And while the dark sky floated in, the silence was shattered by the babe smaller than my dog.

Arya was awake again.

Robbie rocked her, walked her, and talked her through the night but the cries continued on and on and on and on. Streams of tears flowed down her cherub cheeks and, true to form, every time she looked at me, she cried even harder. (Methinks she wanted to see her blonde-haired mother as opposed to her black-haired Auntie)

Robbie was the picture of patience. Nothing could shake the man. As Arya lay in his arms (sobbing), I turned on some music and instantly she stopped. Song two I decided to join along and hum to the tune and her giant blue eyes looked up at me. No waterworks. Not a single tear. We continued this for a few songs and each time, her little head stretched up to look at me. My heart melted.

On the same token, I also felt relieved the moment my brother and sister-in-law to be entered my apartment. I may be terrified of having children and if/when we ever do join the masses, I will probably be even more terrified. But I’m thinking those little moments of genuine sweetness is the sucker for all of us.

Bike and Go

The alarm sounded shrill. In the midst of my delightful slumber was this ringing that would not stop. More asleep than not, I climbed onto my sleek Cannondale and felt the darkness surround me in the dark of the night. As the cool Albuquerque morning air gave me goosebumps as it rushed over me, I couldn’t help but smile.

But it did not start off that way.

Life gives us challenges. It’s when crummy things happen, the retort of “it is what it is” or “that’s life” is said. One week into my happy, engaged bliss comes a challenge. Abucking one of the most busy weeks to date, my new SUV would not start. My handy-hunk husband-to-be started tinkering and delved down to what the issue is. Only thing… it would take at least a week to have it fixed.

He was stressed. I was stressed. I didn’t exactly handle it very well.

But the next day brought new perspective and the challenge was accepted. A gorgeous road bike for my triathlons and biking events exists as home decor (or stand-in clothes hamper) but only is utilized for races. Time to pump the muscles instead of gas and ride my bike to work.

Biggest concern? Getting lost. To my surprise and delight, I did not get lost and even found myself enjoying the cool, dark ride. That is, until I hit the hills.

  • New Mexico is known as the desert. It’s not as miserable as Arizona but we ARE neighbors. Despite the languid imagery of cacti and tumbleweeds (which do exist in plenty), the surprise would be the mountains (and their cousins known as “hills”).

Hills bring out the worst in me.  Maybe it is because I’m from the flatlands of Texas or maybe it is because hills = pain & misery. Whatever the case may be, I was in for some character development.

IMG_8257[1]

Day two came a hunger. This isn’t just because I’m constantly eating (ask anyone in my family), but a drive to actually beat my time from the day before. As I was leaving the office in the afternoon, I was faced with the unfortunate circumstace of biking in July.

Moonsoon season.

When you think of monsoons, I’m sure third world countries come to mind. And yet, New Mexico gets half its annual rainfall within our month (or so) aptly named Monsoon Season. Lightning decorates the sky. Downpours produce flash floods. It is absolutely beautiful unless you’re on your bike. On my ride home, the sky was threatening. The ominous clouds hung like a wet blanket in the sky and the air was stiff and muggy. I raced against the impending doom as lightning filled my view.

As I removed my helmet inside my apartment, I watched the sky unleash.

Altogether, my muscles are a little sore and I am working on some gnarly tan lines (gloves & bike shorts? Hot). I shaved a total of 10 minutes from my starting time on Monday and want to continue on my track trek. Not just because of the physical exercise (which my legs are loving/hating), but because of the natural beauty.

IMG_8322[1]

The darkness begins every morning journey and from over the Rio Grande and to the Sandias I go to watch the most magnificent sunrise every morning. The afternoons bring the light breeze (though it’s aired more on the “wind” side lately) and the stillness of the city as I race through bike trails home.

Beauty is everywhere.

The Dinosaur Story

“Are you ready for an adventure?” Robbie asked.

“Yes siree!” I replied. “But where are we going?”

“Seriously?”

“Yes…”

“You haven’t figured it out by now?”

“Where are you taking me, Robbie?”

“I’ve been dropping hints all week.”

“Seriously? ….”

“You’ll have to guess,” he smirked, eyes twinkling.

After thinking about the possibilities, I asked about the river (Rio Grande). Apparently the toxic waters wouldn’t be a positive adventure. Maybe Old Town? Or…

“Are we going to a museum?”

“Yes. But which museum, Em?”

“ARE YOU TAKING ME TO THE DINOSAURS?!”

  • My love of dinosaurs started at a very young age. Starting off as a wee babe, I would be placed in the front seat for every family road trip. Our bags would be packed and around 3am we would roll out of the driveway. My mom and sister would climb in the back to promptly continue their sleep. My job was to keep my dad awake. This was the birth of our storytelling.

“Once upon a time, there was a lime green dinosaur with hot pink spots…”

We pulled up to the museum and practically raced inside. It was there we gawked at the giant T-rex, the incredible stegosaurus skeleton, and the size and life of these magnificent beasts.

photo 1 (1)

Wide-eyed we immersed ourselves in the prehistoric wonder known as dinosaurs. Time stood still and our mouths stood open as we stared. We learned about New Mexico’s rich history with dino bones and the incredible discoveries our state holds. (Is it too late to say ‘Nerd Alert’?)

photo 2 (2)

Through the museum we trekked and as I was looking at the Pentaceratops and the Albertasaurus, he said, “I didn’t take you here just to look at dinosaurs. I also wanted to ask you something.”

I turned towards him and watched the love of my life bend down on one knee and say the words every girl dreams of hearing.

“Emily Ann Nelson, will you marry me?”

Naturally I cried. And when I say that I cried, I mean that not only were tears streaming down my face in public (though if people were even around, I can’t tell you), but waves of joy washed over me.

As soon as he stood up with the most gorgeous ring (no lie) I’ve ever seen, I proceeded to jump him. Tears had halted by that point and I just wanted to hug him as hard as possible. This naturally means me jumping on top of him.

My reply? “A thousand times yes!”

photo 4 (1)

I’m engaged to marry the love of my life! This man is the one who told my dad he would take care of his little girl forever at his funeral and almost 6 months later, not only is he continuing to do so, I know my dad is smiling down from heaven at this.

My adventures now are in wedding planning and though I may get slightly distracted by the giant rock on my finger (diamonds catch the light in the most brilliant of ways!), I’m most excited to marry Robbie.

20130703-153701.jpg

I would say most girls dream of their wedding day but honestly, the only thing I want is him. For forever.

This is new chapter in my life! I’ll be changing my last name in a year, throwing a wedding that will be bittersweet since my Dad won’t be there but I’ll get to walk down the aisle to the most handsome and wonderful man I’ve ever met in my life. No one knows what the future will hold, but my best friend will be by my side.

I’ll be telling dinosaur stories forever now. Cheers!

proposal

Enlightenment Time

foto-10

The heat enclosed around me and sweat started to stream down my arms and legs. I inhaled the deep, dark humid air which boasted of 105 degrees and relaxed. Right as the instructor was to begin, the door opened and flooded in the light and cool air. Instantly the focus of the room was to the intruder and without missing a beat, the instructor’s comments lead me to the best Bikram yoga class I’ve ever had.

Don’t be late for your Enlightenment, Dear.”

I love yoga. It’s fantastic; it is relaxing. It is also pure and utter hell– at least until you’re finished. Bikram’s 90 minutes of Houston weather (but indoors) weeds out the weary and feeble from the brazen and bare (It is one step away from Nudie Yoga. Seriously, why do overweight men insist on wearing a speedo? #Awkward). Mentally yelling at yourself for the volunteered torture and counting down the minutes until class is let out, the final shavasana (aka: the sleeping pose) makes you want to never leave. Your mind, body, and soul are at peace.

I mention this torture and misery because I knew fully well what I was getting into. This wasn’t a beach meander during sunset, this was a workout disguised as romping on a mat in lululemon attire (See: yoga stereotypes). But yet, I purchased an unlimited membership for a month to challenge myself mentally and physically.

While his words echoed in the humid room, I couldn’t help but think about life’s timing. “Don’t be late to your Enlightenment, Dear.”

Life is made up of minutes and so few numbers contain all of our time. Being a modern girl in a modern world, I feel as if I am constantly rushing. My to-do list includes the necessary things because… well… I’ll forget to eat unless I schedule time to do so. And after rushing from work to a workout, my mind was anything but focused.

Yet instantly a cloudburst and crescendo sounded from within– it was time to seize the day.

  • Yoga is practiced, not accomplished because you are never done. Just as our bodies are never perfect and “finished,” our minds have room for improvement.

As the sweat streamed onto my towel holding the many poses, I couldn’t help but smile. Wholly concentrating on living in the moment and pushing myself, I got to my version of enlightenment: a clear head.

So THIS is why yogis everywhere practice daily! Being released from the smog of to-dos, past-dues, and do-not-forgets I found the thin line of how beautiful and simple life is.

The 90 minute class passed within a blink (or 300) of an eye and laying in the final pose, the instructor said to prepare ourselves to meet the outside world again. Deep inhale in…

Nameste