What I Did on My Summer Business Trip

Armed with the recommendations of friends and readers, unclear Google Maps printouts, an Austin city map, and only a hint of trepidation at the prospect of finding my way around a new city on my own, I dragged myself out of bed and onto an Austin-bound plane early Sunday morning.

After spending way too long driving in circles trying to figure out the highway/access road system in Austin before finally finding my hotel, I was tired, frustrated, hungry, and tempted to throw in the towel and walk across the street to have lunch at IHOP.

However, I’m not one to travel to new places just to eat boring franchise food, so I pulled on my Big Girl Pants, got into my blue Sebring (Michael Scott-style), and successfully navigated my way to Chuy’s and my first meal in Austin.

Oh, it was good. (The queso enchiladas were good, too.)

My hunger satisfied and navigational confidence restored, I explored downtown a bit and ended up spending a very relaxing afternoon at Town Lake.

All in all, not a bad first day in Austin.

Of course, I was in Austin for more than just margaritas, queso, and lakeside walks. First thing Monday morning it was back to work. In between a couple of very productive and informative days at the office I got to hang out with some pretty cool coworkers, enjoy a lot of delicious local food and drink, and see thousands of bats fly out from under a bridge in a wholly underwhelming display of tiny flapping wings.

While the bats lacked the thrill and entertainment factor my coworkers and I had hoped for, that particular evening’s entertainment was far from over. Later that night at a wine bar, we had the pleasure of sipping delicious wine flights across the bar from an octogenarian and his…well, his date, I guess you could say. Though something about her mid-twenties appearance and skintight leopard-print dress tells me she was there more for the Benjamins than the romance, if you know what I mean…and I think you do. It was quite the experience.

Awkward experiences aside, three days of good food, good drink, good company, and yes, even good work came together to make for a pretty great summer business trip.

I Hear You’re Supposed to Keep It Weird or Something

Friends, I need your help. I’m traveling to Austin in a couple of weeks for a business trip, and it just so happens that I’m going to have to fill some time while I’m there with non-work related activities. Trouble is, I’m traveling alone and am the teeniest bit nervous about venturing out in my rental car and finding stuff to do without getting lost and/or being That Girl Sitting Alone at the Bar. But I also definitely do not want to spend my entire stay in a new-to-me and rumored-to-be-cool city splitting my time between the office and my hotel room.

This is where you come in. Have you been to Austin? Do you live there? What’s a solo traveler to do during one afternoon and three evenings? Is there any shop/bar/restaurant/event/whatever that I absolutely should not pass up? I think the office I’ll be in is near downtown, and I don’t yet know where my hotel is (though I imagine/hope it’ll be close to the office), so recommendations in that general area would be preferred to lower my chances of getting lost. Also, please keep in mind that I enjoy cocktails, music, pedicures, being outdoors, Mexican food, and all things awesome.

Ready . . . set . . . recommend!

Loving It Lately

Dancing. My first (ever) dance competition is in just under two weeks, which means we’ve been having extra practices to perfect every last step. Not only is our competition piece fantastic (if I do say so), but I’m also loving getting to dance more than once a week. Gets me thinking about whether I might be able to make another class or two fit into my schedule and budget next year.

Big Love. Even if there is excessive nudity on the part of Bill Paxton.

Hunger (and not being afraid to satisfy that hunger). After more than 48 hours of stomach flu-induced starvation, few things are more exciting than feeling hungry and not having to shy away from foods that have never been marketed by Bill Cosby.

My job. Seven months in, and I still can’t get over how much I love my career. There are a lot of really good things happening at my office, and I’m very excited to be a part of it all.

Jury duty dismissal. I know it’s my civic duty, and I should be happy to trade a minor inconvenience for the freedom of democracy. And I am happy to make that trade, really. But after missing work Thursday and Friday (see above), I was anxious to get back into the office on Monday (see above again). So when the Jury Commissioner turned off Apollo 13 mid-way through the morning and told those of us still waiting for our numbers to be called that we were excused, I was relieved not to have to miss another full day of work…even if it meant I didn’t get to find out whether Tom Hanks ever got to walk on the moon.

My husband. Any man who caters to every whim of his pukey and unshowered wife — going to the store for ginger ale, going back to the store for jell-o, making chicken noodle soup and straining out the broth because he knows the chiken and noodles will never be eaten — is a definite keeper.

Wednesday Smalls ‘n’ Bensday! National Holiday

Did you know that today is National Grammar Day? I had no idea such a day existed until I got to work this morning and saw an email from the senior editor announcing the holiday and advising the office to show some extra appreciation to the editing staff. What a glorious day!

Ben and Smalls wanted to join me in wishing you all a happy National Grammar Day. (At least they did until I told them “grammar” wasn’t code for “treats.”) May your apostrophes be apropriately placed and your sentences be properly structured…if only for one day a year.

Serving and Correcting

One of the reasons I love my job so much is because my coworkers are pretty damn awesome.

After a meeting yesterday during which a few jokes were made about me being the pickier of the two editors in the office, I returned to my cubicle to find this pinned up under my name plate:

No one has admitted to putting it there, but I have a sneaking suspicion it was the same person who the day before gave me a hard time about the nerdy grammar daily calendar on my desk. I’ll have to find a way to properly thank her for her kindness, don’t you agree?

In the meantime, I love my new badge and intend to keep it pinned to my cube for always…right next to the printout of a fruit basket I received as an offer of peace after my group of writers relentlessly made fun of my decision to work from the comfort of my couch rather than drive to work on icy roads.

We have fun times together, my coworkers and I.

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