Xena.

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Before stepping off of the ship, you take off your shoes. You feel stupid for packing them. Brand name shoes aren’t allowed here, because not everybody has the means to get them. One of Planet Xena’s golden rules is to not be a classist. You unzip your blue backpack, and place them next to the rulebook you received as you entered the spaceship back on Earth. It’s lengthier than the bible. You don’t really mind because you like to read, and you like the idea of perfecting your personality to fit in on Planet Xena. After carefully zipping up your bag, you take a deep breath, and your first step, onto the planet, excited for your new life. 

The gravel underneath your feet is cold and unforgiving, like the looks your parents gave you as you told them you were leaving. It’s unfounded, they told you, Xena will fail quicker than it was built. You ignored their warnings, because you were enticed by the idea of a planet built on equality. A planet where you could learn how to read and write for free, in fact, where you could do everything for free. And a planet where nobody could ever hurt your feelings—verbally or nonverbally. Xena was the new paradise. 

Your first few days were great. You didn’t have a job, and you woke up every day able to do whatever you wanted at no cost at all. You no longer had a reason to feel negativity, because Xenians were not allowed to say or think anything that could be interpreted as offensive. There was no reason to argue, because everybody was equal.

On your fifth day, you met a kind man who told you your name was exotic. You thanked him. The Police overheard him say this, and arrested him quicker than you could process what was happening. Planet Xena does not tolerate verbal micro aggressions, they told him. He was sent back to Earth that night. Xenian’s were outraged by his words. In fact, they talked about the incident for several weeks. 

You thought about how strange it was that everybody seemed to be offended by his words on your behalf, when you had taken what he had said as a compliment.

On your thirty eighth day, you invited you neighbors over for dinner. Nancy and Jay. The three of you laughed and talked over a warm baked potato casserole they had brought, as you introduced yourself and explained where on Earth you came from. America, you told them. They shuddered and told you they were surprised of your tolerance. Despite your confusion over the comment, you thanked them. 

Four minutes later, things went dark. You told Nancy that she made a wonderful casserole. Just as the words spilled out of your mouth, the two of them looked at you as if you had taken the dinner knife off of the table and stabbed it into your own hand. Are you assuming I made the casserole because I’m a woman, she asked. I thought you had told me you made it, you stammered. Nancy argued with you over your inappropriate comment, called you a sexist oppressor, and stormed out.

You sat in you chair for ten minutes trying to process what had just happened. You thought back to the Xenian rule book, and realized that your comment had gone against the regulations regarding gender assumptions. Refusing to accept responsibility for Nancy and Jay’s feelings, you shook off the memory of the evening, closed the rule book, cleaned up the kitchen, and went to your room.

And when you got in bed that night, you glanced out your bedroom window. You looked at the star shining brighter than the rest, the place you used to call home. You reminisce about your time on Earth. You think about your parents, and what they had said about Xena. You think about how great it felt to work hard enough to afford a new book, and how aimless it now feels that everybody has the same access to everything you do. You miss the freedom. Not only of speech, but of thought. You miss being able to challenge other’s opinions without being forced off of the planet. You miss having no censorship. You miss your autonomy.

You miss all of these things so much. 

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Footprints.

“I am visually digesting earth, wind, fire and ice—elements that have heaved and formed over centuries, over millennia. These wonders will continue long after I have retrieved my baggage from the carousel and made my way back home.”
—Carol Lynne Switzer, “mom”

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I am not a global soul.

Most years of my life I have dreamed of visiting the most simple of lands, to the most exotic of lands. The Kerguelen Islands, surrounded by the calm, friendly waters of the Indian Ocean. The bustling city of Tokyo, made vibrant by the lights and the spirit of those within its borders. Both foreign to me, both enchanting.

There are many places I have yet to go, but I am by no means a traveler. I have simply been fortunate enough to leave my wandering footprints on different lands in this earth, and by this I have allowed these places to leave a profound footprint on my soul. Beginning at a young age, I was exposed to the soils of my own country, traveling widely between the east coast and the west coast. Through the warmest, and the most ice cold climates—and people—my soul was shaped into who I am today. I found my home in the South, though I carry it within me as I live across the country in California.

At fourteen years old, my mother traveled with me to Europe. After a nine hour flight, we had arrived not only to the airport, but also to the rude awaking that we had packed warm weather clothes for a city that was experiencing a ruthless cold front. “We get shit weather all year” exclaimed the british accented merchant at the gift shop as we bought two ‘I heart London’ sweatshirts to keep us warm before we got our bearings. That sweatshirt still sits in the back of my closet today, unworn, unforgotten.

 

The next few days, I found myself immersed in the fictitious culture of London alongside every other tourist on a double decker bus. Big Ben, the Tower of London, the Bridges, the London Eye—all postcard images that I had become a part of during my time in this city.

An early morning ride on the Chunnel whisked me from one country to the next, and I found myself in Paris just two hours later. I had become immersed into street signs I couldn’t pronounce, and words I couldn’t understand. The streets were small, the cars were smaller, and as I made my way around I soon recognized myself using the same phrases every chance I got. “Je sues Erin,” to those I greeted and “merci beaucoup, au revoir” to those I parted from.

This was my first day in the city of love. We made our way through the alluring gardens, to the lawn facing the Eiffel Tower, and I placed myself alongside every other tourist, all speckling the grass like ants at a picnic. Later, I found myself sitting in a picturesque cafe on the corner of two busy streets. This was the moment I realized that in France, water is served at room temperature, and lemonade is caffeinated. As I sat under the black and white striped awning, I noticed an ample group of young teenagers walking from a bus stop. Backpacks on their shoulders, and books in their hands, they had seemingly just finished a long day of classes. Here I was, sitting in this foreign land, discovering as far as my eyes could see, and retaining as much as my memory could hold, while these students barely glanced at anything other than their route home. This city has become familiar with the inner workings of these people—their miseries, their joys, their loves, their hates—and has gained only a first impression of me.

Four years later, I was laying on the sandy beaches of Jamaica, a drink in one hand, a book in the other, an expression of happiness on my face. My week in this country was occupied by some of the most relaxing and exciting days I believe I’ve ever experienced.

Surrounding the resort I was in was the rest of Jamaica—the second poorest country in the Caribbean, founded in 1962. This country faced a hinderance of economic growth. Poverty was everywhere. Yet the most curious site was the absence of sorrow. Everybody was smiling. This country holds the happiest, most loving people. A driver I had become familiar with throughout my stay explained; “In my house, my momma said ‘no hate in this house—just love.’ Everything is irie, mon. If you hate, you get a butt whoopin’.”

 

I carried this message with me.

I have traveled to some of the biggest tourist attractions around the globe. My travels have been sheltered. Unauthentic. I have not lived in any country’s soil other than the one I was born in, but one things remains true—I have never returned to the airport the same person I was when I left it. The places I have gone—the experiences I have lived—have shaped me immensely. The footprints I have gained on my soul from these places have made me a far more global person than many.

But I am not a Global Soul.

Absence.

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The past few months have been trying, telling, and complicated. In the midst of the most recent chapter of my life, I lost my voice. The voice that I found joy in expressing on this platform vanished, and I honestly didn’t know if I would ever attempt to get it back.

When I was younger, I used to write songs. Incredibly embarrassing, they have been locked with a password on my computer, ensuring that in the event of my–God forbid–death, the personal, awkward, musical diary will die alongside me.

Though I never intend to share the twelve year old angsty lyrics with anybody, I refuse to  delete those songs from my computer, or my mind, as they filled a part of me that I haven’t been able to fill in any other way. Writing and singing are two of my biggest passions. I discovered this at a very young age, and for that, I am lucky. I find both to be such impactful outlets in my life, and the fact that I could fulfill both desires simultaneously is something that I wish I hadn’t let go of.

My dad recently asked me if I had been writing songs lately, and I responded no. Ever since that simple question was asked in an F-150 on the way to the Dallas Love airport, I haven’t been able to shake it from my mind. Writing songs was such an important part of my life, as it was something I could do for me. People forget to do things for themselves. Life is often about working for others, or for money, or for a raise, or for a promotion. These things are okay to do. In fact, these things are very good to do! But it’s important not to overlook the things only we can do for ourselves.

Though I may not be sharing my songs on this platform, I will be sharing my past and present writings. I highly doubt my commitment to this blog will be regular, but I intend to force myself to utilize the outlet as often as I can–as a tribute to the young, songwriting Erin, and as a reminder of my passions.

So, rant aside, I am back, and I am here to be unapologetically, very Erin.

Relocating.

 

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It is a classic story in a way, of hope and expectation, and migration; The words themselves, of uprooting, and traveling, and discovering, are exciting ones that speak to the people who can’t imagine spending their life in one place. But it is a modern story, too, of a person with an emptiness and a wholesomeness and a plane ticket, wanting to resume the life she had been heading towards, but that somebody else had paused for her; and a woman moving to a colder city with warmer people inside of it and a vibrance she had missed out on for so many years. Two kinds of feelings meet as she travels, one matured and intentional, the other naive in a way; unable to maintain the overwhelming sense of wonder.

 

This piece was modeled on Pico Iyer, The Global Soul: Jet Lag, Shopping Malls, and the Search for Home.

Texas.

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One day if the reader of the third millennium will read me, they will know about southern hospitality, and barbecue in the backyard, and the heat of the day, and meaningful conversations with words like “y’all” and “supper,”

and the folk: there were those who grew up knowing football as a lifestyle, those who understand breakfast is for tacos, and those who grew up in the south and couldn’t ever bring themselves to leave because of its simplicity and wholesomeness, its warmth and

comfort.

This piece was modeled on Giuseppe Conte, The Ocean and the Boy.

Birthdae Cake.

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Where do I even begin?

Birthdae Cake has recently become the place to be. Posts have been exploding all over Instagram and Facebook, and the aesthetic is a teenage girl’s dream.  I decided to try this place to see what all the hype was about, and, frankly, it was not exactly what I expected.

Upon arrival, we were faced with a pretty long line, which was to be expected. The inside is pretty small, so it was a bit crammed inside, but nothing was bringing my excitement down – the cookie dough and ice cream looked so good!

First things first- the cones.

I ordered the Birthdae Cake cone, which was probably the best decision I could’ve made. Chocolate Teddy Grahams, mini cookie bites, and rainbow sprinkles were glued to the cone atop a chewy strawberry glaze. It wasn’t just appealing to the eye- it was delicious!

My boyfriend, however asked for the blue Birthdae Cake cone, was misheard, and was given a “Blue Corn” cone. It tasted like a giant unsalted tortilla chip, and didn’t pair too well with the icecream. I would not recommend it.

Now, the scoops.

Before I talk about the cookie dough aspect, let me say that the ice cream was incredible. We tried the Milk Money, which tasted exactly like corn flake cereal, and we tried the standard Birthdae Cake which tasted exactly how you would expect. Birthdae Cake was scattered with cake batter bits throughout which was a very tasty surprise.

For our cones, we ordered a cone filled with Monsters Inc ice cream and Reeses Peanut Butter cookie dough, and a cone with 50 Shades ice cream, and Electric Blue cookie dough. We both agreed that the Monsters Inc ice cream was the best yet. It tasted like cake batter and oreos, and was a bright blue color that was very fun to look at. Unfortunately, we were extremely disappointed with the cookie dough. The cookie dough was extremely rich, and it tasted too bitter- not to mention, they put a lot of cookie dough in those cones. With this being the part of the experience that we were most looking forward to, it was sad to have such an underwhelming experience.

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Although our time at Birthdae Cake didn’t quite live up to expectations, I would highly recommend checking it out for the ice cream, and the Birthdae Cake cone. This place is also known for their ice cream sandwhiches, smoothies, shakes, and more, which all looked like something worth trying.

We did go back the next week to pick up a cone with just ice cream – and we were very pleased.

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Perch.

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Step one to having an incredible day in LA: Begin with an incredible brunch!

This restaurant, Perch, is exactly what you would think! It sits high up in the sky on Hill St, and overlooks downtown LA. Skyscrapers, a cool breeze, a sunny day – what more could you ask for?

Well, I can think of one thing. Food!

The food at Perch is insanely good. It’s definitely not cheap, but they don’t rip you off with portions the size of leftovers, as most high end restaurants do.

I ordered the Smoked Salmon Benedict, which came with a side of potatoes. My mouth was so so happy with me for feeding it all of the flavors bursting out of that meal. I’m kicking myself now for not ordering the Creamy Truffle Cheese Fries -it makes my mouth water to just think about them. Truffle fries + cheese? I can’t believe I passed that up. But, hey, now I have a valid excuse to go back!

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After our meal, we were invited to go upstairs to the rooftop bar area. A full bar, high tables, and low couches all reside on the rooftop, and somehow the view became even more amazing. The rooftop is for 21+, so I thought I’d have to miss out on it, but luckily for me, the security guard let me in for a few minutes so I could capture this incredible memory with a picture of me and my man.

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Next time you’re in LA, don’t miss out on visiting Perch.

 

Vogue Hair Salon.

 

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Before I even get started on how happy I am about my new hair, I want to send a huge thank you to Ms. Lisa Marie from Vogue Hair Salon. I have starred in one too many hair salon horror stories, and I have never been so happy walking out of a salon than when I walked out of Vogue.

To start, I think it’s important to know that I have wanted blonde hair for years. I’ve always been a huge fan of the balayage ombre look, but I’ve always been too afraid to try it. I think any girl can agree that hair is special. And I didn’t want to spend the next three months of my life figuring out up-do’s and cute hat tricks to hide my hair if something were to go wrong.

So I did my research. For hours, I sat in bed looking at Yelp reviews from just about every salon in Orange County, and I came across Vogue Salon. On the day of my appointment, I was overwhelmed with how accurate the reviews had been. I was lucky enough to schedule an appointment with Lisa M, and she managed to turn my virgin brunette hair into a beautiful brunette-blonde balayage ombre. She even threw in a free little cup of hair mask cream!

So for those girls–and guys!–who have so hopefully dreamed of dyeing their hair, I couldn’t stress enough that Vogue Salon in Newport is the place to go.

 

Vogue Salon:

 

An Introduction.

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First off, you should know that my name is Erin and I am quite incapable of visiting a new place without taking a million pictures of it.

Whether in my hometown of Austin, Texas, or my college town, Orange, California, I’m the type of girl that pauses before eating her food to get that perfect picture, and makes her friends stand in front of the ocean and look off into the distance in order to capture that perfect shot.

I could attempt to blame these habits on the fact that I’m a teenage girl in the 21st century — but I won’t. Instead, I will blame it all on my overwhelming desire to experience, and emanate.

I love new places. I love new foods, new sights, new people–well, not all new people, but most. I love to get excited about things, and I love to write. Writing to me is a way to share such intimate thoughts with a million strangers, and I find that very pure, very thrilling.

So here we are. I created this blog to share my travels, my experiences, my reviews, and my many many pictures with you, and with everyone.

So here’s me. Very Erin.